The Plains Cree: An Ethnographic, Historical, and Comparative Study

This book provides an overview of the Plains Cree up to the first half of the twentieth century. Mandelbaum covers tribal distribution, first contact and the fur trade along with the economy of the Plains Cree, which includes animals such as the bison as well as ceremonial structures and musical instruments. Mandelbaum also discusses social life, including crime and justice. --------------------------- From Caldwell's Review attached: "The Canadian Plains Research Center has provided a new and amended version of the Plains Cree, a classic of plains anthropology first published more than forty years ago. The earlier volume, available under the imprint of the American Museum of Natural History (.Anthropological Papers 37, Part II, 1940), is a portion of a much more extensive work completed by Mandelbaum as a Ph.D. dissertation at Yale University during 1936. The complete document is published here for the first time. The earlier version is essentially a description of the "buffalo-hunting way of life ... of the Plains Cree" (xiii). It was significant be cause it tapped a remnant of a cultural type even then only a memory, and presented it with clarity, understanding, and objectivity. More important, however, because the Cree were not indigenous to the plains, Mandelbaum explored their metamorphosis from woodland hunters to equestrian plainsmen-entrepeneurs and warriors. The newly published sections (2 and 3) elaborate the theme of change and add ethnohistoric and comparative data in abundance. The ethnohistoric context and ecological emphases are remarkably current and focus upon "why and how Cree culture changed when some of the Cree changed their habitat, economy, and general environment" (xiii). This is particularly crucial in the plains because so many of the historic Native Americans customarily identified as "Plains peoples" came from elsewhere, and quite recently. Indeed, much of the regional history and prehistory can be cast as a process whereby peoples choose or are forced to alter a preexisting cultural set or direction. It has been suggested that much of the plains had no indigenous population and was thus strictly a recipient of peoples and ideas. While such a notion cannot be entertained seriously, many of the typical tribes, such as the Cheyenne, Comanche, Cree, and Dakota, are recent immigrants from the woodlands and mountains fringing the borders of the plaines." pg 186. -------- For a synopsis of the book, please read the entirety of Caldwell's review.

Author
Mandelbaum, David
Primary Resource
Secondary
Publication Date
1940
Publication Information

Mandelbaum, David. The Plains Cree. New York City: The American Museum of Natural History, 1940.

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