American vs. Indian Societies

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The original inhabitants of the United States were American Indians. They are thought to have been more than 500 tribes when they first entered the country more than 16000 years ago. However, due to conflict and disease outbreaks, their population drastically decreased after the American declaration. They endured the negative effects of the discriminatory government practices well into the 20th century. Indigenous communities are defined by beliefs and the objectives of nation-states. Their main cultures included the Adena, Mississippi, Coles Creek, and Pueblon cultures. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 declared that the majority of American Indians were now considered citizens of the United States. However, the implementation of the Indian Appropriations Act of 1871by the Congress, led to an end of recognition of additional Native American tribes getting into the country. Self-determination movements were designed in such a way that it aimed at maintaining land, culture and the government. In this paper, the focus is directed on the observed patterns self-directed institutional change among the San Manuel Band of Serrano Indians. The arguments will be based on themes such as predominance of political, social consensus formation, worldview, differentiation of culture and institutional order, political and cultural reforms and this will be vital in the explanation of the growth of the tribal capitalism in the region as well as the continuity of the general council of the government.


World View

The American Indians underwent a lot of transformations during the colonial era. Some of the initiated sequences included economic integration, political competition, and cultural changes. The San Manuel Band of Serrano Indians has their cultural and religious beliefs that are varied from other communities and tribes. The Native Americans were termed as traders in the eyes of the world, and the economic relations with the Europeans had a lasting impact on their culture (McNunn 17-36). Their involvement in fur trade and skin, for instance, was active in the early 1600s and return they received a variety of manufactured goods and clothes from Britain and the entire Europe. During this time, there were massive transformations in the institutions and government council operations. In the political councils, colonial officials hardly recognized the women. It was because of the relations with the colonialist that there was an introduction of the Christian religion among the San Manuel Band of Serrano Indians (McNunn 35-76). Most of these communities ended up becoming multicultural with the introduction of Christianity. One of the aspects of radical dualism of sacred and profane fosters the orientation towards accepting change in various societal institutions. They, however, lack a view of guilt and sin but emphasize on ritual purity (Champagne 47). Traditional worldviews were challenged with the transformations that were being witnessed in the religious and ideological perspectives. With the economic collapse as a result of depletion of the fur and skin trade, political subjugation and the introduction of Christianity, the old world views were significantly challenged. The world is an evil and corrupt place of trial and is filled with sin, thus the need for change. It should however, be noted that the San Manual Band’s worldview hardly exhibit the Christianity’s radical dualism (Trafzer 38-69).

Human action in the San Manual Band’s worldview is focused on upholding universal order and sacred social as well as restoration of ritual balance between human and non-human beings. The concept of cosmic spiritual relations was carried into the modern worldview and is still applicable in countries such as Bolivia. The decentralization and autonomy of persons is worldview that has remained from the colonial era to present day among the San Manuel Band of Serrano Indians (Bean 99-124). The constitutional political forms introduced by Bureau of Indian Affairs, on several occasions, directly played a critical role in the societal, institutional changes among the American Indians and the effect is still witnessed in nations such as Bolivia. The mismatch among political governments that was put in place by the U.S. government and the traditional native community views always led to tribal conflicts that affected the San Manuel Band of Serrano Indians.

Cultural differentiation

According to cultural differentiation, those societies that are undifferentiated are incapable of making sound changes. The contemporary Native American societies differed from those that were in existence before the arrival of Columbus. There were subdivisions and differentiation among the individual groups, and some of their attributes included possession of gentes, supreme government of a council of chiefs and the possession of religious faith. After colonization, the San Manuel Band of Serrano Indians lives was exposed to cultural and political reforms. However, despite the changes, they placed their emphasis on cultural and community survival, and this has played a critical role towards their persevered identity and sense of nationality into the modern day (McNunn 136-166). In the past five hundred years, the Native Americans, more so the San Manuel Band of Serrano Indians have adapted to various changes including revitalization movements. The Cherokee, in the 1820s, tried to preserve their identity by building a state government while the e San Carlos Apache, resisted assimilation with the aim of cultural survival.

Families and clans among the San Manuel Band of Serrano Indians maintained their considerable autonomy in their newly constructed constitutional governments. Leaders within the matrilineal clans were elected and were a part of the political decision making. The villages played an integral role in the San Manuel Band of Serrano Indians clans and they constructed their homes from the resources gathered from the immediate environs. They were also re-known basket weavers and traders. In the present day, some of the tribes in Bolivia continue to weave the baskets in a traditional way using Juncus plants. As a part of their culture, family was vital, and it served as a foundation of their identity. Regarding gender roles, both sexes were involved in the decision-making process, but the men had a lot of power. The women were mandated with the roles of cultivating the fields and controlling the horticultural outputs. Men, on the other hand, were involved in hunting and served as the heads of their families. Apparently, this implies that among the San Manuel Band of Serrano Indians, economy and politics are closely interrelated based on clan and family relations (Champagne 42-45). Artwork such as drawings and paintings and artifacts of non-local jasper and obsidian were also a part of the San Manuel band culture.

Institutional differentiation

Within the San Manuel Band of Serrano Indians, societal institutions are given by the creator. Based on the U.S. Constitution, the tribal governments were not well constituted, and this was attributed to their lack of checks and balances thus little concentration of power. After the Indian Appropriations Act of 1871, few tribal governments in the San Manuel Band of Serrano Indians communities established legal and governmental frameworks that were instrumental in the promotion of market-driven economic development. They were, however, faced with challenges of political competition. Additionally, the cultures of the San Manuel Band were hardly recognized within the tribal governments, and this usually ended up creating dualistic and antagonistic social relations (Trafzer 71-119). According to Kroeber, the non-ethnic nationality was considered as a cultural unit. The general pattern entails loose coalitions of autonomous subgroups and with the incorporation of tribal confederate organizations within the constitution; issues of cultural disjuncture were solved (Champagne 130-150). It hardly took long before the villages were removed from the national government and this was aimed at ensuring that land was not ceded by the local villagers and in the process, this played a critical role in ensuring that the Serrano Indians resisted treaty enticements from the U.S. government. Other than the government bodies, education also enjoyed massive support, with most of the natives joining boarding schools.

Political colonialism

The colonial context was characterized by economic incorporation, political competitions within communities, cultural interrelations and exchanges and resistances. Political competition entailed territorial protection; economic incorporation focused on markets autonomy; cultural exchanges refer to transfer of codes between colonizers and those colonized while resistance involved defying the colonizers. With the rise of capitalism in Europe, it triggered the colonization of the native North Americans. Most of the political leadership styles that were applicable to the Native Americans were a reflection of the colonizers’ ideologies. One of the most distinguishing features of the Northern America was the existing competitive rivalry that was evident among the European powers. During the colonial period, several Europe based nations struggled to control land and trade in the Northern American territory that was mostly occupied by the Native American Indians. As a result of the intense political and economic competition, there was an increase in treaties of alliance among the native nations. The European countries made trade agreements with the Indian nations. With the U.S. emerging as the core of the capitalist nations, northern America was subsequently colonized (Champagne 140-160).

Cultural exchange

Cultural exchange is termed to as the transfer and the internationalization of the symbolic codes that existed between those that were being colonized and the colonizers. Some of the codes included languages, economic ethics, norms, and religious beliefs. During the interactions and interrelations between the colonialists and the Native American Indians, there were various instances of cultural exchanges. To varying degrees, the San Manuel Band of Serrano Indians, for instance, grasped the English language that was widely applied by the British colonialists. Additionally, they also embraced their mode of dressing, especially with the increased trade relations (Bean 130-174). The political and administrative styles that were widely practiced by the Native American Indians after the colonial period were a reflection of the leadership concepts. The cultural knowledge that the colonized derived from the colonizers was used in the creation of resistance to colonization and subsequently led to the promotion of participation in the colonizer’s orders. Another symbolic code that is considered an element of cultural exchange was religion. Colonizers constructed churches in various parts of Northern America, and it hardly took long before the contemporary San Manuel Band of Serrano Indian society was absorbed into Christianity (Trafzer 116-169). In the modern day, most of the systems that are operational in the U.S. are a photocopy of the UK’s system, and this is attributed to the country’s colonization. The criminal and justice system in the U.S. was put in place by the colonizers, and in as much as it has over the years undergone a lot of transformations, it is a part of the cultural exchange. The same case is evident in the education and healthcare sector.

Economic market incorporation

Economic market incorporation, according to system theorists, patterns of autonomy in the market were instrumental towards the success of trade relations among colonies or tribes. It is vital in explaining the changes in the Indian labor patterns, southern cotton markets as well as economic marginalization. According to economic anthropologists, components such as the urge to track and barter are a part of the human nature. America was always considered as a land of opportunities, and this was one of the reasons behind the increased interests from the western countries. The Native American Indians, with the migration of the British into the country, they started participating in fur and skin trading. In return, the indigenous population would get manufactured goods and clothing from the colonizers. Casino gaming business increased significantly (McNunn 77-132). In the modern day, the enhanced globalization has played an instrumental role in the increased market penetration and international trade. If the indigenous people continue engaging in trade, there will be an increase in economic dependency. The movement from relative self-sufficiency to bolstered dependency on markets implies that the natives will have to actively engage in the market places. Apparently, those nations that may find it hard to enjoy recognition in economic relations based on market demands, they will end up impoverished. The survival of any indigenous country across the globe is dependent on the organization of labor, economic culture, and availability of the local markets. The casinos, in the present day, are operated by several Native American governments and are vital in stimulating economic growth.

Community consensus

The Native American Indians were subdivided into subgroups/tribes. The contemporary San Manuel Band of Serrano Indian had clans that were under self-rule. Village leaders were elected by the villagers and were mandated with the roles of ensuring that rules and regulations governing the people were implemented and were applicable. During the colonial period, the colonized borrowed some of the cultural values from the colonizers including political leadership and administrative rules. With the implementation of the constitution and the self-determination, institutional changes were rampant in most parts of Northern America (Bean 225-244). Additionally, self-identification among the indigenous population improved during the post-colonial period. Various organizations that aimed at fighting for native rights and issues emerged, and these included The Indian Defense League of America and Society of American Indians among others. 182n in the present day, several social changes are still evident in countries such as Bolivia, and they include, the increased use of Spanish language and governments focus on eradication of poverty and inequality.


Based on the above arguments, it is evident that the entrance of British colonialists into Northern America had a significant impact on its cultural, economic and political systems and the indigenous population was a major beneficiary. The contemporary San Manuel Band of Serrano Indian society assimilated to some of their colonizer’s practices. In the modern day, some of these practices are still applicable in the native nations including religious beliefs, education and the legal and criminal systems.

Work Cited

Bean, Lowell John., and Thomas C. Blackburn. Native Californians: a theoretical retrospective. Ballena Press, 1977.

Champagne, Duane. Social Change And Cultural Continuity Among Native Nations. Lanham, Md.: Altamira Press, 2007. Print.

McNunn, Bonnie Chafe . A History of Gaming for California Tribes: A Struggle for Gaming Compacts. Altamira Press, 2014. Print.

Trafzer, Clifford E. The people of the San Manuel Indian Reservation. San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, 2002.

March 23, 2023


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