Hmong women Ban Mae Sa Mai working on textiles
Hmong women Ban Mae Sa Mai

It is not entirely clear where the Hmong originally came from. Most probably their ancestors lived in Tibet and China. They have a very strong urge to remain independent. Attempts from Chinese authorities to subjugate them and force them to integrate has led to a real diaspora. By the end of the 19th century Hmong established their first villages in Northern Thailand.

Many of them fled from Laos to Thailand and were resettled in the United States after 1975. Laos, Vietnam and China have very sizable populations. Many live in the United States with large populations in Minnesota, California and Wisconsin. They live in a least thirteen provinces in North and Central Thailand. About 75% live in the provinces of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phetchabun and Tak.

There are Hmong villages in Mae Hong Son, Phrae and Nan provinces as well. They are spread over a very large area, more than any other tribe apart from the Karen. They usually live at high elevation and were involved in opium cultivation in the past.

In the Doi Suthep/Doi Pui/Mae Sa are there are 12 communities. The Hmong New Year takes place usually in January.