Native American & Alaska Native Cultural Project

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Cultural Project: Native Americans and Alaska Natives

Introduction
The outline and presentation for this assignment generally follows the presentations from Giger’s (2009) Application of Assessment and Intervention Techniques to Specific Cultural Groups. There are over 500 Federally Recognized tribes in the U.S., plus some additional tribes recognized by states, plus unknown number of smaller unrecognized tribes. Many are also divided into clans and loosely categorized into major groups. While it is impossible to totally generalize across such a broad spectrum, the scope of this project and the focus of the information compiled are of the generalized Native American/Alaskan Native. Where appropriate the Alaskan Native is separated within a topic, but there is no separate Alaskan Native chapter. This was done because it would be impossible to compare and contrast even the several largest tribes, as much of the statistical data and research is lumped together as “American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN)”. For this paper the decision was made to use the term Native American rather than American Indian, as it more accurately identifies the current populations with the original indigenous peoples who were their ancestors. There may be uses of the term American Indian where a table or direct source information is used.

Dedicated to KE, Native American and good friend

CONTENTS

Introduction2

History and Heritage6

Pre-Contact (Pre-Columbian) Period6

Post-Contact8

Biological Variations10

Health Risk Factors10

Nutritional Preferences14

Physical Characteristics15

Culture and Customs16

Social Culture and Customs16

Family16

Religious Practices17

Education and Work17

Communication18

Cultural Health Care Practices19

Protection19

Native Healers and Folk Medicine19

Health Care20

Responsibility20

Barriers to Seeking Health Care21

Health Care Providers22

Cultural Responses to Illness and Aging22

References24

Author Note28
History and Heritage

The Alaskan Natives and Native Americans peoples, bearing the distinction of being the first Americans, share the same heritage of the hunter-gathers from the Siberian tundra who crossed into Alaska probably following game herds, probably some 30,000 years ago (Gascoigne). The history and heritage of the Native Americans and Alaska Natives is viewed in two parts, before and after the coming of the explorers from Europe and Asia. These peoples flourished over the continents, adapting to virtually any environment. The population estimates for North and South America at the end of the Pre-Contact period vary widely, ranging from 10 million to 100 million, with the current consensus of opinion being about 54 million. This includes approximately 50,000 living in the far northern areas, and 25, 000 Inuit living in Alaska (Wikkipedia).

Pre-Contact (Pre-Columbian) Period

The timelines vary somewhat among the scientific communities, but the generally accepted pre-contact period lasts from 24000 BCE (Before Common Era) until the “discovery” of the American continents. The Alaskan Native communities remained isolated for about 200 years longer than the Native American communities, until mid-1700, when Russian traders established posts along the Alaskan coast. Historyworld (Gascoigne) provides an in-depth historical timeline. See Table 1 for highlights of the Pre-Contact timeline.

Table 1
Pre-Contact Timeline

|DATES |EVENTS | |24000 BCE |Land bridge from Siberia across the Bearing Strait called Beringia, which is one thousand miles wide & | | |lasted about 10,000 years as an open space of grass and tundra....
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