The Mindat of Myanmar
The 30,000 Mindat inhabit the mountainous regions in the southeastern part of Chin State in western Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). More than 100 ethnic groups are found in Myanmar. Since the first Burman kingdom in the eleventh century, Myanmar has experienced ethnic division and political unrest.
Lacking specific information about the Mindat, this profile is based on their cultural relationship to the Chin and draws conclusions from their location around the township of Mindat in Myanmar. Their language, also called Mindat, requires further study and is currently unclassified.
Supposing they are a variety of Chin, the Mindat would be a Tibeto-Burman people. The Chin tribes were once referred to as the "wild hill tribes" of Myanmar. Chin. is a derogatory Burmese term used in the past to denote all the various hill tribes living near the Myanmar and India border—a very neglected and underdeveloped area.
What are their lives like?
The hill tribes in southern Chin State earn a living by trapping, hunting, and logging. They also practice shifting cultivation. Since dense plant growth limits the use of land for agricultural purposes, they clear the land by burning the vegetation. They then grow dry rice on it for three or four years before moving. Some groups, however, have settled permanently in large clearings in the forests. These forested areas are state lands, but the farmers fight for their claim as landowners. Land tenure in Chin State is a complex matter. Approximately 26% of the land has been affected by erosion.
Myanmar is one of the world's leading rice producers, but the Mindat are able to raise only enough to feed themselves. To supplement their income, the Mindat work at seasonal, migratory jobs, such as cutting sugarcane or working in factories. Severe labor shortages in the fields often result from these migrations. Mining precious gems, such as jade, rubies, and sapphires, is another way the Mindat can help themselves financially.
A Mindat house usually has only one room. All activities take place on the floor where food is prepared and eaten. Mats are rolled out nightly for sleeping and then rolled up or stacked away during the day. Because the floor is the center of home life, it is grossly impolite to enter a Mindat house while wearing shoes. The family often dines outdoors.
Political organization in the communities is shaped by the political constitution of Myanmar. From the Prime Minister to the village headman, there is an unbroken line of administrative authority. The community elects a single headman, and then is recorded in the census as a territorial unit for the purpose of assessng taxes. For the commoners, the government is one of the five traditional enemies, along with fire, famine, flood, and plague. Military service is compulsory for both men and women.
What are their beliefs?
While most of Myanmar is Buddhist, the Mindat practice their own ethnic religion that embraces animistic beliefs. Animism includes the notion that forces and aspects of nature (wind, rivers, trees, earth) are connected with spirits or supernatural beings. These spirits are called upon to help solve the urgent practicalities of life, such as securing food, curing illness, and averting danger. The Mindat animistic beliefs include spirits called nats, which are inherently evil. One must spend his life trying to appease them through sacrifices and rituals, so that the less evil spirits will fight off the more evil ones that come to harm. Farmers spend more money in a year on their religion than on their family's schooling, health, and clothing.
What are their needs?
The Mindat have many physical needs. Among the priority health problems in Chin State and Mindat are iodine deficiency disorders, such as goiters. Christian medical teams are needed in these areas.
Holding to animistic beliefs, the Mindat live their lives in fear of displeasing the spirits. These precious people desperately need to hear the Truth of the Gospel and have the Scriptures in their own language.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities that have kept the Mindat bound for many generations.
- Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers to work among the Mindat.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will break up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into the Mindat language.
- Pray that God will give the Mindat believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
- Ask God to speed the completion of the Jesus film and other evangelistic materials into the Mindat language.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
- Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Mindat church for the glory of His name!
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Mindat
- Country: Myanmar
- Their language: Mindat
- Largest religion:
- Christian: 5%
- Church members: 1,620
- Scriptures in their own language: None
- Jesus Film in their own language: None
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
- Mission agencies working among this people: 0
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 9,100 (28%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 23,300 (72%)
- Country: Myanmar
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 43
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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