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Posted on Wednesday, November 07 - 2007

Anthony North: One area of spirituality often ignored by the wider world is the Native American. The Native American mystic is often known as the Medicine Man, principally because of his power to heal, but also to communicate with the supernatural. A continuation of the early shaman, endemic to most tribal societies, he also bears many similarities to the guru. The ‘Medicine Man" most likely survived from before the migrations across the Bering Strait over twenty thousand years ago. Mystical apprenticeship: Such a mystic is thought to be chosen by the spirits, indications of an ability to communicate with them beginning in childhood. Continuing visions and omens will lead to the child being taught by anexisting mystic.

A right of passage for the growing mystic will be his first vision quest, of which he will have many in his life. Such quests happen after a period of asceticism, such as going to a remote place to meditate. Another method is the sweat lodge in which saplings are covered with blankets and hot stones placed within. The mystic will go inside and pour water on the stones, his sweat causing purification. The vision quest: During his visions he will meet his guardian spirit. Granted a dream or vision of this spirit, it will usually be in an animal form and will grant the mystic special powers. He will be taught a spirit song and given a number of talismen - eagle feathers, shells, animal parts. These bestow the mystic"s new powers and represent omens. They will be kept in a sacred bag known as his medicinebundle. The mystic will, of course, become much more than a relationship between himself and the supernatural. In classic tribal style, he will also be the bridgehead between his tribe and the guardian spirit. Ritual life: In this sense, he is responsible for the tribe"s culture and well being. He will be the storyteller who tells of the tribe"s origins as told by the guardian spirit, and he will be the symbol of totemism, giving the tribe identity and a moral code through animal or plant representations of natural phenomena and events.

View: Full Article | Source: Beyond the Blog

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Posted on Friday, April 25 - 2008

Hundreds of prehistoric dogs found buried throughout the southwestern United States show that canines played a key role in the spiritual beliefs of ancient Americans, new research suggests. Throughout the region, dogs have been found buried with jewelry, alongside adults and children, carefully stacked in groups, or in positions that relate to important structures, said Dody Fugate, an assistant curator at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Fugate has conducted an ongoing survey of known dog burials in the area, and the findings suggest that the animals figured more prominently in their owners' lives thansimply as pets, she said.

"I'm suggesting that the dogs in the New World in the Southwest were used to escort people into the next world, and sometimes they were used in certain rituals in place of people," Fugate said. To conduct her research, Fugate collected data on known dog burials and urged her archaeologist colleagues to note when canine remains were found during excavations. "I have a database now of almost 700 dog burials, and a large number of them are either buried in groups in places of ritual or they're buried with individual human beings," she said. Many of the burials are concentrated in northwestern New Mexico and along the Arizona-New Mexico border, she said (see map). "All of that area wasfull of doggy people," she said. She reported her findings at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Vancouver, Canada, last month. 1,900 Years of Burials Fugate's database indicates that dog burials were most common between 400 B.C. and A.D. 1100. "The earlier the [human] burial, the more likely you are to have dog in it," Fugate said. By the 1400s and 1500s the practice of burying people with dogs had stopped. Indeed, she noted, today's Pueblo and Navajo Indians believe it is improper to bury dogs. What the ancient dogs looked like is an open question, she said, but their remains suggest that they were far more diverse than was previously believed. Fugate has seen remains of ancient canines withfloppy. ...

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Posted on Sunday, March 16 - 2008

A consensus is emerging in the highly contentious debate over the colonization of the Americas, according to a study that says the bulk of the region wasn"t settled until as late as 15,000 years ago. Researchers analyzed both archaeological and genetic evidence from several dozen sites throughout the Americas and eastern Asia for the paper. "In the past archaeologists haven"t paid too much attention to molecular genetic evidence," said lead author Ted Goebel, an archaeologist at Texas A&M University in College Station. "We have brought together twodifferent fields of science, and it looks like they are coming up with the same set of answers." The article, which is published in tomorrow"s issue of the journal Science, shows that the first Americans came from a single Siberian population and ventured across the Bering land bridge connecting Asia and North America about 22,000 years ago.

The group got stuck in Alaska because of glacial ice, however, so humans probably didn"t migrate down into the rest of the Americas until after 16,500 years ago, when an ice-free corridor in Canada opened up. Scientists have long agreed that the first Americans came from northeast Asia, according to Goebel. But the newarticle—which analyzed genetic and archaeological evidence from 43 sites, including a dozen sites in Asia—better pins down the makeup of the first Americans. Genetic evidence, for instance, points to a founding population of less than 5,000 individuals. Some geneticists had also previously suggested that the migration across the land bridge could have occurred as early as 30,000 years ago.

View: Full Article | Source: National Geographic

Views : 1863

Posted on Friday, February 29 - 2008

While the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde are easily the best known of these settlements, the region is dotted with some 4,000 known archaeological sites, including communities which supported as many as several hundred families.

Using computer simulations to synthesize both new and earlier research, a team of scientists led by a Washington State University anthropology professor has given new perspective to the long-standing question of what happened more than 700 years ago to cause the ancestral Pueblo people known as the Anasazi to abruptly end their 700-year-long occupation of the now-famous cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde and other nearby communities in southwestern Colorado.In anarticle to be published in the upcoming issue of "American Scientist," WSU Regents Professor Tim Kohler and three colleagues describe how computer simulation techniques were used to integrate nearly a century's worth of archaeological research with new climatic, ecological and demographic data to analyze two major cycles in population growth and decline among the ancient Anasazi.Ultimately their data suggests that the final population collapse within the region resulted from a complex set of environmental changes and societal pressures-including climate change, population growth, increasing competition for resources and escalating conflict and violence among local societies. Preserved in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt as Mesa Verde National Park, the ancestral Pueblo homeland also encompasses what is known today as the FourCorners Region of the American Southwest, an area marked by the intersection of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. While the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde are easily the best known of these settlements, the region is dotted with some 4,000 known archaeological sites, including communities which supported as many as several hundred families. Archaeological evidence has shown that the Anasazi inhabited the region and prospered there from about A.D.

600 until sometime in the late 1200s, when they abandoned their communities abruptly - often within the span of a single generation - and migrated southward.
Since the discovery of the Mesa Verde sites in the late 19th century, archaeologists have frequently invoked single factors-such as climate change or conflict - as explanations for the depopulation of more than 600 cliffdwellings......

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