Indigenous communities often possess unique knowledge inherent in their cultures, traditions, and histories. As distinct ethnic groups grow and evolve, they develop customs rooted in their heritage, adopting a specific way of living, communicating, and interacting with the world. Of particular importance are the ingroup relationships that emerge during the community’s advancements and begin to control the interaction processes between the group members and other individuals (Spencer-Rodgers et al. 413). In addition, the ties between the ingroup and its members are crucial for maintaining a strong collective identity, an essential part of one’s psychosocial well-being (Spencer-Rodgers et al. 413). From this perspective, individuals from ethnic communities demonstrate behaviors that affirm their belonging to this group.
People belonging to a particular cultural or ethnic group become strongly attached to it, aiming to sustain this connection by following the population’s traditions. The interview I conducted with a representative of the Arapaho tribe, a Native American ethnicity, presents sufficient evidence that the cultural and intellectual traditions play a significant role in supporting the sense of belonging. The interviewee stated, “I was always in touch with our religion [..] being spiritual is a large part of being Arapaho”. By preserving the religious beliefs of her people, the respondent tries to maintain her connection with the ethnic group, as well as support their customs.
Learning the history of one’s people, acknowledging their struggles and social experiences is also an essential part of strengthening the link to the group. The Arapaho tribe, as many Native American populations, possess a rich history, with many critical events becoming highly significant to the Arapaho representatives (Jordan 101). During the interview, the participant mentioned the Sand Creek Massacre, which resulted in a long war with the United States. She commented that “Our people struggled so much just to survive and live in the land that was originally theirs […] even united we could not overcome the power of the military”. Here, the respondent reflects on the history of her people and the events that they had to endure, recognizing the drastic issues caused by the Arapaho and US forces confrontations. Through this knowledge, the interviewee demonstrates her connection to Arapaho, enhancing the sense of belonging.
Reflecting on the contributions of a native ethnicity are also especially valuable for affirming group belonging. The Arapaho Indians developed a high number of traditions and cultural works that are still remembered by the modern representatives of this community (Jordan 124). The interviewee remarked that “I was always attached to our crafts […] I have some embroidery and wooden statuettes that make me feel closer to home”. Staying connected to the ethnic heritage through the artistic contributions of the Arapaho clearly enhances the participant’s sense of belonging, and, through agency, she attempts to strengthen this feeling.
To conclude, the use of agency for group affirmation was discussed in detail in this essay based on the interview conducted with a representative of the Arapaho Native American group. It is evident that being a part of an ethnicity, individuals often develop a strong sense of belonging to this population. However, to maintain the link between ethnicity and the self, it becomes crucial to reflect on the ethnic heritage and incorporate specific behaviors that help sustain the connection. Performing traditional practices, remembering the historical events and social struggles, as well as acknowledging the population’s contributions can be incredibly helpful in affirming group belonging.
Jordan, Michael Paul. Ledger Narratives: The Plains Indian Drawings in the Mark Lansburgh Collection at Dartmouth College. University of Oklahoma Press, 2017.
Spencer-Rodgers, Julie, et al. “The Power of Affirming Group Values: Group Affirmation Buffers the Self-Esteem of Women Exposed to Blatant Sexism.” The Journal of the International Society for Self and Identity, vol. 15, no. 4, 2016, pp. 413–431. Web.