Eastern North America and the Great Plains

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:
Eastern North America and the Great Plains

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This chapter argues that it is not in the Amazonian tropics that the quest for an indeterminate transcendence found fullest realization south of the Arctic, but among the mobile hunters and gatherers of eastern and central North America, where the solitary vision quest practiced in parts of the Pacific Northwest took on an importance in tribal religious life perhaps unparalleled elsewhere in the world. The tribes of southeastern North America possessed, in economic, political, and ceremonial terms, “the richest culture of any native people north of Mexico,” a culture strongly influenced by civilizations in Mesoamerica. Most tribes combined hunting and gathering with intensive farming of maize, beans, and squash; their societies were hierarchically ranked by age or achievement. These linguistically diverse but culturally similar peoples were organized into highly centralized chiefdoms.

Keywords: quest; transcendence; North America; tribes; culture; Mesoamerica; chiefdoms

Chapter.  14079 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural Anthropology

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