early 1900's : French rule


From the 19th century, the French occupied Cambodia as a part of french Indochina. Between 1867 and 1953 it was a protectorate of France, administered as part of the French Indochine colony. In November 1953, under the reign of King Sihanouk, Cambodia gained indpenedance from France.

Controlling the country, many french plantations were established in Mondulkiri province, and in the Cambodian highlands of the northeast, where many of Cambodias indigenous groups lived. Collectively known as the Khmer Loeu, referring to the groups residing in the highlands such as the Pnong, Kreung, Tampuan, Kouy, Jarai, Brao, Kavet, and Stieng. 

Many of these groups were evicted from their lands to make way for french plantations, as well as suffering abuses from the French.  Dissatisfied with the french occupation, we discovered through research an indigenous rebellion against the french in 1915 in O’Preah district, Kratie province . We sourced old french maps, mapping the rebellion, as well as french telegrams about the conflict. We visited villages in the district where the fighting occurred, to collect stories from village elders who remembered stories that had been passed down from their parents and grandparents about fighting the french. Collecting these stories and accounts, before they are gone.


archived maps



memories of the rebellion

Passed down for generations from grandparents, to the current elders who still live...




( Charles meyer collection )


Photographs from this period have been sourced from the National Archives of Cambodia (from the Charles Meyer Collection), to show how the groups once were, and the contrast between how they lived a century ago, and now.