Traditionally, the First Americans were believed to have migrated to North and South America from North East Asia, through a bridge between Alaska and Siberia over 12,000 years ago. Contrary to this belief, recent research has proved that the earliest inhabitants were from South-east Asia. They first settled in Australia about 60,000 years ago, and then later moved to the Americas about 13,500 years ago. Later on, the Mongloid population from north-east Asia joined them. Skulls retrieved indicate that the early Americans had slim facial structures, which is contrary to the broad cheek craniums found in modern Amerindians who descend from the Mongloid generation. Moreover, due to recent study findings, the notion that modern Amerindians have morphological affinities with East Asians due to a single migration has been nullified.
Settlement of the New World can best be described using a constant movement of people from Asia. In the North-East of America, the early inhabitants built long houses. Moreover, they had a form of democracy called Iroquois which makes an impression of settlers from Europe. Further, inhabitants in the South-East had a complicated political structure due to the diversity of tribes as well as lifestyles. The Mississippi Valley was characterized by big man-made mounds as well as a large urban community called Cahokia. However, when the Europeans arrived, this community became extinct. Additionally, the early Americans living in the South-West were known for their farming skills. This complex society consisted of a village structure before arrival of European settlers. Likewise, The Chumash people who lived in the California Coast were known for their knowledge in astronomy, dependency on trade and building canoes. Lastly, in the Pacific North-West, early inhabitants were involved in fishing and artwork. Their social structure was also in form of clans (Hodges 14).This essay seeks to elaborate the religion of the first Americans. Moreover, it looks at the similarities and differences between the early European settlers religion which is Catholic and Protestant and that of First Americans.
Before the arrival of Europeans, all Native Americans had developed a system of religious structure. In this case, inhabitants created myths which sought to explain how the world came into being. Moreover, these myths were used to elaborate mysteries of life such as natural disasters and death. To ensure continuity, the myths were passed on from one generation to the next. Secondly, early inhabitants worshipped a god whom they believed knew it all could see everything and had tremendous power. Depending on different communities, this god took different genders; male or female. Also, they believed in the existence of an evil god who was responsible for the bad things that happened in their societies such as death of loved ones. Finally, members of all the Native Americans believed that the life of human beings was immortal. Inhabitants had a strong belief that when a person died, they started a new life in another world, otherwise known as afterlife Hodges 14).
According to the (National Humanities Centre 3) the first Americans believed that a supernatural being used his powers to control their social, natural and political lives. They looked up to him for help whenever they had challenges regarding their livelihood. Each tribe had a list of rules to follow all in the aim of worshipping their gods. Whenever the tribesmen needed success regarding of a good hunt, victory during warfare and a good harvest, they approached priests who were believed to have powers derived from visions. These priests appeased their gods by conducting sacrificial rituals with the hope that their requests are given. Another role played by priests, in some cases, priestesses is the ability to interpret dreams, predict the future, interpret dreams, and cause or cure outbreaks of witchcraft.
There is a strong correlation between religious beliefs and practices of the early Americans with those belonging to early Europeans which include; Catholic and Protestant. Just like the first Americans, the early modern Europeans created a myth explaining how the world came into being, as seen in the Genesis book of the Bible. Additionally, they also believe in a powerful creator who is all knowing and ever present to help them with day-to-day challenges. To add on that, the presence of an evil spirit-Lucifer in this case- is believed to exist and cause harm to society. Moreover, they believe in the existence of life after death, which makes the human soul immortal. Modern Europeans also believe in pleasing their Creator through offering and prayers. Priests are used to conducting these ceremonies as well as interpret the meanings of dreams (National Humanities Centre 3).
Despite the fact that early Indians, as well as Europeans, had similarities in their religious beliefs, it is important to note the difference. Catholic and Protestant religions separate spiritual beings believed to be in heaven from individuals on earth who are viewed as sinful in a world filled with evil. However, Native Indians or rather the first Americans view the material that is human beings and the spiritual to be a unified thing (National Humanities Centre 3).
In summary, this essay looks at the religion of the First Americans. These early inhabitants believed in the existence of a supernatural being that was powerful, helpful and needed to be appeased to help them during difficult times. Moreover, this religion acquires similar characteristics as those owned by early modern European settlers in their Catholic and Protestant beliefs. Notably, the two communities differed as well in regards to their various religions. To sum up, the First Americans were religious beings that practiced values and norms based on beliefs.
Hodges, Glenn. First Americans: National Geographic. N.p., 2016. Web. 20 Apr. 2016.Print.Native American Religion in Early America, Divining America, Teacher serve, National Humanities Center". Nationalhumanitiescenter.org. N.p., 2016. Web. 20 Apr. 2016.Print.
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