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ERIC Number: EJ856285
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 17
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0161-6463
How Elders Guided the Evolution of the Modern Human Brain, Social Behavior, and Culture
Coe, Kathryn; Palmer, Craig T.
American Indian Culture and Research Journal, v33 n3 p5-21 2009
In this article the authors revisit the earlier studies of the role and importance of elders and pursue various lines of evidence--biological, archaeological, and cross-cultural/ethnographic--to build the fundamental argument that elders and the knowledge they have acquired from their ancestors, through social learning, have played a key role in the evolution of social species. They will argue that among humans, who are among the most social of all species, elders have played a crucial role. This was certainly true in American Indian societies, where elders were held to be of particular importance. As definitions are the heart of all scientific endeavors, they begin this article by providing definitions for crucial terms--"culture" and "tradition", "hierarchy" and "influence". Then they review the cross-species, biological, archaeological, and cross-cultural/ethnographic records to support our claim that elders did play an important role and outline the ways that elders were important. This article ends with a discussion of elders, traditions, and the issues that underlie a diminishing of elder importance and influence. (Contains 78 notes.)
American Indian Studies Center at UCLA. 3220 Campbell Hall, Box 951548, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1548. Tel: 310-825-7315; Fax: 310-206-7060; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A