Notes

1. In the following description of Hmong culture, White Hmong terms are provided for key concepts whenever English glosses might, if used alone, obscure important meanings or connote ideas not intended. We will employ the most widely used system for spelling Hmong, the Romanized Popular Alphabet (RPA) devised by Christian missionaries in the 1950s for White Hmong (see Heimbach, 1979). In RPA, word final b, j, v, d, s, m, and g represent, from highest to lowest, seven of eight distinctive tones. Words ending in any other letter are pronounced with a mid-tone. Double vowels indicate a vowel plus an angma or -ng. Thus, the spellings Hmong and Mong fairly well represent how Hmoob and Moob are pronounced, except for the high b tone. Inasmuch as the American public is familiar with the term Hmong, we will use it as the general cover term.

2. Hmong who attended school beyond the third grade before the middle 1960s acquired some knowledge of French, but English became a more popular subject as American military and economic aid to the country increased.

3. In the United States, allegations of excessive and inappropriate corporal punishment have caused legal difficulties for many Hmong parents and other responsible elders who have struck adolescents and young adults for persistent misbehavior, such as "dating" a clanmate. The seriousness of transgressions like intraclan sexual relations is often difficult for non-Hmong to appreciate.

4. Reliance on high tech forms of communication has helped, as well as frustrated, preserve Hmong culture. Families began keeping photographic and documentary records before leaving Laos, and cassette tape recorders were used in the refugee camps of Thailand to make copies of oral histories for family members in case they became separated during final relocation to other countries. Dispersed kin have continued to function as transnational groups via the telephone, mail, and the internet. Video and digital cameras give localized family groups additional ways of documenting their life in the United States. Young Hmong are employing contemporary materials, techniques, and machines to create new literary, oral, and visual art forms that celebrate and further develop their esthetic heritage. Additional information about the unique uses of technology by Hmong can be obtained from websites maintained by the Hmong Cultural Center (www.hmongcen-ter.org), the Hmong home page (www.hmongnet.org), and the Center for Hmong Arts and Talent (www.aboutchat.org).

5. Minnesota State legislators have been unsuccessful in trying to draft a law that allows Hmong to marry legally without the involvement of clergy, court officers, or other traditional representatives of the state. The plan has been to give mej koob the authority to "perform" marriages and the responsibility of making sure that all relevant statutes were being obeyed. Persons who act as mej koob see their proper role as one of merely facilitating the process by which the involved families agree to various conditions, such as the amount of the nqis tshoob, or "marriage payment." These negotiators do not want to monitor the actions of parents on behalf of the state, and Hmong advocates for women's rights question the fairness of a law that privileges a status role occupied almost exclusively by men.

6. Additional information about Hmong history, culture, and social organization can be found in Hutchinson (1997) and Keown-Bomar and Dunnigan (2002). Koltyk's (1998) short ethnography describes the acculturative experiences of Hmong refugees in a U.S. midwestern city, while Donnelly (1994) focuses on the lives of Hmong women who migrated to Seattle. The intersection gender and generation in Hmong society is the subject of a master's thesis by Hagemeister (1994).

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