How Religious Were The Sioux?
The study of the Native American Indians in the past shows that they are a very spiritual group of people and have a large belief in the spirit world. The studies show that they took part in rituals and dances before and after certain events to ask the spirits for help or thank them for the success in the events they had just carried out. But how religious were the Sioux tribe? Did all these dances and rituals actually mean anything? The fact of the matter is that it depends on who’s viewpoint you are looking at this situation from. If you are one of the Sioux Indians you would be in shock at the mere suggestion that you weren’t very religious as it played such a huge part in your day to day life. If however you are a white man new to the Sioux tribe you would argue that what they are doing is complete nonsense.
The Sioux believed that every object or living organism had a spirit and treated it with respect. They respected some things more than others because they believe that the objects had stronger spirits than the others. They also had several dances and rituals. One of these was the Buffalo Dance and was performed before they set out to hunt buffalo to ask the spirit world for a good hunt and plenty of success. They believed that by dressing up as buffalo and dancing they would connect with the buffalo’s spirit. Another of these rituals was the Sun Dance ritual where one of the Sioux would be lifted up into the air by clamps on there chest or back so that the pain would send the body into shock and they would start hallucinating and a have a vision, which they believed was the spirits communicating with them.
Now in the eyes of the Native American, it would appear that these rituals and beliefs were completely accurate and since they were so used to this way of life they might not considered it as belief or religion but as fact. A white man who was viewing the Sioux’s behaviour however, would be very quick to say that the Sioux were definitely not religious as they did not follow the true Christian way of life by going to church and worshipping one god. To someone who had never seen this before they would most likely interpret these dances a rituals as barbaric and quite pointless. They wouldn’t understand just how important these dances and rituals were to the Sioux and just how much it effected their way of life.
To sum up, there isn’t truly an answer to how religious they were because religion is completely based upon faith and belief, which can vary from person to person. However we can say that religion was incredibly important to the Sioux and in their eyes they would see themselves as extremely religious as it is so crucial to them and plays a part in everything that they do. It is the essence of the Sioux Indians and you can not put a measure on how religious a group is as it is all varying opinion.