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Introduction to the Spirituality of the Native North Americans

The spirituality of First Nations falls mainly under shamanism and animism.

Animism is the belief that attributes souls to animals, plants, and other material objects like totems, lands, rocks, stars, etc. In Animism, a firm belief that non human creatures have souls and spirits is present. These spirits have some powers that ought to be respected, and can be used as guides by the humans if a channel is drawn between the sprit and a human. In that sense, a tree, a land, an animal can be sacred and has the same rights than a human. Humans and other living creatures share the universe, and thus should work together to make it the best place possible to all’s advantage.

Shamanism refers to practices concerned with communication with the spirit world, the spirits of the trees, the land, and the animals. In a shamanist belief system, people believe that spirits play an important role in human life. Spirits can be either good or bad and the Shaman is the person who ensures communication between the spirit world and the material world. The Shaman can use some substances to achieve trances, or dance, sing, plays drums or imitates the desired spirit to attract it. They will also engage in vision quests to receive a message from the spirit world. Many shamans are doctors that can heal the wounded spirit of a creature or a human.

First nation spirituality is mostly a oral tradition transmitted spirituality, and ancients are responsible for transmitting values and beliefs. Ceremonial and rite of passage are important to the natives, and celebrates birth, death, and aging. Some of the most important values of native people in America are tradition, community, and respect of all living creatures and of the environment.

Wikipedia “Animism” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animism

Wikipedia “Shamanism” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shamanism

“History of Yukon First Nations People”, http://www.yfnta.org/past/history.htm#Spirituality

“Carcross/Tagish First Nation People”, http://www.ctfn.ca/tiki-page.php?pageName=History1

“Native American Spirituality”, http://www.nativeamericans.com/Spirituality.htm