In general, what were some of the deities, rites, customs, and religious leaders of pre-European Native Americans?Though the beliefs varied among tribes and regions, there are many comparisons.
Deities: The Native tribes of North America were overwhelmingly polytheistic societies. That is, they worshipped many gods instead of just one. The Sun God was perhaps most common, being the dominant celestial body each day, provider of warmth and causing the crops to grow and the snows to melt. Other common gods included the seasons, the moon, stars and the Earth itself.
Rites: These number in the thousands, but a few examples could include dances to celebrate the arrival of salmon or buffalo, or to honor the gods. Most native tribes also used songs, both personal and traditional, as ways to make offerings, show respect or to mark specific events and families.
Customs: Trading was a very common custom and practice among native tribes. Theirs was largely a barter economy, so the art of the trade was very important, with everything from buffalo tongues to hides to guns to horses changing hands. Stealing horses from one's enemies would be considered "counting coup", and was a display of bravery.
Reilgious Leaders: The holy men of different tribes were referred to as shamans, and there were many words in the various languages to distinguish them from others. They were considered healers, and were experts on what herbs and roots to use for everyday and serious ailments. They were also very spiritual people, who conversed with the gods, meditated, and gave guidance to others in the tribe.