I don’t want to die in the United States.: Becoming Minnesotan

Tsewang Sangmo Lama, c.2005.
  • Name - Tsewang Sangmo Lama
  • Age at interview - 25
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 09.19.2005
  • Prayer flags, Tibet, 2003.  Photo courtesy Wangyal Ritzekura.
    Prayer wheel with seven bowl water-offering.  Photo courtesy Wangyal Ritzekura.

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    Essential Question

    Life in the Old Country: What makes a country a person’s homeland?

    Traditions & Values: What makes up “culture”?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    Tibetans living in exile in the United States and other places around the world try to honor their traditional practices, but this is sometimes difficult.  They may not have access to the things that are necessary for a certain ceremony, or they might face different laws.  Also, most Tibetans still see Tibet as their homeland and want to go home to die. This is currently impossible because China still occupies the land that used to be known as Tibet.

    To learn more about Tibetan history and culture, visit our Tibetan Community page.

    • Chapter 1

    Download Tsewang Sangmo Lama 1
    0:45 Minutes | 0.72Mb


    Narrator: Tsewang Sangmo Lama (TL)

    TL:  First of all, I know for sure that I don’t want to die in the United States. Because I have witnessed some funeral procession of Tibetans in the United States and I just thought it was really, really sad. Because I know I’ve been to funeral procession in Nepal, too, where my other grandparents and all my own grandparents, they had a funeral for her. It was really grand with monks and then it took hours and hours. And then, you know, I feel like they die in peace and whatever ritual observation they have they ought to do it, have it done. In the United States I went to this funeral procession and then the body got burned in five minutes and five minutes it was done. I know for sure I don’t want to die in the U.S.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Noun:  A male member of a monastic order who has devoted his life for religious service.


    Noun:  1.  The act of following the custom, practice and rules, especially of a religion.  2. The act of viewing.


    Noun:  A group of people or things moving along in an orderly manner, especially if doing so slowly and formally.


    Noun:  A repeated set of actions, often religious in nature.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access]. http://www.mnhs.org/immigration
    nid: 21