Combining the work of Native Americans and non-Native scholars, this reference work explores indigenous North American religions, religious practices, and rituals.
How is peyote used in Native American religious ceremonies? How do various tribes conduct the rites of birth, adolescence, marriage, and death? What is potlatch and why was its practice forbidden? Readers will learn how religious tradition influences Native American social, political, and material culture and vice versa.
This extensive work goes beyond similar surveys that focus only on anthropology and history and explores the religious practices, movements, institutions, key figures, ceremonial systems, and religious accoutrements indigenous to North America, from the precontact era to the present. Taking a deep and informed look specifically at the religious and spiritual nature of Native Americans, the encyclopedia places traditions within their historical and theoretical context, examining their relevance within Native religious life and practice as well as within the academic study of religion.
Topics covered include key ideas and issues, religious and political leaders, primary ceremonies, mythic figures, and related cultural subjects, such as basketry, whaling, farming, and bison hunting, which have religious significance for Native peoples. Contributors include noted scholars of American Indian religious culture, including many who come from tribal traditions and can offer valuable insights and observations from their personal experience.
• 150+ entries including extensive entries that address complex key ideas and pan-tribal movements, placing them within their historical and contemporary contexts
• Comprehensive lists of further readings for each entry that provide the reader resources for deeper research
• Illustrations including photos of community members, prominent places within traditional sacred geographies, regalia, basketry, traditional artwork, and more
• Maps detailing tribal homelands, sidebars providing background of regional groups, and a listing of recognized tribes
• Prepared under the auspices of an editorial board composed of Native Americans and other scholars
• Contextualizes topics, placing them within longer essays providing students and educators with a broader sense of the topic and its importance
• Examines the academic study of Native American religious traditions
• Discusses the outside influences on Native American religion and culture, including boarding schools, missionization, and U.S. laws