Time in Native North America

  • Michael Zeilik
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4425-0_8900

The Pueblo people of the United States Southwest believe in a cosmos in which nature functions with the active cooperation of humankind. The proper ceremonies must be carried out at the proper time so that the cosmic order is sustained. Traditional doctrines held that there were correct times for planting, harvesting, hunting, ceremonies, and many other activities – all embedded in a sense of sacred time. The right times for these crucial undertakings are established by astronomical observations to regulate the ritual calendar. The cycles of the sun and moon set the rhythm of Pueblo time.

Sacred time is ordered with different levels of periodicities. The longest appears to be the seasonal year. We have very little evidence – almost all ambiguous – that the Pueblos kept long counts or tallies greater than a year. Until the twentieth century, with the intrusion of European concepts of time, no indigenous interest appears in tracking cycles over many years. The yearly cycle is all...

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  1. Williamson, Ray A. Living the Sky: The Cosmos of the American Indian. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1984.Google Scholar
  2. Zeilik, Michael. Keeping the Sacred and Planting Calendar: Archaeoastronomy in the Pueblo Southwest. World Archaeoastronomy. Ed. A. F. Aveni. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989. 143–66.Google Scholar

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Zeilik

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