By Thomas Buckley
This colourful, richly textured account of religious education and perform inside an American Indian social community emphasizes narrative over research. Thomas Buckley's foregrounding of Yurok narratives creates one significant point of debate in an cutting edge ethnography that includes discussion as its vital theoretical trope. Buckley areas himself in dialog with modern Yurok associates and elders, with written texts, and with twentieth-century anthropology in addition. He describes Yurok Indian spirituality as "a major box during which person and society meet in dialogue-cooperating, resisting, negotiating, altering one another in manifold methods. 'Culture,' right here, isn't a specific thing yet a strategy, an emergence via time."
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Additional resources for Standing Ground: Yurok Indian Spirituality, 1850-1990
Viewed historically, this dialogue has been adaptive and has been a means of cultural survival and ramification. “Culture,” here, is not a thing but a process, an emergence through time. In the Yurok case, at least, the formal, structural opposition individual : society is but one among the great many counterpoints simultaneously tending toward wholeness, or balance, that constitute the process. ” It is better represented through the witness of performance than by distantiated analyses of extractable, exegetical, or ulterior meanings.
The primary issue in the case was whether or not Native American sacred sites on public lands are protected by the First Amendment guarantee of the free exercise of religion. The Court’s five-to-three decision in the Forest Service’s favor was a stunning blow to Yuroks, as well as to their Karuk and Tolowa Indian neighbors. The federal government eventually set aside the GO-road “high country” as a wilderness area legislatively, preserving its sacred sites, but avoiding setting a legal precedent regarding Native American First Amendment rights to religious freedom on federally managed public lands.
I first read Geertz’s Interpretation of Cultures (1973) in my first year of graduate study, 1975, and his lasting influence on my understandings, particularly through his practice of “thick description,” might be attributed either to my naiveté and need for a guiding light at that tenuous and fraught moment in my new life, or to the purity of my untutored intellectual judgment, as yet unsullied by any real knowledge of anthropological theory or sustained reflection upon it. In any case, my admiration for Geertz’s approach to things—for, really, his sensibility—has remained largely undiminished by the many critics who have rethought his work in more recent years.