Cuyamaca College Nacirema and Spirits for Sale Discussion

Discussion 2: Nacirema and Spirits for Sale (graded discussion)

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Instructions: This week everyone will answer three questions in their first post. For full credit you must have 3 posts minimum during the week. Your first post will be the response to the 3 questions based on your first name (see below). You should aim for at least 200 words or so in your initial post by Tuesday night. The next two posts will be in response to other students so we can have a full discussion. You will not be able to see other people’s posts until AFTER you post your first thread. The discussion closes Friday night.

Note: the readings and film for this discussion are found in Module 1.You will answer the same question number from each list, and everyone will answer the very last question. If your FIRST NAME begins with A-G answer both question 1’s (from each list) and question 5.If your FIRST NAME begins with H-M answer both question 2’s (from each list) and question 5.If your FIRST NAME begins with N-S answer both question 3’s (from each list) and question 5.If your FIRST NAME begins with T-Z, answer both question 4’s (from each list) and question 5.*Try to answer all parts of the question, but more important, try to answer the question thoughtfully and critically. The purpose of this discussion board is to discuss and evaluate the articles. Feel free to compare/contrast, or bring up other topics that you were thinking of while looking at the film and reading the article, you will be graded on the thoroughness of your response, and your critical thinking.*Your responses to other students need to also be thorough, but can be shorter than 200 words, HOWEVER just “I agree with your post” is insufficient. Please try to engage in a discussion. You can respond to students who answered the same questions as you, or different questions, whatever you like. Do not copy other students, do your own work. I will be checking in during the week to add to the discussion as well. The two additional posts will be due by FRIDAY AT MIDNIGHT. I suggest subscribing to your own thread and any thread you comment on, that way you can be notified if someone comments on your posts. You should always read my INSTRUCTOR RESPONSE (posted mid-week) and feel free to reply to it as well or in addition to your classmates (it will count as one of your two required replies)… Please let me know on the Class Questions board if there are any problems or concerns! Enjoy. I am looking forward to this discussion!

Part 1- Nacirema

1. Here are two key terms to think about: Emic and Etic. Emic refers to the insider’s view (the view of the person from inside their own culture). Etic refers to the outsider’s view of the culture (usually the perspective of the researcher). How are the emic and etic perspectives portrayed in this article?

2. Miner argues that the Nacirema people believe that the body is ugly and tends towards disease. What types of rituals described in the article are used by the Nacirema to attempt to beautify the body and keep away disease? Give at least 2 examples.

3. Go through the article and define these terms to the best of your ability: Notgnishaw, Medicine Man, Herbalist, Gift, Holy-Mouth-Man, latipso, magic wand, listener.

4. Who is the holy-mouth man, and why is he so important to the Nacirema? Why does Miner suggest that the ‘mouth-men’ may be sadistic?

5. EVERYONE: Do you agree with Miner’s description of the Nacirema? Do you find them to be masochistic? How do you feel about their rituals, their fascination with the mouth, and the idea that they are ‘a magic-ridden people’? What do you think the Native Americans from the film would think of the Nacirema? How does the Nacirema culture compare to theirs? to your own?

Part 2: “Spirits for Sale”

1. What were your overall impressions of the Native Americans featured in the film and their opinions about Americans and other outsiders? are they ethnocentric?

2. What is your opinion of the following situations in the film: the feather? The sweatlodge in Denmark? Casinos?

3. Several of the Native Americans featured in the film mentioned the difficulty they had in living in two worlds. There were several opinions offered in the film, from integrating old stories to returning to an ancient way of life. Most expressed pain and loss. Comment on this. What can/should be done to improve the situation for Native peoples?

4. What do you need in order to keep a culture intact? Language? ancestry (or ‘blood’)? land? respect? ceremony? some combination of these? other things?

5. What other questions/concerns/comments to you have related to the film, or the first chapters in the textbook?


The film and article will be discussed in our first discussion board, you should be sure to read and watch so you can make your first post.

First, I have included a pdf version of the first article I would like you to read.…

Next, you should watch the film: Spirits For Sale, which you can find here, through your library’s resources:


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