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Joe Bee Xiong’s
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Joe Bee Xiong’s
Art Form

Traditions in the Artist's Work

Traditions In
His Art


Joe Bee Xiong

Hmong Traditional Music
Eau Claire, WI


19th century: the years from 1800-1899.
On the same side.
Ancient: (sounds like, AIN-shent) Very old.
Chamber: Space or room.
Cherished: Loved and cared about.
Counterpoint: The combination of two separate melodies.
Communist: A type of government in which the state owns the means of production. Usually there is only one political party and it works toward the ideal of all people sharing goods equally.
Departed: A person who has died.
Drone: A same, deep sound that does not change or stop.
Guerrilla: (sounds like, gor-RIL-la) Someone who is part of a small, irregular, quick-moving military group.
Harmonies: Musical notes played at the same time in a chord.
Hmong: A nation of mountain-dwelling people originally living in southeastern China and the northern parts of Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand.
Indochina: the region that includes Vietnam, Laos, Burma and Thailand.
Jaw: The bone used to raise and lower the mouth.
Laos: A country in southeast Asia.
Pathet Lao: The communist government in Laos.
Pitch: Highness or lowness of a sound.
Qeej: (sounds like, gheng) A Hmong instrument made from bamboo pipes, similar to the bagpipes.
Refugee camp: A place for people to live while they’re escaping from their home country.
Ritual: A set order for a ceremony.
Spokesperson: A person who speaks for and represents a group.
Tonal languages: Languages that use vocal or musical tones to give different meanings.
Vibrates: Moves back and forth.
War in Indochina: also called the Vietnam War.

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Journal Questions

Question Think of a sentence that can sound like a statement if said in one tone and sound like a question if the pitch changes.

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Resources For Teachers

Web ResourceDo you want to find a qeeg player in your community? Start by contacting one of these Wisconsin Hmong Organizations. They’ll be able to put you in touch with a Hmong musician in your area.

Web ResourceThe organization Hmong National Development (HND) provides statistics on Hmong population, economics, and employment in the United States, broken down per state. Go to HND’s Cultural Center for detailed essays on many topics in Hmong history, arts and media, and social life and customs. 

Several videos on Wisconsin Hmong life, culture and social issues are available through NEWIST/CESA 7. Being Hmong Means Being Free explores Hmong culture, ritual and ceremonies. New Faces on Main Street looks at Southeast Asian and Latino immigrants in northeast Wisconsin. Both are 60 minutes long and come with teacher’s guides. 

Other videos on Hmong culture, produced by SE Asian refugee high school youth, include: The First Day of School in America (50 min), After the War: A Family Album (40 min), A Wedding (40 min), Color Blind (40 min), and Down With Us (50 min). 

Purchase or rent from newist@uwgb.edu, 920/465-2599, 800/633-7445, fax 920/465-2576.

Web ResourceCheck out the on-line book, The Hmong: An Introduction to their History and Culture, developed by the Center for Applied Linguistics.  

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Resources For Students

Web ResourceNyob zoo! Want to learn how to speak Hmong? Then go to the English/Hmong “Talking” Dictionary and start exploring. You can hear the pronunciation and see the spelled-out words at the same time. Sib ntsib dua!

Web ResourceThe Hmong Cultural Center has great photos of Hmong youths playing the qeej and performing traditional dances. You can learn about nine different Hmong musical instruments too, and lots more. Visit the Hmong Hall of Fame to learn about Hmong achievers.

Web ResourceThe Hmong Homepage and Hmong Universe are both great places for researching any Hmong-related topic.  

Web ResourceHow much do you know about the Secret War? Take this QUIZ to find out.

Web ResourceIs there a Hmong organization in your part of Wisconsin? Check this list to find out. Ask them when the next public event is scheduled. Attend so you can learn about Hmong issues and maybe eat Hmong food and see qeeg performances.

Radio resourceThere may be a Hmong radio show in your part of Wisconsin. Tune in and listen to Hmong language and music:

  • Appleton - Hmong radio on WLSM 98.1 FM
  • La Crosse - Hmong Radio Hour on WIZM 1410 AM
  • Madison - Hmong Community Radio on WORT 89.9 FM
  • Milwaukee - Suab Hmong Radio and Hmong Wisconsin Radio
  • Green Bay - WHID 88.1 FM Hmong Public Radio
  • Sheboygan - WHBL 91.7 FM Suab Hmong
  • Wausau - WXCO-AM 1230

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Text written by Rick March, edited by Jamie Yuenger and  Anne Pryor.

Sources consulted include Joe Bee Xiong’s Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program application (September 1988), housed at the Wisconsin Arts Board.

Video footage from Wisconsin Folks, 1998, produced by Dave Erickson for Wisconsin Arts Board and Wisconsin Public Television.


Wisconsin Folks

For Educators:

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Joe Bee Xiong



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