Respect for the Elders

Published on December 5, 2011 by Amy

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Native American Elders
Native American Elders

In the Native American community, honoring the elders and displaying respect towards family members plays a large role on traditions and the culture. Elders are supposed to always tell the truth and make unselfish decisions. For that reason, the elders make all important decisions about the village such as moving, hunting, crops, security, and more.

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Regarding religion, the elders are usually the ones who plan where a ceremony will take place. They control the way it is conducted as well. Because they have lived long enough, the elders are wise and explain to others exactly why and how the ceremonies are to be performed. They are always present in meetings, even if they say nothing. They are valued for their knowledge and advice.

When an elder is speaking, everyone else is to listen carefully, even if what they are discussing does not relate to the individual. Elders tell religious stories to others to explain the past and of personal experiences that affect Native American life. An elder is not self-nominated and nobody is labeled as an elder in the Native American community.

Family in general is extremely valued in Native American community. The entire community is considered as a family, not only the blood related. For example, the Lakota have a ceremony called the Hunka. In this ceremony, a Native American receives their name. Two people, an adult and a child, tie an eagle feather to each other’s hair. This makes a special relationship between the two people, and it is almost like the person is adopted as a relative. This makes a strong connection between people of all ages.

Families are respected because it is important for survival to get along, show respect, engage in religious ceremonies together, and exchange resources. It is more about giving, not receiving to the Native Americans.

Source: zanetawrona.wordpress Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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