11th Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology for 1889-90. Edited by J. W. Powell. Printed in Washington, 1894.
Three original contributions to ethnology accompany this report. All treat of the habits and customs, beliefs and institutions of our native races, and thus traverse a large part of the field of ethnology, and their geographic extent is equally broad. One of the papers represents a portion of the results of long-continued researches among a distinctive people dwelling in pueblos amid the barren mesas and arid plains near the Mexican border; and the vivid description of the beliefs and ceremonials of the people is introduced by a general account of their history, habitat, customs, and ethnic relations. The second contribution comprises a full account of the native tribes of the northern portion of the continent in the great Hudson Bay territory; it is a faithful record of painstaking observations on the domestic life, manners, and ideas of a little, known element in our aboriginal population. The third memoir relates primarily to the beliefs and the institutions connected therewith prevailing in early days over the fertile plains of the interior.
The several records, representing as they do a vast geographic area, and covering as they do severally a considerable ethnic range, seem especially significant when brought into juxtaposition and studied in the comparative way. Thus it becomes at once manifest that the diversity in domestic habits and every-day life is largely due to environment, that the mode of life of each people depends on local food supplies and the means of obtaining them, on climate and the means of resisting it, on the local fauna and flora, and on various other conditions residing in physical geography; and further research brings to light suggestive relations between these modes of life and the institutions and beliefs by which the respective peoples are characterized.
THE SIA, BY MATILDA COXE STEVENSON.
The surveys and researches relating to the pueblo of Sia were commenced by the late Col. James Stevenson in 1879 and continued during 1887-88, his last year of field duty. The work was carried forward with indefatigable energy and zeal, and resulted in the accompanying report, which is a unique and exhaustive account of a decadent and rapidly changing people. Even since the observations were completed the introduction of agricultural arts and the invasion of civilized influences have materially modified the aboriginal condition of the Sia; and this record must accordingly become a standard of reference concerning these people for all future time.
The Sia of the present occupy a pueblo near the confluence of Rio Salado with Jemez river in New Mexico. In physical characteristics they resemble the Indians of neighbouring pueblos, though distinctly separated by linguistic peculiarities. The ceremonial rites of these societies, which are performed for various purposesâ€”such as healing the sick and bringing rainâ€”are described in detail, and translations of songs and prayers used in connection with theurgist or shamanistic rites are for the first time published. The mortuary customs are set forth fully, and an important part of the work relates to the rites connected with marriage and childbirth, such information being obtainable only by a woman living in friendly sympathy with the Sia women, as Mrs. Stevenson was able to do. The fact that she shared the daily life and habits of the Sia people for long periods gave her indeed the inestimable advantage of fully comprehending their idiosyncrasies and esoteric concepts, and enabled her to present details which otherwise would have been unobtainable. ETHNOLOGY OF THE UNGAVA DISTRICT, BY LUCIEN M. TURNER.
From May, 1874, to September, 1884, Mr. Lucien M. Turner was engaged, with slight intermissions, under the direction of the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, in the study of the Innuit and the tribes adjoining that people. He commenced with