Introduction / History
Approximately 1,400 Kniang Pong people live in northern Laos. They live near the Neun River in the Viangthong and Houamuang districts of Houaphan Province. The main center for the Kniang Pong is around the town of Hua Mong.
The Kniang Pong are not the same as the larger Pong ethnic group, some members of which also live in Houaphan Province. The Kniang Pong speak a language related to Khmu, while the Pong speak a Viet-Muong language. A high percentage of Kniang Pong are educated and able to read.
Speakers of the same language as the Kniang Pong may live in northern Vietnam. Culturally and linguistically, the Kniang Pong of Laos seem to be closely related to the official Xinh Mun minority group in Vietnam, and the Puoc of Laos and Vietnam.
After two young Kniang Pong people are married, they move into the home of the bride's family. They stay there for several years until the couple has children, at which time they are allowed to move into their own home. If the couple do not produce a son, however, they must remain permanently in the home of the bride.
Kniang Pong women give birth in a squatting position beside the fireplace in their homes. The umbilical cord is placed in a bamboo container and hung on the branch of a large tree in the forest. It is believed that when the person dies, they will need to show their umbilical cord to the spirits in order to identify themselves.
When a Kniang Pong dies, a boy from the family of the deceased throws three stones on to the ancestral altar. They believe this symbolizes the anger the 'spirit of the house' has at having lost one of its occupants. The body is left in the house for up to a week before it is buried. In the warmer months the stench from the corpse becomes unbearable and the burial is conducted sooner. The body is covered with fragrant leaves before being put into the coffin. Money is placed in the mouth of the corpse and the person's thumbs and big toes are tied together.
All Kniang Pong are animists. Few have ever heard of Jesus Christ. Their remote geographical location and small, close-knit communities have ensured their complete isolation from Christianity.
* Pray they will follow Christ rather than worshiping spirits.
* Ask God to send laborers to specifically focus on the Kniang Pong.
* Pray the Kniang Pong would not be left without a witness, but would become a jewel in the crown of Christ.