The Hmong Community in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Human Services estimates that 32,000 Hmong Americans lived in Minnesota in 1995. More recent estimates are that 50,000 Hmong live in the state. Most of the Hmong population lives in St. Paul with a smaller contingency in Minneapolis. There are scattered Hmong households in Dakota and Washington counties. In 1993, Ramsey County Community Human Services estimated that the 17,000 Hmong living in the county constituted 60% of the county's Southeast Asian population. Ramsey County's Hmong community is very poor. In St. Paul, Hmong median family income in 1989 was $12,016; per capita income was $2,400 and more than three-fourths of Hmong children ages 0 to 5 years, lived below the poverty level. During the 1996-97 school year, 80% of school-aged Hmong children were eligible for free or reduced school lunches.

Since the first Hmong refugees arrived in Minnesota in 1977, they have made remarkable progress in a brief time span in forging a strong community. While continuing to preserve and develop family, cultural, and artistic traditions, they are learning to compete and thrive in a society very different from that of Laos. Lao Family Community was one of the first organizations established by Hmong refugees and is an essential element in these developments.

Hmong entrepreneurs have sparked an Asian Renaissance along University Avenue in St. Paul, opening restaurants, grocery stores, art galleries, and many other businesses. Their traditions, foods, and ideas continue to enrich Minnesota. The first generation of Hmong children born in Minnesota are now in college, building the foundations for a strong economic future.

Phia Vang's Project Page

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