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The Tahltan Athapascan ceremony, the Feast for the Dead, contains symbolic messages that pertain to space as it is conceived of and used by these northern people. In this dissertation this issue, space among the Tahltan Indians, is explored. The work examines the historical antecedents, the ecological settings and spaces of the individual, the village, region and total area. Cosmology and the ceremonial cycle are discussed. The argument concludes with a detailed examination of the Tahltan Feast for the Dead, the chief ceremony of the yearly round.

Access to space for the Tahltan is based upon the principles of matrilineality, individual prestige, partnership and spirit relations. Now these various concepts inter-relate with physical space and space use is discussed in detail.

Tahltan cosmology is based upon the primacy of East and the concept of keye, or individual places. The lands of the dead lie to the west and the east and their natures differ somewhat, as discussed in the work.

The Tahltan Feast for the Dead is the paramount ceremony of these northern peoples. Contained within it are all of the significant distinctions upon which the Tahltan base the orientation of their world. Analysis of this ceremony is shown to pertain to all aspects of space.

The paper concludes with some general remarks concerning the analysis of space.

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UNM Department of Anthropology

First Committee Member (Chair)

John Martin Campbell

Second Committee Member

Tony Hillerman

Third Committee Member

Alfonso Alex Ortiz

Fourth Committee Member

Robert Dale Campbell

Fifth Committee Member

Scott Rushford

higgins_tahltan_map.tif (14608 kB)
Fig 1. Map of Tahltan territory

higgins_tahltan_map_low_res.jpg (2275 kB)
Fig 1. Map of Tahltan territory - low resolution

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