Native American Religion Essay

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When Europeans first set foot upon the shores of what is now the United States they brought with them a social structure which was fundamentally based around their concept and understanding of Western European Christianity. That the indigenous peoples might already have a thriving civilization, including religious beliefs and practices, that closely paralleled the beliefs and practices of European civilization, was a concept not considered by these early explorers and settlers. This European lack of cultural understanding created tensions, between Native Americans and Europeans, and later between Native Americans and Euro-Americans, that eventually erupted into open warfare and resulted in great bloodshed between cultures. For the Lakota…show more content…
The Europeans, therefore, described the indigenous people as savage, polytheistic pagans and heathens, who were doomed to damnation for the worship of animals and nature. The Europeans, within their understanding of the will of God, believed it their duty and their responsibility to teach these indigenous people the “correct” way to live, and were determined to impose their own religion upon the indigenous people by enforcing the worship of the God of the Christian Bible through any means deemed necessary, including slavery, coercion, and the threat of, or actual maiming or death. Europeans chose to dismiss the religious and cultural practices of the indigenous peoples because the indigenous peoples did not engage in scheduled worship services as the Europeans did, or call their deities by the names that the Europeans used, nor did the indigenous peoples perform their worship ceremonies in the same manner as the Europeans. Lakota scholar and author Vine DeLoria Jr. defines this fundamental difference in ideologies as the European philosophical concept of time and linear thinking conflicting with the Native American philosophical concept of space and the importance of place or places, and explains that these concepts conflict because each becomes incomprehensible when removed from the context in which it was originally conceived and understood. The rigid doctrine of Western European Christianity allowed no variance from the teachings of the church, making
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