One of the funniest thing you can ever witness is a group of white middle class far left extremists, who admire third world economic models (i.e. people are poor and none of those bad businessmen are around), attend a Native American gathering or reservation.
Well if you have not witnessed such an event, the D.A.A Collective has blessed us with a full report from their recent trip to what they call “indigenous land”. I knew I was in for a heap of entertainment.
The article, bless their hearts, is pretty extensive. I am surprised they didn’t make note every time they went to the bathroom. I think I am starting to understand why anthropologists get such a bad rap when they go and study in the third world, and it probably has to do with the pedestal indigenous people are placed upon in their eyes.
Don’t get me wrong, I think there is a lot our society can learn from Native American cultures across the states. But there is a lot to learn from Chinese Americans too. And Italians, and Hungarians, and Argentineans….people are people, and all of our cultures have something interesting to share. One individual echoed my sentiments when he avowed:
“Wow! You visited an Indian reservation!!
Do yourself a favor. Next time you go to one, remember that these are PEOPLE, not some kind of alien species. You wrote as though you were visiting some otherworldly society totally detached from modern America. That certainly isn't true.
In the Southwest, there are dozens of reservations. Some like tourists and some don't. They all have rules. Sometimes people make mistakes and say or do inappropriate things. Relax! They won't hurt you.
Listen, Indians are not special. They're Americans like the rest of us. They drive cars, have TVs, eat frozen dinners and yell at their kids. Don't put them on a pedestal.
As I said, stop treating Indians as though they live in cultural museums...they don't. They live, in this case, in California, probably on the Tule River reservation from what the author wrote.
More than likely, these Indians shop at Wal-Mart and have DVD players, like most of the rest of their neighbors. All this talk about their exalted "elders" and all the rest is nonsense.
These people are not an anthropological study. They are people. They have some nice, old customs, but so do Italians and Chinese. They are no different. Don't try to read more into them than is there.
And by the way, I worked with Indians for 25 years. I have a touch more experience with these matters than this author does.”
Like I said, there is something to learn about all peoples and cultures, and the worldlier we all become, the likelihood of conflict between ethnic groups dissipates. But there is a bigger problem at hand here, and that is “white” youth not forming an ethnic identity. Let me see if I can make sense of this…
At almost any university or college, you will find groups that focus on the culture of one ethnic group. So you will have a Black, Latino, and Chinese Student Associations, and so on. These associations are important in helping young people of a certain culture better understand their shared history and customs. But low-and-behold, I have rarely found student associations built around European cultures (or I should say “white” European cultures). I find this lack of cultural identity unfortunate.
One of the unfortunate side effects of not having an association built around white European roots is that it leaves a vacuum for overtly racist organizations to recruit white young people. Since no one wants to discuss what it is to be white and discuss that shared experience, the only folks left to talk about it are the ones who will fill young people’s heads with conspiracies and a sense of supremacy over others.
The main argument I heard against having white cultural groups on campus is that American culture is already “white” centered, and the reason for having minority student associations is to give them an “oasis” of sorts away from the dominate hegemony. So having a white cultural group would simply be redundant. I have a few problems with this assessment.
I love American culture and society, but I admit that it is very commercial and individualistic at this point in time. I am a bit offended by the assumption that my Flemish and Irish roots are somehow represented by MTV and Entertainment Tonight. I think many white students have bought into this idea that the commercialized America is somehow their cultural heritage, and that is terribly unfortunate, and part of what fuels this interest in all things “indigenous” or “authentic”.
The other problem with having a “white” cultural group on campus is the obvious question concerning what white means. Even when considering my Flemish and Irish roots, I find major cultural differences between the two people. Ideally I would love to have Flemish, and Danish, and Romanian student groups, but I am unsure most white students, whose families have lived in the States for decades if not centuries, would define themselves as such.
In a way, I think that by having people take a greater pride in their family and cultural heritage will combat that endless stream of disposable pop-culture that we seem to be knee deep in. As adolescent as it may sound, I would love to see all youngsters’ gain a greater respect for who they are and where they come from, while keeping an open mind to the values and characteristics other peoples bring to the table.
I would love to hear people’s thoughts on this subject, so please chime in.