Introduction / History Between 500 to 1,000 members of the Salao ethnic group live in the Pakxong District of Champasak Province in southern Laos.
The Salao are a newly discovered group. Laurent Chazee, in his 1995 ethnographic survey of Laos, listed them as having a population of "less than 1,000."
Because of their recent discovery, the Salao language has yet to be studied. For now, Salao remains an unclassified member of the Mon-Khmer language family. Champasak Province has always been viewed with suspicion by people in other parts of Laos. In many ways, the inhabitants have more in common with neighboring Cambodia than with the Lao government far away in Vientiane.
Much of the architecture and Buddhist ruins found in Champasak are similar to the Angkor Wat complex in Cambodia. Between the 10th and 13th centuries, Champasak was part of the Khmer empire. After the breakup of Khmer rule Champasak evolved into an independent kingdom.
When the Communists seized control of Laos in 1975 they kept a close eye on Champasak, strongly opposing any separatist feelings that arose. A statue of the former king of Bassac, Khamsouk (1863-1900) was held in great regard by the people of Champasak. "After the revolution Pathet Lao soldiers tore it off its pedestal and smashed the explanatory plaque. They were intent on throwing it in the Mekong River but the towns-people pleaded to be able to place it in Vat Thong [Thong Temple], where it now stands in a corner beside the main altar for the Buddha. It does not take much imagination to realize that when the people pay their respects to the Buddha, they are also making them to the former king."
Most Salao people hold to animistic beliefs, but overall they do not consider themselves a particularly religious people. Buddhism, the national religion of Laos, has also influenced them to a small degree.
No Christians are reported among the Salao in Laos. The area, poor and with difficult communications and roads, has received little Gospel witness throughout history.
Prayer Points * Pray workers will be called by God to reach every people group in Champasak Province, including the Salao.
* Ask God to glorify His Name through saved Salao people.
* Pray the Salao culture will be redee-med and completed when many Salao put their trust in Jesus Christ. * Pray for translation of the Bible to begin in this people group's primary language. * Pray for the availability of the Jesus Film in the primary language of this people. * Pray for Gospel messages to become available in audio format for this people group.