The Full Wiki

Hmong people: Map

  
  
  

Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:



The terms Mong ( ) and Hmong ( ) refer to an Asian ethnic group in the mountainous regions of Vietnammarker, Laosmarker, Thailandmarker and Burmamarker. Hmong are also one of the sub-groups of the Miao ethnicity in southern China. Hmong groups began a gradual southward migration in the 18th century due to political unrest and to find more arable land.

A number of Hmong/Mong people fought against the communist-nationalist Pathet Lao during the Secret War in Laos. Hmong/Mong people were singled out for retribution when the Pathet Lao took over the Laotian government in 1975, and tens of thousands fled to Thailand seeking political asylum. Thousands of these refugees have resettled in Western countries since the late 1970s, mostly the United Statesmarker but also Australia, Francemarker, French Guianamarker, and Canadamarker. Others have been returned to Laos under United Nations-sponsored repatriation programs. Around 8,000 Hmong/Mong refugees remain in Thailand.

Nomenclature

Hmong people have their own terms for their subcultural divisions, "White Hmong" (Hmong Der) and "Green" (Mong Leng) being the terms for two of the largest groups. In the Romanized Popular Alphabet, developed in the 1950s in Laos, these terms are written Hmoob Dawb (White Hmong) and Moob Leeg (Green Mong). The doubled vowels indicate nasalization, and the final consonants indicate with which of the eight lexical tones the word is pronounced. White Hmong and Green Mong people speak mutually intelligible dialects of the Hmong language with some differences in pronunciation and vocabulary. One of the most obvious differences is the use of the aspirated /m/ in White Hmong (indicated by the letter "h") not found in the Green Mong dialect. Other groups of Hmong/Mong people include the Black Hmong (Hmoob Dub), Striped Hmong (Hmoob Txaij/Hmoob Quas Npab), Hmong Shi, Hmong Pe, Hmong Pua, and Hmong Xau.

Since 1949, Miao has been an official term for one of the 55 official minority groups recognized by the government of the People's Republic of Chinamarker. The Miao live mainly in southern China, in the provinces of Guizhoumarker, Hunanmarker, Yunnanmarker, Sichuanmarker, Guangxi, Hainanmarker, Guangdongmarker, Hubeimarker, and elsewhere in China. According to the 2000 census, the number of 'Miao' in China was estimated to be about 9.6 million. The Miao nationality includes Hmong/Mong people as well as other culturally- and linguistically-related ethnic groups who do not call themselves either Hmong or Mong. These include the Hmu, Kho (Qho) Xiong, and A Hmao. The White Miao (Bai Miao) and Green Miao (Qing Miao) are both Hmong/Mong groups.

Usage of the term "Miao" in Chinese documents dates back to the Shi Ji (1st century BC) and the Zhan Guo Ce (late Western Han Dynasty). During this time, it was generally applied to people of the southern regions thought to be descendants of the San Miao kingdom (dated to around the 3rd century BC.) The term does not appear again until the Ming dynastymarker (1368–1644), by which time it had taken on the connotation of "barbarian." Interchangeable with "man" and "yi," it was used to refer to the indigenous people of the south-western frontier who refused to submit to imperial rule. During this time, references to Raw (Sheng) and Cooked (Shu) Miao appear, referring to level of assimilation and political cooperation of the two groups. Not until the Qing dynastymarker (1644–1911) do more finely grained distinctions appear in writing. Even then, discerning which ethnic groups are included in various classifications can be problematic. This inconsistent usage of "Miao" makes it difficult to say for sure if Hmong/Mong people are always included in these historical writings. Linguistic evidence, however, places Hmong/Mong people in the same regions of southern China that they inhabit today for at least the past 2,000 years. By the mid-18th century, classifications become specific enough that it is easier to identify references to Hmong/Mong people.

In Southeast Asia, Hmong/Mong people are referred to by other names, including: Vietnamese: Mèo or H'Mông; Thai: แม้ว (Maew) or ม้ง (Mong); Burmese: mun lu-myo (မံုလူမ်ိဳး). "Mèo", or variants thereof, is considered highly derogatory by many Hmong/Mong people and is infrequently used today outside of Southeast Asia.

Because the Hmong lived mainly in the highland areas of Southeast Asia and China, the French occupiers of Southeast Asia gave them the name Montagnards or "mountain people", but this should not be confused with the Degar people of Vietnam, who were also referred to as Montagnards.


Controversy over nomenclature

Hmong and Mong

When Western authors came in contact with Hmong and Mong people, beginning in the eighteenth-century, they referred to them in writing by ethnonyms assigned by the Chinese (i.e. Miao, or variants). This practice continued into the twentieth century. Even ethnographers studying the Hmong/Mong people in Southeast Asia often referred to them as Meo, a corruption of Miao applied by Thai and Lao people to the Hmong/Mong. Although "Meo" was an official term, it was often used as an insult against Hmong/Mong people and it is considered to be highly derogatory. In the middle of the twentieth century, a concerted effort was made to refer to Hmong/Mong by their own ethnonyms in scholarly literature. By the 1970s, it became standard to refer to the entire ethnic group as "Hmong." This was reinforced during the influx of Hmong/Mong immigrants to the United States after 1975. Research proliferated, much of it being directed toward the American Hmong Der community. Several states with Hmong/Mong populations issued official translations only in the Hmong Der dialect. At the same time, more Mong Leng people voiced concerns that the supposed inclusive term "Hmong" only served to exclude them from the national discourse.

The issue came to a head during the passage of California State Assembly Bill (AB) 78, in the 2003–2004 season. Introduced by Doua Vu and Assembly Member Sarah Reyes, District 31 (Fresno), the bill encouraged changes in secondary education curriculum to include information about the Secret War and the role of Hmong/Mong people in the war. Furthermore, the bill called for the use of oral histories and first hand accounts from Hmong/Mong people who had participated in the war and who were caught up in the aftermath. Originally, the language of the bill mentioned only "Hmong" people, intending to include the entire community. A number of Mong Leng activists, led by Dr. Paoze Thao (Professor of Linguistics and Education at California State University, Monterey Baymarker), drew attention to the problems associated with omitting "Mong" from the language of the bill. They noted that despite nearly equal numbers of Hmong Der and Mong Leng in the United States, resources are disproportionately directed toward the Hmong Der community. This includes not only scholarly research, but also the translation of materials, potentially including curriculum proposed by the bill. Despite these arguments, "Mong" was not added to the bill. In the version that passed the assembly, "Hmong" was replaced by "Southeast Asians", a more broadly inclusive term.

Dr. Paoze Thao and others feel strongly that "Hmong" can refer only to Hmong Der people and does not include Mong Leng people. He feels that the usage of "Hmong" in reference to both groups perpetuates the marginalization of Mong Leng language and culture. Thus, he advocates the usage of both "Hmong" and "Mong" when referring to the entire ethnic group. Other scholars, including anthropologist Dr. Gary Yia Lee (a Hmong Der person), suggest that "Hmong" has been used for the past 30 years to refer to the entire community and that the inclusion of Mong Leng people is understood. Some argue that such distinctions create unnecessary divisions within the global community and will only confuse non-Hmong/Mong people trying to learn more about Hmong/Mong history and culture.

The designation (H)mong seems to solve this conundrum and is seeing increasing use.

Hmong, Mong, and Miao

Some non-Chinese Hmong advocate that the term Hmong or Mong be used not only for designating their dialect group, but also for the other Miao groups living in China. They generally claim that the word "Miao" is a derogatory term, with connotations of barbarism, that probably should not be used at all. The term was later adapted by Tai-speaking groups in Southeast Asia where it took on especially insulting associations for Hmong people despite its official status. In modern China, the term "Miao" does not carry these negative associations and people of the various sub-groups that constitute this officially recognized nationality freely identify themselves as Miao or Chinese, typically reserving more specific ethnonyms for intra-ethnic communication. During the struggle for political recognition after 1949, it was actually members of these ethnic minorities who campaigned for identification under the umbrella term "Miao" — taking advantage of its familiarity and associations of historical political oppression.

Contemporary transnational interactions between Hmong in the West and Miao groups in China, following the 1975 Hmong diaspora, have led to the development of a global Hmong identity that includes linguistically and culturally related minorities in China that previously had no ethnic affiliation. Scholarly and commercial exchanges, increasingly communicated via the Internet, have also resulted in an exchange of terminology, including Hmu and A Hmao people identifying as Hmong and, to a lesser extent, Hmong people accepting the designation "Miao," within the context of China. Such realignments of identity, while largely the concern of economically elite community leaders, reflect a trend towards the interchangeability of the terms "Hmong" and "Miao."

History

The early history of the Hmong has proven difficult to trace. According to Ratliff, there is linguistic evidence to suggest that they have occupied the same areas of southern China for at least the past 2,000 years. Evidence from mitochondrial DNA in Hmong-Mien/Miao-Yao language speaking populations supports the southern origins of maternal lineages even further back in time, although Hmong/Miao speaking populations show more contact with northeast Asians (i.e. northern Han) than Mien/Yao populations. Historical Chinese documents describe that area being inhabited by 'Miao' people, a group with whom Hmong people are often identified.

Yet, the history of the 'Miao' cannot be equated with the history of the Hmong. Although the term 'Miao' is used today by the Chinese government to denote a group of linguistically and culturally related people (including the Hmong, Hmu, Kho Xiong, and A Hmao), it has been used inconsistently in the past. Throughout the written history of China, it was applied to a variety of peoples considered to be marginal to Han society, including many who are unrelated to contemporary Hmong/Mong people. Christian Culas and Jean Michaud note: "In all these early accounts, then, until roughly the middle of the nineteenth century, there is perpetual confusion about the exact identity of the population groups designated by the term Miao. We should therefore be cautious with respect to the historical value of any early associations."

Conflict between Miao groups and newly arrived settlers increased during the eighteenth-century under repressive economic and cultural reforms imposed by the Qing Dynastymarker. This led to armed conflict and large-scale migrations continuing into the late nineteenth-century, the period during which most Hmong people emigrated to Southeast Asia. The process began as early as the late-seventeenth-century, before the time of major social unrest, when small groups went in search of better agricultural opportunities.

From July 1919 to March 1921 the Hmong of French Indochina revolted against the colonial authorities in what the French called the War of the Insane ("La Guerre des Fous") and what the Hmongs call Rog Paj Cai (named after the leader Paj Cai, but literally means The War of the flowering of the Law).

Geography

While China has the largest population of Hmong people, an exact figure is hard to determine. According to the 1990 census, of the 7.4 million Miao people, 5.4 million were recorded as speaking a Miao language. Of these, around 2 million spoke a dialect of the Hmong language. Currently, based on projected growth rates, along with the inclusion of previously overlooked dialects, the number of speakers of the Hmong language in China has been estimated to be around 3 million.
Figures for Indochina are more concrete: There is also small population of Hmong people in Myanmarmarker, but no exact figure is available.

Outside of Asia, the United States is home to the largest Hmong population. The 2000 census counted 169,428 persons of Hmong people. This number has been criticized for seriously undercounting the actual population, which has been estimated to be anywhere between 250,000 and 300,000. Other countries with significant populations include:

Within the United States, the Hmong population is centred in the Upper Midwest (Wisconsinmarker, Minnesotamarker) and Californiamarker.

Laos

The "Secret War"

General Vang Pao
In the early 1960s, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) Special Activities Division began to recruit, train and lead the indigenous Hmong people in Laos to join fighting the Vietnam War, named as a Special Guerrilla Unit led by General Vang Pao. About 60% of the Hmong men in Laos were supported by the CIA to join fighting for the "Secret War" in Laos. The CIA used the Special Guerrilla Unit as the counter attack unit to block the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the main military supply route from the north to the south.Hmong soldiers put their lives at risk in the frontline fighting for the United States to block the supply line and to rescue downed American pilots. In 1967-1971, 3,772 Hmong soldiers were killed in the frontline, 5,426 were injured and disabled. In 1962-1975, about 12,000 Hmong died fighting against Pathet Lao.

General Vang Pao led the Region II (MR2) defense against NVA incursion from his headquarters in Long Chengmarker, also known as Lima Site 20 Alternate (LS 20A). At the height of its activity, Long Cheng became the second largest city in Laos. Long Cheng was a micro-nation operational site with its own bank, airport, school system, officials, and many other facilities and services in addition to its military units. Before the end of the Secret War, Long Cheng would fall in and out of General Vang Pao's control.

The Secret War began around the time that the U.S. became officially involved in the Vietnam War. Following the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975, the Lao kingdom was overthrown by the communists and the Hmong people became targets of retaliation and persecution. While some Hmong people returned to their villages and attempted to resume life under the new regime, thousands more made the trek to and across the Mekong River into Thailand, often under attack. This marked the beginning of a mass exodus of Hmong people from Laos. Those who did make it to Thailand generally were held in squalid United Nations refugee camps. Nearly 20 years later, in the 1990s, a major international debate ensued over whether the Hmong should be returned to Laos, where opponents of their return argued they were being subjected to persecution, or afforded the right to emigrate to the U.S. and other Western nations.

Hmong Lao resistance



Of those Hmong who did not flee Laos, somewhere between two and three thousand were sent to re-education camps where political prisoners served terms of 3–5 years. Many Hmong died in these camps, after being subjected to hard physical labor and harsh conditions. Thousands more Hmong people, mainly former soldiers and their families, escaped to remote mountain regions - particularly Phou Biamarker, the highest (and thus least accessible) mountain peak in Laos. Initially, some Hmong groups staged attacks against Pathet Lao and Vietnamese troops while others remained in hiding to avoid military retaliation and persecution. Spiritual leader Zong Zoua Her rallied his followers in a guerrilla resistance movement called Chao Fa (RPA: Cauj Fab). Initial military successes by these small bands led to military counter-attacks by government forces, including aerial bombing and heavy artillery, as well as the use of defoliants and chemical weapons.

Small groups of Hmong people, many of them second or third generation descendants of former CIA soldiers, remain internally displaced in remote parts of Laos, in fear of government reprisals. Faced with continuing military operations against them by the government and a scarcity of food, some groups have begun coming out of hiding, while others have sought asylum in Thailand and other countries.

Throughout the Vietnam War, and for two decades following it, the U.S. government stated that there was no "Secret War" in Laos and that the U.S. was not engaged in air or ground combat operations in Laos. In the late 1990s, however, several U.S. conservatives, alleging that the Clinton administration was using the denial of this covert war to justify a repatriation of Thailand-based Hmong war veterans to Laos, urged the U.S. government to acknowledge the existence of the Secret War and to honor the Hmong and U.S. veterans from the war. On May 15, 1997, in a total reversal of U.S. policy, the U.S. government acknowledged that it had supported a prolonged air and ground campaign against the NVA and VietCong. It simultaneously dedicated the Laos Memorial on the grounds of Arlington National Cemeterymarker in honor of the Hmong and other combat veterans from the Secret War.

Controversy over repatriation

In 1989, the UNHCR, with the support of the United States government, instituted the Comprehensive Plan of Action, a program to stem the tide of Indochinese refugees from Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Under the plan, the status of the refugees was to be evaluated through a screening process. Recognized asylum seekers were to be given resettlement opportunities, while the remaining refugees were to be repatriated under guarantee of safety.

After talks with the UNHCR and the Thai government, Laos agreed to repatriate the 60,000 Lao refugees living in Thailand, including several thousand Hmong people. Very few of the Lao refugees, however, were willing to return voluntarily. Pressure to resettle the refugees grew as the Thai government worked to close its remaining refugee camps. While some Hmong people returned to Laos voluntarily, with development assistance from UNHCR, allegations of forced repatriation surfaced. Of those Hmong who did return to Laos, some quickly escaped back to Thailand, describing discrimination and brutal treatment at the hands of Lao authorities.

In 1993, Vue Mai, a former Hmong soldier who had been recruited by the U.S. Embassy in Bangkokmarker to return to Laos as proof of the repatriation program's success, disappeared in Vientianemarker. According to the U.S. Committee for Refugees, he was arrested by Lao security forces and was never seen again.

Following the Vue Mai incident, debate over the Hmong's planned repatriation to Laos intensified greatly, especially in the U.S., where it drew strong opposition from many American conservatives and some human rights advocates. In an October 23, 1995 National Review article, Michael Johns, the former Heritage Foundation foreign policy expert and Republican White Housemarker aide, labeled the Hmong's repatriation a Clinton administration "betrayal," describing the Hmong as a people "who have spilled their blood in defense of American geopolitical interests." Debate on the issue escalated quickly. In an effort to halt the planned repatriation, the Republican-led U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives both appropriated funds for the remaining Thailand-based Hmong to be immediately resettled in the U.S.; Clinton, however, responded by promising a veto of the legislation.
In the 1990s, many Flower Hmong switched from their traditional colourful dress to western clothing.
In their opposition of the repatriation plans, Republicans also challenged the Clinton administration's position that the Laotian government was not systematically violating Hmong human rights. U.S. Representative Steve Gunderson (R-WI), for instance, told a Hmong gathering: "I do not enjoy standing up and saying to my government that you are not telling the truth, but if that is necessary to defend truth and justice, I will do that." Republicans also called several Congressional hearings on alleged persecution of the Hmong in Laos in an apparent attempt to generate further support for their opposition to the Hmong's repatriation to Laos.

Although some accusations of forced repatriation were denied, thousands of Hmong people refused to return to Laos. In 1996, as the deadline for the closure of Thai refugee camps approached, and under mounting political pressure, the U.S. agreed to resettle Hmong refugees who passed a new screening process. Around 5,000 Hmong people who were not resettled at the time of the camp closures sought asylum at Wat Tham Krabokmarker, a Buddhist monastery in central Thailand where more than 10,000 Hmong refugees were already living. The Thai government attempted to repatriate these refugees, but the Wat Tham Krabok Hmong refused to leave and the Lao government refused to accept them, claiming they were involved in the illegal drug trade and were of non-Lao origin.

In 2003, following threats of forcible removal by the Thai government, the U.S., in a significant victory for the Hmong, agreed to accept 15,000 of the refugees. Several thousand Hmong people, fearing forced repatriation to Laos if they were not accepted for resettlement in the U.S., fled the camp to live elsewhere within Thailand where a sizable Hmong population has been present since the 19th-century.

In 2004 and 2005, thousands of Hmong fled from the jungles of Laos to a temporary refugee camp in the Thai province of Phetchabunmarker. These Hmong refugees, many of whom are descendants of the former-CIA Secret Army and their relatives, claim that they have been attacked by both the Lao and Vietnamese military forces operating inside Laos as recently as June 2006. The refugees claim that attacks against them have continued almost unabated since the war officially ended in 1975, and have become more intense in recent years.

Lending further support to earlier claims that the government of Laos was persecuting the Hmong, filmmaker Rebecca Sommer documented first-hand accounts in her documentary, Hunted Like Animals, and in a comprehensive report which includes summaries of claims made by the refugees and was submitted to the U.N. in May 2006.

The European Union , UNHCHR, UNHCR, and international groups have since spoken out about the forced repatriation.
The Thai foreign ministry has said that it will halt deportation of Hmong refugees held in Detention Centers Nong Khai,  while talks are underway to resettle them in Australia, Canadamarker, the Netherlandsmarker and the United States.


For the time being, countries willing to resettle the refugees are hindered to proceed with immigration and settlement procedures because the Thai administration does not grant them access to the refugees. Plans to resettle additional Hmong refugees in the U.S. have been complicated by provisions of President Bush's Patriot Act and Real ID Act, under which Hmong veterans of the Secret War, who fought on the side of the United States, are classified as terrorists because of their historical involvement in armed conflict.

Alleged plot to overthrow government of Laos

On June 4, 2007, as part of a lengthy and still ongoing federal investigation labeled "Operation Flawed Eagle," warrants were issued by U.S. federal courts ordering the arrest of Vang Pao and nine others for plotting to overthrow the government of Laos in violation of the federal Neutrality Acts and for multiple weapons charges. The federal charges allege that members of the group inspected weapons, including AK-47s, smoke grenades, and Stinger missiles, with the intent of purchasing them and smuggling them into Thailand in June 2007 where they were intended to be used by Hmong resistance forces in Laos. The one non-Hmong person of the nine arrested, Harrison Jack, a 1968 West Point graduate and retired Army infantry officer, allegedly attempted to recruit Special Operations veterans to act as mercenaries.

In an effort to obtain the weapons, Jack allegedly met unknowingly with undercover U.S. federal agents posing as weapons dealers, which prompted the issuance of the warrants as part of a long-running investigation into the activities of the U.S.-based Hmong leadership and its supporters.

On June 15, the defendants were indicted by a grand jury and a warrant was also issued for the arrest of an 11th man, allegedly involved in the plot. Simultaneous raids of the defendants homes and work locations, involving over 200 federal, state and local law enforcement officials, were conducted in approximately 15 cities in central and southern California.

The defendants face possible life prison terms for violation of the Neutrality Acts and various weapons charges. They initially were denied bail, with a federal court ruling that they were likely flight risks, given their extensive connections, access to private aircraft, and resources.

Multiple protest rallies in support of the suspects, designed to raise awareness of the treatment of Hmong peoples in the jungles of Laos, have taken place in California, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and several of Vang Pao's high-level supporters in the U.S. have criticized the California court that issued the arrest warrants, arguing that Vang is an historically important American ally and a currently valued leader of U.S. and foreign-based Hmong. However, calls for Californian Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former President George W. Bush to pardon the defendants have yet to be answered, presumably pending a conclusion of the large and still-ongoing federal investigation.

On September 18, 2009, the federal government dropped all charges against Vang Pao, announcing in a release that the federal government was permitted to consider "the probable sentence or other consequences if the person is convicted.”

The Americas

Many Hmong/Mong refugees resettled in the United Statesmarker after the Vietnam War. Beginning in December 1975, the first Hmong/Mong refugees arrived in the U.S., mainly from refugee camps in Thailand; however, only 3,466 were granted asylum at that time under the Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1975. In May 1976, another 11,000 were allowed to enter the United States, and by 1978 some 30,000 Hmong/Mong people had immigrated. This first wave was made up predominantly of men directly associated with General Vang Pao's secret army. It was not until the passage of the Refugee Act of 1980 that families were able to enter the U.S., becoming the second wave of Hmong/Mong immigrants. Today, approximately 270,000 Hmong/Mong people reside in the United States, the plurality of whom live in Californiamarker (65,095 according to the 2000 U.S. census), Minnesotamarker (41,800), and Wisconsinmarker (33,791).Chicomarker, Fresnomarker, Eurekamarker, Banningmarker, Stocktonmarker, and Sacramentomarker, Californiamarker; Detroit, Michiganmarker; Minneapolismarker-Saint Paul, Minnesotamarker; Lowell, Massachusettsmarker; and Madisonmarker, Milwaukeemarker, and Wausaumarker, Wisconsin have especially high concentrations of Hmong/Mong people.

There are smaller Hmong/Mong populations scattered across the country, including Anchorage, Alaskamarker, Missoula, Montanamarker;Northeastern Washington State[Spokane]; western North Carolina (Charlottemarker, Hickorymarker, and Morgantonmarker); northeastern Georgia (Auburnmarker, Duluthmarker, Monroemarker, Atlantamarker, and Windermarker); Linda Vista, California; Wisconsin (Eau Clairemarker, Appletonmarker, Green Baymarker, La Crossemarker, and Sheboyganmarker), Winooski, Vermontmarker; and Lancaster County, Pennsylvaniamarker, centered around the Pennsylvaniamarker towns of Ephratamarker and Denvermarker. There is also a small community of several thousand Hmong who migrated to French Guianamarker in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Community leaders



Popular culture



See also



Notes

References

  • [TYPN 1992] The section on nomenclature draws heavily on Thai-Yunnan Project Newsletter, Number 17, June 1992, Department of Anthropology, Australian National University. Material from that newsletter may be freely reproduced with due acknowledgement.
  • W.R. Geddes. Migrants of the Mountains: The Cultural Ecology of the Blue Miao (Hmong Njua) of Thailand. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1976.


Earlier books

  • Edkins, The Miau-tsi Tribes. Foochow: 1870.
  • Henry, Lingnam. London: 1886.
  • Bourne, Journey in Southwest China. London: 1888.
  • A. H. Keaw, Man: Past and Present. Cambridge: 1900.
  • Merritt, Tragic Mountains: The Hmong, the Americans, and the Secret Wars for Laos, 1942–1992. Indiana: 1999.


External links




Embed code:






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message