Book Review: 1491
In 1491, Charles C. Mann aims to prove a once-widespread belief about Native Americans false. This belief, which he calls Holmberg’s mistake, was first published in the book Nomads of the Longbow by Holmberg himself. Holmberg states that before European influence arrived in 1492, the Native Americans were nothing more than mere savages with lacking religion, no appreciation for the arts past feathered beads, little impact on the natural world around them, and nomadic lifestyles. Charles C. Mann, collecting evidence from various archeologists, paleontologists, and researchers from prestigious universities, sets out to show just how wrong Holmberg was in his thinking.
Charles C. Mann disproves Holmberg’s idea that the Native American had no complex religion and knowledge of the stars and sun when he writes about the different deities and religious practices that the Native American had. The Mexicas, for instance, worshipped Ometeotl, the God who sustained the cosmos. They believed that the sun nourished all living things, and worshipped it as one of Ometeotl’s sons. They held religious sacrificial ceremonies with war prisoners or criminals. The Chinchorro society was the first to mummify their leaders and treat them as if they were still alive for years to come. Numerous cultures worshipped what today historians call the ‘staff god.’ The Mayans studied the stars and created three different calendars with their knowledge of astronomy. This is indicative of a society very much in tune with the sky above them; a society with culture tied into their religious beliefs, which were by no means simple.
Native American art did exist past feathers and beads. Stone carvings have been found in burial sites and the ruins of abandoned sites. Some depict Native American gods, such as the staff god, which appears in many different forms depending on the socities. Others depict great wars between socities and the fall of kings. The Native...
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