Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Building Bridges: A World Religions Program for 8th-9th Grades

Taking It Home: Indigenous Religions: The Earth Speaks

... 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

IN TODAY'S WORKSHOP... we discussed indigenous religions and some of the characteristics they share, including the importance of an oral tradition.


  • In what ways is it beneficial to be aware of our connection with the natural world?
  • Can we recreate some of the feeling of belonging that defined indigenous cultures by fostering an oral tradition in our own families?


  • The earliest humans did not have air conditioning or heating. Consequently, they keenly felt the changes of the seasons. What if you were to keep your home a little warmer in the summer, a little cooler in winter, and open the windows when you can? See if these small changes affect how connected you feel to nature. It will save electricity, too—another way to help the world.
  • Without water, there is no life. This is why ancient cultures centered around lakes, rivers, and other sources of fresh water. Where do people get water in your community? Start conversations with friends, asking about the water their families drink. Do they drink tap water? Bottled water? Do they have a filtration system? Why? Some communities have very good tap water, and some not so good. In communities with a poor municipal water supply, well-off families can afford to buy water. What about families who cannot afford special water? Do you or your friends know about the quality of your municipal water supply? Do some research and find out. The Environmental Protection Agency website posts information on the quality of drinking water in major communities and safe water regulations.
  • Family stories handed down through the generations can give people both roots and wings—a firm foundation in their family's history and a springboard for moving forward into their own lives and creating more stories to add to the legacy. Start an oral history project in your family. Use your computer, a video recorder, or a tape recorder to record the stories your family tells. Older family members can be an especially rich source. Ask individuals of all ages to share their stories. If you are in a blended family or a mixed ethnicity family, have gay or lesbian parents, have three or more adults sharing parenting, are being raised by grandparents or other relatives, and/or are a child of adoption, you may discover stories that are fascinating and deeply important, maybe some which have never been told before. Create CDs of the collected stories and share them with your entire family.
  • Read about the world’s indigenous religions on the website of Cultural Survival.