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Culture or Religion?


There is a Native American culture that has keen similarities and vast differences from tribe to tribe, much like the Native Language. Our culture is complex and fascinating. Native American spirituality is not about religion. It is not something you can become... like converting to Judism or Christianity.

There is a spirituality within the Native culture, with differences from tribe to tribe, but it is individualized and very personal. The cultural mindset is to allow that spirituality to be personalized and respected.

Each ethnic group has their own culture and many have 'religions' that go with it. China has their culture and they have Budism and Christianity is a big no-no, but there are Christian Chinese people. Jordan has their culture and they have Islam, and so on. But the American Indian culture does not have a designated religion. You can be Indian and also be Christian, Jewish, Islamic, etc. The Native American culture has no organized doctrine that could begin a 'Holy War' against some other religous group.

I personally am Penobscot by birth and Christian by faith, and the two become seamless in my heart and soul.

The various cerimonies in the Native culture, again with differences and similarities from tribe to tribe, are routinely interwoven into day to day existence as forms of acknowledgement, prayer, and praise. Unless it is personlized, you can not understand it. It has no definition or borders to hold it.

I personally believe our culture portrays a relationship between Creator/God, man, and creations that will be complete in the afterlife. Our senses are restricted by our humaness and one day those senses will be perfectly fine-tuned in a way we can not experience now. Right now we can catch glimpses of it through deepening spirituality.

What our culture is not;

The Native culture is not about Wicca, white magic, Tarot cards, crystals, or New Age beliefs. Although there are American Indians who may practice these things, it isn't a part of the the Indian culture just as Rosary Beads or Baptism is not a part of the culture.

The other thing you should know, especially as you visit Native American stores [either in the virtual world or cyberspace] is that spiritual items are never sold. A true American Indian is not going to sell medicine bags or other items with spiritual value. They may sell craft items, leather pouches and such, but they are just that.

So, when you are exploring the world and culture of the American Indian, be careful about the facts.


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