Native American Spirituality
Reverend Tom Capo
Preached on January 25, 2015
Evan T. Prichard, a descendant of the Algonquin people, founder of The Center for Algonquin Culture, and currently Professor of Native American history at Marist College, wrote in the introduction to his book, Native American Stories of the Sacred: “A religion—whatever its origin—is more than a spiritual path; it also invariably contains philosophy, numerous folk customs, and a wealth of stories or teaching tales. The spirituality of a given religion, including meditation practices and revealed teachings, arises out of the depths of the illuminated soul; the philosophy behind the spiritual message arises from the clarity of mind that a true religious experience produces; the traditions, folk customs, health practices, and artifacts that affect the physical body arise from the religious culture; and the wealth of stories, teaching tales, myths, and legends, not to mention the poetry and songs that each religion preserves come from the heart of the faithful. Each Native American subculture has all of these, so Native American spirituality in each of its forms could be compared with every world religion point for point.”
I found myself having some difficulty with this sermon. My great grandmother was full blood Cherokee; my grandfather never told us of his Native American roots because he feared persecution. And some of my ancestors were immigrants to the United States took advantage of and abused the Native American population. Non-natives moved Native Americans off their land; they killed them when they resisted; and they took their sacred objects. Immigrants educated Native American children in their ways, indoctrinating them into the Christian religion. Many Native American traditions and rituals, artifacts and stories were lost. What I wish to share with you is some of what has survived. The rituals and traditions and stories that have survived are being used within different Native American communities.