The Bear River Dialect of Athapascan

The Bear River Dialect of Athapascan

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Author: Goddard, Pliny Earle (1869-1928).

Year: 1929

Publisher: University of California Press

Place: Berkeley


291-314pp Quarto (10 3/4" x 7 1/4") issued in grey wrappers with black lettering to wrappers. Light edge wear. University of California Publication in American Anthropology and Ethnology, volume 24, number 5. 1st edition.

Pliny Earle Goddard, ethnologist and linguist of American Indian languages (24 Nov 1869 - 12 July 1928) was born in Lewiston, Maine to Elmira Niclos and Charles W. Goddard, a minister in the Society of Friends who supplemented his meager salary by selling home-grown produce and flowers. The fourth born in a family of seven children, Pliny Earle Goddard learned self-reliance and frugality which served him well, as he paid his own way to Oak Grove Seminary, a Friends’ academy in Vassalboro, a remote fifty miles from home. Although his older sister and both of his parents had attended Oak Grove, when the principal of the school was transferred to the Oakwood Seminary in Union Springs, New York, Goddard transferred, too. He graduated in 1889 and immediately enrolled at Earlham, a college in Richmond, Indiana. Here he demonstrated interest in language by taking a full curriculum in Latin and Greek. He completed his education there in four years, graduating in 1892. Subsequent to his graduation from college he entered the service of Friends as principal at a series of impoverished Friends’ secondary schools in the Midwest, and by 1986 he had finished his M.A., but was forced to seek additional employment to support his family. Eventually, he took a position as a missionary with an interdenominational organization, headquartered in Philadelphia, called the Women’s Indian Aid Association which sent him to Hupa in California with his wife since 28 Dec 1893, Alice Rockwell of Palmyra, Michigan, and seventeen-month old Myra, the first of three daughters. The small family entered Hupa in March of 1897, ending their long journey from Kansas caught in a spring snowstorm, riding two days on horseback over a rough trail, presumably through a pass in the Siskiyou Alps. Hupa offered them a life of tranquility, which suited them very well, and here Goddard incubated the idea of making ethnology his life’s work. Stewart Cullin, curator of the Brooklyn Museum, arrived in Hupa and as A. L. Kroeber said in the obituary he wrote of Goddard (Kroeber 1929: 2), The turning point came with a brief visit by Stewart Cullin, who was collecting games. To him Goddard confided his ambitions; and received encouragement. In the summer of 1900 the venture was made. The little family, now including a second girl Emma, rode out of Hupa, Mrs. Goddard and the children to return temporarily to her Michigan home, he to attempt to gain a foothold at the University of California. Benjamin Wheeler, a prominent linguist was the President of the University when he took Goddard, then a doctoral student, under his wing and helped him win scholarship money. Goddard was such a success that he was given a job as Instructor in the new Department of Anthropology, funded by donations from Phoebe Apperson Hearst. This steady income which permitted the return of Alice, Myra and Emma, was achieved by the completion of his Ph.D. in 1904, and by a promotion to Assistant Professor in 1906. Subsequently, three more children, were born to Pliny and Alice. It was during the period from 1903 to 1909 that Goddard secured his future; his was the first Ph.D. (Hupa Grammar) in linguistics ever granted by an American University. He completed the most comprehensive study of a single American Indian language ever produced. His method of recording ethnographic and linguistic data became the standard for the discipline, and he became the leading scholar of American Indian languages, particularly those of the Athabascan family. Goddard’s method provided a multidimensional and most thorough representation of Hupa language and culture through the combined use of standard linguistic and ethnologic forms, phonology, morphology, and notes on material and social culture, with a new method of recording data, the linguistic text. Here was Goddard’s major contribution to the discipline of anthropology. The linguistic text gave Indian people a forum to record their own lives in their own languages, something never accomplished before. Goddard also undertook field studies in the Southwest, lured there by an opportunity to translate a Navajo linguistic text, written by Washington Matthews, later published in the University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology in an article titled “Navajo Myths, Prayers, and Songs with Tests and Translations,” 5(1907):21-63. There he also recorded data from the Sarsi and Jicarilla Apache. Berkeley lost its attraction for Goddard and in 1909 he accepted a position in New York City as Assistant Curator at the American Museum of Natural History. As in Berkeley, his excellent scholarship earned him an immediate promotion to Associate Curator, and in 1914 he was installed as Curator of Ethnology, intermittently heading the Anthropology Department. From this position he published many pieces including his famous handbooks Indians of the Southwest (1913) and Indians of the Northwest (1924). Here in New York he became a friend of Franz Boas whose ideas on race harkened back to Goddard’s own Society of Friends background, and whose conservative linguistic views complimented his own. In 1915 he secured both a lectureship at Columbia University and the position of editor of American Anthropologist (1915-1920). In 1917, with Boas, Goddard founded the International Journal of American Linguistics, the major publication for American Indian languages of the century. In the years between the founding of the journal and his death, Goddard continued to conduct field work among Athabascan speaking peoples in the Southwest and California, and continued to influence anthropological thinking. He and Boas constituted a formidable team. But Edward Sapir was to appear on the scene with his revolutionary theories of “Na-Dene” which proposed a relationship between the Haida, Tlingit and Athabascan languages. After Goddard’s untimely death due to a pre-existing but unsuspected condition in New York, New York, Sapir was to replace Goddard as the leading linguist of American Indian languages.


Light edge wear. A better than very good copy.

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