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Native American Identities

The cultural, tribal, and national identities of Native American Indians are marked by uniqueness that is defined in part by language, literature, and gender. The "scientific image" discussed by Berkhofer was developed by Euro-Americans in their representations of Indians but also figured into tribal and national identities, impacting Indians at a conceptual level. While Native American Indian nations and tribes originally had distinctly different cultures that "shared neither a universal language nor a known historical experience," and consisted of "hundreds of aboriginal groups speaking some 250 distinct languages," each with their own mode of living and unique culture, when the Europeans arrived on the continent, they gave all of these Native American groups a common name-"Indians" (Hertzberg 1-2). Even the name "Indian" came from the European explorers rather than from the Native Americans themselves (Hertzberg 2). In his book The Invented Indian: Cultural Fictions and Government Policies, James A. Clifton points out that "versions of the Indian story are mostly pieced together from borrowed hand-me-downs, with enough ruffles and flourishes sewn on to suggest innovativeness" (42). This paper will examine the uniqueness of cultural, tribal, and national identities of the Native American Indian and how it was undermined by the white man, as well as the influence of the scientific image described by Berkhofer.

Culture is the "'designs and ways of life' that are normally 'transmitted from one generation to another," or in other words, the manmade part of a people's environment (Betancourt & López 630). In the Native American Indian culture, these ways of life were distinct from one Indian nation to another, and then within nations from one tribe to another. American Indians have a rich cultural heritage that is characterized by unique adaptations in each discrete group. The Native American Indians that the ...

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Native American Identities. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 07:39, May 31, 2020, from