Uniting Hmong and Native Americans
By Amy Doeun – The weekend of November 8-11 in La Crosse, WI the Hmong and Native American communities came together for the Indigenous Education Symposium.
Uniting Hmong and Native Americans
By Amy Doeun
The weekend of November 8-11 in La Crosse, WI the Hmong and Native American communities came together for the Indigenous Education Symposium. The symposium was hosted by Widening the Circle Indigenous Education Institute, a consortium of La Cross Hmong Mutual Assistance Association, Ho-Chunk Nation, UW-La Crosse, Eau Claire, Green Bay, Viterbo University and the Wisconsin Department of Publication Instruction.
Widening The Circle released a statement about the event, “The La Crosse area Hmong and Native American communities have increasingly started to recognize that despite broad differences in their respective histories, they share many similarities in culture and social issues as Indigenous Peoples. This is especially striking when confronting educational issues, language and culture revitalization. As such, for the past decade, among many other events, both communities have come together to develop the Widening the Circle Indigenous Education Symposium on November 8th through 11th in La Crosse WI. The Symposium followed traditional Hmong and Native American values in bringing people together to build relationships and learn from each other.”
This year focused on topics like “language revitalization and crafting a Hmong Education Bill.” Over Friday and Saturday more than 40 workshops were held with guest presenters including Tou Saiko Lee, Foung Hawj and Kabzuag Vang.
In addition to workshops a Friday night celebration of the arts through hip-hop and spoken word artists, Tall Paul and Tou Saiko Lee.
“The Symposium seeks to be a resource for teachers, future educators, and community members and to give educators and gives participants the opportunity to meet Native and Hmong elders and educators, build relationships, learn about Native and Hmong cultures, contemporary and historical issues, Indigenous educational practices,” read a statement released by Widening the Circle.
The symposium has 4 main goals:
• Create an environment, which provides educators and students a culturally responsive model of critical multicultural and Indigenous (specifically Native and Hmong) education;
• Build relationships that will provide a solid basis through which to better understand their students and communities;
• Develop a critical consciousness to deconstruct their biases and stereotypes to begin to see how their practice, and current educational policies can be problematic for students;
• Learn positive strategies and ideas to rethink methodologies and infuse a more meaningful and inclusive curriculum and praxis through a critical framework and using Indigenous educational practices, teaching/learning about Indigenous histories, cultures, contemporary issues, and critical multicultural pedagogy to fight oppression and inspire understanding, acceptance, critique sovereignty and respect for all.
One area of focus was, “Historical trauma” and how traumatic events happening to a group of people can affect them for generations. Presenters Kab Zuag Vang and Christine Munson talked about how poverty, displacement and colonization affect a people, but also how healing can happen.
“While the symposium is focused on education and contemporary issues, everyone was encouraged to attend and participate in what has become the country’s only collaborative effort between the Hmong and Native American communities.”
More information about the symposium and upcoming events is available at http://www.act31.weebly.com/ or contact Mai Xiong at 608-433-6958.