Native American Spiritual Rituals And Practices

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Native American Spiritual Rituals and Practices


Native Americans in the United States is the indigenous peoples in North America within the limits of the current continental United States, parts of Alaska and the island state of Hawaii. They consist of many distinct tribes, states and ethnic groups, many of which survive as intact political communities. The Native American belief dates back as far as 60,000 years (Frisbie 125). Archeologists suggest that thousands of years ago people lived on a great continent, Pangea, which was responsible for a global uniformity of nomadic spiritual culture. These commonalities were responsible for the earliest forms of spiritual customs that developed into many of today's spiritual beliefs (Feraca 236). In this paper, we will discuss the spiritual rituals and practices of Native American.


Spiritual Rituals and Practices

The majority of Native American rituals revolved around the calendar and lunar and solar observations. Others were allied to the various subsistence needs; for example, hunting and harvesting. The Native American environment was symbolized by the ritual of the six directions: north, south, east, west, the zenith, and the nadir. The zenith was Grandfather (day). Sky is represented by Father Sun and the Thunderbirds. The nadir is Mother or Grandmother Earth. Grandmother Moon was female (Deloria 88).

Different tribes had different rituals; nevertheless, the principle throughout the majority of the tribes was closely tied to nature and existence. For instance, the spirits and power of mountains, springs, lakes, clouds, flora, and fauna were seen as sacred (Capps 46).

The sweat lodge, fasting, and the sun dance were all part of Native American rituals. A sweat lodge is a structure made from saplings and covered by animal skins that generate moist air, like a sauna. There is a depression dug in the center of the lodge where hot rocks are placed. Water is thrown over the rocks, creating steam. Sweat lodges vary in size; some can hold as many as a dozen people. The purpose is for purification or spiritual renewal (Brown 201).

The Sun Dance

Fasting rituals are self-explanatory, but the sun dance is spectacular. A religious ceremony that originated with the Plains Indians (most notably the Sioux) the Sun Dance was held a year in the early summer to celebrate and reaffirm beliefs about the universe and the supernatural (Frisbie 128).

Sometimes the dance was performed by individual tribes; other times a group of them would come together. There were elaborate preparations, and once the Sun ...
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