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Exhibit on Native American Culture

Before Christopher Columbus sailed into the Caribbean and discovered a New World, the American continent was already inhabited by natives. It is a well-known fact that he made the mistake of calling these natives Indians because he though he was in India. Later on historians, as well as the new arrivals from Europe were able to make the necessary corrections and thus the natives are now called American Indians or Native Americans. Their significance lies in the fact that they were the first inhabitants of this continent.

This means that if European settlers that now form the majority of the American population have the right to self-preservation then the Native Americans have the same rights and privileges too. But as the U. S. continues to evolve into a multi-cultural society there is now an increasing clamor to preserve the past and this idea was expounded by one historian who said, “While few will argue that much Native culture has been lost, the challenge for today’s is to reclaim and preserve as much as possible, while upholding and maintaining cultural expression in contemporary life…” (Champagne, 10).

One way of preserving Native American culture is to share it to the public and there is no better way than to stage an exhibit. While cultural exhibits are nothing new the challenge is to create something that will generate a significant impact into the lives of the visitors. The keys for success are appreciation for Native American culture and to retain as much information as possible. The main goal therefore is to create a highly informative as well as a highly interactive exhibit. In the past exhibits – such as those found in most museums – can easily bore newcomers, especially the younger generation accustomed to multi-media presentation.

Moreover, the difficulty of staging highly creative exhibits is exacerbated by the comments of critics who tried to limit the younger generation in experimenting with new methods of presentation. Musser said that the critics could not adapt to a changing world, “The critics based their criticism on the traditional museum design, which is based on scholarship” (Musser, par. 4). The visitors are forced to read text pasted near display windows and there is nothing that can kill enthusiasm as quickly as that. Thus, in regards to the proposed exhibit that will be staged in the local library the proposal is to fully utilize modern technology.

The best way to do this is to hire a company to custom-build a TV monitor with “touchscreen” capabilities. The size of the monitor should be comparable to a standard-sized blackboard. In this way instead of posting picture and other visual aids into the walls of the library the said TV monitor will act as an interactive tool where visitors can touch the screen to manipulate it and show images, texts, videos, music, documentaries etc. For instance there is tab that when activated by touch will play traditional Native American music.

This will be an instant hit for the younger generation who will come to visit the exhibit. But even with adults, the touchscreen TV will be more interesting than merely reading scholarly information regarding Native American culture. The use of the senses by touching, hearing, and sight will allow visitors to remember a greater amount of information as compared to their previous experiences with traditional types of exhibits or museums. The touchscreen TV can be complemented by hiring professional dancers to perform a tribal dance that will surely enhance the learning experience of visitors.

It will still be scholarly but very much interesting. Health Issues It is a well-known fact that modern living is one of the major causes of health problems in the 21st century. This means that people who lived a century or so ago were not prone to preventable deaths caused by diseases such as hypertension and cancer (Native American Cancer Research, par. 2). But aside from unhealthy practices such as eating fast food, not having enough time for sleep and play there is another leading cause for the high incidence of mortality in America and this is tobacco-related diseases.

Chemicals found in tobacco are known to be cancer-causing. What is more surprising is the fact that a significant number of Native Americans succumb to cancer and the most common are types of cancer linked to tobacco and nicotine. While smoking-related cancer is a serious health problem for all Americans, this health issue is more difficult to manage when it comes to Native Americans because of three reasons (Mahoney & Michalek, 266): 1. American Indians have among the poorest survival rates from cancer of minorities in the United States;

2. Communication barriers often exist among American Indians and health care providers as well as researchers; and 3. Cancer prevention and control intervention programs are not yet well established and requires continuous evaluation and accountability. There is much work to be done in terms of establishing prevention, treatment, and recovery programs. First of all health workers and volunteers must be well aware of the fact that there is a major difference when it comes to the educational attainment of most Native Americans.

There is a need to assess the level of comprehension especially for those who had resided in an Indian reservation for the majority of their lives. Thus, health workers and volunteers who will assist in teaching prevention must also be aware of the kind of technical language that will be used in order to foster genuine communication with the Native Americans who will come to the health center. The main goal is not to impress but to help. Prevention is made more effective if Native Americans will learn of the inherent danger of using tobacco products.

For instance, Native Americans must be informed that there is a high risk of cancer prevalence with those who use smokeless tobacco. According to Rainingbird, nicotine coming from smokeless tobacco can be absorbed in amounts that are two or three times greater than ordinary cigarettes (Rainingbird, par. 2). He also added that this type of tobacco consumption can cause mouth and lip cancers. Secondly, health workers and volunteers must be able to guide patients especially those who are already diagnosed with cancer.

If there is a tendency for Native Americans to rely on natural cures such as herbal medicine then it is at this point that they needed to fully understand the best treatment program available and that it is not safe to rely on traditional medicine especially when it comes to dealing with cancer. Thirdly, there is a need to evaluate prevention and treatment programs on a regular basis. This is because there is still very little research data concerning Native Americans suffering form cancer (Mahoney & Michalek, 264). The health center must be the starting point in improving health care services for the said minority group.

It must also be noted that the aforementioned treatment and prevention programs will be made more difficult by the fact that there exists cultural diversity within the Native American community. It would be easier if the health center will only deal with one tribe but the truth is there is more than one tribe in the area, each with its own set of beliefs and traditions especially when it comes to medicine and healing. American Indian Spirituality Sometimes Christians are very passionate to share the gospel that they demonstrate unguided zeal.

Thus, instead of effectively communicating the advantages of their religion they create the opposite effect which is alienation and hostility. This is understandable especially when one party believes in the inherent superiority in their beliefs much to the chagrin of the unbelievers who will hear the Christian religious message for the very first time. In order for the mission team to prevent this from ever happening there is a need to get a deeper understanding of Native American culture, specifically when it comes to their religious beliefs.

Christians believe that God is in heaven and that two thousand years ago he sent his only son Jesus to save the world from sins. His sacrifice on the cross made it possible for all mankind to be reconciled to God – for his Son Jesus already paid the price in full. This is very straightforward and can easily be explained even to a small child but there is one problem when it comes to Native Americans, they have a belief system very different from that of the Christians. Instead of simply believing in a God in heaven, the Native Americans strongly believe in their spiritual link to Mother Earth.

According to one study Native Americans believe that, “There are sacred sites in your own backyard. Your world is sacred. She is filled with sacred springs, caves, mountains, stone circles, old growth trees … The land in our own backyard is a doorway into the sacred world” (GoodMorningAmerica, par. 1). The Native Americans believe that the whole earth is God. But their belief system is not only limited to the fact that the whole creation, the whole earth is part of divine but their spirituality is also marked by their interaction with the spirit world.

The American Indians are not merely passive observers they interact and therefore they are convinced that that they can communicate with the sacred natural environment around them. Aside from their belief that they can communicate with living things they are also fond with circles and round things. An American Indian chief was able to put it succinctly when he said, “Everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the power of the world always works in circles, and everything tries to be round … Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing” (Drake, par. 2).

These are just a few things to remember before embarking on that mission. There is a need not only to have an overview of Native American spirituality there is also a need to study the specific target tribe. For instance the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is home to the Oglala Sioux tribe. First time missionaries must do some research first regarding their beliefs before they proceed to share the gospel. If there is no investment in terms of preparation and deeper understanding of the target group then the Christians will never be able to find common ground and communicate effectively with the Native Americans.

The worst case scenario is that they will offend the members of the tribes by being insensitive to their culture and belief system. By having enough knowledge to help them understand Native American spirituality, they can tailor their message to make it easily comprehensible for the American Indians residing in Pine Ridge. For instance they can use their beliefs as a launching pad for sharing the gospel. It has been mentioned earlier that the Native Americans worship the Earth and the living and non-living things found in it are considered sacred.

Thus, one possible way to convincing them to take interest in Christianity is to explain that if they find strength and comfort in worshipping creation then how much better will they feel if they come to know the Creator. Works Cited Champagne, Duane. Contemporary Native American Cultural Issues. California: Alta Mira Press, 1999. Drake, Daniel. “Lives of Celebrated American Indians. ” Boston, Bradbury: Soden & Co. 1843, p. 283-87. Available from http://www. godquest. org/native%20american. htm

Good Morning America. “The Path of the Feather: A Shamanic Journey, Medicine Wheels, and Spirit Animals. ” Accessed 10 December 2008 Avaiable from http://www. pathofthefeather. com/pof5. htm/ Mahoney, M & A. M. Michalek. “Cancer Control Research Among American Indians and Alaska Natives: A Paradigm for Research in the Next Millenium. ” Contemporary Native American Cultural Issues. Ed. Duane Champagne. CA: Alta Mira Press, 1999. Musser, Christine. “American Indian Museum: Dedicated to Preserving Culture and

Traditions. ” Accessed 10 December 2008 Available from http://nativeamericanfirstnationshistory. suite101. com/ article. cfm/american_indian_museum Native American Cancer Research. “The Native American Cancer Education for Survivors (NACES). ” Acccessed 10 December 2008 from http://natamcancer. org/ Rainingbird, Gerry. “Native American Tobacco Education Fact Sheets: Tobacco Facts. ” Accessed 9 December 2008 from http://natamcancer. org/downloads/02-18- 07_TobFactSheet-Facts. pdf

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