When white immigrants from Europe settled in America, they believed that the native residents – native Americans were inferior to themselves. If you look into the origin of Thanksgiving, you will find that without the help of the Indian tribes, the immigrants could never survive the harsh winter and drought. Thanksgiving should actually be directed to the Indians. However, native American were killed, tortured, enslaved, and concentrated. Native Americans were almost eliminated after more and more white immigrants came in from Europe.
Nonetheless, native American culture was also wiped out at the same time and not until recent years, it had a chance to revive. Native American culture is not inferior to any other cultures, including Judeo-Christian white culture. There are indeed many differences between the two cultures, but one can never claim the other is inferior. Native American culture can be traced back into the Ice Age. It has a complete system of beliefs, languages, some races even have their own characters and written languages. In this paper we will discuss the differences between native American culture and Judeo-Christian white culture in three different aspects, nature, belief, and community.
Many followers of native American today spirituality do not consider their beliefs and practices as a “religion” in the way which many Christians do. They believe that their beliefs and practices are all part of an integral and seamless part of nature. Native Americans believed in the harmony with nature. On the contrary, white Christians believed in the exploitation of nature; they wanted to dominate, take, use, spend, and expand lavishly. A good example is in the movie “Dance with Wolves.”(Costner) When the Sioux tribe found the buffalo, they were excited because buffalo was their major food supply. However important, they had never over-hunted buffalo. When the white people came in, they killed hundreds of buffalo just for fun. The Indians, even Lieutenant Dunbar (“Dance with Wolves”), were astonished. They were so depressed seeing the dead bodies of the buffalo. The white hunters had violated what they had believed in, man could only live in harmony with nature. This idea is well-accepted in today’s society, however, at the time of Lieutenant Dunbar, it was considered stupid and primitive.
Native Americans believed that all creatures were equal while white Christians believed that mankind, especially white man, was superior to other nature. Also in the movie “Dance with Wolves,”(Costner) the wolf “two-socks” was a spiritual companion of Lieutenant Dunbar for a long time. As a white Christian solider, when he saw the wolf the first time, his intuition was to pick up the gun and shoot the wolf, but he didn’t. After several weeks together, they became “good friends,” that’s how Lieutenant Dunbar was named “Dance with Wolves.” Later in the movie, when the white soldiers captured him and shot at “two-socks,” he risked his own life to protect the wolf. He had turned himself into a real Indian “Dance with Wolves.” Even today, many white people still believe that they are superior to other races. Racism is still one of the biggest problems facing America.
Native Americans and Judeo-Christian whites also differs in their view of community. First, older people were considered wise and smart in native American culture, while they were considered as stupid and slow in white culture. “Chief Seattle’s Lament”(Chief Seattle) is a profound understanding of nature, land and God. It summarized his lifetime experience and thoughts – only an old man could have. Second, native Americans seek conformity in their society, while white Christians promoted competition. In “Dance with Wolves,”(Costner) all the members of the Sioux tribe fought for the tribe, their honesty and bravery were far superior than the behaviors of the white soldiers. However, the competition did bring more and more land into the white territory, as it depicted at the end of the film, the Sioux tribe finally disappeared. Third, There was only one strata in native American society while there were many in the white society. After Lieutenant Dunbar joined the Sioux tribe, he became a member of the big family, “Dance with Wolves,” he was an Indian fighter, as other Indian fighters. No one looked down on him in the tribe. Things like this could never happen in a Judeo-Christian society.
In conclusion, all religions, cultures and people are not created equal. There will always be differences between different religions, cultures and people. The distinctions between native American culture and Judo-Christian white cultures are only differences. There is no better or superior culture of any kind.
Costner, Kevin. Dance with Wolves. Video Cassette. 1990. Pioneer LDCE Ltd.
Chief Seattle. The Land is Sacred to Us: Chief Seattle’s Lament.