Step by step, however, their lands were taken away. Some groups were removed to Oklahoma and other areas west; others were sent to reservations within their traditional homelands, where their descendants live today. Trickster stories, clan myths, and the culture hero cycle are important in the Northeast.
A trickster mink known for his sexual escapades and multiple marriages is found in cultures of the former. In those of the latter, the trickster is a rabbit who prolongs the life of various animals by teaching them how to deceive and fool their enemies. In emergence myths of the Southwest, the existence of the present population is explained by the emergence of inhabitants of one or more worlds from below the surface of the earth; in the Choctaw emergence myth of the Southeast, peoples emerged from the underworld at Nanih Waiya, a well-known mound near Philadelphia, Mississippi. Myths from across the continent tell of various contests between the local fauna.
The study of Native American mythology is an extremely ambitious project, not only in light of the accessible material, but also because its themes are numerous and extremely diverse. The myths and stories belong to the many indigenous peoples, peoples whose language, culture, and history are different and in some cases totally unrelated. Despite language differences, oral traditions passed freely from one culture to another; facilitated by trade and proximity, this exchange helped further shape both mythologies.
The anthologies in which myths and stories appear often lack sufficient background material to place them in cultural context for the reader. Native American myths were recorded by non-Natives and translated into English; because the translation process involves some interpretation, it does not result in a perfect replica of the original source. Even so, all humans create myths and stories from our need to interpret and explain our world, our history, and who we are. Our sources for published Native American myths are the mythmakers themselves, whose stories have been collected largely by various scholars, including anthropologists, historians, and linguists.
Interested lay people and Native Americans themselves have also assembled collections. They collected some myths east of the Great Lakes and documented them beginning in in The Jesuit Relations, annual reports and narratives sent to their superiors in France. Library of Congress Native American mythology.
The collection and translation of Native American texts reached its height between and , as scholars scrambled to record these texts before the people and their mythological heritage vanished. As Bierhorst , 2 noted, this time Introduction period, when Indian mythology was at its most vulnerable, is framed by the passage of General Allotment Act and the Indian Reorganization Act, the former a means of dismantling Indian communities, the latter an attempt to restore them, in many cases belatedly.
While much was preserved, we can only guess at the number of stories that were lost forever with the demise of languages and cultures following European contact, conquest, and colonization. Early significant publications of Native American oral literatures, some in their native languages, appeared in government documents and volumes issued by professional societies.
After anthropology was organized as a discipline and became part of the curricula in higher education, they were published in academic journals and monographic series of colleges and universities, in whose library collections they reside. Fortunately, both Native Americans and scholars have been calling attention to Native oral literatures in recent years, and much is now available from mainstream presses.
Novelist, activist, and collector of Okanagan myths and stories. A familiarity with Native American mythology therefore contributes greatly to respecting and understanding their cultures, as it provides insight into daily life and society and the collective experience of a tribe, past and present. Sometimes myths are the only remnants of a particular native culture, and scholars rely on them to supplement the historical record. The current interest in multiculturalism at the primary, secondary, and college levels has brought written literature of Native Americans to the attention of students as never before.
Because Native written literature is greatly indebted to the long-standing oral literature, a familiarity with the mythology that lies at the heart of every aspect of Native tradition and culture is advantageous to understanding the written literature. The Iroquois have possessed a viable material culture for several thousand years; both the archaeological record and a rich body of surviving folklore provide supporting evidence Erdoes , xii.
Some scientists have theorized that Paleo-Indians caused the extinction of megafauna through over hunting, while Indians attribute their demise, in almost every instance, to an act of the Great Spirit, an implication that some kind of natural event was behind their disappearance Deloria The role and importance of mythology in Native affairs has expanded in recent times, becoming a charter for cultural revival and a mechanism Native Americans have used to justify their rights to traditional lands, achieve economic parity, and repossess human remains and certain cultural items held by non-native cultural institutions and government agencies.
In , as the result of a suit pressed by the Gitksan, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized the Northwest Coast Bear Mother myth as evidence in support of their claim to roughly 22, square miles of land in British Columbia. Although the Gitksan did not actually secure rights to the land they sought, this case established that oral traditions must be taken into consideration in such cases. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, passed in , explicitly states that oral traditions may be used in support of repatriation of grave goods and human remains Bierhorst , — Though we have used the term mythology in this book, we would like to emphasize that there is no one Native American mythology, just as there is no single group of people called Native Americans.
It is more accurate and sensitive to recognize the distinctions between the mythologies of the various tribal groups, just as it is more accurate and sensitive to recognize distinctions between other aspects of their cultures. We would like to stress that much of the information about native origins in this introduction is based on theory and speculation, and dates are approximations. The archaeological record suggests multiple possibilities, so much remains controversial. It is important to note that many Native Americans have vigorously challenged the Bering Strait migration theory in part because it cannot be reconciled with any of their traditions or memories that have been transmitted from generation to generation by their ancestors.
See Deloria At minimum, the high counters estimate this population to be 20 million; some go as high as million. Most now estimate around 50 million, including about 5 million living north of Mexico. By , only about , Indians remained in present-day Canada and the United States. According to Taylor , 10 , native peoples spoke at least distinct languages in See also Leeming and Page , 4—14 for a discussion of this mythological pattern and the traditional culture areas. The Jesuit Relations, vital to recreating the history of the French in North America, contains a wealth of information about the aboriginal peoples with whom the French made contact, and the economic, social, political, demographic, and religious consequences of that contact.
See Miller , — for a summary of publication of the classic sources of Native American mythology. According to Viola F. Cordova, Western cultures have a tendency to assign a linear dimension to time, which allows it to be quantified and measured. Non-Westerners, on the other hand, view time as an immeasurable abstraction—time exists, but there is little notion of measured segments that may be highly anticipated and then are gone forever Cordova in Weaver , Events occur on a continuum—a timeline.
Students in social studies and history classes are taught to construct timelines to help them understand the relationship of events in time. Next to hash marks on a line that represents time, students pencil in important events, such as battles of the American Civil War or major world events.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, time began with the creation of the universe. By the volition of the Creator, the heavens, earth, night and day, the plants, animals, and finally human beings came into existence. Western science agrees that the universe had a sudden beginning. This theory states that the universe, and time, began billions of years ago with a great explosion. Experts in disciplines such as physics and astronomy support their theories with results from extensive studies. One of the most exciting outcomes of recent technological advances in astronomy is the ability of the Hubble Space Telescope and several earth-based telescopes to peer deep into the primordial past.
Due to the 33 34 Handbook of Native American Mythology great distances light or radio waves must travel, the farther from earth the telescopes look the older the galaxies are, thus enabling scientists to look back across time. Evidence of galaxies that are mind-boggling distances from earth is now being discovered, and scientists hope that they will soon be close to seeing the universe shortly after the Big Bang event.
A human life, too, can be depicted along a timeline, with the moment of conception at the beginning of the line and death at its terminus. The ancient Greeks observed natural phenomena and described the cyclical nature of time. Nature, they believed, consisted of opposing forces, such as night and day, winter and summer. The third time consisted of the phases of the moon. They had been away from home twelve moon times; thus it was established that twelve months would make a year.
Agriculture, too, is cyclical. The cycles of the seeding or sowing, watering especially where people depend on seasonal rains , growing, and then harvesting domestic plants are seen as sacred processes. Some cultures developed fertility rites to assure a plentiful supply of food; others offered special prayers of thanksgiving for the plants, the rain, and the sun that produced a good crop. Due to the cyclical nature of agriculture, many Native American groups held thanksgiving ceremonies throughout the year as each Time Navajo man sand painting.
Prayers offered at these and other important times acknowledge the Creator and give thanks for all that has been provided Bruchac , 79— Not only does time operate in a cyclical manner, Bruchac points out, but so does all of nature. This can be seen in the pattern of the seasons, the movement of the moon and sun, and even in the way birds build their nests. This extends to the entirety of nature; all living and nonliving things, as well as natural phenomena such as the wind and rain, have not only great importance, but also a vital connection with the rest of creation Bruchac , 10— Truly being part of the whole of nature, and not merely the master of it, has permeated the worldview of Native people across North America and guided their relationship to the land, to natural resources, and to each other.
They understood that an event happening right here, right now could be imbued with a sacredness that not only set the event apart from the mundane, but also set apart the time and the place where it occurred. In the remembering of the event, whether by telling and hearing oral narratives, or by participating in or viewing various ceremonies, people were able to transcend the present and become part of the sacred.
Oftentimes this process included going back to that holy spot. Another example of the melding of sacred time and space is described by anthropologist Trudy Griffin-Pierce in her study of Navajo sandpainting. The power of Navajo sandpainting is in the merging of time and space into a place where the present and the mythic past coexist, Griffin-Pierce writes.
Native American people believe that time is cyclical and dynamic, and that this cyclical time functions not only in the spiritual realm, but in the day-today existence of all living things. Many myths tell of sacred places. One such story relates how Raven created Nunivak Island from a piece of soil he had taken from a certain cape on the mainland.
He carried the soil on his back until he found the spot where he wanted the island. After dropping the soil in the ocean, he tied it down with a rope he had fashioned from roots. When he returned, he hauled the mountain onto the island. Stories of the Great Flood tell of people in canoes or rafts landing on the high mountains when the water started to subside. Rainier, the highest mountain in the area, is a frequently named location in these myths.
The great rivers of the Northwest are also featured in numerous myths. The rivers not only provided a means of transportation, but they were also the source of salmon, one of the main dietary staples of people in that region. Sweet Medicine, the Cheyenne hero, after being banished from his village, traveled to a sacred mountain. There he received instruction from a group of elders actually spirits who taught him about the Four Sacred Arrows and numerous other rules and ceremonies. He spent four years there learning all of these things, and then the Old Ones sent him home with the sacred arrow bundle.
He was welcomed back at his village and the people gladly accepted the new teachings. Sweet Medicine continued to live a very long life, but when the time drew near for him to die, the people carried him to the sacred mountain. They built a shelter for him at the base of the mountain and then withdrew a few miles away. These include the fact that until around the time of European contact, the written word was virtually unknown in North America.
Many groups used visual representations, painted or carved on rock, wood, or leather, that depicted series of events—wars or battles, meteorological occurrences, and other extraordinary happenings. These were cues to help remind a storyteller or history teller of key points in a narrative. The real story, however, was held in the memory of the one to whom it was entrusted.
Many oral histories can be tied to events that have happened within the memory of several generations. For example, a person might have known a great-grandparent who knew a soldier from the American Civil 37 38 Handbook of Native American Mythology War. A connection, albeit distant, could be felt to those events because of the stories the great-grandparent had heard and then repeated to him or her. But many mythological tales are so old that no one during historical recorded time remembers knowing anyone who was involved in or witnessed the events described.
A second difficulty related to assigning a chronology or temporal framework to the mythologies of Native North America is that of the diversity of people represented. There is not one body of mythology to consider, but many. However, there are common threads. We would caution our readers that while we have tended to use past tense in many of our descriptions and explanations, it is merely an editorial choice.
Western cultures give time a dimension not considered by many non-western people. The focus of the relationship of an instance in time is in regard to other instances. A question we must ask is: how do Native North Americans view time and especially mythological time? Free of the cultural constraints of western thought and not bound to a timeline, native people across North America have considered time, and the passing of it, as being part of a much larger concept.
Time is also viewed in relationship to space giving sacredness to locations where specific events took place. Through the cycles of nature, and indeed of human existence, the world and all that is in it are brought back to a spiritual center. The rhythmic cycles of these observances keep the people in touch with nature and with each other.
Passing on the knowledge of ceremonies, songs, dances, beliefs and values, and their language to the next generation is an important responsibility that many parents and elders take seriously. Time Mythological time is seen as being in the long, long ago, a time when the world was different than it is now.
Most Native American myths that speak of the beginning of the world start with either an emergence theme or an earth diver. In the emergence, people often pre-humans or animal people depart from an original world that is often located at a lower level. The beings must climb up to subsequent levels and eventually reach the level that is the present earth. Another widespread beginning-of-time myth features an earth diver. They eventually wish for land to live on and after a series of attempts to bring mud up from the bottom of the water, one of the earth divers is successful.
From that small bit of mud, a tiny island is formed. The island grows and grows, until it stretches farther than anyone can see. Plants are distributed across the land sometimes from seeds mixed in with the mud , and thus the land is prepared for the coming of humans. Hopi tradition states that there have been four worlds.
The survivors went to the second world. In time, this world also became exceedingly evil and was destroyed by the Creator. Here the survivors from the second world remained while it was destroyed by ice. The people lived happily in the third world for a time. But then they became evil and caused trouble. However, a few faithful people were able to escape in hollow reeds.
Spider Woman led them down the mountain to the fourth world. Versluis , 24— This is the one in which we live now. The four worlds comprise four separate but related time cycles, each ending with the destruction of the previous cycle. The earlier worlds were abandoned by the First People because of dissent among the inhabitants.
Myths that feature Raven abound across the far north and the northwest coast regions. He was a crafty, greedy, and frequently self-centered fellow whose adventures, or more often misadventures, centered on his pursuit of lustful desires. It was Raven who desired light and devised an elaborate plan that eventually netted him the prize. But in the process, he unleashed the stars, moon, and the sun, and they are now in the heavens for all to enjoy.
These beings were more like spirits or minor gods. Over time, however, Animal People eventually came to be. Later, after the earth was formed or reformed after a great flood or other cataclysmic event , many of the Animal People were changed into either real humans or real animals. They are still related, and the bond that formed when animals and humans were one is still important today.
A Miwok myth tells of a time long ago in which animals were like people. In this narrative, Falcon and Coyote decided to make humans, and Coyote pretended to be dead. The birds kept pecking deeper into his buttock until Coyote suddenly closed the opening and trapped the scavengers inside. Then Coyote and Falcon planted the feathers in the four directions.
Soon the crow feathers turned into people and the buzzard feathers transformed into chiefs. Coyote then pointed out to Falcon that the new people looked just like them, so they would have to become animals. Then all of the First People became the animals and birds that we have today.
Erdoes , Ethnographers and anthropologists have attempted to collect, analyze, and categorize the mythologies of numerous Native peoples. When the collection was published in , Curtin stated in his introduction that the myths outlined three epochs. Second came a time of catastrophic Time upheaval in which the natural order was overturned. Humans appeared in the third age. The mythological narratives served as a history of how the world began and informed the people about how their society should function Nabokov , Animals spoke the same language and behaved in similar ways to humans.
All life was connected in a sacred way. As time went on, the interaction with the sacred became less frequent and sacred time only intersected with the temporal during certain ceremonies, events, and rites of passage Grantham , 63— Thus the mythological age had passed, but mythological figures, such as giants and animals who talked and acted like humans, could still be found somewhere in the world. According to Boas, the fact that a narrative contained mythological characters was not what determined whether it was a myth.
Even though the mythical age is past, mythical beings and even mythical lands still exist somewhere in the present, and in these tales, mythical beings often interact with humans. Numerous myth stories tell of giant cannibals such as Dzonokwa who kidnapped children and carried them off into the woods.
Tricksters also exhibit human characteristics and at times are seen as actual humans with supernatural abilities, especially when they are also Transformers who go about changing the land and the people living in it. One such individual is Manabozho of the Northeast Woodlands. His footprints can be seen yet today. Numerous islands and lakes dot the landscape in testimony of his adventures and journeys throughout the land. Time has different meanings for different people. However, when considering the mythological literature of a culture, care must be taken to attempt to understand the appropriate cultural context.
When studying the mythology of Native North American people, notions of linear time and its related limitations must be set aside. A place where souls of the dead were taken. Suddenly the earth opened and they all fell down into the underworld region of Adlivun. The Sea Woman became very angry when humans broke any of her taboos. She would then hide game animals from the hunters and the people began to starve.
While in a ceremonial trance, the spirit of a shaman angakok traveled to Adlivun in order to appease her and win the release of the animals. The Central Eskimo. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, Seidelman, Harold, and James Turner. First published by Thames and Hudson. Then one day the wife became ill and died. Her husband decided to be buried with her. His parents tried to dissuade him, but to no avail. And so it was that the husband was buried next to his dead wife. The man could see the tracks his wife made as she traveled to the land of the dead and he followed her there to the west.
When he arrived, he entered a large lodge and saw an old man. The man explained that he loved his wife so much that he wanted to take her back home with him. The old man arranged a dance and warned the husband to hide and not let his wife see him. The people filed into the lodge and began dancing. After a while the man peeked out and saw his wife dancing, but she did not go near the old man. When he had gotten her inside the object, he closed the ends.
He gave it to the husband and warned him not to let her out, no matter what she said. They traveled back to where they were buried and leaped back into their bodies. The man could hear his mother weeping, and called out to her. This frightened the old woman, who ran home to get her husband. There they uncovered the bodies and found that their son was indeed alive. The people quickly erected a ceremonial hut. The man and woman went into the hut while oil was poured over hot stones.
The woman who had been dead cried out for a long time. Finally, she was no longer crying, and the people heard the man and his wife conversing. The man called for water to wash their faces and then the people opened the hut. The couple came out and the woman was alive. When she became ill and showed no signs of improvement, the man made plans to follow her spirit. He cut a hole in their wigwam beside where she slept. Then he went outside and sat next to the hole watching for her spirit to leave.
He gathered his belongings for the journey and followed her spirit. He traveled all day, and at night he came to a camp where he asked an old woman if she had seen his wife pass by. The man asked if she thought he would be able to catch up. So the man continued on his journey without stopping to rest. The next evening he came to another camp and found a woman who looked older than anyone he had ever seen previously. Again he asked if she had seen his wife. Perhaps she will have the answer.
He asked if she had seen his wife. When he arrived at a certain wigwam, he was to sit in a corner. The spirits would dance around him, and when his wife danced near him, he was to open the nut. This would bring her back to life. When she passed by, he was to close the nut. Then he was to leave the wigwam and return in the direction he came. She asked how he had fared. The man described what had happened, and the old woman asked to see the nut. The man thanked the old woman and in the morning proceeded on his way.
It took him a long time to reach his home, and when he did, he found that the people had all aged greatly in his absence. She asked for a drink of water. The old woman began to weep with joy that she would soon see her daughter again. The old people then became young again, looking as they did before the woman died. Overcome with grief, Orpheus traveled to Hades and succeeded in persuading Pluto, the king of the dead, to let her return with him to the land of the living.
There was a stipulation, however, and it required Orpheus to refrain from looking back at Eurydice while they traveled to the upper world. Unfortunately, Orpheus was unable to keep from looking at his wife, and she immediately was taken from him. The following Comanche narrative was recorded by Ake Hultkrantz during an interview with Dr. Ralph Linton. Linton in turn heard it during his work with the Comanche in There was a young man who loved his wife so much that when she died, he vowed to follow her.
He made preparations and rode off to the west. He traveled so long that all of his provisions and everything he had with him gave out, including his horse. Finally, he arrived on foot to the region of the dead. He was greeted by children skipping around him. He asked his wife to return with him. She was unable to decide because although she loved her husband, she was happy where she was. Finally, her father settled the issue. But as you travel east, you may not touch her until you get to the place where the buffalo are. Give her a buffalo kidney to eat and then she will become alive.
You must never strike her, for if you do, she will return to us. The husband killed a buffalo and gave a kidney to his wife to eat. She then became alive again and they happily returned to their village. Life went on well until autumn. One day as they lay together, the man wanted to pull the buffalo hide around himself and his wife. As he tugged on the robe, his hand slipped and struck his wife. Menomini Texts. Monograph Series, Publication no. Stockholm: Ethnographical Museum of Sweden, Mechling, W.
Malecite Tales. Memoir 49, Anthropological Series, no. Ottawa: Government Printing Bureau, There was a famine at Point Barrow. Everyone died except for a girl named Alarana and her brother. The siblings set off to find other people, but on the way they were surrounded and eaten by a pack of hungry wolves who were sometimes wolves and sometimes people. Then she laid walrus guts over all the bones and sang a magic song. Soon the bones began to move and the children came back to life as humans wearing clothes made from caribou skins. Eventually the brother and sister traveled inland.
They came upon a herd of caribou and were surprised they could approach it without startling it. As the siblings walked among the caribou, they discovered that they had turned into caribou. During the following days, the brother and sister learned to live like caribou. They scraped snow from the ground to uncover moss. However, for Alarana and her brother, the moss seemed to taste like human food such as guts and whale skin.
They also learned to graze while keeping watch for hunters and other enemies of the caribou. Deities, Themes, and Concepts When it came time for hunters to set traps for the caribou, Alarana and her brother were able to avoid being caught because they remembered how the traps worked. There they were welcomed and the hunters told about the poor results of their expedition. But she told the hunters that there was one condition.
One special caribou was to be saved for her; no one else could have it. However, as it sometimes happens, there was a greedy hunter in the group who claimed the animal for himself. So Alarana and her brother donned their coats and returned to the forest as caribou. The hunters from that camp never again had good fortune when hunting caribou. Dictionary of Native American Mythology. Santa Barbara, Calif.
Rasmussen, Knud. Knud Rasmussen. Report of the Fifth Thule Expedition, vol. Angakoks angakut were most often men; however, a woman could also become an angakok. How a person became an angakok depended on the situation. Others were called through strange dreams or visions.
During the training period, the novice learned not only the oral traditions and ceremonies that would need to be performed, but also the special language of the angakoks. This language was comprised of archaic words and expressions handed down over the ages by angakoks across the Arctic. These spirits would be visible only to the angakok. Angakoks lived as their neighbors did until intervention with the spiritual world was needed.
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Then they would be called upon to perform ceremonies to cure the sick or to discover the cause of misfortunes such as accidents, bad 47 48 Handbook of Native American Mythology weather, or unsuccessful hunting expeditions. Payment was expected for services rendered to an individual or a family, but ceremonies for the common good of the village or other group seem to have been performed without charge. Often illnesses or difficulties resulted from a taboo being broken.
The angakok would hold a ceremony in which his familiar spirits would assist him to travel outside of his body to far-off places where he would learn the cause of the problem and how to rectify the situation. Once he returned to his body, the angakok would question the individual or other persons in the household. The general belief was that the angakok knew who was at fault, so those he questioned were obliged to answer him truthfully.
At times only a confession was needed, and then the angakok would announce that all would be Eskimo medicine man and sick boy. Library of well. At other times, however, he Congress would declare that certain acts of penance must be performed, ranging from cleaning the urine pots before dawn to swapping wives. Sedna, the Sea Woman, became angry with humans when they broke her taboos. He also pleaded some say fought with Sedna to let the animals return to the hunters so the people would not starve.
The angakok would assure Sedna that the people were sorry and would promise that from now on they would keep all of her taboos. Rink, Hinrich. Spencer, Robert F. New York: Dover Publications, Weyer, Edward Moffat. The Eskimos: Their Environment and Folkways. Hamden, Conn. First published by Yale University Press. The spider is a culture hero that appears often in most Native American mythology but is otherwise absent from Southeastern stories.
The animals could see the smoke but could not reach the tree, because it grew on an island. Various birds volunteered to fly to the tree and bring back the fire. The little Screech Owl went next, but as he was looking down inside the tree, a blast of hot air nearly burned out his eyes. The Hoot Owl and Horned Owl tried next, but the smoke from the now fiercely burning fire nearly blinded them, and ashes borne by the wind made white rings around their eyes that they could not rub away.
She spun a small bowl, a tusti bowl, and fastened it to her back. The Southeastern Indians. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, First published Mooney, James. Journey to Sunrise: Myths and Legends of the Cherokee. Claremore, Okla. Children were warned to hide when the aurora was active and adults thought it caused head and neck pain.
Some groups believed that the lights were caused by spirits holding torches as they searched for the souls of those who recently died. These spirits also communicated with humans by making whistling sounds and the humans whispered back with messages for the dead. It was the kiguruyat coming for them.
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The older brother told the younger one to cover his face and lie down in the snow. When the kiguruyat finally left, the boys crawled to a shelter under a willow. The younger brother was frightened and wanted to go home. Cover your mouth and breathe into your parka. References and further reading: Seidelman, Harold, and James Turner. Tales of Ticasuk: Eskimo Legends and Stories. Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, A narrative in the Curtin and Hewitt collection tells of Bean Woman. Long, long ago there was a certain village located near a river.
The people heard singing coming from downstream. I have never had buds nor bark for food. Let him come and ask me. She could eat as many nuts as she wished. But, Bean Woman rejected his offer as well. Marry me. Let him ask me. Seneca Fiction, Legends, and Myths.
In some stories, he is friendly and intelligent. He appears as a culture hero, friend, master of animals, and chief of the underworld. He has been known to give power and heal. Bear taught the Oneida gentleness and strength, but at times he was malicious and perverse. Ceremonies and rituals centering on the bear were practiced among a variety of cultures, particularly the Algonquians; the bear was revered in hunting practices, for example.
In the following story of the Cree, Bear is benevolent. A bear found a boy in the woods and cared for him for several years as though they were father and son. During the summers, the bear would hunt, and together he and the boy would gather blueberries in the autumn.
They would take their food to where they planned to spend the winter. His song was so powerful and strong, the bear was unable to oppose the father with his own song, because he forgot his own song and stopped singing. The father started walking directly to where the bear and the child were staying. The bear tried to lead him off his path by throwing a porcupine out of his den, but the man kept walking straight.
Next, the bear threw out a beaver. Then, he threw out a partridge, but the man still kept walking. The bear next tried to use his magic to defeat the man. He lay on his back with all four legs in the air, and an object came hurling out of the sky, causing a huge storm. But the father still kept coming toward the bear. He told the boy to keep it wrapped up and hanging in his tent, above where he always sat. He said that if the boy wanted to hunt bears, he should climb to get a good view of his surroundings and look for rising smoke.
The Man dressed in a full-body bear costume, The bear came outside and was killed. The boy eventually got married and was an extremely successful bear hunter. His hunting group was able to live almost entirely on bear meat. This hunting group was visited by another. One day, while the hero was off hunting, one of the women of the second hunting group entered his tent in search of his source of power. There she found the package, and started to unwrap it. Immediately, the hero realized what was happening, and he returned to camp. He entered his tent and asked for the culprit.
The woman confessed that it was her. The leg instantly fell down, and both he and the leg disappeared underground without a trace. It was said that he had become a bear. Casagrande, Ernestine Friedl, and Robert E. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, Rockwell, David B. Lanham, Md. Schaeffer, Claude E. Bear Ceremonialism of the Kutenai Indians. Studies in Plains Anthropology and History, no. Washington, D. Once there was a blind boy whose mother was very cruel to him. Even though he helped kill a polar bear that wandered by, his mother would not let him have any of it to eat.
He could smell meat cooking, but his mother denied it. Sometime later, when the boy was outside, a large loon carried him off to its nest on the edge of a cliff. The loon then dove into the water with the boy. His vision was so good that he could see far in the distance to where his mother was.
When he returned to his home, his mother realized that she must be careful and from then on she treated him more kindly. One day the mother and son were hunting narwhal. The mother held the end of the harpoon rope by tying it around her waist, but she feared that a large narwhal would drag her into the sea.
So she asked her son to aim for only the small ones. This he did, and they soon were feasting on the blubber. Another time they saw a large narwhal and a smaller one. The mother again asked her son to aim for the smaller narwhal, as she still feared being pulled into the sea. However, the boy aimed at the large narwhal and his spear struck deep.
The narwhal struggled to get free and pulled away from shore. It was too strong and the mother was dragged into the water. She yelled for the boy to toss her a knife so she could free herself, but he refused, and the cruel woman was drowned. Deities, Themes, and Concepts Then the woman became a narwhal herself. Her hair, which was worn in a twisted knot on top of her head, became a tusk. From then on, narwhals have had twisted tusks. Nungak, Zebedee, and Eugene Arima. Inuit Stories: Povungnituk. Long ago, an old man discovered some buffalo tracks and followed them until they stopped, where he came upon a large clot of blood.
Since game was scarce and he and his wife were hungry, he wrapped it up and brought it home. The man reached into the kettle and pulled out a baby boy, who had somehow formed from the blood clot. The old couple named the boy Blood Clot and raised him as their son. Eventually, Blood Clot learned to hunt game and birds. His father proudly noted his ability to track and kill a different kind of animal every time he went out: a cottontail, then a badger, a deer, an elk, a mountain goat, a mountain lion, an otter, a beaver.
Now they had plenty of food. One day, Blood Clot told the old man and his wife that he wanted to visit a village where many people lived. He promised to hunt for them one last time, day and night, before he left, so they would have plenty of food. Blood Clot instructed them to tie up their tent, put rocks on the edges to weigh them down, and fasten the door securely so the wind would not carry it away. He warned his mother and father that the wind would be strong, but they should not be afraid, and they should stay inside until he called them to come out.
Blood Clot hunted all night while they slept. When daylight arrived, he called his mother and father out of the tent. Upon opening the door, they saw dead buffalo lying all over on the ground. He instructed them to dry the meat and hides, and asked his mother to make him a lunch before he left. His parents cried and asked him to someday return.
The chief asked him where he came from and which tribe he belonged to. Blood Clot told him he did not know. The chief then stepped outside and invited his people to come and meet their visitor. The people asked Blood Clot if he belonged to various tribes— Deer, Elk, Otters, Beavers, and others—but he told them he thought not. Blood Clot thought about this carefully and agreed. On the eve of the wedding, Blood Clot asked his father-in-law to bring him an arrow, which he did.
He told him to have all the tipis fastened securely and warn the people to stay indoors, because a great storm was coming. The entire village was invited to partake of a great feast. As the party was butchering its kill, another herd of buffalo thundered past. Forever after, he ran with the buffalo. American Indian Myths and Legends. New York: Pantheon Books, Blue Jay is sometimes portrayed as a trickster character.
What follows is part of a series of tales involving Blue Jay and his sister Ioi. One night the ghosts decided to buy a wife and traveled to the village where Blue Jay and Ioi lived. They left a dowry of dentalia for her parents and then disappeared with her. After a year had passed, Blue Jay wished to see his sister again. In that village he found that all the houses were full of bones. There was even a pile of bones near his sister that she introduced to him as his brother-in-law. However, when Blue Jay joined in the song the ghosts were singing, he found that the boy had become a pile of bones.
A little while later, the boy was sitting in the back of the canoe again. Every once in awhile, Blue Jay would talk loudly, just to see the boy fall to a pile of bones again. The boy told him to dip his net in, but when Blue Jay pulled his net out, it only contained twigs and leaves, so he threw them back into the water. A few leaves fell into the canoe, so the boy gathered them up. Blue Jay thought she was lying again. However, his sister went down to the beach and brought back two salmon she found in the bottom of the canoe.
On the way back home, Blue Jay delighted in shouting several times just to make the ghost people turn into piles of bones. His sister met them on the beach and helped carry the salmon back to her house. On the following night, Blue Jay heard someone say that a whale had been found. His sister gave him a knife and urged him to hurry down to the beach. When he got there, all he saw was a big log. In a while the people were back up and started peeling bark off the log. He threw them on the ground and then went inside to tell her that it was only a log on the beach.
On his way he met someone carrying bark up the path. Blue Jay shouted at him and he fell into a pile of bones. Blue Jay picked up the bark and carried it home. He did this several times more and was able to get a lot of whale meat for his sister. He went into houses and changed the bones around. The next day, Blue Jay put the heads back with the right bones, but switched their legs around. The old man had the short legs and the child had the long legs.
On his way, he came to a prairie that was ablaze, and Blue Jay burned to death. Then he went back to the land of the ghosts. Blue Jay thought the canoe was beautiful, but Ioi reminded him that he used to complain that it was full of holes and covered with moss. He thought she was lying to him. When they came to the village, the people were playing games and singing. Blue Jay shouted at them, trying to get them to fall into piles of bones, but the people just laughed at him.
And then he became quiet. Grinnell, George Bird. Reprint, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, Spence, Lewis. The Myths of the North American Indians. New York: Gramercy Books, First published by G. Thompson, Stith.
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Tales of the North American Indians. Reprint, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, Coyote was traveling north when he saw an old buffalo skeleton and relieved himself on the skull. A short time later he heard a great noise, and when he looked back there was the old buffalo bull charging him. Coyote ran to a nearby boulder, but the buffalo chased him around and around.
Then Coyote had an idea. He told the old buffalo that if he promised not to hurt him, Coyote would make his horns sharp again. Buffalo rammed a log with his horns and gave it a toss. The new horns worked so well that Buffalo declared to Coyote that they were now friends. Buffalo asked Coyote to accompany him back to his herd. Buffalo attacked the younger bull and killed him. After that you may do what you want. Coyote assumed she had returned to her own people, so he went back. Buffalo was angry that Coyote did not obey him, but since they were friends, he let Coyote take his wife again.
But before they arrived at his home, Coyote was getting hungry. He decided to kill his wife and eat her. Coyote told her to go one way up a ravine and he would go the other so he could hunt.
However, he ran around the hill and was at the top before his wife climbed that far. Coyote shot and killed her. Then he cut her up and spread out her hide to dry. Before he got around to enjoying any of the meat, he decided he had to defecate. But, he could not have a movement and was seized with pains and unable to get up. About that time, Magpie came and sat on the carcass, and then other birds and animals came as well.
This period saw the construction in adobe of large complexes of pyramid platforms, plazas, and ramps. These date to around — B. Despite their impressive scale, the function and form of these buildings resemble more closely temple cult shrines rather than urbanized centers that were typical of later Andean settlements. Some features found with later Andean architectural layout can be identified such as U-shaped structures, interior niches, large plazas for communal gathering, and, conversely, high walls and narrow entrances that would have restricted access.
The Pre-Ceramic Period cultures on the coast provide the earliest surviving Andean textiles. The extremely dry conditions of the coastal desert allowed the preservation of fiber material. These textiles reveal invaluable information. Andeans did not evolve a pictorial or syllabic writing system like the cultures of ancient Egypt, China, or Mesoamerica, so we do not know the mythical stories 7 8 Handbook of Inca Mythology that were told before the arrival of the Spaniards.
Consequently, we rely on the iconography depicted on cloth as well as ceramic, metal, stone, and plaster to provide a gateway into their cosmology or worldview. During the PreCeramic Period, we see for the first time mythic themes like transformation and multiple readings. The north coast site of Huaca Prieta revealed a huge number of textiles that depict composite creatures. In the highlands, the temple compounds at Kotosh include two examples of crossed hands right over left that are carved below two interior adobe wall niches.
Perhaps this expressed a basic form of duality—another concept with a long tradition in the Andean world. Around B. In terms of architecture, the U-shaped structures become even more prominent on the coast and extend into the highlands. In the highlands there is a particular emphasis on relatively small, sunken rectangular and circular plazas. Much of the visual imagery rendered in adobe, clay, and stone reveals familiar themes running through later Andean iconographic tradition.
These show deceased individuals, many having been dismembered, while other figures wear hats and hold objects. The individuals appear to be in a procession and perhaps reflect symbolic ideas about the afterlife rather than the record of an actual gruesome battle see Stone-Miller , 27— On the coast at sites like Garagay and Moxeke, the theme of human-animal transformation is found in images of insects with human heads and what is possibly a shaman in hallucinogenic transformation.
At Huaca de los Reyes, a huge adobe sculptured head has a wide nose, pendant irises, and a fanged mouth. This style disseminated to regions as far as the south coast of Peru. Archaeologists subsequently recognized this development as a period of cultural unity and termed this the First or Early Horizon. The term Horizon is also applied to two later periods in Andean cultural history. These are periods of broad continuity characterized by central or state control over large regions as well as the dissemination of iconographic and ceramic styles and accompanying religious ideas.
Horizons are interspersed by intervening or intermediate periods that witnessed the return to regional art styles and the collapse of state systems. The application of Horizons can define only broad periods of Introduction Andean culture. In reality many areas of the Andes were affected in different ways at different times by the development or decline of state apparatus.
The success of the site is based partly on its location. It could exert control over two of a handful of intermontane passes through the Andes and was thus well positioned to mediate the control of people and goods from both the tropical lowlands to the east and the coastal cultures to the west. The first or old temple complex evolved through a number of building phases beginning around B. The complex was based around a five-meter-high bladelike stone shaft that functioned as an oracle.
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The temple was substantially remodeled around B. Archaeologists have named some of the temple rooms after the exotic goods from the Pacific littoral and the tropical lowlands. During this period, the most successful culture on the north coast of Peru was the Moche or Mochica, which divided into two distinctive polities. The southern base in the Moche Valley is dominated by the huge adobe pyramids of the sun and moon, and to the north in the Lambayeque Valley is another site, Pampa Grande.
These large urban centers and their infrastructures, which included extensive hydraulic projects, exerted control over many coastal river valleys. Moche society reveals a greater degree of social hierarchy than previously existed. The level of organization approached that of state-level activities. The Moche are renowned for their craftsmanship in precious metals and ceramics. Moche culture flourished until adversely affected by environmental disaster around the start of the eighth century.
Subsequently, the Moche began to follow more closely the ceramic styles and iconographic tradition of highland culture. In fact, it seems that the Moche were subject to a degree of control from the highland Wari culture, although as with other north coast peoples the Moche are thought to derive much of their cultural tradition from Ecuador and Colombia rather than the south of Peru. Objects from as far as Panama have been found in the north of Peru see Bawden ; Pillsbury For the Early Intermediate Period on the south coast, two cultures in particular—Paracas and Nazca—stand out.
These mummy bundles were Introduction arranged in the fetal position and located in the desert sands in bottleneck tombs known as the Cavernas type and a square-chamber Necropolis type. In terms of iconography, Nazca imagery initially developed from the cultural tradition of Paracas. For instance, the wide-eyed Paracas Oculate Being was transformed into the Nazca killer whale. The Nazcans are perhaps best known for the many fauna and animals and thousands of straight lines etched out on the desert pampa. These geoglyphs probably retained a ritual function designed to connect Nazcans with the distant mountain gods that controlled the flow of water, the essential natural agent in such a harsh environment Aveni Like the Moche, the later phases of Nazca style, from around A.
For south coast cultures, there is less evidence for large-scale urban centers. Popular cult shrines were located at Ica and Cahuachi and farther up the coast at Pachacamac, just south of present-day Lima. The first evidence of state-level administration appears with the next stage of cultural unification that constitutes the Middle Horizon ca. This period is associated with two dominant cultures: the Wari, based in a large city of the same name spelled Huari in the south-central Peruvian highlands close to present-day Huamanga or Ayacucho. The other dominant center was the city of Tiahuanaco, located in what is now Bolivia, not far from the southern shores of Lake Titicaca.
Tiahuanaco had already begun to flourish during the Early Intermediate Period. The impressive civic ceremonial center with its stone monoliths and sunken plazas that attract tourists today also appealed to the Incas, who utilized stonemasons from this region for the building of imperial Cuzco Kolata Some narratives of Inca creation believed Tiahuanaco stone monuments represented a race of giants from a previous world age. The Wari in particular were more likely to have represented a state with provincial administration centers carved out far from its heartland. Wari infrastructure such as roads and way stations were later utilized and improved upon by the Incas see Isbell and McEwan In contrast, Tiahuanaco was more a cult center that would have drawn pilgrims from long distances.
The most famous image of this deity can be seen at Tiahuanaco, carved out above the Portal of the Sun, flanked by winged attendants. The identification of the principal figure with the sun or the creator deity of the Incas called Viracocha, or the Titicaca lightning deity, Tunupa, can only be assumed. A further period of regional diversity or fragmentation is represented by the Late Intermediate Period, which spanned the collapse of the Wari state system 11 12 Handbook of Inca Mythology and the decline of Tiahuanaco culture from around A.
This period was described to Spanish chroniclers as a time of intense warfare among competing ethnic groups who were led by Sinchi, strong and warlike leaders. Archaeology confirms this period of hostility, with many human settlements relocated to hilltop fortifications, known as pucara. This break in Middle Horizon unity is evident not only in the dissolution of state systems but also in terms of ceramic style and iconography. Some sites, like the coastal cult shrine of Pachacamac, did continue to flourish throughout the Late Intermediate Period and into the Late Horizon.
Many other areas experienced a break and transition the cause of which is not yet well understood. On the north coast of Peru, this break is found in the Moche Valley where the old center of the southern Moche, with its dominating adobe pyramids, had been abandoned and another urban settlement on the opposite side of the river was growing. The new focus was called Chan Chan and evolved into a huge urban sprawl that was the capital of the Chimu or Chimor Kingdom.
Before subjugation by the Incas, the Chimu achieved a state-level administration that controlled many coastal river valleys as far south as Lima. Chan Chan was located so close to a gradually uplifting seashore that its inhabitants faced a steadily deteriorating fresh water supply. Ever deeper water wells were sunk and considerable expense was invested in a huge multivalley network of aqueducts to bring in fresh water.
Tectonic uplift meant this system may never have actually brought water to the urban center.
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The high-walled imperial palace compounds that limited access to the Chimu elite contained Ushaped administrative units, royal burial platforms, and gardens. As with their Moche predecessors, Chimu iconography indicates the existence of social classes. Chimu imagery also concentrates on the natural world of animals, birds, and fish. In Chan Chan, the adobe walls included repetitive friezes of marine life and also the amaru, the Andean double-headed serpent dragon see Moseley and Day Formation, Expansion, and Organization of the Inca State The Incas were the dominant group in the Andes when the Spanish conquistadors arrived on the north coast of Peru.
The geographical limits of Inca control extended from their highland base, Cuzco 3, meters , in south-central Peru, to incorporate most of the coastal strip and highlands of western South America. The Inca Empire stretched north to the border between present-day Ecuador and Colombia.
The expanse of the Inca state stretched north to south about 5, kilometers and dwarfed any attempt at state control that had previously existed in the Andes. Like other Andean peoples, the Incas retained myth-histories that explained their origins. In general, the Spanish chroniclers were told that the first Inca, called Manco Capac, had come from the south of Cuzco and that ten rulers succeeded him, up to and including the last independent Inca, Huayna Capac.
The earliest Incas are described as both feuding with neighboring groups and intermarrying in order to forge alliances. Not until the reign of the ninth Inca, Pachacuti, were the foundations laid for the rapid expansion of territorial control. According to the Spanish chroniclers, the eighth Inca, Viracocha, and his eldest son, Urco, abdicated their duties in the face of the advancing Chancas, a rival macroethnic group. With a historic victory over the Chancas, the young prince Pachacuti Inca overhauled all facets of Inca government and religion, including the reallocation of land and people in and around Cuzco.
The success over the Chancas appears to have been a catalyst for Pachacuti and his two successors, Tupa Inca Yupanqui and Huayna Capac, who quickly expanded Inca control to proportions never before experienced in the Andes. The chroniclers tell us that the Incas subdued the powerful chieftains Lupaca and Colla around Lake Titicaca and that invading armies arrived on the north coast in the s to subjugate the Chimu Kingdom.
It would appear that the Incas were impressed with the sumptuous wealth of the north coast elite. They removed Chimu lords to Cuzco and also local gold- and silversmiths. In the mid- to late s, the first Spanish forays to the north coast of Peru seemed to have introduced European diseases. As a result of this contact, the ruling Inca, Huayna Capac, and possibly a designated heir both died. The unexpected death of the Inca precipitated the conflict between the half brothers Atahualpa and Huascar.
They were backed by two factions that fought a bloody civil war for the tassel, the Inca ensign of sovereignty see Rostworowski , — The archaeological record of Inca state-ware ceramics and the imposition of Inca administration centers tends to confirm a rapid expansion, although recently archaeologists have suggested a slightly longer time span. For the history of the earlier rulers and the real origins of the Incas, there remains more conjecture. In part, this is due to the gap in the archaeological record of Cuzco prior to the Incas, for we do not know what is buried under the Inca foundations.
Cuzco has been continually inhabited from Inca times to the present, and many of the original Inca structures provide the physical founda- 13 14 Handbook of Inca Mythology tions for colonial and modern buildings. Archaeologists today tend to base their arguments on the development of ceramic style. Currently, it is thought that Cuzco evolved into an important regional center throughout the Late Intermediate Period Bauer However, there can be no certainty as to when the early Incas ruled in Cuzco, or coexisted with other groups, or even whether they inhabited Cuzco at all.
In Cuzco, there is no architectural style identified with individual Incas before the reign of Pachacuti Inca. From Cuzco, the Incas divided their empire into four suyus regions that formed the Tahua-ntin-suyu four-united-parts or the four parts together. This was made up of the Anti sector, which covered the eastern Andean slopes and tropical lowlands; the Colla, which extended southeast to the Titicaca region and beyond; the Cunti, which stretched southwest to the coast; and the Chincha, which covered most of the territory north and west toward the equator.
The last three suyus were named after powerful rivals to the Incas, and the recent new Inca partition of the Andean world appeared to cut across older regional divisions of the Collasuyu. These four suyus converged on the Temple of the Sun in the Coricancha gold enclosure , the most sacred precinct in Cuzco. The immediate fourfold division of space around Cuzco was a sacred landscape full of shrines that fanned out along conceptual lines called ceques.
It is interesting and little known that the word Tahuantinsuyu only seems to appear in later colonial sources. It is possible that Tahuantinsuyu was never a word used by the Incas. Steele suggests that this may have been a term coined by Titu Cusi Yupanqui  , the leader of the Inca resistance in Vilcabamba. Alternatively, the term may have been given in response to the Spanish magistrate Polo de Ondegardo, whose inquiries located the system of ceque shrines around Cuzco So perhaps the term four parts united best applied to the place where the suyus were most strongly united: Cuzco and its immediate environs.
In Cuzco, the ruling Inca was accompanied by a principal wife and secondary wives. The maternal side of the family in particular appears to have played an important if not dominant role for the Inca process of succession. In addition to the ruler, the Inca elite were formed into a number of royal ayllus that the Incas termed panacas, which were divided across two moieties.
According to the chroniclers, each panaca represented a kin-based group or corporation that cared for the mummy of the deceased Inca. Thus, in theory, a new panaca formed after the death of each Inca. Further down the social ladder, a category known as Incas-by-privilege that were groups allied to the Incas close to Cuzco enjoyed certain benefits.
Under the last three Inca rulers, the architectural layout of Cuzco took shape. It is a generally rectangular form tapering toward the confluence of two Introduction 15 streams. Today, the imprint of Inca Cuzco permeates through colonial and modern structures. It is possible to visualize the trapezoidal dual Inca plaza, and visitors can access the sacred temples within the Coricancha.
On the heights above this ceremonial core, tourists climb among the ruins of Sacsahuaman with its enormous cyclopean stone blocks. The central urban core of Cuzco, between two streams, is relatively small, and successive Incas constructed private estates out of Cuzco.
The popular tourist attractions of Ollantaytambo, Pisac, and Machu Picchu are all thought to be part of the spectacular cliff-top building program of Pachacuti Inca see Niles ; Protzen Inca subjugation was achieved in a variety of ways. This could involve coercion and warfare, but more frequently relied on the traditional Andean practice of reciprocity. Inca expansion was facilitated considerably by the foundations already in place from earlier attempts at state-level control during the Middle Horizon.
The Wari and Tiahuanaco had exerted control over a wide area, including the Cuzco region. The Incas reused and updated these preexisting administrative centers, roads, and way stations. Where no state institutions existed, the Incas created them from scratch, such as the administrative center at Huanuco in the northcentral highlands see Hyslop ; Morris and Thompson Other aspects of Inca imperial strategy were also derived from longstanding Andean tradition. Inca-appointed provincial governors called to- A street vendor pushes his cart up Calle Loreto toward coyrikoq liaised with local curacas, the main plaza of the city of Cuzco.
Convent of Santa Catalina. Photo courtesy of The produce of this arrangement, Catherine J. Allen 16 Handbook of Inca Mythology stored in collcas storehouses , was retained and administered by the state in the name of the sun, the moon, or individual Incas. In return for providing local labor, the curaca would receive a reciprocal payment that could be in the form of luxury possessions such as textiles.
Thus this arrangement was not one-sided and in theory the process necessitated negotiation. Rostworowski suggests that the expansion of the Inca state coincided with the increase in the number of curacas that needed to be satisfied , 36— To meet the growing demand, later Incas needed to increase the lands that personally belonged to them. The Incas enforced the removal of both people and sacred objects to the capital. This included skilled craftsmen and also the sons of local lords who could be trained to fill lower positions in Inca bureaucracy and would ensure the loyalty of their natal ethnic group.
This practice existed before the Incas and was continued by Andean communities into the colonial period. In addition, the Incas selected retainers called yanacona, who occupied a variety of positions in society. Rostworowski has discovered some cases of yana who were appointed by the Incas as local-level lords.
She suggests that yana, as loyal individuals without direct ties to the native population, would not have had the recourse to ask for reciprocal benefits from the Inca state , — The acllas were located in special buildings known as acllahuasi aclla houses , found in many Inca administrative centers. In Cuzco, the acllahuasi became the Convent of Santa Catalina.
These servile women were removed permanently from their natal homeland and after the Spanish conquest were discouraged from returning by their own community. This also included their offspring. Patterson suggests that this Inca strategy effectively controlled the productive and reproductive capacities of ethnic groups The most radical program of resettlement was reserved for colonists known as mitmaq. Whole communities of men, women, and children, including their curaca leader, were forcibly resettled in regions far from their homeland.
For the Incas, the mitmaq could be loyal groups placed in hostile frontier areas. Conversely, disloyal groups could be deported as punishment. Mitmaq could also be moved onto land that was previously unproductive. In particular, the Incas were keen to increase production from coca-producing regions. Under Tupa Introduction 17 The Spanish conquistadors mistakenly thought that Sacsahuaman with its huge polygonal stone blocks was a fortress that overlooked and guarded the Inca capital of Cuzco.
Inca, Peru, — C. Photo courtesy of Paul Steele Inca Yupanqui and his son Huayna Capac, many thousands of people from different ethnic groups were resettled to the valley of Cochabamba in present-day Bolivia. They became loyal servants to the Inca and were granted the status of Incas-by-privilege. The administration of the Inca Empire was organized into a hierarchy of decimal units ranging up to 40, that was theoretically monitored by a regular census. The census recorded a number of age groups that classified the type of work men and women were expected to undertake.
For instance, a male individual could be expected to serve in the Inca army between the ages of twenty-five and fifty.
Bicchu in english
To store information like census records, the Incas used the quipu, knotted colored strings suspended from a central cord. One category of official, runa-quipu-camayoc people-quipu-specialist , appears to have been given the task of storing population census data. The Inca Empire covered a huge area with numerous ethnic groups that constituted the hatun-runa great populace , all of whom had their own languages, cult idols, and local myth-histories. The rapid expansionist policies under the later Incas probably undermined stability and cohesion of a state that never represented national unity.
In fact a genuine policy of integration into one nationstate was never attempted by the Incas. Huayna Capac spent much of his time at the northern base of Tumipampa in Ecuador. His two sons, the half brothers Atahualpa and Huascar, disputed the succession from two bases that were far apart, Cuzco and Ecuador. The dispute had favored one of these factions when the Spanish conquistadors came face-to-face with the Inca Atahualpa in Cajamarca in Concepts of Creation and Myths of Origins Viracocha, the Creator In terms of earthly and celestial creation, the Incas described the deity known as Viracocha.
This deity was believed to have emerged from Lake Titicaca and fashioned a generation of people who were giants that lived in a world lit only by moonlight. Viracocha destroyed this first people and created the sun and a second generation of humans who were the ancestors of the Incas and all people who now populate the earth. He also created the animals and birds. Later, Viracocha moved over the landscape, calling out his second wave of human creation in a way similar to the diurnal path of the sun as it travels east to west across the Andes.
En route to Cuzco, Viracocha also followed closely the River Vilcanota and finally ended his travels by disappearing over the Pacific Ocean on the coast at places that were later incorporated into the Inca Empire. Perhaps the movement of Viracocha was thought of as accompanying, or as designed to follow, Inca imperial expansion. Or was this trajectory correlated with the movement of water and light that brings the Andean world to life? Viracocha appears in other colonial sources where he shapes the landscape, providing its inhabitants with their innate characteristics.
Viracocha is also a trickster, appearing initially as a poor beggar only to later reveal his true identity. It is tempting to identify Viracocha with the staff-bearing figures from earlier Middle Horizon cultures. He could be represented by the carved relief figure depicted above the Portal of the Sun at Tiahuanaco, but we will probably never know for sure. Founding Ancestors and Places of Origin The Inca narrative tradition recorded by the Spanish chroniclers started with the creative acts of the deity Viracocha, which that were immediately followed with the origin story of the Incas.
The Inca dynasty and all local Andean communities traced their origins to ancestral figures. The concept involved a two-tiered process: At a regional or macro level, large numbers of ayllu collectively shared a common ancestry. They believed in descent from celestial bodies like the sun, the deity Lightning, or great mountain deities. The Incas themselves claimed descent from their father, the sun, and mother, the moon. These were natural features on the local landscape like a crag, tree, or spring.
The Incas believed their founding ancestors crawled out of a cave called Tambo-toco way station—window in the settlement Pacarictambo to the south of Cuzco. Today, Andeans still identify the origins of their ayllu with natural features. The Inca founding ancestors were known collectively by the name Ayar. The first Inca, better known as Manco Capac, originally carried the name Ayar Manco and journeyed with his siblings to Cuzco.
Stories recounting the exploits of these siblings were told and even performed among the peaks overlooking the Cuzco Valley where the ancestors were believed to have traversed. This mythic past described how the Ayar ancestors moved through the territory, shaping and marking out the land, and how they were the first to introduce and cultivate maize in Cuzco. Throughout the Andes, local community ancestors were frequently identified as agriculture progenitors. They were also believed to have first introduced agricultural techniques to sustain those crops, like irrigation canals. The sixth Inca, Roca, who was credited with discovering and canalizing the stream under Cuzco, also had these ancestor-like qualities.
In the central highlands, mummified ancestors were recognized as the founders of individual ayllus. These were called mallqui and on the central coast munao. Also in the central highlands were people identified collectively as Huari who believed their forebears to have transformed into rocks and crags known as huanca, leaving a final mark of permanence on the landscape. These stone ancestors were identified in fields where they were also known as chacrayoc field protectors or marca-yoc town protectors.
Andeans identified lithified ancestors in springs or canalized watercourses and so acted as owners and guardians, allowing the living members of an ayllu to make ancestral claims to the land and its resources. The Ayar ancestors of the Incas were also believed to have transformed into lithic form at various stages along their journey to Cuzco. Deities and Cultural Heroes In the Andean world, it is possible to distinguish between deities that are associated with different realms: Hanan Pacha, the sky or celestial world; Ukhu Pacha, the inner earth; and Cay Pacha, the world of humankind that exists on the surface of the earth where mediating deities intervene and are active.
In addition, Andean deities can be classified according to their geographical appeal: local, regional, and panregional or universal. However, a neat and simple classification is really insufficient when attempting to understand their innate attributes. The gods and goddesses reveal a multitude of possible characteristics that 19 20 Handbook of Inca Mythology make them difficult to pin down. The creator deity, Viracocha, is an obvious example, and lower down the religious hierarchy, cultural heroes like the founding ancestors of the Inca dynasty and their descendants also adopt multiple aspects, transforming themselves as they move from stage to stage.
Celestial, Earth, and Mediating Deities In Cuzco, the walled enclosure Coricancha included rooms with idols dedicated to celestial bodies like the sun, the moon, and Venus. Andeans believed that the world initially existed only with moonlight. This world was inhabited by a race that lived under the dim light.
The sun was created later and ushered in the age of humans. The solar cult idol of the Incas was known as Inti, and he along with his sister and wife, the moon, were adopted by the Incas as their own ancestors. For the Incas, the moon quilla was guardian of all aspects of the feminine world like spinning and weaving, but was considered less divine than the deity Lightning. According to the chronicler Garcilaso de la Vega, anyone could enter her temple to pay her a visit.
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The planet Venus, whose most common name is Chasca Qoyllur, was identified as a morning star that appeared just before dawn and was chased away by the sun. Such was the brightness of Venus that it was known literally as a star qoyllur. In the evening, Venus appeared again just before dusk. The Incas used these celestial bodies to order their calendar and cycles of seasons. Today, the sun is still thought to move through the sky like a clock. Andeans pay considerable attention to the movement of the stars at night.
Unlike Western astronomy and astrology, Andean models also identify dark cloud constellations made up of the interstellar dust between stars. These dark clouds are identified with typical Andean animals like the llama, toad, serpent, and fox and also the highland digging stick the tacilla. Each night, these constellations chase each other across the Milky Way. The observation of celestial movements was utilized by Andeans to determine the exact moment to plant and to harvest. Sky watching continues to play a crucial role for the yearly agricultural and ritual calendar and in particular the appearance and disappearance of the six visible stars that make up the Pleiades see Urton Inca and local Andean calendars were intimately linked to complex sky lore that was interwoven into myths that at first appear to be of a more terrestrial nature.
Scholars have shown that the dynastic myth-histories of the Incas were underpinned by a calendrical and cyclical importance for their informants. The realm of Ukhu Pacha is associated with the chthonic inner earth, which is considered the domain of the universal Andean Earth Mother, Pachamama. Some chroniclers also made reference to the deity Camac Pacha Animator of the World. Pachamama was and still is considered to be a guardian Introduction of fertility and reproductivity, especially of childbirth.
She had many daughters or extensions of herself in the form of guardians of specific food plants; for instance, mama-oca and mama-coca. These procreative forces were open and receptive at certain times of the year, like the planting of seeds in August. The earthly feminine regenerative and procreative forces are thought to be vitalized or fertilized by the male forces of the cosmos.
Andean myths of a terrestrial nature often described the female Earth chased by males—for instance, the deities Pachacamac and Cuniraya Viracocha. Celestial forces like the sun and meteorological forces like running water such as foam are also thought to engender the Earth, allowing her to grow and prosper. Modern tradition describes how malevolent beings prey on people asleep at night by sucking the fat from their bodies, thus extracting their life force. These forces are drawn into a cyclical system: the rains nourish the earth, and the water is then drawn up to the sky in the form of fog and dew to form clouds.
Other meteorological deities like Lightning and the Rainbow cut across the celestial and earthly realms, facilitating the movement of these life-giving forces. Appearing at the moment when rain is fizzling out and the sun appears, the rainbow is naturally considered to be a sign of transition. Another mediating agent, the Thunder and Lightning deity, then returns the life-giving force, water, back to the earth. One further group of earthly deities are huacas, a word that chroniclers translated as any sacred thing that could be a deity, mummified ancestors and their places of origin, or a natural feature on the landscape.
A huaca could be an oracle, either a locally popular or more famous regional cult shrine like Catequil in the northern highlands and the coastal site of Pachacamac, just south of present-day Lima. Conversely, the Incas came across a variety of regional deities, localized ancestral cults, and popular oracular shrines.
What happened when Inca religion confronted provincial Andean cults? When the Spaniards first arrived in Cuzco, the state-sponsored cults like those of the sun and moon formed what was a relatively new and, likely, still evolving Inca pantheon. The Incas attempted to reorganize local and panAndean cults into a new hierarchy that incorporated and elevated their own heroes 21 22 Handbook of Inca Mythology and gods.
Silverblatt suggests that Inca religion was superimposed onto popular Andean deities like Mamacocha Mother Sea and Pachamama. The cult of Pachamama was venerated throughout the Andes long before the Incas, but was relegated to a subservient position below the Moon, the divine Inca creator of women who reigned over all female deities , 47— The Sun cult itself may have already been the chief deity of the Colla people around Lake Titicaca, which was later incorporated into the Inca pantheon.
On the Island of the Sun, Tupa Inca Yupanqui established an extensive shrine complex that was apparently administered by 2, cult retainers. The Incas also built a solar cult installation alongside the oracular cult center on the coast, Pachacamac. Here the Incas attempted to co-opt the fame and power of these famous regional cult shrines. The cult of Pachamama is essentially concerned with the earthly, day-today concerns of the local community. Salomon suggests that the abstract expressions of the Inca creator deity, Viracocha, would have mattered little to non-Inca communities away from the great calendrical rituals in Cuzco , 4.
The indigenous chronicler Guaman Poma de Ayala depicted the consultation of cult idols by Tupa Inca see illustration on p. The fourth Inca, Mayta Capac, was more hostile toward the huacas. He invited all the provincial huacas to Cuzco to take part in a procession. However, many of the huacas fled in horror once they discovered they were to be enclosed in the foundations of a house Pachacuti Yamqui , folio 12v, p. The process was not one-sided. The Incas tolerated and even supported certain provincial cults. Many cults retained considerable autonomy and were even the focus of insurgency against the Incas.
MacCormack suggests that Inca interaction with provincial huacas was primarily adversarial. The arrival of the Incas also affected established myth cycles. The Inca presence on the central coast may have contributed to inclusion of the sun in the narrative traditions of the deities Pachacamac and Con. Another myth cycle described how the deity Viracocha disappeared over the ocean. The chroniclers described this at different locations along the Pacific coast that probably mirrored the expansion of the Inca state.
For Andean history, the Inca experience was a relatively short-lived episode. In general, veneration of the principal Inca deities like the sun was not continued into the colonial era. Neither did this become a symbol of resistance. Andeans preferred the established mountain and meteorological deities and the cult of Pachamama.
Summary of the Inca Belief System There are a number of general concepts that structured the cosmos or worldview of the Incas and continue to shape the belief system of Andeans today. These include a basic duality of the cosmos, a gendered cosmos, and an animate cosmos. In addition, the Andean world is full of complementary and dynamic forces located in human society and in the natural world. Thus, Andeans recognize the circulatory flow of this system and the mechanism based on reciprocity that governs interchange.
This interdependence applies equally to relationships between people and between people and objects. Basic Duality of the Cosmos The concept of duality is one of the basic themes that structure the Andean cosmos. This is found in myriad forms: night and day; sun and moon; sky and earth, or the chthonic; above and below; gold and silver; wild and tame; richness and poverty; cultivated and uncultivated; conquered and conqueror; and solid and liquid. Duality encompasses a division of the social and cosmological world on the vertical plane. Andeans comprehend an upper or higher world that includes celestial deities like the sun, moon, and stars.
A lower world is known by the term Ukhu or Hurin Pacha that represents the inner world of the earth and subterranean water. The term inner is preferred to underworld, a concept more familiar from European classical tradition. Ukhu Pacha is associated with the feminine earth mother and the bones of the ancestors.
In between is the world inhabited by humans, animals, and plants, known literally as this world or Cay Pacha. This zone is the interface between the upper and inner levels. To maintain their position, humans must continue to face both ways in order to benefit from the antagonistic forces that affect their lives.
Interaction between Hanan and Cay Pacha is facilitated by meteorological phenomena like lightning, which strikes down from above, and the rainbow, which arches up and comes back down again. For Ukhu Pacha, openings in the earth like caves act as portals. Gendered Cosmos Some of the oppositions noted above have clear gender distinction: for instance, the male sun and female moon. Vertical and horizontal elements are also male and female, respectively. Gender ideologies provided metaphors of complementarity and gave shape to male and female relationships at the terrestrial level.
These relationships are evident in divisions of labor. Traditionally, men break the soil and the women sow the seeds into the feminine earth. The production of pottery, mining, and long trading trips are all thought to represent the male preserve. Males then, traverse the high peaks, the Apus, which are also more frequently male in Andean cosmology. Thus, the constructions of gender ideologies can be intimately linked to the places of these activities Sillar a.
Silverblatt identifies the high puna, rather than the Apu peaks, which in contemporary Andean culture are thought to be female. These are considered to be a potentially dangerous environment for males, who are associated with the village, which represents the center of civilization. Silverblatt suggests that the male celestial forces of outsider and conqueror oppose the earthly female forces of the original inhabitants and the conquered This is explored further: in the north-central highlands, the people collectively known as Huari were the original inhabitants who venerated earthly deities.
They believed that their ancestors had originated from caves, that is, from inside the earth. These ancestors were credited with agricultural innovation. The Huari are thus associated with fertility and the generative forces of the female earth. People who were relative newcomers were known as Llacuaz, and believed that their apical ancestor was the Lightning deity in the sky who had come from Lake Titicaca, a place that symbolized the end of the world.
Thus, the Llacuaz were considered outsiders. This gender distinction continued into the colonial era, with foreigners or outsiders adopting male Christian saints as their ancestor while the original inhabitants venerated female saints. Animate Cosmos In the Andean world, an animating or vital force is assumed to infuse all material things: man-made products like textiles, natural features on the Andean landscape, and the bones of the dead.
The chroniclers recorded Introduction stories of great mountain deities who moved across the landscape competing with each other. Likewise today, Andeans believe that mountains are able to manipulate themselves into different topographical forms that hamper human travel. In the modern community of Sonqo, close to Cuzco, the bones of the ancestors are also thought to be alive and able to directly affect the world of the living. In colonial documents, the Andean vivifying essence was known as camaquen or camac and sometimes upani and amaya. The chroniclers translated the word camac as maker.
This word is found in the name of the coastal creator deity Pachacamac, while a person with specialized talent was called camayoc, someone who possesses the camac. Thus, a quipu-camayoc is a quipu specialist. In Sonqo, the colonial term is now replaced by the word sami, which is identified with the aroma from cooking or the bubbles and foam of beer or a soft drink Allen a, 33— Allen notes that man-made products originally come from living raw materials like animals and vegetables. Once the object is finished, it adopts an animating essence that is passed on by a specialist regarded as a santuyoc, that is, possessing the saint, rather than samiyoc.
The santuyuq could be considered the inventor and master of a particular skill like weaving or a specific pastime like chewing. The Inca creator deity, Viracocha, was also described as a master weaver and so can be equated to santuyuq. Mastery or control is thus associated with santuyoc, whereas a samiyoc is a genius or an ebullient spirit. Reciprocity and Circulation as Cosmic Themes Andeans believe that the animating or vital essence is manifest in human energy and basic elements such as water, wind, and light.
As conduits, water and light channel this flow of energy in a circulatory movement. The Quechua term ayni represents the basic principle that governs this circulatory movement. This flow extends beyond the human community as well. On earth, the Incas believed that rivers originating in the high Andes flowed down to the Pacific or Amazon lowlands and returned under or through the ground to their highland origin.
The sun was thought to descend at night under or through the earth, traveling in subterranean canals and drinking up the excess water because otherwise the rivers would flood. Thus, for the December solstice at the height of the rainy season, the indigenous chronicler Guaman Poma de- 25 26 Handbook of Inca Mythology picted a full or fattened sun from the abundant water it consumed each night. It was considered mature and so exhibited a beard. Conversely, around the June solstice in the middle of the dry season, the sun was considered thin and weak.
A related tradition is played out in the night sky when the Milky Way is highly visible and Andeans identify dark cloud constellations formed within the interstellar blackness. The Milky Way arches across the sky and is thought to represent a celestial river that draws up moisture, which is then carried to a cosmic sea circling the earth.
The deity Thunder periodically draws water from this source to create meteorological phenomena. In addition, every night the constellation of the llama, known as the Yacana, was thought to drink up the waters of the Milky Way to prevent the world from drowning. The terrestrial and celestial rivers mirror each other, and both systems contribute to continual recycling of water from the earth to the sky and back down to earth.
The rainbow is equated with the two-headed subterranean serpent dragon known as amaru, a mythical Andean creature depicted in pre-Colombian art long before the Incas. The reptilian amaru is thought to dwell in springs known as puquio. When it starts to rain, the amaru emerges and arches across the sky. Its second head descends into the earth, and water is siphoned between the two springs, facilitating the distribution of water at a local rather than universal level. Wind huayra is believed to live in a cave in the high cold puna, an extreme environment located at the margins of the civilized world.
Wind rushes out of its abode and flows through the atmosphere before returning home. Light, in the form of the sun, the stars, meteorological phenomena, and reflections, is thought to be a manifestation of the circulatory flow of energy. Andean myth stories described individuals reflecting or cloaked in light. For instance, founding ancestors such as Manco Capac and Tutay Quiri wore light-reflecting apparel that dazzled the people.
Inca tradition and stories told by Andeans today describe a world age when the sun did not exist and the inhabitants lived under the moonlight. The first appearance of the sun burned away these protohumans and ushered in the age of the current human race. Photo courtesy of Catherine J. Allen portant ritual moment marked daily by prescribed appropriate etiquette. We know from an early eyewitness source that for the June solstice in Cuzco, the Inca himself and the Inca elite spent the whole day in ritual activity that followed closely the rising and setting sun.
The most powerful concentration of light is lightning rayo or relampago. Although the practice is potentially fatal, Andeans openly seek exposure to lightning strikes to become accepted as ritual specialists paqo. A person or animal struck by lighting is called qhaqha. If an animal or human is killed by lightning, it is buried on the spot where it was felled. Spanish Conquest and Colonialization From his base in Panama, Francisco Pizarro sailed down the western South American coastline and heard about the fabulous wealth of a land to the south called Peru.
This was not a name used by the Incas themselves, but was applied by Spaniards from the early to mids. A number of chroniclers discuss the origin of the word Peru. This name may have derived from the small village of Cariguo Peruquete near the present Panamanian-Colombian border, which the Spaniards reached on their first forays down the coast.
With a small force of men, Pizarro landed for a third time on the mainland at Tumbes, on what is now the far north coast of Peru, in These incursions seemed to have introduced European diseases for which native Americans had no defense. Pathogens like smallpox and chicken pox and even a common cold had already begun decimating the Andean population before Europeans ever set foot in the highlands. Colonial documents revealed that some ayllu communities were completely wiped out, although in general Andeans fared a little better than North Americans, probably due to habitation at altitudes too high for Europeans see Cook and Lovell In November , Francisco Pizarro arrived at Cajamarca in the northern highlands of Peru, an Inca administrative center and temporary base for the ruling Inca, Atahualpa.
The Inca did not immediately meet Pizarro. Apparently, Atahualpa was at first unconcerned by these new people with their strange dress, regalia, and unknown animals. In many respects, the meeting of Renaissance European culture and the Andean world was symbolized by this very encounter. A formal requirement requerimiento was read to Atahualpa that demanded the Inca now accept the god of Christianity and the authority of the king of Spain. One account described how Atahualpa was presented with the Bible, but could not hear it speak and so threw it on the ground.
There soon followed skirmishes in which the Spaniards protected themselves atop a stone pyramid platform on the Inca plaza of Cajamarca. Atahualpa was captured, and the Spaniards demanded a ransom for his release. Popular lore described the Inca, who was much taller than the average European, reaching up and promising to fill a room with gold and silver objects. Atahualpa was never released and was garroted before the ransom was met. To speed up the transfer of Inca gold to Cajamarca, a handful of Spaniards were dispatched to Cuzco in January Little more than a year later, the conquistadors were busy stripping Cuzco of its treasures and reorganizing the Inca capital into house lots.
The dual Inca plaza was subsequently broken up, Inca Introduction palaces were confiscated by the leading conquistadors, and the upper tiers, sometimes of adobe with spectacular conical grass roofs, were transformed into Spanish-style balconies. Much of the land previously held by the Inca panacas, the Inca state cults, macroethnic leaders capac , and local leaders curacas , along with communal ayllu land, was transferred to the conquistadors see Julien Converted Spanish estates haciendas with royal grants of Indian labor encomienda were based on European patterns of private property that were completely alien to the traditional Andean systems that governed land and property relations see Wachtel Throughout the sixteenth century, the Council of the Indies sought to impose greater administrative control over the new colony and was engaged in repeated initiatives to curb the power of the conquistadors as well as to quell native Andean resistance.
The council presided over an extensive network of colonial bureaucracy that was centralized in Madrid and Seville, Spain. In Peru, this included the office of viceroy who was assisted by a number of state, treasury, and church offices like magistrate corregidor and town councilor cabildo. In the s, new legislation from Spain attempted to limit the privileges of the original conquistadors and led to open warfare between the Pizarrist faction and royalist forces that arrived from Colombia and Spain.
This facilitated Spanish control of the population, especially for the collection of taxes. For some local ayllus, the programs of forced resettlement separated people from their ancestral lands and huacas. Those who were relocated to nearby towns could return on pilgrimage, but some communities found their ancestral lands too far removed.
Some descendants of the Incas remained in Cuzco and accepted Spanish rule, becoming informants for the chroniclers. In fact, it was possible for some Andeans to survive and prosper under the new Spanish-imposed customs and property relations.