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American West
Notes: Unit 1: Native American Spiritual Beliefs and Warrior Practices

"All things are tied together with a common navel cord"
- Sioux wise man

Part I: Spiritual Beliefs

All things are spiritual and equal, all things have spirits
- Spirituality and ordinary life are interconnected
- N.A. (Native American) need to understand all things with their hearts.

Ceremonies performed for attainment, not entertainment
-Dances, plays, stories--all have spiritual significance

Designs contain sacred meanings (1)

All things are mutually dependent. Each must always behave in the same way (tradition) to maintain harmony. If this is not done, disaster will follow.
-Keeping balance is done by following sacred ways:
- Responsibility to prey and to the earth
-N.A.s prayed to soul of animals killed, asking for forgiveness.
Express gratefulness for "voluntary" sacrifice of animal.
- Grateful to soil for yielding crops to eat.

N.A.s have sacred responsibility to other tribal members. (1)
-Balance - Imbalance, Harmony - Disharmony (behaviors of NA encourage these reactions.

The Sacred Force
One Sacred Force - a good God who blesses all things
- Examples: Sioux god: Wakan Tanka or the Big Holy or Great Spirit
Inuit - Sila
Speaks through Nature

Rituals (harnessing of spiritual power)
-Transference of power to children
- Mother of newborn sews animal designs on clothing of infant to give power of animal to child or touch animals to child to obtain power of animal for infant.

Fasting
- Way to receive visions from the Great Spirit.

Medicine Men - name given to NA priests (shaman) by French trappers.
- Most often males or post-menopausal females
- Responsibilities
- Maintain balance between humans and nature.
- Cure illnesses
keepers of tribal lore which is passed down orally.
Content of Lore
- information about creation , and the end of people and the world.
- recurring theme - Mother Earth life host. Relationship reciprocity between
humans and animals
- usually involve workings of supernatural powers and spirits of clever animals:
ravens, raccoons, foxes, beavers, blue jays, and / or spiders however, the most popular is the coyote because it is very respected for its cunning and ability to survive in all types of environments.
- stories include plot twists and turns
- usually involve humor (5)




- purpose of stories is to teach people how to survive in the world.
- stories may be told or sung - the words carry special powers and are often preceded by spiritual rites.




Part II: Some Basic Warrior Practices:

Fighting a Rival

- 2 basic types
- small raid: consists of a dozen warriors usually young men, restless fixation
- objective: stir up mischief or prove bravery usually make off with horses, cattle,
and / or captives.
- war party - tribal affair, organized by experienced war leaders.
high in protocol - detection of attackers - insult each other then attack.
Wars are way for warrior to become powerful, to gain strength, and attain personal
destiny.

- Depictions of Battles drawn on teepee

Visions and Dreams

- Animal Vision - (2)

Medicine Bundle (2)


Animal is drawn on shield and clothing (tunic) of warrior (2)