Crow Nation values and the meaning of military service

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http://hdl.handle.net/10138/16444
Title: Crow Nation values and the meaning of military service
Author: Väyrynen, Marjo Hannele
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology
Date: 2009-09-30
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/16444
Thesis level: master's thesis
Abstract: The subject of my master s thesis is the recent service of the members of the Crow Nation in the United States armed forces, and the relation of this to the tribe's warrior past. The material for the study was mostly collected during my fieldwork on the Crow reservation in August - November 2007; this included interviews with Crow veterans and their relatives, as well as attendance in several tribal events, and numerous informal conversations with tribal members. Historically warfare was a way of life for the Crow, and it was strongly interrelated with different aspects of life, such as politics and spirituality. Nowadays military service is a more unilateral experience, but yet almost all Crows have several veterans as family members, and tribal warriors are strongly present in the daily discourses. The purpose of this thesis is to study the meaning of the present military service and the warrior past for the Crow tribal members, and the values they relate to these experiences. Anthropologists have long defined values as norms or symbolic systems that present cultural criteria to define which desires are justified and worthy, therefore affecting the behavior of the people. My study is based on a more recent, wider concept of values, according to which values can also function as a part of cultural identity and as a basis for evaluation and interpretation. In this thesis I observe how the Crow employ values in their discourse over their military service and warrior past, as well as what meanings they hereby express. In the end I also seek to develop a deeper understanding of the way values can be perceived to function as a cultural factor. In this paper I present that the Crow understand and interpret their military service and history as warriors with the help of four principal values: the Crow country, status and respect, individualism, and tradition. I elucidate these concepts with the help of relevant anthropological discourses, and describe how they work as values within the context of Crow military service. Finally I demonstrate that the values of the Crow motivate and orient them, but that they also construct meanings and function as a basis for interpreting life experiences, and therefore help the Crow to understand and conceptualize military service in a way that is both personally satisfying and culturally meaningful for them. Additionally I explain how concepts of values also work as a basis for the Crow to define and differentiate themselves as individuals and as a people, and hence to construct their identity. In this way values express the continuity and distinctiveness of their culture, emphasizing their meaning for cultural survival. The Crow have adapted new customs and institutions, such as military service in the U.S. armed forces, but their own culture has given rise to specific interpretation and appliance of these new elements. Military service does not correspond with the old warrior institution, but it reflects many of its functions, meanings, and values, and thus represents continuity. Modern military service is therefore a way for the Crow to produce the basis of their culture and declare their right for cultural difference.
Description: Endast sammandrag. Inbundna avhandlingar kan sökas i Helka-databasen (http://www.helsinki.fi/helka). Elektroniska kopior av avhandlingar finns antingen öppet på nätet eller endast tillgängliga i bibliotekets avhandlingsterminaler.Only abstract. Paper copies of master’s theses are listed in the Helka database (http://www.helsinki.fi/helka). Electronic copies of master’s theses are either available as open access or only on thesis terminals in the Helsinki University Library.Vain tiivistelmä. Sidottujen gradujen saatavuuden voit tarkistaa Helka-tietokannasta (http://www.helsinki.fi/helka). Digitaaliset gradut voivat olla luettavissa avoimesti verkossa tai rajoitetusti kirjaston opinnäytekioskeilla.


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