Resources and Recommendations for Studying Native American Religions

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31 May 2018 15:48 - 31 May 2018 15:53 #322198 by
{Just to get things started - add on as appropriate!}

Good Advice from the page: Seeking Native American Spirituality: Read This First!

I want to add to that what the Elders & teachers I've worked with have said on this as well. Native American religions are specific to their people and *places* - they are not simply spiritual beliefs but ways of carrying vital knowledge about the community and relationships with the land. When they are incorrectly transmitted or re-interpreted, important details get lost; those not of the language, culture, and environment and not trained in the transmission of this knowledge will not know what those details are and why they are so important. For that reason, it's important to take the religions on their own term and not try to make them fit the boxes or -isms derived from Western analyses, and to be very clear when making academic or archetypal interpretations (like Campbell does).

In my experience, the only way to learn about the deeper ceremonial part is to have Native relatives who bring you into it - either by birth into the culture, or becoming accepted within a community that trusts you to understand and guard what is most sacred to them. Even then, people are given different levels of understanding based on who they are and what they need to know, so it's important to not think that what you've been taught is everything or the only way of seeing it. The advice I was given for those who live outside Native culture or communities who feel a connection to Native religions and want to follow them is to understand that, in essence, these religions preserve a very ancient way of "being a real human being." This concept is one that has been at the heart of most human religions, though specific to people and place, which was mostly lost to the West due to the campaigns of conversion-based religions and a universalizing epistemology that split up existence into different levels (Deloria talks about this at length in Metaphysics of Modern Existence).

My Lodge Elder always said that he opened his Lodge and ceremonies to non-Natives only so that we could see what this way looks like and have enough experience to recognize the presence of it in other forms, and start reworking our own way back to it. All that is really necessary is to re-connect the relationships with all the beings that share your world, to have a respectful way of communication with them, and to live humbly enough to learn from all the other relatives and beings whose lives are intertwined with yours. Most of the European "pagan" religions have aspects of ceremonial work that forge those kinds of connections, when deeply engaged. So my recommendations are given in that spirit; these are some of the ones that have been most useful for me. I'll dig out some old syllabi that had some good ones on it as well when I get a chance. I've noted authors' tribal affiliations where applicable to help distinguish the Native voices.

General Theology:

God is Red: A Native View of Religion - Vine Deloria Jr. (Standing Rock Lakota), Leslie Marmon Silko (Laguna Pueblo), George E. Tinker (Osage); Fulcrum Publishing; 30th Anniversary edition, 2003.

The Metaphysics of Modern Existence - Vine Deloria Jr, David E Wilkins (Lumbee), Daniel R. Wildcat (Muscogee); Fulcrum Publishing; 2012.

Teaching Spirits: Understanding Native American Religious Traditions - Joseph Epes Brown (Oxford University; 2001) [Academic]

Native American Religious Identity: Unforgotten Gods - Jace Weaver (Cherokee); Orbis Books; 1998.

A Native American Theology - Clara Sue Kidwell (White Earth Chippewa and Choctaw), Homer Noley (Choctaw), George E. Tinker; Orbis Books; 2001.

Power and Place: Indian Education in America - Vine Deloria, Jr., and Daniel R. Wildcat. Fulcrum Publishing, 2001.

Native Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence - Gregory Cajete (Tewa); Clear Light Publishers, 2000.

Plains Religion:
The Sun Came Down: The History of the World as My Blackfeet Elders Told It -Percy Bullchild (Blackfeet), Foreword by Woody Kipp (Blackfeet); University of Nebraska Press; 2005.

Walking in the Sacred Manner: Healers, Dreamers, and Pipe Carriers, Medicine Women of the Plains Indians - Mark St. Pierre and Tilda Long Soldier (Oglala Lakota); Touchstone; 1995.

The Lakota Way: Native American Wisdom on Ethics and Character - Joseph M. Marshall III (Sicangu Lakota); Paw Prints, 2008.

To You We Shall Return Lessons About Our Planet from the Lakota - Joseph M. Marshall III; Sterling Ethos, 2010.
Last edit: 31 May 2018 15:53 by . Reason: typos

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31 May 2018 22:22 #322209 by
While completing a very extensive version of Lesson 6 of the IP I realized that if we were to qualify the individual tribes under one single category due to their shared belief in the same One Great Spirit, I think many of us would be very surprised to see just how big the Native American religions still are...and that the people of the tribes are seriously hurt that the rest of the world keeps excluding them as "minor" despite the fact that their religious beliefs ARE the representation of the core of religion for the entire Americas...they didn't develop or have any influence from the rest of the world until the great explorers set out to conquer the world.

Beliefs that ran the length of the entire Americas from the icy north all the way down until you hit ice again at the southernmost landing really can't be considered to be "minor" except in a world where the people of those beliefs are STILL under oppression by the conquering forces....something to think on when considering inclusion in the IP since it's one of the biggest "eye-openers" regarding religion for American Jedi Initiates, AND it is an action that completely denies the temple talk about TOTJO being too "christian oriented".

I also have a complete set of Cherokee language instructions complete with how to learn the Cherokee alphabet that I got straight from the tribe. My great-grandfather was born on the Res and my people still live in the area...just not me... I will try to find a way to get that information uploaded to my computer so I can share it here. That one may prove to be a bit more difficult to pull off.


This is a free pdf download and you don't have to join to do it but membership is free if you're an academic research junkie like me.

This is a free online copy of Mooney's research into the Cherokee and other tribes of the US Southeastern natives done back in the 1800s. He went out and lived with The People for quite some time and earned their trust and tried his best to recored their history. It is considered one of the core texts on Native American culture.

This is a book I own and recommend for anyone who would like to better understand the Native American ways beyond seeing them as pure animism. It's been very useful in my studies to see the similarities between Native American lore and Hindu lore despite the two never having any influence over the other...extremely useful now again in my Jedi studies and learning to understand The Force.

And here's a spoken overview (it's read by AI but it's not too bad)

And here's the authors' site...they are Native Americans trying to translate their oral tradition to written tradition so it does not become lost in our modern world of text. I've read three of their books and used them in daily practice and I can promise you there is only authentic experience silly new-age (they drive me nuts) and no opinionated inexperienced speculation and intellectualization either. Just pure lore and practice.

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01 Jun 2018 02:29 #322212 by Rosalyn J
I'm quite happy this is here. I look forward to using this as a resource. Thank you

Pax Per Ministerium

The following user(s) said Thank You: Carlos.Martinez3,

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