Resistance to Cultural Conformity

Essay by BigJimManCollege, UndergraduateA, May 2008

download word file, 6 pages 3.0

The United States has been dubbed the "melting pot" because it has been associated with the assimilation of many cultures to that of a homogenized, American culture. Groups that initially regarded themselves as independent entities have found it increasingly difficult to practice their beliefs, especially when cross-cultural interactions precipitate conflict. However, despite pressures to conform, the Ojibwe and Hmong cultures have been remarkably resilient. Their refusal to conform to the melting pot metaphor can be attributed to conflicts with the state and its inability to incorporate their cultural belief systems. Therefore, for the Hmong and Ojibwe, as presented in Larry Nesper's The Walleye War and Anne Fadiman's The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, conflict becomes a culturally constructive expression.

Violating was an integral aspect of Ojibwe culture, and has also played a very important role in the Ojibwe's refusal to conform to the melting pot metaphor. Violating was regarded as an integral element to Ojibwe identity, and its practice was a significant transition to manhood for Indian boys.

Therefore, threats of forcing conformity onto the Ojibwe people were opposed and this opposition actually facilitated stronger cultural distinctness. Nesper related how Ojibwe men exhibited defiance towards the wardens by hiding on the seat floors of non-Indian friends so that they could continue to hunt during the offseason, or how they led wardens astray so Ojibwe fishermen could escape with a bounty of fish.1Furthermore, expressions of conflict were employed to coincide with Ojibwe cultural belief systems. Whereas monotheistic cultures view nature as a domain that reproduces in spite of human appropriation, the Ojibwe belief emphasizes the reciprocal exchange with the spirit world. This reciprocity is achieved through gifts such as drumming, singing, dancing, and smoking, as well as the sacrifice of animals and the subsequent distribution of their bodies...