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Tapestry Adds Hmong Culture to NHS

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Tapestry Adds Hmong Culture to NHS

The Hmong tapestry (project started by Kalia Vang) displayed in the Conant wing.

The Hmong tapestry (project started by Kalia Vang) displayed in the Conant wing.

The Hmong tapestry (project started by Kalia Vang) displayed in the Conant wing.

The Hmong tapestry (project started by Kalia Vang) displayed in the Conant wing.

Drew Karle, Student of Journalism

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A Hmong tapestry, worked on by a group of students, has added needed diversity to NHS.

A 2018 Neenah High School graduate, Kalia Vang, painted a Hmong tapestry with Art teacher Ms. Lisa Dorschner and other 2018 graduates, Hannah Dorsey, Amanda Dorsey and Hannah Franzke; along with seniors Brianna Yang and Nemiah Whitson. Because of the combined talent of these ladies, the plain, white walls of Conant are not so boring.

“Hmong tapestries represent a story,” Mrs. Mary Counter, the SEA club teacher adviser said.

Although, some stories do not always have happy endings, Vang knew within herself it was a story that needed to be told. She created a goal of creating a Hmong tapestry to leave a legacy at NHS; however, the tapestry is not only a story, but a cool tribute for the Hmong people in the Neenah who have lived here for decades.

People hear statistics, but they feel stories is exactly why Hmong tapestries are powerful. Hmong tapestries are crucial to understanding Hmong history because that is how they told their history.

For instance, the tapestry project Vang started tells the Hmong story of the Vietnam War. In Vietnam, the United States formed a secret alliance with the Hmong army; however, Americans abandoned the Hmong army. When the U.S. soliders left, Pathet Lao, a Communist Group, began killing Hmongs and burning their villages. Their goal was to kill off the entire Hmong race. Thousands of Hmongs fled their homes. They journeyed across the Mekong River to hopefully reach Thailand; however, traveling 210.6 miles is not easy, especially with children. Parents were forced to give their crying, screaming kids opium(an addictive narcotic from Opium Poppy) to keep them quiet/asleep. If the kids were quiet, the Pathet Lao soldiers could not find them. Unfortunately, deaths of children and adults still happened because some people were not able to finish the long, fatiguing trip.

Although history can be upsetting, Hmong tapestries were also used to tell happy stories. According to tourguide, Hmong tapestries were used for New Year’s garments, celebration garments and traditional holidays.

Thanks to Vang and many dedicated students, NHS tells an important story, which adds culture within its hallways.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Tapestry Adds Hmong Culture to NHS”

  1. Nathan Tatro on November 19th, 2018 1:12 PM

    I love how some students are willing to go out of their way to represent a culture that is underrepresented and make NHS a better place with their actions. It makes NHS a more diverse and enjoyable place to be. Sometimes if you have nothing to do, it’s nice to just take a look at the walls and see what people have made and I feel like this is a very good addition.

  2. Frank Slavinsky on November 19th, 2018 7:37 PM

    I think that too often student artwork goes up, and the school/ community is not provided with the background information to appreciate the work– your story accomplishes that need. I am glad that I read your article, because now when I see the Hmong tapestry, I will respect the meaning of the piece.

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