Classification of Native American Tribes Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

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'…

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