General Question

LostInParadise's avatar

What do Native Americans do to retain their cultural identity?

Asked by LostInParadise (31902points) 2 months ago
20 responses
“Great Question” (3points)

They don’t hunt buffalo or fight against other tribes. Do they preserve their language or retain their style of dress? Do they preserve religious practices? What exactly does it mean to be Native American?

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janbb's avatar

There are so many tribes that you can’t just generalize about “Native Americans” but I have heard of several tribes like the Lakota who are actively teaching and preserving their languages and cultural customs. Many are also reclaiming their traditional land rights and have their own tribal systems of justice. There are thriving native American fiction writers. The Department of the Interior is run by a Native American, Deb Haaland, and I have read that there are many more Native American park rangers as well as resolved land disputes.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Pow-wows and some run casinos (proceeds go to schools and housing on the reservation).

jca2's avatar

I was in Alaska this past summer and the west the summer before. I see the native people are very actively engaged in museums and other cultural centers. They’re trying to learn from their elders and teach what they learn to others (natives and non-natives alike). They’re learning the language, the arts, the stories, cooking (which is a form of art), building (ditto) and other ways so they can pass it all down.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

There is a native dubbing of old Cowboys and Indians movies.

It is called Indians and Cowboys.

The cultural errors are fixed in old westerns to be more cultural sensitive.

JLeslie's avatar

Hunt buffalo and fight other tribes wouldn’t even occur to me. Is that how you picture Native Americans in your mind? I have a totally different picture pop up. Some of them do still hunt for food. Just like white people in the US. Here’s an interview I remember on Oprah with an Eskimo woman.

They do still pass down their languages and some parts of the country the schools might have classes, like the Southwest and maybe other areas where there are large amounts of Native Americans in the public schools. The languages are disappearing though, and efforts need to be made to keep them alive.

The Native Americans have activists and lawyers to help them to fight to preserve their lands and that includes their culture.

Some of them do ceremonies and get together as a community to preserve traditions.

Museums mentioned above by another jelly.

Not too long ago some sort of law changed so criminals who attack Native Americans can be prosecuted in the US courts. I don’t remember the details of it, but it demonstrated how part of the community wanted to police their own like a separate state, rather than part of the greater US system.

Alaska Daily was a recent TV show about Native Americans in Alaska. The main point of the show was attacks on women, but gives a glimpse at life there.

In the Southwest their art and crafts live on strong and I assume other places too. Like any group in America it’s a balance to hold onto culture and also be assimilated into American society. Some Native Americans still stay very separate.

Is YARNLADY around still? She’s part Native.

LostInParadise's avatar

@JLeslie , I mentioned buffalo hunting and fighting neighboring tribes, because at least among some of the tribes, these were important activities and are good examples of how different things are now. I would like to read a book or see a television program that shows how Native Americans live from day to day and what they do to preserve their heritage.

JLeslie's avatar

@LostInParadise I think it varies across tribes. Some of the reservations have a lot of poverty. Maybe there are some documentaries. I can ask YARNLADY to come to the Q.

YARNLADY's avatar

Thanks for the shout out. I am a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Okla Chata Clan of California. We actively encourage membership of all descendants of original enrollees of the Dawes Rolls. From my grandfather, born in “Indian Territory”, to his children, and so on, down to my grandchildren and great grandchildren.

There is a wonderful, new Culture Center which holds regular classes in all phases of our culture. We hold a Pow Wow every year, plus a memorial Trail Of Tears walk.

There is an online language class that students everywhere can take. The class can be requested at any school to be substituted for the required language class.
There is a website full of cultural information and people available to answer questions.

The council holds gatherings all around the country with exhibits and classes for members to attend.
As one of the so called “civilized tribes” at the time of the European invasion to the present day, we are proud of our status in the current level of social development.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

I wish the proceeds of those casinos really went to the Indian reservations. I highly doubt they do. It appears like there is no shortage of poverty, and the casinos seem to rake in no shortage of money.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Blackwater_Park In well managed tribes(Nations) the proceeds go to enhance the life of thousands of members. The Choctaw have as many relief agencies and welfare programs as any well managed state. No Choctaw need live in poverty.

janbb's avatar

@Blackwater_Park It is my understanding that the tribes who operate casinos do pass on wealth to their members. It is on the reservations which are located far from sources of employment or centers for casinos that are still so poor.

jca2's avatar

@Blackwater_Park Here’s an article from 2001, showing that the Mohegan nation increased their members’ annual stipends to 28k. I haven’t researched further to see what it is at present, but it’s a nice little chunk of change to help out the members of the trible.

LostInParadise's avatar

@YARNLADY , Thank you for your answer. Do you have a link to the website that you mentioned?

JLeslie's avatar

@jca2 Wow.

JLeslie's avatar

I just read this wikipedia about the Mohegan’s

I found it interesting. I would guess a lot of the tribes have Wikipedia pages.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

When they were building of reservation housing for Mashantucket Pequots, I had a friend that was Oklahoma Native American, he was a roofer and was asked to bid on putting roofs on the homes. The Tribal Council required all roofs to be “50 year” roofs not just 25 or 30.

They also had scholarships for high school graduates (members of the tribe) no limit to yearly amount.

kevbo1's avatar

In Albuquerque, there’s the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, which represents 19 pueblos in New Mexico. They run a gift shop and e-commerce store that sells authentic native goods worldwide and host daily dances from the different tribes. Similarly, Santa Fe is home to the Institute of American Indian Arts, which propogates the Native American arts.

There’s also the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow in Albuquerque once a year, which is packed with tribes in ceremonial dress from all parts of the country.

Many New Mexico pueblos offer tours although some aspects of pueblo culture are kept secret. For example, the courtyard area in front of the church at Acoma Pueblo has these rounded features along the wall, but the guides won’t tell you what they are for. Another aspect of the pueblos is that some have been continuously inhabited for hundreds of years. Acoma’s Sky City (the settlement on top of one of their mesas and where the church is) has been continuously inhabited since the 12th century.

The Sandia tribe doesn’t hunt buffalo, but they raise them on 107 acres on their reservation. The preserve borders the northeast edge of Albuquerque, and you can see some large homes in the background that sit on the other side of the fenceline.

Crown Point, New Mexico on the Navajo reservation is home to a serious rug auction that happens every month.

There’s also AIANTA, which is a native tourism association that helps all tribes.

If you haven’t seen Mark Charles’ TED Talk it’s amazingly eye opening. Included is an anecdote about a tribe that in modern times purchased their historic lands but were denied sovereignty over it by the US Supreme Court because the land had been converted from wilderness to property titled under government law. This judicial outcome has its roots in a Papal Bull from 1492 giving Christians the authority to enslave all “savages” and appropriate their lands.

YARNLADY's avatar

The Choctaw Nation has partnered with the producers of “Echo” to preserve the cultural accuracy of the show.

kruger_d's avatar

Sweat lodges, star quilts, beadwork, quillwork, basketry, pottery, dance regalia, dance, drum circles, ledger art, harvesting wild rice/sweet grass/herbs, fishing, spear fishing, hunting, leather tanning. Lots of food traditions. There are no more tribal wars, but many NA serve in the military. Many efforts to preserve language.

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