The purpose of this study is to determine the impact of a cultural experience in the classroom combined with the cross cultural learning experience on the cultural attitudes of individuals’ towards other cultures. The study will focus on the Lakota Indian culture both historical perspective and current happenings in regard to this tribe. The Lakota Indians are an indigenous tribe in the Native America who resides in the northern region of the United States. They are part of the 3 major dialects Sioux tribes which are Nakota, Dakota and Lakota. They are known for their warrior and hunting culture. The Lakota originated from the lower Mississippi river and migrated to Ohio valley. They practiced agriculture during the period of the 9th century to 12th century. The Lakota culture has been regarded as extinct but it is still existent.
The key points about this culture are left out because the culture is sadly and unfairly looked down upon. The relationship between the nature and territories has created a strong bond relationship for the Lakota’s since farming is their only way for survival. The Lakota’s hunted and farmed to get their daily food. Their primary food was beans, animal products such as meat and squash. The Lakota Indians used to travel together with other communities to tirade, hunt and drink the healing waters in the Arkansas' hot springs. The role of men and women was clearly defined. The men were allowed to defend and provide for their families. Women were considered as matriarchs because they were supposed to rule the lives of the family and carry out domestic chores. Women hold a special place in this tribe because of the beading they make to show that rank. The beading carries different meanings such as loyalty, trust and courage. Their beads have a variety of colours which have a spiritual explanation behind them. The Lakota’s turned their back completely to the rest of the society after their land was destroyed in such a forceful way. The tribe has created a big relationship with nature which has helped the Indians to follow their ancestral roots.
The tribe does things that seem strange to the western culture. They kept their events in what is referred to as storms. The happenings that occurred were recorded as unusual weather, storms, climate and eclipses. All the unusual happenings were believed to be brought about by the impacts of climatic change, a different storm, a natural occurrence or disaster. Every happening had a meaning according to the Lakota tribe. Political constraints, Religious Affiliation, and Environmental Attitudes have stated the passion and love that this indigenous tribe has passed down to their generations (Haviland, 2011). They have passed these attributes through animals, non-human aspects and plants. They believe that everything that exists on this earth is alive and has a soul that should be respected and treated equally. They have a positive attitude towards nature and the environment in which they depend on every day for their survival. Their religious perspective is also different from the rest of the communities in the western culture. The tribe understands ethics in 3 layers which are, the bottom layer which is considered as the grassroots because it supports the Lakota tribe, the political layer which is used by the tribe for governance. The political organization is based on the participation of the community and assistance on how to sustain the Lakota Indians way of life. The community chose their leaders depending on the wisdom, demonstration of bravery, noble birth, fortitude, and generosity. The structural layer keeps the community in line. The layer makes the tribe very different from the Americans which are one of the reasons among many others that make the tribe to be stereotyped. The political leaders dealt with matters of peace or war, camp movements, and tribal hunts. The societies formed by the community were composed of small clans which varied according the number of the 7 tribal divisions. The Lakota’s believe in the spirit of healing. In order to heal many of the Lakota’s healed their wounds using alcohol and drugs. This explains alcoholism and high drug usage in that community. The people of that community are on a long road to recovery from the effects of long term drug use. The other reason that makes the other communities in the western culture to turn their backs on them is the differences in their beliefs and culture. Natives such as Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Turning Bear and Spotted Tail have claimed that the Lakota lands are sacred. Many past incidents, ceremonies and burials have been happening in these lands owned by this tribe. In the 18th century the Lakota Indians engaged in barter trade where they traded leggings, corn, animal skin robes, tobacco, decorated T-shirts and guns with the Crow. This barter trade was witnessed by the Native Americans. Due to the tragic events that happened in 1862, the Lakota Indians established peace with the white Native Americans. Many artifacts and photos were collected which have been stored in a museum owned by the Lakota’s called the Sioux Indian Museum.
Cultures have a way of codifying rules where individuals can understand the behaviours that they are supposed to conform to. This helps to maintain a strong sense of belonging to an individual’s culture. The sum total of these cultures can be viewed as a way of determining awareness of other people around a person and self awareness of the individual. The cultures perceive this as morality and a way of life. The potential extinction of the culture should be accounted for as this means that with globalization, cultures are soon forgotten. Some forms of rituals practiced are very useful and interesting when it comes to empirical reality of the cultures (Pickering, 2004). The level of understanding about a certain culture has been shaped by an individual spending time with a certain cultural group such as the Lakota Indian tribe. The establishment of a reservation system that tends to isolate the Lakota Indian tribes from each other is more of an ideological level rather than an empirical isolation. The Lakota Indians spent so much time with the Native Americans, that they started viewing them differently due to their way of life. All the questions posed on a particular culture about what is correct, what is authentic, what is real, what is true and what is traditional, does not have absolute answers. It is normal for a person to go through the five levels of multicultural developments which are ignorance, awareness, understanding, appreciation and celebration. If communities are able to embrace each other regardless of their cultural background, it would even be easier to fight racism. Racism has continued to dominate due to the diverse cultures around the globe.
When a person views other people’s cultural backgrounds as absolute one tends to get critical of that particular culture without getting to quite understand their way of life (Pickering, 2004). Cultures tend to be closer to nature that is why it becomes difficult to challenge one’s cultural beliefs and background. Over the years cultures have changed, and they still continue to evolve. There can never be a culture that is more superior to the other. All communities should embrace the differences and uniqueness each cultures presents. Cultural misunderstanding between the Lakota Indians and the Native Americans has made treaties to be created and broken, and this has resulted in wars and numerous skirmishes.
The study revealed the impact of attitudes both positive and negative on individuals in regard to other cultures. The Lakota Indian culture is free and beautiful. Their land was taken forceful through the acts of racism by selfish people. The culture has been killed off through the influence of the western culture to the Lakota community. The western community has tortured the souls of this indigenous tribe leading to strong alcoholism and drug use. Culture is seen as a viable entity in which people are able to adapt to the environment. It is normal for a person to go through the five levels of multicultural developments which are ignorance, awareness, understanding, appreciation and celebration. The Lakota Indian community was looked down upon by the white settlers due to their cultural background. They should be shown appreciation for their fearless courage, and the enduring spirit of existence.
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