CCMS Volume 2 (PDF). Reciprocity & Hupa Woodpeckers. by Timothy Jordan

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CCMS Volume 2 (PDF). Reciprocity & Hupa Woodpeckers. by Timothy Jordan

8.99

ABSTRACT:  For the Hupa people of northwest California, reciprocity and acts of exchange are the foundation of the their spiritual relationship with woodpeckers. This article examines how woodpeckers are sacred animals for the Hupa people, and how conscious acts of reciprocity directly influence the tribe’s relationship with these birds. Through textual analysis of more than one hundred years of ethnographic and linguistic records the woodpecker serves as the entry point for discussion regarding traditional Hupa culture. Through examination of this literature it becomes possible to see how the woodpecker influences traditional concepts of spiritualism, wealth, and ceremonialism. Analysis is guided by Marcel Mauss’ The Gift, which asserts relationships are created and maintained through regular acts of gift-exchange. This work examines how reciprocal transaction cycles integrate woodpeckers into the tribe’s spiritual practices and perpetuate the relationship with the birds over generations. This work presents a model for future species-specific studies and complements an already rich body of literature about Hupa culture by describing the traits of their most important spiritual animal.

45 Pages. Includes bibliographical references, 23 illustrations, 5 tables. Design and layout by Brian Gleeson.
ISSN 2333-9667 (electronic format) PDF

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Timothy Jordan worked for the National Park Service, as an education program manager and interpretive park ranger at Muir Woods National Monument, and as a interpretive specialist and volunteer program manager at Kalaupapa National Park in Molokai, Hawaii.  He lives in Oakland, California and has a Master’s Degree in Anthropology from San Francisco State University.  He is an Associate Editor for CCCMS.  He has been studying Hupa culture and human-animal relationships since 2001.