- Native Americans -

Native American Spirituality and Music

Native American's understood the interdependence between people and other forms of life and made it a significant aspect of their culture. Although many Native people believed in a single creative force; rather than being given 'dominion' over all other creatures—the animals, plants and minerals were all considered companions of mankind to learn from and live with.

Native American Spirituality

An important concept that differs from traditional mainstream western religions is that Native Americas did not distinguish between the natural and the supernatural. On the contrary, Native Americans perceived the "material" and "spiritual" as a unified realm of being—a kind of extended kinship network. Rocks, plants, animals, the sky, etc. were all intrinsically interconnected and gave each other life and power.

Indigenous peoples look on the cosmos as a living womb that nurtures their lives, and so they have less need to destroy or reshape it as more traditionally Western religions do. Their goal could be described as achieving harmony in the personal, social, and cosmic realms, rather than gaining personal salvation or liberation as historical religions aim to do.

Native American Spirituality

Native American Music

Singing and percussion are the most important aspects of traditional Native American music. Vocalization takes many forms, ranging from solo and choral song to call and response, unison and multipart singing.

Percussion, especially drums and rattles, are common accompaniment to keep the rhythm steady for the singers, who generally use their native language or nonsense syllables for the melodies. Traditional music usually begins with slow and steady beats that grow gradually faster and more emphatic, while various flourishes like drum and rattle tremolos, shouts and accented patterns add variety and signal changes in performance for singers and dancers.

In addition to percussive instruments and vocals, a common sound in Native American music is instrumentation like flutes or whistles. Melodies usually consist of a scale simpler than the classical eight-pitch scale of eastern culture, often finding itself in the pentatonic or tritonic (only three notes per octave) scale.

Music and history are tightly interwoven in Native American life. A tribe's history is constantly told and retold through music, which keeps alive an oral narrative of history. These historical narratives vary widely from tribe to tribe and are an integral part of tribal identity.

Native American Pow Wow
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