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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Puvunga and Point Conception: A Comparative Study of Southern California Indian Traditionalism


The case of Puvunga in southern California offers interesting examples of how anthropological scholarship may have an impact on ethnogenic processes. Interpretations of the Puvunga tradition are traced over a span of nearly two centuries, showing that twentieth century anthropologists offered differing reconstructions of the location, nature, and cultural impact of Puvunga. Some of these interpretations have proven crucial to the ethnogenic aspirations of certain social groups, especially Native Americans. While some anthropological interpretations of Puvunga currently enjoy wide popularity, all observers should be cautious about ascribing objective reality to these, or any, reconstructions of Puvunga. Anthropologists, in particular, need to understand better how their research models, advanced initially as provisional academic constructs, may take on wholly different functions among groups seeking to forge ethnic or cultural identities.

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