Pliny Earle Goddard (1869 - 1928)

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When Pliny Earle Goddard wrote Indians of the Southwest in 1912, he had been at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City for a little more than three years. The Southwest Indian Hall of that great museum had been placed under his charge, and one of his first major tasks was to direct the reinstallation of its exhibits. In doing so he added to his first hand experiences among Apache and Navajo Indians by reading virtually every major work about the Indians of the Southwest which had been published up to that time.

Since Goddard's day there has been no shortage of research and publication concerning the native peoples of the American Southwest. Indeed, they are probably among the most intensively studied groups of people in the World. Curiously enough, however, Goddard has had few successors in attempts to synthesize what is known of the history and culture of these tribes, and his work continues to stand as a bold canvas, direct and correct in its outlines and, as time would have it, an important historical document in its own right. Much of what Goddard wrote in the present tense would have to be written in the past tense. Pimas no longer weave headbands and wear hide sandals; Apaches rarely, if ever, any longer live in wickiups. Many of the ceremonies, beliefs, and other traditions described in these pages now live only in the memories of older people or in annals of anthropology.

Source: Introduction to Indians of the Southwest