Becoming Minnesotan: Khmer Feed



The Khmer people originated in what is now called Cambodia in Southeast Asia. Throughout their history they have faced invasions by their neighbors Vietnam and Thailand, and were colonized by the French in the late 1880s. During the middle of the 20th Century, communist influence (dominated by North Vietnam) spread over Southeast Asia. In 1975, the Khmer Rouge (the Khmer Communist Party) took over the country, forcing a mass resettlement of people to work camps in rural areas, and the systematic execution of approximately 1.4 million Khmer people (20% of the population died from execution or starvation.) Few refugees were able to escape until the Khmer Rouge was overthrown in 1979. In that year, the U.S. welcomed approximately 150,000 refugees from Cambodia. Minnesota currently has the fifth largest Khmer population in the U.S.