“Ask a Priest: Is It OK to Hold on to Native American Items?”

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Q: Over the years I have been given or acquired (when visiting the West or festivals) some Native American jewelry, pottery and a replica of a peace pipe. Is it best not to have any of that? I have gotten rid of all “dream catchers” or anything with symbols on them. – D.L.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: As merely cultural artifacts these items might not pose any problem in most cases.

A deeper answer, however, would depend on various factors, including how these items would be perceived by, say, visitors to your home.

Would someone who knows that peace pipes were used in religious ceremonies think that you have an esteem for pagan Indian cults? This is something to keep in mind, especially if you have impressionable young people around.

Another factor is whether the Indian items are crowding out or distracting from the Catholic symbols in your home. Ideally, a visitor to a Catholic’s residence should be able to quickly discern the faith of the inhabitants.

In a culture that is increasingly and aggressively secular, you might ask yourself what kind of signal the décor in your home sends.


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