Aguilera's _Native Religions of Americas_

What native religions of the americas are and are not

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What Native Religions of the Americas Are and Are Not Our social views condition how we interpret, accept or reject data, and decide which meanings we prefer and apply over others in our attempts to understand other peoples. Native ontology is a crucial component to understanding aboriginal Americans. Indigenous American terms glossed into Judeo-Christian concepts are often misleading. The word camay (ckamay) in
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26 Quechua, having no counterpart in English, is often glossed as “to ensoul,” connotes an action giving rise to something expressing itself. Similarly, in Mayan, the term k'aax na'ach' (ckaash na chh) is used by Maya ritualists when an entity is “tethered” by them, or of its own volition, to a body-object that includes humans, animals, plants, as well as ceramics, rocks, pools of water, and even meteorological phenomena whereby it can express itself. Camay and k'aax na'ach' try to enact some form of desired change in something. Ritualization based on camay and k'aax na'ach' are often associated by non- native speakers within the Judeo-Christian-Muslim category of sacred but this is inaccurate. The Mayan word often glossed into sacred is k'ul (ku ul), however, this word refers to great character and strong personality and is therefore used as an adjective for the fireball in the sky we call the sun as well as other potent objects that include structures and land features. The Mayan k’ul is similar to the Quechua notion of huaca (whuacka) connoting potent places that one should diplomatically respect as if honored kin. Being Religious in Aboriginal America Much indigenous American ritual is fertility focused, its practitioners being quite practical, with many sexual images and artifacts from pre-Columbian America having erotic detail and exuberantly so for the Moche (100-800 CE) of Peru exhibiting their pornographic joy of sex. Being practical is human and this insight helps unravel ancient peoples’ actions and thought. Ancient Americans, from North to South, used to loot their own peoples structures where wealth items were buried with their particular locality’s deceased. We often assume that non-Westerners think their governors are divine, their cities and structures holy, and their burials sacred; however, what we regard as religious is often as much secular within aboriginal America. Reverence, respect, and veneration offered to the environment and ancestors do not equate unidirectional causality deeming worship. Because an object or a directed action is reflective of what we consider the non-ordinary does not mean it pertains to or is aimed at distinct, discrete, otherworld realms by indigenous Americans. Being religious in Judeo- Christian-Muslim traditions relates to actions associated with piety, worship, and fear/love of the divine as supernaturally derived from Godhood. Ethnographies on indigenous Americans defy our Cartesian-derived dualistic characterizations. Our objects of study however, from the colonial period and increasingly onward, have had no recourse but to use our words when speaking European languages to defend their causes, be they linked to land disputes or other matters concerning indigenous sovereignty.
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