Tai Dam Dancer
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Som Baccam is Tai Dam and was born in Vientiane, Laos. She came to Des Moines as a child with her family in 1975. Baccam has her RN in nursing and is a professional healthcare worker and a Des Moines School Board member. Somphong Baccam is passionate about promoting and passing on Tai Dam traditions to her children. A recipient of a Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grant for Master Artists in 2002 and 2003, Som is one of two teachers for the Young Tai Dancers and a member of the adult Tai Dam dance group. Active for the past several years, the adult group dances for public and Tai Dam community events.
The Tai Dam people come originally from the northwest part of North Vietnam. Families of Tai Dam government and military officials were evacuated from their homeland in northwest North Vietnam in 1952. This was the start of a 20-year journey through refugee camps in South Vietnam, Laos, or Thailand before the Tai Dam fled to Europe, Australia, and Iowa.
Former Governor Robert Ray was behind a state initiative to accept this ethnic refugee group from the Vietnam War. The first group of Tai Dam arrived in Des Moines in October 1975. Ninety-five percent of Tai Dam in the United States live in Iowa and approximately 3,000 of the 4,000 Tai Dam in Iowa live in Des Moines.
Contact Information: Somphong Baccam, 515.246.8372,