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What is Culture?

Hashen Kehk Traditional Basket Dancers from the Gila River Indian Community

Hashen Kehk Traditional Basket Dancers
(Gila River Indian Community)

NPS Photo - Dawn Daw

Culture is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as:

“the totality of socially transmitted
behavior patterns, arts, beliefs,
institutions, and all other products
of human work and thought typical
of a population or community at a
given time.”

What does that mean?

Culture is the way we learn to look at the world and how we function in it. Our culture is taught to us by our families, friends and communities. From these people, we learn what foods to eat, what kinds of houses to build, how to communicate, and how to behave. Cultures can be defined in many different ways: by region, nationality, religion, and race, to name just a few.

Most people are a part of more than one culture. If you are living in the United States, you are a part of the American culture. But there are many other co-cultures living here as well. A co-culture is a culture that is different from the predominant culture. An example would be: the American culture is the predominant culture in the United States and the O'odham culture is a co-culture. Cultures are sometimes defined by the kinds of food we eat, types of clothes we wear, where we live, where we work, the tools we use, the language we speak, and what we do for fun.

 

 
What If...
What if you could live with another culture for a year?
What would you want to learn?


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Did You Know?

Examples of pendants created and traded by the Hohokam

The ancient Sonoran Desert people made shell jewelry bracelets, rings, necklaces and pendants. Some of the jewelry was inlaid with turquoise, others had designs etched into the surface. The shells were acquired from as far away as the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California.