BEGINNINGS OF PUBLIC INTEREST IN AMERICAN INDIAN ANTIQUITIES
The abandoned and ruined dwellings of prehistoric man in the American West had aroused the interest and comment of explorers and colonizers for centuries. Not until after the Civil War, however, did these ruins, and the continuing discovery of still others, attract the serious attention of the eastern scientific community. Public interest in the continent's ancient civilizations brought about no less than five significant developments portentous for American archaeology in the single year of 1879. They mark 1879 as the beginning of the movement that led, a quarter of a century later, to adoption of the Antiquities Act as the first national historic preservation policy for the United States.
In this year Congress authorized establishment of the Bureau of Ethnology, later renamed the Bureau of American Ethnology, in the Smithsonian Institution to increase and diffuse knowledge of the American Indian. Major John Wesley Powell, who had lost his fight arm in the Battle of Shiloh and who in 1869 had led his remarkable boat expedition through the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River, was appointed its first director (Hellman 1967:105-6 [Hinsley 1981; Merrill 1935b]). He headed the Bureau until his death in 1902. During this long period, he and his colleagues became a major force for the protection of antiquities on federal lands.
Five years earlier, in 1874, Frederic Ward Putnam had begun his long and distinguished career as Curator of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard. For Putnam, 1879 marked the appearance of a superbly illustrated book he had edited devoted to the ruined pueblos of Arizona and New Mexico and the archaeology and ethnology of the Indians of Southern California. This was Volume VII, Archaeology, of the Report upon United States Geographical Surveys West of the One Hundredth Meridian (Putnam 1879). For the next thirty-five years, until his death in 1915, Putnam profoundly influenced the rise and development of anthropology in America and served on several committees and boards concerned with federal legislation to protect American antiquities (Dixon 1935 [Tozzer 1935]).
In 1879 the American Association for the Advancement of Science for the first time elected an anthropologist as its president. He was Lewis Henry Morgan, then the foremost student in the United States in the comparatively new field of anthropology [Hodge 1934; Resek 1960; Tooker 1985]. Among many other works, he was the author of Ancient Society, published in 1877 to wide acclaim in both America and Europe (Morgan 1877; Lange and Riley 1966: 4). Frederic W. Putnam was also very active in the affairs of the Association. He served as its permanent secretary from 1873 to 1898, when he became president. During this period the Association inaugurated its Section H, in which growing numbers of students of anthropology gathered each year to read papers and discuss ideas. Eventually the Association established an influential committee to work for legislation to protect antiquities on federal lands.
On February 10, 1879, a group of interested persons, called together by Professor Otis Tufton Mason of Columbian College [since 1904 George Washington University] and others, assembled in the Regents' Room of the Smithsonian Institution and founded the Anthropological Society of Washington (Hough 1908). In 1887 it was incorporated "for the term of one thousand years" (Anonymous 1888a: 368) and in 1888 began publishing The American Anthropologist. This Society drew support from the anthropologists, ethnologists, and geologists then being brought into the federal government as well as from many other persons active in the life of the national capital (Anonymous 1888b: 382-86). In 1902 members of the ASW, as it became known, formed part of a group that founded the American Anthropological Association, and The American Anthropologist was adopted by the national organization as its official journal. The American Anthropological Association, in turn, provided crucial support for the American Antiquities Act in 1906.
Lastly in 1879, Charles Eliot Norton, professor of the history of art at Harvard and for a quarter century one of its most influential scholars and teachers (Moore 1934 [Turner 1999]), with the help of friends and associates in and around Boston, founded the Archaeological Institute of America [Sheftel 1979]. Among those close friends was historian Francis Parkman. Almost thirty years before, as a young graduate of Harvard, Norton had helped the nearly blind Parkman prepare his first important work, The California and Oregon Trail, for publication (Parkman 1849). As one of Parkman's classmates at Harvard wrote long afterward, he "even then showed symptoms of `Injuns' on the brain" (Adams 1934). He upheld the cause of American archaeology in its continuing struggle with classical archaeology for support from the Institute. Other leading members in early years included William Watson Goodwin, professor of Greek literature at Harvard from 1860 to 1901 and first director of its American School of Classical Studies in Athens (1882-1883); Russell Sturgis, architect, critic and writer; Alexander Agassiz, well-known zoologist and oceanographer, the son of Jean Louis Agassiz; and Henry Williamson Haynes [a Bostonian with great interest in archaeology], who for more than twenty years kept the Institute's members accurately informed about the progress of American archaeology (Norton and others 1880).
The purpose of the Institute was to promote and direct archaeological research, both classical and American; maintain schools for young classical scholars in Athens, Rome, and Palestine; publish the results of archaeological explorations and research; and hold meetings and sponsor lectures on archaeological subjects (Kelsey 1906: 338). Classical archaeology received substantially the larger support, but the Executive Committee from the beginning also held the view that "the study of the aboriginal life in America is essential to complete the history of the human race, as well as to gratify a legitimate curiosity concerning the condition of man on this continent previous to its discovery" (Norton and others 1885: 32).
In formulating its very first project in the field of American archaeology, the Institute turned naturally for advice and assistance to Lewis Henry Morgan. He believed that the most promising field for exploration was the social organization, usages, and customs of the Pueblo tribes of Indians and the architecture of the structures they occupied [some of which he had seen on a trip to the Southwest in 1878 (White 1942)]. "With the light thus gained," the Council of the Institute reported in 1885, "he thought a careful exploration and survey should be attempted of the numerous remains of similar structures still to be found, especially in the San Juan region, near the point where Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona join; and in other parts of New Mexico and Arizona" (Norton and others 1885:30-31). Morgan drew up a comprehensive scheme of the methods for prosecuting such an exploration, and he suggested that it should later be extended to the imposing ruins in Mexico, Central America, and Yucatan. He emphasized the importance of architectural history and advanced the unique theory that "all the various ruined structures on this continent can be explained by the analogies of the existing communal buildings of New Mexico. Springing from a common mind, these exhibit only different stages of development, and form one system of works, from the Long House of the Iroquois to the Joint-Tenement structures of the Aztecs and Mayas" (Norton and others 1885: 32). This is the [Institute] Council's interpretation of Morgan's views.
Not only did Morgan outline a program, he also recommended an investigator. Adolph Francis Bandelier [Kidder 1928; Lange and Riley 1996] of Highland, Illinois, then forty years old, was born in Berne, Switzerland, but his family moved to America in 1848 and settled in Illinois. As a youth an ardent naturalist, he returned to Berne in 1855 and studied geology under Professor Streder at the University. Here, too, he met Alexander yon Humboldt, who impressed him deeply. Back in America in the late 1850s, Bandelier turned to the study of history and ethnology, at first in his spare time, and acquired valuable knowledge of several European languages and of linguistics generally, Beginning in 1877, he published several scholarly works on the ancient Mexicans through the Peabody Museum at Harvard (Norton and others 1885: 33) and also became known to Frederic W. Putnam. With the help of Parkman, Putnam and Morgan overcame Norton's reluctance and led the Institute to engage Bandelier to undertake its first project in American archaeology--an exploration in the Southwest exactly as recommended by Morgan (Lange and Riley 1966: 16).
In August 1880, after calling on John Wesley Powell in Washington, D.C., Bandelier journeyed to New Mexico and began a preliminary study of the great ruined pueblo of Pecos, about 30 miles southeast of Santa Fe. Knowledge of relevant Spanish documents persuaded Bandelier that Pecos had first been visited in 1540 by Alvarado, Coronado's lieutenant, during his search for the "Seven Cities of Cibola." Making elaborate architectural measurements of the ruins, Bandelier concluded that Pecos was "probably the largest aboriginal structure within the United States, so far described" (Norton and others 1885: 34). He promptly wrote an account of his first season's work (Bandelier 1881).
In Bandelier's report appeared these striking sentences on the condition of the great Pecos ruin in 1880 (Bandelier 1881: 42):
Mrs. Kozlowski (wife of a Polish gentleman, living two miles south on the arroyo) informed me that in 1858, when she came to her present home with her husband, the roof of the church was still in existence. Her husband tore it down, and used it for building out-houses; he also attempted to dig out the cornerstone, but failed. In general the vandalism committed in this venerable relic of antiquity defies all description.... All the beams of the old structure are quaintly ... carved ... much scroll work terminating them. Most of this was taken away, chipped into uncouth boxes, and sold, to be scattered everywhere. Not content with this, treasure hunters ... have recklessly and ruthlessly disturbed the abodes of the dead.
Bandelier's revelation of the great historical interest and incredible neglect of Pecos aroused wide interest and deep concern among the members of the Archaeological Institute of America and their friends, who noted that Pecos was of such great antiquity that it was "even older than Boston." Marshall Pinckney Wilder, president of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and a far-sighted, scholarly but practical man undertook to do something about Pecos. He had been one of the founders of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Agricultural College as well as a leader in the Massachusetts Horticultural Society (Kellar 1936). His interest in history and antiquities was of long standing, as was that of the Historic Genealogical Society's Corresponding Secretary, Edmund Farwell Slafter, for forty years a dedicated editor of source materials on American history [Evans 1935].
Supported by the Society's membership, Wilder and Slafter determined to raise in the Congress of the United States for the first time the whole question of legislation to protect American antiquities on federal lands. They decided to prepare a petition to Congress and to persuade Senator George Frisbie Hoar of Massachusetts to present it. They had reason to anticipate his sympathetic interest. He had served in Congress since 1869 and the Senate since 1877. He served for several years as a trustee of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, an overseer of Harvard College, a regent of the Smithsonian Institution, and president of the American Antiquarian Society and the American Historical Association (Haynes 1932).
On May 10, 1882, Senator Hoar presented the petition on the floor of the Senate (U.S. Congress 1882: 3777):
Historic Genealogical Society Society House, (18 Somerset Street,) Boston, Massachusetts, May 8, 1882. To the honorable the Senate of the United States: Your memorialists, the members of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, would respectfully represent: That there are in the Territories of New Mexico and Arizona twenty-six towns of the Pueblos Indians, so called, in all containing about ten thousand inhabitants; that the number of their towns was once very much greater; that these remaining are the remnants of very ancient races in North America, whose origin and history lie yet unknown in their decayed and decaying antiquities; that many of their towns have been abandoned by the decay and extinction of their inhabitants; that many of their relics have already perished and so made the study of American ethnology vastly more difficult; that the question of the origin of those Pueblos and the age of their decayed cities, and the use of some of their buildings, now magnificent ruins, constitute one of the leading and most interesting problems of the antiquary and historian of the present age; that relic-hunters have carried away, and scattered wide through America and Europe the remains of these extinct towns, thus making their historic study still more difficult, and, in some particulars, nearly impossible; that these extinct towns, the only monuments or interpreters of these mysterious races, are now daily plundered and destroyed in a most vandal way; that, for illustration, the ancient Spanish cathedral of Pecos, a building older than any now standing anywhere within the thirteen original States, and built two years before the founding of Boston, the metropolis of New England, is being despoiled by the robbery of its graves, while its timbers are used for campfires, sold to relic-hunters, and even used in the construction of stables. Your memorialists therefore pray your honorable body that at least some of these extinct cities or pueblos, carefully selected, with the land reservations attached and dating mostly from the Spanish crown, of the year 1680, may be withheld from public sale and their antiquities and ruins be preserved, as they furnish invaluable data for the ethnological studies now engaging the attention of our most learned scientific, antiquarian, and historical students. Marshall P. Wilder, President of the New England Historic Genealogical Society Edmund F. Slafter Corresponding Secretary of the New England Historic Genealogical Society
Senator Hoar noted that not only this society but also the American Antiquarian Society and others in New England and elsewhere were now paying great attention to "this matter of ethnology," and spending large sums on researches in Yucatan, Mexico, and the western Territories. By reserving selected lands from public sale and protecting these antiquities from ruthless destruction, the Government could, at small cost, give much aid to their researches. He moved that the petition be referred to the Committee on Public Lands.
The issue was new in Congress, and in spite of the high character of the sponsors it received a reserved response from Kansas Senator Preston B. Plumb [initial B added to improve appearance of his signature], the recently designated chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Lands [Stephenson 1935]. Speaking on the floor of the Senate, even before his Committee had deliberated on the subject, Senator Plumb foresaw serious difficulties. He had visited Pecos, he said, and did not question its antiquity or the reported vandalism. But the southwestern country contained many similar ruins. It would be impossible for the government to protect them all. It would be better, he thought, for interested societies "to avail themselves of the license which now exists of going to the different localities and gathering up the relics, as I know has been done." He mentioned that such a party had been sent out from Philadelphia the previous year "and got some very significant relics," and that other expeditions had been sent out from Yale College. Furthermore, he said, "I have no doubt that there are today many curiosities under the control of tribes who have a right to the land ... as sacred under the law as that of any man to his property, and which, by reason of their occupancy, will be preserved" (U.S. Congress 1882: 3777).
The petition was nevertheless referred to Plumb's committee, where it quickly died. Many years were to pass, and much more vandalism and pot-hunting were to occur, before Congress was ready to act to stop it. But the preservation issue had been officially raised, and that was a significant first step.
SAVING CASA GRANDE, 1889
After Senator Hoar's effort failed in 1882, seven years elapsed before another archaeological preservation proposal reached Congress. These years witnessed a steady extension of knowledge and deepening of public interest in American archaeology and ethnology. Bandelier had continued his investigations not only in the Southwest but also in Mexico. [In 1881] the Archaeological Institute of America sent him to join the Frenchman, Desire Charnay (1863 [Davis 1981]), on the Lorillard Expedition to the Mayan and Toltec ruins (Norton and others 1881: 23-24; Haynes 1889: 98). Bandelier just missed meeting Charnay [in Veracruz, where he learned that the expedition was being disbanded. He met with Charnay in Mexico City the next day and came away from that meeting with a very poor impression of his French colleague (Lange and Riley 1996: 58)].
Bandelier's principal efforts during this period, however, focused on the American Southwest. In 1883 the Institute reported his progress in its Bulletin. "I have not only spent considerable time among those pueblos now occupied," wrote Bandelier, "but have surveyed, explored, drawn, and photographed in part, the ruins of forty-five more. Their group plans, with details of architecture, are so far ready for reproduction. Besides, I have seen, without being able to measure them, eight more destroyed villages, and the locality of more than sixty has been stated to me by trustworthy persons, together with many details of their former condition and arrangement" (Bandelier 1883: 17).
Although he also produced several other works during this period, Bandelier's main contribution to the program of the Archaeological Institute of America was an important two-volume work entitled Final Report of Investigations among the Indians of the Southwestern United States, Carried Out Mainly in the Years from 1880 to 1885 [which] aroused wide interest (Bandelier 1890b, 1892).
During these years, Frederic W. Putnam, among his many other activities, rescued prehistoric Serpent Mound in Adams County, Ohio, a 1,300-foot-long earthen effigy of a serpent swallowing an egg, and made it probably the first archaeological preservation project in the United States. This remarkable effigy had been discovered by Ephraim George Squier and Edwin Hamilton Davis in 1845 during extensive studies of the ancient mounds and earthworks of the Mississippi Valley, and their findings were subsequently published by the Smithsonian Institution as the first volume of its Contributions to Knowledge series (Squier and Davis 1848). In 1883 Putnam became much interested in Serpent Mound. Situated on ground owned by John L. Lovett, it was "in deplorable condition." Putnam returned to Boston with great enthusiasm for the importance of this antiquity and with equal determination to preserve it. In 1885 he interested Alice Cunningham Fletcher [Martens 1931; Mark 1988] in the project. Through her efforts, aided by Francis Parkman and Martin Brimmer, another active member of the Archaeological Institute [involved with Norton in fund raising for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts], nearly $6,000 was raised. With this sum Putnam purchased the property, embracing some 65 acres, and placed the title in the names of the trustees of the Peabody Museum. Among the trustees was Senator Hoar, sponsor in the Senate of the 1882 petition. Putnam spent three summers exploring the Serpent Mound and its vicinity. In 1900 the title to the site was deeded to the Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society for "perpetual care ... as a free public park forever" (Anonymous 1906c [Putnam 1888, 1890]). ["In a letter to his wife, Putnam described this accomplishment as the greatest act of his life" (Schafer 1999).]
Under John Wesley Powell's direction, the Bureau of Ethnology was, of course, very active during this period. Annual Reports of the Director were regularly published with a summary of accomplishments, together with special papers on various topics by different scientists attached to its staff, including ethnologist Frank Hamilton Cushing. There was also a series of Bulletins and one of Contributions. These important publications attracted wide interest. Also during this period, in 1881, Charles Rau was made curator of the Department of Archaeology in the [United States] National Museum and contributed much to the diffusion of knowledge about American archaeology.
It was a Boston-sponsored project, however, that led to the establishment of Casa Grande as the first federal archaeological reservation. Mary Tileston Hemenway of Boston was well known about this time for her generosity in supporting a number of important charitable educational and cultural enterprises (Brockett 1932). In 1876, for example, she had given $100,000 to help save Old South Meeting House from destruction and establish it as a historical center. Beginning in 1886 and continuing for many years she also sponsored the Hemenway Southwestern Archaeological Expedition, which undertook the systematic exploration of Indian antiquities in the Salado and Gila Valleys in Arizona. Frank H. Cushing [Hough 1930], of the Bureau of Ethnology in the Smithsonian Institution, had visited New England in 1882 and 1886 accompanied by Zuni and Hopi Indians and aroused much public interest in Southwestern Indian history and antiquities. Now he was invited to lead the new expedition. During the next two years explorations went steadily forward and on April 15, 1888, the Boston Herald carried an account of some of Cushing's discoveries (Baxter 1888). This account was later published as a pamphlet and helped to crystallize the interest of some of the leading citizens of Massachusetts in Southwestern antiquities (Van Valkenburgh 1962:11 [Cushing 1995]).
Known as an ancient landmark for almost two centuries, Casa Grande to these persons seemed to be a prime candidate for preservation. It was first mentioned by the Jesuit Father Eusebio Kino, who said mass within its walls in November 1694 and again visited it in 1697 and 1699. It was Father Kino who named the principal structure of the extensive prehistoric ruined pueblo Casa Grande, or "great house." In Kino's time this massive four-story structure was roofless. By October 31, 1775, when [Franciscan Fray] Pedro Font visited it, the four stories had eroded to three, but outlying structures were fairly well preserved. Seventy-seven years later, when John Russell Bartlett visited it on July 12, 1852, the principal structure was little changed but the outlying buildings had been reduced to mounds (Van Valkenburgh 1962: 11 [Clemensen 1992; Wilcox and Shenk 1977; Wilcox and Sternberg 1981]). As Casa Grande became better known, the rate of its deterioration appeared to have sharply accelerated. By 1889, its condition had become extremely serious.
On January 30, 1889, fourteen citizens of Boston and vicinity addressed a petition to the U.S. Congress urging the enactment of legislation to protect Casa Grande from further destruction or injury. Again they turned to Senator Hoar, who presented it on their behalf on February 4, 1889. He must have put this memorial forward with much greater assurance of success than the petition of 1882. Unlike the earlier petition, which called for general legislation affecting all public lands, this memorial asked only for the preservation of one conspicuous ancient landmark, at small expense. [In mid-January, Cushing traveled to Washington to lobby for this memorial (Hinsley and Wilcox 1995: 532).]
The petition read as follows (U.S. Congress 1889): To the Congress of the United States: The undersigned respectfully represent that the ancient and celebrated ruin of Casa Grande, an ancient temple of the prehistoric age of the greatest ethnological and scientific interest situated in Pinal County, near Florence, Arizona Territory, upon section 16 of township 5 south, range 8 east, immediately to the north of the first standard south, Gila and Salt River base, and about two miles south of the Gila River, is at present entirely unprotected from the depredations of visitors and that it has suffered more in eleven years from this source than in the three hundred and fifty years preceding; and, Your petitioners, believing that this ruin is worthy of the care of Government, respectfully pray that it may be protected by proper legislation from destruction or injury. Boston, January 30, 1889. Oliver Ames Anna Cabot Lodge John Fiske Mary Hemenway Francis Parkman John G. Whittier Mary B. Claflin Edward E. Hale Wm. T. Harris William Claflin O.W. Holmes W.F. Barrett R. Charlotte Dana Samuel Dalton
The exceptional prominence of the signers merits notice. In addition to Mary Hemenway, the name of Francis Parkman again appears among the petitioners. The list includes Oliver Ames, Governor of Massachusetts; Anna Cabot Lodge, whose husband, Henry Cabot Lodge, had the year before published a two-volume life of George Washington; and John Fiske, popular writer and lecturer who tried to interpret American history according to the new Darwinian principles of evolution. John Greenleaf Whittier and Oliver Wendell Holmes are there too, with other signers also distinguished in their respective ways. Direct descendants of most of these signers continue active in historic preservation circles in Massachusetts to the present day.
This memorial proved effective. Congress at once moved to provide for the protection and repair of Casa Grande in an appropriation act approved March 2, 1889 (25 Stat. 961). Not only did this legislation appropriate $2,000 to enable the Secretary of the Interior to repair and protect Casa Grande, it also authorized the President to reserve the land on which the ruin was situated from settlement and sale. Although repair work soon began, it took …