Indians south of Rio Grande worshipped gods, Indians north of it worshipped spirits. is that right?

we generally say that the Mesoamerican and Andean civilizations worshipped gods. At least that’s how the Europeans saw it at the moment of contact in the 16th century. And whenever people talk about North American Indians, it seems that they always talk about “spirits” not “gods”.

So what’s up with that? Is this an artefact of how whites in America chose to translate the name for the supernatural beings of the Indians? Was there something fundamentally distinct between the “spirits” and the deities from Mesoamerica? Were there tribes in South America who also, according to the general practice of naming, had “spirits” and not “gods”?

First time I’ve ever heard of this distinction. Can you provide some reference to back this up?

If any such difference exists, it’s probably between the deities of more complex civilizations, represented physically by elaborate temples and statuary, being called “gods,” while those of simpler cultures, often lacking physical representation, being referred to as “spirits.” But there would have been plenty of the latter such cultures in Amazonia and southern South America.

My thoughts exactly, when I read the thread title.

Also, keep in mind that Central America/Mexico was invaded by the Spanish long before the British and French entered present day US and Canada. Disease spread quickly, and what the British and French encountered doesn’t necessarily represent what was there pre-Columbus.

Not to mention the Caribbean, where the first encounters between Spanish and Native Americans occurred. And the chroniclers of those encounters and Taíno myths (the natives there) mention they worshipped gods, not spirits. Is this semantic distinction some English convention?

Civilized people have gods; uncivilized people have spirits.

Civilized people have languages; uncivilized people have dialects.

Civilized people have nations; uncivilized people have tribes.

(Or maybe not.)