Anthropology, Department of


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Published in THE NEBRASKA ANTHROPOLOGIST, Volume 2 (1975). Published by the Anthropology Student Group, Department of Anthropology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska 68588


This research proposal has evolved out of a class assignment in a "methods" course in cultural anthropology. The assignment required "real but small-scale fieldwork" in a "community" of the student's own choosing. This approach was based on the belief that anthropology is only learned by doing anthropology. One of the objectives of the course was the designing of a research proposal which would have some merit and which would be based on the fieldwork.

The community selected was a small group of American Indians who met weekly in a prayer group at a local church under the sole direction of an American Indian woman. The All American Indian Tribes Prayer group, as it is called, is primarily a religious organization. The committment of its founder and director is "to meet the spiritual needs of the local Indian population." Yet in its application to the Indian community it fulfills more than a religious need. It serves as an economic resource and provides an opportunity for the social interaction of the group members.

Since the group is a religious organization it was anticipated that the direction of the research project ultimately would lead to a study of culture change in the context of conflicting religious values and beliefs. Although the general concern with culture change has been retained, it has been approached through a study of the economic rather than the religious system. The choice was based on the belief that the economic approach provided (1) a more powerful tool in explaining the political and social structure of the group; and, (2) had more potential for explaining the differential rates or levels of acculturation present among the group members and, by extension, of American Indians in general.

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