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Cultural tensions as modern generations confront old Hmong traditions

Xiong has some reminiscences of the Thailänder refugee camp in Nongkhai that was his home from ages 5 to 9 years of age: the smell of sewage running over the center of the road, expired fish for dinner, violence against women and other refugees who attempted to cross the fencing and fear.

Yet mostly, Xiong has memories of when we were young in Oklahoma Town and then later to Appleton, where his family was among the first Hmong family members to arrive after fleeing Southeast Asian countries in the consequences of the Vietnam War.

“In the Hmong community, our younger generation, we have been forgotten, ” Xiong said. “A large percentage of them don’t know very well what their parents proceeded to go through or the actual culture really includes. So if we make those obvious, where they can actually come and see it, they can tie it together and have an improved understanding of what their parents went through and got them to where they are today, that would be a great learning of our history”

Thousands of Hmong people from the greatest group of Asians are in Milwaukee. The Hmong population in the US is across Wisconsin and is the 3rd greatest in the US, behind that is California and Minnesota.

In the 1980s, about 60 percent of the Hmong refugees had received general public assistance. Today, there is all about 20 percent left that are still on public asistance. When you compare Hmong people to when they started coming to the US, the amount of those considered to be middle class has increased drastically. However, there is still alot more work to be done in the community. Hmong are believed to be one of the poorest among the Asians community in the USA States.

Changes for the Hmong community has been from the younger generations. Most individuals tend to think of the Hmong community as insular, now they often turn to the other person for help. So it is dramatically changing.

Since I’m the eldest son in the family, Xiong started out working at an early age to help his parents and siblings battle through poverty since his parents are at an old age. Since the years went on, Xiong had adapted to US culture, gain the ability to speak Hmong and Thai slipped slowly away.