Gary Yia Lee, Ph.D.


Paul Hillmer

Document Type

Oral History

Date of Interview



Dr. Gary Yia Lee, distinguished anthropologist and scholar, traveled from his home in Sydney, Australia to California for a funeral, then made a stop to visit family in the Twin Cities. Tou Thao, his nephew, is an alumnus of Concordia University and a founder of the Hmong Oral History Project. He prevailed on his kind uncle, despite jet lag, the exhausting effects of a three-day funeral, and many, many demands on his time (including a presentation at Concordia University on 29 December), to sit down with me. I owe many thanks-and apologies-to Dr. Lee, his wife Maylee Lee, and the Thao family for taking so much of their precious family time to conduct this interview. Tou sat with us as we were talking, occasionally asking a question (plainly marked below). Whenever Dr. Lee says ‘your dad,’ ‘your mom,’ ‘your cousin,’ etc., he is addressing Tou. Dr. Lee also very kindly proofed this entire interview.

This interview discusses growing up Hmong during war time in Laos and Vietnam during the 1950s and 1960s as well as Hmong refugee resettlement in Thailand.


Some rights reserved. Others may copy, distribute, display, or perform verbatim copies of this work with attribution to the author and original source information cited. No modification, remixing, or adaptation of this work may be created without the written permission of Dr. Paul Hillmer, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Concordia University, St. Paul or the Concordia University Library and Archives.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.

Included in

Oral History Commons



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