Culture and Identity
Culture and identity plays a very significant role in the development of individuals and communities. Each community has different cultures and these cultures identify where an individual comes from. It is thus easy to identify a person based on their cultures. Since different communities have different cultures, it will be quite challenging for one person to interact with members of a different culture without difficulties. Living with members of a different culture may result to a lot of disappointments or discrimination since the members of the dominant cultures will always perceive themselves to be superior to the individuals from different cultural groupings. The paper will thus analyze a story of a woman who had to live with members of two different cultures before finally going back to her own culture. This happened to a girl known as Olive Oatman who was captured and became a slave after her family was killed by a cruel tribe who decided to take as a slave. She was then traded for and taken to another tribe which she attributes for saving her life. This was then followed by her return to her native culture before getting married.
Olive Oatman’s chin tattoo is a sign of acceptance in one culture, but a social stigma in another. For this reason, Oatman’s story reveals how cultural definitions of the body and in particular physical disability-shape a person’s identity
Olive was captured by a tribe called Yavapai at the age of fourteen. This was after her family was killed by the tribesmen who rendered her an orphan. She watched as her family was being wiped out. The tribesmen also looted all the food and properties that belonged to her family. The cattle they were traveling with were slaughter and the food looted. This was quite an agony for her at the tender age. During the time she was taken as a slave together with her sister. The members of the tribe would mock her, beat her up and mistreat her. Despite all this she was not supposed to complain. This was mainly because the tribe viewed complains during torture as a sign of weakness and it could only attract more torture. She was treated with a lot of disrespect for the one year that she lived with the Yavapai tribe. She had to take care of the children and do other odd jobs. During her slavery, she was able to study the culture of the people and even learned their language. This was important as she was able to know more about the people. It was also common for the children to be taken as slaves (Mifflin 4).
Since she could not live permanent with the tribe, she was sold to another tribe which she credits for saving her life. This was mainly because the tribe called the Mohoves had a better culture compared to her captors. The women had more freedom and say in the community compared to her own cultures. She was even tattooed and became part of the community. She was able to learn a lot about the cultures of this new community which she lived with for four years. The cultures were quite different in many aspects. The girls were married early and most of them had to loose their virginity early. This s mainly because the cultures of this tribe considered sex as an act of fun and so he girls had to learn it early. The culture was very open as the children and adults shared one room. After the four years, there was a looming war and the Mohaves were not willing to be involved in it. Olive was thus handed back to her people. She was ashamed as she did not know how they will think of her considering how she had changed. She was even wearing the clothes of the Mohave tribe. However, she eventually went back and got married to a banker.
Making Connections with the “The Johnson’s Plight: Role of Captivity on Anglo American Identity”
Another story by Blaine with the same implications of culture is that of the Johnson’s family at Charles town, New Hampshire. This story highlights the plights in which the captives have to undergo. They are treated as objects and their liberty is not granted at all, they have to live by the rules in which they are exposed to. This plays a major role in the erosion of their cultures and their identity. The family was captured by the Native Americans and the efforts to save them did not bear any fruit. This was mainly because America was involved in conflicts with Britain. The state of the security had thus weakened and the people had to be captured by the natives. The females were the most affected with the exposure to sexual exploitation and other forms of discrimination. Their children had to adopt the cultures of the natives which played a critical part in eroding their own. The captives also discovered that their individual identities were lost and they could not do anything about it. This was mainly because they were affected by the cultures of the natives (Blaine 5).
The story is thus similar to that of Olive. This is mainly because the captives find themselves getting involved in different cultures from their own. This plays a big role in the loss of identity among the captives. They are forced to abandon their own cultures and embrace the new ones as their refusal will attract a lot of punishment from the captors. It is this evidence that their identities become distorted as they can not be identified by their own cultures either can they be identified by the cultures of the natives. The captives are thus stuck in the middle with the fear of being rejected by their own people in case they meet again. It is also evident that the identities of the captives change forever even when they go back to their homeland. This according to both situations highlights the plights that the captors will have to undergo before finally settling back to their own.
Making Connections with “Identity Negotiating- Redefining Stigmatized Identities”
Living with disabilities can be quite challenging in the current world. This is considering the stigma that is attached to it. The causes of disabilities could be natural or through accidents and diseases. Sporting activities, on the other hand, is quite popular among most people. The sports are mainly for the purpose of recreation and body fitness. Everyone including the disabled will always have an interest in certain sporting activities. This article by Lindernburgh thus highlights the effects of recreational sporting activities on the disable. Most of the sports can be modified to fit the disabled people. The sporting activities are quite useful and will help the disabled become fit and also relieve mental stress. The article thus interviewed several disabled people in a bid to find out how they are perceived in the society as compared to the sporting events. It was quite evident that the disabled are perceived as incompetent and cannot perform anything (Lunderburg 2).
This situation, therefore, makes them become quite stressful as they are perceived to have no identity. The stigma involved makes their situation become even more complicated. Using the sporting activities, they will always try to prove to the society that they are capable of making achievements. This situation is therefore compared to negotiating for their identity since they have to prove to the society that they are also capable of sporting. The negotiation makes them seem to have no identity at all. This situation is similar to that of Olive as being in a different culture one is always undermined and is usually considered very inferior. This issue, therefore, makes the disadvantaged to try and prove to the wider society that they too have a culture and identity. The situation is thus quite relevant to the identity of the disabled people in the society. She had to do a lot in order to prove to the society that she was not inferior but was just like them despite the difference in culture. Through these actions, she was able to win the heart of the children she used to take care of.
Making Connections with “Disability – The reluctant Identity”
According to the article written by Charlton, it is evident that people will always identify themselves with certain aspects. People will always grow up knowing that they belong to certain races, age, sex and even culture. This is mainly based on the assumption in the society or the fact that one may posses certain physical characteristic. This will therefore determine the identity of a person. On the other hand, it is evident that people with disabilities will always be identified with certain objects and aspects. The society will always view people walking with the white cane as blind and those walking with the wheelchairs and crutches as crippled. However some consideration is usually not put in place when making such assumptions. The issue of how the disabled identify themselves (Charlton 6).
Most disabled people do not consider themselves as being disabled. This is mainly associated with the reluctant identity. Most of the people who are disabled are reluctant to identify themselves as disabled due to the stigma that exists with it. The people with disabilities will thus want to be identified as the other people without any disability. It is with this view that the story of Olive is quiet relevant. Although she was involved in different cultures, she did not want to be despised. With this effect, she had to learn the local language so as to be identified with it. She did not want to be considered as white and thus she was reluctant to be identified by her own cultures. This is despite the fact that she knew deep down that she was white and that had been her culture of origin. The natives had a nature of despising the white and considering them to be inferior and being identified by it was key to trouble. This reluctant indentity therefore influenced Olive the same way it influences the disabled.
It is quite evident that culture and identity plays an important role in an individual. This is mainly considering that individuals may have different backgrounds. The story of Olive also portrays how difficult it can be for one to live among different culture. It is evident that living in different cultures bears a lot of impacts on the identity of the individual. On the other hand the lack of identity may lead to a lot of oppression as highlighted in the case of the disabled. It is also evident that some people will be reluctant to be identified due to the impacts of bearing certain identities.