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Native Science: How a Native American Understanding of Ritual as a Science can help Archaeological Analysis.

Author(s): Andrew Martin

Year: 2017

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In the last couple of decades, Native peoples across the world have become more vocal that indigenous rituals are not the result of religious superstition or mechanisms of social control, but the formulae of indigenous sciences. Ceremonies and many myths, they argue, have been mistakenly categorized as religious by anthropologists due to their baroque appearance and our modern separation between nature from culture. Gregory Cajete and Leroy Little Bear have led the movement to re-categorize rituals as scientific formulae—formulae that have long helped Native peoples survive by helping them understand, control and predict the world. However, few in archaeology have taken up the gauntlet. This paper addresses the background and philosophy that supports this conception of ritual, and attempts to apply it to better understand the archaeology of ritual monuments.

While the ontological turn in archaeology has grasped the need to interpret archaeology according to the ontology of a given culture, it suffers from the same problem as analogical interpretation – models are imposed from a modern ethnographic group. However, if rituals are actually scientific formulae that define a culture's understanding of the world, temporally precise ontologies can be exacted from them and used to interpret cultural actions.

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Native Science: How a Native American Understanding of Ritual as a Science can help Archaeological Analysis.. Andrew Martin. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429697)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -104.634; min lat: 36.739 ; max long: -80.64; max lat: 49.153 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14928

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America