Native American Rite of Passage into Adulthood

Our cultures of the world all have a form of passage in to adulthood; we each experience our own journey from a boy to man or a girl to a woman.

 I was in an African based rite of passage program, taking young African American males from a child to the status of manhood. The Bridge Builders program aims to strengthen the African-American community by administering African-centered “rites of passage” programs built on spirituality, scholarship, entrepreneurship, and community building.

I take a village to raise a child; this can be true across all cultures. From my experience passage into manhood took part is three stages, separation (removed from the community), Indoctrination (challenged, and taught what it is to be a man) and Reincorporation (brought back to the community a man). Similar to Native American rite of passage, the young boy is taken out to the wilderness by his father and left alone to experience a vision or to just survive. If the boy is to return the next day, or to have just stayed still blind folded for the night is now a man.


Once a boy has experienced his vision or survived a night alone can return as a man, this depends on the tribe and their traditions. A boy who now became a man is then taught how to be the man he wants, choosing his path based on the vision ore an elder giving them the name that leads them on their journey.

A story I read on the internet during my search for rite of passages with in Native American cultures, brought me to a review on the Pursuits, Duties, and General Character of the Woodland Indian Man, 1500-1800.

In 2002, the Umista Native American Rites of Passage were initiated at Lane Community College. Umista Native American Rites of Passage changed their name to Bridge of the Gods in 2011. Over the last decade, more than 250 students of color in Lane County have participated in the Rites of Passage programs at Lane Community College. The Bridge of the Gods (Native American Rites of Passage) program is designed to teach appropriate indigenous principles of Native American high school and middle school students. The Bridge of the Gods program is based in the tradition of honor and respect for all peoples, and students are informed about traditional ways of knowing. The program’s purpose is to increase cultural awareness among pre-college age Native youth that will lead to improved academic success and increased self-awareness in the college environment.

There are many programs geared to inform and teach all about Native American tribes in modern day studies, along with programs to help Native American youth learn their heritage and traditions. You must know where you have come from to know where you are going.


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