Hutterites And Zuni

.. ide area, cultivating over ten thousand acres of corn. Once herded onto reservations by impoundment teams the Zuni became sheepherders (Tedlock, 24). Zuni society is still relatively dependent upon the corn they harvest. With the means of their crop support badly hampered, Zuni began growing crops in arroyo’s, little declevities between hills or mountains to provide a natural barrier against elemental forces. Planters provide for his household willfully, delineating jobs to the younger males within the household.

Once an arroyo is secured, boundaries are marked with stones bearing images declaring ownership of the property. Land ownership is granted once a man has “pulled the sand” or cultivated the land (Cushing, 273). Once the surrounding sagebrush is cleared from the desired arroyo plot, the plants are burned in the center of the plot and then the ashes dispersed across area. The earth is then hoed, tilling the soil to mix the ashes with the earth. Fertilizers are not used because of lack of availability.

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Rows are dug and then seeds planted. With no irrigation system available, the crops success and/or failure is easily undermined. Droughts, torrential downpours, and severe windstorms are visited frequently upon the surrounding regions. Much of the Zuni religious focus during crop season is dedicated to securing favorable position with the gods to prevent their wrath of unkind weather. When weather patterns are fair and crops are doing well, other factors play important essential roles in undermining bountiful crops.

Coyotes are problem as they come to eat the corn once it has begun to mature. Rabbits are also responsible for crop destruction. These two vermin are pests but by far the greatest threat, excluding weather, comes from groups of crows dropping into fields to eat the kernels. A very peculiar adaptation the Zuni have made in preventing the crows from eating their crops seems to have played an early roll in the development of their religion. All across the cornfields, twine is strung from poles driven into the ground.

From the line bit of cloth are hung along with bones, hides, and anything that will flutter or sound in the wind. The crows that are killed early into the season are also hung by their feet to deter other birds. Scarecrows are also made and placed randomly in the fields; with eyes protruding from their skulls and large wooden beak give the scarecrows an ominous similarity to the gods they worship during ceremonies. If everything goes well, the crops are harvested and brought to the households by nearly everyone in residence, including women. It is a festive time of peace and thanks and the entire community shares it.

The corn must be husked and prepared for storage; a daunting task that is very time consuming. The Zuni engage in the enterprise with joy and efficiency. The Zuni are a matrilineal family. Ownership of the sacred objects, the house, and the corn stored within it belong to the women of the household. No matter what occurs in a marriage, the women stay with the house for life. Their husbands are considered outsiders for it is the women’s brothers who are tied to household affairs.

A man goes to his mothers house for any important occasions. It is not until the children are mature that a father has authority in his wife’s household (Benedict, 74). Seated at the highest level of social life is the priesthood. There are four major and eight minor priesthood’s. They are revered as holy men; their sacred medicine bundles containing the power they retain. The bundles are kept in bare inner rooms within the priests home. It is forbidden for anyone to enter the room, save for the priest during rituals. The priests never hold public ceremonies but are a constant presence during the preliminary rites before a public ceremony begins (Benedict, 70).

The heads of the major priesthood’s, with the chief priest of the sun cult, and the two chief priests of the war cult, make up the ruling body, the council of the Zuni. They make appointments for ceremonies, initiate the events of the Zuni calendar and pass judgements on sorcery but as far as our understanding of government goes, they have neither jurisdiction or authority (Benedict, 71). The cult of the masked gods is the most popular in the Zuni affection for they are the chiefs of the supernatural world. Their popularity is due to their direct involvement with the people by adorning masks resembling their gods and commencing ceremonial rites (Benedict, 71). The third division of the Zuni ceremonial structure is that of the medicine societies. The medicine societies are the keepers of the great esoteric narratives, which is memorized piece by piece. They are the fire walking, sword swallowing men of medicine resigned to the position of tribal doctors.

They perform ceremonies geared towards mass healing of the entire Zuni population (Benedict, 72). The Zuni war, hunting, and clowning societies are grouped with the medicine societies. The war cult, like all parts of the Zuni council, is made up of men. They are responsible for protecting the people and act as a policing force in the village. The hunter and clowning cults have obvious differences but they too are grouped in with the medicine society (Benedict, 106).

Religion is typical of most of the southwestern tribes. Basic beliefs are in animism, Force, Life, and Form. As every living thing they observe, every animal, has form, and acts or functions accordingly to its form; animals with feathers fly, creatures with fins swim. Form is at the highest in regards to adorning clothing, pots, shields, and ornaments. All Force is necessarily derived from life since the Zuni see force as motion.

Winds that arise from the four cardinal directions they believe are caused unseen, but living entities breathing. Conversely, this breath is what they believe is life. Occurrences is nature are anthropormorphosized by association with animals. Serpents are considered beings that are closer to the sky gods because of their zigzagging movement resembles that of lightening. Man is closer in kin with the serpent than with the gods. Thus, observing common similarities all throughout nature, the Zuni strictly believe that man is related to all living things.

Similarities Though these two cultures are both geographically and historically differing, they do have a few similarities, or correlation’s between their cultures. The Hutterites are an agricultural society, and the Zuni maintained a horticultural lifestyle; at least until they were forced into sheep herding by the United States government. However, I will focus upon their similarities before this tragic cultural genocide. Both of these cultures have historically as well as contemporarily held a stoical view to their surroundings, holding a somewhat deterministic mindset to their meaning. The Zuni’s view that the world is part of an integrated and complex system differs from that of the Hutterites, however these separate views both hold that man is in the service, gratitude, and separation (through the fall of grace) from God. They both see that the fundamental human condition is one of suffering. Yet, these similar views of mankind differ in their origination.

The Hutterites use tradition through the bible for their support of worldview, and the Zuni support theirs through observations of their environment (a very harsh climate at sometimes). Another likeness of the two cultures is their Apollonian approach to everyday life. Extreme ornamentation is all but extinct in the Hutterites and the Zuni hold a very modest outset in life and keep that which is for worship and special occasion for show. Their modest dress and manner both come from their relatively hard life conditions. The Zuni of course do not use heavy equipment which to some degree would hold their lifestyle a higher degree of difficulty, but they are a horticultural peoples, so this type of comparison is not accurate and culturally egotistical. Among their other similarities is how they both view and practice their religion.

Those of any religious stature are given a high measure of respect and a high level of influence. Neither the Hutterites nor the Zuni give any direct power to these individuals; it is accepted that their positions hold a sense of worth and a certain degree of importance, thus giving them an influential role in decision making. This is important in both cultures for social cohesion and control. Along with this similar view of religious figures, their worship has an uncanny resemblance to one another. The Hutterites sing in prayer with the preacher leading the ceremony.

Though dancing is not a part of church service, this is like that of the Zuni. The Zuni use dance, but more importantly they hold the celebration of worship as of equal level of importance and festivity. Unlike some western services, both the Zuni and Hutterites keep service uplifting; despite their obvious visually detectable differences their religion holds an integral and important part of their lives. Differences Though most differences are obvious between these two cultures to the naked eye, there are some deeper differences that are culturally relative to social life. The differences I will focus upon are neither their dress nor their fundamental views of nature. The differences I should like to point out are their social and interpersonal relations; these are what make cultures so different and wide ranged.

The major difference between these two cultures is in their heredity of belongings and view of women and men in their society. The Zuni are matriarchal, where in all possessions personal and communal are held by the women, save that of the medicine men. The women can at any moment force a man to leave her so that she may find another husband. The Hutterites are diametrically opposed to such a notion. They are very traditionally patriarchal. Where in the man holds rights and control to heredity, personal and communal property. The Hutterites hold women as inferior and the sole reason for our departure from God’s grace.

The Zuni believe that women are the makers of life and their position is that of integration with men rather than subservience. This keeps a balance between the sexes and a sort of informal control of the society. Bibliography Benedict, Ruth. Patterns of Culture. Houghton Mifflin Company. Boston, Ma. 1934.

Cushing, Frank. Zuni, Selected Writings. University of Nebraska Press. Lincoln, Nebraska. 1979.

Hostetler, John. The Hutterites in North America. Holt, Rinehart and Wilson, Inc. U.S. Library of Congress. 1967.

Tedlock, Barbara. The Beautiful and the Dangerous. Viking Penguin. New York, New York. 1992. Anthropology.