Native American Tradition and Religion

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Due to the wide range of habitats in North America, different native religions evolved to match the needs and lifestyles of the individual tribe. Religious traditions of aboriginal peoples around the world tend to be heavily influenced by their methods of acquiring food, whether by hunting wild animals or by agriculture. Native American spirituality is no exception. Traditional Lakota spirituality is a form of religious belief that each thing, plant and animal has a spirit. The Native American spirituality has an inseparable connection between the spirituality and the culture. One cannot exist without the other.

The arrival of Europeans marked a major change on Native society and it's spirituality. Native Americans have been fighting to keep their spiritual practices alive. Right from the beginning, Native American religious practices were misunderstood and forbidden. The United States government tried to force Christianity upon the Indians in a desperate attempt to destroy their traditions and to assimilate them into white Christian society. Many of the Native Americans were forcibly converted to Christianity.

Some would agree that freedom of religion is one of America's most important laws. When it comes to Native Americans, however, freedom of religion was almost non-existent. Native Americans have had to struggle to survive in a country that has discriminated against them and persecuted them for hundreds of years. The tribes in North America just want one thing from the United States government and that is respect: of sacred sites, the sacramental use of peyote, and the use of eagle feathers and plants for cultural practices. The United States stole from the Indians in the past and has never kept promises they made to the Native Americans. The one aspect of the Indian's lives that has kept them going has been their religion. The Native Americans will have to endlessly fight for complete freedom of religion and for respect.

Many Native families today...
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