When the Indian Religious Freedom Act was passed by the Federal Government in 1978, it created a broad resurgence of the ceremonial practices. These ceremonies came out of hiding. Across the mid-west the sundance was revived, the public practice of the sweat lodge and pipe ceremonies. Many of these things had been hidden in plain sight in the PowWows where sacred songs were sung and the “white people” didn’t know what was being sung.
One of the tensions that developed as the Indian ceremonies grew was the question could a person be a Christian and still practice the spiritual legacy of the Indian people. This was answered in a variety of ways from complete separation to inculturation.
Like other racial communities, there has also been a decline in religious practice.
FROM A SOCIAL PERSPECTIVE
There are cultural barriers that have eroded the cultural base of the Indian people:
The loss of jobs on reservationsThese things have contributed to the fragmentation of the culture.
The Federal relocation programs of the 1950’s has disrupted the life styles
The impact of boarding schools
The changing roles of the male within the society.
Low graduation rates among high school students
Gang activities, Drug use
But at the same time there are strong values placed on medicine people who have gifts for specific medicines. (They are not generalists) There is also a value for ritual leaders or spiritual practitioners. These too may be specialists and do only certain ceremonies or have specific teachings they may give.
FROM A MEDICAL PERSPECTIVE There is a high rate of diabetes among the Indians affecting, limbs, heart, vision, circulation, strokes etc. There is a fair amount of alcoholism. There are latent anger and depression issues in the community because of life circumstances.