“I’ve lived here longer than I lived in Laos, so here is home now.” — Houa Vue Moua, 2011
Journey to Eau Claire | Hmoob Tsiv Los Nyob Rau Zos Dej Ntshiab
As political refugees, Hmong families were eligible for resettlement under international law, and were also eligible to become naturalized citizens in their new country. Several countries resettled Hmong refugees, including the United States, France, Canada, and Australia. More than 100,000 Hmong refugees resettled in the United States. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services worked with private local agencies that volunteered to sponsor Hmong refugees. California, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have the largest Hmong populations in the United States. New arrivals to Eau Claire faced major adjustments to a new culture, language, and climate, in addition to separation from extended family.
Vim kev ua tsov ua rog luag thiaj tso cai rau Hmoob tuaj nyob rau teb chaws Asmeskas, thiaj muaj coob tshaj li 100,000 tus Hmoob khiav tuaj nyob rau teb chaws Asmeskas. Hmoob pib khiav tuaj nyob rau teb chaws Asmeskas xyoo 1975. Hmoob yog ib co neeg tawg rog tuaj nyob teb chaws no vim yog kev ua tsov rog pab Asmeskas nplua tsov rog hu hais tias Secret War nyob rau hauv Nplog teb. Niaj hnub nim no muaj khwv yees li 4.5 feem pua (4.5%) ntawm neeg Hmoob nyob ntiaj teb no yog nyob rau teb chaws Asmeskas hos muaj khwv yees li 3,000 tus Hmoob nyob rau hauv lub zos Dej Ntshiab no. Lub sij hawm Hmoob khiav tuaj txog hauv lub zos Dej Ntshiab lawv kuv ntsib kev nyuaj siab ntau yam xws li tsis paub luag txoj cai, tsis paub lus, tsis paub txog kev noj kev haus thiab tsis swm tej huab cua. Tsis tas li ntawv xwb lawv tseem tso vaj tso tsev, tso kwv tso tij, tso neej tso tsav coob leej ntau tus rau tom qab uas yog ib qho kho siab heev. Raws li paub mas niaj hnub nim no (Xyoo 2019) Hmoob tseem yog cov neeg txawv teb chaws nyob coob tshaj ntawm ib cheeb tsam lub zos Dej Ntshiab no.
Photographer: Jan Folsom
“[My mother] was afraid that she and I would never see each other again. So, leaving Nong Khai [refugee camp] for Bangkok, Thailand to come to Eau Claire was almost like a funeral. I can compare myself to a person who was taken out from the funeral to be buried in the cemetery. It was that difficult.” — Houa Vue Moua, 1993
“Imagine when we came. We came from a place like in the 1920’s—no electricity, no communication. You never see what America is like, … but all we heard is that this is the place where they would take care of us and they would help us and we would be safe. And so that was good enough for us.” — Blia Vang Schwahn, 2008
“When I came to the United States and when I landed in Eau Claire, it was very different. It was weird, it was very weird. We got to Eau Claire December 1st and everything was white and I wondered how do we live on this white land? There’s no land.” — Mai Xee Xiong, 2014
“When we came [to the U.S.], we experienced some racism and discrimination, so that created a lot of stress as well, but since I’ve been here for a while, I’ve kind of adjusted to it.… There’s one time that my dad and I were walking down Barstow Street, and there were kids that spit on my dad’s face, and that wasn’t really good. In our culture, we’re supposed to respect the elders, but when we came here, that stuff happened to our elders, and it was hard. But I haven’t seen anything like that lately.” — Chao Xiong, 2018