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NATIVE AMERICANS BELIEF and CULTURE. Just over 500 years ago three small boats set out from Spain heading west across the Atlantic ocean. The Europeans.

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Presentation on theme: "NATIVE AMERICANS BELIEF and CULTURE. Just over 500 years ago three small boats set out from Spain heading west across the Atlantic ocean. The Europeans."— Presentation transcript:


2 Just over 500 years ago three small boats set out from Spain heading west across the Atlantic ocean. The Europeans discovered a land they called it America, their leader was Christopher Columbus.

3 When the Europeans first arrived there was over twelve million people living there. In less than three hundred years there was only some three hundred thousand left alive.

4 This was caused by a planned slaughter, terror tactics, and even early forms of germ warfare. This was carried out in the name of freedom, freedom for the Europeans. Today we call this ethnic cleansing.

5 With the disappearance of so many people so much knowledge and understanding of the world was lost. The 19 th century saw the last great battles for the survival of these people, thankfully enough survived to preserve their culture and traditions. During this 21 st century we may well need some of their ideas and concepts for the survival of Mother Earth.

6 Apache…Huron…Cree…Lakota… Zuni…Hopi…Commanche… Seneca…Pawnee…Klamath… Tlingit…Navajo… These are the names of some of the groups of Native Americans, they sometimes refer to themselves as the 500 Nations.

7 No one knows for certain how long people have lived in the land that we now call America. Archaeological artefacts such as arrow heads, pots, and other interesting things have been found and have been dated to 30,000 years ago. There is also evidence of human occupation in South America that has been dated as early as 100,000 years ago.

8 These original people developed many different cultures, they lived in the Americas from the frozen lands of the Arctic down through Canada on into the Great American Plains through into the southern deserts of Arizona. What is now Mexico saw the development of very complex cities of over a hundred thousand people. Down on into the rainforests of South America and finally to the edge of the Antarctic can be found people who have become known as Indians.

9 Faced with such diversity of culture it would be impossible to study them all. This study will focus on the people who became known as the Plains Indians. The great Plains of North America stretch out almost forever. They can be very hot and dusty, during the violence of a tornado or a snowstorm vision can be limited to the length of an arm. The plains can be delightfully cool, abundantly watered or beautifully coloured in a dozen shades of green. The Plains can be a source of delight or endless misery.


11 Europeans were often terrified by the amount of empty land that appeared to go on for ever, remember that most Europeans had left cities behind in order to seek a new life. This land appeared to them to be a place that at first glance could not sustain human habitation.

12 In this land of extremes there were people who had mastered this harsh environment. The were divided into tribes, spoke different languages and had developed a sign language to enable trading between tribes. Some lived by hunting and gathering food, others mixed this with farming. Some lived in permanent villages others carried their homes with them.

13 Some lived by hunting and gathering food, others mixed this with farming. Some lived in permanent villages others carried their homes with them.

14 To help you gain some understanding of these people we will concentrate on one particular group. They are sometimes referred to as the Sioux, however they call themselves the LAKOTA Mitakuye oyas’iŋ…all my relatives Within the Lakota there are many clans….. Oglala… SansArc… Hunkpapa… Brule… Miniconjou… Santee… Wahpeton… and Sihasapa are just some of them……….

15 Religion power and medicine. Over many thousands of years these people developed complex belief systems, it is these belief systems that we call religion. They saw the world as being full of power. This power would show itself in many ways, like lightening, and in other things that were strong like the buffalo which became very important to their way of life.

16 The Lakota paid respect to the four powers. The south, north, east and west. The south was the home of life. The north was a place to fear. The east was where life came from. The west was a place of spirits.

17 Wakan Tanka The Lakota respected people who were very wise, particularly the elders. Some tribes said that all the powers came from one great power. The Lakota people called this power Wakan Tanka, which in our language means great mystery, or what we call God. The Lakota believe that all things began with this power and everything is connected to it.

18 Contacting the Power There are many ways to contact these powers, one way was to seek a vision. To do this people would go to a lonely place, sometimes they would go high up into the mountains. The vision seeker would try to stay awake during their quest. Most people who done this would see or experience strange happenings. What they saw would be their vision. Often these visions contained images and had instructions for the one who had saw them.

19 Crazy Horse’s Vision A young Lakota boy called Curly set out at the age of 14 to seek his first vision, his uncle had been killed by the U.S. Army for supposedly stealing a cow. Curly was sad and upset, seeking a vision was his way of trying to come to terms with what had happened to his uncle. Curly fasted for a few days high up in the mountains.

20 It seemed as he must have slept because he felt as if had given up his body and let go of himself. It was not like the world that he knew but the real world behind this one……..the grass was waving, the trees were bending, but not in the ways of this world but in a sacred way…….

21 Then he saw a horse, a bay spotted horse, which became yellow spotted, and changed to many other colours, it seemed to float, so light, so light….. Then he saw a horse, a bay spotted horse, which became yellow spotted, and changed to many other colours, it seemed to float, so light, so light…..

22 Sitting on the horse a man, the man appeared light…floating with the horse. The man wore a plain buckskin shirt, he had hair that fell loose below his waist. In his hair a single eagle feather. Behind his ear hung a small brown stone.

23 The man spoke no words but Curly heard him saying things that have no words. All the time shadows kept coming up before him but the man on the horse rode straight at them and passed through unhurt. There were streaks around him from flying arrows and bullets but they disappeared before they hit him. The man on the horse had power

24 A storm rolled across the sky. Thunder was in the air and lightening flashed. The man had a zig-zag painted on his cheek, on his body were are few painted spots like hailstones.

25 As the storm faded the people around him made a great noise, while over him flew a red backed hawk, screeching, screeching, screeching, screeeeeeeching………………………………………………………

26 The Sun Dance The Sun Dance is performed at the time of the full moon during June or July. This is because it is the time of growing and dying of the moon and it should remind us of how our knowledge comes and goes.

27 A special structure is built with a cotton wood tree at the centre to represent Wakan Tanka. Twenty eight posts are added to create a circle around the central pole, this represents the twenty eight day cycle of the moon.

28 An eagle bone whistle is used during the ceremony to echo the voice of Wakan Tanka. This is accompanied by the beating of drums to represent the throb of the universe.

29 Near the end of the ceremony some people are attached to the central pole by strips of leather that are fixed to their bodies by wooden skewers piercing their chests. The dancers fix their gaze at the top of the pole and stare into the sun. The dance continues till they manage to rip themselves free from the skewers attached to their bodies.

30 Black Elk, a Lakota holy man explained the meaning behind the dance, “ It is as if we were being freed from the bonds of the flesh. The altered state of consciousness brought on by the pain and dancing is like a journey into the spirit world with Wakan Tanka at its centre”

31 Often during this ceremony the dancers would experience a vision, these visions were then seen as holy and full of power. It was important that the rest of the people heard what the dancers had seen during the Sun Dance. One very famous example was when Sitting Bull danced before the battle of the Little Big Horn and he had a vision.

32 Sitting Bulls told how he had seen all the white soldiers ride into the camp and that they were all upside down this he told the people meant that they would all die in the coming battle.

33 A few days later the American army led by General Custer attacked. They were all killed. The battle became known as Custer’s last stand.

34 The legend of the Dreamcatcher Long ago when the word was young an old Lakota holy man was on a high mountain and had a vision. In his vision, Iktomi, the great trickster and teacher of wisdom, appeared in the form of a spider. The holy man was holding a willow hoop.

35 Iktomi spoke to him in a sacred language. As he spoke, Iktomi the spider picked up the holy man’s willow hoop which had feathers, horsehair, and beads on it, and began to spin a web.

36 He spoke to the holy man about the cycles of life; how we begin our lives as infants, move on through childhood and on to adulthood. Finally we go to old age where we must be taken care of just as if we were infants, completing the cycle. But, Iktomi said as he continued to spin his web, in each time of life there are many forces; some good and some bad..

37 While the spider spoke, he continued to weave his web If you listen to the good forces, they will steer you in the right direction. But, if you listen to the bad forces, they'll steer you in the wrong direction and may hurt you. So these forces can help, or can interfere with the harmony of Nature.

38 When Iktomi finished speaking, he gave the holy man the web and said, The web is a perfect circle with a hole in the centre. Use the web to help your people reach their goals, making good use of their ideas, dreams and visions. If you believe in Wakan Tanka the web will catch your good ideas and dreams the bad ones will pass through the hole.

39 The holy man passed on his vision to the people and now many Indian people hang a dream catcher above their bed to sift their dreams and visions. It's said that the dream catcher holds the secrets for your future


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