What we call current American culture is not really American at all, but a derivative of the fusion of Western European cultures transplanted in North America with some African and Native American influences — and more recently some Latino and Asian influences as well. The early Americans were mainly British, Dutch, Welsh, Scottish, with a population of African slaves who numbered only about 5% of the total population around the time of the Declaration of Independence. Germans and Irish came in large numbers in the early and mid 1800’s, and then many other groups followed. The language we speak is NOT American — but, English which is a language that originated and evolved in England and has its roots in France, Netherlands, Germany, with many borrowed words from Latin and Greek. Real American languages might include Native American languages such as Hopi, Cherokee, Iroquois, etc. In Native times, there were hundreds of tribes with very different languages and cultures populating America. Today in America, there are also dozens of highly populated cultural groups. In one sense things have changed, but in another sense, we are still a quiltwork of diversity.
So, what is American culture, and how does diversity fit into the scheme of things? It is hard to say what is American culture. Is it the culture associated with the current government? Or, is it the culture associated with the majority of the people who live here now? In fifty years, the majority will be Hispanic, so will it be “un-American” to not eat tacos? Or, is the real American culture the culture of the people who lived here the longest. Sure, there were dozens of tribes, but they did have common roots in Siberia and Shamanistic culture. Am I being less American by taking an interest in Asian culture? Or is Asian culture no less American than the mainstream Anglo culture?
Here are some ways that you could be a “real american”
Connection to the land
Not all in our great land share the same culture. I am always criticized by my patriotic “paisanos” (Italian word for countrymen), but being too international, and not American enough. But, I have a tremendous connection to the land. Additionally, I have done past life revisions, and roughly 25% of my past incarnations were on American soil — mostly as a Native American, but three lives in white American society on the land as well. I feel that the Anglo-Americans who consider themselves to be “real” Americans probably have much fewer past lives on the land than I do (not that I am competing). There is something very special about America, and its natural places: The National Parks, the trees, the coast — everything!
Connection to the mainstream culture
Some people don’t like having other language groups in America and believe that everyone should speak English. However, English is very un-American in my opinion. After all, it originated in Europe which is a place that is not even remotely related to the Americans until 1492 if you discount earlier Viking and prehistoric expeditions from Western Europe to North America. Historically, there were several different language families of Native American languages, each with many languages and dialects. Although Native Americans derive from Siberia perhaps 3000 to 25000 years ago, their language familes are very distinct from each other — much less related to each other than the European languages are related to each other. I can not say more since I have not studied any native languages.
Modern American cuisine is mainly Western European with some Mexican dishes that have become staples (Nachos and Taquitos) and a few Chinese restaurants popping up in even the most remote American towns. Real American food is hard to define, but foods like Squash (etymological roots in America by the way), Squirrels (also an American word), Corn, Beans, Chili, and Chocolate (from the Mayan Xaco-Atl meaning foaming water since cocoa cooked in water foamed a lot). From what it looks like, the Mexican culture seems to be a lot closer to real American culture since they eat foods that are indiginous to our land as staples.
Association with the government
Although the Native Americans have been associated with the land currently governed by the USA for a long time, they have not been associated without government for that long unless they were from the East Coast. Native Americans have their own land — leftover land that our government didn’t want because it wasn’t very good. An unfair deal for the native people. But, none-the-less, the Native Americans have a great degree of self-autonomy and are their own nations in a sense. Regular Americans may not live on any reservation without permission from the tribes. So, in terms of association with our government, the descendants of the early English settlers do have claim as being the most American people in the country, as do descendents of the slaves, many of whom were here since the sixteen and seventeen hundreds.
Being born and raised
The difference between America and other lands, is that you can have your roots in a different culture, and still be accepted. You should speak English as your native language and not discriminate against the mainstream as well as prerequisites for acceptance. If you meet the above stated four conditions, you would most likely be at least 70% accepted in this fair land! In places like India, the Parsis have been there for around 1000 years and are still a separate community — maybe in another 1000 years they will be more accepted and absorbed into the mainstream.
Just being here
What I noticed from traveling, is that you become connected with a country just by being there. You look at the map all the time, and become connected with the consciousness of the people very quickly. I believe that people who are in America are connected to American consciousness in many ways even if they are completely disconnected from the culture or heritage of the land.
But, what about new immigrants who don’t want to learn English, and don’t want to learn to blend in with the others who live in this land? Often times, the children of these immigrants also don’t want anything to do with you if you are not from their particular minority group. This brings tremendous divisiveness. Is a divided America healthy? After all, we have enough divisions already. We have divisions between Native Americans and descendants of immigrants. There is a division between North and South which sort of faded away in the 80’s, but is still there. There are Republicans and Democrats with very different ideas. There are those who speak English at home and others who speak Spanish, Korean, Filipino, Chinese and many other tongues. Diversity brings tremendous strength to America making us more agile about doing more types of tasks that any single ethnic group would not be able to do a satisfactory job of. But, what about the division — will it come back to haunt us like it did during the Civil War?
After long thought, I have decided that there is no definative line to draw for who is an American. Some people are American in some ways and not in others. Some people are MORE American than others. But, the most American people in my opinion would be people with some Native American blood which gives them longevity on the land — and then also have ancestry going back to the early European settlers in the U.S. which would give them a multi-generational connection to the current administration. How many people besides our local coffee barrista in my neighborhood meet that description?