Inter-Agency Archeological Salvage Program: River Basin Surveys Papers

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Author: Stephenson, Robert L (editor) from the libraries of Professors R E W Adams and Thomas Hester

Year: 1967

Publisher: Government Printing Office

Place: Washington, DC


xiv+232 pages with 17 figures, 9 plates, 20 maps 4 of which fold out, 15 tables and index. Royal octavo (9" x 6") issued in olive green cloth with gilt lettering to spine. Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 196. River Basin Surveys Paper 39. An interpretation of Mandan culture history, by Raymond Wood. From the libraries of Dr R E W Adams and Dr Thomas Hester with their names on the front paste down. First edition.

The Mandans and Hidatsas (and to a lesser extent, the Arikaras) are the "nice guys" of Native American history. Aside from individual skirmishes, they never fought the white man, cooperated to the fullest extent in the reservation and acculturation process, and as a reward, were the first tribes to receive U.S. citizenship with full voting privileges in 1891, unlike the limited citizenship granted to the remainder of the first Americans in 1924. Why they peacefully submitted to these major upheavals can be traced back to a number of factors. There are clues throughout their history which indicate an inclination toward cooperation rather than confrontation. The three tribes, who lived together on and off through most of their known history, were originally as much a warrior society as any other Plains tribes. However, the development of a prosperous agricultural lifestyle and their increasing dependence on trade goods over the centuries, created an atmosphere conducive to conciliation, not aggression. The Village Indians had more to lose than their nomadic counterparts, and they therefore began a slow process of drawing back, becoming more conservative as the years went by, and taking fewer chances. These were semi-sedentary peoples who lived in permanent earth lodges, tilled the soil, and augmented their diets with game, wild fruits and vegetables. The Mandans and Hidatsas had a physical culture so similar that archeologists are unable to distinguish their excavated village sites. 6 For many centuries they "borrowed" from each other cultural characteristics, although even Hidatasas admit that the Mandans were the dominant influence. Catlin, who visited the upper Missouri tribes in 1832, opined that the Mandans enjoyed a completely carefree life dedicated to gambling, sports and amusements. In his sweeping statements he neglected to acknowledge that hunting, defending the villages and observing an intricately superstitious religion involved labor of any kind. Nor did he, in his nineteenth century chauvinism, regard the cultivation, harvest, storage, and eventual cooking of the crops (which were strictly the women's domain) as worthy of comment. The hundreds of village sites uncovered along the Missouri River testify not so much to their numerous populations as to their frequent moves upstream in search of undepleted soil and timber. Even more important, the moves were necessary to avoid conflict with enemies.


Adams and Hester's signatures to front pastedown else a very good copy.

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