Recently, my dad decide to discuss with me the some issues the Hmong women face because of the cultures and traditions.
According to the Hmong traditions, in a house or household, there is a family spirit or guardian that protects the family. It will protect everyone in the family but some of the rules for protecting the women will change especially if a girl gets married.
If a girl gets married, she of course will leave her family to go live with her husband and from then on it’s the duty of the guardian of her husband’s family to protect her and no longer that of her own family (if you’ve seen the film “Mulan 2”, it’s kind of like that where the ancestors tell Mushu once Mulan gets married, the guardianship will switch over to those of her husband’s family).
The problem here is that if there were to be an issue between husband and wife like their relationship didn’t work out or there are issues of domestic violence and they divorce, neither of the families will be willing to take care of the girl especially the funeral rites. There is a saying, “Koj ciaj los koj yog luag neeg, koj tuag los koj yog luag dab” which means, “Dead or alive, you are of their people now”. When a girl marries into another family, all of her needs as well as spiritual needs will be taken care of by her husband’s family whether it be soul calling ceremonies or funeral rites.
If the girl were to divorce for whatever reasons whether she willingly agreed to divorce or is kicked out by her husband, she can go back to live with her family but she won’t be protected anymore by the household guardian because she already belongs to another family through marriage. And if she were to die, she cannot die in her own family’s home and there will also be issues to who will take care of the funeral rites. And if no one takes care of the funeral rites then basically her soul will remain in limbo. But for a guy, wherever he goes in life, he can still come back to live with his parents and his own funeral rites will still be taken care of by his parent’s family.
Life can be even more difficult if the girl who returns home is also pregnant whether she’s married or not. She can live with her family but only until she gives birth to her child. She cannot give birth inside of her family’s home because it’s taboo. So before she gives birth she has to go make a home or shelter of her own away from her family and give birth there and she can’t return to her parent’s home for at least a month. From that point on, she’s basically on her own for a whole month.
Surprisingly, this still carries on into the 21st century especially for the Hmong families who still keep very, very strict traditional rules. There have been Hmong girls here in the United States whose parents still follow tradition and if they were to come home pregnant one day, they wont’ be allowed back home until 30 days after the birth. The moment that they give birth in the hospital and a few days after they are discharged, they’ve got nowhere else to go, especially for teenage girls. Some of these issues have even been taken to court because the girl reports to the police or CPS that her parents are not willing to take her back; that it’s negligence or abuse.
Have there been any issues like this in the Native American culture or anything similar?
Hi, I am a person with Native American heritage. I worked at a Hmong nonprofit in the Twin Cities, MN for several years. We often shared stories, the animals were different but the fables very similar. If you listen to the traditional songs, the vocalizations are similar to Native American plains nations. I think that there is also a link with Sami and indigenous nations near Finland, just look up their traditional outfits. It would be cool to do a DNA profile between the three… Peace to ALL my Relations!
Thank you for the add . this is a great group , i can just tell.
Hello everyone here,
This was a shock and great discovery to me to find a group with Native Americans and the Hmong people together . A great combination. A little about my self for anyone interested. I am Part Native America my self, (Eastern band Cherokee) but here’s the kicker i grew up with the Laos people from age of 12 years old i am now 49. I speak Thai, Lao, and English fluently. Most Hmong i use to know do speak Lao and there own natural tongue as well. But many that are now in the states that were born here only speak there Hmong language because most has lost the reason to have to speak the Lao language any more. But this isn’t a always case there are still Hmong who speak Lao as well as there own Hmong language in the States . If anyone would like to know more about me feel free to add me or ask me what ever….. Thank you to who added me to group , I hope to find many more friends here.
I saw a Hmong person making fun of an image of a Native American stereotype on facebook and I expressed what I felt about it. I wanted to share it with this facebook group. I am not here to out that person and I want this person to understand.
All I will say now is for people that have made comments making fun of this image, we as Hmong and Asian people in the US have been discriminated and dehumanized by many people due to stereotypes about how US mainstream media has created our image. There are many Native American people that I respect, love, and have been an inspirational influence in my life. This picture is mainstream media’s depiction of a stereotype that really promotes hate towards Native people. It does hurt me to see that some of our people may ridicule our Native brothers and sisters. Native people in the US have a history of persecution where many people were killed and many were forced give up their land, language and culture. We as Hmong people have a similar history in China where we were also persecuted. We should be standing up for Native people and love them they way that we as Hmong people needed that love to survive and persevere so we can be here on the land that was taken away from them with opportunities to be successful. I understand it was meant as a joke but I honestly feel the pain of Native people’s history that has manifested into these images that mock their existence. Please think about the Native people’s struggle with love and understanding to our own history.
Does anyone have a link to the DNA similarities? And Hmong people is this were the name Khang comes from? pronounced hmong Ka as in native American which would make it a clue right?
Has anyone ever looked at the similarities of Shamanism and the Native American Religions?
I always had a theory about this. And I never knew there were people that shared the same views till I stumbled across here. This is awesome!
It is challenging for the women in our Hmong community to follow our spiritual traditions and beliefs. (Note: Hmong Shamanism can be practiced differently based on clan, lineage, and family. My narrative is my personal experience and may not be applicable to all practices. Ancestor veneration is not the only form of protection or worship, but it is a key pillar of Hmong spirituality. We also call upon the Sky, the Earth, the Mountains, and many other things in nature for protection, guidance and blessings.)
Recently, I celebrated Hmong New Year on my own this year in Alexandria, Virginia. Hmong New Year is not just a festival where we dress up in traditional clothes and watch amazing dance performances and the Miss Hmong Beauty Pageant, toss balls, chant kwj txhiaj, and find a new mate. While these are manifestations of our cheerful and festive spirits, the colorful celebrations in of themselves are not the New Year.
Hmong New Year is a sacred time of the year, where we give thanks to our ancestors and the spirits of the earth for life, seasons, the harvest, our family and our friends. It is a time of purification and cleansing, prayer and ritual, sacrifices and divinations. “New Year’s” is not a single day where we count down until midnight and let the ball drop. No, Hmong New Year is a process, an experience, a period of transformation. In our home countries, in the lands of Southeast Asia where our ancestors roamed as a semi-nomadic people, our New Year celebration can last up to two weeks. Every village may have their own New Year time frame (as our calendar is not predetermined or standardized like the Gregorian calendar) but rather we follow the seasons, the earth and the harvest. In essence Hmong New Year can perhaps be viewed as an earth/fertility celebration. It is not uncommon to begin Hmong New Year as early as October and end as late as December.
It is difficult to separate our festivities from our culture, our culture from our traditions, and our traditions from our spirituality. We are an earth-centered people where everything in the universe, the nine realms of heaven and earth and all in between are intricately intertwined. I was born into and raised in my ancestral traditions. Yet the limitations and ancient pacts and/or damage control mechanisms that were implemented generations ago within my tradition has created unprecedented roadblocks for the women of my community to continue and uphold our ancestral practices.
As many of us know, women are traditionally the transporter of culture and spirituality. In many family lineages, women are shamans. We are also herbalists and practitioners of our ancient healing arts (as are the women of my family.) We are the ones who cultivate spirituality, preserve it, and hand it to the next generation. We are the link between the unborn generation and the ancestors who protect us and watch over us. We raise kings, warriors, generals, rebel and revolutionary leaders who have fought through the millennium to preserve our most valuable treasures: our culture and our traditions. The Hmong are fiercely protective of being Hmong and have pride to a fault. So if we women are the bearer and guardian of our culture and spirituality and are responsible for the safe transportation of these gems to our offspring, then why is it that we cannot follow our traditions and venerate our ancestors without male ownership?
I struggled with this spiritual conflict only two weeks ago when I made Hmong New Year’s dinner in my home where I live alone. I wanted to honor my ancestors, purify my home, and pray for another fruitful year. Yet, Hmong spirituality, so entrenched in male-dominated customs and patriarchal traditions made it very difficult for me to call upon my ancestors. See, the clan system that rules all Hmong people is not only a political and societal organizing of my people, but it is at the heart of our spiritual tradition. We believe that every clan is protected by their ancestral spirits. (This becomes the chicken and the egg question: Do we have clans because of our spiritual traditions, or did our spiritual tradition come out of the clan system?) Most sacrifices, ceremonies, and rituals are devoted to the ancestral clan spirits in exchange for protection and blessings. For the women who the spirits have chosen as their mediator to become a shaman, they have a way to practice and worship as their own shamanic spirits demand a “house” in the form of a shamanic altar in their home. Frequent ceremonies may accompany these altars to nourish these spirits. For young unmarried women such as myself, the situation is more complicated.
I am a 32-year old professional unmarried woman who is no longer in her parent’s home. The fact that I do not have my father or a husband in my home is a telltale sign that I do not have ancestral clan spirits to protect and guide me. I could commit a spiritual blunder in calling and summoning my clan spirits to ask for blessings. The fact that I do not have a shamanic altar in my home is a telltale sign that I have not been chosen by the shamanic spirits and do not have their protection. Yet the inconspicuous water buffalo horns sitting on my bookshelf at the entrance against the wall, with a small bowl of uncooked rice with an egg sitting atop along with burnt incense sticks, accompanied by two small cups of rice wine speaks volumes about my ancestry and spiritual traditions. The symbolism of these artifacts together brings me a sense of peace and spiritual balance.
Culture, tradition, and spirituality are not static. They are constantly in motion and evolve as societies change. While the symbolism and essence remains, the manifestations and practices will go through transformation and metamorphoses. And while in the Eurocentric paradigm evolution is seen as a linear trajectory, in perhaps all indigenous traditions, things happen in cycles and in circular motion.
The fact that we have a large number of Hmong female shamans, diviners, and traditional healers makes it difficult for me to believe that we were always a patriarchal culture, especially since we are an earth tradition which usually is associated with the divine femininity (in various cultures.) In our shamanic chants, we pray to both Shi Yi, the first and most powerful shaman (who was a man) and to Nia Gao Ka Ying, a powerful female diviner and enchantress who is perhaps in some ways, more powerful than Shi Yi.
In Hmong culture, a woman will never formally bow on her knees to any man or anyone for formality’s sake except at the funeral of an elderly family member (different kind of bowing) or in worst case scenario if she committed an atrocious offense. Hmong men are always expected to bow on their knees for formality’s sake. They bow on their knees to both men and women. If a woman asks for the services of a male or female shaman, she merely asks humbly and offers ghost paper money and incense at the shaman’s altar. If a man requests for the services of a male or female shaman, he will bow on his knees at the time of the request, offer ghost paper money and incense at the altar, and speak humbly. Then after the performance of the services, he and other accompanying males at the ceremony will again bow to the shaman, be it a male or female shaman.
Traditions at times were born out of necessity that becomes custom. Perhaps because we are a nomadic people and fiercely protective of our culture/traditions, the spirituality and the customs associated with it were developed to ensure that our culture remains with our people, and to encourage Hmong people to stay together. I respect and honor tradition because it has a long history and I will not scoff at things that I do not fully comprehend. Yet I also believe that we have an oral tradition for a reason. It allows us the flexibility to maintain the essence of who we are without having anything carved in stone. We Hmong women are the bearers of culture and we are an essential element in the evolution of it.
There are many questions that I do not yet and may never have the answers to. In my heart of hearts, I know that my ancestors watch over me and guide me; they hear me and answer my prayers. The sky is wide and omniscient, and is ever watchful. The earth is vast and hears and feels all movement. Everything has a spirit and life force. Everything is intricately intertwined. And I, as an unmarried, non-shaman, young Hmong woman, will honor and revere that in the best way that I know how.
Hmong & Native Americans = One Family Tree, where we were lost as a family, now we are found together to build this nation in America!!!
To the many Americans who claim Native blood (always Cherokee, the Cherokees must have been very busy), have you visited a reservation lately? Care to live there? Care to side with such movements as Idle No More? Care to protect the earth and its resources alongside the Indigenous people of this land?
While looking at native and hmong designs I noticed some similarities. What do yalls think. Go look at one then go look at the other. Both are BEAUTIFUL though.
The Hmong is part of the Miao; the Miao in China is like the Natives in Americas. Our plights have been told through the words, voices and eyes of others, but our own.
What makes a race or species “free (freedom of choice, to live however they want)” versus a “natural resource (to be used by others with no choice of their own)”?
It’s amazing how I’m going back and looking at pictures of myself and family member in Hmong clothes and I see the resemblance. Pretty awesome
Hi! I totally agree with you! Our religion is not a religion but I believe more of a philosophy of life. We are very spiritual. The Hmong and Native American both have shamans to heal the sick.
I’m in the military and have a few Native American (navajo) friends we share stories and have similar beliefs. It’s nice to find a group like this. Thanks!!
Thank you for allowing me to join this group! I have always known in my heart that the Native Americans and the Hmongs were deeply connected not only in culture and customs but spiritually. I have so much to learn about these two cultures and I look forward to learning so much about us all.
for some time now i have been trying to get in contact with my old highschool history teacher, because he was well known to acknowledge that Hmong and Native Americans were very VERY simular in all ethnics of backrounds…and both ethnicity share some very similar past stories of tens of thousands of years. from two sides of different worlds but both same stories. i too have pondered about this as well. lol a native friend i knew in Delnorte County of California asked me the same question and i told him “you never know”. we didn’t live back then or could we have? and so the mystery goes on
It is just me, but as Hmong, I find instant bond with Native American cultures. I can literally see and feel the Native American culture. It’s like looking at the mirror. Years of oppression and genocide, the Hmong struggle to preserve and revive what were lost. When I learn about the socio problems in the Native American communities, it broken my heart and my tears came out of nowhere.
thanks for inviting me to this page.
Just curious how many of you here are shaman’s or could tell the future or look into the past, get in touch with your spiritual side?
where are the Hmongs from, I am Cherokee as well as Lapp, or Sami, we are related to the Inuits my ancestors were from above the arctic circle of Finland from Lapland (Means land of no missionaries) they used to be afraid of us we heard reindeer’s and are nomadic even using teepees too the missionaries were scared saying we controlled the land the rocks the weather the water everything we as a culture believe in anything is possible no matter how ridiculous it sounds it is possible things are slightly different now as most are Luthern now a days but we were from Finland Sweden Russia I think Norway too….
I’m curious? don’t know if this question has been ask before. since us Hmong people who are still in old tradition every year we have to do this new year thing where we call all ancestors to come and join the living to to eat. Now do you Native Americans do they same things too as in to call all ancestors to come eat and to enjoy the new year?
To to all Indigenous and Hmong: Shamanism is a significant commonality between us. What are some of the similarities and differences you notice and/or study?
Since we have agreed upon the fact that Hmong and the indigenous people of America are interrelated in commonalities, how similar and different the customs of shamanism between the two?
Thanks for the add. I’ve always had an interest for the Native Americans and their cultures. I love, respect and enjoy the outdoors. I feel a certain connection with Mother Earth when I’m amongst nature. I don’t know why but I feel drawn to connect with my long, lost brother….the Native American brother. My best friend was a young Native American man from the Chippawa (sorry, probably incorrect spelling) tribe in Wisconsin. Thanks again for the add….hoping to make new/more friends here and learn new things to help me to better understand life.
Hmongs & Native Americans ©