Published on October 26, 2011 by Amy
Perhaps no other group of people has quite the rich and storied culture as those of the Native Americans. They have a history rich in struggle, strife, and triumph. So many aspects of our modern life were adapted from the old Indian cultures practiced centuries ago. Many familiar symbols that we take for granted were originated by Native Americans.
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The teepee, totem pole, peace pipe, and moccasins are just a few examples, but each of these symbols were actually integral pieces of a larger picture that wove together the tapestry of Native American life. Everything from native plants and animals to housing to the weather became a part of the culture in Indian life. The animals were revered as spirits, and although they were hunted and killed, their skins and hides were used as clothing and drums, their meat was never wasted, and their spirits lived on in the mind of the tribes. Plants were cultivated and harvested, and used for various things such as dyes for blankets. The rain and sun were considered to be Gods, giving a sign to the Indians as the seasons changed.
Totem poles were a very integral part of Native American culture. The Indians believed that each person was assigned the spirit of a particular animal, and that their spirit was absorbed into this animal in death. The totem pole was a large, tall wooden carving of various animals, each representing a family member of a loved one who had passed away.
Many people see dream catchers hanging from peoples’ car rearview mirrors, but few know their significance. The dream catcher is based on a legend told by the Lakota tribe. It symbolizes holding onto good things in life, while the holes in the catcher are there to filter out bad thoughts and feelings. Smoke signals are another interesting aspect of Native American culture. They were used to communicate to others over a long distance and are yet another symbol of the proud heritage of the Native American.