Describe what is meant when anthropology is labeled “colonial.”
Anthropology has aided colonization by dehumanizing and stereotyping Natives, by causing an erasure of Native history and identity, by helping the colonial authorities manage native peoples, and by appropriating Native culture and knowledge.
This essay will serve as a definition of the colonial effects of anthropology and provides an articulated Native theory of “Native Studies” called for by Warrior (1994). In the absence of an articulated theory and accompanying body of literature, Native and non-native scholars have sought to be critical and at times decolonizing in their reviews of anthropology and other social sciences. Sherry Ortner (2001) offers a view of anthropology from the Sixties and describes the Seventies as a time when everything that was part of the existing order came into question.
Before establishing the need for decolonization of anthropology we need to outline the colonial nature of anthropology. As a science, a part of the canon of Western Civilization, anthropology is meant to be the objective study of human society. The nature of this science, and of all sciences, is the creation of an orderly arrangement of information into Cartesian subjects. Deconstructed, in anthropology, all culture elements are analyzed individually or in groups so that anthropologists may find meaning free from obstruction of all of the other culture elements. And such analysis must be accomplished by someone from outside of the society, and trained in the anthropological method. In practice, anthropologists seek out specific information sets so they may find meaning in those specific areas.
Along with the cartesianization of information, anthropologists come out of a particular religious and cultural context. Protestant and Christian religion instills a specific set of values that privileges those people of Western upbringing. This bias combines with science and creates many assumptions that anthropologist bring to their work. One is the assumption that the height of all development can be found in Europe and in a specific set of European literature. Ngugi (1986) calls this the great mirror of civilization. All the rest of the world is struggling to rise to the level of civilization that Europe has reached. Thus scientists from Europe, or of European descent are assumed to be the best in the world, smarter, more advanced and thus more able to be objective with their research.
Anthropologists working in the discipline of scientific anthropology then assume much when it comes to the value of their work and how objective it is. They tend to exclude from their fold those who do not match the criteria of the objective scientist, usually Natives, the colonized, and women, all of whom are assumed to be irrational and therefore unscientific. When we compare the values of colonization and anthropology then we find that they are very similar. The colonial authorities are for the most part European/white, men, who have been trained in a specific set of European values and are of Protestant or Christian origin. Rarely are colonial administrators women or of any other ethic group. Yet despite the fact that these two groups, anthropologist and colonial administrators, appear similar, it is not clear if they are related in purpose. This is an interesting question because anthropology does not only involve the doing of it, ie: theory, research, analysis, and publication, but also involves a historic component where the results of their research is stored for “ever” in books and their research notes as also stored “forever” in archives. So other researchers may forever return to that research and produce their own results. As well, research and results become part of the literary canon of Western Civilization. Thus, the knowledge gained is added to this “great mirror of civilization” and all future researchers on the topic may then turn to this canon and learn from it as well. This model creates a number of effects on indigenous peoples, the groups most researched in the world, and anthropologists.
Anthropologists who publish on their research become, in the public’s perception, the literal experts on the cultures they research. In fact these anthropologists are heavily relied upon by legal, political, economic and social institutions to provide expert witness when questions about their research subject arise. The benefit for anthropologists is that they may secure tenure and professorships, they may make money, and they gain prestige in their society. By publishing, their family’s fame may go on for generations. For the indigenous subjects, they are disempowered in society. As a non-scientific, non-European, non-Christian people, they are considered too biased to accurately describe -and analyze their own society. They then may not self-define their cultural, tribal and political identities in any meaningful way. And should they “rise” to be able to self-define, their perspectives will be marginalized in favor of the scientific definition. As well, the nature of the Western Civilization worldview discriminates against all other worldviews as inferior, so the knowledge created by scientists, organized in a scientific manner, is valid, while an articulation of the indigenous worldview in an indigenous manner is not considered valid.
It is perhaps difficult for anthropologists to believe that they create these effects on Native peoples by their research. And as anthropology has become increasingly liberal and accepting of new methodologies, indigenous and colonized students and professors, and women, the effects of their research on indigenous peoples has become less and less. However, as long as the knowledge gained in organized and disseminated in a manner that does not seek the approval of, or is not attributed to, indigenous people, as the originators and owners of such knowledge, then anthropology is a colonial science. Even such as the theory and methodology of Geertz 1973, in his developments around “Thick Description” remain part of colonial anthropology. While Geertz makes a valiant attempt to get as close as humanly possible to his subject culture, without being of that culture, he still analyzes and published the information in a Western manner. Geertz does not attempt to organize the knowledge in the manner of his subjects, he does not attribute ownership of the knowledge to his subjects, and this creates the same effect as earlier anthropology models in that Geertz surfaces as the expert in that culture. For students and professors thereafter, there is no need to actually talk to an indigenous person from that society, they need only turn to Geertz’s books for that information. And Geertz gains the academic prestige of his publications, the resulting raise in income, and generations later his family name will carry much weight in the field of anthropology. What are the benefits to the subjects Geertz has studied? That remains unclear and is not part of Geertz’s considerations. But one thing we know from experience, is that this model disempowers the Native people in their ability to self-identify their culture and society because Geertz’s books are the expert perspectives.
The effects of such analysis on their subjects is that they have little relation to the results, they have no control over how the information is use or by whom, and in fact such research serves to enrich the lives and careers of the anthropologists and Western Civilization much more than the subjects.
As a body, many such writings have been marginalized and ignored by mainstream anthropology (Bruner 1986). Dell Hymes 1974 called for the expansion of the practice of anthropology by external anthropologists, those external to university departments, in order to save the discipline. Perhaps before his time, Hymes articulated what is happening today, an expansion of anthropology’s parameters led by a cadre of informed Native and non-native anthropologists, or those formerly completely marginalized. This is not to say that departments are widely offering such perspectives to their students, only that they are gaining wider appeal and are beginning to make impacts. Linda Smith’s (1999), Decolonizing Methodologies, has become particularly popular, offering a well researched and easily accessible critique of the social sciences, written for a colonial audience, from an indigenous perspective, and for the benefit of indigenous communities.
The beginnings of the decolonization movement must be traced to one key individual, Vine Deloria Jr. A Native activist, scholar and professor, Deloria wrote the headwater article that began the current era, Anthros and Other Friends, first published in Playboy magazine, and later in Custer Died for Your Sins (1969). Deloria’s essay began a groundswell of Native criticism of anthropology that has not abated. Deloria not only began this movement but has continued to contribute to it over the past 30 years and has added other key works, Red Earth, White Lies (1995), and Anthros, Indians and Planetary Reality (1997). Deloria is consistently criticized by anthropologists and archaeologists for his bias and the inaccuracy of his facts, however, no other Native scholar has consistently challenged the field of anthropology, dealt with the complete depth and breadth of the critiques, for as long as he. For many Native scholars, Deloria’s work has been an inspiration, and whether or not he has always been accurate, he has sounded clarion calls on an array of issues for future Native scholars to field in greater detail.
Appropriating Native culture and knowledge
L. Smith 1999, asks for whom is anthropology practiced? Her question and others in the same vein, who benefits, who controls it, etc, gets at the concerns of native peoples that anthropology only benefits the colonial administration and the colonial elite (also Deloria 1969, 1995, 1997). Anthropological studies have involved much theorizing and discussion in academia, but how much of this and the reports generated from such dialogue are returned to the communities they came from? Do the communities get to review the results before they are released or published? Recently anthropologists have proposed collaborations with native peoples to get around such problems (Montejo 2002, Nicholas et al 1999). Early anthropologists tended to publish everything, regardless of the will of the native peoples, revealing stories, oral histories that should not be published, and traditional knowledge that is owned the families.
This type of cultural theft is also in material cultural objects. The growth of museums in the 19th and 20th centuries sparked the wholesale collection of native cultural artifacts before the natives “vanished forever” and ethnology would then become impossible (Cole 1986). Called salvage anthropology, this lasted for some time and anthropologists, linguists, and ethnologists collected by any means necessary, native material culture and sent it all to museums. The most unfortunate of the collected items were the millions of skeletons of natives that ended up collected in museums across the world (Thornton 1998, Weaver 2001, Deloria 1969, 1995, 1997). The collection of these human remains constituted one of the benefits of a colonial empire having conquered the native peoples, their “trophies.” In the 1990s repatriations of many human remains began back to Tribal Nations in the United States, but archaeologists were reluctant to let loose of their remains citing the loss of valuable research materials as their primary complaint (Thornton 1998).
Erasure of Native history and identity
The theft of Native culture and knowledge is the first step, the effects of this theft are the erasure of Native history and identity. Once again anthropologists working within the good will of colonial authorities wrote ethnocentric ethnologies and ethnohistories of Native culture and identity. Using their privilege of being of the colonizer’s ethnicity (Memmi 1967), anthropologists’ products, books, films, essays, etc, become the expert published evidence of who the native subjects are, despite what they may think. Such publications serve to make anthropologists the experts of Native culture and disempower Native people in their ability to self define their own culture (Field 1999, Clifford 1988). This has a huge effect on cultural identity as successive generations of Native people, colonized and living in colonial environments, turn to the expert published testimonies, written by anthropologists, when seeking their cultural identity. In the absence of a healthy Native community, with surviving native traditions, it is then difficult for the colonized ancestors to mediate such knowledge and to find the truth. For Medicine (2001) this becomes the beginnings of Pan-Indianism, a generalized, nonspecific Native American identity (Also Deloria 1969). The anthropologists themselves gain prestige and even wealth from their subjects by becoming the recognized experts, tenure in a university and immortalized fame through publications (Deloria 1969, Thornton 1998, L. Smith 1999).
Other effects on identity are in the kinship of individual Natives to their ancestral community. Anthropologists and other scientists took up the purity of blood arguments of the 19th century. Apparently, the more a Native’s ancestors had mixed with non-natives, the less native they are. Only in Native people, is blood quantum become a legal definition of whether one is deserving of being a member of a Native nation, as defined by the United States, and as adopted by the colonized governments of contemporary tribes. Blood quantum really only serves the interests of the federal government to disenfranchise natives from the possibility of claiming land through their inherent aboriginal rights to title (Vizenor 1994, Thornton 1998).
As well, anthropologists have tended to distrust or ignore the perspectives of Native peoples about their own history (Strickland 1998, Thornton 1998, Deloria 1997, 1995, Medicine 2001). Only in the past 30 years has the Native perspective become valued. However there are still charges that the native perspective is biased and should not be trusted (Harrison 1997). Along with this is the practice of ignoring the opinions and marginalizing the writings of minority or critical scholars (Bruner 1986, Harrison 1997).
Medicine 2001, and L. Smith 1999, call for gender specific anthropology studies that are organized and arranged by Native women. The history of anthropological research has focused on men and most studies are controlled by men and have generally ignored women’s issues. And so there has been a lack of studies the differential the genders, not simply male and female but also the alternative genders found amongst Native communities and marginalized in Euro-american societies.
Huhndorf (2001) points out the phenomenon of “Going Native.” This involves the appropriating of Native culture and identity by non-natives who gain legitimacy in their representation of nativeness. Going Native is “an act that both articulates and denies white America’s history of conquest, remains an integral performance of national identity.”
Dehumanizing and stereotyping Natives
Anthropology dehumanizes Native peoples by objectifying their material culture and providing stereotypes of Native representation.
The anthropological writings and teachings of anthropologists serve to categorize and theorize about the native culture, and have created stereotypes about native peoples that persist beyond the era when they were created and beyond the contemporary understandings of native peoples. Such stereotypes as being savage and uncivilized, inferior (Thornton 1998, Deloria 1969, 1995, 1997), vanishing forever (McNickle 1962), drunken (Medicine 2001), generalized Native American or American Indian (Medicine 2001), and romanticized (Churchill 1998), and noble savage (Deloria 1969).
The parsing of native material culture in separate “cultures” by archaeology and representing these in museums and publications as well as teaching such perspectives causes a dehumanization of the Native people. Non-natives learning these perspectives gain an idea that Native are people to be studied, and culture is something to be valued and collected (Deloria 1995, L. Smith 1999). This does not stop with material cultural, but extends to human remains. By attributing to science and anthropology the fate of native human remain, Native peoples become dehumanized by their falling outside of the human laws regarding the treatment of the dead.
By anthropologists criticizing the Native perspectives on their own history, they say that native peoples are too biased (Deloria 1969, 1995, 1997, Medicine 2001, Thornton 1998, Bruner 1986). This too dehumanizes Natives because there is an underlying assumption that Native people cannot be logical and rational in their writings. Perhaps part of this criticism stems from the understanding that non-natives have proven biased in their own interpretations of history, and so the same situation will happen for Native scholars.
Management of Native peoples
Foucault (1978), provides us with a view of how governmental authorities gather information about the populations they oversee and manage them through the discourse on the deployment of sexuality. Applied to anthropology, Foucault provides a powerful analysis for the impetus and goal of anthropological data, to manage Native populations through power relationships.
The colonizers are privileged over all colonized and seek to maintain that relationship forever (Memmi 1967, Asad 1975). The colonizers use racist philosophy to create a colonized mindset, where the colonized peoples are acculturated to believe that all colonizers are better than all colonized (Ngugi 1986, Memmi 1967). This is reinforced by the imposition of the colonizers’ language, culture, religion and worldview over the colonized lands, and the making of a fluency in such knowledge requisite for social mobility (Ngugi 1986, Memmi 1967). Memmi calls this the pyramid of petty tyrants.
Field 1999, writes that anthropology has been working with the nation building efforts in California and has worked to affirm the position of the Indian peoples with regards to the United States. Similar arguments have been made for Latin America (Montejo 2002, Gow and Rappaport 2001, Warren 2002), Australia (Rose 2001), Africa (Ngugi 1986, Asad 1973, Memmi 1967), New Zealand (L. Smith 1999, G. Smith 2002), and every other part of the world that was colonized and afterwards subjected to anthropological research.
However, many will question, “What exactly does anthropology do on behalf of colonization, since today, many countries are freed of colonial rule?” This is true, as colonization involves a complex of power relations between the colonizers and the colonized, some of these colonizers become unintentionally complicit in the colonial agenda, repression of the colonized peoples, inscription of colonial values and worldview, and a privileging of the colonial elite, forever (Memmi 1967, Asad 1973).
The colonized peoples become so well colonized that they reinscribe their colonization upon their colonial community, this is called the colonized mind (Ngugi 1986, L. Smith 1999, Alfred 1999). In some instances, the inscription or acculturation process creates a powerful bonding experience that aids Natives to survive and maintain their cultures, such as at Chilocco Indian Boarding School (Lomawaima 1994).
Post-colonialism is heavily criticized by Native scholars because of the fact that most of the indigenous world is still subject to colonial management. L. Smith (1999) quotes “Post-colonial? What, have they left?” Many critiques of post-colonialism are that the area of study re-inscribes the power of the colonial elite and academic elite to continue to manage the world, by the assumption and faux appearance that the world is now beyond colonization (Churchill 1998, L. Smith 1999).
Privilege plays a large role in the management of Native peoples. The privilege of anthropologists being able to enter a Native society and do their research unrestricted and unbeholding to the subjects remains a colonial privilege (Asad 1975, Memmi 1967). Privilege is created with unequal power relations and in forcibly maintained by the colonial elite (Deloria 1969, Field 1999, Asad 1975, Memmi 1967, Smith 1999). Racism has been attributed as a way that the colonial elite maintains their control over the colonized peoples (Memmi 1967, Asad 1975). And privilege is a large part of why the United States court system attributed more respect to the opinion of one non-native PhD in anthropology over the opinions of a whole Native community. In the Kennewick man case, over four Native nations.
The colonial character of anthropology has changed over the history of the discipline. In the early days scientists had the privilege of practicing anthropology in any manner they wanted. Today, more often than not, ethical and moral concerns are a big factor in the way anthropological research proceeds. However, there remains a large colonial component to anthropology, in its production of native representation, in its disempowerment of native peoples, in its lack of native perspectives taught in the classroom and included in their publications, and in its slow ability to adapt to marginal and minority influences.
What does a decolonized anthropology look like, and what are its benefits?
Decolonization of anthropology would involve a complete reversal of our society (Harrison 1997).
Decolonizing anthropology would involve cooperative work between anthropologists and Native people. Such research and results would take into account the perspectives of Native people, would include Native people in the planning and implementation of research. Anthropologists would serve the needs of Native communities and abide by the native world view in their interactions with the community. Women’s issues would be weighted fairly. Anthropologists would work to help the native community to learn how to interpret the results, how to do their own research, and aid access of the native community to education (L. Smith 1999, Medicine 2001).
In addition, the colonial management would not be of consideration in a decolonized anthropology. In fact as anthropologists sought to work for the communities, they would be working to heal the communities from colonial oppression (Alfred 1999, Montejo 2002). The cooperative working arrangement would extend internationally and transnationally such that anthropologists would work to help the native community to overcome neo-colonial economic oppression as well. This may be considered activism, but the reverse has already occurred for over one hundred years, and so if anthropology must continue, they must be willing to work on behalf of native people and not on behalf of the colonizers (Memmi 1967, Montejo 2002).
The benefits of a decolonized anthropology is that the boundaries of anthropological research, and the amount of information available to understand the human condition would radically increase. Rather than having only a portion of the information available for history or ethnohistory, where all is written from an ethnocentric perspective, the perspectives of native peoples and the realities on native society would be allowed to influence the results (Medicine 2001, L. Smith 1999, Harrison 1997).
Native peoples would then be able to challenge their stereotypes in society. Native could address their treatment as non-humans and may gain their rights under the law. Those native people who have been excluded from their ancestral native community would be able to address the wrongs committed against their identity. Communities may then become welcoming to a return of the dispossessed. The restoration of native communities would serve to enrich the lives of all people. Clearly much of this is a vision that is highly idealistic, but the reversal of the practices of marginalization of native peoples, the marginalization of native history, would, in a Foucaultian way (1978) create a different sort of power relationship whose boundaries have yet to be completely understand. Power to Foucault (1978) is not something controlled, but is established through relationships. If the power relationship between Native and non-native societies was balanced, it would likely produce some balancing in academia and throughout society.
However, it is not clear what would happen to colonial powers like the United States and Britain. Would they simple lose their advantages in various areas of world economic exploitation, or would they devise other ways of maintaining control, a neo-neo colonialism?
What are the central criticisms of anthropology by indigenous scholars?
Anthropology has aided colonization by dehumanizing and stereotyping Natives, by causing an erasure of Native history and identity, by helping the colonial authorities manage native peoples, and by appropriating Native culture and knowledge.
Central criticisms of anthropology by Native scholars is a rapidly growing body of work, loosely organized as decolonizing anthropology. Native scholars and their work have also been organized under the title Native American studies, but there are problems with how such departments are accorded validity, who teaches in the department and what their credentials are, and the respect individual universities give their presence (Vizenor 1994, Thornton 1998). More often than not, Native studies departments are staffed by Natives with low blood quantum and little connections with an indigenous community (Medicine 2001). But there has not yet occurred a concerted effort to bring together all of the strands of the Native or indigenous critique of anthropology under one title, I call it decolonizing anthropology. In fact Warrior (1994), writes that there has yet to be created a good way for Natives to criticize each others work, nor has much of this happened, when it does, a literary fight usually erupts. So what has occurred is an independent and somewhat random series of critical writings from Native scholars from throughout academia, who have critically evaluated anthropology, from their personal, tribal, and academic perspectives. Despite this imposing barrier, there are a few strands of criticism that stand out above all others and carry across the academic spectrum.
The marginalization of Native perspectives is a central criticism of anthropology (Harrison 1997, Bruner 1986). The phenomenon of marginalization is not new, being practiced from the beginning of anthropology and an integral part of the colonial agenda (Memmi 1967). Amongst Native communities the marginalization takes the form of a lack of research on Native perspectives in their history, culture and identity. Instead anthropologists utilized short term field research to salvage what information they could from the vanishing Indians, and bring that back to scholarly centers, archives and museums, and then formulate their theories of Native history, culture and identity (Cole 1985, Clayton 2000). Such archives served generations of anthropological scholars who could write about native culture without ever having to set foot in a Native community (Deloria 1969, L. Smith 1999, Medicine 2001).
This early practice of non-communication with the natives, set the stage for further such research, in every research method and every successive theory. Geertz (1978), culminates this practice with his ideas about “thick description” where the anthropologist would enter into a Native community, for long enough to become acculturated so to understand the public symbols, and then writing this down in the anthropological fashion. For Geertz, there is no real need to get the Native perspectives and it is possible for an anthropologist, irregardless of their Eurocentric cultural background, to flesh out the truth from Native public symbols, of a Native culture.
Nearly every native scholar decries the practice of not turning to Natives to tell the Native history (Montejo 2002, Medicine 2001, L. Smith 1999, Churchill 1998, Deloria 1969, 1995, 1997, Thornton 1998, Vizenor 1994, Warrior 1994, Ngugi 1986). And, one further aspect of native perspectives is that of the criticisms of Native bias on history. The assumption that Natives cannot write a rational history of their own peoples is universally challenged (L. Smith 1999).
Furthermore, as symbolic as the Kennewick Man case is, with regards to the human rights of native peoples, and their right to have their ancestral remains treated the same under the rule of law, one anthropologist with a PhD has more power in their perspectives on native culture and identity than a whole tribe of natives, much less four Native Nations. The cultural viewpoint of the average native is nearly worthless in a court of law.
These changes are mainly based on the morally and ethics of research on indigenous peoples but also there are some key criticisms of ethnocentrism and of the scientific method that have led to progression and advancements in anthropology.
Perhaps the turning point that forced anthropologists to change the way they do things is with the essay “Anthros and other Friends” by Vine Deloria Jr (1968, 1969). Deloria, used a form of Native humor to effectively critique the way anthropologists, by the droves enter reservations in the summer, become a member of a Native family, and leave to write their essays and books. Deloria questioned what benefit this had to Native peoples and how useless the research was if it did not benefit Native peoples. Deloria’s clarion call began a era of minorities and women speaking out against the colonial agenda of anthropology, and of how anthropology was under the control of outmoded theory, men, and ethnocentrics. Other indigenous peoples began to write and speak against this colonial agenda.
Bea Medicine (2001) wrote many books and articles on the need for gendered research and was/is a firm advocate for using anthropology on behalf of the community, also called applied anthropology.
Additional writers of note, Thornton 1998, Vizenor 1994, Deloria 1995, 1997, Lomawaima 1995, L. Smith 1999, Ngugi 1986, Montejo 2001, McNickle 1962, Mihesuah 1998, Watkins 2000, Huhndorf 2001
How are the perspectives of Native American scholars and critics similar, and dissimilar, to the perspectives of indigenous scholars and critics in other areas of the world? Is there a difference between Native American anthropologists, and other Native American scholars in their critique of anthropology?
The historical and political context of anthropology in the world varies somewhat depending on the colonizer. In the United States, Native tribes are separate from one another politically, culturally and historically. Mainly, Tribes maintain separate treaties with the United States government. However in areas like Alaska, California or Oregon, many of the treaties are with confederations of tribes as in Oregon, or the Native peoples are not considered tribes but bands as in Alaska, or there exists no treaties because of a prior imperialization and colonization of their lands, as in California, where Spain had previously taken the area. As well, in the United States, the contexts of the treaties changed through history, as the government learned from their experiences and altered the form of their colonization. So in the United States, anthropology adapted itself to the contexts of the tribes and followed along with the government in their colonization privileges. As the government took over later tribes, as in Oregon, anthropologists began to fear that they would never be able to study these cultures again and began the process of salvage anthropology (Cole 1986). It is interesting that this began in the Pacific Northwest as it was the last region colonized and it is quite likely that anthropologists also learned from the loss of previously colonized cultures.
In lands colonized by the British Commonwealth and the rest of Europe, the colonized peoples were far removed and Europeans had to establish more permanent colonies. For the British, the beginnings of their anthropology was a process that involved much more travel and so access to Native peoples was rarer event. Anthropologists had to move far away from their homes and spend more time living among the natives.
The extraction of information and knowledge is similar in both the United States and Europe. Such data was taken away to far archives and taught to students in a distant theroretical fashion. Universities and large national museums became the center point for scholars in their quest for knowledge.
The single era that led to a widespread change in the anthropology for both regions is the formation of the United Nations in the 1950s. When colonial countries worldwide were freed by the European imperialists, the indigenous peoples of these lands began the process of recovery from colonialism. This did not happen for Tribe in the United States and Canada. While worldwide Indigenous peoples began forming their governments, questioning colonization, and dealing with the theoretical framework developed by the colonizers to keep them under control, for many adopting the Marxist critique of capitalism, the Tribes in the United States were subjected to termination and continued acculturation pressures as the government continued to try to suppress Native culture, religion and identity (McNickle 1962). However their efforts were not successful and native populations continued to rise (McNickle 1962).
For International colonial and indigenous peoples, there arose a series of critics of colonization and anthropology. Critics in this vein are Fanon 1963, Asad 1975, Memmi 1967, Ngugi 1986, Said 1979 and Foucault 1978, many of who are of indigenous ancestry and from a colonial context. These critics attacked the philosophical and moral rights of the colonizers to continue their oppression over the colonized. They pointed out the long term, even multi-generational effects of colonization on their people (Memmi 1967), what the motivation of the colonizers was, and identified the colonized mindset that emerged from this relationship (Ngugi 1986). What emerged was a powerful critique of the foundations of colonial research on indigenous peoples and how that power relationship continued to persevere despite them being freed some decades earlier.
In the United States anthropology progressed much as before, with tribal peoples having few rights against research. There remained a paucity of native scholars until the 1970s when the American Civil Rights movement aided the rise of all minorities. This was a time when all part of the ordered system were being questioned (Ortner 2001). Until about the mid-1990s there was also a paucity of native critiques of anthropology and social research to form an effective critique of the field.
Critiques from Native American scholars are based on their rights as citizens of the country. Critics like Deloria do question the motivation of anthropologists but usually in the context of native disempowerment within the United States. Deloria uses his particular form of Native humour and points at the fact that Native peoples remain poor while anthropologists gain from their research and publications (1969). There are few critics from within the United States that recommend a complete separation of the tribes from the United States. The colonial context is almost missing in most criticism. Deloria 1969, Churchill 1998, do point of the colonial context of anthropological research. The primary motivation of the American critics is to gain rights for their people, or for natives within the country. To gain access to education (Medicine 1995), to bring the results of research back to the tribes (Medicine 2001, Deloria 1995), to gain the right to not have their human remains subject to research (Deloria 1995, 1997, Weaver 2001).
In the 1990s developed a complex critique of anthropology that also proposed a direction to travel for decolonization of the field. Perhaps because of the liberalization of anthropology, or the advent of the information age, the primary critics in international contexts worked under theories of Political economy, and proposed collaborations between anthropologists and indigenous peoples (Rappaport 1990, L. Smith 1999, Nicholas et al 1997, Field 1999, Warren et al 2002, Gow and Rappaport 2002, Montejo 2002, Clayton 2000, Trigger 1980, 1997). This critique of current anthropological practices, proposed that anthropologists go to work for the indigenous peoples, as activist-researchers, in local and international contexts. Medicine 2001, appears to have been doing this all along in her long career as an Applied anthropologist. Medicine is a Native anthropologist who worked for the Lakota and Hopi tribes an abided by their cultural laws and worked on research in their best interest. The idea of collaborative work is also applied by Rose (1991, 2001) in Australia, and L. Smith 1999 in New Zealand, Rappaport 1990 in Latin America, Nicholas et al 1997 in Canada. With these same situations happening worldwide, the politics of trans-nationalism have served to integrate much of the way anthropology is done.
Ethnohistory Research, LLC | David G. Lewis, PhD
PhD Anthropology (UO 2009) and Native history researcher. Member of the Grand Ronde Tribe, Takelma, Chinook, Molalla, and Santiam Kalapuya ancestry. Owner of Ethnohistory Research LCC, professional consultant and project researcher.
I teach at local universities and colleges and take contracts with tribes, local governments and nonprofits. I have experience in archival organization, museum development, exhibit curation, traditional cultural property nomination, tribal ethnohistoric research, tribal maps, traditional ecological knowledge, and presentations to large and small gatherings. Contact me for consultation about any of these projects.