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Ainu: Spirit of a northern people

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Ryohei O.
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  1. Introduction.
    1. Modern history.
    2. An attempt to bring together what information is available on the Ainu.
  2. The theories on Ainu origins.
  3. The Jomon culture.
    1. Entry of the Okhotsk, emigrants of Southern Sakhalin Island.
    2. A parallel between the history of the Americas and Ezo.
  4. The history of the Ainu.
    1. The presence of the Japanese in Ezo.
    2. The Kakizaki clan.
    3. The warfare between the Japanese people and the Ainu.
  5. John Thornton's book Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400 - 1800.
  6. The European exploration of the Atlantic.
  7. The Native Americans - according to Frederickson.
  8. Conclusion - The plight of the Ainu.

Modern history: that is pretty simple. It is the origins that really trip people up. Perhaps it is the lack of an ancient system of record keeping; perhaps records that existed were destroyed in natural disasters. For all historians know, natural disasters could have wiped out ancient historians just as they were about to sit down to chronicle the events of their time. Regardless, the result is the same: no written chronicle exists dating back to the origins of man (hence the term, prehistoric). To this end, historians have little recourse but to piece together what we can of past events, in the (perhaps futile) attempt to truly find out just who our ancestors really were. This essay is an examination of one such mysterious population: the Ainu. Referred to often as Japanese Aborigines, or as Japan's indigenous people, there is a dearth of information on the Ainu, the result of which is widespread ignorance of this people, its culture, and its history. Much of the information available is limited only to those well versed in Japanese or frequent museum visitors.

[...] An incipient form of the Ainu ?iyomante? ritual, where the spirit of a bear was sent to heaven, has been evidenced in the Satsumon. Furthermore, the depiction of the modern Ainu physical type seems to emerge from between that date to possibly as early as a century prior. The ethnography and the artistic portrayals of the Ainu from that era are consistent with the modern Ainu. None of this can be taken conclusively, however. To draw a parallel between the history of the Americas and Ezo, the first arrival of man has been commonly attributed to a land-bridge theory. [...]


[...] always an expression of culture, often a determinant of cultural forms, in some societies the culture itself? (pg. 12). I wish to use Thornton's work and Frederickson's work to compare and contrast the history of the Ainu and that of the European slave trade, while also discussing the claims that Keegan suggests. All of this goes to show that while the story of the Ainu is unique, it does have parallels with the stories of other cultures. Before bringing analysis to the history of the Ainu, I will first attempt to bring together the various theories on Ainu origins into one cohesive idea. [...]


[...] In short, this myth suggests that the Japanese islands were born of gods, as were the Japanese people themselves. This cultural ideology affected the manner in which they interacted (or in most cases, did not interact) with other countries. Another idea that Keegan espouses is that warfare is . often a determinant of cultural forms.? Hardly can one find a clearer example of Keegan's idea than in the form of cultural genocide. It is unclear whether Keegan means to say that warfare is a cultural determinant in the victor or in the defeated, but one could presumably make a case for both. [...]

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