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The quotes of Native American Culture

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A ccording to the Shawnee, 'a soul goes to earth and jumps through the mother's vagina and into the body of the child through the fontanelle just before birth.'

quote 3949  |   Native American Culture
Ake Hultkrantz, Conceptions of the Soul among North American Indians (Stockbolm, 1954), PP. 412-26 

T he Ingalik believe that 'there is a place filled with the spirits of little children, all impatient to be "called," i.e., born into this life.

quote 3948  |   Native American Culture
Ake Hultkrantz, Conceptions of the Soul among North American Indians (Stockbolm, 1954), PP. 412-26 

A mong the Pueblo peoples of the Southwest the realm of the dead in the underworld is the place where the unborn dwell. One may naturally suspect that the new-born are consequently reincarnated deceased persons. But this is not always the case, for according to the agrarian Pueblo ideology the underworld is also the place for the renewal of life and is the original home of humanity.

quote 3947  |   Native American Culture
Ake Hultkrantz, Conceptions of the Soul among North American Indians (Stockbolm, 1954), PP. 412-26 

T he supernatural origin of the human soul finds particularly clear expression in the idea of pre-existence. Here we are not referring to the pre-existence that a reincarnated individual has had in a previous earthly life as man or animal: we are referring to the pre-incarnative existence, man's life before he is incarnated on earth. 'Man' stands here for the individual reality, which from the psychological viewpoint is the extra-physical soul, the free-soul, and which consequently represents man's ego in the pre-incarnative state. . . .

quote 3946  |   Native American Culture
Ake Hultkrantz, Conceptions of the Soul among North American Indians (Stockbolm, 1954), PP. 412-26 

T he Indians of North America believe that man's spirit has its ultimate origin in the deity himself, either through creation or partial emanation.

quote 3945  |   Native American Culture
Ake Hultkrantz, Conceptions of the Soul among North American Indians (Stockbolm, 1954), PP. 412-26 

M an has a spirit, and the body seems to be a coat for that spirit. That is why people should take care of their spirits, so as to reach Heaven and be admitted to the Creator's dwelling. We are given some length of time to live on earth, and then our spirits must go. When anyone's time comes to leave this earth, he should go to Gicelemu'kaong, feeling good on the way. We all ought to pray to Him to prepare ourselves for days to come so that we can be with Him after leaving the earth.

'We all must put our thoughts to this meeting, so that Gicelemu'kaong will look upon us and grant what we ask. You all come here to pray, you have to reach Him all through life. Do not think of evil; strive always to think of the good which He has given us.

'When we reach that place, we shall not have to do anything or worry about anything, only live a happy life. We know there are many of our fathers who have left this earth and are now in this happy place in the Land of the Spirits. When we arrive we shall see our fathers, mothers, children, and sisters there. And when we have prepared ourselves so that we can go to where our parents and children are, we feel happy.

'Everything looks more beautiful there than here, everything looks new, and the waters and fruits and everything are lovely.

'No sun shines there, but a light much brighter than the sun, the Creator makes it brighter by his power. All people who die here, young or old, will be of the same age there; and those who are injured, crippled, or made blind will look as good as the rest of them. It is nothing but the flesh that is injured: the spirit is as good as ever. That is the reason that people are told to help always the cripples or the blind. Whatever you do for them will surely bring its rewards. Whatever you do for anybody will bring you credit hereafter. Whenever we think the thoughts that Gicelemu'kaong has given us, it will do us good

quote 3938  |   Native American Culture
M. R. Harrington, Religion and Ceremonies of the Lenape (New York, 1921), pp. 87-92 

O ld 0ne or Chief came down from the upper world on a cloud to the surface of the great lake or watery waste which was all that existed. The cloud rested on the lake. Old One pulled five hairs from his head and threw them down: they became five Perfectly formed young women. He asked each in turn what she wished to be.

The first replied, 'A woman to bear children. I shall be bad and foolish, and seek after my own pleasure. My descendants will fight, steal, kill, and commit adultery.' The Chief answered that he was sorry, for because of her choice death and trouble would come into the world.

The second replied, 'A woman to bear children. I shall be good and virtuous. My descendants will be wise, peaceful, honest, truthful, and chaste.' The Chief commended her, and said that her way would triumph in the end.

The third chose to become Earth. From her, Old One said, everything would grow, and to her would return at death.

The fourth chose to be Fire, in grass, trees, and all wood, for the good of man. The fifth became Water, to 'cleanse and make wise' the people. 'I will assist all things on earth to maintain life.'

Then the Chief transformed them: first Earth, then Water, then Fire. He placed the two women (good and bad) upon the earth, and impregnated them. He told them they would be the parents of all the people. The evil would be more numerous at first, but the good would prevail eventually, he promised. Then the end will come: all the dead and living will be gathered together, Earth, Fire, and Water will resume their original forms, and all will be transformed and made new.

quote 3937  |   Native American Culture
Condensed and paraphrased from James A. Teit, Mythology of the Thompson Indians (Publications of the Jessup North Pacific Expedition, vol. 8, Pt. 2 322-4 d New York: Brill and Stechert.) 

B efore the beginning of the new-making, Awonawilona (the Maker and container of All, the All-father Father), solely had being. There was nothing else whatsoever throughout the great space of the ages save everywhere black darkness in it, and everywhere void desolation
In the beginning of the new-made, Awonawilona conceived within himself and thought outward in space, whereby mists of increase, steams potent of growth, were evolved and uplifted. Thus, by means of his innate knowledge, the All-container made himself in person and form of the Sun whom we hold to be our father and who thus came to exist and appear. With his appearance came the brightening of the spaces with light, and with the brightening of the spaces the great mist-clouds were thickened together and fell, whereby was evolved water in water; yea, and the world-holding sea.

With his substance of flesh outdrawn from the surface of his person, the Sun-father formed the seed-stuff of twain worlds, impregnating therewith the great waters, and lo! in the heat of his light these waters of the sea grew green and scums rose upon them, waxing wide and weighty until, behold! they became Awitelin Tsita, the 'Four-fold Containing Mother-earth,' and Apoyan Ta'chu, the 'All-covering Father-sky.'

From the lying together of these twain upon the great world-waters, so vitalizing, terrestrial life was conceived; whence began all beings of earth, men and the creatures, in the Four-fold womb of the World.

quote 3936  |   Native American Culture
F, H. Cushing Outlines Of Zuni Creation Myths, in Thirteenth Annual Report, Bureau of Ethnology (Washington D.C. 1896 pp. 325-447; Quotation from pp. 379-83) 

I n the beginning there was nothing but mere appearance, nothing really existed. It was a phantasm, an illusion that our father touched; something mysterious it was that he grasped. Nothing existed. Through the agency of a dream our father, He-who-is-appearance-only, Nainema, pressed the phantasm to his breast and then was sunk in thought.
Not even a tree existed that might have supported this phantasm and only through his breath did Nainema hold this illusion attached to the thread of a dream. He tried to discover what was at the bottom of it, but he found nothing. 'I have attached that which was nonexistent,' be said. There was nothing.
Then our father tried again and investigated the bottom of this something and his fingers sought the empty phantasm. He tied the emptiness to the dream-thread and pressed the magical glue-substance upon it. Thus by means of his dream did be hold it like the fluff of raw cotton.
He seized the bottom of the phantasm and stamped upon it repeatedly, allowing himself finally to rest upon the earth of which be had dreamt.
The earth-phantasm was now his. Then he spat out saliva repeatedly so that the forests might arise. He lay upon the earth and set the covering of heaven above it. He drew from the earth the blue and white heavens and placed them above.

quote 3927  |   Native American Culture
Paul Radin, Monotheism among Primitive Peoples (Basel, 1954) pp 13-14; paraphrasing and summarizing K. T.Preuss, Religion und Mythologie der Uitoto, 1 (Gottingen, 1921)pp. 166-8 

A belief of the Uitoto of Colombia, South America

A t the beginning.' said the Omaha, 'all things were in the mind of Wakonda. All creatures, including man, were spirits. They moved about in space between the earth and the stars (the heavens). The were seeking a place where they could come into bodily existence. They ascended to the sun, but the sun was not fitted for their abode. They moved on to the moon and found that it also was not good for their home. Then they descended to the earth. They saw it was covered with water. They floated through the air to the north, the east, the south and the west, and found no dry land. They were sorely grieved. Suddenly from the midst of the water uprose a great rock. It burst into flames and the waters floated into the air in clouds. Dry land appeared; the grasses and the trees grew. The hosts of the spirits descended and became flesh and blood. They fed on the seeds of the grasses and the fruits of the trees, and the land vibrated with their expressions of joy and gratitude to Wakonda, the maker of all things

quote 3926  |   Native American Culture
Fletcher and La Flesche, 'The Omaha Tribe' in Twenty-seventh Annual Report, Bureau of American Ethnology (Washington D.C. 1911) pp. 570-1 

W hat it was our father lay on when he came to consciousness we do not know. He moved his right arm and then his left arm, his right leg and then his left leg. He began to think of what he should do and finally be began to cry and tears began to flow from his eyes and fall down below him. After a while he looked down below him and saw something bright. The bright objects were his tears that had flowed below and formed the present waters. . . . Earthmaker began to think again. He thought: "It is thus, If I wish anything it will become as I wish, just as my tears have become seas." Thus he thought. So he wished for light and it became light. Then he thought: "It is as I supposed; the things that I have wished for have come into existence as I desired." Then he again thought and wished for the earth and this earth came into existence. Earthmaker looked at the earth and he liked it but it was not quiet. . . . (After the earth had become quiet) he thought again of how things came into existence just as he desired. Then he first began to talk. He said, "As things are just as I wish them I shall make one being like myself." So he took a piece of earth and made it like himself. Then he talked to what he had created but it did not answer. He looked upon it and he saw that it had no mind or thought. So he made a mind for it. Again he talked to it, but it did not answer. So he looked upon it again and saw that it had no tongue. Then he made it a tongue. Then he talked to it again but it did not answer. So he looked upon it again and saw that it had no soul. So he made it a soul. He talked to it again and it. very nearly said something. But it did not make itself intelligible. So Earthmaker breathed into its mouth and talked to it and it answered.

quote 3925  |   Native American Culture
Paul Radin, 'The Winnebago Indians,' in Thirty-seventh Annual Report, Bureau of American Ethnology (Washington, D.C., 1923), pp. 212-13 

' The white man' said the Kurahus, 'speaks of a heavenly Father; we say Tirawa atius, the Father above, but we do not think of Tirawa as a person. We think of Tirawa as in everything, as the Power which has arranged and thrown down from above everything that man needs. What the Power above, Tirawa atius, is like, no one knows; no one has been there.'

quote 3910  |   Native American Culture
TIRAWA, THE SUPREME GOD OF THE PAWNEE, H.B. Alexander, The World's Rim (University of Nebraska Press, 1953) p.132 

A ll the Lenape so far questioned, whether followers of the native or of the Christian religion unite in saying that their people have always believed in a chief Mani 'to, a leader of all the gods, in short, in a Great Spirit or Supreme Being, The other mani 'towuk for the greater part being merely agents appointed by him. His name, according to present Unami usage is Gicelemu 'kaong, usually translated 'great spirit,' but meaning literally, 'creator.'

quote 3909  |   Native American Culture
THE 'GREAT SPIRIT' OF THE LENAPE, M.R Harrington, Religion and Ceremonies of the Lenape (New York, 1921) pp 18-19 

E very object in the world has a spirit and that spirit is wakan. Thus the spirits of the tree or things of that kind, while not like the spirit of man, are also wakan. Wakan comes from the wakan beings. These wakan beings are greater then mankind in the same way that mankind is greater then animals. They are never born and never die. They can do many things that mankind cannot do. Mankind can pray to the wakan beings for help. The word Wakan Tanka means all the wakan beings because they are all as if one. Wakan Tanka Kin signifies the chief or leading Wakan being is Nagi Tanka, the Great Spirit who is also Taku Skanskan. Taku Skanskan signifies the Blue, in other words, the sky.
. . . .Mankind is permitted to pray to Wakan beings. If their prayer is directed to all the good Wakan beings, they should pray to Wakan Tanka; but if a prayer if offered to only one of these beings, then the one addressed should be named. . . . Wakan Tanka is like sixteen different persons but each person is kan. Therefore, they are only the same as one.

quote 3908  |   Native American Culture
WAKAN TANKA, THE SUPREME DEITY OF THE DAKOTA, J.R. Walker, The Sun Dance and Other Ceremonies of the Oglala Division of the Teton Dakota (American Museum of Natural History, Anthropological Papers, vol XVI, part II, (1917) pp.152-3 

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