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The Concept of "Power" in Numic and Yuman Epistemology

Richard W. Stoffle and Maria Nieves Zedefio

This paper is concerned with explaining why American Indians attach cultural significance to things (a gloss used here for objects, places, and resources)/ Even though individuals may refer to a range of cultural foundations to explain the rationale followed in assigning meaning to things, the general premise is that one of the primordial cultural foundations has to do with the concept of power, how it flows in the world and what humans should do to maintain balance with it. Philosophically, this type of concept is called an epistemological primitive-an idea about the world so basic that few people think of its existence, and if the truth of this existence were challenged they would simply respond bu saying, "of course it is true." An epistemological primitive underlies many aspects of culture and explains human behavior and, thus, holds the key to unraveling the roots of meaningfully constituted human landscapes or environments.

High Plains Applied Anthropologist No. 2, Vol. 22, Fall, 2002 pp 173 – 193

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