Pueblo Warriors, Witches and Cannibals: Indigenous Concepts of Corporeality and the Biorchaeological Record
Author(s): Debra Martin
This is an abstract from the "From Individual Bodies to Bodies of Social Theory: Exploring Ontologies of the Americas" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.
In Pueblo oral tradition, a persistent narrative exists regarding malevolent forces that commit transgressions while inhabiting the corporeal bodies of community members. Referred to as witches (although this is not a term Pueblo people would use) they bring about crop failures through droughts, and they cause famine, sickness and death. Once a witch has been identified and accused, punishment ensues. Execution of witches was common and the physical bodies needed to be completely annihilated through breakage, cutting, reduction and burning. The dangerous process of rendering witches powerless is carried out by warriors who must align with and transform themselves into supernatural beings. Afterward, they must then go through a labored body ritual to cleanse themselves. Witches can never be completely defeated and they are always a persistent threat. Incorporating a more emic perspective regarding factors that contribute to ontological insecurity can provide a rich context within which to interpret the ways that bodies are employed in an attempt to rectify dangerous transgressive forces. Prior research employing western notions about mortuary behavior regarding broken and damaged bones mistakenly interpreted them to represent only cannibalism.
Cite this Record
Pueblo Warriors, Witches and Cannibals: Indigenous Concepts of Corporeality and the Biorchaeological Record. Debra Martin. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450589)
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min long: -124.365; min lat: 25.958 ; max long: -93.428; max lat: 41.902 ;
Abstract Id(s): 23829