Smithsonian Institution's Bureau of Ethnology 1887-'88
Report on "The Medicine Men of the Apache" by Captain John G. Bourke
The prints in this section come from the reports of the Smithsonian Institution's Bureau of Ethnology for 1887 and 1888 which was headed by the famous Western explorer John Wesley Powell. The report for that period was published in 1892 and the report of particular interest which included the color plates is the report of Captain John G. Bourke entitled "The Medicine Men of the Apache." The report is fascinating reading and related excerpts of it are included with the chromolithographs shown below. While generally sympathetic to the Indians, including comparing their most ghastly practices to comparable ancient examples, the language used does not adopt the modern convention of trying to sugar-coat the facts in the interest of political correctness.
The first two relics pictured below show that the plains Indians were not the ideal "noble savages" in a state of nature that Jean-Jacques Rousseau idealized (“Everything is good in leaving the hands of the creator of things; everything degenerates in the hands of man.”) nor the peaceful creatures of revisionist history (such as the producers of "Dances With Wolves"). Civilization may have considerable evils but pre-civilization often had greater ones. These wonderful lithographs are both illustrative of our nation's history and ethnology and fine examples of Indian art and handcrafts.
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