Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway
Introduction / History
One of the first mentions of the Halang Doan ethnic group in Laos came from French anthropologist P.B. Lafont in 1962. Lafont listed a population of 1,000 speakers of Halang Doan. In 1981, Wurm and Hattori listed a total Halang Doan population of 2,000 in both Laos and Vietnam.
The Halang Doan in Laos inhabit an area near the Vietnam border in the Sanxai District of Attapu Province. Another source specifically locates them on the "Kasseng Plateau, and the left banks of the Se Kamane [Xe Kaman] and Dak Robay rivers."
The Halang Doan dialect is distinct from Halang, although they are related and no doubt were originally part of the same ethnic group.
Animism is not only the religion of the Halang Doan, but it forms their entire world-view. The Halang Doan believe the universe is controlled by a hierarchy of spirit-beings, some good but most are considered bad.
One early missionary, writing in 1903, was amazed to see how deep animism affected the lives of tribal people in Laos. Lillian Johnson Curtis explained, "If a man wishes to go on a journey, he first makes a visit to some wise man who has a book containing an astrological table and a lucky day is sought for. The day must coincide with the birth of the man, the phase of the moon, and position of certain constellations. The wise man is given a fee, and then the traveler turns his thoughts to the spirits. Offerings are made to them to insure their good will or at least gain their neutrality, and the journey is begun…. When crossing the mountains or passing through the rapids a halt is called and food and flowers and offered to the residing spirits of the place. Often bamboo withes are woven into fancy shapes and hung upon a bush or tree to please the spirits. Another device is made by weaving six flat withes of bamboo into a hexagonal shape…. This is called ta-leo, and is thought to entangle the spirit when it comes to molest. Thus at the mountain passes one always finds an accumulation of these woven charms swinging in the breeze."
While almost every aspect of their daily lives are spent in earnest attempts to avoid the wrath of demons, the Halang Doan have been unable to accept the Savior, before whom demons tremble.
* Pray the Halang Doan would see the power of God is greater than the power of demons.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the Son of God to the Halang Doan.
* Pray the small number of Halang believers in Vietnam would spread the Gospel to the Halang Doan in Laos.