The Makah Indians

A Study of an Indian Tribe in Modern American Society


Elizabeth Colson

Elizabeth Colson lived for a year among the Makah Indians at their reservation at Neah Bay, Washington, while engaged in the field work for this fascinating anthropological study. During that time she made friends with many of the tribe. She shared in their daily living and in their festivities. She listened with an understanding ear to their problems, to their rambling conversations, as well as to their replies in formal interviews.

The result is a richly detailed description of how an American Indian group lives in modern society and an acute analysis of their social problems and adjustments.

The author describes the land of the Makah, explains the origin of the tribe, and portrays their characteristic traits. In sections on the Makah and the Whites and the Makah and the Outer World, she analyzes group relationships. In another section, she describes the internal tribal rivalries that stem from the Makah tradition. Finally, she discusses the religious concepts and practices.

Anthropologists will find the study of primary importance. It is significant to social scientists in other fields as well and to all readers who are concerned about race relations and the special problems of the American Indian. In chronicling the effects of the U.S. Indian Service on one tribe, the book treats an important aspect of American social history.

Elizabeth Colson, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. She served for several years as director of the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute in Northern Rhodesia, Africa.

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