Vulture and Condor Bringing Seeds: Relationships Embodied Through Oral Traditions in Costa Rica and the Andean Altiplano

Date and Time: 
Friday, 12 May, 2017 - 09:00
, Nicole - Sally Glean Center

Biologists have long recognized the importance of birds for pollination and distributing seeds, but the connections between birds and plants are broader and deeper than what scientists have observed. For indigenous peoples of Latin America birds not only contribute to plant growth through pollination and seed dispersal but also assist through underlying spiritual relationships. Examples from Costa Rica and the Andes illustrate how birds such as vultures and condors that outsiders do not associate with plants are perceived as carrying seeds, protecting tubers, and enabling plants to grow. For these societies, the key cultural boundaries that define the world into separate categories are not simply animal, plant and stone. Rather, the meaningful categories express spiritual relationships that go beyond physical form to incorporate ritual alignments and kinship ties based on reciprocal rights and obligations.  Vulture, Condor and even Fox participate in activities that benefit plants, people, and other beings.