In the United States, Native Americans are considered to be people whose pre-Columbian ancestors were indigenous to the lands within the nation's modern boundaries. These peoples were composed of numerous distinct tribes, bands, and ethnic groups, and many of these groups survive intact today as sovereign nations. The terms Native Americans use to refer to themselves vary regionally and generationally, with many older Native Americans self-identifying as "Indians" or "American Indians", while younger Native Americans often identify as "Indigenous". Which terms should be used to refer to Native Americans has at times been controversial. The term "Native American" has been adopted by major newspapers and some academic groups, but has not traditionally included Native Hawaiians or certain Alaskan Natives, such as Aleut, Yup'ik, or Inuit peoples. Indigenous American peoples from Canada are known as First Nations.
Native American religions are the spiritual practices of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Traditional Native American ceremonial ways can vary widely, and are based on the differing histories and beliefs of individual tribes, clans and bands. Early European explorers describe individual Native American tribes and even small bands as each having their own religious practices. Theology may be monotheistic, polytheistic, henotheistic, animistic, or some combination thereof. Traditional beliefs are usually passed down in the forms of oral histories, stories, allegories and principles, and rely on face to face teaching in one's family and community.
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