The American Indian Culture For this assignment I chose to discuss the American Indian ethnic group. This group is so fascinating to me because they are a minority and forgotten group within their own land in which they discovered first. Most Indians want to disregard Columbus Day because they feel it dishonors their family heritage and origin (Sue & Sue, 2008).
The American Indians have been done a grave injustice by the “White” people. Most of their ancestors were slaughtered or died from diseases brought from the Europeans. Their land and resources were seized by the government and they were forced to leave the only place they knew as home. They were not allowed to practice their own cultural traditions and values and were forced to adhere to “White” man’s rules. American Indians have experienced far more than any other ethnic group. Due to the horrendous events that have taken place, the American Indians do not trust the “White” man and his government.
There are many implications that must be measured when working with the American Indian families. For example, I worked with a Native American female on drug court and the judge ruled to remove her from her parents and place her in foster care within the city I live. However, the father informed the court of the Indian Child Welfare Act, which explains the “decisions made with American Indian Children must be made in Tribal Court” (Sue & Sue, 2008). If an American Indian child has to be placed outside of the caregivers care, then another family member must be sought out to ensure that the child will not endure culture shock from being placed in a non-native American family. These families take traditional values very seriously and want to ensure that children taken out of the home are not taken out of their cultural environment.
It is also important to remember that there are different beliefs and values systems within the American Indian culture. Not every American Indian lives on a reservation and/or practices the same tribal traditions. “Over 60 percent of American Indians are of mixed heritage having a mixed background of black, white, and Hispanic and may have differing degrees of acculturations” (Sue & Sue, 2008). Additionally, what the U.S. government considers an American Indian is not the same standards that the tribes have developed. This may in fact cause some American Indians to feel isolated as if their own ethnicity does not accept them.
American Indians also show a large line of mental health issues from substance abuse to anxiety issues. The alcoholism death rate is extremely higher than the national average as a whole (Sue & Sue, 2008).
The American Indian family structure is unique to the tribe. For example, the Navajo is more matriarchal while the some other tribes are more patriarchal (Sue & Sue, 2008). The extended family plays a large role in raising the children and must also be understood and involved in the therapy. Family dynamics are an essential element in treating a family in psychotherapy; a therapist must be able to adopt and adapt as necessary and when appropriate to do so.
American Indians and Alaskan Natives do not share one specific set of values rather have some commonalities. For example, these ethnic groups value some key concepts such as sharing and giving; family as a whole rather than individual; non-interference with other families; immediacy; listening rather than talking and respecting their leaders. Additionally, American Indians look at counseling and medical practices differently than the average American. They practice many natural remedies and believe that some illnesses are the result of consequences for bad behavior. For example in the past, “Navajo healing ceremonies for epileptic seizures, grounded in local beliefs that such illness was the proper consequence of immoral