If you ask a group of people what it means to be an American, you might get a different answer from each person.

That’s what Race & Ethnicity reporter Teran Powell is exploring for people from underrepresented groups in our series, I’m An American.

This time, she talks to a Hmong woman whose family journey to the United States tells a similar story of many Hmong families who came to this country in search of new opportunities.

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Hmong people make up the largest group of Asians in Milwaukee. In fact, the Hmong population across Wisconsin is the third largest in the country, behind California and Minnesota.

Chia Vang, a historian at UW-Milwaukee, says what’s different about Wisconsin’s Hmong population is that it's spread across the state. So, why did Hmong people decide to resettle in Wisconsin?

LaToya Dennis

Milwaukee sometimes gets a bad rap for being one of the most segregated cities in the country. But there’s no denying how racially diverse it is.

It’s a majority-minority city, in which Asians make up about 3.8 percent of the population. The majority are Hmong. In fact, the Milwaukee area is home to the fourth largest concentration of Hmong people in the country.

Royalbroil / Wikimedia

The history of the Hmong people in Wisconsin goes back decades, to 1975 when thousands of Hmong were resettled in the U.S. after aiding American troops during the Vietnam War. Many landed in cities like Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Wausau. The Hmong are in fact the largest Asian minority in the state and in cities like Wausau, they represent more than 11 percent of the total population.

Photo by Adam Ryan Morris / Milwaukee Magazine

Among the many charter and specialty schools in Milwaukee is one that focuses on educating one particular immigrant ethnic group.  The Hmong American Peace Academy is remarkable for that reason.

However, the K-12 charter school is also remarkable because of its leader and founder Chris Her-Xiong, herself an immigrant from Laos. She was featured in an article in this month’s Milwaukee Magazine.


The days of the Catholic Mass in Latin are pretty much over.