Florida Hmong Community, Inc (FHCI) is a non-profit organization that aims to connect and support Hmong people in Florida as well as educate both Hmong and non-Hmong people about Hmong history, culture, and language. It was established in 2003 when only a few families relocated here from other states and have since seen the Hmong community grow to now include a few hundred families spread across the sunshine state.
For those unfamiliar with the Hmong people, here are a few quick facts:
- We are an ethnic group of people that lived in China over 4,000 years ago. We had our own language and culture rooted in farming and shamanism.
- Due to land and government expansion, political agendas and conflicts, the Hmong were almost killed as an entire community in China, but some were able to escape to the mountains of Laos and Vietnam.
- Up in the mountains, the Hmongs settled in clan-based communities and thrived as farmers. Little was known of them until the French colonization of the region in the early 1900’s, with French Catholic missionaries creating a written system for the Hmong language using the common Roman alphabet and characters to represent tones.
- During the Vietnam War, the Hmong were recruited, trained, and supported by American CIA officials to combat the spread of communism. After the war was declared over, the Lao government declared Hmong as traitors and persecuted them as such. The only way to survive was to flee to Thailand where United Nations refugee camps were set up along the Mekong River. From there, Hmong people resettled as war refugees across the world; in the United States, most came to California and Minnesota.
- Now, almost 45 years later, there are Hmong communities all over the United States, with third generations moving away from family and the heavily condensed areas to more rural and small towns, where the one Hmong family often gets assumed as Chinese or Korean and never asked about origins or culture.
As mentioned earlier, Hmong people first resettled in Florida from the midwest in the 1990’s to escape the harsh colds. Most became farmers in the central Florida area. In the last two decades, the Hmong families here have grown to include a cross section of every profession, from military to private business, education to medicine, government to contract work. FHCI has organized traditional cultural events, such as the New Year every late fall, to community picnics, scholarship drives, and participated in larger local community events, such as the St. Pete’s Folk Festival. The organization is open to all interested Hmong and non-Hmong community members to participate and follow: Our social media are as follows: www.facebook.com/FLHmong, www.floridahmongcommunityinc.org, or you can email us at [email protected] members to participate and follow: Our social media are as follows: www.facebook.com/FLHmong, www.floridahmongcommunityinc.org, or you can email us at [email protected]