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History of the Hmong People

Jun 21, 2013

Hmong woman history of the Hmong people

The Hmong are an ancient civilization in Southeast Asia and among the earliest nomadic groups to call East Asia their home.

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The Hmong have a Long history but much has been lost to time. Scholars have determined that the ancestors of the Hmong migrated east from Mesopotamia and settled in Northern China, long before the Chinese.

The history of the Hmong civilization has been recorded mostly in the oral tradition past down by the Hmong elders in the form of stories. However, there had been contact with the Hmong by other civilizations since ancient times. The ancient Imperial courts of the Chinese dynasties have left us with written records of the Hmong. First recorded as a neighboring civilization in 2700 BC led by the leader Chi You, and later as a resistive force to Chinese expansion. the Hmong moved further and further West then South into what is now Thailand, Laos and Vietnam especially in the 1800’s.
The recent history of the Hmong can only be understood in the context of the country where they live.
In China ( where they are know as “Miao” meaning “barbarian”) the “Miao” (Hmong) finally met strong Chinese officials with whom they shared a common enemy – the ancient imperial dynasty of China. The Hmong, along with other hill tribes, helped Mao Zedong and the Communists flee persecution from the Chinese nationalists during the long march. When Mao Zedong won and established the People’s Republic of China he remembered his days in the villages of the hill tribes. Mao Zedong granted the Miao a certain degree of autonomy. For example, while China has the one child policy the Miao may have more than one child.
In Laos and Vietnam the growth of communism had a much more dire impact on the Hmong people. The Hmong made the unfortunate decision of siding with the power that seemed likely to win the struggle, the American military. Hmong tribesmen gave US soldiers insight into the terrain and topography of the hills of Northern Vietnam and Eastern Laos and had the objective of blocking North Vietnamese supply routes and rescuing American prisoners of war. When The US military lost the conflict the governments of Lao and Vietnam started a campaign of persecuting and “re educating” the Hmong people. Many fled for Thailand and many were given amnesty to the United States and now live around Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The Hmong people now have a vast diaspora spreading across the world. But wherever they are, the Hmong are a people proud of their long history and heritage.

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