American Anthropologist 1897

Boas, Franz. Northern Elements in the Mythology of the Navaho. American Anthropologist. Nov. 1897 Vol. 10:371-376.

In this article, Boas compares the Navaho legends recorded by Dr. Washington Matthews with those that he recorded in northern North America. He attributed the differences between these legends to their varying geographical locations and individual histories. On the other hand, Boas states that there are numerous similarities between the Navaho and groups such as the Kwakiutl, Chinook, and Micmac. He sites various stories recorded by Dr. Matthews and himself, showing their likenesses and explaining their differences. Boas mentions that the myths are proof of the connection between the Navaho and those Native American groups, which he studied in the north. This evidence maintains the “proof of the complex origin of the Navaho traditions,” as he explains.

ALEX NOURY University of Florida (John Moore)

Bolton, H. Carrington. The Language Used in Talking to Domestic Animals. American Anthropologist. March, 1897 Vol. 10(3):65-92 & April, 1897 Vol.10(4):97-113.

The language that is commonly used to speak to domestic animals is unique to that used in everyday conversation. This language is often monosyllabic and the words are generally repeated three times in a row. This form of speech is nonsensical, completely lacking grammar, and is spoken in exclamation. Humans speak in a way that attempts to mimic the utterances that animals make themselves. Carrington mentions that the sheer fact that animals are able to understand these commands infers their natural intelligence.

The roles of domestic animals in society vary distinctly from place to place, as well as from context to context. Different cultures treat animals with varying levels of dignity. These levels are reflected in the language employed to address the animals. The higher the respect an individual has for an animal the more structured are her/his sentences that s/he uses when speaking to it. If the human has little respect for his animal, he views it as primitive. He will speak to it in a simpler fashion, so as to lower the complexity of his communication to be understood by the lesser intelligent animal.

Carrington notes that there are a wide variety of commands used towards animals from state to state, and between different countries. On the other hand, there exist surprising similarities between the nicknames for various domestic animals, specifically those used by children. Carrington discovered that such nicknames are rooted in ancient terms applied to the given animals. These cross-cultural similarities provide an interesting understanding into this “animal language.”

ALEX NOURY University of Florida (John Moore)

Casanowicz, L. M. Tell et-Tin on Lake Homs, In the Valley of the Orontes. American Anthropologist January 1937 Vol. 10: 13-16.

The author briefly discusses the excavations and explorations in the valley of the Orontes, carried out by M. Gautier who had the objective of identifying the site of Kadesh, the ancient capital of the Hittites. Although Gautier was unsuccessful in identifying Kadesh, he was able to uncover several layers marking distinct historical periods.

The top layer consisted of artifacts associated with the Byzantine and Roman periods as well as pottery fragments associated with Greek civilization. As Gautier proceeded to uncover the layers that followed, he found evidence of an ancient Bronze age tomb, strewn with human remains, charcoal, animal bones, tools, weapons and jewelry. The tomb contained artifacts Egyptian in character, including a seal with hieroglyphic inscriptions. According to the author, Gautier attempted to explain the fact that bronze implements appeared abruptly in the archeological record, without an accompanying change in social life and no distinct separation from Stone Age artifacts uncovered at the water level. Gautier concluded that the inhabitants of Tell et-Tin at the different historical periods were racially the same, but benefited through commercial relations in learning the use of bronze from the Caucasus peoples.

ROSALYN NEGRON University of Florida (John Moore)

Cushing, Frank Hamilton. Scarred Skulls from Florida. American Anthropologist January, 1897 Vol. 10:17-18.

In this article, Cushing describes the excavation of Safford and other mound sites that unearthed the skeletal remains of over six hundred individuals. The Bureau of American Ethnology and the University of Pennsylvania funded the excavation of these sites near Tarpon Springs, Florida. Upon examination of skeletal remains, Cushing notes that nine in fifty displayed crest ridges. These ridges were the result of the removal of hair by the shaving or singeing of the scalp.

Native American tribes, such as the Maskokean, have been noted for spiking or binding the front portion of their hair so that it is erect, a style known as “scalp-locks.” Among the Gatschet, this is the signature hair dress of the warrior class. Cushing mentions that in the Creek language, the term tas-sa means “jay” or “king fisher.” These birds are known for their ability to resist attacks by predators. They defend themselves by making a loud shrill and causing their feather crest to stand upright. The Creek word for warrior is tas-si ka-ya, meaning “crest standing up” or “he of the erectile crest.” Warriors identify with the defensive qualities of the jay and kingfisher, envisioning themselves to be protectors of their people and homes.

Cushing explains that it is the tendency of “primitive man” to identify himself/herself to his/her totem. Correlations to their totemic animals are displayed through dress, war paint, and hairstyle. The artificially formed crest ridges in this archaeological population provide possible evidence for the practice of creating permanent scalp-locks. His use of linguistic and ethnohistoric data provides a fascinating explanation for these archaeological discoveries.

ALEX NOURY University of Florida (John Moore)

Dellenbaugh, F.S. Death-Masks in Ancient American Pottery. American Anthropologist February, 1897 Vol.10(2):48-54.

Dellenbaugh’s main concern in this article is the origin and production of funeral jars found in modern day Arkansas. These funeral jars are of great interest because they display craftsmanship and artistry that, until their discovery, was nonexistent in the Atlantic group (native groups of North America east of the Rocky mountains). Prior to the discovery of these funeral jars, art of the Atlantic group was not highly developed, especially when compared to some native groups of Mexico and the Pacific (native groups west of the Rocky mountains). Furthermore, art of the Atlantic group depicting the human face is generally described as “ludicrous.” The faces on these funeral jars, however, are accurate and life-like. Throughout the article Dellenbaugh focuses on one jar in particular, which he cites as the best existing example.

The questions that arise here are: who made these funeral jars, and what is the reason behind this sudden improvement in artistry? Although there are many theories as to the origin of these funeral jars, Dellenbaugh believes that the Native Americans living in this region at that time were the creators. He does not believe, however, that the natives were capable of producing accurate and perfectly proportional faces, such as those found on the funeral jars, using solely “free-hand skill.” Dellenbaugh comes up with an explanation of how these faces were made that accounts for the supreme artistry and life-like depiction.

Dellenbaugh believes that these faces are death-masks that were put onto pottery. According to Dellenbaugh, these masks were made by pressing soft clay onto the face of the deceased and then removed when dry. What remained was used as a mold into which more soft clay was pressed to produce a death-mask. The soft clay picked up all the life-like features that are depicted on the masks.

Dellenbaugh goes further to prove that this method of production was used by measuring the features of two living boys, a man and a woman. He then compares these measurements to the measurements of the features on his focal jar. Dellenbaugh concludes that the face on this jar is of a male around 16 years of age. Discrepancies between the measurements of the human heads and the measurements of the funeral jar are attributed to the potter. For example, Dellenbaugh writes, the potter “may have found it desirable to trim down the rough edges of the mold along the top,” accounting for a shortened forehead.

Dellenbaugh firmly believes that these jars are funeral jars that were used as urns and buried with “distinguished individuals.” He also believes that the faces on these jars were created as death-masks. In fact, Dellenbaugh writes, “The face must be a death-mask; it can be nothing else.” Dellenbaugh believes that these masks were produced by a mechanical process and is sure that the process described above is the correct process of production.

ELLIOT MEDINA Loyola University Chicago (Kathleen Adams)

Dorsey, George A. Wormian Bones in Artificially Deformed Kwakiutl Crania. American Anthropologist June, 1897 Vol.10(6):169-173.

George Dorsey’s article focuses on the unusually high frequency of wormian bones in the coronal suture of Kwakiutl skulls. Wormian bones form in the coronal suture gaps that result from abnormal fronto-parietal development of the skull. He hypothesizes that the wormian bones are a result of two types of artificial deformations of the crania caused by pressure exerted on the skulls by bandages encircling the head at an early age, which did not allow for the normal closing time of the sutures. Of the sixty Kwakiutl skulls at the Field Columbian Museum (that formed the data for this study), thirty-five exhibited partially-open or open sutures. These skulls, all of which show the effect of pressure on the frontal bone, become the focus of his investigation.

The two types of deformations that Dorsey describes are a deformation which exhibits a broad, deep groove at or behind the coronal suture, and a deformation which does not exhibit a groove. Of the thirty-five examined skulls, there were nine cases of crania with the groove and one case without the groove—a frequency of “one in three and five-tenths.” Dorsey describes in detail the specific characteristics of these ten skulls. Each skull is slightly to excessively elongated, has anywhere from one to seven wormian bones (which vary in size), and varies in the extent to which the groove is indicated. He finds that the frequency of wormian bones is slightly higher in females than in males and higher on the left side of the skull than on the right. Dorsey notes that his conclusions oppose the conclusions of M. Chambellan, who also studied wormian bones.

Dorsey concludes that he can only account for the presence of wormian bones by the pressure exerted by the bandages encircling the head and pressure exerted on the frontal bone. These pressures, causing artificial elongation of the skulls, resulted in abnormal fronto-pariental development. The wormian bones formed in the sutures to close gaps between the cranial bones in the artificially deformed skulls.

Clarity: 5
COLLEEN MARONEY Loyola University Chicago (Kathleen Adams)

Fewkes, J. Walter. Morphology of Tusayan Altars. American Anthropologist May, 1897 Vol.10:129-145.

In this article, Fewkes discusses the morphology of Tusayan Hopi altars in different villages. These altars can be categorized by whether or not they are associated with the Katcina society. In Hopi culture, the Katcina society is exemplified through ancestor worship. Katcina rituals, like all rituals in Tusayan culture, are associated with a specific season. This type of worship makes up one half of Tusayan ritual and occurs from January and/or February through July. During such rituals, participants wear masks in representation of ancestor spirits, or Katcinas.

Tusayan altars are designed for specific rituals and corresponding seasons, usually associated with the beginning, middle and end of the harvest season. The symbolism of the altars reflects these points throughout the year. Clouds, rain, corn (either seeds or stalks), lightening (represented by zigzag lines), the sun, and anthropomorphic images can be seen on the walls and/or floors of Tusayan altars. Fewkes noted that dolls or costumed individuals (often children) were also a large part of the rituals. The germ maids (Goddesses of the Harvest) and cultus hero (God of Lightning) were represented by the dolls or costumed children. During the ceremonies, they would be situated on either side of the altar where they would remain throughout the entire ritual.

Fewkes explains that from village to village the construction of Tusayan altars changes. These differences are never drastic. The main divergences exist in the design and representation of the germ maids and cultus heroes. These images are indicative of the societies in specific villages and are closely tied to their individual histories.

ALEX NOURY University of Florida (John Moore)

Fewkes, J. Walter. Tusayan Totemic Signatures. American Anthropologist January, 1897 Vol.10: 1-10.

The aim of Fewkes’ article is to use Hopi totemic signatures he had procured and familiarized himself with throughout his work with Tusayan Indians, in order to arrive at the meaning of many pictographs that appeared on rocks, cliffs, and walls of ancient ruins in Arizona. The ancient totemic signatures that appeared etched in many of these sites were similar to those made by Pueblo Indians of his time. Following what he considered to be a psychic phenomenon shared by other Southwest native peoples, Fewkes was interested in comparison and interpretation of both.

Fewkes’ article includes a detailed outline of the several totem signatures used and their meanings. These signatures ranged from pictographs of men and plants, to rain clouds and various types of animals. He also includes some background about migration among Hopi and Zuni groups, who left their totemic signatures along migration trails and also co-mingled to create a composite group.

ROSALYN NEGRON University of Florida (John Moore).

Fletcher, Robert, M.D. Scopelism. American Anthropologist July, 1897 Vol. 10: 201-212.

Fletcher’s essay is a cross-cultural examination of scopelism. The earliest uses of the term date back to the beginning to the third century in the writings of a Justinian era jurist. In its Arabic origins, scopelism is defined as a crime that consists of placing stones on a field as a warning of impending attacks on those who cultivate on the field- in essence, scopelism implies a threat of murder and is punishable as a crime by death.

In this original sense, scopelism does not have magical properties, but future considerations of the concept does refer to the ceremonial nature of the act. The author continues his analysis of the term by examining the concept and its applications in several parts of the world: Rome, ancient Scotland, Belgium, India, among others. The author offers a detailed account of the stories behind the different forms of scopelism as they have been passed down through time, or written in text. For example, Fletcher refers to a quote from Hamlet. According to Fletcher, the Shakespearean narrative was based on a popular belief that any man who passed away without receiving his last rites could not be restricted to his grave, therefore, those in fear of the dead man’s rise would place stones on his grave in hope of preventing visits.

Fletcher focuses much of his attention on the Arabic use of scopelism. His essay is a literary and historical cross-comparison of the term and its moralistic connotations. He concludes his survey by appealing to scopelism’s archeological and folkloric significance, calling for its preservation in records.

NO NAME University of Florida (John Moore).

Gunckel, Lewis W. The Direction in Which Maya Inscriptions Should Be Read. American Anthropologist May, 1897 Vol. 10:146-161.

The author considers the mural inscriptions, tablets, and records to be the most interesting of all the monuments created by the Maya and as such, needing correct interpretation. With this in mind, it is the author’s aim to determine the direction in which the Mayan inscriptions are to be read: from left to right, right to left, up or down in columns or in double columns. One of the greatest obstacles for the author in solving this puzzle is that the same rule will not always apply in reading the various groups, tablets, and columns.

Lewis considers the work of several scholars who have made attempts to determine the correct way of reading the inscriptions. Additionally, the author outlines twelve noteworthy points regarding the ancient records, which would be useful for any student investigating Mayan inscription to consider. One such point is that the faces of deities, priests, etc., in the mural inscriptions and manuscripts are almost always drawn facing left.

Gunckel painstakingly analyzes inscriptions found on stele, tablets, or altars using the rules determined by the twelve points. After laying out six figures illustrating possible ways of reading Mayan inscription he makes the following conclusion: “the sequences and progression of the pairs and groups of characters in the inscriptions all point to…interpreting by double columns where it can be done…when in horizontal lines from left to right, and in vertical lines from top to bottom.

ROSALYN NEGRON University of Florida (John Moore)

Gunckel, Lewis W. Analysis of the Deities of Mayan Inscriptions. American Anthropologist December, 1897. Vol.10(12):397-412.

In this article, Gunckel is concerned with the classification of glyphs portraying profiles, or heads, frequently found in Mayan inscriptions. Previous work had been done on this topic in 1879 by Edward S. Holden, but there was insufficient evidence at the time, thus hindering a successful analysis. Much work had been done since Holden’s time making later attempts more successful. Despite new findings, the scattered nature of these inscriptions made comparisons difficult. Building upon the work of Holden, Maudslay, and others, Gunckel proposes the creation of a Mayan glyph card catalogue based off the original system introduced by Holden. His purpose is to create an acceptable primary classification system to assist in the interpretation of Mayan sculpted texts.

Gunckle goes on to describe the cataloging method. The cards are arranged into five groups, which are then split into sub-groups. Each card is composed of a drawing of every glyph discovered thus far and labeled with the number of the part and the volume of the inscription in which the glyph can be found. Then, Gunckle proposes the general terming of these glyphs as “Deities”. There are a number of profiles that cannot be classified and for the sake of simplicity; only those glyphs that occur frequently are included in his analysis.

After this background information, Gunckle goes on for the remainder of the article to give the catalogue descriptions of Deities I-XXVII individually. In each of these annotations he includes the location and frequency in which the particular Deity is found, and its overall occurrence. Other information included is: the distinguishing characteristics of the glyph, its resemblance to human and/or animal beings, its location within particular inscriptions, and its similarity to other archaeological materials, specifically masks. These details are accompanied by a standardized drawing of each glyph.

MEGAN BANNON Loyola University Chicago (Kathleen Adams)

Hodge, Frederick Webb. The Verification of a Tradition. American Anthropologist September, 1897 Vol.10(1):299-302.

The article considers the validity of oral tradition in indigenous cultures, and its viability and accuracy as a means of communication over time and space. The author’s hypothesis is that oral tradition is a serious and reliable vehicle for the transfer of information and history, even over many generations.

This hypothesis is tested in western central New Mexico, in the pueblo of Acoma. Here, many hundreds of years had passed since the forced relocation of the group due to a catastrophic event. According to oral tradition, the group was forced to leave the mountaintop settlement of “Katzimo” after the only natural access to the precipice, a giant rock structure adjacent to the settlement, collapsed into the valley below. As there were no structural components of the complex left, such as the foundation walls, and the area was at the time still largely inaccessible, many summed the accounts of the local peoples to myth. However, after a few brief excursions to the mountaintop by means of extension ladders, and hundreds of feet of rope, Frederick Webb Hodge was able to locate several features that suggested previous habitation, namely; holes carved in the cliff side to accept trail ladders, ancient pottery shards, broken stone axes, a large flint arrowhead, and a portion of a well-worn shell bracelet. In conclusion, the author submits that there is abundant evidence that the “Enchanted Mesa” was “…inhabited at a remote period, and that the tradition in that effect is substantially true.”(pp. 302).

GRAHAM RICHARD STATT University of Alberta (Heather Young Leslie)

Hough, Walter. The Hopi in Relation to their Plant Environment. American Anthropologist February, 1897 Vol. 10 (2): 33-44.

In this article, Hough supports the idea that the natural environment of a people impacts the structure of their way of life. He acknowledges that the relationship between people and their environment has long been recognized; however, he argues that it has not played a prominent enough role in the interpretation of culture by ethnographers. In order to demonstrate the centrality of the natural environment in a society, and the importance of studies that observe and identify interactions between the two, Hough describes the Hopi and their intricate knowledge and uses of local plant life.

Hough believes the Hopi to be a particularly insightful example, as they inhabit a very arid and difficult terrain that requires a level of environmental competence in order to survive. They cultivate a number of non-native and native plants, but they are also keenly aware of the local plant resources and this knowledge extends to a large geographic area. Rather than delineating the behavioural or societal characteristics that have developed in relation to their surroundings, Hough demonstrates this relationship by providing an illustration of their knowledge of indigenous flora. The bulk of the article consists of a list of local plants organized under headings according to the category of their use, for example, as food or medicine. The list includes the Hopi and Latin name for the plant and a description of their specific use. About 140 plant species are known and used by the Hopi in a region that, according to the author, supports only about 150 plant species in total. The illustration of the Hopi’s vast knowledge and wide use of the local plant life form the basis of Hough’s evidence that environment plays a formidable role in the shaping of culture. He concludes by encouraging further investigation into the role of the environment; however, he also cautions that any conclusions should be based on observation and not unverified assumptions.

KIM ARMSTRONG BAALBAKI University of Alberta (Heather Young Leslie)

Hrdlicka, Aleš and Lumholtz, Carl. Trephining in Mexico. American Anthropologist. December, 1897 Vol. 10(12):389-396.

Trephining, also known as trepanning and trephination, refers to the practice of drilling or scraping a hole in one’s skull for health or spiritual reasons.

In an 1894 to 1897 expedition, Carl Lumholtz discovered two skulls showing clear evidence of trephining among the Tarahumare people of Chihuahua, Mexico. The crania were possibly pre-Columbian, but the authors deem them impossible to date.

Although the art of trephination had been lost to the tribe by the time of Lumholtz’ discovery and Aleš Hrdlicka’s later analysis, the authors argue that the Tarahumare not only practiced trephining, but were aware of more than one method of doing so – namely, by way of a drill-like tool and by scraping with a blade. Hrdlicka and Lumholtz also assert that the trephined skulls did indeed belong to average Tarahumare individuals, as opposed to a people no longer present in the area. The authors present a detailed overview of the skulls’ measurements as compared to measurements of modern Tarahumare individuals in support of their claim. The authors’ final argument states that the individuals survived long after their operations, suggesting that the Tarahumare possessed a high level of knowledge and skill AT trephining. To support this argument, Hrdlicka and Lumholtz provide ample evidence: they include photographs and drawings of the two specimens, as well as highly detailed lists of the measurements of each cranium.

Both skulls belonged to females, lived long after their operations, and show no signs of cranial injury. It is worth noting that the southern neighbors of the Tarahumare, in Peru and Bolivia, have yielded numerous trephined specimens. Nonetheless, the scanty evidence does not allow the authors to determine from whom the Tarahumare learned the skill of trephination. Following the presentation of their quantitative data, the authors must express further reservations regarding their argument: due to the small number of specimens, the authors claim inability to determine why the skulls were operated upon, and they cannot safely assume the similarities between the crania are more than coincidence.

In this article, Aleš Hrdlicka and Carl Lumholtz present a concise, easy-to-follow summary of their findings that is interesting, detailed and brief.

JULIA KENNEDY Loyola University Chicago (Kathleen Adams)

Lumholtz, Carl and Hrdlicka, Ales. Trephening in Mexico. American Anthropologist December, 1897 Vol. 10: 2:389-396.

While on an expedition to Mexico, Lumholtz was led by native Tarahumares of the southern part of Chihuahua to a cave containing three skeletons. The author was struck by the circular holes that appeared on the right parietal bone of each of the skulls found among the remains.

According to Lumholtz, he found it difficult to believe that such a “barbaric tribe” as that of the Tarahumares would have the surgical sophistication to do trephening. It is the purpose of his paper to explore the possibility. Through his observation of the trephening apertures, Lumholtz suggested that the holes were made using a flint wimble with three teeth.

The holes are smooth and almost perfectly circular or oval shaped, defying his initial assumption that the “primitive” Tarahumares could not have had the capabilities to form such an opening. Additionally, the authors could not identify any implement used by the Tarahumares that would produce such results.

According to the authors the trephening was performed on the skulls many years before the death of the subjects, most likely in youth. This factor, coupled with the fact that the authors were not able to find concrete clues as to the purpose of the trephening leaves, for the authors, much to be questioned.

ROSALYN NEGRON University of Florida (John Moore)

Mason, O. T. Archaeological Map of the State of Ohio. American Anthropologist. October, 1897 Vol. 10:347-356.

This publication is a preliminary report of the archaeological map that was produced by Warren K. Moorehead, in his report in 1897. The article lists various items of interest to be found on the map along with the quantities of each item. Features mentioned in the list include: circles of the earth, squares of the earth, enclosures and fortifications of earth and stone, series of groups of stone graves, glacial kame or gravel-knoll burials, village sites and tumuli of earth and stone. Data was displayed in context to each feature’s corresponding township.

ALEX NOURY University of Florida (John Moore)

Mason, Otis T. Geographical Distribution of the Musical Bow. American Anthropologist November 1897 Vol. 10:377-380.

The author is interested in outlining various musical instruments classified as “musical bows,” and their geographical distribution. Mason utilizes data compiled by the musical collection department in the National Museum to describe and classify according to geographical area the different varieties of “musical bows.” The “musical bow” is generally described as a bow with one or two strings attached. This bow is held by the mouth, (the mouth acting as a sort of resonator), and struck by another object, (a piece of wire, a stick, or a cane), to make music. Among the locations and populations where “musical bows” are found are: among the Zulus and Bushmen in Africa, Angola, Mozambique, New Guinea, the interior of Brazil, and in some Native American populations in the United States. Mason concludes that those “musical bow” varieties found in the Western Hemisphere have their origins in Africa. They were cultural imports brought by slaves to the Americas and given to Native Americans.

Rosalyn Negron University of Florida (John Moore)

Mason, Otis T. Geographical Distribution of the Musical Bow. American Anthropologist Nov, 1897 Vol.10(11):377-380.

Otis T. Mason’s article describes in detail the wide geographical range and variation of the musical bow. His interest in the musical bow was piqued when a native Zulu man played for him on a bow which he had never before seen. Mason quickly acquired it for his collections and his article is a descriptive compilation of various musical bows he has collected. He consults E.H. Hawley’s notes, head of the musical collection at the United States National Museum for the native names and descriptions of many of the bows.

Mason gives a systematic listing of seventeen known varieties of the musical bow found throughout the world and describes in detail their attributes. One by one each bow is described extensively, both its mechanics and its decoration. Also included in some of the descriptions are the circumstances under which the instrument is played. For example, the musical bow from Damaras, Africa is “one used in war or the chase.” Gender roles are also described as in the Hottentot bow. When the Bushman plays is is called “Gorah” or “Goura”; however, when a woman plays it is is called by a different name, “Joumjoum.” Descriptions of the bows indicate stlyes ranging from very intricate and complex with much handicraft involved to a simple string that is hit with a small stick.

Beginning with the bows found in Africa, we are taken on a tour that extends through the South Pacific, South America and finally culminates in the American Southwest. The evolution and variation of the musical bow is seen through Mason’s listing of the geographical distribution. Mason concludes from the study of the collections at the National Museum and the Bureau of American Ethnology that any form of stringed musical instrument was “not known to any of the aborigines of the Western Hemisphere before Columbus (380).” It was the introduction of the African arts into Latin-American culture that brought the musical bow to the Western Hemisphere where it continued to be modified and evolve .

JENNY STIERMAN Loyola University Chicago (Kathleen Adams)

Mathews, R. H. Message-Sticks Used by the Aborigines of Australia. American Anthropologist September, 1897 Vol. 10(9):288-298.

R. H. Mathews discusses the purpose and design of message-sticks, also known as “talking-sticks,” used by Australian aborigines. As described by Mathews, message-sticks are pieces of wood used as a means of communication by aborigines within neighboring groups. These sticks are most often pieces of wood of varying lengths and sizes with ornamentation consisting of notches, dots, strokes, and curves. Design, ornamentation, and detail all depend on the artist constructing the stick and to which tribe the stick belongs. According to Mathews, message-sticks are used for such things as organizing a corroboree, conveying messages or reminders between friends, planning festive gatherings, making announcements in cases of sickness or death, and also calling a gathering for hostile purposes. He states that the role of the messenger includes transporting the stick to the specified recipient and, upon arrival, handing the message-stick to the directed recipient explaining the meaning of the stick. The stick also plays a role in authenticating the legitimacy of the message.

Mathews maintains the role of the message-stick as an addition to a verbal message. He makes note that although the message-sticks themselves do not provide enough information to express any significant meaning, they could be a simple form of picture-writing. Mathews discusses the idea that written syllables and alphabets have been said to have developed from pictographs and the early pictographs may have had an influence on modern manuscripts and books.

In the last half of the article, Mathews provides a plate of varying message-sticks used by natives living along a variety of rivers in New South Wales and Queensland. For each pictured message-stick he provides detailed information about the locality and purpose of the stick, as told by the aborigines. The information regarding the message-sticks was obtained from a police trooper named Mr. James E. Miller who collected all details from the natives themselves. The author draws the conclusion that although the use of message-sticks by the aborigines of Australia can be seen as a means of communication between members of different tribes, there is insufficient evidence and scientific accounts to make any concrete conclusions.

VIVIAN VREEMAN Loyola University Chicago (Kathleen Adams)

McGee, W. J. Primitive Rope-Making in Mexico. American Anthropologist April 1897 Vol. 10: 114-119.

The author’s objective is to provide a description of rope-making techniques employed by inhabitants of a valley situated at the western base of the eastern Sierra Madre of Mexico. The valley population, visited and observed by the author and other members of his geological expedition, engaged in mostly agricultural and stock-raising activities, the exception being the making of rope for internal purposes, but occasionally for export to neighboring areas.

The process of rope-making is one that, although seemingly simple, requires skillful technique. The most skillful, according to the author, are those who are of Native American or mixed Native American and Mexican descent. The rope makers use a mechanism that consists of wooden shafts, upper and lower pulleys, and straps that the rope-maker utilizes to operate the pulleys and twist the rope fibers together. The rope making machine can vary in design from person to person, and depending on its formulation, can be used by only one person, or one person and an assistant. There are varying degrees of complexity when making the rope, for example, when more than one fiber strand is twisted at the same time.

Rosalyn Negron University of Florida (John Moore)

McGee, W.J. Primitive Rope Making in Mexico. American Anthropologist April, 1897 Vol 10 (4): 114 119.

This article focuses on arguing that rope making is a primitive art and that the most skilled rope makers are the pure blood Indians and Mexicans. This article focuses on the rope making skills of Indians living in a feudal hacienda in a valley close to the meeting point of the three Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, and San Luis Potosi. The predominant population of the area is made up of Spanish Indians and pure Indians. The main argument is that rope making is predominantly an aboriginal industry and because it is a product of aboriginal culture it is a primitive art, just as the people who make the ropes are primitive.

The author describes the purpose of the ropes for the Indian inhabitants. The Indians make the ropes themselves from a portion of the fibers that are harvested and exchanged for food at the hacienda. Then the fibers are packed by the owners of the hacienda into bundles they call ixtil. Ixtil are one of the most important commercial products of the district. Whatever is left over from the fibers is then used by the Indians to make their ropes. The Indians mostly use the ropes they make to thatch roofs and walls. Although the author states he is uncertain if rope making is a result of acculturation or strictly aboriginal, he claims it is definitely a primitive art.

In describing the Indian art of rope making the author emphasizes the primitive nature of this aspect of their culture. He does this by describing the mechanism by which the ropes are actually made. He describes the apparatus used to make the ropes as relatively simple looking but still requiring skill and experience to operate. The apparatus itself is made using relatively simple tools that include a machete, an ax, and an awl.

The author presents evidence such as the simplistic tools used in making the apparatus that is used in making the ropes themselves. He also points out that the Indians are the most skillful makers of the ropes. His argument is that the most skilled rope makers consist of pure blood Indians and those Mexicans with predominantly Indian blood. Ultimately, it is argued that the main reason for their skill is that rope making has been in their culture for a very long time and they have been passing the art of rope making down to their descendants.

MARIA RUIZ Loyola University Chicago (Kathleen Adams)

McGee, W. J. The Beginning of Zooculture. American Anthropologist July, 1897 Vol. 10:215-232.

In desert environments, flora, fauna, and human populations congregate around sparsely distributed watering holes. The harsh environment requires plants and animals to adapt in unique ways in their struggle for survival. McGee calls this ability to adapt prepotency.

In this article, McGee discusses rancherias throughout the deserts of northern Mexico. These secluded villages are home to the interaction between various animal species and humans. Vultures can be found on just about every rancheria, gathering together in flocks. These large birds consume left over meat from the meals of the villagers. They can be found wondering among the children in the village, only acting distrustful and unsettled around strangers. The village people consider the vultures to be friendly and harmless. Doves are also found among rancherias, often being captured as pets for young women. Quails congregate around the watering holes and benefit from the food they find in the fields. Villagers benefit from their existence by hunting them for their meat.

At night, coyotes scavenge the villages looking for food. They are often as bold as to venture into people’s homes while they sleep. The locals are forbidden from killing these animals, based on their belief that coyotes are mystical, supernatural creatures. Among local Native American populations, coyotes are important clan animals. Their howling at night warns them of the presence of strangers nearby, protecting their villages from possible attack. Also living within the rancherias are cattle, which are herded by the villagers and maintained for their meat and leather. Though they are considered domesticated, these cattle are not very tame and often uncontrollable. With extensive amounts of training, several cows are kept for their milk.

McGee stresses that there is an intimate association between humans and animals. Though this association is often antagonistic, it is mutually beneficial. Relations are not individualized, but between the group of animals and the group of people. Only in the case of doves, and to a point with cattle, does the individual ownership of animals exist. McGee mentions that these relationships, existing at three levels, can be known as zooculture. They range from toleration to domestication to artificialization. The relations that humans have with some animals do not reach the stages of domestication or artificialization, as exemplified in the case of the coyote.

Environmental conditions lead to the coalescence of animals and humans in certain regions in their struggle for survival. Altruistic relationships strive through mutual benefits until one species moves to dominate the other. McGee states that it is often the case that these harmonious relations are concluded as the result of human egoism and selfishness manifested in the domination of “lower species.”

ALEX NOURY University of Florida (John Moore)

McGee, WJ. The Science of Humanity. The American Anthropologist August, 1897. Vol.10(8): 241-272.

In his article, “The Science of Humanity”, WJ McGee seeks to understand humanity and its progress in a processual and systematic way. Humanity has in the past been viewed in such a systematic way only in the context of biology, with man as an animal McGee, however, uses systematic reasoning to explore the “touch of human (and solely human) nature that makes the whole world kin” (241). This interest in the nature of humanity has been expressed consistently across different cultures worldwide, becoming more salient as a culture progresses in maturity.

McGee first addresses what it is to be human beyond biology and discovers that the pursuit of knowledge is of foremost importance in such a definition. All individuals possess knowledge, and this knowledge becomes worthwhile only when combined with others’ knowledge. Knowledge progresses systematically; observations turn into generalizations, with generalizations giving way to laws, and laws leading to hypotheses. The subjects of knowledge are also organized in such a systematic way, with the focus of investigations moving from what is far to what is near, and from what is abnormal to what is normal, etc. Methods of interpreting knowledge also progress in an expected way, with stationary interpretations yielding to dynamic and sequential analyses.
Through the progression from the static to the active, anthropology has developed from biology and zoology. Man is no longer seen as an animal, but instead as an intelligent being. The field of archaeology developed from this study of artifacts and customs abroad turning inward, as knowledge naturally observes the strange then turns towards the local. Artifacts and customs can then be seen as processual, with activities for pleasure developing from sports to an intellectual appreciation for the fine arts. The focus of anthropological study is guided by the five “essentially human activities” (266) including the arts, political organization, industry, language, etc. McGee, therefore, derived the basis for anthropology by following the progression of biology into a more humanistic science focusing on the natural advancement and procession of human activity.

McGee does not use any ethnographic data in his argument. Instead he uses historical examples, like in his notation of the development of science in the Western world. His examples are exclusively Western in origin and are presented in lists in which each point leads to another through deductive reasoning. He uses his examples to show causation in relation to his theories. Ultimately, his theories coexist well with the ideas of the eras other thinkers about unilineal cultural evolution, as he notes a hierarchy of ideas and activities that progress neatly from one stage to another. McGee is a figure writing clearly within the context of unilineal cultural evolution.

LAURA WULF Loyola University Chicago (Kathleen Adams)

Starr, Frederick. Stone Images From Tarascan Territory, Mexico. American Anthropologist. February, 1897 Vol. 10:45-48.

In the previous December’s issue of American Anthropologist, Dr. Cyrus Thomas discussed his discovery of eight stone images from the mounds and ancient graves of various southern states. Thomas concluded that all eight specimens are similar in design and display the potential of local origins, most likely of the “stone-grave area.” In his article, he discusses four of these human figures. Each figure described is similar in their sitting posture and slanted, upraised face. Other portions of the figures, such as the their hands, feet, and style of hair or headdress vary.

In this article, Starr mentions that Thomas’ figurines closely resemble stone figures found in the Tarascan region of Mexico. These artifacts are also in a seated position with upraised faces. Starr shows several examples of these statuettes and describes them in depth. Though they vary in sex, these rounded figures exhibit facial features and have rudely sculpted arms and legs. One of these examples is a woman with a child strapped to her back. The figures that Starr describes, the majority of which are constructed of soapstone, vary from five to seven and a quarter inches in length.

There is an intriguing similarity between the figures found in the southern states by Thomas that those found in Tarascan, Mexico. The connection between these comparable motifs is unknown. Starr’s observation suggests the potential contact between these two groups.

ALEX NOURY University of Florida (John Moore)

Starr, Frederick. Stone Images from Tarascan Territory, Mexico. American Anthropologist February, 1897 Vol.10(2):45-47.

Frederick Starr thoroughly describes and briefly analyzes specimens of stone images from the Tarascan Territory of Mexico in this article. He likens them to similar figurines found in Tennessee by Dr. Cyrus Thomas, bringing attention to this synchronized occurrence and its possible significance.

Although he states that there are plenty of examples of the figurines, Starr only describes and pictures four in this piece. The author presents this evidence in comparison to a short depiction of Thomas’ findings to show their similarities. All of the images have a slanted, upturned face and are carved in the sitting or squat position. These are the same main characteristics Thomas noted in his findings as well. Other notable traits in the Mexican sample include the consistent placement of the hands on the chest, indications of headdresses, and the sandstone material used to form them. One figure also has traces of what could be a sexual organ and another has an infant on its back. The last figure is notably different; it is much more detailed and is polished smooth.

Starr briefly analyzes the positioning of the statuettes. He tends to believe the upturned face is an indication of admiration and esteem. He also makes it clear that there is no reason to believe the posture is artificial or distorted.

Starr notes how the similarities among these two groups of figures, from different geographical areas, is remarkable. While Thomas believes the unique artistic style was characteristic of only the Tennessee region, Starr considers the striking resemblances in the Mexican images. In addition, Starr states that there are other artistic objects that are comparable from the two regions, but unlike objects in other nearby regions. He reveals that other work he has done has shown similar findings in relation to the connections among Native Americans in the US and Latin America. Essentially, Starr alludes to the thought that the natives of the southern United States and those of regions in Mexico may have had some relations, exchanging ideas and techniques, or what he calls “…little threads of connection (47).”

BRIDGETTE WELLS Loyola University Chicago (Kathleen Adams)

Tooker, William Wallace. The Significance of John Eliot’s Natick. American Anthropologist September, 1897 Vol. 10: 281-

John Eliot established the mission town of Natick in Massachusetts. It is the purpose of Tooker’s paper to trace the various meanings for the word natick, as well as arrive at the most likely significance of John Eliot’s natick. The author first outlines the word’s uses by several individuals, including its uses in Indian language compilations, letters, or other scholarly writings.

In general, the word natick tends to be associated with the name of a place. One accepted definition is that the word means “a place of hills.” Interestingly, Wallace does not accept this definition, stating that the idea embodied in the application of the word to a locality is “beyond the Indian mind.” Tooker’s essay stems from dissatisfaction for the Indian explanation, and attempts to use Indian records of the town of Natick, R.I. to shed some light on the word’s “true” significance. Tooker prefers the definition offered by some that natick means ‘a clearing.’ He concludes that this definition is the most valid definition after encountering an account of the settlement of the town in its inception.

The account states, “In this place the grass was cut and timber felled, etc.” This statement is proof to the author that the Rhode Island town was named Natick after the locales’ characteristic as a clearing, for why would grass be cut if there was no clearing?

Tooker’s paper includes a linguistic analysis of the work natick, the different ways of spelling it, pronouncing it, and its roots in Algonquian language. Although rooted in Algonquian, Tooker argues that the natick used by John Eliot in naming his ‘prayer town,’ or mission, was not framed in accordance with its pure aboriginal meaning. Instead, Tooker argues that John Eliot used the word as an appellative derived from the native language, but altered in order to indicate a place of religious significance.

ROSALYN NEGRON University of Florida (John Moore)

Wirth, Albrecht. The Aborigines of Formosa and the Liu-Kiu Islands. American Anthropologist November, 1897 Vol.10 (11): 357-370.

Albrecht Wirth focuses his article on the search for the origin of the native peoples of the island Formosa (Taiwan) and the disagreements this search has caused among anthropologists.

Wirth states the commonly accepted theory relating to Formosa is that the native peoples descended from pure, unmixed Malays. Wirth then relates two newer theories that argue against the popular theory. First, researchers Schetelig, Dodd, and de Lacouperie theorize that the northern Formosans have descended from a group that left the Chinese mainland. Second, Joest presents a theory that the northern Formosans have no relation to any of the other groups in the region and represent a completely unique background, although Wirth does not elaborate further on this theory.

Wirth attempts to wade through these competing ideas by traveling to Formosa in the years 1895 and 1897. He then presents the readers with an extensive catalog of the different cultures he encountered during his travels. While comparing his noteS of the different groups, Wirth realizes that none of the earlier theories match what he has observed.

Wirth then attempts to establish the origins of the different ethnic groups he encountered on the island, often by focusing on linguistic research. Wirth feels the northern Formosan tribes have originated from a mix of Malays and Luzon Tagals with some language origin from Assam. He shows that eastern Formosans have descended from a wide range of Polynesian cultures but most importantly from the Maori. Wirth has difficulty placing the origins of other groups on Formosa. Wirth shows how they seem to be so dissimilar from each other that their background is difficult to trace because of the convergence of countless cultural traditions. Wirth ends his article by suggesting the possibility of Malay influence on Native American language and then by lambasting fellow anthropologists for trying to lump all native groups into the same category instead of taking the time to discover what makes them distinct.

NICHOLAS BACHMAN Loyola University Chicago (Kathleen Adams)