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Chong Pao Xiong, Storyteller

At the United Hmong Community Center in Green Bay we heard a storyteller named Mr. Pao Xiong tell a Hmong folktale.
Mr. Xiong came in to tell us a Hmong story with his voice and a slide projector. First, he told us to get up and exercise. That’s just what we did. We sat down and he told us he was a member of the Xiong clan and that Xiong means Bear.
–Izzy L.


The story was about three orphan boys who moved to the jungle and met some friendly tigers. The boys had to feed the tigers because they were too young to hunt.

There were three orphan boys who got chased and teased by the other boys. Their only friend was a short fat boy who helped them run away from the other boys. The leader of the village said ‘move downstream and into the jungle’ so they did. One night, as they were fretfully trying to get to sleep, some tigers broke into their shelter. They gave themselves over to the tigers but the tigers didn’t want them. They were orphan tigers and they were hungry.
–Izzy L.

The tigers [who had a lot of money] gave the boys some money to go buy some meat, so they went to the butcher who saw the money and said he had never seen that kind of money before. He went to ask someone else about it and was told the money belonged to a very rich king and queen. He asked the boys where they got it but they wouldn’t tell.

Everything went as planned until they recognized the money as belonging to an ancient queen. One of the boys was brought to the palace of the king where he was questioned but he wouldn’t answer anything. The king tried coaxing him, saying if he told where he got the money, he could marry his daughter. He had some time alone with the daughter. She wanted the money but he married her first. He got the money, and he became king.
–Izzy L.

They gave the fat boy some money and let him marry the prettiest girl in the village. The mean boys wanted to become friends with them now, so they could get some money and wives but the orphans [now kings] were suspicious and didn’t become friends with them because they remembered how they had treated them when they were young.
–Izzy S.

After some time with the tigers, the orphans moved back into town. One became a king (tiger king) and the others became civilians.

At the end, they got to keep the money. Their fat friend got married to the most beautiful girl in the village because he had treated the orphans well. That’s why Hmong children are so respectful.

As for the short fat boy, they gave him the position of General of the army and the prettiest woman in the village as his wife.
–Izzy L.

The moral of the story is: be nice to everyone because you don’t know what they will become when they grow up!
–Izzy S.

The story was kind of funny because tigers can’t really be your friends. They will eat you up!

I think stories about tigers are very popular because there are a lot of Hmong stories about tigers. I’ve heard a LOT of tiger stories.

[The story] was rather confusing. It’s not much different from the other Hmong stories because they were confusing too. The story was so confusing that at one point I just couldn’t understand it. It would be interesting to ask Hmong people if they understood the story.
–Sara K.

I quickly learned that not all storytellers are alike. Some just tell stories in one, drawling, boring, bored voice. Others use one voice for the main character but then change it, in other words, too many voices! But, some use their normal voice for the narrator and different voices for the characters but keep the voices the same throughout and put a lot of excitement into it. Mr. Xiong spoke in his normal voice for the narrator and when dialogue started, his voice would get high and, although the voices of the characters were all high, they were all different too. I enjoyed the story nonetheless!