Aboriginal spirituality

Aboriginal people: Spiritual traditions are deeply connected to the physical environment and life Is seen as interconnected. They rely on memory and memory keepers who have received teachings from the elders. Traditions of seasonal food growing, gathering, hunting, fishing, and spiritual and cultural activities Elders: Can be a man or a woman that is recognized as wise and consulted for their experience. Not always the oldest person In the community. Europe vs.. Aboriginal: Many Europeans considered aboriginal ways “uncivilized”.

Aboriginal ceremonies, festivals, and dances were banned. The Gradual Civilization Act was passed to assimilate Aboriginal people into European culture. Assimilate means absorb one group into the culture of another. The Indian Act allowed residential schools to be formed, as it said that it was the government’s responsibility to educate aboriginal children from 6-18 Residential schools: They made aboriginal children adopt Christianity and Canadian customs and learn English. They thought children were easier to mould than adults would be.

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First it was called “aggressive assimilation” then “residential schools” Attendance was mandatory and they made sure of it by sending agents to check up on them. At first there were 1100 students in 69 schools. In all, 1 50000 children were forced to go to these schools. Government thought It would be better to teach kids to live In a mainstream culture and were discouraged to speak their first language. Children lived In substandard conditions and endured physical, emotional, sexual abuse. They could only see their families for two months and send them letters in English.

Brother and sister could not see each other as it was separated by gender. When they came back home, students found out that they did not belong. They didn’t have the skills to help their arenas and became ashamed of their heritage. Phil Fontanne, the leader of the association of Manitoba Chiefs, called for the churches to acknowledge the abuse that was going on in these schools. Canadian Government’s apology: The ban on aboriginal ceremonies was lifted. Creation of Unapt started. Residential schools were closed down. Government and churches apologized.

Set up the truth and reconciliation commission. $1. 9 Billion was promised to the aboriginal people. Canadian charter of rights guaranteed the rights of aboriginal people. Rituals of the Aboriginal People 1. The Sacred in Daily Life and the Environment: All Is sacred, everything is interconnected, everything is invaded by the spirit power, aspect of a person’s physical environment holds power. People must be attentive of their physical environment to understand its power. They pray to recognize God’s greatness and to express their thanks for his gifts; it can be sung or spoken.

Some prayers involve sacrifice or a gift. 2. Smudging: Sacred herbs are burned in a shell or a bowl and then smoke is brushed or washed over the entire body. The cleansing smoke can purify places and people. The ashes are also holy and they have to be returned to the earth in an area where they will not be stepped on. . Sacred Pipe Ceremony: The pipe symbolizes unity and harmony of the world. To smoke the pipe ritual is to give back to the world its unity, peace, and harmony. Before lighting it, the pipe carrier prays that the whole universe and all it contains can be transferred to the pipe.

The fire is the Great Spirit and all that is burned goes to him. The stone bowl = truth. Stem = the way we should live in harmony with all creations. The bowl with a hole = woman. Stem = man. Joining the two symbolizes a union between men and women of the world. Involves all elements of earth to show unity with all creations. 4. Sweat Lodge: Purifies the body, mind, spirit, and heart and restore relationships with self, others, the creator and all creations. Place of spiritual refuge and healing. (womb of mother earth) Closed structure with a pit of heated rocks.

Sweat leader puts water on the rocks to create steam. People return to the innocence of childhood. They sing, pray, talk, meditate, sit in silence, or reflect on creation stories. 5. Birth and Naming: Name giver goes into a state of fasting, meditation, prayer, or dreaming. The name revealed by the spirit is given to the child. As a person matures they can change their name to one that they feel expresses heir identity and relation to the spirit. 6. Puberty: Young people go on a vision quest. (Intense, solitary experience to seek for direction in life. They must go on this quest to be considered as an adult in the community. 7. Hair: Long uncut hair is scared. Worn by men and women. Braided by three strands to signify the body, mind, and spirit. Style worn is usually of spiritual importance and reinforces a belonging to a particular first nation. Cut hair is a sign of mourning. 8. Death: show that they now know what it is to be a spirit. Ojibwa celebrate Feast of the Dead each autumn to remember all who have died last year. Person who lost someone holds a banquet for entire village.

Food is placed outside in an open area. A place is set for the diseased. Cree honor death and say that the body undergoes physical transformations but the spirit does not. It ascends to another realm to Join its ancestors. Believe spirits have the power to reveal themselves and communicate with people through dreams and visions. The wake = a ceremony for returning the body to mother earth. Round dance = a ceremony celebrated with family and friends to commune with spirits who have passed to the spirit world and allow them to fly free. 9. Harvest Feast:

Celebrates harvest from field and forest Recognize that spirits worked for them to give them food and renew the earth They pray, chant and dance. 10. Powwow: A dance of renewal for the restorations of right relations and healing of all creations. Time to sing, dance and celebrating one’s heritage. Its done in a circle which is blessed by a spiritual leader. Enter circle from east, where the sun rises, and move clockwise. The drumbeat symbolizes the heartbeat of mother earth and rhythm of the mother’s heartbeat that all hear in the womb. 11. Sun dance: Celebrated by people of the prairies in June or July.

Began when a warrior’s vision quest showed a different way of praying. Purpose is to renew dedication to the great spirit. Four annual dances leading to final stage of rite. They have to prepare 4 days before by purify themselves and fasting. Final stage = piercing the body and tearing away piercing to show dedication. 12. Giveaways and Potlatch: Giveaways celebrate a special event or wedding or death. Giving gifts of blankets, bodywork, crafts and singing and dancing Potlatches mark significant events like giveaways but they also increase the host’s standing in the community and highlight his wealth and power.