When the White Buffalo Woman enters the lodge she walks around it in the solar directions, to meet the chief in the west (opposite the east, place of dawn and therefore of enlightenment). The spotted eagle feathers on the pipe are symbols of transcendent solar spiritual power. His feathers are equated with rays of the sun. As Joseph Epes Brown says, when a Lakota wears the eagle-feathered war bonnet, he ‘actually becomes the eagle, which is to say that he identifies himself, his real Self, with Wakan Tanka.’ Thus when the Ghost Dancers sang, ‘The Spotted Eagle is coming to carry me away,’ they were referring to spiritual transcendence of the material world.
Features of Mooneys' corpus are several stories which (in hindsight) are in X-Files territory, including UFOs , crypto-zoological animals , and powerful crystals. In addition, there are numerous tales of a race of magical beings, the Nûñnë'hï, who sound uncannily like the European fairies or elves , including disguised subterranean dwellings, time slips during visits and magical boons to mortals who are kind to them. There are also several stories which are obviously borrowed from African sources , probably from escaped slaves who took refuge in the Cherokee nation. Many of the myths and legends have sophisticated humor which transcends cultural boundaries.
America, like other modern nations, is characterized by its diversity and can be seen as a complex and fragmented nation-state. Yet an American culture defined by those beliefs, behaviours and results that all Americans do share, irrespective of their other cultural affiliations, does exist. This book presents an approach to the issues and aspects in the study of America's unique culture. The real diversity of America is lost in the practice of categorizing people into social (racial or ethnic) groups and then attributing culture to them. While not an exhaustive treatment of the culture, this volume serves as a point of departure for discussions of American culture in a variety of courses both within and outside the discipline of anthropology. Each chapter is accompanied by suggested readings to enable the student to pursue a more in-depth study of any individual topic.