PART ONE: The Antiquities Act of 1906 by Ronald Freeman Lee
Thompson, Raymond Harris, Journal of the Southwest
BEGINNINGS OF PUBLIC INTEREST IN AMERICAN INDIAN ANTIQUITIES
The abandoned and ruined dwellings of prehistoric man in the American West had aroused the interest and comment of explorers and colonizers for centuries. Not until after the Civil War, however, did these ruins, and the continuing discovery of still others, attract the serious attention of the eastern scientific community. Public interest in the continent's ancient civilizations brought about no less than five significant developments portentous for American archaeology in the single year of 1879. They mark 1879 as the beginning of the movement that led, a quarter of a century later, to adoption of the Antiquities Act as the first national historic preservation policy for the United States.
In this year Congress authorized establishment of the Bureau of Ethnology, later renamed the Bureau of American Ethnology, in the Smithsonian Institution to increase and diffuse knowledge of the American Indian. Major John Wesley Powell, who had lost his fight arm in the Battle of Shiloh and who in 1869 had led his remarkable boat expedition through the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River, was appointed its first director (Hellman 1967:105-6 [Hinsley 1981; Merrill 1935b]). He headed the Bureau until his death in 1902. During this long period, he and his colleagues became a major force for the protection of antiquities on federal lands.
Five years earlier, in 1874, Frederic Ward Putnam had begun his long and distinguished career as Curator of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard. For Putnam, 1879 marked the appearance of a superbly illustrated book he had edited devoted to the ruined pueblos of Arizona and New Mexico and the archaeology and ethnology of the Indians of Southern California. This was Volume VII, Archaeology, of the Report upon United States Geographical Surveys West of the One Hundredth Meridian (Putnam 1879). For the next thirty-five years, until his death in 1915, Putnam profoundly influenced the rise and development of anthropology in America and served on several committees and boards concerned with federal legislation to protect American antiquities (Dixon 1935 [Tozzer 1935]).
In 1879 the American Association for the Advancement of Science for the first time elected an anthropologist as its president. He was Lewis Henry Morgan, then the foremost student in the United States in the comparatively new field of anthropology [Hodge 1934; Resek 1960; Tooker 1985]. Among many other works, he was the author of Ancient Society, published in 1877 to wide acclaim in both America and Europe (Morgan 1877; Lange and Riley 1966: 4). Frederic W. Putnam was also very active in the affairs of the Association. He served as its permanent secretary from 1873 to 1898, when he became president. During this period the Association inaugurated its Section H, in which growing numbers of students of anthropology gathered each year to read papers and discuss ideas. Eventually the Association established an influential committee to work for legislation to protect antiquities on federal lands.
On February 10, 1879, a group of interested persons, called together by Professor Otis Tufton Mason of Columbian College [since 1904 George Washington University] and others, assembled in the Regents' Room of the Smithsonian Institution and founded the Anthropological Society of Washington (Hough 1908). In 1887 it was incorporated "for the term of one thousand years" (Anonymous 1888a: 368) and in 1888 began publishing The American Anthropologist. This Society drew support from the anthropologists, ethnologists, and geologists then being brought into the federal government as well as from many other persons active in the life of the national capital (Anonymous 1888b: 382-86). In 1902 members of the ASW, as it became known, formed part of a group that founded the American Anthropological Association, and The American Anthropologist was adopted by the national organization as its official journal. …