Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Third Way: Between a Rock and a Hard Place



        The O’Odham nation is conflicted. There are some who believe that the tribe should strive at every opportunity to revive the old ways, to abandon modernity and its trappings, and to turn inward. Then there are those who believe that the traditional ways have had their time and that now the tribe should work towards becoming modern at the expense of the traditional. This conflict between the traditional and the modern is not limited to Sells, in fact these conversations have been happening across Latin America for hundreds of years. The rich history of academia, conflict, and experimentation around Indigenousness and European Modernity has some lessons that the O’Odham would be wise to heed:

1.      American Culture is a Mess

The culture of the Americas is unique. It is not solely indigenous, nor is it just European; American culture is the synthesis of both. And as with any such mixture, it cannot be separated. (You can’t have tacos without both corn (native) and beef (European))

2.      Cultural Extremism Doesn’t Work

While it is true that a number of extremist parties have come to power in Latin America, cultural extremism, the attempted suppression of either the indigenous or European elements of American culture, does not work. The reason cultural extremism doesn’t work is because at a fundamental level most people in the Americas reflect the culture of the Americas. So when a government targets all indigenous or European elements of culture, they are targeting the majority of the people (The Shining Path (indigenous), Porfiriato (modernity)).

These are simplified points but they hold true in Latin America and they should inform the O’Odham that instead of choosing just the traditional or just the modern, they can take the best of both.

1 comment:

  1. Well one can opt for flour tortillas, but yuck.

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