Trickster on NPR

Eileen Kane was featured on NPR's To the Best of Our Knowledge. Click here for the full programme.

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Where's the beef?  (In anthropology, this means "Where's the ethnography?" (although some postmodernists would disagree).  Trickster contains ethnographic material, but it's not ethnography. (Click here for my best guess as to what it is.)

The purpose of my 1964 fieldwork among the Paiutes was to learn how to do fieldwork, and to write an ethnographic account of my specific topic, which focused on what religion(s) the Paiutes of Yerington, Nevada, took up after the death of the "Indian Messiah," Jack Wilson or Wovoka.

In three months, one can collect a lot of ethnography, and I did. My final report, the one I fretted about for the entire summer of 1964, has been lying in the archives of the University of Nevada since then, and appears here, too. You can click here to read it. [INSERT LINK TO "THE REPORT" UNDER "THE NUMU PAST".] It was one of the first modern ethnographies of the Yerington Paiutes, and excerpts have appeared in various published works by other people, including the redoubtable Michael Hittman, the student who came to the reservation in 1965, the year after me. His Wovoka and the Ghost Dance, Appendix M, contains some of the material.  (For references to some other ethnographic readings and websites, click here.)

For forty years, I've carried this report with me as I moved around the world. Why didn't I try to publish it? Probably, as might have been the case with many of the early trainees on the program (The National Science Foundation Field Training Program), I had been schooled in the idea that the Anthropologist Lived Among His Exotic People For a Year.  I'd been there only three months, and they didn't seem to qualify for "exotic", or what passed for exotic in those days--Micronesians, !Kung, the Tiv of Nigeria. So not long enough and not exotic, just very interesting to me.

I know now, from living and working in Ireland, that some anthropologists fly in, fly out, and produce articles based on two weeks' exposure. One even introduced himself to me on airplane, saying "You'll never guess what I am," and when I mentioned that I, too, was one, "He said "You'll never guess where I've been working for the past three months." It was my tiny village, I was in it at the time,  and as I recall,  it wasn't three months, it was less than a week, mainly in two  pubs. (This is not the norm, I want to note: most anthropologists work for long periods with a group of people; some, like Hittman, spend most of their working lives with the group.

Long or short, exotic or not, my report will soon appear in this space, forty-six years later. It's currently with the Paiute people, at last, for comment.

Click HERE for a copy of my 1964 Final Report.