Frank Hamilton Cushing 18571900

James Wallace Black (18251896)
Albumen silver print, 1882

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.


Seated on the floor with five men from Zuni Pueblo, anthropologist Frank Hamilton Cushing wears a costume typical of that southwestern tribe. In his five-year sojourn with the Zuni beginning in 1879, Cushing became famous for taking an active part in nearly every element of the tribe’s secular and sacred life. In doing so, he pioneered the participant method of field observation, an important albeit controversial contribution to the field of ethnology.

The Zuni welcomed Cushing and eventually admitted him to the Priesthood of the Bow, a prestigious tribal society. Cushing conducted his work under the direction of the Bureau of American Ethnology. In part to repay the hospitality showed him, Cushing arranged for a Zuni delegation to travel east in 1882 to meet with President Chester A. Arthur and other government and scientific officials. This photograph was taken during a side trip to Boston.