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The movie I chose to write this assignment over is Pocahontas. It is a Disney animated film that was released in 1995. Captain John Smith from England and his crew traveled to the New World in hopes to find gold and a new place to set up a town. Pocahontas the daughter of Chief Powhatan, whose tribe was very powerful in the settlement of what is now Virginia. While Smith and his crew were discovering the land, he ran into Pocahontas. She showed him the culture and the land, and it sparked a relationship.
Ethnocentrism can be defined as how one or more view their culture as the right way to live their lives. The perfect example of this is when John Smith told Pocahontas that the Europeans could enhance their way of life by establishing roads and buildings. Pocahontas become offended by his biased opinion because, it showed how he thought that the Native Americans way of life and culture would not be successful. The Englishmen had guns made of brass and silver as their way to protect themselves, while the Powhatans made spears and traps by hand as their source of protection. In the song “Colors of the Wind” that Pocahontas sang to John Smith these specific lyrics stood out to me. “You think you own whatever land you land on. The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim. But I know every rock and tree and creature. Has a life, has a spirit, has a name.” I interpreted these lyrics as Pocahontas showing how much her culture and her people value the land surrounding them.
Subsistence pattern is how a society obtains their food and resources. The main subsistence strategies that were used in the movies was Foraging, which is collecting, fishing, or hunting for food. Horticulture is the practice of gardening. In the movie the land is surrounded by the Chesapeake Bay which resulted them being able to catch fish. The one thing that sticks out in the movie is the tremendous amounts of corn fields. In one John Smith goes back to his camp and shows his men corn and says, “Look its food” while holing up an ear of corn. At the very end of the movie multiple baskets of corn are given to the sailors as a parting gift for their long voyage back.
The dialect used within the movie was mostly English. The Natives could understand the sailors and what they meant but at times in the movie the natives would use their own language. When John Smith and Pocahontas first meet each other, you could see the look of surprise on his face that she knew how to speak English. Pocahontas taught him hot to say “Hello” in her language which is “Wingapo”, and “Goodbye” is “Ana.” Other showings of culture included clothing. The Native Americans wore little to no clothing and it was made by hand and animal skin. The Englishmen’s clothing consisted of boots, long-sleeve shirts, and pants. They are modest and dressed from head to toe.
In conclusion, I learned about to different aspects of the cultures portrayed in the movie. The Native Americans value the land and the life of animals they are surrounded by. They know each one has a role in nature. While the Englishmen’s only thoughts were how they were going to enhance and help the land grow into a colonized lifestyle. Traditions also came into play with the Native Americans and how they would have a tribe meeting together. All the members would gather around outside or in a tent to discuss further actions on what was to be done. The observations that I came across while watching the movie did not surprise me. I knew that both cultures and the values that were depicted were different from one another.
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