The Chin live in a wedge of hills along the western border of Myanmar with India and Bangladesh. Descending south, possibly from Tibet, around the 7th century, they settled in the Kalay valley in Sagaing region and were known to the first Burmese Kingdom in Bagan in the 11th Century. Pushed into the neighbouring hills by the Shan in the 1400’s, the Chin now, officially and probably mistakenly, are designated into 53 communities. The Chin Hills are remote and the least developed in Myanmar, with few roads connecting villages and mobile connectivity only introduced in the last couple of years, it is no real surprise the Chin are the only ones of the main ethnic groups in Myanmar not to have a central organisation dedicated to the preservation and development of their literature and culture.
The closest they have, at least in terms of scope and projects, is the Chin Association for Christian Communication.
Formed on April 24th 1988, the CACC is the largest of the religious institutions engaged in literary activities among the Chin. Representing multiple denominations including Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist and United Pentecostal, the CACC is split into 4 departments: Literature and Publications. Culture and Audio-Visual. Education. Social Services. Though most attention, like many other ethnic cultural associations, is spent on designing curriculum for primary school text books, the literature department does publish books in the Lai Hakha language, including biographies of foreign missionaries to the Chin and local oral myths. They also produce an annual magazine which features stories, poems and articles.
To read more about the Chin, their censored literature and my travels with them, take a look at my award-shortlisted political travel book, ‘The People Elsewhere: Unbound Journeys with the Storytellers of Myanmar’.