Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway
Introduction / History
More than 7,000 Nuqui Akha inhabit northern Laos, particularly the Phongsali, Boun-Nua and Boun-Tai districts of Phongsali Province. The Nuqui Akha are the second largest Akha group in Laos. They are also found in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan Province of China, and probably in Myanmar as well.
The Nuqui Akha are not the same ethnic group as the Nutchi Akha, despite their similar names and the fact they live in the same area. In fact, the two groups have little contact with each other and do not acknowledge affinity.
Animism and ancestor worship are main religions among the Akha Nuqui. Every Akha Nuqui village in Laos has its own village priest (dzoe ma). "For their village priest the elders choose a man who is 'ritually pure'.... This means he must not have fathered 'human rejects', and has not engaged in conduct contrary to the Akha Way. As he is responsible for the health, welfare, and ceremonial life of the whole village, he must be well versed in the Akha Way. For this reason they prefer a man whose father and grandfather have been village priests before him.... He is responsible for the sacred sites in his village: the village gate, the swing, the water source, the burial ground, and the altar to the 'Lord of Land and Water'."
The Akha spirit-priest, or shaman, is also responsible for conducting all religious ceremonies, festivals and rituals. "The evening before a village ceremony begins, the priest stands on his open porch and calls out to the villagers that they must observe 'ceremonial abstinence' (lah-eu) and gives them instructions as to what they must do the next day.... The priest relates primarily to the great power, Apoe Miyeh, and it is from Apoe Miyeh that he receives his authority. He serves only one village, and everyone must conform to what he, in consultation with the elders, decides is in harmony with the Akha Way."
Akhazang, or the Akha Way, has proved to be the biggest obstacle in the way of Akha becoming Christians. Because of their extremely close-knit communities, the Akha fear the consequences of breaking away from tradition if they should believe in Christ. Those who take the Gospel to them should stress that God wants to complete their culture rather than destroy it.
* Pray for the Gospel to come in a culturally relevant and life-changing way to the Nuqui Akha.
* Ask God to place the Name of Jesus on the lips of the Akha in Laos.
* Pray that Jesus Christ would be lifted up as a banner above the Akha, that He may draw all men to Himself.