Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Alaska, People, Religion, Alcoholism, Human, Behavior, Belief, Animals

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/12/24

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Society is built by a combination of cultures and ethnic groups that interact to bring about a cohabiting population. The dynamics of human behavior are determined by the day to day living of people within the various societies. To understand the behavior of people in a given culture, all that a person has to do is to understand the day to day levity of man in his respective social; environments. Ethnographic comparison is a method that is used in understanding and analyzing some of the core elements that are core within the ethnographic sphere (Gingrich and Fox, 2002).
This paper is aimed at studying and analyzing human behavior and culture. It, therefore, employs the ethnographic comparison concept to bring out an imperative conclusion that is based on a diverse background setting. The societies that will be studied and compared in this paper are; the Cherokee and the Inuit, both of which are Native American societies. The aspect of human culture that will form the basis of the comparison is religion.

Background Information

Eskimos was once the name given to the Inuit, who inhabited the arctic region. They inhabited the lands within Siberia to the coast of Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. According to Bonvillain and Porter (1995), the population of the Inuit is about 60,000. They call themselves the Inuit, which means the other people. The Inuit have been found to be closely related to the Mongoloid people of eastern Asia as compared to the Native Americans. The estimated time of arrival for the Inuit on the continent of North America was about 4,000 years ago. Their language is Inuit, and it has a number of dialects within it, including; Inupiaq, Inuktitut, and Kalaallisut (Bonvillain and Porter, 1995).
The Cherokee occupy up to fourteen counties that make up the northern part of Oklahoma. The 1990 census indicated that the Cherokee population was up to 369,000 people. The Cherokee name has been associated with the meaning cave people. The eighteenth and nineteenth marked a great beginning and onset of changes for the Cherokee (Malone, 2010).

Religion among the Cherokee

One of the most important elements of human culture that can be of help in understanding human behavior is religion. It brings out the belief system and thought process of a given people in a deeper and detailed way of the people. Anthropologists have always asserted that it is the environment that a given society resides in that helps in shaping and defining their religion.
They believed in the afterlife, and thus all original life forms, spirit beings, and the departed souls all lived on the top of the sky vault. They believed that life between the two worlds existed in a precarious balance, and thus they deemed it very important to ensure that balance and harmony were maintained. They made sure that all their traditions, practices, and taboos fulfilled the maintenance of peace and harmony. To the Cherokee, the world is experienced in various opposites; the dark and light; summer and winter; male and female; fire and water.
They contend that these opposites exist for a reason and have to be maintained in this way, and a proper balance maintained. In the event, that the opposites mix, then disaster is likely to strike. If such a scenario occurs then, a cleansing ceremony has to be conducted to get over such atrocities and to please the spirits. A large group of Cherokee Baptists is also found among the traditional Cherokee population. They attend Indian churches and use the New Testament bible in Cherokee- language.

Religion among the Inuit

Inupiat religion is built and formed on the belief that the forces of nature are malevolent. This forms the central element that defines their religion. The climate and ecological zones that are inhabited by the Inuit are quite ruthless, the Inupiat, therefore, believe that the spirits of the animals and the weather have to be placated from time to time to avoid harm. They adhere to a strict observance of a number of ceremonies and taboos that are aimed at pleasing the spirits of the weather and animals. They also have a number of taboos and dances that are performed in honor of the various spirits (Bonvillain and Porter, 1995).
One of the traditions that they observe as a way of pleasing the spirits is for hunters opening the skull of an animal to release its spirit back into nature. They have personal spiritual songs that were mainly sung among the whale hunters. The teachings of religion and its various taboos and observances were taught and presided by the Shamans who were both male and female. The major role of the Shamans involved calling upon the helping spirits during times of trouble and crisis. Often the helping spirit would be in the shape of a land animal. However, with the onset interaction and contact between the Inuit and the Europeans led to a decrease in the power of their religious practices (Bonvillain and Porter, 1995).

Comparison and Human Behavior

Looking at the religions that are practiced by the two societies or ethnic groups, one realizes that the environment plays a crucial role in shaping and defining the belief systems of people. The Inuit inhabit the parts of the world that have the harshest climates, as a result, their religion and belief system has been based and formed around pleasing the spirits of weather and animals so as to avoid harm.
Appeasing and honoring these spirits so as to live in peace. The Cherokee, on the other hand, believe in a life of balance and harmony among various opposites. Their belief system is on that depicts a deeper understanding of various aspects of life. They understand the existence of various opposites and the importance that comes with such opposites. It also shows an emancipated society that goes beyond the survival instincts and looks at the world and what it is made up of.


Bonvillain, N., & Porter, F. W. (1995). The Inuit. New York: Chelsea House Publishers.
Gingrich, A., & Fox, R. G. (Eds.). (2002). Anthropology, by comparison. Psychology Press.
Malone, H. T. (2010). Cherokees of the Old South: A people in transition. Athens, Ga: University of Georgia Press.

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WePapers. (2020, December, 24) Ethnographic Comparison Essay. Retrieved July 30, 2021, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/ethnographic-comparison-essay/
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WePapers. Ethnographic Comparison Essay. [Internet]. December 2020. [Accessed July 30, 2021]. Available from: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/ethnographic-comparison-essay/
"Ethnographic Comparison Essay." WePapers, Dec 24, 2020. Accessed July 30, 2021. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/ethnographic-comparison-essay/
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Ethnographic Comparison Essay. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/ethnographic-comparison-essay/. Published Dec 24, 2020. Accessed July 30, 2021.

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