Besides social order, language, and music, evidence shows that human beings have adhered to some form of religion since the beginning of their existence. Also known as primitive, native, or tribal faiths, indigenous religions have, over time, shaped what we have today.

Explore the intriguing indigenous religion facts highlighted here to find how the ancient faith compares to modern beliefs.

1. Indigenous Religions Believe Animals Have a Better Understanding Than Humans

Most indigenous faith acknowledges that animals have a better understanding than humans. Believers believed that animals existed before humans and were closer to the source of creation.

2. Some People Still Practice Indigenous Religious Practices Alongside Modern-Day Religions

Today, there is a complex relationship between indigenous religions and the modern ones. For instance, indigenous faith believers have adopted some aspects of Christianity, such as crosses and prayer beads.

A case in point is Mexico, where about 80% of the population identifies as Catholics. However, some still practice ancient Aztec rituals, such as the Day of the Dead celebrations.

3. Indigenous Religions Existed Millions Of Years Ago

Archeological evidence reveals that indigenous religious followers existed more than 3 million years ago. They inhabited some areas of the modern-day world, including North Africa, China, Australia, and some parts of Southeast Asia.

4. They Have Varying Symbols and Imagery

Indigenous religions use different symbols and imagery to represent their faith. The symbols include feathers, mountains, and bones. Imagery includes religious ceremonies, animals, fire, and births. While the symbols and imagery vary by faith, they are all tied to the natural world.

5. Indigenous Religions Are Ranked Fifth

With regard to modern-day influence and humanity, indigenous religions are not as effective. On the contrary, they cannot be ignored, either. If anything, they rank fifth, only behind Christianity, Islam, Atheism, and Hinduism.

6. Some Indigenous Religions Have Died Along The Way

Religions are organic entities. They emerge at specific times and target certain populations. When a particular religion accomplishes its mission or does not suit a target culture, it evolves or dies. That said, plenty of indigenous religions have lost relevance along the way and died.

7. A Few Indigenous Religions Have Survived Christianization In Europe

Colonization, oppression, and development of other faiths, such as Christianity, hugely contributed to the wearing down of indigenous religions. However, some weathered the storm, and their practice continues to date.

For instance, the Mari people in Russia still follow their polytheistic indigenous religion. Believers worship trees and conduct animal sacrifices.

8. An Indigenous Religion In Uganda Has An Interesting Saying

In Buganda, a subnational kingdom in Uganda, East Africa, there is a saying that loosely translates to “pray for deliverance from danger, but start running too.” Buganda has existed since time immemorial and is considered an indigenous religion.

9. There Is No Written Form Of Indigenous Religions Teachings

Indigenous religions date so far back that no text publications of their teachings exist. They were passed on from one generation to the next through oral methods.

10. Indigenous Religions Believe In A Force That Created Them

Like most modern religions, indigenous people believe in a creative force that created them. They give homage to this female-characterized force. Believers are non-patriarchal and honor life equally.

11. Traditional Origami Doesn’t Cut Paper

Some indigenous faith believers had it that spirits imbued all living things, including plants and animals. This explains why traditional origami (Japanese art of paper folding) doesn’t allow paper cutting. It is in respect to the tree that bore the paper in use.

12. They Don’t Recognize Prophets

Modern religions such as Islam and Christianity acknowledge prophets– and their roles– in their teachings. On the contrary, indigenous religions do not recognize such, even though they have legendary and mythical figures.

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Last Update: September 25, 2023