Hunting Rituals of the Northern Plains

For my final presentation, I looked at indigenous hunting rituals among tribes of the northern plains. I was unable to find many sources on this topic until I found Howard Harrod’s book, The Animals Came Dancing, in the library and it provided exactly the information I was looking for. I found there to be a great diversity of religious ritual practice around the hunt. However, there were certainly common themes and practices found amongst many tribes. One example of this was the widespread use of ritual bundles and the importance of the sacred objects within them. Another very common element was the presence of dances where people would imitate the sounds and movements of animals. The rituals often focused on drawing the buffalo herds closer to the villages and to further communicate with the animals in order to gain their perspective on the hunt as well. They used dead animal parts in order to communicate with animals, as they didn’t see these two things as separated as we do. What struck me the most while making this presentation was the fact that this used to be such a large part of the religion, but is now almost completely obsolete. This whole side of religion has become lost because the purpose is no longer relevant, but they should not be lost to history because this level of appreciation for animal life is something that our world needs to move back towards.

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