Friday, January 29, 2010

Hunter education for Hmong in northern California

Read the New York Times story here. It's about a unique and informal hunter education initiative aimed at the Hmong community in northern California:
Along the barren airwaves of AM radio in Northern California, somewhere between gospel music and traffic updates, Yia Yang can be heard telling his devoted listeners to always be aware of their gun muzzles.

A 50-year-old Hmong immigrant from northern Laos, Mr. Yang is the host of a regular all-things-hunting program on KJAY 1430-AM. The station serves one of the nation’s largest Hmong populations — one for whom the link between hunting and survival is still palpable.

Yang notes that, in his native Laos, wildife was a significant source of food. Many Hmong immigrants in the U.S. still hunt, and officials note a great need for hunter education classes in languages other than English, even as the number of hunting licenses issued overall has diminished in recent years. The story makes the point that Wisconsin and Minnesota are also home to large Hmong communities, and those states thus face issues similar to California, in part because of Hmong distrust of government authorities. Part of that distrust also relates to fear about whether hunting is safe, especially after a white hunter killed a Hmong squirrel hunter in Minnesota a few years ago. But, traditions like hunting die hard, as suggested by the final quote from Yang:
“People are calling on the radio asking me, ‘How many squirrels can I bring home?’ I tell them four. Squirrel soup with a lot of hot peppers is very popular.”

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