Well first off...I know these things are different for each tribe/sect. For my tribal sect there is really no difference between shamanism and AHWW's view on spiritual therianthropy, except that they don't really believe in physical therianthropy (which I know changes from tribe to tribe). The Shoshone-Bannocks believe more in spiritual transference, or spiritual inhabitance (which for me still doesn't work, I'm not host for a wolf spirit, I am the wolf), they are however quick to grasp ideas that make sense, and to some of my tribal friends my ideas of therianthropy make sense.
I think shamanism utilizes 'shapeshifting' in a mental sense
as we do. So what makes ST so special?
There is one (of many I'm sure) aspect of ST that makes it special from shamanism...and that is it uses reference to usually just one animal. NA give reference to their totem animal, but see it as a guide to self and not as the actual self. Shamans call upon the strenghts of certain animals and may take the form of that animal temporarily (through spiritual inhabitation), but they don't see themselves as that animal like many Spiritual therianthropes do...they simply see it as a spirit comeing to help using the shaman's dead/reborn body as a medium. I hope this kind of makes sense.....
Are we just concentrating on this aspect? Are we trying to
make it more important than it should be/blowing it out of proportion?
Not at all!! I'm not saying that NA don't have a strong kinship for their totem spirits, but it's not nearly as close the links Spiritual Lycanthropes have. We are certainly special.... we are different and our collective beliefs show that!