Topic: Religion

The Cherokee Religion

It is impossible to overestimate the ethnologic importance of the materials thus obtained. They are invaluable as the genuine production of the Indian mind, setting forth in the clearest light the state of the aboriginal religion before its contamination by contact with the whites. To the psychologist and the student of myths they are equally precious. In regard to their linguistic value we may quote the language of Brinton, speaking of the sacred books of the Mayas, already referred to: Another value they have… and it is one which will be properly appreciated by any student of languages. They are, by common consent of all competent authorities, the genuine productions of native minds, cast in the idiomatic forms of the native tongue by those born to its use. No matter how fluent a foreigner becomes in a language not his own, he can never use it as does one who has been familiar with it from childhood. This general maxim is tenfold true when we apply it to a European learning an American language. The flow of thought, as exhibited in these two linguistic families, is in such different directions that no amount of practice can render one equally accurate in both. Hence the importance of studying a tongue as it is employed by natives; and hence the very high estimate I place on these “Books of Chilan Balam”...

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Great Spirit

An Indian hunter went forth to hunt, and as he wandered through the forest he heard a strain of beautiful music far off among the trees. He listened, but could not tell whence it came; he knew it could not be by any human voice, or from any instrument he had ever heard. As it came near it ceased. The next evening he went forth again, but he heard no music, and again, but in van. Then came the Great Spirit to him in a dream and told him to fast, wash himself till he was purified, then he might go forth and would hear again the music. So he purified himself and went again among the dark trees of the forest, and soon his ear caught the sweet strains, as he drew near they became more beautiful; he listened till he learned them and could make the same sweet sound, then he knew that it was a plant with a tall green stem and long tapering leaves. He took his knife and cut the stalk, but ere he had scarcely finished, it healed and was the same as before; he cut it again, and again it healed. Then he knew it would heal diseases, he took it home, dried it by the fire, pulverized it, and applied a few particles of it to a dangerous wound; no sooner...

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The History of the Little Orphan who Carries the White Feather

A Dacota Legend There was an old man with his grandchild, whom he had taken when quite an infant, who lived in the middle of a forest. The child had no other relative. They had all been destroyed by six large giants, and he was not informed that he ever had any other parent or protector than his grandfather. The nation to whom he belonged had put up their children as a wager against those of the giants, upon a race, which the giants gained, and thus destroyed all the other children. Being the sixth child, he was called Chácopee. There was a prediction, that there would be a great man of this nation, who would wear a white feather, and who would astonish every one with his skill and bravery. The grandfather gave the child a bow and some arrows to play with. He went into the woods and saw a rabbit, but not knowing what it was, he came to his grand father and described it to him. He told him what it was, and that it was good to eat, and that if he shot one of his arrows at it, he would probably kill it. He did so; and in this manner he continued on hunting under the instructions of his grandfather, acquiring skill in killing deer and other large animals, and he became an...

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The Magic Circle In The Prairie

A young hunter found a circular path one day in a prairie, without any trail leading to, or from it. It was smooth and well-beaten, and looked as if footsteps had trod in it recently. This puzzled and amazed him. He hid himself in the grass near by, to see what this wonder should betoken. After waiting a short time, he thought he heard music in the air. He listened more attentively and could clearly distinguish the sound, but nothing could be seen but a mere speck, like something almost out of sight. In a short time it became plainer and plainer, and the music sweeter and sweeter. The object descended rapidly, and when it came near it proved to be a car or basket of ozier containing twelve beautiful girls, who each had a kind of little drum which was struck with the grace of an angel. It came down in the centre of the ring, and the instant it touched the ground they leapt out and began to dance in the circle, at the same time striking a shining ball. The young hunter had seen many a dance, but none that, equaled this. The music was sweeter than ever he had heard. But nothing could equal the beauty of the girls. He admired them all, but was most struck with the youngest. He determined to seize her,...

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The Fate Of The Redheaded Magician

Indian life is a life of vicissitudes the year round. As spring returns, the Indians who have been out during the winter, in the hunting grounds, come back to their villages in great numbers, and, in a short time, they have nothing to eat. Among them, however, there are always several who are willing to glean the neighboring woods for game; these remove from the large villages, and usually go off in separate families to support themselves. One of these families was composed of a man, his wife, and one son, who is called Odkshedoaph Waucheentonoah, which signifies The Child of Strong Desires. The latter was about fifteen years old. They arrived, the first day, at a place which they thought suitable to encamp at. The wife fixed the lodge the husband went to hunt. Early in the evening he returned with a deer. He and his wife being tired, he requested his son to go after some water, to the river near by. He replied that it was dark, and he dared not go. No persuasion availing, the father brought it. There was a village in the vicinity of this place, in which was a warrior of another tribe, called the Redhead, who was celebrated for his bravery and his warlike deeds. The young men of the neighboring villages had attempted, in vain, to take his scalp he...

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The Island of the Blessed – or the Hunter’s Dream

There was once a beautiful girl, who died suddenly on the day she was to have been married to a handsome young hunter. He had also proved his bravery in war, so that he enjoyed the praises of his tribe, but his heart was not proof against this loss. From the hour she was buried, there was no more joy or peace for him. He went often to visit the spot where the women had buried her, and sat musing there, when, it was thought by some of his friends, he would have done better to try and amuse himself in the chase, or by diverting his thoughts in the warpath. But war and hunting had lost their charms for him. His heart was already dead within him. He wholly neglected both his war-club and his bows and arrows. He had heard the old people say that there was a path that led to the land of souls, and he determined to follow it. He accordingly set out one morning, after having completed his preparations for the journey. At first he hardly knew which way to go. He was only guided by the tradition that he must go south. For a while he could see no change in the face of the country. Forests, and hills, and valleys, and streams, had the same looks which they wore in his...

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Pottawatomie Theology

It is believed by the Pottawatomies, that there are two Great Spirits, who govern the world. One is called Kitchemonedo, or the Great Spirit, the other Matchêmonedo, or the Evil Spirit. The first is good and beneficent; the other wicked. Some believe that they are equally powerful, and they offer them homage and adoration through fear. Others doubt which of the two is most powerful, and endeavor to propitiate both. The greater part, however, believe as I, Podajokeed do, that Kitchemonedo is the true Great Spirit, who made the world, and called all things into being; and that Matchêmonedo ought to be despised. When Kitchemonedo first made the world, he filled it with a class of beings who only looked like men, but they were perverse, ungrateful, wicked dogs, who never raised their eyes from the ground to thank him for anything. Seeing this, the Great Spirit plunged them, with the world itself, into a great lake, and drowned them. He then withdrew it from the water, and made a single man, a very handsome young man, who, as he was lonesome, appeared sad. Kitchemonedo took pity on him, and sent him a sister to cheer him in his loneliness. After many years the young man had a dream which he told to his sister. Five young men, said he, will come to your lodge door this night, to...

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Origin of Men of Mana-Bozho

At a certain time, a great Manito came on earth, and took a wife of men. She had four sons at a birth, and died in ushering them into the world. The first was Manabozho, who is the friend of the human race. The second Chibiabos, who has the care of the dead, and presides over the country of souls. The third Wabasso, who, as soon as he saw light, fled to the North, where he was changed into a white rabbit, and, under that form, is considered as a great spirit. The fourth was Chokanipok, or the man of flint, or the firestone. The first thing Manabozho did, when he grew up, was to go to war against Chokanipok, whom he accused of his mother s death. The contests between them were frightful and long continued, and wherever they had a combat the face of nature still shows signs of it. Fragments were cut from his flesh, which were transformed into stones, and he finally destroyed Chokanipok by tearing out his entrails, which were changed into vines. All the flint-stones which are scattered over the earth were produced in this way, and they supplied men with the principle of fire. Manabozho was the author of arts and improvements. He taught men how to make agakwuts, 1Axes. lances, and arrow-points, and all implements of bone and stone, and also how...

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Origin of the Osages

The following tradition is taken from the official records of the St. Louis Superintendency. The Osages believe that the first man of their nation came out of a shell, and that this man, when walking on earth, met with the Great Spirit, who asked him where he resided, and what he eat. The Osage answered, that he had no place of residence, and that he eat nothing. The Great Spirit gave him a bow and arrows, and told him to go a-hunting. So soon as the Great Spirit left him, he killed a deer. The Great Spirit gave him fire, and told him to cook his meat, and to eat. He also told him to take the skin and cover himself with it, and also the skins of other animals that he would kill. One day, as the Osage was hunting, he came to a small river to drink. He saw in the river a beaver hut, on which was sitting the chief of the family. He asked the Osage what he was looking for, so near his lodge. The Osage answered that, being thirsty, he was forced to come and drink at that place. The beaver then asked him who he was, and from whence he came. The Osage answered, that he had come from hunting, and that he had no place of residence. “Well, then,” said the...

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Iroquois Cosmogony

Iroquois Cosmogony: The tribes who compose this group of the Indians, concur in locating the beginning of creative power in the upper regions of space. Neo, or the Great Spirit of Life, is placed there. Atahocan is the master of heaven. Tarenyawagon, who is thought to be the same as Michabou, Chiabo, Manabozho, and the Great Hare, is called the keeper of the Heavens. Agreskoe 1Charlevoix sees a Greek root, as the origin of the word Agreskoe. is the god of war. Atahentsic is the woman of heaven. The beginning of the creation, or of man, is connected with her history. One of the six of the original number of created men of heaven was enamored of her immediately after seeing her. Atahocan, having discovered this amour, cast her out headlong to the earth. She was received below on the back of a great turtle lying on the waters, and was there delivered of twins. One of them was Inigorio, or the Good Mind; the other Anti-inigorio, or the Bad Mind. The good and the evil principles were thus introduced into the world. Both were equally active, but the latter perpetually employed himself in counteracting the acts of the former. The tortoise expanded more and more, and finally became the earth. Atahentsic afterwards had a daughter, who bore two sons, YOS-KE-KA and THO-IT-SA-RON. YOS-KE-KA in the end killed his brother, and...

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The Legal Regulations of Public Morals in Colonial North Carolina

The first provision made for a church in North Carolina was in the charter granted to Sir Robert Heath in 1629. Other church provisions were re-enacted in charters to the Lords Proprietors in 1663, and in 1665. Of course these provisions were for a state church, all the efforts on the part of the authorities in England being in this direction, that is to say, to incorporate church and state. The first effort to put these provisions into practice was the vestry act of 1701. Another act, that of 1704, precipitated the Cary Rebellion. From 1730 till 1773 the “Schism Act” was enforced. The British Toleration Act, or Act of Indulgence, of 1689, defined the position of dissenters from the Established Church. Dissenters were allowed places of worship protected from disturbance, if they took the oath of allegiance and subscribed to the declaration against transubstantiation. But such congregations had to be registered, and the doors of their meeting houses left unlocked and unbarred. All ministers had to endorse the Anglican creed, except that Baptists were relieved from subscribing to the doctrine of infant baptism, and Quakers must adhere to the government, abjure transubstantiation, profess faith in the Trinity and in the inspiration of the Bible. Dissenters were excluded from the English universities, and the Anglican ceremony alone was good enough to tie the matrimonial knot. The Corporation and Test...

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Iroquois Belief in a Future State After Death

The Iroquois belief in a future state after death was thus related by Morgan : ” The religious system of the Iroquois taught that it was a journey from earth to heaven of many days’ duration. Originally, it was supposed to be a year, and the period of mourning for the departed was fixed at that term. At its expiration, it was customary for the relatives of the deceased to hold a feast; the soul of the departed having reached heaven, and a state of felicity, there was no longer any cause for mourning. The spirit of grief was exchanged for that of rejoicing. In modern times the mourning period has been reduced to ten days, and the journey of the spirit is now believed to be performed in three. The spirit of the deceased was supposed to hover around the body for a season, before it took its final departure; and not until after the expiration of a year according to the ancient belief, and ten days according to the present, did it become permanently at rest in heaven. A beautiful custom prevailed in ancient times, of capturing a bird, and freeing it over the grave on the evening of the burial, to bear away the spirit to its heavenly rest. Their notions of the state of the soul when disembodied, are vague and diversified; but they all...

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Cahuilla Spirits

The Cahuilla belief is that everyone has a telewel, a spirit or soul. This spirit is very elusive and may leave one almost any time. When they dream, this telewel has left them and is really going through the experiences of which they are dreaming. While the spirit is gone, they cannot wake up. But if someone comes and tries to waken a dreaming person, the telewel knows it and can return instantly. However, they are very careful not to waken a medicine man when he is sleeping, for he may be dreaming. His spirit has gone so far away and is so very busy that it cannot return immediately. In case a person wakes before his spirit returns, as occasionally happens, death results sooner or later. The spirit leaves the body many months before death comes. The person to whom it belongs does not know this, however. These wandering spirits cause much trouble. They haunt the homes of close relatives. Innumerable instances of this are told. For example, August Lomas and his wife, of Martinez, a young couple of excellent education, told me of an experience they had about a year ago. They were in bed one night and knew that they had locked their doors, but they heard someone come in, walk all around the room, and then walk out again. That same night, Mrs. Lomas’s sister...

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Cahuilla Religious Life

The most important ceremony of the Cahuilla always has been and still is the annual tribal mourning gathering, known as Nukil, or Hemmukuwin. This ceremony is held because Mukat told the people they should have one each year in memory of their dead. It was the first ceremony they ever held the first time it was held was after the death of Mukat. Mukat had told them just how many nights to have it and what to do each night. It is very sacred to them. Each clan has a hereditary chief called a Net, whose chief duties are in connection with the mourning ceremonies. The chief has two ceremonial assistants, Paha and Takwa. The Net has complete charge of the fiesta. The Paha has charge of the singing and of leading the ceremonies: he starts everything. Takwa superintends the gathering and distribution of food. He lets each member of the clan know how much food he is expected to furnish and sees that it is actually provided. At the fiesta at Agua Caliente, old Orenes was Takwa. He and his helpers skinned hundreds of rabbits which the young men had killed. The first three mornings of the fiesta week, the young men hunt rabbits. While I was there, the skins were being saved for an old woman who was going to weave blankets from them. The fiesta is...

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Nanabozho. The demiurge of the cosmologic traditions of the Algonquian tribes, known among the various peoples by several unrelated names, based on some marked characteristic or dominant function of this personage. Among these names are Jamurn, Kloskap (Gloskap), Manabozho, Messou, Michabo, Minahuzho, Misahos, Napiwa, Nenabozho, Wieska, Wisakedjak, and their dialectic variants.The etymologies proposed for these several names are must probably incorrect, wholly or in material parts. Nanabozho is apparently the impersonation of life, the active quickening power of life – of life manifested and embodied in the myriad forms of sentient and physical nature. He is therefore reputed to possess not only the power to live, but also the correlative power of renewing his own life and of quickening and therefore of creating life in others. He impersonates life in an unlimited series of diverse personalities which represent various phases and conditions of life, and the histories of the life and acts of these separate individualities fort an entire cycle of traditions and myths which, when compared one with another, are sometimes apparently contradictory and incongruous, relating, as these stories do, to the unrelated objects and subjects in nature. The conception named Nanabozho exercises the diverse functions of many persons, and he likewise suffers their pains and needs. He is this life struggling with the ninny forms of want, misfortune, and death flint come to the bodies and beings...

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