Hmong Minnesotans celebrate first annual Hmong-American Day in St. Paul

More than 400 people gathered on May 12 for the first annual Hmong-American Day celebration in St. Paul. Among those in attendance: community leaders, politicians, distinguished guests, and veterans, as well as families and children. The celebration was hosted by Lao Family Community after the State of Minnesota officially proclaimed May 14 as Hmong American Day. The date was chosen because May 14, 1975 was the day that General Vang Pao fled Laos and made the United States—and Minnesota—the home to hundreds of thousands of Hmong.Those in attendance enjoyed the opportunity to listen to Hmong instrumental music, partake in family cultural activities, listen to stories of Hmong history, and nibble on Hmong cuisine.The celebration featured not only a family friendly program, but also encouraged kids to get to know their histories with cultural activities such as paj ntaub (Hmong traditional needlework) and rhia yaas (Hmong rubberband jump rope). Continue Reading

Hmong 18 Clan Council forum focuses on violence in Hmong community

The Hmong 18 Clan Council held an open community forum on Tuesday, April 8 to address recent incidents of violence that have alarmed the Hmong community. The forum, conducted in both Hmong and English, was attended by members of the St. Paul Police Department, the Sheriff’s Department, and Senator Foung Hawj, who joined more than 75 members of the community at Hmong Village in St. Paul.Kevin Vang, President of the Hmong 18 Clan Council, began the forum by holding a moment of silence in remembrance of the victims of the recent crimes. On behalf of the council, Vang issued a strong statement against domestic violence. Continue Reading

New Generation of Hmong Shamans to hold a panel at Hmong National Development Conference

Sandy’Ci Moua and Kuoa Fong Lo, coming from different cities and without knowing one another, each proposed panel discussions on the new wave of shamanism for the 2013 Hmong National Development [HND] conference in Fresno, CA from April 5-7. HND, a national, non-profit organization, advocates national policy for a united, thriving Hmong-American community. Every other year, they hold a conference to bring together members of the community to network and dialogue and to celebrate their accomplishments. This year’s conference, the 20th annual conference, is a three-day affair and events are held to educate and promote discussion amongst the attendees about pressing issues for the Hmong community.This is the first of three articles focusing on the new wave of Hmong shamanism. Also see The next wave of Hmong shamans: Sandy’Ci Moua’s story and The next wave of Hmong shamans: Kuoa Fong Lo’s story.“[HND] saw that we had similar interests and suggested that we contacted each other to put something together,” Sandy said.After Sandy and Kuoa met and traded experiences, they went straight to work on building a team that had ties in both CA and MN, and thoughtfully putting together a panel of professionals who could help to best explain the very real effects of being shaman. Continue Reading

The next wave of Hmong shamans: Kuoa Fong Lo’s story

Kuoa Fong Lo, son of Chong Xu Lo and Myyer Joann Lo, was born and raised in Santa Ana, CA. He moved to St. Paul, MN with his family twelve years ago and after receiving his degree in Business Management from the University of Phoenix, having four sons, and attaining a successful job as the current housing coordinator at Hmong American Partnership (HAP), he was shocked and completely unprepared for the turn his life would take one month after his youngest son was born.This is the second of three articles focusing on the new wave of Hmong shamanism. Also see The next wave of Hmong shamans: Sandy’Ci Moua’s story and New Generation of Hmong Shamans to hold a panel at Hmong National Development Conference“I had seen my wife nearly die during an episode of crossing into the spirit world,” he said. “She told me she had dreams and [the spirits] would tell her that they were going to come for her one month after she gave birth to our youngest son.” When the spirits came for her, Kuoa said she had predicted it. Continue Reading

The next wave of Hmong shamans: Sandy’Ci Moua’s story

Shamanism is alive and well in the Hmong community today: a typical weekend for any Hmong person in this day and age is usually booked with family engagements. Whether it’s a spirit calling for a newly born baby, a weekend-long funeral guiding of a soul into the afterlife, or a ceremony to heal, protect, and bless a family, Hmong shamanistic engagements are commonplace. However, due increasingly to the fact that younger generation Hmong have had to assimilate into American culture, many elements of the culture have begun to diminish, including the understanding of shamanism and its very central role to Hmong culture. Furthermore, there is a severe lack of resources for the younger generation to tap into the spiritual side of their heritage. Enter Sandy’Ci Moua and Kuoa Fong Lo—two individuals willing to share their stories and help anyone who may need the support along the way.This is the first of three articles focusing on the new wave of Hmong shamanism. Continue Reading