Disruption of a Cultural Identity: An Examination of Lakota Identity
Anderson, Amy, 1980-
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In discussing the present situation of Native Americans in the United States, it is important to understand the extent to which government policies have been inflicted upon Indians, specifically the Lakota, in the past as well as the motives and implications of these policies. The historical relationship between Indians and the U.S. government is illustrated by government ordained practices, such as the educational system and land acquisition procedures, which resulted in the consequential weakening of the Indian culture. The Lakota of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation are an example of how the government effectively dismantled a cohesive identity through legal, religious, and educational intervention. However, the Lakota have developed certain coping methods through the oral tradition and religion on order to deal with their fractured identity as well as to counter the encroaching white culture. As the traditional Lakota identity was constructed by wouncage, oral tradition, and religion, it will become evident throughout this paper as to how government policies are antithetical to these traditions, thus weakening the Lakota identity. Two themes, land acquisition and assimilation, are evident in the policies and acts passed by the government. These themes are carefully examined throughout this paper.
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