The Differences Between Indian and European

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The diverse Indian societies of North America did share certain common characteristics. Their lives were steeped in religious ceremonies often directly related to farming and hunting. The world, they believed, was suffused with spiritual power and sacred spirits could be found in all kinds of living and inanimate things – animals, plants, trees, water, and wind. Religious ceremonies aimed to harness the aid of powerful supernatural forces to serve the interests of man. In some tribes, hunters performed rituals to placate the spirits of animals they had killed. Other religious ceremonies sought to engage the spiritual power of nature to secure abundant crops or fend off evil spirits. Indian villages also held elaborate religious rites, participation in which helped to define the boundaries of community membership. In all Indian societies, those who seemed to possess special abilities to invoke supernatural powers-shamans, medicine men, and other religious leaders-held positions of respect and authority. Unlike the Christian world from which European newcomers arrived, Indian religion did not pose a sharp distinction between the natural and supernatural, or secular and religious activities. In some respects, however, Indian religion was not that different from popular spiritual beliefs in Europe. Most Indians and Europeans held that a single Creator stood atop the spiritual hierarchy. Despite the disapproval of official churches, numerous Europeans believed in witchcraft and magic and interpreted natural events like earthquakes and storms as signs of divine favor or displeasure. Nonetheless, nearly all Europeans quickly concluded that Indians were in dire need of being converted to a true, Christian faith. Equally alien in European eyes were Indian attitudes toward property In most Indian communities north of the Rio Grande, the idea of private property in land in a European sense did not exist. Indians saw land, the basis of economic life for both hunting and...
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