The sacred order of the city preserves the social order
Scholars also believe that the physical order of cosmographic
cities played a vital role in expressing the social order of the
city and preserving its political order.
Many eastern and midwestern Native American tribes that we know
from historical records divided not only the physical aspects
of their villages but their social order according to the cosmological
principles of their religion. Garrick A. Bailey gives one good
example for the Osage:
Just as the cosmos was divided between sky and earth,
so the clans were divided into groups or moieties...the nine clans
of the Sky People symbolically represented all of the forces of
the sky, whereas the fifteen Earth clans symbolically represented
all of the forces of the earth....Osage villages...were organized
as mirror images of the cosmos. They were divided in half by an
east-west street that symbolized the surface of the earth--the
ho'-e-ga--and the path of the sun on its daily journey. Each clan
had its own section of the village. Families of the Sky People
were arranged by clan groupings in precise locations along the
north side of the street. Similarly, families of the Earth People
were arranged in clan order along the south side.
Archaeological discoveries in the late twentieth century indicated
that some aspects of festival life in Cahokia dealt with what
we would call the darker side of life. There are examples of human
sacrifices of all kinds in other cultures, and apparently Cahokia
was no exception. Although we do not know the nature of the ceremonies
that accompanied such ritual behavior, Melvin L. Fowler's discovery
of four headless and handless skeletons buried in Mound 72 suggests
a foundation for this speculation.
Erecting a Woodhenge (Lloyd K. Townsend) »
O R E
more about Cahokia
in Bringing the Heavens to Earth.