The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996 Page: 272
Southwestern Historical Quarterly
North American Indian Anthropology. Edited by Raymond J. DeMallie and Alfonso
Ortiz. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994. Pp. xi+43o. ISBN o-
This excellent volume is not nearly as comprehensive as its title implies, since
it is not (and does not attempt to be) a survey of anthropological approaches to
the study of Native Americans. Instead, as DeMallie explains in his informative
introduction, it is a collection of essays in honor of Fred Eggan (19o6-1991),
written by his former students who specialize in Native American anthropology.
DeMallie traces Eggan's productive career and his contribution of the
research strategy of controlled comparison, an attempt to combine Boasian par-
ticularism and the social anthropology of Radcliffe-Brown. DeMallie describes
the method as "a means by which groups are compared holding as many contex-
tual variables constant as possible-geographical, cultural, linguistic, and histori-
cal relationship-thereby allowing for generalizations that may be helpful in
understanding social and cultural change" (p. to). Most of the contributors to
this volume employ controlled comparison.
The book is divided into a section on kinship and social organization, with
seven contributions dealing with native groups from all culture areas except
California, the Great Basin, and the Southwest; and a section on culture history,
with ten contributors focusing on groups in the Plains and Southwest but also
including the Northeast, Southeast, and Mexico. All but two of the contributors
are anthropologists with academic appointments.
Kinship and social organization, a field that can be arcane and technical, is
enlivened by approaches pioneered by Eggan. A number of authors relate kin-
ship and changes in kinship terminology to changes in ecological adaptations as
well as relationships with other native groups and Europeans/Americans. A fre-
quent goal is the recreation of historical relationships among linguistically relat-
ed native groups by comparing their kinship systems, at the same time recon-
structing the development of those kinship systems. This historical perspective
grounds the kinship studies and makes them accessible to non-specialists.
The section that the editors term culture history will be of greater interest to
most historians. Individual chapters examine the fur trade, variables affecting
several tribes' acceptance of "civilization," factionalism among the Lower Brule
Sioux, Pueblo cultural survival, Hopi shamanism, leadership in the Western
Pueblos, Pueblo tribal law, cultural motifs in Navajo weaving, and the applica-
tion of the phylogenetic model to the Maya. An especially interesting chapter on
the Lumbee, written by Karen Blu, uses ethnographic knowledge of family and
community structures to "read back" and interpret historical documents regard-
ing this group.
The book has a thorough index that makes it useful for reference purposes
for historians and anthropologists. The heterogeneity of coverage and approach-
es in the two sections and individual chapters will limit its suitability as a text.
St. Edward's University
Here’s what’s next.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Tools / Downloads
Get a copy of this page .
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996, periodical, 1996; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101217/m1/320/ocr/: accessed April 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.