Religion and Spirituality in Native American Culture

1603 Words7 Pages
Religion & Spirituality in the Native American Culture

When the topic of the beliefs of the Native American culture arises, most people have generally the same ideas about the culture’s beliefs: they are very strong. Being part Native American myself, from the Cherokee tribe, I was raised to know my culture pretty well and follow the same beliefs that they teach and follow. One thing f that my grandma, who is the great-granddaughter of a Cherokee Chief, instilled in me is the importance of my beliefs in God.
When the Europeans came to North America and saw the spiritual practices, ceremonies, and rituals being performed, they thought of the Native Americans as barbarians and their practices pagan, and that’s when the fight to keep their spiritual practices alive began. The Europeans sought to “Christianize the Indians” and sought to suppress indigenous spirituality (Doak).
The United States government tried to force Christianity upon the Indians in a desperate attempt to destroy their traditions and to assimilate them into white Christian society; but it soon became "apparent to United States political and Christian leaders that the political and religious forms of tribal life were so closely intertwined as to be inseparable, and that in order to successfully suppress tribal political activity, it was imperative that tribal religious activity be suppressed as well"(Dill).
Jordan Dill, states well in his article that:
As the United States government realized early on, Native American spirituality differs from Christian religious doctrine. For Christians, there is a distinct separation between religious practice and everyday activity. For Native Americans, however, no such clear-cut distinction exists because religion cannot be separated from everyday life. Even using the word "religion" to describe Native American spirituality is misguided, because it fails to take into consideration the inseparable connection between spirituality and culture. One cannot exist without the other. Native American spiritual observances are "guided by cycles, seasons and other natural related occurrences,” and these spiritual aspects are inextricably woven into the culture itself (Dill).
Basically, I feel that Dill is stating that the government tried to separate the culture of the Native Americans and the spiritual...

... middle of paper ...

...ificant to take part in the grand scheme of the Great Spirit. For example, many Christian denominations, like the Puritans of New England, believed that they were the chosen people of God and were working toward the creation of a true "Kingdom of God" located in America. The Iroquois, on the other hand, believed that the world was as it should be, and there was nothing that could be done by mankind to change this fact (Ruvolo).
Clearly religion and spirituality in the Native American culture is a very important aspect of their society and culture and taken very seriously. Throughout history, Native Americans have been severely persecuted for their beliefs and have endured some serious hardships, including death, but have continued to remain strong in their faith despite what they have been put through by the “white man”. I think that culture as a whole is a very strong and determined culture and I’m proud to be part of it.

Work Cited

Dill, Jordan S. First Nations Issues of Consequence. 1 Feb. 2005. 20 Feb. 2005 .

Doak, Michael. Native American Spiritualitssy. 2001. 19 Feb. 2005 .

Ruvolo, David. "Summary of the Native American Religions." 20 Feb. 2005 .

More about Religion and Spirituality in Native American Culture

Open Document