"Sacred Hand" and the Ethnographic Ramrod

Wed, 5 Apr 1995 18:36:51 -0500


I'm hoping that some of you esteemed people can help clarify/provide info on:

1) The use/validity of the "ethnographic ramrod."

2) The concept of the "sacred hand" in Southwest Amerindian studies.

I'm currently investigating the possible Supernova of 1054 pictograph at Chaco
Canyon that depicts a crescent moon,a star, and an image of a hand. The
available sources seem to think that the hand image denotes a "sacred spot"
rather than demarcking a unusual or "out-of-ordinary" event. The implication
being that Amerindians did not "record" historical events. (Apparently,they
are so busy experiencing their "timeless" existence that they have no concept
of a past.)

I feel that the evidence for this notion is weak. It relies solely on
ethnographic data and "ramrodding" the evidence back in time. Does anyone
know of a good source pertaining to the sacred hand or the validity of the
ethnographic ramrod? Anyone care to make a personal comment on the topic?
Thanks for any and all.

James Benthall
Dept. of Anthropology
University of Houston
Houston, Texas 77004