MayKao Hang.
Photo by Mark Brown

In the News: MayKao Hang on How Minnesota Became Home for Many Hmong People

MayKao Hang, dean of the Morrison Family College of Health, spoke with the Star Tribune for a story about how the Hmong community has grown in Minnesota, following military assistance provided to the United States during the Vietnam War.

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From the story:

Minnesota has a rich history as a destination for immigrants, notably the German and Scandinavian immigrants who arrived in the state in the 19th century. The number of foreign-born Minnesotans dipped in the mid-20th century, but later grew due to arrivals from other parts of the world — particularly Southeast Asia and Africa....

In addition to family unification, Hmong people were drawn to Minnesota by employment opportunities, access to public housing and welfare benefits, according to a 1984 Hmong resettlement study.

MayKao Hang, who is now dean of the Morrison Family College of Health at the University of St. Thomas, shared her family's resettlement experience with the Hmong Oral History Project in 2012. Moving to St. Paul in 1976, her family depended on welfare support while living in public housing.

Years later, her parents helped shape the Hmong community here. Hang's father cofounded a number of Hmong organizations, including the Hmong Cultural Center.

"I have really seen this community both as a kid and I think as an adult go through lots of change," Hang said.