Ethnozoology of the Tewa Indians

Ethnozoology of the Tewa Indians

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Ethnozoology of the Tewa Indians

Ethnozoology of the Tewa Indians

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Excerpt

In discussing such matters, one's words, whether one speaks in his own language or attempts to apply a primitive language, represent definite mental concepts, but may convey to primitive people, who have not such concepts, ideas quite foreign to those intended. So also we are in constant danger of unconsciously injecting our own concepts into the words used by our informants in expressing their ideas. It is exceedingly difficult to question them about abstract ideas without framing the queries so as to suggest one's own views and thus color the replies.

Care must be taken to avoid mistaking descriptive or comparative terms for names. When an Indian informant is shown a foreign species with which he is not familiar, he may, as is the case with a representative of any other race, designate it by what appears to be a name but which on analysis proves to be a descriptive or comparative word or phrase and not a native name for the species, as when a small white marine shell is exhibited and word is applied which means that it looks like bone.

That the Indians have been close observers of animals is shown by the fact that they have developed names for almost all the parts of birds and mammals, as claws, whiskers, foot-pads, etc.

If work in ethnozoology is to be maintained on a scientific basis and an accurate estimate made of the Indian's knowledge of Nature, definite determinations of the species of plants and animals discussed must be made. Much of the work hitherto done in obtaining the names of plants and animals has been worthless, because no attempt was made to discover and record with certainty the kind of plants and animals to which the names are applied. Much more important than mere nomenclature is the idea of which nomenclature is but an attempted expression. The best way certainly is to get the information in the field, so far as possible by showing the Indian informants the animal in its natural environment. Specimens thus identified and discussed should then be scientifically identified and preserved for future reference.

CLASSIFICATION OF ANIMALS

There is no word meaning 'animal'. 'Animaɑ+̑ŋ or 'animal (< Span. animal ) is sometimes heard.

No word meaning 'mammal' is in use. Bats are considered birds.

U+̑oà, 'human being', distinguishes man from other animals, and sometimes Tewa or again all Indians from other kinds of men.

Hæ+̑pɑ+̆+̱ŋ now applies to large domestic animals, as horses, cattle, swine. What it referred to in pre-European times is uncertain.

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