Beginning Again: The Hmong and the United States
Transition: Let’s step back for a minute from my culture and my individualistic needs and wants and learn a little about a culture that contrasts my own. For my project, I interviewed Steven Vang, Mai Vang (no relationship-just clan structure), Dr. Vang Xiong; attended two Hmong cultural events on campus; consulted two books; and viewed a presentation on the Hmong. And I am still scratching the surface on the Hmong culture!
B. Main Point 2: Although I did find that the Hmong tend to be much more collectivist out of necessity, I did find some similarities between the two cultures.
1. Shared meanings, values, beliefs, feelings, perceptions: Background info on living in hills in Laos and China and farming (slash/burn) Secret War (Yang 12) (Steven Vang). Future and Past Time Orientation (Resentment for past China and Secret War-but hope for land of own someday (Mai Vang).Polychromic time (―Hmong Time‖) (Steven Vang). Family is highly important-one’s immediate family is entire clan (explain clan structure, 18 clans, and problems with clan-(can’t marry within clan), (uncle and cousin example)) (Steven Vang and Mai Vang). Male dominance (father is head of household), (eldest son takes care of father) (Steven Vang). Males eating first example (Vang Xiong). Dating is highly complicated (traditional field work and time constraint), (traditional example about girl going out and spending
night), (kidnapping example-does not occur often anymore), (traditionally rush into marriage-15 or 16 years old), (Mai Vang) (Steven Vang). Highly spiritual beliefs (txiv neeb (pronounced zee neng) medicine doctor), (spirits dab (―da‖) – both bad and good (heal and hurt)) (Steven Vang) (Fadiman 35).
2. Shared Institutions: Traditional- no school. Now-cultural center in St. Paul. Learned through family. Oral culture/history (ceremonies, stories, myths). Only recently adopted Roman alphabet and began college to avoid decimation of culture (Steven Vang).
3. Shared practices, routines, activities, rituals: Face saving-most important (possibly confounded with other eastern culture), (father should never lose face) (Mai Vang). Taboos (marrying w/in clan), (never touch person on head spirit resides and ―petting‖) (Steven Vang) (Mai Vang). Animal sacrifices and txiv neeb (zee neng) (like Native American), (healing), (appease dabs) (Steven Vang) (Mai Vang). Hmong greetings (individual handshake between men and never between man and woman) (Steven Vang) (Vang Xiong).
4. Shared objects, artifacts: Difficulty because of influences from China, Thailand. Genuine artifacts (flower cloth, qeej instrument, jaw harp (courtship)) (explain and pictures) (Mai Vang).