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  Archaeology and Native North American Oral Traditions Minimize

Ronald J. Mason

Abstract


Archaeologists today are being urged from within and outside their profession to incorporate aboriginal oral traditions in reconstructing culture histories. Such challenges usually ignore or at least drastically underestimate the difficulties in doing so. Not least among those difficulties is that of attempting to reconcile inherently and profoundly different ways of conceptualizing the past without violating the integrity of one or the other or both. The pro and con arguments are examined theoretically and as actually employed in discrete instances. These raise such problems of incommensurability as to severely limit the fruitfulness and even desirability of making the attempt.

Resumen

Hoy en día se espera que los arqueológos, adentro como de fuera de su profesión, incluyan en sus historias culturales las tradiciones orales de los indígenas. Estas peticiones por lo general ignoran o por lo menos no dan suficiente importancia a las dificultades de esta empresa. Entre las más imponentes es la dificultad de reconciliar dos modelos del pasado que son inherentemente y profundamente distintos. Aquí se examinan los argumentos de ambas posiciones en teoría y ejemplos. Estos esfuerzos indican grandes problemas, e inclusive sugieren que la empresa es inútil.

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