The movie “House Made of Dawn” (1972) is based on the novel by N. Scott Momaday. This movie vividly portrays the problems faced by many Native Americans and their national identity. The producers portray that many Native Americans are classless, so they are excluded from modes of collective action, have sought to show how rights to productive resources, credentials, party membership, lineage, etc., can all be distinct bases for social closure in the struggle for distributive advantage. This source is intended for a diverse target audience interested in the culture and tradition of Native Americans, their problems, and their difficulties. This movie is interesting, but it cannot be a good source for further research based on events and testimonies collected two decades ago. This survival of a close link between religion and ethnic identity helps to understand the way Americans tend to think and act (Parrillo 32). Globalization and integration processes have forced many Native Americans to assimilate and become a part of American society.
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In terms of sociological theory, it is possible to say that Native Americans are represented as underclass deprived of rights and freedoms available for the majority of Americans. Religion is the main factor that prevents Native Americans from entering the mainstream culture and be accepted by the majority of society. Mythology and unique religious practices are received as irrational and absurd by the majority. Native American culture and identity represent a unique combination of historical, economic, political, religious, and diverse cultural influences. Impressions and interpretation of the land and the traditions shaped American culture bringing unique beliefs and aspirations followed and shared by millions of Americans (Parrillo 44).
Low-class location prevents many Native Americans from obtaining social respect and opportunities available for the white and black majority. For instance, it is difficult for Native American families to give good education to their children. From an early age, their children are excluded from society. It means that they visit pre-school courses and sections for low-class families; they go to prestigious low schools. They receive poor primary education because of the social position of their parents. In ten years, Native Americans become workers or service employees unable to obtain a high-paid job and step over to a higher social class. Usually, the Native American culture consisted of a complex cultural role, and personal freedom is checked by the extended family and clan relations inside the community. Respect for, and cooperation with, the natural environment is essential for existence, according to this culture. For that reason, animals and plants are thanked for providing nourishment to the group. The main principles f religion and culture have survived to the present and are represented in ethnic values. At the Civil Rights Commission hearings, many of the Native Americans stated that diseases and drugs were the major problems affecting their people and that it is fueled by the non-Indian community, off-reservation commerce, which intentionally took benefit of this social ill for its profit. The movie shows that there is a call for closing all trade relations dealing with drugs and alcohol sales. In addition, the Native American community can be seen as an environment where there is a high concentration of substance abuse in the urban Indian ghettos, created by the federal policies of termination and relocation in the 1950s.
The most disturbing facts concern wrong social images of Native Americans depicted by the media. While much attention goes to larger groups such as African Americans and Hispanics or Latinos, increasingly Native Americans’ views are heard on the treatment of their people in the news media. Generally, their criticisms echo those of the larger groups, but in addition, Native Americans criticize the use of imagery. The movie depicts that mass media failed to understand Native American cultures, history, and treaty rights and misrepresented them when reporting conflicts such as those over natural land resources and water resources. They disapprove of mass media reporting on the rise of Native American casinos for not portraying objectively the tribal independence that makes them possible. Finally, mass media coverage is cited for too often depicting Native American people and communities as historical artifacts or museum pieces that have no contemporary existence. Mass media pays attention to preparing the audiences to understand a multicultural world. Thus, they create negative and ridiculous images of Native Americans though more notice to the larger African American and Latino or Hispanic groups; false and negative images of Native Americans are aimed to persuade the audience of the negative cultural and legal factors surrounding the life of Native Americans.
The movie depicts that the public opinion calls for civil commitment offering alcohol addicts incentives and services. Stress, portraying a self-image, and cultural pressure is found to be the indisputable causes of cultural decay. In terms of the crisis of identity is an interpretation of the self that establishes what and where the man is in both social and psychological terms. When one has identified one is situated; that is, cast in the shape of a social object by the acknowledgment of his participation or membership in social relations. Gender differences exist only in communities, which define and organize them. Related to the Native American community, gender identity includes the issue of what is the proper relationship of the person to society as a whole. If the causes of color and national differences are found in the widespread acceptance of the culture, the community structure is to be found in given social forms that provide shared messages and cultural principles that are entirely absent from the artificial world created by Native American men. In many cases, women are described as passive observers unable to resist alliance culture and traditions. From this perspective, mass media can never be neutral between competing ways of life but must preserve the form of life in which individuals are embedded. The males are not prior to social arrangements but constituted by them. This approach clearly undermines that purported universalism which characterizes much of normative mode and would seem to limit social criticism to an exploration of the meanings of forms of life.
In sum, unlike whiteness, which is rooted in the belief that whites are racially pure and that being white is genetically determined, Native Americans make no assumption that they are not ethically pure. Native Americans and whites in the United States offer strikingly different explanations for behavior. Whites come by this belief honestly enough, for their culture has taught them that blacks are inferior, degraded people, strong, stupid, and oversexed. Most Native American people, not all, really believe that behavior is determined by choice and that the choices made are moral ones. Native Americans come by this belief honestly enough, for their culture has taught them that some whites behave morally and others do not. Native Americans distinguish among whites who are racist, those who are antiracist, and those who claim that racism is no longer a force in American society. Native Americans draw these distinctions for the same reason as their ancestors; they do not have the luxury of pretending all whites are the same.
House Made of Dawn. Dir. By R. Morse. DVD. Alliance Universal, 1996.
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Parrillo, V. N. Strangers to These Shores. Allyn & Bacon; 7 edition, 2002.