The Hmong are a very ancient people who have their origins in China.
When the Han Chinese invaded their territory a few thousand years .
ago, the Hmong began historic travels down the Yangtze and Yellow.
rivers. About two hundred years ago, Hmong entered Indochina where.
they settled in the mountainous regions of northern Vietnam, Burma,.
Thailand, and Laos. Even though they lived in remote areas as.
self-sufficient farmers, the French Indochina War had caused much.
turmoil, especially to the Hmong in Laos.
When the French left Indochina in 1954, the Hmong were drawn into.
fighting against the Communist Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese by .
the CIA during the Vietnam War in the "secret war" in Laos. The .
Hmong 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. In fear of persecution,.
thousands fled through the jungles and swam across the Mekong river .
to refugee camps in Thailand. It was time for the American .
government to live up to their commitment, and the Americans .
eventually provided the Hmong a new home in the United States.
Of the 200,000 Hmong who have resettled in the United States,.
approximately 50,000 live in the Twin cities area-mostly in Saint.
Paul-making them the largest local Asian community. Numerous .
factors affect the economic self-sufficiency of the Hmong in the Twin.
Cities. As a minority in Laos, the vast majority had limited access to.
education and came to this country without a formal education, thus .
slowing the process of learning English. Most Hmong also made their.
living through a combination of farming and soldiering -skills that did .
not translate to the American job market. In addition, the Indochina .
War forced the Hmong population into years of disruption, dependency.
and enforced inactivity-both in Laos and Thai refugee camps.