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Washo Religion

James F. Downs

ISBN: 978-625-8284-53-9

This book is the result of two and one-half months' field work among the Washo Indians of California and Nevada supported by the Department of Anthropology of the University of California and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. In it I have tried to describe the religious beliefs and ritual activities of the Washo as they can be examined today. Where possible I have attempted to reconstruct the aboriginal patterns and trace the course of change

between these two points in time.

A second purpose has been to supplement the culture element distribution lists prepared by Omer C. Stewart in 1936 (Stewart 1941). In a number of instances his findings were at variance

with those of Smith, whose notes Stewart incorporated; I have been able to resolve some of the differences between Stewart and Smith. Where my own research has led me to disagree with the statements in the culture element distributions I have discussed the problem. In general my own work simply expands the rather sparse descriptions of the element lists (Stewart 1941, pp. 366-418). The culture element distribution list numbers which refer to traits dealt with in the various sections are indicated in parentheses following the headings. Where a trait or complex is dealt with in detail it is indicated by parentheses in the text.

Statements not otherwise attributed are the result of my own field work.

I am indebted to Mr. W. L. d'Azevedo, who encouraged me to carry on field work among the Washo and who has made his own field notes and knowledge available to me. I have indicated information attributable to d'Azevedo by placing his name in parentheses in the text; where his name appears with a date, the reference is to a work published by him.

I also wish to express my thanks for the suggestions made by J. H. Rowe, R. F. Millon, and D. M. Schneider, who read this article before it went to press, and to acknowledge the final

reading given the manuscript by the late A. L. Kroeber.

In addition, my thanks are owed to Mr. Frank Yapparagari, Mrs. Juanita Schubert, and Mrs. Lois Buck of Gardnerville and Minden, Nevada, to Mr. Richard Shulter of the Nevada State

Museum in Carson City, Nevada, and to Mrs. E. M. Keenan of Paradise, California, who assisted in various ways in the progress of the investigation. Last, to the various members of the Washo tribe, who with patience and good humor bore the probing into

their lives, my deepest gratitude.

James F. Downs



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Language: English




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