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On Cultural Appropriation

I am happy to note that my article “On Cultural Appropriation” has now been published in the Journal of Folklore Research. Right now, the article can be found in Project Muse (see https://www.muse.jhu.edu/article/783863), JSTOR (see https://doi.org/10.2979/jfolkrese.58.1.04) and (more esoterically) in EBSCOhost. In about a year, the paper will be freely accessible in the Indiana University open access (OA) repository in accord with IU OA policies.

Here is an abstract for the paper:

This article starts from the premise that cultural appropriation is a key concern for folklorists and ethnologists, as well as for many of the communities with which they engage and partner, but that it is also one that has received relatively little attention of a general conceptual sort. This is true despite the ubiquity of cultural appropriation discussions in popular media, public culture, and informal scholarly conversation. Drawing on the work of these fields, an ideal-type conceptualization of cultural appropriation is offered, one that situates it as one among a range of modes of cultural change. For cultural appropriation, the key neighboring modes are diffusion, acculturation, and assimilation. The article also briefly addresses cultural appropriation as it is often situated vis-à-vis conceptions of, and processes related to, cultural property and cultural heritage. This heuristic emphasizes the metacultural discourse that marks instances of cultural appropriation as well as the inequality often characterizing the parties to such episodes.

The paper is rather long as such things go. A bibliographic note got cut out of it before publication and I have posted that separately in the IU Open Access Repository. It (“Cultural Appropriation: A Review of the Literature in US Folklore Studies”) can be accessed directly here: https://iu.tind.io/record/3306.

Warm thanks to everyone who helped in the development of this paper, from the then-students, now-colleagues, who took Contesting Culture as Property with me in 2004 all the way up to the JFR editorial team, especially those people around Turtle Island and around the world who have shared their stories, experiences, insights, and battles with me.

A figure from the article representing some modes of cultural change, including cultural appropriation.

Native North American Studies at the AFS Annual Meetings, 1990-1994

I have been away from the project for some time, but I have resumed my journey through the programs of the annual meetings of the American Folklore Society. As discussed in my previous posts, my goal is to gain perspective on the relative presence and absences of work on Native North American studies topics within the AFS and by extension, among folklorists in the United States. The data for the first half of the 1990s is shown below. Participation in the meetings for this period is quite similar to that seen for the full decade of the 1980s.

Percentages (of Native North American-related) presentations for the 1980s as a whole was 2%, with a variation ranging between 1% and 4%. For the first half of the 1990s, the five year percentage was 3% with yearly ranges of 2%-5%. This small increase is primarily attributable to three factors that I identify in closing. The 1991 annual meeting in St. John’s was a joint meeting with the Folklore Studies Association of Canada and it seems clear to me that additional presentations by members of that peer-organization made the difference for that year. I do not do not see any specific factors accounting for the 3% in 1992, when AFS met in Jacksonville. As measured by presentation of papers and films, that meeting was large for a non-joint, non-bicentennial meeting. In contrast to 1992, the program for the 1993 meeting in Eugene shows that a very concerted effort was made by organizers to spotlight Native North America-related papers and topics. Seven panels (some were round-tables and thus not reflected in these counts) specifically related to Native North American issues were organized and several Native American individuals appeared on the program, particularly as guests for free-form discussion events. Finally, the 1994 meetings in Milwaukee were held jointly with the Society for Ethnomusicology and it is clear that presentations by ethnomusicologists on Native North American studies topics raised the total for this meeting in a way that was key. (The 1994 meeting was the first that I attended as a member of the AFS and I presented at that this meeting contributing to the N=18 shown below. It was at that meeting that I met my friend and collaborator Victoria Levine, although I knew her writings before then. With so many happy associations with the 1994 meeting, I am happy to pause here with it.)

I will finish the 1990s as soon as I am able.

YearPresentations on Non-Native American TopicsPresentations on Native American TopicsPercentage on Native American Topics
199036262%
199130183%
1992417133%
1993383205%
1994447184%
Totals1910653%
Presentations on Non-Native North American- and Native North American-Related Topics at the Annual Meetings of the American Folklore Society in the First Half of the 1990s (1990-1994)

Native North American Studies at the AFS Annual Meetings of the 1980s

Less than 100 papers were presented at the American Folklore Society meetings in the decade of 1900-1909. More than 3500 papers and films were presented during the decade of 1980-1989. This huge number does not include forums and other discussion events where named participants were not identified with a titled presentation. That fact means that the programs for the meetings of the 1980s are still larger than the papers + films count suggests. And it is clear that attendance, as in earlier periods, was greater that the count of members and non-members on the program. This pattern will continue in the decades to come in this survey–the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010. What this means practically is that it is now taking me a long time to slog through each program for each year of each decade remaining to survey.

This post is the next in a series examining the presence and absence of Native North American/First Nations topics and scholars within the work of the American Folklore Society across its history since 1888. Anyone finding this post who might want more context can work their way backwards through the series. A partial index to the relevant posts is available here: https://jasonbairdjackson.com/2020/11/02/organizing-the-material-so-far-native-north-american-studies-and-afs/. One post fits in between that overview and this post, a combined treatment of the Journal of American Folklore (JAF) and the annual meeting for the decade of 1900-1909. Remaining to be done are the annual meetings for the most recent period in AFS history.

The amazing growth in involvement evoked in the prelude here should encourage anyone interested in the dynamic expansion of the field of folklore studies. Having just finished reading the titles for 3563 conference papers I can testify that the expansion of the society ran alongside an expansion of topical interests being pursued by folklorists. Exploring that in depth is off topic, but the bigger disciplinary picture is there to be seen. In discussing the 1970s I described that decade as the one where AFS got big. The big 1970s were basically doubled in the bigger 1980s. The number of papers and films nearly doubled between the 1980s. With an increase in forums, I think that it is safe to estimate that the 1980s simply doubled the 1970s in meeting participation. In discussing the 1970s, I highlighted the special impact of the bicentennial (1776-1976) of the present-day United States as a key historical factor for that decade. Here in the 1980s, the big story was the centennial of the AFS celebrated in 1988 and 1989. The table shows how those were big years.

All of that is good for an AFS and folklore studies partisan. It is somewhat beside the point for my topic. For the decade, a small overall increase (N=8) in papers related to Native North American/First Nations can be seen when comparing the 1980s (N=85) to the 1970s (N=77). But the great increase in overall participation means that as a percentage of program participation, Native North American studies work falls from 4% to 2% for the decade. Study of the table shows that the variation across the decade is very small, with the percentage ranging from 1% to 4%.

YearPresentations on Non-Native American TopicsPresentations on Native American TopicsPercentage on Native American Topics
198030262%
1981253104%
1982298124%
198332382%
198429462%
198534993%
198638382%
1987379113%
198843751%
1989460102%
Totals3478852%
Presentations on Non-Native North American- and Native North American-Related Topics at the Annual Meetings of the American Folklore Society During the 1980s.

The 1987 meetings were held in Albuquerque, thus close to a number of federally-recognized Native American nations. That fact did not register in a broad way on the program, but there were a noticeable number of presenters who are not regular AFS attendees and there were a several papers dealing specifically with issues relevant to the Pueblo of Zuni. Among the presenters was Calbert Seciwa (Zuni), a Zuni scholar and the Director of the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals at Northern Arizona University at the time of his passing in 2009. He had previously served as he served as the Director of the American Indian Institute at Arizona State University from 1989 to 2007. (I am unaware of any other members of Federally recognized Native North American nations or First Nations participating in the annual meetings of the 1980s, but it would be easy for me not to catch some, particularly if they presented on topics outside Native North American/First Nations studies. I welcome information on this point.)

One final note. The overall numbers of presentations on Native North American/First Nations topics would be lower if papers in history of the field were excluded from the totals. The AFS centennial prompted historical research on the field and that led to scholars who are not themselves scholars of Native North American studies taking time to consider figures in the field whose focus was in this field. The paper most relevant to the project in these posts is a paper given by Claire Farrer at the centennial meetings in 1888. Her topic was “Reflections of Ourselves: Native American Folklore Scholarship 1888-1988.”

Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community Recognized with Book Prizes

The annual business meeting of the Council for Museum Anthropology (CMA) was held today and one of its key moments was the bestowal of the annual CMA Book Award. I am very happy to note that Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community: A Giving Heritage by Daniel Swan and Jim Cooley, a title in the Material Vernaculars series that I edit for the Indiana University Press, was recognized with the award. The following text is taken from a CMA Facebook post. It announces the award and also discusses an honorable mention title, Solen Roth’s book Incorporating Culture: How Indigenous People are Reshaping the Northwest Coast Art Industry.

It is our pleasure to award the 2020 CMA book award to Daniel Swan and Jim Cooley for their 2019 book, “Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community” (Indiana University Press), and to give an honorable mention to Solen Roth for her 2018 book “Incorporating Culture” (UBC Press). Both books exemplify the range of work that the Council of Museum Anthropology promotes.

Swan, D. and Cooley, J. 2019. “Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community: A Giving Heritage.” Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

It is with great pleasure that we award the CMA book award to Daniel Swan and Jim Cooley. “Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community” is an exemplar of what museum anthropology can and should be. The book is the result of long-term collaborative work with the Osage Nation, and uses archival, ethnographic and ethnohistorical methods to reanimate museum collections of Osage heritage. Doing so, the book is a highly accessible multi-media examination of change and continuity in Osage wedding traditions and clothing. Through its attention to material culture the book demonstrates not only the rich vibrancy of the Osage wedding traditions but also demonstrates the sort of work that can only be done through what Ray Silverman termed “slow museology”, which is work built on mutual respect, collaboration, and trust. This is a book that transcends its subject matter and helps us all see the possibilities of museum anthropology.

Roth, S. 2018. “Incorporating Culture: How Indigenous People are Reshaping the Northwest Coast Art Industry.” Vancouver: UBC Press.

We are delighted to award honorable mention for the CMA book award to Solen Roth. “Incorporating Culture” is a unique ethnography of the “artware” industry. Solen coins the term artware to describe commodities decorated with Pacific Northwest coast images that circulate inside and outside of Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. The book examines the array of values these objects accumulate as they transition between these sites. It is a sophisticated historical and multi-sited ethnographic look at the intercultural phenomena of the artware industry, which is an example of what she terms ‘culturally modified capitalism.’ The book helps shed light on a compelling and important feature and dynamic of the intercultural object-world and economy in the North West Coast.

In addition to the CMA Book Award, I am also happy to note that Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community: A Giving Heritage was recently recognized during the annual meeting of the American Folklore Society’s Folklore and History section, which bestows the annual Wayland D. Hand Prize given for the best book combining historical and folkloristic methods and materials. The biennial prize honors the eminent folklorist Wayland D. Hand (1907-1986). Wedding Clothes was given the honorable mention in the 2020 Hand Prize competition. The prize itself went to Forgetful Remembrance: Social Forgetting and Vernacular Historiography of a Rebellion in Ulster (Oxford University Press, 2018) by Guy Beiner. As reprinted on a Facebook post, the Hand Prize committee said the following about Wedding Clothes.

The beautifully illustrated volume explores through history and folklife research the ways that gift exchange, motivated by the values of generosity and hospitality serves as a critical component in the preservation and perpetuation of Osage society.

Congratulations to all of the Osage Nation citizens who worked on the larger Osage Weddings Project (which included a major traveling exhibition) and to Dan and Jim as authors. Special thanks go to the Indiana University Press for investing tremendous care in the making of an extraordinary book.

Bamboo Basket Hampers Used by Tobacco Farmers in Nanhua County, Yunnan, China

While doing background work on FEI Xiaotong and ZHANG Zhiyi’s studies of the basketry industry(*) in Yunnan, China, my colleague W. discovered this webpage with a pair of images and a little bit of information on the production, sale, and use of large, oval-bottomed, oval-mouthed, open work bamboo tobacco hampers used by tobacco farmers to gather and transport mature tobacco leaves.

I will take down the screenshot below if called upon by the publisher to do so. Hopefully it is ok to share the page in its Google Translate version. The original Chinese text is available on the actual website, which is here: http://www.djcx.com/file_read.aspx?id=31810. The place pictured is Wudingshan town in Nanhua County, which is part of Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture, in Yunnan, China. During our team‘s travels in Yunnan, Guizhou, and Guangxi, we have not visited any tobacco producing regions and we have not ourselves documented this basket type, either in museum collections or in town or village settings.

*Fei, Hsiao-tung, and Tse-i Chang. Earthbound China: A Study of Rural Economy in Yunnan. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1945.

Native North American Studies in the Work of the American Folklore Society during the First Decade of the 20th Century (1900-1909)

This is another post in a series devoted to better understanding the place of Native North American and First Nations studies within the field of folklore studies as represented in the present-day United States by the work of the American Folklore Society (AFS). In a post published here, I itemize the posts in the series so far.

From at least one perspective, 1900-1909 was a kind of high water mark for Native North American work within the American Folklore Society. In the early 20th century, the AFS had a lot of members (in my view), although its leaders constantly stressed the smallness of the membership and stressed the need to grow both members and the number of state and local chapters within which, in those days, most members engaged with the field. There was a relatively small elite of members, both literary and anthropological in orientation, that attended annual meetings and that published substantive articles in the pages of the Journal of American Folklore (JAF). During the 1900-1909 decade, two such elite members were Native North American men–William Jones (Sauk) and Frances La Flesche (Omaha).

Jones was the first Native American to earn a PhD in Anthropology and one of the first to earn this degree at all in the United States. He undertook extensive research among his own people–the Sauk and closely related Meskwaki (Fox)–but also other groups speaking related Central Algonquian languages. He published widely and during his lifetime he published two papers in the JAF. Two additional JAF papers were published posthumously. His first JAF paper is “Episodes in the Culture-Hero Muth of the Sauks and Foxes in JAF #55 (1901). His second paper, “The Algonkin Manitou” appeared in JAF #70 in 1905. He also published reviews in JAF during his lifetime. Sadly, in an episode that has been widely considered in the history of anthropology, he was killed in 1908 while conducting research as a Field Museum curator among the Ilongot people in the Philippines. An unsigned obituary, likely written by his mentor Franz Boas, appears at the end of the decade in JAF #84 (1909). Despite the racism of his day, I do not have any difficulty imagining William Jones having been the President of the American Folklore Society. Many of Boas’ former students, both male and female, came in time to fill this role. Among them Jones was particularly engaged in folk narrative research and he was widely admired. His death remains a vividly felt loss. When I position Jones as an leading member of the AFS in this decade, I include the fact that he was one of a very small number of members to actually present a paper at an annual meeting during this period. He delivered a paper titled “Customs and Rites Concerning the Dean Among the Sauks and Foxes” at the 1901 (13th) annual meeting in Chicago, one of sixteen given at that meeting.

Similarly prominent in this time as a working anthropologist and folklorist, although trained formally in law, is Francis La Flesche. Like Jones, he also undertook ethnographic field work among his own people (the Omaha) and among closely related peoples (the Osage and other peoples speaking Degihan langauges). The JAF volume for 1905 featured Jones’ Manitou paper and, in the next issue, La Flesche’s “Who was the Medicine Man?”. With his research collaborator (and soon-to-be AFS’s first female president) Alice C. Fletcher, he also presented a paper on “Military Insignia of the Omaha” at the 14th Annual Meeting of the AFS, held jointly with the American Anthropological Association and the anthropological section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington, DC at the end of 2002 and the beginning days of 2003. While La Flesche did not become an AFS officer, he clearly could have as reflected in his Presidency of the Anthropological Society of Washington (1922-1923) and his 1922 election to National Academy of Sciences (a high honor then, as now).

A reoccurring theme in these posts, I will address the tiny group of prominent Native North American folklorists in a separate concluding post. Here, I just wish to underline that the 1900s (111 to 120 years ago was the apparent peak moment for such involvement in the society, as represented by the participation in both meetings and the JAF of both Jones and La Flesche during the decade. Ella Deloria (Dakota) would publish in JAF in the 1920s and Gladys Tantaquidgeon (Mohegan) would present at the meetings once in that decade, but as measured by total involvement including three full JAF articles published by La Flesche during his career and four full JAF articles published during (and after) his lifetime by Jones, they, and this decade, really stand out. I hope it is clear that I admire them and that I am frustrating that the best moment in terms of Native American scholars being near the center of the field would be in the first decade of the 20th century. As in previous posts when I touched on the question of Native American participation in the society, I welcome information on Native scholars involved in AFS that I many not be recognizing.

During the 1900s decade, meetings remained small and centered mostly in the Northeastern US. It was common, not just for the AFS, but for scholarly societies in general, to systematically meet in what one annual report refers to as a convocation, in which a significant number of scholarly societies are jointly hosted by a university. The AFS met in such situations multiple times in the 1900s decade. Such meetings often included an overarching welcome by the host university president, break-out meetings for the participating societies, and keynote lectures and receptions held again jointly.

It is important to recall that the AFS was founded fourteen years prior to the founding of the American Anthropological Association (AAA). Prior to the founding of the AAA, the Anthropological Society of Washington (ASW) (of which La Flesche would eventually be President) and the anthropology section within the AAAS were the key anthropology organizations. AFS met regularly with the ASW and with AAAS throughout its early history and after the AAA formed, it was added to this mix of regular meeting partners. Once the AAA was in the mix, it became common for there to be an AFS focused day within a multi-day meeting. This would have probably been adaptive for the non-anthropologists who may have wished to take in the AFS portion of the meeting but perhaps not the AAA (etc.) parts. I am guessing about this. With respect to the balance between scholars of Native North American and non-Native North American topics–a distinction that in this decade does map rather closely onto the anthropology/literature distinction–Native American-focused presentations at the annual meetings across the decade were somewhat dominant, but as shown in the first table, there was much variability. The most imbalanced meeting, in 1907, was one of those held jointly with the AAA and AAAS. It was held in Chicago (an emerging hub for anthropology due to the Field Museum), a new development that may have made the meeting more difficult for the New England-centric literary folklorists and appealing to the anthropologists who were in this time increasingly fanning out across the country. The meeting in 1904, where only a small number of papers were given and where the Native studies percentage is at its lowest for the decade, was in Philadelphia during one of the joint meetings that included the still new AAA and AAAS. It is likely that AFS members appeared on the AAA’s program in this context, impacting the figures. How AFS papers are reported in the annual report varies year to year in response to different meeting configurations and other factors.

The 1900s decade is when Boas’ students (both formal and informal) begin to show up in growing numbers and assume leadership roles. Jones has been mentioned here and in previous posts. In the previous decade A. L. Kroeber was present as a student, now he is present as an established figure. He is not only a presenter at meetings and a regular JAF author, but he and colleagues begin the California chapter in this time and it becomes a force within the field. In this period, there is often a dedicated section of the journal presenting papers and notes under this California branch’s auspices. Kroeber followed Alice Fletcher as AFS President, serving in 1906. John Swanton, active starting in this decade, would serve as President in 1909. Other Boas students such as Frank Speck, Robert Lowie, and Edward Sapir–all scholars of Native American topics–entered into the life of the AFS and rose to prominence in it, eventually service as Presidents.

As noted previously, the membership size and the number of presentations at AFS annual meetings are very different things. Most members articulated with the society as journal readers and as members of local branches, not via the annual meetings. There continued in this period to be elite AFS participants from both the anthropology community (ex: Alice Fletcher, James Mooney, Franz Boas and others) and the literary and historical side (inclusive of such topics as ballad studies, Black vernacular culture, children’s folklore, etc) (ex: George Lyman Kittredge, Alcée Fortier, Phillips Barry and others) as reflected in meeting attendance and service as an officer of the society. The politics of the AFS seems to have mainly taken place at the annual meetings, thus centering leadership and decision making among a small group (nearly all white, mostly men, weighted towards the northeast, but less exclusively so) able to both attend annual meetings and engage in the work on a national basis. The Annual Meeting table follows.

YearPresentations on Non-Native American TopicsPresentations on Native American TopicsPercentage on Native American Topics
190041071%
190161063%
190231077%
19036440%
19043125%
19054233%
19066545%
19071686%
19086545%
19092467%
Totals415758%
Presentations on Non-Native North American- and Native North American-Related Topics at the Annual Meetings of the American Folklore Society During the 1900s.

As in earlier decades, the JAF picture is distorted by my initial choice (probably a mistaken one) to code notes and articles rather than limiting attention just to full articles. In this period, the JAF often (but not always) published notes that ranged from substantive contributions with a byline to very short items (as short as a couple sentences). As I have noted elsewhere, my inclusion of notes serves to supress the percentages for Native North American topical works, because the smaller notes are weighted towards items related to Non-Native North American folklore topics. I am just guessing, but it seems likely that in the decade of the 1900s, the ratio for sunstantive Native and Non-Native North American content in the journal might have been about 50/50 rather than the decade-based 39% presented in the table below.

YearPublished Papers and Notes on Non-Native American TopicsPublished Papers and Notes on Native American TopicsPercentage on Native American Topics
1900211745%
1901321836%
1902451525%
1903431830%
1904181749%
1905171648%
1906301635%
1907241843%
1908161853%
1909161853%
Totals26217139%
JAF Publications on Non-Native North American and Native North American-Related Topics During 1900s.

Early volumes of the JAF are available without a paywall from JSTOR, thus I end by suggesting that anyone who has made it this far read the brief obituary published for William Jones in #84. Find it here. It is unsigned but his mentor Franz Boas was the editor of JAF at the time and knew him well, suggesting to me that he is the likely author of the obituary.

Organizing the Material So Far (Native North American Studies and AFS)

The posts on the presence and absence of Native North American and First Nations studies within the work of the AFS were done in a non-sequential way. Several more chunks remain to be done, but here is a historically sequenced listing of the posts completed as of November 2, 2020.

The 1880s and 1890s (both annual meetings and JAF) were discussed in this post from October 29, 2020.

[The meetings and JAF for the 1900s need to be done.]

The 1910s (both annual meetings and JAF) were discussed in this post from October 23, 2020.

The 1920s (both annual meetings and JAF) were discussed in this post from October 20, 2020.

The annual meetings of the 1930s were discussed in this post from October 20, 2020.

JAF in the 1930s was discussed in this post from October 20, 2020.

The annual meetings of the 1940s were discussed in this post from October 17, 2020.

JAF in the 1940s was discussed in this post from October 23, 2020.

The annual meetings of the 1950s were discussed in this post from October 16, 2020. This is the first post in the series.

JAF in the 1950s was discussed in this post from October 25, 2020.

The annual meetings of the 1960s were discussed in this post from October 19, 2020.

JAF in the 1960s was discussed in this post from October 26, 2020.

The status of Native North American studies among the initial (ca. 1960) group of AFS Fellows was discussed in this post from October 17, 2020.

The 1970s (both annual meetings and JAF were discussed in this post from October 26, 2020.

[The meetings for the 1980 and 1990s need to be done.]

JAF in the 1980s and 1990s was discussed in this post from October 29, 2020.

[The meetings for the 2000s and 2010s need to be done.]

JAF in the 2000s and 2010s was discussed in this post from October 29, 2020.

In the Beginning: Native North American Studies in the American Folklore Society to 1899

The two most recent posts in this series considered the state of Native North American and First Nations studies within the American Folklore Society (AFS) through the lens of the Journal of American Folklore (JAF) for the 1980s and 1990s and then the 2000s and 2010s. While the meetings for those years still need attention, I here jump back to the first years of the society to consider both the annual meetings of the AFS and the JAF from the society’s founding in 1888 to 1899. To preserve the decade by decade approach taken in the series, I will tackle 1888 and 1889 first and then 1890 to 1899. In these early years, meetings were small and they were reported on directly within a comprehensive annual report of the AFS published right in the pagers of the journal, making it very easy to tackle the meetings while surveying the JAF.

Readers of these posts will have noted the two story lines–the story of presence and absence of Native North American folklore studies content within the meetings and journal on the one hand and the presence and (mostly) absence of Native North American scholars present within these two AFS domains. Before getting to the meetings and journal overall, I can note that one Native American scholar, Francis La Flesche of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska and Iowa, appears prominently in this period, authoring major articles for the JAF in 1889 and in 1890. While a large proportion of the papers appear in JAF during this time period were also presented at the annual meetings, this is not the case for Frances La Flesche. If he attended any AFS meetings in this period, it is not evident from the annual reports. It is important to note that in this period the membership was surprisingly large and attendance at the meetings was not. There were many regional societies and La Flesche could have attended meetings of these at various points. I am unaware of other Native North American JAF authors or annual meeting presenters for these years. I welcome additional information on this point.

Because in this time period, meetings presentations often went quickly into the journal, I will present meeting data first and the JAF data. Founded in 1888, the first AFS meeting happened in 1889.

YearPresentations on Non-Native American TopicsPresentations on Native American TopicsPercentage on Native American Topics
188911215%
Total11215%
Presentations on Non-Native North American- and Native North American-Related Topics at the Annual Meetings of the American Folklore Society During the 1880s.

Here is the meeting data for the 1890s.

YearPresentations on Non-Native American TopicsPresentations on Native American TopicsPercentage on Native American Topics
189012737%
189141173%
18927956%
18931019%
189411635%
189581158%
18969431%
189717419%
18987542%
18997542%
Totals926341%
Presentations on Non-Native North American- and Native North American-Related Topics at the Annual Meetings of the American Folklore Society During the 1890s.

Late in the meetings of the 1890s, we see the person whom I think is the first true folklore graduate student enter the scene. If one attends an AFS meeting today, one will encounter a lot of graduate students and many of them will be presenting on the conference program. One might wonder if students always did this. I cannot answer that question here beyond noting that in 1998 and again in 1899, we see precedent in the person of A. L. (Alfred) Kroeber. Then a doctoral student working with Franz Boas at Columbia University, Kroeber presented on Inuit tales in 1898 and on his own studies among the Arapaho in 1899. He earned his PhD at Columbia in 1901, the first granted in anthropology from that university. He would go on to publish many items in JAF over the years and that first paper would be his first published in JAF, a year later in 1899 (#44) Just eight years later, in 1906 (five years past his PhD) he would serve as AFS President.

In later years, the issue of joint meetings and the ways that they would serve different parts of the society more or less well would become an issue. For the initial years, this does not seem to have been an issue. Most meetings seemed to happen independently, but in 1891 the AFS met in Washington in partnership with the Anthropological Society of Washington and the Women’s Anthropological Society. AFS returned to Washington with similar partners in 1894. In 1893, the branch of AFS in Montreal hosted. In 1899 AFS met at Yale at the same time as a large group of scientific societies. As in other early decades of the AFS, meetings were frequently rotated between a small number of cities in the Northeast.

Reporting on the JAF in the early years is difficult because in those days regular papers were published but so were very short notes, questions, and ephemeral observations, including sometimes items noticed in the popular press. I have not carefully studied every item, leaving room for mis-codeing. For most of this period, AFS is in a pre-professional or proto-professional state, with some professionals (like Boas) holding advanced degrees and some not doing so. Some folklorists were professionals in other fields, such as medicine. There is variability that would diminish after 1900. The anthropologists/literature scholar division is present in a more nebulous form and the interests of the early 20th century are all present, with an anthropological approach underpinning the extensive amount of work on Native American topics being addressed, with missionaries and travelers reporting on other parts of the world, and literary-minded scholars and antiquarians mainly working on the traditions of other peoples within the present-day United States. The anthropological scholars did also do work on non-Native cultural traditions, as when James Mooney published on the European settlers of Western North Carolina as an adjunct to his work among the Cherokee there. The numbers below reflect the presence of all of those small items in the journal. Such small bits tended to relate to non-Native peoples more than Native ones and Native studies work tended to appear in more fully formed papers.

YearPublished Papers and Notes on Non-Native American TopicsPublished Papers and Notes on Native American TopicsPercentage on Native American Topics
1888243156%
1889474045%
Totals717150%
JAF Publications on Non-Native North American and Native North American-Related Topics During 1880s.

The 1890s for JAF follow.

YearPublished Papers and Notes on Non-Native American TopicsPublished Papers and Notes on Native American TopicsPercentage on Native American Topics
1890502231%
1891492231%
1892542128%
1893461828%
1894421019%
1895451120%
1896321126%
1897331125%
189832922%
189953915%
Totals43614425%
JAF Publications on Non-Native North American and Native North American-Related Topics During 1890s.

Native North American Studies in the Journal of American Folklore During the 2000s and 2010s

Carrying forward from the previous post on the Journal of American Folklore (JAF) during the 1980s and 1990s, my focus here is the presence and absence of Native North American and First Nations scholarship (and scholars) in JAF during the 2000s and 2010s. Later posts will circle bask to look at the annual meetings of the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s.

I have no special interest stories for the 2000s. The first table here presents the data for this decade. Keep in mind what I have noted previously for the post-1940s world. A significant proportion of the (now) small number of the Native North American studies items published in JAF during this period are smaller notes and not full articles. Also in this broader period, I am counting obituaries, including them in the Native North American count when the scholar remembered was wholly or mainly a scholar of Native North American matters. These factors inflate a count that here, in the 2010s, reaches a new low-water mark of 4% of JAF content. No JAF authors for the 2000s are known to me to have been enrolled citizens of federally recognized Native North American/First Nations nations. I welcome corrections if this understanding is in error.

YearPublished Papers and Notes on Non-Native American TopicsPublished Papers and Notes on Native American TopicsPercentage on Native American Topics
20002214%
20012100%
20022214%
20032115%
20042813%
20052514%
20062029%
20071218%
20081915%
20091800%
Totals20894%
JAF Publications on Non-Native North American- and Native North American-Related Topics During the 2000s.

The 2010s are presented in the next table, below. Here we see, as began to happen occasionally in the 1960s, runs of multiple years of JAF without publication of Native North American studies works occur. The most notable thing to happen in this decades, related to my topic, is the publication in 2013 of a special issue of JAF focused on Native North American studies. That is how the out of the ordinary count of four items and 22% came about. I happen to be one of those four authors. In the year in which the 500th number of the journal would be published, the editors recruited authors for a series of theme issues. In recognition of the historical importance of Native North American studies within the society and in the journal and, I think, recognizing the decline that my posts are tracking, they cultivated this special issue. I was honored to participate in it. It created a retro moment and provided a historical reminder of how things once were, but you will note that the three following years saw no cognate content, thus the four items in 2013 could have been spread out between 2013 and 2016 to produce a very typical looking table for the recent period. From 4% in the 2000s we move to 3% in the 2010s, despite the publication of a dedicated issue on Native North American folklore studies.

To the best of my current knowledge, no JAF author publishing in the 2010s is a member of a federally recognized Native North American nation. I welcome correction on this point.

YearPublished Papers and Notes on Non-Native American TopicsPublished Papers and Notes on Native American TopicsPercentage on Native American Topics
20101800%
20112214%
20122100%
201314422%
20142000%
20152300%
20162200%
20172214%
20183400%
20192800%
Totals22463%
JAF Publications on Non-Native North American- and Native North American-Related Topics During the 2010s.

Just to round out the available data, here is a final table for the first year of the 2020s, our own dreaded present moment. In the 2010s, it was more common for a year to feature no Native North American studies content than to include such content. This default setting zero pattern has occurred again this year, as shown below.

YearsPublished Papers and Notes on Non-Native American TopicsPublished Papers and Notes on Native American TopicsPercentage on Native American Topics
20202400%
Totals2400%
JAF Publications on Non-Native North American- and Native North American-Related Topics During 2020.

Native North American Studies in the Journal of American Folklore During the 1980s and 1990s

In this post I continue considering the absence and presence of Native North American and First Nations studies within the work of the American Folklore Society. Please look at earlier (and future) posts in the series to gain context for what is being examined here. In the earlier years of the society, the journal contained more content than the annual meeting and thus was the harder of the two venues to scan and assess. Over time, this dynamic reversed and by the later 20th century, AFS meetings were huge relative to the journal. With help from JSTOR, studying the journal is a relatively simple and quick task (setting aside the coding questions that I have mentioned previously). It will take more time to work through the more recent meetings. In this context, I polish off the Journal of American Folklore (JAF) through 2020 in this post and one that will follow it for the 2000s and 2010s.

The JAF data for the 1980s (6%) and 1990s (5%) is not radically different from the JAF data for the 1960s (5%) and 1970s (5%). The plateau continues. Here first is the JAF table for the 1980s. As you consider the 1950s-1990s plateau, recall that the JAF percentage for Native North American studies content in the 1920s was 31%.

YearPublished Papers and Notes on Non-Native American TopicsPublished Papers and Notes on Native American TopicsPercentage on Native American Topics
19802627%
19812300%
19821600%
19831815%
198420313%
198517211%
19862000%
198728413%
19881915%
19892000%
Totals207136%
JAF Publications on Non-Native North American- and Native North American-Related Topics at During the 1980s.

In this series I have been trying to track not only the presence and absence of Native North American and First Nations studies scholarship within the field of folklore studies as practiced in the United States and as represented by the work of the American Folklore Society, I have also been considering the presence and absence of Native North American and First Nations scholars within, and intersectional to, this field. As the field of Native American and Indigenous studies is presently constituted in the United States and as laws such as the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 and the Native Programs Act of 1974, as amended, work, Native Hawaiian people have a standing like but not the same as federally recognized Native North American nations within the present-day US. I mention these contexts because, to the best of my knowledge, ethnomusicologist and hula scholar Amy Ku’uleialoha Stillman is a Native Hawaiian person and a JAF author in this study period (issue 434, 1996). I hope that Professor Ku’uleialoha Stillman will forgive me and correct me if I have misperceived and misrepresented this delicate matter. I am thrilled that she chose to share her work with the JAF readership and I hope that she contributes to the journal again. The larger point is that Native North American, First Nations, and Native Hawaiian colleagues continued to be virtually non-existent in the work of the AFS as reflected in the JAF during the decades that have been reviewed.

The table for the 1990s follows below.

YearPublished Papers and Notes on Non-Native American TopicsPublished Papers and Notes on Native American TopicsPercentage on Native American Topics
19901815%
19911700%
199219210%
19931200%
19942115%
19952115%
19961915%
19971616%
19982115%
199926310%
Totals190115%
JAF Publications on Non-Native North American- and Native North American-Related Topics at During the 1990s.
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