The mission of the Hmong Cultural and Resource Center of Minnesota is to promote the personal development of children, youth, and adults through Hmong cultural education while providing resources that enhance cross-cultural understanding between Hmong and Non-Hmong people.

We are the primary Hmong and Asian American organization in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area that provides community outreach activities related to multicultural education for the purposes of promoting positive race relations in the Twin Cities community.

Please visit our center if you live in the Twin Cities or are planning on visiting Minneapolis-St. Paul. Walk-ins are welcome and there are many displays to look at that teach about the Hmong people, their history, their culture and their experience in the U.S. over the past 25 years. Larger group tours and educational sessions can be arranged in advance by calling the number below.

Our Hmong Resource Center is the site of perhaps the most comprehensive collection of Hmong-related literature, scholarly research, and multimedia materials in North America.

Human Rights Focus: the Hmong Center works to advance the human rights of Hmong interacting with mainstream institutions and systems across the United States as it educates non-Hmong professionals and service workers about the background and culturally-specifically needs of their Hmong service populations.

Major supporters of our Multicultural Education and Adult Basic Education work in 2004-05 include the Saint Paul Community Literacy Collaborative, the Freeman Foundation, the Saint Paul Foundation, the Saint Paul Travelers Foundation, the Marbrook Foundation, the Asian Pacific Endowment of the Saint Paul Foundation, University Bank (Saint Paul), the McKnight Foundation, the Minnesota Humanities Commission with support from the National Endowment of Humanities, Grotto Foundation, Metro Regional Arts Council, Medtronic/COMPAS Arts Access Program, and 3M/COMPAS Award for Innovation in the Arts. We are very grateful for the important support of our funders for the work we do.

We particularly encourage the sizable community of users and constituents who utilize our extensive multicultural and adult education resources to patronize our corporate supporters: Saint Paul Travelers, 3M, Medtronic, and University Bank (Saint Paul).

 

Web site displays Hmong culture

BY TODD NELSON

Pioneer Press (Reprinted from Saint Paul Pioneer Press, December 20, 2004 Issue)

Who are the Hmong? Where are they from? Why are they here?

Recent events — from this year's expected resettlement of 5,000 Hmong refugees to charges a St. Paul man fatally shot six Wisconsin hunters and wounded two others last month — have added urgency to such questions.

A trickle of negative comments last spring about the refugees' impending arrival had reached Txongpao Lee and Mark Pfeifer. As executive director of the St. Paul-based Hmong Cultural Center and director of its Resource Center, respectively, they started thinking about how the center could counter stereotypes and provide information about the Southeast Asian hill tribe's distinctive culture more than a quarter century after the Hmong began arriving.

They decided to create LearnaboutHmong.com, a multicultural, educational Web site. The site, one of the first of its kind, includes recordings and videos of musicians playing traditional instruments, images of intricate hand-sewn story cloths and other tapestries, and an in-depth "Hmong 101" crash course on the history and culture of the Hmong, an ethnic minority in Laos recruited to serve in a secret CIA army during the Vietnam War.

With more than 24,000 Hmong counted in the 2000 census, St. Paul has the most Hmong of any U.S. city and has become a center of the community's academic, business and social services.

With the site launched last week, the backlash community leaders feared in response to the charges in Wisconsin against Chai Soua Vang, 36, has materialized in a steady stream of e-mails, calls and letters with racist comments and violent threats to the center, Pfeifer said.

"There are people who don't like refugees and immigrants and minorities, and they're probably not going to change their minds," Pfeifer said. "We'd like to think there's a larger group that doesn't have such negative thoughts but doesn't know that much about the Hmong.

"We wanted to put out very positive information about Hmong contributions to Minnesota and the United States. We wanted to explain why they came to the United States, how they helped the U.S. during the war and their experiences as refugees."

The Web site complements a "Building Bridges" program on Hmong culture and history that Txongpao Lee and Pfeifer have written and presented at the center's offices on University Avenue and for businesses, governmental agencies and community groups in the Twin Cities. The site also includes a photo essay featuring Hmong business signs and storefronts in St. Paul, a concentration Pfeifer said is unique in the country.

 

"Our goal is to make a better environment, not just for the Hmong but for everyone, so we can understand each other and respect each other," Txongpao Lee said. He said he hoped Web site visitors curious to learn more would visit the center and its collection of artifacts, photos, documents and articles about the Hmong.

Krystal Vujongyia, who teaches intercultural communications at Cardinal Stritch University, praised Learnabout Hmong.com but said it was no substitute for learning about the culture firsthand.

"It encompasses a great deal of information, but it still does not give you the immersion into the community that you need to get," she said. "It's a first step into the community, a great tool. I don't want it to replace the human interaction."

Lee Pao Xiong, executive director of the Center for Hmong Studies at Concordia University, suggested a section about Hmong pioneers, noted for breaking ground or showing leadership in certain fields, should include a broad lineup of such figures.

"Even though we have a climate with all these incidents, I think people generally are interested in learning more about the community, and I applaud them for taking on that initiative," Lee Pao Xiong said.