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Nacirema Culture and Rituals

Who are the “Nacirema”?

The Nacirema can be described as people of North American who lives in the Canadian Cree, the Yaqui and Tarahumare of Mexico, and the Carib and Arawak of the Antilles. There is little information concerning where these people came from even though their tradition holds that they originated from the east. The Nacirema hold the myth that they owe their origin to a culture hero, Notgnishaw, who is credited for his amazing strength. It is believed that Notgnishaw was able to throw a piece of wampum across river Pa-To-Mac, and chopped down a cherry tree that was home to the Spirit of Truth.

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The Nacirema have a culture that emphasizes on a market economy, and it has been developed in a natural habitat. Though the Nacirema are known for their economic pursuits, it has been noted that they spent most of their resources and time on ritual activities. Among the Nacirema, ritual activities focus on the human body. It is believed that the human body is ugly, and has a natural tendency to weakness and illness. Therefore, rituals and ceremonies are meant to help individuals prevent such characteristics of the human body.

What are the main problems of the “Nacirema”?

The main problem of the Nacirema is that they have placed too much belief in the rituals and ceremonies which are not relevant in modern times. The medicine men are greatly revered, and they are usually rewarded by numerous gifts for their services. The Nacirema engage in numerous rituals; however, the ceremonies conducted in the latipso stand out as a unique experience. The latipso is a temple in which rituals and ceremonies concerning the seriously sick individuals are conducted by medicine men. These temple ceremonies are not beneficial to the sick as most of them succumb to their illness while undergoing the rituals. This has made children resist any attempts to be taken to the latipso for fear that they will die.

Nevertheless, the Nacirema have continued to hold onto the latipso rituals. It is noted that, despite the truth that individuals loose their lives while undergoing the latipso rituals, adults are more willing and eager to participate in the rituals. The Nacirema are well entrenched in this ritual, and do not seek emergence medical assistance from the conventional healthcare facilities. To make matters worse, the guardian of the temples do not admit anyone who has not paid the substantial gift to the custodian. In this regard, emergence services are not offered on the basis of humanity, and it is only when one is able to pay for the protracted ritual purification that he or she is allowed to undergo latipso rituals. Even after one has been cured, he or she is only allowed to leave after another gift is paid to the custodian.

If you had an opportunity to help the “Nacirema” overcome their problems, how would you assist them in overcoming their problems?

The Nacirema’s problems lie in the manner in which they are entrenched in their healing rituals and ceremonies. Also, they seem to be giving more value to the ‘gift to the custodian’ than to the sick individual. It is a challenge to help these people overcome their biggest problem. This is because only the outsider sees the Nacirema’s rituals as problematic; but to them, there is no big deal. Nonetheless, it will take a while trying to introduce conventional medicine to these people. If it can be possible, sick people in this community should be given conventional medicine, and allowed to undergo their rituals for their psychological comfort. This is because it will be impossible to make these people to leave their practices which have been observed for centuries.

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