The Sun, the Moon, and the Clock: The Evolution of Native-American Clock Consciousness

Dr Cheryl A. Wells
To add a paper, Login.

In 1911, Edward Curtis photographed Little Plume and Yellow Kidney in their Montana lodge surrounded by their belongings. Originally, their belongings included a pipe, tobacco board, feathers, ropes, medicine bundle, and an alarm clock. When the negative went to print, however, Curtis erased the alarm clock from the photograph he titled “In a Piegan Lodge.” The omission was deliberate. The clock signaled to Curtis, and whites of his era, a modernity, and sophistication incompatible with the assumed savageness of Native-Americans. Regardless of how whites viewed Natives, Indians certainly had timepieces by the 20th century. The question remains how did Indians come to own timepieces and how did they incorporate mechanical time into their understanding and use of time. This paper represents a departure from traditional studies of Native-American cultures and societies. It is an unconventional attempt to bind together different aspects of Native-American interactions with Europeans and later Americans in order to investigate how Native-Americans understood and used time and how those understandings and usages evolved over time to include, by the early 20th century, clocks and watches. In essence, how Native-Americans became clock conscious, and thus modern, in a world that refused to see them as such.

Keywords: Native-American, Temporality, Identity
Stream: History, Historiography
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Sun, the Moon, and the Clock, The

Dr Cheryl A. Wells

Assistant Professor, University of Wyoming, History

Author of Civil War Time: Temporality and Identity in America, 1861-1865. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2005

Ref: H06P0004