Classification of Native American Tribes essay

Download this essay in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from essay:

During 1879, Morgan visited the pueblos, simultaneously directing the attention of the Bureau of Ethnology in 1879 to the pueblos. The plain historical relationship between the prehistoric Puebloan ruins and the living Pueblos captivated the interest of both Powell and Morgan.

For several years, Powell steadily collected material relating to Pueblos and ruins in the southwestern portion of the United States. During the summer of 1879, Powell sent out an expedition for the third time to the southwestern section of the U.S.; adding to parties at Zuni and other parts of the country. He also personally visited the Pueblos; noting it to be an interesting country.

Powell collected a massive amount of material that he estimated would develop into at least two quarto volumes with an atlas. "To give you some idea of what has already been done," Powell wrote Morgan, "let me state that I have over 6000 articles of pottery all of different patterns and shapes - no two alike" (Longacre, 1999).

Powell referred to his own work as the study of the languages of the Pueblos; living among them to be able to discern their customs and habits, particularly the customs to their house life. As Morgan's health began to fail, he still determined to revise an earlier manuscript intended to be the second part of Ancient Society, previously published during 1877. Morgan referred to this work as the Houses and House-Life of the American Aborigines. He incorporated a great deal of the new material from the Puebloan Southwest, and included materials sent by Adolph Bandelier, a man he mentored on the Aztecs of Mexico.

During this time, Powell offered to have the U.S. Government Printing Office print Morgan's book. Consequently Morgan sent Powell the manuscript Morgan in mid-June 1880. The book, which was not published until the year after Morgan died in 1881, however, still continues to significantly impact anthropology, as it explores the link between social organization and architecture.

The Interior Department's Instructions

As Powell served as director of the Geographical and Geological Survey of the Rocky Mountain, the Interior Department instructed him to complete ethnographic research through surveys conducted from 1867 to 1874. The Interior Department also directed Powell to "undertake the classification of American Indian tribes."

On March 3, 1879, Congress pooled the four completed, competing western surveys into a solitary organization, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). At the same time, Congress created the Bureau of Ethnology (BE), incidentally almost identical to the USGS, to further the anthropological fieldwork of the old surveys.

Conviction to Capture Changes for centuries in America, the lifestyles of Native Americas remained unaffected by the changes taking place all around it. The common conviction scholars, government officials, and the general public held that the settling of the West would begin to adversely affect, and ultimately end the Native America's primitive life ways contributed to Powell's most powerful motivation to organize the BAE research program. Powell subscribed to the notion that one may "tame continents, make deserts bloom, [and] rear monumental cities... but...cannot make antiquity."

He and his colleagues understood that whatever information could be obtained regarding about the Indians had to be retrieved quickly; otherwise the "timeless" information would dissipate without being recorded.

Baird pressured Powell to collect museum specimens, which consequently contributed to the parties James Stevenson led to in 1879, 1880, and 1881 collect 3,905 specimens from the pueblos of Arizona and New Mexico. The individuals who retrieved these specimens briefly described each of them briefly with the descriptions related in the Bureau's Second and Third Annual Reports during 1883 and 1884. Later, Walter Hough confirmed the value of this effort, estimating the Bureau had collected and contributed a third of the museum's collections.

The Theory of Cultural Evolution

Woodbury, and Woodbury report that Lewis Henry Morgan, widely considered the leading American anthropologist of the nineteenth century, purported the Theory of Cultural Evolution. This theory "presented human advancement in evolutionary stages - savagery, barbarism, and civilization."

Morgan, generally considered the leading American anthropologist of the nineteenth century; became "one of the creators of a new world view, which came to be called 'cultural evolution' or 'social Darwinism'."

In 1871, as noted earlier, the Smithsonian published Morgan's Systems of Consanguinity anal Affinity of the Human Family and ten-year later published his Houses anal House-Life of the American Aborigines. Publication of these works reflected the support of the Smithsonian, as well as Powell's, for Morgan's work. Figure 2 depicts the three evolutionary stages Morgan coined as the Theory of Cultural Evolution.

Figure 2: Stages in the Theory of Cultural Evolution Morgan developed.

Except, perhaps for the Pueblo Indians of the U.S. Southwest; whom Powell perceived to have obtained a higher stage of evolution than most other groups, Powell, in line with Morgan's theory, placed the American aborigines in the savage stage.

Stevenson's Quest Towards a Holistic Positivism Powell contended that providing as detailed an ethnography as possible proved essential to the development of anthropology. This information, according to Powell "would elucidate more clearly each stage within the evolutionary framework."

Matilda Coxe Stevenson, a pioneer colleague of Powell, proves to be significant not only due to the fact she was female or preserved vital early records of Zuni, but in addition, she succeeded and made progress a field me dominated men during Powell's era. As an early investigator of the camera, Stevenson experimented with the methodological potential the camper possessed, along with its possibilities for exploring and preserving historical inscription. Stevenson's photographs proffer a unique expansion of insight her written accounts of Zuni could not provide. The photographic methodology Stevenson utilized represents the shifting notions regarding the production of anthropological knowledge at the turn of the century. Stevenson's innovative nature of her use of the camera, however, contributed to skeptics, including the BAE staff, basically misunderstanding her work.

In fact, although the bureau staff regularly urged Stevenson to produce photographs for publication, they did not see her development of a specific photographic methodology for recording dynamic subjects.

Stevenson adopted most of Powell's theoretical viewpoints, albeit she longed to develop a cohesive body of knowledge for future students, which contributing to her focus of more on the unity of information, rather than the stage Powell assumed it to exist within the evolutionary paradigm. "This reveals the marked division that developed between the expectations of the first ethnographers who used the camera in the field and those of the anthropological institutions that sponsored their fieldwork."

In Stevenson's quest towards a holistic positivism, she created sequences of photos that complement, yet simultaneously rebut the dominant evolutionary anthropology of the nineteenth century. As the methods of the era could not accurately assimilate notions of cultural importation, although Stevenson's sequences offer a stable image of Zuni as evident in the period, they fail to include contaminating foreign elements. "The hierarchy of culture is unable to grasp the fluid nature of any cultural process: it excludes the blurred and the organic in favor of the stratified and discrete."

The acts of reobservation Stevenson performed most precisely illustrate this as she perceived and presented the transient nature of a culture she closely studied closely. Through her photography, Stevenson illustrated the interaction between the image and the world. During her years in the Southwest, Stevenson produced approximately nine hundred images, currently preserved at the National Anthropological Archives (NAA) at the Smithsonian Institution. Most of her photographs portray religious ceremonies," the second largest category depicts daily activities such as manufacturing adobe bricks, playing games, collecting water, and preparing wool for weaving."

As only a few of her photos were published, this indicates Stevenson's intent was to create a visual record of the subjects primarily for research. Science, according to Stevenson proffered an absolute authoritative methodology for one to investigate and understand the world.

Studying Pueblo religion, Stevenson believed made it possible to uncover the inner workings of a society; that through adhering to scientific methods, one could retrieve objective and quantifiable data from these beliefs. Stevenson noted the following to Powell regarding her meticulous methods of collecting; explaining they aimed to provide a solid foundation for those following her in the field want to do a comparatively complete and connected history of an aboriginal people whose thoughts are not our thoughts, weaving all the threads into an intelligent and satisfactory whole for the civilized students.... It is my wish to erect a foundation upon which students may build. I feel I can do the most for science in this way. (Stevenson to John Wesley Powell: May 23, 1900)

Stevenson's attention to detail, however, along with assertions on how best to collect empirical evidence in line with scientific methodology indicate her work cannot contributed to conflict within the standard evolutionary paradigms of her predecessors. "Powell, although ultimately interested in the comparative analysis of societies, had encouraged in-depth and 'systematic' explorations of particular stages and 'conditions'…[continue]

Cite This Essay:

"Classification Of Native American Tribes" (2009, February 28) Retrieved December 7, 2016, from

"Classification Of Native American Tribes" 28 February 2009. Web.7 December. 2016. <>

"Classification Of Native American Tribes", 28 February 2009, Accessed.7 December. 2016,

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Native Americans vs American Settlers

    While this right applied to American settlers, who engaged in a variety of religions, from Puritanism to Deism, and spoke freely about them in publications and public forums. Native Americans, on the other hand, were denied their freedom of religion. American settlers saw Native American religions as uncivilized, so they encouraged missionaries to convert the tribes. Missionaries can be both beneficial and harmful to a culture. Some come excited

  • Native American Issues Background and

    Other Native American tribes did not capitulate so quickly or so easily to the white Settlers, fighting bravely to retain their ancestral territories after the white Settlers had repeatedly and systematically broken treaty after treaty, eventually dispensing altogether with the fiction of "negotiations" and implementing the forced removal of the remaining proud Native American tribes from the "Indian Country" that would soon become known as the "Great Plains" (Anderson,

  • Native American s With Alcoholism and Diabetes

    Native American's With Alcoholism And Diabetes The health situation with regard to Native Americans is shown in numerous studies to be seriously below the standard and average of other groups in the country. This fact is underscored and emphasized in research studies such as Richardson's, The Need to Empower Indian Tribes, in which he states that, As the nation reviews its health needs, it can look to American Indians as the ethnic

  • American Jewess the Jewish American Woman

    1897-1898 1896 saw the expansion of the American Jewess with the opening of a New York office, though the content of the magazine appeared largely unchanged at the beginning of 1897. The January issue of the publication contains many articles that were themed similarly to the previous issues of the magazine, though there is a decidedly more practical nature to many of the articles included in the issue. "Household hints" and

  • Artifacts Repatriation

    Archaeological artifacts repatriation: should the artifacts go back to their homeland? The word repatriation came from a Latin transformation of patria which means fatherland. (William, 2008). Repatriation of cultural objects involves mainly returning historical artifacts to their original culture that obtained and owned by museums and institutions that collect culture materials. This term repatriation was originally created for the Native Americans who wished to restore their cultural object from modern museums.

  • Immigration of Puerto Ricans in to America

    Puerto Rico is a Caribbean Island which was formerly settled by two Native American tribes, Caribe and Arawak. In 1493, this Island was captured by Spain and up until about 400 years it was ruled by the Spanish. The native settlers during this time period had become slaves to the Spanish and with time as their population began to lessen, outsiders including black slaves were imported and the Indian race

  • Journals Ethnographies and Ethnologies Must

    The provincial capital of Enga is Wabag. The two other main centers of population are Wapenamanda and Laiagam. Porgera, at the western edge of the province, is home to a gold mine operated by Barrick Gold. Enga is unique among the provinces in Papua New Guinea in that it has only one major linguistic and ethnic group: Enga speakers. Although dialects of the Enga language vary greatly from Laiagam in

Read Full Essay
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved