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Running head: FIRST NATIONS PEOPLE COMMUNITY

Cultural Immersion: First Nations People Community


Whitney Reyes
Georgia State University

CULTRUAL IMMERSION: FIRST NATIONS PEOPLE COMMUNITY


Abstract
This paper will discuss a cultural plunge exposure to the First Nations People by
attending the Stone Mountain Park Indian Festival and Pow-Wow. The culture of First
Nations Peoples was experienced and will be discussed in this paper. The purpose of this
paper is to immerse with a different cultural experience to help gain cultural competency
towards First Nations Peoples.

CULTRUAL IMMERSION: FIRST NATIONS PEOPLE COMMUNITY

Introduction
The First Nations Peoples population in the United States fell by an estimated
95% shortly after the arrival of European colonists (Barkan, 2003), and the First Nations
Peoples that survived continued to face drastic changes and oppression throughout
history. The 2013 U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there were 5.2 million Native
Americans living in the United States (U.S. Census Bureau, 2013). There are over 500
distinct First Nations Peoples nations within the United States (Weaver, 1999). As social
workers, it is important to understand the vast diversity that exists among First Nations
Peoples (Lum, 2011, p. 223). Attending the Stone Mountain Park Indian Festival and
Pow-wow was an immersion with the First Nations Peoples culture.
Reflection of Feelings About the Group Prior to the Experience
Other than occasionally visiting Cherokee, North Carolina, a small city
surrounded by the Cherokee nations culture, there has been no contact with the First
Nations Peoples. The most exposure one sees of the First Nations People is represented
in the media. The media mimics First Nations Peoples culture, clothing attire, and beliefs,
which cause many stereotypes; First Nations Peoples are often portrayed as either being
proud and honorable people or red-faced savages. Indians have been treated with
suspicion and were the first obvious victims of media bias (Tan et al., 1997). While in
grade school, one never hears about the historical perspective of First Nations Peoples
cultures.
From a personal perspective, First Nations Peoples people have never been
viewed negatively. When one is in grade school, the education system tends not to tell the
whole truth about what happened in history. For example, European colonists killing
thousands of First Nations People for land. Learning more about the history of oppression
towards First Nations Peoples will make one sympathy for this community. To work
sufficiently with the First Nations People community, one needs to get rid of stereotypical
thinking and learn more about the history of First Nations Peoples.
Reflection of the Actual Experience
Attending the Stone Mountain Park Indian Festival and Pow-wow will help one
immerse with the First Nations Peoples culture. The Indian festival and pow-wow is an
annual event taken place in Stone Mountain, Georgia. The event celebrates the heritage,
culture, and history of First Nations Peoples through entertainment and education. First
Nations Peoples from all over Georgia come and celebrate their culture through dance,
music, storytelling, cooking and craft demonstrations.
The experience of attending the Stone Mountain Park Indian Festival and Powwow was new and exciting. The festival was filled with First Nations Peoples from
different nations celebrating their culture, and ethnicity. Listening to the music and seeing
First Nations Peoples culture was enjoyable. The dress attire and dance rituals were
beautiful to see.

CULTRUAL IMMERSION: FIRST NATIONS PEOPLE COMMUNITY

Reflections of Feelings After the Experience


By attending the festival and pow-wow, one learned about some of the many
nations in the First Nations People community. One learned that one should not make
assumptions about the appearance of First Nations Peoples. There is a variety of nations
within the First Nations Peoples, and some have different traditions and rituals. Most of
what people know about the First Nations People community is learned through the
media. Unfortunately, the media seems to group all First Nations Peoples as one. Photos
of First Nations Peoples have often lacked identification in history and caused the
misconception of grouping all nations as one. For example, a postcard of a person doing
a traditional dance is labeled simply, Indian Dancer. (Lester and Ross, 2003, p. 118).
Lester and Ross (2003) state, These subtle forms of racism send the unspoken message
that Indian are not people, that they have no names or identities (p. 118). By attending
the Stone Mountain Indian Festival and Pow-wow, one will not group all of the First
Nations People community as a whole and get rid of stereotypical ideologies of this
community as a social worker.
Reflection to Increase Cultural Competency with this Group
Immersing and interacting with the First Nations Peoples will make one see the
beauty of this culture and also realize the many obstacles and struggles this community
faces. Having cultural competence with First Nations Peoples is vital. In order to strive
for cultural competence with First Nations clients, social workers must develop a basic
understanding of these culturally based behaviors and expectations (Lum, 2011, p. 226).
There are many different terms for the First Nations Peoples. It is important never to
consume what people like to be called; it is always better to ask. Gaining knowledge of
the historical events that occurred prior to the circumstances of today will help one work
effectively with First Nations Peoples (Lum, 2011).
Conclusion
It is important to acknowledge the many different nations within First Nations
clients and important to remember that each nation have different traditions and rituals.
Attending the Stone Mountain Indian Festival and Pow-wow will make one realize how
diverse this community. The experience of attending the festival and pow-wow marked
the start of a journey to becoming culturally competent towards members of the First
Nations Peoples as a social worker.

CULTRUAL IMMERSION: FIRST NATIONS PEOPLE COMMUNITY

Resources
Barkan, E. (2003). Genocides of indigenous peoples: Rhetoric of human rights. In R.
Gellately & B. Kiernan (Eds.), The specter of genocide: Mass murder in historical
perspective (pp. 117-127). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Lester, P. M., & Ross, S. D. (Eds.). (2003). Images that Injure Pictorial Stereotypes in the
Media. (2nd ed.). Westport, CT: Praeger.
Locust, C. (1988). Wounding the Spirit: Discrimination and Traditional American Indian
Belief Systems. Harvard Educational Review, 58(3), 315-330.
Lum, D. (2011), Culturally competent practice: a framework for understanding (4th ed.).
Sacramento: Brooks/Cole.
Tan, A., & Fujioka, Y. (1997). Native American stereotypes, TV portrayals, and personal
contact. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 74(2), 265-284.
U.S. Census Bureau. (2013). The American Indian and Alaska Native population: 2010.
Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2014/cb14ff26.html