All posts tagged: History

Spoken Words: Hopes and History Passed Forward

One of my most favorite childhood memories were the nights I got to sleep with my “Gux Taaix” (great grandmother). I would curl up in her full-sized bed, tuck my little body in right next to her, pull the covers up above my ears, and ask if she was ready to “gorngv gouv” or story tell. She almost always said yes. What I remember most in those moments, was how these stories; more like fairy tales, made me feel. My highly active child imagination craved the comfort and familiarity of her voice but even further, I admired her ability to captivate me with nothing but her spoken words. As I grew older, I began to realize that this remarkable talent she had was not just specific to her, but something that was a result of years of tradition, something that is also inherent within me. Iu Mien and Khmu people have always carried our stories with us. In some ways, it’s hard not to feel that these stories are only small pieces informing a much …

Living Iu-Mien and Khmu: The Route Forward, Back Through Time

This is the first in a series from Janit von Saechao about discovering her Iu-Mien and Khmu roots. I haven’t always been open about my identity as a Khmu and Mien person. I remember as an elementary school student, when teachers and peers asked what my ethnicity was, my instinctive reaction was immediate deflection. This was a conversation I hated having. The comments of, “what are you?” and “where are you from?” drew feelings from my child self that I wasn’t equipped to handle. The person asking never knew what they were getting themselves into and I was never really ready to explain. So I resorted to replying with saying I was Lao or Thai, even as I knew that these were not my truths. There were various reasons I chose to misidentify. In honesty, some of it was intentional. I wanted to belong to something that was already understood, something that others could conceptualize without me having to scramble in search for words to communicate the complexity of my peoples’ stories. After all, how …