MHS Earns National Award for “We Are Hmong Minnesota”

Exhibit traced unique 40-year history

“Peb Yog Hmoob—We Are Hmong Minnesota” was an exhibit at the Minnesota Historical Society that was developed last year as a multi-media depiction of Hmong people in the state, including their history, culture, and their unique story since their initial arrival 40 years ago. This week, the American Association for State and Local History selected the exhibit for its 2016 History in Progress Award.

I interviewed Noah Vang, who contributed research and concepts for the exhibit, in advance of its opening. Vang was born in Laos and spent his early childhood in a refugee camp in Thailand, eventually coming to the United States and graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“I felt separated from my history,” Vang said. “There weren’t any resources—the only history available was American history, and when it comes to the Vietnam War there’s nothing about Laos because it was a secret war. This is my way to connect to a past that I was never part of, to search for that identification with what I am.”

“40 years is a short time, but it’s a long time for us as a community,” he added. “The new Hmong generation in their 20s make up the largest part of our population, and many of them don’t have a connection to the history of my parents’ generation. And if you don’t document it, we’ll lose it for sure.”

Read the entire interview here.

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