Friday, April 24, 2009

On Being Primitive

The only definition of the adjective or noun, "primitive" that I respect is from the original (Latin and/or Old English) meaning first or prime. I am not alone in this view as I quote here from Wikipedia: "Indigenous peoples and their beliefs and practices are sometimes described as "primitive or primitive cottage", a usage that is seen as unhelpful and inaccurate by the vast majority of contemporary anthropologists and similar professionals."

Well, in my mind we do not need to be either an anthropologist or other professional to respect the reality that "first" or "prime" are relative to an age. In approximately 100 BC the Anasazi culture (the ancient ones) were first in a culture that thrives today (Puebloan and Hopi). In evaluating this culture we must do so within the context of their times and not by a comparison with our times, which often leads to comparative, and sometimes derisive comments, about "primitive people," or their "primitive ways."

In this blog series, I will present and quote both evaluations and speculations about the Anasazi culture and their neighboring cultures within the context of their times and their environments. Where primitive would be haphazardly used, I will use primary, beginning, initial, first and a host of other modifiers that refer to those cultures' activities.

Lastly, in time, we "today people" will be cast uncharitably as "primitive" by more advanced cultures who see us as awkward and quite backward in many ways. Hurts doesn't it? We must all keep this in mind when we examine the history of earlier human cultures on this planet. When we manage this transition through reading and research we will experience the excitement of discovery and admiration as we share segments of those ancient lives. I hope you will come along and share those times with me.

CREDIT: The image above is "Newspaper Rock" Petroglyphs on Newspaper Rock near Canyonlands National Park, south of Moab, south eastern Utah, USA

Anasazi Dreams (c) 2009 Waddell Robey All copyrights apply

1 comment:

  1. The following is a quote from an anthropology blog entitled: "Savage Minds":

    "Savage Minds is a collective web log devoted to both bringing anthropology to a wider audience as well as providing an online forum for discussing the latest developments in the field. We are a group of Ph.D. students and professors teaching and studying anthropology and are excited to share it with you. You can find out more about the contributors by clicking on the ‘about’ pages on the right for each of us."

    This is an example of the professional misuse of words or headings that imply to the public connotations about ancient cultures that evoke beliefs that those cultures were hostile and dangerous. I call this Hollywood Anthropology where all early Native Americans are evil and dangerous, and must be forcefully controlled or eliminated. This prejudice persists in our culture to this day.