Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway
Introduction / History
The 1995 Lao census listed a population of 20,906 Tri people in Laos. The So Tri language is very closely related to So and Bru, so close, in fact, that many linguistic lists do not mention this group.
From an ethnological point of view, however, the So Tri possess a distinct self-identity and ethnicity from the So and the Bru. The fact that the Lao government listed the So Tri separately in the census is significant, as the authorities only acknowledge approximately 60 minority groups throughout the entire nation.
The So Tri live in the south-central part of Khammouan Province in central Laos. They are geographically in the center of the So and Bru people. There seems little doubt that all three groups were once part of the same tribe. Over the centuries, as they split and migrated to different locations, each group developed its own identity, customs and dialect.
Only about one-quarter of So Tri are literate. Most people have never attended school, even at primary level.
Most So Tri are rice farmers. They have borrowed their agricultural techniques from the Lao. Others, living in the mountains, continue to be "slash and burn" communities. They clear land in the forests by burning it off and clearing boulders and trees, and live there for several years. When the nutrients in the soil have been used up, they abandon their village and move to another location, where the same process is repeated again. This custom leaves the ground barren and provides poor harvests.
The So Tri do not wear any traditional clothing any more. In the past So Tri women wore colorful scarves and distinctive dresses, but today they wear the same clothing as the Lao. Other customs such as their long-houses, festivals and religious ceremonies are also in the process of being lost.
Most So Tri are animists, but Theravada Buddhism is growing in prominence because of influence from the Lao and Phutai.
Little is known of the state of Christianity among this group. There may be a few believers, but the majority of So Tri are Unevangelized and have no contact with Christians.
* There are no known Christians among the So Tri. Pray a strong church would soon emerge in their midst.
* Pray for believers to come into contact with the So Tri.
* Interceed for the unreached So Tri. Ask God to make them a jewel in His crown.