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Culture: It Makes Us Who We Are

1317 words - 5 pages

According to Webster’s Dictionary, culture is defined as tradition or a way of life. It is also a defining principle in how we live our life and the type of people we become. The Salish Indians of the Montana and Celie, the main character of the book The Color Purple, are two examples of cultures that made them who they are. Celie is a poor, black, woman growing up in Memphis, Tennessee in the mid-twentieth century. The men have constantly put her down, through beatings and rape, for being a woman with no talent at all. Her husband’s lover comes to town and gives Celie a chance to see a culture where a woman can stand up for herself and teaches her that love is possible. The Salish on the other hand have a culture that has gone on through the ages and still is a part of each person today despite the obstacles they have had to face. Culture does shape us because from birth it is what tells us our ideals, laws, and morals that we live by each day.
The Salish culture does shape the kind of people they are today because it is still such a prominent part of their daily life. Although today they have parts of their government and laws similar to those in the United States, they also have parts of their government that are unique in itself. Their unique government goes back to before the white men and the reservations started in 1891 when the Salish tribe “was forced to move north to Flathead reservation…. forced to select individual allotments of land.” If their government system as well as their location had been changed, the Salish would have different ideas regarding governmental system. The Salish beliefs have been passed along through the ages, affecting every Salish person today. Louis Adams, a Salish elder who spoke to our English class at Kootenai Creek, said, “The animals are always watching to make sure their story is being passed along.” This is a belief of his culture that has been passed to him and influences what he believes today. Had Louis Adams grown up in a different culture, he would have been told different stories or none at all, making him a different person because his beliefs would be different. The Salish culture is one that many Salish themselves believe have influenced their life and shaped who they are today. Paula Allen Gunn, the author of the article “We Are the Land” said, “We are the land. To the best of my understanding, that is the fundamental idea embedded in Native American life and culture…[the land] is rather a part of our being, dynamic, significant, real.” To the Natives, including the Salish, the land, in other words the culture, makes them who they are because it is such an integral part of each of them. To the Salish, their culture is their life in all aspects.
Celie, the protagonist of The Color Purple, was shaped by her culture because it brought her so many experiences that put her on her life path. The male dominance in her culture caused her to allow herself to be beaten and put down by the men...

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