Do Indians Celebrate Christmas?
The short answer to this question is: Of course they do. Eye-opening as it might seem, about three quarters of our Native population subscribe to some form of secular or religious faith, with Catholicism being the most common.
The long answer is that the contemporary American Indian has a distinct tendency to rely on faith and hope, not unlike most people across this great country. American Indians, whether living in suburbia or on reservations, live in a duality of sorts when it comes to religion or beliefs. We have our traditional beliefs and our culture, which to us is a form of religion, and then we have the outside religions. Many of us still follow our ancestral traditions and still consult our Tribal Medicine people when we feel the need. On the other hand, it is not uncommon to see an Indian receive communion at a Catholic church on Sunday.
Considering the role that religion has played in the past for our people, in the era when when when we were forcibly placed on reservations, forced to attend Boarding Schools, and deprived of speaking our languages, it astonishes me that we now accept the edicts of religion so easily. Some of us believe in a higher power, whether that being is described as the Creator, Tunkashila, or Jesus Christ; we respect all religions, and the right for people to practice their individual beliefs.
So yes, those of us who are Christians celebrate Christmas, and pay homage to all that it represents religiously. We put up our Christmas tree, add the colorful lights, and take delight in the joy of our loved ones when they open their gifts, just like everyone else. We know the gesture of giving very well; we have giveaways for special occasions all year, not just once a year. Our ancestors practiced the act of giving in a very humble way; our Grandmas and Grandpas passed it on. Our cultural belief is that by giving, you give of yourself and your spirit to the recipient. We take pleasure in seeing the twinkle in an elder's eye when a gift is given, and treasure that same twinkle in a little one's eye when a gift is received.
Merry Christmas to all, those who no longer are with us, those who are sick, those who protect our freedom and are in harms way and their families, and to all the innocent little ones of the world. May we all pray for everlasting peace amongst all who walk on Mother Earth. Aho.
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