Native American Religious Beliefs and Customs

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Even though negative stereotypes exist, the Native American culture is complex, with natural healing ceremonies as a central part of its religion and culture.

1. Native Americans’ religious beliefs about life influences their relationship with nature.

  • Adopted Christian views of monotheism,one God- Known as “Great Mystery”
  • Believe it is crucial for the spirit to remain balanced and connected to the earth and universe
  • The name of an individual is connected to the earth

2. Sickness:

  • believed to be a gift from the Creator
  • also caused by immoral behavior
  • the disabled are treated with great respect


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The Healer

  • also known as Medicine Man, Herbalist, Spirit Communicator
  • elder leader is an authority figure
  • seen as a counselor or pastor



Natural Native American Healing Creates Communitas

1. Healing Practices unite and reinforces bonding within the people.

The Origin

  • Polygenesis background- healing practices come from several tribes
  • 1830 Indian Removal Act– relocations encouraged continuity and dissemenation of beliefs in an effort to keep their culture alive

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  • Support from family and friends helps invoke power that will scare away bad spirits
  • Native American teachings emphasize the tribe as having greater power than the whole
  • The community share the task of taking care of the sick and bringing him back to health
  • Believe in the “butterfly effect”- everything is related and has an impact on each other no matter how small it may be. 

Natural Healing Remedies and Ceremonies

3. The healing ceremonies use hand-crafted talisman and totems to help create liminal space in which the sick is able to find relief.

  • The sick is able to leave the stress of the modern world and find hope and guidance through ceremonies, rituals and objects.
  • accompanied by song, prayer, chant
  • synchrony with people and spirit



  • represents balance of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual beings that enables healing
  • used for prayer, meditation, healing, teaching, and celebration
  • serves as a cathedral, altar, and bible


  • teaches about our life and its connection with the world around us
  • cycles of life, death, rebirth
  • way to dessiminate traditions and keep culture alive and together for the next generation



  • represents power of Mother Earth inside of us and mother’s heart beat
  • brings synchrony with energies of the people
  • help connect ourselves with the spirit, land and Great Mystery

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  • sacred purification of mind, body, and soul
  • dome shape represents mother’s womb and a rebirth
  • connection with the earth seen as spiritual journey
  • aimed at enlightenment; visions sometimes occur


  • the way the sweat lodge is built and ceremony is held can change the effectiveness of the healing

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  • alive in spirit
  • permission requested to use
  • emphasis on procedure

Willow tree-treats pain, form of aspirin

sage-  cleans teeth and heals sores

wintergreen- treats joint pain and sore muscles


  • great spiritual power
  • increases bond with nature

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Folk Medicine Without Barriers


Curanderismo- folk healing that involves a mixture of Native and Hispanic healing customs.