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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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....
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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?"
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.
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
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.
S: She turned it down. She said, "This is not a payment for
"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: 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.
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
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.
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.
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
S: They had it under control. I mean, in a way it was very
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
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.
S: On the other hand/ /u awI our goal was to work with
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.
.. 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.
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.
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.
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.
S: And they really are. The Washoe have got to be a classic
case of this.
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.
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.
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."
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
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 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?"
S: Or something like that. She would then take out her book
and read up on the subject.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
S: And he prevented my access to Clara Frank for a while.
R: Yes. Now, was she... how... was she related to him in
S: His sister.
R: Oh, oh. Yes. Yes.
S: I think that's right 4 a..
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 ^ >
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.
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
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
R: So your initial assignment was to gain entrance, find the
key informant, and collect...
S: And carry out these very controlled field methodologies
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
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,
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.
S: INgia I'm sure people did one kinship chart.
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.
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
S: And so were my kinship terminology ,s-all impersonal.
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?
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.
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
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."
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.
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.
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.
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...
: ~. 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."
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"...
.--.. which was one of the items [laughter] on the list.
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.
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.
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.
S: I don't believe I ever wore them.
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.
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...
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
... 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. That kind of approach to decorating the dress.
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.
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: 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
S: I had those to wear in Gardnerville.
S: I remember that.
R: So you were very conscious and had maintained being
conscious about dressing appropriately....
S: For the field.
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.
I have never seen such a bad document in my life!
R: And this is 1996?
S: This is 1996.
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...
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.
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.
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.
S: So they are so off base, when it comes... they're in such
a select, isolated part of social science research.
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
S: If you go to the theater, you look like you're not going
to the movies.
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