Is Religion Culture…Navajo…Crow…and Native Culture

I grew up in a Hungarian German family where my grandparents on both sides spoke the language and still maintained many of the traditional values and culture…and if food is part of culture then my Hungarian side won the battle hands down. I crave good pastry here in Montana! I also had my first beer at Thanksgiving when I was four years old while my German Grandfather laughed and my mother yelled at him. I love good beer and moonshine I guess it is just being raised in the country as a redneck. I live among Indians and yet I am not – I know who I am and have respect.

I look around today and I have lived in three countries and two “sub-countries”. Guatemala had amazing culture – from the twenty year old breast feeding on the street while a “missionary” chastised her for being “exposed” and I looked on thinking “and churches give this guy money”. South Korea was three years of total cultural, food, language, immersion that expanded my world view.

Plenty-Coups - I love this Crow and respect his story!
Plenty-Coups – I love this Crow and respect his story!

The two “sub-countries” I have had the privilege living in are the Navajo and Crow Reservation. These two Native American tribes while rich in heritage seem at times to be struggling to maintain their culture. I remember Tullie Yazzie speaking in Pinon, Arizona 1998 Navajo Reservation – “we began to rapidly lose our youth and our culture when satellite dishes popped up around the reservation”.

Now to the core thought – what is American Culture? Materialism, Credit Cards, Red States and Blue States? Red Pill – Blue Pill?

Sometimes, I believe that religion has been substituted for a lack of culture in America to the denigration or misunderstanding of real culture in Native America. Native people have culture that oft times is mistaken for religion and like the twenty year old breast feeding on the street – it is denigrated, chastised and misunderstood. I have been to so many beautiful ceremonies celebrating puberty, cleansing, celebrating birth and laughter, Sweat Lodge – but these are not religion they are culture.

Medicine Men, I have been to real and fake…like an old medicine man in Pinon said “if they give you a price list pretty good indication they are fake…”. I also have been healed by a great medicine man that has my thanks, my love, and admiration – so do not confuse a medicine man with a minister! I look forward to cleansing at Sundance this summer here in the Wolf Mountains, Lodge Grass, Montana.


My faith has preserved me and my understanding of religion has grown to be a much more tolerant soul.

Peace –

4 thoughts on “Is Religion Culture…Navajo…Crow…and Native Culture

  1. Okay, reread it tonight.

    I think I agree with you, but I wonder how much America’s cultural melting pot has to do with a lack of a real culture in America, too? It seems the Native American subculture is such a small part of America anymore. Yes, they are the “true Americans,” and yet how do they contribute to mainstream society today? I don’t hear much about the Native Americans on the news, except for when people are up in arms because they are trying to open a new casino in California. So while it may be true that we do not understand Native American culture, and that that’s not a good thing, I struggle to see how an understanding of Native American traditions and rituals, etc. would benefit America as a whole? I really think the government did ALL of us a disservice when it segregated Native Americans from the rest of society. Perhaps that’s the reason behind it all??

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