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ABORIGINAL SPIRITUALITY: Origins and Beliefs

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  1. ABORIGINAL SPIRITUALITY:Origins and Beliefs

  2. ORIGINS, pp. 30 - 33 On page 30, the text describes two (2) conflicting stories about where Aboriginal people came from. What are they?

  3. Story One: Some indigenous inhabitants of a region, believe that they “came out of the ground,” a theory that essentially means that their origins are ancient beyond record.

  4. Story Two: Aboriginal peoples migrated from Asia to North and South America by crossing a land bridge over the Bering Strait (situated between Alaska and Russia) approximately 35,000 years ago.

  5. Define the term “Indigenous”.

  6. Indigenous refers to a group, originating naturally in a region, belonging naturally to an environment (of people) born in a region.

  7. What evidence is there that Aboriginal people have been in the Americas longer than anyone else?

  8. Archaeologists, who study human history, have found Aboriginal artifacts dating back beyond 10,000 years. • They have discovered wampum(beaded belts used to confirm a treaty or recount sacred narratives), animal paintings on rock outcroppings, bones depicting different burial rites, and wooden carvings all attesting to Aboriginal spiritual practices and beliefs from centuries ago.

  9. Traces of Aboriginal Culture in Ontario: Top Right: Wampum or beaded belt in the traditional style of the Iroquois Confederacy / Six Nations. Bottom Right: Agawa pictographs located in Lake Superior National Park, Ontario.

  10. Provide two (2) pieces of evidence to support the statement “Indigenous peoples live in virtually every area of the globe.”

  11. There is a huge diversity of Aboriginal spirituality throughout the modern world. Indigenous peoples live in virtually every area of the globe. • Some are well known, such as the Aboriginal groups of Australia, the Maori of New Zealand, or the Guarani of Paraguay.

  12. The Kooriof Australia

  13. The Maori of New Zealand

  14. The Guarani of Paraguay

  15. Some groups are now extinct (i.e. the Beothuk in Atlantic Canada; the Caribs in the Caribbean Islands) • Today, 80% of the world’s approximately 300 million Aboriginal people’s live in Asia, while only 13% live in North and South America.

  16. List the six (6) cultural groups in Canada and briefly identify the following: (a) Where they are located in Canada. (b) The names of the nations who reside in cultural group area. (c) Their connection to the environment.

  17. Aboriginal Groups in Canada

  18. BELIEFS, pp. 35 - 37 What is animism? What secular world view (studied in Unit 1) does this concept link to?

  19. Aboriginal spirituality expresses a belief in animism, which holds that all things, human and non-human, have spirits or souls, and that the person or animal lives on after death through the presence of that spirit. • Spirits may dwell in specific places, such as trees, streams, or mountains and on other plains of existence, such as the heavens or the underworld. • The term “Animism” has the same origin as the word ‘Animate’ = bring to life; images come alive.

  20. Animism links to the concept of the cosmocentric worldview, which holds that nature is an expression of the divine. • Respecting the spirits and pleasing them is a vital part of the animistic religion.

  21. Explain what an animist would believe about the following: (a) animals (b) rocks and streams

  22. An animist would believe that every animate (animals, plants, insects) and inanimate (rocks, streams, tools, weapons) has a spirit or a soul. • This spirit or soul serves to remind mankind of the importance of living in harmony with nature.

  23. Explain why Aboriginal Spirituality is considered both monotheistic and polytheistic. What is the purpose of having many spirits?

  24. Aboriginal spirituality is both polytheistic and monotheistic – Most Aboriginal peoples believe in a supreme Creator. • Power in the universe is also given to other personified spirits who are less powerful than the Creator, but also guide human activity. • The Inuit call the sea “Sea Woman”; the Iroquois call the sky “Sky Woman”; and the Algonquin call the sky “Grandfather.”

  25. All of these spirits have their own special power. They are able to influence everything from the weather to the actions of an individual person. • Aboriginal spirituality turns to many spirits because Aboriginal people believe they have more than one specific need in nature or in life. • Ex:a fisher strives to be on good terms with the spirit of the sea; a farmer wishes to please the spirit of the rain or the sun.

  26. Who was Black Elk and what did he believe?

  27. Black Elk, born in 1863, was a Sioux holy man from the Great Plains. • He believed that we are all related and are one with all things of the heavens and earth. • There exists a relationship “between the 4-leggeds, the 2-leggeds and the wingeds . . .”

  28. Review one example of an Aboriginal creation story. (a) From which people does the story come from? (b) What does the story say?

  29. Creation stories, which were often oral, play an important role in Aboriginal cultures by offering a response to questions of existence, such as where we come from, why certain things in the environment are the way they are, and where we go when we die.

  30. Each cultural group has their own identity and creation stories: • Northeast Woodlands Earth created on the back of a turtle. • Northwest Pacific Coast  Raven coaxed the original people out of a clamshell onto the land.

  31. Review one example of an Aboriginal reincarnationstory. (a) From which people does the story come from? (b) What does the story say?

  32. Many aboriginal legends recount stories of reincarnation, or rebirth. • Sioux of the Great Plains 4 souls depart the body at death; 1 journeys along a ‘spirit path’ and is judged by an old woman. She determines whether the spirit should carry on to reconnect with its ancestors or return to Earth as a ghost. Other souls enter fetuses and are reborn into new bodies. • Iroquois believe that souls or spirits can enter man-made objects like fishing nets or spears (known as a ‘Fetish’ – dwelling place of a spirit)

  33. Explain the importance of totems in Aboriginal Spirituality.

  34. Totems link Aboriginal peoples to their mythical ancestors. Totems are protective entities – plant, animal or mythological being – of a clan or individual. • A totem might be an animal, in which case the people will avoid hunting and eating that creature and will revere it.

  35. West Coast totem poles – depict ancestors and the spirits associated with them. • Ojibwa identify each totem group by the name of a bird, fish, animal or reptile.

  36. Totems reinforce the connection between mankind and nature. • Many Aboriginal cultures believe that you must live by your totem and live up to expectations of ancestors.