The quotation, “Worldwide, non-Western cultures faced fundamental challenges to their cultural identities “not so much a recentering of culture but a decentering of culture” [ CITATION HMS10 \l 2057 ], means that many of the non-western cultures were influenced by the western cultures and most of them if not all, were faced by the challenge of maintaining their original cultural identities. Western cultures such as the American and European cultures have greatly influenced many Asian and African nations; for instance interaction between different nations through the media, has greatly influenced the way of dressing, dancing, communication and even the language of non-western cultures. Basically the lifestyles of the non-western cultures have changed since the late nineteenth through early twentieth century and up to date, leading to the “dilution” and even extinction of some of the non-western cultures.
The cultural identities of the non-western cultures such as: Africans, Chinese, Native Americans and many more are changing and disappearing fast as people are quickly adapting and taking up the new western cultures in the name of acquiring a more sophisticated and apparent “civilized” culture. New generations are introduced to the western cultures as opposed to the original cultures of non-western nations and non-western nations are quickly losing the originality of their cultures. Due to the ease of contact between the western and non-western nations brought about by the phenomenon of globalization and the internet, the influence from the western cultures has become a great challenge to the non-western nations in terms of maintaining their original cultural identities.
In the later nineteenth century and early twentieth century, decentering of culture would have meant that a given culture would have to change and accommodate other different cultures resulting in both negative and positive consequences of the decentering of culture. This paper will explore the impact of the western culture on the Native American culture by looking on how the Native American culture was before the nineteenth century and how it changed as a result of the influence of the western culture.
Native Americans Prior to the Late Nineteenth Century
Prior to the late nineteenth century the Native Americans were hunters and gatherers, this meant that they relied on bush meat, vegetables and fruit for food and would move from place to place when there was scarcity. Their clothes were basically made from animal skins and hides and their shoes, known as moccasins, were made from dears’ skins/hides. Their houses were made from wood; they were long and housed many families together. Some tribes used animal skins and poles to make structures that were used as shelter and others used caves as their shelters. There were no developed forms of transportations, they would walk from place to place or use carved logs to cross rivers[ CITATION Mic10 \l 1033 ].
Impact of Western Culture on Native American family system
The Native American cultures are some of the oldest and richest cultures in the world but western cultures are posing a serious threat to these (Native Americans) cultures. Western cultures have greatly affected the traditions, customs and families of the Native Americans. The Native Americans have the culture of joint families living together but westernization has affected this concept resulting in the current situation where families live independently. The western attitude of everyone minding their own business and caring less about others is quickly being adopted by the Native Americans. As a result of this attitude of “every one for himself and God for us all” being adopted by the Native Americans is slowly eroding their generous and sharing nature. It is worth noting that the concept of families living together enhanced the passing of traditions, family values and culture from one generation to another and that the new family system where most families live independently has presented a challenge to the passing down of the tradition and culture among the Native Americans[ CITATION Mic10 \l 2057 ].
The western cultures have also impacted the way the Native Americans dress, they had cultural ways of dressing that were more decent than the contemporary ways of dressing that have been influenced by the western cultures which are sometimes indecent. As earlier mentioned the Native Americans dressed in animal skins. The Europeans introduced weaving, this affected how the native Americans dressed, they started growing cotton that was dyed with different plants , this were then used to weave clothing and blankets. Native Americans had no culture of individual property ownership as they believed that land was for everyone and it was to be used by anyone who needed to use it. The Europeans introduced the culture of individual land ownership which led to many conflicts; this had a negative impact on the Native Americans as most of them died in wars triggered by land ownership conflicts[ CITATION Mic10 \l 1033 ].
Changes Due to European Expansion
With the coming of the Europeans there were many changes in the life styles of the Native American, first their hunting styles were revolutionized by the introduction of guns by the Europeans, they were able to hunt more efficiently with less time. The Europeans did not initially change the housing designs of the Native Americans this is because they had to first adapt to the housing traditions of the Native American as building brick structures then would have been very expensive, though hundreds of years later the Native Americans have adapted to the European designs of building. The European expansion also changed the mode of transportation, horses and other animals that could travel longer distances were introduced this made transportation faster and more efficient. Trade was also another change that occurred due to European expansion, Europeans wanted fur, leather and tobacco which were mainly found in the areas that were inhabited by the Native Americans; in return they introduced new products to the Native Americans such as wheat flour for baking, cloth for clothing and rifles for hunting. This led to the steady development of trade systems[ CITATION Jac11 \l 1033 ].
The Native Americans changed their ways of living and adapted to the new ways that the European introduced, though they still maintained some of their cultures, this represents what syre calls decentering of cultures. There was diversification of the Native American cultures as they incorporated European culture in their cultures and this became their new cultures. For instance they adopted the European-style farming such as irrigation and use of fertilizers. The development of religious systems such as Christianity is another evidence of diversification of cultures as the Native Americans did not have specified religious systems though they believed in an all-powerful creator known as the “The Great Spirit”[ CITATION Dav10 \l 1033 ]. Native Americans cultures were no longer centralized as the original cultures as there was more diversity in their cultural practices.
Before there was contact with the Europeans, the Native Americans means of transport and culture was walking from one place to another, this was tiresome and time consuming this was the central culture until the coming of the Europeans who introduced horses, this was a form of decentering of a culture, the horses were faster and more effective way of transport. This kind of decentering of culture brought positive impact to the Native Americans Societies. Decentering of culture is also represented in the introduction of land ownership, in the Native American culture land was for everyone until the European brought a different culture and land was to be owned by individuals, this brought so much conflict as the Native Americans were used to a different type of culture, this type of decentering of culture had negative impact on the Native Americans. The Europeans also adopted some of the Native Americans culture and their culture also became more diverse. For instance the abundance of precious metals that were taken back to Europe led to the development of trade as these precious metals were used as ornaments and also as medium of exchange in the European nations. In conclusion decentering or diversification of a culture can have positive or negative impacts on the particular cultural groups[ CITATION Jac11 \l 1033 ].
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