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Quiz about To Be and Not To Be HmongAmerican History
Quiz about To Be and Not To Be HmongAmerican History

To Be and Not To Be: Hmong-American History Quiz


The Hmong have survived millennia of assault by some of history's greatest powers. The open question is: can their unique way of life survive the modern world?

A multiple-choice quiz by stuthehistoryguy. Estimated time: 5 mins.
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Time
5 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
278,976
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
7 / 10
Plays
752
Awards
Top 5% quiz!
Last 3 plays: maninmidohio (8/10), Peachie13 (10/10), winston1 (5/10).
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Question 1 of 10
1. Perhaps the most enduring characteristic of the Hmong historically has been their refusal to assimilate and give up their traditional identity and customs. One classic historical example of this is the repeated exhortation of Chinese officials who continually bemoaned that the Hmong "didn't even use chopsticks."


Question 2 of 10
2. Through their turbulent history, the Hmong have found themselves scattered around Asia - and, more recently, other parts of the world. Which of these countries had the least Hmong population at the beginning of the twentieth century? Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. The Hmong's traditional economic practices in Asia included swidden farming, also known as slash-and-burn agriculture, where the refuse of a crop was burned in the field following harvest. As this tends to wear out soil very quickly, the Hmong developed a migrant existence, and entire villages often moved every few years. Since the 1800s, one crop came to dominate this cycle, and this liminal commodity still occupies a major place in the lives of many Hmong. What crop is this? Hint


Question 4 of 10
4. After World War II, Southeast Asia became a political battleground between ideologies. Which of these forces did the Laotian Hmong (exclusive of the Lo clan, which did the opposite) generally support? Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. During the United States' war against Vietnamese Communists, the American CIA enlisted large numbers of Hmong to stage an insurrection against the Laotian Communist government, known as the Pathet Lao. Who was the most important commander of the CIA-sponsored Laotian Hmong? Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. Though generally an effective fighting force, the anti-Communist Hmong army was ultimately unsuccessful in their efforts against the Pathet Lao. In what year did this army disband, effectively ending the Secret War? Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. Following unsuccessful Hmong revolts and communist depredations in retribution (including chemical warfare), masses of Laos' Hmong fled the country. What was the immediate destination for the bulk of these refugees? Hint


Question 8 of 10
8. Given that their support of American efforts in Southeast Asia was to blame for the Hmong's persecution in Laos, thousands of refugees eventually emigrated to the United States. Which of these areas would NOT become a major center of Hmong life in the US? Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. Since the end of the Cold War, the Hmong émigré community in the United States has reached an accord with the Pathet Lao, and relations between the two can be described as cordial and accommodating.


Question 10 of 10
10. Over time, Hmong émigrés and their children have forged a Hmong-American culture increasingly distinct from the Hmong of Asia. Along the way, there have been a number of cultural clashes, leading to enmity between many American Hmong and their neighbors. Which of these conflicts has gained national publicity in the 21st century? Hint



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quiz
Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. Perhaps the most enduring characteristic of the Hmong historically has been their refusal to assimilate and give up their traditional identity and customs. One classic historical example of this is the repeated exhortation of Chinese officials who continually bemoaned that the Hmong "didn't even use chopsticks."

Answer: True

Most scholars of such things believe that the Hmong migrated to Northeastern China from Siberia ca. 2,500 BCE. During some periods, the Hmong cooperated with the Chinese, notably in the Chou-Shiang conflicts of the eleventh century BCE when the Hmong supported the victorious Chou.

More usually, however, the ruling Chinese dynasties did not know what to do with the iconoclastic Hmong, who historically preferred to live isolated in the mountains rather than accept choice valley land in return for assimilation.

This led to various campaigns against the Hmong through the Chou and Han dynasties. Almost always these were victories for the Chinese, but Hmong tactics and constant refusal to cooperate with their overlords would generally frustrate the winning side.
2. Through their turbulent history, the Hmong have found themselves scattered around Asia - and, more recently, other parts of the world. Which of these countries had the least Hmong population at the beginning of the twentieth century?

Answer: Bangladesh

Under the Manchu dynasty that took power in 1644 CE, persecution of the Hmong rose in earnest. Chafing against imperial rule and taxation - as well as usurious practices against those who could not pay their taxes - many Hmong emigrated to Indochina, though the bulk of the population remained under the Manchu yoke.

Many Hmong settled around Nong Het in northern Laos in the early nineteenth century, while others reached amicable agreements with the French and attained a degree of affluence in the timber trade under the guidance of Hmong leader Shue Cha.
3. The Hmong's traditional economic practices in Asia included swidden farming, also known as slash-and-burn agriculture, where the refuse of a crop was burned in the field following harvest. As this tends to wear out soil very quickly, the Hmong developed a migrant existence, and entire villages often moved every few years. Since the 1800s, one crop came to dominate this cycle, and this liminal commodity still occupies a major place in the lives of many Hmong. What crop is this?

Answer: Opium

Since opium was the major cash crop of the region - accounting for up to 40% of French profits from Indochina, and provoking the British to fight a war over its continued traffic - opium growing became a virtual necessity in the cash-intensive rent and levy environment of French imperial rule. Gradually, opium became a Hmong cultural staple as well, used to comfort the sick and aged. Though the French outlawed opium traffic in 1946, this merely drove the trade underground, where it continued to be a major part of Hmong life. Even in the contemporary US, opium has played a major part in Hmong culture.
4. After World War II, Southeast Asia became a political battleground between ideologies. Which of these forces did the Laotian Hmong (exclusive of the Lo clan, which did the opposite) generally support?

Answer: The French Anti-Occupation Maquis and Expeditionary Forces

The Hmong were tied to French interests by way of France's economic stake in the opium trade. Though this relationship became tenuous after France ostensibly removed itself from the drug traffic in 1946, by that time French opposition to the anti-colonial Vietminh had obliged them to seek aid from indigenous guerilla fighters, a role that the Hmong were uniquely suited for. When the United States took up the anti-communist fight in Southeast Asia, they also enlisted Hmong support - albeit covertly, through the CIA. Given both Vietnamese and Chinese communist staunch opposition to the opium trade, on which the Hmong had grown so dependent, the Hmong never went to the communist cause in great numbers. This included enmity between the Hmong and the Laotian communist Pathet Lao.

The exception to this narrative was the Hmong faction led by Faydang Lobliayao (Faiv Ntaj Lauj Npliaj Yob). He and his followers (generally of the Lo clan), feeling that they had been cheated out of leadership positions, allied with the invading Japanese, and later with the communist partisans.
5. During the United States' war against Vietnamese Communists, the American CIA enlisted large numbers of Hmong to stage an insurrection against the Laotian Communist government, known as the Pathet Lao. Who was the most important commander of the CIA-sponsored Laotian Hmong?

Answer: Vang Pao

Beginning as a messenger for the anti-Japanese Maquis during World War II, Vang Pao distinguished himself as an officer in the French-backed Laotian force fighting Vietminh guerrillas. In 1961, he was enlisted by CIA operative Edgar "Pop" Buell, with the support of Hmong political leader Touby Lyfoung, to lead the Hmong "Secret Army" that would fight the Pathet Lao in the so-called "Secret War" - secret largely because the 1962 Geneva Conference forbade military aid to Vang Pao's army.
6. Though generally an effective fighting force, the anti-Communist Hmong army was ultimately unsuccessful in their efforts against the Pathet Lao. In what year did this army disband, effectively ending the Secret War?

Answer: 1975

By 1975, in the wake of United States disengagement from the region, the Pathet Lao had effectively neutralized the anti-communist Hmong forces, and Soviet President Nicholas Podgorny - and the Pathet Lao paper "Khao Xane Pathet Lao" - were calling for the Hmong's liquidation.

After briefly contemplating a guerilla war independent of US support, Vang Pao concluded that his position was untenable and fled to the United States.
7. Following unsuccessful Hmong revolts and communist depredations in retribution (including chemical warfare), masses of Laos' Hmong fled the country. What was the immediate destination for the bulk of these refugees?

Answer: Thailand

Professor Lillian Faderman has collected several personal narratives of the Hmong who made this exodus to Thailand in her fine book, "I Begin My Life All Over". The overarching theme is the uncertainty over whether the families making this journey would survive. Stories abound of tranquilizing babies with opium and being fired upon while crossing the Mekong River into Thailand; many did not make it past these sentries.
8. Given that their support of American efforts in Southeast Asia was to blame for the Hmong's persecution in Laos, thousands of refugees eventually emigrated to the United States. Which of these areas would NOT become a major center of Hmong life in the US?

Answer: Louisville, Kentucky

Hmong groups have tended to cluster in the United States. Of the approximately 200,000 American Hmong living in the US according to data from the 2000 Census, about 74,000 lived in the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Milwaukee-Racine, Fresno-Merced, or Sacramento metro areas. (Fresno and Merced are relatively distant, but their Hmong communities tend to be closely associated.)

It bears pointing out that this is still only a small fraction of the estimated 4-5 million Hmong worldwide, 3 million of whom live in China, ca. 790,000 in Vietnam, 450,000 in Laos (where, according to many sources, they are still subject to persecution), and 150,000 in Thailand.
9. Since the end of the Cold War, the Hmong émigré community in the United States has reached an accord with the Pathet Lao, and relations between the two can be described as cordial and accommodating.

Answer: False

Far from it! In the 1990s, Vang Pao worked to prevent forced return of Hmong refugees from Thailand to Laos, arguing that this would be a death sentence for many Hmong still wanted by the Pathet Lao. In 2007, Vang Pao and nine associates, including West Point graduate Harrison Jack, were arrested for attempting to stage a coup to overthrow the Laotian government; these efforts included attempts to purchase heavy munitions and recruit US Special Forces veterans to serve as mercenaries.

His arrest provoked widespread demonstrations on his behalf throughout the Hmong community.
10. Over time, Hmong émigrés and their children have forged a Hmong-American culture increasingly distinct from the Hmong of Asia. Along the way, there have been a number of cultural clashes, leading to enmity between many American Hmong and their neighbors. Which of these conflicts has gained national publicity in the 21st century?

Answer: All of these

In 2000, an estimated 30% of all Hmong were on public assistance, compared to 3% of the general population. It should be noted, however, that this is a decline from 67% in 1990, representing marked improvement in Hmong economic integration. Though friction between some Americans and the Hmong (who are still perceived by many to be "all on welfare") continues to linger, it appears that this is an area of considerable progress. That being said, economic integration has often come at the cost of the Hmong's cultural identity, leading to concern in some quarters that what military force could not accomplish, American commerce has.

Profound social friction does still exist, however, as exemplified by two episodes in Wisconsin. In one of these, Hmong hunter Chai Vang shot eight other hunters, killing six, in a 2004 altercation over the use of a deer stand on private property. Vang was sentenced to six consecutive life terms plus seventy years; many Hmong protested the verdicts, pointing out that the jury in the case was entirely white. Conversely, Wisconsin hunter James Nichols was also convicted in 2007 of killing fellow squirrel stalker Cha Vang. Like Chai Vang, Nichols unsuccessfully pled self-defense, a strategy complicated by the fact that he had stabbed Cha Vang five times and hidden his body. (Note, there are at most 33 Hmong surnames in the United States, mostly based on clan. This can lead to some confusion, as in this case.)

Finally, the Hmong July 4 Sports Festival in St. Paul has historically been under a parking ban, though similar bans have not been leveled against the city's other ethnic festivals, like Cinco-de-Mayo and Scottish Fair. Residents cite the parking "chaos" involved; speaking from experience, local populations usually adapt much more readily to similar scenes of traffic chaos involving University sporting events.
Source: Author stuthehistoryguy

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor bloomsby before going online.
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