You are on page 1of 3

Kaity Liao

Professor Clark / Eisenhauer


Intro to Human Ecology
October 17, 2015
Film paper: Cree & Culture
As seen in the film Cree Hunters, until the recent interruption the last few decades from
the Canadian government to modernize and develop economically, the Cree remained on their
land in Quebec for hundreds of years by passing the land and their culture down generation by
generation. Powered by survival, community cohesion, and deep respect for the land, they have
learned to remain alive in the wilderness by sustaining themselves for hundreds of years.
Compared in stark contrast to the American culture, they are vastly more focused on cultural and
environmental preservation, as they maintain a close relationship with nature and members of the
Cree community. Through familial and educational institutions that structure a society, values
within Cree and American cultures dictate their interactions with the environment, which are
immensely different. When new technology is introduced, the American culture reveals that it is
less concerned with environmental and cultural preservation than the Cree.
With pressures to modernize, the Cree children attempted to attend school within the
European school system, where literacy is promulgated. However, after an extended period,
fearing the children would forget what life is like in the wilderness, the parents withdrew them.
Owing to the fact that the Cree are more focused on group values versus individual pursuits like
the American culture, they hope their children can pass on the land to the next generation. As a
result, their options for the future become truncated. As there is no desire for classroom education
to engage in economic interests in the future, they do not embrace a materialistic culture, which
prevents them from causing severe environmental degradation. The Cree best demonstrates
cultural preservation through living arrangements, such as that seen in Cree Hunters, where
three families which consisted of sixteen people resided in a lodge for six months built by
themselves from local resources. They lived harmoniously amongst themselves, free from

quarrels and disease. This manner of residing in large units of community is in direct contrast
with the American way of life, in which people live individually in large homes and children are
often sent to school upon inscribed cultural values for independence and autonomy.
To ensure success, Americans promote the importance of education in order to attain
social and economic mobility towards the American dream. As education opens doors and
opportunities towards career goals, most Americans earn more money. Oftentimes, as they earn
more, they spend more. Especially around their college years, many young Americans travel to
find themselves to explore other cultures. All this traveling increases air pollution emitted from
jet exhausts, catalyzing denigration of the environment. Furthermore, as Americans travel
overseas and interact with other cultures for an extended period of time and then return to
America, American culture becomes constantly enmeshed with others. This results in the culture
getting blended at a rapid pace.
After the discovery phase from pursuing their own interests, most Americans settle down
with a spouse and are encouraged to purchase a home, or perhaps other homes overseas, by the
beach, or an apartment in the city. Americans value space and privacy, as one family occupies one
house, and builds on top of more land. If a family has enough affluence, one child occupies one
bedroom. Despite more space and resources, clashes can potentially occur between parents where
divorce becomes inevitable and presents a persistent, detrimental effect on children.
With the last few decades being fixated on the present, American culture has subscribed
to the notion that owning property equates happiness, thereby obsessed with quantity over quality,
and to further insinuate Americans to automatically associate that newer and bigger is better. This
message is often endorsed by mass media through advertising, as it frequently translates wants
into needs, such as upgrading cell phones every few years. Electronic waste ends up in landfills
and the toxins end up in the air, soil, and water, affecting everyones quality of life. This need to
own new things, where functional products are deemed obsolete and have ended up in landfills,
has diminished the importance of saving family heirlooms from previous generations. As further

evidence suggests, not only does American culture possess the absence of preserving physical
relics to lack cultural preservation, it also falls short of conscientiousness to conserve the
environment.
Familial and educational values govern a cultures interaction with the environment.
Despite traditional or modern culture, resources must be utilized in order to sustain life on Earth.
However, American lifestyles are harming the environment at an expeditious rate. The Cree live
more sustainably because of the prioritization of conserving the land for future generations. Due
to Americans thinking in the present, they fall into their systematic patterns of overconsumption.
It is for this reason American culture is less concerned with environmental and cultural
preservation than the Cree.