Native American Religion in Early America | National Humanities Center

TeacherServe Essays

Native American Religion in Early America

By Heyrman, Christine Leigh (NHC Fellow, 1985–86)

Teaching about Native American religion is a challenging task to tackle with students at any level, if only because the Indian systems of belief and ritual were as legion as the tribes inhabiting North America. Like all other cultures, the Indian societies of North America hoped to enlist the aid of the supernatural in controlling the natural and social world, and each tribe had its own set of religious observances devoted to that aim. As even this brief account indicates, many key Indian religious beliefs and practices bore broad but striking resemblances to those current among early modern Europeans, both Catholic and Protestant. Important as it is to appreciate the affinities between the religious cultures of Indians and early modern Europeans (and Euro-Americans), there were real differences that must be kept in mind.

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History / Education Studies / Indigenous Peoples of the Americas / Indigenous Americans / American History /