Updated: Jun 6, 2019
First, it's the letter i, not an L like you thought and it's pronounced Yoo MEE-en, or just Mee-en for short. There are over 50,000 Mien people in the U.S., but you probably assumed they were Thai or Samoan. InRage Entertainment recording artist SIRENA is bringing visibility to her people and culture with her second single M.I.E.N. (Making Invisible Exist Now).
The Mien people were the first civilization in China, according to some legends, but after the King of China and the Iu-Mien King declared war on each other over disputed land, the Mien King signed a document to give up his land to save his people from genocide. The agreement between China and the Iu-Mien nation stipulated that they could live in the hillside or mountains and could maintain their identity and culture, but could not organize their own government. The 12 Iu-Mien tribes had to separate into small villages because of the terrain. They were forced to continue migrating as the ability to grow food became increasingly difficult.
The Iu-Mien people gradually migrated to Laos and Thailand. Both the Laos and Thai governments were welcoming to the Mien people and they were able to live freely until the Vietnam War began and the U.S. recruited the Mien soldiers from the mountains of Laos to fight alongside them. The Mien people were allies in a secret operation carried out by the U.S.-- the “Secret War.” When the U.S. retreated, they were left to fend for ourselves as they became enemies of their host country (Laos). The Iu-Mien people escaped on foot and across the Mekong river to refugee camps in Thailand. They eventually gained refugee status via programs set up by the UN and resettled in the U.S. In 1976, western governments sent their embassy personnel to interview Lao refugees and process legal documents to allow them to settle in western countries. From 1976 to 1995, over 40,000 Iu-Mien refugees were settled in the United States of America. The majority of Iu Mien people in the U.S. today live in California and along the western coast. It is important to note that Mien people fought with the U.S. as war allies and lost many lives to end up here in the states as refugees.
Among the families who migrated to California were SIRENA's family. Now, SIRENA is living her dream of being a recording artist and is representing her Iu-Mien culture. Scroll down to
WATCH THE RECAP OF THE IU-MIEN FESTIVAL
WATCH & SHARE THE M.I.E.N VERTICAL VIDEO: