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But there is a substantial emerging class of Hmong small business owners -- many of them congregated near St.
Paul's University Avenue -- and college-educated Hmong professionals going into fields like law, medicine, and non-profit management.
The Hmong people are an ethnic group whose origins go back about 3,000 years in China.
Most Hmong -- about eight million -- still live in southwestern China.
Another four million live in the Southeast Asian countries of Thailand, Burma, Laos and Vietnam, where they immigrated during the 19th century following centuries of persecution in China.
Many Hmong had worked with pro-American anti-Communist forces during the conflicts in Vietnam and Laos."They came here and they found jobs within a month or two and are making ten, eleven, twelve dollars an hour," he said.A 2002 community directory provides listings of 13 Hmong community organizations and 39 Hmong religious congregations in the Minneapolis-St. Whereas many Hmong in California's Central Valley have taken up their old occupations of farming, those in Minneapolis have found jobs working in factories.As a result, they were subject to violence and retribution in Laos.Many Hmong escaped Laos to Thailand where they were incarcerated in refugee camps.