Hmong History - Life in Laos

The Hmong migrated from southern China in the nineteenth century to the mountainous areas of Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. During the Vietnam War the Hmong worked with the American CIA in the "secret war" in Laos, and therefore were forced to flee their homeland after the victory of the communists. After spending time in refugee camps in Thailand, many Hmong settled in the United States, with large concentrations in California (ca. 75,000), Minnesota (ca. 40,000), and Wisconsin (ca. 40,000).

Have you ever wondered what life was like for a typical Hmong family in Laos? The Hmong people were farmers, most living in small villages high in the mountains. After helping the American CIA during the Vietnam War, the Hmong people were forced to flee for their lives. Many were resettled in the United States. The old way of life was very different from their new way of life.

There are only two seasons in Laos, the rainy season and the dry season. It is warm year around. Homes and other buildings are made of bamboo and wood. There is no electricity for the mountain people, no machinery, and no roads. The Hmong walk to their farms and carry home the produce. All work is done by hand. They grow and make everything needed to sustain the family.

Click on the links below to learn more about life in Laos.

A typical year in the life of a Hmong family

Hmong traditions such as Ball Tossing or Marriage

Project LAOS

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