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PostPosted: Wed Dec 04, 2019 9:30 pm 
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I thought it would be a neat idea to share... well, ideas from around the globe that we've come across.

For instance, I've been doing some actual research (as opposed to the easy type of research, where I let the research come to me [credit to Eddy Izzard]) on the Iroquois people and their mythology, so I've come across some interesting concepts that I wanted to share:

Eternal Names
The Iroquois people didn't see themselves as a collection of individuals, but rather an unbroken chain of names which were passed down along stations or roles. When someone took on the role of their predecessor, they also took on the name that predecessor used, through a ritual/ceremony which passed the name down (supposedly the new officer could reject the name as part of the ceremony, but I am assuming that happened extremely rarely for cultural reasons).

Wampum
Combination jewelry and tapestry, these wearable woven beads were used as storytelling devices. The patterns of bead colors -- from single-string wampum to wider belts, bracelets, etc. -- had meanings that were a symbolic language all their own, which meant they could work across multiple languages. Wampum also may have played a role in courtship.

Somewhat Matriarchal Society of the Iroquois
As part of the extension of the dualism in the Iroquois belief system (a kind of Yin-Yang dualism), work was divided among the sexes so that women did work involving the field and men did work involving the forest. Field work included (but not limited to) farming, childrearing and housekeeping, and village politics such as land distribution among families; forest work included (but not limited to) hunting and gathering, trading and other inter-tribe politics, warfare, and woodworking (including building houses). As such, families, and by extension tribes, were organized around the eldest living women, which all members of extended family units (referred to as clans in my reading) traced their bloodlines to. Women born to the bloodline stayed within the clan, whereas men left their houses to join their wife's clan, though they were still expected to retain loyalty to their mother's clan.

Jagaoh, the Drum-Dancers
Basically exactly like European folklore of pygmies and fairies, the Jagoah (which have a myriad of spellings, AND several other names from the different tribal languages) were "little people" who were magical and typically invisible. They seemed benevolent, but mischievous and easily angered much like their European counterparts, often to the detriment and even endangerment of humans (e.g. one type of Jagoah liked hurling rocks, up to and including boulders). Offerings were typically left in the "bowls" in nature, like bare patches of earth and rounded indentations in rocks. It was never mentioned, but I assume fairy circles would also play a part, unless those just don't happen in the northeastern Americas. They could also appear to farmers as robins (a good omen) or as owls (a bad omen).

Bleeding Trees
This is actually a from folk tale explaining pine sap, wherein a man becomes the first pine tree. The exact manner of the transformation varies in the telling, but the explanation was that when the tree was later cut, it bled red blood.

Corpse-Eating Horned Serpents
Actually, just one huge serpent from a legend (which was eventually slain, becoming the cliff of Niagara Falls). It was an evil serpent whose corpse-eating was just one of many things it did in its disruption of the natural order, as it ate feasted from burial grounds.

Dehohniot, Hunter of Souls
A chimerical creature which hunted evil souls at the behest of Death's personification. It had the head of a wolf, the body of a panther, wings of a vulture, talons of a hawk, and was colored like the sky so that you couldn't see it as it flew, or perched atop the trees, or crouched along mountaintops. It chased the souls of evil people (who, it seems, were all given a chance to escape their torment) across the sky, and in a confusing turn of events explained meteors as the souls of those who did escape being struck down by Deoniot in its ire. Also, comets were explained as this creature's tail. It also visited the Earth to sniff out the dying. It would visit sick people, mewling like a cat if they were on their deathbed, or barking like a wolf if they would be fine.

Keepers of the Central Fire
A metaphorical title for the Onondaga tribe of the Iroquois confederacy, who were centrally located within the confederacy. The name comes from the idea that the five (later, six) tribes that formed the confederacy were living in one longhouse, which would have one fireplace located at its center.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2019 7:29 am 
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At least half of that sounds like fantasy worldbuilding... I love that to bits.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2019 11:52 am 
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I like this as well. I'm going to have to keep it in mind for when I come across interesting things.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 09, 2019 10:38 pm 
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Been too tired to do much research lately, but I have an interesting tidbit:

Celestial Bears and Lunar Rabbits
A two-parter:
1. Multiple, disconnected cultures around the Northern Hemisphere all independently came up with bear-related mythology for the Ursa Major constellation.
2. Multiple, disconnected cultures all around the world have a moon-rabbit mythos of some kind.

I'm currently a little doubtful as to the explanations given for these, but here they are:
Paraphrasing a casually racist book from 1908: The general pattern of the dipper constellations (a cave, with footprints and/or hunters following a trail), coupled with the manner in which it cyclically "dies" and "comes back to life" over the seasons (especially in more northern latitudes where it never completely leaves the sky) mimics the seasonal disappearance and "rebirth" of bears. Also maybe several old cultural mythos around the world may have believed that bears really did die in the winter and were reborn in the summer, but I know for a fact that Medieval Europeans thought things like rats just spontaneously generated from grain silos, so that part is believable.

Paraphrasing Wikipedia: apparently the moon-rabbit thing is just a universal instance of pareidolia across the human race, where multiple cultures saw a long-eared rabbit in the shapes of the craters. Obviously the Chinese mythos are the most well-known, but several native peoples across the Americas also have myths related to rabbits and the moon.

Also, in a curious case of similar patterns emerging from noise, in the Iroquois legend of the celestial bear, the bear is named something like Nyah-Gwaheh (spelling varies because reasons), which isn't too far off from the Yao-Guai of Fallout fame, which comes from the Chinese word for ghost/monster.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2019 7:53 pm 
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Before posting my Indian factoid of the day, it occurred to me that the only commenters I've had thus far aren't from the Americas, so I think it would be respectful to take a moment to talk about American Indian culture specifically.

I want to start by saying that I don't want to or intend to sound patronizing; I just do not have any idea how much the plight of the indigenous peoples of the Americas is taught in Europe, or how much of it is ingrained into the culture. Over here in the U.S., it's kind of a dirty secret that gets glossed over while we're congratulating ourselves for being a melting pot for other cultures.

In short, the history of the colonization of the Americas, from the perspective of the indigenous peoples, is brutal and depressing (though not always the direct fault of the Europeans, as diseases like chickenpox ravaged many indigenous populations because they did not have immunity). Nowadays, what little of their culture has seeped into the popular culture is mostly biased and incomplete. Besides problems of influence of early (16th and 17th century) missionary work, most of the over 250 federally recognized tribes across the Contiguous United States* are lumped together by the larger Caucasian culture in insensitive ways. Most media that even vaguely touches on Indians gather disparate elements of many disconnected tribes that have no business being next to each other (in ways that would be like saying Finnish, Spanish, German, and Russian people are all similar enough to group them together).

Because of how Indians were treated in America's past, and because of how little respect is payed their culture nowadays, it's worth doing proper research yourself if any of what I'm posting interests you. It's also worth noting that, much like how black people usually prefer the term "black" over "people of color," American Indians usually prefer the term "Indian" over "Native American," for much the same reason: overinclusion. "Native American" can (and often is) used to refer to indigenous people of the entire Americas, from the Eskimos of the Arctic, to the Aztec of Latin America, and even more disconnected tribes of Southern America.

*there are over 500 federally recognized tribes, but almost half of them are in Alaska

Anyway, factoid:

Standing Stones
The Oneida, one of the five original tribes of the Iroquois, are named "the people of the standing stone" because of a myth regarding said stones. Whenever they would periodically relocate their towns, or found new ones, supposedly they would be followed by these stones, and within a few days of settling an area, would find a large stone which nobody could have possibly carried with them suspiciously nearby, where one had not been before.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 9:36 pm 
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The World-Turtle
As apparently several other cultures around the world believed, the Iroquois world-creation myth (and many other tribes across the nation, it seems) included the earth being on the back of a turtle, though this one was originally normal-sized as it swam through the primordial ocean. When the mother-goddess-figure fell through the sky and needed something to stand on, earth was brought up from the ocean floor to put on the turtle's back, where it quickly grew, and the turtle grew underneath it, until it was as big as the earth is today.

Why Dolls Have No Faces
In a fascinating children's fable about not being too prideful, children were told why their traditional corn-husk dolls were never given faces. It is told that their Creator deity, as a favor to the Spirit of Corn, made the first corn husk doll, a living thing with a face that brought joy to children of many villages as it traveled. With all the attention that was showered on it, though, it started believing itself to be the most beautiful thing in existence. The Creator sent it a message that, if it continued as it was, it would be punished. Things went as you expect these stories to go, and one day when the doll was admiring itself in its reflection on the water, an owl (or other bird) swooped down and stole the reflection, removing its face (and, in some instances of the story, also making it have no reflection at all).


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 9:39 pm 
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Hey, Luna, just out of curiosity, what source(s) are you using for this?


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2019 12:09 am 
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Hey, Luna, just out of curiosity, what source(s) are you using for this?

Actually, I'm glad you asked. I started by following some Wikipedia links and kind of expanded outward down a few rabbit holes, mostly scouring the tribe's official websites.

In no order as I'm just looking these up as I'm remembering them off the top of my head:

The racist book I mentioned, written in 1908, available in its entirety for free, written by some lady who seemed to work a lot with the tribes but compiled and edited after her deathbed. Seems to be fairly reputable in terms of stories told, as I've already found multiple corroborating accounts of some of the stories, even though I've read less than 100 of its pages.

A site dedicated to preserving American Indian languages and culture has been also been helpful for summarizing the myths and culture as well as providing links to other sites, often with a telling of some story associated with the legend in question.

Woven Notes, an old, seemingly abandoned blog billed as "the official blog of the Oneida Indian Nation", which I thought I had scoured but now seems that some silly javascript or something had hidden half the entries from me as I had been investigating on mobile. A lot of it is non-useful modern-day happenings with the tribe -- stuff like their work in creating jobs or involvement in state fairs, etc. -- but keep a look out for Wednesday Legend posts.

Onondaga Nation website, with a useful "culture" tab.

The Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) website, one of the first places I visited.

Native Tech website, a website which seems to have the intent to preserve the anthropological knowledge of what Indian tribes practiced technology-wise, pre-colonization. Not terribly well organized, but useful for discovering certain things like what kind of metalworking American Indians had before contact with Europeans.

Keep in mind a lot of these websites are relatively old, both in the sense that they don't seem to have been updated in a while or have been possibly abandoned, and in the sense that they aren't http secure like most newer sites are. I may be forgetting a few sites, but that will mostly be because I'm following a lot of links to read the stories and not staying on most sites for very long. That Native-Languages site is legitimately useful, though. As much as I've grown to dislike their stance on video games, I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention Extra Creditz's videos on Hiawatha & the Great Law of Peace for doing a good job introducing me to and summarizing the story of the founding of the Iroquois Confederacy.


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