The story Centennial, by James A. Michener, had sections in it that referred to the way that Native Americans lived in America. These sections told stories that portrayed, partially, to the customs of the Native Americans. Many general references to their religion, transportation, rituals, and everyday life, were made. I have read these sections and analyzed some of the interesting and important customs that these people had. In the following essay, I will give some examples of these customs, and how they are part of the Native American lifestyles that I read about in Centennial.
As a first example, the Native Americans that I read about during Centennial all had names that were of objects, animals, actions, or things.
It was very important to their customs to name a person after something distinctive or honorable to the tribe. Such names as Cold Feet, Running Snake, and Gray Wolf, might sound odd or stupid to you and me, but to these people, they were names of distinction and individuality. Another example of a custom that was talked about in the book was the Native Americans religion of polytheism. Native Americans firmly believed in these Gods and spirits for guidance. They linked them closely to their ancestors. As an overall whole, religion was important, but looked at differently than other cultures saw religion. This may be why they were later persecuted for it. The skill of Horse riding was an adapted custom that happened while I was reading the book. In the area the book talked about, horses were important to the tribes. They were used for so many things that it was considered a great skill to master the technique of riding one.
In the story that I read, respecting the elders was a custom that seemed to stand out in the tribes. A lot of people in our present day have respect for their elders, but not to the extreme that the Native Americans did. They were considered extremely wise because of the experience that they had during their lifetimes. A very good example that was heavily discussed in the book was the trading of goods for marriage. In the story, Lame Beaver had to give up his horse to his brother in law in order to marry. This was a custom in tribes that was heavily practiced. Each tribe had its own strong feeling on the significance of it. Hunting was a unique custom to the Native Americans in the way that they performed it. Many techniques were discussed during the book. Long time bleeding, forcing animals off cliffs, horse usage, and spears, were all unique ways that the Native Americans hunted.
A highly important part of the book that was also a unique custom was the sacrifice by the Pawnee tribe. Their ritual was so intricate and planned out that it wound up being one of the most important customs that I have mentioned. In the story, the Pawnee used their ritual to try to sacrifice Lame Beaver. A custom and important part of the Native American culture was the leadership displayed in a tribe. It was a huge responsibility and honor to be a leader. Leaders were very important to the tribe and kept it running.
In conclusion, there are many important customs that are involved with the Native American people. All dealing with different issues and aspects, they still are practiced within the confines of a grouping of people. The customs that I mentioned are only a small fragment of the hundreds of unique customs that the Native Americans had. These great customs help show the importance in their cultures. All in all, the Native Americans had different and unique customs within their tribes.
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