About the beliefs and culture of Native Americans

Native American people inhabited the Americas long before they were discovered by Christopher Columbus. They were given the name of Indians by Columbus, because he wrongly assumed that he had arrived in the Indies. Much of Native American history is tragic and deals how the Europeans fought to conquer and slay the Native Americans that were willing to peacefully coexist. Native American beliefs and culture have remained intact throughout history and have survived on.

What is Culture?

Trying to define Native American culture can be a daunting task. Culture is what can characterize a group and involves the popular beliefs, customs and rituals. This culture is passed on and is carried out by all different Native American tribes throughout history.

Stone Age Culture of Native Americans

Even though many Native American tribes lived vastly different lifestyles, many still held on to the same customs and beliefs. No matter if they were nomadic or static, they still felt that the land was filled with bountiful gifts that they were blessed with. The culture of Native Americans never changed from the time of the stone age until the Europeans began to migrate to this region. Their tools and weapons had remained primitive over time and they lived a simplistic lifestyle that they enjoyed.

Religious Beliefs

Many of the religious beliefs that Native Americans held strongly were tied to Animism. Animism is a belief that the Universe and everything that makes up the universe has its own soul or spirit. This means that every plant, tree and stone has its own soul. Other things like storms and fires are also believed to have souls by the Native American people.

These type of beliefs allowed for a profound connection and affection for nature. Animals, sun and wind were often worshipped by the Native Americans and they even believed that dances could bring about rain. They prayed to the gods and nature for all that they needed to survive. Spirituality was a prominent part of Native American culture. They felt as though they were one with nature and owed it a great deal of gratitude.

The Great Spirit

Instead of praying to God, they referred to the creator as the Great Spirit. This spirit was said to have created the entire world and was responsible for all that nature had to offer. This resulted in the Native American people praying and worshipping the Great spirit and looking for favor.

Shaman and Medicinal Practices

Another custom that is well-known in Native American culture involves the belief in healing powers. Shaman were critical to each tribe and were believed to have special healing powers that were given from the spirit world. Shaman were seen as mediums that had connections to the spirit world and could heal humans. Magic and medicine were used to heal the sick and cure disease. However, shaman were also believed to have other powers that involved telling the future and controlling the hunt.

Customs and Ceremonies

The Native American people used their customs to show their respect for the spirits. They created dances and orchestrated ceremonies that were designed to appease the spirits and be a sign of respect. All tribes had their own ceremonies, but they were all similar and included the same basic customs. Spirits were important to the Native Americans and they always tried preserve their people by respecting the spirits that had control. The ceremonies often included elaborate dances that were accompanied by song. Some of the most popular Native American dances included the Pipe Dance, Rain Dance, Buffalo Dance and Basket Dance. The dances that were performed were often ideal for each individual tribe.


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