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How Does The Iroquois’ Religious Beliefs Differ From Christianity?

1116 words - 5 pages

The Indigenous people of America are called Native Americans or often referred to as “Indians”. They make up about two percent of the population in the United States and some of them still live in reservations. They once lived freely in the wilderness without any sort of influence or exposure from the Europeans who later came in the year of 1492, and therefore their culture is very different from ours. The Iroquois are northeastern Native Americans who are historically important and powerful. In the following essay we will discover some differences between the religious beliefs of the Native American Iroquois and Christianity to see if culture and ways of living have an effect on the view of religion, but we will also get to know some similarities. I am going to be focusing on the Iroquois, which are the northeastern Native Americans in North America.

One of the first differences between the Iroquois’ beliefs and Christianity is the theory on “the creation of life”. The Iroquois believe in a creator God called ‘Hahgwehdiyu’, which was the good spirit of the twin Gods of Wind Breath. He shaped the world with the palm of his hands and recycled the corpse of his dead mother to create the sky, moon and the sun. He planted a grain of corn in her to give the world fertility. It is believed that when the Sky Woman, or the mother, fell from the sky she would fertilize the earth so her granddaughters could grow and harvest many things. They also believe in a current God called “the Great Spirit”. On the other hand, the Christians believe in a different story. The Holy Bible states that one God, simply called God, created the heavens, the earth, the light and the darkness. Later on he created the first humans, which were Adam and Eve. Already we can see one difference, just by knowing the creation story. The Iroquois have different Gods, called by names – while the Christian God stands alone (also thought of as a Trinity). The creator God can be looked upon as more loving and caring, especially for the nature and the descendants.

Every Christian has heard of the Ten Commandments, but Christianity is not the only religion or belief system with a set of guidelines you should follow. The Iroquois do not have an official written list of commandments, but they have “norms” you should aim to obtain. They all base around being thankful for everything in life, having respect for nature and the people around you and wanting the best for others. One code of Ethics which clearly illustrates this is the following; “The hurt of one is the hurt of all, the honor of one is the honor of all.” Here you can see how they care about each other in a respectful way, which can also be applied to nature – if nature is hurt, human beings will be affected too (e.g. global warming). In contrast a Christian is not required to be grateful for anything else than the holy Lord and is encouraged to not go against this one God. Besides this, the Christian is commanded to not steal,...

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