Social Change for American Indian Societies Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1294 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Native Americans

NATIVE AMERICAN WORLDVIEW is grounded in historical and cultural changes and traditions. There may not only single way of looking at the world among surviving indigenous populations in the Americas but there are some common characteristics that shape the broader worldview. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Native Americans had had to experience political discrimination including an forceful assimilation policy that often used military power, forced relocation, repression, social and cultural regulation process and ban on use of some cultural ceremonies. Rick Hill (1988) writes about this prejudice:

There was also an assumption that Indians would be better off not being Indians, so that all 'pagan' trappings should be removed to liberate the Indian people from their inferior culture. The religion of the Indian people was attacked, Their objects of religion were removed from the communities."

The social change that Native Americans were forced to adopt was part of the assimilation policy. There were asked to join agriculture instead of focusing on hunting as means of earning livelihood. Some such changes resulted in gradual displacement of native languages and culture paving way for forced social change. But still, despite all these changes, most Native American children would grow up with a common worldview. The worldview has some interesting characteristics that most Native Americans can identify with as M.A. Jaimes (1995) tells us:Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Social Change for American Indian Societies Assignment

In terms of economics, the Native peoples tend to have communal property, subsistence production, barter systems, high-impact technology, and competitive production. In terms of political relations, Native people have consensual processes, direct "participatory" democracy, and laws embedded in oral traditions. On the other hand, modern society has centralized executive authorities, representative democracy, and written laws. In respect to their social relations, they differ, generally, in terms of matrilineality vs. patriarchy, extended vs. nuclear families, and low vs. high population density. Finally, regarding differences in world view, the Native peoples are polytheistic, derive an understanding of the world from the natural order's rhythms and cycles of life, and include animals and plants as well as other natural features in their conceptions of spirituality, which the cultural anthropologists call animism and totemism. (1995, 275)

This is an interesting and rather comprehensive picture of Native American worldview. Many would think that it is too generalized but it has characteristics that aboriginals understand and can relate to. In other words, even if all of them do not believe in the same things and these may not form their worldview, they do understand the conservative and spiritual place from which they originate. Religion is very important and culture is sacred to Native Americans. They all treat earth as a feminine entity and nurturing a bond with earth is essential. It is their way of connecting with the Creator. Their image of nature is grounded in 'Mother Earth', which is seen as a positive force. Robert M. Nelson (1997) maintains that, "a powerful respect for place, in the sense of an actual and particular landscape, is characteristic of much of Native American poetry and fiction... To live with the land, holding and being held by the life that precedes and survives the life of any individual, as well as the life of any culture" (1997, 277).

The connection with earth is extremely sacred and is one of the main influences on Native American worldview. Evidence of this can be found in literature including Momaday's poems that focus on the experiences of his people and their beliefs. Religion has an important place in his life as Momaday testifies: "The Indian exerts his spirit upon the world by means of religious activity, and he transcends himself in a sense; he expands his awareness to include all of creation. And in this he is restored as a man and as a race" (1989, 25).

Spirituality has value for all Native American people but their sense of religion is more ecological in nature. This doesn't… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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