Launched in February 2019, as part of Wisconsin Hometown Stories: Eau Claire, “Joe Bee Xiong: War to Peace” explores the area’s Hmong-American history through a student-focused digital resource.
The Wisconsin Hometown Stories series is a multimedia project profiling key regions in Wisconsin through a 60-minute television broadcast, and local history resources tailored to meet community needs. K-12 educators and local historians in Eau Claire, Wisconsin emphasized a need for more digital learning resources â€“ especially biographies and curriculum materials about Hmong culture, history and language. With bilingual resources in short supply, younger generations are at risk of losing crucial links to their vibrant culture and past. Xiong’s name consistently came up as a key figure in the areas Hmong history.
Born in Laos, Xiong spent a portion of his childhood as a soldier, blocking North Vietnamese supply lines and rescuing downed U.S. pilots during the Vietnam War. After fleeing Laos as a refugee, he moved to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, in 1980. There, Xiong dedicated his life to public service, first as a police officer for the City of Eau Claire, then as director of the city’s Hmong Mutual Assistance Association. In 1996 Xiong became the first Hmong-American elected to public office in the state as a member of the Eau Claire City Council.
WPT Education created “Joe Bee Xiong: War to Peace” as a suite of culturally responsive multimedia resources available on WPTeducation.org for all Wisconsin students. These resources include:
- An animation illustrated in the artistic style of a traditional Hmong story cloth, narrated by Joe Bee’s daughter, Cara Yang, in both Hmong and English.
- Downloadable, printable and electronic biographies written at three reading levels in English and one in Hmong.
- Two digital interactives designed to deepen students’ learning, an online image gallery, and links to additional web resources on Wisconsin’s Hmong history.