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The American Indian Culture

The American Indian culture goes back thousands of years; to a time when these indigenous people lived in what is known as North America. Native American Indian culture revolved heavily around nature, and every aspect of their lives was based around the Earth. The Native American Indian tribes worshipped the spirits of these animals as gods, but they also killed them for food and clothing. They would never waste any part of the animals though, they would eat the meat, wear the hides, they used the skin to make drums and they used the bones for tools and weapons. They believed the spirit of the animals would live on in spirit within the tribe. They also fashioned totem poles carved out of wood with different animals faces on them, and these faces represented the spirits of family and important tribal figures. In Native American Indian culture they believed that everyone person had the spirit of a certain animal and when they died their spirit would live on inside the animal. The Native American Indians also harvested plants and berries that they would use for various things from medicines to dyes. They lived in harmony with the Earth which they lived on and they let nothing go to waste. Thousands of years ago there were over ten million Native American Indians living within the territory that is now the United States. The Native American Indian cultural traditions varied among the thousands of different tribes that were spread throughout the land. Soon settlers started arriving on the shores of the Native American homelands and started pushing the Native American Indians from their homes and eventually off of their tribes land. The European settlers made their new homes on the Native Americans land and interfered with the Native American culture that had relatively lived in peace until now. When the European settlers arrived here they brought with them many diseases from Europe that killed many Native Americans and many more tribes were forced from their lands. Eventually the United States government set aside land for the Native Americans, and many of these Indian reservations are still around today. There are still signs all over the country of the great Native American culture that once ruled these lands, and Native American art and fashions are more popular than ever. The teepee, totem pole, peace pipe, and moccasins are just a few examples, but each of these symbols was actually integral pieces of a larger picture that wove together the tapestry of Native American life.

Teepee conical tent made of animal skin and wooden poles used by nomadic tribes and sedentary tribal dwellers when hunting.

Medicine Man This is a unique concept that existed in all American Native tribes. Each tribe would have certain special holy men known as Maya Shamans. They were like priests for the tribe. They would perform certain superstitious rituals for the purpose of healing patients suffering from various illnesses. One of the commonly practiced healing processes practiced in Native American tribes was that of bloodletting. This was a process in which the medicine man would put a small cut on the area inflicted with pain. They would use thorns or stingray spines to do this and as a result blood would be allowed to drain out. This was particularly effective in reducing tooth aches, headaches, back pain and other such problems. Bleeding was also a ritual practice conducted during ceremonies.

Totem Pole Totem Animals This is perhaps the biggest identity forming custom of Native Americans. The locals believed that every human being had an inherent animal such as a wolf or an eagle or some other noble beast. The concept of totem animals was riddled with superstition. There is much information and controversy regarding the use of totem animals.

There is a popular belief that the Native Americans took them as angels or as guides. Then there are recordings that show they had a link with astrology as the use of animal symbolism for astrology has been a common practice in many cultures. In essence totems are a part of the spiritual journey that each individual must take. They represent the values of the Native American culture and have a certain personality sketch to them. Native American Traditional Celebrations Dance was one of the main ritualistic practices of the Native Americans. The notion of Native Indians dancing around the sacred circle is common. The Pow Wow for example is one of the most popular Native American dance replicas which are performed in schools today. Both men and women participate in these dances. These dances would be performed on various occasions. For example there would be a big traditional dance celebration every time warriors would come back victorious from their battles. Bravery was one of the main themes in mens traditional dances. These dances were basically practical demonstrations of how the fighting took place in the battle ground. Sand Painting This is yet another unique Native Indian custom. Sand Painting also goes by the name of dry painting as it is conducted with colored sand. These kinds of paintings were conducted live during ceremonies of harvests as well as healing. They have a deep symbolic meaning especially in Navajo mythology. Sacred mountains, legendary visions and scenes of traditional dances were the most common themes for such paintings.

Mitakuye oyasin!
We are all related! It isn't too late. We still have time to recreate and change the value system of the present. We must! Survival will depend on it. Our Earth is our original mother. She is in deep labor now. There will be a new birth soon! The old value system will suffer and die. It cannot survive as our mother earth strains under the pressure put on her. She will not let man kill her. The First Nation's Peoples had a value system. There were only four commandments from the Great Spirits: 1. Respect Mother Earth 2. Respect the Great Spirit 3. Respect our fellow man and woman 4. Respect for individual freedom We must all stand together as a force of love. Be united NOW. There is only one way. Communication. Knowledge. Arm yourself with truth, love and perseverance. Extend your

family. Join with others in giving. We are all related. People of the earth take back your heritage. I am not speaking of skin color or religion. Our heritage is this earth... Our heritage is also extended beyond this earth into the heavens where the spirit once lived before our birth into this world. You are bound to both.

THE TEN INDIAN COMMANDMENTS! Treat the Earth and all that dwell thereon with respect! Remain close to the Great Spirit Show great respect for your fellow beings Work together for the benefit of all mankind! Give assistance and kindness wherever needed Do what you know to be right Look after the well-being of mind and body Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good Be truthful and honest at all times Take full responsibility for your actions..... FULL MOON PRAYER We thank the Moon and the stars, who give us their light when the Sun retires.... We thank the Great Spirit, incarnation of all kindness, who directs all things for the good of Its children."
from an Iroquois prayer

Sources: Native-net.org Country Facts - kwintessential.co.uk - Customs-of-Native-American-Indians Indians.org


Submitted to: Mrs. Felisa Pedreno

Submitted by: Mia Shannon B. Abayon Rex Diaz 3 Teamwork


Submitted to: Mrs. Felisa Pedreno

Submitted by: Mia Shannon B. Abayon 3 - Teamwork