The SatJaDham Lao Literary Project was one of the oldest continuous networks of Laotian American writers in existence, first established on April, 11 1995. This year marks 20 years since the organization formed. During the National Lao American Symposium and Writers Summit in Minneapolis this April, many members gathered together to remember this journey and to hear the work of new writers and artists emerging in the community.
The group held 7 national conferences of Laotian writers and readers and produced five small anthologies of Lao American writings between 1995 to 2001. The group’s name came from the combination of the words “SatJa” and “Dhamma.” “Satja” means truth in Lao, and “dham” is from dhamma, the teaching of the Buddha.
While the network is not considered currently active by its members, many of those involved continued to write and contribute to community building through their art, education, civic service and volunteering, including with organizations such as the Lao Heritage Foundation, the Center for Lao Studies and the Laotian American National Alliance.
They produced some of the first works of Lao American voices in their own words on their own terms.