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Record 202/261
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Cassette recorded oral history interview with Txerthoj Vang conducted by Joan Lloyd. He Discusses "Story Cloth" in OPM collection and New Years Ball. {J: indicates the interviewer, Ms. Lloyd; T: indicates the subject, Mr. Vang. Empty brackets [ ] or bracketed words or phrases indicate dialogue that cannot be understood or words where one is unsure of proper spelling, in that order}. J: This is Joan Lloyd at the Oshkosh Public Museum. I'm sitting here with Mr. Vang and, excuse me, I cannot pronounce your name. And today is April 25th, 2003. Mr. Vang, will you please give me your full name, your birth date and your birthplace. And would you please spell your name and your birthplace? T: My name is Txerthoj Vang. T X E R T H O J. And Vang; last name is V A N G. I was born in Laos, in northern Laos in 1956. September 15th, 1956. In a little village, rural, outside of the town. J: What was the name of the town? T: That's ah, they call [ ]. J: Please spell that. T: H A T A I. J: And this is in the northern part of Laos. T: We call it [Waupon]. J: Before we continue with your personal history, I would like to discuss these objects that were recently donated to the museum by Oshkosh deputy mayor, Mark Harris. These items: the Story Cloth and the New Years Ball were given to him when he attended the Hmong 2002 New Years celebration in Oshkosh. This is our accession No. 2003.36. Let's start with the Story Clock. What can you tell me about the origin and the age of the Story Cloth tradition. T: Okay. Actually the Hmong embroidery or Hmong cloth, we call it Pandao, P A N D A O, something like that - Pandao. Pandao means cloth flower or flower cloth. We call them. Before 1979, er 1975 mostly we have just the regular Pandao or cloth, not in story yet, or history yet. So after that, the people started to realize that we should write in the story. J: And that year was 1975? T: After 1975. Because we, starting escape from place to place, kind of war starting, you know. And as we learn more about, we not be able to stay in one place like usually. And that's why people start to think about they got to put in the story cloth. And they can remember what we doing, what we have done before. So that's why most story cloths happen after 1975 actually. J: Prior to 1975 were there decorative cloths made, that's Pandao, and it would be embroidery or quilting similar to what we here are used to. T: Right. That we have today. There's so many kind of, style [ ] Pandao. Because some, we have three big [ ] or category where one thing, Pandao, they use a scissors to cut it out. And then they sew. Some they just lay the thread over the cloth. And the other one, they use, the third one, they use wax to dye before and you can, they dye whatever color they like it. And that's what they do for the base pieces. And then they can add something else. But three things that we do. J: Three different techniques. T: Three different techniques. One they use scissors, it's a cutting technique. The other one is a laid thread technique. J: I don't understand that one. T: It goes like this. That the mostly the, for the… J: That's what I call embroidery. T: Yeah. Embroidery, yes. Embroidery. So they just use thread to do it with. And the third one, they not put any thread yet. So they do a wax kind of drawing like that. Before that, use a [milled] wax, draw first. And then they dye, put in a color and after they can wash, and then they can decorate or whatever. J: I think I've heard of something like that. It's called batik. T: I think so. I'm not very good about that. J: Okay Mr. Vang, in all those traditions, those were all pre-1975 as well as after 1975. T: Right. And it continuing. J: Story cloths then were not called story cloths until 1975. T: I think so. Yes. J: Were, are these cloths made by women only? T: Before 1975, mostly for lady, for most Hmong people do Pandao. But after that, after refugee to Thailand, many men start to learn from women. And the men start doin this. So they can do Pandao too. J: That's marvelous. And would this be something one does alone or in a group? T: That could be group or alone. If big one, then they want to finish quickly, then they can group doin it and someone's no limit time, then they can do only one. It's okay. J: And, so in that case, there were no rules that had to be followed. Right off the top of my head, I can't think of a particular rule but ah, so if you can't think of one either why don't we go right ahead? T: No. Actually we don't have any rules to follow. No. Just like somebody sewing clothes or something like that. You learn and that's that. J: Then let's go to this story cloth that was given to the museum. When we discussed this on the telephone and I told you some of the elements of it, you said it was called "the farming cloth" and it was made by your sister. Will you please tell me her name and would you spell that? T: Yes. My sister's name is [Chahmee]. That's C H A R M E E. And last name Vang. V A N G. And her age is [ ] right now, she was 33 years old now. J: She's 33. And where does she live? T: She lives in Laos. J: What city does she live in? T: She lives kilometer 52 is that. J: Is that the name of the town that she lives in? T: Yes. Name on the town. And they live in. Small town. Kilometer. M K 52. J: That's what the name of the town is. T: Yes. The town is. J: That's very interesting. What part of Laos is that in, northern, southern? T: Vientiane's province. J: And is that north, south? T: I think middle, yeah. J: Can you spell the name of the province? T: Vientiane. V E … No. V I E N T I A N E. Just capitol of Laos. J: The capitol of Laos is… T: The biggest city of Laos. That's the only one we have. The other ones are different but… J: But this is a province. T: Province, I'm sorry. Like here in the state. The state… J: It's more like Canada - has provinces. T: Yes. J: But, so the capital is in that province. You also told me that your mother taught your sister how to make this story cloth. T: Yeah. Actually my sister learned from my mom. J: What is your mother's name? T: My mother's Mai Xiong. M A I, and Xiong], X I O N G. J: Do you know her age? T: I'm not really sure exactly, but as the document I have, 85 now. J: 85! And where does she live? T: She lives with my young sister in Kilometer 52. J: She lives with Charmee? T: Yes. Charmee. J: Is it an accepted practice for the mother to teach the daughter? Well, we've sort of discussed that. T: In here? Or you mean…? J: Prior to 1975. T: Yes. Because in Hmong culture, the girl is a little shy to learn from dad and mostly they ask their older sister or they ask mom to do it. But it's not something wrong at the way they like, they feel more comfortable to do J: So it's not a standard practice? T: No. No. J: Okay. So are story cloths read in a particular order. Looking at our story cloth here, we have a number of pictures and is it read or are they unconnected symbols. And please when you talk about this, if you could say if you're in the upper right corner or… T: Yeah. I think I'm going to start from the top of the left-hand side to the right hand side and top. And then we can continue down, you know. Line, line like this. J: Would that be a usual way to look at a story cloth? Or you could look at it any way you wanted? You could look at it any way you wanted or you would start at the upper left? T: Okay. Yeah. I think I would start with the top upper left first. Because usually there we live in Laos ten years, twenty years ago. Right now there's [ ] the same way. But actually compared to the Hmong American today, it is a little different. But they are still doing, like if we live in the village, we should have a corn grinder and should have a rice pounder. That's the main thing in the big equipment which you have. And the top left-hand side, the lady and the man, I think they might be a couple, married. For example, father and mother. Mother kind of try to [drive?] the grinder to make a churn and the man or the husband trying to put the corn inside the grinder. That grinder, they make two part together. Now in here it now really show the two part, the two part, one is upper, one is lower. And put together so they can grind easy. And they make a hole through the top of the grinder so they can put the corn through the top part. Can drop down into the middle, part of that two parts and they can you know, churn and they can grind to make a powder, a corn powder, something like that. So people can eat it after cook. Or can use for pig, to feed pig. Most of we use that grind. Not very fine, not really a powder but we can grind into very small pieces so we can mix with the pigs feed. So that's how pig like to eat it. So that one would be that way. And the next one ah, keep going to the right hand side. The house. Because the Hmong house, they usually build on the ground. Not like Laotian house. Laotian house, they say [ ] Lao words. They just make you know, the level up. Not on the ground but… J: Is it on stilts or something? T: Yeah, you go up, you climb up in the house. J: So you could walk underneath the house? T: Yeah. You could walk underneath house. That's an open space. So Hmong people… J: That's Laotian. T: Yeah Laotian. The Hmong people, they build right on the ground. So that's why they have two doors. One door is on the side of the house and the other one's in the front of the house. But we use public, public doors, we use for the front of the house. So either you celebration. We call, you call family [soll?], or you got a new baby or something. Or you do some ceremony or some Hmong culture. You do the public one, we call. And ah, the main door. And that's why we build mostly in the mountain. Hmong people, they live in mountains. And not very far but right now they getting down there already. But this picture is kind of very flat. And this is a path that you can walk to the farm. And the next one on the right up corner, that will be rice pounder. The rice pounder, if you cannot, if you only want some machine or equipment. They build, it's so heavy. Only one cannot make it lift up and lift it, you know. And push it, you can go to the other side. And the other side and lift it up. And you just get down and that one's drop down. See, the lady, the kid is [with?] on the back because not heavy enough to make the equipment lift it up. So she can put some and make bucket more weight . And they can work well. J: Okay. And she is counter weight. T: Counterweight. Yeah. And the man's. this on of the pieces. He is holding a piece of the wood, I think stick. So when he were to put that one underneath the, to support so they, the piece of the equipment is not fall down and they can take off the rice from the big bowl, you know that's the pounding. And after they take the rice out from the bowl, the big one, then they can put into the, how do you call this one, how do you call that one? J: When we were talking about winnowing? T: Yeah. Winnowing. Winnowing yes. We call it, Hmong people would say [wah]. J: W A? T: I think so. And so they can, they use it up and down so wind can blow the husk out. And after that you can put back in buckets and ready to cook. Okay. Down, down from the right hand side to the little white horse. J: [ ]? T: Yeah, Under the rice pounding. That's, look like they try to go to the farm because they have nothing in the bucket. Some bucket, it's an empty bucket. Even the horse bucket is empty. So that they go to the farm. When they go to the farm they get, we have a, we use horse as a transportation, or we use as the loading the heavy thing like that. Truck we use. We no have no car there so we use a horse to load the, something heavy from the farm. So they try to go there. Mostly people, Hmong people, the farmers, very early. They go to the farm. Actually it's on five to six-thirty they already left the house. J: In the morning. T: Yeah. In the morning to the farm. And but, between them, they prepare food for chicken, pig, horse, cows, something like that. Very early. And then about that time they get done and go to the farm. So go to the left upper hand, just under the corn [style?] grinder. That's the people that came from the field. They carry something on the back, in the bucket on the back. Because that could be rice, can be corn, young corn. And they carry pumpkin, the man for the last one that carry the pumpkin in the hand. And the lady, the third person, has to carry an axe. Maybe… J: She is the third person, yes. T: Yes. Maybe chop, chop something from the field. And the second one on the lady maybe she carry, I'm not sure. Probably some of the food from the field too. And the men go, the first man, see nothing there. But they, yeah, something in there. But they… J: It looks empty. T: Yeah. Maybe a little bit in there. It's not enough full yet so we don't see that. And it came from the field. Mostly we, when we go to a field, we come from the field. We should carry some rice; or corn, or squash or cucumber. Something like that. And down to, from the left inside, about the middle, between that. The people walking underneath, the people walking, that's a tree. And it kinda flowers and some fruit in that tree. Maybe that's a wild tree, I thought. And that's ah, because in Hmong, in Laos, Hmong farming, they not told they chop down or slash the tree, the small one. The big one they live in. So that can be fruit or something on that. But many animals, the wild animals, and during the crops, the season coming and the crop like a corn or rice get ready. And those wild animals kind of coming and you know, sneak and steal, eating those, Hmong peoples farm crop. And that's why on the tree, when I was still young, I be there. I always see monkey in a tree. Yeah. And I remember one time, my mom and we went to the rice field. And monkeys very smart. And they see my dad go and carry a gun. Then they just run away. But when my mom and we went there, and they see no man carry gun, monkey kinda come down and just waving hand for you. And we just yelled and not run away. J: They don't care because you don't have a gun. T: No. They sort of sneak in and eat our crop. And go to the middle part of the Pandao. That's a corn. Some corn there. Corn stalk. Like a yellow is a ear of corn. And the white one may be [hahs], tassle. And corn, so you will see a monkey; this is a green monkey. It's eating corn there. Because probably come down from the tree, come to you know, sneaking eating corn. And the lower, the monkey on the left hand side. You see a black one, black and white eating corn too. That one I think is a bear. Bear eating corn too. So that's, people try to protect or prevent and watch their fields very careful. Otherwise they won't have enough food for the years. And go to the left, the right hand, that's a tree and monkey steal corn and climb up to the tree and they eat corn. All the way up there. You will see a monkey, black monkey and green monkey. They eat yellow corn. That's why. And lower the tree, a man and a woman, they come from the house, their village to see their, their field. You see and the man carried a gun, the blue gun. And also the hands are way behind. Maybe bear remind us that the lady don't come close or say, "Please stay there." And ah, because maybe eating our corn. And monkey eating our corn. [let me sure] are probably doing that. And that's the way they doing. And down corner on the left inside there are two people, one man and one woman. The same thing. The same thing the one in upper know. The one is under the tree too on the right hand side. The way the hand he waves his hand to the woman to be quiet or stay there because he might saw a wild pig eating their rice field. J: That's the one in the center lower right. T: Yeah. The lower, in the lower right. In the lower in the center and their eating. Eating rice. So that's the same thing the one as the, almost the lower on the, on the right hand too. But the upper one is they're eating corn and the lower one is they're eating rice. And you will see a little pond… J: That's a pond. T: Yeah, a little pond with the monkey come and drink water in there. And when they eat your corn, your crops, and they can drink water and climb up to the tree. And stay there. When they hungry, they come back again. That's what this Pandao is talking about. It's saying that. J: It's very beautiful. And your sister made this. T: Yeah. J: Thank you. That was very good. I would like to talk about the New Year's ball. Now this is just a black ball about the size of a baseball. It's very soft. It's hand made. It's a black cloth and this, tell me about this. T: Okay. This ball, I don't know what is, when this happened or they start sewing this one. When I was, when I, I know it's already there. But this ball I don't know how old it is, you know. J: Do you remember those from your childhood? T: I remember it was already there. But mostly lady that sewed this one. Men never, they don't know how to do that. They don't know how to sew it. But some, some girl or daughter, they smart. They can sew when they're young. But mostly I saw my mom make a ball for my sister. Each one has one. They go to Hmong New Years and tossing ball. And they do that. But I see, I see someone if, they don't know how to do, not do a good job. Not really round one. I think this one is very good. And they know how to do that. And this kind of ball, usually we use for New Years celebration. A long time ago, I didn't see my, but I heard my ma and my dad, they are talking about, even they are married, they still tossing ball. Not even just for their husband or wife. You can toss for your friend. You know your friend and you can toss to my wife and I can toss to your wife. This one they make just for fun. And they do that. And not very close. They toss this ball when way back in Laos before my generation, they toss, I think about, wow, maybe we about two house farm. And they toss each other, long way. J: Long way. T: Long way. And they not even talk. They not hear from each other. And that's why they use their song to communicate. By singing a song to me, then I sing song to you. And what they do, they would call [koteeah]. Hmong people call [koteeah]. [Koteeah]; Hmong spelling, K H A W V T X H I A J. But I think Khawvtxhia in English, I would say, K E R and X and I A. Something like that. Kerxia. That's like a song, but different song. Not the same song. Because we have [palm], we have song. We have something else. We have more three. And we have our Khawvtxhia, we have our [bokwah], it's a [palm]. And we also have [loo thao] too. And song too. Actually we not sing song during Hmong New Year. We only sing Khawvtxhia and we only sing [loo thao]. J: Okay. I understand those are types of songs? T: The type of song for New Years song, they mostly use for… and this black ball they, we use and use become a culture so when some people at New Years celebration, when the people come over your village and you must invite them to toss ball with them. And mostly they used for young, young people. And they use for communicating each other like getting to know each other. And when you are tossing ball, you start to ask your name and ask them what's your name and what's your address. What's your last name and what you're doing. What are your parents doing and something like that. So they get to know each other. And pretty soon if they thought they might get along each other, they might start to dating or something like that. Courtship by tossing ball, that's a formal dating for the Hmong people and the Hmong young people. Because when we, in Laos way there, back there, we cannot just come sit down with your daughter, then we talk with your daughter. That's not a formal for Hmong people. And usual tossing ball New Years Day, then we couldn't do that, so the parents can allow them to communicate during that time. Otherwise, if you go working with them on a farm, and the trading like I work with you today, tomorrow you go work for me, with me. And that's you can dating, you know kind of talking about girl friend, boy friend, you can do that. But we can't just come to your house or come to my house and parents there. You sit down and talk to your daughter, no. Can't do that. But in here we change it. J: Then when a young couple are tossing the ball back and forth, how far apart are they standing? T: I think well, it's about maybe 30 or 40 feet. J: So they have to talk loudly. T: Yeah. And everybody can hear it. But in here, they can toss just about 5 yards, something like that. In this society. So they talk quietly now. And this black ball they use for, there will be mainly used for Hmong New Years celebration. J: You said that that was made by an elderly Hmong woman living here in Oshkosh. T: Yeah. This ball, I forgot her name. But because during this year's celebration, I'll be, I'm in the chair, of New Year chair. So I say it's better to have someone who saw some Hmong ball, a whole New Year ball for my guests. And my committee starts talking and about and say yes interesting about that. And who can, who know how to sew. My friends say yes, "I know a old lady who can sew very good." And I say, "Okay, go ahead. Do it." And that's why we got this ball this year. J: I suppose she can sew very well. T: Yes. But I know someone, they know how to sew this one too. J: Thank you. That's [?] objects that has been donated to the museum. You brought some photographs for us to make copies of and I would like to quickly get from you who these people are and then we can talk a little more. I have numbered the… T: Okay. The Number 1 has my mother and my youngest sister. J: That's Charmee. T: Yeah. My mom, my mom's her name is [Mai Xiong]. Because in Laos, Hmong culture, even you marry, you still keep your last name from your parents. And not like here in United States after you marry you change to follow your husband. In there, no. They still use Xiong. My mom's last name is Xiong. So that's why Mai Xiong. And my daughter Charmee Vang. And that's why Vang because the kids, we call them, the last name follow my dad. J: So Vang is your father's family name. T: Yeah. My family is Vang. J: And this is your mother and your sister. Is this in KM 52? T: Yeah. Yeah. This house, just my mom and my sister and also my nephew, they live together in one house. I think about 8 or 10 people. They live together. This is, they live in Kilometer 52 village or town. J: And this is about the year 2000. T: Yeah. I think about year 2000. J: They're wearing traditional dress. T: Yeah. Traditional dress. Because when they were gonna take a picture, they liked to be looked beautiful. They dress in Hmong dress. J: Very beautiful. T: But one thing keep in mind, I think not many people know that but I think the people who like to learn about Hmong culture be aware that actually when you are a lady and you wear the hat, you don't have the wide strip across, that mean you are married. And when you have a cross, a stripe on the hat, that mean you are single. My mother wear it too, so… J: Your mother's wearing the cross so she's saying she's single. T: We will assume that she is a single. J: By the way that she is wearing it. T: Yeah. But many people, they just don't care very much about that right now. I see why. But the culture of very original woman, that's the meaning. J: So crossed if you were single. In what way if you were married? T: Nothing. Just use the black one. No stripe. This one is striped. Striped pieces. Yeah, that's striped. So when you see the ones, even the young ones but they have no stripe on the hat, that mean married. By the Hmong culture. But right now, they not do very much for that. J: Number two. T: Number two is my pictures, my wife and my daughter. J: Your oldest child. T: My first kid. We took in 1980 in refugee camp in Ban Vinai, Pakchom, and Loei province, Thailand. J: And that is all written on the back of the photograph. T: And that's written there. So you can see the how old the picture is. We are still a little skinny because at that time we were young. And right now it's a little different. J: Now you tell me that you and your wife married in this… T: Yeah. In this camp. J: Is that where you met her? T: Yeah. No. I knew her from the other country, Laos. But you know we escaped and were very lucky that I came before and my wife came after. And we met again in Thailand. J: So you hadn't planned to go to Thailand together. T: No. We just don't know you go. And I don't know when I go. And this, we had no hope in that time. We should say, maybe we might not meet each other again. J: No hope. T: No hope. But we finally lucky that we can meet again in Thailand. So we planned to marry there in 1979 And this is, there's a little gate there. That's the youth center. J: At the camp. T: Yeah, at the camp. J: No. 3? T: Number three. After we married for I think one years… J: Two years. T: Oh, two years. Then we have two kids. The oldest sister that my hand, that my wife's holding, and this is my second kid, or the oldest son. That's the oldest son. And because my name is Txerthoj and my wife's name is Kia, Kia Thao… J: You're gonna have to spell that please. T: K I A and Thao, T H A O. Yeah. And my daughter is Hlee. H L E E. That means "moon." J: That means moon? T: Yeah. Moon. J: And your son? T: My son Chan, C H A N. Because he was born on Monday. So Monday, Thai word they say [mon chan]. That's why I call, her name is Chan, er, his name is Chan. So Chan for Monday in Thai word. J: So in Thai again, Monday is? T: Chan. So Chan can be moon too. But Thai words are Chan, is it Chan, is moon. In Hmong, moon is Hlee. And so that's why I use, my son's name is Chan. So Chan. J: Well, when did you learn how to speak Thai? T: Just when I came to Thailand. So I started to learn Thai. I learned Thai very fast too. I teach Thai and, in Ban Vinai camp. And also teach Lao too. Because I studied Lao from Laos. And I came to Thailand and studied Thai and I know their both language. J: And Hmong is its own language. T: Yes. Hmong its own language. J: So at this time, you knew three languages. T: Yeah. I knew three languages. J: And just, so very interesting. And then you chose a Thai word to name your son because you were in Thailand. T: I chose a Hmong name, moon for my oldest daughter and I choose Thai word for moon for my son. J: And I just wanted to point out, talk a little about the costumes you and your wife are wearing, all of you actually. T: This one you see a little stripe because the stripe Hmong. This is from north part of the Laos, we call [Whoa Pon] province. We use a little stripe, you can see there that you can recognize the stripe. And the other one looks different. These kind of dress we can wear it all time. Because this one is not traditional but this is the way Hmong people wear in Laos. So we can wear like this any time. J: Okay, thank you. Number 4. T: Number4. That's alive in United States. In Oshkosh here. J: That was taken in Oshkosh. T: Yeah. I think in 19 ah, probably, no this one I'm sure is 1999. Because this is in my old house before I moved to the house I bought right now. And I know that this one's 1999. J: You are in the middle. T: I am the middle one. J: Your wife is to your … T: My wife is to my left hand side. By the pictures. And the next one is my older daughter who was born in Thailand. And the little ones, between them there is my younger daughter who was born in Oshkosh here. And on the right hand of my pictures is my oldest, my oldest son is the one away on the left-hand side. The one next to me is the second one. And the little one down here, that is my youngest son. And my name is Txerthoj. My name is Her Vang when I came to this country but we call the married name. When you're young, your parents gave you a name, the [born?] name. And when you marry, by Hmong culture, you have to change your name or add little word, symbol with your name. That's why mine is, I just keep little word there. J: So your name before you married was? T: Like a "her", like a lady. "Her." H E R. J: And after marriage? T: After marry I change to Txerthoj. T X E R T H O J. That's what I change it to. And you see, I keep the R. It's still there. So that they know that my original name is still some letters there. And that's the married name. J: Do women change their name too like that, after they get married? T: No. Actually they not called their young name like Kia. Usually when she marry, I call Kia. Maybe parents but general people, they say: Mrs. Txerthoj. They call her this. They call mostly. J: But that would still be her father's family name, her last name. T: Yes. Family name. And my daughter would be, my youngest daughter's [noo koo] because… J: Could you spell her name? T: Yes. Noo koos a little hard here. Q H N O U Q O U. Qhnouqou. That means "star." And because I thought Hlee is the moon and I should name the younger one star so they could get along with each other. J: And does it work? T: Yeah. And I think, you read Northwestern newspaper the week before last week. She talking about why name Qhnouqou and why her name is Hlee. You can have that. I have a copy of those too. J: Your daughter has an article there, I mean a column in the paper. T: Yes. Because she work in Oshkosh newspaper so Northwestern newspaper and she like it. And my son who is next to me is Yengleng. Y E N G L E N G. Vang, same last name. And the next one is Chan. We were just talking about that. C H A N. And their little brother there is Charlie but it is still a little different. By Hmong word. So that mean Tshajlij. J: And it's spelled T S H A J L I J? T: Yeah. That mean Tshajlij, that means "challenge" you know, smart, do everything good. I like to use it because we can call Tsjajlij Charlie because it's the same pronounce. So it's easy. J: So it's but is it the same pronunciation for? T: Same. Charlie. J: That's good. That's very good. No. 5. T: No. 5 we took on September 1st, 1999 in Laos when I went to see my mom for the second time. And we took it on how you call it, flat rock. So we go to see my mom's and my sister's rice field. And the way we walked for hours. And we walked at early in the morning. We come back in the evening. I walked all day and I very tired. The first time I thought I walk faster than my cousin who live in Laos. Because they walk bare feet. They not used to shoes very much. And I used my shoes to walk and I thought I can't walk with my shoes and I used sandal. I changed into a sandal. And we walk and walk and come back. I just cannot walk and I used a stick. And when I come back, I have a blister all over my feet. And my sister Charmee tried to you know, break it out. I was so tired. I have a video of it. It was so funny. We wanted to see what a rice field is look like. And they have little ponds for they raising, they raise fish in there. And they tried to get fish there for us to cook and to eat it in the rice field. And not during this time. But this is in the morning. Picture… {The first tape ends here}. J: No. 5. That was just to… T: Yeah. Just… J: Just. That was you and your wife visiting your… T: My mom and my sister in Laos. J: For the second time. T: Yeah. Okay. And number six. This is, this is the same years. 1999. This is we, I took my cousin and my mom and my sister. We go to see, we call [nomnum] dam. The biggest dam that's a produce electricity… J: How do you spell the dam? T: N U M G U E M I think. Numguem Dam. It's the biggest electricity producer in Laos. So we took these pictures in the morning too. And with my mom. Because we say, we don't have any pictures together. And during this one, we go trip, say take picture together. J: You and your wife and your mother. T: Yeah. My mom, my mother, my wife and me. J: Did I get your wife's name? T: I think so. Kia. I think somewhere. K I A. And the Number 7, this is a picture after we go to see Numguem Dam. We come to the town of Vientiane and we see a little, there's a good place and a beautiful place of the flowers from a tree, green tree, And my wife and my sisters said, "Well, take us a pictures. And we can sit down." And during this time my mom's very tired. Not using any shoes. Just walk barefoot. So we take the pictures. This one's… J: And this is in what town did you say? T: Now Vientiane. Vientiane town. This is in Vientiane. V I E N T I A N E. Vientiane. J: Laos. T: Yeah. In Laos. And number 8. This is ah, this is the same place. Numguem Dam. But this one my sister and my brother-in-law say, "Well, we would like to take a picture together." And that's why we take one more picture. My sister Charmee's husband, his name is Jer Xong. Put a J E R and X O N G. Jer Xong. J: J E R, X I A N…? T: G. {Thus the last name is Xiong, not Xong}. J: Okay. They are the last two on the right? T: Yeah. J: Your mother in the middle. T: My mother and my wife and me on the other side, and my sister and her husband on the other side. J: Number 9? T: Number 9 here, ah this is a year, the third time we went there. Yeah. And my wife, we went, I went the third time but my wife the second time. And we met… J: Your wife did not go with you on the third trip. T: No. Not the first one. J: No. She did not go on the first one but she… T: No…yeah. Second and third. And this one is almost the same picture that we had before. That's my wife on the left-hand side and my mom and me and my youngest sister Charmee and her little son. And, oh no, not little son. Little daughter. And the next one is her husband, just carry their old son. The son of Charmee and her husband. And the next one, the lady with the little spot and beautiful… J: And the woman? T: Yeah. The woman wears a black and white shirt, beautiful. That's the older sister from my younger sister Charmee. But I still call young sister. And her husband is the one wear the white shirt. J: And this was taken in whose house? T: Taken in my younger sister Charmee's house. And they both came from north of Laos. Fly in airplane to come and see me. And… J: Oh, the other sister. T: Yeah. The other sister and her husband fly from north of Laos. J: And it looks like your sister Charmee is working on her house. Is she building it new? T: No. This house, we built for her. We built the house for her. My mom and they is living in. It's almost like in here {he means like life in Oshkosh/U.S.A.}. Before there, you see the one of my mom and my sister, just look, yeah - the house are different. Very different. Number 1 and Number 9 are different. J: Not finished though. T: Yeah. So not finished yet. J: They're still working on it. T: Yeah. They're still working the floor. So this one's… J: Oh. Get a new, and that was, sure this is about 2000. Number one was in about 2000. And number 9, the new house for Charmee? T: Charmee. J: Was your mother going to move in with her? T: Yeah. They live together. J: Number 10? T: Number 10 is my older brothers. He is a CIA soldier. But ah, he got killed in 1969. Late 1969. In a battle. In a fight, fighting. So he died and we keep moving around. So this one's, her name, no his name is Xia cher. J: X I A … T: Xia cher. J: C H E R? T: And last name is V A N G. J: V A N G. So when your brother was killed in 1969, was that when you started mov.., you said you started moving around? T: Yeah. We moved around. And I was a soldier at that time. J: You were. T: Yeah, I was a soldier when I was only 13. So very young. J: Very young. T: We were very young. J: We'll talk about that… T: I think next time we'll have some… Number 11 is the last one. It's my uncle. My father's young brother. And he is also a CIA soldier. He is, I think he is the leader of a group. Right now he is still living in Laos. And he came to see me during the time we were there too. And his name is Wa shong. W A, S H O N G. Vang. I think he is captain. J: Captain. You said he came to see you? T: He came to see me when I, when my wife and me we went there for the second time. J: Oh, he came to visit you when you were visiting your mother and sister in Laos. T: Yeah. J: Thank you. T: Okay. INDEX Txerthoj relates his origins in Laos 1 History of Story Cloths (Pandao) 1 Three different techniques for fashioning Pandaos 1,2,3 Source of the Story Cloth given to the museum 3,4 Explanation of the features of the museum's story cloth 5,6,7,8 Description of a New Years ball and Khawvtxhia 9 Discussion of first photocopy; Txerthoj's mother and sister 10,11 Discussion of 2nd photo showing Txerthoj and his wife in refugee camp 11,12 Photo No. 4. The family in the U.S. 13,14 Photo No. 5. A visit to Txerthoj's mother and sister in Laos 15 Photo No. 6. A visit to the largest dam in Laos. 15 Photo No. 7. Visiting Vientiane 16 Photos No. 8 and 9; continuation of visit 17 Photo No. 10. Txerthoj's brother; killed in battle in 1969 17,18 Photo No. 11. Wa shong Vang, an uncle, also a soldier, still in Laos. 18
Oral History Interview with Txerthoj Vang -PIONEERS AND IMMIGRANTS -Copyright Oshkosh Public Museum
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Vang Family

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Last modified on: December 12, 2009