Profile Source: Copyright © Operation China, Paul Hattaway
The Southwestern Guiyang Miao speak their own distinct language. One anthropologist has counted "72 different tribes of Miao in Guizhou alone."
Speculation about the origin of the Miao race has led some to claim that they first lived in Persia or Babylon before migrating north into Siberia. After staying there for a time, the Miao moved again, passing through Mongolia and entering China. One writer has even asserted that there was a Miao princess named Mong Kao Lee who led the Miao in their great migration. "In her honor they called their former homeland by her name, Mongoli or Mongolia." Chinese histories confirm the Miao used to be found in northern and central China before they were pushed south under Chinese pressure.
Southwestern Guiyang Miao women wear a style of clothing referred to as "flag clothing" by local people. Square and rectangular patterns on their jackets resemble the pattern of a flag. The Guiyang Miao live on the mountaintops where the land is poor. Often their homes are a long distance from streams and rivers. Water therefore carries a high price. Miao women are responsible for walking hours down the mountain and back again, to fetch drinking water in hollowed bamboo. In the most extreme cases, the women mix cow urine with the water, so that others they meet on the pathway will not be tempted to steal the water from them. Young Miao women often base their answer to a marriage proposal on how far the would-be bridegroom's water supply is from his village.
Most Southwest Guiyang Miao are either animists or Christians. Some whole villages have converted to Christ, while others prefer to retain their ancient traditions and superstitions.
Shortly after J. R. Adam commenced work in Anshun in 1899, he was forced to leave because of the Boxer Rebellion. When Adam returned to Anshun in 1902 he baptized 20 Miao at the first baptismal service. The work grew quickly, and by 1907 the number of baptized believers numbered 1,200. Adam started a Bible college where students came for four to eight weeks of study. Tragically, Adam's work was cut short when he was killed by a bolt of lightning while he stood in the doorway of his house in 1915.