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2007 Catalog > 72. Powell, Map of the Linguistic Stocks of American Indians.


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72. John Wesley Powell. “Map of the Linguistic Stocks of American Indians chiefly within the limits of the United States” (New York: Sackett & Wilhelms Litho. Co., 1891). Published in the Annual Report of Bureau of Ethnology, Vol. 7 [Indian Linguistic Families of America, North of Mexico]. Chromolithograph. 20 1/8 x 17 1/4" at neat line. Sheet size: 22 x 18 1/2". Left margin trimmed close above binding tab. Fine.

Price: SOLD

Created after the eleventh U.S. census, this thematic map of North America published by the Bureau of Ethnology depicts the geographical distribution of 58 Indian tribes based on linguistic families. Prepared by John Wesley Powell, the map provides an example of Powell’s knowledge of and contributions to anthropological study, for which he helped lay the groundwork of the discipline as it evolved in the twentieth century. “Powell, the leader of the first expedition to descend the Colorado River in 1869,” write Schwartz and Ehrenberg, “also had an important role in systematizing the study of the Amerindian language, as founder of the U.S. Bureau of Ethnology in 1879 and its director until 1902. . . . Although Powell’s map represents progress over Gallatin’s 1836 map of Indian tribes, it perpetuated the ethnocentricity common to maps of this type. Because the boundaries of Indian nations continued to be based upon those occupied by Indians at the time of their first contact with white explorers or officials, the map showed the distribution of tribes in the East as this had been in the seventeenth century and the distribution of some tribes in the West as situated in the nineteenth century.”

A beautifully produced and instructive map showing classifications of Native American languages as they were conceived in the late-nineteenth century.

Ref.: Schwartz and Ehrenberg, Mapping of America, plate 198, pp. 316, 318.

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