The practice of native religions takes place throughout the world. Various terms include traditional, aboriginal, indigenous, tribal, nonliterate, primal, native, oral, and basic.
Indigenous religions are typically found in every climate, from the tropical rain forest to the arctic tundra, and some are far older than today's dominant religions. Since most of them developed in isolation, there are major differences in their stories of creation and origin, in their beliefs about the afterlife, and in their marriage and funeral customs.
We know about native religious traditions through the efforts of scholars from a number of disciplines, particularly anthropology, and the ecological movement has also made our study of indigenous religions more pressing.
Indigenous religions tend to exist within holistic cultures, in which every object and act may have religious meaning.
The study of indigenous religious traditions presents its own specific challenges. Happily, oral traditions are being written down, translated and published.
Most indigenous religions have originated from tribal cultures of small numbers, whose survival has required a cautious relationship with nature. Human beings are very much a part of nature, and the majority of people tend to look to nature itself for guidance and meaning in their lives.
Many native religions see everything in the universe as being alive, a concept known as animism.