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Native American Culture

Last month I started thinking about native cultures, so this term I decided to take a class in Native American Culture to learn more about them and learn to differentiate what I’ve romanticized due to media (movies and books) from accurate accounts of this native culture.

Yesterday, the class visited the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. Of special interest were the Native American Southwest exhibit and the Pennsylvania Lenape exhibit.

One thing that struck me through the exhibits was the native’s focus on priorities: family, community, and culture. As an example, take the spatial directions that held special meaning for almost every Indian nation. In the Southwest exhibit, there was a mock hooghan (a form of Navajo housing) into which you walked, and in each direction there was a placard stating the cultural significance of this direction to the Navajo peoples, as well as the practical matters associated with that area of the residence. I snapped a few rather poor-quality and incomplete photos of the placards. Check ’em out.

Four Corners:

  • East: Physical and Mental Knowledge
  • South: Daily Work Responsibility
  • West: Daily Social Responsibility
  • North: Ceremonial Knowledge

This is the complete opposite of modern culture as I described my experiences in my previous post. Where’s modern society’s connection to our immediate environment – our friends and family and community and earth? What we could learn from earlier peoples continues to intrigue me…

Posted in Ramblin' Thoughts.

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