Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway
Introduction / History
A small number of Kopien Akha live in the Sing District of Luang Namtha Province in northern Laos. The area is traditionally the homeland of the Lu. Further up the Mekong River inside China lies Jinghong, which is historically one of the four major Theravada Buddhist centers in the region. Others include the Lao city of Luang Prabang, Chiang Mai in Thailand, and Kengtung in Shan State, Myanmar.
Despite having lived alongside Buddhists for centuries, the Akha remain animists. There is only a minimal Buddhist influence in their rituals and ceremonies, and no temples or Buddhist altars in their villages.
The Kopien Akha, though small in size, are divided into two subgroups in Laos: Kopien Nyai ('Greater') and Kopien Noi ('Lesser'). Although they are basically the same, and often share the same village, people from the two groups never share the same house.
The Akha have a long and rich history. Some scholars claim they originated on the Tibetan Plateau, before migrating down in search of better land. Because of their history as hunters, the Akha have not developed skills as agriculturists or farmers. This has caused them great distress when they have migrated into an area where wild animals are scarce. Not knowing how to plant and grow vegetables, fruit or other crops except rice, they have often ended up living in dire poverty and facing starvation.
Although little is specifically known about the Kopien Akha, they possess the same legends and early genealogy of other Akha groups. "According to one Akha legend, the earth and sky were brought into being by the all powerful 'force', Apoe Miyeh. From M G'ah came a succession of nine powerful 'spirits'.... Akha legend states that the first human being was the offspring of Bhe Sm, and was named Sm Mi O, from whom all the people in the world have descended. The Akha recite the names of Sm Mi O's descendants, who are their direct ancestors, through 13 generations to Dzoe Tah Pah. This man is considered the great father of all Akha."
The Kopien Akha live their daily lives completely outside the sphere of any Christian influence.
* Pray that Akkha believers in Myanmar would travle across the Mekong River into Laos to plant churches.
* Pray the Kopien Akha would soon hear they can start a new genealogy in Jesus Christ.
* Ask God to raise up laborers to plant churches among the Kopien Akha.