Reasons for Ritual in Native American Traditions Essay

Pages: 3 (1030 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Native Americans

¶ … Ritual in Native American Traditions

The Impenetrability of the Native American Mind

Donald Lee Fixico, a Native American author intending to introduce and defend the Indian worldview to a nonwhite audience states in his book the American Indian Mind that Native Americans such as himself, even after being socialized into white society, have a cultural worldview that is integrally and profoundly different than whites, a worldview that is anathema to the linearity and scientific rationalism endemic to white society. Viewing Native culture as such, even to defend the beauty and uniqueness a perspective that has been devalued by white society, may seem to run the risk of essentializing Native Americans and reducing native rituals cultures to museum pieces. According to editor and author Calvin Martin of the collection the American Indian and the Problem of History, the ways that Native American religions and cultures have been conceptualized by white culture often have a "fixed and rigid quality" which creates an object of study that is really a storefront Indian "hewn out of a rock" (Martin 211).Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Essay on Reasons for Ritual in Native American Traditions Assignment

However, Martin's own analysis in his essay "The Metaphysics of Writing Indian-White History" seems to do exactly that -- to create a rock-like, unchanging conception of Native culture and practices. Martin, like Fixico, tends to essentialize 'the' Native American and see the American Indian as a singular, untouchable entity, impenetrable to white historians (Martin 29). Martin, to defend his point-of-view sent his initial essay to a variety of scholars and asked for a response, as detailed in his introductory comments: "An Introduction Aboard the Fidele." Martin believes that Native American culture and that of the Europeans are "mutually irreconcilable, mutually antagonistic, and mutually unintelligible" and no white history ever has or can illuminate native culture because of its profound difference from white culture (Martin 9). Viewed as such, even the most well-meaning historian or anthropologist engages in an act of colonization when he or she engages with the Native person's mind, and writes white history upon the history of the Indians in an act of "historiographic colonialism" (Martin 11). Martin, along the lines of Fixico believes that Native Americans perceived an integration between past and present, and took a holistic and cyclical view of the earth and its history, as opposed to white approaches to history which tends to view 'man' and 'nature' as inherently divided and more often than not, antagonistic. Indian history is biological and primordial, while white history is linear and white religions try to lift the subject 'above' nature, rather than to place the subject through ritual within nature, as is the case with Native American rituals.

Martin believes even white native apologists tend to view native-white relations through only one lens, such as an economic or political paradigm and to essentialize a single outlook or worldview as generalizable to all native societies. The "ebb and flow of Power can in truth be said to form the warp and woof of the Indian-White experience," and whites always wield the power of reductive interpretation, however well-meaning they may seem (Martin 32) However, within the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Reasons for Ritual in Native American Traditions.  (2008, December 15).  Retrieved August 1, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Reasons for Ritual in Native American Traditions."  15 December 2008.  Web.  1 August 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Reasons for Ritual in Native American Traditions."  December 15, 2008.  Accessed August 1, 2021.