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... everything on the Earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence. — Mourning Dove (Christine Quintasket) (1888-1936), Native American (Salish) novelist


The earliest human beings developed the four aspects of human societies: language, music, a social order, and religion. Religion has been practiced in some form for over three million years. Archeaological evidence suggests there were followers of indigenous faiths millions of years ago, in the earliest places on earth we know human beings lived: the southernmost tip of Africa, Southeast Asia, Japan, China, and Australia.

This workshop introduces indigenous religions, which are sometimes called native, tribal, or primitive religions. While differing in many outward respects from what we in the West envision when we think of "religion," these faiths serve people's needs in the same fundamental ways all religions do. Today, more than 400 million people worldwide are adherents of indigenous faiths.

Though these religions are ancient, it does not mean their modern interpretations have not evolved. Throughout this workshop (and the program, as a whole) remind youth that religions are organic entities, emerging—when conditions are right—perfectly suited to a place, time, and segment of a population. When a religion no longer serves its people or suits their culture, it changes or dies. Help youth embrace the idea that religion can serve the same essential purposes in many different forms.


This workshop will:

  • Introduce participants to universal traits of indigenous religions worldwide
  • Explore in greater depth some characteristics of indigenous religions Invite youth to consider the benefits of an oral tradition.

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  • Deepen their understanding of the purposes of religion
  • Become familiar with and able to discuss universal features of indigenous religions
  • Hear and discuss an aboriginal Australian Dreamtime story
  • Experience some strengths of oral tradition through sharing personal accounts
  • Build appreciation for world views different from their own.




Welcoming and Entering




Activity 1: Story — Sun Mother Walks the Earth


Activity 2: Oral Tradition


Activity 3: Leaving a Record


Activity 4: Fact Sheet


Activity 5: Time Line


Faith in Action: Kids vs. Global Warming




Alternate Activity 1: Engagement


Alternate Activity 2: Goddesses


Alternate Activity 3: Honoring Our Ancestors


Alternate Activity 4: Canning and Drying Food



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