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Majii 06-12-2000 04:35 PM

Mixing religion with native traditional values
I feel like I'm stuck in the middle. This really concerns my children.

I want to give them a life of knowing who they are and the history and traditions of our people. What I am going against is their father(my ex) and his family's religion. They denounce native traditional values being the devil's work and they totally freak when they thought that I was going have one of the kids be a taditional dancer. But, it's Ok to do fancy, grass or jingle. My kids are going to dance reguardless of what they say and do what their spirit wants them to do.

My question: Is there a way I could express to the kids that it's ok to believe in god and believe our ways? Hey, aren't we worshipping the same person anyway, no matter how we do it?

Nativeheartswoman 06-12-2000 07:01 PM

Majii, I have been thru basically the same situation with my children. I gave them what my parents gave me in addition to teaching them the Native way. My parents were not allowed by society to be proud of their heritage, so it was taught to me in little snippets here & there. Not much. They did send me to a proper Sothern Baptist church tho! Then, they let me make my own decision. I have done the same with my children. As they grow older & see what suits them, they go. So far, they all love the Native way. I pray everyday that it continues. Regardless, I will love them. Just love them, Creator will do the rest if you trust in him! Walk in peace, Sister.

I was 30 years old before I found my "way"! I am honored that I can show my children at a much earlier age! They need to learn now, while there is still time.
Si' yo!

lakotantn 06-12-2000 11:42 PM

I am so glad you posted about this!
I am so very sorry for your difficulty in this matter. I deeply appreciate the complexity of your question.
I hope that you might embrace this wonderful opportunity to teach the matter of diversity to your children.
Families are an example for children. You are so very fortunate to have an experience happen for your children about what may happen in their everyday and future lives: the difference in belief systems!
how wonderful! how difficult! how frustrating! how sticky this is happening within the family.
that is just the point. it is sooo uncomfortable, not to mention undeserved and unfair. but so is life. family situations teach a child how to deal with reality.
this is where you are doing a wonderful job as a parent. you truly care about your children's spiritual place.
don't argue, don't worry, just be an example. don't defend your beliefs! go to pow wows and dance--let the kids decide if they like it. if they want to dance with you, ok! let them enjoy it.
if they want to go to church with the ex or grandma, ok!
Above all, don't worry! God will speak to your children in a place that they will understand. He knows them well. Trust Creator.
My daughter is a wonderful girl, she has a 20 month old and a new born baby that is 3 weeks old. She has been raised in the Native Way, but she is also jewish by her father. She has decided that this is her heart. I could not be more proud of my little girl. Both of my grandsons will be brought in to the Circle. One already has been with the promise of the People to support him in his own Creation. Yet, my grandsons are of hebrew spiritualty, by blood and by their mother's heart.
It is my hope, that I may one day stand beside my two boys at the Wailing wall in Isreal, and pray with them. We shall pray together, for all, the yellow, red, black and white. No matter where we are or who we are praying to, just as you have said, there is only one God.

DCP 06-13-2000 12:18 AM

Lakotantn stated, "No matter where we are or who we are praying to, just as you have said, there is only one God." I would have to agree.

A long, long time ago, all the people of the world were separated from each other (geographically, linguistically, etc). Because of this, different people had to explain Creation and the Creator in their own way based on their own experiences. Who is to say that the Creator that sent Jesus to the Middle East didn't send the White Buffalo woman to the Lakota? Seems to me that both were sent to teach decency to the people. I don't claim to know a whole lot, but the more I learn about people, the more I realize that people are more alike than different.

The problem with religion is that some folks think that their chosen way is the only way. Too many people have suffered and died because of "religious bigotry."

I try my best to keep an open mind when it comes to religion/spirituality. I am Christian, but I know that it is not the only way.

Something I find interesting is that some Indian people attend Christian services AND their traditional ceremonies. I think this is outstanding. If we can find a gem of truth somewhere, who cares if it started here, there, or elsewhere?

Robert Laughing Owl 06-13-2000 02:56 PM


Originally posted by Majii:

My question: Is there a way I could express to the kids that it's ok to believe in god and believe our ways? Hey, aren't we worshipping the same person anyway, no matter how we do it?

As far as I know there is not a native nation that does not believe in god...are we talking christianity here? I personally am not achristian and try to follow the original tribals ways the best i can..i see alot of people having problems trying to be traditional and and a christian...in my personal oppinion it is one or the other

Robert Laughing Owl

Majii 06-13-2000 06:35 PM

Robert laughing owl;

I have my own beliefs
The thing is the the kids go to there dads and get all this christian stuff telling them that trying to be indian is the devils work. And practically pray for everything that goes wrong. They even boycott powwows. The kids come home with all this stuff.
It difficult enough for me teaching them about our people and our ways when I'm going against people/family telling them it's bad to be indian.
Does that help clarify on what I'm going through?

Singing Otter 06-13-2000 10:20 PM


I feel for you but you do what's right. Show em the way and let them decide. That's what my parent's did.

As for me? I have a quick story that I'd like to tell. I was at my sister's house a few days ago (passing time by playing with my neice and nephew http://www.powwows.com/ubb/smile.gif ) when this lady showed up (the neighbor's friend). She had crossed a four laned highway to get to our house (lucky us). I told my sister and somehow we ended up in the living room and the kids-outside. This lady (of whom I did not know) proceeded to talk endlessly. Patiently I listened... until she looked at me and said,"Are you saved?". I thought"No I'm still HERE" http://www.powwows.com/ubb/rolleyes.gif but after my initial sarcastic thought, I told her yes and no. She retorted that I was or I wasn't. Did I believe in God? I told her yes, as I do believe in The Almighty. She then said,"Then you are saved." Then she went into a spill on Christianity and how wonderful it was. Talk about "Ye Ole Christianity pitch"... http://www.powwows.com/ubb/mad.gif I asked her if it was so great why did she have to push it off on other people? She didn't have too much to say after that. http://www.powwows.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

Am I going to hell now?

Sheila 06-13-2000 11:07 PM


Originally posted by Singing Otter:

I asked her if it was so great why did she have to push it off on other people? She didn't have too much to say after that. http://www.powwows.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

Am I going to hell now?

As a Christian, I just wanted to say that everyone who claims to be a Christian is not one. IMO- people who try to shove Christ down people's throat are doing more work for Satan than for Christ. That tactic usually always succeeds in turning people away.
Please don't judge us all bad because of the bigotry of some.

Nativeheartswoman 06-13-2000 11:58 PM

Singing Otter, if you are going to hell for that, save me a room, k?!? My children have been exposed to all different types of religions in their short little lives! I know in my heart that, when the time comes, Creator will lead them to what is best for them. It is this belief that keeps me from sheltering them from people with beliefs different from my own. I admire lakotantn for the words she spoke regarding her daughter's decision to go with her heart, to adhere to Jewish beliefs. She is truly a Mother that only has her daughter's best interests at heart. It is the ability to trust Creator to lead them on the right Path, be it Red or otherwise, that will see you thru your situation. Keep the Faith, Sister! All will be as it should!

Robert Laughing Owl 06-14-2000 09:51 AM


Originally posted by Majii:
Robert laughing owl;

I have my own beliefs
The thing is the the kids go to there dads and get all this christian stuff telling them that trying to be indian is the devils work. And practically pray for everything that goes wrong. They even boycott powwows. The kids come home with all this stuff.
It difficult enough for me teaching them about our people and our ways when I'm going against people/family telling them it's bad to be indian.
Does that help clarify on what I'm going through?

sounds more like he is just doing it out of meaness and you need to be honest with your kids and tell them this...they can make their own decisions...all you can do is give them the truth....im truly sorry for your situation...

Robert Laughing Owl

Robert Laughing Owl 06-14-2000 09:53 AM


Originally posted by Sheila:

As a Christian, I just wanted to say that everyone who claims to be a Christian is not one. IMO- people who try to shove Christ down people's throat are doing more work for Satan than for Christ. That tactic usually always succeeds in turning people away.
Please don't judge us all bad because of the bigotry of some.

i dont judge....that would make me just as bad...but you have to expect friction from traditional people that have had christianity pushed down there throats for so long...i mean hell look at what the original reservation agents did...day schools ect ect ect

Robert Laughing Owl

Benther_Dunthat 06-25-2000 11:35 PM

So much pain and anger I see toward "Christians", Yes, I am one and this makes me sad. Although I am only a very white clown I also dance and sing and I have been greatly influenced by what I have learned of traditional beliefs, especially the strong emphasis on maintaining a proper relationship with "all my relations". I know too that many professing Christians would not understand this even within my own church family.

On another page I saw discussion which attached Black Elk and others for"conversion" to Christianity/Catholicism. On these pages and elsewhere I see some suggest that one cannot walk a road which includes both Christian and traditional ways. Yet I would suggest that perhaps it is the critic rather than the convert, who lacks understanding and who has not made the effort to learn.

Please, friends open your hearts to see
what is at the core of the Christian faith. If you understood their messege you would know why they are compelled to tell the world what they believe. This is not an optional thing for them.
No this does not excuse the terrible things done by some who claim to be Christian. Those people will be called accountable before Creator. I paraphrase the bible verse which teaches that "many will call out Lord, Lord, I have done these things in your name and I (Lord) will say to them, truly I do not know you". The God who loves is also a just God who judges the unrighteous.

Just as some traditional people carry out their ceremony to save this world and to keep this world intact so Christians carry out their missions to save men's spirits for what comes after this world.

Before you condemn those who profess belief remember that many things have been done and still are done in the name of "Christianity" which have nothing to do with the messege of Christ. Many terrible things have been done by people claiming to be "Christian" etc., when in fact the things they have done, prove that they are/were not Christian nor even ones who truly love God/Creator. Even reasonable decent people to stupid things sometimes because of their lack of understanding. Obviously this friction continues on the front line where traditional ways meet Christian ways; and yet I know that it is not so everywhere.

Many people continue to think and teach that Christianity means becoming like them in their "religious" and "secular" practices when these "practices" truly have nothing to do with Christ' messege or mission, which was to help restore man into a proper relationship with God the Creator. The things of men's ways are to often confused with the ways of God.

Remember too that Christ was a tribal man. That he was fulfilling the prophecies which his own people had carried for centuries. Consider as some have said that perhaps there are things to be learned from both Traditional and Christian teachings. Forgive those who can not see the difference between the messeges of God and the traditions of men. It is an easy thing to judge the actions of the believer; It is a much harder to look past their actions to see what is at the core of their beliefs.

It is an unfortunate struggle within your family but by all means teach your children to love who they are and the culture which is theirs. Help them to see past the prejudices which their relatives may have toward what they do not understand.


Nativeheartswoman 06-25-2000 11:42 PM

I teach my children to make their own decisions about religion, just as my parents did with me. It is a personal choice for everyone as to what belief system they choose to follow. I have found that most religions that I have knowledge of all have the same "basics". The most important thing to remember when you are "walking your walk" is not to judge or denigrate someone else for "walking" their own way. We all have a path to follow and we won't all follow it the same way!

kahkakew 06-27-2000 03:03 AM

I was raised with the belief that "God" and the cretaor are indeed two very seperate entities. The latter being the true power and the former being the evil of this world.

In our old beliefs, the Creator or Kechi mantoh created four spirits in similar likeness but with very different gifts.

kahkakew 06-27-2000 03:16 AM


I have been having problems posting lately, so excuse my interrupted previous posting...

I will only say a little more regarding our belief as it is very different. E-mail me at Kahkakew@uniserve.com as I cannot get into my private mesages.

Basically, our belief says as prophecized that the spirit of the mainly the white society felland the other societies other than our, turned itself to the evil or Machi mantoh, this happened long ago and this one White spirit is known as God. We do not talk of God or Lord or Jesus Christ as being the same power or supreme being as the Creator. We speak of this god as a spirit of the creator.

I will explain the reasons and ways to heal and help an indian who suffers from spiritual interference of an evil nature. It will also show you a guideline on how to raise children with a belief in the Creator and not in false or evil spirits or evil and pretentious ways of life such as non-native invovlement in our ceremonial and spiritual lifestlye and religion.

This is the way many of my people believe. Many believe that god is the creator and this is part of the problem. I look forward to hearing from you if you are interested.


Benther_Dunthat 06-30-2000 02:30 AM

Some of my comments are long for boards such as these but I pray you will bear with me. These are important issues to many of us on and off the powwow trail and many people including myself are drawn to native ways in part because of our spiritual searching and longing to know the truth.

Majii: It was you who started this discussion. If you are willing it would be good for many of us if you could explain why in your view, your Christian ex-family finds it unacceptable to dance traditional but acceptable to dance other styles. Other people on these boards have tried to make a strong point of saying that the powwow is strictly social and not spiritual or ceremony. I think this conflict which you are dealing with helps to point out that although powwow is social, it is not without significant spiritual elements, else there would be no conflict.

Kahkakew: Thank you for sharing this little bit about you're traditional beliefs. What you share is in contrast to what I said regarding the Christian believe of God. This difference helps to illustrate a point I would like to make. Many people are saying that..."we are all praying to the same God anyway." This difference helps to demonstrate that in fact we are not; that these are very different teachings regarding the nature of who and what is "God".

I believe that the concept that..."we are all praying to the same god" is actually the result of an influence which has descended to us in fairly recent days primarily from teachings of eastern philosophies like Hinduism such as taught by Gandi. I think this philosophy truly does not reflect many traditional Indian beliefs and it certainly does not reflect the Judeo/Christian or Muslim teachings which are thousands of years old.

As another example I have seen it written, (though I can’t recall the source) that the Lakota concept of "Wakan Tanka" is in fact not a very old tradition but that it was created as a Lakota way of describing the Christianized concept of "God or Great Spirit", it was said that this concept did not exist in traditional Lakota teachings. I should like to know if anyone else is familiar with this teaching and if it is correct.

The ancient Hebrew people maintained that there is but one Supreme God, spirit in nature, that God visited their forefathers and commanded them to keep his words for the generations to come and that in return they would multiply greatly and that eventually through their race would come a messiah, who would save mankind. Scripture demonstrates that this salvation is of a spiritual nature; the restoration of mankind into a proper relationship with God. It was taught that man in our natural state is spiritually dead, meaning that where once we were joined with God,we have been separated; that by nature man tends to be something less than absolutely “Good” and yet we tend to seek to rejoin in communion with God.

This one God was pre-existent before all else, he created everything both material and spirit and only he was not created. When asked his name he said simply "tell them , I Am that I Am”, a name which in its original form was so sacred it was not to be spoken. Therefore when speaking the Hebrew people used many different names which describe God's character including among others, Lord, Provider and Creator. Evil then came not from the crator. Evil is whatever goes against the will of God who is "Good" in the absolute sense and evil first entered the universe when Satan a created spirit (angel) with free will tried to make himself equal to God.

I respectfully suggest that most of those who think we are all praying to the same spirit have been lazy in their study regarding what the ancients and elders of these many nations have actually passed on to us. It surprises me that so many times we are quick to accept teaches which have very limited evidence of historical accuracy or which have only been preserved orally or recorded within the last few hundred years and yet people will so often not bother to seek to discover the truthful facts regarding what has been handed down with great effort for the preservation of accuracy since the most ancient of days.

Even though we know mankind tends to be less than perfect, for we know our own errors, we to often judge the beliefs of others based on their imperfect actions rather than on an understanding of those beleives.

Your respectful but long winded clown,

[This message has been edited by Benther_Dunthat (edited June 30, 2000).]

Lee Winterhunter 06-30-2000 08:58 AM


Lots to ponder here.

From the statements from Christians and from traditionals that one can't worship in two ways to statements that one can....

Majii, little sister, if I may call you that, please know this. I know several persons who can and do worship in a variety of ways, who "see" the Creator in a church as much as in a circle as much as in the woods as much as in a hospital room or in a drunk tank.

An elder told this story at his wife's memorial service:

When I was a child, I had to spend all but the summers at a boarding school. The first year, they taught me their religion. When I got home that summer, I asked my grandfather about it. He told me, "You know what we've taught you and you know what's right. When people want to tell you about their religion, listen to them; help them if you can. But one thing you must never do: You must never, never make fun of them."

The part that spoke to me first was "help them if you can." I have been raised, and remain, Christian, and the Scriptures teach that God is love.

When you show love, caring, compassion, strength and support, that's - for want of a better word - religion and how people see "God" or "Creator."

As lakotantn said, your example will teach the children most clearly.

The next part of the elder's words that really came home were "never, never make fun of them."

Remember learning that "When you point a finger at someone, three fingers point back at you" - ?? When/if your ex- and his in-laws act without love and ridicule and openly despise traditional ways, your children will see that in contrast to their mom's beliefs and behavior, and they will understand.

Maybe not right away, or maybe so.

The denomination to which I belong has, until recently, stuck very closely to its own traditions and has been firm in its beliefs, and, I'm happy to say, treated "unbelievers" with love. The point is, as my husband and I have raised our children in this Christian tradition, we have also told them, "Yes, most Christians believe that only belief in Jesus sends a person to the good world after death. We personally believe that any one who honors God (the Creator), and who helps others on earth, also goes to a good world after death. God [sic] is infinite and no one can completely understand Him; we are not given to pass judgement on a person of good faith, good conscience and humble helping. The Creator (God) knows all our hearts."

So far, thank heavens!, they understand.

You've been in our prayers since your first posting. May you and your children be blessed!

With respect,

Tvskekee 06-30-2000 10:43 AM

Its all about who does the teaching. I just recently had to take a course in either the New Testament or the Old Testament because it is required by the University. I took New Testament. what an eye opener.
Ther is soooo much that is not taught in the church. It makes me think of why noone wanted the slaves to become educated.

One example is the statement that only through Jesus can you get to God. The New Testament was written in Greek(the language of the eduacted people in that time period)What you hear everywher is: Noone shal come unto the father but by me(English translation from Greek) Actual Greek translation: None shall come unto the father but by those who are like me. That puts it into a TOTALLY different perspective doesnt it?

24 books not in the bible, Council decided what books were to be in the bible. Who were they to decide? The ones in power.

The feeding of the multitudes, 5000 right? wrong.. in that society, during that time period, women and chldren under 12 were never counted. So you can imagine how many people were really fed, alot more then 5000.

People go ballistic when face with the thought that of Jesus drinking wine.OH NO!! he drank grape juice, he owuld never dirnk wine. I would really like to see how they refrigerated their fruit juices back then. Wine was what was commnoly drank throughout that society.

I could go ona nd on about all the stuff I learned in class. It was very straight up and to the point, not trying to cnvert anyone, just to present people with the truth. Historical and spritual according to the bible.

I really wish that the churches would teach what is there and not only the bits and pieces. The whole women should be silent in the church issue, that is so misconstrued and used against people. If you read a few more line then you know why that was written down. there was a problem in one church with gossiping destroying the spirit of that church. So by slinecing the women they wer able to find out who was starting all the rumors and they put an end to that problem then everything went back to normal.

The women is to honor her husband and submit to him in all ways. keep reading and you will see it say the same about the man submitting to the women, but they never get that far in their sermons do they?

Its all about the teachers and the truth. Im pursuing my Phd in History, American Indian studies. My goal is to teach the truth, especially American history, through the eyes of our people. The TRUTH and not the fairy land stories that are out there being taught today.

All roads lead to the same Creator(although some of them are way off like Jehovas witnessesLOL)I call the Creator Hesaketvmvse-The Giver of Breath, you may say Wakan Tanka ,Ussen, Yahweh, Allah, God etc etc. all the same, different names.

Religous division is what divides people the most. Religous tolerance is what unites people the most http://www.powwows.com/ubb/smile.gif IMO

Lee Winterhunter 06-30-2000 05:37 PM

More power to you, jriverwind!

Can I just ask you to consider thinking in terms of religious respect, rather than "tolerance," which brings to my mind the thought of someone with teeth gritted and shoulders squared, hissing, "I - can - tolerate - the - others."

Just a thought.

With respect,

Tvskekee 07-01-2000 12:20 AM

Your absolutely right WinterHunter, Respect s a much better word then tolerance!

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