By KOU XIONG
ST. PAUL (November 20, 2010) – The Hmong Minnesota Student Association held its annual Heritage Day last weekend at the University of Minnesota’s Northstar Ballroom on the Saint Paul campus.
The theme this year was ‘Hmongmoir’, “stresses the importance of finding ones heritage through the eyes of their mothers and fathers,” writes HMSA President Kaohlee Vue in her invitation letter to the Hmong Archives.
HMSA members expressed pride in providing the Archives along with the opportunity to participate in their Hmongmoir Heritage Day event where they were able to meet and talk with people, elders, students, HMSA staff and advisors.
Students were able to see and enjoy their own presentations of traditional and modern dances, young Hmong men playing the qeej (bamboo wind instrument), groups singing, and of course the various skits telling the memoir of a Hmong man experiences through the historic events that took place in the mountains of Laos during the Vietnam War.
One of the more humorous moments came in the skits when four students portrayed young Hmong soldiers coming back to their village to see their families. Afterwards they went out to court some Hmong girls, and created quite the comedic display in their nervous efforts of brave men in battle having to coax one another talk to the girls.
The event was a way to inform people about the purpose and mission of the Hmong Archives, a cultural preservation organization now located above Hmong ABC Bookstore at 298 University Avenue W., St. Paul, MN 55103. It was also a great way to find people to help them identify individuals in the Vang Xiong Ban Vinai Refugee Camp photo collections and information for other materials.
Incidentally, two individuals at the event, Ia Yang and Tong Her, produced additional knowledge about two persons in the photographs. Ia Yang was able to identify one of her relatives, and Tong Her found himself in one of our photos.
Hmong Archives is an organization devoted to collecting and preserving the Hmong heritage. The facility showcases exhibits, books, photos and storytelling of Hmong experiences of escaping the war, living in refugee camps, and coming here to the United States to make a new life for themselves.
One of our newest additions to the Hmong book collection is the Paj Ntaub (story cloth) book, produced in Laos by Hmong. It is a small book hand stitched together of three embroidered cloths.
Marlin Heise collected several of them while traveling in Luang Prabang in 2010. It is always interesting to see what creativity the Hmong use to develop new souvenirs.
The Archives is now asking for community help in finding and returning a paj ntaub courtship ball that went missing from their table at the event. It is blue batik with a red appliqué stripe or two. Sewn onto it, is a white cloth strip with our accession # 2010.66.20 H5/Dao Yang.
For anyone who attended the Heritage Day event, please if you have seen, know about, or picked up this object, contact the Hmong Archives at 651-621-5469 or email us at [email protected] We greatly appreciate any assistance in recovering our paj ntaub courtship ball, a small piece of Hmong culture gone missing. www.hmongarchives.org