Northern Shoshone and Bannock - Religion and Expressive Culture



Religious Beliefs. The basis of their religion seems to have been a belief in the effectiveness of dreams and visions. These were used in acquiring the assistance of guardian spirits. They shared a modified version of the vision quest of the Plains Indians for spirits and other manifestations that gave the questor powers and medicines and imposed food and other taboos. They believed in Appi, a creator, but the principal mythological figures were Wolf and Coyote. The benevolent Wolf created people and the solar system, and Coyote was a trickster who brought disorder. Also known were ogres and animal creatures. Nowadays, over half of the tribes belong to a Christian church—Baptist, Episcopal, Mormon, and Roman Catholic—and others belong to the Native American church.

Religious Practitioners. All men were shamans to some degree.

Ceremonies. Most ceremonialism took the form of dances. Ceremonies were held to ensure the return of the salmon and at the actual time of the run. The Round Dance was used to seek blessings, usually in time of adversity.

Medicine. There was a category of medicine men, who specialized in curing. In addition, they possessed much practical knowledge of plant remedies.

Death and Afterlife. Aboriginally, the dead were wrapped in blankets and deposited in rock crevices. The souls of the dead went to the Land of Wolf and Coyote.

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