The Hmong in Eau Claire can trace their historic roots to southern China. In the early 1800s, Imperial China began suppressing the Hmong and other ethnic minorities. This timeline begins when large numbers of Hmong left southern China and resettled in the mountains of Southeast Asia.

Hmong in Eau Claire Timeline

  • 1810s - Migration
    Hmong begin to migrate to Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand.
  • 1893 - French Empire Expands in South East Asia
    France forcibly adds Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia to its colonial empire.
  • 1950s - Written Hmong Language
    A written version of the Hmong language is developed by French and American missionaries.
  • 1954 - French Collapse
    French control of the region collapses, and the Geneva Accords designate Laos and Cambodia as neutral countries.
  • 1955 - War
    Vietnam War begins.
  • 1961 - United States Gets Involved
    The United States enters the Vietnam War. The Secret War begins and Hmong soldiers serve the United States as a secret anti-communist force in Laos during the war.

    Hmong soldiers marching before dignitaries at Sam Thong, Laos, 1960s. Photographer:  Wayne Persons.
  • 1975 - End of Vietnam War
    The Vietnam War ends and Hmong people begin fleeing Laos to refugee camps in Thailand to escape communist persecution. The first Hmong refugees arrive in the United States. One-third of the Hmong population leaves Laos between 1975 and 1992.
  • 1976 - First Hmong Arrive in Eau Claire

    The first Hmong families arrive in Eau Claire, sponsored by Trinity Lutheran Church. The Eau Claire Area School District and UW-Eau Claire begin an English Second Language (ESL) educator training program. 

    Arriving in Eau Claire 1976
    Moua family arriving in Eau Claire on April 9, 1976. Courtesy Trinity Lutheran Church
  • 1980 - New Year Celebration
    Hmong residents hold the first New Year celebration in Eau Claire.
  • 1981 - A Hmong Grocery
    Yer Vang opens the first Hmong grocery store, Vue Oriental Grocery, on Water Street. The Hmong Christian Alliance Church is established in Eau Claire.
  • 1982 - ECAHMAA Opens
    The Eau Claire Area Hmong Mutual Assistance Association is founded to direct newcomers to available social services.
  • 1989 - 1st Hmong UWEC Graduate
    Charles Vue, a social work major, is the first Hmong person to graduate from UW-Eau Claire.
  • 1990 - WUEC-FM Airs Hmong Language Program
    “Hmong Community News,” the first Hmong language radio program in Eau Claire, begins airing on WUEC-FM.
  • 1991 - Professors and Firefighters

    Dr. Thao Yang is the first Hmong American professor at UW-Eau Claire, and likely the first Hmong person to earn a doctoral degree in biochemistry in the country. 

    Bouachao Xiong is the first Hmong American firefighter in Eau Claire and the U.S.

  • 1993 - 1st Hmong Person to Run for Public Office in Eau Claire
    Charles Vue runs for a seat on the Eau Claire Shool Board, becoming the first Hmong person to run for public office in Eau Claire.

    Charles Vue Sign     

    Charles Vue for School Board election poster, 1992
  • 1996 - City Council

    Joe Bee Xiong is the first Hmong person to run for city council in Eau Claire, and becomes the first Hmong city council member in the state of Wisconsin after his election.

  • 2001 - A Principal at Locust Lane Elementary
    Kaying Xiong-Vue becomes the principal at Locust Lane Elementary and the first Hmong person named to an administrative position in the Eau Claire Area School District.
  • 2004 - More Newcomers
    The second wave of Hmong refugees arrive in the United States from Thailand.
  • 2008 - A New President of the Eau Claire Area Hmong Mutual Assistance Association

    Caitlin Lee becomes the first female president of the Eau Claire Area Hmong Mutual Assistance Association.

  • 2009 - A Doctor at Luther Midlefort
    Dr. Muaj Lo, a family medicine physician at Luther Midelfort, becomes the first Hmong medical doctor in Eau Claire.
  • 2013 - News Anchors and School Board Members

    Jesse Yang becomes the first Hmong American news anchor in Eau Claire. 

    Chue Xiong becomes the first Hmong person elected to the Eau Claire Area School Board.

  • 2018 - Hmong Culture in the Schools and a Judge in Minnesota

    The first courses in Hmong history, culture, and language are offered for K-12 students by the Eau Claire Hmong Mutual Assistance Association and the Eau Claire Area School District. The Hmong Studies program is first offered at UW-Eau Claire. 

    Sophia Vuelo, who grew up in Eau Claire, becomes the first Hmong American judge in Minnesota.