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date: 25 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Comparing the hunter-gatherers of California and the Great Basin illustrates enormous differences between the two regions in terms of indigenous society and the types of issues anthropologists have traditionally addressed. Nonetheless, the anthropological study of these neighbouring regions shares common roots. This article details a historiography of anthropological research of these two vast areas, focusing on the transition from early ethnohistorical sources to the current focus on issues of ethnogenesis. Understandings of the hunter-gatherers of the American Far West have gone hand-in-hand with the changing relationships between Europeans/Americans and native groups. This includes work by the Bureau of American Ethnology, the important work by Kroeberian anthropologists, and the post-Kroeberian period of collating and interpreting the ethnographic and ethnohistoric records. This article highlights recent critiques of previous anthropological work such as revisionists’ views of early twentieth-century memory anthropology, Steward’s view of Great Basin organization, the Ghost Dance movement, and neo-tribalism.

Keywords: California, Great Basin, anthropology, ethnohistoric, ethnogenesis

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