North American Culture Analysis

1400 Words 6 Pages
Native populations have inhabited North America’s vast landscape for millions of years. These peoples have their own unique cultures and identities. Fundamentally, it is understood that Native cultures have not occurred in a vacuum and are constantly being changed, integrated, and created. However, when attempting to learn about the numerous Native populations that have and continue to inhabit North America, the shear volume of information becomes hard to process. Scholars of Native North America have grouped Native cultures together so that the information about the numerous cultures across North America can be processed. Scholars primarily use culture area concept maps and linguistic classification in survey classes to provide insight into …show more content…
The use of culture area concept is believed to be easier to understand than abstract language relations that cannot be visualized as clearly as culture areas on a map. The culture concept map has changed into more or less cultural divisions over time, but Harold Driver and William Massey created the most definitive system that is used today, which breaks North America into 10 primary culture areas (Sage 2016). Anthropologist, Clark Wissler (1927) comments that there are negatives to the culture area concept, “If tribes fall into a culture group, we may expect that all the tribes in one of these areas cook food in similar containers, perform the came ceremony, etc” (890). Wissler’s comment is meant to convey that culture area groups may give us the false impression that everyone who inhabits a culture area does everything the same, which is problematic because there may be individualities among the groups that make that group unique or different from others. However, these individualities do not deviate so much from the rest of the culture area that it allows for that trait population to have its own demarcated cultural …show more content…
However, despite this negative, it also proves to be one of the easiest and most efficient ways to educate people about Native North America in a survey class. The culture area concept is how the course that I am taking on Native North America is divided. The divisions may seem arbitrary, but they allow for easier understanding of how different societies developed in relation with each other across North America. The culture areas that my class has and is going to study include: Arctic, Subarctic, Northeast, Southeast, Plains, Plateau, Great Basin, Southwest, Northwest Coast, and California culture areas. I think that the way the survey class has been laid out by utilizing the culture area concept has allowed for a better understanding of each region across North America. By using the culture area concept, I feel that with each region I can focus on understanding individual environments for each region; and additionally, how environment affects multiple cultural facets for the groups that inhabit each particular region. Also, after we have covered a region I can start to piece together the primary cultural constituents of Native North America and easily compare the regions. At times it becomes difficult to not isolate populations to a single category, thinking that they are bound to an idealized box. However, knowing that culture is fluid and not contained in a vacuum helps me understand that

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