Ethnocentrism refers to the belief that one’s culture or ethnicity is superior to another. Since the first contact between Alaskan natives and Europeans, the latter immediately developed the perspective that the natives were inferior in several ways. The Europeans thought that their language, customs and traditions were backward, leading them to impose their own version of civilization on the Alaskans.
The languages which the Alaskans had used for centuries were subjugated to second class. The Europeans and Americans had a policy of using the English language in education, meaning that less and less Alaskans could speak their language. The matter was compounded by the rapid decrease in Alaskan population of natives, meaning that ever fewer people were using the languages regularly. Use of native languages was discouraged through the use of laws which made it impossible for people to vote if they could not speak English.
Currently, most of the Alaskan native languages are near extinction. These languages have suffered greatly due to lack of use, and government policy. Currently, around 20 languages are used in Alaska. Most of these languages are on the verge of extinction. This is a sad turn of events, since the loss of these languages will separate future Alaskans form an important part of their heritage. There should a concerted effort by experts, under the auspices of the federal government to conserve these languages. This includes via the use of these languages in official government business.
3.Alaska’s archeological importance
Alaska and Russia were once connected by a land bridge, which was later induced by water after the end of the ice age thousands of years ago. Before this, people migrated from Asia to America, populating the Americas. Since the point of entry was Alaska, it is of utmost importance that the region is explored archeologically. Through Alaska, it might eventually e possible to understand how North, Central and South America, together with the Caribbean, were initially populated before European entry.
For centuries, Alaska has been inhabited by humans. It is however notoriously harsh, with freezing temperatures all year round, especially to the North. The region’ climate is one of the main reasons why it is so difficult to explore Alaska archeologically, as well as the lack of permanent settlements denoting previous occupation of the land. It is also vast, further complicating the archeological exercise.
4.Body art – Tattoos and piercings
Body art was an important part of Aleut culture. The Aleut got their first mark a few days after birth. A second part of the body art was ornamental, such that women who were of a higher social standing had more adornments than common women. On reaching puberty, women also received additional mark, to mark a transition from one phase of their lives to another. For men, maturity was marked with a tattoo as well, on killing their first animal.
In their marking, the Aleuts used a wide array of tools. They made their tattoos with color from coals, infused with urine. This made it more permanent. For the piercings, the women used needles made of walnut bone and ivory. The biological implication of the piercings was mostly seen in women. The women would get tattoos on the first menstruation, the first child, and as they grew older. A bigger need for the adornments was ornamental however, which may help explain why it was more common among the women who were well off.
5.Russian Influence on Aleuts
The Russians brought in European diseases with them. This helped wipe out large sections of the Aleut population, and made them weaker defensively.
The Russians enslaved him Aleuts so that they could start hunting otter skins and other materials for them. This meant that the Aleut way of life was disrupted form being free people to slaves who were exploited in their own country.
The Russians disrupted the trade that Aleuts had conducted with their neighbors for generations. This further weakened them, and made it easier for the Russians and Americans to colonize them.
Russian military campaigns against the Aleuts pacified them, which meant that they were unable to mount any defense when the need arose. For instance, the Russians came bearing guns, which meant that they were much more powerful than the Aleuts.
The Russians initiated the first studies on the Aleuts, in which the seeds of ethnocentrism were sown. It has consequently informed future contact between Alaskans and people of European descent.
Please discuss at least five methods of traditional surgery that were practiced by Alaska Native groups. Please be sure and cite which groups used the particular technique and how and why the procedure was done
Different environmental zones in Alaska (according to Langdon)
The distinct environmental zones in Alaska include coastal, continental, transitional and arctic. The coastal ecosystem allowed Alaskans to be dependent on fishing as the main source of food. The absence of wood in the arctic interior forced them to make boats out of animal bones and skin, known as kayaks, the continental and transitional climates meant that such areas were more inhabited than others, and saw more permanent dwellings, while the arctic interior forced people to live a nomadic lifestyle. It is important to know your place, since it helps in making the necessary adaptations to survive.
Ladies and Gentlemen. As the United States undertook steps to ensure that it emerged victorious in the World War II, it may have caused grievous harm to people around the world, and even its own people. One of the measures the wartime government took was to order the internment of native Aleuts in their own country. While this was taken so that they would not aid the enemy, it was a high handed and collective action, which led to the death and suffering of countless innocent people. On behalf of the government, the people of the United States and on my own behalf, I would like to apologize for the internment of Aleutians during the World War II, and the suffering this has brought on the survivors as well as the descendants.
Section II: Amaknak Bridge
Amaknak Bridge is located in Unalaska Bay, on the Aleutian Island of Amaknak. The prehistoric site extended 45 meters north to south, and 43 meters east to west. The site is built upon a bedrock knoll, on which other structures were later added. Much of the site was destroyed over time due to erosion and other adverse weather events. The site was first excavated in 1977, with others following in 2005 and 2006. Glen Bacon was among the first to carry out work on the site, recovering as many as 1000 artifacts. These included materials showing that the Islands had been inhabited for more than 3000 years. It also showed resemblance to sites in Russia making it possible that the people here could have migrated through the Islands. The artifacts also helped better understand the Alaskan culture and history.
The controversy in this site is based on the opinions of the scholarly community on one hand, and Alaskans on the other, about how the site should be treated and interpreted.
One side of the arguments has called for greater emphasis on conservation of the site so that it is not destroyed by human activity, including excavators’ activity. The Aleuts see this as an important way of discovering their history. Scientists however want to learn more about ancient Alaska, and one of the ways through which this can be done is through the excavation of the site and surrounding area. I think that both parties are right, and as such, a compromise should be reached. Scientists should be able to do their job. This should however be in strict accordance with professionalism and local sensibilities, especially due to the historical exploitation of native Alaskans.
“We were many, now we are few”
The Aleuts were once many, and a noble people. They dominated Alaska and the interior of Canada for millennia, subjugating all around them. In fact, the Aleuts were able to take slaves form among their neighbors whom they assigned hard manual labor.
The Russians came, and with them, they brought disease. The Russians also had cruel ways of making the Aleuts bend to their will. Where they could not get their way, they would kill the natives, sometimes wiping out whole villages. The Aleuts also suffered from slavery that they had once engaged in, as well as harassment.
Russian activities also meant food was no longer available. They became more and more dependent on the Russians, and replaced their way of life to concentrate on trade as a means of survival. Some of them were also transported to Siberia to alleviate a shortage of women there.
After all these, the natives had their population reduced by up to 80%. Today, many of their languages are extinct, due to the conditions they were exposed to in these years, and which in some cases persist.
The second part of the phrase “we were many, now we are few” is also rooted in what the Aleuts see as a decrease in their social standing. Being the ruling class, they were changed into slaves, who could be punished at will. Their culture was lost; they were converted to Christianity, and were put under a radical plan to learn English so as to guarantee their rights as citizens. This only succeeded in making the Aleuts feel less as a people, and therefore, few.
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