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The student news site of Lake Stevens High School

Valhalla

The student news site of Lake Stevens High School

Valhalla

People connect at Heritage Night

Families in the district shared their cultures with the community
Students from various heritages circle up to dance together to close out the evenings performances. This performance was impromptu.
Julie Henggeler
Students from various heritages circle up to dance together to close out the evening’s performances. This performance was impromptu.

The second annual Heritage Night was held at Cavelero Mid High  on May 1, 2024. Families and students across the district showed off cooking, history and  geography from their cultures. The night was filled with performances, games, and interactive activities. One highlight was near the end of the evening, when people from all cultures and backgrounds took center stage and danced together, which gave a feeling of unity.

Three of the cultures that set up booths and performed are shared below. The cultural groups are shared in alphabetical order. 

Some cultures are tied to certain countries whereas others are tied to regions and ethnic groups. The first group is the Hmong people, who originate from the mountains around China, Laos, and Vietnam. 

Hmong People

Like any culture, traditions are important and vary from culture to culture.

“Something that we have that’s tradition is called “Khis Tes” or hand tying. Usually these events are for a newborn baby, getting married and when somebody passes away. You can see it as a way to celebrate each stage in life, and when we tie around the wrist it’s kind of like giving them a blessing and wishing them well for their life or in their future,” Gona Xiong said.

Many people may not be familiar with the Hmong people because their culture is not tied to a specific country.

“The Hmong group are mountain people who resided around Southwest China. During the Vietnam War, or the spreading of communism, they were being persecuted by the communists and Lao.  General Vang Pao was hired by the CIA to work alongside the United States (He was a general for the Royal Lao Army.). He gathered a Hmong army of men, and fought during the Vietnam war. Their participation was called the secret war.  General Vang Pao fought against communists on the Ho Chi Minh Trail with Hmong boys, or guerilla army (who were not even trained to go to war), alongside the United States,” Xiong said.

After the war ended, The Hmong group were open to persecution by the Lao and had to flee to a safer place. 

“My dad was only around 12 years old when he ran away from his home along with his brothers and his mother, and many Hmong people had to find refuge in neighboring countries like Thailand. My dad made it to the States around the mid/late 70s and my family has lived in Washington ever since,” Xiong said.

Five members of the Xiong family came to Heritage Night in their traditional attire that is worn for special occasions like weddings even though they didn’t have a booth. They shared that some of their outfits were handsewn by their moms.

The Hmong Association of Washington is active in keeping the community connected and hosts the New Year’s celebration every year at the Seattle Armory.  

“They have performances and food and games and then they also have a gallery where anyone can come and get a glimpse of our culture and history,” Xiong said.

Indian

Kenny Ainampudi shared his Indian cultural and religious heritage with the Lake Stevens community.

We belong to Hindu religion which teaches us to respect life in every form, and therefore, we worship many gods and goddesses,” Ainampudi said.

Hinduism is not the only religion in India. In a country with 1.45 billion people, there are over 700 languages and dialects spoken. 

 “India has many religions with too many cultures and traditions and people live in harmony respecting each other. Almost every state has a different language which other states don’t understand; therefore, English connects us all,” Ainampudi said.

Norwegian

The culture of Norway was represented by sophomore Tilda Nalum and her mother.

The Seattle area has a large representation of Norwegians and celebrating Norwegian Constitution Day on May 17 is popular.

“It’s kind of like our 4th of July. We get together with friends and family and we get to watch a Norwegian parade. It’s a lot of fun and we also just like to celebrate Christmas a lot.  We all get together and we have special dinners. We celebrate [Christmas] on the 24th and we open our presents at night. We have a dinner called Ribbe which is pig ribs, (it’s really good and sauerkraut), mashed potatoes and other sides,” Nalum said.

Being able to travel internationally and live in one’s culture and see family is a unique opportunity that some students at Lake Stevens High School are able to experience. 

“I’m going to Norway this summer with my family, which is exciting because I haven’t been there in 10 years.  The flight is a 13 hour flight,” Nalum said.

Learning about cultures is interesting. The Seattle Center Armory holds a number of cultural festivals throughout the year. Check out their calendar to explore your own culture or learn about a new culture.

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