Note: Karibu News responded to feedback from Chin community leaders regarding this article. You can read our response here.
The Chin community celebrated the 68th anniversary of Chin National Day on Saturday, February 20. The auditorium at West Hertel Academy was packed full with an excited crowd, awaiting traditional dancers and musical performances. A large sign hanging from the ceiling of the stage read “68th Anniversary of Chin National Day,” with two American flags hanging below it.
Members of the Burmese and Karen community attended the event as well as Buffalo natives.
The event began with a salute and opening prayer, followed by a brief history of the Chin people and the events that led to Chin National Day. First performers of the night was the Eagle Cross Band. Fans approached the vocalist on stage to hand her flowers, as she gracefully sang to the audience.
Pastor from Buffalo Chin Southern Baptist, Reverend David Thawng Lian, said this day is an important day in history because, “It is a day for us [Chin community] to celebrate our rights. It’s similar to Americans celebrating the Fourth of July. We use this day to share our culture, and we do this to remember where we came from and to remember who we are.”
Event Organizer Joshua Thawng Lian said Chin National Day is a significant day because it marks the time when Chin people started to follow a democratic system. He said they want
people to know about Chin National Day and it is important to promote their culture and their language.
Joint Chief Attorney for the Civil Legal Services Unit Lisa Strand was honored to receive an invitation.
“I’m thrilled to have the privilege to connect with the Chin community about their needs, their presence, and their culture. Right now, I’m about to enjoy some delicious food,” she said as she took a spoonful of her traditional Chin soup, Sabuti.
Both Strand and a representative from the Volunteer Lawyers Project spoke to the audience about their services and how they can be beneficial to people of the Chin community.
Meanwhile, the Zomi people, a Chin tribe that considers themselves culturally distinct from the Chin people, also celebrated this historical day at a separate venue. As of 2009 there are about 200 Zomi living in Buffalo, this according to Zomi community leader Peter Mang.
Although they held a separate celebration, Mang said the Zomi community in Buffalo joins the Karen and Burmese community for other events, such as the Burmese Water Festival. The Zomi
Community headquarters is located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where about 5,000-6,000 Zomi people currently reside. He said this is the largest population of Zomi people in the United States.