The Hmong are very ancient people who have their orgins in southern China. When the Hun invaded from the north a few thousands years ago, there was much bloody strife, and the Hmong began southward migrations. In the 18th century,thousands of families began historic travels down the rivers and mountain summits to the south. In the beginning of the 19th century, they settled in the mountainous regions of northern Loas. Here, in remote settlements,living as self-sufficent farmers, they thought they had found a place to live with dignity in peace and freedom. Indeed, they call themselves “Hmong,” which means “freeman.”
Cutral in the growing political turmoil but were drawn into the fight against the North Vietnamese by our own Central Intelligence Agency(CIA). They were employed as soldiers by the U.S.Special Forces and trained by the CIA to defend the strategic northeast region of Laos. They became known as our “Secert Army” because there was no official recognition of fighting in Loas. They were so secert that the Americans never heard of Hmong soldiers. Tens of thousands of Hmong served-and thousands died-in the American-Hmong Allied Army. Many served in the CIA. They fought tenaciously and bravely, rescuing downed American pilots in the jungles and disrupting supplies on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
When Saigon fell in 1975 and the American forces withdrew, the Hmong were left in the hands of their enemies. Persecutions and assassinatons began immediately, and systematic gassing of whole villages followed. They were driven from their homes, and thousands fled through the jungles and swam the Mekong River to the relative safetly of refugee camps in Thailand. There,they were not allowed to work,and they had to wait months or years to qualify to go the the United States or another country of resettlement. The American government had made a commitment when they recruited the Hmong to fight. They had said,”Win or lose, we will take care of you.” Thus, the government has allowed many to them to come to America to start a new life in freedom. Those who had worked for the United States finally got planes to Japan,then Hawaii and ultimately, to a West Coast port of entry. From there, they were flown to places like California,Wisconsin,Minnesota,Rhode Island.etc.
Hmong was an oral language until the 1950s when it was first written in Loation calligraphy and taught in the Loation schools. It was later written phonetically in english alphabet. Only the privileged few who went to school ever learned to read and write.
IMPORTANT VALUE DIFFERENCES
With the gradual “Americanization” of the Asian refugees, many of the old ways are being sacrificed, causing a number of the adult refugees ro feel a sense of loss and confusion. Traditional strengths which defined family and supportive village relationships have been weakened.
For an Asian, it is higly respected to be polite,respectful, and courteous, Looking one in the eye is considered rude. They would rather “lose face” then make another feel insulted or shamed, so they will seldom disagree or express their true opinions. Touching in public is considered insulting.Affection aren’t allowed either in the Hmong people. Girls are shy and modest
The extended family group is all-important; the husband is the respected head and decision-maker. The eldest son and his wife must stay with his parents to help, remaining under the father’s authority. Girls stay at home until they are married. Marriage is excepted early for girls between the ages of 12-16 and for the boys 16-20. Wisdom and skills are taught by the elders. There are almost no crime. Minimal drug or alcohol abuse exists in their culture except other abuses which I do not wish to reveal.
The Hmong value love and help very highly. A smile is a sign of greeting and welcome.
This is carried out with love and patience. The family relationship which exist can be viewed as model.
The teacher is highly respected, next is status to a king. Most boys had some education in Loas, but many girls had none at all. In some areas of the countryside,far from the city,there are no schools.Children mostly learn living skills from their parents and family members through real experiences.