What is Native American Culture?
Native American Culture. Just what is Native American Culture? The answer to this is vast and varied. There is no one Culture. Even before the Native nations of this continent were scattered and forced on to reservations, the traditions varied from nation to nation. The stationary agricultural civilization of the Cherokee Peoples was very different from that of the nomadic Culture of the Dakotas & Lakotas and other plains Nations.
The Pueblo Indians of what is now New Mexico developed an urban life in harmony with the environment as described by the Pueblo Cultural Center.
Even today there are many Native American Cultures (plural!). The Native Peoples living on reservations have a very different way of life than those living off reservations. And the culture is different on this reservation than on that reservation, depending on what group or groups were originally assigned to that particular one. Originally, at least two or three different nations were put on a given reservation. Over the years the traditions of these original peoples have become intermingled, evolving yet another "culture". Even I am amazed at the number of Nations who have Tribal identities after so many years of suppression and in some cases persecution. Just go to Index of Native American Cultural Resources on the Internet, scroll down to the heading Tribe/Nation Sites and take a look. This is just those on the Web and listed at this Index! There are many others.
Native Americans and those of mixed heritage living off reservations in mainstream society have yet another set of cultures. Some are almost completely absorbed into the mainstream, following only a few remnants of a once rich tradition. There is another group, and I use that term very loosely, that has developed a somewhat uniform Native American Culture. This group has no formal organization or identity, and spans the entire country. These are the people who are involved in Pow Wows and Gatherings: leaders, traders, and attendees. The leaders, traders, and dummer/singers travel the country, sharing information. The Pow Wows are organized affairs, inviting the public; hoping to educate them, and also to finance these and other projects. Gatherings are semi-private, almost always free and are occuring everywhere. Here you will find full-bloods from many different origins, half-bloods, quarter-bloods and even no-bloods. The people are coming together once a month, on a year round basis, for ceremony, fellowship, and exchange of cultural and traditional knowledge, much as our Ancestors did.
There was and is an underlying element common to all Native American Cultures, past and present. That is the belief in/closeness to "Great Mystery" and all His/Her Creation, "All Our Relations", involving them in all of daily life. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of poems and writings on the Internet showing this. For now I give you two beautiful examples: Elders - Gone Forever (scroll down a little) and ALL IS FINISHED - a poem by Chief Dan George Salish (1899-1981) written late in his life.
Our Prophets predicted that the time would come when "The People" would return to their ancient traditions. They also said that in time those children of the strangers carrying Native "blood" (genes) would seek out the ancient ways and together with "The People" would return Peace and Harmonious living to the Earth. Maybe it is true.
(this article written for January 1, 2000 opening of site)
"Let us continue to honor that which
remains only in our dream memory."
Sand Painting (c) RT Computer, NM (http://www.rtcomputer.com). Thank You
The "Dancer," a friend, is an accomplished competition Dancer,
who also dances for peace and healing for many of us.
The beautiful composite pictures, (c) Anaja, (http://www.anaja.com).
These are from the Screensaver "Spirits in the Wind." Thank You
The Index of Native American Resources on the Internet
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Native American Culture site created January 1, 2000
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