Why it is Important to Understand your Ancestors Ethnic Group
By Wendy Melton
Learning about your family’s ethnic background is important for a variety of reasons. To some, it may just be the curiosity of wondering why your family has certain traditions. Family traditions often stem from a practice or celebration native to one’s homeland or ethnic culture. Religion plays a big part in this aspect, but each family adds its own special flair or nuance that makes its particular celebration unique. Family’s may gather in large groups and then continue the celebration or event in private. Tracing these traditions back through a family’s lineage can bring to light many interesting characteristics.
In certain cultures, traditions and ethnic or cultural information is passed down from generation to generation through storytelling. Native Americans are well known for this. Up until the beginning of the last century, no written records or histories were kept by tribal groups of Native Americans. As white settlers moved West, many tribes were completely wiped out, leaving no history of their traditions or culture.
Other tribes lost much of their heritage and language as whites imposed their beliefs and practices on the Natives, in turn, prohibiting them from practicing their religion or speaking their language. As a way of preserving their heritage, elders told stories of their ancestors to the younger generations in the hopes of preserving the culture. Native language was also taught in this way. The importance of these practices is immeasurable considering how much native lore, language and culture has been lost over the past two hundred years.
Recent generations of Native Americans, both full and mixed bloods are returning to their respective tribal lands to find out about their history and their culture. In this way, traditions and language are taught to upcoming generations so that Native culture will continue to live on and ancestors will be remembered.
Knowing one’s ethnic background is also important when it comes to certain medical concerns. Tay-Sachs disease and sickle cell anemia are two illnesses that are found predominately in certain ethnic groups. Tay-Sachs is a disease that is generally found in Askhenazi Jews or people of Eastern European descent. Sickle cell anemia is another ethnic specific disease that is mostly found in individuals who are of Mediterranian or African descent. Certain South American and Caribbean cultures are also susceptible to the disease. If a person is adopted and has no clue about his or her ethnic background, they may be unaware of the risks of these two diseases.
Researching your ethnic background can answer many questions about family, traditions and health concerns. It can be enlightening and exciting to discover aspects of family history that otherwise may have gone by the wayside.
Prompt: In one paragraph, explain why it is important to understand family background. The paragraph must be at least five sentence, must contain textual evidence from this article, and must follow the “Quote Sandwich” paragraph structure.
Use the organizer to arrange each part of the paragraph. Please utilize sentence starters!Claim:
Top Bread (Phrase introducing the quote):
Bottom Bread (The analysis)
The Final Product
Using what you came up with in the Quote Sandwich organizer, now put it all together written as one fluid paragraph. Each piece should go one after another.