I had the honor to interview Touachong Ka Xiong, owner of Kathy’s Bait Shop in St. Paul a few days ago. We talked about his history as a Vietnamese immigrant growing up in the U.S., his experiences as an Asian-Americans in the Upper Midwest, sustenance and sport fishing, and his commitment to teaching people to fish and protect the river.
I first met him last year when I was in St. Paul. Our friend Oscar, an African-American fisherman I met at the St. Paul public docks, took us to Kathy’s for bait and gear. I remember we were waiting a bit to purchase our stuff while Touachong gave an Asian woman tips on fishing the lakes. When Oscar got to the register he joked, “Hey, you never give me tips like that.”
Touachong said simply, “Well you didn’t just arrive in this country last year not knowing the language or what the rules for fishing are here. But if you need the help, I can help you.”
As part of their Dear River project our friends at Works Progress created this great interview with Touachong. This is their video, not ours.
The same day we interviewed the amazing Minneapolis singer Jayanthi Kyle. We talked about the sacredness of water, who has access to the river, her mixed heritage as East Indian, Black, and Choctaw, her work with numerous bands, and her kids.
We talked about her activism with the Million Artist Movement “to dismantle racism and injustice towards people of color and dream collectively to produce actions for black liberation.” Her music emerges from the gospel, spiritual, work song, folk, world, blues and Americana traditions.
At the end she sang us this beautiful song written for her by Wes Burdine. This is her and Wes’ video, not ours.
All and all, it was an amazing and emotionally exhausting day that came closer to my desire to highlight contested history, resistance, histories that didn’t make the establishment narrative, and stories about women, people of color, and non-dominant cultures.
CORRECTION: Immigrant, not emigrant.