Native North American Mythologies

Native American Spirits and Creators

What are some examples of the Great Spirit?

The Great Spirit is known by many names. In some cases he can be a personification of the sun, as he frequently is in Meso and South America, or of the sky. For some Hopi in the American southwest, the creator sun god is Tawa, who thinks creation into existence but who leaves the working out of the details to others, particularly to the more earth-oriented Spider Woman. This is in keeping with a matrilineal culture’s leaving of religious matters to men while reserving earthly matters to women. A more common supreme being in Native American mythology is the Great Spirit whose name can also be translated as Great Power, Great Mystery, Great Manitou, or Kitchi Manitou. The Great Spirit is generally a noncorporeal being who, like the Hindu Brahman, is everywhere and nowhere and is the essential spirit reality in an animistic world. In the Great Plains, the Great Spirit is the ultimate wakan or “medicine man,” representing the harmony sought by all. In some cases, as among the Cree, the Ojibwa, and many Algonquian peoples, spirits are in everything and are aspects of the Great Manitou, which is neither male nor female and which created the world ex nihilo—from nothing—by having a vision of it.


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