Alice C. Fletcher (1838-1923), one of the few women who became anthropologists in the United States during the nineteenth century, was a pioneer in the practice of participant-observation ethnography. She focused her studies over many years among the Native tribes in Nebraska and South Dakota.
Life among the Indians, Fletcher's popularized autobiographical memoir written in 1886-87 about her first fieldwork among the Sioux and the Omahas during 1881-82, remained unpublished in Fletcher's archives at the Smithsonian Institution for more than one hundred years. In it Fletcher depicts the humor and hardships of her field experiences as a middle-aged woman undertaking anthropological fieldwork alone, while showing genuine respect and compassion for Native ways and beliefs that was far ahead of her time. What emerges is a complex and fascinating picture of a woman questioning the cultural and gender expectations of nineteenth-century America while insightfully portraying rapidly changing reservation life.
Fletcher's account of her early fieldwork is available here for the first time, accompanied by an essay by the editors that sheds light on Fletcher's place in the development of anthropology and the role of women in the discipline.
Joanna C. Scherer is an emeritus anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. She is the author of the award-winning book, A Danish Photographer of Idaho Indians: Benedicte Wrensted. Raymond J. DeMallie is Chancellors' Professor of Anthropology, codirector of the American Indian Studies Research Institute, and curator of North American Ethnology at the Mathers Museum at Indiana University. He is the editor of The Sixth Grandfather: Black Elk's Teachings Given to John G. Neihardt, available in a Bison Books edition.
List of Illustrations Introduction "Life among the Indians" by Alice C. Fletcher Foreword by Francis La Flesche Prologue Part I. Camping with the Sioux 1. Over the Border 2. Reporting 3. The Welcome 4. The Chief's Entertainment 5. The White Man's Shadow 6. An Outline Chapter 7. The Indian Woman 8. The Woman's Society 9. Acting out a Vision 10. Journeying with the Indians 11. Natives and Visitors 12. A Religious Festival 13. The Ghost Lodge 14. Beef versus Men Part II. The Omahas at Home 15. Among the Omahas 16. The Young Mother 17. An Indian's Story 18. Child Life 19. Hunting 20. Winter and War 21. Friends and Lovers 22. The Make-Believe White Men 23. The Schoolboys 24. Our Land 25. Starting Afresh 26. The Sacred Pipes Appendix: Fletcher's 1881 Field Sketches List of Abbreviations Notes Sources Documenting Fletcher's Fieldwork among the Omahas and Sioux Bibliography Index