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Forum Home - Go Back > Pow Wow Arena > Ask PowWows.com I have some questions regarding American Indians and christianity I have some questions regarding American Indians and christianity

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Old 09-08-2014, 11:18 AM   #1
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I have some questions regarding American Indians and christianity

I have a question and I hope it isn't a dumb one but it's one I have truly always wanted to find out. Do American Indians believe in Jesus and christianity? Or do they have their own religion? If so, what is their religion? How do you practice it? And is it so that when American Indians were taken into captivity by puritans and christians, the American Indians were forced to believe in what was called - "the white man's religion - christianity"?
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Old 09-09-2014, 11:28 AM   #2
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Leonia, it is not a dumb question, but it a complex and sensitive one. It invokes anger, pain, joy and shame.

Let me start by correcting what seem to be a couple of misconceptions. There is no one American Indian people. In the US alone there are in excess of 500 federally recognized tribes. There is enormous cultural and religious diversity within Native North America.

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Do American Indians believe in Jesus and christianity?
Some. Many denominations have established churches and missions in Native communities. There are thriving Native Christian groups, organizations and charities. There is an active recontextualization movement with in some groups, trying to separate Christian theology and belief from the dominant culture matrix in which it is often presented.

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Or do they have their own religion? If so, what is their religion?
Yes, our various peoples had their traditional religious practices. For the most part, these are still going concerns. There is no one religion, each tribe had their own teachings, customs and ceremonies. So, there isn't a simple answer to what is their religion.

Religion isn't even a particularly good word to describe it. In the modern West, religion is often thought of a set of beliefs you are raised with then ultimately choose incorporate into aspects of your life or discard or even change. You need to understand that most traditional Native understandings of the spiritual arise from very different roots. The intellectual underpinnings are very dissimilar to Judeo-Christian ideas. Often the universe is understood as interdependent and human survival is dependent on the correct behavior and actions. Therefore religion in most Native cultures is deeply intertwined in every aspect of life. Within many Native cultures you are born to your people's system of belief. By the fact of being part of your Nation, you have a role. Changing to a different tribe's practices is often not even possible.

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And is it so that when American Indians were taken into captivity by puritans and christians, the American Indians were forced to believe in what was called - "the white man's religion - christianity"?
Let me correct another misconception. Contact between the New World and the Old occurred on many fronts. At the same time as the Pilgrims were establishing themselves in Patuxet, the people of the Pueblos were already paying tribute to the governments and missionaries of Spanish settlements in what is now New Mexico.

Was conversion coerced? Yes. But, can you really force someone to believe something? Not easily and not without great harm and cost. Often people went along but the old ways remained hidden.

As a Native Christian, I believe many who have acted against Native people in the name of Christianity will have or have had much to answer for when they stood before the Lord. Some have been -- shall we say -- a poor witness.

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How do you practice it?
This is a question which is inappropriate in many Native cultures. The sacred is protected within many of our communities by secrecy. This isn't a racial thing, it is guided by indigenous understandings of what is the appropriate way, place and time to share knowledge.

Last edited by OLChemist; 09-12-2014 at 09:44 AM..
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Old 09-09-2014, 11:39 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Lenoia_2014 View Post
I have a question and I hope it isn't a dumb one but it's one I have truly always wanted to find out. Do American Indians believe in Jesus and christianity? Or do they have their own religion? If so, what is their religion? How do you practice it? And is it so that when American Indians were taken into captivity by puritans and christians, the American Indians were forced to believe in what was called - "the white man's religion - christianity"?
Hmmm...
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Old 09-11-2014, 12:22 PM   #4
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Hmmm...
I agree. Hmmmmm?
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Old 09-11-2014, 07:39 PM   #5
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i am a former christian (catholic) and can tell you that chistianity does have a heavy influence on our ways, but our customs are not completely lost in pueblo lands

i think that the red man, the brown man, the black man, the yellow man and even the white man should give the jew back his dirty god......the world would be alot better off
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Old 09-12-2014, 06:37 AM   #6
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I have a question and I hope it isn't a dumb one but it's one I have truly always wanted to find out. Do American Indians believe in Jesus and christianity? Or do they have their own religion? If so, what is their religion? How do you practice it? And is it so that when American Indians were taken into captivity by puritans and christians, the American Indians were forced to believe in what was called - "the white man's religion - christianity"?
I believe that we were forced to obey the white men's laws if we don't do it what they want us to be in their customs or cultures instead of our own customs and cultures. They want us to do their own ways, not our ways as we are the First people on Turtle Island (USA). The mission priests or brothers always tried to get us to obey their religions. I am Catholic. In the Catholic (I don't know if other religion beside my own) that they see our ancestors as children. We did not like that at all. We are not children. We are adults and have a mind of our own.

There were lots of Black Robes trying to convert us to their religion long time ago (around 1500 to late 1800, I think). That is my opinion.

As for captivity by them, our ancestors were forced to be slaves or imprisoned or murdered no matter whether there were Native men, women and children, especially children. The Calvary soldiers were murdering children and women, too. Our ancestors were pretty upset about that being accused and were taking advantaged of them by giving them alcohol and mistreatment (lack of food) on reservations. The White men lied to them a lot.

We have different kinds of religion in every tribe. Our religion is suppose to be sacred and spiritual with prayers to the Grandfather Sky and to the 4 corners (directions). We used medicine to help us purified ourselves. We respect Nature and animals and took care of them as Mother Earth (Earth) as caretakers. So this is our rights as Native people here. No one should never take our rights away from us.
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Old 09-16-2014, 06:09 PM   #7
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i believe that indian christianity is just another form of stockholm syndrome.....they disguise the fort as a church and encourage us to hang around........think about it......adopting christianity is like spitting on your ancestors
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Old 09-18-2014, 11:32 PM   #8
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um, what they said
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Old 09-29-2014, 03:42 AM   #9
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Great answer! Hope we were able to help! I couldnt have explained it better than OLChemist.
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Old 10-11-2014, 05:53 AM   #10
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There were lots of Black Robes trying to convert us to their religion long time ago (around 1500 to late 1800, I think). That is my opinion.

As for captivity by them, our ancestors were forced to be slaves or imprisoned or murdered no matter whether there were Native men, women and children, especially children. The Calvary soldiers were murdering children and women, too. Our ancestors were pretty upset about that being accused and were taking advantaged of them by giving them alcohol and mistreatment (lack of food) on reservations.
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Old 10-28-2014, 02:04 PM   #11
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I have a similar question. I'm white, and a Christian myself (don't worry, I'm not on here to try to get anyone else to convert...but I am curious as to how Christianity is viewed by others).

I'm wondering, though, how do you would feel if someone you know ever did voluntarily decide to become a Christian? Would you be cool with it (since they chose to)? Or would you feel that it's completely incompatible with traditional ways?

Please pardon any ignorance on my part, because I am completely ignorant
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Old 10-29-2014, 11:53 AM   #12
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I have a similar question. I'm white, and a Christian myself (don't worry, I'm not on here to try to get anyone else to convert...but I am curious as to how Christianity is viewed by others).

I'm wondering, though, how do you would feel if someone you know ever did voluntarily decide to become a Christian? Would you be cool with it (since they chose to)? Or would you feel that it's completely incompatible with traditional ways?

Please pardon any ignorance on my part, because I am completely ignorant
Here is a speech given by a very honorable man. I think he states this as best that it has ever tried to be said. Red Jacket Red Jacket Defends Native American Religion, 1805
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Old 10-29-2014, 05:38 PM   #13
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THanks for the link! I'll watch it tonight after the kiddos go to bed :)
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