As mentioned previously, it is difficult to generalize about American Indians and Alaska Natives given the significant between-group as well as within-group differences. Yet, many clinicians are unfamiliar with the Indian and Native population and how their cultural values might differ from other groups. Some possible cultural differences for clinicians to consider are thus presented, but should not be taken as true about all Indians or Natives.
Generally speaking, Indian and Native cultures are "sociocentric" rather than "egocentric." In "egocentric" cultures such as many Western, industrialized nations (including the U.S.), individuals are viewed as autonomous from other individuals. In contrast, "sociocentric" cultures view individuals as part of an interdependent collective (Manson, 1995). For many Indians and Natives, identity and definitions of self are closely tied to one's family, tribe, or group (Blanchard, 1983). Decisions are strongly influenced by others (Horejsi & Pablo, 1993), and cooperation and humility are often more valued than competition or individual success (Richardson, 1981). As harmony with others is central, mores against interfering with others, disagreement, or otherwise creating conflict might exist (Sue & Sue, 1990).
Indians and Natives also tend to have a more holistic and fatalistic view of the world. Thus, the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, or social aspects of self are not seen as distinct (Richardson, 1981). Humans, other creatures, spirits, and nature are seen as highly interwoven (Locke, 1992). Indians and Natives are more likely, for instance, to emphasize harmony with nature and respecting the land rather than controlling nature or using its resources (Horejsi & Pablo, 1993; Sue & Sue, 1990). Time was traditionally demarcated according to natural phenomenon such as seasons (Richardson, 1981) and, along with a belief that one had little control over what was meant to happen, events were thought to happen according to a natural schedule (Horejsi & Pablo, 1993). Within Indian and Native culture, mores often emphasize living patiently in the here-and-now versus continual concern with planning for the future or with "wasting" time (Richardson, 1981).
Along these same lines, learning is often seen as a process that will happen without interference as an individual experiences the natural consequences of their decisions and behavior. Learning is not necessarily viewed in a Western way, as needing to be highly "active" where consequences or limits are imposed on children by others such as parents. Observational learning is an important mode in addition to learning from the wisdom of others through listening, not only those physically present but one's ancestors via oral myths and legends (Horejsi & Pablo, 1993; Locke, 1992; Paniagua, 1994).
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