Q:

What are the traditional religious beliefs of the Miami Indians?

A:

Quick Answer

The traditional religious beliefs of the Miami people revolved around spirits known as "manitous," with whom collective and individual strength could be traded for respect and sacrifice. Both ordinary people and shamans were able to interact with manitous, but shamans were believed to have a closer connection.

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Full Answer

The Miami people believed that manitous roamed the natural world and could take on the forms of other elements, such as humans, animals or plants. They believed that the source of the manitous' power was a so-called "kitchi manitou," which was often equated with the sun. However, they did not believe the kitchi manitou to be animate in the way that other manitous were.

It was believed that individuals could contact manitous in a dream by way of seclusion of fasting, and men and women were instructed to try to do so from a young age. Once a manitou was contacted, it was believed that the spirit became the individual guardian of the person who had contacted it. To preserve the relationship with their manitou, people gave public and private sacrifices of tobacco and food. It was believed that shamans were granted supernatural powers by the manitous, either to kill or to heal, even to the point of resurrecting the dead.

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