Native American and Cherokee Heritage Populations

Cultural Group: Native American

History and Language

  • Were native to North American continent;
  • Were discovered by Europeans: 15th century;
  • Lived in tribes with own hierarchies;
  • Speak multiple languages depending tribe belonging;
  • Were oppressed and put in reservations.


  • Have unique belief systems and traditions;
  • Family is seen as cornerstone of society;
  • The elderly are valued and respected;
  • Practice Christian and Native tribal religions;
  • Ceremonies reinforce their values and beliefs.


  • Both collective and individual art exists;
  • Art objects serve a functional purpose;
  • Art could be religious and political;
  • Natural materials were used as art;
  • Art reflects belonging to tribes.

Lifestyle Characteristics

  • Today, Native Americans live regular lives;
  • They work a lot to sustain families;
  • Hunting and gathering are still present;
  • Most live in reservation territories (“Living conditions,” 2015);
  • Are very close to each other socially.

Relationship Patterns and Common Rituals

  • Close-knit relationships with family and friends;
  • Low population numbers keep communities close;
  • Family – the center of relationships;
  • Kinship status is highly valued within communities;
  • Tribes maintain sovereignty from the US.

Degree of Assimilation or Marginalization from Mainstream Society

  • The group has not assimilated successfully;
  • Reservations – a barrier from mainstream society (Brave, 2016);
  • Younger generations tend to do better;
  • Tribally-centered beliefs marginalize communities;
  • History of tensions limits assimilation significantly.

Health Behaviors and Practices

  • High behavioral risks – poor health outcomes;
  • High prevalence of consuming tobacco;
  • High rates of physical inactivity, obesity;
  • Low fruit and vegetable consumption;
  • Limited cancer screening and seatbelt use (Cobb, Espey, & King, 2014).

Socio-Cultural Group: Cherokee Heritage


  • One of the largest tribes;
  • Name: “people of different speech” (The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, 2019, para. 1);
  • Amounted to 22,500 people in 1650 (The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, 2019);
  • Controlled territories of 40,000 square miles;
  • North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Appalachians.

Values and Worldview

  • Values of harmony and balance;
  • Ethnomedical system and environmental ethics;
  • Honor nature and animals as sacred;
  • Living in harmony with the world (Duran, 2002);
  • Believe in ghosts and after-life.

Language and Communication Patterns

  • Cherokee language – native tribal language;
  • Native language declining in use;
  • Differs from other Iroquoian languages;
  • Used for official communication and education;
  • Families may speak in Cherokee language.


  • Traditional clothing and accessories: utility;
  • Pottery and basketry are present today;
  • Use natural materials and organic paints;
  • Art, including literature, is nature-centric;
  • Stories and books also retold history.

Norms and Rules, Lifestyle Characteristics

  • Norms and rules influenced by heritage;
  • Education is of high importance;
  • Family and father roles are important;
  • Women take subordinate positions, preserve families;
  • The old are valued by Cherokee.

Relationship Patterns and Common Rituals

  • Numbers and colors occur in ceremonies;
  • Purification ceremony: bathing in water;
  • Spirituality is valued in relationships;
  • Children are expected to obey parents;
  • Witchcraft remains an important aspect.

Degree of Assimilation or Marginalization from Mainstream Society

  • Reasonable degree of assimilation to society;
  • Christian religion allowed to assimilate further;
  • Communities promote their cultural identity;
  • Promote interactions with other groups;
  • Reservations encourage keeping communities close.

Health Behaviors and Practices

  • Natural healing rituals to maintain health;
  • Substance misuse and addiction to tobacco;
  • Increased occurrence of life stressors;
  • Poor cancer management and prevention strategies;
  • Inadequate financial capabilities for health maintenance.

Both Groups

Common and Distinguishing Characteristics

  • Common: the value of family structures;
  • Common: values are nature-oriented;
  • Common: addiction to tobacco use;
  • Common: ineffective health behaviors and outcomes;
  • Different: Cherokee are better assimilated.

Approaches to Health Care

  • Both groups can be approached similarly;
  • Tobacco abuse needs to be prioritized;
  • Cancer screening should be implemented;
  • Holistic practices should be integrated;
  • Financial support is greatly needed.


Brave, J. (2016). Rand Paul thinks ‘lack of assimilation’ is Native Americans’ problem. HuffPost. Web.

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Cobb, N., Espey, D., & King, J. (2014). Health behaviors and risk factors among American Indians and Alaska Natives, 2000-2010. American Journal of Public Health, 104(Suppl 3), 481-489.

Duran, B. (2002). American Indian belief systems and traditional practices. Web.

The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. (2019). Cherokee. Web.

Living conditions. (2015). Web.

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StudyCorgi. "Native American and Cherokee Heritage Populations." May 31, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Native American and Cherokee Heritage Populations." May 31, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Native American and Cherokee Heritage Populations'. 31 May.

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