In the mid 1970s, in the wake of the Vietnam War, thousands of people from Laos began to resettle in the United States. Laos is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west. The country includes many different ethnic groups resulting from migrations across southern Asia. Many of these groups have achieved a degree of unity to form an ethnic identity of “Lao” while individual groups still keep their own customs, giving many Lao individuals multiple ethnic identities. People who identify themselves as ethnic Lao living in the United States have mainly settled in California but have formed communities in many other states as well. The Hmong people, a distinct tribal group from northern Laos, Vietnam, and southern China, have mainly settled in Minnesota and Wisconsin with smaller communities in other states.
Image credit: Natasinh Dancers, Lao Natasinh Dance Troupe of Iowa (performer). Library of Congress