AIS 101 Mid Term I - Mid-Term I 1 Assimilation Acculturation and Cultural Pluralism To acculturate is to assimilate but assimilation does not

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Mid-Term I 1. Assimilation, Acculturation and Cultural Pluralism To acculturate is to assimilate, but assimilation does not necessarily mean acculturation. Assimilation is a general term used to describe when one group becomes more similar to another group, such as Native Americans assimilating to the imposed American/Western societal ways. More specifically, acculturation assimilates cultures, which includes philosophies, “religions” and ways of thinking. In this case, Indigenous Knowledge Systems were the target of acculturation against Western Knowledge Systems. When such different cultures and systems collide, the result is cultural pluralism, in which some aspects of the minority cultures remain adamant in daily life. Because of cultural pluralism, assimilation and acculturation do not totally exterminate the minority culture, although it may sometimes seem that this is its purpose. Native authors and borderline thinkers Ella Deloria and Charles Eastman display all three aspects described above in their writings. In Ella Deloria’s book, Speaking of Indians (1998), she depicts the many changes the Native peoples underwent as American ways and policy were imposed on the Dakota people. In one instance she describes, “The people began to make ingenious adaptations of some elements in their old life to the new. For instance, at one period they transferred the art decorations of the tipi to the loghouse,” (Deloria, 93). This adaptation depicts an aspect of assimilation in which an old way of decorating is incorporated into a new way of living. This is assimilation due to the change of the housing unit, a physical change and adaptation that occurred to help Native’s fit a nuclear family model. The nuclear family was so important to the American way of life that the government appointed what Deloria regarded “guardians-of-the-family” (Deloria, 94). The
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example of incorporating tipi designs into the loghouse also serves as an example of cultural pluralism. Although living in a new, foreign housing unit, old designs tied to Native culture and ways of life physically displayed themselves on the walls of the assimilation unit. Here Ella Deloria depicts one way the government worked to assimilate the Native population into Western ways of living, while also showing cultural pluralism. Charles Eastman portrays acculturation in his book, The Essential Charles Eastman - “Selections from From the Deep Woods to Civilization ” (1916), by sharing his fathers and his own views on religion and the “white ways”. According to Eastman, the “white way” was mostly characterized by religion. His father continually tried to influence Eastman’s perspective by stating such things as, “the sooner we accept their mode of life and follow their teaching, the better it will be for us all,” (Eastman, 157). Eastman’s father refers to both white education as well as the teachings of the Bible. Eastman himself shows his struggles in choosing one way of living over another, and after some time he, “renounced [his] bow and
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This note was uploaded on 03/30/2008 for the course AIS 1100 taught by Professor Cheyfitz, e during the Fall '07 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).

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AIS 101 Mid Term I - Mid-Term I 1 Assimilation Acculturation and Cultural Pluralism To acculturate is to assimilate but assimilation does not

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