Celebrating The Hmong People and Culture

Cheeneng Yang, ASLA

Cheeneng Yang

 ASLA Diversity Summit participant, Cheeneng Yang, ASLA, is pleased to tell you about Hmong people and culture.

Cheeneng Yang, or Chee, is an Hmong-American who was born and raised in Wisconsin. Chee received his undergraduate degree in biology with a minor in chemistry and obtained his master’s degree in landscape architecture from the Ohio State University. After graduating, he moved to Minnesota to work with the City of Saint Paul, Department of Parks and Recreation, Design and Construction Division as a landscape designer/project manager designing park amenities. Apart from work, Chee enjoys spending time with his three dogs, watching movies, cooking, and being active outdoors.  

The Hmong are an ethnic minority group from the mountains of Laos. During the Vietnam War, the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recruited the Hmong to help traverse through the mountains. The Hmong were hesitant to help, but the CIA convinced the Hmong with the argument that if Laos fell under communist rule, there would be no freedom. “Free” is what the word Hmong means. Convinced, the Hmong helped with the war. The Hmong were promised asylum and protection if the U.S. lost the war.

When the war was lost, the US pulled out and left many Hmong to defend for themselves. As allies of the United States, the Hmong hid in the jungles of Laos and fled to Thailand for refuge from prosecution. Many were slaughtered and many drowned trying to swim across the Mekong River. Those who made it to Thailand escaped prosecution. The United States and other countries opened their doors for the Hmong mid-late 1970s and early 1980s. As refugees of war, the Hmong assimilated quickly to the American culture and branched out to many different types of profession such as doctors, lawyers, politicians, engineers, landscape architecture, architecture, and many others.  
Take a virtual tour of the Hmong Cultural Plaza, an open-air pavilion and stone garden with the Phalen Regional Park China Garden. The Hmong Cultural Plaza is an important element in the China Garden, because Minnesota Hmongs claim Changsha as their ancestral home and a large Hmong community live in the Phalen Park area.

Phalen Regional Park China Garden

Phalen Regional Park China Garden




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