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Ant 301 Unlv Oswalt vs. Denmore

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Of the authors of the two books studied both Oswalt and Densmore did actual fieldwork to gather data for their books. Oswalt’s only noticeable fieldwork, however, is the interview he had with Jonathan L. Buffalo, a Mesquakie historian. It would appear that the majority the information from the textbook simply stood on the shoulders of other previous ethnographies. Although he could interview the oldest peoples of the tribe, it could become tedious for a textbook chapter. Oswalt also omitted personal accounts of the Mesquakie people of today, but the modern Mesquakie people that he describes seem divided between the progressives and the conservatives. Buffalo seems to reflect an objective view of both the progressive and conservative viewpoints of all the Mesquakie. Therefore, the pattern would seem to be that he cuts to an objective view without relaying an entire chapter on the separate party politics. Densmore includes massive fieldwork and talked and worked with many natives. In fact, Densmore’s “informants” number more than 60 natives and peoples with information regarding Chippewa culture. It appears that her information of the time period is also very reliable. Although she does give a brief history of the Chippewa (which could be jaded through opinion), most of her accounts are simply objective information. It is possible her accounts could be tainted by the use of a translator, however she specifically defines the credentials of Mrs. Mary Warren English in the beginning if the volume. It is my opinion that both books are defined not only by their length, but also by their respective time periods. Oswalt has the advantage of being able to assimilate information from the time period that Densmore’s book takes place, but then is also able to follow up with the current condition of the tribe and the way they have adapted to “Longknife” society. Conversely, Densmore has the advantage of personally and systematically documenting the customs of the Chippewa over a shorter period of time, but with more detail and greater length of volume. There were obvious omissions from the textbook, that through the length of Densmore’s book, that were easily covered. Among these were the traditional games played by the Chippewa. The author was able to personally observe several including the Moccasin Game and the Woman’s Game. Picture writing, such as Dream Symbols and Totem Marks were also not covered. Of particular interest, Densmore gave a vivid account of the mythology of fire and also the different ways it was produced. Similarly, she was able to explain the construction and different uses of torches in the culture. Finally, Densmore explained the use of memory devices such as the notches a medicine man put in a stick to record dates. The most obvious type of information not included in Densmore’s book (especially from the inference that she “might have covered” them) is the social and political ramifications of continuing to live in white society. It is impossible for Densmore’s book to even lightly cover these subjects simply because the book can’t cover the timeline the text does. The final and most difficult question is: What information did neither book cover. Although I don’t believe this is what you are looking for, the first thing to pop in my head was waste disposal. For example, many people consider an outhouse to be “roughing it.” Once you have hiked 30 miles through the Ruby Mountains your definition changes quickly. Densmore describes the Chippewa culture beginning with a history dating back to 1822 when the War Department first placed an agency among the bands. She personally observes them from 1907-1921 (Pg. 4) with her translator Mrs. Mary Warren English and this study likely ended with the death of Mrs. English in 1925. This book was then published in 1929.…...

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