"...Religion is always a hot, controversial topic. Often times I receive strongly opposing views or negative comments about Shamanism, which makes me uncomfortable. I have come to realize that the customs, traditions and knowledge bestowed upon the newer generations are slowly dissipating. “Americanized” Hmong are forgetting their cultural roots. Conversions in religious beliefs often result in ignorant, incorrect views about Shamanism, and the education of Hmong cosmology is not taught widely, leaving younger generations with clouded views of their customs. To understand the ancient religion of the Hmong, you must understand the culture and history of the Hmong.
The new generation of Hmong Americans lack valid information about their own history leaving them uncertain about the Hmong’s rich, cultural history. One thing that was certain was the diasporas within the history of the Hmong. The exquisite ethnic group faced long-lasting challenges as they fought for their independence and tried to maintain their lasting existence. History has long dated Hmong people from ancient times as early as 3000 B.C. (Faderman, 2). Hmong or Hmoob is also known as “Miao” or “Meo,” although, the term “Hmong” is more suitable. A Hmong scholar stated that the term “Miao” is actually a derogatory term meaning “barbarian,” given by the Chinese (Symonds xxv). The Hmong did not have a writing system; therefore, there are many controversies and confusion about where the Hmong originated from. Some believe the Hmong came from Mongolia, (hence the similar pronunciation) migrating to Siberia and then settling into China. However, this is just a theory. It is more certain that the Hmong have made their historical presence in Southern China, since the Chinese have records in their book of Shujing (Book of Documents) that the “Miao’s” have appeared from dynasty to dynasty.
It is said that a Hmong kingdom was established in the earlier centuries around 400-900 B.C. (Lao Family Community of Minnesota, Inc.). It later fell into the hands of a ruler in the Sung Dynasty. The Hmong then dispersed across China and returned to their nomadic ways. After this event, the Hmong lived peacefully for a few years until the expanding Chinese with a higher power came along and threatened the Hmong. The Chinese posed a high threat of subjugation, leaving another major emigration in the Hmong history. Wanting to civilize the Hmong, Chinese rulers tried enforcing punitive taxations, forced servitude under govern rules, and conducted ethnic persecutions. The Hmong refuted this mandate and began rebelling which resulted in numerous revolts. The Hmong have excellent tactics for defending themselves especially in ambushing their victims. The aftermath of rebellious fighting pushed many Hmong to move down into Indochina; there they settled in Thailand, Laos, Burma, and Northern Vietnam, settling deep into the mountain sides and highlands. For many decades they lived freely as hunters and farmers while practicing slash-and-burn farming. It wasn’t until the 1960’s during the Vietnam War that the Hmong got involved with the Americans, resulting in the last massive emigration after the end of the Vietnam War.
Nearly fifty years ago, the Central Intelligence Agency recruited and provided artillery along with military equipments to General Vang Pao and his armies to fight in what is known now, the Secret War (Weiner). Since it was kept from the American public, the involvement in Laos was concealed and was not let out until many years after the war. General Vang Pao and many Hmong agreed to be allies with the Americans because they sought tranquility and freedom from the communists. Vang and his recruiters were sent on a mission to cease the infiltration of Northern Vietnamese invasion in Laos; especially since the Hmong...