Native American Religions by Paula R Hartz, Joanne O'Brien, Martin Palmer

By Paula R Hartz, Joanne O'Brien, Martin Palmer

Surveys the historical past and easy ideals of local American religions.

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Talking God spoke to them and told them how to drain the water and make dry land. Talking God told First Man how to build a shelter. On its floor First Man laid the contents of the medicine bundle that he had carried with him through the layers of the underworld. The pattern the sacred objects made on the ground showed what the features of the world would be. Then First Man and First Woman created the world. They fashioned the four sacred mountains of the Navajo universe. They put Blanca Peak in the east, fastened it with a bolt of white lightning, and laid a blanket of daylight over it.

Most Pueblo songs, for example, are prayers for rain. Along the Northwest Coast there are songs to quiet storms and rough waters. Shamans and holy people of all tribes learn songs and chants that enable them to contact the spirit world. Some shamans use the rhythmic sounds of the drum to aid them in falling into a trance. The most sacred songs are never sung except during religious rituals and are heard only by the initiated or by those for whom the ritual is being conducted. The drum, “the heartbeat of Mother Earth,” is an important ceremonial instrument in many Native American traditions.

He also made a huge toad that drank up all the water on Earth so humans would die of thirst. 42 NATIVE AMERICAN RELIGIONS ThE zuNi EmERgE T hese lines from the Zuni emergence tale tell how the first Zuni Pueblo people passed through different worlds on their jour- ney to Earth. The “precious things” they carried were the fetishes, or small sacred images, that bring rain and crops. Our great fathers talked together. Here they arose and moved on. They stooped over and came out from the fourth world, carrying their precious things clasped to their breasts.

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