Native Americans held a number of beliefs that were unique to their culture. The Native Americans lived close to nature, so many of their beliefs were related to nature. There was no written form of these beliefs among the Native Americans tribes. They were transmitted orally from one generation to another, through practice and demonstration.
The beliefs of Native Americans may have varied slightly from one tribe to another. But most of them believed in a Great Spirit, Great Mystery or the supreme power. They believed that the Great Spirit had created the Earth and Mankind. They also believed that the Great Spirit watched over everything and protected the mankind. So they performed different spiritual rituals in the honor of the Great Spirit and invoked his blessings.
One of the most important Native American beliefs was animism. Animism refers to the belief that everything from stones to plants and animals to birds has a unique spirit. Native Americans believed that the animal spirits served as human guides. They held that the spirits appeared in human dreams to show the path and serve as their guardians. It was also believed by the Native Americans that each person had a unique animal guardian spirit which watched over him.
Like many other religions, the Native American spirituality holds that there are three worlds. There’s the upper world which is like heaven and is occupied by the gods. Then there’s this world which is inhabited by man and animals and nature. The third world is the underworld which is home to evil things, though it is not necessarily bad. Native Americans believed that a balance must always be kept between the three worlds. They also thought that it was the responsibility of the man to maintain this balance.
Creation myth is the story of creation in the Native American belief system. The creation myth varied from one tribe to another. But many tribes believed that a Great Spirit created the world. Then the Great Spirit created Sun and Moon and the Stars. Some Native American tribes believed mankind was created many times. The first few times they destroyed themselves or were destroyed by different disasters. Then they were finally created a last time and protected by the Great Spirit. So they survived and continued to live on Earth.
Shamans had a central position in the Native American spirituality. Shaman was the healer or the medicine man of a tribe. The Native Americans believed that the shaman could communicate with the spirit world. So when they wanted to get spiritual guidance, they consulted the shaman. It was thought that the shaman was a bridge between this world and the spirit world. The shaman was also given a lot of respect. He performed important religious rituals and oversaw the ceremonies as well as festivals. The shaman also conveyed the advice of the spirits or gods on important occasions such as before a battle or marriage.