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The Spiritual QuestTranscendence  in Myth, Religion, and Science$
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Robert Torrance

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780520081321

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520081321.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

Eastern North America and the Great Plains

Eastern North America and the Great Plains

(p.228) Chapter Fourteen Eastern North America and the Great Plains
The Spiritual Quest

Robert M. Torrance

University of California Press

This chapter argues that it is not in the Amazonian tropics that the quest for an indeterminate transcendence found fullest realization south of the Arctic, but among the mobile hunters and gatherers of eastern and central North America, where the solitary vision quest practiced in parts of the Pacific Northwest took on an importance in tribal religious life perhaps unparalleled elsewhere in the world. The tribes of southeastern North America possessed, in economic, political, and ceremonial terms, “the richest culture of any native people north of Mexico,” a culture strongly influenced by civilizations in Mesoamerica. Most tribes combined hunting and gathering with intensive farming of maize, beans, and squash; their societies were hierarchically ranked by age or achievement. These linguistically diverse but culturally similar peoples were organized into highly centralized chiefdoms.

Keywords:   quest, transcendence, North America, tribes, culture, Mesoamerica, chiefdoms

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