The Hmong have a long history dated back about 5,000 years; however, there are conflicting stories about early Hmong history as to where they lived. According to scholars, the Hmong have lived in China for at least 2,000 years. Many wars and uprisings were noted in early centuries with the majority Chinese. In response, the Hmong began constant movement within China to maintain freedom and preserve their culture. Some Chinese Dynasties welcomed the Hmong; most tried to enslave them.
References to the Miao, the larger ethnic group to which they belong, can be found in Chinese literature dating from the first century CE. Miao is considered derogatory by many non-Chinese Hmong, though it is still in common use in China
The term Hmong came into use, often translated as meaning “free” or “free people.” The Hmong had no written language in the early years. Therefore, folktales were developed during this time and have been orally recited ever since, passing from one generation to the next.
As a result of constant fighting and being conquered and taken over by the Chinese, some Hmong decided to flee to Southeast Asia. In the 18th century, large numbers of Hmong migrated to Vietnam, Laos, Burma and Thailand in response to the oppressive Qing Dynasty ruling in China. Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand now have some of the largest Hmong populations after China.
Before the 1960’s, the Hmong lived in small villages located in the mountainous areas in the central and northern part of Laos. For many decades, they were able to live peacefully by raising live stocks and doing agricultural farming to support their families. They were independence and enjoyed the freedom that they came to seek.
Since 1975, about half of the Hmong in Laos escaped to seek refuge in Thailand. Most of them have moved to a third country to seek freedom and opportunities for themselves and their children. Now, Hmong people can be found in many countries around the world including China, Laos, Vietnam, Burma, Thailand, Australia, France, Canada, Germany, and the United States.