The World

Thomas Buckley

in Standing Ground

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2002 | ISBN: 9780520233584
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520936447 | DOI:
The World

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This chapter is based on accounts of the Yurok world that describe it as the processual outcome of the play of life and death. The “world renewal” ceremonials, in which wealth is displayed, are intended to achieve a proper balance between these two great energies (life and death) and all that they embody for native northwestern Californians, i.e. people periodically had to be brought back into harmony with each other and with the world, lest the weight of their infractions against the law, of their selfishness, throw the whole off balance and destroy them. There is a risk in acknowledging death as the immutable equal partner to life in all existence, and human beings commonly realize that risk in melancholy. In the Yurok culture, there was always a struggle to keep the earth balanced upon the waters, in accord with the law and despite human breaches of it.

Keywords: Yurok; world; world-renewal ceremonials; life and death; harmony

Chapter.  3223 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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