Native American Religion
A description and brief history of the Native American religion.
Native American religion is hard to explain. This is because there were very many tribes the religious principles were passed down verbally. Many of these groups had their own beliefs though many of them were similar in the major aspects.
Native American religion tends to focus around nature. The landscape, animals, plants, and other environmental elements play a major role in the religion of Native Americans. Many of the legends passed down were an attempt to explain events that occurred in nature.
Native American religion includes a number of practices, ceremonies, and traditions. These ceremonies may be in honor of a number of events. The practice of taking certain hallucinogens was commonly used to gain greater insight or communicate with the gods. Ceremonies may include feasts, music, dances, and other performances.
Symbolism, especially with animals, is often a common part of Native American religion. Animals were used to represent certain ideas, characteristics, and spirits. Some Native American tribes used animals to tell the story of creation. Some creation stories, one by the Tlingit Indians, were centered on a raven.
In the past, Native American religion was not classified as a religion. Their beliefs were not understood and the complexity of their religion was not seen. This was partly the result of not having a written set of guidelines.
In the place of preachers and clergymen were shaman and medicine men. These men were sometimes said to communicate with the gods. They were wise and experienced and they enjoyed a higher level of status among their groups. They had important roles in decisions, ceremonies, and traditions.
Native American religion is something that is hard to define. To gain a full understanding you really need to grow up submersed in the beliefs, practices, and traditions of a tribe. It isn't the same as becoming a born-again Christian or converting to Judaism.