How has Native American religion changed from tribal times?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In tribal times, Native American religions were very similar but also very different; many of them shared common myths and legends but altered key details to correlate with their own environment or local culture. After the expansion of the United States, Native American religion began to become something of a stereotype, even as the traditions themselves vanished under modernization.

A great deal of Native American religion is not religion in the same sense as the organized religions of the world; they share a sense of spirituality, but are not monotheistic or based in a specified moral code. Instead, they focus on the connection of man to the natural world and its creations; animals and nature have empathic spirits that embody ideals, and man is intended to live in harmony among them. Today, these practices are seen as aboriginal, and therefore primitive, despite predating many other religious practices. Native American religions have enjoyed a minor surge in popularity among New Wave Americans, but many teachers have only a rudimentary knowledge of actual tradition; some traditions are known only to elders and teachers in Native American reservations.   Since fewer and fewer Native Americans live in traditional environments, some religious traditions are beginning to die out as their practitioners die without ever teaching them to followers.

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