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The purpose of this kit is to supply the classroom teacher with supplementary materials to aid in teaching about the western frontier and western expansion. This includes settlement, establishment of towns, mining, the railroad, Native Americans as they lived and came in conflict with the advancing frontier, and the gradual changes that occurred in the 19th century as population and technology combined to transform the frontier into Mid-America.
The materials in the kit pose several questions. Among these are—Do Hollywood and television versions of the American West give an accurate picture of what life was like back then? Did all western Native Americans live in teepees? What was life in a mining camp like? How did people living on the frontier dress in the 1870's and 1880's? What was it like to travel in wagons that were part of expeditions and other cross-country moves? There are many other questions that will occur to you as you study the photographs and other information in the kit. Use the pictures to help you determine the answers.
When the post-Civil War westward expansion began in the latter 1860's, photography was a well-established art and science. By this time several different photographic processes had been developed. The wet-plate collodion (wet-plate) process was the most practical and popular from the 1850s through the 1870's, even though photographing in the field required a fully equipped mobile darkroom. Many frontier photographers outfitted wagons for this purpose, but if they had to cross wilderness areas inaccessible to wagons, they used pack animals and their own backs to transport the cumbersome camera, tripod, glass plates, bottles of chemicals, developing trays, etc. A list of equipment for one such expedition is included in this overview.
Even with the difficulties the process presented, many determined photographers made thousands of images along the shifting frontier. Some photographers, notably such men as John K. Hillers, William Jackson, Timothy O'Sullivan, and Alexander Gardner, went along as part of some larger expedition. The John Wesley Powell surveys of the Colorado River and the Hayden, King, and Wheeler expeditions employed these men and gave them the opportunity, and the mandate, to capture vanishing cultures on their glass plate negatives. Pictures of natural phenomena were also an important part of the frontier photographer's job. These served as records of places the surveyors had been and later were used in Washington to help persuade Congress to establish some of the National Parks, such as Yellowstone and Yosemite.
The several topics covered in this kit are:
NATIVE AMERICANS. There is an extensive photographic record of Native Americans living in the west. The Pueblos of the Southwest were well documented by Hillers and others. Several photographers worked on the Great Plains, in the Great Basin area, and along the Northwest Coast. Much of the work in these areas has been lost, as the glass plate negatives were fragile, but the surviving work gives us a record of how people lived before the American expansion changed their way of life forever. Photographs of Native Americans are important records of these indigenous cultures, and of the contact between Native and Euro-Americans.
BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY. The transformation of the western United States from frontier to twentieth century, agricultural middle-America was more than the story of "white men" versus "Indians." The sudden appearance, growth, and disappearance of countless mining towns and camps had a major impact upon the growth of the nation. Some of these became important modern centers, while others are known today only as ghost towns, crumbling remnants of once-thriving communities.
The final link in the development of the frontier was the completion of trans-continental railroads. This created a transportation "revolution" which allowed not only throngs of people, but also an increasing flow of goods, to reach the plains, the prairies, the deserts, and the mountains. The growth of towns was speeded up and the demand for goods and services, for manpower to provide these, and for stable communities with law and order spelled the end of the "Wild West" and the beginnings of the modern era.
A NEW ERA. By the end of the nineteenth century the transformation was virtually complete. The new National Parks, the growth of tourism, and the assimilation of many of Native American groups brought a new "industry" into the West—tourism. By the twentieth century the country was already caught up in the "selling" of the West, the very West the previous fifty years had been steadily eroding but an image that appealed to the public and made Western culture a salable commodity.
The double photographs in the kit are copies of stereographs (also called stereoviews) which, when viewed through an apparatus called a stereoscope, appear as a single three-dimensional image. These were very popular and provided a major source of income for many nineteenth century photographers. The frontier photographers were no exception. In addition to the bulky conventional wet plate cameras they carried, they usually also packed a stereo camera. The sale of stereographs to Easterners was profitable—people wanted to see scenes of the "Wild West," so it was worthwhile to carry the extra equipment.
WET-PLATE PHOTOGRAPHIC EQUIPMENT LIST
Following is a list of equipment taken by one expeditionary photographer, William Henry Jackson, to allow him to make wet-plate glass negatives. This is a fairly typical list of equipment, involving the transportation of numerous glass bottles, delicate lenses, glass plates, and such things as nitric acid. All of this would be packed and unpacked daily, sometimes several times a day. Looking at the result of their work in the photographs, we can now appreciate their efforts and their accomplishments even more!
- stereoscopic camera with one or more pairs of lenses
- 5x8 camera box plus lens
- 11x14 camera box plus lenses
- dark tent (portable darkroom)
- 2 tripods
- 10 pounds collodion
- 38 ounces silver nitrate
- 2 quarts alcohol
- 10 pounds iron sulfate (developer)
- 1 1/2 pounds potassium cyanide (fixer)
- 6 ounces nitric acid
- 1 quart varnish
- package of filters
- 3 yards Canton flannel
- 1 box Rottenstone (cleaner for glass plates)
- 3 negative boxes
- light-proof silver nitrate dipping tank (for sensitizing the collodion plates)
- developing and fixing trays
- dozen and a half bottles of various sizes
- scales and weights
- glass for negatives, 400 pieces
Some photographers took cameras even larger than the 11x14 inch box Jackson lists. Watkins, for example, packed an 18x24 inch camera box on his trips to photograph in and around the Yosemite area. Remember that the size of the glass plate was the size of the finished print.
BIOGRAPHIES OF WESTERN PHOTOGRAPHERS
C. M. Bell (1848-1893)
Bell worked with his father, Francis, and brother under several studio names: Bell & Bro., C.M. Bell, and Bell. In 1882, a photolithograph studio was opened. After his death, the studio continued under his wife. Bell did much work photographing Indian Delegations to Washington, DC. He was a member and officer of the Photographic Association of the District of Columbia.
William Abraham Bell (1830-1910)
(b. England) Bell began a photography practice with his brother-in-law, John Keenan in 1848. He opened his own gallery in 1850. Later he was a partner of J.E. McClees and E.P. Hipple of Philadelphia. After the Civil War, Bell was photographer for the Army Medical Museum. He made medical portraits of soldiers who had survived battle wounds and various diseases, “Photographic Catalogue of the Surgical Section.”
He is best known for his work in New Mexico Territory in the period, 1867-1872. Bell worked with Alexander Gardner in 1867 on a Union Pacific survey and in 1872 Bell was official photographer for the Wheeler Survey of the Grand Canyon. He was the photographer for the Penn RR in 1878. Bell was elected to the Photographic Society of Philadelphia on November 1, 1871.
Alexander Gardner (1821-1882)
(b. Scotland) Gardner was a self-taught photographer whose interests included chemistry, optics, and astronomy. In 1856 Gardner emigrated to America and worked with Matthew Brady for a time before opening his own studio in Washington. He was an official photographer for the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War and later an official photographer for the Union Pacific Railroad during the westward expansion.Gardner went west in 1867, taking wet plate photographs along the line of the railroad. His work was mostly stereographs. Among his most famous work are the photographs of the Lincoln Conspirators’ execution.
B. H. Gurnsey (1833-1880)
Little information, except that he was in Sioux City, Iowa from 1863-73 and that he was a partner to Bill Illingworth in the 1860's. His photographs in the kit are titled as the Fisk Expeditions Series.
Alfred A. Hart (1816-1908)
Hart began his career as an itinerant portrait painter about 1840 near Norwich, CT. In 1848 he moved his family to Hartford, CT, and began to paint moving panoramas of religious scenes. Working as the firm's colorist, he was a partner in Bartlett & Hart, 1857-1860. He then moved his family to Cleveland, OH, and by 1863 resumed his itinerant portrait business, making photographs instead of paintings. His travel took Hart to California mining towns for business. He sold work to the Central Pacific Railroad in January, 1866, when the railroad purchased 32 negatives; from then he was official CPRR photographer. He also sold negatives to Lawrence & Houseworth of San Francisco. In 1869 Hart published a map of the western end of the transcontinental railroad entitled “TheTraveller’s Map of the CPRR” and “A Traveller’s Own Book” in 1870. After this he returned to painting, but did not give up his photography interest. A NYC photographic stock dealer, 1878-1879, the next year Hart worked as an artist for the San Francisco studio of Showers & Betancue. His patents include a folding magic lantern, 1881, and a photographic reproduction process, 1888.
John K. Hillers (1843-1925)
(b. Germany) Originally a boatman on the 1873 Powell Expedition of the Colorado River, Hillers learned photography from James Fennemore, the survey photographer. He became his assistant and then succeeded Fennemore when he left the expedition due to illness. He continued to work with Powell through the 1870's on survey expeditions. He also worked for the U.S. Bureau of Ethnology and U.S. Geological Surveys. He produced mostly albumen prints from glass plate negatives. Many of his images were stereographs.
William Henry Jackson (1843-1942)
An artist as well as a photographer, Jackson had a studio in the West from 1867. He had come from the Civil Service to open the studio in Omaha, Nebraska. From 1870-78 he was the official photographer with the Hayden Survey. He moved his studio to Denver in 1879. Over his long career he worked with wet plate collodion negatives and albumen prints, gelatin dry plates, and film negatives and silver prints. He worked with negatives up to 20x24 inches. He is most noted for his photographs of Yellowstone and a number of American Indian portraits.
Andrew Joseph (A. J.) Russell (1830-1902)
A painter and teacher of penmanship, Russell was an official US Army photographer. He worked for Matthew Brady before moving west to document construction of the transcontinental railroad from the Union Pacific side. He photographed the last spike ceremony when the Union and the Central Pacific Railroads met at Promontory Point, Utah on May 10, 1869. Russell worked primarily with wet-plate collodion negatives, producing albumen prints from these. He took stereographs and used a 10x13 inch wet-plate camera.
C. R. Savage (1832-1909)
(b. England) Savage came to New York in 1856 but moved to Nebraska in 1859, where he opened a studio. He moved to Salt Lake City in 1860 and to San Francisco in 1866. He photographed the joining of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads at Promontory Point, Utah in May of 1869. He also photographed leaders of the Mormon Church in Utah. Later he spent some time with Carleton Watkins in San Francisco.
Carleton E. Watkins (1829-1916)
Watkins move to California around 1849 and worked in a bookstore before becoming associated with Robert Vance's daguerreian gallery in San Francisco. He later opened his own gallery, “Watkin’s Yosemite Art Gallery.” His work in Yosemite is well known and is credited with helping get the area declared a National Park. He also photographed in the Southwest and the Northwest, working with such groups as the Geological Survey of California, for which he worked in 1866. He worked with large plate cameras, producing negatives up to about 18x22 inches.
Many terms dealing with Western cultures and artifacts are Spanish, reflecting the long period of Spanish control over much of the area. Spanish vowels, in such terms as mano and metate, do not have the same sound as they do in English. The Spanish vowel sounds, with the English equivalents, are listed below:
|a||ah, as in spa|
|e||a, as in pay|
|i||e, as in easy|
|o||o, as in donut|
|u||oo, as in food|
So, mano and metate become, "mah-no" and "ma-tah-ta."
There are other special cases, such as the silent "h," and the tilde over the "n," written, "ñ," which gives the "ny" sound, that are listed here for your convenience. Some are simply peculiarities that may not be used often enough to be generally known.
Cañon: The diacritical mark over the "n" indicates a sound like "ny," so that the word is pronounced very much like its English equivalent, "canyon." In Spanish there would be more emphasis on the last syllable, so you would have, "can-YON," with the "o" as in "own."
Daguerreotype: Being based on the French name of the inventor, J.L.M. Daguerre, this reflects French pronunciation. Therefore, the "e" before the "o" is not pronounced and the word becomes, "da-ger-o-type," since the "u" is also silent and the "uerre" comes out like "err" in "error."
Horno: The "h" is silent and the "orno" is pronounced just like it looks, like "yes or no."
Kachina: The vowels in this word are just like those in the Spanish vowel list above, so that it becomes, "kah-CHEE-nah," with emphasis on the second syllable.
Mogollon: This word is commonly pronounced, "muggy-on." We may note that the "ll" in Spanish is pronounced as a "y" sound.
Ristra: The vowels are pronounced as explained in the pronunciation guide above, so that we have, "REES-trah."
Taos: This is pronounced exactly like “house,” except with a “t” instead of an “h,” so we have “touse.”
These examples will serve to acquaint the reader with the general rules that are used for many of the terms in the glossary.
The terms defined in this glossary are those that are specialized or not in general use. They cover the content of the photographs as well as concepts related to them. Identification of major areas and groups is included. The pronunciation guide will help, again, with specialized and unfamiliar terms.
A. Terms directly relating to objects in the photographs
- Adobe is a building material, usually in the form of large bricks, made of mud and straw and then sun-dried. Houses made of adobe are usually plastered with mud that helps to seal the walls. Such houses are ideal for an arid or semi-arid climate and are made in the desert Middle East as well as in the American Southwest.
Adobe bricks in the Southwest are usually about 14x9x4 inches and provide excellent insulation against both summer heat and winter cold. Many people in the Southwest still prefer to build with adobe for this reason—plus the fact that it is quite inexpensive.
- Basketry is an important craft skill in the desert areas of the U.S. Southwest
and the Great Basin. Materials are plentiful and basketry items are efficient and convenient to use, especially among people who need light-weight but strong containers to use in their nomadic lifestyle.
The use of plant fiber to make a variety of items of material culture was common among Native Americans for many years before Europeans first contacted them. These items were twined, plaited, coiled, or otherwise woven in such things as footwear, clothing, hats, mats, etc., as well as a variety of containers. Baskets, reinforced with a coating of pine pitch, were even used as water containers. An ingenious method of boiling food involved placing water in such a basket and then placing heated rocks into the water until it became hot enough to cook food.
- This is a bee-hive shaped adobe structure about four feet high, used as an oven for baking bread. The horno has a door and a small smoke-hole. A fire is built inside the oven and kept burning until the mud walls have absorbed a great deal of heat. The fire is then allowed to die down and the ashes are carefully swept out of the oven. The bread dough is put into the oven with a flat wooden paddle, the door and smoke-hole are sealed, and the bread bakes by the radiant heat from the walls. “Horno” is a Spanish word.
- Kachinas are spirit figures prominent in the belief system of some Pueblos, notably the Zuni and Hopi villages. To quote Dutton (1976, p.43):
Primarily, the katsinas are recognized as benevolent beings who dwell in the mountains, springs, and lakes, and who are the bringers of blessings, particularly rain, crops, and wellbeing. Some katsinas, however, are ogres or demons with disciplinary functions.
The spelling of the term, “katsina,” used by Dutton, is one of at least six accepted spellings of the word. Kachinas are represented in an annual cycle of dances by men of the village, dressed in costume and wearing masks to look like the spirits they are impersonating. In Hopi custom the spirits live most of the year in the nearby mountains and come down of the villages at ceremonial times. Men representing spirits go into the kiva to costume and, when prepared, are believed to be “possessed” by the spirits they are representing.
Kachina dolls are carved out of cottonwood root and decorated and painted to look like individual spirits. Designed to teach children about the spirits, they are educational toys.
- Mano and Metate
- These two items together make the grinding tool used among peoples who rely on plant foods for their primary diet. This includes both domesticated and wild foods, such as corn, wheat, grass seeds, etc. The metate is a large flat stone, usually more or less rectangular, upon which the food to be ground is placed. The mano is then used to grind the food into a “meal” or flour that can be used to make a type of mush or bread dough. The mano is generally of a cylindrical shape. (The word, “mano” means “hand” in Spanish and is the part of the tool actually held in the hands.)
- This was one method of searching for gold in areas where there was running water, such as a mountain stream. The implement, literally shaped like a shallow pie pan, was used by taking sand from the stream bed and washing it around until the sand was gone back into the stream. If any gold was present in the deposit, it would be left in the pan, since gold is much heavier than the other deposits in the stream. This method was good for exploration on a small scale but was later replaced by more sophisticated methods that allowed more sediment to be handled in a shorter time.
- Petroglyphs (from, “petro,” rock; “glyph,” picture) are figures or designs painted, carved, and/or pecked into rock, for example, on the side of a cliff or in a cave. They are found associated with prehistoric dwellings in the Southwest and sometimes just on isolated rock outcroppings, perhaps near an ancient trail. They represent a variety of symbolic images, many of which are not clearly understood today.
- What light, portable basketry was/is to the peoples of the Great Basin and other areas, pottery is to the sedentary Pueblos. Pottery was made in a number of different places, (e.g., in the Southeast and among the Iroquois and others of the Northeast) but reached its high point with the potters of the Southwest. Pottery was made, and still is, by the coil method, built up to shape and smoothed with a stone, a potsherd, or some similar piece of material. It is sometimes decorated and usually is fired without a kiln. Pottery is stacked on some sort of grid so that it is off the ground, covered with broken pieces of pottery and dried sheep manure, and fired with a wood fire built under the grid. Finished work can take on a variety of colors. Originally primarily functional, pottery today is usually made for tourists and art markets. Fine work by well-known potters brings a high price.
- (Also, “tepee,” or, “tipi”) The classic dwelling of the nomadic Native Americans of the Great Plains. Teepees were originally made of skins by the Plains Indians and stretched over a conical frame of poles. In later times, as when most of the images in this kit were made, they used commercial canvas obtained from the Anglos.
Teepees are in sharp contrast to the permanent adobe and stone houses of the Pueblos. In both cases the choice of dwelling reflects the basic life-style of the people. Further contrast is provided by the view of Paiute housing seen in the photograph of the woman using her mano and metate while seated in a brush shelter. The life-style reflected by such shelters is one of frequent movement with the necessity of having a minimum of household goods to carry. Brush shelters could be built, abandoned, and easily rebuilt, without having to carry the materials from one place to another. The Plains Indians were not able to develop teepees such as those shown in the photographs until they had obtained horses to use as beasts of burden. This occurred in the eighteenth century and Plains culture, as we know it, dates from that time.
- The telegraph was a device used to transmit and receive messages over long distances using electric impulses. Along with the railroad, the telegraph was perhaps the most important technological advancement of the nineteenth century as far as the peopling of the West is concerned. Such things as the running of telegraph lines across the Great Plains, Southwest, and other areas significantly reduced the isolation of all areas and made it easier for people to live in the West and therefore more attractive to settlers.
B. Concepts or items relating to the photographs
- Acculturation is the term used by anthropologists to indicate that process whereby people of one culture or life-style become changed by contact with another culture, so that they take on many of the characteristics of the other culture. Many Native Americans have become acculturated to the life-style of Anglo-American society, in some cases to the point that their traditional culture becomes virtually extinct. Some Native Americans have been more resistant to the inroads of Anglo culture and are thus less acculturated than others. The Pueblo Native Americans have been more successful in retaining their culture than most others.
- Where people are living in a village, town, or other residential unit they generally have particular places where they engage in certain activities. For example, you have a particular place, a park, where you engage in recreational activities such as picnicking, playing ball, etc. You have other areas where you prepare and eat food. In the photographs you can see that there are places where Native Americans prepare skins for clothing or other use, dry corn, weave, bake bread, and other everyday activities. It is important to researchers to notice activity areas because they reveal things about how people live and how they divide up the labor used to provide them with things they need to live. An archeologist tries to identify activity areas in prehistoric sites for this purpose. This is especially important because they do not have living people to observe and talk to about their life-style. Identification of activity areas can form an interesting activity for classes viewing the images in this kit.
- This has become a “catch-all” term in the Southwest for people not identified as either Native American or Hispanic. Therefore, Anglos has become the term for the third group of the so-called “tri-cultural” area. Instead of terms such as “white” or “American”, “Anglo” will be used in this kit.
- (Also, “archaeology”) This is a branch of anthropology that is concerned with prehistoric human cultures. Archeologists work primarily with material remains, called artifacts, from sites of early human occupation. Modern archeology is very concerned not only with the artifacts but also with what the artifacts can tell us about the people who made and used them. Sites such as Cañon de Chelle, shown in one of the photographs, are important prehistoric sites. Archeologists also study such things as petroglyphs to see what they can discover about ancient inhabitants of the country. The students are working as archeologists when they study the photographs to find out about the people and places shown.
- An artifact is a piece of material culture, (i.e., something produced by human industry.) For the archeologist, this generally means pieces of pottery, bone or stone tools, basketry, etc. which they find as part of their work in a prehistoric site. Artifacts are one of our keys to unlocking the puzzle of human cultural development in the times before people began to document their activities in writing. Look for artifacts in the photographs and see what they can tell you about the places and people represented in the images.
- This is the Spanish equivalent to the English, “canyon.” It is included in the glossary because it is used in the kit to identify areas in the Southwest. Early exploration of the area was done by Spanish soldiers and priests, therefore many place names reflect their language. This is especially true of the older locales and often includes prehistoric ruins. Many Spanish names were retained by Anglos instead of renaming them with English terms. The Rio Grande (Great River) is one example of this.
- Culture is the term used by anthropologists for the life-style of a group of people. It includes almost all aspects of human life, such as language, religion, kinship terms, political system, economics, arts, and technology. Things people make are usually referred to as material culture. Culture is the key concept in anthropology since it is used to differentiate societies on the basis of their unique ways of thinking and living.
- In 1839, one of the first photographic processes was patented by the Frenchman, Louis-Jacques Mandé Daguerre. A daguerreotype is a unique photographic image that is very reflective because it is made on a highly polished piece of silver-plated copper. Daguerreotypes were extremely popular for years but the process was eventually surpassed by other photographic techniques that enabled multiple reproduction and distribution of photographs.
- Ethnology is the study of living cultures, as opposed to the prehistoric focus of archeology. Ethnologists try to discover how different people live, (i.e., their culture), and frequently compare these to other cultures. An ethnography, produced by these researchers, is basically a descriptive account of a society’s way of life. Much of what we know of peoples, such as the Native Americans shown in these photographs, is the result of the work of ethnologists working from the latter part of the nineteenth century to the present.
- Mission School
- Mission schools were established throughout the West to educate Native American children as their people were increasingly confined to reservations. Part of the task of the teachers at these schools was to try to eradicate the traditional Native American cultures by teaching the children Anglo ways. The children were taken from their families and placed in an environment where they spoke only English, dressed in Anglo clothes, learned Christianity, and were otherwise acculturated into Anglo culture.
- Prehistory, literally the time before recorded history, varies from place to place, depending upon when written records were kept. Most Native American cultures, with such exceptions as the Maya of Mexico, did not have written languages. Their written history begins when European explorers contacted them and recorded their visits. Prehistory, then, ended on the East Coast of North America long before it did in some of the interior areas. The Spanish explorers recorded visits to the Southwest so that prehistory ended there in the sixteenth century. Some areas escaped contact, and the beginning of historic times, until even later. In any case, history in North America is related to European contact with the native peoples and is therefore an Anglo term and concept where the Native Americans are concerned.
- Reservations are areas where people, such as Native Americans, are confined in a limited space not necessarily coinciding with their traditional homelands. Plains Indians, who had lived a nomadic life roaming over a large territory, were placed on reservations so that most of their lands could be exploited by Anglo settlers and miners. This disrupted their traditional culture, making them very dependent on the government for sustenance. The Pueblos, on the other hand, still live in their permanent villages surrounded by a parcel of land, their reservation. Their lifestyle was less disrupted since they were already living a settled life. In Canada, where the Sarsi of the photograph are located, the reservation is called a “reserve.”
- The photograph of the Sarsi Indian dancers is an example of a “snapshot.” This generally refers to a picture taken, usually by an amateur, with a hand-held camera such as the Kodak. Snapshots are taken primarily for personal documentation, frequently by tourists, to record events and people for their own use. The picture of the Sarsi dancers is an early snapshot taken with a Kodak at a time when such images were produced in the round format instead of our more familiar square photograph. Kodak #1 and Kodak #2 took these round images until the later #2 version went to the square style. Such information would help date the photograph even if the date had not been written on it.
- (Also, “stereoview”) Many of the images in this kit are of stereographs. These were photographs taken in pairs by a special camera with two side-by-side lenses. This design simulated the distance between human eyes, which view things at a slightly different angle and allow us to see in three dimensions. When viewed through a special device, the two images appear as one three-dimensional image.
Stereographs were very popular in the nineteenth century and sale of these images provided income for photographers working in the West. They also made for some questionable practices, since exciting pictures of the “Wild West” were more popular (and profitable) than exact documentary images. Some photographers posed their subjects and titled their pictures for effect rather than for accuracy.
- During the latter part of the nineteenth century several groups traveled West to map the area and to report on the people they found there. All were accompanied by at least one photographer and it was while on survey crews that many of the images included in this kit were made. Perhaps the most famous were the surveys of John Wesley Powell, and it is his photographer, John Hillers, whose work provides a great many of the images included in this kit.
- Used frequently in discussions of cultural groups, this means something like “customary,” or based on long usage. It generally has the connotation of pre-contact when applied to groups outside the sphere of western European culture, including Native Americans. The Sun Dance among the Plains Indians would be a part of traditional culture, while the peyote ceremonials of the more recent Native American Church would be post-contact or non-traditional. Like many terms applied more or less indiscriminately, “traditional” becomes a bit nebulous in use. When used to connote a group that is resistant to change and prefers to maintain older institutions and customs, traditional is contrasted with “modern” or “progressive.”
- War Chief
- As mentioned elsewhere in the glossary, photographers in the West frequently “embellished” the information on their stereographs to make them more appealing to people who might buy them. The Native American camp shown with the title including the term “war chief” is actually the camp of Washakie, a Shoshone who was friendly to Anglos. While Native American groups had leaders, both for peace and for war, for domestic and for international dealings, they were not necessarily the people Anglos (especially the government in Washington) recognized. Sometimes war leadership was a temporary position, taken on for a particular expedition by an individual who was able to induce others to follow him. This led to a great deal of confusion in Indian-Anglo relations, where the U.S. government tried to deal with leaders just like they dealt with European leaders, not understanding that in some cases they were not dealing with someone who was in a position to make treaties or sell land for the whole group. The identification of certain successful war leaders as political leaders, or chiefs, empowered to act for an entire tribal group was a major mistake which aggravated already tense Anglo/Indian relations
- Wet-Plate Collodion Process
- (Also called “wet-plate process”) This was the most popular process for making photographs during the nineteenth century when Hillers and others were roaming the frontier country. The wet-plate process could produce both negatives and unique positive images, called ambrotypes (on glass), ferrotypes or tintypes (on japanned metal.) Although wet-plates made excellent images when used properly, the technique was quite burdensome and difficult to execute. To produce a finished photograph by this process one had to take a very clean glass plate (just like a window pane), coat it with chemicals by hand until it was evenly covered, sensitize it with silver salts in darkness, and then expose it in a box camera. The plate had to be used before it dried (thus the name “wet-plate” photography). When dry the chemicals lost their sensitivity and were no good. The exposed plate was then developed on the spot to produce a glass plate negative or an ambrotype. Positive prints were contact printed from the negative. Since the whole process, except printing, had to be accomplished on the spot, from preparation of the plate to the finished negative, photographers in the field had to take portable “dark tents” with them wherever they went. This was quite a hardship for men traveling with survey expeditions, requiring several pack animals just to take their equipment. Also, the fragile glass plates were easy to break and sometimes conditions made it difficult to prepare plates for use. Dust could ruin a plate, with its sticky “wet” surface and if the weather was too cold or hot the chemicals might not work. It is a tribute to the skill and dedication of these photographers that they were able to get any pictures at all.
C. Definitions of the Native American tribes represented in the photographs
- The word comes from Navaho and means “the ancient ones.” It refers to the prehistoric culture complex of the Southwest that was centered in the “four corners” area of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah. It comprises a long sequence starting with the early nomadic Basket maker peoples and ending with the last prehistoric Pueblo period, during which the great cliff-dwellings of Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon and Cañon de Chelle were occupied. The modern Pueblos are probably the result of movements made about the end of the prehistoric period when many of the areas of the Anasazi were abandoned, probably about the end of the thirteenth century.
- The Apache people were relatively late entrants into the Southwest, coming from Canada around the fourteenth century. They speak Athapascan, the major language of the Sub-Arctic Native Americans of Canada. They were nomadic hunters and gatherers who quickly gained a reputation as raiders among the Pueblos and later the Hispanos and Anglos. The word, “Apache,” comes from a Zuni term that means “enemy.” The Navaho (or Navajo) of the Southwest are related to the Apache, having become a distinct tribal unit after the Athapascans had entered the region.
- Dakota is the more appropriate name for the people commonly known as Sioux, being closer to their own tribal designation. A classic Great Plains culture, based on nomadic practices and the use of the horses in buffalo (bison) hunting. Their language is Siouan but is part of a larger family shared by other groups. They are also sometimes known as “Lakota” or “Teton.”
- The Hopi are a Puebloan group who live in several towns scattered along three mesas in north central Arizona. Although culturally related to the other Puebloans, the Hopi speak a language that is related to other native peoples but not spoken by any other Pueblo group. The language is Uto-Aztecan and is spoken, for example, by the Paiute of the Great Basin area. The Hopi are also the westernmost of the modern Pueblos. Like other Pueblos, the Hopi are probably related to the prehistoric Anasazi. They are sedentary agriculturalists, relying heavily on corn and squash, supplemented by other crops and some hunting and gathering of wild foods. In Hillers' photographs, the Hopi are identified as “Moki” or “Moqui.” This was the term of reference in use throughout most of the nineteenth century.
- See “Hopi”
- A prehistoric culture area located primarily in central New Mexico and having indications of contact with the pre-Columbian native cultures of Mexico. Distinctive pottery characterizes Mogollon sites. The Zuni of today may be descendents of people from the Mogollon area.
- The Omaha were originally in Ohio but later moved to Minnesota and then, forced out by the Dakota, migrated south to what is today Nebraska. The name of the state of Nebraska comes from an Omaha word meaning “flat water,” referring to the Platte River. They were in Nebraska by the early 1700's. What was happening in the Northeast in the early 1700's?
The Omaha are classed as Plains Indians although they came from the East and had many characteristics not common to classic Plains culture. Being somewhat on the margin of the Great Plains, the Omaha, like the Pawnee and some others, lived part of the year in semi-permanent earth lodges. They moved onto the plains to hunt buffalo and lived for several months in teepees. They planted several crops, including corn, beans, and squash. This provided quite a balanced diet, probably more so than some tribes that relied more heavily on hunting.
The Omaha's first treaty with the U.S. government came in 1815. There were several others, as was the case with most of the Native Americans, in which the Omaha ceded most of their territory to the United States. They were made U.S. citizens in 1887, four years before the battle of Wounded Knee resulted in the end of Native American resistance on the northern plains. The Omaha spoke a Siouan language.
- A Great Basin group of intensive food gatherers who did some hunting. Relied heavily on such foods as grass seed, pinon nuts, small animals, and insects. Whatever could be found in the harsh desert environment became part of the food supply. A fairly large group overall, they lived from the northern to the southern parts of the area, living like most nomadic gatherers in small groups with a relatively simple social organization and having few possessions. They lived in crude brush shelters, but were excellent craftsmen in the art of basketry. This made up a major part of their material culture, being used for a wide variety of containers, clothing, and other items. Their language is a variety of Ute, of the large Uto-Aztecan family and therefore distantly related to the language of the Hopi, as well as Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs of Mexico.
- This group lived in the Great Lakes region, around what is now Michigan. They were moved to a different location in the nineteenth century as were many Native American groups, most of them ending up in what is now the state of Oklahoma. Some live in Kansas, site of the mission school in the photograph. Like many Native Americans whose life-style was almost totally disrupted by Anglo dominance, the Potawatamie were not able to pursue their traditional occupations, customs, etc. and were especially vulnerable to pressure resulting from their situation. [Compare Pueblo culture in this regard.]
- In the Southwest there is a very distinctive cultural type known as “Pueblo” The term is from the Spanish and means simply “town.” When the Spanish explorers first contacted these people their villages reminded them of Spanish towns. The people live in permanent sites, with multi-story apartment style complexes made of stone or adobe. These sedentary agriculturalists had occupied their villages for several centuries prior to Spanish invasion and probably are direct descendents of the older, prehistoric Anasazi. The Puebloans relied heavily upon domesticated crops, principally corn and squash, supplemented with some hunting and wild plant gathering. Some also raised turkeys. Being already sedentary and long established in villages, the Puebloans life-style was less disrupted than most Native Americans by European contact and dominance. They were not forced to move from their lands in most cases and have been able to maintain their traditional life-style up to the present time. They remain some of the most conservative and traditional of modern Native American groups.
- (Also, “Sarci,” or “Sarsi”) The Sarsee are a Great Plains group with cultural connections to a more northerly area, the Sub-Arctic. Their language is Athapascan, typical of the Sub-Arctic hunters along the far northern periphery of Native American habitation. Although there is that linguistic connection with other areas, the Sarsee developed a full Plains hunting culture in close association with the Blackfoot Confederacy. Their area is what is now Alberta, Canada, on the northernmost edge of the Great Plains area.
- A Uto-Aztecan-speaking group living in the area of present-day Wyoming and Montana. Basically nomadic, they lived largely by hunting buffalo and other game. Early contact by Lewis and Clark gives them a historical dating to about 1805.
- The northernmost Pueblo, peripheral to the Great Plains, Taos is the classic multi-story Pueblo-style village. Being near the Plains, they had a great deal of influence from Plains Indians buffalo hunting, some elements of dress and ceremony, etc. The relationship Taos had with the Plains Indians was an interesting combination of raiding and trading. Taos remains today one of the most conservative of Pueblos, in spite of being surrounded by one of the most thriving tourist areas in the country, or perhaps because of this.
- A Pueblo located along the Jemez River in north central New Mexico, Zia is an example of a small village of the Rio Grande drainage. It is part of the Keresan-speaking group of Pueblos which includes several of the more western ones. Zia has a tradition of making excellent decorated pottery. You will sometimes see this as “Tsia,” or “Sia.”
- A Western Pueblo, large and populous, Zuni has the distinction of having a language, Zunian, apparently not spoken by any other people in the world. This Pueblo, like Zia, is noted for fine pottery. The site of Zuni is in New Mexico, near the Arizona border, furthest west of any Pueblo except for the Hopi villages in Arizona.
D. Culture Areas referred to in the kit
- Great Basin
- A geographic designation for identifying cultural groups occupying an area including most of what is now the state of Nevada, with parts of the surrounding states on the south, east, and west. It is an environmental zone that features a hot desert climate with little water and primarily scrub brush vegetation. Deer are the largest game animal commonly encountered and the food quest included such edibles as snakes, rats, lizards, and insects. Plant foods, especially grass seeds and pinon nuts, were also utilized. The Great Basin is so called because it constitutes an area surrounded by mountains and having an interior drainage system, forming a literal “basin” between the coastal range of California and the Rocky Mountains.
- Great Plains
- The geographic zone inhabited by the nomadic buffalo-hunting peoples including the Dakotas, Sarsee, and Omahas mentioned in this kit. This is a very large culture area, extending from the central Canadian Plains to the High Plains of Texas and from the Rocky Mountains to near the Mississippi River. Plains groups made use of the horse to pursue the large herds of American bison (buffalo) and achieved a very good adaptation to the nomadic life. The Plains were primarily grasslands with some large river systems and forested areas scattered about. Great Plains cultures developed quite late in the prehistoric period, not reaching florescence until after the introduction of the horse in the seventeenth century.
- The geographic zone including the present states of Arizona and New Mexico, with parts of Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, Texas, and Mexico, which is the home of several Native American groups including the Puebloans featured in this kit. It is a semi-arid environment of high desert interspersed with mountains and some major river systems, notably the Rio Grande, the Colorado, and the Gila Salt complex. The Southwest has several distinct life zones, ranging from desert to alpine forests with spruce and aspen. Some tundra is even found in the highest elevations, above twelve or thirteen thousand feet. Most of the human habitation zone is a hilly pinon and juniper area at about five to seven thousand feet where agriculture is possible with irrigation. This area has had continuous human occupation for at least 10,000 to 12,000 years.
The Southwest is also the home of non-Puebloan groups such as the Pima and Papago of southern Arizona, who live in dispersed communities rather than apartment-complex villages, and the nomadic Apache and Navaho. The Apache and Navaho are related Athapascan-speakers who migrated to the Southwest very late in the pre-historic period—about the thirteenth or fourteenth century. Note that the Sarsee, also included in this kit, are also Athapascan-speakers. The nomads lived as hunters/gatherers but supplemented their “income” by actively raiding the Pueblos: they were feared by the sedentary Puebloans. The name “Apache” comes from the Zuni word, “apachu,” meaning “enemy.”
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