Yuman Tribes of She Gila River


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When we turn our attention to attainments in the art of government, we are compelled to award first place to the Iroquois and second place to the Creeks. In doing so we must reject the dictum that "that government is best which governs least" as a principle upon which to base our conclusions. From the point of view of the factors involved, or for the purposes that they had to serve, the governments of the Choctaw, Cherokee, Caddo, and many smaller tribes were just as good as the two just mentioned—from Jefferson’s point of view better. We must also reject absolutism as a criterion of superiority, one which, if accepted, would have placed the Natchez in the foremost rank. But although the Natchez theocracy included some alien tribes, the problem confronting Iroquois and Creek statesmen was much more difficult than that which the Natchez Great Sun had to face, for the problem with them was not the mere addition of alien tribes but the evolution of a common system of usages, legal and governmental procedure, and the accompanying concepts, acceptable to a considerable number of originally independent and mutually hostile peoples. So far as we may judge there never was any great diversity among the people which constituted the Choctaw, Cherokee, and Caddo nations. A few small bands were added to certain of them at a late period, but they were too insignificant to affect the polity of the tribe as a whole, and this was equally the case with the Natchez.

The Creek state partook less of the nature of a free union of peoples than that of the Iroquois since one particular group of bands occupied a position of numerical and moral dominance. To this group belongs properly the name Muskogee, though that is probably foreign in origin. As the original organization seems to have been confined to this group, it may once have been comparable to the organization of the Iroquois, a voluntary union among equals, but from the time when it came clearly to the knowledge of Europeans almost half of the federal body consisted of peoples of alien speech who, though not oppressed, were in some measure looked down upon by the Muskogee. According to the only fragments of the national epic which have survived, two of the main bands of Muskogee, having subdued or driven away all of their enemies, agreed to institute an intertribal ball game in order to keep their martial spirit alive. These were the Coweta and the Kasihta. It was also agreed that each might adopt bodies of related or alien people who would then form one "fire" with it and might participate in the game on its behalf if this were subscribed to in preparing for the contest. Coweta and its towns came to be associated with war, while Kasihta headed the peace side, and for obvious reasons took in more outsiders than its rivals.1

1Swanton, J.R.n/an/an/an/a, "Notes on the Cultural Province of the Southeast," Amer. Anth., N.S., 37: 380–381.


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Chicago: "Yuman Tribes of She Gila River," Yuman Tribes of She Gila River in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed February 23, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CGACH3NYZ8GUPGB.

MLA: . "Yuman Tribes of She Gila River." Yuman Tribes of She Gila River, Vol. 37, in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 23 Feb. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CGACH3NYZ8GUPGB.

Harvard: , 'Yuman Tribes of She Gila River' in Yuman Tribes of She Gila River. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 23 February 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CGACH3NYZ8GUPGB.