Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What were some of the common rituals held by Indians such as the "Powhatan" tribe?

Who were the "Powhatan" and what was their relation with John Smith?

We all know the adventures of John Smith, the famous explorer looking for wealth in the Americas.  He was the same guy who supposedly "fell in love with Pocahontas".  Who we may not know much about is Pocahontas, who was part of the "Powhatan" tribe.  We also do not know much about her neighbors and the inhabitants that lived around her.  Like most towns, Indian villages had political figures, great heroes, and women and men who had certain professions.  However, what I find to be most intriguing and unfamiliar about Indian culture is the spiritual rituals they held. 

National Geographic- "Girls Rite of Passage" Ritual

One of the most important rituals held in Indian culture is the "Girls Rite of Passage" ritual.  This ritual signifies a young girl who is entering adulthood as well as the hope that she will represent her community proudly.  Before the ritual, the girl must choose a medicine woman. This woman will most likely help her deliver a baby in the future and tend to the girl when she is sick. This ceremony consists of large feasting and continuous dancing that usually lasts all night.  The ritual is put into place with the "rising of the Morning Star".  The girl is sprinkled with pollen and cannot smile or show any emotion.  She experiences little to no sleep and hunger for she cannot eat.  The girl and her friends must "circle a basket of pollen" four times and run toward the star.  At last, the final day the girl is to dance and pray.  Finally, now a young woman, she receives the tribal name and removes the clay mask.

The "Sun Dance" Ritual

The "Sun Dance" was a common ritual that was used to renew Earth's natural valuable resources that the tribes relied on.  The ritual created a fine line between birth and death. It was intended to show that there was life after dying.  The dance took place during "Summer Solstice" and lasted for "eight days".  Men were to find a tree with a "fork in the top" which was a symbol of an "eagle's nest", cut it down, and treat it as if it were a traitor.  A buffalo was then tied to the wood, or pole, from the tree.  The dancing then would begin.

Torture with the "Sun Dance"

Indians were known to harm themselves during the ritual.  During the Sun Dance some unfortunate ones would suffer injuries, or even sometimes death.  This was seen as an important part in the renewal process.

"Sweat Lodge Ritual"

The "Sweat Lodge" was the Indian's version of a sauna.  Today, when we enter a sauna, we are usually only doing it to feel better or for relaxation.  The Indians, though, used this for the ritual of cleansing themselves from European influence.  A sweatlodge was a small bungalow built to the East that was built in front of a fireplace.  The Indian was to first fast before entering the lodge and have avoided any alcohol or bad influence. 

In conclusion, Indians had many rituals for many different occasions.   The Indians had rituals for almost every situation they ran into in life.

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