Published on December 31, 2011 by Amy
Since Native Americans show respect for animals, yet are widely known for their hunting skills, I was wondering exactly how they feel about animals. Native Americans recognize beauty in all things, including animals. Animals are an important aspect to Native American religion because they share their land with the people. Sacred animals show different meanings in each Native American culture. A couple examples of sacred animals are horses, buffalo, and eagles. A horse is considered sacred because of its mysterious character. It is sometimes referred to as a sacred dog. In the Navajo Enemy Way ceremony, a horse carries the sacred staff that takes away the evil from an enemy. Horses are used in Plains ceremonies, too.
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A buffalo is another sacred animal. It is a symbol of abundance. The buffalo was the main source of food for many Natives. It also provided the Native Americans with clothes and shelter, and the bones were used for tools. In the Sioux Legend of the Sacred Pipe, the White Buffalo Calf Woman gave the Sacred Pipe to the Sioux to bring them peace. She also told them that they will have a good hunting season. The Sacred Pipe was significant because it contained the power of the Great Spirit. When a white buffalo is seen, it is a sign that prayers have been heard. If a Native American name contains the word “buffalo” in it, it means that they had a relevant war or hunting experience.
Lastly, the eagle is another sacred animal. It is a sacred bird of many Native American tribes. Eagle figures are used in many rituals. Each tribe has an individual story about the eagle. Their feathers are only to be worn by the greatest warriors and medicine men. Since they fly so high in the sky, eagles are significant because they connect the people with the spirits.
Although Native Americans are known for hunting, they show a care for animals by considering them sacred and including them in religious ceremonies. I like the idea that humans are not the only living things on the planet, and that the land is shared by all.
If you talk to the animals
they will talk with you
and you will know each other.
If you do not talk to them
you will not know them,
and what you do not know
you will fear.
What one fears
–Chief Dan George