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Today’s Way to Learn about Other Cultures

prepared by Curt & Weenonah Bayer

As NAMI prepared for its national convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota, it is also prepared for the 2nd Annual Minority Mental Healthcare Symposium which took place during the convention. This symposium’s focus was on the American Indian and Alaska Native community, the most appropriate as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" was and is very much a part of Native American history and culture.

"Surfing the Web" can be a great way to learn about people of other cultures. Web sites can provide information that will help one gain insight into traditions, beliefs, celebrations, rituals, and behaviors that have been passed down through generations. Learning and understanding also helps one appreciate how people have adapted or changed out of necessity and from merging with other cultures. Here are just a few of the over 45,000 relevant web sites where you can learn more about American Indian and Alaska Native cultures:

Native Web " international, nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to using telecommunications including computer technology and the Internet to disseminate information from and about indigenous nations, peoples, and organizations around the world; to foster communication between native and non-native peoples; to conduct research involving indigenous peoples' usage of technology and the Internet; and to provide resources, mentoring, and services to facilitate indigenous peoples' use of this technology." "What is Native American Culture? The answer to this is vast and varied. There is no one Culture. Even before the Native nations of this continent were scattered and forced on to reservations, the traditions varied from nation to nation. The stationary agricultural civilization of the Cherokee Peoples was very different from that of the nomadic Culture of the Dakotas & Lakotas and other plains Nations. The Pueblo Indians of what is now New Mexico developed an urban life in harmony with the environment…."

Fact Monster Type "American Indian" in the search window; and then type "American Indian History Month" in search window for ways to learn and celebrate.

Indigenous Peoples Literature Site topics include famous documents and quotes, art, music, poetry, stories, and links to other web sites. The web site identifies itself as "An educational resource for the advancement of all cultures." "A comprehensive site for Native American resources."

Naval Historical Center: Native Americans and the US Military"It is well recognized that, historically, Native Americans have the highest record of service per capita when compared to other ethnic groups. The reasons behind this disproportionate contribution are complex and deeply rooted in traditional American Indian culture. In many respects, Native Americans are no different from others who volunteer for military service. They do, however, have distinctive cultural values which drive thto serve their country. One such value is their proud warrior tradition."

American Indian Radio  Listen to live broadcasts from American Indian Radio (AIROS) on your computer! Music varies from the traditional to contemporary and features Indian groups playing rhythm and blues, rock, Latin beat, and country. Programs about native peoples, stories, and poetry are also broadcast. AIROS format is very similar to National Public Radio stations and is very informative and is well worth listening to!

Native American Public Telecommunications "To inform, educate, and encourage the awareness of tribal histories, cultures, languages, opportunities, and aspirations through the fullest participation of American Indians and Alaska Natives in creating and employing all forms of educational and public communication programs and services, thereby supporting tribal sovereignty."

National Congress of American Indians The website for the oldest and largest tribal government organization in the United States. Their mission is "to inform the public and the federal government on tribal self-government, treaty rights, and a broad range of federal policy issues affecting tribal governments.

Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American Indians This is the museum's web site offering visitor information, information on exhibits, events, outreach, education, collections, and more.

Indian Country Today This site is "The Nation’s Leading American Indian News Service," with an easy-to-read on-line newspaper format.

Wisdom Keepers, Inc.  A non-profit educational organization dedicated to "creating culturally and historically accurate educational programs and resources on indigenous cultures from the people of those cultures rather than about the cultures."

Native American Technology and Art A web site worth the stop, if only to visit the food and recipes section!