Listen: This Is Home Part 3 - Sew It Right

MPR’s Lynette Nyman presents a series titled “This Is Home: The Hmong in Minnesota.” In this part, Nyman looks at how the centuries-old tradition of Hmong hand stitching is a practice becoming less useful as Hmong women create new lives in the U.S.

Traditionally, when Hmong families bury their dead, they dress them in hand-sewn clothing. The basic designs are old; Hmong culture has been traced back more than 5,000 years in China. While living in refugee camps in Thailand, Hmong women continued their hand-stitching. Aid workers took notice and soon this private work was re-fashioned for a foreign marketplace. But the work is becoming harder to buy as Hmong women find easier ways to earn a dollar. Efforts to revive the tradition may be no match for the demands of making a living.

THE 150,000 HMONG PEOPLE living in the United States traveled thousands of difficult miles to get here. Many settled in St. Paul, Minnesota, giving it the largest urban Hmong population in the world. Today these Hmong are wrestling with issues of culture and identity, with maintaining ties to the past and seeking to thrive in modern urban America.

This is part three of four-part series "This Is Home: The Hmong in Minnesota"

Click links below for other parts of series:

part 1:

part 2:

part 4:


In 2008, Minnesota's voters passed the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution: to protect drinking water sources; to protect, enhance, and restore wetlands, prairies, forests, and fish, game, and wildlife habitat; to preserve arts and cultural heritage; to support parks and trails; and to protect, enhance, and restore lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater.

Efforts to digitize this initial assortment of thousands of historical audio material was made possible through the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. A wide range of Minnesota subject matter is represented within this collection.

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