Title: Washoe ethnographer Anita Spring transcription of taped interview
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00086724/00003
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Title: Washoe ethnographer Anita Spring transcription of taped interview
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Creator: Spring, Anita
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Bibliographic ID: UF00086724
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CHRONICLER : Anita Spring

INTERVIEWER : Meredith (Penny) Rucks

DATE : 1/16/99

TAPE : 3

SUBJECT : Washoe Ethnographers

TRANSCRIBER : Linda Sommer

AUDIT-EDITOR : Penny Rucks

Meredith (Penny) Rucks: This January 16 in Dr. Anita Spring's

office continuing from yesterday on the Washoe Ethnographic

ProjectTeting, one, twQ, r uoii; Vaset

s nuarv 1 __ -1Lo i interviewing Dr. Anita Spri

off--ie i Gainesville. And we're picking up on the discussion of

living in the community you're studying as an ethnographer and your

first experience there in Dresslerville with not being able to live

in the community when you'd expected to have a total immersion

experience, and you didn't get that.

Anita Spring: I pulled out the appendix to the field report at

the end of the field school. And I noticed I wrote--this is a

quote--"I had expected to be living within an Indian group and not

commuting to it. In the first few weeks I was often disheartened by


not finding an informant at home or being refused an interview.

There was no place to perch in Dresslerville until the person

returned or might be unoccupied. Instead, I would have to leave the

area and try again some other day. I would have liked to have

meandered around and to have looked and inquired about things, but

no lingering was possible." A~r -I ... -aiqu, '-nd quot.

And then I go on to say that I talked to other people who were in

the field school, who were living within their Indian communities

and had the feeling that they were able to develop a closer

relationship and a more intimate relationship with individuals and

with the community, as well as having... or the experience of

feeling the so-called spirit of contemporary Indian life. The

reason that it was not possible to live in Dresslerville had

something to do with the legal aspects of the colony itself. I

think that the land was given with the provision that no white

person or only the Washoe could reside on it. And even though I

could have found a place in someone's house to have lived, it was

not possible because of that particular restriction. So I had to

live in the Basque Hotel. There were at least two, maybe more, in

the town of Gardnerville. And that meant that I could do work with

the Indians nine to five, so to spea ,...

S: ... .>nd then had to return to the Basque Hotel and

confront Basque culture. It was a mom-and-pop kind of operation

there, so they were very curious about me, and,-E I had to

participate with them in the evening meal, which was communally

served, and had to deal with other Basque people, the Basque

language. Obviously, there were tourists who stayed there from time

to time. It was not a big touristic area, but there were some. And,

7g="kag.w, I had intended to just have as much immersion as


S: amongst an American Indian group, amongst the Washoe.

But here I had two cultures: the Basques, which I had to deal with

after five o'clock in the evening, so the whole evening, and then

probably parts of the weekends when I, -,uc-^ couldn't be in

Dresslerville. And in addition, there really was a third culture.

R: Yes.

S: And the third culture was the white or Anglo community,

the sort of frontier mentality of Gardnerville itself. The Basques

were an anathema to those people as well. And, of course, the

Indians... they were always making derogatory comment...

.7 a.about the Indians. They only saw Washoe people come

to town to buy things or to get drunk or, y2Hka not in their


S: ... living situation. They didn't really know anything

about them as people or as a culture.

R: Were they curious about what you were doing or more

interested in telling you what they thought?

S: Well, the Anglos in the area were more interested in

telling me their stereotypes about the Indians.

R: Yes. Yes.

S: OK. I think everybody just accepted the fact that I was

a student working with people at the University of Nevada and

studying Indians.

R: Yes.

S: OK. That was a good enough excuse T -'- t".1 :t. or c6,

good enough explanation. I don't think they were particularly

interested in, ;Zg js~ what I was studying, what was

anthropology, why was this interesting,...

S: ... how is this going to be a record tNothing like that

at all.

R: No. And there... and also I think there had been already

sort of a tradition of anthropologists coming through


R: /1 by that time. 7 f.

S: So this is, you know, more of that same crowd, I guess.

R: Was the social scene... and I know you say. /- io ,

4u/p y hat you really weren't hanging around in Gardnerville that

much; that wasn't the reason you were there. But nevertheless, was

that frontier, kind of western... was that another form of a little

culture shock there? I mean, were you surprised with how perhaps

provincial or localized 4eZ that western attitude was?

S: Yes. Well, ,p r on the one hand, I wanted full

immersion in the Washoe.

S: -~n the other, as a budding anthropologist, all these

different cultures and communities were interesting. So the

frontier and the small town in the West culture was interesting,

just as the Basques were interesting. But in one way they were m.t

e* taking me away from the main event.

R: Right.

S: On the other, I always had this notion of trying to

figure out the whole scene, and they were part of the scene for the

Washoe, actually.

R: Actually, that's a... I think that's a really good


S: And they were, l/a/ko.A, it would be wrong not to

contextualize the Washoe themselves within this, V other

cultural milieu, because 1 A 'w(avt they were the dominant

culture, not the Basques, but the... / small town...

S: 2he Basques were a small ethnic group within that.

R: Right.

S: I notice at the present time they se to be.~/~>A

s t~/" a bit of p[q/j the Basques--the new Ph.D. program on

the Basques, the country club or the golf club where everyone's
sitting there talking Basque. .4 was not like that. X / "t

5ee 6 j .A- They were much more marginalized, I think, in the


R: And much more... their role in that little town of

Gardnerville was very structured.

S: Very structured and segregate.

S: .2. and in its place.

R: Yes.

S: They were there; tourists could go there, but t-wn

separate .ey-y n9, Fhere was really no mixing or intermingling

/ /t They were not in- ,-m nz, part of running the


R: Did you have a chance to actually watch as part of your


research the relationships between Washoe and whites, say, in

stores and things like that, or was it more casual?

S: Just a little bit. Just a little bit.

R: Yes.

S: The research itself was so focused on working with key


?-S: In fact, I wrote in the report, ~jif-" This is a

quote: "I did feel that Dresslerville was a gold mine of

informants. And after my initial qualms about where to go and who

to see, I did not lack places or people. And aside from the

above..." (this is funny) "... aside from the above romantic

conceptions, the field site was wholly acceptable and gratifying."

End quote. So... but I really had expected to live within the


: And I was quite disappointed that I couldn't. And, you

know, it was a fair commute to get there.

R: Yes. I would say... how long.., do you remember how long


S: It must have been a good, I don't know, twenty minutes,

half an hour, I mean, because you had to go down these dirt roads

and everything. I do remember that I had five flat tires that

/ _S: And I do also remember Iagg-. I've always been a fast

driver, and they used to call me the "White Streak," because my...

was white Dodge car, I think it was, one of these.... It was sort

of a spread-out car, as I recall [laughter]

SAndthey wer ie- long and big a those days. And I used

to drive it very fast _Bt- so they could tell from a distance

when I was coming, ya==.-k w. I-- L...- .Q-c he dirt road )

S: 6he dust gathers and so forth. So it really took some
doing to get in and out of the community.

R: Yes.

S: And then not having a place to perch when I was there. I

could go, and if the person I saw was at home and expecting me, I

was fine. OK.

R: So you were always dependent on a Washoe sponsor, so to

speak, to even be in the community.

S: To even be in the community.

S:R- And I think that Freddy Richards made that very clear.
S: /And I think that Freddy Richards made that very clear.

R: Yes.

S: I remark in my weekly report notes that he said tela.-E

1_we _-_. both for Ed Montgomery and myself that we were his

students, and he was going to-asfera shepherd us through, so we

were allowed to look at X but not at Y.

R: Yes.

S: Or we were allowed to talk to,-y o~-k~7, the people he

wanted us to talk to when he wanted us to talk to them, but not to

the others. And that put a big damper, especially if you had to go

through him all the time, and then the others would say, "Well!

What did Freddy say?" or... [laughter]

R: Yes. Yes.

C- .--^--
R!~- -l-f

S: So it really... if you've been in a... if you're living

in the community, and maybe one person is still in that position,

but because you're there walking around, people are going to greet


-- : They're. -ST Ig pre not going to expect that

person shepherding you around to be there at every moment. But if

you were traveling to the community, that's really quite different.

R: And if you don't have a home base in the community, there

isn't a place for you to be as an observer.

S: You can't leave anything... there's no place to be as an

observer; you can't leave anything if you need to take something to

eat or, you know, you want to take a couple of minutes to shut your


R: So it was a very structured process o ...

R: ... finding informants....

S: ... and-d-a. It was a completely structured

experience of finding and working with informants. And in fact,

because of this nine-to-five restriction--and I don't think it

prevented the weekends, for example.


S: think it was only Monday through Friday. JaB-e

R: Well, there was something about after dark. I mean, in

one of the memo

R: ...for the field school.
S: Could not be there after dar1 had to be out in good

R: Yes.

S: I don't remember, yge ew-. working up until the last

minute and then trying to get back before dark. I mean, really, we

left or I left, you know, when it was light.

R: Right.

S: And, of course, it was summer, so daylight

savingse..probably stayed light for a long time. But I do remember
going to a barbecue. I do remember going out and collecting pine


R: Now, were you invited to do this, or did you have to

S: Yes., these were all invited activities. And there

were probably one or two other social activities during the field

experience. And that was i

S- So I have no idea about anything that happened in the

evening, I was invited to no rituals, because those were all

evening kinds of activities.

S: don't know for certain that there ..that they took
place during that time period, but..

: I wouldn't know, and it was impossible to attend any of
S: I wouldn't know, and it was impossible to attend any of


them. So I really think that it did two things: one is it was a

very directed methodology, and it became just the methodology of

working with key informants.

R: Yes.

S: In addition to that, on my own, I did the mapping of the

community photographically rd in terms of actually making a map

and taking a census.

R: Now, how did you. .a--. you just explain that that's what

you were going to do, so you were going to be roaming around? Or

did you actually need somebody there...?

S: I don't remember)

S: -... it's not exactly clear, as I look through the

field report notes, either. But I knew I had to do that. I think

that was my, maybe one of our assignments. We did have to do

something of mapping or a census.

R: So that gave you an excuse to sort of be there and


S: Give me at(lea..yes. And at least to drive and/or walk

through every street in the community.

R: Right. Right.


S: And that was good. That part was good. The other thing is

I didn't get a chance to see much of the children.

S: e.. e times I was there, they were at school.

R: Oh, my word.

S: Yes. So it was very much focused on, y-steao^, the lore

of the Washoe, in which you're dealing with elderly people.


R: Now, were the kids in school during the summer? T 17

V~re there some kind of summer programs that they were involved in?

S: There must have been something.

oul w bt....

S Yes-- phe university would have

been out. r-S the schools function in June....

R: Yes'.

S: -- at least at the beginning, they were at school.

R: Well, I know that there are programs that they,.y C

S: They were in school.

R: Yes.

S: So it was very much focused on key informants and things

such as questionnaires, surveys, even getting a bunch of people

together and talking about a topic as a group, focus groups.

There's a lot of other techniques...

S: ....chat anthropologists use. Participant observation was

not even a possibility,...

S: ..7 except at the barbecue.

R: Yes.

S: [laughter] But that was lI a one-day....

R: Right. And then you must have been... I mean, you could

obviously... yq w- were kfd aware perhaps of visiting

patterns, except that people probably respected...

R: the informants....

S: If people knew I was coming over to talk with Gladys or

Minnie, they didn't come over.

R: Yes. I can see ....

S: So it was really pretty focused on key informants.

Then the other thing--and looking back at the field notes

jarred my memory on this--was the notion of paid informants.

R: Yes.

S: And I mentioned in the field notes that a couple of

people were very reticent or even refused to discuss things. Now,

since this whole methodology and the residential setup and so forth

turned on using key informants, ft

S: ..they were pretty important to be in contact with. So

I remark in the field notes that I offered to pay people, and then

the doors were opened, and everybody was happy to work with me and

expect ime and so forth. And the payments were obviously pretty

low, because the budgets were something like,- 3iZw, fourteen to

twenty dollars for the week,..

S: ?C.and I don't know how much they could have. maybe

was it fifty cents an hour or a dollar an hour or a dollar a


R: That's conventional. Yes.

S: ... or.... I mean, they were very minimal amounts. And

the notion, of course, that the anthropologist was paying for time,


not information, so that was always stressed. "Just want to take

your time, and you'll be compensated...."

R: And you said that this is somewhat customary on working

among Indians...

S: Oh, yes. I wanted to comment.

S: ... that that methodology or that procedure seems to have

been prevalent or more prevalent amongst anthropologists working in

the Americas, in North America or the United States, in particular,

with American Indian groups. And so after while, American Indians

got used to that as sort of the norm and really demanded it, as in

this case.

R: Yes.

S: They thought that that was their due. Now, it is true

these people are rather impoverished, and the sums were small, and

maybe anthropologists originally started by wanting to assist. I

don't know.

R: Right.

S: But maybe it goeslg vLAcw, back to all the reciprocal

kinds of arrangements that Indians and whites ha ...

S: ... for all those years.

R: Also, it might go back, and I don't know--I mean, correct

me if this.. if you don't think this is the case, but it's also an

interesting seT f culture of the development of anthropology in

this country, where the idea is that you weren't really doing, u
because if you're doing participant observation, you are

participating in someone's life, and you're not taking them out of

their normal patt

Si to interview them. And it seems like this setup of

interviewing people, you really are potentially distracting them

from whatever gainfuTl .

R: thing their doing.

S: Yes. But it is the notion of key informants, because I

cannot think ofs ,yW--kow, community studies in the United States, 4fc
/1, studies of =-, welfare families, t i's of-.a- all kinds of

things and pS---- i n fb0 -Trrr-t. P-C -tes.

don' t- ye~a ke. ... t would have been an anathema to pay

people for any of it. And yet this notion of finding out about the

past cultures of American Indians and working with the elders of

the tribe,...

S: .seemed to incur this notion that these

people should be paid. And then because there were really quite a


number of anthropologists in relation to each Indian tribe who h d

wez..-. [Tlaughter]

S: w rked with them, I guess it kind of got

established, and then they would just say, "Well, so-and-so paid

me; what's wrong with you?"

R: Right.

S: And so you would just have to continue doing that. And I

think I remark a4e about one informant I tried to work with--that

was George Snooks, whom I turned out to not work with very much and

Ed Montgomery used as his major informant--that I felt I was

getting nowhere with him; he was drunk a lot of the time; and then

when he wasn't, he was pacing the session.

p--i nb, -W^ ----"" '

S: ... to ki a draw it out and drag it along as slowly as

possible, to fill up the time and give as little information as

possible, probably with the notion that, _Tjgae w, the number of

hours would be greater, and therefore, his pay at the end would be

more.... And I justcgg== couldn't play that particular game.

R: How did you work around... oh, before I ask that

question, I... you also had said that you have since then never

paid an informant again....

S: Right. I never pay... I was so disturbed by the notion


that you would set people up for a future response, that if someone

asked them something, they would immediately have their hand out,

that I decided I would not continue that in any other place that I


$. 2Now, that does not mean that I did not give people gifts

or do other things to help people ..

S: ... OK, including at times using actual cash. But it was

never set u


S .i7. that they would be paid for their time.

R: Right.

S: I never did that in all my Africa work or even in

Jamaica. In fact, I shied away from it completely. So that

experience turned me actually in the opposite direction.

And I'll tell you a very interesting story of =i.afmb .- from


~ ... on this. I bought all these small gifts, and three of

my favorite ones were,-k a pound of sugar, a pound of salt, and

a little kit of sewing needles, because people. ~ --th ae really

valued in the rural area, and I was six hundred miles from the


capital city. So when I first got there, this woman knocked on my

door, and she had a bowl of tomatoes. And, boy, was I happy to see

those tomatoes.

S: --So I thanked her profusely, and I said, "Wait a minute."

I ran in my house, and I picked one of the three (I don't remember

which one it was, a bag of salt of sugar) and put it in 4.-e her

dish and handed it to her. And she taught me a real good lesson in

anthropology, one that anthropologists like Marcel Mauss and so

forth have written abo ..

S: ..-.in The Gift and so forth.

R: Yes.

S: She turned it down. She said, "This is not a payment for

the tomatoes."

"You can give this to me sometime later."

R: Oh, that's wonderful. Yes.

S: Yes, it's not that she didn't want it. She wanted it. But

she was trying to show me that we were not doing a transaction that

ended right then and there. We were building a relationship.

R: This is t-o.beginning 1Pdy,--,ne -h .. --

S: Yes.

S: Ye. It's not like you go in the supermarket;... you o

S. they give you saltgya-'i=tAh"m 1e.

R: -h, but that...

R: ... that's a wonderful....

S: jnnderful example. But I was very disturbed with the fact
that these people... the Washoe people were already primed to be

key informants. They were going to make money that way, and we had

to. if we wanted to work with them, --w ea they had to be


R: What are some other problems with that approach, do you

think, in terms of the data...

R: .-. that you recall?

S: Well, see, I would never use that approach in my current

anthropology and fieldwork. First of all, I don't only want to work

with one segment of the community.

R: Right.

S: OK. The oldsters or whatever, for lack... or the elders,

for lack of a better term. They weren't all old, but the so-called

more-knowledgeable-about-the-old-ways people.

R: The cultural specialists....


S: The cultural specialists, yes. ~ o I do want

to work with the cultural specialists, of course. But I don't only

want to work with them and exclude other people.

R: Yes.

S: And the key informant methodology and... but it was a

field school. Yearigw, were trying to learn how do you do a

genealogy, how do you elicit a life history; what were the Washoe

doing in time period A versus,- ama w,time period B? But it was

not focused on the current situation.

R: Yes.

S: Whereas, I would want to know both the history... all of

that,i.- ,1 plusythe current situation, and I would want to know

how people react and interact with each other. The problem with

this situation, the artificial part of it, was that it was the

anthropologist and the key informant. We were rarely interrupted

e~ p pp once these appointments were made, and people were

being paid.

R: Yes.

S: They had it under control. I mean, in a way it was very

good, because..9

S: 4/_ you weren't interrupted, and yet they knew the...

R: Well, for instance, this process right here--I have no

idea of your relationships with your other colleagues, if that was

my mission.

S: Yes. That's right.

Because the door is closed, and nobody's popping in, and

the phone is /y P y not ringing and that kind of thing. So in

that sense it was very artificial.

R: Yes.

S: On the other hand/ /u awI our goal was to work with

key informants.

S_ And we're doing survey techniques, focus groups, and some

of the other technique....

R: Right. Oh, I was just... I wasn't critiquing the field


R: l pt itself. I was just trying to get you to

tell me what etI/o mny i wn would.

7ould .


.. develop into a problem.

S: Yes. And in terms of the effects of this on my future

anthropology and future fieldwork or later fieldwork activities was

that I both was very concerned with using and working with key

informants, choosing cultural specialists. But that would only be

one part of my research.

R: Right.

S: That would not be all of it. And I did also go out of my

way to be sure that I could do the total range... or participate io

or seutr interview about the total range of activities that people

were involved in subsequently.

R: Right.

S: Not this real or rather/1 q43 / restricted and


W it ...

.St part of it.

R: ... and it would certainly limit the topics that you

could have chosen to research.

S: Oh, true. True.

R: I mean, if you're only... if you're limited to that


S: Now, in a way, I was very focused and interested in

social organization and kinship. And that kind of work, at least in

the initial collection of genealogies and so forth does lend itself

very much to working with key informants.

R: Yes.

S: On the other hand, the whole network, interrelationships

how people really relate to each--which is part of kinship....

R: Right. Who borrows things from who?

S: Yes. None of that was amenable to this very limited,

targeted key informant situation. So I never got to see any of that

part. 6 I-, yoynl -4oLdo it was really just this one part ...

S: ...the major part, I think, from anthropologist's point

of view. The other... that network stuff, the interrelations of... S,

Carol Stack and Elizabeth how people relate in the 0t o

networks--that's actually a slightly later period in anthropology.

R I- -n )n ( t-'l-oFogy peri (od. .

R: Right. And particularly for that time. But it's

interesting, because one thing you brought up which I hadn't

thought of before is what the anthropologist is doing is sort of


training the studied community on how anthropologists do their


S: Very much so.

R: So if another person comes in with some other


R: Z-". different approach,....

S: The informants are just thrown.

R: Yes.

S: And they really are. The Washoe have got to be a classic

case of this.

R: Yes.

S: Now, I've got to tell you this story. I know it's on your


S: Bsi -. I was interviewing Gladys Walker. She became my

principal informant e

S: 7And I cannot tell you... I mean, we could probably count

it up from the field... weekly field reports.

R: Yes. On how much n-vw. u "pec --

S: How many days, and you could ,,.- -k=w, multl. figures

out hours a-d -r1~h I spent with her.

R: Yes.

S: OK. We reached a point where we got down to pretty fine

details on things. An---..he also gave me rather a lot of

linguistic data.... (And I want to say something about linguistics

data in just a minute)...

R: ... I'll ask you that, too.

S: A lot of terminology and categorization of things that

were extremely helpful. Well, I had learned Bill Jacobsen's

notation system, and it was just marvelous training on it.

R: Now, how long did that take? I'm just curious to....

S: Well, I've never really been particularly that good at

languages, but bp=jga- -his instruction was superb, ...

S: ... and he had the system all worked out.

S: -nd he was able to teach us the standard linguistic...

standard system that's used in linguistics.

R: Yes. The orthography, the...?

S: The orthography. Yes.

(_-7 And then he was able to put in the specificities of the

Washoe language. So we had that training, and for the most part,

with this one exception which I'll get to, I had no difficulty


hearing the sounds and writing them down. I couldn't, of course,

speak the language or anything like that or string words together

or, yLknow, translate or any... nothing like that. But I could

listen to what was being said and write it.. -.- m-l t.-....-.lz_. .

write--t downWith this one exceptions on paper.

R: Yes.

S: OK. Well, I'm working with Gladys, and she keeps telling

me certain things and certain terminology, and I keep writing it

down, and I keep looking at .r- .... .. aff, and I keep saying,

"This is incorrect, and I've read it somewhere before."

R: Yes.

S: So I'm having this very uneasy feeling that she's giving

me information about a particular topic that's not right, but it's

so familiar!

S: How could I have known this?

R: Y e

Si- rrtoidw, Bit- intj sot ofS a....

End of Side 1, Beginning of Side 2


S: So I was going through the books that I had picked up

_n- r\LL n- ~l~,?d

from the museum series of Carson... museum .

R: Oh, the state museum?

... in ar o y.


S: Right. And I'm reading this stuff, and I go, "Oh, my god!

This is Gladys... this is what she's telling me!"

R: Is right out of the book?

S: Yes.

S It's right out of ti So then the next time I went

to see her, I brought the book and confronted J w H-h her .--


It turns out, after all our sessions, after each session a

the previous couple of weeks, when I'd asked her about X and Y and

said, r-u-=:aw, and I'd say, "Well, think about this, and next time

we'll talk about that." I'd kind of, -yO-i end the session

with, -eY oW "What have we learned? Where do we need to go?"

R: Yes.

S: Or something like that. She would then take out her book

and read up on the subject.

R: Yes.

S: And the way I figured it out is that she gave me some

terminology and some transliteration of it, using the other system,

not Bill Jacobsen's system. And -pt --4 it rang a bell that

something's wrong here, and then there was this funny degree of

familiarity that I had glanced at that publication previously or

something, and I figured it out.

R: Yes.

S: So then we had to go back, and I had to explain to her

that I wanted her knowledge, her recollection, because this is

especially problematic, I think, with work with key informants and

only work with key informants and this notion about recording

culture history.

R: Well, also, you put such a burden on the informant to


S: The historian.

R: And the spokesperson.

S: And they don't want to get it.... And they... the

spokesperson, ,A'they don't want to get it wrong.

R: Right.

S: She didn't want to get it wrong.

R: Oh, very interesting.

S: It was not malicious at all. Yu-kow his was going to

be something serious about her people, about her tribe. And I was

writing it down, so if it was already there, then... and in a book,

for god's sake, it therefore had to be more real than what maybe

she remembered it as being.

R: Right.

S: So she was feeding me this already-published ethnography.

R: Yes. Now, did... how... did the information change

rather dramatically or just the validity of what you were...?

S: Well, some of each.

L> Yes. She had some other things to sa.

.-7She would preface it by, "Well, maybe this was collected

from somebody who was older than I, who remembered more of the old


R: Right. Right.

S: She was trying to... I mean, she was trying to get off

the hook for one thing. But I think she.... [laughter] She really

believed it, too.

R: Yes.

S: So I had to spend a lot of time kind of coaxing her,


subsequently, to realize that I really cared about what she knew.

R: Yes. Yes. So that is another issue with working with


S: Yes. Yes. Yes.

R: But how serendipitous or whatever that you just...

something was sagging at you/(a

S: I could have done the entire fieldwork if it h_4-- i- .

there were one or two terms in which she gave me the other

pronunciation and the other symbols or something that were wrong

R: Right.

S: And because of the very excellent training by Jacobsen

and the fact that I was positive that he was right in the way that

I...A1 -L4a~A iX~AAipicked it up, because the rest of the field

notes that I would have gotten from her--remember she was my main

informant--would have been straight out of that publication.

R: Right. Because, of course, she was doing... by her terms

she was doing her job, too, which was....

S: She was doing her job. She was doing research at night.

R: Yes. Oh, my! [laughter]

S: So, you know, yes, she was only getting paid for a couple

of hours in the daytime.

R: And doing....


S: She was spending her evening doing research on the

subject! [laughter]

R: That's really wonderful, and I think... I imagine it

happens quite a bit more... when people don't necessarily caught...

catch it either. I don't know. s/./ I wanted to ask you, too,

jwypt do you remember how you maneuvered around? Was it Freddy


S: Oh, Freddy Richards was a tough one. Yes. Freddy
Richards... and you see in the photographs is physically stunted in

his growth, and I think he has one hip higher and one.../60al

shortened leg, and he's very short in stature compared to his


R: Yes.

S: You know, the Washoe tend to be short, anyway, but he is

really diminutive by comparison to other men in the area and

women, too. And yet he came from an influential family, and he was

in charge of the water supply, Y.a 4,/ u e must have

been in his fifties.

-S: So,1D1)/ kw he was a tough character.

R: Yes.

S: And we were going to be his students, and he was going to

control where we could go and who we could talk to. And looking


through the weekly report, he prevented me from talking to quite a

number of the women informants who were his sisters and


R: Yes.

S: And he prevented my access to Clara Frank for a while.

R: Yes. Now, was she... how... was she related to him in

some way?

S: His sister.

R: Oh, oh. Yes. Yes.

S: I think that's right 4 a..

s. aughE]

But she was so much older than he. Was she his mother?

No. I keep thinking she was his sister.

R: I have to look at your good genealogy. [laughter]

S: I'd have to.. 's a pity I don't have the genealogies

hereSp ^ cL L c k ,U ^ t C ^ >

R: Yes.

S: It's hard to remember all the relationships. But anyway,
aadf r slowly allowed me to have access and would actually leave

us.... I remember I remark upon the four hours that we're sitting

there grinding acorns together and then another time in which we're


making baskets for a whole, ~ ,ow, afternoon or whole morning,

something like that. So it must have been four or five hours of

doing that, and he was nowhere around. But he did really nix

interviewing quite a number of other people.

R: Yes.

S: And, g : ..t now that I think about it, I think

we were guided in this notion of a few key informants. But I think,

as I look back at the early notes, I was trying to get a lot of key

informants, which would have meant that maybe only one or two would

have been key, and I would have really talked to quite a lot of

people in the community.

R: Yes. Yes.

S: I think that was more my goal, was to really talk to a

lot. But he prevented a lot of initial contacts.

S: And so eventually I wound up really only working with

seven people.

R: Do you think it was your topic also that was adding a

layer of sensitivity to.. thia T.a r-ns;i....

S: That topic was not devised until about midway.)

-S We did not go with topics in mind. Waqwe wi- br

did we go with the idea that we would have to write on this


particular topic, whereas somebody else was going to write on

another topic.

R: So your initial assignment was to gain entrance, find the

key informant, and collect...

S: And carry out these very controlled field methodologies

as specified...

S: .. in those sheets,...

RI ---&-.^ -~~ ^

S: .7? which I... yes, will look at.

R: The memos.

S: The memos of each little comment on it, just....

R: Yes. Yes. So everybody was....

S: So everybody's supposed to do the same.... Since it's a


R: Right.

S: ... remember other participants were at other places

around the state with other ethnic groups, other Indian tribes

SAnd we're all supposed to do... yaicgs?, week one, it's,

R: Mapping.

S: ... mapping. Week two, it's do a kinship chart. Not do

ten kinship charts of everybody in the tribe like I did.

R: Like you did?

S: My topic became kinship.

R: Right.

S: INgia I'm sure people did one kinship chart.

R: Right.

S: OK. Whereas on the other hand, like Ed Montgomery was

doing the ethnobotany. I mean, I might have asked a few questions

about medicinals, but I did not....

R: That he would have.... Yes.

S: He would have probably--I haven't seen his work, but he

had gone off and had... in fact, I recall, probably long lists of

medicinals and uses.

R: Did you feel that maybe Freddy was controlling you any

more than he was controlling George because you were a woman? I

mean, was there ~ee r...? -'m at I'm trying to get at is if

they were *ex -. a little insecure about not knowing what a woman

was going to do i-~s .

S: Oh, I don't think.. no, I .--.cn't tL-s- You said

George... you mean George Ed Montgomery; we called him Ed.

R: I do... you know, I keep doing that. ..

S: You keep calling him George. Yes, and I keep thinking of

George as George Snooks.

R. ....

S: --Yes. -r' So, no. I don't... the gender of the researcher

at that point I don't think was something. In fact, it probably

worked to my advantage. But he did prevent me from talking to

women. I do notice a comment in the field report that I thought the

women were much more reticent than the men. But then again the men,

of course, had been used to dealing with the BIA and the locals

more than the women.


wAnd go LdL Was probably so.

R: Right. I'm just not sure that anybody else had tackled

such an affective topic before, where people were being askedxxau

kS Questions of that nature, iyodsaw, about marriage. Just...

when I was reading some of t 7--nwyour reports

and actually some of the marriage histories that you recorded....

S: Oh, yes. Those are personal.

R: Yes. They're very, very personal. And I think it was a

unique topic. I don't think they had dealt with tha, ...

Sand the other... I think the other, the medict. .-La

-, -some of the plants,.

R: the other thing they had been

R: .the other thing they had been....

S: Well, let me say it... let me put it this way)

eA ewV e re's also I think a problem with a lot of information

on American Indians and other ethnographies--it's not only limited

to native Americans.

This idea of writing down the culture. Ye 'knw, what

was--.!o it's the political organization, the social organization,

the religion, the medicinals, ytgg-tfw. And it's very impersonal


--S: Yu- now, their lists and descriptions and that kind

of thing

S: And so were my kinship terminology ,s-all impersonal.

R: Right.

S: What do you call, -nrfanw, your mother's brother? OK.

Well, not your mother's brother Freddy.


3: Yu kw. And what relationship do you have with Freddy?

But what are the generalized relationships that you have with

someone who is your sibling, a male sibling of your mother?

R: Yes.


S: And t Tth~i 1 w... --_te very conventions of kinship c-

and the terminology -__---w, a, where the circles and the

triangles o by convention and the lines for marriage, ascending

and escend!. These are all as impersonal as you can get.

R.---RiyhL. ^^

R:- 1r:L.

So, of course, I did all that stuff, but I had to .6e

fcbs personalize it, especially, I think, because I

wasn't living in the community. Does that make sense? I had to get

something personal.

R: Yes. Well, you had to get more personal because you

didn't have the opportunity to make observations.

S: To see it.

SSo I had to hear their observations on things that maybe

could have been observed. In other words,...

R: You were making

S: ... do you recall in the article for the Cornell Journal

of Social Relations on Washoe marriage, I state that what I had the

informants do--two major informants, Gladys and Minnie--I had each

one of them separately talk about all the marriages of all the


n Dresslerville and then some who were connected to


1 In other words, talk about gossip.

R: That's a... right.

S: OK. Then I'm sitting there saying, "Well, tell me about,

y3==>RI U, so-and-so.'

5: "Describe their marriage."

S_ "'Describe their first marriage. Describe their second

marriage. Describe their divorce. Describe their third marriage."

R: Right.

S: "Describe where they are now." Y _r..M, I'm getting them

to evaluate... this is after the Wn f generalized stuff on

kinship and social organization. I'm then getting them to evaluated

linguistically and in terms of relationships5everyone they knew.

R: Right. Now, did they... was there an exchan ..'id you

ever get to the point... weFez they curious about your status,

pdtryJ\if you had a boyfriend or if you were marriedror if you....

I mean, was there ever an exchange of information?

S: I'm sure they asked, and I did have boyfriend, and I


probably, ya,, looked young enough so that they weren't

thinking that that I should be, you-knw, having ten kids...


S: ...and so forth.

S. So I'm sure they must have asked.

-S: Yes.

R: Yes Because _ihe reciprocal nature of those kinds of

questions. I sw.=. --. But you were also asking some really

tough questions, I think, of at least the notes of... and I think

rather successfully with some of the men on questions like, "What

is the nature of your friendship with your wife? What else do you

help her do? How much time do you spend with her? What makes a good

wife?" And you were asking t ...

... the women those kinds of subjective n

"What makes a good husband?"

__R: "What is a good husband?"

R: And there was some very interesting cultural information,

because a good... a person that chops wood and hunts was certainly


repeated a lot, but then there were some other aspects indicative

of these more difficult things to pin down, would be affective. Z-p

k= -rying to get at people's emotions on a relationship level

like that, when you are doing it by interview,...

S: Right. As opposed t.

R:c= =; .. -ally.< it's -st ....

S: .' a- -idpS ed to really observing.

R: Yes.

S: I mean, I was very eer. -- s conscious of a couple of

things. One is I was very conscious of, jotknew, the real versus

the ideal and that especially with working with key informants, one

would only get the ideal. In fact, I remark upon that.

R: Yes. Yes, you did. Yes.

S: And it's really funny; I think in a lot of my subsequent

fieldwork, it's partly a reaction on *E that was so

idealized in some ways that I g y had to do a-i very

investigative, be-there-for-the-real-stuff kind of anthropology and

use different techniques, because that was so idealized.

R: Yes.

S: But that was the first thing. The second is, I think I

had a course in culture and personality, so that I was interested

in that affective stuff as well.

R: Yes. Yes.


S: I think I had just finished a course in that, so

r[augahter] So after= T --.ad I was very, very interested in

kinship and social organization. So putting that together with C

and P, culture and personality....

R: And I think it would probably have been more acceptable

to the Washoe... I mean, to your informants that you were a young

woman asking these questions. Did you get any sense of that, that

you had a...?

S: Oh, I think so, that this was not an old, married woman

who was trying to...


-- .. you k-w, or someone too young to be married. I mean,

I was at that age myself.

So here I'm asking all these questions. Maybe they just

thought, "Yes, that fits in." I don't really know, but I'm guessing

that it seemed somewhat appropriate.

R: Well, it seemed also like you would be less in a position

to imply any form of judgment. I mean, those touchy questions are

difficult because of the impression management, and they're...

R: wondering what you're thinking about what...

S -


: ~. you're telling them. But if you're a young-looking,

naive, young woman, it's sort of like, "Well, what does she know

anyway about this to judge,...

R: yniyou know, what my 1ifP has been?" IPi...

S: Yes. I don't know about that, but I....

R: I might be overreaching here.

S: Yes. I think maybe it's... you might think.., gloss it
under the fact that an older woman, the informant, 4-Q telling a

younger female researcher about a personal topic. It's almost like

kind of instructing your daughter..

S: or your granddaughter.

S: You censor things, ye- angiter]

S: But on the other hand, there's a little bit of that, "She

needs to know this is instruction."

R: Right.

S: And I always got the feeling with the Washoe that the

older did that to the younger women, anyway.

R: Yes. Yes.

S: They kind of did instructions.

So that fit in a little bit

7, Just at least a little bit.

R: Now, we were also going to talk about your... the

business of the dress code in the field. [laughter]

S: Oh... right, right. The dress code in the field, yes. I

believe that there was a list sent out by the organizers of the
field school to give us an idea--this was everybody--of what they
should bring. And I remember spending a huge amount of time in San

Francisco trying to locate something called "desert boots"...

R: aghte

.--.. which was one of the items [laughter] on the list.

R: Yes.

S: And so I had the feeling that we were going to be

trekking through the desert, and, ygqkaaw, one would wear jeans

and have these boots, and I didn't have any boots like that. So I

think they're the kind of... ytgnau hbw people have all these

heavy hiking shoes and boots, and you see them., he they're

ubiquitous; they're everywhere. But I recall having to really track

them down. And they were big and ugly, and they were... I remember

they were kind of a gray suede with heavy, heavy soles, and they

laced up. And then I remember trying to decide whether one wore


weeenfee .. heavy, woolen socks underneath. I mean, it was a

huge production, I recall.

R: Yes. Yes.

S: And I forgot what else was on the list, but....

R: For an expedition.

S: Yes. For an expedition.

Rn===Y-a-- -

S: Hd I thought, "What rugged conditions we must be going

under to require shoes that look like this!"

R: Yes! [laughter]

S: [laughter] So I was quite impressed and spent a lot of

time on the desert boots, which I might add I never wore once...

S: ... in the entire field school, because, first of all,

they were certainly inappropriate for the training at the

University of Nevada then,to wear to the classroom.

R: Yes.

S: You wouldn't want to wear them to go out to eat dinner.

R: Right. Right.

S: It was impossible, since.... though I drove to the

Washoe colony, to Dresslerville, and since I really couldn't hike

around in the sagebrush there, they were never used there.

R: Right.

S: I don't believe I ever wore them.

R: Right.

: t.

S: So that was one thing. The second thing is, I noticed

that in the early photographs--I say "early" beaeasae-t --~ w.at

tJ I should say "initial" photographs of my colleagues, the

other participants, at the field school sessions or when we were

touring the area, I am wearing jeans and a shirt and loafers or

something of that variety, and I have a head scarf on.

R: Yes.

S: And it seemed that's what everybody was wearing. Ig

ha.'brought a photocopy of four pictures that Warren d'Azevedo had

-ie shows me in a very frilly gingham dress. And also there's a

picture at Clara's house, as22 just a very small picture of me,

just part of me. I wish it was full length, but it isn't, in which

I'm wearing kind of a pretty, probably pastelly--they're black and

white [the photos], but I'm guessing--blouse. And the gingham dress

has like a ruffle around the... it's a short-sleeve.., around the

arm and around the collar, the neckline, and it's fitted at the

waist with a big skirt. And somehow, you know, we were chuckling

over this garment, because...

R: [laughter]


S: ... you'd expect the anthropologists to look a little bit

more, yqaikepw, streamlined, I guess. Jeans and... more rugged or

something. Something to go with the desert boots, obviously.


R: Yes. Yes. Yes.

S: Well, I suspect that--and I remarked upon this in my

master's thesis--that the women [Washoe]in 1965 and in the previous

decade or so had really taken on a dress style of the... almost the

late 1880s..

... of these cotton, long skirts... /Sj1y gathered

s e at the waist, gk although not too..-pgg 2s

not down to the floor. Earlier it had been down to the ground,

1h &y But these were just sort of mid-calf dresses,

and they had a bit of, you know, the frilly....

R: And rickrack.

S: Rickrack.

b: .es4


S. That kind of approach to decorating the dress.

R: Yes.

S: And that that's what they wore. It seems that in the


photographs that I have of the Washoe women and children,

-gt e-F-all the girls and women are in these dresses.

R: Yes.

S: And that movie called, Washoe: The Girls' Ritual, they

are wearing the exact same kinds of garments as I saw. And the

gingham dress that I'm wearing in that photograph obviously would

have fit right in.

R: Yes. Yes.

S: So my hypothesis, because I don't have any recollection

of that dress as being part of my repertoire of clothing at the

time, [laughter] is maybe I either... I might have had it, or I,

g^ge cw found it, or it somehow seemed to be the appropriate

thing to wear when I went to the Dresslerville colony. And the

appropriate clothing was a nice outfit--ysu--knew, the sort of

pastelly colors, cotton, large-skirted, yg- n, gathered

skirt--full skirts, I think we called them--full skirts, mid-calf

length kind of dresses. Not jeans,...

S- .. not pants, not....

R: It would have been disrespectful to....

S: Disrespectful.

R: Yes.

S: And I do recall, however, that for the Gardnerville


Anglos, I wore these western shirts. You know the ones that have

LhrIm'- the snap buttons?

And that are the classic with the yokes and everything

that they now wear for country-western dancing, and you get them at

the Wrangler and the. -a !__ e Rancher, all these kinds of


R: Yes.

S: I had those to wear in Gardnerville.

R: Yes.

S: I remember that.

R: So you were very conscious and had maintained being

conscious about dressing appropriately....

S: For the field.

R: Yes.

S: Pd s lot of the stereotypes that people have about

anthropologists in the field, I.. w., sometimes they're

justified, but I feel that a lot of ~S iserroneous. And a lot of

the information and suggestions given to students are just awful,

I think. And I... if I could expand on that, *14 ---

R: Yes, do. I think we need those....

S: It's an interesting topic.

R: e i is. 'm ust c c ig the ap ....

Yes. We're still... it's close to the end. Anyway, go



S---I'll be ready-- ...

S: Yes. For example, I went on one expedition, so to speak,

and I had a list of things to bring.... Oh, I know what it was. I

had a Fulbright research award to go to Ethiopia.

R: Now, when was it...?

S: This was 1996.

S: ery recent. Because Fulbright is in the habit of giving

all kinds of briefing-type materials, and because the program is

vast. This was a research award as opposed to a teaching post or

award. They sent some information on what to bring to Ethioprs.

cbew ,--
I have never seen such a bad document in my life!

R: And this is 1996?

S: This is 1996.

R: Yes.

S: This is written by a man, and his idea of what to wear in

Ethiopia. First of all, it's only for men. So, I mean, if I wanted

to bring some... the right type of ties...

R: [laughter]

S: ... and jeans and desert boots and [laughter] I mean, it

was so far off. First of all, I thought it was off even for men.

R: Yes. Yes.
S: ... if I had worn... as a man, worn those garments in

the places that I had to go in Ethiopia, I thought that it was

inappropriate for government offices; it was inappropriate to go to

the American embassy; it was inappropriate... Yess, fine: ou-L.-I,

yDuL-fnow, southwest Ethiopia it would have been great.

R: So in other words, it was daas:=-=S so dressed down


S: It was so dressed down; it was such a limited notion

followed and walked into the university to... and I was

embarrassed. T~) 2new, I dressed down. I-e -e -1 followed it

the first day I was there. I put on my jeans, I put on a nice clean

blouse, and walked over to the university.

R: Yes.

S: And I then said, "My goodness. This is the... I should

have known," and from then, of course, changed. I had taken some

dressy clothes, but I should have taken much dressier clothes, and

I knew better.

R: Yes. Yes.

S: But I thought, Fulbright; I had not benr ii Et a...

R: ...they must be right...

S: IaS w, I must follow these directions. And this is

something that has got to be talked about in anthropology. There's

this notion, and I do think it comes from the archaeologists. But

recall, who are the archaeologists dealing with? Well, they may

deal with a bureaucrat here and there, but basically they're

dealing with dead people, artifacts that don't talk back to them,

that don't ask them for dinner... out for dinner or to their homes,

et cetera, et cetera.

R: Right.

S: I have colleagues who've worked, for example, in

Ethiopia--they have their entire field equipment; they can cook

their own meals; they have their own privies and showers. And then

wonder why cultural anthropologists are, -youkPw= Plga ar]

having completely different stories, because we have to deal with

all the local people trying to get a hotel room, finding water,

trying to get a meal, et cetera, et cetera.

R: Yes.

S: So they are so off base, when it comes... they're in such

a select, isolated part of social science research.

R: Yes.

S: And for those people to provide information to others is

really wrong. I have found on a planetary basis that people really


like... if you're new, if you're coming in to ask them a question,

you should look nice. Now, you shouldn't, youknow, look glamorous

in the field, but you should have clean clothes, .

Rr--- Yes. :!:--- ---

S: -. nothing should be tight or, y~en revealing but

-Pgs. this business of jeans and a T-shirt,... nobody wants to

talk to somebody wearing jeans and a T-shirt,... [laughter]

R: [laughter] Right.

S: ... you know, and desert boot


Tey. ,you now, hey might try to get the boots to give

to one of their teenage kids, but other than that, they're not

interested in them. You know, they want you to look nice. I mean,

and then they want to talk to you and so forth. And then if you're

going to deal with officials, you have to have really nice


R: And you have to be prepared...

S---n ghctvirrre. .

R: ..-Pto go through those government channels, don't you?

S: And you have to. You have to.

R: And you follow protocol....

S: Oh, yes. Usually, when I go to Africa, with the exception

of this one Ethiopian experience where I listened to Fulbright, I


mean, for me, a seasoned Africanist, I should never listen to, you

know, god forbid, a government agency, U.S. government, I mean. I

come back, and I'm overdressed in America for the first couple of

months after I come back, because I'm still in the African mode,

where when you go out for dinner, you look like you're going out

for dinner.

R: Yes.

S: If you go to the theater, you look like you're not going

to the movies.

R: Right.

S: You know. If you go to someone's house, you're well put

together. You're not in jeans and a....

End of Tape 3

4t *

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