This module discusses the role of culture in HIV/AIDS prevention, intervention, and care.
It includes information on:
- Native Cultural Diversity
- Spiritual and Religious Beliefs
- Social Structure
Native Americans have a long history on this land. Many aspects of Native culture endure and continue to pass from generation to generation. All Native cultures have changed over time, and some communities are more traditional than others. To some extent, every Native community has been influenced by outsiders. In the Southwestern United States, Native people were colonized by Spain and Mexico. Today, these cultures reflect Spanish and Mexican architecture, food, spirituality, and attitudes about particular concepts, such as sex and alternative genders. In Alaska, certain Native cultures reflect their Russian Orthodox influences. For example, some Aleut, Alutiiq, and Yup’ik peoples observe the Russian Orthodox winter tradition of Starring, during which people travel from house to house carrying a decorated star and singing “koyatkee” or carols.6 In Hawaii, where the Native language originally did not have a written form, Protestant missionaries devised one based on English characters. This Hawaiian alphabet influenced pronunciation and changed the language forever.
6 Alaska Native Heritage Center. Alaskan Russian Orthodox Christmas Starring to be celebrated at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Alaska Native Heritage Center; January 2003. Available at: http://www.alaskanative.net/18.asp?id=189&x=18. Accessed February 14, 2007.