Tuesday, April 7, 2009

HIghland, Illinois & The Bandelier Family

In 1852, while travelling through the U.S., Henri de Buren stopped at the Swiss settlement of Highland, Illinois, not far from St. Louis. There he visited the Bandelier farm, settled by a family known to Henri and his family from Bern. He speaks with great admiration for how lovely the farm and town are. This is the same farm that Adolph Bandelier, the noted anthropologist grew up on. Henri surely met the young Adolph, and it is impossible to know, but his example may have helped inspire Adolph Bandelier to explore the Americas for himself when he became an adult.

Highland, Illinois in 1860

A biography of Adolph Bandelier (Text courtesy of Minnesota State University, Mankato)

Adolph Bandelier was born in Bern, Switzerland in 1840, into a well-educated family, which later moved to Highland, Illinois, USA. Like his father, Bandelier studied law, but his interests were elsewhere. His admiration for Alexander Von Humboldt and his work in natural history, led Bandelier to dedicate his life to archaeology. Up until his death in 1914, the contributions Bandelier made had a large impact on the growing field of anthropology.

Bandelier's main focus was the American and Pueblo Indians of southwest America and northern Mexico. He was one of the first to use the methodology of participant observation. Bandelier learned about the Indians, not only by living with them and studying their culture, but also by studying their artifacts and the ruins on their land. He followed their ancestors' migration from northern Mexico, down the Rio Grande Valley, to central Mexico. Even though Bandelier was criticized for being untrained and forming premature conclusions, he proved that working and training in the field was just as effective as going to school. Bandelier collected and evaluated the data in a unique way due to his personal involvement.

This interest in archaeology and American Indians led to the correspondence between Bandelier and Lewis Henry Morgan, who is often considered to be one of the "Fathers of Anthropology". Their similar interests led to a lifetime friendship. Bandelier was very good at finding common ground with just about everyone, making him a very respected person by his colleagues.

Bandelier wanted to educate people about the Americans Indians. He had learned first hand that the myths about the Indians were false. He wanted to teach everyone how they actually lived. Edgar L. Hewett, who had written a book with Bandelier, stated, "It is the special duty of ethnologists to counteract the false picture of Pueblo life that has been produced in the name of scientific research."

Bandelier's knowledge, observation and research are amongst his greatest contributions to archaeology. Named after him, the Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico spreads across 50 square miles. Many archaeological sites can be found there (i.e., Shohakka Pueblo in Capulin Canyon, Tsankawi and San Miguel). This was the place that was most dear to Bandelier and is now preserved for everyone to experience.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...