Hue and Brenda’s presentation was interesting to me even though I am Hmong and do already have prior knowledge about Shamanism, particularly Hmong Shamanism. They introduced more specific topics that I have not heard much about such as how Shamans are taking advantage financially of their roles and how the dominant American culture has impacted how Shamanism in practiced here. I know that Hmong Shamanism is one of the biggest aspects of the Hmong culture and Hmong identity, but I feel that my personal experience growing up here in American society has impacted my views of Shamanism and being Hmong.
I was born in Thailand but my family came to California when I was only 2, so I basically grew up here like a second-generation child. Due to my environment I was raised in and the lack of exposure to had to the practice of Shamanism, I personally do not feel a deep connection with Hmong Shamanism and do not believe I will carry on the practice, although I do acknowledge it and participate in it with my family. I do believe that Shamanism has played an important role in my family and has helped us out a lot, but I don’t think I would be able to preserve that aspect of my culture in this modern world where I have more roles and responsibilities that I would not otherwise have in Laos or Thailand, such as being a student and working to support myself.
Today many Hmong who practice Shamanism have simplified it to make it more convenient and cost efficient, losing the authenticity and effectiveness of the practice. Most of these modifications may either be due to American regulations or just the individual’s decision to get it done with. I also see that many the Hmong children now are losing interested in continuing the Shamanism practices because they are rarely taught the importance and purposes of the practices. Many children today see these Shaman ceremonies as a time to gather with family, cousins, and relatives to have fun and play, while the adults and older generations partake in the Shaman rituals.Many Hmong parents, mine included, are saying that their children are losing their Hmong roots and are becoming too American, thus not caring for the practice of Hmong culture, or more specifically Hmong Shamanism. Even though I do not feel that I will carry on the tradition of Hmong Shamanism I do not think I am any less Hmong because there can be many ways to be Hmong. I
I think Hue and Brenda’s topic is an interesting one because they can explore the impacts of American customs and mainstream culture on Hmong Shamanism. Because religion is such a big part of the Hmong people’s culture, it would be interesting to see how many of the youth identify themselves and their identity as Hmong.