First, the northwestern region, which includes the areas from: the northwestern coast from Oregon to Washington, the Rocky Mountains, and the Cascades Mountains consist of mainly Paiute, Shoshone, and Blackfoot tribes. According to A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples by Berry M. Pritzker, these three groups collectively consisted of more than 52,500 Native Americans. Even though they lived near each other each tribe saw the world slightly differently and practiced religion in various ways.
The Paiutes for example, believe all things animate or inanimate possessed power. Conversely, Pritzker states, “Only shamans acquired enough [power] to help, or hurt, others… Their power often came in a recurring dream” (225). The Paiutes also considered the sun an especially powerful spirit, which they prayed to daily. Next, the Shoshone people believes in the importance of dreams and visions to acquire help but unlike the Paiutes, the Shoshone believe in help from spirits instead of shamans. The author Pritzker states, “Such spirits instructed people on the use of medicines with which to activate their power… Spirits might cause illness, protect an individual from arrows, or hurt other people” (237). The Shoshone also believe that...
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Everything is sacred and interrelated. For instance, religion equals identity equals clan equals place. The chief role of ceremonies is to maintain or restore this harmony. Therefore most ceremonies are for curing, illness, broadly defined as being off balance for any number of reasons, such as contact with non-natives, ghosts, witches, or the dead (53).
Musical instruments, masked dancers, say paintings, are important aspects of these Navajo ceremonies and unlike the Shoshone, traditional Navajo ceremonies do not include religious societies.
Keoke, Emory Dean., and Kay Marie. Porterfield. Encyclopedia of American Indian Contributions to the World: 15,000 Years of Inventions and Innovations. New York, NY: Facts on File, 2002. Print.
Pritzker, Barry. A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples. New York: Oxford UP, 2000. Print.
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