Across the Boundaries of Belief: Contemporary Issues in the Anthropology of Religion

By Morton Klass; Maxine Weisgrau | Go to book overview

ries that one of his key informants, Katishan, was a church member who showed a "moralizing tendency"--did not find it important to consider that Christianity might have colored this man's version of the myths of the Raven cycle. Similarly, while de Laguna ( 1960, 1972) remarkably detailed works on the culture and history of two Tlingit villages, Angoon and Yakutat, are aimed at reconstructing their eighteenth- and nineteenth-century histories, native representations of postcontact events involving whites are given short shrift. 16

It is not my intention here to criticize my predecessors, whose work has been a major inspiration and a source of valuable data. In fact, much of my own ethnographic and ethnohistorical research has also aimed at reconstructing and analyzing the Tlingit culture prior to its dramatic transformation in the 1900s (see Kan 1989b). What I am arguing, however, is that in order to construct a truly comprehensive ethnohistory of Northwest Coast and other Native North American societies, we must incorporate more of Fogelson's ethno-ethnohistory into it. To succeed in this project we, anthropologists and ethnohistorians, will have to enlist the help of archaeologists, linguists, folklorists, and, of course, native historians themselves. 17


Notes

I would like to express my gratitude to those Tlingit elders who over the years have taught me so much about their culture and history, especially Mark Jacobs, Jr., Charlie Joseph, Thomas Young, Jimmy George, Matthew Fred, George Jim, William Nelson, and Moses Rose. One of these elders, Jimmy George, passed away in the summer of 1990 at the age of one hundred when I was writing this article, and so it is dedicated to him. However, it expresses my own opinions and interpretations rather than those of my Tlingit teachers. I would also like to thank my academic teacher, Raymond D. Fogelson, for introducing me to ethnohistory and ethno-ethnohistory, and the anonymous reviewers of this article for their helpful comments. The research for and writing of the article were supported by a Summer Stipend from the National Endowment for the Humanities and by a grant from the Phillips Fund of the American Philosophical Society.

1.
For a fine recent discussion of indigenous South American perspectives on the past (including European contact and colonization), see Hill 1988. Turner ( 1988) commentary on these essays is of special interest because it raises general theoretical issues concerning the relationship between "myth" and "history" in non-Western cultures. In his essay Turner uses the term ethno-ethnohistory but (surprisingly) does not credit Fogelson with coining it.
2.
Most of the Tlingit shamans were male, even though there were some powerful female ones as well. Throughout this article I refer to shamans with the masculine pronoun.
3.
For details on Tlingit shamanism see Veniaminov 1984 [ 1840]; Krause 1956 [ 1885]; Kamenskii 1985 [ 1906]; Swanton 1908; de Laguna 1972, 1987.
4.
This brief overview is based on Kan 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990b, forthcoming.
5.
Unlike Sitka and Juneau, which became American towns with substantial native populations, Tlingit villages, especially in the north, were composed almost entirely of conservative people, so that there was not much difference between those who joined the Russian Orthodox church and those who became Presbyterian. In addition, people in the villages

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