Hmong Americans: 30 Years In-Review
Kou Yang, Ed.D.

Chair, Ethnic and Gender Studies Department
Associate Professor of Asian American Studies
California State University, Stanislaus USA


The experience of Hmong Americans during the last 30 years is very unique and fascinating. They came from very disadvantage background and must adapt to America, the most developed country in the world, from the very bottom up. The gap between the two cultures is very large, making it more difficulty for them to overcome their acculturation needs in a short period of time. Because of their unprepared background, their first 15 years in the United States are preoccupied with many difficulties, including cultural shock, unemployment, welfare reliance, poverty and other acculturation problems. The decade of 1992 to 1999 marks the second phase of their adaptation to life in the United States. This decade is the turning point for Hmong Americans as they began to run for office, develop business enterprises, and most importantly reduce the rate of welfare participation. Beginning from 2000, Hmong Americans have entered a new phase of adaptation to life in the United States. As they entered the 21st century, their population became more diverse, youthful, educated and assertive. Further, Hmong Americans have become more politically active, educationally competitive, and high-tech oriented. Furthermore, they have also entered many professions, including Art, Anthropology, Computer, Education, Engineering, Journalism, Law, Medicine, Military, Psychology, Science, Social Work, and Teaching. On the other extreme of the spectrum, Hmong Americans face with many pressing needs and issues. Some of the pressing needs and issues are family conflict, generation gap, health and mental health, poverty, and the lack of the know-how and accessibility to resources and information.

This paper reviews the experience of Hmong Americans during the last 30 years and list issues and problems that face Hmong Americans in 2005 and beyond. Its main emphasis is on Hmong Americans’ acculturation, education, economic and business development, political participation, and contributions.