American Anthropologist 1929
Beyer, Hermann. The Supposed Maya Hieroglyph of the Screech-Owl. American Anthropologist January-March, 1929 Vol. 31: 34-59.
Hermann Beyer’s article discusses interpretation of the Maya hieroglyph of the screech owl. He questions the validity of the rendition made by leading authorities in Maya archaeology and zoology. Beyer has a vast knowledge of Mayan hieroglyphics, and that is exactly what he uses as the premise of his argument. Beyer believes that there are many parts of the hieroglyph that if analyzed, will show you that the hieroglyph is not that of the screech owl, but that of a dog. That is the next part of his approach. He breaks down the hieroglyph being investigated into the most essential parts, and then compares it’s characteristics with those of other common hieroglyphs. The parts that he analyzes most intricately are the eyes, the eye lines, the mouth, the back, the use of light and dark spots, and the shape of the head.
In his research on the hieroglyph of the screech owl, Beyer discovers that the hieroglyph incorporates the junction of two elementary parts, the animal’s head and the posterior that contains the sign “Ek”(black). The figure Ek is so commonly used in many other hieroglyphs, and in these other glyphs, it always depicts death. Advocates of the screech owl glyph argue that the Ek element is not present in the glyph of the screech owl. This argument is obviously illogical when you compare the Ek part of the screech owl glyph to all other glyphs containing Ek. One will find that the characteristics are so similar that there can be no dispute. Beyer believes that for a hieroglyph representing death, the owl would be a suitable object, so the Ek element cannot be used completely as the basis of his belief.
Next, Beyer analyzes the head of the hieroglyph. Though analogous to a bird, when compared to common hieroglyphs like the jaguar and the deer, it can be seen that the mouth resembles a mammal far more than the beak of a bird. Also, Beyer examines glyphs with the same anterior but different posterior. Therefore, they do not contain the Ek component. He easily finds that all glyphs containing the same anterior, or head portion, as the supposed screech owl glyph are actually dogs, coyotes, or a type of fox. He excuses any type of minor discrepancies as the hieroglyph artist’s “esthetic motives.” The hieroglyphs of the spotted dog and white dog both include the same use of dark and light spots and arch lines as the screech owl glyph. Also, the screech owl glyph was commonly interpreted as both fire and death, and that is exactly what the spotted and white dog represents. With this in mind Beyer adds the Ek, ”black” component, and gives the screech owl hieroglyph the new name, the dog-black glyph. After investigating dog-black’s place in more compound hieroglyphs, Beyer furthers his justification that the screech owl is actually supposed to be a dark dog.
CLARITY RANKING: 3
BRYAN HASSELL SAN DIEGO MESA COLLEGE (Denise Couch)
Beyer, Hermann. The Supposed Maya Hieroglyph of the Scrrch-Owl. American Anthropologist, 1929 Vol. 31: 34-55.
This article by Hermann Beyer is about a hieroglyph, which has been interpreted and accepted by many Maya archaeologists and zoologists as a screech owl. Beyer submits that this is an incorrect assessment and the hieroglyph is instead the head of a dog. He uses descriptions of intricate detail in an attempt to prove his theory. Beyer attempts to prove his theory with the aid of hieroglyphic drawings located at the end of the article. He takes the reader into detailed descriptions comparing and contrasting many versions of the “screech owl” with known hieroglyphs of dogs, coyotes and deer. Although the screech owl hieroglyph visually looks like an owl or other beaked animal, Beyer asserts that the individual components which make-up the complete composition represent a dog. He proceeds to dissect each part the hieroglyph, then compares each part to those of a known mammal hieroglyph to prove his theory. His conclusions are such that the beak of the “owl” instead represents the mouth of a mammal. The reader is compelled to refer to the provided illustrations in order to understand Beyers assessment. His argument is based upon minute similarities between mammal hieroglyphs and the “owl” hieroglyph.
Although he does draw attention to small similarities he does not offer significant data to prove his theory. Additionally much of his ideology is based upon conjecture: why did the scribes, producing the screech owl hieroglyphs, produce them with so many variations in appearance? He offers an explanation based simply upon a guess; the scribes were either lazy or were victim to limited space to complete their illustrations.
CLARITY RANKING: 2
HEATHER I. BURR San Diego Mesa College (Denise Couch)
Beyer, Hermann. The Supposed Maya Hieroglyph of the Screech Owl. American Anthropologist January-March 1929 Vol. 31(1):34-55.
The Maya hieroglyph, traditionally known as the screech owl, is analyzed in order to bring about a new theory. Rather than representing a screech owl, some Mayantologist know believe the glyph is a combination of an animal’s head and the sign for black. Many different variants of this glyph are discussed to further support the argument. When different versions are analyzed they are generally broken down into two parts; the upper and lower portion of the sign. Some versions of the glyph include the signs for items such as the head of a dead man, the day sign, the death god, and human heads with fleshless lower jaws. Other significant symbols were also discussed such as the relevance and reasons some glyphs have darker outlines, as well as dark beads, which surround several forms.
Artistic conventions and the need to streamline the writing process are two topics that are considered the reason for the evolution of the glyph. The qualities of the lines, which composed the glyphs, and how the forms of these lines changed over time, may give insight into the Mayan religion. It is suggested that the glyph is related to the sacrificing of animals to please the gods. The form of the glyph as it is found in different Maya documents may represent a white dog, which has important connotations in Mayan mythology. Regional variation of the glyph suggests that it may have different symbolic value in different parts of the Maya world.
CLARITY RANKING: 3
STEPHEN JUNEAU Illinois State University (Robert Dirks)
Bogoras, W. G. Elements of the Culture of the Circumpolar Zone. American Anthropologist July – September, 1929 Vol. 31(4): 579-601.
In this article Bogoras sets out to prove that a given culture’s environment is the chief element responsible for the formation of that culture, in terms of the material, spiritual and social culture. Since the circumpolar zone is almost entirely uniform in its characteristics, from the Bering Straight to North Cape and Greenland, he argues that the culture within this zone is “more or less uniform.” Since the environment is so fundamentally important to the formation and sustainment of culture, more than half of the article is devoted to describing the area in great detail. His presentation of the environment within which circumpolar peoples live is divided into five groups: cosmographical, referring to the position of the Arctic on the earth and thus its constantly shifting daylight hours; meteorological, illustrating the extremes in temperature and weather; geological, describing the remarkable array of geomorphology in the area; floral, outlining the limited variety of plant life in such a harsh environment; and finally fauna, which is further categorized into sea game (mammals and fishes), then land animals (both wild and domesticated), and lastly, birds. He is also very careful to note that one should not consider this Northern Culture primitive, as a higher level of intelligence is needed to sustain life (the realization that food must be stored and preserved, for example) than is the case with tropical tribes like the Botocudo and the Bushmen.
Lastly, though many articles from this period are based on diffusionist ideas, he only briefly mentions diffusionism at the end of the article and only for a couple of pages. This indicates that Bogoras places more value on the importance of a people’s surroundings than the diffusion of ideas, though it is still important enough to receive mention. However, he gives an interesting spin on the idea of diffusionism as he insists that ideas have diffused between indigenous cultures in both South to North and North to South directions. He then closes the article with the affectionate statement that the indigenous peoples are the real treasures of the Far North, not the bountiful natural resources, as this hardy folk have endured and thrived where few could, bringing a human element to such a barren and difficult land.
CLARITY RANKING: 3
PANAGIOTA PENNY DAFLOS University of British Columbia (John Barker)
Braidwood, Robert J. Symposium: Did Man Once Live By Beer Alone? American Anthropologist 1929 Vol. 28: 515-526.
This article begins with a query by Braidwood, in which he asks whether the domestication of wild cereals was motivated by the production of bread or beer. The main crux of the question that is debated by the panel of experts is whether beer or bread was produced and eaten first.
The first expert featured in the symposium is Jonathan D. Sauer, who cites evidence of barley and wheat in these early fields, and as the two ingredients made in beer, it suggests that beer came before bread. Next Hans Helbaek says bread came first based on evidence that shows that the knowledge and tools were not available at the time to make beer. Paul C. Mangelsdorf also believes bread was produced before beer, as humans couldn’t have survived on just beer and meat. Carleton Coon cites ethnological evidence that shows beer came after bread, while Ralph Linton and Julian Steward take an intermediary position. A. Leo Oppenheim does not offer an opinion, but suggests that only an interdisciplinary approach between assyriologists and anthropologists will solve this mystery.
Braidwood concludes the symposium with a rejoinder. He summarizes the contributions of the individuals, pointing out that according to Mangelsdorf and Halbaek there was no evidence of germination found at Jarmo, the main site discussed here. Consequently, bread was probably produced before beer. Most of the respondents, Braidwood says, agreed that the original use of cereal was for gruel, which would explain the ovens found at Jarmo. In addition, the possibility of pre-gruel popping, another theory Braidwood feels comfortable with, would explain the carbonation found at Jarmo, which has been attributed to brewing beer. Despite the variety of ideas expressed throughout the symposium, Braidwood seems to come to a conclusion based on the input of the experts.
KATHLEEN CARR Columbia University (Paige West).
De Angulo, Jaime and L. S. Freeland. A New Religious Movement In North-Central California. American Anthropologist 1929 Vol.31:265-270
In this article, Angulo and Freeland documented the rise of a new religious movement among the Native Americans of the rancherías around Clear Lake, California. The new religion was characterized by new doctors who contrasted sharply with the traditional medicine-men. While the medicine-men drew their power from the brush, the new doctors acquired their power from smoking Chesterfield cigarettes.
The new doctors’ role was not only to heal, but also to espouse moral codes, which included: no gambling, no swearing, no lying to other Native Americans, no stealing from other Native Americans, no quarrelling with other Native Americans, and no drinking. Angulo and Freeland noted that the new doctors were most zealous about Native Americans not drinking, and indeed the drinking had stopped at the rancherías with the new religion.
Angulo and Freeland likened the new religious movement to all “slaves’ religions” in that it manifested the subjugated peoples’ inferiority complex through a strict moral code. The purpose of the strict moral code was to make the dominated group feel superior to the dominant group. However, the authors noted that despite the common features of the religion and “slaves’ religions,” the religion was thoroughly Native American. By ‘thoroughly Native American’ Angulo and Freeland meant that the religion drew from the Native American mystical sense and incorporated individual revelations and the individual search for “mana.”
While the new religion did draw on many Native American beliefs, it certainly contrasted with the practices of the traditional doctors. However, as Angulo and Freeland pointed out, there was no conflict between the new and the old-time religions. A series of old-time dances that brought together the Native American community demonstrated this harmony between the two religions. During two intermissions between the old-time dances, new doctors practiced the new religion without any conflict. There appeared to be no feeling that the old and new religions were incompatible.
Angulo and Freeland concluded their article by predicting that the religion would probably not spread to over the mountains of the Coast Range due to the limited contact between the two regions, but would spread to the Pacific Ocean due to the uninterrupted contact in this direction.
TALI SWANN-STERNBERG Barnard College (Paige West)
De Angulo, Jaime and L. S. Freeland. A New Religious Movement in North-Central California. American Anthropologist April-June, 1929 Vol. 31(2): 265-270.
In this article, De Angulo and Freeland discuss the initiation of a new religious movement amongst the Indians in several rancherias around Clear Lake, California and the chance of the new religion spreading to other rancherias throughout the United States, in an attempt to produce the first written anthropological record of such an event. The authors describe the development of the new Indian religion and the authentic practices that it encompasses. The authors suggest that the appearance of “new doctors” with novel methods of healing, which are inconsistent with those practiced by the true shaman of older religions, in the northern region of California appears to have commenced the new movement. Since the participation of doctors in Indian religions is vital, the techniques that are executed by the “new doctors” are described extensively. An essential part of their methodology is the acquisition of healing power through the smoking of Chesterfield cigarettes. The medicine-men then apply a routine, mystical procedure with a demeanor that is of “inspired receuillement.” These new doctors are also considered to be reformers as they preach new morals that include: no drinking, no gambling, no swearing, no lying to other Indians, no stealing from other Indians, and no quarreling with other Indians, which were all common in Indian life. The founder of the movement is believed to be a medicine-man named Albert Thomas and the movement converted all the Indians of Lower Lake rancheria and Sulphur Bank rancheria, as well as half of the Upper Lake rancheria and Lakeport. Thus, the movement incorporated an alteration of medical practices and the introduction of new moral codes that many Indians in this region adhered to.
De Angulo and Freeland conclude that the religious movement was partially attributed to the Indians desire to be “as good as the whites,” and their overall quest to create a moral code that enabled them to feel superior to others. Yet, the movement can still be considered to be Indian as it is consistent with Indian beliefs and customs regarding mystical power, revelations, and the search for “mana.” The new religion did not conflict with any old time religion and thus lacked any rivalry or animosity from old doctors. It is also noted that in this northern region, despite its proximity to San Francisco, Indian dances were maintained as a part of their cultural practices for they contributed to the “persistence of the old-time Indian spirit in full strength.” Yet, due to the contempt of the idea of new doctoring by other Indian rancherias it is doubtful that the new dispensation would travel east. This descriptive account on the development of a new religion can be considered a valuable contribution to the anthropological record for the authors produced written documentation regarding the beginnings of a modern Indian religion, which was an event that was never previously recorded.
GEMMA FERGUSON Barnard College (Paige West)
De Angulo, Jaime. A Tfalati Dance-Song in Parts. American Anthropologist July-September, 1929 Vol. 31 (3): 496-498.
This two-page article provides a brief description of a Tfalati dance-song. Tfalati is a dialect of Kalapuya formerly spoken by a tribe in the vicinity of Portland, Oregon. The author’s informant, the last remaining Tfalati speaker, was able to recall several songs he heard as a child. The song described in the article consists of four parts, two for women’s voices and two for men’s voices. Each of the four parts were recorded separately into a phonograph, though they are meant to be sung at the same time. Both the two women’s parts and the two men’s parts are the same except for two notes. The men’s parts are sung an octave below the women’s parts. A tonal diagram accompanies the written description of the song. De Angulo suggests that this type of parts singing may represent the beginning of harmony. Although his informant insists that the song is centuries old, De Angulo proposes that this “singing in parts” could also represent the influence of white music. There is disagreement among the “Indians” as to whether or not this type of singing came with the Europeans or existed pre-contact. De Angulo points out that he has never heard true part-singing among the Indians, where each voice sings a different note throughout most of the melody. At the end of the article De Angulo provides a short description of the dance that accompanies the song.
This short, simple article is easy to read and raises some interesting questions about the influence of European music on the singing styles of the American Indians.
CLARITY RANKING: 5
CAROLYN SAUNDERS University of British Columbia, Vancouver (John Barker)
De Angulo, Jaime. A Tfalati Dance-Song In Parts. American Anthropologist July-September 1929 Vol. 31(3):496-498.
A unique four-part Tfalati dance-song, from the Kalapuya tribe of Oregon, was analyzed with the help of Louis Kennoyer, the sole survivor of this tribe. All of the songs from this tribe have simple melodies, with the exception of one. This song consists of four parts with two male voices and two female voices. The females sing in the upper octave and have the main motif of the melody, while the males sing an octave lower and accompany the females. The performers dance in pairs to the melody.
This Tfalati dance-song is similar to the songs of other Indian tribes. A melody usually consists of 2-4 phrases. Sometimes one or more singers, who start singing the beginning of the song at the end of the third bar, create a “round”. According to Kennoyer, this type of singing is very old, although some people question if white men are responsible. This debate has not been resolved. The Tfalati dance-song is an excellent example of a common type of singing among the majority of Indians.
CLARITY RANKING: 4
LISA BURNS Illinois State University (Robert Dirks)
DeAngulo, Jamie & I.S Freeland. A new Religious Movement in North Central California. American Anthropologist 1929 Vol. 31:265-270
A new religion has emerged among Indians in the Pomo culture area. Historically, this areas religion has been predominately shamanistic. Traditionally, shaman have become medicine men by personal revelation. Doctors in this new religion have begun to appear through this same kind of revelation. While the old traditions are loud and vigorous, the new religion relies on slow, entrancing movements. The new religion also advocates a new moral code that eliminates drinking, gambling, swearing, lying, stealing and fighting.
Maggie and Henry Johnson, a married Indian couple from the area, started the religion. Maggie was the first doctor and cured two people who then also got the calling to become doctors. Henry rejected traditional Indian life, instead trying to fit in with the whites. He is not a doctor, but does make speeches at celebrations, where he asserts that the new religion will one day be a church.
There is no animosity toward the new religion and it does not conflict with any of the old beliefs. There even appears to be a revitalization of the old ways and dances within the community. While in other areas dances are dying out, here they are performed several times a year. This is attributed to the old time spirit, but practices in the new religion occurr during the breaks in the ceremony. It is unknown if this new religion will spread.
CLARITY RANKING: 3
ANDREA MORRIS Illinois State University (Robert Dirks)
Densmore, Frances. What intervals do Indians Sing? American Anthropology April-June, 1929. Vol.31(2):271-276.
In this article Densmore sets out to prove that the small gradations of pitch in Indian singing is not part of a musical system more complex than our own but merely chance or pitch uncertainty. Densmore also wants to demonstrate that the Indians do not have their own musical system despite the fact that the small intervals of pitch they use are not used in our musical system. Densmore argues that the Indians are unconscious about the small intervals they use in their songs and that the Indians should be able to explain it, practice it, recognize it, teach it to others, and use it frequently in their songs if they really have their own musical system. In proving his argument, Densmore uses logic and reason to disprove the idea that they have a musical system. He states hypotheses that would be true if the Indians were aware of such intervals and then disproves them with experiments. For example, one of his hypothesis was if the Indian has a musical system then they should have the ability to produce at will and with ease such small intervals and therefore should be able to recognize it when he hears them. He then disproves this hypothesis by an experiment which was to test the hearing of the Indians by sounding two forks consecutively and asking which one was higher. The results of the experiment showed that the Indians had the same abilities as an average white American and therefore proved that they could not recognize the small intervals.
Densmore uses experiments to disprove the idea that the Indians were conscious about the small intervals they were producing. Such experiments included recording an Indian song on a phonograph. This experiment disproved the hypothesis that if the Indian has a consciousness of the intervals then it can be assumed that he would use them in his songs. The experiment showed that certain intervals were rarely used. Demsmore also uses cultural observations to help prove his argument. For example, if Indians had a musical system then they should be able to explain it but this hypothesis is disproved by the fact that the Indians can’t give an explanation for the intervals. In addition they say that the old songs were “received in dreams”. Densmore organizes his data very well. Each paragraph includes a hypothesis which is later disproved by an experiment or a cultural observation.
MELISSA VERGARA Barnard College (Professor West)
Densmore, Frances. What Intervals Do Indians Sing? American Anthropologist 1929, vol. 31: 271 – 276
This article is a short but detailed study of Indian music, specifically of the interval system used in Indian songs. It has been observed that Indians produce sounds with gradations of pitch smaller than those of the western musical system. Densmore attempts to understand whether these small gradations fit into any sort of musical system, or are the chance happenings of an individual’s pitch uncertainty. She begins with a working hypothesis, assuming that the small gradations of pitch in Indian singing are part of a musical system more complex than our own. The hypothesis is challenged by the fact that the Indians cannot give any explanation for the melodic form of their songs. Densmore continues by arguing that Indian songs are composed and performed for completely different reasons than western music. They are not sung for approval, but more often for their magical strength (power to bring rain, heal the sick.., etc). Furthermore, Densmore argues that a complex musical system would naturally arise from men of logical minds, whereas Indians (she concludes) have a different type of reasoning.
The author recalls several experiments conducted on this subject. The results of one, which used a set of 11 standardized tuning forks, showed that the ear of the Indians is trained to hear sounds which the western ear does not notice, but this does not indicate that they have a superior perception of difference in the pitch of tones. Another experiment, using phonographs, showed the intonation of 1700 Indian songs to be reasonably accurate in correspondence with the diatonic scale (a standard which is most often not present in the mind of the Indian). Finally, Densmore argues that Indians find it difficult to sing a succession of tones on the same pitch, such a series showing upward and downward variations in pitch. She concludes with some insightful questions in regards to the study of Indian music. Why should the interval of a tone be offered as a basis for the measurement of pitch in Indian singing when it has been claimed that the Indian scale is composed of small intervals, she asks. If a new basis of measurement is to be introduced it should have, as its unit, the smallest interval present in Indian singing. Densmore questions the validity of the phonograph experiments, bringing to light the fact that the recordings were made without the accompaniment to which the singers were accustomed. She also asks if there is not an element of physiology in the production of exact pitch, expecially on repeated tones. Densmore makes the conclusion that the small gradations of pitch in Indian singing do not adhere to any musical system.
CLARITY RATING: 4
VALENTINA FLEER Barnard College (Paige West)
Densmore, Frances. What Intervals Do Indians Sing? American Anthropologist April-June 1929 Vol. 31(2):271-276
North American Indian music is thought to go hand in hand with Indian customs and culture. When comparing Indian music with the modern American standard of musical productions, we generally make judgments based on “customs prevailing our own race.” Some ethnologists believe indian music is “primitive” in the manner of tone production, as well as, being articulate. It is typically compared with our American standard of a musical system, in which, small intervals, i.e. difference in pitch between two musical tones, are considered “too complex” to be used in the production of Indian music. When listening to Indian songs, one might recognize small gradations of pitch, which if taken into account, might classify these features as extremely complex. Furthermore, Indian music is based upon arbitrary use and thus considered to be lacking “technical skill.” However, if Indian musicians can provide some logical explanation for their musical system, then it might be considered more complex than our own system.
Indian songs are not sung from a performer’s perspective. Customary Indian songs are sung primarily for individual use. Although there are songs associated with social events (dances), most songs are not a matter of “common knowledge.” In fact, most songs are personal, being summoned from dreams or simply described as “coming to them.” These songs are used in a magical context, providing personal benefits for individuals or they may be used in consideration for the whole tribe. Songs are typically used to “stimulate” magical powers in an attempt to bring rain, locate enemies, heal the sick or ensure good hunting practices. The Indians lack acknowledgment to the complex melodic formation of their songs. Therefore, many ethnologists claim that successful “practicing” is not prevalent in the acquisition of new songs. Indian scholars may reincorporate new songs and teach them to other members of the tribe, but this type of learning is considered different than the equivalent of practicing, which is thought to be necessary to produce “consciously and accurately,” the small intervals in a complex musical system. If Indians do have a consciousness of gradations of pitch and these happenings are not simply by chance, then a new basis of measurement must be taken into consideration to elaborate on the complexity of the American Indian musical system.
CLARITY RANKING: 4
JOSH AGUSTI Illinois State University (Robert Dirks)
Evans-Pritchard, E E. The Morphology and Function of Magic: A Comparative Study of Trobriand and Zande Rituals and Spells. American Anthropologist July – September, 1929 Vol. 31(4): 619-641.
Evans-Pritchard takes a structural-functionalist look at magic, attempting to prove that the disparity in the magical practices of the two cultures is a result of the fundamental differences between the cultures themselves. He uses specific examples from stories and magical practices to show that while the two cultures agree on certain elements (ie. magic is a cultural not natural phenomenon, distinct from the concept of mana or ancestor spirits), there are substantial differences between the two in terms of the nature of spells. For example, the Trobrianders place magical value in the exact form and recitation of the spell, while the Zande people place value on the message of the spell, rather than exact recitation, but with a strong emphasis on magical materials. This is, he insists, a result of the more public, ceremonial display of magic in the Trobriand Islands versus the more private form of magic practised by the Zande. This also fits in with his idea that magic is inherited and strictly owned by the Trobrianders, making authenticity and accuracy an issue, whereas among the Zande it is loosely owned and appropriated more by the community than specific individuals with kindred ties.
He makes a special point, however, of warning that when magic becomes too widespread among a community, new magic must be appropriated from outsiders to retain their culture’s magical potency. This is his way of saying magic is not necessarily static among the Trobrianders and certainly not static among the Zande. Thus, he shows how the morphological form the magic takes is dependent on the social structure of the people following it, though it is absolutely necessary for a mythology to exist which psychologically enables the people to unfalteringly believe in the magic.
PANAGIOTA PENNY DAFLOS University of British Columbia (John Barker)
Evans-Pritchard, E. E. The Morphology and Function of Magic. American Anthropologist Oct.-Dec. 1929 Vol. 31(4):619-641.
Evidence from Melanesia and Africa reveals the affects of social structure on the practice of magic. For example, the Zande and Trobrianders acquire and perform their magic differently. The Zande have a communal tradition of magic; they receive spells from anyone in the community, or they can buy magic. Trobriand Islanders’ pass magic through their matrilineage.
Although both cultures utilize magic for agriculture, they employ the spells and material elements differently. For the Trobriander the spell is the most important part of the ritual and should not be altered. If the spell is not recited in entirety the magic will not work. Their spells are not widely known; therefore everyone is required to attend communal ceremonies.
The Zande rely on the material element of the magic and change the spells to fit the ritual. Without the right material element the spell will not work. Magic is seen as giving men confidence as well as representing their actual achievement. For this reason new magic is created through rumors of success. Important magic is known by a few individuals and is more significant in social functions. For the most part, the Zande practice magic in private settings when only family, or a few old men are present.
STEPHANIE DALE Illinois State University (Robert Dirks)
Hall, Robert Burnett. The Société Congo of the Ile á Gonave. American Anthropologist July – September, 1929 Vol. 31(4): 685-700.
Hall gives an structural-functionalist account of the culture of the people of the Ile á Gonave, paying particular attention to the phenomenon of the Société Congo, which governs almost every function of these Haitians’ daily lives. In this land characterized by problematic karst topography, isolation and scarcity of water, the people have organized themselves into mutually beneficial agricultural cooperatives, the Société Congo. He states the purpose of these coops as being fourfold: cooperative labour groups, where there are only as many members in the society as there are working days in a month (thus letting everyone’s plot get an equal amount of labour); membership protection, for example when people go to the mainland to work in the dry season and count on society members to keep an eye on their homes; mutual benefit, where those who are unable to work are supported by the whole; and social entertainment, as the owner of the plot being worked on a given day must provide food and the night’s entertainment for the workers. However, he is also careful to admit that there is a disciplinary and religious function associated with the group as well, as is the case when someone neglects their responsibilities without adequate excuse and in the case of funeral rites or weddings, respectively. The purpose of every office and rigid rules of the society is painstakingly outlined, illustrating both Hall’s concern with the function and purpose of elements of a society, but also proving his point that this society, and the “Model de Paris” society within it, specifically, are offshoots of a model from Africa. This, he explains, is due to the fact that most (90 %) of the islanders are Black, with less than 10 % being Franco-Negro mulattos. This, he explains, has seen the subversion of the French culture, value and methods almost completely in favour of African methods common to the west coast of Africa, from whence most of the early Black islanders came.
PANAGIOTA PENNY DAFLOS University of British Columbia (John Barker)
Hambly, Wilfrid D. The Serpent in African Belief and Custom. American Anthropologist July – September, 1929 Vol. 31(4): 655-666.
In this article, Hambly examines the diffusionist nature of serpent worship in Africa while grappling with the use of the term “worship” to characterize human relations with serpents. He is careful to differentiate between python worship, rainbow-guardian snakes and their association with rain, birth-snakes and fertility, snake-souls and their relation to reincarnation, transmigration and totemism and snake-medicine and general superstition.
In the explanation of these beliefs he presents examples primarily from Uganda, Nigeria and Egypt where serpent worship is thought to originate, though he makes special mention of a possible Semitic and Hamitic influence. His conclusions, however, exclude outside origins for serpent worship in favour of ancient indigenous origins. These indigenous origins are explained through migration throughout the continent, primarily East to West, which would naturally diffuse the serpent worship. He even links present-day worship to the “once-flourishing” serpent cult of the past, which presents some problems for the anthropologist today in terms of essentializing and unfairly linking cultures so temporally distant; but this is unsurprising considering his ethnocentric comments throughout the piece.
His reasons behind this assumption that people would still worship the serpent are fairly convincing, though, as he insists that the concepts of serpent worship are basic and fundamental to all societies, so it is no wonder that the snake is worshipped on such a wide scale. Hambly also suggests similarities between serpent worship across the continent, drawing a spatial connection between apparently disparate cultural groups as he further links African cultures to those around the world, especially the Middle East, saying animals, especially snakes, are often used in similar medicinal (ie. the use of animal fat) and magical rites. He is very careful to separate the Egyptian from other African cultures however, because his regard for the Egyptians clouds his judgement enough that he cannot see any similarity between that culture which he sees as noble and the Blacks he sees as obtuse savages to the South.
PANAGIOTA PENNY DAFLOS University of British Columbia (John Barker)
Hambly, Wilfrid D. The Serpent in African Belief and Custom. American Anthropologist 1929 Vol. 31(2):655-665
Serpent-themed beliefs throughout all African cultures follow one of three basic patterns. The first includes ideas of a superhuman being, with an accompanying priesthood of snake worship. The second is the “cult” type, whose actions are not as defined as the priesthood type, possessing just a general idea of snake reverence. The third belief, the most general variety, manifests as an assortment of superstitions, some of which include using snake fat as medicine or wearing amulets to protect against snakebites. These beliefs are never “totemic” in the traditional sense, but merely involve snakes as clan symbols or figureheads. Priesthood forms of serpent beliefs involve reverence of the serpent, with strict penalties levied against those who disobey the religious laws. Snake worship is somewhat similar between the priesthood and cult styles. The cults, however, more frequently petition snake spirits for increased fertility and fishing bounty.
Serpent worship and other customs seemed to develop in a migratory line from Eastern to Western Africa. Starting in Uganda and ending in the Loango region of the Congo, the strongest beliefs appear at both ends of the line. While serpent beliefs have roots in other parts of the world, like the Arabian Peninsula and Australia, the theories behind African beliefs lie in the fact that monstrous serpents can be located in the wild there relatively easily.
Another theory of the origins of serpent reverence lies in the culture of ancient Egypt, where the worship plays an important part in many aspects of mythology. From the serpent who helped judge the dead, and pointed the way to the underworld, to the fire-spitting serpent who guarded the sun god, snakes were treated with a great reverence. Communication between the Egyptian and African regions could have potentially therefore been the origin of African serpent beliefs.
DREW HUNT Illinois State University (Robert Dirks)
Hawley, Florence M. Prehistoric Pottery Pigments in the Southwest. American Anthropologist, July-September, 1929 Vol. 31(4): 731-754.
Pottery has historically been one of the best ways to trace the progression in cultures. Until now, only the designs, colors, and types of clay used, have been implemented in efforts to analyze pottery. Hawley suggests that the type of paints used should also be a standard criterion.
Hawley focuses her efforts in this area on her research of prehistoric pottery found in the Southwestern American states, notably the Pueblo, Hopi and Zuni Tribes in Arizona and New Mexico.
She discusses yellow, red, and white pigments in detail, and even goes into a chemical analysis of the paints used. She then proceeds to discuss types of black pigments in even greater detail. She describes the four classes of black paint used on prehistoric pottery. The first is plain carbon applied by smudging. The second is carbon protected by a layer of an easily fusible silicate, vegetal extract paint. The third is carbon protected by the silicate with the addition of red iron oxide. And the fourth is paint containing mostly manganese oxide.
The conclusion Hawley comes to is that through tracing the progression of paints and pigments used in making pottery, anthropologists can attain a greater appreciation for cultural expansion using pottery as their medium. Possible future research in this field would be to try to discover whether carbon or iron paint was the first to originate, or whether each originated at about the same time in different areas. But this new research sheds light on some of the previous problems in discerning differences between types of pigment used in prehistoric pottery.
IRIS GOLDSTEIN Barnard College (Paige West)
Hawley, Florence M. Prehistoric Pottery Pigments in the Southwest American Anthropologist, 1929 (731-754).
Tracing specific Indian groups in the Southwestern United States by examining the colors of pottery is the aim of Florence M. Hawley’s article entitled Prehistoric Pottery Pigments in the Southwest. Hawley examines chemical tests preformed on the pottery that may show possible minerals/elements used in coloring the pottery. Pigments such as yellow, red and white are easy to test for and more importantly easy to identify the origin. The majority of this article is devoted to the tests necessary to identify the origins of black pigments. There are a total of four tests that Hawley uses to identify prehistoric pottery. The first test is called the smudge test. This is to test for black coloring that was merely rubbed on. The way it is tested is by heating the pottery up for two – three minutes with a torch. After the time allotment, the pottery quickly changes to its original color before coloring. The second and third tests are close in nature; both tests try to identify carbon and iron. Hawley explains the impossibility of obtaining knowledge of how the Indians actually created the paints, but proves that black paint must have a carbon/iron base. By understanding this Hawley looks for both carbon and iron in the coloring of pottery to further identify location/origin. The last and final test preformed is a test for manganese. The true context lies in the conclusion of the article, containing most of the location aspects. One way of tracing ancient culture is through viewing what they left behind. The trick how to exam and more importantly what the results conclude.
SYD WOLFE Columbia College (Paige West).
Judd, Neil M. The Present Status of Archaeology in the United States. American Anthropologist 1929 Vol.31(3):401-418.
The author of this article is concerned that the laws regarding the preservation of antiquities are inadequate. He feels that the (few) existing laws place a strictly monetary value on historic objects instead of recognizing their historic importance. This, according to the author, causes two problems. First, the number of artifacts retrieved takes precedence over the completeness of data, thus leading to careless excavation methods. Second, artifacts become commercialized, which leads to looting and vandalism. Both of these problems destroy the context of discovered materials, which is problematic because “most of the historic knowledge regarding specimens comes from in situ data”(p.408).
The concept of contextualization is central to the author’s argument, as his main point is that “chronology is the key that will unlock many secrets of American prehistory and stratigraphy is the stuff of which chronology is made”(p.408). The author points out that it is “impossible to divorce archaeology and ethnography”(p.412) and that to get a complete cultural ethnography, in situ data must be left intact and analyzed. He thinks that prehistory would be much easier to understand if the ethnography of historic tribes was more completely recorded.
The author makes the point that archaeology has enough natural obstacles and therefore needs better laws governing its practice. He gives examples of how the current laws are not sufficient, because people in the field do not see them as important. By showing how the current archaeological record is incomplete, and by explaining how the inadequacy of current laws is preventing the completion of a complete chronology of each culture area in the United States, the author makes a compelling argument for new archaeological legislation.
CLARITY RANKING: 4
WENDY HIEBERT University of British Columbia (John Barker)
Judd, Neil M. The Present Status of Archaeology in the United States. American Anthropologist 1929 Vol. 31: 401-418.
As a science, archaeology in the United States has matured considerably, yet it still faces numerous problems that are jeopardizing its pursuit of the past. Government neglect, the pillaging of sites by pot-hunters and curio collectors, a history of careless excavating, and the decline of contemporary Native American culture are all potential threats to successfully piecing together the prehistoric past of the United States.
The United States government has made lackluster attempts to preserve and protect sites and artifacts. Only one national law protects sites on public (government-owned) land, while nothing exists to protect sites on private property or give artifacts any sort of national protective status. This, combined with ready demand by collectors of ancient curios, is encouraging a substantial industry of pot-hunting. As a consequence, numerous sites are being raided and illegally excavated, sometimes even by the officials in charge of guarding them, for profit. Thus, substantial pieces of the archaeological record are being lost due to naked commercialism and government apathy in dealing with the situation.
Meanwhile, the field of archaeology is suffering from years of thoughtless and sloppy excavating, with more emphasis having been placed on merely collecting specimens than investigating the context and chronology of artifacts. Recently, more archaeologists are realizing that skill and experience, not just mere curiosity, is vital to appropriate excavation, and that artifacts with a context are much more scientifically valuable. Unfortunately, some individuals and institutions still cling to the old values of collecting for the sake of collecting.
Archaeologists are also losing ground as the sources of ethnographic information from many contemporary Native American cultures are vanishing in the face of rapid Americanization. Many native peoples are losing touch with aspects of their aboriginal culture, which in turn means lost data for archaeologists to use in investigating the overall chronology and cultural continuity of prehistoric North America.
BURTON SMITH Illinois State University (Robert Dirks)
Kahn, Morton C. Notes on the Saramaccaner Bush Negroes of Dutch Guiana. American Anthropologist Vol.31(3):468-490.
In this descriptive article, the author’s main goal is to recount observations which he made of the Saramaccaner Bush Negroes (also called Djukas) while visiting the country of Surinam.
The author begins by describing how the descendants of the Djukas, whom he refers to as “rebel Negroes”, gained independence form their Dutch colonizers. The author goes on to explain that because not all of these descendants were raised in the colony (many were recent arrivals from other parts of Africa) the present day Djukas possess many typical West African characteristics.
The main body of the article is divided into several descriptive categories which look at various aspects of Djuka culture. These categories include such things as physical characteristics, dress, ornamentation, temperament, tribal divisions, government, villages, food and drink, marriage, hunting and fishing, medicine, religion, language, and art. In each of these sections the author strictly describes what he has observed. Occasionally, he throws in comments which are typically over-generalizations or ethnocentric in nature. For example, he describes the Djukas as appearing to be of the “conventional West African strictly Negroid type”(p.468) and later goes on to describe the collective temperament of these people as “intelligent, proud, independent, courteous and jovial”(p.471). He is also extremely shocked to discover that the Djukas are “not subservient to any degree”(p.471).
If the highly ethnocentric manner in which this article is written can be overlooked as a convention of the times, then this wonderfully detailed account can be considered a valuable contribution to the anthropological record.
CLARITY RANKING: 5
WENDY HIEBERT University of British Columbia (John Barker)
Kissell, Mary Lois. Organized Salish Blanket Pattern. American Anthropologist January-March 1929 Vol. 31(1):85-88
When the Salish moved from the interior of North America to the coast, they adopted the blanket as well as the Chilkat pattern seen on the nobility garment. The sophisticated Chilkat design requires fine yarn, which is unworkable on the Salis looms. In order to imitate this pattern, the Salis had to adapt the design. This led to a new combination of weaves known as the wicker-twine technique.
The nobility blanket is comprised of four regional designs: the Fuca straight, the Fraser delta coast and archipelago, the Lillooet, and the Yale. Although the different regions have their own identifying styles (coast types are slender and elongated, interior types are thicker), they are sometimes seen on the same web. The garment is made from a possibly Columbian loom, using wild goat wool and domestic dog fleece. Photographs accompany descriptions of the weaving techniques.
STEPHANIE DALE Illinois State University (Robert Dirks)
Kissell, L. Mary. Organized Salish Blanket Pattern. American Anthropologist January-March 1929 Vol. 31(1):85-88
The Salish organization of weaving patterns gives a historical background of how techniques and designs were adapted. Originally, the Salish knew only of animal skins to cloth themselves in, but later adapted a new form; blankets. This style of covering did not come from the influences of the surrounding regions, but from the practices of Columbia. The foreign influence, using dog hair and goat’s wool as textile fibers, led the Salish into creating many various types of garments and designs. The types of garment styles ranged according to regional traits. Garments are identified from Lillooet to Yale, from the Fraser delta coast and archipelago to the Fuca straight, usually depending upon the elaborate patterns and materials that are chosen. These blankets and other makings like carrying straps, proved to be highly regarded trade to outsiders. Trade in itself aids in the transfer of new ideas and materials.
The Salish not only adapted the distinct materials used from one foreign area, but also learned various weaving patterns from yet another tribe; the Chilkat. Pattern plans are characterized by “major or minor, striped and checked designs.” The Salish are predominantly known for their adaptations, not their creations.
Josh Agusti Illinois State University (Robert Dirks)
Kroeber, A. L. Pliny Earle Goddard [Obituary]. American Anthropologist January-March, 1929 Vol. 31 (No.1):1-8.
Born November 24, 1869, Pliny Earle Goddard contributed much to the profession of Anthropology prior to his death on July 12, 1928. Educated first in Oak Grove and Oakwood Seminaries, he studied Latin and Greek at Earlham College, Indiana, graduating in 1892. His interest in American Indians grew through his reading whilst working as a school principal, and in March of 1897 he went to Hoopa, California as a lay missionary. During his stay he systematically documented the Hupa native language and customs, and made the decision to pursue ethnology as a career. In 1900 he entered the University of California at Berkley as a graduate student under Benjamin Ide Wheeler. During that year he wrote Life and Culture of the Hupa and began Hupa Texts and Morphology of the Hupa Language. In 1901, on the establishment of a Department of Anthropology at Berkley, he was appointed to an instructorship. He attained his doctorate under Wheeler in 1904 and in 1906 became Assistant Professor. His books on the Hupa language, published during those years “set a new standard of completeness for the treatment of a native American language” (p.3).
1909 marked a change for Goddard as he accepted the Assistant Curatorship at the American Museum of Natural History. In 1910 he became Associate Curator, then in 1914, Curator of Ethnology. At the museum he became involved in the upgrading of the ethnological displays, and produced two associated handbooks, Indians of the Southwest in 1913 and Indians of the Northwest in 1924.
Throughout his career, Goddard continued his fieldwork and intensive study in the Athapascan cultures, “producing texts…analyses of the languages and studies of the general culture, religion or mythology” (p. 4). His interests broadened in later years to include “genetic relation of languages, the history of the Uto-Aztecan stock, and the antiquity of Man in America” (p. 4).
With the move to New York, Goddard became increasingly involved in the profession. In 1915 he became Lecturer in Anthropology at Columbia University, and from 1915 to 1920, editor of the American Anthropologist. In 1917, Goddard founded and co-edited the International Journal of American Linguistics with Franz Boas. He also served on the council of the American Anthropological Association, the American Folk-Lore Society, and the American Ethnological Society. “At the time of his death he was Secretary of the Committee on Organization of the Twenty-third International Congress of Americanists” (p. 4).
Goddard is remembered by Kroeber for his “special genius as ethnologist and writer in the purest form” (p. 2). A bibliography of Goddard’s publications is included.
CLARITY RANKING: 5
KIMBERLEY FINK-JENSEN University of British Columbia (John Barker)
Lesser, Alexander. Kinship Origins in the Light of Some Distributions. American Anthropologist 1929 Vol. 28: 710-728
In this article, the author discusses the Omaha and Crow type kinship systems in North America. He presents the similarities and dissimilarities of these types. Both Omaha and Crow type systems occur among the Siouan tribes of North America. Lesser explains that within these tribes, parallel cousins are siblings; children of two brothers or two sisters are “brothers and sisters” to each other.
The distribution of the Omaha type kinship system occurs in two geographical areas of North America; the Plains-Woodlands and the Californian. Outside of North America, the Omaha type system occurs among several Bantu groups of Southeast Africa. The Crow system occurs in several areas in North America and in areas of Melanesia. Based on the evidence, the author infers that these systems originated independently in many instances. The author believes that the two types of kinship systems show cases of diffusion in areas as well as independent origins. These kinship types are correlated with sociological factors such as marriage customs, special functions of particular relatives and social organization patterns.
Although this article was periodically confusing to read, the author makes a valid argument based on the information presented.
CLARITY RANKING 3
ALDA ACCILI: University of British Columbia (John Barker)
Littlejohn, Hugh W. A Northeastern Californian Dug-Out Canoe. American Anthropologist. Oct.-Dec., 1929 Vol.31(4):777-779
In this short article the author describes a dug-out canoe, found beneath the waters of Gold Lake, California, and speculates about its origins. He writes as a member of the Department of the University of California at Berkeley, which obtained permission from the canoe’s current owner to photograph, describe, and obtain a history of the artifact. During the 1920s, anthropology departments in the United States were still tied to museums, which were interested in an object-oriented approach to ethnographic research (Stocking 1992:130,180-81).
The thorough description of the canoe includes an account of its measurements, condition, and form, as well as the material used in its construction. Littlejohn determines the methods of construction, based on observation of charring and tool marks. He then speculates on the origins of the canoe, reasoning that the remains of iron nails in its interior walls show that either it was made by aboriginal inhabitants and modified by white settlers or was made by aboriginals after whites had settled in California. Based on information provided by a local native informant, the author concludes that the canoe was likely made by members of the Maidu, Washo, or Paiute tribes, who traditionally summered in the area. A portion of the description of the canoe is given below:
“Inside, the marks of the tool used in shaping the dug-out are very distinct, and from their sharp, deep, and well-defined character it seems evident that they are the marks of a metal adz. Fire was employed in hollowing out the interior, for the sides and especially the ends are still very much charred (778).”
The article is clearly written and includes three black and white photographs of the canoe, taken from various angles.
CLARITY RATING: 5
TIFFANY GALLAHER University of British Columbia, (John Barker)
Loeb, E.M. Shaman and Seer. American Anthropologist 1929 Vol. 31(1):60-84
The seer is the oldest Indonesian medicine man. Unfortunately, the shaman, once introduced into the culture, will replace the seer. The eclipsing of the seer by the shaman occurs through diffusion.
For proper demarcation the shaman should be seen as inspired while the seer remains uninspired. Indonesia is the prime location to note such a difference, as Sumatra is home to shamans, while on the islands west of Sumatra only the seer may be found. The difference between non-inspirational shamans, or seers, and true inspirational shamans, which represent a higher culture, remains that the shaman may practice prophesying and exorcism, while the seer is limited to curing through spirits. This means that the seer limits his practice to communication with spirits, while the shaman practices spirit possession.
The main similarity between shaman and seer is that both must partake in a vision quest, which is either sought or unsought. In unsought cases the vision quest usually occurs during a time of sickness. Sought cases are intentional trances or wanderings.
A thick description of the Indonesian Mentawei seer (including dress, practice, initiation, etc.) gives an idea of the proper state of a seer. This description rounds out the argument by explaining all of the potential facets of the seer. As a seer, communication with spirits takes place outside of the man’s body. It is in fact a conversation that only the seer may experience.
BRIAN GATZ Illinois State University (Robert Dirks)
MacLeod, W. C. On California Mortuaries. American Anthropologist 1929 Vol. 31:772-776.
This brief article calls for a change to Alfred Kroeber’s maps of California mortuary practices given the results of further detailed study of Californian native groups. Drawing primarily from the work of Powers and Lowie, the author lists groups and occasions where cremation is practiced, and reports the custom to be more widespread than indicated in the work of Kroeber. He argues it would be useful not only to map the existence of cremation, but also the circumstances under which it is and is not practiced among the various groups. For example, the north-western Athapascans cremated those who died a violent death in battle, whereas the Sinkyone “cremated those who died far from home” (p. 773). These varying practices need to be linked to the native cosmologies to develop a deeper understanding of why and when cremation occurs. The author concludes by underscoring the need for further study of mortuary practices along the Pacific coast in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon, in order to investigate connections between native groups and establish diffusionary patterns throughout the region.
CLARITY RANKING: 5
KIMBERLEY FINK-JENSEN University of British Columbia (John Barker)
Mac Leod. W.C. On California Mortuaries. American Anthropologist 1929 Vol. 31:772-776.
The writings of various authors, who have done fieldwork on cremation and burial customs, are used to correct the California mortuary maps. Several tribes were observed to determine which tribes buried or cremated their deceased. An attempt is made to amend the mortuary map by reconsidering some of the proposed ideas that authors have written about cremation among certain tribes.
Kroeber believes the Athabascan and Yuki use cremation because it is easier to dispose of the ashes. Powers claims the Athabascan bury all their deceased and the Yuki bury only those they honor. The Yuki should be placed on the map as cremators because they burn those who die in battle. The writings of other authors offer insight on mapping different tribes by drawing comparisons between cremation practices in northwestern California and those of Alaska and British Colombia. Reports of cremation came from the Coos Indians of the Oregon coast, but could be construed as a misprint by the author.
More accurate information is needed about the tribes of California to establish the disposal customs of the deceased. Although, from the information gathered the area of cremation should be carried up the northwest coast of the California mortuary map.
JILL BUCKMAN Illinois State University (Robert Dirks)
Macleod, William Christie. Servile Labor Groups. American Anthropology 1929 Vol. 31:89-113.
Many tribes in North America keep servants for various reasons, mainly to maintain a sense of superiority. Owners of the servants are usually skilled workers, physically strong, owners of property and hunting equipment, and have status among their group. Servants often have jobs that do not require a lot of skill, such as fixing equipment, running errands for the master, a small amount of hunting, feeding the animals, or hard labor. Being a bachelor without family, physically or mentally disabled, without hunting equipment, without ownership of property, or entering into marriage with a woman without any of these attributes often leads to an individual becoming a servant. Keeping the servants hungry and cold, not giving them hope, and refusing to learn their language creates depression among servant groups.
Among the Athabascans, the threat of loosing what little the servants have is thought to keep the servants obedient. These servants are at the mercy of their owner, as seen in the Eskimo groups. Kwakiutl people refuse to speak directly to their Haida and Tlingit servants, using messengers to speak in their place. Wascopum Chinook servants are sent to the afterlife with their deceased master by tying them to the corpse until they die of starvation. They may also be killed before their master dies to ensure he or she will have servants in the afterlife. The distance between the servants and masters is maintained in the Ainu people through killing of servants for rituals or to show the wealth of an individual master.
KATHRYN N. BAZIL Illinois State University (Robert Dirks)
McKern, W.C. A Hopwell Type of Culture in Wisconsin. American Anthropologist. 1929 Vol.31: 307-312.
The Wisconsin archaeological field is “on the border-land of accepted Middle Western area of intense archaeological interest”(307). Little research has been done in the area due to lack of interest and funds. The archeological record, however, is critical to understanding the causes of the southern and eastern cultural expansion into the far northwestern region. Mc Kern presents his archeological analysis of three excavated artificial mounds in Trempealeau county, Wisconsin. He argues that the Wisconsin archaeological field “demands the interest of those seriously concerned with the pre-history of the entire Mississippi district, whether it be Lower or Middle Mississippi, Ohio or Northwestern”(307).
The archaeological field of Wisconsin is characterized by the presence of artificial mounds that date back to pre-contact times. These mounds have been categorized into three distinct types based on their external shape. There are hemispherical mounds, irregularly shaped mounds and platform or truncated mounds. Many of these mounds have been excavated and the presence of four distinct cultures has been identified. Some mounds suggest Algonkin affinities, while others Soiuan, Hopewell or a complex of Cahoki and more southern affinities. In the excavation of the Nicholls mound by McKern in Trempealeau county evidence of an Ohio influence of the Hopwell type has been identified. Discovered in the Nicholls mound was a centrally placed burial pit with the remains of four adults and one infant, as well as the reburials of two other individuals. The burial of several individuals in a single pit is not a characteristic found in other mound excavations in Wisconsin. McKern identifies 12 other traits that were unique to the Nicholls mound. McKern found pearl beads, Ohio type of copper celts, both open twined and closely woven clothe, all items not previously known to the Wisconsin mound cultures. Mc Kern argues that further research needs to be done in order to understand the relationship of the Hopwell culture to the people associated with the Nicholls mound in Wisconsin. Mc Kern suggests that the study of copper mining along the southern shores of Lake Superior may provide clues to understanding some of the factors associated with the expansion of southern and eastern Native cultures into the northwestern region.
SHELAGH KING University of British Columbia (Dr. John Barker)
Nichols, H.W. Inca Relics in the Atacama Desert, Chile. American Anthropologist 1929 Vol.31:130-135.
In Nichols’ article he describes four locations he visited. During this expedition, Nichols was able to find very few relics at all but one of the locations. The expedition traveled to two deserted Inca towns, Lasana and Pucara, as well as two Inca burial places in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile.
Nichols found that both the Lasana and Pucara people had military sense, do to the fact that they both employed the use of loop-holes in their walls, much like medieval Europe used as a military device. Both towns are believed to have been abandoned at the time of the Spanish Conquest and Nichols found little signs of the previous occupants. The only items he was able to find were fragments of pottery and fabric, broken pestles and mortars, and many corncobs. He found no implements or utensils of any kind.
The first burial site that Nichols visited appeared to have undergone an extensive systematic excavation of the catacombs. The mummies, as well as all of the artifacts that may have been buried with them, were all removed. He was able to determine that the graves at the first burial site were much deeper then that of the second site. The second burial site he visited was approximately one half mile away from the first and is believed to be older. At the second site, the mummies were in perfect condition and many items were found buried with the bodies, including: silver dishes, drinking cups, arrows, wooden spoons pestles and mortars. Because curio hunters have opened the graves, however, the mummies as well as the items buried with them have been scattered over the ground. As a result of this disturbance to the graves, Nichols was unable to determine an accurate description of the placement of the mummies as well as their burial clothing. Nichols does describe one interesting find, “the inca bone”, which was named by local collectors. Skulls at one end of the burial place are characterized by the presence of an extra bone, “the inca bone”. They found that as they explored further to the other side of the burial place the “inca bone” reduces in size until finally it is merely a suture line.
Although the reading of the article itself was easy, I do not feel that Nichols made the point of the article clear. He at no point said why the article was being written; this made it difficult to determine the purpose of the article.
KATHLEEN MALONEY San Diego Mesa College (Denise Couch)
Nichols, H.W. Inca Relics in the Atacama Desert, Chile. American Anthropologist 1929 Vol. 31:130-136
Located in the heart of the desert in northern Chile, Lasana is the ruin of a fortified Inca village. The village was abandoned at the time of the Spanish conquest, it is believed. The altitude of the village is about eight thousand feet and it is fortified by the surrounding gorge walls whose depth measures an estimated three hundred feet. Its location within the gorge would aid its inhabitants militarily in case of attack.
The town of Lasana is comprised of different groupings of rooms, which open into each other. There are narrow streets or pathways, which separate these groupings. Though the walls of the city remain in nearly perfect condition, there is no evidence of the thatch roofs that once covered them. Since wood does not decay in the desert climate, it is thought that the disappearance of these roofs is a result of the high value of wood among local farmers.
There is little to no vegetation in the surrounding region, other than irrigated fields. The little evidence of human occupation that remains consists of small fragments of pottery, broken stone pestles and mortars, small pieces of fabric and fabricated wood, and numerous corncobs. The main gateway through the outer wall opens to a desert plain, and is defended by guardrooms on either side; these features add to the fortified nature of the town.
Pucara is another deserted Inca Villlage, which, like Lasana, is located near the modern Chilean town of Chiu-chiu. Though it is much larger than Lasana, it is also believed to have been abandoned at the time of the Spanish conquest. Some of the better-preserved buildings of the village have been re-roofed and are inhabited by local farmers.
Near these sites lie two pre Spanish burial grounds. The first of these sites has been subjected to excavation, but little remains of the bodies and artifacts that were once there. However, enough remains to indicate that the bodies had been mummified prior to burial, and were buried along with various objects. The second burial sites is about a half mile away, and though it to has been visited by treasure seekers and the like, many bodies and artifacts still remain. Like the first burial site, the bodies have been mummified and buried along with various objects. The presence of salt and niter in the sandy burial ground is given credit for preservation of the bodies.
Andrew Griffin Illinois State University (Robert Dirks)
Olson, Ronald L. The Possible Middle American Origin of Northwest Coast Weaving. American Anthropologist, 1929:114-121.
The overall concern of this article is whether or not northwest coast weaving originated in Middle America. The author sets out to solve the problem of the origin of northwest coast weaving by examining several current hypothesis on this subject. He intends to disprove some theories, while providing evidence of the possibility of Middle American origin.
The first hypothesis is that the art of weaving was a local development unconnected to the Old or the New World. It was first argued that due to the isolation of the area, that this would be a local development. However, several traits shared between the northwest coast and Middle American crafts show evidence of having traversed the Plains-Plateau gulf. Second, is that recent innovations were due to early European influence. The common employment of stone and whalebone argues against this. Also, natives clearly state that both the spindle and the two bar loom are ancient. Third, it is thought that the historical origin is to be sought in Asia. This is unlikely because the looms of the Asiatic weaving area are of an entirely different type, related more to those of Southeast Asia. The fourth hypothesis is that it is an elaboration of the suspended warp basket weaving of northern North America. However, this area used a single bar loom, while the northwest coast area used a two bar or half loom. Finally, it is believed that the craft has its origin in southern North America and the greater part of South America due in part to the highly developed craft being found in those areas. Both the northwest coast weaving and the weaving found in the Middle America area share an identical manner of winding the warp threads so that the completed fabric is a cylinder or square which needs no hemming. A Dr. Nordenskiold stated that it would be highly improbable that this feature would have been invented twice. The similarity is a case of historical relationship rather that of parallelism.
KATHIE MISSETT San Diego Mesa College (Denise Couch)
Olson, Ronald. The Possible Middle American Origins of Northwest Coast Weaving. American Anthropologist, June 1929 Vol.31 : 114-121
This article explores the possible origins of northwest coast weaving. Olson looks at five different possible origins.
One possible explanation that Olson examines is that the art has an origin in Asia. In the article he goes on to explain however that the looms in Asia are of completely different type than those found in the Northwest Coast so it is unlikely that the looms from the Northwest Coastal area have any Asiatic affiliations.
Olson also addresses the idea that the looms were innovations brought in by the Europeans. Olson criticizes this idea because the massive use of the two bar loom and spindle over such a large area of the Northwest does not support the idea that the Europeans introduced it because the use of these items would not have spread over such a vast area in such a short time frame. Another piece of evidence discouraging this explanation is the frequent use of stone and whalebone in the spindles that have been found in the Northwest.
Another possibility Olson looks at is that the weaving is an elaboration of the basketry and blanket weaving techniques of the area. This is supported because in both types of weaving the fingers are used to weave and the weaving is done from the top to the bottom. This type of weaving is also widely distributed from the Aleutian island to eastern Canada and from the Arctic to the Yucatan.
Olson also considers that the art was developed locally and is independent from other comparable techniques in the rest of the world. This argument is supported by the idea that the area is somewhat geographically isolated from other areas. However as Olson goes on to explore the fifth possible explanation for the origin of Northwest Coast weaving he provides some evidence that this seeming geographical isolation has not always been the case.
Lastly Olson proposes that the art has origins in Middle America. The weaving of the Northwest Coast area is different from the other type of weaving found throughout the Americas in that they commonly wove the weft strands in pairs of two’s or three’s. The weaving of the Northwest Coast uses a frame to weave strands of hair or wool like the frames used in the Middle Americas and this trait is considered definite enough to possibly link the weaving from the Northwest Coast to that of the Middle Americas. Olson uses an earlier finding by Nordenskold which describes a method of warp weaving used in South America so that there is no hemming needed when the material is finished which is identical to the method used in Northwest Coast weaving, to provide a possible link to Middle America. This and other evidences of links between the Northwest Coast and the Middle Americas such as tobacco, agricultural techniques, monetary systems, and other forms of art like pottery seem to make the possibility of the Middle American origin of Northwest Coast weaving likely. Olson does say that these lines of evidence can also be taken as proof of parallelism of development in the two areas.
In the article Olson does not provide one definite answer to the true origin of Northwest Coast weaving, but does give both support and criticism of the different possible origins of the art and seems to have a preference for the case that the weaving of the Northwest Coast has origins in Middle America.
AMBER LITTLE San Diego Mesa College (Denise Couch)
Olson, L. Ronald. The Possible Middle American Origin Of Northwest Coast Weaving. American Anthropologist January-March 1929 Vol. 31(1):114-121
The origin of blanket weaving, along the northwest coast of America during aboriginal times, is described as a technique thought to have developed long before European contact. There are so many variations with the Northwest weaving techniques that it is difficult to provide an accurate historical origin, although some possible explanations may be considered to properly evaluate the locality of development. An elaboration of the earliest types of techniques is thought to have stemmed from basic basket weaving. These features are typically incomparable with European models of spinning and weaving devices. The “two-bar loom” and the “spindle” are more recent innovations of European influence, but the evidence of these techniques being imitated seems rather inaccurate. Furthermore, if these innovations were introduce by the Europeans, it is highly unlikely that they would have spread throughout the New World in such a short period of time.
Before contact, much simpler weaving methods were used throughout the Northwest region. The problem of origin would be more accurately solved if there were not so many different styles. Most techniques are local developments which asserts that there must have been a geographical isolation between the tribes. The natives developed a single-bar loom which is held together by two upright supports. The weaving was done basically with the hands, in which individuals twined together strands in sets of two or three, then these are woven from the top downward. A combination of materials are commonly used, consisting of dog hair, goat wool, cotton, feathers, as well as, other various types of organic materials. These materials are twisted together into yarn which is typically a quarter inch thick in diameter. The strands are then wrapped around whorls made of enduring materials such as wood or whalebone. The blankets have identical similarities in such a way that when complete, they form a cylinder or a square which needs no hemming.
JOSH AGUSTI Illinois State University (Robert Dirks)
Parsons, Elsie Clews. Ritual Parallels in Pueblo and Plains Cultures, With a Special Reference to the Pawnee. American Anthropologist July – September, 1929 Vol. 31(4): 642-654.
In this article, Parsons takes on the task of debunking the assumption that the Pueblo and Plains cultures are too varied for comparison. Though she recognizes that there are many differences and makes a point of illustrating some of them, she is convincing in showing the similarities through a case study of the Pawnee. This is especially helpful because in the section of the article preceding the case study she uses society, tribe and place names that leave the reader confused unless they have some previous knowledge of the area. One is left unsure if Isleta and Tewa are place-names or if they refer to societies or even tribes. Thus, if one has no previous experience with the Pueblo and Plains cultures, a reference guide would be a prudent idea to establish where tribes are located in relation to each other, as well as establish society names and roles.
Parsons shows the similarities between the two cultural groups by giving specific examples of cross cultural influence with such artifacts as prayer sticks and lists several areas of overlapping traditions such as common use of antlered headdresses in dances, the shamanic trick of reviving the dead, reverence for the Sun, the belief in cannibalistic giants, and phallic or fertility practices in association with war groups for illustration. However, the reader must keep in mind that this is a short piece, and though she uses a number of examples she often doesn’t explain them in much detail. Thus, this work seems less of a grand justification for her theory as is found in many American Anthropologist articles, and more of a preliminary work intent on making a point to be built upon by successive scholars.
Though she often makes passing references to Hispanic influence that does support her argument the way the case study and specific examples do, and though she makes some ethnocentric comments in relation to the clown societies, Parson’s article is firmly based on ethnographic evidence and constructed in a fairly logical manner.
PANAGIOTA PENNY DAFLOS University of British Columbia (John Barker)
Parsons, Elsie Clews. Ritual Parallels in Pueblo and Plains Culture, With a Special Reference to the Pawnee. American Anthropologist 1929 Vol. 31(6):642-654.
Rituals of the Pueblo and Plains people were analyzed to find similarities in the culture. Numerous characteristics of the Pueblo culture such as ritual objects, headdresses, and facial pigmentation are common to Plains life. Ritual objects, like Pueblo prayer-sticks, are very similar to sticks patterned by societies of the Plains. The Pueblo crook stick, for example, is flat with feathers or skin pendants on each end, both displaying parallel features. The ritual symbolism of wearing headdresses is an important aspect in both Pueblo and Plains traditional dance. A respected elder or chief in both societies wears specific antlered headdresses. Both cultures also exhibit a sacred character by ritually painting their face and body. In comparison, for example, the Pueblo impersonator paints his face before wearing a kachina mask, and the Plains culture wears face paint before engaging in the ceremonial Sun dance.
Offering tobacco to the spirit world is common in both groups as well. The Plains practice offering the pipe to the Great Spirit, while the Pueblo send a cigarette to a kachina group inviting them to dance. In both cultures, sage is a ritual herb used in smudging, or purification of the human body.
The Pawnee tribe, located in the Plains region, display further, distinct similarities with the Pueblos. The medicinal societies of each group possess a rain bundle, consisting of two decorated ears of corn, which is known as the mother of the people. Each bundle society has four leaders or chiefs, who form a series of events, beginning with the planting and ending with the harvest. Overall, evaluations of the Pueblo, Plains and Pawnee people exhibit parallel cultural and ceremonial traits.
LAURA ELLIFF Illinois State University (Robert Dirks)
Radin, Paul. History of Ethnological Theories. American Anthropologist 1929 Vol. 31(1):9-33.
Modern ethnological theory formed out of the evolutionary beliefs that existed in the late 1800s. The founders of modern ethnological theory have all been criticized for their ideals but are responsible for the way ethnology, as a discipline, is viewed today. The research of Tylor, Boas, Durkheim, Levy-Bruhl and Jung has been used to guide ethnology toward more historical and psychological thinking, and away from the earlier biological thinking. They are recognized for the theory of multiple origin, making ethnology a science, as well as for the realization that primitive people have more intelligence than they were previously given credit for.
There are interests from historical, psychological, sociological, and biological philosophies in modern ethnology, which focus on the relationship between “primitive” people and “modern” people. Most of the modern theories represent a specific scientific perspective, but rely on the other points of view for support. Quotations and summaries, about the theories these men developed, express the different styles that are used. Some theorists took their philosophies in new directions and some linked their philosophies with others, creating new areas of study. In some cases this led to a new understanding of culture, but in other cases it proved to be a problem.
There are many critiques on the lack of depth and analysis shown in the theories. An emphasis on the weakness of the historical and sociological perspectives shows the lack of relation to other philosophies. Many of the psychological and historical perspectives are guilty of ignoring points of view from other departments. Despite criticisms, without the thoughts of these intellectuals modern ethnology would not be what it is today.
MELISSA KIEHL Illinois State University (Robert Dirks)
Redfield, Robert. The Material Culture of Spanish-Indian Mexico. American Anthropologist July – September, 1929 Vol. 31(4): 602-618.
In this piece Redfield makes the argument that the Spaniards have drastically changed the material culture of the Mexican Indians in the community of Tepoztlan, but that these European elements have supplemented rather than supplanted the indigenous technology. As a result, he claims that the life of the Mexican Indian has changed relatively little from that of his ancestors. First he looks at the household items, like furnishings and cookery (of which the hearth, griddle, grinding-stone and pot remain necessary items), where European influences remain of secondary importance, then moves on to transportation, where indigenous methods survive, but are just as common as post-Columbian contributions. Clothing is the last category where the Spanish influence has almost completely taken over the indigenous style of dress. His attention to detail is striking, especially in his evaluation of pottery and basketry, of which he insists the pre-Columbian models are far superior.
His article is framed by his examination of the most common domestic life-way which is very important because he takes a very micro-analytic look at the lower classes in the community, rather than the aristocracy. Through such an analysis the reader is able to get a very clear impression of how the vast majority of the population live, rather than a select few that are more heavily influenced by European methods and materials. He further downplays the importance of the Spanish influence in the daily life of the Indian by showing that Spanish material culture has often been appropriated by the Indians to form a unique hybrid blend, which is still a part of both the Spanish and indigenous cultures. He is careful to note, however, that there are three kinds of cultural traits, not just the one hybrid. The other two cultural traits he refers to in Tepoztlan are those which are unaltered from pre-Columbian times and totally Indian, and those which are unaltered from early Spanish contact and remain totally European, having been transplanted intact to Mexico.
PANAGIOTA PENNY DAFLOS University of British Columbia (John Barker)
Robinson, Arthur E. Abu El Kaylik, the Kingmaker of the Fung of Sennar. American Anthropologist, January 1929 Volume 31(1): 232-264
In the article “Abu El Kaylik, the Kingmaker of the Fung of Sennar,” Arthur Robinson discusses the political rule of 18th Century Africa. He asserts that the Hameg viziers of the Fung Sultans of Sennar were kingmakers, and not merely usurpers of power. Robinson proves this by describing the powerful exploits of these rulers during this time. The article begins with general descriptions of political power throughout Africa. For example, many diverse African peoples claim that their kings are matrilinear descendants of a semi-divine founder, namely the Shilluk. Robinson examines the religious authenticity necessary for kings in Sennar and Abyssinia. He states that the ruler’s divine origin was more important to Africans than the “divine right” was to “civilized” nations. The Fung ruler often claimed descent from the Prophet Muhamad.
The article then discusses the influence of Muhamad Abu el Kaylik, a Hameg who founded the vizier family that destroyed the Fung empire. The warrior Muslim missionaries often killed the native pagan men and married their royal wives. The semi-Arab children carried on the ancient dynasty and claimed Islamic descent. The writer recounts the warfare that occurred between Abyssinian and Fung rulers and between the Shukria non-Arab tribe and the Rikabia Arab tribe. He uses the tools of historical analysis and Arabic narratives, as well as Muhamad Alis Pasha’s work The Conquest of the Sudan to discuss the chronology of political power throughout the 18th Century. He traces many genealogical trees to demonstrate the descent of kingship. Jealousy among family members, warfare, conquest, exile, and murder often yielded changes in power. At the end of the article, Robinson traces the history of the Fung Empire that was founded in 1504. The Fung were a semi-Negroid people who commingled with Negroes from different areas.
TALIA FALK Columbia University (Paige West)
Robinson, Arthur E. “Abu El Kaylik,” the Kingmaker of the Fung of Sennar. American Anthropologist July-September, 1929 (232-264).
In this lengthy article, Robinson lays out the history of the Fung monarchy. The Fung are a people who lived in Africa on the coast of the Red Sea. He focuses on the “exploits of the Hameg viziers of the Fung Sultans of Sennar” during the eighteenth century “of our era” (noting that the Islamic calendar gives “our eighteenth century” different dates) (232). He discusses the process of finding kings: how the Fung believe in the divinity of their kings, and that each one descended from “the original semi-divine founder of the nation” (233). Throughout the article, Robinson gives a complete history of the transfer of power from one king to another, sometimes through war and conquest.
Of the Fung culture, Robinson says they were once “heathen or pagan” (234), but adapted Islam whenever it was convenient (to avoid national conflict), the Fung have immense respect for women (the line of divinity followed matrilineal descent), they placed great importance on color (235): the more “Negroid” a tribe was, the less “divine” or “royal” they were.
Robinson introduces Muhamad Abu El Kaylik, the title “El Kaylik” originating from the word “red,” meaning skin-color of the Arabs. In one of the many genealogical trees Robinson inserts into his article, the reader sees that Abu El Kaylik was one of the first kings of the Fung, and Robinson says, the most influential. Abu El Kaylik’s power over the region facilitated the subsequent kings in controlling vast amounts of land and people.
Robinson judges the stories about the beginning of the Fung monarchy as “romantic” and contradictory when he says, “So much for native traditions” (238).
The rest of the article (the remaining 24 pages) deals with the exchange of power in that region: the jealousy between Abu El Kaylik’s sons, the wars between the Fung and the Abyssinians, the civil wars that plagued the El Kaylik descendants. Robinson says, “These civil wars plunged the country into a most lawless and disorganized state” (247).
He continues to tell the “story” of their history up until the mid nineteenth century. Aside from all of the Middle Eastern names, it is an easy read.
BETSY SUMMERS Barnard College (Paige West)
Rogers, Malcolm J. The Stone Art of the San Dieguito Plateau. American Anthropologist Vol.31(3):454-467.
In this article the author describes a unique chipped stone industry which he discovered in an area of the San Dieguito plateau. He refers to the creators of this stone industry as “Scraper Makers” because scrapers are the most numerous and distinct implements in the collection of tools found at this site. The author’s objective is to learn about the culture of the Scraper Makers, as little is known about these ancient people.
The author begins his analysis by examining other stone industries so that he can illustrate important features of San Dieguito stone art. Next, he groups the various implements into three generic types: scrapers, knives, and ceremonial stones. Finally, with a great deal of speculation, he describes the techniques by which these implements were made and what types of raw materials were used for their creation.
The author eventually determines that the Scraper Makers can be connected to the Mission Indians and the Shell Midden people. He explains that the reason the Scraper Makers may have been affiliated with the Mission Indians is that both of these groups possessed rare notched crescent stones. According to the author, further field work would be required to determine if possession of these rare stones was a result of diffusion or direct migration. The author suggests that because the two groups are strongly connected through their chipped stone industries, the Shell Midden people might be the ancestors of the Scraper Makers. The author hypothesizes that the Shell Midden people exhausted their resources in the ocean and moved inland in search of food, thus becoming hunters.
While the author does not discover anything about the culture of the Scraper Makers, he accomplishes is objective to some degree by finding a place for them in the archaeological record.
CLARITY RANKING: 3
WENDY HIEBERT University of British Columbia (John Barker)
Rogers, Malcom J. The Stone Art of the San Dieguito Plateau. American Anthropologist 1929 Vol. 31(3):454-467.
In Western San Diego County, California researchers look into the origin of the local stone tool industry. Industrial practices of native groups are compared to neighboring parts of the coastal belt. The Mission Indians are culturally similar to the Shoshonean and Yuman speaking peoples, and are compared the Shell Midden People and Scraper Makers.
The Scraper Makers have the most numerous and distinctive stone tools. The stone tool implements described are categorized as scrapers, knives, and ceremonial stones. These categories provide possible techniques and uses of the tools.
Descriptions of the Shell Midden and Scraper Maker people, provides the lay out of the basic stone tool industry in the area. In comparing the Mission Indians with the Scraper Makers it is concluded that the Scraper Makers preceded the Mission Indians in culture. Connections are also made between the Scraper Makers and the Shell Midden people through chipped stone industry. It is believed that the Shell Midden people were the prototypes of the Scraper Makers. It is possible that the Shell Midden people came inland in search of food where they became a hunting group and began specializing in stone tools.
NOA PEDERSEN Illinois State University (Robert Dirks)
Spier, Leslie. Problems Arising from the Cultural Position of the Havasupai. American Anthropologist April-June, 1929 Vol. 31(2): 213-22.
In this paper, Spier attempts to identify the correct culture area designation of the Havasupai, who occupy an area in Colorado near the Grand Canyon. He is interested also in the process by which the Havasupai acquired their present set of cultural traits.
Spier concludes that the Havasupai belong to the Great Basin culture area. He further speculates that, where the Havusapi diverge from the Basin cultures, they have been influenced by the neighbouring Pueblo cultures.
Spier describes the kinship and social organisation, religious rites, and dances of the Havasupai. He argues that these customs closely resemble those of the Basin. In all of these areas, Pueblo and other influences are present, but, he says, they are few when compared to the similarities with the Basin. The exceptional characteristic of the Havasupai is their intensive agriculture. Spier attributes this difference from other Basin cultures to the Havasupai’s location in “the one rich oasis in all of western Arizona”. In their practice of agriculture, the Havasupai resemble the Pueblo cultures.
Spier discusses the differences and similarities between Havasupai women’s dress and that of neighbouring peoples. He supposes that this feature, like other characteristics, once belonged to an undifferentiated Basin type. It was then modified by the incorporation Pueblo elements.
D’ARCY POCKLINGTON: University of British Columbia (John Barker)
Steggerda, Morris. Plants of Jamaica Used by Natives for Medicinal Purposes. American Anthropologist 1929 Vol.31(3):431-434.
The main body of this article consists of a table which lists the names and specific medicinal uses of various plants found throughout Jamaica. The author’s objective is simply to preserve this information for anthropological heritage, as he fears that Jamaica’s rapidly improving health care system will eventually lead to the eradication of indigenous forms of healing.
The author adds substance to the article by explaining how the plants are transformed into a tea that is either taken internally or used topically as a poultice. The author points out that these healing teas are employed for a wide array of infirmities ranging from simple ailments like headaches, to more serious afflictions involving major organs such as the heart and kidneys.
The author accomplishes his objective in this short, yet extremely dense and informative article.
CLARITY RANKING: 4
WENDY HIEBERT University of British Columbia (John Barker)
Steggerda, Morris. Plants Of Jamaica Used By Natives For Medicinal Purposes. American Anthropologist 1929 Vol.31:431- 434
In Jamaica, plants are equivalent to the passing phase of human healing. For this reason, the natives often attribute medicinal properties to the plants in their country. The entire population of Jamaica has a general method of preparation, which entails boiling the leaves on the plant, making a liquid tea. The tea is then internally taken. Each part of the plant serves a specific medicinal function. Some plants are used specifically for the roots and not the leaves. Leaves used for aches and pains, where as weeds are used for heart, kidney, and bladder troubles. Plants take on an important ethical interest in Jamaica because the people rely heavily on the plants to heal them of a number of afflictions from the common cold to tuberculosis.
Tuberculosis and pneumonia are the two main causes of death in Jamaica. Malaria is still weakening many natives. Due to the unsanitary living conditions, Jamaican medical professionals are considered very important in the community.
OSA NOSA Illinois State University (Robert Dirks)
Steward, Julian H. Diffusion and Independent Invention: A Critique of Logic. American Anthropologist 1929 Vol.31(3):491-495.
The author’s objective is to invent a set of universal principles governing whether a particular aspect of culture is the result of diffusion or independent invention. He feels that the creation of these principles is necessary, as a great deal of anthropological data is not based on any concrete methodology. The result is that the data are often tainted by personal bias and inconsistent principles.
To support his argument, the author uses the example of inverted speech, a phenomena which occurs in Australia and three areas in North America: the Plains, California and the Southwest. The author explains that because of geographic proximity, inverted speech in the three culture areas of North America is considered to be a result of diffusion, while in Australia, because of the continent’s isolated location, inverted speech is considered to be a product of independent invention. This example is used to illustrate the author’s point that often no logical framework is used to arrive at conclusions and that “by disposing of one factor we beg the question for another”(p.492). In other words, if a trait frequently appears in areas with no contact people assume the trait is a product of independent invention; however, if the trait in question appears in areas between which there could have been communication, the existence of the trait will automatically be attributed to diffusion. The author argues that there is no rational logic to determine that inverted speech in Australia is a result of independent invention, and that the same trait in the three culture areas in North America is attributable to diffusion.
The author accomplishes his objective by designing an unbiased methodology based on three principles which he believes need to be considered independently of one another. This highly theoretical article is insightful because it stresses the importance of using objectivity when attempting to analyze data.
CLARITY RANKING: 2
WENDY HIEBERT University of British Columbia (John Barker)
Stewart, George W. Prehistoric Rock Basins in the Sierra Nevada of California. American Anthropologist 1929 Vol.31(3):419-430.
The author’s primary goal is to conduct a critical examination of the origin and purpose of the rock basins in the Sierra Nevada region of California. He refers to these entrenched basins as an “unsolved riddle” and speculates that they must be “the work of a prehistoric race of man”(p.419).
The author describes the appearance and contents (natural debris) of the rock basins in great detail. He compares the basins to similar natural formations, such as pot-holes and weather pits and determines that the basins are of artificial origin because of their regularity and perfect shape. Instead of making any suggestions as to why and by whom the rock basins were created, the author reviews and critiques various other people’s theories on this subject. Theories pertaining to the rock basins include utilization as baking ovens, storage facilities and steam baths. The author refutes all of these theories, yet does not produce any of his own.
To some degree, the author manages to accomplish his objective by asking some insightful questions. For example, upon noting that the rock basins only occur in the Sierra Nevada where there are a plethora of Sequoia trees, the author asks, “Is this merely a coincidence or is the purpose for which these basins were made connected in any way to the proximity of the Sequoias?”(p.429). Questions such as this are valuable because they may lead to the formation of new theories.
CLARITY RANKING: 4
WENDY HIEBERT University of British Columbia (John Barker)
Stewart, George W. Prehistoric Rock Basins in the Sierra Nevada of California. American Anthropologist 1929 Vol. 31(3): 419-430.
An unsolved mystery has been examined in Sierra Nevada, California exploring by whom and for what purpose perfectly rounded basins were constructed. Present Indians are clueless as to whom this prehistoric culture was. Mysterious basins, made of hollowed out solid granite, occur numerous times over a region spanning thirty-five miles. The basins are also one to two feet in depth, four to five feet in diameter, and resemble giant washbowls. It is clearly understood and confirmed by a geological researcher that these basins are man-made. This is evident because natural rock basins are either potholes or weather pits, neither being perfectly shaped or smooth.
A series of theories has been proposed on why these basins were made. Individuals have suggested they could have been used for grinding gold, tanning hides, sweat-houses, roasting meat, or making pottery. Moreover, the basins show no signs of gold residue. If used for tanning, they would be stained red because of the red sap of the sequoia. If meat had been stored there; bones would be found, but there are none. Bodies of water are not nearby either, indicating impossibility of sweat-houses. In addition, potsherds were not located, also indicating evidence against the use for baking pottery.
The basins are also situated at extremely high altitudes and nearly all of them are in forests of sequoias. Meaning, it is coincidental, or perhaps on purpose, that these basins frequently occur in Sierra Nevada where sequoias flourish. Overall, questions are left unanswered and the mystery of these basins boosts the level of curiosity to the prehistoric origin, purpose and people.
LAURA ELLIFF Illinois State University (Robert Dirks)
Strong, William Duncan. Cross-Cousin Marriage and the Culture of the Northeastern Algonkian. American Anthropologist April-June, 1929 Vol.31:277-288.
Strong is attempting to use the data he collected to support W.H.R. Rivers’ hypothesis that cross-cousin marriage may have been practiced by northern Athabaskan and Algonkian tribes. Rivers, who had studied Morgan’s kinship systems, lacked well-authenticated cases that showed cross-cousin marriage was prevalent, resulting in a weak argument. However Strong and Hallowell’s more recent studies conclude “certain northern tribes did practice this form of marriage until white, particularly missionary, influence led to its decline.” Strong comes to his conclusion through his close contacts with the Davis Inlet band and other bands with whom they associated.
Strong made a detailed study of the terminology associated with cross-cousin marriage and kinship among the northeastern tribes. He discovered that there were distinct similarities between he terminologies of the northern bands. He also observed that the northern bands clearly distinguished between cross-cousins and parallel cousins. These observations demonstrate “that cross-cousin marriage has been of long standing and great social importance among the northeastern Algonkians.” Strong’s data and observations support the loose hypothesis of Rivers and the earlier cases of Morgan.
In an effort to expand his findings, Strong made an assessment of the Davis Inlet band’s culture. The Davis Inlet band is on the more southern side of the border between northern and southern tribes. Strong found many cultural similarities between the Davis Inlet band and the more northern Barren Ground band. He also found slight discrepancies in the terminology the Davis Inlet group used. From these findings, Strong concludes that cross-cousin marriage had, in the past, been prevalent among all northeastern tribes. Due to longer isolation and smaller numbers, the custom was maintained for a greater amount of time in certain northern tribes. The traces of the institution found in southern and western tribes indicate that it was an earlier custom of many tribes, but has only survived in the far north where little intervention has occurred.
CASSIDY FOLEY Barnard College Columbia University (Paige West)
Strong, William Duncan. Cross-Cousin Marriage and the Culture of the Northern Algonkian. American Anthropologist April-June 1929 Vol. 31(2):277-288.
Certain tribes within the Athabaskan and Agonkian bands practiced cross-cousin marriage in the past. The examination of kinship terminology aids in the identification of this custom, distinguishing between the type of cousin and the usage of the same kin term for cross cousin and brother/sister in-law. The northern bands of the Barren Ground and the Ungava still practice cross-cousin marriage, whereas none of the southern bands carryout this form of marriage anymore. Culture contact by missionaries and geographic isolation influenced this shift in tradition.
The Davis Inlet band forms the geographic barrier between these two cultural systems. This group is similar to the southern bands since they currently do not practice this custom. They are also connected to the northern tradition since their kinship terminology provides evidence of its former presence by having the two major markers of this custom. Geographically and culturally this tribe links the northern and southern cultural traditions together while demonstrating how culture contact influences change in beliefs and customs.
STEPHANIE CERQUA Illinois State University (Robert Dirks)
Strong, William Duncan. Cross-Cousin Marriage and the Culture of the Northeastern Algonkian. American Anthropologist 1929 Vol. 31: 277-288.
As evidenced by its title, this article focused on William Duncan Strong’s exploration of the Northeastern Algonkian peoples and culture and also displayed evidence supporting the existence of cross-cousin marriage within this group. Finding his inspiration from seventeenth- and eighteenth- century research, Strong studied the Barren Ground band, which represented the most northeastern of Algonkians, and the Davis Inlet group, the group marking the division between the northern and southern cultures. By comparing the two groups, Strong was able to formulate a general description of culture and also suggest the potential historical existence of cross-cousin marriage in the intermediate Athabaskan region.
Strong’s research, backed by the findings of his predecessors, proved the existence of cross-cousin marriage in the northeastern tribes and also noted the potential widespread nature of the practice in history. The Barren Ground band still practiced this type of marriage; and though the Davis Inlet group did not, it might have in the past. Strong argued that the Barren Ground band had practical reasons, such as remoteness and low population, to cross-cousin marry; in fact, he observed that five of fourteen marriages were cross-cousin, and informants claimed that this type of marriage was considered “correct.” On the other hand, none of the Davis Inlet group’s marriages were cross-cousin as this type of marriage was considered a last resort act. However, though Strong found that the current Davis Inlet band did not cross-cousin marry, he used terminology to illustrate the potential of past cross-cousin marriages. Because of the prevalence of cross-cousin marriage in the Barren Ground group, their terminology clearly differentiated between cross and parallel cousins. On the other hand, all but one of the Davis Inlet terms referred to cousins as siblings; the one exception, which referred to the mother’s brother’s daughter using the Barren Ground group’s term for female cross-cousin, showed that cross-cousin marriage could have existed in the past in the Davis Inlet group. Strong found additional evidence in the Barren Ground peoples’ sexual joking that allowed the sexual relations between cross-cousins–when males joked, actual relationships were formed.
In terms of culture, Strong found that both groups’ primary food source was caribou; as a result, most ritualistic practices surrounded this animal. Due to their ancestor’s neglect of caribou rituals, the two bands suffered the wrath of their god, the Caribou God, who had caused the caribou to stop coming to the “Indian House” every year. In daily hunting, groups did not claim well-defined territorial areas but instead hunted over large, overlapping expanses of land. Those who had successful hunting trips shared with those who were less fortunate. In band organization, groups were usually composed of kinsfolk and band chiefs were generally the wisest and oldest male of the group. Lineage was unorganized except that hunting gear could be passed through the paternal line. Individuals did not often have set names but instead could change names. According to Strong, symbolism was weakly developed and art was simply decorative, carrying no meaning. From what he could gather, Strong believed the Algonkian people had a simple culture to which they adhered; Strong deferred to further research to develop his ideas about the history of cross-cousin marriage and the Algonkian culture.
CLARITY RATING: 3
JOANN WANG Barnard College (Paige West)
Swanton, John R. The Tawasa Language. American Anthropologist 1929 Vol.31(3):435-453.
This article is about the discovery of an old manuscript and two letters which pertain to the 16th Century North American Creek Indians. The author feels that analyzing the manuscript and accompanying letters will have significance for the understanding of the true origins of the Tawasa language.
The manuscript, which dates back to 1706, is about an Indian named Lamhatty, a native of a Tawasa town and tribe. Lamhatty is captured by “Tusckaroras”, is sold to “Soukanoukas”, and then escapes to an English settlement in Virginia. The manuscript describes Lamhatty’s route through the country. The author compares the manuscript to two old letters found in the archives of the Virginia State Library which contain interviews with Lamhatty. The author finds that these independent interviews with Lamhatty correlate to some degree, but contain many errors in vocabulary because of the imperfect interpretation skills of the interviewers.
The author explains that the knowledge of the Tawasa language dates back to 1540 and that the language was thought to be of standard Alabama stock. By comparing the manuscript and letters, the author discovers the actual Tawasa vocabulary. This discovery reveals that the Tawasa language is closer in linguistic origin to the Timuquanan stock of Northern Florida than it is to the standard Alabama stock. The author presents this new vocabulary, but leaves out some words because he suspects that Lamhatty may have borrowed them from another dialect. The author makes no attempt to standardize phonetics, and leaves the Tawasa words are written the same way as they were in the original text.
The author accomplishes his objective by consolidating the Tawasa vocabulary and by revealing the true origin of the Tawasa language.
CLARITY RANKING: 3
WENDY HIEBERT University of British Columbia (John Barker)
Thomas, Alfred B. An Eighteenth Century Comanche Document. American Anthropologist, 1929. Vol. 31(1): 289-298.
The author here reveals “The Tally Sheet,” a report of a movement carried out by the Native American Comanche (allies of New Mexican Spaniards) against another Native American tribe of the area, the Apache. The record itself is conveyed as monumental being that it commemorates the earliest known terms of the Comanche war campaign, which Thomas proceeds to demonstrate through the documentation.
Citing the development of this arrangement, Thomas explains the origin of the situation. Interestingly, the Spaniards of the New Mexico area, allied with the Comanche at the time of the Tally Sheet, had previously been allied with the Apache to combat the Comanche and Ute tribes in the area. The Spaniards needed these alliances and thus used them (and caused the development of the warring tribe) at the times of their appropriate need, from the Apache against the Comanche to later (almost ironically) the Comanche against the Apache.
The article goes on to explain the factual report, including actual excerpts, of the Comanche’s consequent development of a warring society, engaged in a two month attack on an unnamed Apache tribe. It becomes very specific and factual, to prove the point of an emerging warring society, with special rituals and proceedings. The article refers to the three divisions of the Comanche tribe, its extensive land claims, and its ownership of around nine hundred “beasts of burden.” Furthermore, the Tally shows the organization of the war parties into five groups, each with discernible war dances, performed in anticipation of a campaign. Additionally, it is determined that there were lances, crucial to the Comanche, which belonged to each of the five warring groups. Within this, there were two types of lances, hooked versus non hooked, the reasons for the distinctions not identified. The article includes the names of many of the Comanche involved (with translations to Spanish and English). The article ends commemorating the success of the Comanche at several battles against the Apache.
Thomas is trying to reveal the practices of the Comanche through the documentation of The Tally Sheet. He demonstrates how specific facts can lead to anthropological assumptions and hopefully conclusions. Although it is an aloof and moderately unknowledgeable depiction, it does start to reveal a framework for the successfully warring Comanche. The Comanche are allies with a people (the Spaniards) who, like us, can only “guess” at the purposes of their allies, yet who benefit greatly from their efforts. Like much anthropology does, Thomas and even the Spaniards establish a distinction between themselves and the Comanche, the “Other.” The words “perhaps,” “suggestive,” and “guess,” among many other similar words in the article suggest this overall tone of questioning and theory of the Comanche, based on intellectual thought but not real knowledge. Yet very importantly, Thomas cites, with interest of this unique people in mind, that this document may trace the beginning of Comanche war tactics and the ambiguous yet real implications allude to the origin and development of their culturally based offense.
CLARITY RATING: 2.5
LINDSAY WARREN Columbia University (Paige West)
Thomas, Alfred B. An Eighteenth Century Comanche Document. American Anthropologist, 1929 Vol. 31: 289-298.
Alfred B. Thomas examines a historical document from 1786, which provides details of the warfare between New Mexican Spaniards’ allies, the Comanche, and the Apache. Using this Tally Sheet, Thomas explores the policy, organization, and size of the united Comanche military group. He also believes that this report could be “possibly the earliest known arrangement of Comanche military societies in a war party.”
The document reveals the actions and response of the Comanche to a treaty signed February 28, 1786 which declared the order to attack the Apache. Following the treaty, the Comanche attacked the Apache between May 13 and July 5, and Thomas suggests, “possibly the first under the above treaty.”
The Tally Sheet indicates the names the leaders of the Comanche, their names’ Spanish meanings, the number of tents over which each had control, and the territories in New Mexico controlled by three divisions of Comanche bands: Yupe, Yamparica, and Cuchanec. Through calculation of Francisco Xavier Ortiz’s number of Cuchanec tents and the tents’ capacity, Thomas speculates that the eight “rancherias” of the Cuchanec had about six to seven thousand members owning nine hundred laboring animals. Ortiz also notes an interior organization of the Cuchanec by leaders. Thomas offers evidence supporting the verity of this statement with the confirmation of Spanish explorers of the Red river in 1787-1789.
Furthermore, Thomas learns from the Tally Sheet that the Comanche leaders were arranged into five groups, carrying a lance and depicted in relation to a specific group. He calls on a corresponding discovery made by Lowie who also noted the crooked lances and five organizations of troops. Thomas discusses the importance of the lances represented in the hand of each chief or leader and suggests the two types of lances referred to the rank of the officer.
Thomas’ brief article followed by the presentation of the photostatic document of the Comanche offers new insight to the information known about the Comanche expeditions and relations with Spain. Thomas examines different aspects of the Tally Sheet and offers great detail to support his arguments about the Comanche. He relies on others’ commentaries, his own summaries, along with historical analyses.
ELLA FOSHAY-ROTHFELD Columbia University (Paige West)
Thomas, Alfred B. An Eighteenth Century Comanche Document. American Anthropologist January-March 1929 Vol. 31:289-298.
This is the report of a campaign conducted by the Comanche allies of the New Mexican Spaniards against the Apache in 1786. It reveals one of the earliest known arrangements of Comanche military societies in a war party. The Tally Sheet, as its name represents, is an inventory of the Comanche chiefs who took part in the campaign. Each chief is listed along with the meaning of his name and the number of tents under his command. The tally was written in Spanish and used many pictographs. Among the symbols there is one that is not clearly understood to researchers. The symbol looks like a lance in the shape of an “f”.
The Tally Sheet shows that the Comanche were organized into five groups; the leader of each group was accompanied by the lance symbol. The leaders of the war parties had one of two lance designs. The bent and straight lances are categorized by the shape at the top of the “f”. Comanche researchers have speculated on the meaning of this difference. It has been suggested that these lances could represent the various military societies found among the Plains Indians, a weapon carried by the chiefs in battle to rip men from horses, symbols of ceremonial dances that required lances, warrior’s grounds marked in battle, and could also be seen as a sign of office carried by the leaders.
The Spanish believe the lance symbolized the individuals who, without being chiefs, won some kind of distinction. The limited number of lances in the Tally Sheet may also suggest a symbol of rank or distinction. Since there are so few of them it is concluded that these lances are symbols of rank among the war parties.
MATT HUMBRECHT Illinois State University (Rob Dirks).
Thompson, Eric J. Maya Chronology: Glyph Of The Lunar Series American Anthologist 1929: 223-231
The articles intent is to explain the meaning and the use of the glyph G in the lunar system and the Maya calendar. The writer believes glyph G represents the deity who ruled over the night preceding the day of the Initial Series to which it was attached. The glyph G is variable unlike other glyphs, it sometimes stands alone or with a numerical coefficient. The writer also states that this glyph is not a constant component of the Lunar Series. Only about 70% of them contain this glyph. In the Tun (Maya year) there are 81 examples of this glyph but less then 50 of them record Tun endings. But 47 of the 49 Tun endings have the form of glyph G. Thompson also has various drawings and formulas for this glyph, that unfortunately I do not understand. The write also states that there is no answer yet to the full significance of this glyph but is a small but never the less a step in the right direction.
This article is very difficult to read for someone who has no training in the Mayan calendrical system. It is suggested that only those who have a strong background in the Mayan calendrical glyphs can read and understand this article.
Kyle Gordon San Diego Mesa College (Denise Couch)
Thompson, J. Eric. Mayan Chronology: Glyph G of the Lunar Series. American Anthropologist 1929 Vol. 31(2):223-231.
Although the meanings of many of the Mayan calendar glyphs have been deciphered, the meanings of some, such as Glyph G, have yet to be figured out. Through analysis of both Mexican and Mayan mythology, it is possible to gain a great deal of insight into their calendar system and symbolism. There seems to be some indication that this glyph, which has a number of forms and is a part of the Lunar Series, represents one of Nine Lords of the Night of Mexican mythology.
Where a glyph falls, in a given series, and the number of variations it has, is particularly significant. When the numeric symbolism of the mythology and the mathematics of the Mayan calendar system are examined together, one can see a pattern, which seems to indicate the aforementioned meaning. In particular, the number of variations of Glyph G, and the position it falls in, seems to indicate that it can represent any one of the Nine Lords of the night, which comes before the date indicated by the Initial Series in any inscription.
Assuming that previous interpretations of other glyphs in the Mayan calendar are not wrong, there may be some discrepancies that can be seen in some inscriptions. If, on the other hand this interpretation of the glyph is accurate, it may prove useful in confirming or clarifying the dates on a number of inscriptions.
SARA CALDWELL Illinois State University (Robert Dirks)
Ulke, Titus. Artifacts of the Potomac Valley Indians. American Anthropologist 1929 Vol. 31:122-129.
Museum collections, archaeological papers, and artifact drawings are used to research Potomac Valley Indians. Artifacts from the Analostans, Piscataways, Nacostians, and Tuscarroras are examined to categorize the different styles.
Detailed descriptions are achieved through measurements, theories of use, theories of manufacture, and artifact material. For example, projectile points were mainly made from quartz, and used for large and small game hunting. The points with various sized barbs were used for small game, making the point easily retrievable. Larger barbs prevent extraction of the points by the enemy in battle, or large and small game in hunting. They also range in color from white to black, purple, and so on. Fifteen different artifact categories were created including arrow-points, spearheads, stone hammers, chisels, scrapers, and awls. This is a perfect example of methods in early archaeology.
KACEY BURTON Illinois State University (Robert Dirks)
Wallis, Wilson D. Magnitude of Distribution, Centrifugal Spread, and Centripetal Elaboration of Culture Traits. American Anthropologist October-December, 1929 Vol. 31 (4): 755-771.
Within Wallis’s article he discusses the correlation, or lack there of, between the geographical distribution of cultural traits as a sign of age. Simply put, as used within his article, the use of fire and pottery are both cultural traits that are geographically dispersed, thereby indicating that they are ancient cultural traits. Additionally, the second part of his argument reflects upon the idea that cultural traits emanate in a centrifugal or centripetal manner from their origin, like a ripple created from dropping a stone into water. Nevertheless, Wallis finds a problem with both of these determinations about cultural traits. Primarily, he feels that there are too many instances when there is no correlation between the age of a trait and the magnitude of its distribution. Secondly, traits, according to Wallis, do not spread at an even rate around the origin i.e. centrifugal spread.
Within Wallis’s argument, his thesis is dependent on a revaluation of both these hypotheses. Specifically challenging Franz Boas, Wallis mandates that although the area over which traits have spread can ascertain the age of some cultural traits, some traits can proliferate faster than others over a larger area. Thus, the “magnitude of distribution” does not always correlate to the actual age of the object. Wallis uses the example of bronze versus iron. Although iron is a younger trait, it has diffused faster and over a greater distance than bronze, although bronze is much older than iron. He explains this speed disparity ethnocentrically: primarily, that “higher cultures” are more accessible and receptive to new developments, because of their technological superiority, than “primitive” cultures (i.e. the telephone was accepted very quickly into American society versus less superior societies).
Similarly, he disagrees with Clark Wissler’s ripple scenario: although traits do always reproduce from their origin, they do no spread in an even and concentric or centrifugal way. He mandates that traits are not accepted at the same rate as the trait diffuses to different localities. Wallis uses the introduction of the horse into Mexican culture in the 16th Century as an example of the different rate of which different towns accepted the horse. His main argument against a centrifugal and geometric spread of cultural traits is that the cultures in the outlying areas of the origin are diverse, thereby accepting the trait at different times.
Thus, Wallis maintains that traits spread at a different rate because of differing cultures, and that the area over which it has influenced cannot determine the age of a trait.
HANNAH GORDON: Barnard College (Paige West)
Wallis, Wilson D. Magnitude of Distribution, Centrifugal Spread, and Centripetal Elaboration of Cultural Traits. American Anthropologist 1929 Vol. 31:755-771.
Distribution, as a criterion of age, centrifugal spread, and centripetal elaboration, has no proven effect on the diffusion of cultural traits. To ascertain this, three extensive studies were conducted on random traits. The studies produced results that led to two major conclusions, distribution as an age criterion is not valid and cultural traits rarely spread centrifugally.
The studies were performed on traits described by James H. Breasted, Alfred Kroeber, and Clark Wissler. In the case of Breasted’s work, inferences about distribution can only be made if the history is correct. Even then, other factors, such as receptivity, language, and “primitive” people, must be taken into account. Kroeber and Wissler’s works only have merit when equal distribution is assumed. Without that assumption it is difficult to maintain any perspective, other than the one presuming that cultural traits rarely spread by centrifugal forces.
The work of Breasted is supported by the work of Franz Boas. Boas believes that there is a principle that can be used to make distribution a criterion of age. Due to its lack of usability this principle can only be used in certain ways and for certain instances, making Breasted and Boas easy targets for criticism.
The major criticism is related to assumptions that seem to be made almost universally. No one seems to try to disprove these assumptions, they only use them as building blocks for their explanations. Without these assumptions there is no real proof that distribution is a criterion of age or that centrifugal spread and centripetal elaboration have an effect on cultural traits.
MELISSA KIEHL Illinois State University (Robert Dirks)
Waterman, T.T. Culture Horizons in the Southwest. American Anthropologist 1929 Vol.31(3):367-399.
The author of this article is concerned with the numerous inconsistent and competing theories surrounding the prehistory of the American Southwest. The differing anthropological theories make the prehistory of the Southwest difficult to trace, which in turn makes the current culture appear complex and intangible. The author argues that things that seem Southwestern in nature, when traced back through history, often originate from areas outside of the Southwest. He says that “ancient remains gradually lose their Southwestern complexion”(p.367) and that “we eventually find ourselves in horizons that do not seem Southwestern at all”(p.368). The author claims that in order to trace the prehistory of the Southwest it is necessary to survey the related literature and make sense of what other authors have said. By doing this, the author does not intend to solve the problem of competing theories; he just wants to bring a fresh point of view to the discussion.
Looking specifically at Pueblo culture, the author reviews and summarizes what various authors have said about culture epochs and stages of advancement by Southwest natives. The author shows how confusing this literature is and suggests that the best way to classify periods is by looking at a specific craft or institution that runs through all of them. By amalgamating the information the author composes his own chronological table, listing each habitation and the type of basket found in it. In doing this he shows that some aspects of Southwest culture (specifically pottery) likely came from abroad and that cultural horizons/periods in the Southwest should be viewed as one continuous evolution. In other words, “a cross-section through the Southwest in any moment of its history would exhibit every conceivable stage in cultural evolution in that it would show cultures at different levels of advancement, but all flourishing at once”.
By constructing his own chronological table of Southwestern prehistory the author shows that “while a chronology may seem difficult, it is not impossible”(p.397).
CLARITY RANKING: 3
WENDY HIEBERT University of British Columbia (John Barker)
Watson, Edith. Caves of the Upper West Gila River, New Mexico. American Anthropologist, 1929 Vol.31:299-306
“The Caves of the Upper New Gila River, New Mexico”, addresses the present state of a group of ancient caves located in New Mexico. The purpose of the article seems simply to be to describe the current state of these caves and to convey the information that is presently known about them. There aren’t real issues at hand in this article aside from the references to the vandalism that these caves have experienced through the years by tourist and campers. Watson seems to reiterate the fact that these caves have been somewhat ruined by these selfish acts but this is by no means the point of the article.
The author structures the article by describing various features of the caves, which lay on the three sources of the Gila River. She describes these caves as being very vast yet intricate structures. Her description also gives some idea as to the types of individuals that inhabited these caves many years ago. Her description of the artwork in the caves gives the impression that the individuals who created the images were members of a tribe that was very early in its cultural development. The author describes the body of an infant that was discovered in the ruins. She mentions how the body was clothed with a jacket of rabbit fur, which demonstrates that the individuals who resided in these caves were dependant on nature for clothing and probably other necessities as well. Watson also mentions that the discovery of this body led researchers to believe that those who lived in these cliffs were “a pigmy race”. The use of the phrase “pigmy race” gives the reader and even stronger notion that those who lived in these caves were ancient and probably in the initial stages of social and cultural evolution. These references to the individuals who lived in these caves as well as the artwork and the structure of these caves all support the notion that these caves are extremely old and part of the history of tribes that inhabited the United States hundreds of years ago.
VICTORIA GAREL Barnard College (Paige West).
Watson, Edith L. Caves of the Upper Gila River, New Mexico. American Anthropologist, 1929. Vol. 31: 299-306.
This article is concerned with the Gila River and the surrounding caves. There are three separate branches belonging to the river, respectfully known as the East, Middle and West forks. A simple map has been included showing the locations that are being expounded upon. There are many caves surrounding the forks, which are determined to be cliff-dwellings belonging to the Indians. The caves were a good place to inhabit because the river which lay close was a means of transportation. The article is divided and organized by focusing on the individual importance of each branch of the river. Many photographs are included depicting the outsides of dwellings and giving the reader a sense of the surrounding areas.
The West fork is the best known because of the variety of caves that encompass this area. The article mainly concerns itself with these caves. Watson lists the caves and the orientation of the rooms inside. Several different caves are described and the similarities can be justly noted. She mentions any artifacts that have been located inside of the cave. Suggestions are then given to the uses of the artifacts. Unbelievably, a mummified child was found among the caves, allowing for the classification of the cliff-dwellers as a pigmy race. Another exciting discovery is the existence of pictographs on the walls. The actual pictographs can be viewed in the contents of the article. The Middle fork has not been explored yet and so no information exists on the area. The East fork has been explored, but the dwellings are very small and did not appear to be touched by war. The conclusion can be drawn that when disputes arouse the inhabitants moved to the larger caves or were able to build pueblos.
The caves remain untouched by intruders because of the inaccessibility. There are is thick foliage and the area is a “wild country.” Also, the supplies must be delivered by a pack-train whose station is not very close to the caves. Watson has found that people are indifferent about the uncovering of the dwellings. The article reveals the problems encountered by early anthropologist when gathering data.
ERIN WESSELDINE Columbia University (Paige West)
Webb, W S and W D Funkhouser. The So-Called ‘Hominy-holes’ of Kentucky. American Anthropologist July – September, 1929 Vol. 31(4): 701-719.
In this article, Webb and Funkhouser discuss a method of grinding grain particular only to the Green River drainage basin of Kentucky. It is, however, a preliminary paper on the subject, so they have not yet ascertained what the exact method of diffusion is, but just that the diffusion occurred within this particular area alone. The hominy-holes themselves are described as being no more than about seven inches in diameter and anywhere from half a foot to three feet deep, being found on ledges outside cave dwellings or on boulders near dwellings in areas of karst topography. The Indians who used these holes employed some very heavy pestles of a bell-shaped nature, the wider end of the bell being the hand-held end. The interesting part of this arrangement is that they did not use the pestles to grind the grain in these holes. Rather, Webb and Funkhouser believe that the pestles were dropped on the grain in the holes as a kind of percussion grinding, which would be less exhausting to the individual breaking the grain. They often found up to three holes on the same ledge, which would at first seem odd until one takes into account the dimensions of the holes. They believe that once each hole got too deep to easily extract the ground grain, a new hole was begun to make the task easier. However, they give a nod to “primitive” ingenuity, stating that the creation of new holes occurred only after a kind of false bottom of broken pestles was added to the bottom to prolong the use-life of the hole so a new hole would not have to be painstakingly started until it was absolutely necessary. Over a dozen monochrome photos are used to demonstrate their point.
PANAGIOTA PENNY DAFLOS University of British Columbia (John Barker)
Webb, W S and Funkhouser, W D. The So-Called “Hominy-Holes” of Kentucky. American Anthropologist July-September 1929 Vol. 31(4):701-719.
The “hominy-holes” of Kentucky are narrow, and often deep, conical holes presumably formed by Native Americans for the purpose of grinding corn and other grain in exposed stone or boulders. The source of the holes is yet undetermined as they are isolated to only the area of the Green River and its tributaries in Kentucky. These holes are often as deep as two to three feet and are no more than seven inches in diameter. The holes are associated with the cave and rock overhang dwellings with which they are found.
Nine specific instances of “hominy-holes” are described in detail as to location and description of the holes and surrounding artifacts, located in Hardin and Breckinridge counties. Following this description is a proposal for the method of grinding. It is proposed that the makers of the holes used stone bell-shaped pestles in a form of percussion grinding. Bell pestles are usually used with the base as the grinding surface and the thin handle used to grasp. In the instances of these holes, the pestles found had use-wear evidence on the shaft and no wear on the base. This shows that the pestles were used to drop into the holes, pointed end down, to grind the grain using impact forces.
While many holes are up to three feet deep, they are often found near other holes that are very shallow. This suggests that when the holes became deeper than arm’s length the users were not able to easily retrieve the grain from the bottom and were forced to begin a new hole. The starting of a new hole, being labor intensive, was not preferred however as many holes were found with broken pestles in the bottoms forming a sort of plug in the hole, lessening its effective depth. There are more than a dozen monochrome photographs included to illustrate the subject.
AARON PETERSON Illinois State University (Robert Dirks)
Whorf, B. L. The Reign of Huemac. American Anthropologist July-Sept 1929. Vol. 31 (4): 667-684.
The author undertakes the task of linking the god Quetzalcoatl to one of the last rulers of the Toltec, Huemac. Through an analysis of an ancient Nahuatl manuscript, now called the Annals of Quauhtitlan, he describes the process by which Huemac’s rule was temporarily displaced to establish his rule in a quasi-mythic era, when gods and demons walked the earth and the Toltec empire was not starting its decline. The annals place Huemac in a time far removed from the dark and bitter age he ruled, trying to combat the forces dragging down the empire in order to deify him. To do this, he talks of the buildings that were built in this far-off era, his conflicts with the demons (perhaps demon-worshippers) that moved into the area, and his love for humankind- all traits associated with the god Quetzalcoatl.
This analysis, however, follows a detailed description of the difficulties Whorf had in deciphering the text, as he was not working from the original manuscript. The corurpted text was rife with errors and in need of some basic restoration before he could continue his work of translating the document into English for the first time. Two previous translations in Spanish had left archaeologist H J Spinden unsatisfied, so his challenge to Whorf was met with much success as Whorf feels it is the most successful interpretation to date because of his more literal translation of the text. To show exactly how he has extrapolated this interpretation from his translation, Whorf follows the five pages of the article with a transcript of the translation spanning 8 pages, the English side by side with the Nahuatl. This demonstrates the value Whorf places on the text itself: while the interpretation is important, the text itself is more so.
PANAGIOTA PENNY DAFLOS University of British Columbia (John Barker)