The Hmong Community established a reputation for selling organically grown vegetables at Salamanca Market in the early 1980s. Traditional needlecraft (paj ntaub) was also for sale and the Hmong stalls, surrounded by women, children and the sounds of Asian 'pop' music, became a symbol of multicultural Tasmania. The Hmong have a very strong cultural identity based on animism, ancestor-worship and shamanism that has been maintained through a clan structure and high rates of intra-marriage. Members of the Hmong community are predominantly refugees from Laos where they assisted the Central Intelligence Agency as secret anti-communist guerrillas during the Vietnam War. After 1975, in response to persecution by the communist Lao government, many escaped to refugee camps in Thailand before resettling in countries such as the United States, France, Canada, Australia and French Guiana.
Further reading: R Julian, 'Living locally, dreaming globally', in N Tapp & G Yia Lee (eds), The Hmong of Australia: culture and diaspora, Canberra, 2004.