Background of the Hmong People:
Hmong Embroidery Telling the Story of their flight from Laos
The posts on this website are meant to lift and inspire people. I want to dedicate this portion of my website to the Hmong people to tell them thank-you for their deep sacrifice in supporting the United States in an attempt to prevent Laos from falling to communist forces. This is a tragic and moving story that the Hmong people know well, but was a well-kept secret from Americans for many years.
Since my missionary son opened his call to find he was to preach the gospel in the Hmong language in the Sacramento, California mission I have studied and read much about this people Shortly after that I met a delightful part-Hmong family living in Utah who shared the artwork in this article. I love what I’ve seen. Please let me share this story.
Who are the Hmong?
The Hmong are an ancient people without their own country. In about 2000B.C. they lived primarily in China but were forced from lush lowlands into more rugged mountainous areas to avoid assimilation. They have always been a fiercely independent people who simply want to live and raise their children as Hmong. Many of the Hmong fled to the mountains of Laos, Viet Nam and Thailand in the mid and late 1800s after heavy taxation in China resulted in rebellion and armed conflicts.
What caused them to come to the United States?
In the 1960’s and 70’s along with the Vietnam conflict, America became heavily involved in trying to prevent a communist takeover of Laos. The primary fighters in the conflict were over 30,000 Hmong recruited or pressed into service and trained by the CIA. Among them were pilots for whom there was no rotation or retiring. The pilots called it, “Fly till you die”. The most famous pilot flew more than 5,000 missions before being shot down. The Hmong suffered heavy casualties at a rate about 10x that of American soldiers in Vietnam (from “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” by Anne Fadiman, pg 129).
When Laos fell to the communist-backed forces, it was determined that certain clans would be destroyed to their root for their role in the war. Therefore many Hmong undertook a treacherous journey across Laos in order to cross over the Mekong River to escape into Thailand. The river crossing was typically done at night to avoid being killed.
There is more to come – I will continue to expand this story as I get time.