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Hmong Refugees: Additional Insights into the Vietnam War

You and your students may be considering interviewing Hmong refugees who have resettled in Montana as part of your 1960s Veterans and Vietnam War era project.  If so, this just-published Smithsonian Magazine article, American Odyssey, may prove useful.  The subhead and article’s lead-off sentences will give you a sense of how your students might use this article: “They fled terror in Laos after secretly aiding American forces in the Vietnam War.  Now 200,000 Hmong prosper—and struggle—in the United States. No group of refugees has been less prepared for modern American life than the Hmong, and yet none has succeeded more quickly in making itself at home in the United State. They are an ancient people tracing their ancestry to China, where they endured more than 4,000 years as an oppressed minority before fleeing to Laos 200 years ago. There they inhabited isolated highland hamlets and lived as subsistence farmers. In the 1960s, as the U. S. military involvement in Vietnam deepened, CIA agents recruited Hmong villagers into a ‘secret army’ in Laos, a force of some 30,000 at its peak that was called on to gather intelligence, rescue downed American pilots and fight communist troops in the fiercely contested borderland between Vietnam and Laos.? 

Posted by on 09/27 at 07:58 AM
  1. Do any of our sites have Hmong people living in them or nearby? If so, that would seem an opportunity too good to miss.

    Posted by Michael L Umphrey  on  09/27  at  02:50 PM
  2. But also, if someone wanted to do a study of Hmnong people, it wouldn’t be necessary to do it with a local population. We could certainly augment study through books and websites by bringing in guest speakers from a Hmong population. Then several oral histories could be scheduled for the same day, so a team of students could travel to a place such as Missoula, visit the Hmong people at their homes, and do oral histories while there.

    Posted by Michael L Umphrey  on  09/27  at  02:52 PM






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