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DocumentRekindling the Spirit: The Rebirth of American Indian Spirituality
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Rekindling the Spirit: The Rebirth of American Indian Spirituality

Bemidji, Minn. — The U.S. government and Christian churches spent more than 150 years trying to eliminate American Indian spiritual practices. But the spiritual beliefs survived. Across America, Indians young and old are returning to traditional ways.

They call the traditional life "walking the Red Road." They believe old ways are bringing new hope to Indian Country.

Some are turning to the spiritual beliefs of their ancestors to cope with vast social problems that plague Indian communities. Others are rediscovering their spiritual roots as a way to reclaim a culture that was nearly wiped out.

The beliefs are mysterious -- to some, even mystical. You can't pick up a book and study Indian spirituality. It's an oral tradition and highly individual. American Indians who live the traditional way reject attempts to define their beliefs as theology, or religion. They prefer to call it a way of life.

Many American Indian tribes share similar spiritual beliefs, but ceremonies and spiritual concepts vary from tribe to tribe and even between individuals. This report focuses on the Ojibwe, or Anishinaabe, people of Minnesota. The people in this story are not speaking for all American Indians.

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