Native American Spirituality

*No founder; tradition has evolved over centuries, passed down by storytelling

’More than 2 million people in 300-500 different American Indian tribal groups, each with its own culture and responses to specific situations.

Beliefs •      Creator – some tribes use “God” and “Creator” interchangeably

•      Fundamental interconnectedness of all natural things, all forms of life, with the land, or Mother Earth, are of primary importance

•      Basic sense of community or group/tribe

Daily practices •      Prayers, may include using sacred objects, usually private and without strangers present
Dying and death •      Beliefs and practices vary widely from tribe to tribe

•      Body is sometimes prepared for bu^al by family or tribe members

•      After person dies, some tribes will not touch deceased person’s clothes or belongings



•       Provide time, space, privacy and include tribal spiritual leader

•      Do not pretend to be familiar with traditions and do not interfere with them

Food •      After ceremony or prayer, foods consumed will likely be provided by family
Health •      Health care practices intertwined with religious and cultural beliefs

•      May believe that III health results from not living in harmony or being out of balance with nature and social and supernatural environments

Holy days and festivals •      Closely related to seasonal changes, the moon, provision of food and other life essentials
Pregnancy and birth •      Pregnant women included in religious ceremonies until delivery
Rituals/ceremonies •       Performed with intent of seeing, understanding, or obtaining a vision of clarity of oneself and individual issues in order to relate to oneself and others

•       Prayer accompanied by burning of sacred plants, i.e. sweet grass, sage, cedar or tobacco



•       No written scriptures; ceremonies and beliefs learned by word of mouth and experience

•      Sacred and should not be touched without permission, especially by stranger

•      Medicine bag: leather pouch usually worn around neck. Do not open or question.

•       Religious articles carried by elders must not be touched by anyone other than the elder; if inspection is required, an elder should be invited to provide inspection services

•       A woman should not come near sacred objects during menstruation

Social Structure      •       Respect for female and male elders

•       Medicine Man or Woman will probably not have identification defining member

•       Include elder, medicine person, or spiritual leader as colleague to assist in healing process

Symbols •      A great variety of symbols which vary from one tribe to another
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