The Role and Impact of Religion on Early America
Throughout the history of the human race, we have striven to find an explanation as to why we are here, how we got here, and if there is some sort of “spirit in the sky” or other supernatural force that could possibly guide us or have an influence in our daily lives. In America, the dominant religion we have been associated with is Christianity. However, Christianity didn’t even exist in America until the European presence began to take over. There was a great clashing of societies and religious beliefs when Early European immigrants believed they could convert Native American populations to Christianity. In this document, I will briefly explain the evolution and influence of religion in America, and how that influence has interlaced itself with our political ideals as well.
Our story must first begin with the early interactions of the Native Americans and Early European explorers. Although Christopher Columbus (a European Christian) seemed to make some effort to coexist peacefully with the Native Americans who he mistakenly identified as “Indians”, the purpose of his visit was clear. On page 139 of our text, he discusses bartering items such hawk’s bells, glass beads, and pieces of gold (Lauter). Of course, the Native Americans had religious beliefs of their own, and our text goes into great detail to document many of those accounts. On page 109, in the poem “My Breath (Netsilik Eskimo-Inuit)” the words and emotions are based largely on the respect and sacrifice of the animals the Inuit depended upon to survive: “I bring to mind the great white one, / the polar bear, / approaching with raised hind-quarters, / his nose in the snow-- / convinced, as he rushed at me, / that of the two of us, / he was the only male! (Lauter)” The poem goes on to describe “the great blubbery one”, a fjord-seal that the Inuit also sacrifices for the survival of himself and his family. Much of the Native American writings...
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