Native American Religion

Native American religion is all about Native American church. The religion is mysterious, exciting and has something which would definitely make you think and contemplate. The Native American people have tribal origins and therefore there is a kind of rawness and extreme devotion (at times irrational) in most of their religious activities. In fact, the Native American church is a combination of several native spiritual practices together with certain symbolic elements from Christianity. The principal Native American ritual is the celebration of the Peyote service.

Every religion has certain specific aims and the prime aim of the Native American religious conviction was to fight against the absurdities such as crime and alcoholism brought about by the colonizers. In the Southwest portion of America especially in New Mexico, we witness the integration between the Catholicism initiated by the Spanish missionaries and the usual native religion. Particularly the Masses at Santa Fe's Saint Francis Cathedral are great occasions for the natives and they love to celebrate the religious carnival with drums, chants and dances of the Pueblo people. 

In the whole of United States, this ethnic group of Native Americans requires a federal permit to follow their religion. It is being clearly stated in the eagle feather law that only individuals of confirmable native American origin registered in a federally recognized clan are officially certified to get hold of eagle feathers for using in several devout and divine occasions. For Native Americans, religion is spiritualism and a cause to rise higher in humanity.

For us, dreams and apparitions are parts of usual daily experiences, but for the native American Indians they had different significance altogether. Dreams and visions are closely associated with religious customs and values – this is what the Native Americans believed. Dancing and enjoyment with the fire at the center is a usual custom of the natives to keep off evil spirits and ghosts. Narrating religious stories were also a part of Native American culture. Such stories were ways to explain certain curious concepts, which are not possible to explain casually. One of the ways by which the Native Americans displayed their stories was on tapestries.

There are several instances of Native Americans making draperies depicting unicorns. Religion for the natives was also a way to show respect to the ancestors. People who are dead are considered to be unified with God and they are usually held in equal status of the divine being.

The Native American church is the principal and the most prevalent aboriginal religion of the country. There are around a quarter of million members of the church. Over 10,000 years in Mexico and 7,000 years in USA, the Indians have enthusiastically dealt with the peyote cactus as a divine interference.

You have already been told that as most of the Native American inhabitants had tribal origin, their religion at times was animalistic and eerie. Such natives believed in a great spirit called Wakan Tanka. The natives adopted several measures to satisfy and calm the spirits for a peaceful and hazardless existence. Most of the Native American dwellers believed that spirits caused climactic hazards and illnesses. They also believed that ‘medicine men’ had the ability to interact with spirits and plead for help. According to the natives, anything, which was out of human reach, could be well accomplished by spirits. On several occasions, the natives performed Buffalo Dance, which they thought would bring the Buffalo to them.

Native Americans were worshippers of nature and therefore Native American religion was centered around the true essence of spiritualism. In reality, religion for the natives was life itself.

Joseph Paige 2006

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