Modern Religion for Native Americans
When the settlers first came to America, they brought their religion and missionaries. The federal government spent years funding boarding schools, and many of them were actually run by church organizations. The Native American children who attended them were force to give up their language, and they were isolated from their family. Many of them lost their traditional values and outlook on life, and this included their religion. They were converted to Christianity, and many of their descendants today practice that religion.
Reservations for Native Americans have acquired the rights over the last fifty years to have their own schools, and various tribes have worked together to preserve their heritage. At this time, many Native Americans consider themselves to be Christians by teaching and birth. Some of them have begun to practice a combined religion that includes values from Christianity and Native American religions, but others have gone a few steps further.
There are now tribes within the United States that have decided to educate their children in all the Native American ways of their ancestors, and they include religion as an important part of their education. Few tribes had written languages in the past, so much of their religious teaching was done orally. This is still part of the way religious education is taught on the reservation, but religious leaders are beginning to write it down for future generations.
There remains a large commitment to the Christian religion on many reservations, but the tide has changed. As new children enroll in reservation schools, they are given a thorough teaching of the culture and religion of their ancestors. There are now some reservation schools that also offer adult religious education to help the parents of students regain what was lost when the federal government turned their education over to Christian missionaries.