Religion in Indigenous Oral Cultures

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  • We Sioux spend a lot of time thinking about everyday things which in our minds are mixed up with the spiritual. We see in the world around us many symbols that teach us the meaning of life. We Indians live in a world of symbols and images where the spiritual and commonplace are one. We try to understand them not with the head but with the heart.--John Fire Lame Deer

  • Local, Land-Centered Outlook / Center of WorldLack of Historical Perspective / Cyclic TimeImmersion in Nature Reciprocal Interrelationships Animism (anima = soul) / SpiritismHigh God DreamtimeAltered States of ConsciousnessHarmony

  • ShamanTotemTabooFetishOmenDivinationRites of Passage and Cosmic RenewalHunting Rituals

  • It is critical to understand how notions of conservation and environmental protection are conceptualized and formulated by local communities for successful conservation to occur (26)

  • Berkes urges us to move beyond reductionist visions of ecology by embracing moral perspectives and spiritual aspects often embedded in traditional knowledge systems and local resource management practices (27)

  • Environmental zonesSpirits who regulate nature and human behaviorLemane, ancestors, grease (ipane)Sky people, earth mother womenRituals of replenishmentHumans control the flow of grease through the land by appealing to spirits that regulate the flow of water (34)Auwalo anda: pig sacrifice to autochthonous LemanePig sacrifice to ancestors in the ancestral poolPunishment for misbehavior

  • There were 60,000 people living on this island [when I arrived in 1508], including the Indians; so that from 1494 to 1508, over three million people had perished from war, slavery and the mines. Who in future generations will believe this?--Bartolom de Las Casas (1531)

    The history of a cube of sugar is an entire lesson in economy, politics, and also in morality--Augustin Cochin (1823-72)

  • Pomier Caves in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic

  • 400 BCE-1500s Taino (Caribs)1492 Columbusearly1500s Beginning of Slave Trade in Caribbean1697-1804 Saint-Domingue1791 Bois-Caiman & Haitian Revolution1804 Haitian Independence

  • A new religious movementWest African spirit and ancestor cultsNew spirits/deities revealed in the New WorldCatholic saints identified as new manifestations of African spiritsSpirit possession and divinationShaman ritual specialists: manbo (female), oungan (male)Many spirits (lwa) reside in natural phenomena, especially (and ironically) trees.