International Encyclopaedia
of the Histories of Anthropology

James Mooney (1861-1921), the son of Irish Catholic immigrants, was one of the most gifted ethnologists in the Bureau of American Ethnology, which he joined in 1885. His first fieldwork (1886-1887), in a Cherokee refugee community in North Carolina, was done in the spirit of salvage ethnography and gave rise to important works, including Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees (1891) and Myths of the Cherokee (1900). Nevertheless, it was The Ghost Dance Religion and the Sioux Oubreak of 1890 (1896) that transformed him into a pioneer of colonial studies, participant observation and the enhancement of archives in ethnographic research. Specialist in Kiowa (field missions between 1893 and 1903), he later devoted himself to the cult of the Peyote. The posterity of his work suffered from the rise of Boasian Americanist anthropology.

Keywords: Americanist tradition | Ethnography | Colonialism | Second half of the 19th century | First quarter of the 20th century | Ireland | United States of America | Amerindian studies | Lakota | Kiowa | Arapaho | Cheyenne | Cherokee | Christianity | Prophetic movements and Messianism | Cultural revitalization | Ghost Dance religion | Bureau of American Ethnology

Related topical dossiers