MUSIC | Venus On Fire: Hot tunes, Hot Topic

The St. Paul pop band Venus On Fire formed in August 2009. Sponsored by Hot Topic, the vibrant group have toured across the Midwest. Last Saturday the group gave a striking show to a diverse crowd at the Star Bar and Grill in Columbia Heights, giving away Venus On Fire merchandise on stage and at their booth. They performed a number of songs including “Thank You” and “Metrocity Showdown.” Continue Reading

BOOKS | Paul Hillmer’s “People’s History of the Hmong” is a vital, seminal volume

Do the many Hmong Americans who were born to parents who immigrated to this country really know the culture and the history of who they are? They may feel trapped between cultures. They know about American life firsthand, but all they know about their Hmong heritage may be through their parents’ and other elders’ recollection of the past, but they may not entirely appreciate the context of those experiences. Each person must decide for himself or herself how to reconcile the two aspects of his or her identity.It is unclear where the Hmong originally came from, although the presence of the group was discovered in China more than four thousand years ago. Hmong eventually migrated to Burma, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. Continue Reading

Census raises translation need for Hmong elders

With the national census day just around the corner, many Hmong elders will rely on family members to help them fill in the forms.  Census forms were mailed this month to residents in the United States and Puerto Rico.  Under the constitution, this has to be done every ten years.Blia Yang, 63, lives in St. Paul with her son and his family.  After her arrival in the United States more than 20 years ago, she was employed and learned how to speak English from her colleagues. Since a work injury five years ago, she has been unemployed.  She has been unable to associate with non-Hmong speakers on a regular basis and has lost her knowledge.”I don’t have the opportunity to socialize with others anymore, so every day I only speak Hmong. I only talk to my children and grandchild.” Yang said.  Toutha Ly, her son, will be counting her in his household along with his wife and son.Sandy Xong Vang, who currently works for Interpreter Transportation Service in St. Continue Reading

Getting ready for the Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year begins February 14 this year, but preparations have already begun. 
“My mom will cook more than ten big dishes for the New Year’s Eve dinner,”said Ling Bin, instructor of Chinese at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. “Family members will give the house a complete clean.  We do a lot of shopping as well as to prepare gifts for relatives.” Li Shang moved from Anshun, Guizhou, China more than two years ago to be closer to family in Minneapolis. Far away from her homeland, she continues the tradition by decorating her room. “We would say, ‘Make my dream come true.’ Continue Reading

Shades of Yellow celebrates new year with pageant

Shades of Yellow, a Hmong lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer organization in St. Paul, celebrated its sixth annual New Year and third annual Mr. or Miss SOY Pageant at the Prom Center. Friends, family, and supporters of SOY were greeted by Lee Xiong, Miss SOY 2008 and Malia Li, Miss SOY 2009 as they hurried through the doors to get a good seat.    Jim Hang of Appleton, Wisconsin, said SOY has been a great support group for him. “It has opened me up because I am gay. I have found I have something in common with these guys too,” he said. Continue Reading

St. Paul’s Hmongtown Marketplace vendors use cultural skills to succeed

Vendors at the Hmongtown Marketplace (217 Como Avenue, St. Paul) use various skills and techniques obtained from cultural practices to battle the current economic downfall.  The marketplace consists of two main buildings and a seasonal section outside. An addition to the building is currently under construction.  More than 170 vendors make up the Hmongtown Marketplace. 
Visitors taking a stroll through the buildings can hear an array of Hmong music and folklore and enjoy the flavorful tastes and aroma from the diverse variety of food available.  They can appreciate the traditional detailed Hmong clothes, story cloths, arts and crafts done by men and women.  Targeting all age groups, general merchandisers have countless items for all, including toys, jewelry, medicine, pots and pans, and more. Transitioning from their homeland to the life in America, the Hmong have brought what they know to earn a source of income. Relocating from Wisconsin, Xue Lor knew that the future for him was to start a business in the Twin Cities.  “What prompted this quick move was the economy, I got laid off for a couple months,” he said.  The current lay-offs and unemployment rates have also affected family members.  Lor Imports LLC sells jewelry, cosmetics, and hygiene products from Southeast Asia.  To target the new and younger generations and differ from the other vendors, Lor has added custom computers to his stand.   
Necklaces are sold at Lor Imports LLC. Continue Reading