How the Hmong came to Minnesota

Source: Hmong 101 presentation (Hmong Cultural Center | St. Paul MN)

1790-1860 A.D.: Many Hmong migrate out of China to Laos, Northern Vietnam, and Thailand

1963-1975: The Vietnam War and the U.S. Secret Army in Laos. The CIA coordinated the effort against the Communists in Laos in partnership with the Hmong military leader General Vang Pao and the Royal Lao Government. The Hmong were recruited by the CIA to help fight along the Ho Chin Minh Trail. For their participation, the CIA promised to protect and provide support for the Hmong.

1975: When the U.S. withdrew from the war, the Hmong were left to fend for themselves. The Communist regime pursued the Hmong people for supporting the Americans. Thousands of Hmong died and others were forced to cross the Mekong River into Thailand. They migrated to Thailand where they were forced to live in refugee camps. Several Hmong refugee camps were established in Thailand by the late 1970s. The largest and best known Hmong refugee camp in Thailand was known as Ban Vinai.

1976: The first Hmong refugees began arriving in the United States from the Thailand camps in December 1975 and January 1976. Hmong refugees also move to France, Australia, French Guyana, and Canada.

December 2003: U.S. State Department agrees to accept applications for resettlement from 15,000 Laotian Hmong refugees living in Wat Thamkrabok, Thailand. During the next three years, more than 15,000 Hmong refugees arrive in Minnesota, California, Wisconsin and other states.

2010 estimate of number of Hmong in Minnesota: 66,200

Important Facts:
• More than 260,000 Hmong live in U.S. (2010 census)

Additional Resources:

The Hmong: An Introduction to Their History and Culture from Cultural Orientation Resource Center

Hmong American Partnership (HAP) is the largest Hmong organization in Minnesota. Based in Saint Paul, HAP provides Hmong and other refugee communities with services and support to help them adjust to life in America and maximize available opportunities.