Council circle

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Magnetic image of a prehistoric Great Bend aspect council circle

A council circle is a distinctive feature at the center of some tribal communities in North America. The historical function of the council circles is debated. Some[who?] suggest that the talking circles are ceremonial, and others support a hypothesis that they were places for political discussion that suggest aboriginal democracy.

In current use, the council circle is often synonymous with the talking circle, and is a means of group communication that promotes input from all the members. The practice has been adopted by people of many cultures. A talking stick, or other significant or impromptu object, is passed around the circle, and only the circle member holding the stick is allowed to speak, though he or she may allow others to interject.

Talking sticks in the context of the council circle may have been used pre-historically by indigenous peoples to create egalitarian forums.[citation needed] Photographs show that some talking sticks were very tall, suggesting that circle participants would have stood when speaking.[1]

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  1. ^ For example, see the photograph by Edward Curtis on page 103 of: Shearar, Cheryl (2000). Understanding Northwest coast art: a guide to crests, beings, and symbols. Vancouver, BC; Seattle: Douglas & McIntyre; University of Washington Press. p. 103. ISBN 0295979739. OCLC 43607269.

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