The 2014 South Carolina Native American Heritage Month celebrates indigenous cultures and pays homage to the traditional beliefs and customs of Native Americans long before the colonization started in the 1600s.
Religion And Spiritual Practice
From vibrant attires to elaborate healing practices, the culture of the Native Americans is both rich and transcending. They practice animism as their religion. The indigenous people worship plants, animals, and non-living objects in nature for they believe that powerful spirits reside in them.
They also associate spirituality and superstition in natural phenomena such as rain, earthquake, and storm. Some indigenous groups believe that these events are the manifestation of the spirits of their ancestors while some think it is the means of the Great Spirit to convey a message.
Furthermore, anthropological records show that day-to-day activities consist of rituals and prayers calling out to spirits for blessing their tasks and prevent bad omen. Also, with the worship of nature, the Native Americans demonstrate a high regard for the environment, keeping their harmony with nature and avoiding exploitation.
Totems As Guardians
Totems in the Native American culture are usually animal-shaped carvings from rocks or wood. These are believed to be spirit guides that watch over a person throughout his life. They appear in visions and dreams to give signs and warnings. This phenomenon is called a vision quest, which someone can achieve through deep meditation and entering the trance state.
Totems are believed to be powerful objects, and each animal holds a specific meaning and significance. Here are some examples:
- Eagle: The guardian of the skies symbolizes the leaders of the tribes. The eagle is the giver of courage and strength.
- Deer: The deer represents kindness and healing. It is also called the guardian of compassion and gratitude.
- Beaver: It represents artistry and creativity. As an animal builder, it is the guardian and protector of the family.
These are only the tip of the iceberg of Native American culture. As with many traditional customs and practices in the world is being forgotten with globalization, events, academic activities, and even movements should be observed to uphold the novelty of these cultures and to keep these rich and vibrant pieces of indigenous history from being forgotten.