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  • California Indian California Indian Religion and Religion and World ViewWorld View

    AnthAnth 131CA131CA

    JohnR.JohnsonJohnR.Johnson

    Ascension of Ascension of ChinigchinichChinigchinich to the starsto the stars(Jean Goodwin (Jean Goodwin AimesAimes, 1933)., 1933).

    Some Common Characteristics of Some Common Characteristics of California Indian World ViewCalifornia Indian World View

    Intimateknowledgeoflocalenvironmentandtribalterritory

    Animism:Life,intelligence,andsupernaturalpowerattributabletoallthings

    Supernaturalnatureofthelandscape Animalslivedonearthbeforepeople creatingtheearthforhumans,givingthemfire,food,etc.,evenbestowingdeath.

    Owlswerespecial,oftenregardedasspeakingfromthesupernaturalworldorbeingharbingersofdeath.

    Tabootomentionpersonalnames,especiallyofrecentlydeceasedrelatives.

    Aspects of California Indian Religious LifeAspects of California Indian Religious Life1. CustomaryObservancesbyIndividuals Death(purification,mourning,cuttinghair,burning

    houseofdeceased) Menstruation(restrictionsonwomen) Food(stringentobservationsregardingdeermeat)

    2. Shamanism CommunicationwithSupernaturalWorld(spirit

    helpers) WomenshamansinNWCalif. BearshamansinCentralCalif. Suckingdiseaseoutofbody

    3. PublicCeremonials Mourning(exceptNWCalif.,Yuki,Pomo) Initiationceremonies(comingofage) PublicandIntertribalGatherings

    4. Mythology NWCalif.:supernaturalhumanrace,notanimal CentralCalif.:Truecreation,eagleaschief So.Calif.:HeavenandEarthwerefirstparents.

    Culturegivers(oneofwhomdiesaftergivingbenificent directions),Migrationlegends(birdsongs)PomoDancer,Lakeport,1931

    CaliforniaIndianReligiousSystems

    NWCalifornia:WorldRenewal

    NorthCentralCalif.:Kuksu Cult

    SouthCentralCalif.:Toloache (Antap)

    SouthernCalifornia:Chinigchinich Religion

    ReligionReligionWorld Renewal (in NW California)World Renewal (in NW California)

    Rituals to ensure Rituals to ensure abundance of food, prevent abundance of food, prevent disease, and avoid disease, and avoid unfavorable natural events.unfavorable natural events.

    Two important ritualsTwo important rituals Jumping DanceJumping Dance White Deerskin DanceWhite Deerskin Dance

    The most important dances The most important dances occurred when a fish weir occurred when a fish weir was rebuilt or a house was was rebuilt or a house was constructed.constructed.

    The wealthy would display The wealthy would display wealth during these wealth during these ceremonies.ceremonies.

    JumpingDance,Hupa,1903

    WhiteDeerSkinDance,Hupa,1893

    NorthwestCalifornia

    CaptainJohn,Hupa Hupa ManwithWhiteDearskin YurokWoman

  • Regalia from NW CoastRegalia from NW Coast

    Jump Dance HeadbandJump Dance Headband Yurok Dress DetailYurok Dress Detail

    Jump Dance BasketJump Dance Basket

    KuksuKuksu Religious ComplexReligious Complex(in North Central California)(in North Central California)

    Dancers become spirits who Dancers become spirits who come to a village to bring wellcome to a village to bring well--being.being.

    Dancers were members of a Dancers were members of a menmens secret society, and their s secret society, and their identity while dancing apparently identity while dancing apparently was unknown to the audience.was unknown to the audience.

    Dances take place in Dances take place in roundhouses.roundhouses.

    DanceheaddressesofcentralCalifornia,paintingbyLouisChoris,1816

    Big HeadBig Head dancers, dancers, WintuWintu or Maidu, 1910or Maidu, 1910

    KuksuKuksu Religious ComplexReligious Complex(in central California)(in central California)

    Pomo Pomo KuksuKuksu Dancers in RoundhouseDancers in RoundhouseWintuWintu RoundhouseRoundhouse

    Rafael Solares 1878

    AntapAntap ReligionReligion(Chumash)(Chumash)

    The antap secretsocietyconsistedofelitegroupofpoliticalandreligiousleaders.

    Memberswereexpectedtocontributemoneyfortheprivilegeofbeingintheassociation.

    Theantap conductedritualsanddancesatmajorceremonies.

    antap ritualswereconductedtomaintaincosmicbalance.

    Chumashrockpaintingsarebelievedtobecreatedbyantap.

    Joe Talaugon at Painted Cave (CA-SBA-506)

    Importance of the Winter Solstice to Chumash Peoples and Their Neighbors

    Sun Pole (drawing by

    Malcolm Farmer)

    Candelaria Valenzuela spoke of an elder named Tomas Cora who observed the sun rise over the eastern horizon to determine the time to observe the winter solstice ceremony.

    Mara Solares noted that the new year began at the winter solstice: For us the new year was at night.

    Fernando Librado described the solstice ceremony as the most important conducted throughout the year. It was when the suns brilliance begins.

    The Kitanemuk referred to both the winter and summer solstices as when the sun retraces its path.

  • Winter Solstice Ceremony

    The Ventureo Chumash called this stick oqshposhinash, or miwalaqsh, meaning to divide or separate in the middle. The north star was also called this. At midday the sun is opposite the north star.

    Two views of sun staff found at Bowers Cave (Peabody Museum Collection)

    Most Sacred Chumash Ritual Observance(conceptualized as the time when the Sun was reborn)

    Pleito Creek(CA-KER-77)

    Previous Interpretations:

    Circular motif = schematic representation of the Universe(Hudson & Underhay 1978).

    Exploding human, depicting the shamans transformation (Whitley 2000).

    Proposal:

    Zoomorphic figure is a hierophony, representing ilhy, the guardian of the North Star, because of its significance in Chumash cosmology.

    House of the Sun (CA-SBA-526) (Rick Bury photo)

    Tule River Painted Cave(CA-TUL-19)

    RockArtSiteswithMotifsSimilartoPleitoCreek

    LuiseLuiseo ceremonial dancers consciously imitated the movement of the o ceremonial dancers consciously imitated the movement of the constellations around the North Star as they danced around the fconstellations around the North Star as they danced around the fire in their ire in their sacred enclosure (sacred enclosure (DuBoisDuBois 1908:163).1908:163).

    ChinigchinichChinigchinich ReligionReligion(in Southern California)(in Southern California)

    Arrived in Monterey on June Arrived in Monterey on June 6, 18066, 1806

    Missionary at La PurMissionary at La Pursima, sima, 18071807--18111811

    Served at San Luis Rey, Served at San Luis Rey, 18111811--18141814

    Missionary at San Juan Missionary at San Juan Capistrano, 1814Capistrano, 1814--18261826

    Described the Described the ChinigchinichChinigchinichReligion in the only fullReligion in the only full--length length ethnography written during the ethnography written during the Mission PeriodMission Period

    Died at San Gabriel in early Died at San Gabriel in early July, 1831July, 1831

    Father Father GerGernimonimo BoscanaBoscana(Franciscan Ethnographer(Franciscan Ethnographer))

    Title page and illustration from Title page and illustration from ChinigchinichChinigchinich, published in , published in English Translation as an English Translation as an appendix to Alfred Robinsonappendix to Alfred Robinsons s Life in California, Life in California, 18461846

  • Chinigchinich ReligiousBeliefs(LuiseoandJuaneo)

    EarthMother(Tomaiyowit)gavelifetoprototypesofalllivingthings.

    Wiyt (culturehero)waslastofthebirthsandgreatestinpowerandknowledge.Helivedatthetimewhenanimalswerepeople.

    Wiyt waspoisonedbyFrogbecauseofjealousy,andhisdeathbroughtdeathtotheworld.

    ThebodyofWiyt wascremated,whichiswhytheLuiseopracticecremation.

    HeroseintheskyastheMoon,andthesoulsofgreatchiefsbecamethestars.

    Chinigchinich (cameafterWiyt) wasthe creatoroflawsandceremonials.

    Chinigchinich createdanewclassofspiritstoenforcemoralorder.Theavengingspiritsincluderattlesnakes,spiders,bears,ravens,andstingrays.

    Some Observations Pertaining to Some Observations Pertaining to California Indian Religious LifeCalifornia Indian Religious Life

    Publicceremonialsandritualpracticeswereoftenlinkedtosubsistencepursuits: Scheduledbeforeorafterseasonalharvests, ConductedtopropitiateNaturetoguaranteefoodsupplies, Providedopportunitiesforsocialandeconomicexchange.

    SecretSocietieswerelinkedtoelitemembersofsociety(politicalleadersandwealthyfamilies),whosemembershadaccesstospecialesotericknowledgeandmaintainedritualparaphernalia.

    Mythologicalnarrativesreflectedsocialstructureandprovidedmorallessonsregardingacceptableculturalbehavior.