Understanding American Culture 
From Melting Pot to Salad Bowl
By Joyce Millet  

 

 

 

 

 

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Understanding American Culture

 

America has traditionally been referred to as a "melting pot," welcoming people from many different countries, races, and religions, all hoping to find freedom, new opportunities, and a better way of life. 



E Pluribus Unum - From Many to One



American history began with waves of immigrants, bringing their own cultures and traditions to a vast new country.  No other place in the world has such a diverse population.  It is this diversity that makes America what it is and, at the same time, creates the challenges it faces.

 

But What is American Culture?


Americans come from all over the world.  A recent search for "American Culture" on Yahoo! - Regional > Countries > United States > Society and Culture > Cultures and Groups > Cultures > turned up 47 categories!  Some of these include:  

African
Asian 
Arabic 
Brazilian 
Chinese 
Danish 
German 
Hispanic/Latino 
Indian 
Iranian 
Irish

Italian 
Japanese 
Korean 
Native Americans 
Norwegian 
Philippine 
Polish 
Scandinavian 
Scottish 
Vietnamese 
Welsh


Strictly speaking, the only indigenous Americans are the American Indians who were living here long before the first waves of settlers came over from Europe.  When Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492, he called these natives "Indians" because he thought he had discovered a western route to India.


Today the trend is toward multiculturalism, not assimilation.  The old "melting pot" metaphor is giving way to new metaphors such as "salad bowl" and "mosaic", mixtures of various ingredients that keep their individual characteristics.  Immigrant populations within the United States are not being blended together in one "pot", but rather they are transforming American Society into a truly multicultural mosaic.
 

Continued



 

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