Fiddles and Drums: The Indians and Their Investigators
HAVING had charge of the Hopi for a longer period than any other official of the United States Government, — eight years and two months, to be exact, — I venture to picture them and their empire. To have visited and counseled with them, to have wrangled with them, to have traveled long distances in all sorts of weather because of their childish factional quarrels; to have arrested and judged and disciplined them, even married them, if that may be separately classed; to have cared for them in severe illnesses and advised them in times of stress; to have ransomed them from enemies; to have espoused their uninteresting cause in the face of Departmental opposition; and, when their meagre business of living was over, to have buried them — well, this ought to embrace an angle of vision.
Yet, I hesitate. Reflection cautions me that this may be presumption; for, after all, what do I know of the Hopi Indians?
During those eight long years I met on the reservation thousands of visitors — students and their mentors; painters and etchers and sculptors of distinction, and those who thought they were; photographers and lensartists; ethnologists, philologists, and sociologists; ballyhoo men from Eastern department-stores and half-wits taking an outing; journalists and authors and publishers; geologists and common ‘water-witches’; motion-picture men and others wearing puttees; actors and lecturers; composers, musicians, and vocalists; museum scouts and ‘scratellers ‘; clergymen and soldiers; Oxford men, Harvard men, men from Bonn; retired statesmen and unretiring politicians; representatives of foreign governments; persons from the farfamed city of New York; tourists, and caparisoned dudes, and simple guides; plain gentlemen and plainer roughnecks.
Some of them sought me out courteously to explain their missions, some of them just happened to see me en passant, and a few earnestly avoided me. The permit system was very irksome to those who did not have a good excuse. I listened to many theories concerning the Hopi and their curious customs, and I made a brave effort to answer in some pleasant manner ten thousand questions. Finally I prepared a plea in avoidance: —
‘Don’t ask me. I have lived here only six years. Ask the chap camped now at the trader’s post — he came last week.’
I plagiarized this method from a brother superintendent who knew much of the Navajo and their rare designs in weaving.
‘Now, my dear Mr. Shelton,’ the tourist would ask hopefully, ‘does n’t that sign indicate the rabbit-foot following the lightning?’
‘Make up your own story,’ he would gravely reply, ‘and then you won’t forget it.’
So with Hopi secrets. Little of their history is known. The rest is speculation. The believed facts of their ethnology may be had in Smithsonian Reports, moisture proof, dessicated. The bones of their ceremonies have been diagramed and painted, their chants recorded in scaled notebooks, their odd ceremonial objects looted and catalogued. Sentimental wordpictures one can procure from those journalists who flitted rapidly in and out seeking impressions, and who never failed to get them.
But I am not one whit more ignorant than any other white man. Despite reams of theories, no one has learned anything of Hopi lore that the Hopi did not want him to know. ‘Make up your own story, and you won’t forget it.’
When certain Christianized worthies of the tribe have pretended to expose their knowledge, I have paid little attention, since I knew the mental calibre of such fellows before conversion, and the depth of their gray matter was never impressive. The last who gave evidence proceeded well in his story until, with a foreign fervor, he began to lie about the Oraibi happenings within my own time, and as I had taken his testimony under oath in Hopi trials I knew just how many Bibles to trust him on.
Moreover, being the recognized Moungwi or Chief of the Hopi, and having some instinctive conception of the manner in which an alien and suspicious people should be governed, I respected their privacy and reticence, to gain and hold their own respect. One cannot play with an Indian in the morning, and expect to summon him to judgment after noon. The poorest stick of an Indian Agent I have seen is he whom Indians address by his first name, or familiarly without a title. When one lowers himself to an alien’s social level, he seldom achieves more than the privilege of dipping his food out of the same dish. It was my job to manage all things for their best interests, against their strenuous efforts otherwise if that were necessary — as it often was; and I hoped to restore to them a confidence in white men, whereas they had come to believe that all white men were a mixture of abnormal curiosity and treachery, coupled with an astounding rudeness.
As for their psychology, no itinerant will ever grasp the subtlety of these people. It is something elemental and therefore indescribable. Those who have lived among Asiatics will know what I mean. Fatalists, they are as patient and immutable as the Pleiades. Much of this is vanishing with the elders as they wend their ways from the mesa stages to the Great Place of Ceremonies that Youkeoma has told me of. The pastoral peace and solemnity of the desert, shrines is passing before the roar of motors and the harangues of ‘dude wranglers.’
Now I remember a curious red-haired visitor who came into the Agency one drowsy afternoon, herding a squad of burros. He looked a figure from a Conrad novel, and would have graced any one of them. His animals were packed with matting hampers having an Oriental touch. His flaming head was bare to the summer sun, his worn and rusty boots of cordovan preceded war-time styles and spoke of long journeys. The seat was absent from his trousers. An astonishing man.
His first question of me was: ‘Who is the new French Premier?’
It just happened that I could tell him. He handed me his credentials, and I found that this dilapidated tramp represented the French Government in his wanderings after strange cacti and other plant life. He strewed the contents of his hampers over my quarters and forgot to sort the wreckage for a week. Meantime — in my bath — he was analyzing corn, Hopi corn, and rare Indian dyes.
And he related to me strange things. He had been to Lhasa with the Younghusband expedition. He said that the Hopi were duplicates of the Tibetans, and that he believed the languages contained similarities. That fellow knew how to reach the heart of a secretive people. He had procured seventeen distinct varieties of Hopi corn, and other seed, as well as old dye-formulæ and samples of ceremonial cotton.
‘Zey call me ze man wi’ ze burros,’ he said, naïvely.
You see, he had walked in on their level, prodding his patient beasts, covered with the desert dust, a wondrous simplicity on his face. He had touched the Hopi heart. He could have told one things of the Hopi people — but the opening guns of the Great War summoned him away to die at Verdun.
The Hopi live in northern Arizona, surrounded by the reservations of the Navajo. They speak a Shoshonian dialect, and are often miscalled Moqui. The Department for forty years libeled them under this misnomer. Moqui is a Hopi term, and has been used against them by Navajo to signify anything inert, unpleasant, cowardly, dead. The dignified Navajo has another distinct title for the Hopi, and uses it when filled with courtesy. Moqui is probably a Keresan word originally, since it is found as ‘motsi’ in Cochiti and San Felipe pueblos of the Rio Grande, whose warriors and rebels fled to the Hopi country for sanctuary after the rebellion of 1680.
Near the centre of that huge space on the Arizona map marked ‘Moqui Reserve’ are the Hopi towns. These were known to the Spanish conquistadores as the Seven Cities of Tusayan. There are now nine pueblos.
In that early hour of geologic time when the receding waters carved the great gorges in the face of northern Arizona, the more resistant sandstones and clays and coals were left as shattered cliffs, and from these reach out many bony headlands — long fingers, at the crumbling tips of which, like villages clinging to a rocky coast, are the eyries of the Hopi. Below them, as seafloors, are the sandy valleys and drifting dunes of the Painted Desert.
These nine little towns are set oddly in groups of three, and so are the Hopi divided, quite as into three distinct provinces. Three are balanced on the narrow backbone of the First Mesa, a knifelike projection that, rises hundreds of feet above the valley, and is at one place not more than twenty feet in width. These are old Walpi, beloved of etchers, and Tewa of the warriors, and Sitchumnovi. Three are built on the broad mounds of the Second Mesa, known as Machongnovi, Chepaulovi, and Chimopovi. And perhaps the oldest and certainly the youngest of the villages are at Third Mesa — Oraibi, the aged; and tiny Bacabi; and redolent, sullen Hotevilla.
Their first contact with white men was made in the dark of an autumn night in 1540, but it was in the next dawn that they realized invasion by a new and strange enemy. Most of Hopi history has the dawn atmosphere. Their footprints lead back to the caves of the Dawn Men. Their homes face the rising sun from the highest point of the landscape; their ceremonies and hunts begin at sunrise. They are a dawn-loving people.
Contact with the Spaniards was broken by the revolt of 1680, and completely ceased with 1700; but the gifts of the enemy remained in fruits, and wool, and beasts of burden, and perhaps some loot of swords and church vessels hidden to this day. The obstinate Hopi were not worth the effort at reconquest, and later the Mexican Government did not bother them. For more than one hundred and fifty years the Hopi knew only the Navajo and Apache and Ute as his enemies. With the close of the Mexican War and the treaty of 1848, this nearly forgotten tribe came under the nominal guardianship of the United States. I say nominal, for their first Agent was located in far-distant Santa Fe, and, unlike the Spanish, he had no missioners to risk martyrdom for the spreading of his doctrine. In 1849 he accompanied an expedition against the Navajo, and reached Cañon de Chelly, about sixty miles from the First Mesa. One year later a delegation of Hopi visited this chief to petition for protection against the Navajo. I fancy them plodding afoot, behind their burros, timidly crossing the Navajo country to pass through the provinces of their kinsmen, the Pueblos, and on to the City of the Holy Faith. In that same year, 1850, their Agent was prevented from visiting them, as he wished, because he lacked an escort of troops.
Many estimates of the Hopi population were made in the early years. The Spaniard was an expert at overestimating for the benefit of distant kings. His thousands were always given as tens of thousands, and when he wanted money and help toward new colonies he stressed the saving of souls and could easily imagine millions of baptisms. But it is recorded in 1780 that smallpox had reduced the Hopi to less than 800. In 1899 their first resident Agent stopped guessing and made a count. He found and listed 1832 Hopi. In one hundred and nineteen years the population had little more than doubled. In 1912 there were 2068 on the Reserve, and in the next seven years they gained 217, or 31 per year—15 per thousand annually. They lost nearly sixty per cent of this seven years’ gain in 1918, the year of Spanish influenza. In 1919 there were 2158 Hopi on the Reserve, and adding the absent, who had increased and multiplied in the west, at Moencopi, there were less than 2500 of these Indians alive. But this handful has interested more distinguished men and women than have many greater nations.
While there is much of Hebraic resemblance in the Navajo Indians, their pastoral life and their religious customs, — a matter that strikes every thinking visitor and student, — there is more of this in Hopi history. Their retreat southward from the cavern villages, from Betatakin Cave, from the Swallows’ Nest and Scaffold House, — stopping to build a hamlet here and to reap a harvest there, leaving always testimony in potsherds and corn refuse, to their present cliffs, was much the same as the migrations of the Jews. Perhaps, having lost one citadel, they moved on to the next best position for defense; or perhaps a remnant of a once-powerful tribe fled; for we do not clearly know whether these cliffdwellers migrated from choice, or to escape pestilence, or to avoid captivity. And across the relatively narrow territory of their hegira the Navajo and the Apache, — the once-combined Apaches du Navaju, — and perhaps the Ute, fought and harried, the Hopi quite as helpless as Judœa between Egypt and Babylonia. When they retired finally to such a place as old Walpi, to barricade the narrow causeway at the mesa-end and to defend the Walpi stairway, just wide enough for one enemy at a time, surely this was a desperate people making a last desperate stand. I have no doubt that the Hopi, peaceful as they have been and are named, fought some worthy fights before the white man was known on this continent. The determination that wore down the Spaniard must have had its martial quality when facing enemies armed no better than themselves. It required a brave warparty to attempt to storm those mesa strongholds. And their foes must have stood somewhat in awe too of Hopi incantations, made so impressive by their Snake legends and solemn mummery. The Snake gods protected them more than once, according to their priests, and are remembered in the ceremonies.
And the resemblance is not only in fanciful surmises. The daily life of the people duplicates in many ways the customs of the Judæans. A people of legends and portents. In the quiet nights they have watched those burning signals of the heavens that mark wars and the birth of kings. Perhaps their shepherds too have been summoned by such signs, inspiring them to missions and pilgrimages, bearing gifts, relating to that mythical Bohanna who will one day come to redeem and revivify the people. From the great chart of the heavens they take their calendar. And certainly, in the sunsets of that quiet and ever-tinted land, their pueblos reflect the Old East, with its donkeys and goat-bells, and simple gardens by the springs, and the blurring dust of sheep in the half-tones of desert twilights.
Government reports of to-day give the unqualified fact (?) that the Hopi have a reservation of 3863 square miles, large enough, in all sense, for twenty-five hundred people! But the Hopi exist on and use less than one fifth of this semiarid land, the remainder being held and dominated by their old plague, the Navajo. The Hopi Indian Agent has absolute jurisdiction — on paper — over all those Navajo living within the boundaries of the Hopi Reserve; but this does not mean that he is or ever has been able to control that undisciplined element of Navajo who pillage the peaceful Hopi whenever in the mood. Many bitter and scathing reports have been sent to Washington concerning this. Agents have not minced words, and have not always spared themselves in an effort to get justice—well, let us say, ‘consideration’ — for the Hopi. When reports failed to procure attention, one or two started crusades against the Navajo, not always successful, that ended in blows and bruises, to say nothing of the chance of sterner wounds. A difficult task to find the offender; and, if found, he was invariably supported by a gang — his gang. I recall one investigator who stated blandly that it was similar to a condition often found in cities: that of a corner gang. Quite so. But the investigator did not ask to see the corner, nor did he evidence any anxiety to encounter the gang.
The nomadic Navajo have a vast country to make themselves scarce in, quite 30,000 square miles of wilderness, much of it untracked; and there is no quick communication between the six Agencies established to govern these people. It has been possible to coördinate business methods, so as to have uniform stock-regulations, for instance; but nothing has been arranged to guarantee the peace. There have been numerous murders in the Navajo country. Representatives of the Board of Indian Commissioners, particularly Major-General Hugh L. Scott, and inspectors of the Indian Department have fired verbal volleys in support of Hopi Agents. Navajo have been dragged to the Agency guardhouse, and other Navajo have been haled before the Federal Courts when the Agent could arrange locally all the details of the haling. A onetime United States marshal, charged with the duty of assisting, remained conspicuous by his absence from the scene. The matter finally attracted the attention of a Subcommittee of Congress, and brought about a field investigation of Hopi conditions, pictured in a printed report. I know that the report was complete, for I wrote it; in fact, I had prepared that report in 1918, and placed it before Congress two years prior to the appearance of the Subcommittee. The gentlemen graciously inserted it as a tailpiece to their otherwise innocuous comments.
But that wall of political indifference to anything that does not furnish a vote has not been dented. It is a mere matter between obscure tribes, a squabble in the hills, which occasionally embarrasses an Indian Agent and constantly annoys a helpless people who have no other court of appeal. Neither tribe nor Agent can threaten a politician. Both tribe and Agent are kept mute by an uncaring Bureau.
Announce, however, that these same Hopi Indians are wont to dance with live rattlesnakes! Ah, that is a quite different story, and received with different emotions. The politician rushes in to view the spectacle, and the Bureau sheds crocodile tears about it. Reams of reports are called for and written.
During the past twelve years the Hopi Snake Dance has troubled the Solons of the Interior Department far more than any signal of Hopi distress. The Christian ire of three administrations has been aroused by this primitive pagan ceremony. Result: the Hopi Snake Dance is as well advertised as the Grand Cañon of the Colorado!
Most picturesque of the Hopi towns is Walpi. You can procure a fine appreciation of this — the effect of standing on the roof of the last Walpi house and viewing the entire First Mesa therefrom, the narrow rugged top and the deep valleys on either side, the trail down to Polacca, the whole vast sweep of that distant and beautiful landscape — simply by visiting the New York Museum of Natural History. The artists have constructed a wonderful reproduction of that Enchanted Empire citadel. My friend of various wild spots in Indian country, Mr. Howard McCormick, magically brought the charm of the Hopi eyrie to the edge of Central Park.
I recall a particularly drab day in New York, one of those having a wintry edge that comes only off great, ‘waters, when I wandered into the Museum, seeking this exhibit. I had anticipated something of the usual order — papier-mâché, plaster, dust, and a ticket; but behold! I found myself at home, on the mesa-top, below me the First Mesa and the Wepo Valleys; and to my right would be Huh-kwat-we, the Terrace of the Winds, and in the dim distance Moitso-ve, or Yucca Point. I felt that in a moment I should surely see Harry Shupula, the chief Snake priest, emerging from his kiva; and half aloud I addressed one of the group as ‘Quat-che’ (friend). And at the foot of the winding trail, a little beyond the spring, would be the camp of the water-witch and a desert welcome — such a welcome as ‘Mac’ and wandering Indian Agents receive. A great feeling of Heimweh came over me. I wished for a magic carpet, that I might step instantly from the lonely desert of New York into crowded, speaking Hopi-land.
I remember a conversation with a clergyman from Canada, as we stood at the inner edge of the crowd on the Walpi Snake Dance ledge, passing that bit of ominous wait just before the entrance of the Antelope priests for the annual ceremony. That is the time when the Hopi Indian Agent meets most celebrities and makes most of his enemies. Some words passed concerning the picturesqueness of old Walpi, and the magnificent view from our position. The plain below was bathed in a lemon light.
‘Yes,’ I said, casually, ‘the people would be better off in the valley, if we could get them to remove.’
‘What!’ he cried out in pain and direst astonishment. ‘Would you have them leave this beautiful place — this beautiful life?’
I had uttered sacrilege. No Hopi of the old school could have bettered the clergyman’s utter horror at the thought. But the gentleman, I am sure, gave little attention to many things an Agent sees that are not beautiful, things of distinct menace, hideous things. Walpi is a scenic place, a ruined castle in outline, and always steeped in color effects; but there is the dangerous ledge-road up which all supplies and wood and water must be packed, a road that has accounted for more than one Hopi when the brake would not hold. And did he not forget that women did much of the packing on their backs? And those old and blind, who had plunged over the sheer face of the cliff? And, above all, the constant danger of the filth-infested houses, where trachoma and tuberculosis abide? These are things that a tourist does not notice, and when he is away from the color effects and the sound of drumming chants they do not impinge on his vacant — his vacation mind.
Destroy Walpi as a picture? No; but as an habitation, Yes!
I recall a visit to the Indian Office at Washington shortly after one of my characteristic reports on this very subject.
‘What!’ said a Bureau chief who, because he signed a great many letters daily without reading them, believed himself intelligent. ‘ You recommended dynamiting First Mesa — the destruction of that oasis of beauty, and peace, and — and — ‘
‘And trachoma, and tuberculosis, and child prostitution,’ I finished for him, as he gasped and his words failed, as I knew they would. Words always fail a Bureau chief. Like the longrange gun of the Germans, he is accustomed to firing things across the continent, secure in that the other fellow cannot immediately crash his words back into his teeth.
I had not recommended that. I had simply advocated the destruction of the road leading to Walpi, since the Government and its Bureau chief would not advance sufficient moneys to make the road safe for travel.
That is the point of view of tourist and bureaucrat, — the artist has one of pure sentimentality, — of all those who have viewed the Hopi, who have been charmed by the color of his life, but who have been utterly blind to his miseries, and who have contributed nothing to his well-being.
No one has a keener appreciation than I of the artistic value of the Hopi pueblos — those old streets of worn rock where the bearded Spanish walked; the curious archways and the irregular little balconies from which children peer over at one; the thought of phantom Mission bells from the peach orchards. But I was not stupid enough to overlook that these same streets contained offal, that the houses were not ventilated, and that there were various unseemly stenches in the air. A tourist must leave his olfactory organs at home. And I knew, being in charge, that all the labor of the industrious and conscientious fieldmatrons was not enough to keep those quaint streets and courtyards clean.
I remember another visitor at a Snake Dance, a man sitting on the parapet of a Hopi kiva, looking down through the ladder entrance. I saw that a number of dancers were below there, preparing costumes. They had an array of skins and masks and feathers, with many cans of bright paints.
’I suppose you know a good bit about that too?’ I asked.
‘Well, I recognize some of the signs, common to Indian people.’
’Shall we go down? You can give them a hand,’ I suggested.
‘I should like to, very much; but won’t they object?’
‘Perhaps I can arrange that,’ and I started down the ladder.
Several of the Indians glanced up, but, observing it was only Moungwi, said nothing.
‘Here!’ I called to them. ‘Here is a real friend of yours. You may not know him, but he understands many tribes, and their ways, and their signs. Put him to work. He can help with those costumes.’
One looked up from a robe he was painting, and thrust forward a brush and paints, as if to say: ‘Welcome, brother; fall to!’
The white visitor showed a rare facility. The Indians noticed it.
‘You know him? ‘ asked one, pointing to a design.
‘Yes,’ he said, naming it.
They laughed delightedly, and soon he was friend to them all. I left him in the kiva, busily working with them and chatting as much as possible with a limited vocabulary and many descriptive gestures. This was Ernest Thompson Seton. I have not seen him since, but afterward he forwarded a letter, thanking me for his entrée to the wardrobe-room of the First Mesa, and giving some excellent advice concerning the things we had discussed before he signed on as costume-painter for the Hopi tribe. Among all the visitors I met in Hopiland, he was one of very few who understood what should be done and what not done for their welfare. Briefly, his idea was that the community life should not be violently disrupted, for fear of the effect our own isolated rural populations had suffered; and that efforts should be made to keep alive all that is best in the social and mesa plan of living, without permitting the Indian people narrowly to confine themselves to it. This of course would include the harmless dances or shows, the social features that many confuse with ceremonies.
I could recall the earnest efforts made by former Agents to induce the people to leave the mesa heights — notably that one beginning in 1891, when houses were built for them in the flats, and later completely furnished. By 1900 at least one hundred such houses had been placed at Hopi disposal. And I knew that in 1911 not more than half of those houses were used even temporarily. The people would return for the society of their kind, drawn, too, by intense religious feeling for the ancient mesa home.
I could recall two abortive efforts made toward the allotment of these people in severalty: the scheme to have them accept parcels of land, many of which were miles from water, and on which it would have been impossible for families to subsist themselves, to say nothing of maintaining their sheep and other stock. The first of these allotment plans blew up in 1894; but the Bureau, wedded to the allotment theory, was not deterred. A second and most expensive effort died in 1911, after friends of the Indian plainly showed the farce of the proceedings, if they said nothing as to the malignant and inhuman side of it. This did not please the allotting agent, eager for his pay and job, nor his son, nor his assistants, nor the camp cook and the other hangers-on of an allotting crew. But thank God! it died, nevertheless.
The average bureaucrat, admiring the Allotment Acts, thinks that an Indian’s head may be jammed into a regulation lathe, and with a few twists and spins turned out a full-fledged Mid-West agriculturist—just such a man as Thompson Seton said needed community centres made for him, to keep him from becoming an inmate of an insane asylum. Just so. But it cannot be done, my masters, with the speed of the mimeograph that grinds out your tirades and exhortations. Your Allotment Acts have been good friends to South Dakotans and others who wished to speculate in lands; but they have produced untold misery among the Indian peoples, and have utterly destroyed an innocent and simple phase of American life.
Now I never agreed with the ecclesiastical gentleman who thought that the Hopi mesa system was wholly one of beauty and idealism. But the writing man did force on me a realization of the utility and sanity to be found in the life that the Hopi had unconsciously adopted. Begun as a defense against enemies, the result in peace times was for good, if accompanied by sanitation and the protection of the younger generation. And I accepted a new view of the Indian ceremony and dance.
Until we furnish something as good in place of the Indian social dance, why rave about it? We might easily have a large number of low-spirited, sullen, and even dangerous Indians on our hands if it were not for these joyous occasions. So long as the dances are clean, can anyone quarrel with a Ya-be-chai of the Navajo, a Corn Dance of the Hopi, or one of the Pueblo spectacles, half pagan, half Catholic ? I have seen scores of such dances, not as a tourist, but as the man on the ground in charge, and I have not been able to figure out that they are one bit worse than a country picnic among our own bucolic population of Texas or South Dakota, for instance. I have seen a South Dakota Rotary Club cut as many fool antics as a Southwest Indian clan.
I recall an illustration from my very short stay among the Sioux in 1922. It was the Fourth of July, and I had permitted the old Indians to hold their dance on the hills. It had long been the custom to stop their merrymaking at sunset, and a very good ruling too. But this Fourth was unusually quiet, the booze-runners not having appeared as per schedule. The Indians petitioned me to permit just a little dancing after nightfall. The day had been very peaceful, and my special police force was large enough, and seemed loyal enough, to assure good order.
‘All right,’ I said. ‘But please remember that I shall have a squad of police there, and I shall be there myself; so don’t start any shines.’
They had a very creditable evening party, and the peace was not broken. Later I visited the Agency amusement hall where a number of whites, visitors from the countryside, and more than one mixed-blood couple of education, were enjoying themselves to the latest jazz. Now I am no authority on dancing and, having lived among Indians, I am not easily shocked; but the postures and attitudes of those South Dakota whites were — well, they were a trifle extreme, to say the least of it.
‘We have looked at them both,’ said an old Sioux to me, anxiously. ' Au-tay-ah-pe (Father), there may be something wrong with the Indian’s drum dance, but — I do not like the white man’s fiddle dance.'
I told him very frankly which I thought the worse. There is no use in trying to bluff an old Indian. He can see through a hypocrite quicker than any man I know.
This is not a sentimentalist defense of the old Indian dance. I have bitterly excoriated the ‘secret’ dances of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, but could never get sufficient backing from the Department to end them. Such indecencies may be found among all primitive peoples, and those of the Pueblos who indulge in them are most. primitive — the barbarians of San Felipe, Santo Domingo, and other decadent backward pueblos. But I have tried to envision the social side of an alien people who have no other form of diversion than the spectacle of the dance. Were the Government to put them on a moving-picture circuit — but we were discussing the decencies.
And, to repeat: When we have established among them an amusement as appealing, as simple, and as inoffensive, it will be time for the condemnation of those features that are innocuous and foreign. And it will be long before I shall forget the comparison, by an Indian, between the dance of the Sioux with drums and sleighbells, a noisy soul-stirring hullabaloo, and the seductive, suggestive ‘white man’s fiddle dance.’