Hmong 18 Council Gets A New Look
By Amy Doeun
In 1997 the Hmong 18 Council was formed in Minnesota. Wanthai Vang, President of the Hmong 18 Council explained that the council functions similar to a city council. Each of the 18 clans in Minnesota holds their own elections or selection process for a representative to the council. The council term is two years.
This year the council will have its first female representative. Vang said, “The council has always opened the door for women, but this is the first year that a woman has been elected.” The Khang clan has selected a female representative. Jasmine Yer Ly Khang will represent the Khang clan for the next two years. Vang commented, “This is breaking the ground as a new change for the council.”
Khang described her election process. She explained that the Khang clan has an election process unless there are no candidates then the elders select a candidate. If that candidate declines they will select another. This year there was no candidate. After several rounds of suggestions the Council suggested a woman candidate.
The Khang elders considered, “We wanted to be the first to merge into the 21st century and send a woman to represent us.” Khang works for the State of Minnesota. She said, “I hope the next two years will bring a more diverse council. Even though we are daughters from a different clan and married into the clan we are strong and have a lot of opinions and can be helpful. Like the saying goes, behind every great man is a strong woman. I am happy to sit on the board as the first woman.”
The council meets monthly and also holds special meetings as needed. “There comes a time when we work on different projects or issues in the community. We also handle family disputes – mediation – things like divorce. These are some of the issues we deal with,” said Vang
During the second week in October, each clan reports to the council with the name of their new representative. Each clan also has their own president. These two representatives from each clan then vote for the president of the council.
In addition to being the first time a woman is on the council, Vang said that the council overall is younger. “There are a few representatives like me that are in their 50s but the rest are younger – 30s or 40s. It is kind of mixed young and old. We have a pretty young administration.”
This latest first for Hmong women is joining a growing list. In the broader community as well as the Hmong community 2018 could be described as the year of the Hmong woman.