Franz Boas’ Postulate of the Warfare Origin of Secret Societies and Myths about the “Culture Heroˮ and the “Tricksterˮ in North America

  • Dragana Jeremić Molnar University of Arts in Belgrade – Faculty of Music
  • Aleksandar Molnar University of Belgrade – Faculty of Philosophy
Keywords:
: Franz Boas, NorthAmerican Indians, secret society, war, myth

Abstract

In this paper, the authors argue that Franz Boas had a coherent theory of the secret society, which he did not systematically develop anywhere, but which can be reconstructed from several of his works. The authors are not dealing with the whole theory, but only with the postulate of the warfare origin of secret societies (which later became the foundation of the Männerbund theory). Namely, Boas believed that the secret societies of the North American Indians were originally warlike, but that by the beginning of the 20th century they either retained only the functions of initiation and education, or were transformed into therapeutic and dance societies. Although he claimed that the mythology of the Indians did not provide additional insights into the origins of secret societies, his dealings with the myth of the “culture heroˮ and the “tricksterˮ proved the contrary. The authors try to go a step further and find new contributions for the study of the origins of secret societies in North America in the myth of Wolf as the brother (father) of the “culture hero.ˮ

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Published
2021-04-17