Here goes a healthy chunk of my day, hehe.
Lady Wu wrote:I'm interested to know by what you've judged that the Native Americans living on res are living in "a past that cannot continue to exist". Sure, some forms of livelihood, such as hunting, are not viable anymore because of what's happening to the environment. But many of the traditional occupations, such as fishing, teaching, art, healing, etc are not incompatible with what you call "modern society". Their community organisation is different from that of the "mainstream", but it's just the manifestation of the same need to support each other in times of need, to provide good leadership that can see the community through in times of change. …
The old ways of the Native American are no longer realistic simply because they must now live on reservations in lands that do not generally support their way. They can survive now by interacting with society (via commerce, politics, etc.) and that is how they get along. Those things aside, as pointed out earlier they are in many cases very far away from modern conveniences like a supermarket or other commercial entities (which they have to make use of now that they are stuck on a reservation).
It doesn’t work because they want to interact with society for survival, but at the same time they want to remain independent. Obviously the government isn’t standing behind a group of people that wants to exist outside of society as much as possible, they are working to get them into regular society. While they can preserve much of who they were, it isn’t anything they can’t do with more freedom away from a reservation. They are placing a limitation on themselves that otherwise wouldn’t exist, and it doesn’t add up in my eyes.
Lady Wu wrote:Because they are a part of American society already. Diversity is key to survival. Who's to say that the way American society is going is the best way and not in reality self-destructive? Not that I'm saying that it is (self-destructive), but the existence of different cultures and traditions provide different perspectives on issues that affect all of us.
It would be different if they were actually inside American society like the rest of us, but for whatever reason they choose to remain independent in reservations with obvious serious limitations. A government should not promote segregation, and forming a compound for your people only counts as segregation in my eyes. Do no prevent it if it gives them a “home”, but do not support something that removes a culture from the whole.
Lady Wu wrote:Ok, on to the actual question. This question presupposes that they don't want to be a part of North American society. That isn't 100% true. But to the extent that it is true, is this unwillingness to assimilate completely unreasonable? I think not. First, native communities are still suspicious of the intentions of the "mainstream" government, which isn't unfounded based on the terrible track record that we've had. Then, they are not ready to buy into a set of values that often seem contradictory to what they believe in. Also, how willing is the "mainstream" society to help the native peoples fit in? People generally don't want to move into an environment where they have no community support, where they'll have to deal with racism, where their traditional values are denied, where their identity will be lost. Sure, people who truly detest the rest of North American society probably don't deserve to be supported by this rest of the society, but most people I know don't detest the rest of North America. They just can't see a way how they can contribute to the society while remaining true to themselves, because you really can't do much for the society if you've denied who you are.
I won’t blame them if they aren’t fully trusting of our government, but I think it is safe to say that the government is not working against Native Americans that want to be a part of society. If they were working against them there would be no restitution even today. Furthermore, the American population as a whole is actually not hostile to Native Americans much at all. In many cases, there is a large degree of respect, kindness, and in some cases, as much as I hate it, pity. They can use the first two, but they can do without the pity. Pity isn’t hate though. Furthermore, regarding spiritual practice and belief, my own spiritual directions and practices are similar in many ways. I get along just fine in society, and I find that you don’t have to live in a reservation to have a reverence for nature.
Lady Wu wrote:Nor is this the whole point of living on res. Reservation life is about community, which off-res Native Americans don't usually get. It's also about drawing energy from being able to name the rivers and the history/legends beind them. Can you imagine how upset people'd get if the Statue of Liberty gets bombed? That's probably just as upset people get when their traditional structures/ways of life are demolished, and they are forced to go into hostile lands.
I do not see why they have to break away from society into reservations to have a community. None of the other sub-cultures here in the United States need to do that. Now it would be a nice thing if these reservations were wonderful places to live, but because they are broken away from society there are serious commercial issues.
Lady Wu wrote:One First Nations woman I know quite well worked very hard. She's put herself through college, and is now working on her Masters. Considering that her husband died early and left her with four kids, and that for a while she had lost her status and her community support since her husband was non-native, that's some dedication indeed. But she still can't get a permanent job. Well, it's hard to get a job for anyone these days, period, but the facts that she's an older woman and that she's "different" probably are against her as well.
If her own people aren’t supporting her choices, and are opposed to her being a part of society to the point of hurting her in one way or another, it just goes to prove how much segregation this is really causing. I don’t know about Canada, but here in the United States, at least in the states I have visited (and Utah/Arizona are major Native American states) they are not held back by society. Sure, they may not teach their religious and spiritual beliefs in school, but they have to keep that close to their heart on their own. Christianity is hostile to this sort of thing, but that is a global problem.
If they are held back in schools here, it is news to me. Can anyone enlighten me as to how the United States school system is hostile to Native Americans?
Lady Wu wrote:That sounds easier than done. First, if they have drug and alcohol problems already, how is this going to work? Many people don't become drunks for no reason, but it's part of the vicious cycle that got started when their livelihoods, their lands, their identies were taken away from them. I'm not saying they should do alcohol abuse, but unless this problem is corrected first, re-integration into society (whether native or mainstream) cannot happen.
They have the same rehabilitation systems that everyone else has. Furthermore, they have had a little bit of time to get over the past, in all honesty here. What else is the government supposed to do? Can you guess how they would take a government program to sober up the Indians? I can see where that will go.
Lady Wu wrote:Perhaps this is an American thing. Similar statements cannot hold in Canada.
In Canada you can’t get buy with a part time job to pay your utility bills when your government and tribe cover pretty much everything else? That leaves Utility bills, assuming they aren’t covered as well. Rent alone wouldn’t be that difficult to swing with a part time job if everything else was taken care of here in Utah. I imagine New York and California would be more difficult, but Utah is one of the higher rent states.
Lady Wu wrote:Again, I'll put to you these questions: Is it impossible for a society to exist within "our own", as long as it participates as a member of the larger society, as a symbiosis? Many Chinatowns, for example, are ethnic-based societies within the larger society, where the traditional culture of the people may be kept, and yet which serve as a portal for these people to interact with the larger society. What is the "mainstream" society? Why can't we define "mainstream" as all who are citizens of North America? Why should the Native peoples be forced to leave their life behind, while something like forcing all Americans to abandon their driving culture would be unthinkable? Where do pride, reminiscence, fear, and spite come from, and why do they retain them?
“Is it impossible for a society to exist within "our own", as long as it participates as a member of the larger society, as a symbiosis?” No, certainly not. China Town is a good example. Furthermore, I see no reason why the Native Americans can’t do the same if they so desire.
“What is the ‘mainstream’ society? Why can't we define ‘mainstream’ as all who are citizens of North America?” For purposes of this discussion I will consider mainstream society to be society that functions in full coherence with other elements of society, unlimited by race, belief, or background.
“Why should the Native peoples be forced to leave their life behind, while something like forcing all Americans to abandon their driving culture would be unthinkable?”
Leaving a reservation by no means requires them to leave their life behind. In fact, the Native Americans I have met outside of reservations, which continue to follow their beliefs, are truly happy, spiritual, and refreshing people. Furthermore, does a reservation really preserve their beliefs? I think it is causing damage…
“Where do pride, reminiscence, fear, and spite come from, and why do they retain them?”
I would say the two major answers, among many elements, are cultural belief passed from generation to generation, and a fear of the past.