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Religion of Native American Tribes

 All indigenous peoples in every part of the world believed in a higher power. Of course, each group had a name or names for this power.

They believed their lives were controlled by something greater than them. Some peoples believed in many spirits connected to nature.

They weren’t concerned about dying because they believed they would join the Great Spirit.

Appeal To The Great Spirit Boston

The Great Spirit

Native American tribes believed that the Great Spirit watched over them and was the cause of everything that happened in nature.

Each tribe created their own beliefs and ceremonies to honor the Great Spirit. They were unique to the tribe but still had the overall belief that a form of the Great Spirit ruled all.

There may be other spirits that inhabited their world but even these spirits were ruled by one Great Spirit.

Petroforms In Whiteshell Provincial Park

Praying to the Great Spirit

Praying and celebrations were conducted by the Medicine Man/Woman or shaman of the village. This person healed the sick and wounded.

The villagers believed they had special powers and could receive from and send messages to the Great Spirit.

They could lead the villagers in asking for a good crop, rain, good hunting, and safety from their enemies.

Duerer Prayer

Each ceremony had specific dances and songs to ask for the Great Spirit’s help and guidance.

The people would dress in their finest to perform the dances and sometimes wore masks depicting different animals and birds in nature. The men would wear special headdresses.

There was a special dance to ask for rain, another to ask for good hunting, another to ask for winning battles, and others. The dancing was accompanied by songs, drum beats, and rattles.

John Eliot Leading Indians In Prayer


Many Native American tribes believed each member of the tribe was given a guardian spirit to watch over them and guide them throughout their lives.

Sometimes a baby was given a name that evoked a spirit, such as Wolf, Bear, Rain, Wind, Eagle, etc. This could be the baby’s full name but they were also given a nickname to be used by the family.

Haida Argillite Carving Folktale Birth Bear Mother

Vision Quest Initiation

Many tribes had rituals to celebrate a boy becoming a man or a girl becoming a woman. In some tribes, the teen had to pass a particular ordeal or trial.

For some tribes,  a teenage boy was sent into the wilderness alone. He would stay there until he was visited by a spirit.

Often, when he returned to the village, he was given another name in honor of his new spirit.

Indigenous Peoples Day


  1. What did indigenous people throughout the world believe?
  2. What was the Great Spirit?
  3. Who could communicate directly with the Great Spirit?
  4. Why did the villagers dance and sing?
  5. What was the Vision Quest?

Initiation Ritual Of Boys In Malawi


  1. All indigenous people believed in a higher power that controlled everything.
  2. The Great Spirit was a higher power that controlled everyone and everything in nature.
  3. The Medicine Man or Woman of the village could receive messages from and talk directly to the Great Spirit.
  4. The villagers would dance and sing asking the Great Spirit for good fortune.
  5. The Vision Quest was a test for a teenage boy to go into the wilderness to find his spirit guide after which he would be declared an adult and receive a new name.

Native Americans

Statuette Karajà

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