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Native American Gods - Essay Example

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The Native Americans are those people, who occupied the now continental America before the 15th century, when the Europeans began migrating and settling in the continent. They can mostly be found in areas such as North America, Hawaii and Alaska. These communities comprised of and not limited to; Apache, Shoshone, Mayans, Navajo, Cherokee among others, who basically relied on hunting and gathering techniques for survival though some such as Cherokee and Navajo also practiced domestication of crops and animals (Ryan 116)…
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The Native Americans are those people, who occupied the now continental America before the 15th century, when the Europeans began migrating and settling in the continent. They can mostly be found in areas such as North America, Hawaii and Alaska. These communities comprised of and not limited to; Apache, Shoshone, Mayans, Navajo, Cherokee among others, who basically relied on hunting and gathering techniques for survival though some such as Cherokee and Navajo also practiced domestication of crops and animals (Ryan 116). The coming of Europeans in the late 15th century distorted their way of living as the Europeans tried to interfere with their way of living through missionary work and land grabbing, which led to numerous conflicts with the Indian Americans, as they prefer being called (Ryan 125). This paper is a critical evaluation of the way of life of the Native Americans, precisely their mythology. The Native Americans have their religions and traditions, which they never relinquished even after the European Americans tried to assimilate them to no avail. One major component of these religions is the belief in deities or gods, whom they worship whenever they are faced with different challenges (Malone 23). These are for example the Kokopelli, who is regarded as the god of fertility among North American native communities such as the Hopi and the Zunis. He is referred to as the god of fertility and is perceived as the one who blesses women with children and for this reason, he is highly feared and respected by young girls who have hopes of becoming mothers later in their lifetimes. The girls are advised to avoid engaging in illicit sex as it is believed that Kokopelli would follow them with his tiny feet and the pleasure experienced from such activities would be short lived after which extreme pain and misery would surely follow (Reilly 34). In addition, he is believed to possess powers to control the environment and the weather in order to ensure that his people are successful in agricultural activities. He carries a flute which he plays while singing songs, which, according to believers, creates a warm environment during winter thereby melting the falling snow into raindrops. Kokopelli is represented by a statue of a man with a hump at the back and a protruding and erect penile shaft, which is a sign of fertility and a blessing to women while the hump is perceived as storage for numerous blessings such as planting seeds and hunting success among others (Malone 65). The Lakotas are a Native American tribe, which is subdivided into 7 other sub-tribes consisting of; Sichangu, Oglala, Itazipcho, Hunkpapha, Mnikhowozu, Sihasapa, and the Oohenunpa (Ryan 129). They are mainly found in settlements within Sioux and in both South and North Dakota. According to their religious beliefs, Wakan Tanka is the god, whom they believe as their creator and the overall highest ranking deity and this is why they refer to him as the Great Spirit. In their mythology, Wakan Tanka existed long before any other being in the universe, which made him reach a point where he felt so lonely and decided to venture into creation. His first object of creation was an Inyan, which happened to be a rock and a god. Next, he took this rock and used it to mould the earth after which he made love to the rock thereby delivering the sky. From the sky came the sun and the moon all of which are considered as different gods but constituents of Wakan Tanka. As with many other gods of the Native Americans, Wakan Tanka has different names that can be used alternatively and these are Wakanda or Wakonda (Reilly 88). The North American indigenous people do not practice monotheistic religion and as such, they have numerous gods, most of whom are basically a representation of nature. In this context, it may be found out that most of their gods appear in form of animals, wind, humans among other forms. An example is the Thunderbird, who is considered to be a god which takes the form of a huge bird that possesses supernatural powers. His name is coined from the fact that he has two large wings, which he flaps continuously making loud noises such as those of thunder (Weaver 73). In addition, Thunderbird is supposed to have the capability to bring forth lightning whenever he looks down with his peculiar eyes. Though it is told that thunderbird used to be a servant of Wakan Tanka, it is believed that he is a dangerous spirit, which has the capacity to bring misery and success to the people if he is made angry. According to Native American mythologies, the thunderbird has the ability to change its form i.e. from a bird to other living creatures such as humans. Indeed, stories are told that there existed more than one thunderbird but all the others changed their form into that of humans and even went ahead to inter marry with them, though the humans were not aware. At one time, one of the powerful and influential tribes in the community went in search of slaves and without knowing, they captured even the thunderbirds. Consequently, the gods changed form and with their supernatural powers, they attacked the tribe in a revenge mission, which resulted to the death of its entire people (Weaver 113). This and several others are myths that are passed from one generation to the other, to ensure that no person would attempt to disrespect the gods. Works Cited Malone James. A Religious History of the Native American People. Yale University Press, 2001 Reilly, Kent. Ancient Objects and Sacred Realms. University of Texas Press, 2005 Ryan, Christopher. “Native American Origins.” Journal of Archeology 145.3 (2010): 115-130 Weaver, Jace. Native American Religious Identity: Unforgotten Gods. Orbis Books, 2000 Read More
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