Comparative Studies of North American Indians

Comparative Studies of North American Indians

Comparative Studies of North American Indians

Comparative Studies of North American Indians

Excerpt

The development of any branch of learning is marked by periodic synthesis to summarize the knowledge already gained and to offer interpretations which may be tested by further detailed research. In anthropology evolutionary syntheses in the nineteenth century gave rise to the revolt led by Boas, who insisted that the principal task of anthropology was to collect quantities of localized data on vanishing cultures. These data, in turn, provided the material for the first modern attempt at integration of knowledge of the American Indian, that of Wissler in 1917. The next major contribution of this nature in the American Indian field was that of Kroeber in 1939, which was limited to North America. This was followed by the multi-volume work on South American Indiansb edited by Steward and published from 1946 to 1950. Volumes five and six of this work are devoted to synthesis. The time has now arrived for another integration of North American Indian material based in part on data accumulated since the above mentioned publications of Wissler and Kroeber.

The aim of the present work is to offer a series of broad generalizations about North American Indian cultures together with the data on which they are based. Most of the data are given on a series of schematic maps on which territories of individual "tribes" are differentiated by means of boundary lines. The map used as base was originally published under the title "Indian Tribes of North America," in Indiana University Publications in Anthropology and Linguistics, Memoir 9, 1953. It was jointly authored by Driver, Cooper, Kirchhoff, Libby, Massey, and Spier. The key map accompanying this publication is to be found in a pocket at the end. We wish to thank Indiana University for permission to reproduce it here. A large majority of the maps ignore the time element although . . .

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