Circumpolar Shamanism Essay

3134 Words13 Pages
Running head: CIRCUMPOLAR SHAMANISM Spirits of the Frozen Earth Shamanism in Circumpolar Indigenous Peoples The northern most territories of North America and Siberia are harsh environments of ice and snow. The indigenous peoples of these regions have, until recently, relied heavily on hunting and fishing as the main subsistence method. In the cultures of circumpolar people, where weather conditions and hunting could be unpredictable, the belief in the ability to control aspects of life through the supernatural was essential to daily life. Through these beliefs the role of the shaman developed. Due to the comparable harsh environments faced by indigenous peoples in these circumpolar regions, cultural similarities have arisen and remain with regards to the importance and role of the shaman. The initiation of novice shamans, the kind of spirits they possess and communicate with, and their ability to heal and aid in the hunt are comparable in hunter-gatherer tribes of both northern Siberia and northern North America. Similarly, the Inuit, Inupiat and Yup'ik people of the circumpolar regions of North America acquired the majority of their food through hunting of sea mammals, fishing and the hunting of caribou (Klevan, & Sonne, 1985). The circumpolar indigenous peoples of North America did not domesticate reindeer/caribou, but used dogs as the main draught animal. In the circumpolar tribes of both continents, the social status and expectations of a shaman were the same. All shamans were expected to communicate with the supernatural world to mediate between humans and spirits, cure illnesses and solve communal crises. The shaman was expected to be able to stop natural catastrophes and predict where game would be found. Through communication with the spirits, a shaman could learn what taboo had been broken to cause a tribal member grief. The indigenous

More about Circumpolar Shamanism Essay

Open Document