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Hmong Story Project and Archive


Cia Siab (Hope) in WI: A HMoob (Hmong) Story is a community-based exhibit helps that people to grapple with the ongoing historical trauma of war and healing. By drawing on Hmong mundane everyday life in Wisconsin, this exhibit draws audience members to contemplate the ways war shows up at home (in the US and in the private space) and how a displaced community continues to live through revitalization and changing the landscapes around them.

Cia Siab WI is a traveling exhibit that will tour WI from January 2025 to November 2025.

This traveling exhibit is made possible through the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Wisconsin Humanities Council, Fox Valley Community Foundation, Green Bay Community Foundation, Oshkosh Area Community Foundation, Wisconsin Arts Board, and Wisconsin Historical Society.

Funded in part by the Wisconsin Humanities, with funds from the

National Endowment for the Humanities, Appleton Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, Green Bay Community Foundation, Oshkosh Area Community Foundation, and the Wisconsin Arts Board. 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 project amplifies, Wisconsin Humanities aim to strengthen the roots of community life through educational and cultural programs that inspire civic participation and individual imagination.


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.


The HMoob Story Project invites all of us 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.


This material is supported in part by the:

National Endowment for the Humanities

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this {article, book, exhibition, film, program, database, report, Web resource}, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Oshkosh Area Community Foundation

Appleton Community Foundation

Green Bay Community Foundation

Wisconsin Humanities

Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS)

Yang Family Promissary Note 5.jpeg


Traveling Sites


April 03 - April 25, 2021

The Battlefields of Memory, a community-based exhibition on display at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh through April 25, draws inspiration from these word by Viet Thanh Nguyen in his 2016 book Nothing Ever Dies.

The exhibit, part of UWO’s Asian Heritage Month activities, opens as the Asian American and Pacific Islander population has faced rising incidents of anti-Asian racism in the U.S. UWO assistant professor and Hmong Studies director Mai See Thao led the creation of the exhibit, which is a partnership with Cia Siab Inc., Wisconsin Historical Society and Hmong community organizations throughout Wisconsin.

Visitors to the exhibit, located in the Annex Gallery (Room N204) of the Arts and Communications Center at 1001 Elmwood Ave., will encounter a bedroom that invites them into the private and intimate spaces of memory. They will encounter artifacts that testify to the consequences of America’s Secret War in Laos, a covert military intervention from 1964 to 1973. And lastly, visitors will interact with objects that speak to human resilience.

Ancient Containers


Our living archive 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.


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