Cultural Identity

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Ticia R. Grant
June, 1, 2011
Bridging Course for Women
Assignment #2
Course Director: Brenda L. Blondeau

The Consequence of Cultural Identity

To understand the significant effect that our cultural background has on our identity, we

must acknowledge the advantages provided by the sense of unity, of belonging to

something bigger, and of collectively sharing a heritage with others. In contrast, someone

who feels disconnected with said heritage might feel deprived of that highly sought after

sense of belonging, which in turn can lead to a feeling of not knowing who they should

be, a lack of identity. It is the causes and effects of this conflict that Apryl Gladue

describes in her writing, and she makes the clear argument that the cycle of deprivation of

her predecessor’s native culture is likely to keep repeating itself. This, in essence, is

cause of the mourning of “paper” Indians. Gladue coins this term “paper Indians” which

she uses to refer to Native Americans who have learned their culture only through

classes, in school and on paper. The term is also meaningful in the sense that according to

government documentation, she is of Native status; however she was not raised or

brought up as such.

In addition to outlining the difficulties she has faced in losing her mother and her

connection to her heritage, she also speaks of her triumphs despite her crises of identity.

To quote Gladue on page 206 she writes “Unsure of how to make my way in the world, I

soon formed my own identity in academics.” I believe this was a defining and

transitional time for Gladue, as she no longer identified herself as being either white or

Native but rather as a part of the academic community, wherein nationality, creed,

gender, social status and even age are often overshadowed by an individual’s intellect and

ability. She describes being admitted to the legal bar and pursuing a career as...
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