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Hmong

LaosCountry Profile
There is no Hmong nation or state.  The Hmong have traditionally lived in Laos, Vietnam and China and are an ethnic group, not a nationality.

The People
The Hmong people were farmers in Laos and Vietnam during the Vietnam War.  Many Hmong fought with support from the US against the Vietcong and Communist forces inside Laos.  Following the U.S. withdrawal from the region the Hmong were forced to abandon their homes and seek refuge in Thailand.

The Hmong have always been an independent population living in the mountains of Southeast Asia.  The Hmong culture is traditionally agrarian.

Language
Hmong is a monosyllabic tonal language.  There was no written script until western missionaries devised one in the early 1950s.  Previously the Hmong maintained a purely oral culture.

Religion
The Hmong are traditionally animists believing in spirits and the supernatural world, defined as the world that cannot be seen by human eyes. Contact with the spirit world is made through a shaman, a religious and a medical leader, similar to a Native American medicine man or woman.

Many Hmong living in America continue to practice their traditional religious beliefs while others have joined Christian churches.

Arrival in U.S.
The Hmong began coming to the U.S. during the 1970s. There are 150,000 Hmong in the U.S. with Minnesota, Wisconsin and California having the largest populations.

Minnesota Population
The first Hmong family arrived in Minnesota in 1975.  The Hmong population in Minnesota is now estimated at 60,000 with the majority living in St. Paul.  It is believed that Minnesota has the largest Hmong population in the United States.

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