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Significance Of Indian Culture


Indian culture was preserved inadvertently through the process of Americanization. Americanization has two meanings. The first meaning is used outside of the United States to broadly describe the influence that American culture has on everything from technology to language. Alternately, it also describes the period during the first quarter of the twentieth century in which the “Progressive Movement” worked to create patriotism among all Americans by requiring all immigrants to attend classes in which the primary focus was civics, and during which time public schools were used to “Americanize” the children of immigrants by teaching them English and discouraging the retention of their original or native cultures.

Even as American culture was in its formative stages, those in the majority (primarily Caucasian Anglo-Protestants) sought to create a culture of uniformity and conformity that was originally intended to foster patriotism, but which quickly transitioned into a campaign to homogenize American society. Called the Americanization Movement, this was a period lasting from the 1890s and through 1965. It was triggered by the incredibly high number of immigrants entering the country around the end of the nineteenth century. This, in combination with the “closing” of the frontier, the fast pace of industrialization, several economic crises, and the seeming disorder of life in urban environments, all culminated in a series of government-backed programs meant to Americanize millions of people.

It began in the simplest places to institute control – public schools, and it sought to create patriotism through a sort of clearing away of a child’s native or homeland culture. This meant that children were familiarized with the language and cultural practices upheld as purely American. Within the movement was a group of extremists known as “English First” crusaders who believed that it was only through a common language that national unity could be assured. On the other hand, there were many groups and organizations sympathetic to the plight of the mass number of immigrants and who created societies and help organizations that actually did the same sort of Americanization programs as government-run institutions.

Overall this systematic approach to assimilation also included Native Americans too. Though the Founding Fathers actually had hopes of “civilizing” native populations, it was in the Dawes Act of 1887 that the first real efforts were made of removing native culture from the remaining Native American populations. This Act gave land allotments to Native Americans on the condition that they became full citizens and gave up their tribal institutions. Removing Natives from their original lands, breaking up the remaining tribal governments, and the suppression of their religions and languages were all part of the assimilation process.

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