Profile Source: Copyright © Operation China, Paul Hattaway
The Xi applied for official recognition as a minority in the 1950s, but were rejected. In 1982 they were included in a list of Undetermined Minorities; in 1985 they were incorporated into the Miao nationality. The Xi history, language, and customs are completely different from that of surrounding Miao groups. The most closely related people to the Xi are the Ga Mong, a group living in the area who were also included as part of the Miao until 1997. At that time the government reclassified both groups under the She nationality. This new status was done for political reasons and is not ethnohistorically accurate.
The Xi claim to have originated in Gansu or Shaanxi many centuries ago. They fought with the Miao and Ge against the Qing Dynasty armies in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Xi women regularly wore their beautiful traditional dress, until a few years ago. Now they wear it only on special occasions. All Xi people come together to celebrate festivals. Xi are allowed to take Ge, Miao, or Han spouses, but if they marry another Xi it must be someone from a different village than their own.
The Xi are animists. They particularly worship the spirits of trees and the forest - and even worship a spirit they believe inhabits the wood used in the construction of their homes.
The Xi have never had a church in their midst. Chinese Christians visited the Xi in early 1998, and while the Xi did politely listen to the evangelists, they were unwilling to accept Christ. They complained that they had been previously abused by members of the indigenous Chinese Er Liang Mifan (200 Grams of Rice) cult. The people in this group eat only 200 grams of rice per day. The Xi could not discern the difference between their Christian visitors and the cult, which has created a significant obstacle to future advancement of the gospel among the Xi.