Religio-Spiritual Participation in Two American Indian Populations

J Sci Study Relig. 2014 Mar;53(1):17-37. doi: 10.1111/jssr.12084. Epub 2014 Mar 4.


Following a previous investigation of religio-spiritual beliefs in American Indians, this article examined prevalence and correlates of religio-spiritual participation in two tribes in the Southwest and Northern Plains (N = 3,084). Analysis suggested a "religious profile" characterized by strong participation across three traditions: aboriginal, Christian, and Native American Church. However, sociodemographic variables that have reliably predicted participation in the general American population, notably gender and age, frequently failed to achieve significance in multivariate analyses for each tradition. Religio-spiritual participation was strongly and significantly related to belief salience for all traditions. Findings suggest that correlates of religious participation may be unique among American Indians, consistent with their distinctive religious profile. Results promise to inform researchers' efforts to understand and theorize about religio-spiritual behavior. They also provide tribal communities with practical information that might assist them in harnessing social networks to confront collective challenges through community-based participatory research collaborations.

Keywords: American Indians; religio-spiritual practice; religiosity; social networks; spirituality.