In this episode we are joined by Dr. Eric Singleton who is the Curator of Ethnology at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum to talk about religion and tradition in the Ancient Mississippian World.
We explore a variety of topics but first we define the geographic boundaries of the ancient Mississippians which covered large portions of the Midwest, South and South-East of what is now the USA.
We go back into history into a time of Native American migration and cultural expansion and ponder whether or not these migrations played a role in the evolution of Mississippian Religion similar to the arrival of Indo Europeans and its consumption of previous peoples and cultures and its transformation in ancient Europe.
We then explore sacred sites in the Mississippian world and discuss sacred geography in the Native American world from Spiro to Cahokia.
We turn to a crucial aspect of the story and we look at what evidence can tell us about their religions ranging from archaeology to primary sources and beyond to tribal oral traditions that still echo in our world today.
We then look at the minds of the ancient Mississippians themselves and ask how did they view the spiritual world around them? How did they view the afterlife? The Human Soul?
A brief overview of Mississippian Religion below.
Mississippian religion was a distinctive Native American belief system in eastern North America that evolved out of an ancient, continuous tradition of sacred landscapes, shamanic institutions, world renewal ceremonies, and the ritual use of fire, ceremonial pipes, medicine bundles, sacred poles, and symbolic weaponry. Mississippian people shared similar beliefs in cosmic harmony, divine aid and power, the ongoing cycle of life and death, and spiritual powers with neighboring cultures throughout much of eastern North America. Although similarities in religious practices and rituals existed throughout the Mississippian world, individual polities possessed divergent trajectories of religious thought that over time resulted in differing paths of belief and ritual.
Above all, Mississippian people were logical, pragmatic, and rational in their religious beliefs, and their observations and thoughts about the world around them were reflected in their views of the spiritual world. Their rituals and sacred narratives embodied abstract meanings, archaic language, complex symbolism, and esoteric metaphors. The numerous and widespread Mississippian polities gave rise to a remarkable tradition of religious beliefs and practices. Their religious system flourished for more than half a millennium as a meaningful and vibrant set of beliefs. Identifying the circumstances, complexity, and nature of Mississippian religion is a major focus of current research among a number of scholars, including anthropologists, archaeologists, ethnohistorians, folklorists, and historians. Although scholars debate various points of religious belief, there is general agreement on the overall religious traditions.
Dye, D. (2000). Mississippian Religious Traditions. In S. Stein (Author), The Cambridge History of Religions in America (Cambridge History of Religions in America, pp. 137-155). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CHOL9780521871105.008
Footage Attribution goes to these channels below!
Keith Dotson Photography
Off the Beaten Path
Jared Thomas Euper - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-GFsg9m_ZA
Lee Paco industries
Wayward Stories - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_bweNH-u2s
cherokeephil - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUeM46qtvuw
Steve theland LeTerrain
Reblyn Smith - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=er8zmbyaKw0&t=1s
Tour the wonderous world of Spiro and ancient Mississippian art below!
Spiro Exhibit Video Footage was filmed by Cameron Mosier of Tribal Video.
Hire him: https://tribalvideo.com/
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