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Events 2015-2016

2015–2016 Lecture Series

Volume XXXIX, Number 1 – FALL 2016


September – Jim Rock, UMN Duluth Planetarium

Every day those of us who live in the metropolitan area walk through the spritual landscape of the L/Dakota. This will be an opportunity to explore the importance of cultural landscapes, a critical part of ancient and modern indigenous communities throughout the Americas.

Friday lecture – September 23, 2016, 7:30 pm

(Science Museum of MN Auditorium, snacks beforehand in adjacent Classroom 5/6)

Makoche Wanagi: The Spiritual Landscape of the Dakota and the Land of Spirits around Kaposia I/Battle Creek/Mounds Park/Wakan Tipi, Inyan Sha and Bdote

This evening’s lecture (near the Fall Equinox) will prepare us for a visit the following day (please join us!) to the sacred sites mentioned above.  Indigenous Sacred Space-Time is all around us, over and beneath us and within us when we are mitakuyapi (relatives).  As we live and walk with and know our hunkakan (ancestors and their stories) and the land of our hunkakan, the land below deeply reflects and accurately mirrors the spiritual landscape above.   Bdote is where rivers join and in this case it is our Dakota Chekpa or Navel center of the universe.  With contact, this region became the Twin Cities but the Chekpa has always referred to the Navel or to Twins or to the seventh child in birth order.  The seventh direction is the center of the six cosmic directions and their colors just as the Maya worldview with some differences.  We will see that the work described by Karen Bassie-Sweet in Maya Sacred Geography and the Creator Deities (2008) has direct relevance here to caves and water and twins and snakes and thunder and lightning. 

As professors at the University of Minnesota Duluth in the department of Physics and Astronomy and Indigenous Critical Education, Rock has been learning and researching these sites for over 50 years and Gould for 20 years. They recently published an article regarding the feminine spiritual significance of this area, the cave petroglyphs, the geo-astronomical earth-sky connections and the changing constellations over millennia.  We will explain Rock’s co-authored text D(L)akota Star Map Constellation Guide: An Introduction to D(L)akota Star Knoweldge (2014) and also draw upon other related researchers such as David Lee Smith (Hochunk Nation, 1997) and Dennis Slifer’s The Serpent and the Sacred Fire: Fertility Images in Southwest Rock Art (2000) and Lightning in the Andes and MesoAmerica (2013) by Staller and Stross.

Saturday workshop – September 24, 2016, 9:00am –Noon

(Meet at Indian Mounds Park Picnic Shelter, at the corner of Earl St and Mounds Blvd)

Makoce Wakan Akan Mihunkakan ob maunnipi (we walk with the ancestors and origin stories upon sacred ground)


October – Dr. Linda R. Manzanilla, UNAM (Mexico)

Dr. Manzanilla is one of the lead investigators at Teotihuacan. She teaches at UNAM, Mexico’s National University. In addition to being an internationally recognized scholar, she is an excellent lecturer.

Friday Lecture – October 7, 2016, 7:30 pm

(Hamline: Giddens Learning Center 100e)

Teotihuacan, an exceptional metropolis of Classic Central Mexico

Teotihuacan was one of the major urban developments in the ancient world, but also constituted an exception in Mesoamerica. During the first six centuries AD, it was a 20 square kilometer city, with a strict urban grid, a multiethnic settlement with a corporate organization at the base and summit of this society, and a very dynamic entrepreneurial intermediate elite heading the neighborhoods. This talk will review the major characteristics of this city through my projects in apartment compounds such as Oztoyahualco 15B, neighborhood centers such as Teopancazco, and palatial structures such as Xalla. The talk will stress two main characteristics of this site: craft production at four levels, and the extensive movement of sumptuary goods through corridors of ally sites.

Saturday Workshop – October 8, 2016, 9:00 am – Noon

(Hamline: Giddens Learning Center 6s, the Anthro Lab)

An interdisciplinary methodology to unveil Teotihuacan

An interdisciplinary methodology to unveil Teotihuacan: the articulation of archaeologists with osteologists, geophysicists, geologists, biologists, chemists and geneticists. Without an interdisciplinary perspective, it is impossible to find out how people lived in the city of Teotihuacan, from what regions did the migrants come from, what were their activities when living, where did foreign crafts and raw materials come from, what were the changes in this societies through time, what were the major factors involved in the collapse. We will view domestic life before and during the Classic period of Teotihuacan. We will discuss the palace of Xalla: and the ruling elite of Teotihuacan. And finally we will discuss activities of post-Teotihuacan groups in the tunnels around the Pyramid of the Sun.


November – Dr. Marc Zender, Tulane University Professor

This is a can’t miss weekend. Marc is a captivating lecturer, with extraordinary understanding of ancient Maya painting and art.

Friday Lecture – November 18, 2016, 7:30 PM

(Hamline: Giddens Learning Center 100e)

The Lord of the Deer: A Lost Maya Myth

Several Classic Maya vases and monuments reference tantalizing fragments of a narrative concerning Huk Sip (the Old Deer God) and his interactions with Juun Ixiim, the Maize God.  Through an analysis of the texts and imagery reflecting this lost myth, as well as careful comparison with some related modern Maya myths, much can be reconstructed of the basic events of the tale, though many mysteries remain. Still unresolved is the extent to which these various fragments reconstruct a single, underlying myth at all, raising questions about many of our reconstructions of ancient Maya mythic narratives.

Saturday Workshop – November 19, 2016, 12:00 – 5:00 PM

(Hamline: Giddens Learning Center 6s, the Anthro Lab)

Classic Maya Mythologies (Workshop Fee $30.00)

Underlying Maya cosmology, history and religion are several key mythological narratives explaining the origins of the world, humanity and civilized/moral behavior.  Classic Maya writing and art provide our most important windows into these narratives, identifying key mythological characters by name, attribute or association.  Occasionally these figures have survived in more or less recognizable form in colonial or modern traditions — as with the Storm God (Chahk) and the Creator God (Itzamna).  More often they have not, and the sum total of our knowledge of their role in the mythology comes from careful study of the texts and art in which they occur.  Such is the case with K’awiil, Juun Ixiim and God L, complex entities who defy the simple labels of “Lightning God,” “Maize God” and “Merchant God of the Underworld.”  

Beginning with a review of what is currently known about the major gods, places and events of Maya mythology, this seminar-style workshop focuses on an investigation of what might be termed the “lost gods” of this canon.  Recent discoveries concerning the Principal Bird Deity, the Wind God, and Gods D and N are highlighted.  A secondary but equally important focus stems from questions about the nature of the mythological narratives, particularly with respect to subtle variations in theme and focus in different regions.  Was there ever a unified Maya mythology?

Biographical Note

Marc Zender received his PhD from the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology of the University of Calgary in 2004. He has taught linguistics, epigraphy, and Mesoamerican indigenous languages (e.g., Yucatec Maya, Classical and Modern Nahuatl) at the University of Calgary (2002-2004), Harvard University (2005-2011), and is now an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Tulane University, New Orleans (2011-present). Marc’s research interests include anthropological and historical linguistics, comparative writing systems, and archaeological decipherment, with a regional focus on Mesoamerica (particularly Mayan and Nahuatl/Aztec). He is the author of several books and dozens of articles exploring these topics. In addition to his research and writing, Marc is the editor of The PARI Journal, and (with Joel Skidmore) co-maintainer of Mesoweb, a major internet resource for students of Mesoamerican cultures.


December – Gina Miranda, Maya Day Keeper

Editors note: Gina is soft spoken and gentle, with an incredible gift. She has been described as “the ultimate combination of ancient practice and contemporary science, coming together in the modern world”. Her blog is a blend of science and spirituality.

Friday Lecture – December 2, 2016, 7:30 pm

(Hamline: Giddens Learning Center 100e)

New approach to Mayan astrology.

Combining the teachings acquired from an old Mayan day keeper 4 decades ago with new information, Gina will present a new view of the Mayan calendar. In this talk we will explore this approach, which could have implications as profound as to change the way we look at our lives. From now on we can look at the Mayan calendar, one of humanity greatest achievements, is more than just a calendar. It is the core of an ancient philosophy and a way of life that preceded Mayan culture by thousands of years.