Identity Although the Chuan Miao speak a language similar to the Hmong Daw in southern Yunnan, they possess a distinct ethnicity and wear their own traditional dress.
History The Chuan Miao migrated north from southern Yunnan into Sichuan around 1806 to escape forced assimilation by the Han Chinese. Miao children were forced to attend Chinese schools, large tracts of Miao land were confiscated, and the Miao were banned from celebrating their traditional festivals.5 During the Hui Rebellion in Yunnan (1855-1873), the Chuan Miao sided with the Hui against the Han Chinese. As a result, "Thousands of Miao were killed and many more migrated into Southeast Asia."
Customs The Chuan Miao love to sing. The early Christians among them "preached the Gospel by song ... they will sing all night after a hard day's work, to be followed by another such day."
Religion The Chuan Miao's traditional animistic religion has gradually eroded under the influence of the Chinese.
Christianity The China Inland Mission commenced work among the Chuan Miao in 1915 when Samuel Pollard opened a school for 40 Miao boys. By 1922, 569 Chuan Miao had been baptized. In 1923, 5,000 Chuan Miao were described as being interested in Christianity. Thirty churches were planted by the CIM: 17 in Gulin County and 13 in Xuyong. Three thousand Chuan Miao were "under instruction from time to time." The Gospel of Mark was translated into Chuan Miao in 1922, using the Pollard script. In 1937 the United Methodist missionary R. H. Goldsworthy also focused on the Chuan Miao. Within ten years, the Methodists numbered 113 baptized believers, in addition to 130 "on trial." They also had 406 students attending their schools. In 1946 Ewart Wright wrote, "There is a great lack of Bibles and hymnals, both in Chinese and in River [Chuan] Miao. There is a felt desire to get the whole New Testament translated into River Miao." Unfortunately, since the missionaries were deported in the 1940s, the Chuan Miao church has not significantly grown, and all the church buildings have been destroyed.
The Chuan (River) Miao inhabit five counties in the southern part of Sichuan Province. They are located primarily in Xuyong, Gong, Gao, Junlian, and Gulin counties. In 1990 there were 117,000 Chuan Miao in China - an increase from 1949 when they reportedly numbered between 60,000 and 70,000. In addition, 10,000 Chuan Miao also live in Myanmar. They migrated there in the mid-1800s to avoid Chinese oppression. (Source: Operation China, 2000)