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Tribal Synthesis or Ethnogenesis?

Campbell's Interpretation of Haley and Wilcoxon

Author(s): Brian D. Haley
Source: The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 13, No. 1 (Mar., 2007), pp.
Published by: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland
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Tribal synthesis or
Campbell's interpretationof Haley
and Wilcoxon

BRIAN D. HALEY State Universityof New YorkCollege at Oneonta

I applaud HowardCampbell'srecent message that anthropologists'have the respon-

sibilityof interpreting"the constructionist"critiquesof nativecultureto bureaucracies
such as the BAR[Bureauof Acknowledgement Research]and showing how these
critiques, rather than undermining Indian claims to tribal status, can be used in
effectiveargumentsfor the legitimacyof tribes'(2006: 306). Sadly,I also must correct
Campbell's considerable misrepresentationof what LarryWilcoxonand I have pub-
lished. Iam sorryto say that these correctionsareso substantialthat they will challenge
his claim to have presented an alternativeto our perspective.
Campbell uses three of our writings (Haley & Wilcoxon 1997; 2000; 2005; see also
1999; Erlandson et al. 1998; Haley 2002; 2005) to illustrate 'a constructionist perspec-
tive on "indigenous" culture', which, he argues, needs reassessment (2006: 295). This
narrow specification of indigenous culture immediately misleads readers, since we
have not singled it out, and what indigeneityis presentin the case we addressis farless
concrete than Campbell's summary suggests. Our first articles actually addressed
practicalproblemsstemming from anthropologists'roles in creating new cultureand
new indigeneity (Haley & Wilcoxon 1997; 1999), and our most recent are about four
centuries of identity changes in which only the latest involves an assertion of indig-
enous identity(Haley2o05; Haley& Wilcoxon2005).
Campbell'ssecond erroris to place us within a 'critiqueof authenticitygenre' in
which culture, tradition, and identity are either spurious or authentic (2oo6: 295). He
associates this with Hobsbawmand Ranger's(1983)inventionof traditionframework,
yet failsto note that we contest the distinctiondrawn between spuriousand authentic
culture, thus adopting Handlerand Linnekin's(1984) position ratherthan Hobsbawm
and Ranger's.We did not engage in 'mythbusting' just to contribute to theory, as
Campbellimplies(2006: 296). We have explored issues profoundlyrelevantto ethical,
methodological, policy, and social justice issues (see, e.g., Haley & Wilcoxon 1997:
765-66, 771-2; 2005: 440-2). Statements in each of our articles ought to have signalled
to Campbell that he has defined the constructionist perspective and our position
within it too narrowly.Forexample, (1) we defend the 'validity'of ChumashTradition-
alism (Haley & Wilcoxon1997:776); (2) we insist that past traditionsnot be used to

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judge current traditions (Haley & Wilcoxon 1999: 215, 231); and (3) we explicitly chal-
lenge the 'real/fake'identitydistinction(Haley2005; Haley& Wilcoxon2005). Camp-
bell characterizesdebates over the authenticity of an identity as 'internal' to the
indigenous ethnic group (2006: 298, 305). Yet we demonstrated in the neo-Chumash
case that well-meaningbut poorlyinformedanthropologistsglossed encroachmentby
non-nativeoutsiderson nativecommunitiesas internal'factionalism',therebyadding
to pressures on native communities to accept outsiders whose advances they
have already rebuffed (Erlandsonet al. 1998: 504; Haley & Wilcoxon 2005; see also
Johnson 2003).
In another crucial misrepresentation,Campbell states that 'Haley and Wilcoxon
(2005) ... view "neo-Chumash" culture as an example of "ethnogenesis", a neo-
primitivist"inventionof tradition"with no legitimate roots in aboriginalChumash
ancestry' (2006: 296). Actually, we defined ethnogenesis as 'the emergence of new
groups and identities- to describe community fission and coalescence', making no
mention of primitivismor tradition,nor restrictingthe definitionto indigenous, native,
or tribal groups (Haley & Wilcoxon 2005: 432). Our definition of ethnogenesis, in fact,
encompasses Campbell'stribalsynthesis, which he promotes as an alternativeposi-
tion. He defines tribalsynthesis as 'the combining of two or more [NativeAmerican]
entities into a single or unified, or putatively unified, one' (2006: 298). Apart from his
singularemphasis on NativeAmericangroups, which our work does not share, there
is no differencehere between our ethnogenesis and his tribalsynthesis. Indeed, since
we have not focused exclusivelyon tribal, indigenous, or native groups in defining
ethnogenesis, or defined ethnogenesis in reference to culture, I am surprised that
Campbellaccuses us of 'expecting NativeAmericansto meet puristculturalcriteriaand
standards of ethnic identification that the mainstream cannot meet either' (2006: 296).
Thisstrikesme as unfair.
Perhaps Campbell's repeated conflating of different phenomena in our writings
causes his difficulty.Our1997and 1999 articlesdo describeprimitivistinfluencesin the
productionof culture,but our 2005 articleaddresses how social relationsshape iden-
tities(see also Haley2005). Cultureand identityare interrelated,but are not precisely
the same things. For example, not all neo-Chumashdescribed in our 2005 articles
embrace the cultureof ChumashTraditionalismaddressedin our earlierwritings,and
not all who embracethis cultureare neo-Chumash,although the correlationis strong.
Similarly,although beliefs about ancestry are centralto identity,it is not unusual for
researchersto find that identity and actual ancestry do not correspond. So while
Campbellclaims otherwise, we have actuallywritten that neo-Chumashculturedoes
have some roots in Chumash culture (Haley & Wilcoxon 1997; 1999) even though
neo-Chumash- who self-identifyas Chumash- lack Chumash ancestry(Haley2005;
Haley & Wilcoxon 2005). Campbell also conflates self-identificationwith analytical
typology, such as placing Chumashidentityon equal terms with the type 'Stone Age
hunter-gatherers' (2006: 298). Certainly, analytical typology and self-identification can
merge, as we have illustrated(Haley& Wilcoxon1997:767-8). It is never clear to me
which type or types of phenomena Campbell refersto with his use of indigenous,
native,and tribal.Perhapswe, too, have been less than clearon these distinctions.Our
use of Chumash in 1997 was not clear enough, so we corrected that in 200oo5by
introducingthe term 'neo-Chumash'as an analyticaltype.
Campbell's use of 'legitimacy'does injusticeto the way this term is used in our
work. We have asserted, following Barth(1969), that identity reflects self-ascription

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plus ascriptionby others. Legitimacyin our writingsconsists of ascriptionof an identity

by others that comes acceptably close to the self-ascribedidentity (2005: 434-6, 441,
442). Campbell's usage of legitimacy,on the other hand, appears to imply the exist-
ence of an essential quality separate from the social relations to which we refer.
Viewing identityas an aspect of social relationshipratherthan an absolute qualityof a
group significantlyweakens some of his assertions.Forexample, he appears to direct
the following challenge partlyat us: 'On what moral,ethical,or politicalgrounds does
Anglo-Americanacademiaor government bureaucracy... become the arbiterof who is
or is not an Indian?' (2006: 296). I submit that the answer is that his Piro-Manso-Tiwa
(PMT)and our neo-Chumashthemselves provide such grounds by choosing to par-
ticipatein processes such as federalacknowledgementor traditionalculturalproperty
evaluationwhere government or academicsserve as arbitrators.Consent, therefore,is
key: both PMTand neo-Chumashseek a particularkind of relationshipwith outside
groups and consent to a process for establishing that relationship.They are not
obligated to go through the process, and some groups that identify as indigenes
choose not to do so (see, e.g., Field 1999; Friedman 1999). All standing as Indians is not
lost by this strategy of non-consent: the PMTand neo-Chumashgroups enjoy some
legitimacyfor their asserted identitiesat less-than-federallevels in more local arenas.
My last remarksabove should not be taken to imply that the federal rulesfor tribal
acknowledgement in the UnitedStatesare equallyfairfor all parties.Indeed,the rules
are especially difficultto meet for once-missionized groups in the former Spanish
colonial portions of the UnitedStates. Nevertheless,Campbell'sclaim that the Bureau
of AcknowledgementResearchneeds to be sensitizedto a constructionistperspective
on native communities may be overstated, because federal acknowledgement law
already incorporatesthe concept of a 'combined' group that is compatible with
ethnogenesis/tribalsynthesis(25 Code of FederalRegulations? 83.7(e)). IfCampbell's
reconstructionof PMThistoryis accurate,they might well meet this standard.Indeed,
there are alreadyfederallyacknowledgedgroups whose historicalethnogenesis is well
established (e.g. Hill1996). In sum, then, Campbellhas substantiallymisrepresented
the content and implicationsof our work. Although the particularsof our respective
case studies may differ, he has not produced an alternative to the concept of

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& 1999. Point Conception and the Chumash land of the dead: revisionsfrom
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BrianD. Haleyis a culturalanthropologistat the StateUniversityof New YorkCollege at Oneonta.

Dr Haley'sresearchaddressesethnic relations,identities,and politicaleconomy withinthe greater
US Southwest.

SUNYCollege at Oneonta, Departmentof Anthropology,Oneonta, NY 13820, USA. haleyb@

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