Apache Indians In Arizona Essay, Research Paper
Keith Basso noted that the Cibecue village had changed in many ways since his first visit in 1959. From the new houses to the expensive TV s and VCR s, there is a post modernity in motion within the reservation. Even though the Apache had accepted and in some cases embraced modern conveniences and mainstream traits, the traditions which have been passed down from generation to generation still exist.
Basso talked about how fewer and fewer young people are embarking on the ancestral trail of wisdom. In a way they appear to be leaving behind the traditions and stories of their ancestors when in some cases it is still being instilled. This can be seen in the story of a young man that is fishing by the river and is hurtled down upon by an eagle. From my interpretation of the story, he was not unlike the rest of his generation that was disregarding the wisdom in the land but, then the land saw something in this boy and decided to give him a wake up call by sending this eagle down upon him to make him realize that he needs to be respectful of the land and his surroundings. In a way this was a hidden transcript of Mother Earth that was being publicly expressed.
Mother Earth seemed to be expressing her normally suppressed aggression and frustration for the Apaches hegemony. I believe that because Mother Earth expressed herself to this young man that he is training to become a ceremonial singer. Without these discourses from Mother Earth and Father Sun the Apache culture may truly be lost forever.
The Protestant Ethic and the older Apache way seem to be almost a reflection of each other. The Protestant Ethic values were very ascetic and future oriented. The same can be said for the Apache were the warriors would go out and hunt for enough food to last the tribe for a while. The women would gather nuts and berries as well as tend to the crops so that the tribe would have subsistence for when the bad weather and winter season came.
The capitalist system that was born out of the Protestant Ethic of work invaded the indigenous people of the Cibecue village and changed their culture forever more. From the HUD houses, sawmill, handsome school, supermarket, fire station and medical clinic the signs of profit are evident. If it weren t for the owners of the medical clinic or the sawmill the Apache might still be treated solely by the medicine man and build their houses out of the natural surroundings. These profit making ventures have stolen away part of the Cibecue culture and replaced it with mainstream America.
The stratifications that were focused on by the social theorists Karl Marx and Max Weber did not seem to exist in the Apache culture before the appearance of the white man. Once the white man started to gobble up the land in America stratification between them and the Native Americans appeared. The Apache could be seen as the proletariat (since they were used to keep the US Army in business) and mainstream America as the Bourgeoisie (since the settlers and pioneers were getting rich and claiming land deeds as the native Americans were being driven from there lands). Because of this rift between the two classes many wars and battles were fought. Eventually the bourgeoisie seemed to claim victory by pushing the Apache and other Native Americans onto reservations. While this class system lasted a while it is in the process (like most other cultures where a definitive separation between classes is obvious) it is starting to fall apart. Not only are the Native Americans in the middle of a class consciousness, they are building upon that foundation and claiming back what was taken from them by the capitalists illegally.
There a many court cases working through the justice system (such as the lake Coeur D Alene case) were the Native Americans are using examples of ecocide and genocide of the indigenous people of America to claim back the land that once belonged to their ancestors. The sense of place that comes with these lands is overwhelming for the people that know the stories that go with the place names. In a story Ruth mentions how a girl went to get firewood and was not careful. In the process of getting the firewood the girl began to grow tired and weak. On her way walking back to camp she stepped on a thin flat rock. She had forgotten that she was carrying the very heavy oak wood and the rock broke off leaving the girl unconscious for a period of time. Upon returning to her camp she related what had happened to her mother and the story was passed down through the generations. Upon retelling this story Basso mentions that Ruth s eyes have filled with tears and she turns away to go back into the house since she cannot stem her emotions. It s with examples like this of the spread of a capitalistic society from England that started to weaken the Native Americans autonomy and also started through aggressive missionary work ethnocide of the tribes of America.
When the Christians were settling America in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries they started a systematic process of converting the indigenous people to Christian-Judeo beliefs. Through this missionary work the settlers began a religious domination in America in order to wipe out the evil religions of the Native Americans. Through many factors and means many native tribes have been hegemonic zed. This was very apparent to me when I was watching the 2001 Grammy awards a few months ago and the winners of the Best Native American award came up on stage. One of the three men that comprised the group thanked his personal savior Jesus Christ. It seems to be that he was converted to Christianity later in his life due to the way he talked with such a conviction that I have only witnessed in people that chose the religion on their own free will and were not raised in it. This I believe would be a perfect example of how hegemony is still alive and moving in not some remote part of the world, but right here in America.
All of these factors combine to form cultural imperialism. Kottak defines cultural imperialism as a rapid spread or advance of one culture at the expense of others, or its imposition on other cultures, which it modifies, replaces, or destroys. This would be a good way to summarize all that we have learned about what mainstream America has done to the Apache. Not only was popular American culture spread through settlers and fortune seekers, it was spread through missionaries and political agendas aimed at forcibly enculturating the Apache. This enculturation seems to have made the Apache adapt its culture to fit not only mainstream America, but to modernize and keep alive its own traditions and values. Through this modernization and adaptation the Apache culture has survived and endured the test of time.
Time will tell what other cultural constructions await the ethnographer bent on an interest in place. But that such constructions are everywhere to be found in deserts and savannas, mountains and rain forests, cities and rural towns is altogether certain. We should begin to explore them with all deliberate speed, and not, I would emphasize, solely for the purpose of enlarging our knowledge of particular social groups. For as surely as place is elemental existential fact, sense of place is a universal genre of experience, and therefore, as more and more work gets done, it may be found to exhibit transcultural qualities. Keith H. basso