With Thanksgiving now behind us, and after gobbling up, enjoying and appreciating the delicious food that came with it, eco18 wants to take a step back to the people who made the very first Thanksgiving possible, and who taught our culture so much about life, land, and growth. So, here we examine why and how Native Americans are so connected to this earth, and what we can do in modern society to not only appreciate, but revive those beliefs that has brought such a profound connection between Native Americans and this land that we live on.

Here are a few Native American beliefs regarding nature that we should all remember…

1. The Meaning of Animals: Native American beliefs are typically based on what is known as Animism—the spiritual idea that all natural objects within the universe have souls or spirits, and therefore everything is alive and possesses an inherent virtue. The respect and connection that Native Americans have with certain animals is said to empower the soul with the traits of their guiding animal. Overall, Animism and Native American beliefs regarding animals teach us that there is so much to learn from the nature that surrounds us, and that respecting the natural world can only bring peace in return.

2. The Great Spirit: Native American cultures are characterized by their robust relationship with nature. The Great Spirit is considered to be the overall divine power in Native American culture, which determines that all natural objects, people and creatures are controlled by its own independent spirits. From the stars, to the mountains, to people and animals, to stones on the ground, The Great Spirit is a reminder that everything around us has its own unique and intrinsic value.

3. Spiritual Healing: Spiritual Healing is a form of Native American medicine that uses guidance from the spirit world (which as mentioned above is based on the elements of nature) to produce a natural healing energy to mind body and spirit. Native Americans have an extensive knowledge of herbs, which they would often combine with spiritual healing. This combination would help the Shaman to exert the power to heal a person of spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical ailments. Typically, Native Americans pray to the spirit of the herbs and plants to evoke their healing properties and ask for their guidance in healing their loved ones.

4. The Meaning of Trees: In Native American culture, trees hold enormous amount of meaning. A symbol of permanence, longevity and a firm base, many Native American tribes believe that the qualities and properties of trees bring those properties on those who use and worship its wood. For example: the ash tree symbolizes peace of mind and sacrifice; the birch tree symbolizes truth, new beginnings and cleansing of the past; the oak tree symbolizes strength of character and courage; and the willow tree symbolizes inner wisdom, an open mind, and stability.

Lieve Falck-Pedersen