National Geographic : 1979 Mar
Hmong still manage to get out of Laos and into Thailand and onward. A couple had ar rived in Denver only two weeks before. The city's Hmong colony now numbers 650. But countless others remain trapped in their homeland. "We don't understand," said one of the men. "There is nothing in the newspapers here about Laos, about what is happening there. Why is there nothing?" Outside, Ly Phoua, the major's 15-year old daughter, stepped daintily around the mud puddles. She wore a traditional Hmong costume: black dress trimmed in blue, green, red; a tiara; a silver necklet; and a belt of coins-old French piasters-that rang like wind chimes. The women brought other mementos: bamboo flutes, stamps, woven cloth. The major picked up one flute and began to play. It was a sweet melody: "You are your par ents' daughter; you are beautiful." There was laughter and applause and the women began to talk with animation. The major Denver, Colorado'sRocky Mountain High With good reason for glee, Hmong tribesman Yang Chee (above, right) plays with his Denver-born child. A school teacher in Laos, he escaped when Commu nists took over in 1975. Under Lutheran Church sponsorship Chee and his wife reached Denver. A dozen family members followed, including a niece (below) who wears a silver-trimmed token of home. Since 1975 more than 3,000 refugees from Southeast Asia have settled here; 25,000 were admitted to the U. S. last year.