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Indian culture
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Indian culture

9a) I've heard that most native people don't "live off the land" any more. Have they not given up their language, culture, and uniqueness and thus any claim to be unique communities or nations?

What makes a person an Indian? Or an Italian or Honduran or Ukrainian or...

The underlying question - What makes a culture unique?

Does wearing blue jeans mean Japanese person is no longer Japanese? Does eating spaghetti mean a French person is no longer French?

Culture can be difficult to define but, at bottom, it seems to refer to those beliefs which tend to resist change over time. New tools, technology, even food, are often easily incorporated into a culture. Deep seated beliefs about how the world works, what is right and wrong, the basis of individual and community worth are much more resistant to change.

Following contact with white explorers and during the initial period of colonization, many native cultures on the coast were dramatically weakened as their population was decimated by disease. For example, 90% of the Haida were decimated by small pox. The loss of elders particularly devastating since they often carried much of the lore and wisdom of the nation. Residential schools - and other educational efforts - put tremendous pressure on some native languages, forcing them to the edge of extinction. But native culture persisted, some more strongly than other. They have adapted and incorporated many aspects of culture but still retain their own particular beliefs, customs, political, social, and religious systems. They remain distinct peoples.