What was religion like before European Colonialism? I wondered how often indigenous cultures, generally speaking, discussed god in their day-to-day lives? And if they didn’t discuss god, how did that impact their psychology? Did it make them more “spiritual” or less? That’s when I discovered the Yupk people of Alaska. Being part Inuit/Eskimo…but being long-removed and not knowing anything about that aspect of my heritage, I was pleased to learn the following. I was raised believing I was part Blackfoot/Choctaw, and although my Uncle’s DNA says Inuit/Eskimo…I have none on my 23andme, he used Myheritage DNA…so. Back to my point. In researching the Yupik, I’m learning Indigenous cultures have long been known to have spiritual beliefs that involve a higher power or deity. In many cultures, this divine being was seen as the creator of the world and its people, and was often a central figure in their spiritual beliefs. It was believed that this god or gods provided guidance and protection, and that they could be accessed through rituals, ceremonies, and prayer.
The frequency of discussion of this god or gods varied between cultures, with some discussing the divine being more often than others. The Yupik people of Alaska have had one of the least frequent discussions of god. This is due to the fact that their belief system is largely animistic, meaning that they see spirits in every part of nature, rather than having a single deity or creator. They believe that these spirits, rather than a single god, are responsible for the creation of the world and its inhabitants.
How does this make their psychology different from others? The Yupik people’s animistic beliefs differ from other cultures in the way they view the world. They see the spirits in the land, sea, and air as active participants in their lives, rather than distant figures.
This has had a significant effect on their psychology, as they tend to live in harmony with nature and are more connected to the spiritual realm. They also tend to be more open to accepting new ideas and beliefs, as their worldview is less rigid than that of other cultures.
I think the Yupik are on to something good.