Among Shamanism: Animist Spiritual Healing in America's Urban Heartland

Phua Xiong, Charles Numrich, Wu Chu Yongyuan, Deu Yang and Gregory A. Plotnikoff

in Religion and Healing in America

Published in print December 2004 | ISBN: 9780195167962
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199850150 | DOI:
Among Shamanism: Animist Spiritual Healing in America's Urban Heartland

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The Hmong are an ethnic minority with ancient roots in China. There are now more than 100,000 Hmong refugees in the United States, with the highest concentration in Minnesota and Wisconsin. As the Hmong make America their home, their practice of traditional healing—Hmong shamanism (kev ua neeb)—has been particularly challenged by the multiple forces that accompany acculturation, such as the problems faced when individuals are confronted with health care, social services, and legal systems that have no understanding of Hmong traditional beliefs and cultural attitudes. At the same time, the tension between acculturation and traditional beliefs modulates the Hmong's participation in American biomedicine. Due to the dynamic interaction of souls, spirits, and people, and the impact of their interactions on health and illness, many Hmong find Western medicine less than adequate in meeting their needs. Those who do not seek Western treatment will try a variety of traditional healing practices, including shamanism, herbalism, and other home remedies and magic healing. Nevertheless, shamans and shamanism are not opposed to conventional physician care.

Keywords: Hmong; Hmong shamanism; shamans; health care; United States; acculturation; Western medicine; biomedicine; illness; healing

Chapter.  6909 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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