Native Americans are always struggling with identification with their tribes traditions compared to Euro-American traditions. Counselors need to recognize that many Native Americans feel uncomfortable when talking about things outside of their context.
Rather than interpret behaviors of the Native Americans counselors understand what greatly impacts American Indians in social issues. Native Americans are greatly impacted with Major Health Issues, Employment Issues, Economic Issues, and Family Dynamics.American Indian Multicultural Counseling Human behavior is explained by the definition of culture. Each individual has a cultural group of values. Ethnocentrism is what makes up the American Euro-American culture.
The Americans take pride in thinking their culture is superior to other cultures. Because so many think the American culture is superior we tend to forget, ignore, and discriminate those cultures like American Indian culture that is subordinate. American Indian Background.When working with Native Americans a counselor must understand and remember that their culture and history is very deep with the dominant white culture.
The Native Americans have dealt with dishonesty, oppressive, and manipulative messages since white settlers came to this country. The Native Americans continue to experience racism and discriminations. Long before the pilgrims and pioneers landed in American there were the Native Americans with their culture. The Native Americans were viewed as Red Man with a Spear. Without the aid of Native Americans the settlers would have not survived because they knew very little about the land.
While the new colonization began in American the Native Americans began contracting crippling diseases and horrible prejudice. Bryan (2007) stated that, “A large percentage of the decreased in population can be attributed to the European introduction of diseases such as diphtheria, smallpox, measles, chickenpox, influenza, scarlet fever, malaria, typhus, and typhoid fever. Many American Indians had no immunity to these diseases. The death toll from theses diseases and other was so great that it was labeled as one of the greatest natural catastrophes of all time”( p.
27).The Native American population drastically diminished and annihilated entire villages (All about history.org 2002). By the end of the eighteenth century, the American Indian population had been decreased by at least 10 percent of the numbers that existed at the time of first contact (Bryan, 2007). American Indian population is now increasing since the eighteenth century. In a 2004 census report placed the American Indian population at almost three million (Bryan, 2007).
Over time more settlers came to the new land these Native Americans valued so much. These settlers displayed greed and arrogance. The settlers were hare to conquer with brutal attacks and invasions. The new euro-Americans wanted to seize the American land for farming and used the resources of the land wasting the land that the Native Americans worshiped. The Native Americans culture is centered on family and spirituality of the land.Bryan (2007) stated that, “The process of taking Indian land not only impacted the number of American Indians, but also had an impact on their entire way of life.
Despite numerous treaties and promises that assured Indians that their lands were safe from the encroachment of Euro-Americans, their land base has been significantly reduced. Their land was taken and generally they were forced to relocate to land which the United States government considered as unsuitable for Euro-Americans inhabitation (p. 218).Relocation of American Indians was a very shameful process that Euro-Americans placed up them. American Indians went from familiar surroundings to unfamiliar environments and surroundings.
These American Indians were no doubt shamed and required to adopt a new way of living. These Euro-Americans went against what the Native Americans believed in their spirits and mind of the land. The Native American went to war with the Euro-Americans and this added to the loss of Native American population. The Native Americans began to be stripped of their customs and even forbidden to speak their native languages (All About history.
org 2002).Children were taken from their tribes and sent to schools to civilize them forcing the children to abandon their heritage. Eventually U.S. government forced the Native Americans to live on ‘reservations’ were the majority of Native Americans still reside today. Thousands of Native Americans suffered with this relocation there was five tribes total “Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole and a few others (Bryan, 2007).
Theses Native Americans were promised the Indian Land where they would be free from any settlers and able to live free on Indian land. Many consider these Native Americans are as very resilient people.Vance (1995) stated, “For nearly 500 years there has been a very oppressive, dishonest and manipulative message being voiced by the dominant white Angelo culture towards Native Americans, This has caused a great distrust, anger and conflicting attitudes for the Native American community” (p.1).Family DynamicsThe history is what influenced and helped shape the structure, roles and meaning of family for American Indians today.
American Indian’s family is fictive and nonfictive kin, extended family, tribal community, and the nation of American Indians as a whole today. Native American cultures differed with individuality and interdependence. The Euro-American culture is stress self-reliance, decision-making based on individual needs and the right to a private life (Carteret, 2011). Native American believed that a person was assigned the spirit of a particular animal and that their spirits was absorbed into this animal in death.In many cultures absolute loyalty is expected to one’s immediate and extended family/tribe (Carteret, 2011). Native Americans were a big part of familism where they emphasized the needs of family and group first instead of private life.
In the Euro-American culture families follow a nuclear model which is comprised of the parents and children. Parents make decisions that are decided for the children. Children are raised to think for themselves and encouraged to act like decision makers. When Euro-American reach adulthood they do not need parental consent and they may exercise their right to privacy.The Native American culture rely on the extended network of relationship with parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and much more. The extended network is what is involved in important decisions for someone who is unrelated to the person through blood, marriage, tribal leaders, the elderly, and medicine men/women who are key individual to be consulted before these decisions are made.
American Indian women are viewed as expressive roles in childrearing, domestic tasks and over all concerns of the family. In the American Indian culture women roles is the development of others. Their daily interacting with adults and children is they engage in a relational connection. Euro-American a female role is a wife, mother, nurturer, responsible for child rearing and the home. So, American Indian and Euro-American women ties together with one another based on the ethic of care and responsibilities for the families.
American Indian women carry the culture on within their roles. So women could not be really suppressed in their role.However, American Indian men are suppressed in society. American Indian men are known to be good on their feet and work well in manual labor like construction fields or various in the blue collar jobs. Some American Indians work in a white collar job as a status or prestige.
Many American Indian men are in prominent roles within their tribal communities as tribal judges, tribal chairmen and administrators, and mental health and casino positions. The American Indian men find it hard to find employment and opportunity for career advancement.American Indian men are often in roles of leadership outside of the home as in Leaders in the community matters, medicine men and spiritual leaders. American Indian women have an easier time finding jobs that help them provided for their families than American Indian men. So the role with American Indian men as providers for their families was much easier in the past than in today’s society.Often American Indian families are misunderstood and confusing for Euro-Americans.
The way the family structure and extended family systems for non-blood related members inherent in the family is confusing to the outsider. A member like an elder could be referred to as a uncle and have no biological relationship to other members. Much Euro-American family support is the goal of independence rather than interdependence with their members. American Indian families are more interdependence rather than independence which causes a stigma on their culture when comparing it to Euro-Americans culture.Employment Issues American Indians have a high rate of unemployment compared to other race or ethnic groups.
American Indians live on reservations which are in remote areas making it difficult for limited travel for jobs outside of the reservations. So those who live on the reservation are limited in resources; however over 50 percent of American Indians do not live on the reservations and the employment is increased which has to deal with discrimination based on ethnicity and culture.Bouchard (2001) stated that, “American Indians have a large dropout rate for students in school. The National average is the highest in United States ethnic or racial groups. Only about three out of every ten native students drop out of school before graduating from high school both on reservations and in cities” (p.1).
The reason why so many Native Americans leave school is because of feeling discriminated against and the feelings of choosing the Native American culture that is at home or goes against those cultures and gain a different culture. Native American values their culture so much and over the history of the hardship these students feel deprived and there is a huge need for schools to integrate Native American cultural elements into the classes. Euro-American main stream of culture overwhelms studies of American Indian culture and many students of American Indians would be able to benefit from instructors who are in the community of their same culture.Economic Issues American Indians have improved their economic issues just by gambling casinos which have become major industries for American Indians. This industry has provided employment opportunities for American Indians who live on the reservations.
These casinos have given the American Indians great revenue that has allowed scholarship, local medical health clinics and provide social services to the American Indian communities. American Indians do not have to pay taxes to other Euro-Americans or state taxes. American Indians have the power to establish their own laws and their own police force, and state laws. Native Americans must adhere to the federal laws and authority of the United States while still they maintain their independence and their own form of government.Major health Issues American Indians have major health issues and the quality of life.
American Indians cultural history was to call a medicine man when sick. Bryan (2007) stated that, “American Indians experience greater problems that the national average with heart disease, accidents, cancer, and diabetes. They have higher incidence rates, higher than national average alcoholism, homicide, suicide, and pneumonia/influence. There are several major health issues like alcoholism, fetal alcohol syndrome, diabetes, obesity, and drug use (p.27).American Indians have an enormous pattern in the consumption of alcohol than other normal Euro-Americans.
There are many factors as to why American Indians have turned to alcohol one of them is poverty and hopelessness (Bryan, 2007). These reservations are isolated and desolate the American Indians who live on these reservations sometimes called Americans third world. American Indians are looked upon in our country as beggars. Over half of the American Indian population lives on reservations. Those who do live on the reservation have difficulty getting the medical attention that is needed in such a desolate area.Bryan (2007) stated that, “the combination of pressure from one’s peers “to be Social”, and the lack of anyone discouraging the use of alcohol leads many adults and , more particular, adolescents down the path towards excessive drinking” (p.
224).Fetal Alcohol syndrome which is the leading known causes for mental retardation and many other dysfunctions within a child making them have disabilities. It also has those children born to have behavioral and mental problems that progress into adulthood. As a result with excessive drinking and the high rate of alcoholism among American Indians problems have been approached about genocide (Bryan, 2007).American Indians are also higher among other raced and minority groups to have diabetes.
Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death among American Indians. American Indians also face with having diabetes a chance of amputation, blindness, cardiovascular disease. The major problem with American Indians having diabetes is usually blamed on new lifestyles and dietary habits.Obesity is found mainly in women within a minority group of low socioeconomic status.
American Indians in the Euro-American society are significantly more over weight which causes gallstones, arthritis, and adverse outcomes of pregnancy. The risk factors are high for cancer when one is obese.American Indian youth have experimented with drugs particularly marijuana. It appears higher rates of drug use is among reservations youth than the American Indian youth living off the reservations. American Indian youth do not use drugs on a daily basis.American Indian’s health care services before there was primary care doctors to manage care there was a medicine men.
Native Americans now have Indian health services to help alleviate some of the chronic health problems developing with Native Americans.Those Native Americans who live on the reservation tend to have a difficult time getting health care because of the remote location. Many tribes are now placing Native American health clinics near reservations to help those who have a difficult time with getting health care.Conclusion Euro-American have governmental and nongovernmental entities to strip the various tribes and their people of their culture (Bryan, 2007). Those helping in a professional field need to understand the dynamics and culture of American Indians. Counselors need to understand that to have an extended family roles need to be considered.
American Indians are very discriminated against still to this currently society age. Euro-American eye contact would be important a show of respect; however for American Indians eye contact is thought of as rude and disrespectful. American Indian history will always be challenged within the society of Euro-American. Only individuals can help stop prejudges against culture groups.In conclusion I have learned that many times Native Americans families deal with being stigmatized because of their culture. When counseling with this cultural group one needs to understand the barriers in their lives and consider the Background History of Native America Indians, the Family Dynamics, Economic Issues, education issues and Health Issues.
Of course Native Americans live in American and were the first Americans and reliant; however Euro-Americans have a independence rather than interdependence making this cultural group very suppressed within their culture.