Why Minnesota? When the Hmong first arrived in the United States, the State Department gave resettlement contracts to various volunteer agencies like Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services—a majority of which just happened to be based here. As the first Hmong families settled, the second wave followed and so on and so forth—the strong social service programs in Saint Paul bringing refugees from Laos and beyond.
Want to learn more about Hmong-US History? Check out the PBS film The Hmong and the Secret War
You will notice that many Hmong people have the same last name. In the Hmong culture, there are 18 clans. Each clan has a different name, which is passed down through the father.
Green Hmong and White Hmong
There are two primary Hmong groups, green and white. They are named for the colors and patterns of traditional clothing and each one speaks its own dialect. The difference in dialects is relatively subtle, similar to the difference between British and American English.
Popular dishes include barbecue, papaya salad, pho, boba tea, khaub poob (a curry noodle dish), larb (minced meat salad) and nab vam (tapioca dessert). You can try them all at Hmongtown Marketplace and Hmong Village.
Hmong Culture Today
These days, you can spot the impact of Hmong culture all throughout Saint Paul. Here are some of our favorite spots to experience Hmong cuisine, tradition and history.
Each year, Saint Paul's RiverCentre is home to Minnesota's Hmong New Year Celebration—a three-day celebration including traditional Hmong dance, music, crafts, vendors and more. The event typically coincides with the Miss Hmong Minnesota pageant.