Indigenous Sacred Ways

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Storytelling is very important in indigenous cultures. Traditions are passed down orally through the generations. Stories include an explanation of the genesis of the earth and members of the tribes place in the universe. Some tribe histories have been lost because the entire tribe was killed by war and disease. Drumming is believed to bring to people close to the unseen powers. In some tribes it is believed that these storytellers have the ability to speak to the spirits, ancestors and Supreme Being. Initiations serve to enhance one’s prestige or to draw him closer to the spirit world. During the initiation ceremonies, members wear costumes to help them take on the persona of the spirits they are representing. Some believe that these ceremonies prove that the dead are still watching the living. The intermediary between the earthly world and the spirit world is referred to as “shaman”. It is believed that the power to heal isn’t held by the shaman, but by a spirit. The shaman is just used to deliver the healing. Shaman medicine isn’t considered folk-lore by the modern medical community. It is allowed for indigenous patients at some hospitals. And even referred to in some instances, ex: Navajo. One example of self-sacrifice is the Sun Dance. Dancers will dance for days without food or water. They will also endure torturous rituals with piercing sticks and body mutilation. They believe the suffering makes their prayers mean more. Vision-quests are normally done at the onset of puberty. A tribe member is sent to a sacred spot to ask the spirits for help in their journey. In some cultures, an animal presents itself to the member during the vision quest. But if the animal doesn’t tell him enough information, when he attempts to heal someone, he will take on their illness.
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