Lao Oral History Project Launches Online

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The Center for Lao Studies recently launched an online oral history project documenting the untold stories of former Lao refugees in California and Minnesota. 

In the mid-20th century, communist Laos endured the massive bombing campaign by the United States. However, when the communist Laos finally gained control of the country in 1975,refugees fled the country, many of them to the United States.

Yet very little research has focused on the ethnic Lao refugees living in the United States. Supporters of the Lao Oral History Archive (LOHA), like CLS executive director Dr. Vinya Sysamouth, believe that the project creates “awareness within the Lao-American community and the general American population of the history, culture, and contemporary realities of Lao refugees in the U.S. as well as the tragic impacts and legacies of Secret War in Laos.”

Based on the 2000 U.S. Census, California is home to the largest population of refugees from Laos, with an estimated 180,000, and Minnesota is the third-largest, with approximately 51,740 people.