About the Project
Fletcher paved inroads for other women in her field, becoming the first female president of the American Folklore Society, publishing a number of books and essays on her research, and serving in a number of professional leadership positions. She also forged lasting relationships with many of the Native communities she worked among and gained the respect of many of her male colleagues. Its important to note, that Fletcher's efforts to improve the condition and experiences of Native Americans reflected the paternalistic attitude towards non-European cultures that was characteristic of the nineteenth century and emphasized assimilation to Western-European culture and ideas. Her work regarding Indian allotments and the Dawes Act, reflects these attitudes. In spite of this, her field notes, correspondence, and allotment records shed light on the history of U.S. Indian policy, 19th century ethnology, and Native culture.
Alice Cunningham Fletcher (1838-1923), was an ethnologist and collaborator with the Peabody Museum of Harvard, the Bureau of American Ethnology, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. A pioneer in a field dominated by men, she was one of the first female ethnologists to conduct fieldwork among the Omaha, Nez Perce, Winnebago and Sioux Indian tribes. Fletcher worked closely with Francis La Flesche, an Omaha Indian and fellow ethnologist with the Bureau of American Ethnology. Because of their close personal and professional relationship, much of their research materials and correspondence are housed together in the National Anthropological Archives.