Indigenous Americans: Spirituality and Ecos

Daedalus Journal Special Issue Religion and Ecology:
Can the Climate Change?

Written by Jack D. Forbes

The cosmic visions of indigenous peoples are significantly diverse. Each nation and community has its own unique traditions. Still, several characteristics stand out. First, it is common to envision the creative process of the universe as a form of thought or mental process. Second, it is common to have a source of creation that is plural, either because several entities participate in creation or because the process as it unfolds includes many sacred actors stemming from a First Principle (Father/Mother or Grandfather/Grandmother). Third, the agents of creation are seldom pictured as human, but are depicted instead as “wakan” (holy), or animal-like (coyote, raven, great white hare, etc.), or as forces of nature (such as wind/breath). The Lakota medicine man Lame Deer says that the Great Spirit “is not like a human being. . . . He is a power. That power could be in a cup of coffee. The Great Spirit is no old man with a beard.”1 The concept perhaps resembles the elohim of the Jewish Genesis, the plural form of eloi, usually mistranslated as “God,” as though it were singular.

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Buddhism and Ecology

Daedalus
Special Issue
Religion and Ecology: Can the Climate Change?
Vol. 130, No. 4
Fall 2001

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