American Anthropologist 1916
Babcock, H. William. Certain Pre-Columbian Notices of American Aborigines American Anthropologist 1916 Vol.18 Pg.388-397
In this article Babcock takes up old stories and statements from the voyages of the Vikings beginning in the eleventh century. Many encounters with the aborigines of the Greenland have occurred since this time and the author remains uncertain as to who the actual inhabitants were. This country was discovered and colonized from Iceland. A man by the name of Eric the Red discovered it and gave it its name. To the north of Greenland the explorers came across a people they called Skrellings or Eskimo/Indian. They continued to explore the waters around Greenland and several times were blown off course due to the extreme winds. Many a time they found themselves looking at a large number of wildlife and dwellings of inhabitant land, once the storm dwindled. Many clashes occurred between the Norsemen and the Eskimo throughout the years.
The Vikings also landed in Newfoundland where they found habitants on the island. The author indicates these people were probably Indians and not Eskimo. There is also indication of the Vikings landing in Cape Breton, where a native killed Thorvald, the son of Eric the Red. Many stories like these are not exact, and many authors give their own versions on such events in history. This incident brought forth a slaughter of Indians by the Vikings somewhere near New England. There are many indications of Viking settlements at Lanse aux Meadows.
Many other lands and different groups of people were discovered. The swarthy men of another region started to trade with the explorers and these men gave more than they received. Many versions of these stories are easily confused due to the nature of the experience. Many say there was trade and warfare at the same time. Due to the constant battles with the natives, the Vikings decided to head back home to Greenland.
Much discussion as to whether the identity of these people was Eskimo or Indian remains confusing. The contemporary population of Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island, as well as certain regions below, appears to be of great importance to the determination of this issue.
CLARITY RANKING 4
TRACY WOOLRIDGE York University (Naomi Adelson)
Boas, Franz. The Origin of Totemism. American Anthropologist 1916 Vol.18: 319-326.
Boas is out to prove that although things can be grouped together, things among these groups are not all alike. Although there may be a similar thought process for certain ethnic ideas, the way they develop can be very different. This view opposes that found among the Kwakiutl, and its means to interpret all totemic phenomena.
Because we group myths, rituals and activities together, it does not mean that they come from the same history. This is done by a subjective point of view. Everything is not uniform, and cannot be placed together as a whole; there are things within areas that are different. We see this is totemism.
There are specific contents of totemism that are quite different in character in different totemic areas. There are customs within totemism that can be distinct in different totemic areas. “I do not believe that all totemic phenomena can be derived form the same psychological or historical sources.” Because of this Boas does not believe that the totemism of the tribes of northern British Columbia and southern Alaska were the same. But, historically their totemic customs have been molded to assume the same forms.
“The fundamental principle of classification as manifested in the mental life of man shows that the basis of classification must always be founded on the same fundamental concepts.”
CLARITY RANKING: 3
SHAIZA MURJI York University (Naomi Adelson)
Fewkes, J. Walter. Animal Figures on Prehistoric Pottery From Mimbres Valley, New Mexico. American Anthropologist 1916. 18: pgs. 535-545
This journal article looks at the designs and images of aboriginals that are located on pottery found in the Mimbres Valley in the vicinity of Deming, New Mexico. The images being described are taken from artifacts located in the Smithsonian Institute. The images are broken into several categories with the first being representation of human beings. In these drawings, the images are of human bodies given animal symbols. An example of this is of an image of human torso with the lower body of a frog, while holding a fish in the hand. To these aboriginals, there is a direct correlation between humans and animals.
Other images found on the pottery look at the roles of animals in the lives of the aboriginals. In one of the drawings, there is an image of a man seated down by the body of another human. The seated person has a headdress of a snake representing power. Another drawing is that of crossbreed of a body of an antelope or deer with the tail of the fish. This also represents how these aboriginals saw animals as part of their culture. There is also the use of geometric shapes in some of the images located on the pottery, however the author has not found significance to meaning of the shapes or its representations.
This article serves a little bit of an anthropological purpose than some of the other articles of the time.
DISHAN JEBAMONEY York University (Naomi Adelson)
Goldenweiser A. A. Sociological Terminoloogy In Ethnology. American Anthropologist 1916 Vol. 18: 348-357.
This article brings to light an important paradox, which examines the definiteness of terminology in ethnology. Goldenweizer, impedes on the notion that it is wrongful to recognize or to define a social unit in terms of its functions. However, while social units should preserve native terms, rather than descriptive terms which are loose and have varying connotations, should be redefined in terms of three types of natural groups; biological, pseudobiological and territorial.
Goldenweizer starts in the opening paragraph to praise Morgan’s classical definition of social unit, but in the preceding paragraph he contradicts himself when he objects Morgan’s terminology. He compares the similarities and the differences between Iroquois and Haida groups, the Hopi or Zuni and the individual family, to support his argument that functions vary and overlap. His observations are nonetheless convincing and provide the basis for his argument.
In order to convey the importance of terminology in ethnicity, he asks questions pertaining to the subject under investigation. He asks if the terms that are currently used, to define a social unit, should be discarded. He strongly points out that they should be revised rather than discarded. The biological, pseudobiological, and the territorial groups were well defined as they were compared to the maternal clan. The author provides evidence that the clan and the gens cannot compare in antiquity with either the local or the individual family.
Towards the end of the article, another yet important notion is examined. The clan and the maternal units were differentiated and contrasted. Even though, both are based on heredity, their differences far outweigh their similarities. Goldenweizer states that the maternal groups usually extend to half a dozen of generations don’t have a name, do not have extended symbols to strengthen memory thereby, members are recognized to belong by blood but relationships are no longer remembered. In contrast, the clans do have a name and have external symbols, kinship is fictitious, and there is no loss of members as membership is sustained from generation to generation.
In the closing paragraph, a list of terminologies is provided. However, the author does indicate that the terminologies cannot be perfectly satisfactory. This is extremely important since it leaves room for further research and investigation.
CLARITY RANKING: 5
AZADEH ZARE-MOAYEDI York University, (Naomi Adelson)
Gregory, William K. Note on the Molar Teeth of the Piltdown Mandible. American Anthropologist 1916 Vol.18 (4): 384-387.
In this article, Gregory examines a paper written by Mr. Gerrit S. Miller discussing the Piltdown mandible and what species it belongs to. This particular mandible was found close to a human skull, however, Miller does not believe that they belong together. Miller feels that it represents an extinct species of chimpanzee, which he names Pan vetus. Miller has gone about solving the problem in a most thorough manner and was the first to publish comparisons between the Piltdown jaw and teeth, and those of a large series of chimpanzees.
Dr. Smith Woodward reconstructed this Piltdown skull of Eoanthropus, and believes that this jaw and skull found together belong together. Dr. W.D. Matthews and Dr. MacCurdy are also introduced since they have studied this mandible and along with Gregory, testify resemblances of generic identity of the Piltdown jaw and chimpanzees.
Numerous comparisons are made with the aid of illustrations of various molars from various species including humans and chimpanzees. These comparisons include: the crown, the anterior, lateral projection, diameter, and appearance of depth. It is noted that although there is a wide variation between human and apes, some human teeth will exhibit one or more ape characteristics.
Gregory concludes by stating that, after his own observations, he believes Miller is justified in saying that the lower molars of the Piltdown jaw are those of a chimpanzee, and not those of an extinct genus of Hominidae.
CLARITY RANKING: 3
PATRICIA A. FALCONI York University (Naomi Adelson).
Guernsey, S. J. Notes on Explorations of Martha’s Vineyard. American Anthropologist 1915. Vol. 18: 81-97.
S.J. Guernsey did an archaeological survey on Martha’s Vineyard Island in August 1912 and 1913. He gives a brief history of the first European record of Martha’s Vineyard, which “remained in sole possession of the Indians until some time after 1623 when several English families settled on the eastern end.” Guernsey then goes into the discoveries of house and village sites; included are pits, subsistence evidence, points, burial sites and fragments of pottery of the native population that lived on the island before the European settlers arrived. Also mentioned is an unfinished canal that the natives built to allow fish access to the oyster pond.
The next section is called shell deposits; this section goes into greater detail of the subsistence evidence. Guernsey makes the assumption that the larger deposits had several species in it and were closer to the village, whereas the isolated deposits had only one species in it.
The last section is called burial place and Guernsey mentions the locale of native burials. He mentions that the graves are marked with rough fieldstones and that there were no grave goods with the burials that he excavated. Guernsey includes a map of the area and diagrams and photographs of the archaeological finds.
CHRISTINA SAUNDERS: York University (Naomi Adelson)
Hawkes, W. Ernest. Skeletal Measurements and Observations of the Point Barrow Eskimo With Comparisons With Other Eskimo Groups. American Anthropologist 1916 Vol. 18: 203-243
In this article, Hawkes uses his extensive knowledge of the Eskimo to study and interpret a large skeletal collection from Point Barrow, Alaska. Through astute physical observation of the collection, found in 1898, Hawkes tackles the challenge of closing yet another gap in the physical anthropology of the Eskimo. According to Hawkes, “The Eskimo present the unique spectacle of a people extending for five thousand miles across the entire northern border of a continent, living under the same climatic environment, and practically homogenous throughout in customs and speech.” Through Hawke’s valuable insight on the physical development of the Point Barrow Eskimo, he is able to further elucidate the extraordinary situation of the Eskimo, as well as the general relationship of man to his environment.
Hawkes shows that the Point Barrow Eskimo exemplify many aspects characteristic of the Arctic culture possessed by particularly isolated tribes, such as those of the central and eastern Eskimo. One of the main advantages to the tribal isolation of the Point Barrow Eskimo lies in the preservation of their distinct physical type. He also explains how the Point Barrow Eskimo were yet to be influenced by southern Alaskan Eskimo tribes, whose culture received much influence from Indian customs and mythology.
To supplement the author’s insights on the subject, he presents background information on indigenous Eskimo culture, detailed accounts of his observation on the Point Barrow skeletal collection, and in-depth analysis of his findings. The collection he studied included twenty-eight crania, of males, females, adolescents, and infantile, and three skeletons. Particular subjects he considered in detail were increase in stature, the effects of the cranial muscles on the shape of the skull, sex differences, and the occurrence of certain anomalies. In addition to providing much information and insight for the purpose of illustrating his objectives, Hawkes also references a number of other studies to supplement correlations between his observations and interpretations.
CLARITY RANKING: 3
DAVID MARQUES University of Notre Dame (Carolyn Nordstrom)
Holmes, W.H. In Memoriam: Matilda Coxe Stevenson. American Anthropologist (No month), 1916 Vol.18:552-559
This article, written by W.H. Holmes from the U.S. National Museum (Washington D.C.) is a delineation of the life’s work of anthropologist Matilda Coxe Stevenson. Matilda Coxe Stevenson was born in St. Augustine, Texas but moved to Washington D.C. with her parents during her infancy. She was educated in Philadelphia, and married James Stevenson (from the U.S. Geological Survey of the Territories) on April 28, 1872. Ms. Stevenson accompanied and assisted her husband on many exploring and researching expeditions in both Arizona and New Mexico. During these excursions, Ms. Stevenson acquired a full knowledge of the town-building tribes of the region, so much so that in 1889 she was assigned by the Bureau of Ethnology of the Smithsonian Institution to the ethnological work of these peoples. Her husband James, had also become a member of the Smithsonian Institution.
During her tenure with the Zu i peoples, Ms. Stevenson gained their undivided trust and confidence. These people were known to address her as “mother”. He research centered primarily on the women of the tribe, and an understanding of their domestic life and practices. Her studies of childhood would also prove to be quite significant. Her work was divided into two distinct parts. She first dealt with the practical or domestic side, “embracing their habits and customs, games and other ordinary activities of the children”. Second, she addressed the religious teaching and practice connected with childhood. Her research within these areas led to the completion of her first paper, which was entitled “Religious Life of the Zu i Child”. This paper appeared in the Fifth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnography.
In 1881, Ms. Stevenson’s ethnographic research extended to the Hopi villages, and the ancient ruins of Arizona and New Mexico. She began collecting prehistoric “earthenware”, studying the material art of the tribes. Her work (including that on the Sia peoples) was then published in Eleventh Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnography in 1891. Ms. Stevenson then resumed her research with the Zu i Indians, and due to their trust in her, the Zu i allowed her to participate in a number of secret organizations and ceremonies. This research would lead to her greatest work, published in the Twenty-Third Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnography.
Matilda Coxe Stevenson became one of the founders of the Women’s Anthropological society of Washington. She was able, self-reliant, fearless, generous and self-sacrificing.
CLARITY RANKING: 5
ARTHUR HAGOPIAN York University (Naomi Adelson)
Hough, Walter. The Distribution of Man in Relation to the Invention of Fire-Making Methods. American Anthropologist 1916 Vol. 18: 257-263.
This article is a continuum discussion of a statement in the Report of the Congres International des Americanistes, Quebec, 1906, P.219. The statement argued that with the possession of making fire at will, early man could freely populate the earth and successfully spread to other environments. The reasons backing up this statement suggests that man would seem to have been a creature of more restricted environments than the chief primates because of his physical appearance. In comparison to robustness features of gorilla, man has less thickness of skin and less hairy, and thus, he was less protected against harshness of the environment of the time period. With acquisition of fire for his personal use, man arrived at some method of making fire artificially.
Cultural structures growing out of the utilization of fire provide clues to transformation of living ways in relationship to fire. The archaic evidence of distribution of artificial methods of fire making by wood friction in various locations around the world contributes to this hypothesis. Malaysia is a center of the invention of primitive fire-making methods. In Malaysia the fire-saw, fire-thong, firedrill, and fire-plow, are all in fact different types of methods found for making fire artificially. The article also suggests that perhaps migration of primitive man began with the necessity for following seasonal changes of the food supply or unusual dislocations of these supplies. However, the object of this paper was to suggest that migration was influenced by invention of fire at will and not the utilization of fire.
CLARITY RANKING: 4
AZADEH ZARE-MOAYEDI York University, (Naomi Adelson)
Houghton, Frederick. The Characteristics of Iroquoian Village Sites of Western New YorkAmerican Anthropologist 1916, v:18 p. 508-520
Many studies of Indian villages or campgrounds in the Western New York region are able to be classified as one of the following types of people based on their territorial remains: Iroquoian stock, Non-Iroquoian people of unknown identity, and Wanderers from Southern Ohio. This article focuses on the former. Houghton describes specific types of archaeological remains that have recurring use to identify whether sites are of Iroquois origin or not. There is almost a standard of characteristics of culture and various Iroquoian nations both pre and post European contact.
The standard characteristics include specific artefacts, potteries and weaponry; tools used for hunting, cooking and carving, soil and landscape patterns and the size of their land.
The most noticeable feature is the black earth that marks the site’s surface. It contains the remains of refuse heaps of the village, decayed animal and vegetable refuse mixed with ashes and charcoal from the fires.
Ash pits are frequently found upon Iroquoian sites as well. With those, are cherts, or European flints. They are only found in a triangular shape resembling arrow points. They are found among many of the graves of the historic villages.
The author points out the abundance of articles made from bone/antlers, again most often found in ash pits or refuse heaps alongside the abundance of clay pipes and vessels found in many graves. The land location is evident of a strong defence system, as such was more important than food or water for the Iroquois, according to Houghton. He also points out that even after European contact, the great Seneca Villages maintain the same “peculiarities” of the Iroquoian culture. The only difference is that some sites may have evidence of European influence and trade.
This article explores land ranging from Western New York, to the Erie region in Ohio, the Niagara frontiers, the Huronian villages of Canada through to Montreal. He notes that many of the observed sites share the ‘usual’ Iroquoian design despite their dispersal.
CLARITY RANKING: 3
LIVY FELDGAJER: York University (Naomi Adelson)
Hrdlicka, A. Indian Trap Pits along the Missouri American Anthropologist October-December, 1916 Vol.18(4):546-547
This is a brief summary about a man who became baffled by circular depressions along the Missouri and went in search of their purpose and origin.
At first, these circular depressions were thought to be sites for lodges, however, it was then realized that there were no signs of habitation whatsoever so they could not be. Another idea was that they might be caved-in burials. Since no one was really sure though the man decided to excavate some of the pits but found nothing. An employee of the Agency had found cedar rafters in the pits on an earlier excavation but this still gave no insight into their purpose. It was then suggested that maybe they were the remains of Indian roasting pits. Inquiring further into the pits origin and purpose the man traveled to a neighborhood not far from the Missouri called the AFarm School@. There he asked about the pits and finally got the answer he was looking for. A Sioux Indian told him that the depressions were the remains of excavations for the purpose of catching hawks and eagles, whose feathers had been in great demand. A member of the Sioux tribe would hide in the pit under stout sticks with a jackrabbit tied to the rafters and when an eagle or hawk would land it would be dragged into the pit by their feet and killed.
This article is very short and easy to read. I feel it gives a very detailed description of the pits and the reader is able to visualize clearly what they looked like and what they were used for by the writer=s descriptions.
CLARITY RANKING: 5
KRISTEN HARPER Michigan State University (Susan Applegate Krouse)
Kissel, Lois Mary. A New Type Of Spinning In North America. American Anthropolgist 1916 Vol.18:264-70.
In her article, Kissel discuses a particular method of spinning that she along with her two co-authors discovered as they were assembling their material for an upcoming publication on Indian blankets of the North West. This novel type was found in three Cowichan viallages, Nanaimo, Kockasailo, and Musquean, and two Thompson villages, Yale and Spuzzum. The novelty lies in the application of the spindle, and the author delves into detail by thoroughly describing not only how this method works, but also its recent innovations. Yet this method of spinning is judged to be elementary and in explaining why this is Kissel compares various historical methods by pointing out the isolated nature of this one.
CLARITY RANKING: 3
BEHZAD SARMADI York University (Naomi Adelson)
Kroeber, A. L. Inheritance by Magic. American Anthropologist 1916 Vol. 18:19-40.
Alfred Kroeber’s essay is an analysis in the persistence of a “modern scientific tendency” in primitive thinking. The idea of evolution has been widespread and almost universal in the history of human thought, pre-dating Darwin’s seminal work. Kroeber lists examples from among the “untutored and isolated” natives of Samoa and Hawai’i that utilize myths of cosmic evolution to explain their existence. There has been a constant theme of a quasi-scientific evolutionary scheme to explain the origins of life. Throughout history, two ideas have been predominant: evolution, and creation. According to Kroeber, various forms of evolutionary theory have had the upper hand.
According to Kroeber, observations suggested a high degree of adaptation in plants and animals. Earlier notions of use inheritance did not explain the progress or changes in human social development. A common belief in the “survival of the fittest” was popular to explain evolution but as the biologist Lamarck pointed out, an organism was not the race itself, and what was true for one, may not be true for another. Darwin provided a new scheme, keeping the factor of heredity, but added the important elements of individual variability, and competition for survival.
A serious examination on the efficacy of use inheritance was led by Weismann. Every instance of use inheritance he examined could ultimately be explained by selection, but not by use inheritance. Weismann’s basic idea was that the actual hereditary substance was distinct from the organic body, and that the fate of an individual did not affect the race. Biologists have been reluctant to further examine the problem of use inheritance and Kroeber’s article offers two reasons.
The first is the unsolved explanation of the origin of variations. Variations occur constantly, but it is unclear as to how new ones occur and how selection happens to preserve them. Weismann’s principle could explain inheritance but not evolution; Lamarck and Darwin’s theories could explain evolution but not inheritance. Therefore, if Lamarck could be disproved, there was a third factor to evolution that was not known (29).
The second reason of why the problem of use inheritance has not been addressed is the non-organic processes of civilization and human accomplishment. It is distinct from organic, or biological, life. Use modification is verifiable, and there is the transmittal of acquired phenomena such as speech and knowledge. Use inheritance is true of social phenomena such as language.
Ultimately, there are differences between forces of life (biology) and forces of civilization (social). It is of utmost importance to demarcate the roles of the historian and the biologist through methods of research. The social explanation of history should be left for the historical methods of the historian, and not the biologist.
MARY CHUNG York University (Naomi Adelson)
Kroeber, A. L. The Speech of A Zu i Child. American Anthropologist 1916 Vol.53:529-534.
The author states that from June 23 to August 10, 1916 he listened to the speech of a Zu i child named Robert Lewis on a daily basis. Robert was twenty-three months old at the time of this study. This child is the youngest son of the Governor of Zu i. Although the child’s mother is a Cherokee of mixed-blood, we are told that Zu i is the language of the household. The author claims that this research with Robert Lewis is worth recording because very little information about Zu i infant speech is available.
A record of the sounds and words produced by Robert is provided. Kroeber offers an English translation of each of these utterances. He comments on the child’s pronunciation of words, intonation and range of vocabulary. As well, he describes the context within which many of these words and sounds are made.
The author concludes this article by stating that the boy, during this six week time period, had increased his vocabulary by at least fifty percent. He had learned to articulate some but not all sounds common to the Zu i language. In addition, there was no evidence of grammatical structure to Robert’s speech. Finally, it is noted that the child was only sporadically attempting to build sentences.
LESLIE WARREN York University (Naomi Adelson)
Maccurdy, George Grant. The Octopus Motive in Ancient Chiriquian Art. American Anthropologist 1916 Vol. 18:366-383
The ancient Chiriquian art from the republic of Panama has become familiar to the students of archaeology because of George Grant Maccurdy. He wrote a large monograph on the subject of Chiriquian art. The other major monograph was done by Professor W.H Holmes in 1988. Maccurdy wrote his monograph in 1911.
Maccurdy studies in great detail the designs, motives, paints, paste, the materials used, the equality of modeling and even the number of colors used, in order to interpret Chiriquian art through pottery. He focuses specifically on what Holmes labelled the “lost color vessels”. These designs were produced by the removal of color as opposed to the application of color. The most dominant motives in vessels were traceable to zoomorphic originals such as the alligator or armadillo. Holmes felt that the “lost color vessels” could not be interpreted or traced back to the zoomorphic originals. But after close study, Maccurdy realized that the lines and designs on the “lost color vessels” were not just lines and designs. In his eyes they were representative of an octopus motif. Maccurdy goes through many vessels recorded by holmes and explains how each one is a variation of the octopus motif.
So, what was once considered to be a very uninterpretive design can now be traced back to the zoomorphic originals. Maccurdy thinks the duplicates of the “lost color ware” at the Yale Museum should be renamed “octopus ware”. He says that although there is still the possibility of the octopus motif coming from a different original, he strongly believes it came from the zoomophic originals.
CLARITY RANKING: 3
RIE KOREEDA: York University (Naomi Adelson)
Oetteking, Bruno. Hermann Klaatsch. American Anthropologist 1916 Vol. 18:422-425
This article is the obituary of the prominent physical anthropologist and professor of anatomy Hermann Klaatsch. Klaatch was well known for his work involving human evolution and the study of the physical Human body. Some of his most important research revolved around the study of Aboriginal Australian peoples and their connection to the study of human evolution. The paper offers a positive report on some of the highlights of Mr Klaatch’s anthropological career.
One of the most interesting and perhaps most important contributions that Mr Klaatch made to anthropology was that he was one of the first to “advocate energetically a clear division of religion and science.” He was also one of the few to exclude statistical calculations, deriving all of his conclusions from “organic observations”. This is a relatively short piece that speaks mostly of the various respective highlights of Klaatsch’s career. It is easy to read and very much to the point.
CLARITY RATING: 5
ZACH DAVIDSON: York University (Naomi Adelson)
Oetteking, Bruno. Suggestions for Cataloguing of Anthropological Material. American Anthropologist 1916 Vol.18: 398-410.
The general issue the author addresses is the importance of 3 special
Considerations when laying out anthropological collection: the usefulness of space; ready accessibility; and precise cataloguing. Material such as bones, skulls, and entire skeletons are described as items which should be kept clean and preserved for further scientific study, rather than for presentation.
Besides good hygiene or cleanliness, cataloguing every object under research also facilitates for instant identification. In this case, labeling or marking of these items is absolutely essential, especially when there are more than one part to a series of parts (otherwise known as a complex). This appears to be some of the problem areas in documenting and cataloguing material. The author presents several suggestions, such as assigning both Roman and/or Arabic letters, to distinguish the material. Right or left, upper or lower, male or female, frontal or sagital, each distinction is made with different numbers and letters.
Another major area of concern for the author is dividing the material and research to fit both practical and scientific demands. The Accession catalogue, for example, is where information related to the state of preservation, approximate age, sex, and where the material was found. On the other hand, the Scientific Catalogue outlines items such as geographical and racial extraction, drawing of diagrams, and compiling of measurements. The “Kurren-systeme” by P. and Fr. Savasin, which began as a way of viewing a skull from virtually all angles. It was used as a reference to further his research by using it for measuring parts of the Cranium.
ANOULONE SOUPHOMMANYCHANH York University (Naomi Adelson)
Parsons, Elise Clews. A Few Zuni Death Beliefs and Practices. American Anthropologist 1916 Vol. 18: 245-256
Elise Clews Parsons studied the death beliefs and practices of the Zuni, clarifying that she would only be able to explain some of the Zuni social causes of death, due to their extensive nature. She states that she did not find any fear of the dead within the Zuni tribe, nor a very strong notion that there is punishment after death. However, those who break the rules of clan exogamy are considered to have committed incest and would therefore be burned at ko’tuwala. Nevertheless, those who marry into their father’s clan, even though the marriage would be disapproved of, will not be punished.
Parson also focuses on other death beliefs and practices, like the conceptions of life after death, which she considers to be ‘of the usual contradictory, inconsistent character’. For example, the dead are considered the rainmakers of the tribe, but they reside in ko’tukawala, which is not in the sky, but located below The Sacred Lake (a lake sixty-five miles away from Zuni), thus portraying the contradiction found in their beliefs. Similarly, the dead are believed to live their lives like the Zuni do and rejoin their families, as well as their first spouse. Although the Zuni do not acknowledge any problems attached to this belief, Parson critiques it due to the problems that arise in the situation where, one is not the first spouse of one’s first spouse.
Furthermore, the name of the dead is considered a taboo because it interlinks with the ceremonial attitude of forgetfulness the Zuni have towards the dead. However, there is an inconsistency between the notion of ‘forgetting’ the dead and the Zuni rituals, for their attitude of forgetfulness contradicts the praying towards the collective dead for rain and other benefits.
Parson nonetheless, observes that these traditions are already changing and that these modifications are related to the contact with ‘American goods’, for example the custom of burying the dead with some goods and destroying the rest of their property. At the time of Parson’s research, some goods that before would have been buried or destroyed were now kept in houses. Similarly, Parson believes that when photographs become established within the Zuni, the ways in which the dead are recalled will change. The photographs after death will serve to remember the dead, which is incongruent to their tradition of promptly forgetting them.
CLARITY RANKING: 5
RAQUEL ZEPEDA York University (Naomi Adelson).
Parsons E. C. The Zuni A’Doshle and Suuke American Anthropologist 1916. Vol. 18:338-347
This article discusses the functions and importance of the A’Doshle and the Suuk among the Zuni people and how it is integrated into their everyday life. The author first gives the definition of the two terms. The word a’Doshle is “I believe, from the plural prefix a and Doshle, an age class term meaning very old, older than a grandfather. This term is used by the Zuni only in referring to the gods, that is, it is obsolete except as preserved in sacerdotal usage.” (Pg. 349) Parsons then goes on to say, “the special function of the suuk appears to be the protector of the peach orchards at the base of the mesas against child raiders.” (Pg. 340) The author explains that it was very common among the Zuni people to use the a’Doshle as a form of disciplining method among the children. The discipline of fear was an important factor, but this fear was “the fear of the unknown or the supernatural inspired by their elders.” (Pg. 338) This is evident in the examples of the masks that the a’Doshle and his wife wear during the traditional dances. They are frightening looking and unhuman-like. Parsons tells how the Zu i people’s lives are heavily reliant on the supernatural by giving several examples of what the parents would say to their children when they misbehave. An example would be that the “old woman” drags little girls by their ankles to the grinding stone to grind them up.
No charts or diagrams are given, but the usage of examples of how children were disciplined through striking fear into them are very useful and interesting.
This article is easy to read and very engaging.
CLARITY RANKING: 4
LIZA POH York University (Naomi Adelson).
Parsons, Elsie Clews. The ZuHi La’Mana. American Anthropologist 1916 N.S. 18:521-528.
This article addresses a small category of individuals among the ZuHi who are described as “men-women”, or men that are recognized as possessing distinctly feminine characteristics by members of their people. These are men who accept this title or description of themselves, changing their public image in the community. Clews Parsons makes it clear that the members of this group are extremely divers, and have taken on this persona for a variety of different reasons.
Clews Parsons discusses the reasons and characteristics for becoming a La’Mana, the distinction and reputation of La’Mana in the community, language differences between La’Mana and men, roles La’Mana take in various sexually variant activities and places (such as ceremonies with dancing, burial clothing and burial location), marriage and sexuality among La’Mana, the origins and history of these “men-women” and the concept of a “woman-man”.
Clews Parsons speaks of only around six to nine La’Manas in existence; she details three examples of “men-women” and one example of a girl who may be considered a “woman-man”. The first case involves a young boy who looks and behaves more like a young girl, having taken on the role of La’Mana at an early age. The second looks like a male but acts and dresses like a woman. The third is very feminine looking, but also possesses strange characteristics that cause him to be mocked by ZuHi children. These examples clearly demonstrate the diversity and dynamic nature of the La’Mana category, emphasizing that there is no distinct trait that will determine whether an individual will become a La’Mana.
Clews Parsons includes details about two of her sources and their place in the community. She also includes herself in her writings as a part of the community.
HANNAH WEITZENFELD York University (Naomi Adelson).
Sapir, E. Terms of Relationship and the Levirate. American Anthropologist 1916 Vol. 18: 327-337.
The author’s objective is to show the widespread marriage custom among the American Indian knows as the “Levirate”. Thos custom is one by which a man has the privilege or the duty of marrying the widow of his deceased brother and bring up the offspring. The Levirate is also seen in the “Yahi” kinship system but the wife also has the obligation of marrying her deceased sister’s husband. The influence of the Levirate on kinship terminology is easily traceable. The merging of lineal and collateral lines of descent points to the custom of group exogamy.
The Levirate custom regulates many marriages; that is when a brother dies some one of his surviving brothers must take his widow as his wife. This study shows the special importance in the relations between kinship and social organization, considering the nomenclature of step-relationships. An example of this is a term “Pemoo” which literal meaning is “little child”. It is used by women even for a grown up child. This term is common in the step-nomenclature.
CLARITY RANKING: 2
DORY CARSON York University (Naomi Adelson)
Speck, F.G. Remnants of the Machapunga Indians of North Carolina American Anthropologist 1916 Vol. 18: 271-276
In this article, Frank Speck describes his observations of the descendants of the native Machapunga tribe of North Carolina.
Speck describes the Machapunga as people unknowing of their heritage. None speak their native tongue, carry out native traditions, or even know the name of their tribe. This new radically mixed Machapunga are people who only keep alive those native traditions, which prove economically fruitful to them.
Speck contrasts the Machapunga of his time with their ancestors by recounting the observations of Lawson in the eighteenth century. The ancestral Machapunga were a strong warrior culture and shrewd manipulators of their enemies.
From that point Speck gives a concise history of the Machapunga’s relationship with the colonists, eventually leading to their abandonment of native culture.
CLARITY RANKING: 4
ELISE GRETO York University ( Naomi Adelson)
Spier, Leslie. New Data on the Trenton Argillite Culture. American Anthropologist 1916. 18: pgs. 181-189
This article examines the dispersal of artifacts in different levels of the ground. The article also examines culture as it relates to the three different layers of the dirt. Many of the artifacts found are stone implements, arrowheads, and large blades belonging to the Delaware Indians that resided in the Trenton are. The author examines how the dispersal pattern reflects culture.
In one area that was excavated, the author found that there greatly in the area while in another excavation site, the artifacts are more scattered and further apart. The excavators used two different methods of searching, the first being troweling, and the second method being shallow trenches. The excavators found that more artifacts were found using the shallow trench in comparison to the troweling technique.
I fail to see an argument being made to the relevance of culture playing apart in the dispersal pattern of the Delaware Indians. I feel that the environment played a big role in the placement of artifacts since weather or water could move artifacts from their original location. The statement that three levels of strata resembled three types of culture seems unfounded in this article. I fail to see any specific reference to culture with the emphasis of the article concentrating on how article were scattered.
DISHAN JEBAMONEY York University (Naomi Adelson)
Spinden, Herbert J. The Question of the Zodiac in America. American Anthropologist 1916 (18): 53-80.
Spinden asserts that the concept of the presence of a zodiac among Central American Indians prior to the arrival of Columbus is erroneous. Connections between hieratic (hieroglyphic) symbols found in the Americas and the Old World have been made, but, according to Spinden, do not offer conclusive evidence. Spinden offers a summary of the European zodiac and stresses the importance of its creation on the betterment of agricultural practices, festival timing and the “…nefarious art of forecasting events” (54). The European, or classical zodiac is referred to as the solar zodiac, even though it actually measures the Earth’s sidereal revolution (revolution in relation to the constellations). This zodiac was created by the Assyrians and later given mythological significance by the Greeks. Western Asian zodiacs are mentioned also, such as the lunar zodiac of India. Spinden posits that the Chinese zodiac may have developed independently from the rest of Asia. Taurus, in the classical zodiac, was the first sign, created around 2500 B.C.E.
Spinden goes on to offer arguments against the development of an independent Central American zodiac. The primary argument is that with the original migration of people from Asia to America, information brought would be “…on a culture horizon no higher than the neolithic” (55). He states that the concept of the zodiac is also too complex for shipwrecked sailors or ancient mariners to have introduced in America. Spinden introduces his own theory for the existence of similarities among Central American and ancient classical cultures in terms of interest in and naming of constellations/stars. It is posited that similarities exist because of “psychic unity…human beings are everywhere so similar in mental structure that they are apt to return the same answer to the same problem” (56). Spinden argues that anthropologists do not assume contact or information exchange without the presence of similar technologies or language base between two cultures.
Spinden goes on to admit the presence of some degree of preoccupation with the stars on the part of the ancient Americans, using examples primarily from the Zapotecan, Mayan and Nahuan civilizations. Most proofs offered by other anthropologists and refuted by Spinder are derived from various codices and murals. The nomenclature and locations of various stars have been offered as representations of a classical-style zodiac in areas such as Chichen Itza, San Juan Teotihuacan and Izamal. Spinden states that because of the absence of the sidereal rotations of Venus, the Central Americans were not aware of it. There is some evidence to indicate that Central Americans’ star groupings are not on a continuum like the classical model, but represent North, South, East and West. Spinden also notes that there is very little consensus among scholars as to the starting month of the year. Correspondences with classical constellations, meaning of ancient stellar names, the regulation of the leap year, retrogression of the calendar due to the wobble of the Earth’s rotational axis, and correction for the procession of the equinox are addressed as problems not addressed in the research of others. Spinden continually cites the lack of a continuous ecliptic (path of the sun through the horizon) in the evidence of other scholars in favour of the Central American zodiac. Maps of Teotihuacan used as proofs by other anthropologists are not accurate plans, and the study of the artifacts at Izamal was only cursory. According to Spinden, most relationships between the American and classical zodiac that have been explored are based upon assumptions and not facts.
Spinden admits that a Central American zodiac is not impossible. There is evidence that the stars did influence a ceremonial calendar of a 28-day month, and a 13- month year, which creates a 364-day year. Calculations are shown to demonstrate sidereal and synodical rotations of planets and celestial bodies. The Peresianus Codex and symbols over a door of Casa de Monjas at Chichen Itza are, in Spinden’s opinion, the best offering of an American zodiac, showing the 13-month year.
CLARITY RANKING: 4
AMANDA JONES York University (Naomi Adelson)
Wilson, L. A Prehistoric Anthropomorphic Figure From the Rio Grande Basin. American Anthropologist 1916. Vol. 8:548-551.
This article presents historical information concerning the findings of idols belonging to the Pueblo Indians. The Pueblo idols are small and cylindrical clay figures. They are five and a half inches high and covered in black soot; red appears underneath the soot and turquoise is used for the eyes and the heart (549).
Only a few of these obscure artifacts were detected, the majority found in two locations: Pueblo Blanco and Pueblo Largo. It is said the Pueblo Indians
worshipped the idols by building shrines of stones where they would carry food and present painted sticks and feathers. They believed this was where the devil went to confer and rest (548). The rooms in which the idols were found were anywhere from four feet four inches to six feet high and nine feet nine inches by six feet seven inches in length. Interestingly enough, the doors to these rooms were closed with a stone and cemented, inside. The room were eight holes and each one was empty except one. Perhaps they were cemented to cover what robbers took or to protect the idols from outsiders but whatever the reason, the fact, is that part of prehistory is now located in archeological museums.
This in-depth report analyzes the conditions and appearance of the idols. Wilson describes in detail, including pictures, the location and the idols, which is useful for a visual of what actually happened as if you were there along with the archeologists.
MELISSA MOKEDANZ York University (Naomi Adelson)