Updated: Nov 30, 2019
What Comes to Mind When You Think of Native Americans
Written by: Jordan Bowles
Edited by: My Identity Mag Team
When you think of the term “Native American,” what are some things that come to mind? Do you perhaps think of reservations? Tribes? Headdresses? Maybe you think of the Thanksgiving holiday and the historical traditions behind it. Or, perhaps you even think of the football teams that have been named in association with #Native culture in America.
The aforementioned aspects are just small reflections of the larger part of the Native American culture present within America, and oftentimes these aspects have been marginalized, culturally appropriated, or even commercialized for the sake of entertainment. . culture in America The aforementioned aspects are just small refle culture in America .The aforementioned aspects are just small reflections of the larger part of the Native American culture present within America, and oftentimes these aspects have been marginalized, culturally appropriated, or even commercialized for the sake of entertainment. part of the Native American culture present within America, and oftentimes these aspects have been marginalized, culturally appropriated, or even commercialized for the sake of entertainment.
In actuality, Native culture is integral to American history, as the actual indigenous people of this country laid the groundwork for this country to be established. Unfortunately, the history of the Indigenous people has been severely white-washed throughout the years in regards to major historical events; in most cases, American history books (and eventually largely consumed media and entertainment outlets) contributed to the fabrications of the Native’s as “noble savages” and “wretched Indian tropes.
This led to dangerous narratives being perpetuated throughout history against this particular ethnic group, which consequently, led American society to treat this group as an ostracized entity. Eventually, America decided to establish laws that justified European (and descendants of Europeans) settlers to steal lands previously owned by the indigenous people and essentially force them onto reservations.
These acts against the Native people would give way to life-long health disparities within the indigenous community that still affect them to this day. It is important to note, however, that in spite of all that the Native community has suffered, these individuals still proudly display the colorful uniqueness of their culture to the world and this is something that should always be celebrated.
An important current aspect of this culture that deserves to be recognized is the annual Native American Women’s Conference. This event began back in 2013 by a group of women who decided to dedicate themselves to empower women within the Native American community through the use of education, healthcare and wellness, leadership, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and so on. This event is a great representation of how Native culture is continuing to thrive and be preserved by those who cherish it to this very day. This is also a reflection of the kind of determination, strength, and courage that is well-established among the Indigenous community, as it is a testament to their willingness to pride themselves in their culture and their refusal to quit in spite of the harsh oppression that they have faced throughout history.
The Native community has consistently made contributions to American society all throughout history. One that you may or may not be aware of is the sport of Lacrosse.
This particular sport, while played consistently in American high school, college, and professional teams, is rooted in Native cultural traditions. According to Native culture, this sport was originally a form of a training ritual for young Natives eligible for battle. This training would take place over a large open field between several hundred yards to several miles long. It is also interesting to note that Indigenous tribes would employ this sport to settle differences between tribes rather than engaging in actual battle. If one were to observe the lacrosse sticks used today for the sport, the intricate design of them still pay homage to the original Native culture.
Lacrosse is one of the oldest sports that was established in North America, and is still regularly played to this very day. This, once again, is a testament to the determination of the Native culture in preserving the rituals and traditions that make it unique. As individuals who inhabit this world, especially those that live in the U.S., it is important to recognize how valuable the Native culture is to this country and that Native’s deserve so much more respect and consideration than they have been given throughout history. It is our responsibility to look back on history and implement laws and strategies to ensure that the mistakes of the past don’t cloud a future that could potentially be a world where all cultural and ethnic backgrounds are esteemed and valued for who they are.
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