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Enduring Motives

The Archaeology of Tradition and Religion in Native America

Linea Sundstrom

Publication Year: 2012

Enduring Motives examines tradition and religious beliefs as they are expressed in landscape, the built environment, visual symbols, stories, and ritual.
Bringing together archaeologists and Native American experts, this volume focuses on long-lived religious traditions of the native peoples of the Americas and how religion codifies, justifies, and reinforces these traditions by placing a high value on continuity of beliefs and practice.
Using clues from the archaeological record to piece together the oldest religions of the Americas, Enduring Motives is organized into four parts. Part 1 creates continuity through structure, iconography, and sacred stories that correspond to culture-specific symbolic representations of the universe. Part 2 explores the encoding of tradition in place and object, or how people use objects to enliven tradition and pass it on to future generations. Part 3 examines stability and change and shows how traditions can evolve over time without losing their core cultural significance. The final part recognizes deep-time traditions through the evidence of ancient cosmology and religious tradition.
Spanning cultures as diverse as the Aztec, Plains Indians, Hopi, Mississippian, and Southwest Pueblo, Enduring Motives brings to light new insights on ancient religious beliefs, practices, methods, and techniques, which allow otherwise intangible facets of culture to be productively explored.
Wesley Bernardini / James S. Brown Jr. / Cheryl Claassen / John E. Clark / ArleneColman / Warren DeBoer /
Robert L. Hall /Kelley Hays-Gilpin / Alice Beck Kehoe /John E. Kelly / Stephen H. Lekson / ColinMcEwan /
John Norder / Jeffrey Quilter /Amy Roe / Peter G. Roe / Linea Sundstrom

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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pp. vii-viii

List of Figures

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pp. ix

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Introduction - Warren DeBoer and Linea Sundstrom

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pp. 1-12

This volume was born in puzzlement. The concept of tradition, a term we use in the sense of long-term cultural continuity, plays a fundamental role in archaeology. This use of tradition does not imply stasis, nor does it hinge on whether the tempo of change is gradual or rapid, but it does require a mode of transmission that results in detectable...

Part I. Creating Continuity through Structure, Iconography, and Sacred Stories

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1. Structure of the Mesoamerican Universe, from Aztec to Olmec - John E. Clark and Arlene Colman

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pp. 15-59

Our original intent in this essay, which proved impractical, was to explicate Mesoamerican cosmological beliefs known for Postclassic Mesoamericans and then adduce archaeological evidence of these beliefs for the earliest city dwellers of Mesoamerica, the Olmecs. In the Spanish-language literature the beliefs of interest are known...

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2. Will the Circle Be Unbroken? The Roots of Plains Indian Views of the Cosmos - Linea Sundstrom

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pp. 60-83

The indigenous religion of the northern Great Plains that non-N ative observers encountered in the nineteenth century was a complex mix of elements, most of which had parallels in northern (Algonquian) and southeastern (Siouan and Caddoan) Native cultures. While it may be impossible to reconstruct the points of origin...

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3. Of Iron Steamship Anacondas and Black Cayman Canoes: Lowland Mythology as a Rosetta Stone for Formative Iconography - Peter G. Roe and Amy Roe

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pp. 84-128

The overarching topics of this volume are the enduring themes that have guided Amerindian cultures over vast stretches of time, space, and societies, and the alterations those themes have undergone as the natural byproduct of continuous, and often catastrophic, cultural and environmental change. Because the western hemisphere...

Part II. Encoding Tradition in Place and Object

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4. The Staff God: Icon and Image in Andean Art - Jeffrey Quilter

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pp. 131-141

Many Andean scholars have seen the image of the Staff God as having great antiquity and representing a basic religious concept that has undergone various transformations while remaining essentially the same, an intriguing, compelling, and yet dubious proposition...

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5. On Being and Becoming: Ruminations on the Genesis, Evolution, and Maintenance of the Cerro Jaboncillo Ceremonial Center, Ecuador - Colin McEwan

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pp. 142-171

Throughout the Americas diverse ancient religious traditions have engendered collective acts of devotion and worship celebrated in carefully chosen landscape settings. Recognized routes and inherent temporal rhythms helped guide participants’ journeys...

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6. Hopi Clan Traditions and the Pedigree of Ceremonial Objects - Wesley Bernardini

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pp. 172-184

Hopi clan migration traditions have appealed to archaeologists because they include lists of named, identifiable archaeological sites, details that inspired early researchers like Jesse Walter Fewkes to try to trace contemporary Hopi clans directly back into the archaeological record (e.g., Fewkes 1900). Yet a disjuncture between the time spans...

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7. Remembering Emergence and Migration in the Southwest Pueblos - Kelley Hays-Gilpin

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pp. 185-198

Half a century ago, the culture area view of North American ethnology defined the Southwest Pueblos as communities who speak diverse languages but share worldview, a subsistence pattern based on maize agriculture, architectural styles, and certain material culture styles and technologies. The Uto-Aztecan– speaking Hopi are relatively...

Part III. Balancing Stability and Change

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8. Continuity and Discontinuity in Southwestern Religions - Stephen H. Lekson

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pp. 201-209

The Southwest is a poster child for continuity. The New Mexico Tourism Department touts the depth of the state’s history and prehistory, urging vacationers to stay a few days longer to take it all in. The Pueblo of Acoma claims to be the oldest continuously occupied village in the country (and so does Oraibi, over at Hopi)....

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9. The Importance of Being Specific: Theme and Trajectory in Mississippian Iconography - James Brown and John Kelly

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pp. 210-234

Arguably, one archaeological finding has enlivened the debate about Southeastern contacts with Mesoamerica and the Caribbean more than any other: the demonstration that earthwork construction was of great age, some 7,000 years old, in the Lower Mississippi Valley (Saunders et al. 1997). The realization that planned earthworks...

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10. Landscapes of Memory and Presence in the Canadian Shield - John Norder

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pp. 235-250

In the study of rock art sites in archaeology, a substantial portion of research has emphasized symbolic and iconographic understandings. In other words, research has typically revolved around the following question: What did the images placed at a rock art site mean to the people who created them (e.g., Figure 10.1)? In pursuing these issues...

Part IV. Recognizing Deep-Time Traditions

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11. Cave Rituals and Ritual Caves in the Eastern United States - Cheryl Claassen

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pp. 253-263

Cave use by Late Prehistoric peoples in the eastern United States for ritual or mortuary function is now well documented (e.g., Simek, Cressler et al. 2001; Simek, Frankenberg et al. 2001). The relatively recent discoveries of Archaic art in caves (Simek et al. 1998) and the Archaic mortuary caves of Ohio (Pedde and Prufer 2001) open a...

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12. Reopening the Midéwiwin - Warren DeBoer

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pp. 264-287

In Native North or South America (but excluding literate Mesoamerica), Brotherston’s charge in the epigraph above could be reduced to a mere definition. Obviously, there can be no prehistoric history if history is restricted to written documents rather than to the more generally conceived historein, “inquiry” of the Greeks, an...

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13. Resolving Contradictions as a Methodology for Investigating Maya Calendar History and Its Cosmological Associations - Robert L. Hall

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pp. 288-301

In a recent book Prudence Rice (2004:9) speaks of the “tyranny of the epigraphic record,” one of whose dangers is placing too much reliance upon surviving stone inscriptions to gain insights into some historical aspects of ancient Maya society. She is...

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Conclusion - Alice Beck Kehoe

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pp. 302-310

Religion—in the sense of belief, and in the sense of rituals—has been claimed to be the means of maintaining community and permitting individuals to carry on lives that seem coherent. Both Durkheim (1947 [1912]), founding the French tradition of cultural analyses...


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pp. 311-314


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pp. 315-337

E-ISBN-13: 9780817386214
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817357153

Page Count: 328
Publication Year: 2012