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Chapter 14 the spirit catches you and you fall down

The Lees arrived on December 19, 1980, and spent two years in Portland, Oregon before moving to Merced. The first week in Portland which followed was miserably disorienting.

  1. Like their Hmong brothers and sisters, the Lees had some of the same anxious, depressed and paranoiac experiences.
  2. As a result, it was described, the Hmong were more likely to require psychiatric treatment after associations with such people. The Lees arrived on December 19, 1980, and spent two years in Portland, Oregon before moving to Merced.
  3. As a result, some were resettled in cities while some nuclear families, unaccompanied by any of their extended relatives, were settled in isolated rural areas.
  4. They described their experiences with this agency as a more serious problem that either war memories or separation from family.
  5. They were referred to as the most primitive group in America, and inaccuracies about them were in no short supply. Group solidarity, the cornerstone of Hmong social organization for more than two thousand years, was completely ignored.

They also had to rely on their children a great deal in this strange country. Seventeen years later, not much has changed for the Lees.

They still speak only Hmong and practice only Hmong traditions. During their eighth year in the US, they had only ever invited one American adult into their home: At their graduation ceremony, there was a giant wooden pot which the teachers stirred with ten-foot ladles.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down - Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

The students would walk into the pot wearing their traditional costumes, singing folk songs from the country of their origin, and walk out of the pot in suits, ties, and dresses, singing the US National Anthem. They had come to America with the hope of assimilating into mainstream American society.

The Hmong came for the same reason they left China: General Vang Pao had suggested that the United Stated provide them with a little land to call their own, but it was a proposal that was never seriously considered.

Of course, this was a bureaucratic agency, and the Hmong were not known for holding bureaucrats.

  • As a result, it was described, the Hmong were more likely to require psychiatric treatment after associations with such people;
  • To add to all these problems, the leading cause of death among young Hmong men was SIDS, or cardiac failure triggered by a bad dream;
  • Hardly anyone knew that they had a rich history, a complex culture, an efficient social system, and enviable family values.

They described their experiences with this agency as a more serious problem that either war memories or separation from family. As a result, it was described, the Hmong were more likely to require psychiatric treatment after associations with such people.

  1. They wanted to stir the Hmong into the melting pot in tiny, manageable portions. As a result, some were resettled in cities while some nuclear families, unaccompanied by any of their extended relatives, were settled in isolated rural areas.
  2. As a result, some were resettled in cities while some nuclear families, unaccompanied by any of their extended relatives, were settled in isolated rural areas. This then was ideal blank surface for which to project xenophobic fantasies.
  3. They were referred to as the most primitive group in America, and inaccuracies about them were in no short supply.
  4. Just as the United States seemed incomprehensible to the Hmong, so they seemed incomprehensible to Americans. As a result, some were resettled in cities while some nuclear families, unaccompanied by any of their extended relatives, were settled in isolated rural areas.

Another situation that was extremely unfamiliar to the Hmong was the flat land and the freezing winters. Then, the government, to encourage assimilation, adopted a policy of dispersal rather than clustering. They wanted to stir the Hmong into the melting pot in tiny, manageable portions.

Group solidarity, the cornerstone of Hmong social organization for more than two thousand years, was completely ignored.

As a result, some were resettled in cities while some nuclear families, unaccompanied by any of their extended relatives, were settled in isolated rural areas. They began to exhibit unusually high levels of anxiety, depression, and paranoia. One example was a father suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder hung himself and ordered his wife and children to do so as well.

At the last minute, the wife changed her mind and cut the family down. In hindsight, Lionel Rosenblatt, the former United States Refugee Coordinator in Thailand, conceded that the resettlement had been catastrophically mishandled.

Chapter 14 Summary and Analysis

Like their Hmong brothers and sisters, the Lees had some of the same anxious, depressed and paranoiac experiences. The customs they were expected to follow seemed so peculiar, the rules and regulations so numerous, the language so hard to learn, and the emphasis on literacy and the decoding of other unfamiliar symbols so strong, that many Hmong were overwhelmed.

Just as the United States seemed incomprehensible to the Hmong, so they seemed incomprehensible to Americans.

  • Just as the United States seemed incomprehensible to the Hmong, so they seemed incomprehensible to Americans;
  • The Hmong came for the same reason they left China;
  • They began to exhibit unusually high levels of anxiety, depression, and paranoia;
  • In hindsight, Lionel Rosenblatt, the former United States Refugee Coordinator in Thailand, conceded that the resettlement had been catastrophically mishandled.

They were referred to as the most primitive group in America, and inaccuracies about them were in no short supply. To add to all these problems, the leading cause of death among young Hmong men was SIDS, or cardiac failure triggered by a bad dream.

It could not be denied that the Hmong were genuinely mysterious. Hardly anyone knew that they had a rich history, a complex culture, an efficient social system, and enviable family values.

  • As a result, some were resettled in cities while some nuclear families, unaccompanied by any of their extended relatives, were settled in isolated rural areas;
  • They had come to America with the hope of assimilating into mainstream American society.

This then was ideal blank surface for which to project xenophobic fantasies. This included the xenophobic mode of rumor in which the Hmong were said to run a white slave trade; they forced their children to run in front of cars to get big insurance settlements; or they sold their daughters and bought wives.

The Hmong also became prime marks for predators who stole from them and often beat them for any number of reasons, but often because of resentment over what was perceived as preferential treatment.