North American Indians- Culture

Circum caribbean culture area the caribbean

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Circum-Caribbean Culture Area The Caribbean - predominantly tropical rain forest - resembles that of South America, and the native population was to a large extent under the sphere of influence of South American as well as Mesoamerican peoples. In fact, a primary route of migration onto the Caribbean islands was northward from South America along the Antilles chain. The peoples of the Circum-Caribbean cultural area were agriculturists, as well as hunters, fishermen, and gatherers. The palm trees served as the primary building material. The dominant form of social organization was the chiefdom - a collection of autonomous bands united politically and religiously under supreme rulers and with social classes. Circum-Caribbean peoples, however, never attained the high levels of social organization or the advanced technologies of the Mesoamerican and Andes cultures. People of pure Indian stock do remain, many of them living as poor peasant villagers in highland areas. Tribes In the Southwest area most of the Native Americans live isolated from the modern world, in reservations. In other areas of the United States most of the Native Americans have chosen to live in cities. (See also " Indians Today ") Some reservations are not oriented to tourism, however most welcome visitors who show respect for their culture, privacy and property. Tribal authorities may pass and enforce their own laws. Visitors are subject to tribal regulations, as well as state and federal laws. The strictest
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regulations regard invasion of privacy: never photograph an Indian or his possessions without permission. Cameras are prohibited in some villages, others charge fees or require advance arrangements for photography, sketching or painting. The use of the term "tribe" creates a disagreement among the Indians. Many contemporary Indians prefer the term "nation", because it implies the concept of political sovereignty. Social and political structures were diverse in different tribes. Many Indians felt intense tribal loyalty, but the concern of others did not extend beyond the family unit. There were areas where hierarchy exercised near-absolute power, and regions where there was a total absence of centralized authority. Many groups observed complete equalitarianism. In others, all individuals were rigidly ranked by lineage and wealth, with no two persons on exactly the same level. For most Native Americans, in fact for most peoples throughout human history, there existed no institutionalized forms of social or political power - no state, no bureaucracy, and no army. Native American societies, as a rule, were egalitarian, without the kinds of centralized authority and social hierarchy typical of modern societies. Custom and tradition rather than law and coercion regulated social life. While there were leaders, their influence was generally based on personal qualities and not on any formal or permanent status. Authority within a group derived from the ability to make useful suggestions and knowledge of tribal tradition and lore.
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  • Spring '08
  • Biglow
  • Native Americans in the United States, culture area

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