Aboriginal and Mexican Heritage and Health Beliefs

Aboriginal and Mexican Heritage and Health Beliefs

Cultural Group: Native Americans


  • Descendants of Paleo-Indians (Lithic stage);
  • Cultural exchange with European travelers;
  • Large tribes with unique culture;
  • Deadly diseases due to colonization;
  • Native Americans were migrating peoples.


  • Wise use of natural resources;
  • With respect to life experience (elderly);
  • All-natural objects are sacred;
  • The importance of generosity and honesty;
  • Reduce the exploitation of nature.


  • Many communicate in English freely;
  • Speak almost 200 indigenous languages;
  • Navajo language – the most widespread;
  • Language preservation efforts are taken;
  • Do not have one protolanguage (Kinsey & Reed, 2015).


  • Colorful blankets and weapons decoration;
  • Nature motifs and textile art;
  • Traditional baskets made of grass;
  • Beading is still extremely popular;
  • Have numerous artistic storytelling traditions.


  • Respect one’s clan and leaders;
  • Traditional gender roles are emphasized;
  • Subordination based on age differences;
  • Hierarchical structures in the social organization;
  • Respect the bodily integrity of others (Kinsey & Reed, 2015).

Lifestyle Characteristics

  • Religious practices along with learning;
  • Live in urban and rural areas;
  • Emphasis on dignity, not wealth;
  • Have many official tribal governments;
  • Battle numerous stereotypes and myths.


  • The sanctity of familial networks;
  • The importance of family support;
  • Use modern means of communication;
  • Spiritual rituals (healing practices, festivals);
  • Annual gatherings of large tribes.


  • The assimilation degrees greatly vary;
  • The majority live in urban areas;
  • Underrepresented in business and sports;
  • Many reservations across the USA;
  • Still respect traditional art, beliefs.

Health Behaviors

  • Value family support in treatment;
  • Are sensitive to medical interactions;
  • Often underutilize modern healthcare resources;
  • High prevalence of pernicious habits (Cobb, Espey, & King, 2014);
  • Use both traditional and alternative treatment.

Socio-Cultural Group: Mexican Heritage


  • Partial Mexican annexation (the 1840s);
  • The 1920s – mass immigration to the U.S.;
  • Organized many movements against racism;
  • >10% of the U.S. population;
  • Were discriminated against legally and economically (Davis, Carlo, & Knight, 2015).


  • Feel obliged to their families;
  • Value unity and mutual help;
  • Behavior: emotional intelligence and sincerity (Davis et al., 2015);
  • Trust-based relationships are important;
  • Great differences in religious views.


  • High degrees of linguistic diversity;
  • Mexicans speak various second languages;
  • The first language is Spanish;
  • Recognize many languages (Nahuatl, etc.);
  • Mexican Americans demonstrate linguistic assimilation.


  • Traditional poetry and music (Mariachi);
  • Handcraft (vases and ceramic pots);
  • Clothing items and wood crafts;
  • “Artesanía” elements in modern art;
  • Mat-making and weaved bags.


  • Often support traditional gender roles;
  • Regular family gatherings, family dinners;
  • Older adults’ opinions are respected;
  • Family issues outweigh business problems;
  • Mutual respect and conflict avoidance.

Lifestyle Characteristics

  • Respect traditional culture and art;
  • Traditional celebrations, festivals, and rituals;
  • Business customs (the length of meetings);
  • I prefer family weekends to individual activities;
  • Religious diversity in everyday life.


  • The roles are clearly distributed;
  • Hierarchies in less assimilated families;
  • Traditional ceremonies or Christian rituals;
  • Annual All Saints Day celebrations;
  • Hosting parties with traditional food.


  • Mexican Americans are usually well-assimilated;
  • Religious assimilation – popular Christian traditions;
  • Earn university degrees despite discrimination;
  • Have many communities across the U.S.;
  • May take well and low-paid jobs.

Health Behaviors

  • Traditional gender roles – women as carers;
  • Nutrition – may follow unhealthy diets;
  • Underutilize mental healthcare services (Gonzalez, Applewhite, & Barrera, 2015);
  • Family support to ill relatives;
  • Significant risk factors for obesity (Nam, Al Snih, & Markides, 2017).


Common and Different Characteristics

  • Common: family unity and support;
  • Common: female/male gender roles;
  • Common: take culture preservation efforts;
  • Differences: the degree of assimilation;
  • Differences: the popularity of traditional treatments.

Healthcare Approaches

  • Both: engage families in decision-making;
  • M: consider religious beliefs before contacts;
  • M: focus on nutrition consultations;
  • NA: consider physical intimacy rules (direct eye contact, etc.);
  • NA: consider accessories’ religious meaning.


Cobb, N., Espey, D., & King, J. (2014). Health behaviors and risk factors among American Indians and Alaska Natives, 2000–2010. American Journal of Public Health104(S3), S481-S489.

Davis, A. N., Carlo, G., & Knight, G. P. (2015). Perceived maternal parenting styles, cultural values, and prosocial tendencies among Mexican American youth. The Journal of Genetic Psychology176(4), 235-252.

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Gonzalez, J. M., Applewhite, S. R., & Barrera, I. (2015). Older Mexican Americans: Pathways to mental health service use. Social Work in Mental Health13(4), 390-414.

Kinsey, K., & Reed, P. G. (2015). Linking Native American tribal policy to practice in mental health care. Nursing Science Quarterly28(1), 82-87.

Nam, S., Al Snih, S., & Markides, K. (2017). The effects of chronic medical conditions and obesity on self-reported disability in older Mexican Americans. Texas Public Health Journal69(3), 12-15.


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