Color and number patterns in the symbolic cosmoloqies of the Crow, Pawnee, Kiowa, and Cheyenne

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Eldridge, Pamela S.
Blakeslee, Donald J.

This study represents five years of research on the symbolic cosmologies of four Plains Indian tribes: the Crow, the Pawnee, the Kiowa, and the Cheyenne. Although the lexicons of the four tribes reveal many color and number patterns, there appear to be certain color and number categories that are more pervasive than others. Review of the early ethnographies and folklore texts has found the color categories of red, yellow, black, and white to be significant symbols in both ritual and myth. Further investigation suggests symbolic patterns involving the numbers two and four are also important to the Crow, Pawnee, and Cheyenne. Kiowa ritual and folklore patterns reveal the numbers two, four, and ten to be dominant numbers. Through the early ethnographies, the color red and the number four, among others, were found to be symbolically significant. Red frequently symbolized the rank of a chief, a warrior, and a virtuous woman or wife. The number four often represented symbolic gestures or motions such as those seen in the arts of painting, dancing, or drumming. This symbolic linkage of color and number patterns has been expressed in rituals such as the Sun Dance and the Morning Star Sacrifice. The Sun Dance was practiced with variations by the Crow, Kiowa, and Cheyenne. The Pawnee practiced the Morning Star Sacrifice.

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Thesis (M.A.)--Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of Anthropology.