Opinion

Duane Champagne: Indigenous identity continues to evolve





"Indigenous identities have become multiple and more complex, and some more hostile, at the beginning of the 21st century. Many contemporary indigenous nations are not culturally homogeneous as the old anthropology textbooks would have us believe. Even in traditional times, there were differences in political allegiances among families, clans, villages, and other social and cultural divisions among indigenous nations.

Contact with Europeans has introduced new religions, cultures, the market system, and new political systems. Indigenous nations, like all human groups on earth, are subject to globalized culture, economy, and political relations. Whether by force or by consent indigenous nations are now multicultural and contain individuals who speak non-indigenous languages, have taken on non-indigenous religious orientations, some are well educated in Western traditions, while others have taken up the material life and daily job routines of national market economies.

For example, the Navajo Nation is often esteemed for retaining language and community, but about one-third of the Navajo Nation are Mormons, and another one-third are Catholics, although much of Navajo culture continues to persist among the two Christian Navajo groups."

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Duane Champagne: Indian Identity and Assimilation (Indian Country Today 2/2)