All posts tagged: History

TUNE IN: Chanida Phaengdara Potter on MPR News with Tom Weber and Doualy Xaykaothao

Listen in: Friday, September 29th from 11:00AM-12:00PM, Little Laos’ founding editor Chanida Phaengdara Potter makes her third appearance on Minnesota Public Radio News with Doualy Xaykaothao and Tom Weber. Details below: The Legacy of Vietnam War Doualy Xaykaothao and Tom Weber look back at the lasting legacy of the Vietnam War, and the impact it had on neighboring countries of Cambodia and Laos. They talk to Lisa Blackstone, documentary filmmaker and producer of TPT original  ‘Minnesota Remembers Vietnam: America’s Secret War’ about how the CIA organized a secret war in neighboring Laos to prevent the threat of communism from spreading deeper into Southeast Asia. They are joined by three guests : Chanida Phaengdara Potter editor of Little Laos on the Prairie,  Kosol Sek chair  of the International Khmer Assembly and MK Nguyen program manager at the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood and fellow at Amherst H. Wilder Foundation: they’ll talk about the effects of the secret war on generations of Laotian Americans, Cambodian Americans and Vietnamese Americans. 

Dear Guru: What’s with the three-headed elephant symbol in Lao America?

This week’s burning cultural question comes in from Twitter: What’s the deal with the three-headed elephant symbol everywhere in Lao America?  Throughout Theravada Buddhist monarchies in Southeast Asia, the king was assumed to possess a high level of karma from previous existences in order to be born into such a high position. It was also thought that the king derived his semi-divine might as he was an incarnation of the Hindu god Indra. According to this mythology, Indra rides on the mythical multi-headed white elephant (sometimes having three or five heads), named Erawan (Airavata in Sanskrit). This elephant became a symbol for the might of the kingdom, known as Lane Xang (a million elephants). It continued as a unified kingdom until the death of Souriyavongsa in 1695, with no legitimate heir. Warring internal factions battled over who would be the next successor and ultimately divided the kingdom into three parts: Luang Prabang, Vientiane, and Champasak. Weakened, all three ultimately fell under Siamese control until French annexation in 1893, which reunified Laos. The symbol of the three-headed elephant continued …