What do you see when you think about Native Americans? Perhaps you picture Sacagawea, Sitting Bull, Pocahontas, or some faceless warrior with an eagle feather in his hair mounted on a painted horse poised to do battle with encroaching settlers, an imaged pounded in the minds of American populace by Hollywood and TV when Westerns were at the height of their popularity. Regardless, these images all paint an image of something that is very disturbing. They set the view of the Native American groups as something that exists only in the past. In reality, hundreds of tribes in the U.S.A. alone are dealing with unique and current issues that pertain to the nation at large and those on the reserves. Since November is Native American Heritage Month Intercultural Life has decided this would be a great opportunity to discuss the issue.
For information on Native American Heritage Month see website below:
Which is more insulting? The term Native American or Indian?
The answer is it depends on the person. However, if the person’s tribe affiliation is known then go by that when identifying them. Each Native American group is an autonomous culture on to themselves, just like with France and England.
Facts of the Cherokee Tribe
- There are two tribes officially recognized by the United States government as Cherokee-The Eastern Band in North Carolina and the Western band (the largest) in Oklahoma. The Western band was forced to go to Oklahoma from the Carolina area by means the famous migration known as the Trail of Tears.
- The Cherokee have their own alphabet dating from 1809 to 1824 by chief Sequoyah. The Cherokee have a long history of writing in this language and it remains an important aspect of their culture through the use of online classes to teach people the language and easy fonts to allow for electronic publishing.
- Recently the Cherokee have excluded members who identified themselves as black Cherokee. These members would be the descendants of former slaves owned by the Cherokee.
- Wilma Mankiller was the 1st woman to serve as a chief for the Western band in the late 1980’s.
Information from and for more info on the Cherokee see the following websites:
Facts about the Inuit
- The term Eskimo can sometimes be considered a negative way to refer to the Inuit peoples as the name was given to them by other groups. The literal translation is “eater of raw meat” because the traditional Inuit diet of sea foods, like fish, does not always include it being cooked.
- The Inuit live not only in Alaska, but in Canada and Greenland and elsewhere in and around the Arctic Circle.
- In Canada, the Inuit use their native language on radio and televisions many of which are dedicated to education.
- It is not unusual to see an Inuit living in a single-story home similar to ours, and own a snowmobile instead of dogsled team.
Information from and for more info on the Inuit see the following websites: