A Contrast between Native American and African Cultures
Native American and African American cultures had a long history before each group encountered the white man. Each group possessed its own cultural norms, beliefs, social groupings, unique languages, myths, religions, art, and music and dance traditions among other cultural aspects. This paper will analyze the dress codes for each group, food, cultural customs as well as social norms.
Comparison of their Interactions with the White Man
What is described as the Native American population actually refers to more than 500 distinct groups (Jackson, 1995). The white man often claimed that it was justifiable to remove the savagery from these folk by Christianizing them. Those who refused the salvation were killed which led to a genocidal assault on the natives during the 19th century.
On the other hand, the Africans were being brought into America in slave ships under deplorable conditions. The Africans were captured and traded from the western coasts of Africa and shipped off into the Americas to be slaves. While they were enslaved primarily for profit, the white man enslaved the Native Americans to ‘help’ them by making them work so as to learn the ways of the white man.
There are similarities between the cultures of the Native Americans and the Africans. Music was a critical aspect in both cultures. The Africans brought with them distinct music styles, rhythms and strange musical instruments. Both cultures also celebrated births, and the changing of seasons using music. Music was also a constant in burials, and when the tribes were preparing for battle.
There are some huge differences between the two groups when it comes to the influence of music. Music in the African American society has grown to influence popular culture and other spheres of American life. For instance, Blues and Jazz originated from Call and Response where one person would sing while picking cotton and the others would respond in repetitive lyrical answers. On the other hand, Native American music has not been able to permeate the entire American fabric and it is only popular during cultural events such as the Pow-wow.
The economic activities of Native Americans and the African Americans were completely different. The Native Americans relied solely on hunting and gathering as an economic activity. They also made their weapons from stones. The African population relied heavily on agriculture for economic survival. During the 18th century, there was a powerful African-Indian alliance which resulted in the run away African slaves teaching the Indians how to cultivate rice in the Seminoles and Florida.
It can be said that both cultures believed in animism, the belief that nature is filled with spirits that human beings can communicate with. These spirits can be harmful or helpful depending on the interaction between them and man. Both cultures worshipped these spirits in order to appease them.
Jackson, J.M (1995). Native American Population Patterns. Geographical Review, 185-201.