Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
New Perspectives on THE WEST
The Program People Places Events Resources Lesson Plans Quiz
THE PROGRAM
Message From Sponsor
Episodes
The People
Empire Upon The Trails
Speck of the Future
Death Runs Riot
The Grandest Enterprise Under God
Fight No More Forever
The Geography of Hope
One Sky Above Us
Producers
The Geography of Hope

Introduction

The Exodusters

Rain Follows the Plow

A Hard Time I Have

Barbarians

The Romance of My Life

The Barrio

I Must Lose Myself Again

Friends of the Indian

Medicine Flower

Hell Without the Heat

Gunpowder Entertainment

Final Vision


THE WEST The Geography of Hope

Frank Hamilton Cushing

Frank Hamilton Cushing Frank Hamilton Cushing was 22 years old when he arrived at the Zuni pueblo in New Mexico in 1879, the same pueblo Coronado had attacked at the start of his expedition more than three and a half centuries before.

Cushing was there on an expedition as well, as part of a U. S. Bureau of Ethnology team sent out to survey tribal life before the West's native peoples and their customs disappeared. But Cushing thought the best way to understand Indians was to live as they did, so rather than observe life at the pueblo, he moved in.

Over the next five years, Cushing learned Zuni pottery-making and the Zuni language, grew his hair long and had his ears pierced, wore Zuni clothing and adopted a Zuni name: Tenatsali, which means "Medicine Flower." The Zuni admitted him to their sacred Priesthood of the Bow, after he went through the rigorous initiation rites that included taking an enemy's scalp, and they brought him along on war parties against Navajo raiders, despite the local Indian agent's stern objections.

Mr. Galen Eastman
Navajo Indian Agency
Fort Defiance, Arizona Territory
Sir: It is quite true that I fired, not twice, but three times into two different bands of horses belonging to the Navajo Indians. It is possible that, as I intended, I killed one or two of them, although of this I cannot be certain.... Rest assured, sir, that... when all of our grievances are set right by the Navajos, we shall be then very ready to say amen, and to act all things aright on our side.
Very respectfully, Your Obedient Servant
F. H. Cushing
1st War Chief of Zuni
U. S. Assít Ethnologist

In 1884, Cushing exposed a scheme by relatives of a U. S. Senator to build a ranch on Zuni land, and this finally prompted his superiors back in Washington to bring him home. He died in 1900, but even as late as 1938, when an archeologist visited Zuni pueblo, there were some among them who still wondered why their old friend Medicine Flower had never returned.


The Program | People | Places | Events | Resources | Lesson Plans | Quiz
© 2001 THE WEST FILM PROJECT and WETA
Credits