Source Material on the History and Ethnology of the Caddo Indians

Source Material on the History and Ethnology of the Caddo Indians

Source Material on the History and Ethnology of the Caddo Indians

Source Material on the History and Ethnology of the Caddo Indians

Excerpt

In a wide area beyond the Mississippi River within the boundaries of the great States of Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma, there lived, at the earliest period of which we have historical record-- that is, the first half of the sixteenth century--a group of tribes of the very first importance, but one which has been almost lost to sight by our ethnological students and its significance seriously underrated. This is owing in a measure to the fact that the period when these tribes played a prominent part in history was before they and their lands came under the control of the United States and the records of that period, preserved in foreign languages and largely buried in long unfrequented archives, were little known even to American students, and in part because by the time professional ethnologists were prepared to take the field the Caddo tribes had been uprooted from their historic seats, broken up, their separate rites and dialects extinguished or confounded, and the merest shreds of their ancient culture preserved. The attention of students was naturally drawn away to tribes still retaining their early usages and ceremonials in some vigor.

When I undertook to assemble materials from the original sources bearing on the tribes of the lower Mississippi, the Caddo were not included, partly because they did not reach the Mississippi and partly because consideration of them was believed to involve a study of the stock to which they belonged, and work was at that time being conducted in it by Dr. George A. Dorsey of the Field Museum of Natural History.

Thanks to the work of Dr. Dorsey, Dr. Wissler and his collaborators, Mr. Murie, Miss Fletcher, and more recently Dr. Gilmore, Dr. Lesser, Dr. Weltfish, and others, we now have a large body of material on the northern representatives of the Caddoan stock, but the little that has been done on Caddo proper shows clearly that . . .

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