Native American Spirituality

The concept of Native American spirituality is quite broad. Unlike most organized religions there is no one creed or doctrine that can be studied and learned which will explain all aspects of the various forms of spirituality practiced by the various Native American cultures. Rather, it is best to study specific regions or cultures one at a time to gain an understanding of their unique perspective.

Native American spirituality includes creation narratives with details that are unique to the various tribes. Stories involving coyote raven, and sky woman can be found throughout several cultures.

Religious Tolerance talks a bit about the spiritual beliefs of the Inuit and those of other Native American cultures. Creation narratives, afterlife, and the concept of a deity are discussed.

Those outside of Native American culture often confuse religion with spirituality. While Native Americans are spiritual people they often claim not to be religious. The Encyclopedia of North American Indians details some of these distinctions and discusses Native American spirituality.

The role of spiritual leaders in Native American cultures is an important one. Sometimes these men and women are referred to as medicine men or shamans, however, this is not technically correct. The word shaman is not a word used by Native Americans but rather a word that is applied to their spiritual leaders by those outside of the indigenous culture.

Native Religion has provides a comprehensive discussion of Native American religious freedom as well as many specific case studies about the religious objects and lands that are being threatened.

Learning more about the individual spiritual practices of a given tribe will take time and dedication. These are time honored and sacred traditions that are as much a part of the cultural identify of many Native Americans as their tribal affiliation.

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