The Nacirema: Another Look
Written by Horace Miner, this essay of the people group Nacirema is an interesting look at their everyday functions. The tribe Miner describes is seemingly primal and uncivilized, and yet somewhat familiar. The entire account of these mysterious people describes unusual and strange behaviors and activities. The brief overview on the Nacirema is graphic from Miner’s point of view. When the meaning of the story becomes clear, the purpose for writing it becomes either humor or disdain.
In this article written by Miner, he describes the tribe of the Nacirema vividly and descriptively. The Nacirema are a tribe known for only twenty years. When they were discovered there was almost no information on them. They are a North American tribe that exists between the Canadian Cree, the Yaqui and Tarahumare of Mexico, and the Carib and Arawak of the Antilles (Miner). This area, with further investigation, is the area of the United States of America. The location alone causes the reader to be alert for Miner’s motives.
The Nacirema are unique followers of the market system, and live in a rich natural habitat. This primitive market system takes up much of the inhabitant’s time. However the people spend a large block of time in daily ritual activity. This tribe does not worship the soul like prominent religions but they worship the body. They believe the body is ugly and prone to injury and sickness. So to alleviate the problem they perform many rituals and ceremonies. In each home there is a ritual center where these actions take place. These centers are so important that all wealthier tribesmen have more than one. The shrines are located in the family home but the performance of the ritual itself is personal and practiced behind closed doors.
The shrine rooms contain small boxes built into the wall. The chest holds many charms and magical potions that are the basis for these people’s lives. At the bottom of each box is a small font. These fonts play a significant part in the rituals. Sometimes they sprinkle holy water over the font. This holy water is distributed from the regional Water Temple.
After medicine men there are “holy-mouth-men” who do barbaric and painful rituals on the tribes-people’s mouths. These rituals are continued in the home involving hog hair on sticks and certain powders in a ritual done by the tribe every day.
This tribe has many sadistic health related rituals along with the tooth check-up. Many are far more painful, and happen on scheduled dates...