Hmong-American Day: May 14


Background

The Hmong people are an ethnic group with no country of their own. The original home of the Hmong is believed to have been the Yellow River valley of central China before they were forced southward by the expanding Han Dynasty. For many years, the Hmong lived in southern China, but when the Chinese government began to limit their freedom, many migrated to the mountainous regions of Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos, where they lived in small farm villages among themselves. During the Vietnam War, the American CIA recruited Hmong people to fight along with American forces against the Communists in what is known as the 'secret war.' After the victory of the communists, the Hmong were forced to flee because of persecution. Many spent time in refugee camps before settling in France, Germany, Australia, Canada, and the United States. There are roughly 300,000 Hmong people in the United States, with large populations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Fresno, California.


Culture

The Hmong culture is traditionally agrarian, with religious beliefs based on animism, the idea that natural objects possess a spirit separate from bodies. They also practice shamanism, where the Shaman is a mediator between the spiritual realm and the physical world. Hmong people place a strong emphasis on the supernatural and in preparing the soul for the afterlife. When a person dies, his soul must return to his birthplace and then travel to meet his ancestors for reincarnation. Funeral rituals often last days to ensure the safe passage of a soul. Moreover, the Hmong people identify themselves as a member of a family and belonging to a clan. In Hmong culture, relatives and clan members are respected, with the highest honor going to the elders. Flower cloths are also a significant element of their culture. They feature a variety of patterns that are symbolic of the Hmong culture. They are often used to guard against evil spirits and said that the flower cloths disguise them as flowers.


A Famous Hmong-American

Brenda Song was born to a Thai mother and a Hmong father, and her family belonged to the prestigious Xiong Clan. Song excelled in academics and eventually received her major in psychology, with a minor degree in business studies. However, she decided to move to Los Angeles and pursue her interest in acting. She started with guest appearances on Disney shows before her big break in 2005 when she landed the role of London Tipton on Disney's Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Her character became the most loved one on the show. Later, the writers said that she didn’t even have to audition for the role because she was always on their mind while writing the character.


Works Cited


Hmong History – Hmong American Center. www.hmongamericancenter.org/hmong-

history/.


Hmong – Ethnomed. ethnomed.org/culture/hmong/.


‌Yang, Nancy. “10 Things about Hmong Culture, Food and Language You Probably

Didn’t Know.” Mprnews.org, 1 Mar. 2015,

www.mprnews.org/story/2015/03/01/10-things-hmong.

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