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Department of Anthropology

Squint Eyes (Tichkematse)

Squint Eyes (Tichkematse). Photo by G.W. Davis, 1879.


drawing from Squint Eyes' notebook

Squint Eyes drew in ink and watercolor on the pages of a small notebook with lined paper. The book, which originally contained 34 drawings, was given to Major John Dunlop in 1887 and remained in his family until 1991, when most of the book's drawings were donated to the National Anthropological Archives.


Photograph of the Kainantu people of Papua New Guinea

Photographs of the Kainantu people of Papua New Guinea are among the materials recently donated to the archives by James B. Watson.

Watson collaborated with Virginia Drew Watson, his former wife, who donated her own research materials to the archives in 2002. Her collection includes some of James Watson’s fieldnotes from their joint Batainbura Ethnocentrism Study.

More New Acquisitions
NAA and HSFA collections received between 1997 and 2003 are listed here.


Alfred Kiyana

Alfred Kiyana (1877-1918) was one of the most prolific and most accomplished of the Meskwaki writers. The NAA's Numbered Manuscript collection includes works by more than forty Meskwaki men and women — more than ten percent of the Meskwaki community in that period.


"The Married Couple: the Man Whose Wife Was Wooed By a Bear," as told by Ives Goddard



Sister M. Inez Hilger with Mapuche women and girl.

Sister M. Inez Hilger with Mapuche women and girl.


Sisala youth, Sisalaland, Ghana, ca. 1970-1998

Sisala youth, Sisalaland, Ghana, ca. 1970-1998. Photographer Eugene Mendonsa.


Film canisters and reels

Stasia Millett has donated travel films of her grandfather, Abdon Valerian Piskorski (1877-1949), a physician born in Poland who lived and practiced in Jersey City. The collection consists of travelogues marketed and sold for home use. These movies were often shortened theatrical fiction and non-fiction films that were distributed on 16mm (and later 8mm and super 8mm). The non-fiction films included actuality shorts of travel or natural history interest.

Kodak Cinegraph box

Piskorski favored travelogues by Burton Holmes, the dean of travel-lecturers, who began lecturing with glass slides in 1893 but switched to motion picture film by 1897. Holmes went on to produce short travelogue films for Paramount Pictures and M-G-M. The Millett collection of “Burton Holmes Film-Reels of Travel” includes Canton China, Making Manila Cigars, From Cocoon to Kimono, Tonga Isles and several titles marketed for the Century of Progress Exposition (Chicago World’s Fair 1933-34).

The images of the Bell and Howell filmador cans that originally held the 16mm films and the original box for one of the travelogues collected by Piskorski were photographed by Harold Dorwin, 2004.

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Starved Rock, 1922

Starved Rock, 1922 (ISM 1953-92). Courtesy of the Illinois State Museum.

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John Marshall in South Africa, ca. 1952

John Marshall in South Africa, ca. 1952. Courtesy Marshall Family Collection.

The Hunters, a 1957 film by ethnographic filmmaker John Marshall, has been included in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry, an annual selection of 25 culturally, historically or aesthetically significant American films. The classic anthropological film documents a giraffe hunt undertaken by four Ju/’hoansi (Bushmen) in the Kalahari region of Namibia .

The film, the first of many films Marshall made of the Ju/’hoansi, was edited from footage shot during three Smithsonian-Harvard Peabody sponsored expeditions (1950-53). More than 100,000 feet (50 hours) of the original film record is archived in the Human Studies Film Archives.

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Korean official and servant. One of a series of 18 watercolor paintings on mulberry paper collected by William Woodville Rockhill, secretary of the U.S. Legation to China (1884-88). Ms. 7339.

New Exhibit: Squint Eyes, Artist and Indian Scout

The latest online exhibit from the National Anthropological Archives, Squint Eyes: Artist and Indian Scout, features a set of 19th century Cheyenne drawings that document the ongoing tradition of Plains Indian pictorial art and reveal an often overlooked aspect of Indian-White relations on the frontier. The drawings were produced by the artist Squint Eyes while he was serving as a U.S. Army scout at Fort Supply in Indian Territory. The exhibit was written by our colleague Bob Rea of the Oklahoma Historical Society's Fort Supply Historic Site.

Squint Eyes' drawings beautifully illustrate a part of the unique history of Fort Supply and of the Cheyenne Indians who served there in the 1880s. Rea’s analysis of the drawings highlights their documentary value and demonstrates the precise accuracy with which Squint Eyes rendered details of his military and hunting experiences. Rea's appreciation of the drawings and intimate knowledge of Fort Supply's history offer a wealth of information to anyone interested in frontier military history.

Dakota Indian Foundation Supports Upcoming Winter Count Online Exhibit

The NAA has received a generous donation from the Dakota Indian Foundation for the development of an online exhibit featuring Sioux Winter Counts. Winter counts are Native American calendars consisting of pictures or pictographs, with a single pictograph representing each year. They were kept by several Plains Indian tribes to mark the passage of years. The Smithsonian has the largest single collection of winter counts and, in addition, the richest collection of calendars with written explanatory notes provided by their creators. The online exhibit, which is scheduled to appear this spring, is being developed by Invioni Web Strategy & Design.

James B. Watson Papers Augment Papua New Guinea Holdings

The NAA is pleased to announce its receipt of the papers of James Bennett Watson, best known for his work on the Kainantu peoples of the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Watson's research on the Agarabi and Tairora focused on change in particular the effects of one group upon another. As the principal investigator of the Micro-evolution Study in New Guinea, he directed a team of researchers examining the interconnections of the Kainantu peoples from the perspectives of ethnography, linguistics, archaeology, and physical anthropology.

The Watson papers contain extensive research files relating to the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, including files from the Microevolution Study as well as teaching files from Watson's long tenure at the University of Washington. In addition, there are fieldnotes and other materials relating to his masters thesis research on the Hopi economy and his doctoral research on culture change among the Cayua people of Brazil.

A Meskwaki Winter Tale: From Iowa to Washington

Ives Goddard of the Department of Anthropology recently presented his translation of "The Married Couple: the Man Whose Wife Was Wooed By a Bear," a Meskwaki winter story by Alfred Kiyana (1877-1918). [View the video] Winter stories are traditional folklore told in winter when the spirits of the earth are asleep. They form an important part of the 27,000 pages of Meskwaki manuscripts in the National Anthropological Archives written by speakers of this Algonquian language of Iowa before English was widely spoken among them, and while their traditional culture still dominated all aspects of life.

The Meskwaki manuscripts, a virtual oral culture on paper, were originally written for Truman Michelson of the Bureau of American Ethnology and most of them are only now beginning to be published. Goddard's discussion focused on aspects of Kiyana's verbal art and how he reshaped the Meskwaki version of the Bear Paramour tale type that is widespread in North America.

The translation is one of two of Kiyana's stories that will appear in Voices from Four Directions, an anthology of Native American translations edited by Brian Swann that will be published by the University of Nebraska Press.

Additional Research Materials of M. Inez Hilger

The Sisters of Saint Benedict have generously donated additional research materials produced by Sister Marie Inez Hilger (1891-1977), a research associate of the Smithsonian's Bureau of American Ethnology who conducted research among the Chippewa (1932-1966), Arapaho (1935-1942), Araucanian (1946-1947; 1951-1952), Ainu and Japanese (1962-1963). Hilger was particularly interested in children. The donation includes slides, photographs and negatives from Hilger’s trips to Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, and Japan, as well as fieldnotes relating to her work among the Mapuche of Chile. These materials will be added to the Papers of Sister Hilger, comprising research materials donated to the archives by Hilger in 1974 and additional sets of materials donated by the Sisters of Saint Benedict in 1976, 1977 and 1979.

Recent Human Studies Film Archives Acquisitions

Anthropologist Eugene Mendonsa has donated 100 hours of an original video project that he initiated while teaching in Brigham Young University's Department of Anthropology. In 1998, Mendonsa videotaped the Sisala in Ghana focusing on modern day Sisala divination practices and beliefs. From his research and his video project, Mendonsa produced the video Sisala Divination: The Mystic Tradition (1999) and a book, Continuity and Change in a West African Society: Sisala Elders, Women and Youth (2001). The collection also consists of photographs and audio tapes associated with the project.

Karen Kramer, a New York City filmmaker, has donated her original three-year video project documenting Haitian restavek (rural children who work as domestics). Kramer calls the resulting documentary video, Children of Shadows, an honest look at the hard lives of these misused children and considers it her most important work. Kramer’s other films and videos, focusing on rituals, traditions and other cultures including Haiti, are also in the HSFA collections.

Photographer Adelaide de Menil and anthropologist Edmund Carpenter have donated the complete, unedited original film record of their travels in Papua New Guinea (1969-70) studying the effects of media on remote tribal cultures, a project sponsored by the Australian government. The film footge was utilized recently by John Bishop and Harald Prins in a video on Carpenter's life, Oh, What a Blow that Phantom Gave Me. A sequence from that video is available on Virtual Snow, a web site devoted to the life and work of Edmund Snow Carpenter.

HSFA at the Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival

Postdoctoral fellow Amy Staples represented the HSFA at the Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival this past November. Her presentation of the expeditionary film Wakamba from the collection of the American Museum of Natural History was part of the festival’s focus on “Orphan” cinema — forgotten cinematic genres that have not been systematically preserved by their sponsors and have received little attention by scholars. Wakamba was shot in East Africa by Edgar Monsanto Queeny, past president of the Monsanto Chemical Corporation. The film was produced in association with the AMNH and released by RKO Pictures in 1953.

Featuring a cast of Kamba actors, the film’s narrative is driven by a hunter’s quest to obtain elephant tusks as brideprice to marry his betrothed. Staples’ introduction focused on the film’s innovative blend of realism and fantasy in addition to the filmmaker’s efforts to portray the subjectivity of individual Kamba actors. She points out how Wakamba and Queeny’s other African expeditionary films provide insight into a broader, eclectic community of documentary film practitioners who were not part of academic or professional film communities. Films like Wakamba remind us of the critical role science museums played in promoting popular forms of anthropological and natural history cinema, a tradition continued today by IMAX features. Like many of the film presently preserved in the HSFA, expeditionary films illustrate the often complex and contentious relations between museums, independent filmmakers and the commercial film industry. Staples’ work on such films is characteristic of contemporary scholarship aimed at re-theorizing ethnographic and documentary genres.

Staples’ fellowship ended in November. We enjoyed and profited from our lively discussions with her and will miss her intellectual engagement with the film collections. We wish her well in her future work.

Unexpected Kenneth Orr Film Footage of Illinois Archaeological Sites

In 2001, the Human Studies Film Archives received a collection of 16mm motion picture film that was thought to be footage of Burma from the 1950s taken by American archeologist Kenneth G. Orr. Unfortunately, the film could not be viewed because of an advanced stage of acetate deterioration. After “re-dimension” treatment by Restoration House in Ontario, Canada, however, HSFA staff were surprised to discover that the footage actually depicted archaeological sites in the United States. The clue to their location is a sign reading: “Illinois State Museum and University of Chicago Archeological Site.” After doing a little (online) digging himself, film archivist Mark White discovered that Kenneth Orr was the head of the University of Chicago’s Archeology program in the late 1940s and the director of its well-known Summer Field School, which was then responsible for excavating two adjacent sites in La Salle County, IL: Starve Rock and Zimmerman. According to White, historical site photos maintained by the Illinois State Museum (which co-sponsored the excavations; see photo at left) bear a strong resemblance to Orr’s moving image materials. The HSFA has sent a video copy of the film to the Illinois State Museum in the hopes of identifying participants that may still be able to provide a more conclusive identification and further documentation for the material.

The Orr footage presents an interesting blend of archeological site documentation and images of daily life at the UC Summer Field School which makes it an invaluable addition to the film archives’ extensive documentation of the history of North American archeology.

Plains Indian Art Internships for Graduate Students

The National Anthropological Archives is offering intensive two-month internships devoted to research and recataloging of Plains ledger drawings in its collections. The internships will consist of intensive hands-on work to review and enhance the catalog information associated with 19th century Plains drawings and to organize information for improved electronic access. Internships require full-time residence in the Washington, DC area in June and July 2004 and include a $2,500 stipend to help defray living expenses. This is a remarkable opportunity to work closely with the world’s largest and finest collection of ledger art and to make it more useful for the wider research community. To apply, please submit the following via e-mail (preferably as attachments):

  • A curriculum vitae detailing training and research experience;
  • A statement of interest describing your current field of study and how the internship will contribute to your wider professional goals;
  • Names and contact information for two or three references familiar with your research skills.

The deadline is March 10, 2004. Applications and specific inquiries should be directed to Dr. Candace S. Greene at

Internship in Advanced Archival Studies

Last September, the NAA began a new internship program for advanced archival studies students, funded through the generosity of two anonymous donors. The internship will be offered each fall semester by NAA archivist Susan McElrath. Students interested in applying for the Fall 2004 internship should contact Susan McElrath at (301) 238-2874 or

The program's inaugural intern, Sarah Heim, is in her final year in the History & Library Science (HiLS) Program at the University of Maryland, and came to the NAA with extensive experience processing archival collections. During the course of her four- month internship, Heim arranged and described the papers of Walter P. Zenner, whose anthropological research focused on the Syrian Jewish diaspora, Jewish identity, ethnic stereotyping, immigration, and the concept of a "middleman minority." Heim's Register to the Papers of Walter P. Zenner is now available online.

Staff Notes

HSFA senior film archivist Pam Wintle was interviewed for a special issue of Film History devoted to small-gauge and amateur film (Vol 15/2). The interview appears in Janna Jones's article, "From Forgotten Film to the Formation of the Film Archive: The Curious History of From Stump to Ship.".

Jake Homiak writes about filmmaker Timothy Asch, the rise of visual anthropology, and the Human Studies Film Archives in a newly published book, Timothy Asch and Ethnographic Film, edited by E.D. Lewis (Routledge, 2004) Asch's seminal film record of the Yanomamo in northern Brazil and southern Venezuela shot in 1968 and 1971 is housed at the Human Studies Film Archives.

Homiak participated in a panel devoted to John Marshall's new five-part series, A Kalahari Family, at the American Anthropological Association meetings in November. Much of the archival film used to present the 50 year history of the Ju/'hoansi of Nyae Naye is housed at the Human Studies Film Archives.

Robert Leopold has been appointed co-chair of the Council for the Preservation of Anthropological Records. CoPAR sponsors programs that foster awareness of the importance of preserving anthropological records; provides consulting and technical support to archival repositories; provides information on records location and access; and fosters collaboration between archivists responsible for anthropological collections and tribal archivists.

More News ...

Publication date: February 2004

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