Students learn about the Hmong people in Minnesota and identify the push-pull factors that brought them to the United States. They watch a video about a Hmong artist living in Minnesota and answer questions about the culture.
This lesson is part of "Great States: Minnesota | Coming to Minnesota" where students will examine why people from all over the world come to Minnesota, and they will also evaluate their influence on the state.
188.8.131.52.1: Identify the push-pull factors that bring the Hmong, East African, Hispanic, Asian Indian and other immigrants and refugees to Minnesota; compare and contrast their experiences with those of earlier Minnesota immigrant groups in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
- Video: MN Originals | Musician Chai Lee
- An interactive whiteboard, projector, or another type of screen to show videos to the class
- Class set of Hmong Arts handout
Explain to students that one of the many cultural groups found in Minnesota is the Hmong people. The Hmong people are an ethnic group that originated in China and are found in many parts of Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, their group faced persecution from several regimes, including the imperialist Chinese and the several governmental parties of the Asian country, Laos. The persecution caused many Hmong to flee, and starting in 1975, thousands began immigrating to Minnesota. Here in the United States, the Hmong live and work freely, without fear of persecution.
Discuss with students that one of the reasons Hmong families came to the United States was because during the 1960s and into the 1970s, many Hmong people secretly assisted the United States and CIA with war efforts abroad in both Laos and Vietnam against communism. When the Communist Pathet Lao political party eventually won and took over the country of Laos, the government threatened to persecute any Hmong who had previously helped the US efforts, so many Hmong families fled the country and came to the United States. Minnesota now has the largest Hmong population in America.
Despite centuries of persecution, the Hmong held on to their traditions and cultural practices. Tell students that the video they are about to watch features one of the unique cultural practices of the Hmong people. The Hmong practice of playing Qeej (pronounced “kheng”) and singing ceremonial burial songs is to communicate with the deceased. Most of the music is passed on by oral tradition. The clothes and the instruments shown in the video represent a part of Hmong cultural identity.
Distribute the Hmong Arts handout. Instruct students to take notes concerning various traditions viewed or talked about in the video.
Play video, MN Originals | Musician Chai Lee [4:44].
Have students answer the questions on the handout.
Go over the students’ answers. Discuss with the class how strong cultural identity could also be a pull factor or a reason for more Hmong to immigrate to Minnesota:
Cultural traditions are enjoyably practiced within one’s own cultural community. When Hmong people are immigrating to America today, the large Hmong population in Minnesota could be a pull factor since they would have a base of other Hmong people with which to share their culture and their lives.
Hmong were persecuted by imperialist China. Hmong came to the United States when a communist party won control of Laos. [class discussion]
Clothing, art, musical instruments, dance, language and song [All throughout, 0:00-4:44]
Children and new generations need to be taught cultural practices so that they can pass the traditions on their children and so important cultural aspects are kept alive through generations. [throughout]
For more on the Hmong in Minnesota, click here: http://www.mnhs.org/hmong/hmong-timeline