10/09 Open Thread: Were the Gallina People Ancient Hippies?
"Turn on, tune in, drop out" said Dr. Leary, and some, maybe many, did. Many others approximated that condition to varying degrees. Hippies, and DFHs, were not a homogenous culture, and many perceived by others to be such weren't really and didn't claim to be, while same who used the descriptor as self referent, weren't either. That's not too overly relevant, not as much as what they weren't. They were rebels, engaged in a rebellion, without necessarily being conscious of the fact, or intentionally rebels or participants in a rebellion. What they did do, was reject many or most aspects of mainstream culture, and step out of that world to the extent that they could, if only after hours and on weekends. The full-bore freaks, of course, were well beyond the pale, partaking more of the underground economy than the regular one, with their own sacraments and belief systems, their own culture and rituals, their own affinities and associations, their own music and more. Many tried to borrow from older cultures and do things in older, more traditional ways. They were, in a very real sense, a tribe of their own.
I use the word tribe both because many of them saw themselves as a tribe, and a tribe separate and distinct from the ordinary USians, and because humans are tribal, and they pretty much fit the bill. The Gallina people were also tribal, to the core, more or less. They were, "a little-known Ancestral Puebloan people" ( Understanding A Misunderstood People, By Tamara Jager Stewart, American Archaeology, Volume 23, #3, Fall 2019. ) Cioted and quoted material is all drawn from this article. The Pueblo People of the South-west have been much discussed and described, and their architecture even more so, from the humblest houses to the great houses and great kivas, Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, and many others. Just exactly who they were, where they came from, what they did, and where they went are all matters of ongoing research and discussion. The Hopi are their descendants, and the Navajo, it seems, their ancestral enemies. They had huge flourishing, even dominating towns, and then largely dispersed. The causes of these events are also still debated. Overall, however, there is a string of technological, architectural, societal, and cultural characteristics that eveolved with them and more or less, at least to an archaeologist, identify them.
Then too, there were the Gallina, seeming outliers and non-conformists among the ancient Puebloans, who have confounded many researchers. They occupied a chunk of New Mexico from roughly 1100 to 1300 CE, largely dwelling along ridgelines. They were more of less isolated and had little contact with outsiders, which resulted in them being dismissed by many archaeologist as "highland hillbillies". Similarities in their architecture and pottery to those prevalent in the Middle San Juan region dating clear back to 200 CE. It is believed that they migrated out of that region around 1050 or so. Once they left, their architecture, pottery and such remained unvarying for about 200 years, while elsewhere, other groups developed different, newer styles. They differed from their contemporaries in ways that caused many to believe that they had stagnated in their isolation while the world passed them by. There is, however, a competing viewpoint, put forth by researcher Lewis Borck. For example, most Gallina structures contain features associated with rituals right in the middle of the secular spaces and possibly serving secular purposed as well. According to Borck "The Gallina formed and maintained a non-specialized and decentralized religious system in which each domestic structure was likely used for ritual purposes." This contrasts with places like Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon where Kivas were developed as separate dedicated sacred spaces, with attendance and participation controlled by gate-keeper religious specialists. This had the effect of centralizing power and knowledge in a few. Borck sees the Gallina migration and cultural phenomenon as something of a cultural rebellion.
He considers the Gallina's resistance to the centralization of power as an "atavistic movement", a politically decentralized, grassroots transformation of their society. By dispensing with kivas, they eliminated the distinction between sacred and secular spaces, thereby giving religious and political power to the people.
What the Gallina did, in short, was to reject heirarchy and adopt a more egalitarian socio-political system. Each person or family was as much priest or not as they saw fit. Rituals were internalized and needed neither priests nor cathedrals. The dispersion of this power and knowledge throughout the populace had a great levelling effect. They kept to the old ways because they worked and suited them and their lives just fine, though, per Borck, they were, when appropriate, great innovators. They simply didn't copy the same innovations ad their contemporaries. They literally stepped away from a confining, restrictive, oligarchist society by migration and dispersement. Though a goodly number of hippies also somewhat followed that pattern, more simply formed their own separate and distinct culture within,yet apart from and not of the mainstream culture.
So why do I make this link between the Gallina and the Hippies?. We live today in a highly restrictive, controlling, anti-egalitarian oligarchy. As in the days of the Gallina and the Hippies, information is restricted and tightly controlled and a narrative manufacture and control machine is working 24/7 to generate a mythos to blind us to reality. Perhaps it is again time for an "atavistic movement". The Gallina literally walked away. Some hippies did too, but many more simply trod their own distinct and different pathway through, over, around and under the prevailing culture. In the times of the Hippies, political radicals fought to achieve "power to the people", which the Gallina achieved by leaving town and being their own power, and the Hippies, after a fashion, did likewise. Many today use the descriptor "woke", though I suspect that for most it is simply a different phrase for sleepwalking, but, that aside, what if we all just walked away? Ocupy had some of that, and XR has a healthy chunk of it, but one needn't necessarily join marches, so long as one can find a means of walking away. The Wobblies in the PNW found ways to supply essentials to the populace during citywide general strikes, dependent to a large measure on alternate socio-economic interactions. We need to figure out how to put this together and just shut the system down and get free of the controls and the controllers. Huelga.
Ironically, I may not be here when this posts, PG&E has threatened to gratuitously cut off the power to large swaths of CA, including much of the Bay Area, including Castro Valley, starting Wednesday, through Thursday and perhaps for as long as a week.
Title Image is a House in Acoma Pueblo
It's an open thread, so have at it. The floor is yours