Chapter

The Arctic and Western North America

Robert M. Torrance

in The Spiritual Quest

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 1994 | ISBN: 9780520081321
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520920163 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520081321.003.0012
The Arctic and Western North America

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The unmistakable affinity and probable common ancestry of shamanisms in Eurasia and America are especially striking in the case of the Eskimo (or Inuit) and the tribes of the Northwest Pacific coast, the peoples closest to Siberia. The Eskimo in particular belong to an Arctic culture circling the globe from Lapland through Siberia to Alaska, Canada, and Greenland, and their once-universal shamanism was until recently central to their culture. Eskimo cosmologies are generally less developed than those of Old World shamanistic peoples, who were often in contact both with one another and with foreign civilizations from Scandinavia to Japan. Even so, a tripartite division of the universe into heaven, earth, and underworld is widely attested, with the underworld most often located beneath the sea.

Keywords: ancestry; Eurasia; America; Eskimo; inuit; Lapland; shamanism; heaven; earth; underworld

Chapter.  11142 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural Anthropology

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