Mayor Wiza proclaims May 13-19 Hmong Week in Stevens Point
By Joe Bachman
STEVENS POINT — On Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Mike Wiza proclaimed May 13-19 as Hmong Week in Stevens Point.
During this week, the area celebrate Hmong culture and heritage with a series of community engagements; including celebrations, presentations, special screenings, a fashion show, and live music. Portage County District 9 Supervisor Chai Moua was on hand to accept the proclamation along with School Board Supervisor Ann Vang, Hmong UPLIFT Coordinator at CAP Services Phong Vang, and Cindy Yang.
“Just hearing Mayor Wiza read the proclamation is actually pretty emotional,” said Moua. “The fall of Long Cheng was a sad day for us, but it marks the day where everybody started their refugee journey through the jungles.”
May 14 marks the 44th aniversary of the fall of Long Cheng, which was a province in Laos which was heavily populated by Hmong population. In 1962, the region was originally established as a CIA headquarters location, fronted by Major General Vang Pao.
In 1971, during the Vietnam War, North Vietnamese forces began to encroach on the province, however, a mix of Hmong, Lao, and Thai fighters would successfully defend the area. During this time, the settlement would hold the largest Hmong population in the world with over 30,000 inhabitants. After four years of brave fighting off North Vietnamese attacks while heavily outnumbered, the final defensive outpost for Long Cheng was defeated.
On May 10, 1975 General Pao agreed to CIA suggestions to evacuate the area, and from May 10-14, evacuation for the thousands of Hmong inhabitants took place, airlifting many to nearby U.S. bases in Thailand. However, over 10,000 refugees and fighters were left behind, and shelling of Long Cheng by North Vietnamese forces began. This sparked the dangerous journey for many Hmong families to trek across the jungles to safety in Thailand.
To this day, over 1,200 Hmong Americans call Portage County their home having settled in the Stevens Point area for over 40 years.
The week will culminate with a Community Celebration on Saturday May 18, from Noon to 6PM at the bandshell in Pfiffner Pioneer Park. For more information on the rundown of that week’s events, check out Stevens Point to celebrate Hmong Week, May 13-18