All posts filed under: America

History in the Making: Lao Americans & APA Heritage Month

Happy Asian-Pacific Islander American Heritage Month (APAHM) to all of Little Laos on the Prairie’s readers! What started as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week after President Carter signed House Joint Resolution 1007 in 1978 has since grown into a full month that explores, promotes, and displays Asian American culture, history, and social engagement across the US. Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a time that grants many Asian Americans opportunities to hear about histories that they are generally left invisible otherwise. During APAHM, programs and events showcase the legacies of many notable Asian Americans. These legacies include those of Chinese and Japanese American activists who marched alongside the Black Panther Party in the 1960’s. Of the Filipino American farm-workers who organized alongside Cesar Chavez and forever changed the face of the US Labor Movement. Of the Chinese Americans who helped build the Transcontinental Railroad. Of Lucy Liu, John Cho, and Kal Penn, who made some of the first critical advances of Asian Americans in Hollywood.  Of Kamala Harris, who became the first woman, the first Jamaican American, …

Lao American Writers Summit and making a case for the arts

Seven years ago Catzie Vilayphonh, Bryan Thao Worra and I co-founded the Lao American Writers Summit. Lead by Bryan we were able to raise funds and support from foundations, state agencies, individuals, and businesses. LAWS could not have happened without that initial support. In order to understand the significance of LAWS, you have to first understand the circumstances of Laotian communities. We came here as refugees. Survivors of the Secret War in Laos – a proxy conflict of the Vietnam War. Anti-communist Laotians fought on the side of the CIA. Thousands of Laotians were sent to re-education/labor camps, the lucky ones only saw their friends executed. My father, uncles, and grandfather escaped labor camps. After the fall of Long Chieng, an exodus of Laotians fled Laos, sought safety at refugee camps in neighboring countries. Since the late 70s, there are approximately 240,000 Laotian Americans nationally with roughly 12,000 calling Minnesota home. Unlike many of our APIA artist communities, Laotian artists more or less work in isolation as they are likely the only Laotian artist in …