Episode CXXIII – 123Cultural legacy

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On the American continent, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego we will find many different native cultures that structured their economy in hunting, fishing and agriculture that are deeply relating to the natural survival environment and totally related with their spiritual world.

Within this context, we know that the vocabulary of all indigenous languages lacks a word that means “religion”: their beliefs and spirituality were so intrinsically linked to everything that these indigenous people did, (be it economic, political, artistic, etc.) a term that was not necessary to designate them.

Native culture is the result of the raw material available, creativity and the desire to improve on a communal as well as on a personal level.

There is no culture common to all indigenous tribes and there is no common religion or spiritual life. There are no sacred texts or a mythology that all tribes believe in. However, in the particular mythology of each tribe there is always a Great Spirit, a greater god. There is also the belief that the earth’s natural resources should be used and that, if possible, something should be given in exchange or return for these. Furthermore, the spiritual leaders of the tribe (mistakenly called by the white “shamans”) were believed to be capable of communicating with the spirit world.

Although writing systems existed before the arrival of the colonists, the indigenous people did not put their history, beliefs or wisdom in writing the way of the white man did. Culture was transmitted orally from generation to generation. This has led some whites to take advantage of the knowledge of these tribes, since before oral tradition could be part of the Intellectual Property Law; some American companies had used medicinal and botanical knowledge of indigenous people to obtain economic benefit by becoming expropriators of tribal authors of the particular discoveries.

For whom the native culture is strange, they will not experience the spirit of a real vision and will not be able to live the ancestral feeling and connection.

Symbolism, folk rites, and tribal customs, and designs are a native way of life. Thieves of land, language, cultural identity and spiritual values are still going on in to our days.

Etnia Nativa is a tour de force of Native Aruban cultural criticism ranging widely across the terrains of the artistic, literary, philosophical, linguistic, historical, ethnographic, and sociological aspects of interpreting native stories. Etnia Nativa is rife with poignant and original observations and is an essential tour for anyone interested in islands Native American cultures and legacies.

Aruba should speak; the result could free the mind.

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