U.S. Forest Service and Partners Create a Storytelling DVD Designed to Inform and Inspire Hmong Americans
A new DVD is helping to deliver conservation messages designed to encourage Hmong Americans to enjoy public lands and be mindful of the responsibilities associated with enjoying the America’s great outdoors.
Conservation professionals have lacked culturally-appropriate tools for reaching the Hmong American community, especially in major Hmong population centers in Minnesota, Wisconsin and California.
Dave Bengston, a research forester with the Northern Research Station in St. Paul, Minn., partnered with Hmong natural resources professionals, Michele Schermann at the University of Minnesota, and the Hmong arts and theater community to fill that void with “The Wildlife and Wilderness Exploration Show,” a DVD that puts a modern twist on traditional Hmong storytelling.
With English sub-titles optional, the “Wildlife and Wilderness Exploration Show” delivers conservation messages in entertaining and educational segments addressing the responsible use of public land, hunting regulations and safety, fire safety and prevention, gathering wild plants, and “leave no trace” camping.
The Hmong have a strong oral tradition in which storytelling and folktales are used to entertain and teach about social values, ending with a practical lesson. The Wildlife and Wilderness Exploration Show follows in the footsteps of that tradition every step of the way.
For example, a segment on hunting safety and regulations begins with Sister Deer and Brother Wolf taking their fear of being hunted to Shao, the Hmong Supreme Being. Shao delegates the task of teaching humans to care for wildlife by creating wildlife refuge areas, establishing hunting seasons and enacting license fees to the Hmong Celestial Hero, Nou Plai. The Celestial Hero succeeds, and the segment ends with a gun safety demonstration by a Hmong firearm safety instructor.
Copies of the DVD are being distributed to Hmong community organizations, Hmong liaisons with natural resource management agencies and others, and they are going fast. When the DVD was presented at the Hmong National Development conference in Minneapolis in May, the presentation drew a standing-room-only crowd.
Available via YouTube: