Native American Religions
The book discusses the religions of Native peoples of North America. lt presents and analyzes basic themes of Native concepts of spirit form and spiritual experience. It describes types of religious beliefs and ritual practices. And it examines the development of indigenous spiritual responses to the changes wrought by European/Anterican/Canadian intrusions into and eventual control over North America. Native religions are discussed both from understanding spiritual experience and from examining the cultural context in which beliefs and practices develop and are legitimated. Examples will be drawn from representative nations throughout North America although exhaustive coverage of the cultures of the continent will not be possible.
The book is divided into eight chapters:
Two: Forms of Spirit
This chapter discusses Native beliefs about the ways in which spirit powers are manifested. Beliefs about the ways that spirit powers contact and affect human beings and the ways that people may interact with spirits are also described.
Three: Myths and Legends
This chapter describes Native stories of the origin and transformation of the world in which people live. lt also discusses recurring themes in myths of adventure and of moral teachings that entertain and instruct. The cultural lessons and values transmitted by Native mythology are analyzed.
Four: Renewing the Earth
This chapter discusses rituals of earth renewal and thanksgiving. Prayers, offerings, and ceremonies conducted to honor the plants and animals that people depend upon for their sustenance are described.
Five: The Cycles of Life
This chapter examines rituals conducted to mark events in the life cicle, particularly birth, naming, puberty, inarriage, and death. Initiation into ritual societies and also discussed. The individual, familial, and community meanings of such rituals are analyzed.
Six: Health and Healing
This chapter focusses on the central role of healing rituals in Native religion and culture. Concepts of health— maintenance and disease—causation are discussed. The recruitment and training of healers is described. The chapter describes the rituals conducted to maintain or restore health and harmony both for their meaning to individuels and to communities.
Seven: Ritual Performance
This chapter analyzes the centrality of ritual in Native religious practice. lt describes the roles of specialized religious practitioners such as clowns, ritual societies, and people with extraordinary spirit abilities and powers. The chapters also discusses the contribution of the material and performance arts to the ritual experience.
Eight: Revelations: Spiritual Responses to Crisis
This chapter analyzes several movements of religious response to crises in Native societies that emerged as a result of the onslaught of European settlement and foreign control over Native lands and the assaults an Native culture that began in the 17th century and continued through the 20th. Four such "revitalization" movements are discussed in detail: the Handsome Lake religion of the Iroquois, the Shaker movement of the pacific northwest, the Ghost Dance of the Great Basin and Plains, and the Peyote religion of much of the west.
The economic, social, and political contexts of these movements are examined. U.S. and Canadian governmental interference and legislation regarding Native religious practices are discussed.
ISBN 9783895863431. Native America 03. 2003.