Sociology of Race and Ethic Relations

Two replies or critical comments to other students’ postings. These replies should have a minimum of 150 words each. Read each student posting and provide a critical comment for each one.

Student 1

In the short movie “We’re still here,” Lakota families express how their people did not want to assimilate to the American culture and lose who they are. They chose to stay on the Pine Ridge Reservations in South Dakota because they believe they are fighting for their right to have their culture remembered because they have a place that future generations can call home. The film goes on that say that race is an American angle and because they are part of the United States, they too have to deal with that problem as wards of the state.

According to the article “History of Survival: A Pine Ridge Example” written by Desiree Renee Martinez, indigenous people have struggled to survive in an dominate culture. They are not wanted let alone acknowledged as Americans. The United States fix to the “Indian problem” was by removing them from their rich lands and placing them in lands less favorable in natural resources. Wars and treaties have had a tremendous impact to the Native American people and their culture. The Oglala Lakota, a branch from the Sioux Nation, is a prime example of this occurrence.

The Oglala Lakota’s current condition include homelessness, high unemployment rates, poverty, and the loss of traditional knowledge of language fluency. This is a direct result of the United States Indian Policies of the 19th and 20th centuries according to the article. The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 was created to cover present day South Dakota, west of the Missouri River and included the Black Hills; a spiritual landmark to the Sioux Tribe. In 1874, with the discovery of gold in the Black Hills, the treaty was broken and Black Hills was ceded to the United States in 1877. The dissolvement of the Fort Laramie Treaty amongst others resulted in the Lakota losing more land, making it difficult to be self-sufficient like other Native American nations and forced them to rely on the American government for survival. Ms. Martinez writes that 60% of the Lakota reservation residents live below the poverty level, and working residents travel 100 miles just to reach the nearest urban center. Also, compared to 30 years ago where 90% of the children spoke the Lakota language fluently only 3% is reported to know how today.

In researching other Native American Tribes to determine if any face similar impacts to their culture I came across the Blackfeet Nation, who has occupied the Rocky Mountain region for more than 10,000 years. The Blackfeet reservation is the 13th largest in the United States, spanning 1.5 million acres in northwest Montana and has an abundance of natural resources. These natural resources includes forestlands, oil and gas reserves, and is home to many aquatic species and wildlife. Eight large lakes can also be found on the reservation. The Blackfeet Nation retains its culture in the modern era by having annual celebrations that includes the North American Indian Day Celebration and The Heart Butte Indian Days. These celebrations feature traditional songs and dance, rodeos, traditional drumming and stick games. In comparison to the Oglala Lakota, the Blackfeet Nation thrives and relishes in its native traditions and is governed by it’s elected Tribal Business Council. With its territory bordering the Glacier National Park north of Canada, it is a tourist attraction which garners additional income for the Indian tribe.

In addition to the Blackfeet Nation, the second tribe I researched did not share common struggles like the Lakota people, but also embraced modern American life with their own culture and traditions. The Hopi, also known as Hopitu (The Peaceful People), are the Native America Indians who primarily live on the 1.5 million acre reservation in northeastern Arizona.  The Hopi Indians are deeply rooted in their culture’s religion, spirituality, and its view of morality and ethics. Traditionally, the Hopi are highly skilled subsistence farmers. With the installation of electricity and access to motor vehicles, the Hopi have been moving into a cash economy with many people earning money outside of traditional crafts such as pottery. Pottery was made for everyday use, including cooking, storage, bathing, and religious ceremonies. They were painted and carved with designs that told a story. Clothing, and making baskets were also handmade. Today, the Hopi Indians are both traditional in that they preserve their ancient lands and customs, but also modern because they enjoy working with outsiders and utilizing modern resources. An example of this is that their children go to school and they use medical centers rather than rely on a shaman.

Student 2

Many Native American’s have been fighting to survive in America since the invasion by the Europeans. Based on the readings one of the Native American tribes know as the Oglala Lakota are still facing these struggles that they were left with from not wanting to be apart of the dominant European culture. Many people of the Lakota tribe are homeless, jobless, and living in poverty and the ones that are working have to travel more than 100 miles to work. They were secluded to a reservation known as Pine Ridge which is located on the southwest corner of South Dakota, they were forced to live here after ceded many of their land to the Europeans. When the Lakotas first settled in this area 90% spoke their native language and now only 3% speak their native language. As said in the video “Lakota-We’re still here” they do not want to become Americanized they would like to remain in their cultural element, they don’t want to adapt to the white race and way of living because they are not white they are Native Indians. However you do have other Native American groups that are still living in the US but however are still practicing their traditional ways of living. Southwest Native Americans they are usually located in hot dry climates like in Mexico or Arizona, they live off of livestock like sheep and goats, many of them are farmers or hunters. Another group was the Northeast Native Americans with the largest group known as the Iroquois. They resided in places like Rhode Island, New York, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine, and other places of the Northeast region. They lived in longhouses and Wigwams and hunted, fished, and gathered food from farming to survive. Of these three Native American culture although they lived in different areas they got food by hunting, fishing, or growing their foods on their lands, their culture remains the same, however many might speak the English language after being here for so long and adapting and having a hard time learning some of their traditional language they stuck with the American language.