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Comparison and Contrast paper

Cal Fotheringham
Salt Lake Community College
ETHS 2440 Native American Culture
Sally Brown
March 13, 2016
I had the privileged to be raised in a Christian home in the 1960s. Television was black
and white and there were few homes with remote controls. My home did not have TV
with a remote control and since I was the 6th of 7 (6 boys and 1 girl) children, I was often
the one that would change the channel. TV often included movies about Cowboys and
Indians. This was my first introduction to Native Americans. The Indians were usually
attacking the settlers who were very peaceful and the settlers would, out of necessity,
defend themselves by shooting the Indians who were stealing from them and trying to kill
them. My brothers and I would often play Cowboys and Indians. Since I was younger I
was usually the less popular Indian. When we played in the home, my brothers would
build a fort out of chairs and blankets. The couches and larger chairs would usually be
put in a circle and I would sneak around trying to shoot my brothers with a bow and
arrow. My dominant brother would get to be the hero that would attack me when I ran
out of arrows and tie me up to put me in jail. I usually would be sentenced to be hung,
which came to close to reality a time or two. My mother would end up saving me when I
started crying or when things got out of hand.
My family and I didnt even consider the fact that the TV programs we were watching
were one sided and presented a biased view of a historical time in this country. The view
is that the settlers simply wanted to find a peaceful place to live and the Indians wanted to
steal from them and kill them simply because they were crossing their land.

When I was a senior in high school, my parents informed us that we would have a
Navajo Indian boy named Robert coming to live with us. Robert was 14 years old and he
was shy and soft spoken. I was 17 and the center of the universe I didnt think often of
his perspective. That being said, I felt we were very nice to him and treated him as one of
the family. Robert came from the reservation in New Mexico. He became a part of our
family and he embraced our values and he is still very much a part of our family today.
I never felt bad about how we treated him because I always felt that we loved him and
treated him with respect. Over the years, I have become more familiar with the life
Robert lead before he came to be a part of our family. But this class has made the big
difference in understanding him. While he wouldnt volunteer his personal information,
if I ask him he seems very comfortable talking to me about his Navajo beliefs and values.
I found out that he if from the folded arms clan of the Navajo tribe. I had no idea that
his children (Jessica and Hayden) have part of the am biblical cord buried by Roberts
near his birth home in New Mexico. His children are close to him even though their
mother and Robert are divorced; he believes that this closeness is partly due to him
respecting this tradition. Although he has embraced my traditions and values, Im
embarrassed that I never new much about his traditions, values and beliefs. Its
interesting to me that its very comfortable to have both his Navajo values and his
Christian values and they both compliment each other.
When the Trail or Tears was presented to me in our class, my mind was opened to
the fact that the Navajo people were mistreated and relocated at great personal sacrifice to
their culture and lives. They were left feeling betrayed by the white mens ways and
values. They were left in an impoverished and neglected state. I now feel emotional pain

as I see how little I understood of the Native American culture and learn how poorly they
were treated in the wake of the American pursuit of progress.
This class has allowed me to begin to see the perspective of Native Americans. While
I see that some individuals (both Indians and Settlers) are extreme in their hatred and
anger, both have good and common grounds that can serve to help us together. One good
example is the medicine wheel with the four colors it has; red, yellow, white, blue (or
black). Although different meanings are presented by different studies, I will use the
meanings given by Arlo Johnson in his lecture for the purposes of this paper. The red
represents ancestors. My belief is that I can not be happy without respecting and
honoring my ancestors. To the Indians, respect to ancestors is evident and key to keeping
their culture strong. The yellow represents the Sun. The sun is critical to all life and
respecting it is essential to every living thing. The color white is representative of
women. My personal belief is that women are closest to the creator in love for life and
the happiness of ones posterity. According to Arlo, Indian culture shares that women are
the givers of life and mother earth is a term used to respect nature and the many gifts it
offers. Blue represents Father Sky. My belief is that although men are sometimes less
giving, the father of us all is perfect and full of love. Arlo points out that the Native
Americans respect for the father of all things and that the correlation of all things allows
the medicine wheel to be useful in the healing ceremony and all aspects of life.
This class has allowed me the privilege to see another culture from a different
perspective. One that is rich and respectful of Indian culture and values. This is a
priceless gift to me. Ive very grateful for this opportunity.