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Lecture 3

ANTB19H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Indigenous Peoples Of The Americas, Social Evolution

Course Code
Donna Young

of 2
Lecture 3
No cover page but TA name, tutorial #, professor name in header.
Pick a theme that interests you. Could be about cultural transformation,
how the nuer measured time and how it is a cultural aspect.
Ishi the Last Yahi And The Birth of American Anthropology
Ishi beginning of American anthropology
Father of anthropology was Franz Boa. His prominent student was
1. Why were anthropologists so interested in discovering a “real and completely
wild” Indian?
Kroeber wanted to study a native North American that was
uncontaminated by the West.
He had this idea of cultures as fixed, pure, and whole.
Pre-historical: “People without history”.
In this view, history belongs to Europeans, who set history in motion
through power and conquest.
The problematic ideas of social evolution still very strong (not to be
confused with biological evolution).
Native North Americans were considered to be primitives who could teach
us something about our prehistory. Once they had been conquered,
clothed, etc, they were no longer of interest to the early anthropologists,
no longer interesting for science.
What was salvage anthropology?
Salvage Anthropology was an attempt to record and collect the languages
and artifacts of „cultures‟ that might disappear.
American Anthropologists in the early 20th century collected languages,
stories, tools, artifacts, to be stored in museums.
But sometimes this approach led to the reification of culture, meaning
cultural processes were turned into objects, or things, that could be easily
Reification is a problem if the things become more valued than the people
who owned or used the things.
Cultural forms are not frozen in time; they are shaped by historical forces
and relationships.
Rather than studying “culture”, one needs to study cultural processes.
Anthropologists need to attend to both synchronic relationships (the ways
in which various social and cultural institutions work together at a
particular time an place); and diachronic relationships (the ways that social
and cultural institutions change over time).
Reification can be dangerous if you fail to see the other‟s humanity, or fail
to comprehend the historical relations hat shape our relationships with
Example: Trying to get the language but they can‟t get the stories. Lost the
meaning and intention. Giving him a bow as if any bow would work but he
didn‟t want it because it could be from an enemy tribe. Ishi becomes
objectified a display in a museum.
Was Ishi “uncontaminated” before 1911?
Ishi has been “hunted” and in hiding for 40 years, since the 1860s,
because of European conquest.