As spring takes over from winter, there are many celebrations across Native America. From the Hopi kachina dances in Arizona, to the Cherokee corn planting ceremonies, traditional Native people are celebrating the new growing season. Different tribes have different customs depending on what type of climate they live in and if they are nomadic or sedentary.
Buffalo hunters would tear down their winter camps and set out for their summer hunting grounds. The buffalo hunters would often have ceremonies and offerings of food or sacred herbs that would ‘call’ the buffalo to them, in hopes of a plentiful hunt, and if it was successful, they would have more ceremonies and celebrations to thank the Creator and the buffalo for their gifts of food and clothing.
Fishing people would have been repairing their fishing gear over the winter, and they would also have ceremonies and offerings for the Creator and the fish. Many sedentary tribes existed solely on agriculture. This caused many tribes to have complex religions and ceremonies. Because agriculture depended on the sun, moon and season, the ceremonies would coincide with the sun, moon and seasons changes. The Hopi for instance have one of the most complex religious systems in the world – everything has a ceremony for it. The life giving corn, beans and squash are regarded as sacred beings and are treated as such.
The Ojibwe and the Iroquois have similar complex ceremonies and religious traditions, the corn, beans and squash are called the “Three Sisters,” since when planted together the three plants nourish each other and support each others growth and health.
There are so many aspects to an agricultural society that dozens and dozens of books have been written just about the subject and many more incredible things are still being discovered about Native American religious traditions. The thing with these traditions, is that they are alive, they are still passed down today from one generation to the next. Native Americans know that this is a vital part of who we are as a human being, a people, a tribe and a clan, to remember these traditions and beliefs and keep them strong and pass them down for future generations. Our family respects, practices and takes to heart these traditions.
There is an old saying that goes, “We did not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we are merely borrowing it from our children.” This philosophy is respected and practiced everyday.