The most sacred force in 1700 Quapaw religious practice was called Wakondah or Wakontah. Wakontah was not what westerners commonly consider a God; it was an energy or force that permeated everything that existed and kept everything in balance. Since the Quapaw revered this force and the force was in everything, the Quapaw respected everything. Because they revered both nature and animals, they were in a sense the first environmentalists in North America. They felt obligated to honor animals they had killed in a hunt with ceremonies.
Acting as intermediaries between the common person and Wakontah were the holy men, occasionally called shaman or medicine men. Unlike Wakontah, this aspect of Quapaw religion is somewhat similar to Western religions. The purpose of Quapaw holy men was very much like the purpose of the holy men in Western religions. They interpreted spiritual matters and explained the workings of Wakontah. In addition, they also cured illnesses, bestowed blessings, led religious ceremonies, and served to perpetuate traditions. They tried to make sure that important events in a persons life were imbued with Wakontah, order, and balance.
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