Religious Traditions of Native American Religion

traditions are, like other religions of the world, anchored on specific components that help link humanity with the sacred. These components include the teachings or doctrines of the religion, the rituals and traditions performed, and the manner in which these teachings and rituals are delivered. Each component reflects the kind of community and culture that prevailed or prevails within a religion, and ultimately, what are the values held important by that specific group of .

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Take as an example the Native Americans, which also have numerous religions depending on the group or sub-culture one belongs to. It is interesting to note that in the Native American religious tradition; most of the teachings/doctrines of the religion are passed orally from generation to generation. Oral delivery or narration of religious teachings functions as a social event wherein the younger generation would see the value of the older generation’s wisdom and life experience. It is during these oral teachings that collective understanding of the religion is strengthened and values held important by the community are reinforced. This manner of delivery of religious teachings would be different from Buddhists, for example, whose teachings are written, learned, and taught. Comparing the Native Americans’ oral tradition with Christianity, there is a semblance of similarities between the two religions, as the latter conducts devotion or worship mass for the congregation to “hear the Good News of the Lord.” Thus, in this aspect, have a striking similarity with other major world religions in terms of delivery of teachings and doctrines of the religion.

Rituals performed also varied among Native American religions. Some religions would subsist to hunting as a form of religious ritual, while others would hold celebrations as a form of veneration to their deity/deities. The rite of passage from childhood to adolescence is a significant period in an individual’s life that and therefore becomes a reason for the community to celebrate. Rites of passage rituals are actually a main ritual both religiously and culturally. More than just celebrating the individual’s journey towards adulthood, rituals celebrating adolescence period also recognize the individual’s potential to contribute and prolong his/her community’s culture and traditions. Judaism marks this through the Bar Mitzvah, wherein a celebration is held for boys and girls who have reached the puberty/adolescent age of 13 and 12, respectively. The rite of passage is just one example and manifestation of how cultural rituals are strongly integrated in religious traditions not only in Native American religious, but other world religions as well.

Generally, all religions learn the doctrines/teachings and perform rituals / traditions collectively. But within the collective, there is an individual that leads the ritual and delivers the teachings of the religion. For the Native Americans, the shaman is the most popular religious figure that has the responsible of communicating religious teachings and performing rituals. For the Catholics, priests are the known “leaders” or communicators of the teachings of the Bible and perform rituals such as Sunday mass, confession, baptism, among many others, as part of their role as leaders of the Catholic Church. Similarly, the Dalai Lama is the central figure in Buddhism, known to be the authority on Buddhist teachings and main performer of the rituals of meditation and pursuit of enlightenment.


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