By: K Schlesier
232 pages, Illus
Published more than half a century after the classic Cheyenne studies of George Bird Grinnell and G.A. Dorsey, this book is a reinterpretation of the Cheyenne's world-view, shamanism and major cultural features. It is the product of the author's blending of the principles of action anthropology with those of cognitive anthropology, his long association with the Southern Cheyennes and his close personal relationship with Edward Red Hat, the Cheyenne Keeper of the Sacred Arrows, who instructed him in Cheyenne religion for more than ten years. Along with important oral testimony, this book makes use of the great volume of works in the ethnography, ethnohistory, prehistory and linguistics of the northern plains, the Subarctic and northern Siberia. The core of this book is a reconstruction of the Massaum, the most elusive of Cheyenne tribal ceremonies, extinct since 1927. In a detailed interpretation of the ritual, the author defines the Massaum as an earth-giving ceremony. The gift of this ceremony between 500 and 300 BC in what is now South Dakota, brought about the formation of the Cheyennes as a tribal unit with the right to occupy a large region of the grasslands.
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