A Symposium: Notions and Strategic Uses of Personhood and Souls-Like Essences among Early Woodland, Middle Woodland, and Postcontact Indians of the Eastern Woodlands

Inspired by the work of ethnologist A. Irving Hallowell and more recent developments in the study of non-Western peoples’ ontologies, we present archaeological, bioarchaeological, ethnographic, and folklore documentation of Ohio Hopewell, Kentucky Adena, and postcontact Woodland Indians’ notions of personhood, including soul-like essences as constituents of a person.  We explore how these notions motivated and were expressed in mortuary rituals, formed a foundation for interpersonal and intergroup interactions, and were sometimes used strategically to create productive relations among groups and ties to places.   Major themes that crosscut the presentations are:  (1) the central place of ideas about soul-like essences in Woodland Indian concepts of the person; (2) the inclusion of other-than-human beings in the Woodland Indian cultural category of the person; and (3) the native logics and strategic uses of these two facets of personhood in forming and maintaining intercommunity alliances, in place-making, and in issues of apparent “territoriality”


This symposium of 12 presentations was prepared for the Society for American Archaeology’s 2019 meeting.  It was made into YouTube videos when the meetings were canceled.  The symposium can be accessed at:https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLq8AGDwGZC7qHiXWlE3mTXpt52D9fxDLP


Symposium Organizer and Chair:

Christopher Carr, Professor Emeritus, Arizona State University.  

Presenters and Titles of Papers

Christopher Carr, Professor Emeritus

Introduction:  Symposium Topics and a Historical Critique of Some Recent Anthropological Views of Personhood 

William Rex Weeks, Ph.D.

Come as Strangers, Leave as Friends:  An Invitation to A. Irving Hallowell’s Essay on “Ojibwa Ontology, Behavior, and Worldview” for Soul-Searching Archaeologists.

Mary Kupsch, M.A. 

Soul Concepts of Postcolonial Woodland and Plains Indians, I:  A Systematic Survey of Specific Ideas in Oral Narratives as a Foundation for an Archaeology of Souls.  

Brianna Rafidi, B.A

Soul Concepts of Postcolonial Woodland and Plains Indians, II:  A Systematic Survey of Concept Meta-Themes, Intercorrelations, and Regional Traditions.

Heather Smyth, M.A. and Christopher Carr, Prof. Emeritus

Scioto Hopewell Ideas about Multiple Soul-Like Essences in Humans:  Mortuary Expression in View of Postcolonial Woodland and Plains Indians’ Soul Concepts.

Christopher Caseldine, Ph.D.  

Soul Journeys to Afterlives:  A Systematic Survey of Postcolonial Woodland and Plains Native American Ideas in Oral Narratives as a Foundation for Precolonial Mortuary Studies.

Anna C. Novotny, Assistant Professor

Souls in Flight:  A Scioto Hopewell Ritual Drama about the Journey of Souls of the Deceased to an Afterlife.  

Mark McConaughy, Ph.D. 

Bird Effigies at Sugar Run Mound, Pennsylvania and North Benton Mound, Ohio.

Christopher Carr, Professor Emeritus

Scioto Hopewell Souls and Intercommunity Alliance-Making: Three World-View Metaphors that Scioto Hopewell Peoples Lived.

Andrew Seidel, Ph.D.  

Persons and Places:  Ontology and Landscape Use among Kentucky Adena GroupsDiscussant: 

Kelley Hays-Gilpin, Professor

Discussant:  Christine S. VanPool, Associate Professor

Video Production and Audio Engineering:

Brianna Rafidi, Christopher Carr

Email Contact Information for the Participants

Christopher Carr: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

William Rex Weeks: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mary Kupsch: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Brianna Rafidi:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Heather Smyth: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Christopher Caseldine: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Anna Novotny: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mark McConaughy: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Andrew Seidel: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Kelley Hays-Gilpin: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Christine VanPool: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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