Makes every yesterday
A Dream of Happiness
And every tomorrow
A Vision of Hope
The pages and links within this section have been researched through books, magazines (National Geographic) and internet resources over two years. (See references at end.)
My aim has been to provide a general knowledge base for "other" societies with the hope that more of us can learn from the wellspring of Native American knowledge - one inextricably linked with our natural world.
I am not (at least during this life-span) of Native American descent - I simply have a wish to learn and understand more of what these great people so close to nature can teach us - seeking to experience an inner connection with the divine energy within, without and all encompassing. What is here is a summary of such learning which, at this early stage, is simply put in an A-Z, point by point, description or explanation of Native American traditions and ceremonies, beliefs, culture and social customs, myths and legends.
Essential to understanding Native American traditions, and fundamental to understanding the various cultures or "artifacts", is there is no clear division between human beings and the spirit world - the spirit world, the natural world and the human world intertwine for Native American peoples.
American Indian traditions reflect a unified understanding of nature, religion, culture, art and ways of living. Nature, the landscape, the cultural traditions are all interwoven and inseparable, part of an integrated spiritual way of life that reflects its (ie: life's) archetypal (symbolic) and primordial (original, existing from the very beginning) centre.
"Our land, our religion, and our life are." Hopi Indian
Native peoples have lived on the continent of America for 30 thousand years, since Ice-age man crossed the Baring Strait from Asia and spread southward through the new land.
They settled in communities from the Tundra wastes of the north, through the woods, mountains and plains, to the warm, lush lands of the southeast and the arid heat of the southwest. Around the 15th century, with the arrival of the Spanish, Native Americans numbered around three million, living in several hundred separate nations, speaking many distinct languages. Each nation was steeped in traditions, with rich and diverse cultures covering trade, arts, crafts and spirituality.
Each community adapted itself to the land, and honoured it. They believed that the creative force - which some cultures called Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit, the Master of Life - created all living things to be of equal value, and that the spiritual ran through all of nature. For the most part they lived peacefully side by side, close to the land, in harmony with nature and each other - and with the spirits of their ancestors still among them.
The Native peoples had an intimate relationship with their kin, all other living things, the spiritual world, and the land on which they lived. They treated all life - human, animal, bird and plant - with respect, and managed the Earth's resources with sensitivity. And they gave thanks to the animals and spirits that ensured both their physical and spiritual wellbeing.
Along with their close relationship with nature and the spiritual world, they held animals to be sacred and harnessed their power through dreams and visions to guide them through challenging times in their lives.
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