Acculturation and Assimilation Culture deals with thoughts, norms, and productions of a certain people. These modes are communicated among humans and not passed down genetically. Therefore, culture is the base from which the study of acculturation and assimilation use to trace similarities with other cultures. Another way to look at culture would be as a dependant variable. When this dependent variable reacts with another culture (the independent variable), one is able to see the adopting of new traits, as well as the loss of old ones. This adopting of culture is called acculturation. Examples of this can be seen locally by looking at the various tribes on the Olympic Peninsula. Since their first contact with the European culture, Native Americans have adopted things to improve their own way of life. These range from the early trading of horses and riffles to the modern advances of today’s technology. Unfortunately, this contact with other cultures is not always peaceful. Native Americans were forced to give up major parts of their culture due to the imperialistic nature of the early explorers. These include language and ceremonial practices.
Now that the European culture is the majority in this country, Native Americans are considered to be a subculture. This is because they have not assimilated fully to the surrounding culture. Assimilation is when an individual adapts the language, values, and norms of the larger culture, allowing them to gain equal status. Speaking from personal experience, this process can be hard, if not impossible, to accomplish in today’s society due to racism. Having never met African American members of my family, growing up in a white community, and adopting every norm of the European culture, one would assume I have gained equal status. This is not the case. The color of my skin, as in other ethnic groups, sets us apart from the “norm”, hence the term – minority. When you step back and look at these groups as a whole, you can see the workings of a society. Although these groups are very diverse, they all contribute together to carry out their major functions of life.