Yurok Indian Spirituality, 1850–1990
Publication Year: 2002
Published by: University of California Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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This book offers my present understandings of Yurok Indians and of theneighboring native peoples with whom the Yuroks continue to be richlyintertwined, culturally and historically. I write about them as they werebetween 1850, when the California gold rush erupted in their midst, and1991, when I last did formal anthropological research in northwestern Cal-...
Introduction and Note on Orthography
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The eleven chapters of this book came together over the past decade, al-though the idea of writing a book about the Yurok Indians goes back tomy first meetings with Yurok people, in 1971. The year before, I had metHarry Kellett Roberts, then living in Sonoma County, north of San Fran-cisco. From about 1912 until the mid-1930s, Harry had been the adoptive...
Part One: CONTEXTS
1. The Yurok Reservation
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I have a few more jewels but I haven’t dug them up yet. I did see another goldentreasure when I was out at Doctor Rock. There’s a kind of fungus there thatturns golden, and there were spider webs over it. The spider webs make all thedifference. When you get up early in the morning when it’s all covered with dew,then you see it: just a shining patch of gold under that sheet of cobwebs. Another...
2. Double Helix
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A friend thought her life was a mess and tried a little psychotherapy tostraighten it out. She went only once. “He didn’t have any stories!” sheexclaimed, indignantly. “How can anyone even live their own life if theyCaptain Spott of Rekwoy and Omen Hipur was an ambitious man of nomean talents, with the high self-regard of a real gentleman, numi pegrk:...
3. Native Authors
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In 1976 I returned to northwestern California to undertake my first for-mal field work as a graduate student of anthropology. Since I was there,now, as a professional-in-training, I thought it best to announce myselfformally. The Yurok Indians that were my first interest had no tribal coun-cil in the 1970s. I went instead to the Tri-county Development Agency in...
Part Two: TESTIMONY
4. Seeing with Their Own Eyes
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According to the (always slightly different) accounts of Yurok speakers inthe 1970s, every individual has a “purpose in life.” People are “born for areason.” After a child is six weeks in the womb (or ten), its “fire” or “spark”enters its “heart,” where it forms the individual’s “foundation,” which isThis purpose, a person’s “life” itself, is also her “spirit” (wewecek, we-...
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There is no single word in Yurok that can reasonably be translated as“power,” in the sense of a person’s acquired, spiritually based potentialto accomplish a desired end. What is today called “power” was formerlyan unspecified, generalized presence (cf. Kroeber, in Elmendorf 1960:522.2). My own understanding, gained through various elders, is that...
6. The GO-Road
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If I were a visitor from another planet, radioing home about earth, I wouldn’tcall Americans Americans. I would give them a name that told a lot about themIn 1958 A. L. Kroeber told Claude Lévi-Strauss that, several years earlierwhen he had last traveled to the Klamath River to see Yurok Indians, hevisited “one lone person who still speaks the native tongue, and who re-...
Part Three: UNDERSTANDINGS
7. The One Who Flies All around the World
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Wealth, like human lives, comes from wes?onah, “the sky”: “creation,” “theworld.” People today usually concur that dance regalia, especially, sim-ply “comes” to people who are “good,” although traditionally wealth wasa principal object of men’s sweathouse training, particularly packingsweathouse wood, and of elite women’s menstrual austerities (Buckley...
8. The World
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The Klamath River has perennially flooded, sometimes with devastatingeffects along its margins where villages have always been built. Winterrains loosen slides in the canyons, and tidal waves occasionally rise at sea,running inland. Earthquakes are not uncommon. Because of the massivechanges in the land that such events have brought, the archaeological...
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Essentialized, integrated cultures, like “the Yurok,” hypothesized by thesalvage ethnographers, were sui generis, “with discrete boundaries, not un-like species” (Biolsi 1997: 136). It was a model of differences. By the 1920s,these sorts of “billiard ball” cultures (Eric Wolf, in ibid.: 139) prevailedamong the later Boasians. Books like Ruth Benedict’s Patterns of Culture...
10. The Shaker Church
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The yearning for a unified community reemerged in a climate of dis-couragement and anomie on the lower Klamath in 1926, with the comingof the Indian Shaker Church and what seemed, then, to be the failure ofThe Indian Shaker Church originated on Puget Sound in 1882 and wasbrought into native northwestern California in 1926. Early scholars...
11. Jump Dance
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At Pecwan, in the ten days following September’s full moon, every otheryear men dance with beautiful regalia from morning to evening in the pitof a dismantled semi-subterranean plank house. The dancers representtwo complementary and competing “sides,” taking turns in the pit, andas each side dances, the deeply felt songs of the two lead singers who...
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Acknowledgments of Permissions
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Substantial portions of several chapters in Standing Ground first appeared else-Chapter 1 Encyclopedia of Native Americans in the Twentieth Century. NewChapter 2 Sergei Kan, ed. Strangers to Relatives: The Adoption and Namingof Anthropologists in Native North America. Lincoln: University of Ne-Chapter 5 Lowell John Bean and Sylvia Vane, eds. California Indian...
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Page Count: 337
Publication Year: 2002