Alfred Louis Kroeber (June 11, 1876 – October 5, 1960) was an American cultural anthropologist. He received his Ph.D. under Franz Boas at Columbia University in 1901, the first doctorate in anthropology awarded by Columbia. He was also the first professor appointed to the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. He played an integral role in the early days of its Museum of Anthropology, where he served as director from 1909 through 1947. Kroeber provided detailed information about Ishi, the last surviving member of the Yahi people, whom he studied over a period of years. He was the father of the acclaimed novelist, poet, and writer of short stories Ursula K. Le Guin.
Alfred L. Kroeber
Kroeber with Ishi in 1911
Alfred Louis Kroeber
June 11, 1876
|Died||October 5, 1960 (aged 84)|
|Children||Ted and Clifton Brown Kroeber (adopted), Karl and Ursula Kroeber|
|Parent(s)||Florence Kroeber and Johanna Muller|
|Awards||Viking Fund Medal (1946)|
|Alma mater||Columbia University|
|Institutions||University of California, Berkeley|
Kroeber was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, to upper middle-class parents: Florence Kroeber, who immigrated at the age of 10 to the United States with his parents and family from Germany, and Johanna Muller, who was of German descent. His family moved into New York when Alfred was quite young, and he was tutored and attended private schools there. He had three younger siblings and all had scholarly interests. The family was bilingual, speaking German at home, and Kroeber also began to study Latin and Greek in school, beginning a lifelong interest in languages. He attended Columbia College at the age of 16, joining the Philolexian Society and earning an A.B. in English in 1896 and an M.A. in Romantic drama in 1897. Changing fields to the new one of anthropology, he received his Ph.D. under Franz Boas at Columbia University in 1901, basing his 28-page dissertation on decorative symbolism on his field work among the Arapaho. It was the first doctorate in anthropology awarded by Columbia.
Kroeber spent most of his career in California, primarily at the University of California, Berkeley. He was both a Professor of Anthropology and the Director of what was then the University of California Museum of Anthropology (now the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology). The anthropology department's headquarters building at the University of California is named Kroeber Hall in his honor. He was associated with Berkeley until his retirement in 1946.
In 1926 he married again, to Theodora Kracaw Brown, a widow whom he met as a student in one of his graduate seminars. They had two children: Karl Kroeber, a literary critic, and the science fiction writer Ursula Kroeber Le Guin. In addition, Alfred adopted Theodora's sons by her first marriage, Ted and Clifton Brown, who both took his surname.
In 2003, Clifton and Karl Kroeber published a book of essays on Ishi's story, which they co-edited, called, Ishi in Three Centuries. This is the first scholarly book on Ishi to contain essays by Native American writers and academics.
Alfred Kroeber died in Paris on October 5, 1960.
Although he is known primarily as a cultural anthropologist, he did significant work in archaeology and anthropological linguistics, and he contributed to anthropology by making connections between archaeology and culture. He conducted excavations in New Mexico, Mexico, and Peru. In Peru he helped found the Institute for Andean Studies (IAS) with the Peruvian anthropologist Julio C. Tello and other major scholars.
Kroeber and his students did important work collecting cultural data on western tribes of Native Americans. The work done in preserving information about California tribes appeared in Handbook of the Indians of California (1925). In that book, Kroeber first described a pattern in California groups where a social unit was smaller and less hierarchically organized than a tribe, which was elaborated upon in The Patwin and their Neighbors in which Kroeber first coined the term "tribelet" to describe this level of organization. Kroeber is credited with developing the concepts of culture area, cultural configuration (Cultural and Natural Areas of Native North America, 1939), and cultural fatigue (Anthropology, 1963).
Kroeber's influence was so strong that many contemporaries adopted his style of beard and mustache as well as his views as a cultural historian. During his lifetime, he was known as the "Dean of American Anthropologists". Kroeber and Roland B. Dixon were very influential in the genetic classification of Native American languages in North America, being responsible for theoretical groupings such as Penutian and Hokan, based on common languages.
He is noted for working with Ishi, who was claimed to be the last California Yahi Indian. (Ishi may have been of mixed ethnic heritage, with a father from the Wintu, Maidu or Nomlaki tribes.) His second wife, Theodora Kracaw Kroeber, wrote a well-known biography of Ishi, Ishi in Two Worlds. Kroeber's relationship with Ishi was the subject of a film, The Last of His Tribe (1992), starring Jon Voight as Kroeber and Graham Greene as Ishi.
Kroeber's textbook, Anthropology (1923, 1948), was widely used for many years. In the late 1940s, it was one of ten books required as reading for all students during their first year at Columbia University. His book, Configurations of Cultural Growth (1944), had a lasting impact on social scientific research on genius and greatness; Kroeber believed that genius arose out of culture at particular times, rather than holding to "the great man" theory.
Kroeber served early on as the plaintiffs' director of research in Indians of California v. the United States, a land claim case. His associate director and the director of research for the federal government in the case had both been students of his: Omer Stewart of the University of Colorado, and Ralph Beals of the University of California, Los Angeles, respectively. Kroeber's impact on the Indian Claims Commission may well have established the way expert witnesses presented testimony before the tribunal. Several of his former students also served as expert witnesses; for instance, Stewart directed the plaintiff research for the Ute and for the Shoshone peoples.
The Bay Miwok are a cultural and linguistic group of Miwok, a Native American people in Northern California who live in Contra Costa County. They joined the Franciscan mission system during the early nineteenth century, suffered a devastating population decline, and lost their language as they intermarried with other native California ethnic groups and learned the Spanish language.
The Bay Miwok were not recognized by modern anthropologists or linguists until the mid-twentieth century. In fact, Alfred L. Kroeber, father of California anthropology, who knew of one of their constituent local groups, the Saklan (Saclan), from nineteenth-century manuscript sources, presumed that they spoke an Ohlone (a.k.a. Costanoan) language.In 1955 linguist Madison Beeler recognized an 1821 vocabulary taken from a Saclan man at Mission San Francisco as representative of a Miwok language. The language was named "Bay Miwok" and its territorial extent was rediscovered during the 1960s (see Landholding Groups or Local Tribes section below).Bernard Cohn (anthropologist)
Bernard S. Cohn was an American anthropologist and scholar of British colonialism in India, primarily affiliated with the University of Chicago. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Cohn received a B.A. in history from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1949 and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Cornell University in 1954. From 1952-3 he engaged in field research in India as a Fulbright scholar. In addition to Chicago, he also taught at the University of Rochester and was a research assistant for the US Army at Fort Benning. In 1968, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Cohn's seminal contributions included work on India's caste system, by which he established that caste was solidified as a concept by the British codification of it, as well as the establishment of historical anthropology as a means to link the disciplines of anthropology and history. This work intersected with earlier work about syncretism between these two disciplines by Alfred L. Kroeber, as well as essays by Clifford Geertz. Cohn's works include Colonialism and its Forms of Knowledge (1996), An Anthropologist Among the Historians (1987) and India: The Social Anthropology of a Civilization (1971). His students, including, Nicholas Dirks, Ronald Inden, and Ritty Lukose have continued in the vein of his work. His work has been closely studied by members of Subaltern Studies, especially Ranajit Guha.Constance Goddard DuBois
Constance Goddard DuBois (died 1934) was an American novelist and an ethnographer, writing extensively between 1899 and 1908 about the native peoples and cultures of southern California.
DuBois was born in Zanesville, Ohio, and settled in Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1889. Her published fiction included several short stories plus six novels (DuBois 1890, 1892, 1895a, 1895b, 1900, 1907).
DuBois' most enduring contribution was as a self-taught ethnographer, doing pioneering studies in a period when professional academic anthropology was just becoming established in the United States. Starting in the late 1890s, she made summer trips out west to see her sister who lived in the San Diego area. She began making treks into the San Diego backcountry, to meet the surviving communities of Diegueño and Luiseño Indians. Soon she was writing about their traditional and contemporary lifeways, promoting traditional crafts (particularly basketry), and helping with financial and political assistance.
DuBois' longest ethnographic work was a detailed monograph on "The Religion of the Luiseño Indians of Southern California" (1908), edited by Alfred L. Kroeber. In addition, she published 23 shorter articles about the region's native peoples, with particular emphases on their mythology, ceremonies, and crafts (Laylander 2004). Her manuscript papers are on file at Cornell University, and the San Diego Museum of Man has a collection of her photographs.Edward Winslow Gifford
Edward Winslow Gifford (August 14, 1887 – May 16, 1959) devoted his life to studying California Indian ethnography as a professor of anthropology and director of the Museum of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley.
Born in Oakland, California, he became an assistant curator of ornithology at the California Academy of Sciences after graduating from high school; he never attended college. He joined the University of California's Museum of Anthropology in 1912 as an assistant curator. In the 1920s he was sent to Tonga with William C. McKern who was also from the University of California. These two and the botanist was Arthur J. Eames from Harvard University made up one of the four teams of the Bayard Dominick Expedition.Gifford became a curator in 1925 and a professor in 1945. Working in close association with the preeminent leader in California anthropology, Alfred L. Kroeber, Gifford produced more than 100 publications. His numerous contributions to salvage ethnography have left an invaluable record of the state's native cultures. He developed the museum into a major U.S. institution with its major field research and collections. Although Gifford was less widely known than his colleague and supervisor Kroeber, he maintained a positive relationship with many Berkeley graduate students - often writing them with advice and ideas while they were engaged in fieldwork.Hokan languages
The Hokan language family is a hypothetical grouping of a dozen small language families that were spoken mainly in California, Arizona and Baja California. In over a century since the "Hokan" hypothesis was first proposed by Roland B. Dixon and Alfred L. Kroeber, and further elaborated by Edward Sapir, little additional evidence has been found that these families were related to each other. Although some Hokan families may indeed be related, especially in northern California, few linguists today expect Hokan as a whole to prove to be valid.The name Hokan is loosely based on the word for "two" in the various Hokan languages: *xwak in Proto-Yuman, c-oocj (pronounced [koːkx]) in Seri, ha'k in Achumawi, etc.
Geographic distribution of the Hokan languages suggests that they became separated around the great central valley of California by the influx of later-arriving Penutian and other peoples; archaeological evidence for this is summarized in Chase-Dunn & Mann (1998). These languages are spoken by Native American communities around and east of Mount Shasta, others near Lake Tahoe, the Pomo on the California coast, and the Yuman peoples along the lower Colorado River. Some linguists also include Chumash, between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and other families, but the evidence is insubstantial, and most now restrict Hokan to some or all of the languages listed below.
The Yurumanguí language of Colombia was claimed to be Hokan by Rivet. This claim has not been accepted by historical linguists.Isabel Kelly
Isabel Truesdell Kelly (1906–1982) was an American anthropologist known for her work with the members of the Coast Miwok tribe, members of the Chemehuevi people in the 1920s and 1930s, and her work later in life as an archaeologist working in Sinaloa, Mexico.
She was trained by anthropologist Alfred L. Kroeber at the University of California, Berkeley.
Her papers are on file today in the DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University.Karl Kroeber
Karl Kroeber (November 24, 1926 – November 8, 2009) was an American literary scholar, known for his writing on the English Romantics and American Indian literature. He was the son of Theodora and Alfred L. Kroeber, both anthropologists. His most recent book was an account of his father's work with Ishi: Ishi in Three Centuries.
He was professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University. He wrote widely on literary criticism and its relationship to ecology, traditional literature, and art history.
Kroeber was the brother of the science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin. He was father of Paul Kroeber, a linguist; Arthur Kroeber, a journalist and consultant on the Chinese economy; and Katharine Kroeber Wiley, a writer.
Kroeber died of cancer on November 8, 2009 at the age of 82.Karuk traditional narratives
Karuk traditional narratives include myths, legends, tales, and oral histories preserved by the Karuk (Karok) people of the Klamath River basin of northwestern California.
The published record of Karuk oral literature is an unusually rich one, thanks to the efforts of Alfred L. Kroeber, John Peabody Harrington, William Bright, and others. Karuk narratives, together with those of the neighboring Yurok and Hupa, are distinctive from that of most of California, but show strong influences from the Northwest Coast region. (See also Traditional narratives (Native California).)Nawathinehena language
Nawathinehena is an extinct Algonquian language formerly spoken among the Arapaho people. It had a phonological development quite different from either Gros Ventre or Arapaho proper. It has been identified as the former language of the Southern Arapaho, who switched to speaking Arapaho proper in the 19th century. However, the language is not well attested, being documented only in a vocabulary collected in 1899 by Alfred L. Kroeber from the Oklahoma Arapaho.
While it shares many important phonological innovations with Arapaho, it presents the merger of *r, *θ and *s with *t as t instead of n as in Arapaho, a sound change reminiscent of Blackfoot and Cheyenne (Goddard 1974, Jacques 2013). PA *w changes to m instead of merging with *r, *s and *n as n.Ohlone mythology
The mythology of the Ohlone (Costanoan) Native American people of Northern California include creation myths as well as other ancient narratives that contain elements of their spiritual and philosophical belief systems, and their conception of the world order. Their myths describe supernatural anthropomorphic beings with the names of regional birds and animals, notably the eagle, the Coyote who is humanity's ancestor and a trickster spirit, and a hummingbird.
The Chochenyo (Chocheño) mythology of the San Francisco Bay Area has a strong culture hero figure named Kaknu, coyote's grandson, who is an anthropomorphic and closely resembles a peregrine falcon.Peveril Meigs
Peveril Meigs, III, (May 5, 1903 – September 16, 1979) was an American geographer, notable for his studies of arid lands on several continents and in particular for his work on the native peoples and early missions of northern Baja California, Mexico.
Meigs was born in Flushing in New York City. He studied at the University of California, Berkeley, receiving his B.A. degree in 1925 and a Ph.D. in 1932. He held academic positions at San Francisco State Teachers College (1929), Chico State College (1929-1942), Louisiana State University (1938-1939), American University (1948), and George Washington University (1948).
Beginning during World War II, Meigs was employed primarily by the U.S. government, working for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) (1942-1944), Joint Intelligence Study Publishing Board (1944-1947), Earth Sciences Division of the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps (1949-1953), and Quartermaster Research and Engineering Center (1953-1965). In the red scare of the early 1950s, Meigs was prominent among those listed as security risks by Senator Joseph McCarthy.Meigs published dozens of articles and books. Particularly notable was his early work on Baja California, which was influenced by his Berkeley mentors, Carl O. Sauer in historical geography and Alfred L. Kroeber in ethnography.He co-authored with Sauer a study of Mission San Fernando Velicatá, the only mission founded by the Franciscans during their brief tenure (1768-1773) on the peninsula. Meigs' doctoral dissertation (1932) was a groundbreaking study of the Dominican missions of northwestern Baja California. It was subsequently published and remains the key source on the subject.
During his field trips to northern Baja California, particularly in 1928, 1929, and 1936, Meigs became familiar with the region's surviving Indian groups. He published a monograph on the Kiliwa (1939) that continues to be the most reliable source concerning the aboriginal lifeways of that people. Also included were important notes on the neighboring Paipai and Kumeyaay. After his retirement in 1965, Meigs published several additional articles on the ethnography and archaeology of these groups, based on his notes from his earlier field studies. He also mapped tide mills along the Atlantic coast of the U.S.Ramaytush language
The Ramaytush language is one of the eight Ohlone languages, historically spoken by the Ramaytush people, indigenous people of California. Historically, the Ramaytush inhabited the San Francisco Peninsula between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean in the area which is now San Francisco and San Mateo Counties. Ramaytush is a dialect or language within the Costanoan branch of the Utian family. The term Ramaytush was first applied to them during the 1970s.Historically, Ramaytush language territory was largely bordered by ocean and sea, except in the south where they bordered the people of the Santa Clara Valley who spoke the Tamyen language Ohlone and the people of the Santa Cruz Mountains and Pacific Coast at Point Año Nuevo who spoke dialects merging toward the Awaswas language. To the east, across San Francisco Bay, were tribes that spoke the Chochenyo Ohlone language. To the north, across the Golden Gate, was the Huimen local tribe of Coast Miwok language speakers. The northernmost Ramaytush local tribe, the Yelamu of San Francisco, were intermarried with the Huchiun Chochenyos of the Oakland area at the time of Spanish colonization.European disease took a heavy toll of life on all tribal people who came to Mission Dolores after its creation in 1776. The Ohlone people were forced to use Spanish resulting in the loss of their language. Hundreds of Ohlone people at Mission Dolores were taken to the north bay to construct Mission San Rafael which was then used as a hospital for sick neophytes. Alfred L. Kroeber claimed that the west bay people were extinct by 1915.Tataviam language
The Tataviam language was spoken by the Tataviam people of the upper Santa Clara River basin, Santa Susana Mountains, and Sierra Pelona Mountains in southern California. It had become extinct by 1916 and is known only from a few early records, notably a few words recorded by Alfred L. Kroeber and John P. Harrington in the early decades of the 20th century. These word lists were not from native speakers, but from the children of the last speakers who remembered a few words and phrases.The Last of His Tribe
The Last of His Tribe is a 1992 American made-for-television drama film based on the book Ishi in Two Worlds by Theodora Kroeber which relates the experiences of her husband Alfred L. Kroeber who made friends with Ishi, thought to be the last of his people, the Yahi tribe. Jon Voight stars as Kroeber and Graham Greene as Ishi. Harry Hook directed the film.Thomas Buckley
Thomas "Tim" Buckley (May 28, 1942 – April 16, 2015) was an American anthropologist and Buddhist monastic best known for his long-term ethnographic research with the Yurok Indians of northern California, his early work in the anthropology of reproduction, including menstruation and culture and for his major reevaluation of the work of Alfred L. Kroeber.He received his Ph.D. in anthropology in 1982 from the University of Chicago, where he studied under Raymond D. Fogelson.
His decades-long fieldwork with the Yuroks, beginning in 1976 (following upon Buddhist training in California under Shunryu Suzuki, 1965–71), culminated in his ethnographic monograph Standing Ground, published in 2002. (For this publication he had an honorable mention in the Victor Turner Prize award by the Society for Humanistic Anthropology.)
Harry Roberts (1906–81), a Yurok-trained spiritual teacher from whom Buckley learned, adopted him as his nephew in 1971.
Buckley taught anthropology and American Indian studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, for many years and at other institutions as a visiting professor. In 2011 he was ordained as a Soto Zen Buddhist priest, Jokan Zenshin, with a lay community group, Great River Zendo, in midcoast Maine.Totem and Taboo
Totem and Taboo: Resemblances Between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics, or Totem and Taboo: Some Points of Agreement between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics, (German: Totem und Tabu: Einige Übereinstimmungen im Seelenleben der Wilden und der Neurotiker) is a 1913 book by Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, in which the author applies his work to the fields of archaeology, anthropology, and the study of religion. It is a collection of four essays inspired by the work of Wilhelm Wundt and Carl Jung and first published in the journal Imago (1912–13): "The Horror of Incest", "Taboo and Emotional Ambivalence", "Animism, Magic and the Omnipotence of Thoughts", and "The Return of Totemism in Childhood".
Though Totem and Taboo has been seen as one of the classics of anthropology, comparable to Edward Burnett Tylor's Primitive Culture (1871) and Sir James George Frazer's The Golden Bough (1890), the work is now considered discredited by anthropologists. The cultural anthropologist Alfred L. Kroeber was an early critic of Totem and Taboo, publishing a critique of the work in 1920. Some authors have seen redeeming value in the work.Wintuan languages
Wintuan (also Wintun, Wintoon, Copeh, Copehan) is a family of languages spoken in the Sacramento Valley of central Northern California.
All Wintuan languages are either extinct or severely endangered.Yuki language
The Yuki language, also spelled Ukiah and also known as Ukomno'm, was a language of California, spoken by the indigenous American Yuki people, formerly in the Eel River area, the Round Valley Reservation, northern California. It became extinct some time in the 20th century. Yuki is generally thought to be distantly related to the Wappo language.
Yuki consisted of three dialects: Northern Yuki (Round Valley Yuki), Coast Yuki, and Huchnom (Clear Lake Yuki). These were at least partially mutually intelligible, but are sometimes counted as distinct languages.Yuki had an octal (base-8) counting system, as the Yuki keep count by using the four spaces between their fingers rather than the fingers themselves. Yuki also had an extensive vocabulary for the plants of Mendocino County, California.An extensive reference grammar of Yuki was published in 2016 and is based primarily on the texts and other notes recorded by Alfred L. Kroeber from Yuki speaker Ralph Moore in the first decade of the 20th century as well as elicited material recorded from other speakers later in the 20th century. This grammar also contains sketches of Huchnom and Coast Yuki based on the notes of Sydney Lamb and John Peabody Harrington, respectively.