The Iroquois Eagle Dance: An Offshoot of the Calumet Dance

The Iroquois Eagle Dance: An Offshoot of the Calumet Dance

The Iroquois Eagle Dance: An Offshoot of the Calumet Dance

The Iroquois Eagle Dance: An Offshoot of the Calumet Dance

Excerpt

The present monograph stems from a dissertation which was originally presented to the faculty of the Graduate School of Yale University in candidacy for the degree of doctor of philosophy, 1937. The dissertation incorporated ethnographic materials which were gathered during field work in western New York between 1933 and 1936, and these were marshaled in a way to show the bearing of the problem of individual variation in behavior on ethnology. My interest in this problem has continued during 12 years of field investigations among the Iroquois and other tribes while a member of the staff of the Bureau of American Ethnology. For one reason or another the monograph has remained unpublished, and the present draft represents a third rewriting. New material has accumulated, historical perspective has deepened and widened, and methods of handling historical problems call for a different presentation. Experience has indicated that it is best to look at historical sources from the viewpoint of the field and to test early descriptions of Indian behavior against a knowledge of how Indians behave as persons. When I at first proceeded from ethnology to the earlier historical sources and tried to reconcile the two types of data across the chasm of several centuries by reading history chronologically up to the present, I met with small success. It works better to begin with the present and work steadily backward. For this application of the archeologists' method of "direct historic approach" I have borrowed the term "upstreaming," from the classical archeologists.

Ethnology frequently demands historical investigation at different levels. Starting with individual informants, more general levels are the community, the tribe, neighboring tribes, and the area. The theme of this investigation is that the diversity of individual expression in cultural situations reflects the personal history of the individual within the culture of his group. In the Eagle Dance individuals participate differently in a ceremony which is part of their common cultural heri-

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