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Native American Religious Views

Hi. These are just general discussion questions. These are just ideas to help formulate my answers so I can discuss the answers more effectively.

1.Make some general comments about how Native Americans view the ultimate power in the universe. Is it to be appeased with sacrifice? Is it to be appealed to as a parent who takes care of us? Can you make any generalizations between this view of the Absolute and the view of the tradition in which you were raised?

2. In the book I read about Brown's idea of "The Reciprocal Cycle" in chapter six. Is this simply a pragmatic balancing act between the human world and the natural world? Why or why not?

I appreciate your help. Thanks

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Native American
I actually answered question 2 prior to answering question 1. You will find the answers in question 2 providing additional information to question 1.

1. Make some general comments about how Native Americans view the ultimate power in the universe.

Native American cultures are multiplicitous. The communities are more or less homogeneous and Native American religious beliefs and traditions have a long history attached that forms their social, economic, and political ways of life. And similarly to the present day heterogeneous society, it influences these institutions in both formal and informal ways.

The universe to Native Americans is a living universe. Everything has life and all life is interconnected. This understanding of the universe is accepted across tribes as being the "form and substance of ultimate reality" (Online resource: A Policy Paper [noted below]).

According to the Dakota tribe, the physical world was composed of the manifestations of the "animating force" which is the universe (DeMallie, Raymond J., Douglas R. Parks, eds. (1987). Sioux Indian Religion: Tradition and Innovation. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press).

Is it to be appeased with sacrifice? Is it to be appealed to as a parent who takes care of us?

Ritual ceremonies were offered primarily during seasonal changes and, more importantly, during agricultural periods. Ritual ceremonies embodied a personal experience. It was a giving of oneself. There weren't any sacrifices that involved the killing of an animal or such. There are Native Indian cultures in South America, for example, that did practice human sacrifice (i.e. the Aztec culture, and Tupi tribes in Brazil). From the belief system of the Native Americans, it does not appear that (physical) human sacrifice would be cogent. There is the strong adherence to the capitulation of the ego as the spiritual form of sacrifice.

Sacrifice is ...

Solution Summary

This solution will assist the student in discussing the Native American view of the universe and Joseph Brown's "The Reciprocal Cycle."

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