University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

NEWS RELEASE

News Bureau . Schofield Hall 201 . Eau Claire, WI 54702
phone: (715) 836-4741
fax: (715) 836-2900

First Nations/New Nations Conference
To be Held at UW-Eau Claire March 11

 MAILED:  March 1, 2004

EAU CLAIRE — On Thursday, March 11, reporting about Hmong news will be the featured topic at the Third Annual First Nations/ New Nations Conference at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Topics for the conference include Hmong history, culture and lifestyles and reporting in the media.

Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt will present a lecture titled “Covering the Hmong Story: Honest Media Mistakes or What?”

"Hmong have been marginalized in the media. Perhaps this is based on the idea of the ‘secret war’ in Laos,” said Barb Blackdeer-Mackenzie, Knight Journalist in Residence at UW-Eau Claire. “The fact is that it’s key that we understand what the Hmong did for us during the Vietnam War. This conference enables journalists, students and the Hmong community to connect.

“I appreciate the fact that the Hmong helped save hundreds (if not thousands) of American soldiers during the Vietnam War,” said Blackdeer-Mackenzie. “That kind of international assistance does not come easily or without a price, and the Hmong paid dearly by giving up their homes, their lives and many Hmong people.”

According to Blackdeer-Mackenzie, for many Hmong people the war continues in Laos, and this fall Wisconsin stands to gain 3500 Hmong who have been trapped in Thailand as refugees. For 12 years they have received no aid from the United States, she said.

“It’s important that we prepare to welcome our good friends to their new homes,” stated Blackdeer-Mackenzie. “Hmong folks face genocide and mutilation by staying in Southeast Asia. Because of the aid the Hmong gave us in the Vietnam conflict, these refugees deserve a far better life than the life they are leading now.”

Ethnic artwork will be displayed and a research-based play titled “Living Paj Ntaub” (The Living Story Cloth) will be presented during the conference. The play illustrates the struggles of Hmong refugees as they were forced to leave their homeland and integrate into new homes around the world.

A community-based panel discussion titled “Raising the Bar in Reporting Hmong News” will round out the day. Several key community leaders and journalists will speak on this topic as well as field questions from the audience.

All events for the day will be presented from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. through a live Internet broadcast feed at www.fnnn.uwec.edu. South Dakota State University and several other locations will be able to interact with the speakers and audience at UW-Eau Claire. Further information about having an interactive or view-only distance education site hook-up to the conference is available through Don Scleicher at (715) 836-5088.

The First Nations/ New Nations Conference is sponsored by a grant from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. UW-Eau Claire and SDSU are co-recipients of the grant, which is intended to increase journalistic skills and encourage Hmong and Native Americans to join the field of journalism.

For more information, contact Blackdeer-Mackenzie during the day at (715) 836-2528, or in the evening at (715) 284-5759.

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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741
newsbur@uwec.edu

Updated: March 1, 2004