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Title:Mississippian missionaries: bundling a Cahokian religious movement
Author(s):Butler, Amanda J
Director of Research:Pauketat, Timothy R
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Pauketat, Timothy R
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Lucero, Lisa J; Emerson, Thomas E; Bishop, Katelyn J
Department / Program:Anthropology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Native American
New Materialism
Abstract:This dissertation examines religion as a catalyst for culture change using Indigenous missionary and proselytizing practices as it pertains to the rise of Cahokia (1050-1300 CE). Drawing from Indigenous philosophies and New Materialisms, I use the bundle and bundling concept to hypothesize that the establishment and dissemination of a Cahokia-Mississippian religion is best understood as a bundled mission comprised of missionaries (human and other-than-human), places, things, and substances relationally and co-generating a religious movement. I define the mission bundle as specific practices, places, things, powers, and substances intended for conversion to and proselytizing of a new religious worldview. More specifically, the mission bundle includes mound building, planned cosmological orientations, introductions of new and special architectural styles, and Cahokia-specific materials within religious contexts. Bundling key components of a new religious movement for the purposes of rearranging worldviews and teaching others is an essential aspect of understanding the mechanism of the expansion of a Cahokian-Mississippian religion. The Collins Complex in East-Central Illinois is the ideal place to investigate the core components of a Mississippian mission bundle. Over 50 years ago, scholars grappled with the mixed data from the Collins Complex. Most often mixed sites were explained using the blanket term “Mississippianization,” which is problematically situated within a cultural evolutionary framework and implies a conversion, but not necessarily a religious one. In the following chapters, I make the case that a mission bundle of identifiable missionary practices was the underlying mechanism fueling a Cahokia-Mississippian religious movement, directly impacting local experiences and larger social landscapes. The value in this project is it provides a nuanced understanding of the establishment of a Cahokia-Mississippian religion and the complex processes of religious change facilitated by missionary practices in precolonial North America. More broadly, this research can inform studies on indigenous missionary practices throughout the Americas.
Issue Date:2021-07-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2021 Amanda Butler
Date Available in IDEALS:2022-01-12
Date Deposited:2021-08

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