Presentation on theme: "General Information At the time of European contact, most of the indigenous cultures in North America had developed coherent religious systems that included."— Presentation transcript:
General Information At the time of European contact, most of the indigenous cultures in North America had developed coherent religious systems that included cosmologies (creation myths, transmitted orally from one generation to the next). Most of those cultures worshipped an all-powerful, all-knowing Creator or “Master Spirit” (a being that assumed a variety of forms and both genders). They also venerated other lesser supernatural entities, including an evil god.
The members of most tribes believed in the immortality of the human soul and an afterlife, the main feature of which was the abundance of every good thing that made earthly life secure and pleasant.
Customs Burial customs varied widely from tribe to tribe. Indians disposed of their dead in a variety of ways. Arctic tribes, for example, simply left their dead on the frozen ground for wild animals to devour. The Northeast Iroquois, saved skeletons of the deceased for a final mass burial that included furs and ornaments for the dead spirits' use in the afterlife. California tribes practiced cremation.
After European Contact Native Americans experienced a series of dislocations. Foreign invaders overran their territories and claimed sovereignty over their communities, diseases ravaged their populations, and their environments were drastically altered. Native Americans were forcibly removed from their aboriginal homelands and livelihoods, with the result that indigenous cultures underwent rapid change.
Contact with Christians proved traumatic for Native American religions, as both civil and religious authorities attempted to repress native spirituality and force conversion.