Indigenous Religions of North America

Religions of the World - Questions, Challenges, and New Directions - Leslie Dorrough Smith

Leslie Dorrough Smith [+-]
Avila University
Leslie Dorrough Smith is Professor of Religious Studies at Avila University and a member of the Women’s and Gender Studies faculty.
Steven W Ramey [+-]
University of Alabama
Steven W. Ramey is a Professor in Religious Studies at the University of Alabama, where he also directs the Asian Studies Program.


This chapter explores and then interrogates four different representations of Indigenous traditions of North America. The first representation focuses on differences between Indigenous groups in North America, using a few example communities to highlight ways that their practices, in part, reflect elements of their local environments. The second representation presents and then analyzes romanticized representations of Indigenous religions in North America as containing unique wisdom or knowledge. The third representation concentrates on contemporary forms of Indigenous religions in North America, including interactions with settlers and missionaries. The fourth representation, which examines how Indigenous religions have had political influence, emphasizes interactions with non-Indigenous peoples. It considers the ways various descriptions of Indigenous traditions have been used to increase (or decrease) the political influence of both Indigenous and non-indigenous groups.

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Dorrough Smith, Leslie; Ramey, Steven. Indigenous Religions of North America. Religions of the World - Questions, Challenges, and New Directions. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Oct 2023. ISBN 9781800503762. Date accessed: 07 Feb 2023 doi: 10.1558/equinox.44599. Oct 2023

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