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Religion in the United States, History of Religion in the United States

European point of view, planting corn, clans, sacrifices, spirit world

Native Americans had many religious beliefs, but most groups believed in a world of spirits . These spirits inhabited plants and animals, mountains and rivers, and tribes, clans, and individuals. The spirits might require prayer, sacrifices, dances and songs, or thanks. Every major event—killing game, planting corn, or acquiring an adult name—required interaction with the spirit world. There were benevolent spirits and protective spirits, as well as trickster spirits who caused sickness and misfortune. Native Americans did not believe that people were superior to the natural world, but held that people had to protect and maintain the spirits in their environment. Certain men and women were given the task of memorizing the religious heritage of the group. From a European point of view, these religions were merely superstitions and had to be eliminated. By the end of the 19th century, most Native Americans belonged to one of the Christian sects. In the 20th century, tribal groups are concerned with preserving and reinvigorating their spiritual traditions.

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Article key phrases:

European point of view, planting corn, clans, sacrifices, spirit world, spiritual traditions, superstitions, tribes, Native Americans, sickness, religions, misfortune, songs, religious beliefs, dances, rivers, prayer, mountains, natural world, major event, interaction, century, plants, task, animals, game, end, women, people, thanks, individuals


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