Kids learning how to make egg rolls

The altar that the Shaman uses

Hmong musicians describe their instruments prior to a perfornance

Mixing the ingredients for egg rolls

Two Hmong women model traditional Hmong attire

Hmong musicians explain their instruments

Student Interview Hmong Shaman

Certificate from the War

The Shaman displays items on the altar

Madison, WI


Anna | Delia | Gabby


Jenny | Zoe | Brett | Zoe | Kyle | Marcus | Emily | Tim | Gabby

Today, November 30, 2001, we are going to Bay View to study Hmong culture. We looked at paj ntaub (pan doe) and interviewed the makers. We helped make egg rolls, which are not made unless there is a special occasion, like a Hmong new year. We also interviewed a shaman, and she told us how she had become a shaman. And 2 k'eng players told us about Hmong music traditions. And last, but not least, we interviewed an elder about Hmong ceremonies and traditions. --Anna

Bay view is a place where some of the Hmong came to live after they escaped from Vietnam. They left when the Vietnamese burned the Hmong villages and killed the people for fighting on America's side. --Delia

A lot of people fought in the war, people as young as 10 years old eventually had to fight. Some people only go to live in Laos for 1 year because of the war. They had to swim across water holding onto bamboo. Some people got separated during the war and are still now trying to find their family and hoping they didn't die. --Gabby

ELDERS (Ceremonies)Pao's dad displays his army medals

Po's dad gets to show you his medal from the war and the army. We ask him what age he went to war, and he said he was 15 years old when he joined. He said lots of the army died from the war. And he also said that he got shot in the leg. --Jenny

CLANS: The Hmong legend goes that the Lord created lots of clans so the Hmong could get married There are about 15 to 20 clans, the most powerful are: Cha, Yang, Vang Mua, Lor, and Lee. Mr. Lor says being a clan leader is hard because he has to attend funerals and weddings, know how to help everyone, solve conflicts, and all his family must listen to him and trust him. --Zoe

In Hmong culture, your last name tells people what clan you are in. People consider other people in their clan their brothers and sisters. You are not allowed to marry someone in your clan. --Brett

FUNERALS: The older Hmong tradition is when someone passes away, you get a messenger to call all the family and tell them what happened. In the Hmong culture, you can't have a funeral without a k'eng player. The music helps lead the spirit to the new world. --Zoe

The person that has died must wear 100% cotton material so it will disintegrate. If the family of the one who has died finds any cotton material, the one who put it there has to pay the family a fine for putting it there. --Kyle

Mr. Lor said that they use different ceremonies for different things: funerals, weddings, new births, and old-time friends. --Marcus

For greeting ceremonies, if you just meet someone on the street, you can just say"hello." But if it is a well known family member who has been ways for 7 or 8 years, a giant celebration will be held for the home comer. --Emily

Unfortunately, less and less people are learning the traditions of hmong culture because they spend most of their time at work. Becoming a shaman or a clan leader is very time consuming. --Emily

I also learned that lots and lots of people help out in one way or another with Hmong funerals. The older the person, the longer the ceremony. --Tim

Your spirit - when you die- chooses what to become (e.g., plant, animal, human). --Tim

When Hmong people get married, both sides of the family give the bride and groom food, money, clothes, and what they need to live on. When you get married or have a kid, you are considered an adult, and you in-laws have to give you a new name. --Gabby

Our Tour by Location | Our Tour by Theme | How We Did It
Link back to the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures

Submit an Error Report

This page last updated on October 23, 2002