Hmong American History Timeline
By Kao-Ly Yang, Ph.D.
Join the Free Group of Discussion Teaching Hmong Culture and Language
“Wherever countries we may live either in the East, in the Southeast or in the West, whatever word we may use to call ourselves, either “Miao”, “Hmong”(Hmoob), “Mong”(Moob), or “Méo”, we all shall remember and cherish our common cultural heritage made of sub-cultures and of divers dialects, and the fragments of our history that we have kept in memory.
Whatever good relationship we may maintain within our community, whatever ideology, beliefs or lifestyle we may seek to promote, how acculturated in the Western cultures we may become, we all shall protect and preserve the unity of our ethnic group as a necessity to enhance our kind so that our descendants will have better opportunities to appear and voice as one unique group
before the challenges of modern societies.”
Kao-Ly Yang PhD
Foreword for the article “Common Basis and Characteristics of Miao and Hmong Identity.”
2700 BC: Description in the Chinese Annals of Chi-You, the mythical ancestor of the Miao people in Central China, near the Yellow River or Yang Tse Kiang. The Miao tribe under Chiyou defeated at Zhuolu defunct prefecture on the border of today provinces of Hebei and Liaoning) by Huang Di leader of the Huaxia tribe as they struggled for supremacy of the Huang He valley.
2200 BC: Battle of the “San Miao” against the great Yu who exterminated this ethnic group
1728-1736: Rebellion of Miao in Guizhou against military pressure in sight of assimilating Miao into Han
1800’s: Several rebellions of the Miao people in Hunan, Guanxi and Guizhou: escape to the South of China and to Southeast Asia.
1851-1862: Participation of the Miao people into the “Taiping Rebellion”.
1854-1873: “The Miao Rebellion” in Guizhou: afterwards exodus to Southeast Asia, more than 10.000 refugees per day crossed the borders of Vietnam towards Laos, and Thailand. Last arrived in the IndochinesePeninsula where the valleys were already occupied, the Hmong people settled down in the Mountainous areas
1893: Colonization of Laos: a French protectorate until 1945.
1918-1920: “The Madman’s War” (Rog phim npab): a Hmong messianic leader, Pa Chay (Paj Cai), raised soldiers to fight against French because of tax imposition. This rebellion lead the French administration to take in consideration the presence of the thnic group in Southeast Asia in attributing administrative and political positions to a few Hmong men.
1936: Raise and fall of Chongtou Lo (Txoov Tub Lauj), son of Lo Bliayao (Lauj Npliaj Yob), to take over his father’s duties as Kaitong (Kiab toom) (“Canton”: political district). However, due to his ineffectiveness, he was replaced by his brother-in-law, Ly Foung (Lis Foom). Ly Foung’s ascension to the position of Kaitong would eventually lead to clan conflict, the Lo Clan against the Ly Clan.
1938: Appointment by French Administration of Touby Lyfoung (Tub Npis Lis Foom), son of the Ly Foung as the Kaitong.
1943: Arrival of Japanese troupes in Laos. Hmong two most powerful clans, the clan Ly/Lyfoung (lead by Touby Lyfoung, son of Ly Foung and nephew of Lo Blia Yao) and the Lo/Lobliayao (Lead by the Faydang Lobliayao (Faiv Ntaj Lauj Npliaj Yob), Lo Bliayao’s son and Touby Lyfoung’s uncle) fought for Lo Bliayao’s political position of “Kaitong” in the District of Non Het in the Province of Xieng Khouang, Laos. The Ly/Lyfoung was supporters of the French colonialists and the Lo/Lobliayao, of the Japanese invaders: the end of the World War II divided the Hmong community into two fractions. The Ly/Lyfoung remained in Laos and supported the Lao royal regime. As for the Lo/Lobliayao, they fled to Vietnam where they joined the Pathet Lao, ally of the Vietnamese communist movement.
1945: September: Declaration of the Vietnam’s Independence by Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi.
1947: Creation of a Lao Constitution where Hmong people are integrated as a part of the Lao Nation.
1952 October: Invention of the Hmong Latin or the Romanized Popular Alphabet (RPA) written system by Catholic missionary Father Yves Bertrais, and American linguists, Dr. Williams Smalley and Pastor Dr. Linwood Barney with the help of two Hmong, yang Yeng (Yaj Yeeb) and Thao Hue (Thoj Hwj), in Luang Prabang in Laos.
1954 May 7: Surrender of the French Military Troupes at Dien Bien Phu, Vietnam. End of the French colonies in Indochina.
1954: Full independence of Laos as a constitutional monarchy. Civil war broke out between royalists and the communist group, the Pathet Lao.
1954: Opening of Geneva Conference.Geneva Agreements adopted, Vietnam provisionally divided at the 17th parallel.
1955: Beginning of the United States direct aid to South Vietnam. United States advisers began the training of South Vietnamese army troops.
1961: Beginning of US building covert up and CIA recruitment of Hmong soldiers as a secret U.S-backed army in Laos, authorized by President John F. Kennedy, warned by his predecessor Dwight Eisenhower, that Laos was the domino that could lead to the loss of the Southeast Asia to communism.
1961-1973: “Secret War” part of the Vietnam War in Laos: the minority Khmu, Mien and mainly Hmong soldiers were recruited to fight the communist party, the Pathet Lao, ally of the North Vietnam. General Vang Pao, after serving the French army, was recruited to support the American effort of war against communism.The estimated number of deaths during the secret War is about 35,000 to 40,000 soldiers; the wounded are about 50,000 to 58,000 and the missing are about 2,500 to 3,000. The Laos was subject to extensive aerial bombardment by the United States in an attempt to destroy the North Vietnamese sanctuaries and to rupture the supply lines known as the “Ho Chi Minh Trail”. It’s estimated that more bombs were dropped in Laos than used during the whole of World War II.
1964, August 7: Amendment of the “Gulf of Tonkin Resolution” by the United States Congress authorizing the President to use military forces in Vietnam to repel attacks on American installations.
1965 February 7: Beginning of bombing military targets in North Vietnam by US Army.
1969 May 14: Top of Bombing strength in Vietnam: at 543,000.
1969 July 12: Death of Lee Lue (Lis Lwm), the Hmong best fighter bomber pilot, shot down by heavy anti-aircraft fire. Lee Lue flew, averaging 120 combat missions a month to build a total of more than 5,000 sorties.
1972 March 30: Launch of the largest offensive of the war since 1968 by People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) troops. The Vietnamese soldiers reached the city of Long Cheng known as the site Lima “LS20A” where lived General Vang Pao with his high ranked militaries. Major Colonel Shoua Yang (Txooj Suav Yaj) and Colonel Shong Leng Xiong (Soov Leej Xyooj) along with their soldiers revealed to be the bravest militaries in defending the city.
1972: Yang Dao (Yaj Daus): First Hmong to obtain a Ph.D. doctorate degree in Economics Sciences, at the University of Paris X, France. He became the role model for the following intellectual generations.
1973 January 27: Agreement on ending the war and restoring peace in Vietnam signed in Paris.
1973 February 21: Signature of the agreement to stop fighting with the Pathet Lao by the King, Sri Savang Vatthana. Vientiane ceasefire agreement divides Laos between the communists and the royalists.
1974 April: Creation of a government of National Union, which is the cohabitation between the royal party and the Pathet Lao.
1975 April 30: Fall of Saigon to North Vietnam.The exodus began: hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese became refugees by escaping by boat, communist oppression and re-education camps in the coming years. The fall of South Vietnam anticipated the fall of Laos in May.
1975 May 14: Arrival of the first Hmong refugees in Thailand. Most military families flew to Udon Thani before being transferred to the temporary campNamphong and to Ban Vinai.
1975 May: Birth of the Hmong resistance movement, lead by Sayshoua Yang (Xaiv Suav Yaj) then by Pakao Her (Paj Kaub Hawj) in the 1980’s: the resistants lived in the jungle of Laos and got support from the Hmong in Thailand and overseas.
1975 May to 1990’s: Inestimable number of thousands of Hmong murdered by the communists when trying to flee to neighboring Thailand by crossing the Mekong River.
1975 May 10: Opening of the military camp “Namphong” to welcoming Laotian first refugees
1975 July: Departure of General Vang Pao lfrom Thailand to the United States. First families, including Dr. Yang Dao’s family, migrated to France and the United States.
1975 December 2: Abdication of the King Savang Vatthana. He was arrested with many other personalities, including Touby Lyfoung. Most of them died in captivity in re-education camps in Samneua province. The communist Lao People’s Democratic Republic (LPDR) was established with one legal political party.
1975-1978: “First Wave of Southeast Asian Refugees” where with more educated refugees in the United States. More than 130,000, refugees, predominantly Vietnameses, entered the U.S. Congress passes the Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act to provide funds for resettlement programs.
1976: Removal of the Hmong refugees at Namphong camp to Ban Vinai, a former military training camp in Thailand. Opening of additional refugees camps: Ban Vinai, Non khai (Province of Loei, closed in 1982), Poua (Province of Nan), Ubone (closed in1982), Outradith, and ChiangKhang.
1977 July: Departure of the high ranked military households for overseas.
1975-1980: Arrival of the Hmong first families in Hawaii, Oregon, Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin and California.
1975-1990: Official number of 150,000 Hmong refugees in France, US, and other countries.
1977: Amendment of Congress law allowing SEA refugees to become permanent resident upon request.
1977: Creation of the first Lao Family Community Based Organization by General Vang Pao and his committee in Santa Ana, California.
1978: Visible sign of drops of chemical agent called Yellow Rains by the Pathet Lao on Hmong villages in the Mountain Phou Bia region where the Hmong resistants were hidden.
1979-2003: “Second Wave of Southeast Asian Refugees” with less educated people in the United States.
1979: Modification of the Thai government approach to supply the refugees because of food shortages and the flight of hundreds of thousands of refugees to Thailand. Some private enterprises within agriculture were permitted.
1980’s: Secondary migration inside the United States: Hmong people arrived in different states, sponsored by American citizens, finally gathered into three states: California, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
1981: Detection of chemical agents used against the Hmong and other minorities by Western scientists. These chemical agents were from the former Soviet Union. General Vang Pao asked for an investigation into the use of chemicals against the Hmong. The United Nations voted for an investigation of the use of chemicals in Laos. The United States held hearings on the use of chemicals in Laos.
1986: Death of 5 Asian children by open fire in Stockton, California, Cleveland Elementary School: this case deeply affected the feeling of safety of the Hmong community in the United States.
1991: Choua Lee (Cua Lis): First Southeast Asian American and Hmong woman to become school board at the age of 23 years old, in St Paul, Minnesota.
1993: Escape of 10,000 Hmong refugees from the official refugee camps to Thai Buddhist temple “Wat Tham Krabok” rather than be repatriated.
1993: Creation of the Hmong National Development, a native non-profit organization in Washington D.C. for advocating more visibility of Hmong issues and self-sufficiency.
1995: Beginning of a five-man fact-finding mission to Thailand by Representative Steve Gunderson (WI) and Representative Christopher Smith (NJ). They wanted information concerning repatriation and various atrocities. Their findings confirmed the information that had previously been considered rumors.
1995: Closure ofall refugee camps in Thailand.
1997: Acceptance of Laos as a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The Asian financial crisis decimated the value of the Lao currency, the kip.
1997: Recognition of the Hmong veterans in Washington D.C. for their efforts during the Vietnam War.
2000: The Hmong Veterans’ Naturalization Act of 2000, which became law on May 26, 2000, and which was amended on November 1, 2000, provides an exemption from the English language requirement and special consideration for civics testing for certain refugees from Laos applying for naturalization.
2000: Appointment of Lee Pao Xiong (Lis Pov Xyooj) by President Bill Clinton to the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian-American and Pacific Islanders.
2001: Mee Moua (Mim Muas), first Southeast Asian American and Hmong woman to be elected as a State Senator in Minnesota.
2003: Dr. Tony Vang (Toua Vaj), first elected Hmong in California, as school board in Fresno Unified School District.
2003 June: Amendment of the Assembly Bill AB78 introduced by Assembly Woman Sarah Reyes with the support of a group of Hmong women to recommend the teaching of the “Secret War” at all California public schools from grade 7 to 12.
2003 June: Cy Thao (Xais Thoj), first State Representative in the district 65A, Minnesota
2003 December: Announcement by the U.S. State Department of the resettlement of 15,000 Hmong refugees from the Temple “Wat Tham Krabok” camp in Thailand to the United States.
2004 April-present: New waves of escape of the Hmong Laotians to Thailand, trying to join the last Hmong refugees of 1975 at “Wat Tham Krabok”, hoping to be able to come to America. They are retained in the Thai province of Petchabun. Thai authorities and the High Commissariat of Refugees try to find an appropriate solution for the repatriation.
2004 May 27: Release of the reportage “A Day of War” by the English channel BBC on the fraction of Hmong resistance living in the jungle since 1975 in Laos.
2004 June -present: The “Third Wave of Southeast Asian Refugees”, mainly Hmong from “Wat Tham Krabok”, Thailand arrived in the United States.