Bear's journey and the study of ritual in archaeology

Academic Article


  • This paper considers the archaeological study of ritual and explores the interrelationships that exist between ideologically meaningful accounts of ritual and the material representations of ritual practice that remain for archaeological evaluation. Specifically, the paper addresses the development and antiquity of the Midewiwin ritual, a ceremonial complex that is known historically throughout the Great Lakes region. The serendipitous discovery of a linkage between the Mide origin tale of Bear's Journey and the layout of the Late Prehistoric earthwork enclosures of northern Michigan provides an opportunity to document how a ritual system is represented in the archaeological record and to evaluate how the understanding of the archaeology is altered by having access to the meaning underpinning the ritual performance. The research provides unambiguous evidence for the prehistoric antiquity of the Mide ceremony and illustrates the contribution archaeology can make to understanding the long-term processes of ritual practice and change.
  • Authors

  • Howey, Meghan
  • O'Shea, JM
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • April 2006
  • Has Subject Area

    Published In

  • American Antiquity  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 261
  • End Page

  • 282
  • Volume

  • 71
  • Issue

  • 2