The Life of Liz

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. ~Anne Frank

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thoughts on {Culture}

I am taking a reading course in Native American history and it has got me thinking a lot about culture.  For obvious reasons, the textbooks for this course are very concerned about Indian nations preserving their traditional ways of life.  I agree that losing Indian culture is a bad thing, but I confess, I am at a loss to explain why. 

Americans don't give a damn about preserving their culture.  It's pretty difficult to pinpoint exactly what American culture even is!  I like to think of myself as a fairly smart, educated person who cares about history.  But I don't have the foggiest idea how to make butter.  I can't dance the Charleston or the waltz.  I know how to knit, but if I were presented with a living sheep, I can state with some certainty that it will never become a sweater.  If I somehow traveled back in time one hundred years ago, I would perish really quite quickly, yet I don't keenly feel the lack of these skills in my everyday life.

So what's up here?  Is it better to encourage people to stick to the old ways, or is it a better idea to let go of the past and embrace new technologies?  And when does the new technology turn into the old way?  After all, Native peoples for thousands of years adapted, changed, developed and innovated in order to best deal with their environment.  Where is the balance between old and new?

There is wisdom from the past that it is essential we not lose.  And there are new discoveries on the horizon that must be embraced.  Knowing which is what, well, that's the rub isn't it?

The one thing I am certain of in all of this, is that it is very important that you not, for any reason, present me with a farm animal of any kind.

2 comments:

Maeve's Momma August 20, 2010 at 5:02:00 PM MDT  

I don't think anyone loses culture by adapting to technology, well, except the Amish.

I think our ancestors (yours and mine) lost culture when they traded it for good ol' whitebread americanism. And that's too bad because I'd have liked to know more about my Icelandic, Prussian, and French-Canadian heritage. I'm positive I'd understand myself a little better if I did.

Sabba and Nanny August 20, 2010 at 7:17:00 PM MDT  

Before commenting, I wanted to do some research and see what other people were thinking, so I read a number of articles. This was my favorite.
http://www.zompist.com/amercult.html
I believe this topic deserves further thought and discussion.

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