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Teenagers of the tundra - the teenage experience among the Naskapi of Kawawachikamach, Quebec


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Thesis (M. A.), Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1998. Anthropology Bibliography: leaves p. 132-141.
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... We addressed these issues of cultural identity and cultural match and mismatch among the youths of the Naskapi community in Kawawachikamach, Quebec. The Naskapi people lived a nomadic lifestyle in a remote region of northern Québec for centuries and resisted settlement until the past half century (Cooke, 1976;Orchard, 1998). The Naskapi moved in the early 1980s to their current location in Kawawachikamach, which now has a population of 800, virtually all of whom are of Naskapi/First Nations heritage (Statistics Canada, 2006). ...
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In response to the enduring "deficit" approach to the educational attainment of Aboriginal students in North America, we hypothesized that academic underperformance is related to a cultural mismatch between Aboriginal students' cultural background, which emphasizes connectedness and interdependence, and the mainstream White model of education, which focuses on independence and assertiveness. The participants included virtually all the secondary students (N = 115) in the Naskapi community of Kawawachikamach, Quebec, Canada. We obtained self-reports of identification with Aboriginal and White culture, teacher reports of assertiveness, and official grades. We found that high identification with either Aboriginal or White culture was related to higher grades, regardless of whether the students were perceived as assertive by their teacher. Conversely, at low levels of cultural identification toward Aboriginal or White culture, being perceived as low in assertiveness by one's teacher predicted lower grades. This suggests that both high cultural identification and assertiveness can contribute to enhancing the educational outcomes of Aboriginal students, but that Aboriginal students with low levels of both cultural identification and assertiveness are at particular risk as they are mismatched with the culture of mainstream schools and do not benefit from the protective effects of identity. The relationships among identity, cultural values, and academic performance point to the need to reject the notion of an inherent deficit in education among Aboriginal youths in favor of a different framework in which success can be attained when alternative ways of being are fostered and nurtured in schools. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
Il existe peu d’etudes sur les Naskapis de Kawawachikamach et encore moins sur leur programme d’aide pour la chasse, la peche et le piegeage. Pourtant, cela fait presque quatre decennies que ce programme aide et soutient les Naskapis qui n’ont pas les moyens de pratiquer des activites de subsistance traditionnelles, en plus d’approvisionner les membres de la communaute en gibier et en poisson. Son fonctionnement et ses activites ont-ils change au cours des annees ? Est-il toujours un element cle de leur strategie identitaire ? Cet article repond a ces questions en presentant un portrait du programme.
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The “stress of change” is one of the most studied phenomena in the social and health sciences. Variously described as acculturation, urbanization, migration, modernization, or Westernization, rapid sociocultural change has become a daily fact of life for all but the most isolated of the world’s populations. A large and multidisciplinary literature has generally argued that the health consequences of rapid sociocultural change are higher levels of morbidity and mortality along both physical and psychological dimensions. The prevailing view has been that rapid sociocultural change brings about social disorganization and cultural disruption which is in turn responsible for role confusion, cultural identity conflicts and feelings of alienation and anomie. This psychosocial “stress” is then implicated etiologically in the development of a variety of health problems including alcohol abuse, suicide, schizophrenia, hypertension, diabetes and, increasingly, other chronic illnesses including cancer (Dressier 1982; Appell 1980; Antonovsky 1979; Carstairs and Kapur 1976; Dohrenwend and Dohrenwend 1981; Graves and Graves 1979; Marmot and Syme 1976; Reed et al. 1970).
The overall high rates of drug use found among Indian youth may be accounted for in part by lack of educational and employment opportunity and other endemic problems of Indian reservations. Individual drug involvement is most highly related to membership in drug-using peer clusters; but because of physical isolation, links between drug use and close friends are weaker for Indian youth, and family influence is felt more strongly. Anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem are not related to drug involvement, but angry youth are more likely to have drug-involved peers. Risk factors for Indian youth are low family caring, age first drunk, poor school adjustment, weak family sanctions against drugs, positive attitudes toward alcohol use, risk of school dropout, father not at home, and poor religious identification.
Recent models of ethnic identity formation in minority youth suggest a progression over time from an unexamined or diffuse stage to an achieved ethnic identity. To examine changes with age in ethnic identity and self-esteem, eighteen adolescents from three ethnic groups (Asian American, Black, and Hispanic) were assessed at age 16 and three years later. Results of this exploratory study showed a significant change to higher stages of ethnic identity over the three-year period. Self-esteem and ethnic identity were significantly related to each other at each time period and across the three-year time span.
Over the last 20 years, the field of substance use among American Indian adolescents has come to be dominated by survey approaches that are unable to answer important questions about how the use of alcohol and drugs is conceptualized and meaningfully integrated in the lives of Indian teens. Without a model of adolescent alcohol use that incorporates culture, the field misapprehends the social and cultural grounding of both normal and pathological drinking, and cannot accurately differentiate between normal and pathological drinking. Traditionally, the field has relied upon either a biological model or a distress model, thus locating pathology in the biochemistry of ethanol ingestion or in psychopathological distress. However, findings from an ethnographic investigation of alcohol use among American Indian adolescents suggest that the criteria for distinguishing pathological drinking lie, instead, in the developmental and gender-specific expectations that derive from cultural values. Specifically, at a Northern Plains site, teen drinking is judged by whether drinking has begun to interfere with developmental tasks relating to the cultural values of courage, modesty, humor, generosity and family honor. We conclude with suggestions for clinicians and researchers that offer the potential to facilitate the incorporation of culture into research and practice in the field of American Indian adolescent alcohol use.
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