The Omaha Tribe - Vol. 1

The Omaha Tribe - Vol. 1

The Omaha Tribe - Vol. 1

The Omaha Tribe - Vol. 1

Synopsis

Originally published in 1911 by the Bureau of American Ethnology, The Omaha Tribe is an irreplaceable classic, the collaboration of a pioneering anthropologist and a prominent Omaha ethnologist.Volume II takes up the language, social life, music, religion, warfare, healing practices, and death and burial customs of the Omahas. The first volume covered tribal origins and early history, organization and government, various beliefs and rites, and food gathering.Alice C. Fletcher was the foremost woman anthropologist in the United Stares in the nineteenth century. Francis La Flesche, a member of the Omaha tribe, worked closely with Alice Fletcher for many years and in addition produced ethnological studies of his own. His autobiographical account The Middle Five: Indian Schoolboys of the Omaha Tribe is also available as a Bison Book.

Excerpt

In 1962 when I entered graduate school in anthropology at Harvard's Peabody Museum, the Sacred Pole of the Omaha tribe was on display in a glass case near the anthropology department office. I was drawn to visit there almost daily. The Pole reminded me that Native American history is physical as well as legendary. The Venerable Man, as he is called, spoke to me on matters of substance. He spoke to me by his very physical endurance through time, but he was also a mystery. I needed another source of information to explain what the Omahas meant when they called him their "Venerable Man."

During the course of my first year of study, I discovered a book that explained the Pole. The book, like the Pole, brought forward information from nineteenth-century Omaha life into my own time and place. I read it with amazement and wonder. I thought then and I am still of the opinion that The Omaha Tribe by Alice C. Fletcher and her Omaha coauthor, Francis La Flesche, is the single most important and comprehensive study ever written about a Native American tribe. If I had to choose one book to rescue from a pyre of burning ethnographies, it would probably be this one. Perhaps the University of Nebraska Press is doing just such a rescue in making this two-volume edition available.

The Omaha Tribe first appeared as the Twenty-Seventh Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology. Although published in 1911, it was really the last in a series of great nineteenth-century ethnographies designed to document and interpret the Native presence in America. These books were giants in their quarto size, their handsome olive-green covers embossed with gold, and their splendid illustrations. They were also giants in the contribution they made to Native American ethnography and to American literature generally. The BAES, as they have been referred to affectionately by . . .

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