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Unit 7 Summary.docx

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HIST 2260
Norman Smith

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HIST 2260*DE – Unit 7 Summary INTRODUCTION  The First Nations of North America (or ‘Amerindian’) were not single cultural and social entity- as label suggests, ‘nations’, in plural EARLY HISTORY  Difficult to be certain when Homo sapiens first appeared on North American continent – suggests date in wide order of 30,000- 60,000 B.C.  Most likely origin of First Nations of North America was Siberia - although still debated  Migration from Siberia into North America apparently followed pattern o Down into south, along west coast, then, only as ice from ice age began to recede, north again, and lastly around 10,000 B.C. into what is now eastern and northeastern Canada COMMON FEATURES OF RELIGION  Native American religion, like pre-Christian European religion, closely centered on nature o Natural landscapes and natural objects imbued with super-natural meaning and power o All practices closely intertwined with economic basis of each culture  Societies based on hunting and gathering as principle economic activities focused on animal religious symbolism, individual spiritual quests, and shamanism o Concept of life after death somewhat limited to eternal good hunting  Broad similarities in use and understanding of ‘ritual’ across these American cultures o Ritual didn’t separate functional from spiritual understandings amongst native peoples  General rule – little separation between ritual and religion o Congruence of ritual and belief to native Americans closer in understanding to Catholicism and eastern Orthodoxy than to Protestant branch of Christians - understanding which was to play important role in conversion of many Amerindians. Protestant Christians to have to introduce literacy to indigenous cultures in order to spread form of Christianity THE A ZTECS th th  Arose around 14 and 15 century, lasted until 1519 when conquered by Spaniards o With collapse of preceding Toltec civilization, central city, Mexican plateau became field of battle where various groups fought for power  Méxica spoke language called Nahuatl, founded capital Tenochitián 1345 o Through alliances, trade, and war, gradually gained control over region – establishing Aztec Empire o Méxica tended to absorb gods, myths and rites of groups conquered by them  Beliefs based on perception of nature, its time space, and cycles o Concerned with destructive aspect of nature, most rituals are means of avoiding destructive and chaotic forces of nature, and finding harmony within nature rd o Need to control nature evident in calendar systems – 2 calendars which combined to form a 3  1. Xihuitl, natural year calendar, used to measure agricultural year and provide basis upon which they performed ritual to various gods  2. Tonalpohualli, structure based on combination of numbers and signs that determine fate of everyone depending on date of birth (like astrology)  Combined to form Xiuhmolpilli – most important, cycle of 52 solar years, time needed for 2 previous caldars to have coincident beginning. Each 52 years considered an era, at end of which destruction might take place if sacrifices not performed  Believed world divided into 5 eras, or suns, each previous era been governed by one deity and ended with destruction of elements or phenomena after which been named th o Believed themselves to be living in 5 and last era – brought to an end and world destroyed by earthquakes  World conceived as flat surface divided into 5 directions (north, south, east, west and centre where Tenochtitlán located)  Departing from Tenochtitlán, there was vertical line with 13 ascending layers or heavens, and nine layers of underworld, each occupied by different deities  Aztec pantheon – gods related to creation of cosmos, to fertility, regeneration, death, war, sacrificial nourishment of sun – gods had different roles and represented in different ways o 1. Huitzilopochtli - supreme deity of Aztecs associated with sun and fire o 2. Tatloc - rain god, associated with fertility and other things  Highest layer of heaven occupied by Ometeotl – both male and female (principle of duality) o Generated 4 children  Red god Tezcatlipoca  Black god, also Tezcatlipoca  Plumed serpent god Quetzalcoatl  Hum
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