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Hmong friends: Exhibit celebrating 40 years of the Hmong in Minnesota opens in St. Paul

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In the 40th year since their migration to Minnesota, a new exhibit has launched Saturday commemorating the Hmong community.

The Minnesota Historical Society is celebrating the anniversary with its "We Are Hmong Minnesota" exhibit at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul.

KARE 11 reports that the display will highlight the "significant political, social and economic contributions the Hmong have made to Minnesota and the nation."

Minnesota was one of the main destinations for the Hmong as they fled southeast Asia, particularly Laos following the Communist takeover in 1975. Recent census estimates say there are almost 80,000 Hmong living in the state, out of around 285,000 living throughout the U.S.

The Pioneer Press reports that the exhibit will explore the Hmong relationship with this country, as they were recruited by the CIA to fight communist forces during the Vietnam War. Another gallery will explore how they have found life in Minnesota.

The Star Tribune has put together a list of "5 Surprises" from the exhibition, which includes the display of a flintlock rife that was gifted by famous Hmong General Vang Pao to then President Lyndon B. Johnson.

The rifle is on loan from the LBJ Library in Texas, and it's the first time it's ever been loaned to another museum.

The exhibit will run until Nov. 29. You can find out more about the We Are Hmong Minnesota exhibit here.

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