Monday, February 11, 2008

New England Indian–related topic in two books

Carl Masthay writes to me in an email: “Here are two books of interest, one a bit of the fringe, the other a dissertation (this latter one I might want to buy for myself).”
1. Rediscovering Vinland: Evidence of ancient Viking presence in America by Fred N. Brown III (2007, 296 pp., photos, index, bibliography, references, paperback; iUniverse, Lincoln, Nebr. ISBN: 978-0-595-43680-4; also available as an eBook). I may have mentioned that, having grown up around possible Viking sites such as America’s Stonehenge in New Hampshire, I’ve been avidly interested in the whole subject of pre-Columbus visitors to our land. Based on 15 years of research and the culturally rich Vinland Sagas, this book uses such evidence as DNA, language, customs, and immunity to tuberculosis to show that the Narragansett and Wampanoag tribes of the regions visited who the early English settlers were, in fact, genetically similar to Europeans and were descendants of mixed Indian-Viking populations!
Tom Elliott, Book Review Editor, Mensa Bulletin, 14R Russell St., Waltham, MA 02453-8505
Reviewed in Mensa Bulletin, January 2008, p. 39.

2. [To buy for later? C.M.] [Note in Algonquian and Iroquoian Linguistics 32(4):25-26, 2007]
White, Kevin J., 2007: Haudenosaunee Worldviews through Iroquoian Cosmologies: The Published Narratives in Historical Context. Ph.D. dissertation. State University of New York at Buffalo. 670 pp. AAT 3262030 [AAT is some kind of catalog number for dissertations. The on-line source is called Digital Dissertations I think, Then you can order and download, billing it to a credit card or hard copy like the old University Microfilms used to do. John Nichols]

“Returning to the original published Iroquois (or Haudenosaunee) cosmologies, I shed new light on the development of interpretation and revelation as it pertains to the Haudenosaunee. I analyze and edit J.N.B. Hewitt’s “Iroquois Cosmology Part I” to reveal the scholar, the informant, and a unique clash of their worldviews. Hewitt was a baseline for comparison to other published narratives that I have assembled here in contrast to William N. Fenton’s analysis in his 1962 article “This Island, the World on Turtle’s Back.” I examine in detail translations of the cosmologies, including some by modern Native scholars presented on the World Wide Web. My examination of these works reveals transitions in both Native and non-Native thinking over the centuries of contact. Patterns of change show an indigenous culture struggling to balance ancient traditions, sacred beliefs, and obligations to generations yet unborn against the assimilationist tide of the larger Western culturre. I attempt to excite a discussion about the theology, philosophy, and cosmology grounded in more subtle understandings of Haudenosaunee cultures. Finally, I use the examination of outside/inside views of cosmologies to suggest further fertile study of the other major ethnographic works conventionally used to construct and interpret worldview, theology, and understandings of indigenous groups.
The complex history associated with the Haudenosaunee is steeped in problematic thinking. Though Haudenosaunee voices are present as informants, the knowledge, wisdom, and worldview are hidden in condensed and filtered formats of academic literature. The preferred voices are those like William N. Fenton and David Cusick while the designated Holders of Tradition within the culture are muted. Modern Haudenosaunee scholars contribute interpretations of this ancient worldview grounded in their own theological and philosophical contexts as practitioners of these ancient conceptual frames of reference. Also revealing in this dismissal is a tendency to treat Iroquois [different] from any of the founding Six Nations (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Tuscarora, and Seneca) as members of one homogeneous group. By placing all these published works side by side, I allow the reader to draw individual conclusions, as though they were part of an audience hearing this among a group.”

Email communication (2/10/08) from Carl Masthay, mentioned on an earlier blog:

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