Cherokee stickball: the first written documentation

Winter ball play in Tugalo, Estatoe, and Keowee

On January 11th, 1715–16, an officer from the Carolina Colony on an expedition into the Cherokee Country wrote in his journal that

this day ther was a greatt ball play att Esttohee agenst ye peapl of Tugaloe1


Camouflage that stands out.

MARPAT, UCP, MutiCam, and Scorpion 2

The United States Army has apparently chosen a replacement for the Universal Camouflage Pattern and the stopgap MultiCam pattern. The newly selected pattern, Scorpion 2, looks a whole lot like the stopgap.


Misconceptions about Morgan

Lewis (not Henry) Morgan

Somewhere in an Anthropology 101 or Introduction to Anthropological Theory class today some half-truths and some outright untruths about Morgan are going to be kicked around. “Morgan as racist” is one of the half-truths. A racialized hierarchy is front and center in Ancient society, but Morgan also dedicated League of the Ho-de′-no-sau-nee to his friend Ely Parker, so his views on race are not entirely straightforward, especially by today’s standards.


The Autonomous Village in Anthropological Theory

Neoevolutionism: banishing the concept of ‘tribe’

Neoevolutionism hasn’t been a hot topic in the social sciences for a while now. But it has been present over the years, sotto voce, at the foundation of multiple lines of inquiry. As two examples, during the ’90s chiefdoms were all the rage in Southeastern archaeology, as was the anthropology of the state within the discipline more broadly.

One of the basic neo-evolutionary questions is, “What is the largest autonomous local polity?” This allows for a typologizing of societies. The orthodox choices are drawn from Elman Service’s 1962 monograph Primitive social organization:


The American Beaver

Other-than-human pair bonding

Beavers are social animals in an eminent degree. This disposition is manifested in their strongly developed propensity to pair and live in the family relation. (Morgan 1868:134)

Indigenous modernity

Beavers take care of their own.

Today’s mainline scientific view of the universe is that humans are uniquely different from other living (and non-living) things. This worldview is what Philippe Descola (2013:ch. 8) terms naturalism.


Philippe Descola’s ontological grid

Animism, totemism, analogism, naturalism

The task of anthropology is to account for how worlds are composed. – Philippe Descola

From time to time over the past few years I have chipped away at a goal of understanding Philippe Descola’s version of ontology. His work initially attracted my attention because of my interest in all things Iroquoian, but that is another post.

Yesterday Johannes Neurath shared a link to a 2012 lecture by Descola (see below). That has inspired me to tap out this short blog post about one of the foundations of Descola’s work, namely his four part ontological grid.

In Descola’s model—and he is clear that it is just that—humans construct their world based upon whether they consider the entities surrounding them to be similar or dissimilar to humans in terms of their interiority and their physicality.

animism totemism naturalism analogism

Descola’s four ontologies. The possible combinations result in the grid illustrated below.

In the case of animism, non-human species share intentionality and agency with humans but are differentiated by their bodies.

Totemism is the ontology I understand least well. Descola gives as exemplars the ontologies of the Aboriginal peoples of Australia.

Naturalism is in essence the contemporary scientific perspective on the world.

In analogism, the world is made up of differentiated but interrelated entities. Astrology (the relation of the movement to the entities in the heavens to individual humans’ fortunes) is an ontology of analogy.

Matthew Timothy Bradley

Why do we change the time?

The Mayans may have had a crazy complex calendar, but they never had the nerve to believe humans can actually change the time. Only “rational” Western society would be so audacious.

The year I spent living in Guatemala in the mid-90s was the first time in my life I was not subjected to DST. I can’t say that I noticed it, but that is kind of the point, isn’t it? The last year the state of Indiana did not do DST was the first year I lived there. It was wonderful! Then Mitch Daniels was elected with the campaign promise that putting Indiana on DST would push the state into the 21st century. In a democracy, you pay for what you get.

There are numerous public health implications of Daylight Savings Time. Individual circadian rhythms are disrupted by the autumn and spring time shifts, never a good thing for those of us living with a mood disorder. Research shows that the rate of heart attacks is higher during the first work week after the time change in comparison to the other 50 weeks of the year. The rate of traffic accidents increases following the shift into DST.

Of course, there are instances when the time should be changed, or at least the keeping of it should. Such is the case with the clock face of Alumni Tower at my alma mater, Western Carolina University.

WCU clock tower


Matthew Timothy Bradley


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