Two Crows Denies It: A History of Controversy in Omaha Sociology

By R. H. Barnes | Go to book overview

Acknowledgments

For students of descent, alliance, and relationship systems, many paths lead to the Omahas. My first two teachers of anthropology, David French and Gail Kelly of Reed College, introduced me to the early Omaha ethnographies by James Owen Dorsey and by Alice Fletcher and Francis La Flesche. As an undergraduate I was impressed, as others have been, by the wealth of information they presented, but largely at a loss for what to make of it. Like other readers I was also startled by Dorsey's bland chronicle of the many disagreements among his informants. Two Crows in particular seemed continually to introduce doubt with his brusque dismissals of other Omaha opinion. Later, as a postgraduate student of Rodney Needham, I studied an Indonesian society with a positive form of marriage alliance. Others before me, notably Claude Lévi- Strauss, have sensed and argued that there are systematic ties-- characterized by similarities, but, just as important, also by contrasts--between the analysis of alliance systems and the issues raised by the Omahas. Lévi-Strauss's publications in particular drew me to look again at the Omahas.

Inspecting the Omaha ethnographies, I felt that they contained gaps at just those points at which Lévi-Strauss's speculations might usefully be tested. The texts, however, suggested in several ways that the needed information might well exist in unpublished form. I turned to expert Americanists, several of whom provided useful tips. It was Raymond J. DeMaille who told me that what I needed might be found in the papers of Dorsey and Fletcher at the National

-xi-

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Two Crows Denies It: A History of Controversy in Omaha Sociology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Plates ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: Chieftainship 29
  • 2: the Tribal Circle 50
  • 3: Descent Groups 68
  • 4: Personal Names 104
  • 5: Relationship Terminology 124
  • 6: Terminology and Marriage 155
  • 7: Marriage, Residence, and Kinship 176
  • 8: the Pattern of Marriage 186
  • 9: "Omaha Alliance" 194
  • 10: Dispersed Alliance 218
  • Ii: Conclusion 228
  • Notes 236
  • Bibliography 243
  • Subject Index 257
  • Name Index 266
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