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Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Native American Mythology


NATIVE AMERICAN MYTHOLOGY

Native American mythology goes back in history and it can vary greatly between the hundreds of different Native American tribes. The Native American culture believes that everything is given life by divinity.
Many of the stories are stories of creation, or Emergence stories as many tribes call them.  American Indians didn’t write down their stories: they passed down through the generations orally.

In Native American mythology there are some common factors that exist with all tribes and this is the belief that there is a divine force that is behind everything, from the Indians themselves to the trees, the moon and sun. Many tribes refer to this divine force as “The Great Mystery”.  
Another important part of these myths are the use of animals. Many tribes believed that each animal species had a spiritual leader that communicated with the Indians. 

Myths
Myths are a very important part of Native American culture and storytelling. Native American myths often tell why events in nature occur and try to explain how the earth and nature have come about. 
Many Native American myths focus on natural phenomena in the world such as water, fire and wind. 






Native American dance, tomahawks, totems, etc



THE RAIN DANCE

The Native American rain dance was very common among the Native American tribes in the southwest of America, because during the summers there wasn’t much rain. 
The rain dance usually took place in August ever year. 
Men and women danced it, and they wore special costumes when performing this ceremony. 
Many reservations in the southwest still perform this ritual today.




THE TOMAHAWKS

They were war weapons for many of the more violent Indian tribes, and they used their tomahawks to scalp their enemies. 
But they were also tools and they were sometimes given as gifts to important people during special ceremonies.





 


THE TOTEM POLES

The totem poles were symbols of the history of a family or of the whole tribe. 
They were also a record of traditions, legends, or spiritual stories. 
They were carved from large pieces of wood and covered with pictures of animals. They were also used as memorials when a tribe’s chief died.







THE HEADDRESS

The Native American Headdress was reserved for the very important members of the tribe. They were beautiful and intricate, colourful or monochromatic, often made out of bird feathers. 
The number of feathers a headdress had on it symbolized how brave or important the member of the tribe was.  
Today, many Native Americans wear headdresses during special ceremonies such as weddings and other important events. 



NATIVE AMERICAN NAMES

Native American names are more than just a simple way to address one another. In fact, like many other cultures, Native American had a systematic way of naming people. Native American names were given to imply status, class, and occupation.
They often had several names over their lifetime. This is because names were used to describe a man or woman’s life. They were used to classify actions they took, physical traits, personality characteristics, and other important aspects of their lives.
The names were often presented to the tribe in the form of a ceremony. There was a celebration that included dancing, singing, and praying to honor the name given to a member of their tribe. 
Native Americans believed firmly that their actions shaped their destiny. Therefore being named after their actions in life was a great honor. 


THE DREAM-CATCHERS

According to the Native American people, dreams are messages that come from the sacred spirits. There are different stories on the Native American dream catchers: one version says that the hole in the middle of a dream catchers allows the good dreams to pass on to the sleeper, while the web traps all of the bad dreams, and then at the first light of morning the bad dreams disappear.
Dream catchers originated with the Chippewa Indians. They used to tie strands of sinew in webs around a tear-shaped frame and then they hung the dream catcher above  sleeping Native American children’s bed to protect them from nightmares.
Normally Native American dream catchers are fairly small and are made by bending wood (originally birch) and sinew string tied together. A feather hangs from the webbing.



(by 2LSB & 2LSA)





Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Native American Pow Wows


NATIVE AMERICAN POW WOWS

A “pow wow” is a meeting of different tribes. 
Native Americans believed that each tribe had a strong relation with nature and the world. They sometimes had a meeting with other tribes and prayed. 
Through their prayers, nature answered their questions. These meetings had also dancing and singing. To show their respect to nature, they imitated animals during their sacred dances. 

Some traditional communities still practice pow wows to honor their ancestors and preserve their heritage.



(by 2LSA & 2LSB)

Native American Houses


NATIVE AMERICAN HOUSES

Different tribes had very different weather conditions and lifestyles. 
Some tribes were agricultural; other tribes were nomadic.

Wigwams were houses used in the woodland regions. They were small and made of wooden frames covered with sheets. They were good houses for people who didn’t move from one place to another.  

Longhouses were similar to wigwams, but they were very big. Inside them there was a wooden second story used for sleeping, and separate rooms. Each longhouse housed an entire clan - 60 people! Longhouses were made for people who stayed in the same place for a long time. 

Tepees were tents in the form of a cone made of a  wooden frame with a covering of buffalo skin. They were designed to set up and break down quickly. They were good houses for people who always moved. Indians who lived on the Plains followed the movements of the buffaloes.

Grass houses were used in the South of the U.S. They were made out of wood and had grass on top. They were good homes for people in a warm climate. 













 (by 2LSB & 2LSA)


Native American Medicine


NATIVE AMERICAN MEDICINE

To Native Americans, people must stay in harmony with themselves, with other people, with their natural environment, and their Creator. 
They believed that most illnesses had a spiritual cause, which created an imbalance between the body, mind, and spirit. 
For them, bad spirits caused the harm. 
They used herbs to purify the spirit and bring balance to people who are unhealthy in spirit, mind, or body. 
They learned about the healing powers of herbs by watching sick animals.  
Medicine people were healers who had power in the tribe. Some medicine people were also shamans (holy men and women). They were good at in herbal medicine, bandaging, and setting bones. They kept their sacred medicine tools (stones, animal bones, herbs) in a bundle. It was very powerful for them.



(by 2LSB & 2LSA)

Native American Philosophy


NATIVE AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY

The Native Americans treated the environment with great respect. 
To them every tree and stone was alive, and Mother Earth was a living entity: they respected and protected it. 
To them the spirit world was real. They believed in a Supreme Being, called Great Mystery, or Great Spirit. They were generous. Their sense of community  was very important. There was no selfishness. 
Children were not beaten: they were invited to have a good behavior. 
Women were very much considered, they had political importance in the community.
To the American Indians it was incomprehensible to possess land: they only borrowed it
from the Creator, and used it for the tribe’s benefit. 
American Indians didn’t abuse their environment, taking only what they needed. 





(by 2LSA & 2LSB)




Native American Tribes


NATIVE AMERICAN TRIBES

Before the Europeans settled in America, there were many different Native American tribes that occupied the land. 
The Apache Indians were a very violent Native American tribe. They were nomadic and they hunted wild animals like the buffalo. They rode horses. They had a lot of enemies. 

The Cherokee Indians had many villages in the mountains. They were good farmers and hunters. They had big celebrations with fun and games.

The Cheyenne Indians lived in villages too and were farmers. The women gathered wood for the fire, they cooked and harvested fruit and nuts. The men were hunters and they made bows, arrows and pipes. They liked music and dancing after dinner time.

The Navajo Indians lived in grasslands, canyons and deserts. They became famous for their beautiful and colorful blankets and rugs.

The Sioux Indians were a very powerful and large tribe. They were forced to move many times by the U.S. government, so they became very angry and attacked settlers. Near the end of the nineteenth century in the battle of Little Big Horn, the Sioux defeated the US army: this was one a very important victory in Native American history. 









(by 2LSA & 2LSB)

Native American Culture


NATIVE-AMERICAN CULTURE

The Native American culture is very old. It revolved around nature. All the tribes considered the spirits of animals as gods. Native Americans lived in harmony with the Earth. They lived in clans.
Their culture was mainly oral, based on storytelling.
Before the arrival of the settlers, there were over ten million Native Americans in the United States.
At first, Indians liked the Europeans’ white skin and technology, but they also noticed that the Europeans didn’t respect nature.
The Europeans considered them as nomads and inferior people.
Settlers pushed the American Indians away from their land. They brought many diseases from Europe that killed many Natives. Then the United States government set many reservations. A reservation is an area of land that is possessed and managed by a Native American tribe. There are 310 registered Native American Reservations in the United States.  Today in the United States there are only 2.5 million Native Americans. 1 million of them live on reservations.




(by 2LSA & 2LSB)