Native American Spirituality

Native American Spirituality refers to the teachings, traditions, rituals and stories of the First Peoples of North America. As these teachings vary, between Peoples, generic answers sometimes can be misleading and answers should refer to the teachings of a particular People or group of Peoples whenever possible.

1,458 Questions
Native American Spirituality
Native American Languages

How do you pronounce Aho Mitakuye Oyasin?

Mitakuye Oyasin. (Pronounced Mee-tah-koo-yay O-yah-seen, is a Lakota Phrase which means. "We Are All Related")

Native American Spirituality

When did shamanism start?

It is theorized that the earliest knowledge regarding Shamanism comes from Russian anthropologists when they studied tribal nomadic herders in Siberia in the 19th century. Their detailed descriptions of the spiritual practitioners the tribesmen called Shamans, led to the term being continued by anthropologists and historians.

Knowledge has since come to light which has furthered the study of the history of Shamanism, some of which is discussed below, and in the book Dawn Behind the Dawn: A Search for the Earthly Paradise, by Geoffrey Ashe.

Answer 2:

Although Shamanism is recognized worldwide among earth-cultures, shamanism remains a great mystery for most people. Natural energies are all around us--we humans have simple gotten away--too, too far away--from listening to these energies. Tantra and other disciplines help reawaken our sleeping or dormant mind to these energies and how to join with them incooperative effort.

Shamanism is shown to ahve it's roots in the mythos and magik of the Cro-magnon peoples of europe=--amply demonstrated in the cave paintings all over europe. Richard leakey's "Origins" and his subsequent "Origins Reconsidered" sheds new light on shamanisms' origins, functions and the new meanings this gives to old 'evidence' not before taken into consideration. Much of this work centers on comparative studies with current tribal peoples in Africa and the evidence derived from archaeological resources old and new.

For a really good understanding of what shamanism is about, see the terrific move "Phenomenon" with John Travolta.

Shamanisn started as a quest to provide deeper understandings of the natural world for us ill-equipped human beings. Their belief systems functioned in harmony with the natural world, sought a sense of security and predictability for the ill-prepared human beingsthrough intercessors who spoke with or communed with spirits of the elemental world around them.

A significant portion of shamanism is the cyclic nature ofour world--season follows season, migratory animals follow their respective trails, the heavens above turn across the night skiesand sink beneath the horizon only to reappear the next night. Wind moves in its greatest force in a circle--tornadoes; birds build circular nests; from dust to dust the cycle continues, and all its energies can be 'listened to', acted in concert with, and results shared...

The most remote and inaccessible of tiny chambers wherein many single or small groupings of effigy carvings/paintings are found present in some cases with theinability for the artist to even see his own handiwork. There are cases shown where the last possible distance one could reach into, even by only an arm or hand, was the desired location. The animal effigies carved there were 'planted' into the earth to prosper the species, a seed placed into a sacred womb, mother earth herself!

Other larger chambers were specifically chosen for their accuostic resonance--a perfect setting for large groups to partake in shamanistic ceremonies wherein the rockwall itself, covered in paintings, becomes the doorway between two worlds with the shaman operating in both at once. Healing, death, birth and 'running interference' for the hunt, the harvest, etc., against malevolent spirits are but some of the functions a shaman would perform.

There are specific geometric patternings relavant to each of three progressive stages of ssc (shamanic state of consciousness)--again, see Richard Leakey's "Origins Reconsidered" for a much more on the matter.

Answer 3

Please read Richard Leakeys "Origins Reconsidered"--his work puts a whole new look on the origins of shamanism, and brings the practice much further back than Geoffrey Ashe's work.

Answer 4:

Apparently the other responder is thinking only of when the word 'shaman' was adopted.

Ashes' work is already outdated by Leakeys' "Origins Reconsidered"--comparisons between current shamanistic cultures and the Cro-Magnon peoples' cave paintings reveal the practice to date significantly further back than 19th century nomadic herders.

To wit: How could the basic practices and principles of shamanism have become world-wide ony SINCE the 19th century? Not possible--shamanism was/is practiced by every prehistoric culture on earth, so it isn't possible for nomadic herders to have traveled the globe to spread this practice since the 19th century.

Religion & Spirituality
Native American Spirituality

What were Hurons wyandots religion?

Their religion was based on a belief of many spirits, or Oqui, and have effects on everyday life. There are four important spirits that are in the creation of this Huron story. They are: the Aataentsic, the mother of all human kind, the Tawiscaron, held responsible for death and disease, and Louskeha, the creative one. The fourth is a great turtle, who rescues Aataentsic by ordering the fishes to create land on which they live.

Native American Spirituality

Can people morph into animals?

Answer 1:

No. People cannot morph into animals. There were some rumors that, back in the early ages, people were able to morph into animals and there were various stories on that. Today, however, you cannot morph into an animal. Although some people claim that morphing into animals is possible, it is indeed impossible. Answer 2:

It is a belief among many tribal people that man can, or used to, have this ability, as: * Yes, and they are called "Navajo Skinwalkers" -- Yeenaaldlooshii in Navajo -- and they do exist. * I have read Native American stories that they used to morph into animals: the "Mothman" for example... I don't think people can do that... As a spirit, YES, but because they have no shape at all. * They can in the books "Animorphs." They are really good books for 12-year-olds. * Our friends the Vikings thought warriors could morph into bears during battle. These were the "Berserkers" (Bear shirts). * There's an amusing Cree (North Alberta Tribe) tale called "Deer Feces Woman," where a young man falls in love with a girl after being lost in the forest. By spring they have a baby -- then she turns back into a pile of deer scat.

Zeus, the Greek god, could turn into animals on demand. * In Hrolf Kraki's "Saga," a story written about the same time as "Beowulf," several of the characters turn into animals or part-animals. * We all have friends who turn into orangutans after a beer or few. * The only known case of this is that of the aboriginal people of Australia. Prior to colonization it was used as a traditional hunting method for Kangaroos and other flighty game. * When Australia was colonized the Europeans considered this to be a form of "devil worshiping witchcraft" and promptly put to death all known elders who were capable of carrying out this amazing feat. * It is rumored that the ability may not have been completely lost and that some aboriginal people living in the deep interior of Australia still use it as a method of hunting. Answer 3:

It is physically impossible for humans to change into animals, period.

== ==

Native American Spirituality

What is the Native American meaning of a swallow?

In the Lakota culture, the swallow is the messenger of the West direction. He was first the messenger of Wakinyan, the thunder, but was rewarded to one of the four brothers, Eya when Eya set his direction. Coincidentally, the swallow also appears most often at dusk when the sun is in the west. Thunderstorms also tend to begin at dusk.

(From Sons of the Wind, by D.M. Dooling)

In Navajo culture, the swallow people are powerful beings in the second, blue world. After emerging from the previous, black, first world the people met the swallows. They made things unpleasant for the beings from the first world with their fighting. In the end the disorder in this world lead to the escape to the third yellow world. In most versions ( but not all), this current world is the fourth world.

In this world, swallows and other blue birds are associated with the Southern, sacred, blue mountain. It is called Tsoodzil (Mt Taylor). It is located north of Grants, NM. This mountain and the beings that live there are associated with: blue, south, midday, female rain, turquoise, summer, young adulthood, blue corn, and planning, learning and goals. Cougar guards it.

Native American Spirituality

Is shamanism a Universalizing or Ethnic religion?

Shamanism is not a religion. It is a anthropological description of many religions that have some traits in common such as people who go into trance states and communicate or traveling or guide souls in or heal with the spirit world. There are many differences within each religion and to lump them together is to devalue their true meaning to the believers of these religions. They are not universalizing religions although as almost all religions they make universal claims about the nature of reality as they see it.

Its more of a Ethnic religion that tried to link the spiritual realm with the physical world, so then that makes it also universalizing. Its both actually, but more of a ethnic religion.

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Native American Spirituality

What is a pagan shaman?

A shaman is a person(specifically a religious leader/figure/mystic/etc) who can travel/communicate between this world and their equivalent of the spirit world. A pagan shaman would be a shaman who belongs to one of the religions under the "pagan" umbrella.

Supernatural and the Occult
Native American Spirituality

What is shamanism?

The practice of shamanism is not easily defined. The best I can do to get you started is to define a few parameters.

A shaman is one who goes into an altered state of consciousness at will. While in this altered state, he or she makes a conscious choice to journey to another reality, a reality which is outside of time and space. This other reality is composed of three layers: the lower world, the middle world and the upper world and is inhabited by helping spirits. The shaman is able to establish relationships with these spirits and to bring back information and healing for the community or the individual.

Most importantly, shamanic work makes a practical difference in this world we live in. The work brings about a change. The journeys are undertaken with a specific purpose in mind.

A basic principle of shamanism is the belief that everything has a spirit and is alive. The tree has a spirit, the rock has a spirit, my drum has a spirit, and yes, even this computer has a spirit. If everything has a spirit and is alive, we humans then find ourselves in a position of equality rather than dominance. If you follow this logic, you begin to realize that shamanism is a radical act. Shamans don't follow the laws of man; they follow the laws of spirits. They don't dominate the earth and its creatures; they strive to live in harmony and balance.

Shamanism has enjoyed a resurgence of interest in the last twenty years. Sandra Ingerman's book Soul Retrieval, Mending the Fragmented Self and The Foundation for Shamanic Studies (directed by Michael Harner) have contributed to the heightened interest. Many indigenous shamans have come forward in recent years to help train others and share their knowledge. Their prophecies have urged them forward.

The Foundation for Shamanic Studies states

"Over tens of thousands of years, our ancient ancestors all over the world discovered how to maximize human abilities of mind and spirit for healing and problem-solving. The remarkable system of methods they developed is today known as "shamanism," a term that comes from a Siberian tribal word for its practitioners: "shaman" (pronounced SHAH-mahn). Shamans are a type of medicine man or woman especially distinguished by the use of journeys to hidden worlds otherwise mainly known through myth, dream, and near-death experiences. Most commonly they do this by entering an altered state of consciousness using monotonous percussion sound.

What we know today about shamanism comes from the last living bearers of this ancient human knowledge, the shamans of dying tribal cultures scattered in remote parts of the world. Few of them are left today, due to the destruction of their peoples and cultures, and to deliberate attempts to eradicate the shamans and their knowledge, even though shamanism is not a religion, but a methodology.

Now, at the last moment, open-minded Westerners are beginning to discover for themselves that the shamanic methods can yield astonishing results in problem-solving and healing, for themselves and for others. As a result of their use of the methods, they are acquiring a new awareness of their spiritual unity with all beings, with the Planet, and with the Universe. They are also discovering that there is a dimension of reality beyond that ordinarily perceived."

A belief in some cultures in the existence of a spirit realm (in addition to the normal world) that can be experienced through altered states of consciousness. A spiritual discipline in which the shaman seeks to interact with this other world to learn and to communicate with spiritual beings to heal themselves and others. Shamans have also been called medicine men or witch-doctors.

More on this

Shamanism is a traditional belief system that considers the entire universe to be alive and interconnected. Ceremonies are meant to heal and expand enlightenment using rhythmic music, repetitive dance, mind-altering plants and drugs, and journeys into the spirit realm. The word Shaman has many definitions, but can be translated as "one who knows" or "seer." A personal quest for knowledge and inner power. A shaman may exhibit a particular magical specialty such as control over healing, fire, wind or magical insight. The shaman may make use of spirit helpers with whom he or she communicates. It is very important to note that while most Shamen in traditional shamanistic societies are men, either women or men may, or have, become Shamen.

Regarding Native American Belief

Several important things to remember about Native American practices in regards to this. First, magic is not a part of anything that is Native American. Second, no one in the native community would ever call him/herself a shaman or medicine person. (The word shaman is not a Native American term.) It is considered to be very disrespectful to claim such a title for oneself. The above is a mix of many different beliefs, some of which are consistent with Native American practice, but the language used to describe them is vastly different from the native way.

Native American History
Native American Spirituality

Why do aboriginals decorate their spears with pictures?

To tell their story of what they killed, hunted, etc. They paint them darker shades to camoflouge them.

Native American Spirituality

In addition to teaching them about the Catholic religion what did friars at the Spanish mission teach the American Indians?

The Roman Catholic friars and priests also taught American Indians about family. They did not realize that Native Americans had an established and very good familial system.

Religion & Spirituality
Native American History
Native American Spirituality
Cherokee Indians

What are the religious beliefs of native Americans?

Just about every Native American belief system is centered around nature and the belief of animals as spirit guides. They are very tied to nature and animals as a whole. I am not sure of the proper term to refer to this type of belief structure as...

now a days there are native Americans that are christans and go to many different churchs there is no one religion that the native American people belief in. It is a personal choice and no one answer is right.

Native American Spirituality

What is the name for hell in Aztec religion?

Traditional Native American didn't have a word for hell, because there was no concept of hell in the NA culture until the missionaries showed up to 'convert the heathens' to their religion, which does have a hell.

The Aztec however did have an underworld with nine levels that the dead were suppoesd to go to and 13 overworlds or heavens. The main underworld that most peope went to was called Mictlan. To go from the first tothe ninth took 4 years and was very difficult. It had things like rivers of blood and flesh srcaping knives. It was ruled by King Mictlantecuhtli and his wife, Mictecacihuatl.

Native American History
Native American Spirituality
Signs and Omens

What does a dream catcher symbolize?


i believe they symbolize Good dreams. Native Americans Hang them above where their heads would be when they sleep. During the night the dream catcher acts as a filter of dreams. it allows good dreams to pass through to you and catches the Bad dreams (like a bug in a spiders web) and prevents them from getting to you. then when the morning sun hits them all the bad dreams are cleansed from the dream catcher.

Native American Spirituality
Iroquois Indians
Mohawk Indians

What religion were the Mohawk Indians?

Each native tribe or group of tribes had their own ancestral beliefs and traditions. Most were animist traditions believing in the spiritual powers of Nature and Mother Earth as well as in the spirits of creatures, natural forces and landscape features. The Mohawk also had the same kind of beliefs, the Summer Initiation Festival, which is still celebrated, is their most traditional ceremony. Because they were part of the Iroquois confederacy, they also had to assimilate to the colonists religion.

Also, the native way is not a religion whatsoever. It is a way of life that follows the teachings of our Mother, the Earth. It involves being in the heart and thus one with that which is in all things. While each tribe/nation has its own ceremonies based on its interaction with the earth as well as their own practices, they all basically follow the thought that walking as one with all our relations is the way of life to follow.

History, Politics & Society
Native American Spirituality

Did native Americans live in Hawaii?

Native Americans, you might say, are the Hawaiian people. The people known as Indians never lived in Hawaii. Unlike other state governments, the Hawaiian people have more of a visible presence, and more of a cultural influence, than is the case in other states.

Symbolism and Symbolic Meanings
Native American Spirituality

What do hummingbirds symbolize?

Hummingbirds, called new world birds cause they are native to North America, Central and South America, are considered to be symbols of peace, love and happiness, moreover, ancient pagans held them sacred for their tireless energy and anxiety.

In Native American culture, a hummingbird symbolizes timless joy and the Nectar of Life. It's a symbol for accomplishing that which seems impossible and will teach you how to find the miracle of joyful living from your own life circumstances.

They are really spectacular birds, and have a lot to teach a person about self discovery and healing.

It stands for immortality. Or sometimes the Sun.

Hummingbird is seen by some as a messenger of love and joy. It symbolises energy, wonder and swift action. It is associated with the Ghost Spirit native American religion which teaches a dance that is intended to return the natural balance of the world.

Native American History
Native American Spirituality
Native American Languages

How do you say love you in Cree language?


Native American History
Native American Spirituality
Mohawk Indians

What are mohawk beliefs?

1.The Six Nations people tell of a great woman who died while giving birth to male twins; the right-handed twin was named Teharonhiawako and the left-handed one was named Sawiskera. Teharonhiawako was the more righteous of the two. Sawiskera had a great capacity for evil and was deceitful enough to convince his grandmother that he was really the righteous one.

2.The Gaiwi:yo meaning Good Message, was revealed to Sganyadai:yoh through a series of visions between 1799 and 1804. Four Messengers the spirits of the four cardinal points brought the Gaiwi:yo to Sganyadai:yoh when he lay in a coma as a result of his excessive drinking habits. These four guardians, sent by the Creator, gave Sganyadai:yoh messages that would emancipate his people from the stranglehold of the Europeans.

Native American History
Symbolism and Symbolic Meanings
Native American Spirituality

What does the feather on the dream catcher represent?

The feather or feathers on a dream catcher may be simply decorative. In some stories, the feathers serve as a way for good dreams to drip down into the dreamer's mind. In other mythology, feathers can represent messages from the spirits or divine beings. Unfortunately, much of the traditional meaning of the dream catcher has been lost or invented by marketing for tourists and New Age enthusiasts.

Here's a quick list, there are others and most are specific to the belief system of the person making them.

Crane -wisdom/knowledge

Dove - offer love

Eagle - protection

Hawk - Protection

Owl - instill wisdom

Swallow - good luck

Wren - safe voyage

The traditional dream catchers did not have feather nor beads.. They were small and plain. People became interested in the culture in the 60-70's and added these to them.

Often times, owl feathers are used for dream catchers that are meant to protect a female. Owl feathers are considered a woman's feather. It also represents wisdom, which is a characteristic highly valued among Native Americans.

Eagle feathers are then used for dream catchers that are meant to protect a male. They are considered a man's father. Eagle feathers stand for bravery and courage; characteristics desired among Native American males.

Native American Spirituality
Inuit Northern Native Tribes

Did the Tlingit Indians worship any gods?

all native americans, as a whole, had deities, usually recognized as spirits of this or that, from the great spirit(God) down to minor spirits

Native American Spirituality

What are three Native Alaskan customs that are similar to Native American customs?

Native Alaskans ARE Native Americans. So are First Nations Canadians and Native people in Mexico. The borders did not exist 200 years ago. The Inuit related peoples stretch from Alaska across Canada to Greenland with some in Russia too. The Dene related people are in Alaska, Canada, in the Pacific areas of Oregon and northern California, and in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico, Colorado, Texas and Oklahoma. They have many things in common.

Symbolism and Symbolic Meanings
Native American Spirituality

What is the significance of the red tail hawk in American folklore?

According to the Paul D Frost website, Red-tails are a sign of good luck according to the Mescalero Apaches. They are usually treated with great reverence and considered to be sacred. According to artwork found my archaeologists we can assume that they felt almost as if they were "spiritual messengers, intermediaries between the all-powerful gods and benighted humans, fated to act out the gods' bidding without understanding" It appears that, in general, Native American tribes felt they were a good omen, or spiritually good but it differs from tribe to tribe.

For more information you can visit this website:

On the flip side, Red-tailed hawks were believed to be routine killers of chickens for a long period of time, gaining them the nick name "Chickenhawks".


Native American Spirituality
Sioux Indians

What is the Sioux Indians name for God?

The Sioux religion is complex and recognises many different spirit-beings on many levels.

The term wakantanka refers to the embodiment of all supernatural beings and powers, so it is closest to the idea of the Christian God. The Sioux also considered The Sun, Sky, Earth and Rock as the highest-level powers; below these ranked Moon, Thunder-being, Wind and Falling Star.

Other supernatural powers include wazi (Old Man), wakanka (Old Woman), canoti (forest spirits), hohgica (spirits of the tipi), iktomi (spider), unkcegila (spirits of the land), unktehi (water spirits) and many more. Ite (face) is the most beautiful of supernatural women and considered to be married to tate (the Wind).

Native American Spirituality

What is the cree prophecy?

Only after the last tree has been cut down

Only after the last fish has been caught

Only after the last river has been poisoned

Onlyafter the air has been polluted

Only then will you find money cannot be eaten

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Native American Spirituality

Who is a famous shaman?

Although he is most remembered as a great leader and warrior, Sitting Bull or Tatanka Iyotanka was a very gifted medicine man and mystic.


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