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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Animal Symbolism Among The Numa: Symbolic Analysis of Numic Origin Myths


This article focuses on two creation myths of the Numic hunters and gatherers of the North American Great Basin (i. e., Southern Paiute, Northern Paiute, and Western Shoshoni). Through an analysis of 25 variants of these myths, two major themes, female and male maturation, are expressed. Attention is drawn to the relationship between mythological animal characters and their counterparts in reality. The symbolic analysis of the origin myths illuminates the logically structured, conceptually based, and symbolically expressed system of thought and knowledge of the Numa.

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