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Anetso, the Cherokee Ball Game: At the Center of Ceremony and Identity
     

Anetso, the Cherokee Ball Game: At the Center of Ceremony and Identity

by Michael J. Zogry
 

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Anetso, a centuries-old Cherokee ball game still played today, is a vigorous, sometimes violent activity that rewards speed, strength, and agility. At the same time, it is the focus of several linked ritual activities. Is it a sport? Is it a religious ritual? Could it possibly be both? Why has it lasted so long, surviving through centuries of upheaval and change?

Overview

Anetso, a centuries-old Cherokee ball game still played today, is a vigorous, sometimes violent activity that rewards speed, strength, and agility. At the same time, it is the focus of several linked ritual activities. Is it a sport? Is it a religious ritual? Could it possibly be both? Why has it lasted so long, surviving through centuries of upheaval and change?

Based on his work in the field and in the archives, Michael J. Zogry argues that members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Nation continue to perform selected aspects of their cultural identity by engaging in anetso, itself the hub of an extended ceremonial complex, or cycle. A precursor to lacrosse, anetso appears in all manner of Cherokee cultural narratives and has figured prominently in the written accounts of non-Cherokee observers for almost three hundred years. The anetso ceremonial complex incorporates a variety of activities which, taken together, complicate standard scholarly distinctions such as game versus ritual, public display versus private performance, and tradition versus innovation.

Zogry's examination provides a striking opportunity for rethinking the understanding of ritual and performance as well as their relationship to cultural identity. It also offers a sharp reappraisal of scholarly discourse on the Cherokee religious system, with particular focus on the Eastern Band of Cherokee Nation.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Provides a striking opportunity for rethinking the understanding of ritual and performance as well as their relationship to cultural identity. . . . Offers a sharp reappraisal of scholarly discourse on the Cherokee religious system.—Edgefield Advertiser

A significant contribution to the field of Cherokee studies, particularly Cherokee religious studies . . . . Zogry's analysis of the ball game is deeper and more nuanced than those that have come before.—Journal of Southern History

Innovative, compelling, and thoroughly researched. . . . Specialists in Cherokee religion, ritual studies, and religion and sports will appreciate this book.—Religion in American History

A very important and significant book about a Cherokee activity that reinforces the fact that the meaning of anetso remains as elusive as the "ball" itself but still central to Cherokee cultural identity.—Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

A fascinating exploration of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians' ball game, Anetso." —Journal of American History

A superb amalgamation of historical and ethnological methodologies and interpretations of evidence, Zogry demonstrates the defiant persistence of Cherokee cultural and religious elements embedded within Anetso that contemporary Cherokee ball players and spectators continue to embrace today.—H-Net Reviews

The kind of book that I would like to see more of . . . . Zogry has, with the publication of his rich book, renewed a (scholarly) tradition of importance.—Ethnohistory

A remarkable assessment of anetso. . . . An important and compelling work. . . . It will certainly remain the standard text on the topic for years to come.—Indigenous Peoples Issues & Resources

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807833605
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
07/15/2010
Edition description:
1
Pages:
328
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
This is a careful and innovative consideration of a remarkable and enduring Native American ritual. Zogry reflects deeply, critically, and sensibly on an amazing array of issues of theoretical interest to the study of religion, culture, game, ritual, secrecy, colonial contact, and even the impact of tourism on culture. An important and informative work.—Sam D. Gill, University of Colorado at Boulder

Zogry presents a very well researched, ethically grounded, and theoretically informed study of Anetso, the Cherokee ball game, which will instruct students of Native American religions, Cherokee traditions and history, and the anthropology of sport. A valuable book that is based on impressive archival and ethnographic work.—Michael D. McNally, Carleton College

Meet the Author

Michael J. Zogry is associate professor of religious studies and director of Indigenous studies at the University of Kansas.

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