Ethnographic Study of the Hmong Culture. “Further, an analysis of the-culture’s family/marriage and reproductive behavior will be put forth and then compared with the Yanomamo tribe of the Amazon.”
Ethnographic Study of The Hmong Culture
The purpose of this paper is to present an ethnographic study of a culture, including a discussion of how the research was undertaken and by whom, and a description of the environment and ecology of the region as well as a review of the group’s social behavior and values. Further, an analysis of the-culture’s family/marriage and reproductive behavior will be put forth and then compared with the Yanomamo tribe of the Amazon. For this study, the people of the “Golden Triangle” have been selected, specifically the Hmong culture.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Paul and Elaine Lewis undertook a study of the six tribes that live in the hill country of northern Thailand which borders on Laos and Burma. While the fertile valleys within this region have been populated for some eight centuries by the Lanna or Yuan people, also known as the “Northern Thai,” “the mountain slopes are occupied by a variety of tribal people who have converged on this area from the north, northeast, west and northwest, and now eke out a precarious livelihood there” (Lewis, 1984, p. 9). These tribes include the Karen (Kariang, Yang), Hmong (Meo), Mien (Yao), Lahu (Mussur), Akha (Kaw), and LiSu (Lisaw) and have a total population of over 400,000 (pps. 9-10).
The Lewises used three methods to present the groups within their book entitled Peoples of the Golden Triangle (1984): field photographs from the villages; studio photographs of the Mayer-Lipton Hilltribe Collection; and a written description of the people and their culture based on the couple’s observations, on consultation with experts on each tribe and from researching other anthropological studies (Lewis 1984 p. 7). While these tribes have had contact with the outside world and some many have even assimilated into modern society, those remaining behind in the villages have been isolated from the rest of the country because of the difficulty in reaching and traveling through the area. It was not until after World War II that the Thai Government began to develop programs for the tribal people because of the important role they play in the country.
They are in a strategic location as the area is difficult to defend; they are vulnerable to Communism and other ideological influences; and economically they effect the forests and watershed areas because of the type of agriculture the tribe’s practice (Lewis, 1984, p.,13). As of the early 1980s only thirty percent of the tribal people had citizenship papers furthering a situation whereby most hill groups feel they do not “belong.” And, though programs have been set up to bridge the communication between the tribal groups and the government, most have not been successful (Lewis, 1984, p. 13). But no tribe exists in total isolation as there are degrees of interaction between the different groups and they are very loyal to their own members, especially when facing what they consider a hostile world. The six groups have remained in the border areas and now share the region with each other as well, including their slash-and-burn agriculture.
However, though they have experienced the same natural environment, each tribe has responded differently to it, developing cultures unlike one another, and becoming distinct ethnic groups