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Keeping Traditions

Fun, games, get-togethers; those are all things families do to keep traditions alive. They also go to things like church or temple or other things like that. It is very interesting the way families pass down cooking, games and traditions. It seems like maybe you have no culture but you do.

The Hmong have done a good job of keeping their traditions here.

Keeping traditions is very important for Hmong elders but not as important for most Hmong kids. This is an argument most Hmong families have in the U.S. How much of this culture should we absorb and how much of our own culture should we keep. Most Hmong elders think that they should keep more than the things kids think they should keep. This brings up another question, “Are we Hmong or American?”

In an effort to help keep the Hmong culture alive, a lot of elders are teaching young boys to play the qeej and Hmong girls to sew. They are also holding Hmong celebration hoping their children will do the same and keep traditions from Laos going, like ball tossing, having traditional funerals and marriages.

Most people we interviewed/talked to are trying to keep their culture. The parents are trying to tell their children to stick to Hmong culture in the house but at school we heard they said they wanted their children to stay American in school.

I think Hmong children and teenagers have been keeping their games culture. I mean if I were Hmong, which I am not, I’d probably keep it in my life. I mean the games are fun. I just need a few more lessons on playing tublub. But I still say the games are fun. I’m not saying they are better than other games, but I’m just saying they’re neat to play. I’m sure most Hmong are still playing the Hmong games because they’re great to play. You can play them when you can’t go outside except the one with the rubber band because it’s hard to play indoors. When we first played it, we had a hard time playing outside so it will [definitely be played] indoors.

I think that one of the most important things about keeping traditions is practices: medical practices, musical practice, crafts practices, etc. I feel that without them, Hmong culture wouldn’t be the same. Traditions are crucial for culture. I especially feel that it’s important to keep Hmong traditions alive if we are to keep Hmong culture alive.

Hmong people are eating Hmong foods, speaking Hmong language, taking trips to Laos, playing Hmong instruments, using Hmong medicines and herbs for healing, along with shamanism and many other things to keep the culture alive – by taking life and traditions from Laos and bringing them to America, where they have to struggle to just keep them existing, to make it so that Hmong people don’t all totally become Americans forever, letting go of beliefs and traditions of a precious culture. Keeping traditions is a very important thing to be able to look back in the future and remember that we need to help these people. Or, we can look back and get a long-forgotten culture restarted and continue studying.

Some valuable traditions are games, music, healing and medical practices, crafts, foodways, holidays, clothes, and more. If we lose these, Hmong traditional culture is lost. 
–Maggie