african history


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Zuni Lucero and Simon Ortiz make compelling points in their papers. They talk about the differences in the two cultures. How they changed schools and saw both sides of their ever changing world at a young age. How being integrated into a white community changed them, and how they felt some what of an outsider going back to their native communities. Threw their writing they can elaborate and share these experiences to those of us who have only one culture to fit into.
     We all can relate to changing schools or even starting school for the first time. One who has never experienced this can only imagine being of a different culture, speaking a different language, looking differently and being the “new kid.” Lucero best describes this when she states, “Made conscious of the “otherness” of Indians, my world began to divide into a world of Us and Them.” Ortiz tells about her struggle in school to not speak a language he was accustoming to. “Children in school were punished and looked upon with disdain if they did not speak and learn English quickly and smoothly.” (30) He also uses the words “corporal punishment” and “ostracism” to describe the feeling, and possibly real, threats he lived with if he did not abide by the rules being forced on them. (30) This would be more than enough for any one to rebel, but he did not. One thing that stood out in his description of what he was enduring was the love he had for language. He states, “I loved language, the sound, meaning, and magic of language.” (30)
     Lucero connected with me she was telling about her adventure of seeing snow for the first time, and the different structures of the houses for what she was use to in her community. If one had not seen a paved road in their life, it would be a strange site. (30) The thought of what these people endured should enrage most of us. Think about our children being called “stupid Indian/savages.” There would be some one fighting in the street or some one suing some one else. Who could these people fight, an entire nation? Who would they sue, the government? It has been made clear that most of these people’s rights had been taken away. They were forced to conform or be ridiculed. Ortiz says it best with “… the intent of U.

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S. public policy was that Indians were no longer Indians.”(34) “I felt an unspoken anxiety and resentment against unseen forces that determined our destiny to be un-Indian, embarrassed and uncomfortable with our grand parents’ customs and strictly held values.” The pressure to conform was so great some did it with out the true understanding of what it would mean to them later. Would they adopt the “white way” or would they keep the “native way”? Lucero felt out of place in both worlds. “ I did not meet the reservation standard of Indianness. I did not speak Tiwa, grow up in the traditions, or know the social rules I was expected to Know. Ironically, I felt like an outsider among my own people.”(259)
     When these writers talk about writing in English being and “act of resistance” it is only to “spread the word” if you will. Many of us do not know the hardship and dilemma’s of the Native American people. We celebrate thanks giving , knowing these “savages” helped out ancestors to survive the harsh conditions of early life, yet we do not have a national holiday for the Native American people. We have a “African History” month, but no recognition for the Native American people.


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