Aboriginal Family Structures

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Understanding the Aboriginals in Canada, their political, social, family and even economic structure that shared their practices and norms and girded their life is immensely imperative. Studies of the Aboriginal cultures in Canada are limited though they are emerging. For example, the traditional Aboriginal political cultures have stood as those that favor the pursuit of non interference, harmony, unanimity and persuasion (Wisemen, 2007, pp. 105). From the beginning, all members participated and shared equally all privileges in order to influence the political culture of the Aboriginals (Boldt 1993, pp. 176-177).  Their old way of life and the associated norms and values for example sharing, communalism, mutual aid, equality and decision through consensus has been lost even to the present Aboriginal people. The imposition of the western democratic practices on the traditional Aboriginal societies has hence created pressure though it has not necessarily destroyed their family and political structures completely.  The traditional way of life as far as the Aboriginals are concerned has influenced the present family structures. Their family, language, economic background and their history best explains their beliefs and values on their current and future systems. Though the political, social and economic culture of their family structure today is divergent as compared to that of yesterday, their historical influence is still quite perceptible.

The contemporary Canadian structures and culture have been profoundly influenced by the multiple Aboriginal cultures that had already developed before the Europeans arrived.  They were holistic and highly integrated. In their worldly views the political, mundane, artistic, spiritual dimensions and social as well as family structures were seen as being inseparable. Some of the cultural artifacts that they came up with comprising of their rich oral literature were part of their seamless fabric. Story telling was a major didactic tool that they used in transmitting of cultural precepts and were never intimidated by the western ideologies (Reingard, 2008, pp. 30).

The old government practices and policies that were aimed at stripping the Aboriginal people from their land and protecting them using the reserve system and hence assimilating them into a non native culture through educating them had a complex impact on the Aboriginals cultures. The Native practices as well as the world views have been relentlessly eroded and to some extent extinguished by the policies of marginalization, assimilation and delegitimation. They have overpoweringly demoralized the Aboriginal people both as communities and individuals. Most of their native language has turned out to be virtually extinct and most of their cultural practices are lost.

Today because of the increased political and educational assertiveness, there has been a revival of the Aboriginal culture and pride. Language instructions has become a major priority for most natives who do understand that they ought to act quickly if at all they need to take advantage of taking care of their elders memory. The Native ceremonies that incorporate drumming and dancing have been flourishing. Moreover, the Aboriginal people are working hard in order to synthesize their traditions with the European practices and systems that have inexorably shaped the contemporary situation.

The impact of the native culture and structures on the Canadian society began as a major localized process. Most of the Aboriginal cultural groups left some legacy albeit imprecise by the white appropriation which shaped the regional sensibility of all the areas in which they used to live. From the past original contact, the Aboriginal experience and presence have contributed to cultural identity and mythology among the Canadians. There have been a number of non Aboriginal authors who have written on the native characters drawing upon the Aboriginal symbols in order to develop an authentic Aboriginal Canadian literature which does reflect on the country’s landscape, language as well as sensibilities.

The Canadian visual traditional arts have absorbed the Aboriginal people. People have been engaged in arts just to draw and paint the native people as well as express their way of life thus initiating long standing traditions of the Aboriginal people as the main subject. Most of the activities today have been borrowed from the native political, economic, family and social structures of the Aboriginal people. For example Canadian music has also been highly borrowed and influenced by the native Aboriginals through using Aboriginal materials and elements.

The ancient structures of the Aboriginal society was based on the extended family groups that allowed a kinship system which used to set out rules on how the members were related as well as their positions in the entire community. The traditional structure of the family shows that these structures are still quite evident in the urban and modern indigenous families. In the traditional settings, all the indigenous people do have a recognized relationship with one another either through language, blood, marriage or clan. Following the traditional practices, marriages outside the kinship structure are highly forbidden and the transgressions are usually dealt with according to the tribal war (Paul, 2002, pp. 256). The arranged marriages are quite common and are usually arranged in the early infant ages. The families due to the influence of the traditional set up structures have a very strong commitment to the extended families as the whole group usually gathers together during important events. The Aboriginal family structures have gone through immense pressure with the separation of the families and children as well as the inter-racial marriages and the imposition of the white culture on their people. However, despite the pressures, their structures are still intact.  Their family structures and kinship are still unified forces that bind the Aboriginals in Canada together.

Since 1880, Canadian government has regulated the indigenous people under the Indian Act (Judith, Murray & John, 2009, pp. 121).  This Act had been designed in order to implement a Eurocentric concept of the family unit.  The family ties have continued to be crucial in maintaining the well being of all the indigenous communities. Therefore, family breakdown is usually more severe as compared to the nonindigenous people.

The Aboriginals in Canada had in the past held their aging members in high esteem as they turned to grandfathers and mothers for advice, guidance and teaching raising of the children as well as maintaining the ancient cultural practices. The senior members transmitted the ancestral wisdom as well as playing of active roles in each day life of the entire community. However the transition to the modern styles of life brought dramatic social changes that hence resulted in vast numbers of the Aboriginal seniors who were no longer considered as productive in the society. The productive roles they used to play have been replaced and to some extent eliminated. The strong traditional values for example religion have helped so many people in molding their life to be what they are today.

The Aboriginals and generally the Canadians have used sociological imagination in order to shift from one stage to the other though to some extent their past has dictated their pathetic present circumstances.  Aborigines have lived in Canada for many years hence have developed survival adaptation in Canada. Before the Europeans settled, fishing, hunting as well as gathering were their main social imagination methods of getting the food. In examining  (Charles, 2000),  cultural factors of sociological imagination , the food beliefs among the Aborigines was presented on the grounds that the fatty red meat was a main part of the family meals that was considered satisfying, nourishing and fulfilling and salads as well as fruit are considered to be just cold. These cultural beliefs have been borrowed even today.  The Aboriginals do prefer eating the family meals than being separated from eating family food as a way to show respect and belonging. However, this has been influenced by the recent medical technology thus most people eat as directed by their doctors.

Without question, the past has helped in molding the present politics, culture and social systems. The sporadic penetration of the wilderness and then return to civilization is a basic rhythm of Aboriginal Canadians way of life which began with the equation of the Aboriginal with the uncivilized and the wilderness. Through this process, there have been a multitude of some ethnocentric images of the Aboriginals which have distorted their culture thus making it complex for those who have been steeped in the Western cultures to view the native people with clarity.

The problem of getting a more authentic picture of the Aboriginal cultures in Canada have been complicated by the images that the settler culture had created by the influence of Europeans on the Aboriginal cultures as well as the inevitable imprint of the Eurocentrism on the most rational attempts to go ahead and help preserve the cultures.

Through the numerous collection of the settler culture as well as the recent works of the aboriginal storytellers and scholars who have already been in a position to tap the oral traditions of their people, most people have acquired a sense of native. The dramatists, native writers, visual artists as well as actors have demonstrated the continuing process of the cross-cultural interactions. Therefore it is apparent that history has shaped the professional, cultural and social status of the Canadian families as most people can relate with their traditional cultures through the work of the artists, actors, dramatists and others. Through these people are in a position to integrate with their traditions as well as western influence without necessarily having to do away completely with their past.

Aboriginal people living in Canada have experienced a history of oppression and colonization which has continued to have a major effect on them even today. To comprehend their recent multifaceted catastrophes, the Aboriginal researchers and scholars should include the contextual and historical analysis since the current behaviors have been highly influenced by the previous governmental policies.  Colonization has had a long and negative impact on them as far as oppression, identity loss and subjugation is concerned. This has negatively shaped the expectations of the family members on their children as the identity loss has led to reduced self esteem and change in behavior. The government has done little to correct the situation as it has been busy integrating policies of the west and forgetting the traditional framework. Treatment of the Aboriginals in Canada has been an international disgrace. Though the healing process is slowly taking effect and a lot of money is used by the government on the Aboriginals, their problems have continued to persist and there has been no economic development on their part. Most of the decisions are usually made without the consultation of the Aboriginals. This is quite disrespectful and emotionally and morally debilitating. They should be given a chance to present their problems; otherwise the crime rate among them will continue to amplify as a result of depression and disappointments.

Social conflict theory (Otomar & Paul, 2002) has been used immensely to exploit the Aboriginals. Power and resources have been the main mechanism that has been used in creating social disorders among the poor and the rich. The Aboriginals have faced social conflicts like racism, prejudice, segregation, assimilation and even genocide. The social conflicts aided in family breakdowns and assimilation of other cultural beliefs and practices. There was breakdown of morals and the structural functionalism theory also played a major role in changing the family structure as the Aboriginals believed that the inequality concept would benefit them because there were promises of great rewards that motivated them.

The oppression and denial have left little expectations to the family members.  If the same strategies continue being used to curb the problems that have been facing the Aboriginal communities, there is no much hope in improving their financial, economic, social and political units. The present status and remedies will help a lot to shape the future status of the Aboriginals

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