Manataka American Indian Council
Native American Spirituality Brochure
Chaplains, Counselors, Ministers
Chaplains, pastors, counselors and those who minister to the public’s religious needs can perform a great service in helping further understanding of Native American Spirituality.
This includes networking, outreach – inviting spiritual elders to join the local ministerial association, for example – in letting others know that Native spiritual elders exist in the community and are positive local resources.
This role is one of taking the “mystique,” or fear, away. We all have one Creator. As Jesus said, “My Father’s House has many mansions.”
In turn, traditional ceremonies such as the Asi/Inipi or “sweat lodge” can be useful tools for connecting with Spirit even for non-Native congregations and individuals. It is particularly helpful in psychological support -- such as helping at-risk youth in police, jail and prison situations, or chemical dependency.
One of the greatest dangers to Native populations off reservation is isolation, the sense of not belonging to mainstream culture, feeling cut off, lacking the support of community, heritage, shared values that sustain a positive outlook and productive behavior.
They may not know help is available.
Ministers and chaplains should be attuned to the needs of those they come in contact with to make referrals. It could be useful to carry a card with local spiritual elders’ names and phone numbers.
The U.S. was founded upon religious freedom, tolerance for diversity and champions that right worldwide. How tragic it would be to deny fellow Americans, the first Americans, this basic right through omission or commission, or allow a culture’s spirituality to fade away. As the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (UN 1966) Article 18(1) states:
Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching. (2) No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.
A basic Native tenet says it all: Mitakuye Oyasin: We are all related.
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