MN Reads: "Staring Down the Tiger: Stories of Hmong American Women" edited by Pa Der Vang

Mar 19, 2020

In Hmong culture, it's an insult to call someone a "tigerbite."

It means you were stupid enough to approach a tiger and get bitten.

Tigers have been a metaphor for "things you should stay away from," and for many Hmong women, raised in a traditional, patriarchal culture, that list included anything that wasn't staying home and taking care of children and elders.

But when the communist North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao overtook the country in the mid-'70s, Hmong families fled by the thousands.  Many of those refugees came to Minnesota and there, as editor Pa Der Vang tells us, many Hmong women no longer fled from the tiger - they stared it down.

Staring Down the Tiger: Stories of Hmong American Women is published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.