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Open Access Publications from the University of California


In print since 1971, the American Indian Culture and Research Journal (AICRJ) is an internationally renowned multidisciplinary journal designed for scholars and researchers. The premier journal in Native American and Indigenous studies, it publishes original scholarly papers and book reviews on a wide range of issues in fields ranging from history to anthropology to cultural studies to education and more. It is published three times per year by the UCLA American Indian Studies Center.

Volume 14, Issue 1, 1990

Duane Champagne


Water Jar Boy: A Petroglyph and Story from La Cienega Pueblo

The petroglyph discussed in this paper has the working title of “Water Jar Boy” because of the strong association between the symbols in the petroglyph panel found in La Cienega, near Santa Fe, New Mexico and the myth in Pueblo oral tradition called “Water Jar Boy.” There is no doubt that the images in this panel are intended to represent an important story. In her studies of Zuni panels, Jane Young refers to petroglyph panels of this clarity and style as metonymic images ”that evoke parts of tales and myths and the emotions associated with these vitally important ’texts.’ ” In her view, the petroglyphs “operate, then, as ’metonyms of narrative’: the visual image stands for and calls forth the verbal recitation." The purpose of this paper is not an ”etic” comparison of data gathered from numerous sites to support individual symbol analysis, but instead is an “emic” perspective from the aspect of the myth itself, as a guide towards understanding the images as metaphors. Shaafsma has concluded in her analysis of the frequent use of roadrunner tracks in association with carnivore tracks that the meaning goes well beyond that of hunting magic. Instead, the study of the ethnographic data and the myth allows a better understanding of the image. ”This myth fixes the relaionship between the roadrunner and the Scalp Ceremony and by extension this bird’s association with war’‘ and its role in “confusing the enemies” in Pueblo society.

Fur Production as a Specialized Activity in a World System: Indians in the North American Fur Trade

INTRODUCTION This paper examines the economic and social impact of the fur trade on Indian cultures, in an effort to illuminate further the nature of Indian-white relations from the sixteenth through the early nineteenth centuries. As such, the paper, which may be of interest to anthropologists, historians, and archeologists, contributes to the literature on culture contact. The Indian role in the fur trade can be described as a craft specialization. Craft specialization is often treated as an indicator of cultural complexity that develops as a response to a variety of influences. In this case, I posit the development of the activities associated with the fur trade into a specialization, resulting from Indian intensification of existing practices but stimulated by economic emoluments offered by the European market. The model for discussing this economic network draws on the work of several scholars. The fur trade can perhaps be best understood as one segment of a world-system. Wallerstein points out that even small-scale economies in remote parts of the world are often tied into international exchange networks; fluctuations in prices, supplies, and demand at the more developed end of the system (i.e., European market economies) will reverberate throughout the system. I suggest it is inaccurate to describe native groups tied into this Euro-American network as operating at a subsistence level in a traditional economy.

The Debate Regarding Native American Precedents for Democracy: A Recent Historiography

After fifteen years examining the native roots of American democracy, the authors have been intrigued, sometimes mystified, and often surprised as the subject has become a subject of intense debate in several scholarly circles, as well as in the popular press. Having surveyed a rich historical record associating colonial and revolutionary leaders with native peoples and their sociopolitical systems, as well as a similarly rich trail of suggestions by eminent historians and other scholars that the idea is worth pursuing, Johansen and Grinde are mystified that some ethnohistorians and anthropologists in our own time can deny this record, usually without familiarizing themselves with it. The work of the authors has convinced them that it is not a question of whether native societies helped shape the evolution of democracy in the colonies and early United States. It is a question of how this influence was conveyed and how pervasive it was. The idea that the political systems of Native American societies helped shape democracy in the United States during its formative years may seem novel, even nonsensical, to anyone who has not studied the history of the time in archival sources. Our dominant culture certainly does not prepare us for the belief that our intellectual heritage is a combination of European and indigenous American ideas, nor that “life, liberty, and happiness” have Native American precedents. Perhaps, then, one ought to be able to understand people-even people with doctorates who dismiss the idea out of hand. Even if such people should know better than to prejudge the historical record, or to make up their minds before examining evidence, they, too, are but responding to the perceptual prison their culture has erected for them.

Pathways from Poverty: Economic Development and Institution-Building on American Indian Reservations

INTRODUCTION Contemporary American Indian reservations are notable for, among other things, extreme poverty, a host of related social problems, and economies founded largely on transfer payments and governmental services. These signs of low standards of well-being-both economic and social-are enigmatic. Despite decades of professed federal and public concern and a seemingly endless flow of federal and private dollars, there is as yet relatively little sign of meaningful improvement on most reservations, or of the emergence of sustainable productive activity. American Indian tribes have significant sovereign powers, yet tribal governments are frequently ineffective. Most Indians apparently desire to maintain and build upon distinctive tribal identities and communities, yet social pathologies undermine many Indian societies with disheartening results. These problems are indicative of more than a lack of economic development. American Indian societies face problems of economic, social, and political underdevelopment. Some of the reasons for this state of affairs are readily apparent: the systematic expropriation of many Indian resources, for example, coupled with decades of paternalistic non-Indian controls over reservation affairs. But even aside from these daunting obstacles to economic progress, development remains a complex problem, and in the Indian case a particularly difficult one to get a handle on. The questions it raises go, in the deepest sense, to the sources of wealth and societal well-being of nations: What are the ingredients that are necessary for a society to improve its economic standard of living with social and political consequences that the members of that society find acceptable? How does a society accomplish a substantive economic transformation without losing control of its own desired character and direction?