The city of Seattle in the northwestern state of Washington has honored and thanked the Lao community for its contributions to the society, economy, and cultural diversity of the city by proclaiming the week of March 19 – 25, 2007 to be Lao History and Culture Week. The Lao-American community of all ethnicities has been incorporating the rich tapestry of its unique culture, diversity, customs and traditions to the city of Seattle and its surrounding areas since the early 1980's when the first wave of refugees from Laos resettled there.
To celebrate this significant event, the Seattle Lao-American community
held a gala dinner complete with cultural and fashion shows on March 24, 2007. The “Remembering Lan Xang” Gala dinner is the biggest celebration event ever to be held in the Seattle area by the Lao-American community, organized jointly by the Lao Veterans Organization, The Laotian Students Association at the University of Washington and the Kinnaly Dance Troup of the Lao Heritage Foundation. The Lao History and Culture Week Proclamation, which was signed by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, was read at the event.
Mr. Bounxouai, president of the Lao Veterans Organization, speaks to VOA about the purpose of the event, “ In addition to marking the Lao History and Culture Week, the “Remembering Lan Xang” Gala is to celebrate the richness and uniqueness of beautiful Laos including its ancestral history, culture and traditions, and to educate and create an awareness among younger Laotian-Americans who were born in this county of their roots and also to educate the general public about this small landlocked country of Laos.”
The celebration drew more than 600 members of Lao-American
communities from as far as Oregon and Vancouver, Canada. Traditional Lao dances, performed by girls as young as six years-old and college students, were the highlights of the evening in addition to traditional Lao cuisine, arts and crafts exhibitions.
The performers are members of the Kinnaly Dance troupe that was founded and led by Pom Outama-Khampradith. Dancer Phonetip Sivilay expresses her views to VOA, “I am very happy and proud to participate in a dance to showcase our beautiful culture and I thank all the community leaders, parents and supporters for making this event happen and making it possible for all of us to celebrate and learn from. We’ll do better in many more years to come.”
Listen to our audio file for more details.