IN 1907 Dr. Clark Wissler of the American Museum of Natural History commissioned me to make an initial survey of the Crow Indians. From this reconnaissance it appeared desirable to make systematic investigations, to which a number of subsequent expeditions were devoted. The specimens collected are exhibited or stored in the Museum, which published the scientific results in its series of Anthropological Papers (see Appendix I). There they have hitherto remained buried so far as the public at large is concerned, though I have naturally drawn upon them in more general treatises.
It was Dr. W. I. Thomas, the well-known sociologist, who first urged me to render the material more accessible to those primarily interested in human behavior. Indeed, the highly encouraging comment on my description of Crow religion by the late Dr. Nathaniel Söderblom, Archbishop of Sweden, in the last edition of Das Werden des Gottesglaubens proved that my data had a potentially wide appeal to the non-specialist. Later my friend Professor William Lloyd Warner insisted that even anthropological students would profit from a summary that would disentangle essentials from the envelope of detail inevitable in a monographic record.
A grant by the Committee on American Native Languages (under the auspices of the American Council of Learned Societies) enabled me to revisit the Crow in 1931 for the purpose of further linguistic studies. This renewal of contacts definitely impelled me to write this book.
The audience I have in mind, then, embraces anthropologists not primarily specializing in the Plains area; sociologists, historians, and other social scientists eager to grasp the varied patterns of human societies when not deterred by overabundance of technicalities; and, last but not least, the laymen who are interested in aborigines as human beings.
Phonetic refinement would be out of place in this volume, hence in rendering native words I have dispensed with virtually