Lecture Three - Ishi the Last Yahi
September 26, 2012.
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 societal evolution still very strong (not to be confused with biological
- Native North Americans were considered to primitive who could teach us something about our
prehistory. Once they had been conquered, clothed, etc, they were no longer of interest to the early
anthropologist, no longer interesting for science
2) What was salvage anthropology?
- Salvage anthropology was an attempt to record and collect the languages and artifacts of ‘cultures’
that might disappear.
- American anthropologist in the early 20 century collected language, stories, tools, artifacts, to be
store 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 classified
- Ref is a problem if the things become more valued than the people who ow