Tag Archives: Hmong

World History and the Meaning of Being Human – Myths, Storytelling, and The Moon – by Der Yang. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

World History and the Meaning of Being Human – Myths, Storytelling, and The Moon – by Der Yang. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

[Original art work from Der Yang]

Coming from many regions across South-East Asia, there is one of many myths that haunts my past today. This folktale is about a woman, with a name that I did not initially know of, who lived on the moon. According to an article by A Beginner’s Guide to Hmong Shamanism, it states that the Chinese society calls this woman Chang E, the goddess of the moon. The folklore of this woman dates back to as long as my ancestors can remember. Passed down onto my parents and my generation, I still remember the story today. The moon that everyone sees now at night, is the symbol of this myth. Although very short, I had an unforgettable experience.

Chang E was known as a vengeful spirit because she longed for her husband. When she lived as a human being, her husband was given a magical immortality potion as a reward for saving the world from the ten blazing suns. He took down nine and left one for the world to stay bright. However, as nearby civilians heard the news, they gained greed and selfishness for a long life, causing them to invade Chang E’s home. Without her husband present, her fear and impulsivity caused her to swallow the magic. She was then automatically sent to the sky, choosing the moon as her new home. Since then, Chang E has been known to punish any and everyone who points her way, a sign of attack.

From my experience, my parents have always told me from a very young age to never point at the moon. At the age of four, I never understood the reasons behind their story of the moon. They would tell me that if I looked long and hard enough, a woman sitting on the moon would wave to me. They would say that this woman was bound to cut my ears if I pointed her way. However, I thought to myself, “How could this person possibly come to earth and cut my ears off? How could this woman that mom and dad keep mentioning hurt me if she is so far away?”

A few days right after learning about this mysterious woman on the moon, I shared the cool news with my older cousins at a gathering. Unfortunately, it was right around 8-9 PM in the summer and the moon was starting to appear. Being the “wise and nice” cousins they were, they told me that if I pointed at the moon, then I would be able to go to the playground with them. I directly shot my tiny pointer finger towards the big, round moon. After a two second wait, everyone laughed at me and told me that I only told fibs. No one believed this myth, not even myself.

When I arrived home, I didn’t think much of the actions I completed. I bathed and got ready for bed, as usual. The only unusual thing was the skin area connecting my right earlobe to my head felt a bit sore. It felt as if someone was tugging on my earlobe for a very long time and wanted it off. That may sound exaggerated, but I remember the fine details of this incident.

The next day, I found my earlobe full of scab and discomfort. Tears ran down my eyes while I cluelessly ran to my mother. After I told my mother about my actions the night before, I remember her scolding me, “I told you to listen to me but you did not and this is what you deserve.” She then formed a small ball of spit in her mouth and spat on her fingers. Her hands moving closely to my right ear lobe, I moved in objection to her spit. Nonetheless, she firmly grabbed me by my ear and chanted, “Quav qaib, quav npua, quav nyuj, quav twm.” Which translates in English as chicken poop, pig poop, cow poop, buffalo poop. She chanted this phrase once while rubbing my ear with the spit. Surprisingly, it was soothing. I then asked my mother what she was doing and the reasons behind it. She explained, “It is our ritual to help your ear from getting worse, to heal it faster. However, it would have been preventable if you told me right after you did what you have done. That way, she will not come to get your ear as I have just spread all sorts of poop on your ear [figuratively].”

According to history book Worlds Together, Worlds Apart, by Robert Tignor and other authors, a myth can be found throughout the chapters but specifically on page 179. El Lanzón is an excellent art carving from the Chavín in the Andes. The example of El Lanzón portrays some of the similarities as my myth shared above. It is a large monument demonstrating the aspects of one of their deities. It shows features of snakes, cats, and human parts. Its whole picture conveys a hybrid supernatural figure, possessing powerful strengths. Tignor states, “Carved stone jaguars, serpents, and hawks, baring their large fangs and claws to remind believers and nature’s powers, dominated the spiritual landscape.” [179] Unlike the myth of Chang E, there seems to be no artistic representation in the Hmong culture, the culture that I identify with. Yet, in China or other south Asian countries, there are many drawings and video games based on the goddess of the moon.

Pertaining to class discussions, all human beings are contradictory and complex, multifaceted, and teachable [Professor Liang].  Just like all of the civilizations from the Tignor’s work, people from Ancient Voices, Modern World: The Amazon, and my own society, we are hard to understand, adaptable, and we have a mindset willing to expand. Artifacts have proven the different lives at different times all around the world. We as social creatures live off from traditions, folktales, and skills to survive. An example would be the legend of the Basarana river people, also known as the lost Amazonian. Their culture and belief system is so vastly different from ours, yet somewhat similar. When celebrations happen, there are many rituals to be done, ancestors are involved in one way or another, and cultural preservation is relevant. Such as the making of their bread, stitching of cultural hats, and preparation of hallucinogenic drinks. The bread is passed out at the end of the ceremony to represent completion and blessings. The hats, created from feathers, shells, beads, etc, are worn by mostly men of the river people to signify pride. Created from feathers, shells, beads, etc. Last but not least, their drinks are prepared with a type of drug to lighten their moods and dwell wholly in their ceremony. The Basarana people share sacred locations and activities just as us many Americans do.

Today, many of us as social creatures like to look into the world and search for a supernatural explanation of why things are the way they are. Personally, I think that myths and legends are universal features in the human existence. Their existence makes us human by allowing us to hold a history to our name. With histories, we are able to learn from them and utilize them as a guideline to life. Whether a history is true or false, it is a myth that has power over some individuals more than the others. Not everyone will believe in myths. Nonetheless, these imaginative stories give human beings a sense of energy to continue the human existence. Additionally, just as it has occurred within my life to the Basarana people, fables are meant to be shared through many generations.

[From Professor Liang’s Spring 2017 World History I class]

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under History, Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Professor Liang's Classes

Homemade Chicken Soup – Mom, Hmong Heritage, Minnesota, Home, – by Nancy H. Thao. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Homemade Chicken Soup – Mom, Hmong Heritage, Minnesota, Home, – by Nancy H. Thao. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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After staying up in Duluth for three years, there is one homemade dish I will always be craving for at least once throughout the school year and that is chicken soup. I especially love it when there are herbs in my chicken soup! It is the most delicious dish when it is made with fresh chicken and herbs. In the picture, it is the chicken soup I made with my mother’s freshly picked herbs. If my mother had told me to go picked herbs from the garden for the soup, it would have been a tremendous failure on my part.

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When my mom was coming up to visit me, I constantly reminded her to bring me chicken and some herbs. She jokingly asked me, “Why? Are you pregnant?”. Why would she ask me this? Well, usually women who have just given birth will go on what is called “the chicken diet” in the Hmong culture. It is when the women will eat only herbal chicken soup with rice for every meal for a whole month. It has been a part of the Hmong cultural tradition for many centuries. I remember how a lot of my cousins were excited to go on this chicken diet when they had their first child, but after a while they could not wait until it was over. Based on what I have seen and heard, traditionally the women did not eat anything else beside the chicken soup. This mean no fruits, vegetables or junk food. The purpose of this chicken diet is to help cleanse the body and to rejuvenate it. At times, the chicken diet doesn’t always work for everyone. When my cousin had her child, she said the chicken diet was giving her heartburn, so instead she replaced the chicken with quail instead. Like the unexpected changes in our lifestyle, so does the traditions we carry on changes with the choices we make. My aunt told me that her sister would have one apple pie per day, but still stick to the herbal chicken diet. It is hard to preserve a tradition without changing it a little to accommodate to our likings.

Nancy serves as an editor for The North Star Reports.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under Nancy H. Thao, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

We are Hmong Minnesota Exhibit — The North Star Reports – by Bao Vang. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

We are Hmong Minnesota Exhibit — The North Star Reports – by Bao Vang. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

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[Main poster, found on google, used to advertise the Hmong exhibit]

Over spring break of 2015, went to the “We are Hmong (Peb Yog Hmoob) Minnesota” at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. The event celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Hmong’s migration to Minnesota. I attended the event with my parents, who were part of migration after the Vietnam War in Southeast Asia. It was a great experience to see actual pictures and artifacts that date back to how life was like before, during, and after the war. The exhibit helped me understand some of my parents’ unusual behaviors that I noticed while I was growing up. For example, I now know why my parents have a big obsession with gardening/farming and why there is a collection of bamboo baskets stored the basement that has never been used before. Furthermore, after the exhibit I have learned to value and appreciate my family’s history, the history of the Hmong people, and their journey in North America.

BaoWe1

Gardening/farming was the main occupation that many Hmong people had when they lived in Southeast Asia. From my parents’ experience, farming was a full-time job consisting of about eight hours of farming plus another four to six hours of walking to and from the farm. That would be a total of twelve to fourteen hours of transportation and farming every single day.

My parents’ farm in Laos was not close to home, so they would get up every day and walk about three hours to get to the farm before sunrise. After farming all day, they would head back to the village during sunset to get home before dark and then the farming routine was repeated the next day. Due to my parents’ upbringing as farmers, this fact/experience explains why my parents have a big passion for farming. To them, farming is a way to remind them of how life was like in Laos.

BaoWe3

Here is an image of common household items found in a Hmong household in Southeast Asia. All of the items are made out of bamboo that was woven together to produce strong baskets for storing rice and farming produce. Brooms are also made out of bamboo to ensure strong bristles for collecting dirt when sweeping the floor.

In my parents’ house in the Twin Cities, they have at least one of each items in the above photo stored in the basement. The items in my parents’ house were bought from Hmong markets that were all handmade by elders in the Hmong community in St. Paul. My parents used the broom a couple of times in the house, but the other items have never been used. . I asked my parents why the items are stored and not used. They mentioned that the bamboo items are a collection to give away as presents to me and my siblings on our respective wedding days. It is also a way to remind us of our cultural roots and where our ancestors came from.

BaoWe4

These two outfits were some of the military uniforms worn by Hmong soldiers during the Secret War. The exhibit also displayed the actual medals of two well-known Hmong soldiers: Touby Lyfoung and Col. Ly Teng ( though I am not one-hundred percent sure/ certain if these two well-known soldiers’ medals are displayed in this photo or in another section of the exhibit).

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This is a display of some of the artillery remains collected from the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which was the location that had the most bombing activities.

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This is a photo of the bus transportation in Thailand where Hmong and other refugees were transported to the airport. Planes flew them to North America, Europe, and Australia. Not all of the refugees were granted transportation to the three locations. Only those who had family members that (who?) served with the U.S. CIA during the Secret War were granted the opportunity to be relocated.

My parents were qualified to come to the U.S. because of my great-grandfather and grandfather’s involvement with the CIA. They mentioned that this was an incredibly long process and a miserable experience. This unpleasantness was due to the amount of people trying to get through. Those who were not qualified to be transported caused a scene, and most of all, many families were split up during this process. My mom got separated from my dad and grandma, but they were able to relocate each other at the airport.

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Lastly, this is a board showing the first few photos taken in Minnesota when the Hmong first arrived in the U.S. in 1975. The display consists of multiple images depicting how the Hmong adapted to American life in Minnesota during the late 1970’s. The top photos are Hmong children attending school throughout the Twin Cities area and joining sports teams.

In conclusion, the “We are Hmong Minnesota” exhibit was a phenomenal experience for me. It is a great way to educate the Minnesota community about who the Hmong people are. After seeing what the Hmong people and my ancestors have gone through, I value my culture and identity much more. I am also more appreciative and feel blessed that my parents are doing all they can to remind us not to forget our original roots, as represented by their passion for farming and collection of traditional bamboo baskets as wedding presents.

If you are interested in visiting the “We are Hmong Minnesota” exhibit, please visit http://www.minnesotahistorycenter.org/exhibits/we-are-hmong-minnesota for more details.

Bao Vang serves as Social Media Editor for The North Star Reports and is a student at The College of St. Scholastica.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal’s online learning community and outreach program with undergraduate and K-12 classes around the world. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, Colombia, Norway, northeastern China, Nicaragua, Micronesia, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, El Salvador, England, Finland, Russia, Cyprus, and Haiti. We also publish student reviews of books, documentaries, and films, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers. We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.

Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang