Asian and Native American religions have a great deal of history behind them and they have many aspects that are very similar when you take a look at them side by side. Most of the Native American tribes have as many similarities as they do differences, so picking just one to compare with Asian religions is difficult.
I will touch on a few Native American tribes and a few Asian religions for comparison. The first thing I thought of when comparing the two is the amount of emphasize they both put on nature.There is a story in the book from a Western Apache; Dudley Patterson’s grandmother that I thought was a good representation of their relationship with nature. Wisdom sits in places. It’s like water that never dries up.
You need to drink water to stay alive, don’t you? Well, you also need to drink from places. You must remember everything about them. You must learn their names. You must remember what happened at them long ago. You must think about it and keep on thinking about it. Then your mind will become smoother and smoother.
Then you will see danger before it happens. You will walk a long way and live a long time. You will be wise. People will respect you. (1 Russel) Nature is the main focus when you take a look at the Asian religions as well. For example, Shinto is a focus of harmony with nature.
Daoism also places enormous importance on the significance of pulling out of the crowds to lead an introspective life and focus on the love of nature. This made me think about the Acoma Pueblo communities and how they blend into the surroundings high on the mesa away from others.The picture in the book is a good example of how similar the Chinese artists are able to capture the flows of qi through mountains, water, and trees in their paintings. The Dao motto says, “Follow what is natural”. Another similarity I found was the honoring of major points in the life cycle. The Shinto begin the rituals four months before the birth of a baby, when the soul is thought to enter the fetus.
Then, thirty-two or thirty-three days after the infant’s birth, its parents take it to the family’s temple for initiation by the deity.Then the milestones that are recognized are coming of age at thirteen, or first arranging one’s hair as a woman at age sixteen, marriage, turning sixty-one, seventy-seven or eighty-eight. Native American customs are similar for example when a Hopi baby is twenty days old, it is presented at dawn to the rays of Father Sun for the first time and officially given a name. Girls commonly go through a special ceremony marking their first menstruation, which signals the end of childhood.
The act of purification is a ritual for both Native American and Asian religions. The Lakota tribes have inipi ceremonies that are held in sweat lodges. This is one of the Seven Sacred Rites of the Lakota people. The lodge is a frame of saplings covered with hides or blankets.
Stones are heated in a fire and then placed into a central pit in the lodge. Water is then poured on the stones to create hot steam. Traditional prayers and songs are offered in the Lakota language. ” (Fisher 216) An example of purification in the Asian religion is the Shinto purification water-misogi.
This Japanese practice is undertaken by standing under waterfalls. Generally the person will undergo some sort of preliminary purification, such as prayers, fasting, or some sort of physical activity is common. Some other common traits are the fact that there are no founders for Dao and Native American religions. There are also no sacred literatures or fixed system of doctrine for either religion. The earliest places of Shinto worship were trees or scared groves like the Native American tribes who normally didn’t have a structure to hold worship services.An exception would be a Kiva used by the Pueblo tribe.
There are many other similarities but since this is only a short essay I will stop there and address the question of the Bering Land Bridge theory. Most information I read online leads me to believe that the DNA studies have proven that Native Americans have "NO" Asian DNA. But it is a very logical idea to think people crossed the Bering Straights Bridge because the alternatives would have required an ocean-going coastal fairer in very large numbers and that really does not seem feasible.They all seem to come back to the “Clovis First” theory which says that until the 1920s most people thought the land bridge migration had taken place between four thousand and six thousand years earlier. Then, in 1926, a cowboy in Folsom, New Mexico discovered a stone spear point embedded in the rib cage of a type of bison that has been extinct for nearly ten thousand years.
This proved that human hunters had been living in North America for at least ten thousand years. Ten years later, in Clovis, New Mexico, stone spear points were found in the remains of a mammoth.These remains were discovered in a layer of earth that was deeper than the site of the Folsom spear points, indicating that they came from an even earlier age. The older spear points, which came to be known as Clovis points, were radiocarbon-dated (tested for carbon 14 level to see how old they were) and found to be about 11,500 years old. After the first of these spear points were found, many more Clovis points and tool kits were discovered throughout North America.
The sharpened rocks, attached to lances or spears for hunting, could be easily identified because they were fluted or grooved at the base and showed remarkable craftsmanship.They proved that humans had been living throughout the area that is now the United States and parts of Central America since at least 9000 B. C. E. For several decades most scientists thought that the Clovis points signaled the earliest period of human life in the Americas. (Williamson 7) I am leaning toward the idea that Asians did migrate to America but I do see how the point can be argued either way.
This is a very interesting topic with a lot of twists and turns, I guess we may never know for sure who is right.