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Defining Native American culture is a difficult task not necessarily because the beliefs and customs that characterize this historic population are hard to comprehend but more due to the fact that Native Americans are an incredibly diverse population. Just as defining America would require examinations of culture from all over the country, Native American culture must examine different regions and tribes. Generally speaking, most cultures of Native Americans are very spiritual and group oriented in nature.
Due to the vast diversity among Native Americans, describing their cultures must rely on the explanation of commonalities rather than focusing on specific traditions that may not exist in every tribe. It is probably safe to say that spirituality is uniform throughout these peoples. Spirituality is not always religion, and just as religions differ among people throughout the world, religious beliefs within Native Americans also vary greatly.
This spiritual nature is most often expressed through ceremonies that pay homage to a deity or aspect of nature. Some tribes believe in one specific god, while others, in a more Greek fashion, describe different spirits as beings within their belief systems. Most religious ceremonies are focused around appreciation for the deeds that this god or being is believed to have done for the tribe or people. Some ceremonies are similar to those of Western religions, while others may seem eccentric to outsiders.
There is also a motif of nature within Native American culture. Many average citizens of America do not think too much about the world in which they live, often taking for granted the many resources that are exploited so that people can enjoy their lifestyles. This is very much in contrast with the themes of Native American culture as most Native Americans firmly believe in the cultivation and preservation of natural resources.
One way in which Native American culture embraces nature is through the use of all resources. Typically, animals that are used for food are also used for many other things. Rarely is any part of an animal wasted, largely due to the belief that, for a life to be taken, it should at least be used and not killed in vain.
In many ways, Native American culture is the envy of many other cultures. They strive to focus on the appreciation of life and the simple pleasures that surround us all rather than the emphasis of material goods and social status. While there are pros and cons of many cultures, and no two ways of living are alike, there may be things others can learn from Native American culture.