Friday, September 23, 2016

Waggish Tales* of Life in Pre-Columbian America

A Dog’s life in Pre-Columbian America was a tale of shared work and devotion

During this fervid election year rivalries that welled up along with evolution of language, writing and even music can be ignored and perhaps forgotten, but not so with the CAS. Think about the rivalry between dog lovers and cat fanciers. The May guest speaker, Dr. Steven R. Kuehn, brought to the attention of his audience an archaeological report of the role of canines in Pre-Columbia America.

Archaeological exploration reveals no information regarding canine domestication. Whereas the Paleoindian companionship of humans and dogs has been uncovered but with little data. The Archaic reveals burial treatment.

The Early through the Middle Woodland markedly was the gold standard of mortuary treatment. There was increased evidence during the Late Woodland human/canine relationships in the form of increased ceremonialism but also increased evidence of unequal dining relations!

During Late Prehistoric ritual burials continued. Age issues and trauma probably due to mistreatment increased. In sum, however, life was harsh in the pre Colombian world for man and beast alike.

Our mind’s eye vision of the dog as power source for a travois is accurate. Travois (trăvoi´), a device used by Native North Americans of the Great Plains for transporting their tepees and household goods. It consisted of two poles, lashed one on either side of a dog or, later, a horse, with one end of each pole dragging on the ground. It had straps or wooden crosspieces between the poles near the open end that served as a carrier. Like the sledge, the travois was used by Native Americans before any use of wheels was known to them.

A Dog’s life in Pre-Columbian America is a tale of shared work and devotion.
*My thanks to Norman Lockridge whose wagging tales I have never forgotten.

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