Native American

The general characteristics and origins of Native American religion shed light upon the more contemporary sects. But the development of the numerous individual traditions, passed down orally, remains unclear. The sheer number of groups and the diversity of the nuances of belief complicates matters further.

The religions do share some common tendencies. Religion tends to be closely related to the natural world. The local terrain is elevated with supernatural meaning, and natural objects are imbued with sacred presences. Ceremonial rituals involving these supernatural-natural objects are meant to ensure communal and individual prosperity. These common underlying features unite a diversity of contemporary Native American sects.

The original hunting knowledge brought with the first North American immigrants became influenced or usurped altogether by new horticultural religious influences. Animal ceremonialism, the quest for spiritual power, Male Supreme Being, annual ceremony of cosmic rejuvenation, few stationary cult places, shamanism, and life after death beyond the horizon or in the sky were tenets of hunting pattern religions. Rain and fertility ceremonies, priestly ritual, goddesses and gods, yearly round of fertility rites, permanent shrines and temples, medicine society ritualism, and life after death in the underworld or among the clouds characterized the new horticultural pattern religions.

Ceremony plays a vital, essential role in Native American religions. Whereas western religions typically consider ceremony the servant of theology, Native American religions barely recognize the distinction between myth and ritual. Often the ritual proves to be established and secure while the myth is vague and unclear. Indian ceremonies grew up within local groups; some elements of Indian ceremonials have been traced back to the Old World. The ceremonies were adapted locally, using both traditional and borrowed elements, to suit local needs (Underhill, 4). These ceremonies often began as practical actions. Indians were eager to embrace ceremonies or portions of ceremonies that provided power to conquer the difficulties of life. As these practices developed, they were modified and imbued with additional meanings and purposes.

The medicine men and priests among the Indians were usually merely those men who thought more deeply and strenuously than the average men in the tribe. These thinkers tended to live among the more successful tribes. To think, one needed at least some time free from the chore of procuring food. These medicine men or shamans were in a different class than the other men of their tribe. This special status was not dependent on their hunting and fishing. Contact with other tribes enabled thinkers to build and expand their belief frameworks, so shamans were more prevalent in tribes that were accessible to outsiders.

As contemporary Native American religious flowerings are best understood by first examining the origins of Native American Spirituality, all of the contemporary sects are best comprehended in light of the traditional religions. As these differ from their New Age and Christian versions, each group is also unique compared to other traditional sects. These traditional sects are best understood as a conglomerate by investigating a few individual traditional Native American religions.

To learn about Native American Religions you can go to the following links or perform your own research:

http://www.hanksville.org/NAresources/

http://www.dickshovel.com/www.html

http://www.religioustolerance.org/nataspir.htm
 

^ top

FREE! World Religions
 Mini-Course
 

Email:

   
Topics

What is Interfaith?

Angels
Books
Corporate Ministry
Funerals

Links
Meditation

Music
Prayers
Prayer Ministry
Products
Quotes
Sacred Texts

Services Available
Web Ring Sites
Weddings
When Times Are Bad

Prayer Ministry

Contact Webmaster

Home

 

Last Updated: Monday, May 05, 2008

2003, www.godlovesyouandme.org