Opinion

Cultural Imperialism

by Amanda Smith

In today’s society all Native American tribes have adapted into this non-Native world. Many are now realizing that their life has beentaken control of by non-Natives, they have to follow these people who don’t care about our culture, language, and us as Native people.

Taking it back to our ancestors who signed these treaties long ago, they were forced to become these non-natives and learn about their ways. They were taken control of like they were nothing but dumb Native people who didn’t know anything and how I see it is we are just repeating history. It seems like people are just trying to change us and our ways of living, but what they don’t know is that nothing will change who we are. Together as Native Americans we are stronger and nothing can break that from us.

For example,what happened in Standing Rock, no matter how out of control the non-Natives got, we were still there fighting for water that is sacred. No matter how small or how big something is, if it’s important and sacred in our culture we will do anything to protect it. This is why we have many who stand for their people and tribe, activists finally getting their voices heard. For many years we, as Native Americans, have been trying to get our voices out there to the world, about who we are, and fighting for what we believe is the best way for
us.

Although we have changed and adapted into this non-Native world we still have our beliefs and practice our traditions. Because to us our traditions are important for ourselves and generations to come to know. From a young age many of us have had to deal with growing up in two different worlds, one side was non-Native and the other was our own culture.

For me I’m Navajo, Taos Pueblo, and Hopi, and the only culture I learned a lot about is the Navajo. I was taught how to speak Navajo, understand it, and to know the traditions. I’m very appreciative of my family for teaching me such a unique culture and I’m proud to be Navajo with other mixed tribes.

Growing up I never knew that being Native American would be as important as it is today, we have many things going on with natives who are speaking up and getting their voices heard about how our native people shouldn’t be treated the we are being treated today.

From disrespecting our Native people with mascots, building on sacred land, many things going on that I never thought would happen. I’m sure every tribe has experienced seeing this on their reservation, but to me I think this is an example of American culture dominating my own people. Alcohol was never here and no one knew what it was until the non-natives introduced it to us. Now look at where that put our own people, many become alcoholics and many die from this drink that non-natives gave us. Back in my hometown I’ve seen too many people who are without jobs, walking alongside the road, and others asking for money. I hate to see my own people go through this. non-Natives made my people become addicted to this poisonous beverage that they spend all their money on it. Although it’s not allowed to be sold on our reservation, many people go to the border of town to get it and our own people are selling it from their homes. I’ve seen my own relatives go through this and it hurts me to see them this way.

Clothing is one of the main forms of domination in every tribe, especially mine. We wear clothing like a non-Native instead of wearing our traditional outfits. In the past our people wore their traditional outfits every day and everywhere, in our society we don’t. We wear jeans, t-shirts, and shoes like everyone else around us. The only thing anyone cares about today is the brand they wear. They don’t think about their ancestors who wore the same shoes, and outfits, every day and they didn’t complain about it. We’re living in a society where everyone judges too much and we have to change our style to just be like them. But no, we can express ourselves anyway
we want, especially through our culture.

Another example of American domination would be electronics. Everywhere around us everyone has a phone, tablet, etc., including myself. Electronics are just another way of adapting into this non-Native world. When you
think about it, our ancestors never had anything like an iPhone for them to send a message. They had to travel, not with a vehicle, but on horseback to get that message to the other person. My own people have adapted into this non-Native life and have seen everything change.
No matter what we change about our selves or adapting into this non-Native world, we are still Native Americans who hold on to all the teachings that were taught to us. For me, I’ve changed and seen so many different things that aren’t part of my culture. But theway I see it is I’m still that same girl who was taught everything about her culture and to this day I am still learning more about it.

In giving back to my culture I am going to school and getting an education for myself. From everything that my ancestors went through to get me this far, I won’t let them down. Nothing can change who I am, despite what my tribe and other tribes go through, we are all still native people who are still here in this non-Native world practicing our traditions, learning more about our culture and teaching younger generations about it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *