Interpreting Dakota Culture

Paper details:

In his article “Technology, World View, and Adaptive Strategy in a Northern Hunting Society,” Robin Ridington argues that we should understand hunter-gatherers’ reliance on knowledge of nature rather than tools in light of their subsistence strategy. (Note: Ridington uses the term “adaptive strategy” rather than “subsistence strategy,” but the meanings are the same.) Knowledge weighs nothing and can be easily carried within
one’s head, making it a more efficient technology than tools and implements for a people who must regularly move campsites.

Moreover, Ridington suggests that the religious world view and rituals of hunter-gatherers as well as their system of social organization can likewise be seen as techniques within their subsistence strategy. If the success of hunter-gatherers depends
on regulating their relationships with nature, then success could also be said to depend on regulating their relationships with each other. Building on Ridington’s insights, this
assignment asks you to think like an anthropologist and consider the uses of ceremony and ritual within the overall subsistence strategy of hunter-gatherers.
Choose one of the following Dakota ceremonies described in Waterlily by ella cara deloria:
A. the buffalo dreamer (on pages 54-57)
B. the ghostkeeping ceremony (on pages 141-147, 155-160)
C. the kinship appeal (on pages 191-194)
Your task for this assignment is to offer an account of the ceremony that situates it within the social practices and world view of Dakota Sioux hunter-gatherers. You should
look to connect the elements of the ceremony—the reasons for holding it, the rituals and intermediaries necessary to enact it, the meaning of key symbols—to the wider
subsistence strategy of the Dakota tipi circle in which the ceremony is embedded. The following question should drive your essay’s analysis: how does this ceremony support
the relationships that matter most to the Dakota way of life?

Assignment Details.
Papers will be handed in through

Format: Your paper should be at least 1500 words, double-spaced, with standard margins (1 inch) and fonts (preferably 12-point). Citations and Works Cited: I’m not expecting students to do additional research for this assignment—Waterlily and other readings from our course in addition to your notes from lecture and discussion are all you should need to consult. However, I do
expect students to acknowledge the sources they used in a Works Cited section.

SS103, Spring 2022
Use MLA style for in-text citations (such as after a quote or paraphrase) and for the Works Cited. For instance, a citation of page 115 of Waterlily would look like (Deloria 115). Your paper should also include a Works Cited section, either at the bottom of the last page or on a separate page, that provides citation information for the sources you used—Waterlily, class notes, and anything else. The proper Works Cited format for Waterlily is
Deloria, Ella. Waterlily. University of Nebraska Press, 2009.
The proper Works Cited format for the article by Robin Ridington is Ridington, Robin. “Technology, World View, and Adaptive Strategy in a Northern Hunting Society.” Course Reader for SS103: Politics, Economies, and Social Change in
the West. Cognella, Spring 2022. The proper Works Cited format for a lecture is Marr, Scott. “Title of Lecture.” SS103: Politics, Economies, and Social Change in the West, Date of Lecture, Boston University, Boston, MA. (You’ll have to fill in the details of the lecture yourself.)
I highly recommend the Purdue Online Writing Lab for loads of information on how to do parenthetical references and Works Cited entries for various kinds of sources. Their
website is
e-Portfolio: In addition to submitting your paper to Blackboard, please upload an electronic copy to your SS103 course page on e-Portfolio. The name of the assignment is “Interpreting Dakota Culture.” This step is required to receive credit for the assignment.

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