Humor in American Indian culture is a vital part of all social situations.
Humor helps to ensure group cohesiveness and equality and to cope with the
sorrow and hardships of life. Sometimes the humor between and among
American Indian students, which is expressed by teasing, is misunderstood.
Teasing is often used to affirm values and remind children and peers of
appropriate behavior. Parents, extended family members and other adults in
the community may use teasing as a behavior management strategy with
children. Humor also denotes acceptance within the group. According to a
White Earth tribal member and Ojibwe language teacher, “You don’t laugh at
someone until they laugh at themselves, then you laugh with them."
American Indian humor is not limited to structured jokes. Humor can be