Edgar Lee Hewett and the Political Process

Hewett and the Bureau of American Ethnology

It is likely that Richards compensated Hewett with what would be called a consulting fee today, but it was Holmes who gave Hewett the professional base and the minimal income he needed. William Henry Holmes (fig. h), who played "an influential role" in the passage of the Antiquities Act (Meltzer and Dunnell 1992: xxii), became Chief of the Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE) in September, 1902, three weeks after the death of its founder, John Wesley Powell. Holmes was plagued by a reduced budget, problems with the contributions of the Smithsonian to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, often called the St. Louis World Fair of 1904, and by the demand of the Secretary of the Smithsonian, Samuel Pierpoint Langley, that the Handbook of American Indians be expanded and completed soon (Mark 1980: 156). Nevertheless, Holmes managed to find the resources to support Hewett. The exact nature and source of this support is not fully known. It is generally believed that Hewett was at the National Museum when he returned from Europe (Bloom 1939: 19; Chauvenet 1983: 52; Lange 1993: 4), but he is also identified as an "ethnological assistant" at the BAE (Claus 1945: 261; Ise 1961: 147; Holmes to Ryan, 27 February 1906, NAA), and Walter (1947: 261; 1939: 43) claims that Hewett had a "desultory connection" with the Smithsonian Institution. This seeming confusion may be a summary of at least some of the positions Hewett held, but it is more likely that it is a reflection of the patchwork nature of the support that Holmes was able to put together. It was common in government agencies of that day for individuals, even "permanent" employees, to receive remuneration from several sources. This practice had been raised to a bureaucratic art form by Powell. It would not have been unusual for someone like Hewett to be paid in a piecemeal fashion.

Hewett became the informal leader of the "antiquities bill alliance," but it is doubtful that he was so designated by the Secretary of the Smithsonian, as Ise claims (1961: 147), even though the Secretary "was making final decisions on virtually all aspects of the BAE's operation" (Meltzer and Dunnell 1992: xxi). The relationships involved in the "antiquities bill alliance" were much more informal, as suggested by the lack of official documentation. Furthermore, it was important to avoid any action that might lead to the kind of criticism that Baum had leveled at the Smithsonian (Baum 1904b: 148–50). Even though the "boundlessly energetic Edgar Lee Hewett…was soon in the thick of the fight to protect archaeological sites in the Southwest" (Fowler 1986: 142), he did not return from Europe all fired up to secure the passage of antiquities legislation. His fixation on Pajarito Park was as strong when he returned as it was when he left for Geneva. His correspondence with Holmes was mostly about Pajarito Park and his plea for support involved nothing but the completion of his Pajarito research.

Hewett told Holmes he needed only "the expense of the field trip and my maintenance while in Washington preparing" the Pajarito report (Hewett to Holmes, 4 March 1904, NAA). In typical BAE fashion, Holmes did not provide field expenses but allotted $1,000 to purchase from Hewett the archaeological collections he would recover from his Pajarito excavations (Hewett to Holmes, 5 August 1905, NAA). He may also have "purchased" the manuscript of the report. The completion and publication of the Pajarito report as BAE Bulletin 32, "Antiquities of the Jemez Plateau, New Mexico" (Hewett 1906a), was not only a contribution to knowledge, but also a part of the plan to achieve legislation for the protection of ruins. Everyone interested in antiquities legislation was well aware that the campaign had dragged on for four years and was preparing for the possibility that several more years might be required. Hewett (1930: 184) commented many years later that "it would hardly be believed if I described the long and determined effort that was required to secure any kind of consideration of the subject."

Holmes revealed the role that Hewett's Pajarito publication was to play in the lobbying effort by including an Announcement in it. He stated: "The present bulletin is intended as the first in a series treating of the antiquities of the public domain and designed to supply the very general demand for fuller information about the subject than has yet been furnished" (Holmes 1906: 7). Hewett's Memorandum, of course, was the real beginning of that effort. Richards, commenting in his annual report for 1906 on the fact that the pamphlet including Hewett's Memorandum was almost out of print, made reference to a "more comprehensive treatise…prepared by the Bureau of American Ethnology" (Claus 1945: 19). Holmes (1906: 8) noted that Hewett's Bulletin would be followed by others: Hewett on the San Juan Basin including Mesa Verde (Hewett to Holmes, 9 April 1906, NAA), Fewkes on the Little Colorado drainage, and Hough on the Salt-Gila area. Holmes promised that other reports "will follow as rapidly as possible until the whole Pueblo area is adequately presented."

Holmes went on to explain the problems of ruin protection in language so similar to that used by Hewett (1905c) that it seems likely that Hewett may have drafted the Announcement for Holmes. The passage of the Antiquities Act in the summer of 1906 before the appearance of Hewett's Bulletin ended the planned series of publications (Hewett to Holmes, 2 September 1906, NAA). A footnote to the Announcement records the fact that the legislation had passed and the text of the Act was included in an appendix (Hewett 1906a: 7, 54). Hough's (1907) Salt-Gila report was already in the mill and appeared the following year but without any mention of the plan to blanket the Southwest with BAE Bulletins. Hewett never wrote the projected report on the San Juan and Mesa Verde. Many reports by Fewkes were published during the next 15 years with no mention of the series plan. Nor was "Antiquities of the Jemez Plateau" Hewett's last word on the Pajarito. As Schroeder (1993: xvi–xvii) points out, it contributed to several later works (Hewett 1908, 1930; Bandelier and Hewett 1937) and it was the core of Pajarito Plateau and Its Ancient People (Hewett 1938).