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Hmong People and Culture By: Chaleng N. Lee Asian Outreach Liaison Hennepin County Library Hmong Population Around The word Hmong means free. the World Today They are a group of mountain- • China – 4,500,000 (estimate) dwelling people who lived • Vietnam – 558,000 mainly in Southern China, • Laos – 316,000 primary in the Guizhouand and • Thailand – 124,000 Yunna provinces. • Burma – 2,656 Western Countries • United States – 200,000-250,000 • France – 15,000 • Australia – 1,860 • Canada – 640 • French Guyana – 1,800 • Argentina – 250 Estimates from Dr. Nicholas Tappand Dr. Gary YiaLee, http://members.ozemail.com.au/~yeulee/Topical/12point%20sta • New Zealand - 150 tement.html/Hmong Resource table data from the Hmong Cultural Center • Germany - 70 http://www.hmongcenter.org/ Brief timeline Overview • 1790-1860 A.D.: Many Hmong migrate out of China to Laos, Northern Vietnam, and Thailand • 1963-1975: The Vietnam War and the U.S. Secret Army in Laos • 1975: Hmong Refugees escape to Thailand • 1976 to Present Time: Hmong refugees move to the U.S., France, Australia, French Guyana, and Canada • The first Hmong refugees began arriving in the United States from Thailand camps in December 1975 and January 1976 • 2004-2006: More than 15,000 Hmong refugees from Wat Tham Krabok arrive in Minnesota, California, Wisconsin and other states The photo shows a Black Hmong boy in Vietnam. Hmong began moving to Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries at the end of the 18thcentury. The photo is from the Tribal Textiles website:http://www.tribaltextiles.info/Assets/images/Vietnam/Black_Hmo ng/9510I37T.JPG 209,000 Hmong estimated in the U.S. 2006 American Community Survey Top 10 Hmong Top 10 Hmong Populations by State Metropolitan Areas in the U.S. 1. California – 71,244 1. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN – 40,707 2. Minnesota – 49,200 2. Fresno, CA – 22,456 3. Wisconsin – 38,949 3. Sacramento-Yolo, CA – 16,261 4. Michigan – 8,686 4. Milwaukee-Racine, WI – 8,078 5. North Carolina – 8,451 5. Merced, CA – 6,148 6. Colorado – 3,875 6. Stockton-Lodi, CA – 5,653 7. Georgia – 3,407 7. Appleton-Oshkosh-Neenah, WI – 4,741 8. Washington – 3,050 8. Wausau, WI – 4,453 9. Oregon – 2,729 10. Florida – 1,856 9. Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir, NC – 4,207 10. Detroit-Ann Arbor-Flint, MI – 3,926 Hmong Clans The 18 Hmong Clans Functions of Hmong Clans 1.Chang/Cha (Tsaab) • Clans are Hmong Family Groups, the Clan Name is the 2.Chue (Tswb) Family Name 3.Cheng (Tsheej) • Clans provide the basic form of social and political 4.Fang (Faj) organization in Hmong society 5.Her/Hue (Hawj) • At birth, a Hmong person takes his or her father's clan 6.Hang (Taag/Haam) name and remains a member for life with the exception of Hmong women who marry and take on new 7.Khang (Khaab) identities in their husbands' clans 8.Kong (Koo) • Hmong clans provide their members with social 9.Lee/Ly (Lis) support. Members of a clan are expected to provide 10.Kue (Kwm) mutual assistance to one another. In the U.S. there 11.Lor/Lo (Lauj) continue to be Lee, Moua, Vue, etc. clan associations for this purpose 12.Moua (Muas/Zag) • Hmong clans provide their members with legal and 13.Pha (Phab) mediation assistance. Any dispute between two Hmong 14.Thao (Thoj) or different clans (such as a divorce) will typically be 15.Vang (Vaaj/Vaj) settled by leaders of the two clans 16.Vue/Vu (Vwj) • Traditionally, clans also provide economic assistance 17.Xiong/Song (Xyooj) to their members 18.Yang (Yaaj) Hmong Religion • About 70% of Hmong in the U.S. • Hmong who continue to practice continue to practice the traditional Animism and Shamanism believe that Animist Hmong Religion and a spiritual world continues to coexist Shamanism with the physical world • The Hmong believe in many spirit • About 1/3 of the Hmong population in types including ancestral spirits, house the U.S. are Christians. Hmong spirits and spirits in the natural world Christians belong to many • Many ritual ceremonies are performed denominations, but the largest number by the Hmong for the purpose of are members of the Christian fulfilling the will of the ancestors and Missionary Alliance Church natural spirits • The Hmong use Shamans as a way to maintain communication between the physical and the spiritual world • Hmong people use Shamans to perform rituals and sacrifice animals with the goal of pacifying the various spirits and curing illnesses • Hmong believe in reincarnation Hmong Funerals • Hmong believe that proper burial and worship of ancestors directly influence the health, safety and prosperity of the family • Access to a traditional Hmong funeral ceremony is perceived as a religious freedom issue by non-Christian Hmong families. • The Hmong funeral ceremony in Minnesota usually involves a full 3 day process, it is often longer in Southeast Asia. Family members usually will stay awake for most if not all of the 3 days to take part in ceremonies and give proper respect to the deceased • Currently, there are 4 Hmong funeral homes in the Twin Cities. Hmong marriage • Hmong may not marry a member of • Hmong Mej Koobs (M8 kong) are their own clan, no matter how distantly marriage negotiators who work to related. Marriage are chosen from resolve past problems between the among the other 17 clans. families involved while also setting the dowry. Two Mej Koobs represent the • Hmong perceive a marriage as a bride’s family and two represent the relationship not only between the two interests of the groom’s family. households but also between the two clans. • The Dowry paid by the husband’s family to the wife’s family varies, the • Divorce is a taboo in traditional Hmong 18 Clan Council in Minnesota has set Culture but is becoming more common the standardized Dowry of $5,000. among younger Hmong in the United States. • Many Hmong in the United States continue to be married only to the Hmong culture and they do not have a U.S. marriage license. This sometimes causes problems in obtaining health and other social program benefits. The Hmong language • The Hmong language branches into • Many of the Hmong elders were born two dialect: White Hmong and Green before this system and don’t know how (or Blue Hmong) Hmong. The colors in to read and write the language these names represent the color used • Even though a Romanized system is in the traditional women’s costumes of used, the sound system that goes the different groups along with the Hmong alphabet is very • The differences between the White different from English and Green Hmong dialects are • There are 8 tones in the Hmong probably not much greater than those language. The tones completely which distinguish British and American change the meaning of the words that English may sound very much alike to non- • About equal numbers of the American Hmong Hmong population speak White and • The Hmong language uses tonal Green Hmong markers, which are the last letter at the • The majority of books published in the end of each word. The makers are not Hmong language are in White Hmong pronounced but indicate the tone • In the modern Era, a Hmong writing system wasn’t develop until the late 1950’s Working with Hmong • When talking to a Hmong person, he or she may not look directly at you or give eye contact. The person you are speaking to may look down or away from you. Traditionally looking directly into the face of a Hmong person or making direct eye contact is considered to be rude and inappropriate • Hmong people tend to be humble. They usually do not want to show or express their true emotions in front of others. Often, they will say: "maybe" or "I will try" instead of giving a definite positive or negative reply. Sometimes they might say "okay" or "yes" which actually means "no", when they feel pressured • Most traditional Hmong elders, especially men, do not want strangers to touch their heads, or those of their children, due to their religious beliefs and personal values Working with Hmong continues • Most traditional Hmong men take on an adult name after they have married and had their first child. The adult name is added to the first name. Most Hmong men prefer to be called by their adult name • When conversing with a Hmong family, one should always ask for the head of household which is usually the father. • Hmong who practice the tradition religion also may wear unusual accessories such as red necklaces made from silver and brass, white cloths around their wrist, and red or white strings on their wrists, necks, or ankles. These accessories may be worn for health and religious purpose. Hmong Cultural and Resource Center www.hmongcenter.org 995 University Avenue, Suite 214 Saint Paul, MN 55104 651-917-9937 Resource • http://woodrow.mpls.frb.fed.us/research/stud • http://www.hmongcenter.org/toublyfpos.html ies/hmong/ • http://ww2.saturn.stpaul.k12.mn.us/Hmong/p • http://www.hamaa.org/hamaa02/FiveYearPl ictures/pictures/2000/3.html an2002/SECTION02.doc • http://www.hmongradio.tv/ • http://www.chicagofed.org/community_devel • http://www.wpt.org/hmong/language.html opment/09_2003_seeds_of_growth_internati • http://www.vnpeoples.org/Hmong/location.ht onal_and_cultural_dimensions.cfm m • http://www.flw.com/languages/hmong.htm • http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/ • http://www.laofamily.org/culture/index.htm geos/la.html • http://www.hmongnet.org/hmong- • http://hmongstudies.learnabouthmong.org/h ua/chmong.htm monsoccenda.html • http://www.hmongnet.org/hmong- • http://www.hmongcenter.org/minagegroupd. au/ozhmong1.htm html • http://www.pixagogo.com/6124525352 • http://ww2.saturn.stpaul.k12.mn.us/hmong/pi • http://www.cia.gov/csi/studies/winter99- cturedictionary/family.html 00/pg76.gif • http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/la- • http://www.hmongihrw.org/thamkrabok.jpg 1952.html • http://www.hmongradio.tv/ • http://ww2.saturn.stpaul.k12.mn.us/hmong/pi cturedictionary/family.html • http://ww3.house.leg.state.mn.us/members/ members.asp?district=65A • http://news.asianweek.com/news/view_articl e.html?article_id=9567c93e8ce9ab69c3656 • http://www.meemoua.com/ c39796caa0e&this_category_id=169 • http://www.laofamily.org/pdfs/Cultural_Comp etency.pdf Brookdale Library International Teen Club Mission: “To engage Hmong youth in creating programs for other Hmong youth at the library and exposing them to a positive environment while maintaining their Hmong roots.” Goals: “To encourage youth leadership, community involvement, asset building, and life-long learning.” Who are the ITC Teens? • Hmong teenagers, ages 12 - 18, who live in the cities of Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center and Minneapolis. Students come from five different school districts. • Participants are the children or grandchildren of first generation Hmong immigrants who primarily came to the United States in 1980's. The Hmong population in the Twin Cities is the largest in the United States with many families living in the northern suburbs. Encouraging Youth Leadership Hmong New Year celebration at Brooklyn Park Library Hmong New Year Celebration Brooklyn Park Library Learning to Play the Traditional Hmong Flute Performed at the Hmong Culture Celebration at Brookdale Library Making Shakers for Brookdale Library Baby Storytime Making Bilingual Buttons for Hennepin County Library Staff Community Involvement Staffing Booth at Brooklyn Center Night Out Event Eighty Scarves Knitted and Distributed at Homeless Shelter Making Valentine Cards for HCL Homebound Customers Staff MELSA Booth at Minneapolis Hmong New Year Celebration Asset Building Partnering with Asian Media Access – a community-based organization – to write, direct, and act in a short film on using your local library. Learning the Art of Script-Writing Learning How to Act Learning How to Direct Bee Vang from Gran Torino Lifelong Learning Poetry writing w/ Hmong author Mai Neng Moua, co-author of “Bamboo Among the Oaks” Book Signing by Mai Neng Moua Hmong teen book club Poetry Slam w/ Hmong rap artist, Tou Saiko Lee “Delicious Venom” Youth Development ITC is an example of a library working with teens, not for teens. In ITC, teens are treated as individuals, not stereotypes. Adolescent Literacy Book discussion groups, poetry slams, writing workshops, and the ITC poetry publication have all promoted reading among ITC members. Learning and Achievement The ITC has been a model for other Out School Teen programs at the library. Library Foundation The program is funded through the Library Foundation of Hennepin County. They have supplied about $3,000, annually, to fund all aspects of the program, such as: • book discussions • hiring performers • creating ITC T-shirts • and many others ITC was one of the top 5 winners of the YALSA’s fifth round of Excellence in Library Service to Young Adults’ project. Hennepin County Library/TeenLinks Poetry with Mai Neng Moua, Writer-in-Residence and editor of “Bamboo Among the Oaks” http://www.hclib.org/teens/hmongpoetry2.cfm Poetry with Tou Saiko/ Delicious Venom http://www.hclib.org/teens/hmongpoetry3.cfm Podcasts What is the International Teen Club (ITC)? http://www.hclib.org/teens/Podcasts.cfm?ID=8 The history of the International Teen Club (ITC)? http://www.hclib.org/teens/Podcasts.cfm?ID=10 Thank You!
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