Smithsonian Voices

From the Smithsonian Museums

Christmas Across Indian Country, During the Pandemic and Before

For the last few years, Native friends have shared their Christmas plans and traditions with Smithsonian Voices. This extraordinary year, we asked how the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting people’s families and communities. The introduction of Christianity to the Americas can be controversial in Native circles. Europeans knowingly replaced Native people’s existing spiritual beliefs with the beliefs taught in the Bible. Cruelty and brutality often accompanied this indoctrination. Yet it is also true that some tribes, families, and individuals embraced the Bible and Jesus’ teachings. This complicated history is reflected here, as well.

Haudenosaunee bear effigy pipe, 17th c. Cayuga Lake, New York. 22/3765 (Ernest Amoroso, National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian)

"Words Spoken Before All Others," the Ohenten Kariwatekwen or Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address