Museum Third Saturday to celebrate Hmong in county

2012 Qeej demonstration – Cooper Elementary School 2012 Qeej demonstration – Cooper Elementary School Hmong Heritage in Sheboygan County is the April 18 “Third Saturday” program from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sheboygan County Historical Museum, 3110 Erie Ave., Sheboygan.

The Hmong people have their origins in southern China, but due to political strife, they have consistently been forced to move. In the 19th Century, they settled in the mountainous regions of northern Laos.

After 1954, with growing political unrest, many were drawn into the fight against the North Vietnamese by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. They became known as the “Secret Army.”

In 1975, when Saigon fell and the American forces withdrew, the Hmong were left in the hands of their enemies. However, some were evacuated to Thailand and eventually to the United States.

The first Hmong to come to Sheboygan started arriving shortly after the end of the war. Those first families were sponsored by members of Grace Lutheran Church in Haven and Trinity Lutheran Church in Sheboygan. Those first immigrants faced yet another tough path, assimilating to a new culture that included many strange and odd customs.

1982 Hmong storyteller – Cooper Elementary school 1982 Hmong storyteller – Cooper Elementary school As time went on, Sheboygan County saw more Hmong settling in the area and today they have a strong community that has become an integral part of the county.

The 2010 U.S. Census has almost 4,200 Hmong people living in Sheboygan County, putting it fourth among Wisconsin Metro areas. That is approximately 10 percent of the total Hmong population in Wisconsin, which is third in the nation for Hmong residents.

As like other immigrant populations throughout the United States’ history, they have gradually become a part of the American culture and yet hold on to many of their cultural beliefs. The Hmong people value their history like no other, thus allowing us to share and celebrate their heritage.

First Hmong Oriental store First Hmong Oriental store The day will include many aspects of the Hmong culture. Guests will get to experience Hmong community members demonstrating their needlepoint work. There will be several performers on hand to demonstrate some of their traditional dances as well playing the Qeej, a Hmong free reed multiple pipe instrument used to speak with the spirit world. There will also be storytellers sharing the oral histories passed down through the generations.

Guests will also be able to hear accounts of Hmong military involvement in the Vietnam War from several Hmong-SGU (Special Guerilla Units) veterans as well as some Hmong-U.S.A. veterans.

There will also be several members of the Hmong Association in attendance as well as many of their community elders. Some of the sponsors of the first Hmong families will be sharing their experiences with hosting this new population to Sheboygan County and we will have special guest - Jar ia Xiong, Miss Hmong International and Sheboygan resident, sharing her story.

To tantalize your taste buds, there will be Hmong delicacies provided by Union Oriental Market made available for purchase.

This collaborative event could not have been accomplished without the assistance of Vue Yang, Shua Yang and Thomas T. Lee. Their devotion to Hmong heritage is the reason we can present this topic to Sheboygan County.

“Third Saturdays” start at 10 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. Guests are welcome any time throughout the day. Lunch is available.

The admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and active military, $4 for youth ages 13 to 17, and $ for children ages 7 to 12. Children ages 6 and under are free. Members and their guests are free.

The event is sponsored in part by H. C. Denison, Kohler Foundation Inc, Sargento Foods Inc, Windsor Family Foundation, Sheboygan Press, Great Lakes Blue Printers and Radio 1420 AM The Breeze. “Third Saturday” programs extend from January through October. 2012 Miss Hmong International, Sheboygan Native Jar ia Xiong

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