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Paul Kirchhoff - Gatherers and Farmers in the Greater Southwest

Paul Kirchhoff - Gatherers and Farmers in the Greater Southwest

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04/17/2011

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Gatherers and Farmers in the Greater Southwest:
A
Problem
in Classification
PAUL
KIRCHHOFF
University
of
Washington
(Seattle)
ROEBER said in 1928, in his discussion of the gradual widening of the
K
anthropologist’s concept of the native American Southwest: “It
is
clearthat if this larger Southwest is a true cultural entity, the old Pueblo or evenArizona-New Mexico Southwest is but a fragment, whose functioning is in-telligible only in terms of the larger growth’’ (p.
376).
This symposium deals withthe Southwest essentially in the older and narrower sense only, that is, withits scientifically best known portion, but the inclusion of an introductory paperon the Greater Southwest shows the growing realization among workers in thefield of what Kroeber said twenty-five years ago.My discussion will deal with the problem of whether the Greater Southwestis a true cultural entity or not. The opening paper of this symposium couldhave been presented either by an archeologist or by an ethnologist. The arche-ologist has the advantage
of
being familiar with severaI historic periods, andthus could discuss our problem in relation to various time levels, The ethnolo-gist, though limited to a shorter time span, has other advantages in that hedisposes
of
information on a wider range of cultural phenomena and their func-tional interrelationships and, if he focuses his interest
on
the time of first con-tact with Europeans, on a greater number of peoples-practically all thatexisted at that time. Information for that period, it is true, usually is verysketchy, but sufficient to enable us to see similarities and differences whichpoint to the contemporaneous existence of regional cultures or culture areas.When judiciously supplemented by the
so
much richer data which modernfield work has supplied for those individual cultures that are still alive today,a total picture emerges which the archeologist cannot hope to obtain for anypreceding period. As
a
result, the ethnologist is more likely to think in terms oflarger regions and regional cultures, and this may be the reason why an ethnol-ogist and not an archeologist was asked to open this discussion. But while theethnologist’s data may offer the most convenient starting point for a classifica-tion of the native cultures of the Southwest, the archeologist will have to carrythis study backward into earlier periods and back to the moment when thehistorically known regional cultures of the Greater Southwest first came intoexistence.
A
few introductory remarks, neither complete nor definitive in formulation,will indicate my general ideas on the subject of culture areas, and some
of
thetheoretical premises from which
I
approach the task of grouping the nativecultures of the American Southwest.
1.
As
a rule individual cultures (by which term
I
refer to the cultures
of
spe-
529
 
530
American AnthropoJogist
[56,
1954
cific ethnic units) share with certain neighboring or nearby cultures
so
manytraits and complexes, and are organized along such similar lines, that they ap-pear as variants of but one regional culture or, as it
is
more frequently called,culture area.
2.
Culture areas frequently coincide with natural areas, but the moreadvanced a regional culture is the more apt it is to overstep natural boundarylines.
3.
Regional cultures are characterized by traits and complexes and by anover-all organization which in part have grown out of, and in part have de-veloped around, a specific type of food and tool production. Both the type ofproduction and the other traits and complexes that in a given culture
go
withit may diffuse separately, but only when the type of production and a consider-able number of other traits and complexes are found together may a people beconsidered part of a given culture area.
4.
Regional cultures, like individual cultures, are not just theoretical con-structs but are part of the living reality before us. In many cases the very de-scription of an individual culture remains incomplete as long as the latter isnot seen as part of a regional culture. In any case one of our first analyticaltasks is to place the individual culture in relation to its neighbors, that is, toassign it
a
place within the regional culture to which it belongs. However farour comparison may eventually go it cannot jump this first stage without tear-ing the individual culture out of its living context.
5.
Regional cultures exist
at
a given time as well as at a given place, and theterms regional culture and culture area are to be understood as referring to aboth temporally and spatially limited phenomenon, even though only the spatialaspect is specifically named. During the time of its existence a regional culturechanges continuously, both in specific content and in over-all organization, andone of the most significant aspects of belonging to a regional culture is partici-pation in its history. Internally or externally caused changes that occur in onepart of a culture area tend to affect the other parts, and in their spread fre-quently stop at its borders.
6.
Most culture areas are divided into a number of subareas, as the resulteither of the divergent development of its members (which may be duetoin-ternal or external causes), or of the incomplete merging of originally differentcultures. In either case differences in the degree of participation in the mostsignificant aspects of the regional culture are frequent. The subarea whichshows them most richly developed usually is also the most active, and it isfrom here that the most significant developments and innovations reach theothers.
It
has been called “climax” by Kroeber, though possibly “hub” mightbe a more appropriate term. The more advanced or complex a regional cultureis, the more pronounced are the differences in level or intensity between its sub-areas, and the more important the role of its climax or hub.
7.
Like individual cultures, regional cultures have to be seen first of all with-in their living contexts, that is, in relation to adjoining or nearby cultures.They may be genetically related or not, either one stemming from the other
 
KIRCHHOFF]
Galherers and Farmers in the Greater Soulhwest
53
1
or both from a common root; in their historical development both may be es-sentially independent, or one dependent on the other; influences between themmay have flowed both ways or only one; they may have been exposed to similaror dissimilar influences from without; they may be similar or dissimilar in levelof development; and boundary lines between them may be sharp or diffused,essentially stable or unstable. Usually regional cultures occupy continuousterritories but occasionally we find parts or the whole of one culture within theterritory of another, probably as the result of the retreat of one and the advance
of
the other. In such cases usually one
is
considerably younger and less de-veloped and complex than the other.There are few parts of the world that rival the American Southwest as afield for the study of the problems connected with the classification of cultures.Here, in an area of unique natural conditions, two basically different currentsof peoples and cultures have met and partly mingled-one stemming from thegreat mass of gatherers to the north (under gatherers
I
include here all thosepeoples that lived neither by farming nor by herding), and the other derivingfrom the advanced farming cultures
to
the south. The result, fortunatelyknown for several time levels, is complex and in some respects baffling. Bothgatherers and farmers, once established in this area, developed new character-istics,
or
retained old ones, which set them
off
from their relatives to the northand south respectively. Are these differences important enough to warrant thestatus
of
separate culture areas? To what degree have the two great streamsinfluenced each other? Have they maintained their cultural separateness tosuch a degree that they constitute two culture areas, or have they merged intoone? It would seem that here we have the most significant single theoreticalproblem posed by the native cultures of the Greater Southwest, and that upon
its
correct solution, that
is,
the establishment of an adequate frame of referencefor the study of individual cultures and relationships between individual cul-tures, depend the nature and quality of investigations in this area.
FROM “SOUTHWEST”
TO
“GREATER SOUTHWEST”
Our ideas of the Southwest were originally built around the cultures
of
thehistoric and prehistoric peoples of New Mexico and Arizona, but from an earlydate there has been a tendency to add other groups to this nucleus. In his
Native Culture
of
the Southwest
Kroeber writes: “Haeberlin long ago did nothesitate to treat the southern Californians as outright Southwestern
.
.
.
Wiss-ler and
I,
in continental classifications, both extend the Southwest culturesouth nearly to the Tropic,
so
that half of it lies in Mexico.
No
one appears tohave challenged this classification, perhaps because data from northern Mexicoare
so
scant” (1928:376).
A
few years later, in 1932, Beah published “The Comparative Ethnologyof Northern Mexico before 1750” in which he established a more precise south-ern boundary for the Southwestern area. It starts on the West Coast just tothe south of the Sinaloa River, and ends on the Gulf Coast on the Soto laMarina, swinging far
to
the south on the North Mexican Plateau,
so
as to in-

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