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Anthropological Niche of Douglas W. Hume
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Internet Source: Minnesota State University, Mankato Reporter, October 27, 1998
Source URL: http://www.mankato.msus.edu/depts/reporter/reparchive/10_27_98/news2.html


Chagnon to donate research to MSU
Napoleon Chagnon, considered the world's most famous living anthropologist, also will give a lecture Thursday on campus

Justin Seller
News Editor

Minnesota State University, Mankato is a little more famous than many people thought ­ at least in the world of Anthropology. One of the biggest reasons is our connection with the man who is considered to be the most famous, living anthropologist, Napoleon Chagnon.

Since 1964, Chagnon has studied a tribal group in Brazil and Venezuela called the Yanomamö. For 35 years, Chagnon has visited with the Yanomamö, collected large amounts of data, written books about the Yanomamö (the most recent of which surpassed Ruth Benedict's Patterns of Culture [1959], is the standard text for cultural anthropology and has been used by many departments nation-wide for the last 25 years) and collected large amounts of artifacts.

While doing his research, Chagnon taught courses in Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Between teaching and research, Chagnon also lectured across the country.

During Chagnon's first lecturing visit to Minnesota, Dr. Wayne Allen who is presently an Adjunct Professor in the Anthropology Department and Executive Director of the Traverse de Sioux Treaty Center in St. Peter, was a senior Anthropology major here at MSU. Allen was immediately impressed with Chagnon and Chagnon with him, Allen said.

Graduating from MSU in 1989, Allen went to study under Chagnon at UCSB. While at UCSB, Allen was named the J. William Fulbright Scholar, a prestigious academic award. Earlier this year, Allen received his Doctoral degree from UCSB.

According to Allen, Chagnon, through Allen and through his previous visits with the staff of the Anthropology Department, found here a niche with which he plans to continue to keep ties to the department ­ both academically and in friendship.

As a symbol of friendship to the department, Chagnon has given more than 200 Yanomamö-made bow and arrow sets as well as many other artifacts from his 35 years of research. The artifacts have an estimated value of over $20,000.

"Doctor Chagnon has sent away [to the Yanamamö] for a box of fletching so the MSU Anthropology Student Association can prepare them," said Allen. The bows, arrows and some other artifact will be auctioned off and proceeds will benefit the Treaty Center, who will get 50 percent of the money, and the MSU Anthropology Student Association, who will get the other half.

The remaining artifacts, as well as Chagnon's personal library, the two computers which Chagnon used to write the first few editions of his books on the Yanomamö, his maps of the region in which the Yanomamö live, photos of the Yanomamö and his notes will be placed in to an Anthropology museum called the Napoleon Chagnon Center for Scientific Anthropological Research here on the MSU campus. According to an information release, this center promises to benefit both the department as well as the university by giving it world wide recognition.

"We are currently negotiating for space for the museum," said Allen. "We hope to know more soon though."

Chagnon will be giving a slide lecture titled "35 years of Anthropological Studies of a Warring Amazon Tribe" here at MSU on Thursday starting at 7:30 p.m. in Trafton Science Center room C124. Everyone is welcome to come to hear Dr. Chagnon. A suggested donation of five dollars is the cost of attendance. This money will be given the the MSU Anthropology Student Association and the Treaty Center.