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Minnesota’s Chinese American Community

Posted bypennefesm on 17 May 2011 | Tagged as: Asian American, Event

Bessie Moy, Judith Moy, and Mrs. Hum Gin, 1920s (MHS collections)Guest post by Sherri Gebert-Fuller, author of Chinese in Minnesota

One of the greatest rewards of working on the MHS Press book Chinese in Minnesota was meeting so many wonderful people in the Chinese American community.  But that reward also posed a challenge: how does one write about the history of a community and share the accomplishments of a multitude of individuals in an eighty-page book?  The answer?  It’s impossible.

That is why I was pleased to learn about a new project being funded in part by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund called “100 Years of Chinese American History in Minnesota from 1911 to 2011: A Story from Within.” This effort is being led by the Minnesota Chinese Cultural Services Center and several other Chinese organizations in the Twin Cities.

The project’s inspiration?  A 2010 Mother’s Day dinner.  Attendees honoring their mothers realized that their parents and members of the Chinese community had some pretty amazing stories that needed to be documented and shared.  It was time to, as project curator Ange Hwang describes it, “pick up the torch.”

Once the idea for the project was planted, Ms. Hwang set out to determine what kind of documentation about Minnesota’s Chinese community already existed. She conducted research at the Minnesota Historical Society and became familiar with the work of Professor Erika Lee, University of Minnesota, and Weiming Lu, a distinguished urban planner and longtime Twin Cities leader.  Ms. Hwang concluded that the project should focus on capturing stories and photos featuring Chinese American history from 1970 to 2010 while emphasizing how events in China, such as the June 4 Tiananmen Massacre, affected the Chinese community in Minnesota.

Fifteen leaders in the Chinese American community have been interviewed for the project. Individuals represented have advanced the study of science and technology at the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic, established Chinese language programs throughout the state, and contributed to Minnesota’s rich arts scene.  The “100 Years of Chinese American History” project also includes a photo and audio/video exhibition as well as an educational package for schools and organizations. The exhibit is on display, first, at the St. Paul Landmark Center through June 11 and, second, at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center, June 16 through July 16.

Several events are planned around the project.  To learn more, read this Asian American Press article, visit the Republic of China Centennial Celebration Commission of Minnesota website, or call 651-733-9827.

A Refugee’s Powerful Story

Posted byregana on 03 Mar 2011 | Tagged as: Asian American, History, Immigration

Born into WarThe current issue of Asian American Press features an article about a fine and important Minnesota book: Born into War: One Man’s Journey from War-Torn Vietnam to Make a Home in Minnesota, by Connie Fortin as told by Trong Nguyen.

Several years ago in a Hamel, Minnesota, restaurant, Nguyen asked a customer whom he barely knew to take on the task of turning his memories into a book—and Connie Fortin agreed, much to her own surprise. The resulting story features drama, pain, suspense, hard work, luck, love, and success, all told in Trong’s voice and illustrated with family photos from Vietnam and America. It also offers readers a chance to share the experiences of a refugee, to marvel at his accomplishments, and to follow his return to Vietnam to seek out the remains of his father, who was killed by the Viet Cong in a jungle camp.

The book, published by North Star Press of St. Cloud, is available online and at the Minnesota History Center Museum Store.

Hmongtown Marketplace

Posted byAlison Aten on 13 Sep 2010 | Tagged as: Asian American, Authors, History, Immigration, MHS Author in the News, MHS press

Peoples History of the HmongA piece by Jim Ragsdale published in last week’s Pioneer Press titled “The Hmong in St. Paul” profiles Paul Hillmer, author of A People’s History of the Hmong. Ragsdale writes, “the Hmong story is the American immigrant story on fast-forward, happening in our backyard, and likely to happen again.”

While Hillmer’s book is a look at the political and cultural history of the Hmong, for a literal taste of Hmong culture, head on over to Hmongtown in St. Paul. Located at Como Avenue and Marion Street, the indoor-outdoor venue features a farmers market, “food court,” Hmong arts and crafts, videos, health and beauty items, jewelry, clothing, and over two hundred vendors.

Book Trailer: A People’s History of the Hmong

Posted byAlison Aten on 29 Mar 2010 | Tagged as: Asian American, Authors, Event, Immigration, MHS press, Videos

Paul Hillmer’s A People’s History of the Hmong offers a rich narrative history of the worldwide community of the Hmong people, exploring their cultural practices, war and refugee camp experiences, and struggles and triumphs as citizens of new countries. The author describes how he came to write the book in the video linked below.

Professor Hillmer will give the keynote address at the Third International Conference on Hmong Studies at Concordia University on April 10.

He will also speak and sign books at the Rondo Community Library on Wednesday, April 14, at 7:00 p.m.

Thank you to our former design intern, Eric Reiger, for creating this video.

Meet Paul Hillmer Thursday Night

Posted byMary Poggione on 27 Jan 2010 | Tagged as: Asian American, Authors, Event, History, Immigration, MHS press

Peoples History of the HmongMeet Paul Hillmer, author of A People’s History of the Hmong, this Thursday, 1/28, at 6pm at the Concordia University library. Lee Pao Xiong, director for the Center for Hmong Studies, and Kao Kalia Yang, author of The Latehomecomer, will make introductory remarks followed by a thirty-minute presentation by Paul Hillmer, a question and answer period, and a book signing. We look forward to seeing you there!

Author Paul Hillmer and Huffington Post

Posted byMary Poggione on 06 Jan 2010 | Tagged as: Asian American, Authors, History, Immigration, MHS Author in the News, MHS press

Peoples History of the HmongPaul Hillmer, author of A People’s History of the Hmong, is in the Huffington Post today with a new article, Abandoning the Hmong Again?, his analysis of Thailand’s controversial deportation of Hmong people to Laos.

Thailand Deporting Hmong to Laos

Posted byMary Poggione on 28 Dec 2009 | Tagged as: Asian American, Authors, Immigration, MHS press

Peoples History of the HmongThis morning the government of Thailand began forcibly deporting thousands of Hmong asylum seekers to Laos from a refugee camp in the Phetchebun province. Many in the international community, including the United States, have asked for the repatriation to cease as it is feared that the Hmong people would face persecution in Laos due to their support for the U.S. during the Vietnam War.

After the Vietnam War, approximately 150,000 Hmong immigrated to the U.S., with many settling in Minnesota.

For more info on the current repatriation of the Hmong to Laos, you can check out the New York Times. If you would like to learn more about the Hmong people, see Paul Hillmer’s new book A People’s History of the Hmong.

A People’s History of the Hmong - On Its Way to a Bookstore Near You!

Posted byMary Poggione on 02 Dec 2009 | Tagged as: Asian American, Authors, Book Excerpt, History, MHS press

Peoples History of the HmongMHS Press is proud to announce the release of Paul Hillmer’s new book, A People’s History of the Hmong, which considers the lives of the Hmong people over four thousand years, including the role of the Hmong in the Vietnam War, their time in refugee camps, and their emigration to the United States and other countries.

The book is filled with firsthand accounts by Hmong people living in America and abroad, generously sharing their culture, their trials, and their hopes and dreams with the reader.

Several families recount their harrowing escape from Laos after the Vietnam War.

Photo Exhibit of Ban Vinai at Concordia

Posted byMary Poggione on 11 Aug 2009 | Tagged as: Arts, Asian American, Event

Concordia University’s Center for Hmong Studies is hosting a photo exhibit by Doug Hulcher that provides a visual experience of the lives of Hmong refugees from the Ban Vinai - a refugee camp in Thailand where many have now lived for decades.


Established in 2004, the Center for Hmong Studies is a Concordia University-affiliated institution.  The Center exists to promote the scholarly interest, the rich legacy and the complex heritage of the Hmong people. For more information contact the center.



If you would like to read more about the Hmong, check out our book Hmong in Minnesota.

Cooking from the Heart—First Hmong Cookbook

Posted byMary Poggione on 01 Jul 2009 | Tagged as: Asian American, Cooking

COVER: Cooking from the Heart—First Hmong Cookbook

The University of Minnesota Press has recently published the first Hmong cookbook called Cooking from the Heart. The authors also have a great website where you can see a sampling of the recipes and the stories that go along with them.

If you are interested in learning more about the Hmong, check out these two books: Hmong in Minnesota and Bamboo Among the Oaks.

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