European And Native American Beliefs

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The history of Native American religion is influenced by exposure to Europeans, the beliefs of different tribes, and traditions that were passed down orally. When the Europeans came to America they impacted the Native American religions in many different ways. The Native Americans had to adapt to Europeans, but they also kept to their original ways. Even before the adaptations, the Native Americans and Europeans had similarities including: believing one god and one main evil spirit, believing in an afterlife, and they both believed in the immortality of the soul. Even though the Natives believed in one god, “Master Spirit”, unlike the Europeans, they believed that the god could assume a variety of forms and both genders; Native Americans also believed in many lesser spirits. Other differences were that Natives passed their beliefs down verbally instead of documenting everything in a book or books. As a result of exposure to Europeans, Native American traditions gradually intermixed with Christian beliefs. One example of the influence of Christianity on Native American rituals is the adaptations to the Sun Dance. Before the Sun Dance was primarily practiced in the Upper Plains and the Rocky Mountains and performed at the summer solstice. The dance was often practiced differently for each tribe, but the Eagle, helping bring body and spirit in harmony, is an important symbol for all tribes. There are many similarities for each tribe including: specific songs and dances that
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