The original homeland of the Tai
(or Tai Dam) people is located in the Northwestern region of today’s Vietnam and was once known as the Sip-Son-Chau-Tai (Twelve Tai Principalities).
In 1888, the country was colonized by France, and, in 1948, renamed
the Tai Federation. In 1954, after the defeat of the French and Tai military at a Tai principal city Muang Theng (In Vietnamese:
Dien Bien Phu), the French withdrew from Indochina, the Tai Federation was
absorbed by North-Vietnam. Most of the Tai government and their families fled and took refuge in Laos and South-Vietnam.
In 1975, after the final takeover of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia by the Communists, the Tai Dam again fled as refugees through the refugee camps of Thailand to France, Canada, Australia, and the United States.
Knowing the Tai Dam only as honest and hard-working people,
Governor Robert D. Ray made a humanitarian decision to accept, as refugees, these suffering strangers with nowhere to go.
Hundreds of individuals, families, churches, and communities in Iowa opened their hearts and doors to sponsor 1500 Tai Dam refugees in 1975-76. Since then, this number has increased to
more than 8000, ninety percent of whom remain united in the State of Iowa, the new Tai Dam homeland.