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The Oath – Apsaroke – circa 1908  
(CLICK ON PICTURE FOR LARGER VIEW)

Spirit Life –  Among traditional Native American people, individuals established their own spiritual beliefs but they are based on a framework established by their ancestors and their relationship with the Creator. In each of the geographic regions of North America , that structure is dependent on environment, individual and community experiences, and worldview. These complex systems cannot be taught; they must be experienced within the context of tradition.
 
From birth, Native peoples are taught their traditional forms of prayer by their families and communities. Each person develops his or her own relationship with the spirit world, modifying inner feelings with each new experience. It has always been considered important for people to share experiences and thoughts with others on the same spiritual path. Many traditional ceremonies involve active participation by people within the community. For young people, this participation provides an opportunity for inner reflection. They learn that their experiences in the world around them will eventually teach them to focus inwardly upon their individual spirit lives.
 
On the Plains, it has been said that a person starts to gain an understanding of this world as he or she approaches the age of forty, reinforcing the idea that spirituality is a lifelong learning process. In each region, specific prayers and ceremonies honor the spirits that are vital to the life force of the people. The spirits manifest themselves in many different ways often in the form of animals or other natural forces, depending on the environment and history of the native people of that region.
 
The dynamics of nature have changed over time. Because the buffalo no longer roam free on the Plains, for example, certain rituals have had to be modified to adapt to the reality of modern life. The continuity of spirit and ceremonial life, however, has changed very little. This is because the relationship between the people and their belief system remains constant.
 
The history of Indian and white relations has had some ugly chapters, including the decimation and confiscation of tribal lands by white settlers. When Christianity was forced upon Native Americans, spiritual crises arose. Nonetheless, many Native American people have continued to preserve their traditional spiritual beliefs. Through research and oral history, the Indian people of today reestablish knowledge of these beliefs. Although the details of some spiritual ceremonies may have been temporarily suspended, the people sincerely continue their efforts to recover them. – Joseph D. Horse Capture  

   

Slow Bull – The Medicine Man – 
Oglala – circa 1907  
(CLICK ON PICTURE FOR LARGER VIEW)

Black Eagle – Assiniboin – circa 1908  
(CLICK ON PICTURE FOR LARGER VIEW)

Medicine Crow – Aparaoke – circa 1908  
(CLICK ON PICTURE FOR LARGER VIEW)

High Hawk – Brule – circa 1907  
(CLICK ON PICTURE FOR LARGER VIEW)

Fog in the Morning – Apsaroke – circa 1908
(CLICK ON PICTURE FOR LARGER VIEW)  

Chief Red Cloud - 1905
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Shot In The Hand – Apsaroke – circa 1908
(CLICK ON PICTURE FOR LARGER VIEW)  

Two Bear Woman – Piegan – 1908 
(CLICK ON PICTURE FOR LARGER VIEW)

Little Wolf – Cheyenne – circa 1905
(CLICK ON PICTURE FOR LARGER VIEW)  

Double Runner – Piegan – circa 1900 
(CLICK ON PICTURE FOR LARGER VIEW) 

“When I first discovered Curtis, I found his photograph of three Piegan chiefs out on the plains. I looked at this landscape and it felt so familiar, although I’d never seen it, except maybe as a young child. I knew that deep down in my heart, I need to come home. And when I came home everybody said, “We’re glad you finally made it.” I think Curtis understood something about the power of that cultural spirit.” – George Burdeau, Blackfeet  

CONTINUED ON PAGE 3

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[ Native American History Contents Page ] [ Plains Indian Headdresses ]
[ Plains Indian Shields ] [ Boarding Schools ] [ Boy Scouts and Indians ]
[ Where Have All the Flowers Gone? ] [ The Man on the 20 Dollar Bill ]
[ Native American Vietnam Vets ] [ How the Adirondacks Were Lost ]
[ Custer's Last Stand-Personal Accounts ] [ CodeTalkers-WindSpeakers ]
[ Festival of Words Honors Code Talker Charles Chibitty ]
[ Behold the Ignorant Savage-Part 1 ] [ Behold the Ignorant Savage-Part 2 ]
[ Edward Curtis-Native American Indian-Sacred Legacy-Pg 1 ]
[ George Catlin-Portraits of the Past-Pg1 ] [ Native American Women ]
[ Richard A. Throssel

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