What are the similarities and differences between Native American religions and Australian Aboriginal religions?

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Native American faiths and Australian Aboriginal religions, broadly speaking, share the following characteristics:

They are oral. They don't have written creeds or texts but rely on spoken communication of religious tenets. This can lead to a level of fluidity in foundational stories, such as creation accounts, which can change over time. Orality also lends a personal aspect to the faith: an individual learns the faith through people they know, not through thousands-of-years-old sacred texts.

They are connected to geographic location. These faiths are often tied to specific places: a certain rock, stream, mountain, or valley might have unique spiritual significance. A tribe or group cannot be displaced from their ancestral lands without a severe disruption of their faith. The concept that places are imbued with spiritual significance also leads to a great reverence for nature and a desire to live in harmony with its spiritual forces.

There is usually little division between the sacred and the profane. Spirituality is woven throughout the fabric of everyday life, from hunting to preparing food to community dances. All these activities are expressions of a oneness with the divine. This has historically created problems with Christians, who have not always understood the concept of the unity of the sacred and the ordinary.

A difference between the Australian Aborigines and the Native Americans is the Aboriginal notion of Dreamtime, which denotes a way in which past, present, and future are connected. All Aboriginal people, it is believed, are connected to Ancestors that created the world. Their present human lives are simply a small part of the greater continuum of their spirit being, which stretches across time: Aboriginal people believe they existed before birth and will exist after they die.

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Similarities: Both of these religions are linked, and yet fractured, by the tribal nature of their origin. There is no true "Native American religion", nor "Australian Aboriginal religion", insomuch as there are common elements that can be traced back to common ancestors and tribal groups. Neither religion has a "Bible", and what written records do exist are fragmentary in nature; their history was predominately oral.

Some common elements include the deification of natural elements, such as animals or places, the existence of a creator god/gods or some other "origin of mankind", and the belief in the continued existence and/or communication with one's ancestors, as well as the ability of the soul to be reincarnated in a new body. There is a diverse interpretation of "priesthood", ranging from naturally-gifted prophets and seers, to what are commonly called shaman or "wise men", who have some degree of interactive ability with spirits.

There are also some elements in certain myths of both cultures that suggest the mythology predates the "modern" world; for example, stories of submerged forests or great beasts that may represent aspects of the ecosystem which disappeared following the end of the last Ice Age.

Differences: One important difference is the region and peoples involved in this comparison; Australia is considerably smaller than the area populated by Native Americans, particularly if we consider "Native American" to include the Central and South American regions. A major consideration here is the development of writing, masonry, complex mathematics and other rituals among the cultures of Central and South America, which was not seen in Australia, and may be intricately tied to the religion of these civilizations.

A major difference in specific beliefs is the Australian Dreamtime, which is difficult to summarize but functions as a sort of combined spiritual, ancestral and judicial guide for both the living and dead; this concept is common throughout Australian myth.

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