Crop Production

Beginning about 12,000 years ago, the human population began a trend that completely changed the way we, as a race, evolved. For the first time in history, humans pushed beyond the restraints of traditional hunting and gathering, into domestication and farming. It was a change that would not only take thousands of years to prove worthy, but also may have set us back on the evolutionary path at the time. Along the path to this point, we have been constantly changing and finding new ways to produce and maximize the yield of the crops we sow. Have these changes been successful or detrimental to us? The following will search into answering this question. Since the beginning, increased crop production has been the ultimate goal of the farmer. The very basic advances toward this included fertilization and rotation of crops. These simple steps alone took thousands of years to come about. Domestication perhaps, was the first process to actually take place. Evidence of this is prevalent throughout many parts of the world, as far back as 11,000 years. Detection of this was done by comparing wild varieties of the product to the preferred and produced varieties. Changes in size are the most common differences, especially among types of grain. However, this domestication came about mostly through the selection process. Since the people naturally selected the larger more hearty vegetable or grain, those larger specimens of the species would go on to produce the next generation. Though this may seem primitive, it has led to the varieties we see and eat today. The past two centuries have, no doubt, been the most influential and beneficial to the agricultural industry. Fertilization has been around for a long time, but not until recently did we really understand how to maximize the potential. Native Americans have known that burring a fish while planting seeds provides a larger yield. And mixing animal manure into the soil to increase production, has been going on for thousands of years in many cultures. Not until recently, did science discover what was behind these two methods though. Today, instead of the nitrogen rich manure we more commonly use a chemical powder, and instead of the phosphorus rich fish bones, we use a pellet compound that consists of phosphorus. Along with our discovered technologies, we have come up with chemicals to kill off what has plagued our crops from the beginning. Herbicides and pesticides are commonly used practices all over the world. What better way to bear more fruit, than to kill off the natural predator that feeds upon it? And most recent, has been the engineering of fruit vegetables and grains to resist the predators themselves, without the use of chemicals. Some types of corn are now resistant to a fungus that, 20 years ago, could have wiped out thousands of acres. All made possible by genetic engineering. Another way to further sustain the needs of human demand, is to make completely arid regions into fertile lands. During the early Egyptian era, once a year the Nile would spill over its banks, turning a dry, sandy region, into rich growing plains for a few months. The Roman era tapped the water resource even further by building aqueducts. This allowed the fields to spread out more distant from the river itself. Today, we utilize both of our ancestors discoveries to the fullest. The Colorado river alone, has turned parts of the Mojave into the greatest agricultural regions in North America. In some places, the closest natural water resource is 150 miles away, yet farms flourish along the aqueduct. Though we have increased the overall production of crops and quality of products, it has come at a price. The most direct human effect has been through the use of chemicals on crops. Since the chemicals do make their way into the plant, we the consumer, are taking these harmful chemicals in when we eat the product. Perhaps the most well known was the use of DDT in the 60's and 70's. Because of it very harmful effects on humans, the United States led the way on an almost global ban of the product. Another effect of the agricultural technologies, has been the impact they have on the environment. Much of the fertilizers we use, leach into nearby water resources like lakes, ponds and rivers. These fertilizers have helped aquatic plants and algae to grow at an incredible rate, clogging the lakes and displacing animals that live inhabit them. Some scientist even believe that the chemicals make their way into the eggs of fish, frogs, toads and turtles killing or producing mutated species. And, as we have pushed beyond the natural growing regions, we have taken water as we go. The region that does tap the Colorado, uses an estimated 30% of the river's water. Some branches of the river are used so much, that during the dry season they cease to exist. We have indeed pushed the limits of agriculture during the past 10,000 years. The increased knowledge and techniques have in fact benefitted us greatly, yet have a downside. As we push even further, perhaps cleaner and less detrimental effects will also follow. Overall however, the advances have greatly outweighed the negative effects and have led us to where we, the human race, stand today.

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Combating Female Genital Mutation In Sudan

Combating Genital Mutilation in Sudan In the country of Sudan, in Northern Africa, there is a procedure that is tradition and is performed on most women called female genital mutilation, or FGM, which used to be known as female circumcision. It has been a normal practice for generations, but is now the subject for international controversy on the morality and safety of this procedure. It is now known that 82 percent of Sudanese woman have an extreme form of genital mutilation done on them, normally at a young age. This form of mutilation is called the Pharaonic form and includes the total removal of the clitoris and labia, and stitching together of the vulva, leaving only a small hole for urination and menstrual cycle. This is normally done without any type of anaesthetic or professional medical care. There is also a more moderate form of mutilation, called Sunni, where only the covering of the clitoris is removed. This practice started and became tradition in foreign countries in order to ensure that women practice chaste behavior, and to suppress female sexuality. It has also been attributed to religious beliefs of monogamy although most religions do not support this type of practice. In today's society it has become more of a traditional and social norm, and has less to do with religious beliefs. This problem is not only in Sudan; it is practiced in the majority of the continent of Africa as well as other countries. In other cultures, such as Australian aborigines, genital mutilation is a part of the rite of passage into maturation, and is done on both men and women (Bodley, p. 58). FGM has often been referred to as female circumcision and compared to male circumcision. However, such comparison is often misleading. Both practices include the removal of well- functioning parts of the genitalia and are quite unnecessary. However, FGM is far more drastic and damaging than male circumcision because it is extremely dangerous and painful. It is believed that two thirds of these procedures are done by untrained birth attendants, who have little knowledge of health. They are often unconcerned with hygiene, and many use instruments that are not cleaned or disinfected properly. Instruments such as razor blades, scissors, kitchen knives, and pieces of glass are commonly used. These instruments are frequently used on several girls in succession and are rarely cleaned, causing the transmission of a variety of viruses such as the HIV virus, and other infections. There are many side effects of this procedure including trauma, stress or shock from the extreme pain; and bleeding, hemorrhaging and infections that can be fatal from improperly cleaned instruments. There can also be painful and difficult sexual relations and obstructed childbirth. The effects of this one procedure can last a lifetime, both physically and pyschologically. Today, 85 to 114 million girls and women in more than 30 countries have been subjected to some form of genital mutilation. It was declared illegal in Sudan in 1941, although that did little to stop this age-old tradition. To this day, about 90% of women are still being subjected to the mutilation, especially if it is a family tradition. In various cultures there are many justifications for these practices. Many older women feel that if they have an uncircumcised daughter, she will not be able to find a husband and will become a social outcast. Family honor, cleanliness, protection against spells, insurance of virginity and faithfulness to the husband, or simply terrorizing women out of sex are sometimes used as excuses for the practice of FGM. Examples similar to this are found in other cultures, such as the Maasai, an African cattle peoples tribe. A clitoridectomy is performed on adolescent girls in this tribe as part of their rite of passage, and signifies that they are ready for marriage. This practice is openly accepted by these women as another ritual and a normal precondition of marriage (Bodley, p. 121). The efforts to stop procedures of this kind are mounting though, especially with the help of women ages 16 to 30 who realize the dangers of this practice. These women can help to save their daughters and many other women from this if they are educated of the dangers. It ends up damaging their health, as well as their socio-economic lives; which is why it needs to be put to a stop. It is also unnecessary in today's society. These women have joined together to create the Sudan National Committee on Harmful Traditional Practices, and are now working to eliminate it completely. They have also joined together with government support and are a part of the National Plan of Action for the Survival, Protection and Development of Sudanese Children, where they work to educate people of the dangers of this procedure. In the United States and other Western countries, both female and male circumcision is practiced, although male circumcision is much more common. Female mutilation is still an issue in Western countries though, and needs to be dealt with. These countries commonly used FGM as a means to deal with unruly, insane or temperamental women earlier in this century. Routine circumcision as a preventative or cure for masturbation was also proposed in Victorian times in America. In females, it was once thought that the application of pure carbolic acid to the clitoris an excellent means of allaying the abnormal excitement. The procedure of circumcisions, on both men and women, became commonplace between 1870 and 1920, and it consequently spread to all the English-speaking countries such as England, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. As a form of social control it fell out of fashion some time in the 1930's or 1940's. However, it has continued to the present in some form or another. In the United States alone it is estimated that about ten thousand girls are at risk of this practice in today's society. A bill was recently presented to the U.S. government in 1994 prohibiting female genital mutilation to be performed, unless done for a medical reason by a trained professional. Although we are fighting for preventative measures, this surgery is still routinely performed on women in the United States. Some doctors believe and act upon the idea that excision does not prevent sexual pleasure but enhances it. FGM is also entering the United States with some immigrants who are holding on to their customs and identity. On the United States level, and in other places around the world, there are finally numerous efforts being made in order to abolish this practice both locally and internationally. Many laws have been passed over the last decade, in the United States and other Western countries, prohibiting any kind of mutilation on young girls, other than for medical purposes. In the future, leaders are hoping to enforce these rules in other smaller countries, where the government can do little to stop these unlawful acts, especially in Tribal peoples and other communities were laws are not strictly enforced.

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Chicken Soup For The Soul

Anthropology may be dissected into four main perspectives, firstly physical or biological anthropology, which is an area of study concerned with human evolution and human adaptation. Its main components are human paleontology, the study of our fossil records, and human genetics, which examines the ways in which human beings differ from each other. Also adopted are aspects of human ecology, ethnology, demography, nutrition, and environmental physiology. From the physical anthropologist we learn the capabilities for bearing culture that distinguish us from other species. Secondly archaeology, which follows from physical anthropology, reassembles the evolution of culture by examining the physical remains of past societies. Its difference from physical anthropology being its concern with culture rather than the biological aspects off the human species. Archaeologists must assess and analyse their subject culture from accidental remains, which can only provide an incomplete picture. Thirdly, Anthropological linguistics is a field within anthropology which focuses upon the relationship between language and cultural behaviour. Anthropological linguists ask questions about language and communication to aid the appraisement of society rather than a descriptive or linguistic assessment. For example Freil and Pfeiffer (1977) cite an assessment of the Inuit language where there are twelve unrelated words for wind and twenty-two for snow, showing the difference in significance by comparison with our own society. The deduction being that wind and snow are more significant to the Inuit so they scrutinise them more rigorously and can clearly define them accordingly. This kind of linguistic analysis facilitates a better understanding of a foreign culture to help place it into context to allow contrast. Fourthly, social anthropology is the study of human social life or society, concerned with examining social behavior and social relationships. As the focus of social anthropology is on patterns of social connection, it is commonly contrasted with the branch of anthropology that examines culture, that is, learnt and inherited beliefs and standards of behavior and in particular the meanings, values and codes of conduct. Cultural anthropology (the study of culture in its social context) is associated particularly with American anthropology (specifically, in the United States), and social anthropology with European, especially British studies, which have tended to be more sociological, that is, they are more concerned with understanding society. However, culture and society are interdependent, and today the single term sociocultural anthropology is sometimes used. The social anthropologist uses a number of cultural ethnographic studies to construct an ethnological study. A social anthropological definition of culture is given by J.P.Spenley in 'The Ethnographic Interview' (1979), culture is the acquired knowledge that people use to interpret, experience and generate social behaviour. By this interpretation culture is not the physical characteristics of any society but the reasoning behind those characteristics, it is a body of implicit and explicit knowledge shared by a group of people. It is used by people individually as a map to determine their behaviour in any given situation. Spendley's definition does not divert from the significance of behaviour, customs, objects or emotions, these are essential tools for the anthropologist which allow the interpretation of culture to facilitate the tracking down of cultural meaning. Ethnographic study is a search to uncover this meaning which is the root cause of cultural differences and can therefore be seen as the definition of any culture. There has been considerable theoretical debate by anthropologists over the most useful attributes that a technical concept of culture should stress. For example, in 1952 Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn, American anthropologists, published a list of 160 different definitions of culture. A brief table of this list next page, shows the diversity of the anthropological concept of culture. TABLE: Diverse Definitions of Culture: Topical: Culture consists of everything on a list of topics, or categories, such as social organization, religion, or economy Historical: Culture is social heritage, or tradition, that is passed on to future generations Behavioral: Culture is shared, learned human behavior, a way of life Normative: Culture is ideals, values, or rules for living Functional: Culture is the way humans solve problems of adapting to the environment or living together Mental: Culture is a complex of ideas, or learned habits, that inhibit impulses and distinguish people from animals Structural: Culture consists of patterned and interrelated ideas, symbols, or behaviors Symbolic: Culture is based on arbitrarily assigned meanings that are shared by a society. (John H. Bodley, An Anthropological Perspective 1994) We tend not to be aware of our cultural meaning expressed through our cultural norms, we tend to accept as correct our cultural definitions unless confronted by cultural difference, as Anthony P. Cohen is quoted in Small Places, Big Issues, People become aware of their culture when they stand at its boundaries: when they encounter other cultures, or when they become aware of other ways of doing things, or merely contradictions to their own culture. Without ethnographic difference culture itself would not exist. Difference allows the expression of social identity, yet different social groups must also possess a degree of commonality to enable them to interact. The differences and resemblances between cultures offer an opportunity for assessment of the characteristics which bound a particular society, and the meanings of those characteristics can be learned through the context of the particular society or culture. Social anthropologists must assess cultures in context to truly understand them. The context of any culture or society under examination needs to be appreciated so that the particular distinctions of that culture can be properly understood and translated into terms facilitating ethnographic and ethnological study. Context must be learned by the anthropologist, generally through prolonged fieldwork to climatise them to the alien environment and give an opportunity to learn the language, norms and values of the subject society. An ethnological study will require understanding of at least two cultures through ethnographic study, thus boiled down to their pure cultural meanings by study in context, the meanings are exposed for comparison. Comparison of cultural differences is essential for cultural expression, comparison is also essential to the anthropologist as it offers opportunity for study and understanding. By comparison we judge and measure almost everything in our lives, we require comparison to accurately gain perspective. Therefore the social anthropologist requires an understanding of at least two cultures, perhaps another and his own to compare aspects of these societies while looking for interesting areas for comparison. Social anthropologists strive to account for actual cultural variation in the world and to develop a hypothetical perspective on culture and society. The only hope of achieving these goals is through comparison. For instance, 'The Traveller Gypsies' by J. Okely (1986) is a study of traveller society which discusses many of the idiosyncrasies of that culture by applying context and therefore reasons that the anthropologist exposes genuine differences between the gypsy and the settled communities. Differences which when compared in context are enticing and Informative, not only in regard to the traveller culture but by reflection on the settled community. The gypsy attitude to hygiene and cleanliness for example has been a source of friction between them and settled communities, yet when looked at in context of their beliefs, that is, the distinctions they make between the outer and inner self and their definitions of dirt or 'poluti' are simply different from the values and practices of the settled community. When looked at in context and by comparison the actions of the travellers seem much more rational and in many ways their standards of hygiene are much higher than those generally found in the settled community. Thus comparison provides information, puts that information in perspective and allows assessment and re-assessment of both cultures under comparison. This demonstrates the essential nature of culture, context and comparison to the social anthropologist when assessing humanity. They are the essential tools of the trade which allow them to strip society, analyse and assess its parts to construct a balanced holistic picture of society. Cultural differences cause conflict and division continuously all over the world. To deal with this and to enact the required proper changes necessary to remove the conflict, an accurate assessment and understanding of culture is required. Appropriate social change should only come from adequate social assessment and understanding, This is one of the benefits offered by the social anthropological perspective through its holistic approach. BibliographyT.H. ERIKSEN SMALL PLACES/LARGE ISSUES LONDON 1996 PLUTO PRESS J.P. SPENDLEY THE ETHNOGRAPHIC INTERVIEW NEW YORK 1979 HOLT, REINHART AND WINSTON J. OKELY THE TRAVELLER GYPSIES CAMBRIDGE 1986 UNIVERSITY PRESS J. FRIEL & J.E. PFEIFFER ANTHROPOLGY, THE STUDY OF PEOPLE NEW YORK 1997 HARPER & ROW IMAGES SUPPLIED INTERNET (W.W.W.) CLASS NOTES.

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Chasidim And Old Order Amish: A Comparison

Chasidim and Old Order Amish: A Comparison The two groups to be examined are the Chasidim and the Old Order Amish. We will begin with a brief look at the history of each group. The Chasidim, or Hasidim, as more commonly known, are a cult within the tradition of Judaism. The word “Hasid” derives from the Hebrew word for “pious”. Hasidism dates back to the early eighteenth century and originated in central and Eastern Europe. Its founder was a man named Israel ben Eliezer (c.1700-1760). He is otherwise known as the Baal Shem Tov. In Hebrew “Baal Shem” means, “master of the [good] name”. It is a title given to men who are endowed with mystical powers. According to Hasidic belief, Adonai (God) chooses these men. The Baal Shem Tov taught a new way of practicing Judaism that was strikingly different than what was considered acceptable at that time. It was his contention that God was everywhere and in all things—including man. There was no need for rigorous study of Torah (the Pentateuch, or Five Books of Moses). A man’s education—or lack thereof, is unimportant. Accordingly, an honest prayer from an unlearned Jew is just as powerful than a prayer made by a talmid chachem (an expert in Talmud). The Besht insisted that unity with God was possible through spontaneous prayer, ecstatic emotion, song, and dance. Jews were to embrace their raw emotions, release their passions—and not to suppress them as they might interfere with the analytic study of Judaism. This new way of worship was unlike anything that had been previously seen in Judaism. It appealed to great numbers of Jews, namely the uneducated masses. The rise of popularity of Hasidism was also aided by its timing. As Leo Rosten writes about the Baal Shem Tov in his book The Joys of Yiddish, “He brought the excitement of hope into the lives of Polish Jewry, who had been decimated during a decade of savage Cossack progroms.” Despite the renewed enthusiasm it engendered, it also found strong opposition, namely from the misnagdim. For the misnagdim, study figures as the supreme religious act. This is not so for the Hasidim. The teachings of the Besht place an emphasis on the doing of mitzvahs. The literal translation of this Hebrew word is “commandment” but when used commonly “mitzvah” refers to any virtuous deed. The Talmud-studying community considered the Baal Shem Tov outrageous and heretical. However, this did not appear to bother the Besht over-much as he “…derided the learned Talmudists, branding them sterile pedants who “through sheer study of the Law have no time to think about God.”” Despite the opposition the Hasidim grew to include approximately 10,000 Jews. After the death of the Baal Shem Tov in 1760, Rabbi Dov Baer took over as the leader of the Hasidim. It was during his leadership that the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov were organized into a set doctrine. Hasidim membership grew during this period, causing Jewish authorities to grow concerned and subsequently to impose a ban on Hasidim. Nevertheless, Hasidism continued to thrive in Europe until the rise of the third Reich. It was after the devastation of the Holocaust that the Hasidim immigrated to the United States. The decision to leave Europe for America did not come easily, “Many Hasidim feared that the religious and political freedoms of the United States would finish the job that Hitler could not finish in the ovens of Auschwitz.” . Like the Hasidim, the Amish descended from a larger religion. In their case, the Amish stem from the Anabaptists. The Anabaptists were a sixteenth century religious group. Anabaptist beliefs included adult baptism and worship held in the home and not at a church. These are beliefs that the present-day Amish hold. The Anabaptists suffered a split as a result of disagreements over basic religious practices. Menno Simons, a Dutch Anabaptist, founded one of the splits. His followers were known as the Mennonites. This group faced heavy persecution and eventually fled to Switzerland. It is from the Mennonites that the Amish descend; Jakob Amman, a Mennonite preacher, founded his own branch which came to be known as the Amish. Jakob Amman’s main reason for starting his own sect had to do with the practice of Meindung. The Meindung is the practice of shunning members who do not conform. Absolutely all contact is stopped, to the extreme that even the non-conforming member’s spouse must have no further contact with him or her. Amman felt that the Meindung was not being upheld—this is what precipitated his leaving the Mennonite movement and creating his own group, a movement in which the Meindung played a most important role. “…it would be no exaggeration to say that the Meindung is the heart of the Amish system of social control.” Despite the fact that they owe their very existence to Jakob Amman, Old Order Amish do not admire the personality qualities he is said to have had, qualities which made him such a powerful leader. “The Old Order Amish are devout believers in humility, brotherly love….they are suspicious of those with leadership aspirations.” The Hasidim and the Old Order Amish are alike in that both groups formed in Europe and then migrated to America. What needs to be further examined then, is the Revitalization movement that each experienced and how it the migration to America played a role in certain aspects of it. The first and second substages of the Revitalization movement deal with the code by which the group lives. The first substage of the Revitalization movement is the formulation of a code. For both the Hasidim and the Old Order Amish, this took place previous to their arrival in America. As previously mentioned, for the Hasidim, their dogma was formalized in the period during which Rabbi Dov Baer led the movement. Jakob Amman was responsible for formulating the code by which the Amish would live. Granted, Old Order Amish do not live in accordance to forceful leadership. Nevertheless, they do practice the Meindung and thus live by the code set down by Amman. The second substage has to do with the communication of the code to make converts. In this respect the Hasidim and the Amish are again similar in that neither group seeks out converts. Instead, the group creates its own members by having children and passing their beliefs down to the next generation. However, this method is not without its setbacks. One such setback is inbreeding. An example of this can be found among the Lancaster Amish of PA. This population of Amish descends from approximately two hundred Amish who arrived in Pennsylvania during the early 1700’s. This small number of possible mates created a relatively small gene pool. Genetic mutations—which are present in every ethnic group—began to surface as a result of intermarriage. Among the genetic disorders manifested by these Amish is mental retardation and dwarfism. The third substage of Revitalization is the organization of converts into disciples and followers. This too occurred in Europe for both groups. Also, it occurred when the each movement was relatively new—to emphasize once again—neither the Hasidim nor the Amish are today known for attempting to convert non-believers. The fourth substage of Revitalization is the adaptation of each movement to hostile conditions. Both groups have succeeded at this. One way of adapting has been to flee the hostile environment if possible. The Mennonites from which the Amish descended fled to Switzerland when persecuted. The most hostile conditions faced by the Hasidim have to be those of Europe during Hitler’s reign. For the most part, the Hasidim who survived the Holocaust fled the region. Both groups have also been successful at adapting to the conditions found in America. Given, the conditions are not hostile by definition. However, the most vulnerable members of the group, the children, may experience hostility. One way that this possible hostility is avoided is by the insistence by both groups that their children attend their schools. Not only does this ensure that the code of the movement is taught and that undesirable subjects be omitted, it also serves as one additional buffer between the group and a potentially hostile outside world. The last two substages of Revitalization are the cultural transformation of the society and the routinization of the movement. These also took place in Europe for both the Old Order Amish and the Hasidim. Once achieved, the substages lead to the New Steady State, in which “Individuals may achieve a “resynthesis of values and beliefs,” while long-term changes continue under the guidance of the new value structure. (cf. Wallace 1970: 191-197)”. This best describes the experiences of both groups in the America. Both groups have prospered here and their populations are increasing—both the Amish and the Hasidim average seven children borne to a household. These groups are feeling long-term changes. One long-term change the Hasidim are experiencing is caused by the growth of their population. It concerns the Rebbe. The Rebbe is the leader of the hasidic group. A man becomes Rebbe by inheriting the position from his father or by being appointed Rebbe. The relationship of the sect with their Rebbe is of extreme importance as he is thought to be in direct communication with God. “[The Rebbe] is often the subject of veneration that gives rise to stories of mystical abilities” The relationship between a Rebbe and his followers is direct and personal. Because of the growing population, more Rebbes will have to be appointed in order for the Hasidim to not feel cheated out of a personal relationship with their leader. This will bring about a diffusion of hasidic sects; “Diffusion would, in all probability, foster some change in the Hasidic way of life”. BibliographyLeo Rosten. The Joys of Yiddish. (New York: Pocket Books, 1970), p.24. Leo Rosten. The Joys of Yiddish. (New York: Pocket Books, 1970). p. 24. William M. Kephart and William W. Zellner. Extraordinary Groups: An Examination of Unconventional Lifestyles. “The Hasidim”. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998), p. 171. William M. Kephart and William W.Zellner. Extraordinary Groups: An Examination of Unconventional Lifestyles. “The Old Order Amish”. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998), p. 6. William M. Kephart and William W. Zellner. Extraordinary Groups: An Examination of Unconventional Lifestyles. “The Old Order Amish”. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998), p. 6. Philip K. Bock. Rethinking Psychological Anthropology. (Prospect Heights, Illinois: Waveland Press, Inc, 1999), p. 235. Leo Rosten. The Joys of Yiddish. (New York: Pocket Books, 1970), p. 307. William M. Kephart and William W. Zellner. Extraordinary Groups: An Examination of Unconventional Lifestyles. “The Hasidim”. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998), p. 196.

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Grant Kahler Bipedalism The evolution of bipedalism for the early hominids was merely an adaptation to the newfound lifestyle that early man began to lead. No longer was the body adapting to better climbing and life in the trees as this species was slowly becoming a hunting and gathering population. One of the main reasons for this change is the conservation of energy. As these hominids began to spend much of their day on foot in search for food, this bipedal form of walking was adapted as it uses much less energy than the creatures that walk on all fours. The mechanics of bipedal movement was simply a more energy efficient act, but at the same time, this posture decreased the direct exposure to the sun, keeping the individual cooler, and ultimately saving even more energy. Also, as an advantage to hunting and gathering, hominids were now tall and could reach things and have a better and taller view of the surroundings. This provided a huge advantage over the predators of their time. Two additional advantages of bipedal locomotion is the allowance of two limbs whose purpose was solely to carry or transport possessions. Whether this is food or wood or whatever it may have been, hominids could now carry just about anything for long distances. This freedom of the arms and hands also allowed an easier and better solution to taking care of the young. All of these reasons show the advantages of bipedalism.

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Aztec Indains

The Aztec Indians, who are known for their domination of southern and central Mexico, ruled between the 14th and 16th centuries. They built a great empire and developed very modernized ways of doing things. They had phenomenal architectural skills and waterway systems. The Aztec Indians also had very developed social class and government systems and practiced a form of religion. To begin with, the Aztecs were very skilled in the art of Architecture and waterway systems. “An example of the monumental architecture within the Aztec society is the great pyramid of Tenochtitlan. Montezuma I, who was the ruler of the Aztecs in 1466, created it. The pyramid was not finished until the rule of Montezuma II, around 1508”(Carrasco, Montezuma Mexico, Pg. 49). “Aztec cities and towns also had working drinking water and waste treatment systems. An intricate plumbing system using clay pipes ran down from the mountains around Mexico valley to all of the towns and cities in the valley. As the water ran into each town or city it was the dispersed to 10 or 12 places around town were it flowed into a pool for drinking water or was piped into public baths and toilets. Only nobles had working drinking and bathing systems with running water in their homes. The sewage system worked much like today, having human wastes carried to a collection pool where solids were collected, and then having liquids run off into a series of terraces which filtered the water. Solid wastes were allowed to sit in a collection pool for about six months and then were brought to the lake gardens to be used as fertilizer”(Jennings, Aztec, Pg. 220). “The Aztec social structure contained four well defined classes. At the bottom of the heap were slaves and serfs, or the Tlacotli, who worked the private lands of the nobility. Next came the Macehualtin, ‘the fortunate,’ as they were called because they were equally free of the heavy responsibility of the nobility and of the slave’s liability to being basely used. They were the merchants, shopkeepers and artisans that made up the bulk of the population. The Macehualtin belonged to localized kin groups known as calpulli or ‘big houses,’ each of which had it’s own lands, clan leaders, and temple”(Jennings, Aztec, Pg. 354). “After that came the hereditary nobility or Pipiltin, who supplied the top bureaucrats in the Aztec imperial system, and from whose ranks was a formed a council which advised the emperor and elected his successor from the ruling lineage. Also all of the nobility had the sound ztin added to the end of their name. At the very top of the ladder was the Uey-Tlatoani, or revered speaker. He had absolute control over civil affairs and it was his job to increase the size of the Aztec Empire every year and if he didn't wage enough wars within a period of time he would be impeached and replaced by the Pipiltin”(Oliphant, Atlas of the Ancient World. Pg. 268). “The Aztec government consisted of principally of the leadership of the royal house and the vast bureaucracy backed by it. The Uey-Tlatoani dealed mainly with external affairs of the Aztec empire, such as starting wars and making peace treaties. Also there was a parallel ruler, another member of the royal lineage, known as the Cihuacoatl. He dealt mainly with the internal affairs of Tenochtitlan such as the water system and the justice system. The bureaucracy was set into place by the nobles and performed the same function that civil servants perform today”(Oliphant, Atlas of the Ancient World, 195). To maintain the empire the Aztec government made the territories it conquered contributes twice yearly. Taxes were collected from the territories also and careful accounts were kept of what territories had to pay. The heavy taxation and forced tribute disgruntled many territories. When Hernando Cortez arrived in the early 1500's they were happy to help him as spies and informants”(Blacker, Cortez and The Aztec Conquest, 143). “Aztec religion was based on the worship of many gods, but the most important was the sun god. Aztec priests were not allowed to bathe or wash ever during their time as a priest. This resulted in the priests becoming encrusted with blood and guts over time. The Great Pyramid was built as a sacrificing platform to the gods. At the very top were an altar and a statue of the sun god, which had a hollow body in which the priests placed their victim’s heart” (Oliphant, Atlas of the Ancient World, Pg. 197). Every year Tenochtitlan launched a ‘Flowery War,’ in which mock battles would take place for the sole purpose of taking prisoners. Usually the wars were small between provinces in the empire but one year a large war with an overwhelming defeat by the province of Tenochtitlan took place and it is estimated that between 10 and 80 thousand prisoners were taken” (Jennings, Aztec, Pg. 436). “After a ‘Flowery War,’ prisoners were marched back to a provinces capital and put to a ‘Flowery Death.’ That is, being sacrificed to the gods. In the year that Tenochtitlan took all those prisoners, it took the priests one full week to put all the prisoners to death. It is said that the area around The great pyramid turned into a lake of blood and the piles of bodies were taller then the buildings.” (Jennings, Aztec, Pg. 328.) These different elements show how the Aztec culture flourished for so long, but also they also show how it brought about the Aztecs end. Without these characteristics, the Aztecs would have never developed into the huge empire and culture that they became. The Aztec empire is now gone, along with almost all of the excellent works that the culture created, the great lake, the center of the one world, and most of the Aztec monuments have been buried under the slums of what is now known as Mexico city. The few artifacts that did survive only did so because they were placed in a museum or buried and dug up recently. What a sad ends for what was once the most prosperous nation in Latin America. One thing has survived though, the Aztec language Nahuatl, may it last forever in defiance of the ones who tried to wipe it from the face of the earth. BibliographyBlacker, Irwan R, Cortez and the Aztec conquest, New York: American Heritage, 1978. Carrasco, David, Scott Sessions. Niwot Colorado: University press of Colorado, 1992. Pg. 49. Coe, Michael, Elizabeth Benson. Atlas of Ancient America. New York: Equinox, 1986. Pg. 125, 128, 130, 146. Jennings, Gary. Aztec. Avon, 1980. Pg. 92, 220, 329, 354, 436. Oliphant, Margaret. Atlas of the Ancient World. Simon & Shuster, 1992. Pg. 195, 197, 268.

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Aztec Culture

Aztec Nation The Aztec Nation A distant sound is heard. It sounds like a deep drum being hit with a heavy instrument. You hear it again and strain your eyes in the direction of the sound. All around you is dense jungle. Snakes slither between your legs. You hear the sound once again. In front of you is a dense stand of ferns. You part them and look down into a wide open valley. The valley gets so wide and it is so green that it takes your breath away. But that is not what you are looking at. You are staring at a huge city with glittering buildings shining in the spring sunlight. Smoke rises up from some of the many houses. You can see and hear children playing in the wide open fields in front of the shining buildings. Lamas and chickens are being bought and sold. You see bags of gold jewelry being bought and sold. Beyond the market place you can watch a religious ceremony. You hear the scream of a person being sacrificed to one of the gods. Beyond the city there are roads made of stone and canals full of pedestrians and canos. Who are these people and what are they doing here you wonder? The above paragraph describes what an early explorer in Mexico might have seen between 1400 and 1500 AD. The Aztec nation is one of the largest and most advanced Indian nations to ever exist on earth. Just about every part of the Aztec life was advance to such a state that at that time of the world the people were living better than many European nations. The Aztec nation is unique in its history, economy, environment, and way of life then any other nation at that time. Perhaps three to four thousand years ago, small bands of hunting-gathering peoples made their way across the land bridge that was the frozen Bering Strait, migrated southward through what is now Alaska, Canada, the United States, Central America, South America, and Mexico, settling along the way. One such hunting- gathering group settled in the Central Valley of what is now Mexico (Nicholson 1985). There is a long history of civilizations in the Central Valley of Mexico; as early as several centuries before Christ agricultural tribes had already settled, and by the birth of Christ had established as their great religious center Teotihuacán. The history of the Central Valley after circa the tenth century A.D. is one of tribal conflict and superiority. About the time of the fall of this agricultural civilization, which flourished from approximately the second to the tenth centuries A.D., a new tribe, who we know as the Toltecs, settled at Tula, Hidalgo. They belonged to a larger group known as the Nahua, or Nahuatl- speaking, and seem to have entered the Central Valley from the north or northwest. The Toltec civilization gradually replaced the older, agricultural civilization, as Toltec influence was felt as far as the Yucatán Peninsula and other areas occupied by the Mayan peoples. Yet by the eleventh century A.D., another tribe, the Chichimecs, had already begun to eclipse the Toltecs as the dominant group of the Central Valley. By approximately the thirteenth century, the Chichimecs had replaced the Toltecs (Wolf 1998). About this time, another Nahua tribe known as the Aztecs began their migration, in c. 1168. They left their mythical mysterious homeland called Aztlán, place of the herons, or Chicomoztoc, place of the seven caves, and migrated southwards through Michoacán (León-Portilla 1992). The Aztecs, or Crane People, arrived in the Central Valley and obtained permission to settle at Chapultepec in c. 1248 (Caso 1958). The tradition of tribal conflict in the Central Valley was continued; however, it seems that the Aztecs, at first, were practically enslaved by the other Nahua tribes inhabiting the Central Valley. The Aztec culture would not be subjugated, however, and continued in its struggle for power. By the fourteenth century the Aztecs had founded two settlements on islands in lakes: Tlaltetalco and Tenochtitlán. The traditional founding date of Tenochtitlán is 1325; the quest for the sacred site on which to found Tenochtitlán is relayed to us by an Aztec myth, ...[its] beginning is found in ancient times, when a humble tribe was banished-- by the original Aztecs (Castillo 1908)-- from a mysterious homeland it called Aztlán(place of the herons) or Chicomoztoc(place of the seven caves). During the long exile the Mexicas wandered among hostile strangers while anxiously searching for the divine sign, whose presence, prophesied by their god, would mark their arrival in the promised land. The tale continues with the discovery of the omen and the subsequent founding of Mexico-Tenochtitlán on the sacred site. (León-Portilla 1992) By the fifteenth century Tenochtitlán had become the center of the Aztec world-- the center of Aztec growth, conquest, and expansion. As early as the sixteenth century Tenochtitlán dominated all other cities in the Central Valley and had reached the height of its power and magnificence (Caso 1958). The center of the Aztec empire was located near the Lerma river which is near the southern part of the Mexican plateau. The plateau is the largest of Mexico's land regions and it is the most varied region consisting of five sections. The Volcanic Axis is located across the southern part of the plateau. Many of the volcanoes are still active. This area receives a lot of rain and the soil is fertile. This area is the main area where corn and beans were grown for the Aztec empire. The Bajio lies north of the volcanic axis and has an average elevation of 7,000 feet. This region houses the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán. Here there is very little rain and thus the region is very dry. The Mesa del Norte area makes up for more then half of the plateau and has an average elevation of 9,000 feet. Since it is so high crops are always in danger of freezing. The Sierra Madre Occidental is a long mountain range that forms the western ridge of the plateau. It remained a barrier for the Aztecs and their enemies. Some of this region still has not been explored by people. The Sierra Madre Oriental is the plateau's eastern rim. The Aztecs had no use for this area but today there is a major coal and old industry in the area (Aschmann 1985). The average January temperatures of the plateau is from 10 to 15 degrees Centigrade while in July the average temperature is around 20 to 25 degrees centigrade. Thus the weather is much like B.C. Average precipitation is from 30 - 50 cm at the Aztec capital to less than 30 in the highlands. The central part of life for any Aztec citizen, man or woman, was religion. For example, if a baby was to become a priest, immediately after birth it was painted in black and a beaded necklace placed about its neck, and certain rites were conducted. The necklace was then removed and placed in a temple until the child came of age, when the child would then proceed in some type of ecclesiastical training. It was never doubted the child would become a priest; the Aztecs believed that the child's soul was caught in the beads, and that the soul would draw the child to the temple inexorably without regard to the will of the child. Similarly, if a child was to become a great warrior, it was decided at birth and similar ceremonies were carried out. Interestingly, these decisions about a child's future were made by the parents soon after birth. Therefore, from the moment a child was brought into the world she was surrounded by religion. The religion of the Aztecs was a complex one, but is generally characterized as polytheistic, based on the worship of a multitude of personal gods. It is interesting that the Aztecs attempted to incorporate the gods of conquered people into their religion; this was accomplished by considering the conquered peoples' gods simply as manifestations of the gods they already worshipped. Similarly, often in the lower Aztec classes people would create whole gods out of what was generally considered only a manifestation of an attribute of a single god (Caso 6-9). There is a dual creative principle found throughout the Aztec culture, split not surprisingly between the masculine and the feminine. This dual creative principle was expressed in the form of two gods, Ometecuhtli, two lord, and Omecíhuatl, two lady. Both resided in Omeyocan, meaning the place two (Caso 9). Aztec gods were created when Ometecuhtli and Omecíhuatl had four sons, to whom they entrusted the creation of the other gods, the world, and man. The sons were named Red Tezcatlipoca, also called Xipe or Camaxtle; Black Tezcatlipoca, commonly called Tezcatlipoca; Quetzlcoatl, the god of wind and life; and Huitzilopochtli, the Blue Tezcatlipoca. It is surmised that in ancient times Quetzlcoatl was replaced by a White Tezcatlipoca (Moctezuma 1988). One of the fundamental concepts in the Aztec religion was the grouping of all beings according to the four compass directions and the central direction of up and down. Ometecuhtli (heaven) and Omecíhuatl (earth) represented the central direction of up and down; this symbolizes the heavens and the earth. Their four sons were each associated with a different color and a different compass point. Black Tezcatlipoca was associated with the North, Blue Tezcatlipoca with the South, Red Tezcatlipoca with the East, and Quetzlcoatl with the West. Animals, trees, days, and also men and women were grouped in this manner. Men, according to the day on which they were born, belonged to one of the four regions of the world. Aztec mythology states that the world has been created several times, and eventually each creation is followed by a cataclysm that has destroyed mankind. This was necessary, they believed, because rarely is anything perfected on the first essay. Thus, they could not have a perfect creation after the first try. There are two Aztec myths that clearly illustrate two main tenets of Aztec culture. The first myth centers on Quetzlcoatl. The myth says that if man was to live, he must reciprocate by offering his own blood in sacrifice. This is because man came about from Quetzcoatl making a sacrifice. Sacrifice was essential in Aztec religion, for if no man could exist except through the creative force of the gods, the gods in turn need man to sustain them with human sacrifice. The second myth helps explain the warlike tendencies of the Aztecs. As explained by Caso, according to legend, Coatlicue, the old goddess of the earth, became a priestess in the temple living a life of chastity after having given birth to the moon and stars. One day when she was sweeping, Coatlicue came across a ball of down which she tucked into her waistband. When she finished sweeping, she looked for the ball of down but realized it was gone and that she was pregnant. When her children Coyolxauhqui, the moon, and Centzonhuitznáhuac, the stars, discovered this they became angry and decided to kill their mother. Coatlicue wept over her impending death, but the presence in her womb consoled her. When Coyolxauhqui and Centzonhuitznáhuac came to slay her, Huitzilopochtli was born, and with the aid of the serpent of fire(sun's rays) he cut off Coyolxauhqui's head and sent Centzonhuitznáhuac fleeing. Thus, when Huitzilopochtli was born he had to do combat with his brothers the stars and his sister the moon; armed with the serpent of fire he drove them away, his victory signifying a new a new day of life for men. When Huitzilopochtli consummated his victory, he was carried across the sky on a litter by the spirits of warriors who have died either in combat or on the sacrificial stone. Later, in the early afternoon, Huitzilopochtli was picked up by the spirits of women who perished in childbirth. They then lead the sun to its setting. Each day this divine combat is begun anew, and thus Huitzilopochtli must be strong if he is to defeat all of this brothers with only his arrows of light. To accomplish this task, Huitzilopochtli must be strong, nourished by human blood. Huitzilopochtli is a god, and disdains the coarse food of humans; he desires chalchíhuatl, the precious liquid. Thus the Aztecs, the people of Huitzilopochtli, are charged with the duty of supplying him with food. Thus, for the Aztecs, war was an integral part of their diurnal routine. War became almost a from of worship of Huitzilopochtli. Their belief that Huitzilopochtli depended on them for chalchíhuatl led the Aztecs to establish the Xochiyaóyotl, or flowery war. The sole purpose of the Xochiyaóyotl was to take prisoners to sacrifice to the sun. Therefore, each Aztec god required his own sacrifices. This led to an unusual culture: one refined, yet with an accepted level of brutality that is still unsurpassed. The Aztecs conducted an interesting ceremony called Tóxcatl in the sixth month. A young warrior, most likely captured through Xochiyaóyotl, was selected for his godlike qualities: smooth skin, good looks, and poise among others. He was then trained for an entire year in how to conduct himself as a personage of the court. He was taught how to play clay pipes, and was given an entourage to attend to him as though he were a lord. Dressed in the attire of the gods, this impersonator of Tezcatlipoca would stroll the streets smoking fine tobacco from gilded reed pipes carrying a bouquet of flowers. Any citizens who met him on the street held him in as high of an esteem as the king himself. Twenty days before the celebration of the festival, his dress was changed to that of a great captain. He was married to four young maidens, incarnations of the wives of the god of providence: Xochiqutzal, Xilonen, Atlatonan, and Huixtocíhuatl. When the day of the festival finally came, banquets, ceremonies, and dances were held in honor of the youth. The entire population praised him, commoners and nobles alike. Suddenly, he was taken with his wives and court to a small, neglected temple on the shore of a lake. Here, his wives and entourage left him. Left with but a few pages and his clay pipes, he was escorted to the base of the temple. Here, even the pages left him. He ascended the temple steps alone. On each of the steps, he broke one of his flutes, symbolizing his passed grandeur. Finally, atop the temple he was seized by four priests and stripped of his remaining finery. Each of his arms and legs was seized by a priest, and the young man was stretched atop an altar resembling a flattened cylinder, with his chest thrust high in the air. A fifth priest, in a plunging motion, thrust an obsidian knife into the young man's chest. The priest then reached in through the wound and tore out the young man's heart. Tóxcatl had a moral: it was to instruct people that those who enjoy wealth and pleasures in this life will end in poverty and sorrow (Caso 69). Tóxcatl is just one example of Aztec sacrifice. Captured warriors were painted with red and white stripes, in imitation of the astral gods, and sacrificed in the same way. The emptied corpses were then taken to the captors houses for dismemberment and distribution: flesh scraped from the skulls and thighbones; fragments of flesh cooked and eaten; human skins, dripping with grease and blood, stretched over living flesh; clots of blood scooped up to smear the temple walls (Clendinnen 261). For the Aztecs, however, these were more than just grotesque rituals. The flesh was eaten atop whole dried maize kernels; to them, the flesh but was a different form of matter in the vegetable cycle (Clendinnen 209). To the Aztecs, the victims were the incarnation of the god whose attire they wore; thus, the eating of the flesh was a most sacred communion (Caso 75). The skins of the victims were often worn until decomposition occurred; the removal of the skin was a happy event. This served to remind the Aztecs of the bitterness of the experience of death. In general, however, human skins were worn to this extreme only after one occasion: The Feast of the Flaying of Men. Other sacrificial methods were practiced as well: some men were tethered to a framework and riddled with arrow until they no longer could stand; some men were burned in sacrifices to the gods of fire; some men were flayed alive and the priest dressed in his skin; some men were decapitated; and some fought in gladiator matches. In these matches, the prisoner was bound and armed with a wooden sword, its usual blades of obsidian replaced with feathers. The prisoner was also given four cudgels of pine. Four expert Aztec warriors, two each from the Jaguar and Eagle clans, would come fight the prisoner one at a time. Should these four fail to vanquish their foe, a fifth man was brought out, always left-handed and thus extremely powerful to slay the prisoner. This cycle continued until the prisoner was finally exterminated (Bray 1968). To the Aztecs family was very important. The family was an important part of survival. The man was a house builder and a farmer or craftsman while the woman prepared food, cared for the children, made clothes, and looked after the livestock. Aztecs thought that marriage without children was incomplete and thus barren women were looked down upon and scorned. The aims of an average Aztec was to have a respected position in the community, a happy family life, and a marriage with children. The birth of a child was an important event. Every important event was always accompanied with speeches in Aztec life. As soon as the baby was born, the midwife would give the baby a speech while she cut the umbilical cord. In the speech she explained to the baby what its duties would be in life. If the infant was a boy he would be told that he would be a warrior whose mission was to feed the Sun with the blood of enemies and if the infant was a girl she was to spend her days doing household chores and help the family. In about four days the father would call an astrologer to read the child's horoscope and determine the appropriate day for the naming ceremony. After a naming ceremony, the name was announced and the news was spread by little boys who ran through the streets shouting. Each child had a calendrical name taken from the day of birth and also a personal name which belonged to him alone(Bray 1969). Education was considered extremely important. Even from an infant to age four the child was taught with 'quite words'. At age four, practical instruction was given under the watchful eyes of the elders. For example the child was taught all the words of the things he would carry in a basket. He would learn to carry things for his mother and go with his father to the local markets. For girls education was really training for marriage. She would be shown how to make thread and use it. At age 14 she would learn to weave a loom. She was also thought how to make cloth to support the family. Self control and obedience was taught at home and punishments were severe. Boys were beaten, pricked with maguey spines, then tied hand and foot and laid naked on the wet ground for a whole day, or else were held over a fire of chili peppers and made to inhale the bitter smoke. Girls were too pricked or held over the fire, being forced to rise before dawn and to spend the whole day cleaning the home and sweeping the street outside (Bray 1968). In many other ways children were made to feel inferior. A ruler's daughter was made to walk around and never look up from the ground. She was to never talk while eating and must keep absolute silence. Maidens could not go outside the house without guards. Young unmarried women could never see their father without permission and every time the saw him they would give him presents and gifts they had made. None laughed in his presence and all acted very soberly and modestly(Bray 1969). The choice of who to marry was left up to the man alone. Women had no choice of who they could marry. The two families would arrange and organize the marriage ceremony. The man who was going to get married was released from school and the school gave him many gifts. Now the young youth was considered a man. The girl who was usually 16, spent most of her time in preparing food for the big event. Marriage ceremonies were held in a house during the night with many people present (usually about 150). The marriage rite took place and the couple were perfumed with incense and were then presented with traditional gifts. Then they were joined by a match-maker by the young mans cloak and then they were man and wife. The party continued until the young people were tired and the old people were drunk. Then on the fifth day after the marriage ceremony, there was another party in celebration of the married couple (Bray 1969). Polygamy was very common among the Aztecs. This was very important in the survival of the nation because so many males were killed in wars and in sacrifices. Also alliances were made in this way for diplomatic reasons. If you committed adultery the punishment was death by stoning or strangulation. The person accused had the choice between the two types of punishment. The social structure of the Aztecs is very interesting. A person called the Great Speaker was the supreme ruler. The son of the Great Speaker not always was the heir. It was a Council of Wise Men- very similar to the Roman Senate- that decided in a democratic way who would be the next ruler of Tenochtitlán. In a way, the election of the Great Speaker was very similar to the election of the Byzantine Emperor (coincidentally, these two cultures are contemporary, the Byzantine ending years before the discovery of America). Once the Great Speaker was elected, he was obeyed in everything, since he was the represented of the god Huitzilopochtli on the Earth. The Great Speaker was also head of the government, and the main priest of the Great Temple. This curious selection process is due, according to several investigators basing themselves in legends and Aztec tales, to the fact that the first Aztec Ruler Acamapichtli (1376), had for a main wife a woman called Ilancueitl, daughter of the lord of a nearby town. This girl was sterile, which caused that the Aztec Lords offered their daughters to him and he also took his women slaves as companions. Logically, this caused that more than one resulted pregnant of the Aztec King and each one claimed the right of carrying the future heir in their wombs. When the majority of the sons of Acamapichtli were old enough, the Emperor ordered a group of priests and great warriors to gather to decide who would the next Great Speaker be. This originated the birth of the Council of Wise Men, whose members would be the greatest warriors and the wisest priests. Their selection was also democratic since these were also elected by their own Calpullis - we will talk about these later -. This selection process lasted all the time the Aztec Empire lasted. This way never did a dynasty exist (sometimes the Great Speaker was a close relative of the one before, as Moctezuma was Ahuizotl's nephew) of Aztec families, preventing with this the aging of the civilization, just like it happened with the Czars in Russia and the kings in France. The heart of the Mexica Empire was the Calpulli. Even before the empire existed, the Calpulli existed already. This was generally formed by relatives or people of the same profession, in this manner there were Calpullis for priests, warriors, carpenters, clay workers, etc... Each Calpulli was a form of autonomous government, with its own Speaker or governor, who was elected by the oldest men living in the Calpulli. Just to give us an idea, we will say that each Calpulli had its own school, its own temple, and if the Calpulli was important sometimes it had its own garrison. In the Aztec society there were no closed societies. Anyone could get to be a member of the Council of Wise Men. Though, only the men belonging to the nobility could be Great Speakers. There is an Aztec story that narrates how a Tlaxcalteca, Najahuatzin- called the same way as the god who gave life to the Fifth Sun-, was caught by Moctezuma stealing wood from his private forest. When Nanahuatzin answered honestly, Moctezuma awarded him by naming him Main Voice. This story shows how even the poorest people could reach the highest levels in the Aztec society. This was the reason why the Aztecs were able to control and dominate the largest empire in all of North America and one of the largest worldwide. An Aztec custom consisted in that the Great Speaker, once elected, was no longer human and was a god from then on. In fact, each Aztec Great Speaker was worshiped in the Temple Mayor. The Aztec protocol was that nobody could look directly to the emperor, nor talk or hear him. That is why there was a spokesman who relayed what his lord had said to the subjects and what these would respond to the emperor. Though, in cases of emergency, the king talked directly to his Council (León-Portilla 1992, & Hassig 1988). The Aztecs' main food was corn. The corn was generally ground into flour and then made into masa or dough, which they made into tortillas, drinks, tamales, among other foods. Other foods in the Aztecs' diet were the seeds from the sage plant which were used as cereal; spicy peppers, eggs, turkey, rabbit, dog, lizards, locusts, snails, fish eggs, and as a delicacy, green slime which was scooped off the top of lake Texcoco. That was said to taste like cheese. For drink the Aztecs usually drank water and on special occasions they drank beer and nobles drank chocolate sweetened with honey. Foods today in Mexico have some basic components of the Aztec fare such as corn, which is still at the heart of the meal. That is, today corn products are still widely eaten. This can be seen in the tortilla, a round flat sheet of corn that you find in almost every meal in a present day Mexican table; or the tamale, a lump of corn masa containing meat, wrapped in corn husks, and steamed. Both are Aztec foods. Hence, the blend of the Aztec and Spanish cultures can be seen very clearly in food. For instance, it is a common rural Mexican tradition to make tamales, an Aztec food for Christmas, a Catholic holiday. Another example is the fact that tamales are often filled with beef, a product unknown to the Aztecs until the arrival of the Spanish. Even the method in which the meals were prepared: the corn is ground on a metate, made into masa, which is rolled into a ball and flattened, then placed on a comal cooking sheet and cooked, is still being practiced in remote country locations. In the city people eat much as they do here in the United States (Baumann 1995. And Nicholson 1985). Cultivating the soil was the main way of life. In the Aztec society farmers were generally field workers who prepared the earth, breaking up clumps, hoeing with the coa digging stick, leveling, planting, weeding, and irrigating. They understood the rotations and had to read almanacs so they could determine when it was time for planting. They made the construction of canals to bring water from mountain springS to the towns and fields of the piedmont and foothills. Calculations have shown that the flow of water through this system was insufficient to have maintained farming throughout the year (Bray 1968). The amount of decoration on a garment indicated wealth and social rank of the wearer. Rich people had clothes made of cotton while poorer people had clothes made from maguey fibers. Aztec men wore a cloth around their hips and a cloak that was knotted around one shoulder. The women wore a sleeveless blouse and a wraparound skirt. The amount of decoration around the garment indicated the wealth and social rank of the wearer. Most of the Aztec homes were simple and designed for usefulness rather than for looks. In the upper mountain regions the houses were adobe but in the lowlands they had thatched roofs and walls made of branches and leaves. Usually in the same yard around the house a family had other buildings suck as a place to put their tools and a place for their animals. Wealthy Aztecs had large adobe or stone houses with a large patio built around the house. The yard was usually large and the servants were housed in a separate building (Weaver, 1972). The art of speaking was interwoven with teaching, as the learning of technical skills. Historical accounts, the reciting of stories and poetry, the conduct of law suits, and matters of trade were conducted orally. To be educated was to be a master of oral expression, for people were expected to present artful speeches on all sorts of occasions, both public and private. With all the etiquette required by the highest formalized pattern of Aztec life. Aztec hieroglyphic writing served to communicate names, places, dates, and tallies in association by a system of dots. The language spoken by the Aztecs was called Nahuatl. This language was one of the must popular ones before the Spanish Conquest because it was the spoken language of the most important race in the prehispanic world: the Mexica or Azteca. Some of the peculiar characteristics of this language, was that it had 23 different sounds: 5 vowels and 18 consonants, divided into 9 primaries and 9 secondaries. For some strange reason our ancestry of the Aztec basically used only the 9 primary consonants, that were considered as sacred sounds; The other 9 secondary consonants appeared only in the regular language of this Mexicatl country (the country around the Aztec empire). An example of this is the poetry Nezahualcoyotl lord and philosopher of Texcoco. The Nahuatl alphabet is described briefly below. The Aztec have always been warriors, since their time as the Mexica to the time of their demise. The Aztecs at first were known as dirty barbarians so they were not allowed to settle with the present tribes of Central Mexico. Why did the Aztecs need to have a great military? To answer this question you must understand Aztec religion and way of life. The Aztecs whole beginning is based on war and their main god Huitlilopochi was based on war. The Aztecs had no head army or standing army but it was organized for war. War was used to capture prisoners for sacrifice, punish tributary tribes, and gain new territory. The soldiers were trained at a young age by nobles in special schools. In these schools they taught the warriors their goals in war. The goals were to capture prisoners for sacrifice, and depending on the amount captured gave that warrior prowess. Failure in battle was a disgrace for those who could not accomplish their task and usually led to their sacrifice. The overview of the Aztec military, is that their is no separation of armies, but the whole empire was set on war. The military had specific goals, but if not accomplished meant shame and death. The Aztecs had a very powerful military and only lost to the Spanish due to the myth that the white people were gods (Bray 1968). Agriculture formed the backbone of the Aztec economy. Corn was the most important crop alone with beans, avocados, squashes, potatoes, and tomatoes. The lowlands provided crops such as cotton, papayas, rubber, and cacao. The main agricultural tool was a pointed stick which was used for digging. In the tropical jungle the Aztecs used the slash and burn agriculture which is still used today. They chopped down the trees and burns them along with the shrubs and the ashes fertilized the soil. Terraces were cut in the mountains up in the highlands to increase the amount of farmland. Huge irrigation systems were made and the farmers used the mud from the bottom of the irrigation systems to help their crops. As a result the Aztecs yielded huge crops which is the main reason why their civilization was so successful (Hodge & Smith 1994). The market place was one of the main centers of Aztec life. The market at Tlatelolco was the largest in the Americas. Hernando Cortes said that as much as 60,000 people visited the market in a single day. Here every kind of merchandise was bought and sold. The Aztecs had no money as we know it but it was goods and services that were traded. It was found that some Aztecs used cacao beans as a form of money (Hodge & Smith 1994). The Aztecs invented the wheel but they never used it in any form of transportation. The wheels were just used in toys. The Aztecs carried all goods on their backs our using animals to carry them (Nicholson 1985). We still know very little about the Aztecs. Research is always uncovering new ideas and data giving us new insights into the Aztec culture and way of life. It is interesting how a people so far away from the known civilization at that time developed a political and economic system similar to the system used in Europe and Asia. The Aztec society was a brutal one yet it was one of the most successful societies in Central America until the intrusion of the Spanish in 1519. Their successfulness was can from their religion which demanded that the Aztecs to always be dominant, brutal adversaries. Even though their religion was the dominant theme in setting the Aztecs apart from other civilizations, they were also unique in their history, economy, environment, and way of life. In studying the Aztecs, we are in a way actually studying ourselves and human history. Only by studying ourselves are we able to overcome our mistakes and make this world a better place. Bibliography: Aschmann, Homer. Mexico World Book Encyclopedia. 1985 ed. Baumann, Adria. The Food of the Aztecs 24 June, 1995. Available : Brundage, Burr Cartwright. The Fifth Sun: Aztec Gods, Aztec World. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1979. Burland, Cottie and Wermer Forman. The Aztecs: Gods and Fate in Ancient Mexico. New York: Galahad Books, 1980. Bray, Warwick. Everyday Life of The Aztecs. London: B.T. Batsford Ltd, 1968. Caso, Alfonso. The Aztecs People of the Sun. Trans. Lowell Dunham. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1958. del Castillo, Bernál Diaz. Discovery and Conquest of Mexico. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Cudahy, 1956. Clendinnen, Inga. Aztecs an interpretation. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991. Ferguson, William. & Arthur H. Rohn. Mesoamerica' Ancient Cities. Niwot: University Press Colorado, 1990. Hassig, Ross. Aztec Warfare Imperial Expansion and Political Control. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988. Hodge, Mary. and Michael E Smith. Economies and Polities in the Aztec Realm. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1994. León-Portilla, Miguel. The Aztec Image of Self and Society. Ed. J. Jorge Klow de Alva. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1992. Moctezuma, Eduardo Matos. The Great Temple of the Aztecs. Trans. Doris Heyden. New York: Thames and Hudson, Ltd., 1988. Nicholson, H.B. Aztec World Book Encyclopaedia. 1985 ed. Shepperd, Donna Walsh. The Aztecs. New York: F. Watts, 1992. Stuart, Gene S. The Mighty Aztecs. Washington: National Geographic, 1981. Weaver, Muriel Porter. The Aztecs, Maya, and Their Predecessors Archeology of Mesoamerica. New York: Seminar Press, 1972. Wolf, Leo. The Aztecs: A tradition of Religious Human Sacrifice. March 28, 1998. Available:

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A Letter From Saudi Arabia

Dear Mr. LMN, Hope you are doing well. How are things at the Academy? I am doing just fine here in Al Arabiyah as Saudiyah1, ever heard that name before? It is just the local short name for Saudi Arabia. It is already a year since I left US and now I am almost half way through the two years that I am spending here. There’s a lot that I want to tell you about my experience so far. I always wanted to leave Westford for good, but had never imagined that I would someday be doing a job in Saudi Arabia! It all started when I got this new job with the Saudi Arabian Specifications and Standard Organization (SASSO)2. My Uncle has a close friend in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. So one night my uncle asked me if I would like to live for two years in Saudi Arabia, and then he told me about this job opportunity for which they required a qualified engineer in structural architecture. It wasn’t exactly something that I had planned in life, but I always wanted to experience life in a different atmosphere, and this was the perfect opportunity for me to do so… so here I am! I work in a Water conservation-desalination1 plant in a town called Khumrah which is 30 miles south from Jeddah3. It is a small town with a population a little less than Westford3. Where I live is very close to my work, barely a 5-minute walk from the plant. Since there aren’t many trees around the place I live, it is usually very hot in that area. The average temperature here in Summer is really killing!! Sometimes it gets as high as 94 degrees Fahrenheit in summer, it’s an extreme climate here4! It certainly is a big change from Westford! It makes me sweat a lot, but I have gotten used to that. Even now I still calculate the temperature in Fahrenheit, whereas this country follows the metric system, which is sometimes confusing, but that’s just part of the experience. But I am really thankful to my uncle, he did give me a lot of tips about staying here. For instance the kind of clothes that I should pack, what vaccinations I should take before leaving other than those required by the Saudi consulate such as the ones for cholera5. So I guess, I was pretty much packed up when I left America. I live in a small 2 story building, in a 2-bedroom apartment- building6 with Umar, the son of my Uncle’s friend. The apartment building has no parking lot, there is no reason to have one because not many people in this town own cars for themselves. At first, that really surprised me! I and Umar have become really close friends now. He too works in the same plant with me. He can speak some English, although he can understand everything I say in English, which is something that I am really thankful for- It’s one of the best things to happen to me. You will not find many English-speaking people here. In only 60% of the population of people 15 years and older can read and write1. Anways.. so we live on the 2nd floor and there is an Arab family that lives downstairs. The first day, when I arrived at the Jeddah airport, I was amazed by the way the airport is designed, it looks more like the ancient Islamic architecture that I had seen much of in the travel brochures on the flight. It took a while to clear the customs, especially since the import laws here are very strict7. After clearing the customs as soon as I was at the arrival terminal Umar was there to receive me. He recognized me with the help of a photograph that my uncle had mailed to him. Since I am a Muslim, I had some knowledge of Arabic, from what Iittle I had learnt in Islamic school, but that was twenty years ago!! Anyway, so I greeted Umar, in what I though was an ancient Arabic greeting- “As salaam O Alaiqum”8, he replied by saying “Wa Alaiqum As Salaam”. But later, I discovered that there was nothing ancient about it! It’s the formal way of saying hello to someone, technically speaking, in English it translates to ‘peace be upon you’ and it’s part of my Arabic vocabulary now. There are several forms of greeting in Saudi Arabia. The most common one is a handshake, called the salaam with the right hand and the phrase “As salaam O Alaiqum” Frequently, males follow the greeting by extending the left hand to each other’s right shoulder and kissing the other’s right and left cheeks. The form of greeting changes depending upon the person being addressed. When accompanied by a woman wearing a veil, a man would not normally introduce her, and one does not expect to shake hands with her. The term for “Good morning” is Sabah al-khair, and for “Good evening” it is Masah al-khair. A casual hello is Marhaba.3 It’s always a good thing to know these phrases, if sometime you get in trouble, they act somewhat similar to the phrase “I come in peace” in English!!! Anyways.. so once Umar found me he jokingly told me that he would have recognized me even without the photo, because of the peculiar dress that I had worn, although I laughed that off, but that was the first time that I felt weird being in a T-shirt and jeans. Most people I had seen were dressed in long clothes that covered them fully. Males dress in a white robe with a flat turban for the head, while women wear veils which cover them fully from head to toe, except the face4.But it isn’t like that in every part of Jeddah, or for that matter even the whole country. Many men prefer wearing western outfits such as shirts and trousers, while some women in cities also wear skirts which are about knee-length. 6 For probably the first time I felt as if I was “the odd man out”! Anyways.. very soon I and Umar were on our way to Khumrah on a hired taxi. It was a bumpy 2 hour drive, mostly because of the bad road conditions, not all roads in Saudi Arabia are like that though1. The hot weather made it even worse for us. We reached the house, and no sooner had we started unloading the baggage than a gentleman came up and lend us to helping hand. After we were done with the unloading, I thanked him and then Umar introduced us to each other, his name is Khaled Bin Ahmad. He is the tenant of the apartment on the first floor and lives with his wife Asma, a son Ashfaque and a daughter Fatima. Most people have more than 2 children, usually the number of children in each family is 3-41. We are pretty good friends now, his family usually invites me to dinner at their home with Umar. I love the food here. Saudi dishes are composed mainly of rice with lamb or chicken and are mildly spicy. Kabsah, which is rice and lamb, is a favorite dish throughout the country. Rice is also often served with vegetables and a green salad. Fruit is frequently eaten for dessert, accompanied by Saudi coffee, which is brewed with cardamom. Seafood is popular on the coast, and there are many varieties of fish. Coffee or tea is served before all meals. Buttermilk is also a popular beverage. In general, food is eaten with the fingers of the right hand only. Bread may be torn with the left hand but is eaten with the right.3 I really had to get used to this habit, at first I was very clumsy breaking the bread, and eating the rice, but now I think I have pretty much learnt the proper way of eating. Khumrah doesn’t have many restaurants10. I had once been to one in Jeddah with Umar. Hotel restaurants offer a variety of types of cuisine, including Chinese, Indian, Italian, Japanese, and North American. Traditionally, the main meal of the day is in the mid-afternoon (usually after 2 PM), when children are home from school and parents from work. But those whose offices remain open in the afternoon now have their main meal in the evening. 4 Conversation is often minimal during the main course of a meal; people prefer to talk before and especially after the meal, while they drink tea or coffee. I generally am very talkative at lunch, but Umar doesn’t mind it, he is quite understanding. But when I am Khaled Aqha’s home it would be rude to talk while eating. 4 Although I am a Muslim, it is sometimes difficult for me to believe the diversity that exists between an American-Muslim and an Arabic Muslim. When I say diversity, I basically mean the traditions, the way of practicing religion. I have come to realize the fact that Islam is practiced differently in all the different parts of the world, and the way I practiced it when I was in the US, is certainly quite different from what I have seen and practiced here. Then there are so many customs which actually have their root in the beliefs of Islam, which I was totally unaware of. For example everybody removes their shoes at the doorstep before entering the house, even when you are invited to someone’s home. Umar told me that it is a tradition that has been carried out for centuries now10. Speaking of traditions, in Saudi Arabia there is a long tradition of hospitality, which has its roots in the ancient custom that any traveler in the desert who ran into difficulty could receive protection for three and one-third days3. In fact, just last night I had dinner at Khaled Akha’s house. I call him by adding a Akha8 to his name because in Arabic it means brother, and I call his wife Ukht8, which means sister. In the first few days I repeatedly used to make the mistake of calling Ukht by her name, which I later realized is not considered decent for a non-relative man to do unless he is her father3. Luckily Khaled Akha is an understanding man, otherwise one can end up in serious legal trouble for doing something like that. You see, the constitution of this country is actually the Sharia’- the Islamic law, which prescribes the role of men and women in society1. The most amazing thing that I found out, in my first week here was that the citizens of this country have no say in electing their government! Saudi Arabia is actually a monarchy ruled by a king chosen from and by members of the Al-Saud family. The king rules through royal decrees issued in conjunction with the Council of Ministers, and with advice from the Consultative Council. Members of both councils are appointed by the king7. But what amazed me even more that this system functions as well as the democratic capitalist system in USA! Of course I have come across people who feel otherwise, they demand a more flexible system. But since freedom of the press isn’t as extensive here, you never hear of such groups on television or newspapers. Some of the customs and social practices are very conservative7, and I would say the sharia’ is responsible for that. Islam pervades all aspects of life here more than anything else. For the same reason, they also have a special police force – the religious police called the Mutawwa'iin7. They are basically plainclothes policemen that patrol the streets to enforce the conservative standards of the law. Once I almost got caught by the police when I was trying to photograph a woman in a public fair, I didn’t know that there are rules for photography too6. In fact there are religious laws against certain dressing codes. I feel the laws are too strict to adhere to, which is a view I am sure most people here share with me. But there are also laws that forbid non-Islamic religious articles such as crosses and bibles, and food such as pork 7(which is unholy in Islam), these laws are relatively understandable. When I see women who are dressed so conservatively3, as opposed to the men who have more freedom of choice in what they wear, I feel a certain kind of guilt for the freedom I have! Moreover, the pattern of social roles I have seen is that women take care of the household, the children by staying at home while men are the bread-winners. Bread-earning reminds me, that tomorrow I don’t have to go to work, because it is Thursday. Did you know that the working week is from Saturday through Wednesday7. Not only that, we have breaks between work, for Namaaz (prayers) when people go to the nearby mosques for their prayers4. Friday (Jumma) and Thursday (Jumme-raat) night are considered as important days of the week for prayers, everybody goes to the mosque on this day for their prayers. Religion is a very prominent characteristic of the Saudi society4. It is one of their first priorities. It is quite obvious because of the large concentration of the Muslim population, a 99% majority1! It is also to a certain extent because of Al-Ka’aaba, which is the center of pilgrimage for Muslims all around the world. It is considered the holiest place on earth. I remember talking to you about this in Global Insights class, when we were studying Islam. It is the Ka’aaba that attracts the major tourist population to this country4. It is amazing the way, the government handles the enormous tourist population every year, despite the problems that it has to deal with. One of the major problems here is the scarcity of water. Which is also one reason I chose to take this job. A large amount of the total land area is covered by desert. Desert storms lead to desertification of vast areas of land. This poses a threat to agriculture. Agriculture engages about 15% of the total labor force. The government is coming up with projects for development of more and more desalination facilities, through which they can then use the sea water to their benefit, for irrigation in agriculture and also for industry. So water is one of the very important resource here. In Khumrah, the water facilities aren’t as well-developed as they are in the cities1. Sometimes I have to skip shower for the day, because at times when the water supply is short, the tanks are not filled. But I don’t mind that, as long as it doesn’t last for days together. When I first came, I was too conscious about my health, so the only water I used to drink was mineral water, which cost me about half a dollar for each bottle11. By the way the currency used here is the Riyal, which is then divided into 100 halalah1, just like dollars and cents. An American dollar is approximately worth 3.75riyals1. So whenever I used to buy something, I converted it into dollars, and it seemed so cheap to me, but later I realized that sometimes I was paying a lot more than the actual price, just because in American terms it was cheaper! In fact I gave up the mineral water, within a month. That however wasn’t the best of ideas. I suffered a mild viral fever for 2 days because of that. But Khaled Aqha and his wife took good care of me, for both the days, Umar got me my medicine, Khaled Aqha took care of me. Now whenever I go to the market, I get some grocery for Khaled aqha, at first he never accepted anything from me, saying that I was like his guest, but now we no more have a guest-host relationship, it’s more of friendship, I feel. I was fortunate that I did not need any hospital care, it saved me some money. Usually hospitals demand cash payment, usually before treatment! Anyways, so did you make finally make that trip to India that you always planned on? There are some Indians1 at the plant where I work, actually there are people from many different foreign nationalities where I work. The main ones being people afro-Asian backgrounds1. I wish I could write more about my life here. But it’s something that you really need to have a first-hand experience to know what I am talking about. Hopefully I will see you in Westford next May. If there is any souvenir or anything that I can get for you from here, please feel free to let me know. Khuda Hafiz (goodbye)8 XYZ Bibliography: 1. The World Fact Book - 2. Water Online- 3. Microsoft Encarta Reference Suite 99- Virtual Globe 4. Microsoft Encarta Reference Suite 99- Encarta Encyclopedia 5. Arabic News. Com- 6. National Geographic- October 1987 7. Saudi Arabia Consular Information Sheet- 8. Speak Arabic- the easy way (Nadeem Publications) 9. Excite Travel- 10. Culture website - 11. Retail price of Mineral water in SA-

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Wild Turkey

The wild turkey, the largest game bird in North America, is related to pheasants, quail, and grouse. It is found throughout the United States, except for Alaska, and in parts of Canada and Mexico. There are five recognized sub-species, which vary slightly, in color and size. The male wild turkey, called the tom or the gobbler, is a large robust bird weighing upt o 30 pounds and standing as high as four feet tall. His body color is brownish black with a metallic, iridescent sheen. The head and neck, nearly bald, vary from white to blue to red. Bright red, fleshy bumps, called carnucles, droop from the front and sides of the neck, and a fleshy flap of skin, called a dewlap, is attached to the throat and neck. A fingerlike protrusion called a snood hangs over the front of the beak. When the tom is alert, the snood constricts and projects vertically as a fleshy bump at the top rear of the beak. A clump of long, coarse hairs, called a beard, protrudesfrom the front of the tom's breast and may grow as long as 12 inches on older birds. Each leg has a spur on it; these spurs are small and rounded on young birds; long, pointed and usually very sharp on older birds. The male is called a gobbler for a good reason:his rattling, deep-toned call is one of the most recognizable sounds in all of nature. At mating time, toms gobble with full-volume gusto, attempting to attract hens for breeding. Adult males display for hens by fanning their tail feathers, puffing up their body feathers and dragging their wings as they strut. Their heads and neck turn bright red during breeding season or when the tom is otherwise excited. Adult females, or hens, are considerably smaller than toms, rarely weighing more than 10 to 12 pounds. Their overall body color is duller than themale's and lacks his metallic, iridescent sheen. The hen's head and neck are usually blue-grey color and sparsely covered with small, dark feathers. Caruncles are sometimes present, but smaller than those on toms. Some hens grow small beards and spurs. Although they dont gobble, hens make a variety of cluck, purr, cutt and yelp sounds. Dominant hens may assert thenselves with a display resembling that of a male, though they do not strut. Juvenile birds mature quickly. By their fifth month, the juvenile male(jake) and juvenile female(jenny) closely resemble adult birds. However, juveniles have dark legs, which turn pink as the birds age. Jakes make feeble gobbles, higher pitch than the calls of mature toms. Their beards are shorter in length and usually have amber colored tips. With its powerful legs, the wild turkey is and exceptional runner, and has been clocked at speeds up to 12 mph. Although strong short- distance flier, turkeys usually run when threatened. When necessary for escape, turkeys launch thenselves with a standing leap or a running start to accelerateto 35 mph in a matter of seconds. They cannot remain in the air for more than a few hundred yards, but can glide for half a mile or more when coasting down from a ridge. Regardless of region, wild turkeys require three elements if they are to survive, water, trees, and open grassy areas, Turkeys may be found in areas where one or more of these elements is in short supply, but the population is unlikly to flourish. Throughout most of their range

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Where Have They Gone?

For many reasons the human race could be called a blessing. Great advanced in technology, medicine and even the fact we are the most sophisticated species on the planet. Are we a gift to planet Earth, or far from it? With cast amounts of pollution and destruction of the planet, not to mention unthinkable acts of violence and hate that has been going on since the beginning of time. Are we really as sophisticated and important as we have led ourselves to believe? Are we any better than any other creature because we are more technologically advanced? Is the human race a blessing? Humans have destroyed and endangered more species on our planet than any other species or group, with our continuous pollution and lack of respect for out own environment. One area of the world affected by our careless habits is our coastlines and the marine habitats that vast amounts of species rely on. These particular areas of the world are being destroyed because humans don’t seem to care as long as they make a couple of dollars in the process. Oil spills like the one in the Prince William Sound on the coast of Alaska and Hawaiian sea turtles and their many troubles with humans are just some examples of human carelessness and the consequences that the environment, particularly marine wildlife incur, which often are fatal. I chose this particular subject because I find the ocean and it’s unique and rare inhabitants to be interesting. Every coastline has its one unique species and no two areas are the same. I wanted to learn more about how humans are destroying the habitats of these unique creatures. I found that all species are in someway being threatened by human dominance and carelessness. From the common flounder or sea star you can find when you walk across the beach to a rare fish like the coelacanth (prehistoric fish that was believed to be extinct until one was caught off the coat of Madagascar by a local commercial fisherman until in the 1950’s). The ocean can be a calm and loving but can easily turn into a vicious killer within seconds. All of these things are what I find so interesting about the ocean. I wanted to find out why people can continue to destroy it even though they know the effect of their actions. I guess some people are ignorant and just don’t care if they destroy the things that make our environment so beautiful. One example of our careless destruction of our environment is the Exxon Valdez oil spill off the coast of Alaska in 1989. The Prince William Sound still shows signs of the oil spill tem years later. Most species have recovered since the spill, but many are still suffering. The Harbor Seal and herring are just two who are vital to the survival of all the species in the area. Herring are the main source of food for many species in the area, including humans. (Mitchell, p.98) “The ecosystem is gradually recovering from the spill,” says Molly McCammon, an Executive director of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, “but it will never be the same as it was twenty years ago.” The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council was founded to oversee the use of nine hundred million dollars to the area by the government after settling with the Exxon Company for one billion dollars in criminal and civil damages. One serious problem in the aftermath of Exxon Valdez is the decline of herring. (The table shows the chave in populations of Prince William Sound before and after the Exxon Valdez spill.) Even more disturbing than the fact herring aren’t recovering as well as other species like them is the fact they were on the decline before the accident. This was a major issue because herring are the center of the ecosystem in the Sound. Many biologists now believe that over fishing of the herring has contributed to their decline. The Pacific Herring is just one species of the area, but if you see how important that one species is to the ecosystem of the Alaskan coast than you begin to see how important all species are to their particular habitats. This is just one example, but if you take a species out of its environment, then a chain reaction would occur, hurting the species around it. Another species that biologists are beginning to study wit the money received from the Exxon Valdez settlement is the Alaskan Salmon. The oil spill has left the Alaskan Salmon on the decline until recently, but still the species is reeling. “The last two years have been extremely positive for the Alaskan Salmon population,” stated one Alaskan biologists. But her concerns were more focused on the salmon offspring, which had been effected by the spill. Fry, as seen in the left vial, were damaged by the oil. The fry still come in contact with oil when oil pockets seep into some intertidal spawning streams. “These pockets are like mines,” says Jeffrey Short, a scientist with the National Marine Fisheries Service. Scientist discovered the oil caused genetic defects in salmon. Many species in the Prince William Sound are still recovering from the spill. This is just one spill and you can see the devastation it has made upon its ecosystem. This has been called one of the worst oil spills in history. But you can imagine there has been numerous spills that are almost as areas might never fully recover from the spill on their ecosystem. The devastation of an oil spill is just one of many causes of marine destruction that humans are guilty of. Many other species suffer from damaged habitats. Another example of humans destroying their environment and the unique species that live there is Hawaiian Sea turtles. The turtles are becoming endangered because of loss of habitat. The overwhelming presence of humans in the turtle’s habitat is making is harder for turtles to find areas where they can lay their eggs. The loss of nesting sites if hurting the reproduction of sea turtles because unpopulated beaches are becoming harder to find. Sea turtles have an affinity for certain beaches and when they cannot lay their eggs there they have to find new areas which can take time. Other reasons why the turtles are being threatened are pollution of the ocean and netting. Pollution in the form of debris is killing turtles. They can ingest the plastic debris and it makes it hard to get the nourishment needed from the food they eat. Netting is another killer of turtles. Fishing nets set out by commercial fisherman are a definite killer of sea turtles in the Hawaiian Islands. ( Erosion of beaches also hurts the sea turtle population. The lack of beach force turtles to lay their eggs in a smaller area. When humans try to stop or reduce erosion it disturbs the turtles even more. Sea walls, canals, jetties, and sandbagging are all things that are used by humans to stop erosion, but they are hurting the turtles more than they are helping them. They need dry land in order to lay their eggs and these structures are deducing land even further. Fibropapilloma Tumors are a serious threat and are beginning to show up on turtles in Hawaii and other areas with large numbers of sea turtles. They were first seen in turtles around 1930, but it wasn’t until 1980 that the tumors began to show up in epidemic proportions. The green turtles were the only known species to have the tumors, but it has recently been discovered in other turtle species. The most effected areas of the world are Hawaii, Florida, and Australia. ( All of these threats to turtle population are hurting their hopes of survival. But people out to help the sea turtles such as Denise Parker who works with a marine turtle program in Honolulu, Hawaii, have worked hard and the population of marine sea turtles has actually been on the rise in recent years. The turtle’s population is coming up from endangered and threatened to a safe number, but that isn’t far enough for many who care about the turtles. They continue to help increase the population because they know they would begin to decline again if they didn’t have any help. Many groups such as the Marine Turtles Research Program and the National Marine Fisheries Service are helping to restore the turtles in Hawaii. There are also many individuals whose work with the sea turtles have helped in preserving them and their natural environment. One of these people is Ken Nichols. Nichols is a supporter of turtles and he is trying to make the people aware of the environment in the Hawaiian Islands. He feels that the most important thing we can do is conserve the wilderness and beaches from expansion. We need to educate people about the turtles especially children. When asked about how we can save the environment and the habitat of turtles as well as other species Nichols said, “This is obviously a difficult task as the human population continues to grow, which means we are constantly expanding into wild areas which support bio-diversity of all types. I believe the greatest task is education of children and more efficient use of the existing areas we are using.” These two ideas, are good examples of how the human race destroys the environment around them. We continue to hurt our wildlife, but there are people out there to fight against the pollution and destruction caused by large corporations and businesses. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 has helped tremendously in the battle for survival of species like the turtles in Hawaii as well as other threatened and endangered species of out planet. ( This act prohibits the further destruction or death of the species. By the Endangered Species Act, citizens of the United States are prohibited from taking an endangered or threatened species, declared by the U.S. Fish and Wilidlife Service, from its environment whether on United States’ soil or in its waters. Punishment if caught breaking the lwas instead in this act are as follows; 25,000 dollars if caught violating the rules listed above, 12,000 forknowingly participating in the importing or exporting of such species. Any person who otherwise violates any provision of this Act, or any regulation, permit, or certificate issued hereunder, may be assessed a civil penalty by the Secretary of not more than $500 for each such violation. ( Although this act is a great step towards the restoration of threatened and endangered species many feel the act isn’t worth the money. A proposed amendment to the Endangered Species Act threatened many aspects of the project. The proposed “amendment” was an attempt to undermine the project of funding and political support. The amendment to section 403 of the Endangered Species Act would literally wipe out many of the endangered species protected by this bill. “The sea turtles of Hawaii wouldn’t stand a chance if the amendment would have passed,” said supporters of the Endangered Species Act and endangered species around the world, “We can’t just let them take back what we have worked so hard for.” Shrimp nets alone kill 55,000 turtles a year in the Hawaiian Islands. ( If the Endangered Species Act is undermined where will these endangered species turn? Some senators who support the amendments to undermine the act are back in congress for a second term and many feel the amendments to the Endangered Species Act will be brought up again and re-voted. (http://www, Senator Slade Gorton was one supporter of the bill to undermine the Endangered Species Act. Are these accusations of inhumanity and lack of care for nature completely true about Senator Gorton? On Senator Gorton’s web site (, he shows his compassion for nature. A letter thanking him for his help on saving trees and several streams in his home state of Washington from the Sierra club was one such article bringing up questions of whether he was so bad. Others seem to think otherwise, but it is hard to tell without actually knowing him or all his work. Many other laws and acts have been implemented to stop the decline in population of many endangered and threatened species. One it the Marine Mammal Act, which protects the many species in our oceans. The Clean Water and Clean Air acts were also adopted to help protect these endangered species from human threats. One example of how humans have hurt many different species of animals is pesticides, especially the pesticide DDT, which was used in World War II to keep insects away from soldiers. After the war, the pesticide was brought back to the United States and used very carelessly. DDT seeped into the streams and contaminated almost every species that ate fish or other animals that had been infected with DDT. From the contaminated fish the pesticide went up the food chain and began killing off the bald eagles. After the substance DDT was nationally banned in 1973 the bald eagle has begun to make a comeback like most of the other species affected by our carelessness. (Discovery, “The Bald Eagle”). Just because the Bald Eagle is the symbol of our country does that mean we have more of an obligation to protect it than the sea turtles? Hopefully we will be able to stop the amendments one more time, but if they are made what will happen to the animals that depend on it? We have the obligations to protect these animals. We have placed them in this situation and it is our fault many of these species are endangered today. We cannot continue to let them slip away if we can do something about it. Many organizations are trying to keep these laws in place. Others who feel that our money should go to more worthy causes, even though we personally are responsible for the decline in many species. I think we need to support the laws that are in effect as of right now and try to get better funding for the organizations that are already in place. We don’t need new laws, we need to support and help fund the ones we already have. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is one of the big organizations that helps protect the endangered species as well as helping to educate and fund other small organizations that can do their part as well. It may not be easy to get funding for programs like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but we can achieve this goal if we work hard. A good example of how we can help to preserve our endangered wildlife is we can implement a tax that will provide money to these programs. We can add a tax to companies who contribute to the destruction of our environment. For example, if a company produces pollution they should be forced to pay a tax. We can place a standard tax for all companies and corporations who do this or we can base the amount owed by the amount of pollution or amount of destruction caused by the corporation on the environment. For companies that we are unable to tell how much exactly contribute to the destruction of the environment, we can require a base sum. A starting base sum could be five hundred dollars a year for all the companies who contribute to the destroying of the Earth. We can assemble a committee of U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents to assess the amount of pollution a company produces and then a fitting cost for that pollution. It might take a little while to put this proposal into effect. If we anticipated the slow advancement of passing the law in congress it would take six or seven years to implement this law. It wouldn’t take a lot of money, but definitely some money would be required. It would take several thousand to advertise if it wasn’t donated by a company who felt strongly about the issue at hand. I would think an estimate of about $500,00-60,000 dollars would easily cover the expenses of advertising, salaries for workers and any other expenses. Donations and fundraisers would be used to accumulate enough money to get the support of the people. When I discussed my proposal with my friend, she felt that it was a good idea and that the organizations like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service need the money to study and set up programs to save endangered species and these programs need money. She felt it would be hard to get the bill passed because congressmen have ties with big corporations that pollute and they wouldn’t have to pay fees. So most likely the proposal would be stopped. Although she didn’t see the bill being passed she said that if we accumulate enough money to advertise and get the support of the people, congressmen would be forced to vote for the bill or they might not be reelected. If she has strong feelings about this subject, I’m sure the majority of this society is concerned about the environment and about our future. We need to try and get funds for programs and organizations that help endangered and threatened species. Many organizations rely on donations and money from supporters. We need to find ways to get more money for these programs and the proposal of taxes on companies who pollute is just one possibility. Everyone contributes to the destruction of the environment and we all have to do our part to help the species we are killing off. Species like the Pacific Salmon, who were threatened by the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989. As well as other species like the sea turtles in Hawaii who were on the verge of extinction until a recent turn around because of help from organizations and individuals. Individuals who take the burden upon their shoulders and make it their business to make up for all the people who could care less what happens to their environment. We need to protect our environment form the people who seek to destroy it for money and success. I think the beauty of the ocean is worth saving. Every creature and every unique species is a creature worth saving. We don’t have the right to kill those who aren’t as smart or sophisticated as us. They have just as mush right to the Earth as we do. We don’t have the right to over fish herring in Alaska or cut down all the trees in rain forests just for money and the profit these resources create. Bibliography1. 2. Interview with Ken Nichols, a known marine sea turtle activists and protector of environment of the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. 3.

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