Most important items:
Animism, axis mundi, both forms of dualism, fetish, and mana.
Choice for the title “Indigenous Religions”
- Classic terms to describe indigenous traditions: tribal, oral, native, primitive
- The problems with these term is that, let’s see if it is oral then it illiterate.
Primitive implies some sort of lack of sophistication, it is tied into the idea that
human culture goes through evolutionary development. From primitive
Christian scientifically oriented. (James Frazer says humans going from
magic to religion to science to describe things)
Intellectuals suggest that culture and human beings have evolved. Primitive
cultures are earlier in evolution and the scientific ones are at the complete end
(the last stage in evolution)
- Secularism will become widespread; religion will be out of the equation.
• Indigenous traditions: if they are transplanted, they are transplanted forcefully.
Tightly bound to some region.
• Durkheim (sociologist) – people have tendency to join together in communities,
resulting in rituals, and rules.
• No missionary component to indigenous. But three religions with missionary
goals are: Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism.
• Identity is tied to that group, and if you don’t adhere to these traditions, you
- Scholars now interview and try to learn more from the interpretation of
- Missionaries, explorers, and traders would have come with a missionary or a
commerce agenda to these indigenous cultures
Terms are derived from indigenous religions:
- Totem: you are bound to a creature, animal or spirit. The soul of community is
contained within the totem. The term comes from Ojibwa and means “family.”
- Mana: Melanesian word
- Taboo: Polynesian word
- Shaman: Siberian context
Indigenous masks are used in rituals, while Westerners take it as art.
For QUIZ **** - choose 2-3 from North American/African. There will be a question on
the quiz from these. (Slide 6)
- Be familiar with the 5 traditions. Pick a couple and describe, and relate them
with other traditions.
- Shaman: intermediary, the person with who people may deal with issues.
Shaman stands in the middle between the spirit and the human