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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Creation and Flute Lure Myths: Regional Patterns in Southern California Traditions


Among the ways in which traditional narratives shed light on prehistory, regional variations in shared myths provide insights concerning cultural conservatism or fluidity and the patterns of social interaction among groups. A comparative analysis of two myths recorded in numerous versions from southern California, western Arizona, and northern Baja California suggests that the region's traditional cultures were shaped by ongoing borrowing and innovation to a greater extent than has sometimes been supposed, and that individual narrative motifs typically had relatively short lifespans of a few centuries at most. Cultural interaction among the region's different peoples was evidently little constrained by disparate linguistic heritages, competing military alliances, or social and economic dissimilarities.

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