Aboriginal Spirituality

By Despina Ikik, Jamie Liddell, Zack Lopez, Tamkin
Naghshbandi , Rachel Tam
35,000 - 15,000
Scientists theorize
that people migrated
from Asia to North
America over the
Bering land bridge
1000 CE
The first recorded
meeting between
Europeans (Norse)
and Aboriginal
peoples in
1784 CE
the leadership of
Joseph Brant,
Mohawks settle on
the Grand River after
being displaced
following the
American Revolution
1800 CE
1815 CE
The code of
Handsome Lake dies,
Handsome Lake is
Aug 10
1830’s CE
Creation of
residential school
1876 CE
Indian Act is passed
1884 CE
1970 CE
Potlatch ceremonies
A residential school
are banned by the
is turned into the
federal government
Woodland Cultural
Centre in Brantford,
1990 CE
Elijah Harper stops
Meech Lake Accord
The Oka Crisis
explodes when plans
for a golf course clash
with Aboriginal
sacred burial
1998 CE
expresses profound
regret to Canada’s
Aboriginal peoples
for past
mistreatment and
issues Statement of
1999 CE
The new territory of
Nunavut is created
 Cannot pinpoint an
origin/founder of
Aboriginal spirituality
 Origins are ancient beyond
record, theory says they
“came out of this ground”
 Archaeological evidence
supports that Aboriginal
people migrated from Asia
to North and South
America by land bridge
over Bering Strait (between
Alaska & Russia), approx.
35,000 years ago
 80% of the world’s
Aboriginal peoples live in
 13% live in North/South
 Currently, 800,000
Aboriginal people
live in Canada, some
in every province
 Many Aboriginal’s
believe that everything in
the world is alive
 All things human & nonhuman have spirits or
Known as Animism.
 Some say this belief is
polytheistic, believing in
many gods
 Believe in a supreme
 Black Elk, born 1863, Sioux
holy man from the Great
 His theory was that every
living thing was related
and we were at one with all
of them
 Link Aboriginal people
to their mythical
 They are protective
entities (plant, animal or
mythological being of a
clean individual)
 People of the same totem
are considered to be
close relatives and may
not marry
 Connects earth to heaven
 Integral to the sun dance
 The white pine is key for
Iroquois because they
gather around it to offer
thanks to the earth
 With this device the
Aboriginals believe that
bad dreams are filtered
through the web and
displaced into the
universe and good
dreams are held onto the
web for you to hold on to
• Made by laying many
stones in a particular
Symbol of healing and
connection with the
All over North America
Manifestation of spiritual energy
Usually, there are four sections
• southern Ontario
• cleanse
• Male elders lead
• Dance around a cotton
wood tree
• Gives respect to the Tree
of the Universe
• This lasts from dawn to
• A huge feast of meat and
fish follows
• in the Great Plains
• 8 to 16 days
• Summer
• Banned in the 1880s
but is practised now
What they do:
• Prayer
• Promises
• Dance
 Northwest Pacific coast
 Banned in 1884, ban lifted in 1951
 Celebration of
important events
 Songs and dance are
performed to the Great
 Host distributes wealth
 The more they give away,
the more prestigious the host becomes.
 Great Plains nations
 Renews the soul and
helps to regain focus
 Cleanses bodies
 A sauna like dome is built and
participants go inside
 Prayers and sacred pipes are
also shared
 Sub Arctic to Great
Lakes region
 Represents the values
and beliefs of the
supernatural world
 Communicate with
 Build a cylindrical
 This is ceremony
always at night
 Practised all over
 Cleansing, purification
 Burns sweet grass and
 Prayers are passed down through generations by
telling and retelling stories and events
 Elders and Shamans memorise the stories and
become “keeper” who then pass them on to
younger generations
 Ancestry: 2001: 1.3 million report Aboriginal
ancestry [4.4%/ total population]
 2001: 1 million identified as being Aboriginal
 Aboriginal fertility > above overall Canadian birth
 Medicine: “medicine men” (rarely women)
 Medicine men > only people to pronounce
 Use plants + magic
 Methods/ Plants used in 21st Century :
 Lemongrass, tamarind, red ash
 Religion changeable, absorbs elements of other
 “Feeling of oneness and belonging”
 Spiritual connection to land
 Ceremonies (corroborees): totems, community
gathering, story telling, dreaming, storytelling

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