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date: 24 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The direct historical approach investigates the past by working backward in time from the known ethnographic present to the unknown pre-colonial past. The approach assumes historical connection between past and present and promises to yield insights into the contingent facts of particular culture histories. Popular in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, especially in the Pueblo Southwest, the direct historical approach was abandoned partly because of its early reliance on Native oral traditions. In recent years, revival of the approach has been hampered by assumptions about colonial impacts and historical disjunctions. This chapter argues that the demise of the direct historical approach was premature and that its revival is essential to a comprehensive understanding of both pre-colonial past and ethnographic present.

Keywords: direct historical approach, oral tradition, Pueblo, Southwest, pre-colonial, ethnography

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