Native American Church {First Nation} – God or Gods

God or Gods:

In many cases a supreme being could be conceptualized in more than one way, due to cultural differences. Among the Sioux, Wakan Tanka (Great Mystery) was pictured both as a single entity and as an assemblage of deities—including Sun, Winds, Earth, and Rock. In practice, many Native Americans interacted less with a supreme being than with various subordinate powers believed to be useful in particular circumstances. The Ojibwa believed in Kitche Manitou (Great Spirit) but developed personal relations with guardian spirits who appeared to individuals in visions and dreams. The Hopi referred to Masau as their chief god, yet their ritual life focused on scores of kachinas, the spirits of ancestors and the forces of the environment that made fertility possible. The Navajo venerated the Sun and the Changing Woman, a figure who personified creative power, but there were also hundreds of monsters, Holy People (creators and cultural heroes), and other forces to be evoked or exorcised in blessings and curative chants. (1)    However, during the assimilation of Christianity, many of these practices could be compared to worshiping the “one true God”, but praying to angels and saints.  In fact, within the various cultures there were legends that align themselves quite easily to Christian interpretation:

In Blackfoot mythology there is also a supernatural world, dominated above the natural world by the Sun. The Sun or the Creator (Nah-too-si; Super-powered or Holiness) created the earth and everything in the universe. Nah-too-si is sometimes personified by the mystical Napi, or Old Man. Napi was sent by the Nah-too-si to teach us how to live a sinless life like He and his wife, Ksah-koom-aukie, Earth Woman.

Tirawa was the creator god and taught the Pawnee people tattooing, fire-building, hunting, agriculture, speech and clothing, religious rituals (including the use of tobacco), and sacrifices. He was associated with most natural phenomena, including stars and planets, wind, lightning, rain, and thunder. The solar and lunar deities were Shakuru and Pah, respectively(Could this not be easily assimilated to represent God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit?)

The Cherokee revered the Great Spirit, called the Yowa (a name so sacred that only a priest could say it), who presided over all things and created Mother Earth. This would have made it very easy for them to accept the Christian view of God later on. The Cherokee believed that every aspect and thing had a spirit presiding over it, but did not hold a belief in multiple gods. All figures identified as ‘gods’ were simply greater beings in the Cherokee belief whose names were so great there were no English words for them, and thus they were recognized as ‘gods’ by Englishmen. However, the Cherokee paid direct respect to and worshipped only Yowa. They held that signs, visions, dreams, and powers were all gifts of the spirits, and that their world was intertwined and presided over by the spirit world.

In yet another culture It was believed that the thunder beings that lived close to the Earth’s surface could and did harm the people at times. The thunder beings were viewed as the most powerful of the servants of the Apportioner (Creator Spirit), and were revered in the first dance of the Green Corn Ceremony held each year. There were three Thunders Beings from the West in the ancient legends, a greater spirit and his two sons. (Again, similar to the Holy Trinity?)

The legend from the Navajo tradition describes the story of Creation: The Creator with the help of the Holy People created the Natural World. They created humans, birds, and all of the Natural World was put in Hozjo. This Hozjo (harmony, balance, and peace) is dependent on interconnectedness. All of the Natural World depends on another. The Navajo say they are glued together with respect, and together they work in harmony.

“A Hopi Indian legend states that At the beginning of this cycle of time, long ago, the Great Spirit came down and He made an appearance and He gathered the peoples of this earth together they say on an island which is now beneath the water and He said to the human beings, “I’m going to send you to four directions and over time I’m going to change you to four colors, but I’m going to give you some teachings and you will call these the Original Teachings and when you come back together with each other you will share these so that you can live and have peace on earth, and a great civilization will come about.”  And he said, “During the cycle of time I’m going to give each of you two stone tablets. When I give you those stone tablets, don’t cast those upon the ground. If any of the brothers and sisters of the four directions and the four colors cast their tablets on the ground, not only, will human beings have a hard time, but almost the earth itself will die.” (5)

Members of The First Nation Church in the fullness of their Christian teachings believe that the Creator (God) is the one and only Eternal and Self-Existent One.  They believe that the Creator (God) exists as the Three-in-One (Trinity) known as the Father, the Son, Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  They believe that all people need to actively seek and pursue, striving to maintain, a close personal relationship with the Creator (God) through His Son, Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit.


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Book:  Searching For Spiritual Unity…Can There Be Common Ground? Chapter 25 – Native American Church {First Nation} By Robyn E. Lebron

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