What Did the Shawnee Believe?

Caption: portrait of Tecumseh, a famous Shawnee Chief

The Shawnee were a Native American people who lived to the east of the Mississippi River. A large number once called the Ohio territory home. The Shawnee believed that the universe was created by a supreme being called Moneto. The Shawnee people themselves were created by the Great Spirit, a female whom they called "Our Grandmother." The belief in a female Great Spirit set the Shawnee apart from other Native American tribes. Our Grandmother had made the first man and woman. They became the parents of the Shawnee nation. This Great Spirit taught them how to behave. She taught them to honor her with dances and ceremonies. She gave them sacred bundles to use and protect. She provided spirit guides for her people in the form of the bear, the eagle, the wolf, and the deer.

There is a story of Our Grandmother weaving a net. When her work is finished, it will be dropped over the world and then pulled toward the heavens. Only the souls of the good people would be caught in the net and join her for a better life. The bad people would fall through the net. The world would come to an end. However, the stories say that a dog is there with Our Grandmother. Every time she turns her back, he undoes the work she has done. In that way, her work will never be finished, and the world will never be destroyed.

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