Studies in Comparative Religion
The First English Journal on Traditional Studies - established 1963
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Ake Hultkrantz
Dr. Âke Hultkrantz was recognized as a major authority on Native American religions and shamanism. He was a professor of religion at the University of Stockholm, Sweden. During the years 1948 and 1958, Professor Hultrkrantz conducted field work at the Wind River reservation, which resulted in his ground-breaking book, Native American Religions of North America: The Power of Visions and Fertility. His other works include The Religions of the American Indians, Shamanic Healing & Ritual Drama: Health & Medicine in the Native North American Religious Traditions, and Belief and Worship in Native America.

Articles from Ake Hultkrantz coming soon.


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Hultkrantz argues that religion always “borrows its expressions from the setting or milieu in which man appears,” using examples taken from the Shoshoni culture. Linguistically, the Shoshoni classify animals in relation to their cultural importance. For instance, the buffalo (a very important food source) has several names, some depending on the age and sex of the animal. Different body parts of the buffalo also have different names. However, ravens and crows (of little cultural importance) are both classified under the same name. In this article, Hultrantz argues that this linguistic feature carries over into Shoshoni religious beliefs, as well, and that the Shoshoni also classify animals in relation to natural and supernatural reality. The essay includes a particularly interesting examination of the two types of soul that, according to the Shoshoni, belong to man and, unlike other animals, to the bear as well.
Attitudes to Animals in Shoshoni Indian ReligionHultkrantz, Ake Vol. 4, No. 2. ( Spring, 1970) American Indian
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