Damien Marie AtHope’s Art


My art above is my artistic reference of an actual picture of “Alice Kehoe taking notes during her interview with Joe Douquette about the Moose Mountain Medicine Wheel.” ref

Alice Beck Kehoe

Alice Beck Kehoe (born 1934, New York City) is a feminist anthropologist and archaeologist. She has done considerable field research among Native American peoples in the upper plains of the US and Canada, and has authored research volumes on Native American archaeology and Native American history. She is also the author of several general anthropology and archaeology textbooks. She attended Barnard College and Harvard University, from which she received her PhD in Anthropology. While a student at Barnard, she was influenced by James Ford, Gordon Ekholm, and Junius Bird; she worked summers at the American Museum of Natural History Anthropology Department. While at Harvard, she worked with Gordon Willey and Evon Vogt. Many of her influences have been colleagues such as David H. Kelley, Jane Kelley, Jennifer Brown, Robert L. HallGeorge F. Carter and his students Stephen C. Jett and Carl Johannesen.” ref

Kehoe taught at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln before teaching at Marquette University, from which she retired in 2000 as professor emeritus. She resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Kehoe has held offices with the American Anthropological Association (AAA), and was president of the Central States Anthropological Society (CSAS). Kehoe has studied many aspects of Native America and is a strong believer in the theoretical link between the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex (SECC) (of the Native southeastern U.S.) and Mesoamerica (Mexico and Central America). Her principal area of interest is the archaeology and cultures of the northwestern plains of the U.S.ref

“While searching for an ethnographic research topic for her dissertation, she happened upon the Saskatchewan Dakota New Tidings Ghost Dance. Kehoe has worked many years with the Blackfeet of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, an Algonquian Native American group of Browning, Montana, with whom she visits each year to study their history and culture. She has studied Native American spiritual healers (“medicine people”) and worked with Piakwutch, “an elderly deeply respected Cree man who served his Saskatchewan Cree community…”. She has also worked among Native Americans of Bolivia at Lake Titicaca, where she chewed coca leaves with Native women of the region.ref

“Kehoe has taken some contrarian or controversial positions throughout her career. One of the original proponents of feminist archaeology, she coedited with Sarah Milledge Nelson one of the first collections of feminist archaeology papers, Powers of Observation in 1990. She is one of the few in the field with an expansive view of pre-Columbian transoceanic contacts, summarized in her book Traveling Prehistoric Seas. This interest led to her meeting Richard Nielsen, who asked her to advise on archaeological aspects while testing the Kensington Runestone of Minnesota. Though a majority of relevant scholars have concluded the Runestone is a 19th Century hoax, nevertheless there remains a community convinced of the stone’s authenticity. Kehoe is satisfied the item represents actual runic writing by members of a Scandinavian voyage to North America in the 14th century.ref

“Her interpretation of the Kensington Runestone convinced Kehoe of a different North American history than what is widely taught in schools. She states:

It has been conventional to treat American history as if it were identical with United States history. Such a myopic view cuts students off from the context in which the United States developed, a larger history that will not go away. America’s history begins some fourteen thousand years ago … Invading Europeans met no wilderness, but landscapes and resources rendered through millennia of human actions.ref

“In her many years of teaching and writing, Kehoe has emphasized the importance of critical thinking in looking at anthropology, archaeology, and history, particularly as it pertains to Native America. She speaks of the “limited and biased archaeological record” (2007: personal communication) of the Americas and of how many archaeologists were molded by preconceptions of ancient Amerindians having been “savage” or “primitive” and incapable of having “real” civilizations in European terms.ref

“Kehoe minces few words in her distaste for such tunnel-visioned attitudes, stating, for example, “…the massive mounds of the Midwest, most of them larger than any prehistoric mounds in Europe, could not be accommodated in a scenario of virgin wilderness inhabited by Men-Brutes…”

The history of American archaeology … is a remarkable example of post-hoc objectification of the doctrine of Manifest Destiny. From its inception, American archaeology has been politically charged, legitimating domination of North America by capitalists imbued with British bourgeois culture.ref

“In 2016, Kehoe was honored by the Plains Anthropological Association with its Distinguished Service Award for her “enduring work in Anthropology and Archaeology of the Great Plains” (wording on plaque presented to Kehoe). Her memoir of her career as a woman in American archaeology, Girl Archaeologist: Sisterhood in a Sexist Profession, was published in 2022 by University of Nebraska Press.ref

Her Works

  • “Kehoe, Alice Beck (1989). The Ghost Dance: Ethnohistory and Revitalization. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston. ISBN 978-1577664536.
  • Nelson, Sarah M. and Kehoe, Alice Beck, eds. (1990) Powers of Observation: Alternative Views of Archaeology. Archaeological Papers of AAA Archaeology Division 2. Washington: American Anthropological Association.
  • Kehoe, Alice B. (1992). North American Indians: A Comprehensive Account (3rd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. ISBN 978-0131928763.
  • Kehoe, Alice Beck (1998). Humans: An Introduction to Four-Field Anthropology. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415919845.
  • Kehoe, Alice Beck (1998). The Land of Prehistory: A Critical History of American Archaeology. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415920544.
  • Kehoe, Alice Beck; Emmerichs, Mary Beth, eds. (1999). Assembling the Past: Studies in the Professionalization of Archaeology. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 978-0826319395.
  • Kehoe, Alice Beck (2000). Shamans and Religion: An Anthropological Exploration in Critical Thinking. Prospect Heights, Ill.: Waveland Press. ISBN 978-1577661627.
  • Sterk, Helen M.; Hay, Carla H.; Kehoe, Alice B.; Ratcliffe, Krista; VendeVusse, Leona G. (2002). Who’s Having this Baby? Perspectives on Birthing. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press. ISBN 978-0870136153.
  • Kehoe, Alice Beck (2002). America Before the European Invasions. New York: Longman. ISBN 978-0582414860. Second edition titled North America Before the European Invasions, published 2017 by Routledge, New York.
  • Kehoe, Alice Beck (2005). The Kensington Runestone: Approaching a Research Question Holistically. Long Grove, Ill.: Waveland Press. ISBN 978-1577663713.
  • Kehoe, Alice Beck; Pleger, Thomas C. (2007). Archaeology: A Concise Introduction. Long Grove, Ill.: Waveland Press. ISBN 978-1577664505.
  • Kehoe, Alice Beck (2008). Controversies in Archaeology. Walnut Creek, Calif.: Left Coast Press. ISBN 978-1598740615.
  • Kehoe, Alice Beck (2012). Militant Christianity: An Anthropological History. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1137282149.
  • Wissler, Clark; Kehoe, Alice Beck; Miller, Stewart E. (2012). Amskapi Pikuni: The Blackfeet People. Albany: State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-1438443355.
  • Kehoe, Alice (2014). A Passion for the True and Just: Felix and Lucy Kramer Cohen and the Indian New Deal. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. ISBN 978-0816530939.
  • Kehoe, Alice (2016). Traveling Prehistoric Seas: Critical Thinking on Ancient Transoceanic Voyages. Walnut Creek, Calif.: Left Coast Press. ISBN 978-1-62958-067-8.
  • Kehoe, Alice (2022). Girl Archaeologist: Sisterhood in a Sexist Profession. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 978-1496229366.ref

Alice Kehoe, Anthropologist and Archaeologist

“Alice Beck Kehoe is well-known within the field of American archaeology for questioning orthodoxy and challenging the traditional white male perspective on other cultures, past and present. She has published seventeen books, of which one has had three editions and three others a second edition, plus numerous articles and professional papers. Several of her books are texts widely used in anthropological courses. Teaching thousands of undergraduates honed her ability to present ideas in direct, lively prose and to use stories and anecdotes that prick readers’ unconscious biases. Above, Alice Kehoe with husband Thomas F. Kehoe and youngest son (behind his parents), in the field, Saskatchewan.” ref 

“It provides an important native perspective on revitalization movements. The explanation is thorough and insightful.” –Tori L. Jennings, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point

The Far North was a fabled territory to city dwellers in “civilized,” temperate Europe. Classical Greek and Roman geographers told their readers that north beyond civilized settlements roamed cannibals; dog-headed people who barked; people who hibernated half of the year or spent half the year underwater; people who had no notion of private property, marriage, or laws. Medieval travel writers including Marco Polo repeated the fantastic tales. Meanwhile, the Russian kingdoms of Novgorod and then Moscow developed a trade in expensive furs—sable, fox, and beaver—with northern hunters. By the end of the sixteenth century, Cossacks employed by Russian agents shattered Tatar rule in Sibir and extended the Czar’s sovereignty through a series of fortified trading posts where natives were obliged to pay tribute in the form of furs, receiving “gifts” from “the czar’s exalted hand” in return.” – Shamans and Religion, An Anthropological Exploration in Critical Thinking by Alice Beck Kehoe

The “gifts” were axes and knives, cloth, beads, tea, sugar, and tobacco, presented with exotic food (Russian bread) and liquor. Superficially, it looked like the Western European trade with American Indians that would develop a century later, except that Russia considered the Siberian nations to be their subjects and enforced tribute with military campaigns. Siberia being an exceedingly large territory, it took Russia a good two centuries to push sovereignty eastward to the Pacific, and then the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 turned the Czar’s rule into Soviet domination.” – Shamans and Religion, An Anthropological Exploration in Critical Thinking by Alice Beck Kehoe

Russian or Soviet, the conquering power officially classified the non-Russian people as “aliens.” A few “aliens” were formally educated town-dwellers or peasant farmers and could be treated like Russians, many were classified as “nomads” who moved with their herds regularly to seasonal pastures, and others were classified as “wanderers” who hunted and fished apparently (so far as the Russian officials noticed) without fixed movements. Nomads and wanderers were required to turn in annual fur tributes, but the Russian colonial officials let them continue their “alien” customs. “Aliens” who accepted Christian baptism were compelled to settle in Russian outposts. Native women who were married to, or kept as concubines by, Russians expected this, but for native men, it meant leaving their families and occupations of herding or hunting.” – Shamans and Religion, An Anthropological Exploration in Critical Thinking by Alice Beck Kehoe

For the Russian enterprise, it meant these men ceased to pay fur tribute; therefore, there was little government effort to convert the Siberians until, in 1702, Peter the Great encouraged the Russian Orthodox missionaries to bring soldiers with them to persuade whole villages to accept baptism after the priests burned their shrines and images of spirits. Czar Peter protected the Crown’s revenue by rescinding the rule that converts were freed of fur tribute. Through the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Russian interventions in Siberia became increasingly onerous for the indigenous nations. Siberian families became accustomed to trade for metal kettles as well as axes, knives, and traps, and purchased flour, tea, and sugar that were regularly eaten. Liquor and tobacco remained important constituents of the fur trade.” – Shamans and Religion, An Anthropological Exploration in Critical Thinking by Alice Beck Kehoe

The “aliens” were subject to labor taxes including road building, carting, providing firewood to heat the trading posts, and assisting officials. An 1822 law formally recognized a policy of indirect rule with Russian officials governing through designated male “clan elders” regardless of whether the people had clans. These appointees administered customary law and relieved some of the burdens of tribute collecting. A designated “clan elder” could be a shaman, or simply the oldest active responsible man in a district. Historian Yuri Slezkine (1994:88) considers this attitude toward the empire’s “aliens” to reflect nineteenth-century Western intellectuals’ belief that uncivilized (i.e., not living in cities) peoples are indicative of the early condition of human-kind, incapable of performing the obligations and rights of citizens. Superficially, the policy seems benign, but in fact, it was racist, denying the social achievements of the small nations adapted to the harsh environments of the north.” – Shamans and Religion, An Anthropological Exploration in Critical Thinking by Alice Beck Kehoe

“Good scholarship, good science, and ethics oblige anthropologists to maintain the terms “shaman” and “shamanism” primarily to Siberian practitioners so called in their homelands. The terms may be used with notes of caution for apparently similar practitioners in the zone of north-ern steppes, forests, and tundra in which Siberians historically linked with Saami, Inuit, and American Indians. Outside this northern zone, differences are large and similarities seem generally attributable to use of that human ability for “deepening” concentration employed by psychitrists.” – Shamans and Religion, An Anthropological Exploration in Critical Thinking by Alice Beck Kehoe

I (Damien) think shamanism both evolved in different areas differently, then when the interactions came later, I think there was a sharing of religious ideas that went into others’ religious beliefs. I do think Siberia influenced Mongolia, Japan, Korea, and China. And also both China and Mongolia influenced Siberia as well. I see it as a normal interaction with religious beliefs in general to me.

Understanding Religion Evolution per Damien’s speculations from the evidence:

Pre-Animism (at least 300,000 years ago) possibly Africa, Middle East, and Eurasia

Animism (at least 100,000 years ago) possibly Southern Africa or maybe Central Africa

Totemism (at least 50,000/45,000 years ago) possibly around Germany, France, or somewhere in West Europe

Shamanism (at least 30,000/35,000 years ago) possibly West Siberia or East Russia

Paganism (at least 12,000/13,000 years ago) Turkey And/or Levant: “Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria”

Progressed organized religion (at least 5,000 years ago), (Egypt, the First Dynasty 5,150 years ago)

Africans, too, carry Neanderthal genetic legacy. Ancient Europeans took Neanderthal DNA back to Africa.

“A study in 2023 revealed an unexpectedly large amount of Neanderthal ancestry in modern populations across Africa. It suggests much of that DNA came from Europeans migrating back into Africa over the past 20,000 years. As members of Homo sapiens spread from Africa into Eurasia some 70,000 years ago, they met and mingled with Neanderthals. Researchers knew that later back-migrations of Europeans had introduced a bit of Neanderthal DNA into African populations, but previous work suggested it was a just a smidgen. In contrast, modern Europeans and East Asians apparently inherited about 2% of their DNA from Neanderthals.” ref

“The best fit model for where Africans got all this Neanderthal DNA suggests about half of it came when Europeans—who had Neanderthal DNA from previous matings—migrated back to Africa in the past 20,000 years. The model suggests the rest of the DNA shared by Africans and the Altai Neanderthal (Altai Mountains: Central Asia/Siberia) might not be Neanderthal at all: Instead, it may be DNA from early modern humans that was simply retained in both Africans and Eurasians—and was picked up by Neanderthals, perhaps when moderns made a failed migration from Africa to the Middle East more than 100,000 years ago.” ref

“By suggesting that Europeans introduced Neanderthal sequences into Africa, the new study points to an explanation: Researchers previously assumed that Neanderthal sequences shared by Europeans and Africans were modern and subtracted them out. After correcting for that bias, the new study found similar amounts of Neanderthal DNA in Europeans and Asians—51 and 55 Mb, respectively. It’s a “convincing and elegant” explanation, Harris says.” ref

I want to try to trace shamanism from its origins and then the spread and evolution of shamanism starting in likely in Siberia, to me. As I am wanting to address shamanism in Siberia, China, Scandinavia, and the Americas. Shamanism as seen in related artifacts, seeming behaviors, and likely mythologies.

“The sheer magnitude of our shamanic ancestry means one of two things: either shamanism originated once prior to the human diaspora some 70,000 years ago and has been preserved since, or it has arisen independently countless times in premodern human cultures.” ref 

I don’t agree that this is the only option as mass migrations from Siberia, North Asia, and Eurasia more generally can also hint at a later origin.

To me, shamanism origin is sometime close to 30,000 years ago, and the spreading of shamanism with a few main DNA branches, such as Haplogroup R and its subbranch of U. As well as Q, that is one of the two branches of P1 (possible place of origin: Central Asia or Siberia 38,000 BCE), the other being R. P1, as well as R* and Q* were observed among Ancient North Eurasians, a Paleolithic Siberian population. Basal U was found in the 26,000 years old remains of Ancient North EurasianMal’ta boy (MA1). And only one confirmed example of basal R* has been found, in 24,000-year-old remains, known as MA1, found at Mal’ta–Buret’ culture near Lake Baikal in Siberia. A 2018 study found basal P1* in two Siberian individuals dated to the Upper Paleolithic (around 31,630 years old) from a Yana river archaeological site in northeastern Siberia, Russia, north of the Arctic Circle in the far west of Beringia. Archaeologists have noted similarities between the Yana RHS and the Clovis culture, especially their respective stone industries and distinctive spear foreshafts. 






I think animism started 100,000 years ago, totemism 50,000-45,000 years ago, and shamanism 30,000-35,000 years ago.

Animism (simplified to me as a belief in a perceived spirit world) passably by at least 100,000 years ago “the primal stage of early religion” To me, Animistic Somethingism: You just feel/think there has to be something supernatural/spirit-world or feel/think things are supernatural/spirit-filled.

Totemism (simplified to me, as a belief that these perceived spirits could be managed or related with by created physical expressions) passably by at least 50,000 years ago “progressed stage of early religion” A totem is a representational spirit being, a sacred object, or symbol of a group of people, clan, or tribe.

Shamanism (simplified to me as a belief that some special person can commune with these perceived spirits on the behalf of others by way of rituals) passably by at least 30,000 years ago Shamanism is an otherworld connection belief thought to heal the sick, communicate with spirits/deities, and escort souls of the dead.

Haplogroup R possible origin in Central Asia, South Asia, or Siberia and seen in several cultures:

Mal’ta–Buret’ culture (24,000-15,000 years ago)

Afontova Gora culture (21,000-12,000 years ago)

Trialetian culture (16,000–8000 years ago)

Samara culture (7,000-6,500 years ago)

Khvalynsk culture (7,000-6,500 years ago)

Afanasievo culture (5,300-4,500 years ago)

Yamna/Yamnaya Culture (5,300-4,500 years ago)

Andronovo culture (4,000–2,900 years ago) 

“Haplogroup U is a human mitochondrial DNA haplogroup (mtDNA). The clade arose from haplogroup R, likely during the early Upper Paleolithic. Basal U was found in the 26,000 years old remains of Ancient North Eurasian, Mal’ta boy (MA1 24,000 years old). Its various subclades (labelled U1–U9, diverging over the course of the Upper Paleolithic) are found widely distributed across Northern and Eastern Europe, Central, Western and South Asia, as well as North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and the Canary Islands. In a 2013 study, all but one of the ancient modern human sequences from Europe belonged to maternal haplogroup U, thus confirming previous findings that haplogroup U was the dominant type of Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in Europe before the spread of agriculture into Europe and the presence and the spread of the Indo-Europeans in Western Europe. The age of U5 is estimated at between 25,000 and 35,000 years old, roughly corresponding to the Gravettian culture. Approximately 11% of Europeans (10% of European-Americans) have some variant of haplogroup U5. U5 was the predominant mtDNA of mesolithic Western Hunter Gatherers (WHG).” ref

“U5 has been found in human remains dating from the Mesolithic in England, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, France and Spain. Neolithic skeletons (around 7,000 years old or so) that were excavated from the Avellaner cave in Catalonia, northeastern Spain included a specimen carrying haplogroup U5. Haplogroup U5 and its subclades U5a and U5b today form the highest population concentrations in the far north, among Sami, Finns, and Estonians. However, it is spread widely at lower levels throughout Europe. This distribution, and the age of the haplogroup, indicate individuals belonging to this clade were part of the initial expansion tracking the retreat of ice sheets from Europe around 10,000 years ago. U5b1b: has been found in Saami of Scandinavia, Finnish and the Berbers of North Africa, which were found to share an extremely young branch, aged merely around 9,000 years old or so. U5b1b was also found in Fulbe and Papel people in Guinea-Bissau and Yakuts people of northeastern Siberia. It arose around 11,000 years ago.” ref 

Gravettian Culture “last European culture many consider unified” (33/35,000–24/20,000 years ago). Which Damien thinks expresses the first earliest shamanism. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravettian

Pavlovian Culture “variant of the Gravettian” as seen in Czech Republic, Austria, and Poland (29,000–25,000 years ago). Which Damien thinks expresses the earliest burial of a shaman. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pavlovian_culture

Epigravettian Culture (Greek: epi “above, on top of”, and Gravettian, because they likely continued a lot of the Gravettian Culture) as seen in Southern and Eastern Europe (20,000–10,000 years ago) Which Damien thinks may have brought/influenced the people in the Middle East/Turkey to add belief in goddesses and female art/figurine themes to their early paganism emerging out or older shamanism 11,000/10,000 years ago. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epigravettian

Magdalenian Culture as seen in Western Europe: “The earliest Magdalenian sites are in France and the Epigravettian is a similar culture appearing around the same time” (17,000–12,000 years ago) Which Damien thinks started to evolve Western Eurasian shamanism. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magdalenian

“The Magdalenian constitutes a civilization in the full meaning of the term, with its unique metaphysics, social rules, exchanges codified with nature via its art and weaponry. Before any climatic improvement then, daring was enough to both distinguish these populations from those that disappeared on a European scale and to invent facultative weapons, a conquering mythology, appropriate displacements, episodic ruptures, long-distance relays, flexibility in control over all kinds of environments, ritual delegation by shamanism, the “descent” of mythical decoration of rock walls in favor of mobile supports, such as modern crucifixes or portable altars.” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1040618212001450 

The Evidence of Shamanism Rituals in Early Prehistoric Periods of Europe and Anatolia

“Shamanism Rituals in Palaeolithic Siberian shamans (Eastern Eurasian Shamanism) believe that shamanism emerged in the period when hunting and gathering was the main means to support. Ethnographic evidence suggests that hunter-gatherer groups would have seen the environment as giving and reciprocating, and that their spirit worlds would have consisted largely of animals and natural features with which shaman-like figures may have mediated. From this point of view, it is best to begin investigating prehistoric shamanism in Palaeolithic rituals and related cave paintings of Europe. The shamanic hypothesis that cave art is based on a fusion of direct evidence from the caves themselves with observations of more recent hunter-gatherer societies that still produce rock art. However, not all cultures have specific shamanic ritual locations, and even when they are present, shamans will perform some rituals away from them. Ritual areas are typically viewed as the literal doorway between the spiritual and physical worlds, and are often an opening into the earth, like caves or springs, or elevated spaces such as mountains and even caves in mountains.” ref 

People like simple but I don’t see a simple tapestry of religion. Like languages, they like changing and developing.

The First Nations of Saskatchewan are: Nêhiyawak (Plains Cree), Nahkawininiwak (Saulteaux), Nakota (Assiniboine), Dakota and Lakota (Sioux), and Denesuline (Dene/Chipewyan).” ref 

Native Americans in Florida are: Ais, Apalachee, Calusa, Creek, Miccosukee, Seminole, Timucua, and Yemassee.” ref

Alice B Kehoe,  lived several years in Regina, Saskatchewan, where Cory lives, and she also did archaeology work around there as well. She worked on the site Moose Mountain Medicine Wheel (about 2000 years old) in southeastern Saskatchewan.


Moose Mountain Medicine Wheel 

On top of a wind-swept hill in southeastern Saskatchewan, there’s a cairn of boulders connected to a large circle of rocks surrounding it by five lines of stones resembling spokes in a wheel. The Moose Mountain Medicine Wheel has been a sacred site for Northern Plains Indians for more than 2,000 years. And yet its origins and purpose remain hidden amid the fog of pre-history. Theories, from the scientific to the other-worldly, abound. But one thing is certain: medicine wheels like the one at Moose Mountain are disappearing, one stone at a time.” ref

And First Nations peoples and archaeologists, alike, fear they may be gone by the next generation. The Moose Mountain Medicine Wheel was first noted by Canadians of European ancestry in an 1895 report written by land surveyors. The report described the central cairn of the wheel as being about 14 feet high, says Ian Brace, an archaeologist with the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Regina. “The central rock cairn is now about a foot-and-a-half high,” says Brace. “There’ve been people from all points on the globe who’ve not only visited the site, but taken a rock home with them.” ref

“Theft, vandalism and agriculture have reduced to about 170 the number of medicine wheels on the Northern Plains of North America. Brace says he can’t even guess how many wheels once graced the plains. But if the destruction of tipi rings is any indication of the degree of desecration besetting medicine wheels, “in my life time, they might just disappear”. Though medicine wheels are sacred to all plains Indian groups, their symbolism and meaning vary from tribe to tribe.” ref

“The oldest wheels date back about 4,000 years, to the time of the Egyptian pyramids and the English megaliths like Stonehenge. (Moose Mountain has been radio-carbon dated to 800 BCE, however, Brace says it’s possible an older boulder alignment exists beneath the exposed one.) The Blackfoot, first of the current Indian groups on the plains of what are now Saskatchewan and Alberta, arrived about 800 CE.” ref

“When the Blackfoot arrived in the new environment it was already populated by two groups of people called the “Tunaxa” and the “Tunaha”, according to Blackfoot oral history. Brace and others believe the three groups assimilated and the Blackfoot carried on the tradition of building medicine wheel monuments. Alberta and Saskatchewan host the majority of known medicine wheels. Others are located in North Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming.” ref

“Like the Blackfoot before them, Indian groups who migrated to the Northern Plains adopted the medicine wheel as a cultural and spiritual icon. Simon Kytwayhat, a Cree elder who lives in Saskatoon, says he learned his Cree perspective on the meaning of the medicine wheel from elders. Kytwayhat’s interpretation associates the four directions represented on the wheel with the four races and their attributes — the circle and the number four are sacred symbols in First Nations’ spirituality.” ref

“South, says Kytwayhat, stands for the color yellow, the Asian people, the Sun, and intellect, while west represents the black race, the color black, the Thunderbird, and emotion. North is associated with the color white, the white man, winter and physicality — “white people sometimes rush into things without considering the consequences” — and east is identified with the color red, the Indian person, spirituality, and the eagle.” ref

“The eagle has great vision, and so do those who follow the spiritual path in life.” Kytwayhat said he used to blame the white man for all the troubles experienced by Indians. “In time, I came to see the real meaning of the medicine wheel is the brotherhood of man. How you treat others comes back to you around the circle.” ref

“If First Nations’ peoples have divergent views on the meaning of the medicine wheel, members of the non-Native community, including scientists, are often poles apart. The Mormon Church believes the wheels were built by the Aztecs, and Swiss author Erich von Daniken contends they’re a link to pre-historic astronauts. New-Agers, meanwhile, embrace them as spiritual symbols and construct their own near existing sites.” ref

“In the 1970s, Colorado astronomer John Eddy proposed wheels like Moose Mountain and Bighorn, in Wyoming, were calendars whose cairns and spokes aligned with celestial markers like Rigel, Aldebaran and Sirius to forecast events like the return of the buffalo. “It’s all over the map,” says Ernie Walker, head of the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.” ref

“We don’t know whether some have astronomical alignments or not — if some do, they’re very much in the minority. A lot of (archaeologists) doubt it.” Brace says the astronomical theory is easily debunked by simply imagining someone trying to carry out celestial alignments over the 17-foot crest that separates one side of the Moose Mountain wheel from the other. “Even standing on a horse, you can’t see the other side.”

“Archaeologists and Blackfoot elders appear to agree on at least one kind of medicine wheel. Walker says most archaeologists of the Northern Plains recognize eight different classes or styles of medicine wheels. “Lo-and-behold, the Blackfoot elders have routinely referred to one of these eight styles — although they don’t call it that — and they strongly indicate these were monuments to particular people, or events that happened in the past. I think there’s some consensus on that.” ref

“Brace points out the most recent wheel was constructed in Alberta in 1938, as a memorial to a renowned Blackfoot leader. Brace has come up with a medicine wheel definition that allows him to categorize the 12 to 14 Saskatchewan wheels, which range in diameter from 45 to 144 metres (160 yards), into four groups: burial; surrogate burial; fertility symbol; and “medicine hunting.” ref

“Burial and surrogate burial, as the names imply, are grave sites and memorials. The longest line of boulders in such wheels points to the direction of the honoree’s birth, while shorter ones point to places of courageous acts or remarkable deeds. Fertility wheels have the same pattern of radiating lines and circles employed as fertility symbols on the pottery and birch-bark “bitings” of other pre-historic, North American cultures, he says. The fertility wheels contain buried offerings their builders believed would increase the number of buffalo. “Medicine hunting”, meanwhile, may explain the origin of the Moose Mountain Medicine Wheel, says Brace.” ref

“If the people went into a particular place and they were without resources, they’d take the shoulder blade of the animal they wanted to hunt and put it in the fire. As the bone dried out, it would crack, and at the end of the crack you’d get blobs of fat. “They would interpret (the cracks with the blobs of fat) as indicating the directions they’d have to go to find those food resources, or people who had food to share. The cracks where fat did not accumulate would indicate a poor direction to go.” ref

“Brace suspects the medicine hunting wheel was created, and likely amended over time, to serve as a permanent hunting guide to succeeding generations of nomadic Indians. Permanent, that is, until the white culture came into contact with the red. In the 1980s, the land encompassing the Moose Mountain Medicine Wheel came under the jurisdiction of a First Nation band. Because visitors wishing to view it must first get permission from the band council, at least some degree of security is now assured, says Brace.” ref

“But most of Saskatchewan’s medicine wheels are on Crown, public and privately-owned land. Although they’re “protected” under provincial legislation that allows for fines of up to $3,000 for anyone caught desecrating a medicine wheel, enforcement is difficult. Most of the surviving medicine wheels are situated “off the beaten path”, accessible only to those bent on finding them, says Brace. The same remoteness that protects the wheels from the ravages of high foot traffic, however, also protects the unscrupulous from being caught stealing or vandalizing them.” ref

“It’s a problem that has no easy solution, but Brace says there may be hope in the Indian land-claims process. If ownership of the medicine-wheel sites located on public and Crown land could be transferred to Indian bands, and if Indian families could be induced to reside on the sites, security would be greatly enhanced. In the mean time, people wishing to see a medicine wheel might consider a visit to Wanuskewin Heritage Park, near Saskatoon. There’s no better place to learn about the people to whom the circles remain sacred, and the science that seeks to know why. Readers may also be interested in our story about rock carvings at St. Victor, in south-central Saskatchewan, and rock paintings in northern Saskatchewan on the Churchill River.” ref

“Moose Mountain Upland, Moose Mountain Uplands, or commonly Moose Mountain, is a hilly plateau located in the south-east corner of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, that covers an area of about 13,000 km2 (5,000 sq mi). The upland rises about 200 m (660 ft) above the broad, flat prairie which is about 600 m (2,000 ft) above sea level. The highest peak is “Moose Mountain” at 830 m (2,720 ft) above sea level. The area was named Moose Mountain because of the large number of moose that lived in the area. When it was originally used by fur tradersMétis, and the Indigenous peoples, the plateau was called Montagne a la Bosse, which is French for “The Mountain of The Bump or Knob.” ref

Before the most recent continental glaciation 23,000 years ago, Moose Mountain was capped by Tertiary-age gravels. As the ice began to retreat about 17,000 years ago from southern Saskatchewan, the highest hills formed nunataks in the ice sheet. The protrusion of the Moose Mountain Upland initiated an interlobate area between two glacial lobes, the Weyburn Lobe and the Moose Mountain Lobe. On the southern side of the upland, in the interlobate area, a short lived glacial lake named Lake Arcola formed. The Moose Mountain Creek Spillway drained the area southward into the Souris Spillway. As the ice was melting away, large chunks were left behind forming depressions called kettles or potholes (locally, the depressions are called sloughs) in the ground. The retreating ice also left small shallow lakes, knobs, and moraines dotted all over Moose Mountain and the surrounding prairies.ref

“This region of North America is referred to as the Prairie Pothole Region.

A large portion of the Canadian prairies is classified as having a knob and kettle topography. It is believed that this topography was formed by glacial movement. As the glaciers advanced, till was pushed into mounds in some locations and in other locations large blocks of the glacier ice were buried. After the glacier retreated these large buried blocks of ice melted leaving a depression that geologists call a kettle. These kettles are the wetlands or sloughs that are prevalent on the prairie landscape.ref

Indigenous people have lived in the area of southern Saskatchewan for about 11,000 years and were originally nomadic hunters and gatherers. The area provided plenty of big game such as buffalo, deer, and elk as well as a variety of berries such as saskatoons, blueberries, and raspberries and edible plants like wild rice, turnips, and onions. The earliest archaeological evidence of First Nations in the Moose Mountain area is the Moose Mountain Medicine Wheel which carbon dates to about 800 BCE. The Medicine Wheel is located on the plateau’s highest peak and is under jurisdiction of the Pheasant Rump Nations Band.ref

“From the 1700s a large network of trails were developed that criss-crossed the prairies that the Métis, First Nations, and other fur traders used as a transportation network for furs and other goods. One of the trails, the Fort ElliceWood Mountain Trail ran along the east and to the south of the Moose Mountain Upland. It was mainly a provisions trail transporting pemmican from buffalo hunting grounds near Wood Mountain back to Port Ellice. It operated from 1757 to about the 1850s. Since there are no major waterways near Moose Mountain and since beaver are not native to the area (two breeding pairs were introduced in 1923 and thrived), it did not play a significant role in the fur trade. Also, combined with its unsuitability for agriculture, much of the plateau remained in situ until the late 1800s. Even today much of the area remains undeveloped and in a natural state.ref

“One of the first major trails to be built was the Christopher Trail. It was built from Kenosee Lake to Cannington Manor in the 1890s by the Christopher family, who were German immigrants that had a homestead 7 miles east of Kenosee Lake, and the Fripp brothers who owned land on the north-east corner of Kenosee Lake (where the village of Kenosee Lake sits today). Fred Christopher and his two sons cut through 6.4 kilometres of bush going from east to west and the Fripp brothers, Harold and Percy, started at Kenosee Lake and cut through 4.8 kilometres of bush to meet near the middle. Along the trail, two human skeletons were found near a lake. That lake was named Skeleton Lake. Today, that trail is a well-travelled gravel road that runs from Kenosee Lake to Cannington Manor.ref

“The first road to Kenosee Lake was built in 1905 and went from about 3 miles west of Carlyle north into the upland past the lakes of McGurk, Stevenson, and Hewitt to the west side of Kenosee Lake, near where the Bible camps are today. At that time, there was a resort on the west side of the lake called Arcola Resort. The south side of Moose Mountain Upland rises sharply above the flat plains while the north side has a more gradual ascent. Compared to the surrounding landscape, the upland, which appears oval in shape when viewed from above, is quite hilly and heavily wooded.ref

“Moose Mountain at 830 metres above sea level is the highest peak and is located on the south side of the plateau near the middle. Highway 605 passes to the west of it. In the vicinity there are other unnamed hills over 800 metres. The next highest named hill is Heart Hill on the eastern side of the plateau located on White Bear First Nations. It is 774 metres high. The only other named summit in the region is Lost Horse Hill with a much lower elevation than most of the plateau at just over 660 metres. Lost Horse Hill is part of the Lost Horse Hills, which are a cluster of rolling hills partially on the Ocean Man Indian Reserve. These hills are located on the far west side of the plateau at the point where the plateau tapers off, south of Moose Mountain Lake and just west of the junction of Moose Mountain and Wolf Creeks. Highway 47 traverses the eastern slope of Lost Horse Hill.ref

Moose Mountain

  • Location: 49°47′0″N, 102°35′2″W
  • 830 meters above sea level
  • Prominence: 216 metres
  • 27th highest named peak in Saskatchewan

Heart Hill

  • Location: 49°45′0″N, 102°12′2″W
  • 774 metres above sea level
  • Prominence: 37 metres
  • 36th highest named peak in Saskatchewan

Lost Horse Hill

  • Location: 49°53′0″N, 103°3′2″W
  • 660 metres above sea level
  • Prominence: 24 metres
  • 71st highest named peak in Saskatchewanref

“At the heart of Moose Mountain Upland is Moose Mountain Provincial Park, which features the Moose Mountain Chalet and an 18-hole golf course. The development of the park and the building of the Chalet between 1931 and 1933 were part of an effort by the Saskatchewan Government to get people working during the Great Depression. The chalet and golf course were built in tandem with the idea of bringing wealthy people to the park. The largest lake on the plateau, Kenosee Lake, is found in the park. Kenosee Lake is stocked with fish, has a beach area, docks, miniature golf, and camping. Overlooking the lake is the Kenosee Inn & Cabins which features a conference room, 30 hotel rooms, and 23 cabins. Three Christian camps, Kenosee Lake Bible Camp.ref

“Clearview Christian Camp, and Kenosee Boys & Girls Camp are located on the western shore of the lake in Christopher Bay at the site of the former Arcola Resort. Also on the lake is the village of Kenosee Lake which has services such as a gas station, restaurant, and convenience store. To the east of the village, just off Highway 9, is Kenosee Superslides. There is also a ball diamond and hiking trails. Red Barn Market is located five kilometres north of Kenosee Lake near, the intersection of highways 9 and 48. In the winter there is ice fishing, a tobogganing hill, and sledding. On the White Bear First Nation, there is the Bear Claw Casino & Hotel, Carlyle Lake Resort, and White Bear Lake Golf Course.ref

“At the far western end of the upland, there are two other parks. At the south end of Moose Mountain Lake by the dam, there’s Lost Horse Hills Heritage Park. It’s a small park with a picnic area and dock and is accessed off Highway 47. At the north end of Moose Mountain Lake on the north side of Highway 711, is Saint Clair National Wildlife Area. It is one of 28 Prairie National Wildlife Areas in Saskatchewan. In 1974 Saskairie, a Nature Conservancy of Canada property, was established on the southern slope of Moose Mountain Upland. It is three-quarters of a section located along the southern border of Moose Mountain Provincial Park and along the eastern shore of Kippan Lake, about 2 miles west from the south-western most corner of White Bear Indian Reserve.ref


Thomas F. Kehoe and Alice B. Kehoe
Plains Anthropologist
Published By: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.

“Eleven boulder configurations in Saskatchewan were examined in 1975 for possible astronomical alignments. Three were found to contain alignments to summer solstice phenomena. Ethnographic interviewing failed to discover any tradition of solstice marking in the historic tribes of the Northwestern Plains, but did suggest that the boulder configurations may have been constructed for the private observations of calendar-keeping shamans. Ethnoarchaeological mapping of a 1975 Sun Dance camp revealed that the ceremonial structures were aligned to sunrise, but whether this was deliberate, and if deliberate, traditional, could not be determined.” ref


“A map of known medicine wheels.” ref

Medicine Wheels?

“Medicine wheels have been identified in South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. The oldest identified medicine wheel is the 5,500-year-old Majorville Cairn in southern Alberta.” ref

“To some indigenous peoples of North America, the medicine wheel is a metaphor for a variety of spiritual concepts. A medicine wheel may also be a stone monument that illustrates this metaphor. Historically, most medicine wheels follow the basic pattern of having a center of stone, and surrounding that is an outer ring of stones with “spokes” (lines of rocks) radiating from the center to the cardinal directions (east, south, west, and north). These stone structures may be called “medicine wheels” by the nation which built them, or more specific terms in that nation’s language.” ref

“Physical medicine wheels made of stone were constructed by several different indigenous peoples in North America, especially the Plains Indians. They are associated with religious ceremonies. As a metaphor, they may be used in healing work or to illustrate other cultural concepts. The medicine wheel has been adopted as a symbol by a number of pan-Indian groups, or other native groups whose ancestors did not traditionally use it as a symbol or structure. It has also been appropriated by non-indigenous people, usually those associated with New Age communities.” ref

“The Royal Alberta Museum (2005) holds that the term “medicine wheel” was first applied to the Big Horn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming, the southernmost archeological wheel still extant. The term “medicine” was not applied because of any healing that was associated with the medicine wheel, but denotes that the sacred site and rock formations were of central importance and attributed with religious, hallowed, and spiritual significance.” ref

“As a metaphor, the concept of the sacred hoop of life, also used by multiple Nations, is sometimes conflated with that of the medicine wheel. A 2007 Indian Country Today article on the history of the modern Hoop Dance defines the dancer’s hoop this way: The hoop is symbolic of “the never-ending circle of life.” It has no beginning and no end. Intentionally erecting massive stone structures as sacred architecture is a well-documented activity of ancient monolithic and megalithic peoples.” ref

“The Royal Alberta Museum posits the possible point of origin, or parallel tradition, to other round structures such as the tipi lodge, stones used as “foundation stones” or “tent-pegs“:

Scattered across the plains of Alberta are tens of thousands of stone structures. Most of these are simple circles of cobble stones which once held down the edges of the famous tipi of thePlains Indians; these are known as “tipi rings.” Others, however, were of a more esoteric nature. Extremely large stone circles – some greater than 12 meters across – may be the remains of specialceremonial dancestructures. A few cobble arrangements form the outlines of human figures, most of them obviously male. Perhaps the most intriguing cobble constructions, however, are the ones known as medicine wheels.” ref

“Stone medicine wheels are sited throughout the northern United States and southern Canada, specifically South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Alberta and Saskatchewan. The majority of the approximately 70 documented stone structures still extant are in Alberta, Canada. One of the prototypical medicine wheels is in the Bighorn National Forest in Big Horn County, Wyoming. This 75-foot-diameter (23 m) wheel has 28 spokes, and is part of a vast set of old Native American sites that document 7,000 years of their history in that area. Medicine wheels are also found in Ojibwa territory, the common theory is that they were built by the prehistoric ancestors of the Assiniboine people. Larger astronomical and ceremonial petroforms, and Hopewell mound building sites are also found in North America.” ref

“In defining the commonalities among different stone medicine wheels, the Royal Alberta Museum cites the definition given by John Brumley, an archaeologist from Medicine Hat, that a medicine wheel “consists of at least two of the following three traits: (1) a central stone cairn, (2) one or more concentric stone circles, and/or (3) two or more stone lines radiating outward from a central point.” From the air, a medicine wheel often looks like a wagon wheel lying on its side. The wheels can be large, reaching diameters of 75 feet.” ref

“The most common variation between different wheels are the spokes. There is no set number of spokes for a medicine wheel to have although there are usually 28, the same number of days in a lunar cycle. The spokes within each wheel are rarely evenly spaced, or even all the same length. Some medicine wheels will have one particular spoke that is significantly longer than the rest. The spokes may start from the center cairn and go out only to the outer ring, others go past the outer ring, and some spokes start at the outer ring and go out from there.” ref

“Sometimes there is a passageway, or a doorway, in the circles. The outer ring of stones will be broken, and there will be a stone path leading in to the center of the wheel. Some have additional circles around the outside of the wheel, sometimes attached to spokes or the outer ring, and sometimes floating free of the main structure.” ref 

“While alignment with the cardinal directions is common, some medicine wheels are also aligned with astronomical phenomena involving the sun, moon, some stars, and some planets in relation to the Earth’s horizon at that location. The wheels are generally considered to be sacred sites, connected in various ways to the builders’ particular culture, lore and ceremonial ways. Other North American indigenous peoples have made somewhat-similar petroforms, turtle-shaped stone piles with the legs, head, and tail pointing out the directions and aligned with astronomical events.” ref

“Stone medicine wheels have been built and used for ceremonies for millennia, and each one has enough unique characteristics and qualities that archaeologists have encountered significant challenges in determining with precision what each one was for; similarly, gauging their commonality of function and meaning has also been problematic.” ref

“One of the older wheels, the Majorville medicine wheel located south of Bassano, Alberta, has been dated at 3200 BCE (5200 years ago) by careful stratification of known artifact types. Like Stonehenge, it had been built up by successive generations who would add new features to the circle. Due to that and its long period of use (with a gap in its use between 3000 and 2000 years ago, archaeologists believe that the function of the medicine wheel changed over time.” ref

“Astronomer John Eddy put forth the suggestions that some of the wheels had astronomical significance, where spokes on a wheel could be pointing to certain stars, as well as sunrise or sunset, at a certain time of the year, suggesting that the wheels were a way to mark certain days of the year. In a paper for the Journal for the History of Astronomy Professor Bradley Schaefer stated that the claimed alignments for three wheels studied, the Bighorn medicine wheel, one at Moose Mountain in southeastern Saskatchewan, and one at Fort Smith, Montana, there was no statistical evidence for stellar alignments.” ref

“The Bighorn Medicine Wheel is the best known of those found on the Northern and Northwestern Plains, and was the first structure of its type to be systematically studied by professional anthropologists and archaeologists. The Bighorn Medicine Wheel is located at an elevation of 9,642 feet on a high, alpine plateau near the crest of the Bighorn Mountains of north central Wyoming, about 30 miles east of Lovell. Native Americans regard the Medicine Wheel as an essential but secondary component of a much larger spiritual landscape composed of the surrounding alpine forests and mountain peaks, including Medicine Mountain.” ref

“The most conspicuous feature of the Medicine Wheel is a circular alignment of limestone boulders that measures about 80 feet in diameter and contains 28 rock “spokes” that radiate from a prominent central cairn. Five smaller stone enclosures are connected to the outer circumference of the wheel. A sixth and westernmost enclosure is located outside the Medicine Wheel but is clearly linked to the central cairn by one of the “spokes.” The enclosures are round, oval, or horseshoe-shaped and closely resemble Northern and Northwestern Plains fasting (vision quest) structures described by early researchers. Though obscured by a century of non-native use by loggers, ranchers, miners, and recreationalists, the surrounding 15,000 acres contain numerous historic and prehistoric sites including tipi rings, lithic scatters, buried archaeological sites, and a system of relict prehistoric Indian trails.” ref

“Archaeologists generally believe that the Medicine Wheel was constructed over a period of several hundred years during the Late Prehistoric Period. Ceramic shards recovered from the eastern half of the Medicine Wheel have been associated with the Shoshone and Crow tribes. Early nineteenth century glass beads were found near the central cairn, and a wood sample from one of the cairns was tentatively dated to 1760 by means of dendrochronological techniques. Hearth charcoal and preserved wood fragments recovered from archaeological sites in the area yielded radiocarbon dates ranging from the modern era to nearly 7,000 years ago.” ref

“Diagnostic artifacts and other archaeological materials found in close association with the Medicine Wheel itself tend to date to the latter half of the Late Prehistoric Period, from about 900 to 1800. Although these diagnostic artifacts and radiocarbon dates fail to decisively explain the construction and use of the Medicine Wheel, the evidence indicates that prehistoric Native Americans used the general area for nearly 7,000 years. Whether this prehistoric occupation was oriented towards ceremonial or spiritual use—with the Medicine Wheel/Medicine Mountain as the central focus—is a speculative issue that archaeological data may not be able to resolve. It is clear, however, that the Medicine Mountain area was known to and used by prehistoric Native Americans long before the Medicine Wheel was constructed.” ref

“Archaeological evidence cannot definitively identify which tribes used the Medicine Wheel. However, in addition to the above-referenced ceramics associated with the Shoshone and Crow, researchers have noted substantial archaeological evidence supporting an extensive Crow presence on the western slopes of the Big Horn Mountains beginning in the late sixteenth century (or possibly earlier) as well as evidence of a substantial Shoshone occupation in the nearby western Big Horn Basin. Horseshoe-shaped enclosures like those found at the Medicine Wheel have been associated with the Crow Indian fasting (vision quest) rituals.” ref

“Based on exhaustive ethnohistorical research, anthropologist Karl Schlesier has suggested that the Bighorn Medicine Wheel, as well as the Moose Mountain wheel in Saskatchewan, may represent tribal boundary markers as well as Cheyenne ritual lodges that predate sun dance ceremonies. Archaeoastronomer John Eddy demonstrated that the Medicine Wheel likely served as an ancient astronomical observatory, noting several important star alignments involving the central and circumferential cairns.” ref

“Along with the ceremonial and/or spiritual prehistoric sites, the Medicine Mountain area contains many contemporary Native American traditional use areas and features, including ceremonial staging areas, plant gathering areas, sweat lodge sites, altars, offering locales, and recent fasting (vision quest) enclosures. Ethnographic evidence demonstrates that the Medicine Wheel and the surrounding landscape is and has been a major ceremonial and traditional use area for many regional Indian tribes, including Arapaho, Bannock, Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Crow, Kootenai-Salish, Plains Cree, Shoshone, and Sioux. These tribes generally venerate the Medicine Wheel because it embodies powerful spiritual principles that figure prominently in tribal and family ceremonial traditions.” ref

“Native American oral traditions and ethnohistory are also relevant to the question of the origins and use of the Medicine Wheel. A Crow legend recounts the construction of the Medicine Wheel by Burnt Face, who fasted there in order to heal his disfigurement. According to Blackfeet traditions, Scar Face traveled to the Medicine Wheel in the distant past, where his disfigurement was removed and he was given instructions for building a sweathouse and conducting the sun dance, information, which he carried back to his tribe.” ref

“In the 1910s, the Crow Indian Flat-Dog reported to anthropologist Robert Lowie that the Medicine Wheel was the “Sun’s Lodge,” that many Crow went there to fast, and that the structure was very ancient. When interviewed by George Bird Grinnell in 1921, an elderly Cheyenne Indian named Elk River compared the Medicine Wheel to the Cheyenne sun dance lodge. Anthropologist James Howard cited an ethnohistorical transcription in which John Bull, a Ponca chief, testified the Medicine Wheel “represents a sun dance circle.” ref

“Native American oral traditions also clearly affiliate Medicine Mountain and the Medicine Wheel with several historically prominent Indian chiefs. Plenty Coups was the last hereditary chief of the Mountain Crow tribe, as well as the most prominent Crow statesman during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. According to Crow tribal oral traditions, Plenty Coups fasted at the Medicine Wheel, once with Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce. Chief Joseph is perhaps best known for leading a band of 700 Nez Perce in a desperate, brilliant, and ultimately futile 1877 military campaign to withdraw his tribe to a Canadian sanctuary among the northern Sioux. Chief Joseph twice asked the Crow Chief Spotted Tail to take him to the Wheel to fast and pray—once after he was incarcerated by the military, and later when he became ill with tuberculosis. Chief Washakie, the celebrated head chief of the Eastern Shoshone until his death in 1900, reportedly acquired much of his power at the Medicine Wheel and was sometimes joined in prayer by the Crow.” ref

“To many longtime Euro-American residents of the northern Bighorn Basin, the Medicine Wheel represents a popular area for camping, hunting, fishing, and picnicking. The first documentary reference to the Wheel occurred in 1895, when Paul Francke described his hunting exploits in an article published in Forest and Stream. At the turn of the nineteenth century, miners and loggers exploited the natural resources near the Medicine Wheel, contributing significantly to the local economy. Later, the area served as an important summer range for domestic sheep and cattle. Local residents have always expressed a proprietary interest in the Medicine Wheel. Boy scouts from the nearby town of Lovell built a protective rock wall around the Medicine Wheel sometime in the early 1920s, and prominent local politicians were instrumental in the Wheel’s designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1970. The Landmark documentation was revised in 2011 to include a rapidly expanding body of ethnographic information regarding Native American traditional cultural knowledge of the Medicine Mountain landscape, and the designation was renamed the Medicine Wheel/Medicine Mountain National Historic Landmark. Today, the Medicine Wheel is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Visiting the site requires a 3-mile round trip walk at more than 9,000-foot elevation. Visitors with impaired mobility are permitted to drive to the Medicine Wheel.” ref

Who built the Great Medicine Wheels?

The Medicine Wheels in North America were built by the ancient Plains Indians, nomadic tribes including the Sioux (Lakota, Dakota, Nakota), Cheyenne, Crow, Blackfoot, Arapaho, Cree, Shoshoni, Comanche, and Pawnee. Because they followed herds of buffalo and deer, they were typically on the move most of the year. At one time the Plains Indians occupied all of central North America, from the North Saskatchewan River, in Canada, to Texas, and from the valleys of the Mississippi and the Missouri to the foot of the Rockies.” ref

“Since they rarely stayed in one place, they did not need to build permanent structures out of stone. Thus architectural evidence of the ancient plains Indians is almost non-existent. Along with the lack of permanent buildings, they did not have a written language. Their lore was passsed down in stories told through generations. Even though they left no books to guide us, much of their story can be gleaned in their art and artifacts. Many of these objects reflect their fascination and respect for the Sun and sky. They looked at the heavens with wonder and awe just as we continue to do today. It appears these ancient Plains Indians were deeply connected to their environment and their mythology is rich with celestial themes.ref

“Medicine Wheels vary in age by centuries. The current Bighorn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming is thought to be about 200 years old, thus still fairly “new.” However, there is some evidence that the wheel existed for much longer than that, and that the current wheel is only the last example of a wheel at Bighorn. The Moose Mountain wheel in Saskatchewan is thought to be about 2000 years old, thus built around the time of Christ. Moose Mountain is so similar to Bighorn that some believe it was the model for the younger wheel. The oldest wheel known is in Majorville Canada. Archaeologists have set its age at 5000 years, around the time of the Great pyramids of Egypt. There is some evidence that some of the older wheels have been adjusted over the centuries to correct for the shift in alignment of the solstice.ref

“Girl Archaeologist recounts Alice Kehoe’s life, begun in an era very different from the twenty-first century in which she retired as an honored elder archaeologist. She persisted against entrenched patriarchy in her childhood, at Harvard University, and as she did fieldwork with her husband in the northern plains. A senior male professor attempted to quash Kehoe’s career by raping her. Her Harvard professors refused to allow her to write a dissertation in archaeology. Universities paid her less than her male counterparts. Her husband refused to participate in housework or childcare.” ref 

“Working in archaeology and in the histories of American First Nations, Kehoe published a series of groundbreaking books and articles. Although she was denied a conventional career, through her unconventional breadth of research and her empathy with First Nations people she gained a wide circle of collaborators and colleagues. Throughout her career, Kehoe found and fostered a sisterhood of feminists—strong, bright women archaeologists, anthropologists, and ethnohistorians who have been essential to the field. Girl Archaeologist is the story of how one woman pursued a professional career in a male-dominated field during a time of great change in American middle-class expectations for women.” ref

“Alice Kehoe’s book Girl Archaeologist: Sisterhood in a Sexist Profession has been selected as a 2022 Choice Outstanding Academic Title. This prestigious list reflects the best in scholarly titles, both print and digital, reviewed by Choice during the previous year and brings with it the extraordinary recognition of the academic library community.” ref

“Her memoir, Girl Archaeologist: Sisterhood in a Sexist Profession, is a story not only of a woman’s persistence in a scientific field but of speaking truth to power. Her memoir is available from Amazon in print and Kindle editions. Order directly online from the publisher at a discounted price of $14.97 USD at nebraskapress.unl.edu (use DISCOUNT CODE 6AS21) (United States or Canada). Also available from distributor Longleaf Services at 1-800-848-6224. To order outside of North America, call Combined Academic Publishers in the United Kingdom at +44 (0)1423 526350 and use the discount code CS40UNP.” ref

“Alice Kehoe’s Girl Archaeologist is a triumph. Piercing, funny, and heartbreaking all at once, the story of Kehoe’s grit and perseverance in the face of rampant sexism will keep you glued.”

—Becky Cooper, author of We Keep the Dead Near Us and Senior Fellow at Brandeis’s Schuster Institute for Investigative Reporting

“Alice Kehoe is a living legend in archaeology. Despite the odds, Kehoe created space in a sexist field and society that long devalued and denigrated women. In this valuable memoir, particularly in our era of #MeToo, she digs deep with self-reflection and searing honesty to survey her struggles and breakthrough achievements. There are lessons for everyone in Kehoe’s life story, persevering through it all with unbroken tenacity.”

—Chip Colwell, Editor, SAPIENS, author of Plundered Skulls and Stolen Spirits: Inside the Fight to Reclaim Native America’s Culture

“Girl Archaeologist is everything that Alice Beck Kehoe is – witty and irreverent while at the same time touching, honest, and open. An easy read, this book is necessary for anyone interested in archaeology’s less-than-welcoming history, especially in light of today’s calls for social justice, inclusion, and equity.”

—Joe Watkins, PhD, RPA #10119; Senior Consultant, Archaeological and Cultural Education Consultants; LLC Treasurer, The Heritage Education Network; Designated Campus Colleague, School of Anthropology, University of Arizona; Research Associate, Center for Ainu and Indigenous Studies, Hokkaido University

Alice Beck Kehoe’s Response to this Blog Post

“Wow, what a long and detailed introduction!  Thanks for all the quotes. I didn’t see the photo you say show me and Tom in the field, on your site, which you include a caption for.  As you know, I don’t agree with the time list you have for a list of “religions”, for shamanism it’s wrong (we don’t have data for its earlier form or forms other than maybe the wu of early Chinese writing (c 2000 years ago).  “Animism” is not a religion, it’s a 19th-century label, as is “Totemism”, these labels are armchair gentlemens’ labels for what they read in travelers’ books. You should get a copy of the new book, paperback available, Pilgrimage to Broken Mountain, by Alan and Pamela Sandstrom.  An amazing magnum opus from decades of superb ethnography by a family (parents, both Ph.D.s, and their son) who spent a great deal of time with a Nahua community in NE Mexico mountains, going on five pilgrimages with them to holy mountains.  On page 4, left-hand column near bottom, the Sandstroms explain why “animism” is a bad label, and instead say “ontological monism”.  Damien, this will pull you up to a much higher level of thinking than the racist labels of the British Empire. Best wishes, Alice.” Alice Beck Kehoe, From an email message

I appreciate her thoughts and think it important to explain and expose past bigotry, sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. I think I will, in the future, do a blog and video addressing bigotry in terms used in religious explanations past and present as this is also an important subject. I also need to restate to people that I am a revolutionary who uses prehistory and history as a path to greater intellectualism and enlightenment. I am not making my blogs for archaeologists or anthropologists, but for the general public, to inform and inspire new learning and a desire to learn more thus becoming more culturally aware. Words that are now descriptive of religious thinking and behavior are not the same as racist or sexist words with clear racist or sexist meanings.

Animism, totemism, and shamanism are descriptive words referencing religious behaviors, devoid of clear sexism or racism in their current descriptions:

“Animism (from Latinanima meaning ‘breathspiritlife‘) is the belief that objects, places, and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence. Animism perceives all things—animalsplantsrocksriversweather systems, human handiwork, and in some cases words—as animated and alive.” ref

Totemism is a belief about the relationship between people and nature. It has been recorded across native tribes of America, Africa, and Australia. It has been the subject of much research into ethnic groups. Usually, the totems of a kinship group will be animals or plants. They will be represented in sacred objects and will belong exclusively to them. A totem (from Ojibwe: doodem) is a spirit being, sacred object, or symbol that serves as an emblem of a group of people, such as a familyclanlineage, or tribe, such as in the Anishinaabe clan system. The totem poles of the Pacific Northwestern Indigenous peoples of North America are carved, monumental poles featuring many different designs (bears, birds, frogs, people, and various supernatural beings and aquatic creatures). They serve multiple purposes in the communities that make them. Similar to other forms of heraldry, they may function as crests of families or chiefs, recount stories owned by those families or chiefs, or commemorate special occasions. These stories are known to be read from the bottom of the pole to the top. Totems are sometimes attached to moiety relations (such as in the case of Wangarr relationships for the Yolngu).” ref, ref

“In 1938, the structural functionalist anthropologist A. P. Elkin wrote The Australian Aborigines: How to understand them. His typologies of totemism included eight “forms” and six “functions”. The terms in Elkin’s typologies see some use today, but Aboriginal customs are seen as more diverse than his typologies suggest.ref

“The forms identified were:

  • individual (a personal totem),
  • sex (one totem for each gender),
  • moiety (the “tribe” consists of two groups, each with a totem),
  • section (the “tribe” consists of four groups, each with a totem),
  • subsection (the “tribe” consists of eight groups, each with a totem),
  • clan (a group with common descent share a totem or totems),
  • local (people living or born in a particular area share a totem) and
  • “multiple” (people across groups share a totem).

The functions identified were:

  • social (totems regulate marriage, and often a person cannot eat the flesh of their totem),
  • cult (totems associated with a secret organization),
  • conception (multiple meanings),
  • dream (the person appears as this totem in others’ dreams),
  • classificatory (the totem sorts people) and
  • assistant (the totem assists a healer or clever person).ref


by Donald Pollock

“Shamanism – Anthropology – Oxford Bibliographies”


Introduction: Shamanism has been regarded as one of the world’s oldest religions as well as one of its newest; evidence of shamanic practice has been found in Paleolithic cave art, and shamanic experiences are being cultivated in contemporary societies, especially in its “New Age” or neoshamanism variations. The narrowest conceptions of shamanism restrict the use of the term to a specific form of religious practice found in Siberia, where the Tungus religious practitioner called šamán provided the model; Mircea Eliade’s classic study of shamanism (see Eliade 1964, cited under History of Shamanism and Shamanism Studies) grants historical and conceptual priority to this form of belief and practice, and traces its spread from those Siberian roots. Alternatively, it has been argued that the concept of shamanism should be extended to a nearly universal set of beliefs about spirits, spiritism, and occult realms. Bean 1992, for example (cited under North American and Native American Shamanism), comments that “Shamanism is the religion of all hunting and gathering cultures, and it forms the basis of many more formalized religions that retain shamanistic elements” (p. 8). Anthropologists have often adopted this broader perspective, seeking similarities among overtly different traditions typically by linking them according to the social functions served by shamans (e.g., healing through spirit intervention, community protection from malign spirit attack, and the pursuit of community political goals through the medium of spiritism). This bibliography adopts the relatively broad view that “shamanism” is a useful concept to describe a set of religious phenomena of historical depth and wide ethnographic extent, and that there is value in considering how a range of beliefs and practices are related to a basic set of defining characteristics, along with their relationship to other social and cultural phenomena. “Shamanism” has been recently described as a form of interaction between a practitioner and spirits, one that is not available to other members of a community; the practitioner (a “shaman”) acts on behalf of that community—or on behalf of individual members of that community—to perform a variety of social roles that may include healing as well as harming, affecting the outcome of subsistence activities, and so on, by intervention with spirits or through knowledge gained by communication with spirits (see Webb 2013 under the Nature of Shamanism, p. 62). As such, shamans are found in a variety of cultures that are not traditionally associated with the concept, for example as spirit mediums in sub-Saharan Africa and through spirit possession in East Asia. This bibliography considers these themes through sections on the history of the concept itself, studies of the nature of shamanism, and analyses of shamanism in various cultures around the world.” ref

“Damien, listen carefully:  all 3 words as used in the past AND STILL TODAY, are LABELS imposed by armchair gentlemen creating a newer (19th century) version of the Great Chain of Being.  See The Great Chain of Being — Arthur O. Lovejoy.   Harvard University https://www.hup.harvard.edu › catalog  “In this volume, which embodies the William James lectures for 1933”. . . . Also, of course, Lovejoy and G. Boas (NOT Franz, no relation), on Primitivism. The classically educated gentlemen were following the Enlightenment practice of IMPOSING classificatory labels on everything, to put everything inside classificatory boxes that would construct research paradigms and ultimately lead to universal laws about all organisms including humans.  The labels were created to put the Primitives into classificatory structures, which demarcated them from Us the Civilized Christians. Yes, they have no sexist connotations now, nor did they originally.  They are, however, blatantly RACIST in that they separate non-Western peoples from (White) Christians.  Thus you should not use these labels.  Shamanic religions are a historical cultural tradition in Asia, that spread from the ferment of religious revelations and movements around 2000 years ago (Hinduism becoming written down, Buddhism in opposition to it, Chinese educated class interested in these).  Animism and totemism are purely academic impositions of Western imperialist culture. Look at it this way:  would you lump the cuisines of India along with the work of the Sioux Chef in one category because both are Indians?  And put that category opposed to fine French cuisine, with the common implication that the French cuisine is Civilized but the other two not because their nations were conquered by the Europeans who ate French cuisine?” Alice Beck Kehoe, From an email message

My response, I appreciate your thoughtful responses and added your first comment to the blog and will add this as well. I look forward to chatting with you. I want to address you and your books, especially focusing on your experiences in anthropology and archeology, that relate to sexism, racism, religious bigotry, etc. I want to hear about your experiences in Canada as my show partner Cory lives in Regina Saskatchewan.  So hearing about your experiences there interest me as well as it is interesting hearing how you see America differently. I would also like to hear about the indigenous First People of Canada and Native Americans in America you worked with or have interesting knowledge about. I think it is also important that you explain how Russia colonized Siberia and the impact on the indigenous religion/spirituality such as the oppression of shamanism. I also look forward to hearing your thoughts on shamanism as well. I want a thoughtful and fun show where you get to share your knowledge and experience. I may think outside the box but respect and appreciate anthropologists, archaeologists, and ethnographers and all their hard work.

Thanks,  Damien

“You have such a full bag of topics here, we can’t possibly cover all. Please make a list and select which would make one show. What you have written here in your long paragraph would be at least 10,000 written pages from me. >  Shamanism – a historical set of religious practices and beliefs in Siberia. NOT “primordial” and NOT found in all  “Indigenous” nations. > “Indigenous” should not be capitalized.  What has happened is that “indigenous” the adjective meaning native to, is now used as an euphemism for Primitive, the Other Not Us Civilized. This is White Supremacy racism. “Friends of the Indian” early in UN history pushed for the UN to recognize the rights of small nations that were colonized and subjected to exploitation and forced conversion to Christianity. The UN responded with Declarations in the titles of which, “indigenous” was (of course) capitalized. In line with White Supremacy, all the small nations and colonized peoples have been lumped together and 19th-century academic labels pushed onto them:  animism, totemism, egalitarian, foragers . . . > Canada compared to U.S.  Canada calls itself a mosaic of peoples.  Canada introduced the term First Nations to replace the racist “tribe”.  Canada in 1974 appointed Judge Thomas Berger to travel throughout the Northwest to listen to native people there in regard to the route of the Mackenzie Pipeline to carry natural gas south to U.S. and Canadian cities.  This has never been done before; the final route conformed to the recommendations of these native people.  From 2008-2015, Canada had a Truth and Reconciliation Commission that produced a Call to Action to redress the wrongs of Indian policies, including forcing children into boarding schools. BUT Canada also has White Supremacy conservatives, including  Allan McEachern, Chief Justice of the B.C. Supreme Court, who in 1991 ruled against the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en nations’ claims for royalties on timber harvested from their homelands. > My experiences:  because I never got funding for dissertation research in ethnography, which I was told to do instead of archaeology, I drove around with my kids, sleeping in the station wagon in campgrounds. The First Nations people I wanted to talk with, in Saskatchewan and also on the Blackfeet Reservation, saw me as a young mother wanting to learn how best to bring up my kids, and kindly and seriously talked to me.  Contrast with the anthropologists with agendas. This will be about all we will have time to talk about.” Alice Beck Kehoe, From an email message
Indigenous peoples (Description): Indigenous peoples are the descendants of the earliest known inhabitants of an area, especially one that has been colonized by a now-dominant group of settlers. However, the term has no strict definition and can be used to describe a variety of peoples and cultures. Peoples are usually described as “Indigenous” when they maintain traditions or other aspects of an early culture that is associated with the first inhabitants of a given region. Not all Indigenous peoples share this characteristic, as many have adopted substantial elements of a colonizing culture, such as dress, religion or language. Indigenous is derived from the Latin word indigena, meaning “sprung from the land, native”. The Latin indigena is based on the Old Latin indu “in, within” + gignere “to beget, produce”. Indu is an extended form of the Proto-Indo-European en or “in”. The origins of the term Indigenous, used to describe people, are not related in any way to the origins of the term Indian, which has also been applied to Indigenous peoples of the Americas. The first meeting of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP) was on 9 August 1982 and this date is now celebrated as the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.” ref

“The Indigenous peoples of the Americas are the inhabitants of the Americas before the arrival of the European settlers in the 15th century, and the ethnic groups who now identify themselves with those peoples. Many Indigenous peoples of the Americas were traditionally hunter-gatherers and many, especially in the Amazon basin, still are, but many groups practiced aquaculture and agriculture. In some regions, the Indigenous peoples created monumental architecture, large-scale organized cities, city-stateschiefdomsstateskingdomsrepublics, confederacies, and empires.” ref 

“Application of the term “Indian” originated with Christopher Columbus, who, in his search for India, thought that he had arrived in the East Indies. Eventually, those islands came to be known as the “West Indies“, a name still used. Indigenous peoples in Canada is used as the collective name for First NationsInuit, and Métis. The term Aboriginal peoples as a collective noun (also describing First Nations, Inuit, and Métis) is a specific term of art used in some legal documents, including the Constitution Act, 1982, though in most Indigenous circles Aboriginal has also fallen into disfavor.” ref 

“Over time, as societal perceptions and government-Indigenous relationships have shifted, many historical terms have changed definitions or been replaced as they have fallen out of favor. The use of the term “Indian” is frowned upon because it represents the imposition and restriction of Indigenous peoples and cultures by the Canadian Government. The terms “Native” and “Eskimo” are generally regarded as disrespectful, and so are rarely used unless specifically required. While “Indigenous peoples” is the preferred term, many individuals or communities may choose to describe their identity using a different term.” ref

“Among Spanish-speaking countriesindígenas or pueblos indígenas (‘Indigenous peoples’) is a common term, though nativos or pueblos nativos (‘native peoples’) may also be heard; moreover, aborigen (‘aborigine’) is used in Argentina and pueblos originarios (‘original peoples’) is common in Chile. In Brazil, indígenas or povos indígenas (‘Indigenous peoples’) are common of formal-sounding designations, while índio (‘Indian’) is still the more often-heard term (the noun for the South-Asian nationality being indiano). Aborígene and nativo is rarely used in Brazil in Indigenous-specific contexts (e.g., aborígene is usually understood as the ethnonym for Indigenous Australians).” ref 

“Indigenous peoples of the United States are commonly known as Native Americans, Indians, as well as Alaska Natives. The term “Indian” is still used in some communities and remains in use in the official names of many institutions and businesses in Indian Country. The various Nations, tribes, and bands of Indigenous peoples of the Americas have differing preferences in terminology for themselves. While there are regional and generational variations in which umbrella terms are preferred for Indigenous peoples as a whole, in general, most Indigenous peoples prefer to be identified by the name of their specific Nation, tribe, or band.” ref

“Since the late 20th century, Indigenous peoples in the Americas have been more vocal about how they want to be addressed, pushing to suppress use of terms widely considered to be obsolete, inaccurate, or racist. During the latter half of the 20th century and the rise of the Indian rights movement, the United States government responded by proposing the use of the term “Native American“, to recognize the primacy of Indigenous peoples’ tenure in the nation. As may be expected among people of over 400 different cultures in the US alone, not all of the people intended to be described by this term have agreed on its use or adopted it. No single group naming convention has been accepted by all Indigenous peoples in the Americas. Most prefer to be addressed as people of their tribe or nations when not speaking about Native Americans/American Indians as a whole.” ref

“Since the 1970s, Indigenous (capitalized when referring to people) has gradually emerged as a favored umbrella term. The capitalization is to acknowledge that Indigenous peoples have cultures and societies that are equal to Europeans, Africans, and Asians. This has recently been acknowledged in the AP Stylebook. Some consider it improper to refer to Indigenous people as “Indigenous Americans” or to append any colonial nationality to the term because Indigenous cultures have existed prior to European colonization. Indigenous groups have territorial claims that are different from modern national and international borders, and when labeled as part of a country, their traditional lands are not acknowledged. Some who have written guidelines consider it more appropriate to describe an Indigenous person as “living in” or “of” the Americas, rather than calling them “American”; or to simply call them “Indigenous” without any addition of a colonial state.” ref

Indigenous historical trauma (IHT) is the trauma that can accumulate across generations that develops as a result of the historical ramifications of colonization and is linked to mental and physical health hardships and population decline. IHT affects many different people in a multitude of ways because the Indigenous community and their history is diverse.” ref

“Many studies (such as Whitbeck et al., 2014; Brockie, 2012; Anastasio et al., 2016; Clark & Winterowd, 2012; Tucker et al., 2016) have evaluated the impact of IHT on health outcomes of Indigenous communities from the United States and Canada. IHT is a difficult term to standardize and measure because of the vast and variable diversity of Indigenous people and their communities. Therefore, it is an arduous task to assign an operational definition and systematically collect data when studying IHT. Many of the studies that incorporate IHT measure it in different ways, making it hard to compile data and review it holistically. This is an important point that provides context for the following studies that attempt to understand the relationship between IHT and potential adverse health impacts.” ref

“Some of the methodologies to measure IHT include a “Historical Losses Scale” (HLS), “Historical Losses Associated Symptoms Scale” (HLASS), and residential school ancestry studies. HLS uses a survey format that includes “12 kinds of historical losses,” such as loss of language and loss of land, and asks participants how often they think about those losses. The HLASS includes 12 emotional reactions and asks participants how they feel when they think about these losses.” ref 

“Lastly, the residential school ancestry studies ask respondents if their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents or “elders from their community” went to a residential school to understand if family or community history in residential schools are associated with negative health outcomes. In a comprehensive review of the research literature, Joseph Gone and colleagues compiled and compared outcomes for studies using these IHT measures relative to health outcomes of Indigenous peoples. The study defined negative health outcomes to include such concepts as anxiety, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, polysubstance abuse, PTSD, depression, binge eating, anger, and sexual abuse.” ref

“The connection between IHT and health conditions is complicated because of the difficult nature of measuring IHT, the unknown directionality of IHT and health outcomes, and because the term Indigenous people used in the various samples comprises a huge population of individuals with drastically different experiences and histories. That being said, some studies such as Bombay, Matheson, and Anisman (2014), Elias et al. (2012), and Pearce et al. (2008) found that Indigenous respondents with a connection to residential schools have more negative health outcomes (e.g., suicide ideation, suicide attempts, and depression) than those who did not have a connection to residential schools.” ref

“Additionally, Indigenous respondents with higher HLS and HLASS scores had one or more negative health outcomes. While there are many studies that found an association between IHT and adverse health outcomes, scholars continue to suggest that it remains difficult to understand the impact of IHT. IHT needs to be systematically measured. Indigenous people also need to be understood in separate categories based on similar experiences, location, and background as opposed to being categorized as one monolithic group.” ref

Twitter Link

Women in Archaeology

“Today in the U.S., more women than men are awarded doctorates in archaeology. Yet there continue to be inequalities in the field, ranging from sexual harassment to fewer women being published in major journals” ref

“The bullshit about Aztecs, Incas, Mayas, and other Indigenous peoples “squatting in the ruins of a once-great [white] civilization” echoes centuries-old colonialist racism. It is rampant in current #pseudoarchaeology.” – John Hoopes @KUHoopes Twitter: Link

Either aliens or the survivors of an ancient “advanced lost civilization” that disappeared without a trace. Over a century ago, racist and eugenicist Madison Grant wrote about the “passing of the Great Race.” – John Hoopes @KUHoopes

“The Passing of the Great Race: Or, The Racial Basis of European History is a 1916 racist and pseudoscientific book by American lawyer, self-styled anthropologist, and proponent of eugenicsMadison Grant (1865–1937). Grant expounds a theory of Nordic superiority, claiming that the “Nordic race” is inherently superior to other human “races”. The theory and the book were praised by Adolf Hitler and other Nazis, so much so that it was the first foreign book published by the Nazis after they came to power.” ref

@JasonColavito, addressed the history of the myth of a lost white race in North America in this excellent book. The Mound Builder Myth: Fake History and the Hunt for a “Lost White Race.” – John Hoopes @KUHoopes

The Mound Builder Myth: Fake History and the Hunt for a “Lost White Race”

“The book by R. Tripp Evans discusses the history of fantastic and racist myths about the ancient Mayas in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Romancing the Maya: Mexican Antiquity in the American Imagination, 1820-1915.” – John Hoopes @KUHoopes

Romancing the Maya: Mexican Antiquity in the American Imagination, 1820-1915 

We were anything but primitive’: How Indigenous-led archaeology is challenging colonial preconceptions. The field of archaeology changing. So are the ways some young Indigenous people see themselves.” ref
“Tim Pauketat has a new book out, Gods of Thunder.  It would seem revolutionary, Latin Americans come North and get over the border bearing gifts.  Tim was kind and sent me a PDF, without comment, last year of what appeared to be the fully formatted book, with the title “Maya and Mississippians”  A breakthrough reversal of Orthodoxy, though Tim and I and Bob Hall talked about Cahokia and Mexico since Tim was in grad school (U. Mich.).  Tim greatly admired Bob, and he was there in 2010 when Bob, knowing his cancer would take him soon, said he was laying upon me, the burden of carrying on the Cahokia-Mexican connections. “So now, Tim’s book is out in a trade hardback.  Everything due to religion moving North.  In the PDF he sent me, he says this in the Acknowledgments which are a litany of his funded travels and SFI and SAR conferences and fellowships:
” .  . . With the support of SFI Founder and Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann, George [Gumerman] made these discussions happen, with the generous underwriting of the SFI and Jerry Murdock. The insightful indigenous archaeologist and gentleman Robert L. Hall was at a couple of these meetings, and his studies are often referenced in this book. The resulting big historical narrative that I espouse was also preceded and inspired by work of anthropologist Alice Kehoe, who has long directed me to look deeper into the pan-American past.” – Alice Beck Kehoe, From an email message
“In Gods of Thunder, the published book, the last sentence does not appear.  He excised me.  This excision of me is on top of his not citing or mentioning me at all in his Chiefdoms and Other Delusions, which was entirely due to a conversation with me and my student Alex Barker when Tim and Alex were best friends grad students at U.Mich, did a career-start edited volume in AAA Arch. Div. series called Lords of the Southeast.  Tim was calling it Chiefdoms of the SE until Alex persuaded him that Chiefdoms are an academic delusion. Alex told me this.” – Alice Beck Kehoe, From an email message 

Here are two recent comments about me and what I do, by people:

Michael Boles – “Damien, I want to thank you for sharing your research on Religions, Gods, and Beliefs. I had been looking for this info to back up my perceptions for decades. So, thanks again, Damien.” (Sent in an Email)

I use the Animism term as a definition of spirit-beliefs or a kind of Supernatural-Spiritism thinking, that to me, are in all spiritual or religious type beliefs, not primitive but core. I see Animism as the original religion (religious non-naturalism/supernatural persuasion or spiritual/magical thinking) of all humanity and is still in all the religions of the world.

I don’t see religious terms Animism, Totemism, Shamanism, or Paganism as primitive but original or core elements that are different parts of world views and their supernatural/non-natural beliefs or thinking.

In the past or even lingering today, are beliefs often ripe with religious bigotry, seen in how religious/spiritual thinking not Abrahamic (Judaism, Christianity, or Islam) religious thinking are often believed to be primitive, unequal, or less than monotheism (preserved as the only real or not the correct religion beliefs if not monotheism).

I see all religions as having shared or similar features or core elements that relate to religious terms Animism, Totemism, Shamanism, or Paganism including Abrahamic (Judaism, Christianity, or Islam) religious thinking. 

I don’t class any religious thinking as primitive but in error to what I see as a natural-only world, that religious thinking then makes up a myriad of non-natural/non-empirical themes/beings, stories, and myths about which group together are called religions.

I don’t believe there is a one and only one shamanism expression, any more than there is only one paganism, or almost any other religious thinking perspective or worldview. There is no one Christianity nor one Islam, neither is there only one Buddhism or one type of Hinduism.

Do I as an atheist, think there may be any chance I would ever go back to religion or become religious of any type?

My response, No, I don’t see myself believing in non-reality beliefs supported by faith. I don’t value faith. Atheism is a lack of belief in gods, so it doesn’t mean one can’t have other beliefs even religious or spiritual (whatever this loose term spiritual means). I am an atheist, antitheist, and antireligionist. So, I don’t enjoy attending any religious services nor follow any religious-themed teaching but understand others who are atheists may. People should do as they feel works for them.

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art


Animism: Respecting the Living World by Graham Harvey 

“How have human cultures engaged with and thought about animals, plants, rocks, clouds, and other elements in their natural surroundings? Do animals and other natural objects have a spirit or soul? What is their relationship to humans? In this new study, Graham Harvey explores current and past animistic beliefs and practices of Native Americans, Maori, Aboriginal Australians, and eco-pagans. He considers the varieties of animism found in these cultures as well as their shared desire to live respectfully within larger natural communities. Drawing on his extensive casework, Harvey also considers the linguistic, performative, ecological, and activist implications of these different animisms.” ref

My thoughts on Religion Evolution with external links for more info:

“Religion is an Evolved Product” and Yes, Religion is Like Fear Given Wings…

Atheists talk about gods and religions for the same reason doctors talk about cancer, they are looking for a cure, or a firefighter talks about fires because they burn people and they care to stop them. We atheists too often feel a need to help the victims of mental slavery, held in the bondage that is the false beliefs of gods and the conspiracy theories of reality found in religions.

“Understanding Religion Evolution: Animism, Totemism, Shamanism, Paganism & Progressed organized religion”

Understanding Religion Evolution:

“An Archaeological/Anthropological Understanding of Religion Evolution”

It seems ancient peoples had to survived amazing threats in a “dangerous universe (by superstition perceived as good and evil),” and human “immorality or imperfection of the soul” which was thought to affect the still living, leading to ancestor worship. This ancestor worship presumably led to the belief in supernatural beings, and then some of these were turned into the belief in gods. This feeble myth called gods were just a human conceived “made from nothing into something over and over, changing, again and again, taking on more as they evolve, all the while they are thought to be special,” but it is just supernatural animistic spirit-belief perceived as sacred.


Quick Evolution of Religion?

Pre-Animism (at least 300,000 years ago) pre-religion is a beginning that evolves into later Animism. So, Religion as we think of it, to me, all starts in a general way with Animism (Africa: 100,000 years ago) (theoretical belief in supernatural powers/spirits), then this is physically expressed in or with Totemism (Europe: 50,000 years ago) (theoretical belief in mythical relationship with powers/spirits through a totem item), which then enlists a full-time specific person to do this worship and believed interacting Shamanism (Siberia/Russia: 30,000 years ago) (theoretical belief in access and influence with spirits through ritual), and then there is the further employment of myths and gods added to all the above giving you Paganism (Turkey: 12,000 years ago) (often a lot more nature-based than most current top world religions, thus hinting to their close link to more ancient religious thinking it stems from). My hypothesis is expressed with an explanation of the building of a theatrical house (modern religions development). Progressed organized religion (Egypt: 5,000 years ago)  with CURRENT “World” RELIGIONS (after 4,000 years ago).

Historically, in large city-state societies (such as Egypt or Iraq) starting around 5,000 years ago culminated to make religion something kind of new, a sociocultural-governmental-religious monarchy, where all or at least many of the people of such large city-state societies seem familiar with and committed to the existence of “religion” as the integrated life identity package of control dynamics with a fixed closed magical doctrine, but this juggernaut integrated religion identity package of Dogmatic-Propaganda certainly did not exist or if developed to an extent it was highly limited in most smaller prehistoric societies as they seem to lack most of the strong control dynamics with a fixed closed magical doctrine (magical beliefs could be at times be added or removed). Many people just want to see developed religious dynamics everywhere even if it is not. Instead, all that is found is largely fragments until the domestication of religion.

Religions, as we think of them today, are a new fad, even if they go back to around 6,000 years in the timeline of human existence, this amounts to almost nothing when seen in the long slow evolution of religion at least around 70,000 years ago with one of the oldest ritual worship. Stone Snake of South Africa: “first human worship” 70,000 years ago. This message of how religion and gods among them are clearly a man-made thing that was developed slowly as it was invented and then implemented peace by peace discrediting them all. Which seems to be a simple point some are just not grasping how devastating to any claims of truth when we can see the lie clearly in the archeological sites.

I wish people fought as hard for the actual values as they fight for the group/clan names political or otherwise they think support values. Every amount spent on war is theft to children in need of food or the homeless kept from shelter.

Here are several of my blog posts on history:

I am not an academic. I am a revolutionary that teaches in public, in places like social media, and in the streets. I am not a leader by some title given but from my commanding leadership style of simply to start teaching everywhere to everyone, all manner of positive education. 

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

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Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

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Low Gods “Earth” or Tutelary deity and High Gods “Sky” or Supreme deity

“An Earth goddess is a deification of the Earth. Earth goddesses are often associated with the “chthonic” deities of the underworldKi and Ninhursag are Mesopotamian earth goddesses. In Greek mythology, the Earth is personified as Gaia, corresponding to Roman Terra, Indic Prithvi/Bhūmi, etc. traced to an “Earth Mother” complementary to the “Sky Father” in Proto-Indo-European religionEgyptian mythology exceptionally has a sky goddess and an Earth god.” ref

“A mother goddess is a goddess who represents or is a personification of naturemotherhoodfertilitycreationdestruction or who embodies the bounty of the Earth. When equated with the Earth or the natural world, such goddesses are sometimes referred to as Mother Earth or as the Earth Mother. In some religious traditions or movements, Heavenly Mother (also referred to as Mother in Heaven or Sky Mother) is the wife or feminine counterpart of the Sky father or God the Father.” ref

Any masculine sky god is often also king of the gods, taking the position of patriarch within a pantheon. Such king gods are collectively categorized as “sky father” deities, with a polarity between sky and earth often being expressed by pairing a “sky father” god with an “earth mother” goddess (pairings of a sky mother with an earth father are less frequent). A main sky goddess is often the queen of the gods and may be an air/sky goddess in her own right, though she usually has other functions as well with “sky” not being her main. In antiquity, several sky goddesses in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Near East were called Queen of Heaven. Neopagans often apply it with impunity to sky goddesses from other regions who were never associated with the term historically. The sky often has important religious significance. Many religions, both polytheistic and monotheistic, have deities associated with the sky.” ref

“In comparative mythology, sky father is a term for a recurring concept in polytheistic religions of a sky god who is addressed as a “father”, often the father of a pantheon and is often either a reigning or former King of the Gods. The concept of “sky father” may also be taken to include Sun gods with similar characteristics, such as Ra. The concept is complementary to an “earth mother“. “Sky Father” is a direct translation of the Vedic Dyaus Pita, etymologically descended from the same Proto-Indo-European deity name as the Greek Zeûs Pater and Roman Jupiter and Germanic Týr, Tir or Tiwaz, all of which are reflexes of the same Proto-Indo-European deity’s name, *Dyēus Ph₂tḗr. While there are numerous parallels adduced from outside of Indo-European mythology, there are exceptions (e.g. In Egyptian mythology, Nut is the sky mother and Geb is the earth father).” ref

Tutelary deity

“A tutelary (also tutelar) is a deity or spirit who is a guardian, patron, or protector of a particular place, geographic feature, person, lineage, nation, culture, or occupation. The etymology of “tutelary” expresses the concept of safety and thus of guardianship. In late Greek and Roman religion, one type of tutelary deity, the genius, functions as the personal deity or daimon of an individual from birth to death. Another form of personal tutelary spirit is the familiar spirit of European folklore.” ref

“A tutelary (also tutelar) iKorean shamanismjangseung and sotdae were placed at the edge of villages to frighten off demons. They were also worshiped as deities. Seonangshin is the patron deity of the village in Korean tradition and was believed to embody the SeonangdangIn Philippine animism, Diwata or Lambana are deities or spirits that inhabit sacred places like mountains and mounds and serve as guardians. Such as: Maria Makiling is the deity who guards Mt. Makiling and Maria Cacao and Maria Sinukuan. In Shinto, the spirits, or kami, which give life to human bodies come from nature and return to it after death. Ancestors are therefore themselves tutelaries to be worshiped. And similarly, Native American beliefs such as Tonás, tutelary animal spirit among the Zapotec and Totems, familial or clan spirits among the Ojibwe, can be animals.” ref

“A tutelary (also tutelar) in Austronesian beliefs such as: Atua (gods and spirits of the Polynesian peoples such as the Māori or the Hawaiians), Hanitu (Bunun of Taiwan‘s term for spirit), Hyang (KawiSundaneseJavanese, and Balinese Supreme Being, in ancient Java and Bali mythology and this spiritual entity, can be either divine or ancestral), Kaitiaki (New Zealand Māori term used for the concept of guardianship, for the sky, the sea, and the land), Kawas (mythology) (divided into 6 groups: gods, ancestors, souls of the living, spirits of living things, spirits of lifeless objects, and ghosts), Tiki (Māori mythologyTiki is the first man created by either Tūmatauenga or Tāne and represents deified ancestors found in most Polynesian cultures). ” ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref, ref

Mesopotamian Tutelary Deities can be seen as ones related to City-States 

“Historical city-states included Sumerian cities such as Uruk and UrAncient Egyptian city-states, such as Thebes and Memphis; the Phoenician cities (such as Tyre and Sidon); the five Philistine city-states; the Berber city-states of the Garamantes; the city-states of ancient Greece (the poleis such as AthensSpartaThebes, and Corinth); the Roman Republic (which grew from a city-state into a vast empire); the Italian city-states from the Middle Ages to the early modern period, such as FlorenceSienaFerraraMilan (which as they grew in power began to dominate neighboring cities) and Genoa and Venice, which became powerful thalassocracies; the Mayan and other cultures of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica (including cities such as Chichen ItzaTikalCopán and Monte Albán); the central Asian cities along the Silk Road; the city-states of the Swahili coastRagusa; states of the medieval Russian lands such as Novgorod and Pskov; and many others.” ref

“The Uruk period (ca. 4000 to 3100 BCE; also known as Protoliterate period) of Mesopotamia, named after the Sumerian city of Uruk, this period saw the emergence of urban life in Mesopotamia and the Sumerian civilization. City-States like Uruk and others had a patron tutelary City Deity along with a Priest-King.” ref

Chinese folk religion, both past, and present, includes myriad tutelary deities. Exceptional individuals, highly cultivated sages, and prominent ancestors can be deified and honored after death. Lord Guan is the patron of military personnel and police, while Mazu is the patron of fishermen and sailors. Such as Tu Di Gong (Earth Deity) is the tutelary deity of a locality, and each individual locality has its own Earth Deity and Cheng Huang Gong (City God) is the guardian deity of an individual city, worshipped by local officials and locals since imperial times.” ref

“A tutelary (also tutelar) in Hinduism, personal tutelary deities are known as ishta-devata, while family tutelary deities are known as Kuladevata. Gramadevata are guardian deities of villages. Devas can also be seen as tutelary. Shiva is the patron of yogis and renunciants. City goddesses include: Mumbadevi (Mumbai), Sachchika (Osian); Kuladevis include: Ambika (Porwad), and Mahalakshmi. In NorthEast India Meitei mythology and religion (Sanamahism) of Manipur, there are various types of tutelary deities, among which Lam Lais are the most predominant ones. Tibetan Buddhism has Yidam as a tutelary deity. Dakini is the patron of those who seek knowledge.” ref

“A tutelary (also tutelar) The Greeks also thought deities guarded specific places: for instance, Athena was the patron goddess of the city of Athens. Socrates spoke of hearing the voice of his personal spirit or daimonion:

You have often heard me speak of an oracle or sign which comes to me … . This sign I have had ever since I was a child. The sign is a voice which comes to me and always forbids me to do something which I am going to do, but never commands me to do anything, and this is what stands in the way of my being a politician.” ref

“Tutelary deities who guard and preserve a place or a person are fundamental to ancient Roman religion. The tutelary deity of a man was his Genius, that of a woman her Juno. In the Imperial era, the Genius of the Emperor was a focus of Imperial cult. An emperor might also adopt a major deity as his personal patron or tutelary, as Augustus did Apollo. Precedents for claiming the personal protection of a deity were established in the Republican era, when for instance the Roman dictator Sulla advertised the goddess Victory as his tutelary by holding public games (ludi) in her honor.” ref

“Each town or city had one or more tutelary deities, whose protection was considered particularly vital in time of war and siege. Rome itself was protected by a goddess whose name was to be kept ritually secret on pain of death (for a supposed case, see Quintus Valerius Soranus). The Capitoline Triad of Juno, Jupiter, and Minerva were also tutelaries of Rome. The Italic towns had their own tutelary deities. Juno often had this function, as at the Latin town of Lanuvium and the Etruscan city of Veii, and was often housed in an especially grand temple on the arx (citadel) or other prominent or central location. The tutelary deity of Praeneste was Fortuna, whose oracle was renowned.” ref

“The Roman ritual of evocatio was premised on the belief that a town could be made vulnerable to military defeat if the power of its tutelary deity were diverted outside the city, perhaps by the offer of superior cult at Rome. The depiction of some goddesses such as the Magna Mater (Great Mother, or Cybele) as “tower-crowned” represents their capacity to preserve the city. A town in the provinces might adopt a deity from within the Roman religious sphere to serve as its guardian, or syncretize its own tutelary with such; for instance, a community within the civitas of the Remi in Gaul adopted Apollo as its tutelary, and at the capital of the Remi (present-day Rheims), the tutelary was Mars Camulus.” ref 

Household deity (a kind of or related to a Tutelary deity)

“A household deity is a deity or spirit that protects the home, looking after the entire household or certain key members. It has been a common belief in paganism as well as in folklore across many parts of the world. Household deities fit into two types; firstly, a specific deity – typically a goddess – often referred to as a hearth goddess or domestic goddess who is associated with the home and hearth, such as the ancient Greek Hestia.” ref

“The second type of household deities are those that are not one singular deity, but a type, or species of animistic deity, who usually have lesser powers than major deities. This type was common in the religions of antiquity, such as the Lares of ancient Roman religion, the Gashin of Korean shamanism, and Cofgodas of Anglo-Saxon paganism. These survived Christianisation as fairy-like creatures existing in folklore, such as the Anglo-Scottish Brownie and Slavic Domovoy.” ref

“Household deities were usually worshipped not in temples but in the home, where they would be represented by small idols (such as the teraphim of the Bible, often translated as “household gods” in Genesis 31:19 for example), amulets, paintings, or reliefs. They could also be found on domestic objects, such as cosmetic articles in the case of Tawaret. The more prosperous houses might have a small shrine to the household god(s); the lararium served this purpose in the case of the Romans. The gods would be treated as members of the family and invited to join in meals, or be given offerings of food and drink.” ref

“In many religions, both ancient and modern, a god would preside over the home. Certain species, or types, of household deities, existed. An example of this was the Roman Lares. Many European cultures retained house spirits into the modern period. Some examples of these include:

“Although the cosmic status of household deities was not as lofty as that of the Twelve Olympians or the Aesir, they were also jealous of their dignity and also had to be appeased with shrines and offerings, however humble. Because of their immediacy they had arguably more influence on the day-to-day affairs of men than the remote gods did. Vestiges of their worship persisted long after Christianity and other major religions extirpated nearly every trace of the major pagan pantheons. Elements of the practice can be seen even today, with Christian accretions, where statues to various saints (such as St. Francis) protect gardens and grottos. Even the gargoyles found on older churches, could be viewed as guardians partitioning a sacred space.” ref

“For centuries, Christianity fought a mop-up war against these lingering minor pagan deities, but they proved tenacious. For example, Martin Luther‘s Tischreden have numerous – quite serious – references to dealing with kobolds. Eventually, rationalism and the Industrial Revolution threatened to erase most of these minor deities, until the advent of romantic nationalism rehabilitated them and embellished them into objects of literary curiosity in the 19th century. Since the 20th century this literature has been mined for characters for role-playing games, video games, and other fantasy personae, not infrequently invested with invented traits and hierarchies somewhat different from their mythological and folkloric roots.” ref

“In contradistinction to both Herbert Spencer and Edward Burnett Tylor, who defended theories of animistic origins of ancestor worship, Émile Durkheim saw its origin in totemism. In reality, this distinction is somewhat academic, since totemism may be regarded as a particularized manifestation of animism, and something of a synthesis of the two positions was attempted by Sigmund Freud. In Freud’s Totem and Taboo, both totem and taboo are outward expressions or manifestations of the same psychological tendency, a concept which is complementary to, or which rather reconciles, the apparent conflict. Freud preferred to emphasize the psychoanalytic implications of the reification of metaphysical forces, but with particular emphasis on its familial nature. This emphasis underscores, rather than weakens, the ancestral component.” ref

William Edward Hearn, a noted classicist, and jurist, traced the origin of domestic deities from the earliest stages as an expression of animism, a belief system thought to have existed also in the neolithic, and the forerunner of Indo-European religion. In his analysis of the Indo-European household, in Chapter II “The House Spirit”, Section 1, he states:

The belief which guided the conduct of our forefathers was … the spirit rule of dead ancestors.” ref

“In Section 2 he proceeds to elaborate:

It is thus certain that the worship of deceased ancestors is a vera causa, and not a mere hypothesis. …

In the other European nations, the Slavs, the Teutons, and the Kelts, the House Spirit appears with no less distinctness. … [T]he existence of that worship does not admit of doubt. … The House Spirits had a multitude of other names which it is needless here to enumerate, but all of which are more or less expressive of their friendly relations with man. … In [England] … [h]e is the Brownie. … In Scotland this same Brownie is well known. He is usually described as attached to particular families, with whom he has been known to reside for centuries, threshing the corn, cleaning the house, and performing similar household tasks. His favorite gratification was milk and honey.” ref

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art


“These ideas are my speculations from the evidence.”

I am still researching the “god‘s origins” all over the world. So you know, it is very complicated but I am smart and willing to look, DEEP, if necessary, which going very deep does seem to be needed here, when trying to actually understand the evolution of gods and goddesses. I am sure of a few things and less sure of others, but even in stuff I am not fully grasping I still am slowly figuring it out, to explain it to others. But as I research more I am understanding things a little better, though I am still working on understanding it all or something close and thus always figuring out more. 

Sky Father/Sky God?

“Egyptian: (Nut) Sky Mother and (Geb) Earth Father” (Egypt is different but similar)

Turkic/Mongolic: (Tengri/Tenger Etseg) Sky Father and (Eje/Gazar Eej) Earth Mother *Transeurasian*

Hawaiian: (Wākea) Sky Father and (Papahānaumoku) Earth Mother *Austronesian*

New Zealand/ Māori: (Ranginui) Sky Father and (Papatūānuku) Earth Mother *Austronesian*

Proto-Indo-European: (Dyus/Dyus phtr) Sky Father and (Dʰéǵʰōm/Plethwih) Earth Mother

Indo-Aryan: (Dyaus Pita) Sky Father and (Prithvi Mata) Earth Mother *Indo-European*

Italic: (Jupiter) Sky Father and (Juno) Sky Mother *Indo-European*

Etruscan: (Tinia) Sky Father and (Uni) Sky Mother *Tyrsenian/Italy Pre–Indo-European*

Hellenic/Greek: (Zeus) Sky Father and (Hera) Sky Mother who started as an “Earth Goddess” *Indo-European*

Nordic: (Dagr) Sky Father and (Nótt) Sky Mother *Indo-European*

Slavic: (Perun) Sky Father and (Mokosh) Earth Mother *Indo-European*

Illyrian: (Deipaturos) Sky Father and (Messapic Damatura’s “earth-mother” maybe) Earth Mother *Indo-European*

Albanian: (Zojz) Sky Father and (?) *Indo-European*

Baltic: (Perkūnas) Sky Father and (Saulė) Sky Mother *Indo-European*

Germanic: (Týr) Sky Father and (?) *Indo-European*

Colombian-Muisca: (Bochica) Sky Father and (Huythaca) Sky Mother *Chibchan*

Aztec: (Quetzalcoatl) Sky Father and (Xochiquetzal) Sky Mother *Uto-Aztecan*

Incan: (Viracocha) Sky Father and (Mama Runtucaya) Sky Mother *Quechuan*

China: (Tian/Shangdi) Sky Father and (Dì) Earth Mother *Sino-Tibetan*

Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian: (An/Anu) Sky Father and (Ki) Earth Mother

Finnish: (Ukko) Sky Father and (Akka) Earth Mother *Finno-Ugric*

Sami: (Horagalles) Sky Father and (Ravdna) Earth Mother *Finno-Ugric*

Puebloan-Zuni: (Ápoyan Ta’chu) Sky Father and (Áwitelin Tsíta) Earth Mother

Puebloan-Hopi: (Tawa) Sky Father and (Kokyangwuti/Spider Woman/Grandmother) Earth Mother *Uto-Aztecan*

Puebloan-Navajo: (Tsohanoai) Sky Father and (Estsanatlehi) Earth Mother *Na-Dene*



Sky Father/Sky Mother “High Gods” or similar gods/goddesses of the sky more loosely connected, seeming arcane mythology across the earth seen in Siberia, China, Europe, Native Americans/First Nations People and Mesopotamia, etc.

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

ref, ref

Hinduism around 3,700 to 3,500 years old. ref

 Judaism around 3,450 or 3,250 years old. (The first writing in the bible was “Paleo-Hebrew” dated to around 3,000 years ago Khirbet Qeiyafa is the site of an ancient fortress city overlooking the Elah Valley. And many believe the religious Jewish texts were completed around 2,500) ref, ref

Judaism is around 3,450 or 3,250 years old. (“Paleo-Hebrew” 3,000 years ago and Torah 2,500 years ago)

“Judaism is an Abrahamic, its roots as an organized religion in the Middle East during the Bronze Age. Some scholars argue that modern Judaism evolved from Yahwism, the religion of ancient Israel and Judah, by the late 6th century BCE, and is thus considered to be one of the oldest monotheistic religions.” ref

“Yahwism is the name given by modern scholars to the religion of ancient Israel, essentially polytheistic, with a plethora of gods and goddesses. Heading the pantheon was Yahweh, the national god of the Israelite kingdoms of Israel and Judah, with his consort, the goddess Asherah; below them were second-tier gods and goddesses such as Baal, Shamash, Yarikh, Mot, and Astarte, all of whom had their own priests and prophets and numbered royalty among their devotees, and a third and fourth tier of minor divine beings, including the mal’ak, the messengers of the higher gods, who in later times became the angels of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Yahweh, however, was not the ‘original’ god of Israel “Isra-El”; it is El, the head of the Canaanite pantheon, whose name forms the basis of the name “Israel”, and none of the Old Testament patriarchs, the tribes of Israel, the Judges, or the earliest monarchs, have a Yahwistic theophoric name (i.e., one incorporating the name of Yahweh).” ref

“El is a Northwest Semitic word meaning “god” or “deity“, or referring (as a proper name) to any one of multiple major ancient Near Eastern deities. A rarer form, ‘ila, represents the predicate form in Old Akkadian and in Amorite. The word is derived from the Proto-Semitic *ʔil-, meaning “god”. Specific deities known as ‘El or ‘Il include the supreme god of the ancient Canaanite religion and the supreme god of East Semitic speakers in Mesopotamia’s Early Dynastic Period. ʼĒl is listed at the head of many pantheons. In some Canaanite and Ugaritic sources, ʼĒl played a role as father of the gods, of creation, or both. For example, in the Ugaritic texts, ʾil mlk is understood to mean “ʼĒl the King” but ʾil hd as “the god Hadad“. The Semitic root ʾlh (Arabic ʾilāh, Aramaic ʾAlāh, ʾElāh, Hebrew ʾelōah) may be ʾl with a parasitic h, and ʾl may be an abbreviated form of ʾlh. In Ugaritic the plural form meaning “gods” is ʾilhm, equivalent to Hebrew ʾelōhîm “powers”. In the Hebrew texts this word is interpreted as being semantically singular for “god” by biblical commentators. However the documentary hypothesis for the Old Testament (corresponds to the Jewish Torah) developed originally in the 1870s, identifies these that different authors – the Jahwist, Elohist, Deuteronomist, and the Priestly source – were responsible for editing stories from a polytheistic religion into those of a monotheistic religion. Inconsistencies that arise between monotheism and polytheism in the texts are reflective of this hypothesis.” ref


Jainism around 2,599 – 2,527 years old. ref

Confucianism around 2,600 – 2,551 years old. ref

Buddhism around 2,563/2,480 – 2,483/2,400 years old. ref

Christianity around 2,o00 years old. ref

Shinto around 1,305 years old. ref

Islam around 1407–1385 years old. ref

Sikhism around 548–478 years old. ref

Bahá’í around 200–125 years old. ref

Knowledge to Ponder: 


  • Possibly, around 30,000 years ago (in simpler form) to 6,000 years ago, Stars/Astrology are connected to Ancestors, Spirit Animals, and Deities.
  • The star also seems to be a possible proto-star for Star of Ishtar, Star of Inanna, or Star of Venus.
  • Around 7,000 to 6,000 years ago, Star Constellations/Astrology have connections to the “Kurgan phenomenon” of below-ground “mound” stone/wood burial structures and “Dolmen phenomenon” of above-ground stone burial structures.
  • Around 6,500–5,800 years ago, The Northern Levant migrations into Jordon and Israel in the Southern Levant brought new cultural and religious transfer from Turkey and Iran.
  • “The Ghassulian Star,” a mysterious 6,000-year-old mural from Jordan may have connections to the European paganstic kurgan/dolmens phenomenon.

“Astrology is a range of divinatory practices, recognized as pseudoscientific since the 18th century, that claim to discern information about human affairs and terrestrial events by studying the apparent positions of celestial objects. Different cultures have employed forms of astrology since at least the 2nd millennium BCE, these practices having originated in calendrical systems used to predict seasonal shifts and to interpret celestial cycles as signs of divine communications. Most, if not all, cultures have attached importance to what they observed in the sky, and some—such as the HindusChinese, and the Maya—developed elaborate systems for predicting terrestrial events from celestial observations. Western astrology, one of the oldest astrological systems still in use, can trace its roots to 19th–17th century BCE Mesopotamia, from where it spread to Ancient GreeceRome, the Islamicate world and eventually Central and Western Europe. Contemporary Western astrology is often associated with systems of horoscopes that purport to explain aspects of a person’s personality and predict significant events in their lives based on the positions of celestial objects; the majority of professional astrologers rely on such systems.” ref 

Around 5,500 years ago, Science evolves, The first evidence of science was 5,500 years ago and was demonstrated by a body of empirical, theoretical, and practical knowledge about the natural world. ref

Around 5,000 years ago, Origin of Logics is a Naturalistic Observation (principles of valid reasoning, inference, & demonstration) ref

Around 4,150 to 4,000 years ago: The earliest surviving versions of the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, which was originally titled “He who Saw the Deep” (Sha naqba īmuru) or “Surpassing All Other Kings” (Shūtur eli sharrī) were written. ref


  • 3,700 years ago or so, the oldest of the Hindu Vedas (scriptures), the Rig Veda was composed.
  • 3,500 years ago or so, the Vedic Age began in India after the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilization.


  • around 3,000 years ago, the first writing in the bible was “Paleo-Hebrew”
  • around 2,500 years ago, many believe the religious Jewish texts were completed

Myths: The bible inspired religion is not just one religion or one myth but a grouping of several religions and myths

  • Around 3,450 or 3,250 years ago, according to legend, is the traditionally accepted period in which the Israelite lawgiver, Moses, provided the Ten Commandments.
  • Around 2,500 to 2,400 years ago, a collection of ancient religious writings by the Israelites based primarily upon the Hebrew Bible, Tanakh, or Old Testament is the first part of Christianity’s bible.
  • Around 2,400 years ago, the most accepted hypothesis is that the canon was formed in stages, first the Pentateuch (Torah).
  • Around 2,140 to 2,116 years ago, the Prophets was written during the Hasmonean dynasty, and finally the remaining books.
  • Christians traditionally divide the Old Testament into four sections:
  • The first five books or Pentateuch (Torah).
  • The proposed history books telling the history of the Israelites from their conquest of Canaan to their defeat and exile in Babylon.
  • The poetic and proposed “Wisdom books” dealing, in various forms, with questions of good and evil in the world.
  • The books of the biblical prophets, warning of the consequences of turning away from God:
  • Henotheism:
  • Exodus 20:23 “You shall not make other gods besides Me (not saying there are no other gods just not to worship them); gods of silver or gods of gold, you shall not make for yourselves.”
  • Polytheism:
  • Judges 10:6 “Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the sons of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; thus they forsook the LORD and did not serve Him.”
  • 1 Corinthians 8:5 “For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords.”
  • Monotheism:
  • Isaiah 43:10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.

Around 2,570 to 2,270 Years Ago, there is a confirmation of atheistic doubting as well as atheistic thinking, mainly by Greek philosophers. However, doubting gods is likely as old as the invention of gods and should destroy the thinking that belief in god(s) is the “default belief”. The Greek word is apistos (a “not” and pistos “faithful,”), thus not faithful or faithless because one is unpersuaded and unconvinced by a god(s) claim. Short Definition: unbelieving, unbeliever, or unbelief.

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

Expressions of Atheistic Thinking:

  • Around 2,600 years ago, Ajita Kesakambali, ancient Indian philosopher, who is the first known proponent of Indian materialism. ref
  • Around 2,535 to 2,475 years ago, Heraclitus, Greek pre-Socratic philosopher, a native of the Greek city Ephesus, Ionia, on the coast of Anatolia, also known as Asia Minor or modern Turkey. ref
  • Around 2,500 to 2,400 years ago, according to The Story of Civilization book series certain African pygmy tribes have no identifiable gods, spirits, or religious beliefs or rituals, and even what burials accrue are without ceremony. ref
  • Around 2,490 to 2,430 years ago, Empedocles, Greek pre-Socratic philosopher and a citizen of Agrigentum, a Greek city in Sicily. ref
  • Around 2,460 to 2,370 years ago, Democritus, Greek pre-Socratic philosopher considered to be the “father of modern science” possibly had some disbelief amounting to atheism. ref
  • Around 2,399 years ago or so, Socrates, a famous Greek philosopher was tried for sinfulness by teaching doubt of state gods. ref
  • Around 2,341 to 2,270 years ago, Epicurus, a Greek philosopher known for composing atheistic critics and famously stated, “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him god?” ref

This last expression by Epicurus, seems to be an expression of Axiological Atheism. To understand and utilize value or actually possess “Value Conscious/Consciousness” to both give a strong moral “axiological” argument (the problem of evil) as well as use it to fortify humanism and positive ethical persuasion of human helping and care responsibilities. Because value-blindness gives rise to sociopathic/psychopathic evil.

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

While hallucinogens are associated with shamanism, it is alcohol that is associated with paganism.

The Atheist-Humanist-Leftist Revolutionaries Shows in the prehistory series:

Show one: Prehistory: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” the division of labor, power, rights, and recourses.

Show two: Pre-animism 300,000 years old and animism 100,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”

Show tree: Totemism 50,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”

Show four: Shamanism 30,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”

Show five: Paganism 12,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”

Show six: Emergence of hierarchy, sexism, slavery, and the new male god dominance: Paganism 7,000-5,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (Capitalism) (World War 0) Elite and their slaves!

Show seven: Paganism 5,000 years old: progressed organized religion and the state: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (Kings and the Rise of the State)

Show eight: Paganism 4,000 years old: Moralistic gods after the rise of Statism and often support Statism/Kings: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (First Moralistic gods, then the Origin time of Monotheism)

Prehistory: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” the division of labor, power, rights, and recourses: VIDEO

Pre-animism 300,000 years old and animism 100,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”: VIDEO

Totemism 50,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”: VIDEO

Shamanism 30,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism”: VIDEO

Paganism 12,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (Pre-Capitalism): VIDEO

Paganism 7,000-5,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (Capitalism) (World War 0) Elite and their slaves: VIEDO

Paganism 5,000 years old: progressed organized religion and the state: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (Kings and the Rise of the State): VIEDO

Paganism 4,000 years old: related to “Anarchism and Socialism” (First Moralistic gods, then the Origin time of Monotheism): VIEDO

I do not hate simply because I challenge and expose myths or lies any more than others being thought of as loving simply because of the protection and hiding from challenge their favored myths or lies.

The truth is best championed in the sunlight of challenge.

An archaeologist once said to me “Damien religion and culture are very different”

My response, So are you saying that was always that way, such as would you say Native Americans’ cultures are separate from their religions? And do you think it always was the way you believe?

I had said that religion was a cultural product. That is still how I see it and there are other archaeologists that think close to me as well. Gods too are the myths of cultures that did not understand science or the world around them, seeing magic/supernatural everywhere.

I personally think there is a goddess and not enough evidence to support a male god at Çatalhöyük but if there was both a male and female god and goddess then I know the kind of gods they were like Proto-Indo-European mythology.

This series idea was addressed in, Anarchist Teaching as Free Public Education or Free Education in the Public: VIDEO

Our 12 video series: Organized Oppression: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of power (9,000-4,000 years ago), is adapted from: The Complete and Concise History of the Sumerians and Early Bronze Age Mesopotamia (7000-2000 BC): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szFjxmY7jQA by “History with Cy

Show #1: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Samarra, Halaf, Ubaid)

Show #2: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Eridu: First City of Power)

Show #3: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Uruk and the First Cities)

Show #4: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (First Kings)

Show #5: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Early Dynastic Period)

Show #6: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (King Lugalzagesi and the First Empire)

Show #7: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Sargon and Akkadian Rule)

Show #8: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Naram-Sin, Post-Akkadian Rule, and the Gutians)

Show #9: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Gudea of Lagash and Utu-hegal)

Show #10: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Third Dynasty of Ur / Neo-Sumerian Empire)

Show #11: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Amorites, Elamites, and the End of an Era)

Show #12: Mesopotamian State Force and the Politics of Power (Aftermath and Legacy of Sumer)

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

The “Atheist-Humanist-Leftist Revolutionaries”

Cory Johnston ☭ Ⓐ Atheist Leftist @Skepticallefty & I (Damien Marie AtHope) @AthopeMarie (my YouTube & related blog) are working jointly in atheist, antitheist, antireligionist, antifascist, anarchist, socialist, and humanist endeavors in our videos together, generally, every other Saturday.

Why Does Power Bring Responsibility?

Think, how often is it the powerless that start wars, oppress others, or commit genocide? So, I guess the question is to us all, to ask, how can power not carry responsibility in a humanity concept? I know I see the deep ethical responsibility that if there is power their must be a humanistic responsibility of ethical and empathic stewardship of that power. Will I be brave enough to be kind? Will I possess enough courage to be compassionate? Will my valor reach its height of empathy? I as everyone, earns our justified respect by our actions, that are good, ethical, just, protecting, and kind. Do I have enough self-respect to put my love for humanity’s flushing, over being brought down by some of its bad actors? May we all be the ones doing good actions in the world, to help human flourishing.

I create the world I want to live in, striving for flourishing. Which is not a place but a positive potential involvement and promotion; a life of humanist goal precision. To master oneself, also means mastering positive prosocial behaviors needed for human flourishing. I may have lost a god myth as an atheist, but I am happy to tell you, my friend, it is exactly because of that, leaving the mental terrorizer, god belief, that I truly regained my connected ethical as well as kind humanity.

Cory and I will talk about prehistory and theism, addressing the relevance to atheism, anarchism, and socialism.

At the same time as the rise of the male god, 7,000 years ago, there was also the very time there was the rise of violence, war, and clans to kingdoms, then empires, then states. It is all connected back to 7,000 years ago, and it moved across the world.

Cory Johnston: https://damienmarieathope.com/2021/04/cory-johnston-mind-of-a-skeptical-leftist/?v=32aec8db952d  

The Mind of a Skeptical Leftist (YouTube)

Cory Johnston: Mind of a Skeptical Leftist @Skepticallefty

The Mind of a Skeptical Leftist By Cory Johnston: “Promoting critical thinking, social justice, and left-wing politics by covering current events and talking to a variety of people. Cory Johnston has been thoughtfully talking to people and attempting to promote critical thinking, social justice, and left-wing politics.” http://anchor.fm/skepticalleft

Cory needs our support. We rise by helping each other.

Cory Johnston ☭ Ⓐ @Skepticallefty Evidence-based atheist leftist (he/him) Producer, host, and co-host of 4 podcasts @skeptarchy @skpoliticspod and @AthopeMarie

Damien Marie AtHope (“At Hope”) Axiological Atheist, Anti-theist, Anti-religionist, Secular Humanist. Rationalist, Writer, Artist, Poet, Philosopher, Advocate, Activist, Psychology, and Armchair Archaeology/Anthropology/Historian.

Damien is interested in: Freedom, Liberty, Justice, Equality, Ethics, Humanism, Science, Atheism, Antiteism, Antireligionism, Ignosticism, Left-Libertarianism, Anarchism, Socialism, Mutualism, Axiology, Metaphysics, LGBTQI, Philosophy, Advocacy, Activism, Mental Health, Psychology, Archaeology, Social Work, Sexual Rights, Marriage Rights, Woman’s Rights, Gender Rights, Child Rights, Secular Rights, Race Equality, Ageism/Disability Equality, Etc. And a far-leftist, “Anarcho-Humanist.”

I am not a good fit in the atheist movement that is mostly pro-capitalist, I am anti-capitalist. Mostly pro-skeptic, I am a rationalist not valuing skepticism. Mostly pro-agnostic, I am anti-agnostic. Mostly limited to anti-Abrahamic religions, I am an anti-religionist. 

To me, the “male god” seems to have either emerged or become prominent around 7,000 years ago, whereas the now favored monotheism “male god” is more like 4,000 years ago or so. To me, the “female goddess” seems to have either emerged or become prominent around 11,000-10,000 years ago or so, losing the majority of its once prominence around 2,000 years ago due largely to the now favored monotheism “male god” that grow in prominence after 4,000 years ago or so. 

My Thought on the Evolution of Gods?

Animal protector deities from old totems/spirit animal beliefs come first to me, 13,000/12,000 years ago, then women as deities 11,000/10,000 years ago, then male gods around 7,000/8,000 years ago. Moralistic gods around 5,000/4,000 years ago, and monotheistic gods around 4,000/3,000 years ago. 

“Animism” is needed to begin supernatural thinking.
“Totemism” is needed for supernatural thinking connecting human actions & related to clan/tribe.
“Shamanism” is needed for supernatural thinking to be controllable/changeable by special persons.
Together = Gods/paganism

Damien Marie AtHope’s Art

Damien Marie AtHope (Said as “At” “Hope”)/(Autodidact Polymath but not good at math):

Axiological Atheist, Anti-theist, Anti-religionist, Secular Humanist, Rationalist, Writer, Artist, Jeweler, Poet, “autodidact” Philosopher, schooled in Psychology, and “autodidact” Armchair Archaeology/Anthropology/Pre-Historian (Knowledgeable in the range of: 1 million to 5,000/4,000 years ago). I am an anarchist socialist politically. Reasons for or Types of Atheism

My Website, My Blog, & Short-writing or QuotesMy YouTube, Twitter: @AthopeMarie, and My Email: damien.marie.athope@gmail.com

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