Native American Indian otherwise known as the Cherokee is a powerful Indian community. They branched from the Iroquoian-language family and originally settled in the southern Appalachians Mountains, North and South Carolina among other areas.
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The dominant American culture on the other hand was founded by the euro-Americans and their values and customs still dominate in the United States. Although their culture draws much from the European culture, it has unique features of its own (Norma, 1999). The American culture consists of subcultures among which are the Latin and African Americans.
Similarities and differences between the Cherokee’s and euro-American norms
Cherokees culture beliefs and norms were strongly influenced by the natural environment and cultural heritage that surrounded them. Education remained a high priority among the leaders of the Cherokee leading to establishment of learning institutions such as Haskell and Hampton institute where the natives learnt various vocations (Susan, 2007).
The dominant American’s culture similarly embraced the culture of working hard and value achieving through education, research and innovation. Education has significantly reduced illiteracy among the Cherokee community and its availability across societies has led to availability of better living conditions.
Cherokee community, just like the dominant Americans are “a civilized people.” They have been classified as exceptional Indians. They have aspects of regular civilized nation and assimilated many of the cultural practices and production methods of dominant American settlers.
Although initially a wide majority of the Cherokees were reluctant to embrace values such as Christianity and education since they belonged to the whites. This attitude however continued to change over the years, and this has promoted modernity, diversity, and development (both socially and economically).
In both cultures, male chauvinism was dominant. Native American Indian women exist in shadows and their position goes as far below such that their earlier activities significantly failed in documentation. Among the dominant American community, the women took the subordinate positions in the corporate world and there are evidence of massive wage differences among the male and the female working class.
In the contemporary society however, women are becoming more empowered and they are beginning to acknowledge the need for individual achievement, success, and independence. This has consequently raised the status of women in the society providing motivation to women to participate in overall community development.
The early Cherokee community members believed in sorcery, witchcraft, and spirits. They attributed natural occurrences to supernatural beings. They also had predefined sacred places which were associated with their religious ceremonies and festivals. The euro-Americans on the other hand embraced a rational approach to explain the universe.
They attribute the day to day occurrences in nature cause-effect relationships and make informed conclusions based on research and scientific facts. The dominant American ideology has proved more realistic and other societies are now embracing it. Change in attitude towards the universe has led to breakthroughs in science and technology, health, education etc.
The dominant Americans culture upholds the youth and takes pride at being young. In most of the native cultures inclusive of the Cherokees, the old are valued in the society and are considered as a source of heritage for the community. In these communities the old are a source of wisdom and are therefore treated with respect. In the dominant American culture however, the old are often ignored and sometimes even shunned. Respecting the old in the society promotes morality and also gives them a sense of worth.
Assimilation and Acculturation
The Cherokees culture like other settler communities in America has impacted on the culture of the dominant Americans. Through social interaction intermarriages are taking place between both communities often resulting in assimilation of the Cherokee culture. However, the Cherokee have depicted resistance towards accepting outsiders into their cultures, in fact, in the past they shunned those members of the community who intermarried.
Through trade Cherokees traditional costumes, art and decorations flowed into the euro American market. They also acquired from the European market gun powder, manufactured cloths among other items to replace their primitive manufacturing tools. This improved their means of production leading to higher output. These interactions between the native Cherokees and the euro-Americans still provide diversity in the overall American culture.
I learnt my culture through oral transmission. It is passed on from generation to generation through the parents. I learnt the societal norms through observations of the elder members of our society. I embrace diversity and therefore I have learnt and accommodated various aspects of the American culture since it provides me with a wide range of values to choose from. I however intend to maintain the basic core values of my culture since they define my origin.
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Susan, C. P. (2007). The art of Cherokee: Prehistory and present. Athens: University of Georgia press.
Norma C, R. (1999). Diversity Success Strategy. New York: Butterworth-Heinemann.