The imposition of Euro-American orders of time has had a major impact on indigenous North American peoples throughout the history of contact. To demonstrate that impact, this article examines some of the complex ways in which multiple types and levels of time have reshaped Northern Arapaho society from the late eighteenth century to the present as well as how Arapaho people have actively adapted to contact-induced changes in time throughout that period. Investigated are directly and indirectly imposed changes in interactional, daily, seasonal, life-historical, historical, and long-durational levels of time as well as, at a higher level of analysis, the divergent and often contradictory ways in which Arapahos and Euro-Americans have constructed and interrelated those dimensions. Such a history of time is revealed to be essential for a fuller understanding of past and present changes in cultural identity, social space, communication, social relations, decision making, policy, and many other aspects of Arapaho life. While this study does not purport to be comprehensive for the context at hand, it does aim to open suggestive paths for ethnohistorical investigations of time as a historical reality. The analysis thus offers possibilities for transcending past or prevailing approaches that have tended to reduce analysis to (1) one type of time, such as experiential durational time in the work of Alfred Gell (1992), considered to be empirical, universal, and singular, when in fact it is none of those things; (2) in ethnohistory especially, chronological time disconnected from other types and dimensions of time; (3) one type of time in cultural contact, such as clock time or work-discipline, to the exclusion of others; or (4) simple binaries of cultural difference (e.g., linear versus cyclical) without concern for the complex and various shapes of time on either side of and in the intercultural encounter between Euro-Americans and indigenous peoples.
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Jeffrey D. Anderson; The History of Time in the Northern Arapaho Tribe. Ethnohistory 1 April 2011; 58 (2): 229–261. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00141801-1163028
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