Native how to become Americanized but she
Native Americans have endured some of theworst inhumane and dehumanizing treatment as a race and as a minority groupover the past hundreds of years.
Through colonization, genocide, racism,discrimination, and prejudice, European settlers shamefully reconstructed theway of life for Native Americans through vast differences between the cultures,values, and norms. In the autobiography, LakotaWoman, it gives the perspective of Indian woman, named Mary Crow Dog, whoexperiences the effects of colonialism and ethnocentrism first hand from herperspective. In the book she struggles to cope with her identity and theconception of her true culture. She fights to manage her indigenous identity bynot only being Indian but also being an Indian woman in a patriarchic society.She faced the pressures of trying to hang on to her language, culture, andvalues all while being surrounded by an alienated more powerful culturedominated by white men. Mary Crow Dog is a Native Indian Sioux womanfrom the Red Nation. Her mother is Sioux woman but her father is white man.
Shestruggles to cope with her true identity because she can’t bear with eitherside of being half white or a full blood Indian woman. Not to mention she wasoften looked down upon by whites and full blood Indians because she sided withboth. Primarily her grandmother raised her in a reservation with her fivebrothers and sisters, because her mother was too busy working in Pierrehundreds of miles away from the reservation. This is a struggle for Marygrowing up because she never actually noticed racism until she grew older. Overthe years her grandmother taught her and her siblings how to becomeAmericanized but she still instilled some indigenous Sioux traditions withinthem. As Mary matures over the years she givesbirth to her son Pedro in April during the battle of Wounded Knee in 1973.
Shorty after she gave birth, the hands of the white men took her baby away fromher and she was thrown into Jail. Sadly, Indian woman experience differenttreatment gender wise than Indian men, although Indian men were treated badlyand killed as well. Indian woman in a sense got took advantage of by rape,murder, and involuntary sterilizations while seeing doctors. The Sioux culture changed for the worse,as Indian men became more isolated away from the families. According to MaryCrow, “Men were forced to live away from their children, so that the family canget ADC (Aid to Dependent Children), so in result some warriors come home drunkand beat up their wives in order to work off the frustration (Crow, 1990: 5).”Mary also faces pressure of being taken to a mission school at St.
Francis,which is run by Catholic nuns. She finds herself wanting to run away because oftheir strict rules that prevent her from expressing her true self. Mary’smother also pushes her to live and abide by white standards, which makes iteven harder for her to find and express her true identity. Due to the lack ofconnection between her and her mother she then runs away and meets up withothers during the summer, doing drugs and stealing when needed. Mary claimsthat they see no wrong doings in doing this because they’re only doing what hasbeen done to them in the past. Furthermore, Mary began to change her life forthe better and became a member of (AIM) the American Indian Movement, whichprompted her to leave the missionary school and seek out the native medicinemen. She met a man named Leonard crow who is a peyote priest as well as a medicineman. This helps her become more in touch with her true heritage and culture.
Various sectors of difference such asgender and race played a huge role in shaping the role of the Indian womenduring this time period. Through intersectionality she had to face the problemsof not only being an Indian but an Indian woman as well. Domestic violence inthe household plays a huge role in how woman were submissive to men because oftheir inferiority. This inferiority was encouraged through the reservations thatwere run by the federal government: the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.
“The BIAand its local superintendent controlled virtually all aspects of everyday life,including the reservation budget, the criminal justice system, and the schools.(Healey, 2012: 280).” This system of patriarchy negatively affected Marybecause she was forced to become “Americanized” by Catholic nuns, which alsochallenged her to find her true Indian Identity. From this system ofethnocentrism, it was hard for her to simply find herself because she had tolive up to the standards of those who were in power.
Throughout the autobiography the Indianwoman overall had it worse than their men counterparts even though they wereboth Indian. Mary and all her friends endured cases of rape at a young age,murder from drunken men, and involuntary sterilizations in the hospital. Genderalone was a threat to her happiness and social mobility, as in relation withwomen in American society.
In Americansociety, men tend to hold a superior status in society compared to women; forexample men tend to get paid higher wages than woman in general in society andoverall works in more white collar professions than women to work more in theblue collar and domesticated fields of work. In Nicked and Dimed, authorBarbara Ehrenrich stated that, “All I know is that I couldn’t hold two jobs andI couldn’t make enough money to live on with one, and I had advantagesunthinkable to many of the long-term poor. (Ehrenrich 1999: 16).” Men are deemed to be superior which shows howthe women in the novel were powerless against the men that oppressed them. Thisgives sight into how gender alone affected her personal experiences differentlythan her male counterparts. Her identity as a woman makes it hard for her to fightoppression with the dominant minority group. This shows that race alone is notenough to oppress you but gender played a huge role in shaping her lifethroughout the book.
In conclusion, her identity as a femalemakes matters even worse for her for fighting for equality in a systemcontrolled by white men. She struggles to find her identity through socialpressures of ethnocentrism by outside forces instilling in her to abide by theAmerican ways of life. Half of her wants to embrace her full-blood Indianheritage and the other half of her wanted to embrace her half white ethnicity. Shehas no support, because her family pushes her to become Americanized so shecould live life easier as an Indian Woman. It is until she meets the medicineman, Leonard, who helps her find her true identity and purpose as an Indianwoman in society. As she finds support through her husband this helps herovercome her obstacles of finding herself and her true identity as an Indianwoman. Bibliography Brien.
Race, ethnicity, gender, andclass: the sociology of group conflict and change. Thousand Oaks, CA: SagePublications, 2015. Healey, Joseph F., and Eileen O’ Bird, Mary Brave,and Richard Erdoes. LakotaWoman. New York: Grove Press, 2011.
Holden, Joan, and Barbara Ehrenreich. Nickeland dimed. New York: Dramatists Play Service, 2005. Word Count: 1,242