North, Central, and South American Indians have a rich religious heritage, though much
has been lost since these peoples were conquered by Europeans. Characteristic features of Native
American religion included the master of the animals, a protective spirit of a species or of all animals.
Shamans, ecstatic medicine men, used supernatural powers to cure the ill. Totemism was a mysterious
religious bond between the human clan and their animal guardians. There was a high god as well as many
atmospheric gods, such as gods of thunder and wind. The Earth Mother was understood to work silently,
The Religion, Scriptures, and Spirituality series describes the beliefs, religious practices, and the spiritual
and moral commitments of the world's great religious traditions. It describes a religion's way of understanding
life and its attitude and relationship to society.
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