top of page
  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon

This community-led and community-driven exhibit, in partnership with the Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) and the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, will travel to cities in Wisconsin with the highest HMoob populations: Eau Claire, Fox Valley, Madison, Milwaukee, La Crosse, and Wausau. It opens its doors to audience members both familiar and unfamiliar with the HMoob and even less familiar with America’s Secret War in Laos (1964-1973).


This exhibit welcomes audience members to engage in conversations about war, historical trauma, memory, resilience, and healing. Showcasing how HMoob contest and remake memories despite national silence and forgetting about wars abroad, this exhibit reminds Americans that war and violence are not geographically nor historically contained. It also asks the audience members to dwell on the humanity of survivors, witnesses, and perpetrators (including the country responsible for creating the trauma) rather than their cultural or racial difference.


This exhibit will be interactive, inviting audience members to reflect, leave, and create new memories as a way to reconcile with the erasure of the Secret War from America’s national memory. The exhibit in its interactive medium will enable audience members to recognize shared human experiences beyond racial and ethnic lines, to establish new obligations to one another, and to create new forms of remembering and healing for communities haunted by ongoing war and racial trauma.

Join us from April 5-23, 2021 at the Annex Gallery at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh for the FREE showing of our pilot exhibit. Your feedback will contribute to the final showing of the traveling exhibit in 2025!

About Us


Contesting memories, reflections, and heal

Yang Family Promissary Note.jpeg

Refugee Suitcase

What would you carry with you on your suitcase?


Suitcase from niam

the spoken and unspoken love, hopes, dreams, aspirations, and fears that a mother carries for her daughter...


healing basket

Explore the various HMoob ways of healing and caring



Submit Stories

This exhibit is uniquely driven by humanities experts in their respective fields and HMoob Studies, such as Dr. Mai See Thao, Dr. Kong Pheng Pha, and Dr. Xong Xiong, alongside HMoob community experts who are activists, HMoob Studies scholars in training, community members (Chong Moua, Sandie Thao, Choua Xiong, Vina Xiong, Paser Yang, May See Yang, Tommy Yang), and UW-Oshkosh student assistants (Nou Lee, Amy Xiong, and Liseng Xiong). Dr. Thao leads this project, providing community-based participatory research (CBPR) methods and guidance to the team. She is the Director of Hmong Studies and Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology, Global Religions, and Cultures at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. She is well-positioned to lead a community-based exhibit given her expertise, postdoctoral training, and secondary appointment as Adjunct Faculty at the Medical College of Wisconsin in the Center for Healthy Communities and Research that values the ways community-based projects intervene in community wellbeing. 

Our community partners includes Cia Siab Inc. (La Crosse, WI) Freedom, Inc. (Madison, WI), Hmong American Women Association (Milwaukee, WI), Wisconsin Historical Society (Madison, W), and the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. 


The pilot exhibit held at UW-Oshkosh was co-sponsored by the Institute for Regional and International Studies (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Center for Southeast Asian Studies (University of Wisconsin-Madison), and Pepsi Programming Allocation Fund (University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh). 

Research, object collection, and planning are enabled by the Wisconsin Arts Board Creative Communities Grant and the Morgridge Center for Public Service (University of Wisconsin-Madison) Community Research Project Grant. 


Our exhibit takes a community-based and decolonized approach. Our vision is to:

  • Center around HMoob experience

  • Empower HMoob communities, cultivate collective healing, and promote cross-cultural understanding among the wider public.

  • Center the theme of “cia siab” (hope) to understand HMoob lived experiences of war, resettlement, historical trauma, and healing.


How can you contribute?

We are looking for objects you may have or would like to create; such as traditional objects, digital art, photography, artistic representation (2D, 3D, sculptures, mixed media, videos, audio) or objects of use in Wisconsin (e.g. couch, household items, etc). We are looking to capture youth, women, LGBTQ and elders’ stories.


We are interested in multigenerational stories, thus we need YOUR HELP to achieve and capture these stories.

Questions to think about when submitting stories:

  1. What does "cia siab" means to you?

  2. What is your HMoob Wisconsin refugee story?

  3. What does healing look like for you?



Take a photo of object or have your audio file

  • On a White background/ neutral background

  • Preferred to take a high-quality photo with a ruler to show dimension. This will help with how to display your object in our exhibition design.

  • Limit of 10 submissions, but no limit on file sizes.


bottom of page