Both Christianity and Shamanism Represented in Hmong Community

February 10, 2001

Source: Star Tribune

On February 10, 2001, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that, among the Hmong community in the Twin Cities, some have embraced Christianity over the past 50 years, "but many have remained faithful to the traditional faith, shamanism...The Hmong are a farming people who live in mountainous ranges in Southeast Asia and southern China. Refugees began immigrating to the United States in the 1970s, after the Vietnam War ended...Today, about 11 percent of the estimated 75,000 to 80,000 Hmong in the Twin Cities are Christian, according to Family and Youth Advancement Services in St. Paul. [One shaman] said he believes many Hmong initially became Christian because they were poor, and missionaries came and brought food and clothing." He thinks shamanism will keep growing. Another Hmong "said Christianity has benefited the Hmong and 'brought the Hmong not only toward spirituality, but . . . cultural advancement.' And even though many Hmong have become Christians, [he said,] religion will not be able to separate the Hmong people. They will still eat the same food, dress the same way, live the same lifestyle and continue to live among each other and have the same political agenda." Another Hmong said he chose Christianity because it "makes one race accept and love another."

The article gave a description of a shaman from The Encyclopedia of Religion: "The shaman specializes in a trance state during which his soul is believed to leave his body to ascend to the sky or descend to the underworld. The shaman controls helping spirits in the sense that he is able to communicate with the dead, demons and nature spirits without becoming their instrument."