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Indians American

American Indians, including those in Canada, Mexico, Central, and South America (perhaps 25,000,000 in all), are divided into peoples, and these peoples are divided into either tribes or clans, or both; and they are remarkable for their large number of independent languages-- among the Pueblo villages in New Mexico, no one of which has a population over 3,000, four separate languages are used. But it is equally extraordinary that in spite of these multiplying units of peoples and languages, and the lack of central or general states and governments, Indians are everywhere singularly at one in a continual use of ceremonies, for innumerable purposes, and on innumerable occasions--some of them improvise ceremonies on the spot for some special purpose. A learned Indian in the Pueblo of Isleta said: we are a race who always have believed in the power of ceremonies." In the tens of thousands of ceremonies in North, Central, and South America together, there are countless emblems, symbols, rites, signs, passwords, etc. It was inevitable that one of those should occasionally coincide with some symbol or rite of Freemasonry (the Navajos have an outdoor ceremony strikingly like the Third Degree); it was from this inevitable coincidence that the belief arose a century ago that the Indians (the Mayan were an Indian people) had possessed Freemasonry before Columbus came, whereas in fact they had none of it, and at the present have none except among the comparatively few Indian members of regular Lodges. (See The Builder; consult index under Arthur C. Parker, and Alanson Skinner. See also page 480 of this Encyclopedia.) (It is among the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and of Arizona [the Hopis are a Pueblo people] that the Indian prepossession with and great talent for ceremonies can be studied best, because they have carried ceremonies to their perfection, and to an extreme. See in especial The Delight Makers, by Adolph Bandelier. It is the "classic on the American Indian"; the characters are fictitious, but otherwise, as Pueblo Indians themselves admit, nothing else in it is fictional. Next in rank to it is Zuni Folk Tales, by Frank Hamilton Cushing; G. P. Putnam's Sons; New York; 1901. Since Cushing [who lived at Zuni Pueblo] wrote his path- finding study, Hodge, Hewitt, Webster, and a long succession of specialists have produced a large literature.) The principal feature of the Pueblo cosmology is shipapu, or Underworld, from which Indian peoples came to the Upper World and to which they return, the entrance being at the "Four Corners," a spot roughly in the region where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado meet. In shipapu are the katcinas, which are not gods, or demons, or nature forces, but a "Something" impossible for a white man to envisage; each of them is in control of one of the many large cycles or things or regular occurrences, such as winds, rains, growing crops, seasons, death, etc. The Pueblo Indian believes that his ceremonies can set into action, or stop, or otherwise affect these katcinas. They are therefore, in his eyes, not dances, or prayers, or religious rites, or symbols, but a means of getting something done; a ceremony may set a katcina into action just as a horse may set a wagon in motion. Such ceremonies obviously have nothing in common with Masonic ceremonies; so also with ceremonies used by other Indian peoples, which, though they are unlike Pueblo ceremonies, are the same in principle.

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