Identity Wuding is home to numerous small people groups. Each group wears distinctive dress and is recognized as a separate entity by the local inhabitants. Although the Minglang speak a language related to Sani, they firmly consider themselves a unique tribe. In recent decades, under increasing pressure from large numbers of Han Chinese who have migrated into Wuding, the Minglang have commenced a gradual slide toward assimilation. Some Minglang children now exclusively speak Mandarin.
History The Minglang have never possessed a written script of their own, although some of the Minglang Christians are able to read the Pollard script - devised by missionary Samuel Pollard in the early 1900s to help illiterate tribal people read the Bible.
Customs The Minglang observe all the traditional Chinese festivals, in addition to several regional Yi celebrations.
Religion In the past the Minglang were animists and polytheists, living in fear and bondage to a wide variety of spirits.
Christianity The Minglang (and many other groups in the Wuding area) owe their salvation to the efforts of the Eastern Lipo Christians. "On the banks of the 'River of Golden Sand' in the upper Yangtze watershed between Sichuan and Yunnan provinces live the Yi people. ... The Lipos, a Yi sub-group formerly called the Eastern Lisus, have had the Gospel for almost half a century. These remarkable mountain people ... have used their musical talent to share the Good News of salvation and freedom from all demonic control. Old hymns, packed with sound doctrine, were translated and memorized by the early Lipo Christians. Early on they became a singing church which not only preserved but also propagated its faith crossculturally by singing hymns. Today, because of their witness, there are believers among many neighboring tribes in spite of the language barriers and lack of Christian literature. The Lipo have reached the Minglang, the Ming Cha, and the Samei peoples living among them." Today as many as 400 of the 1,500 Minglang people in Wuding confess Christ.
More than 1,500 members of the Minglang tribe live in northern Yunnan Province. Their two main villages are Lower Lemei Village of Chadian District and Tianxin Village of Gaoqiao District within Wuding County. Others live in Maoshan District of Luquan County. The Minglang may also live in Fumin County. Accurate figures on the Minglang population are difficult to obtain because the government no longer considers them a specific people group. They have been combined with many other groups to form the huge Yi nationality. The most recent figure available which specifically mentions the Minglang tribe was a 1952 government study: it listed 103 Minglang households located in Wuding County. (Source: Operation China, 2000)