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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Frank Hamilton Cushing

CUSHING, Frank Hamilton, ethnologist, born in Northeast, Erie County, Pennsylvania, 22 July 1857. He manifested in early childhood a love for archaeological pursuits, and at the age of eight years began to collect fossils and minerals, made a complete Indian costume, and lived in a bark hut in the woods. He learned from observation that wherever Indian encampments had been long established the soil and vegetation had undergone a change, which materially assisted him in his search for relics. At the age of fifteen he had discovered the process of making arrowheads from flint by pressure with bone. In 1870 his father removed to Medina, New York, where the son's researches found new ground and a greater wealth of material. In the town of Shelby were ancient remains of fortifications rich in relics, and they, with ancient fortifications, burial-grounds, and campsites in the counties of Madison and Onondaga, were carefully searched, as well as the Hamilton group of rocks. In the spring of 1875 he became a student in Cornell University, but spent most of his time as assistant to Dr. Charles Ran in the preparation of the Indian collections of the National museum for the Centennial exposition at Philadelphia, and was curator of the entire collection until the close of the exhibition, when he was appointed curator of the ethnological department of the National museum. During the summer of 1876 he gained his first knowledge of the Pueblo Indians, and joined Major J. W. Powell in his expedition of 1879 to New Mexico, as assistant ethnologist of the U. S. bureau of ethnology, of the Smithsonian institution.

The expedition spent two months among the Zuni Indians, and Mr. Cushing, at his own request, was left there. He adopted the costume, habits, and life of the race, and for three years lived strictly the life of an Indian among the Indians, studying their habits, language, and history. During the second year of his sojourn he had so far made himself one of the tribe, and gained the esteem of the chiefs, that he was formally adopted and initiated into the sacred esoteric society of priests, the "Priesthood of the Bow." In 1882 he visited the east with a party of six Zunis, who came for the purpose of taking water from the Atlantic Ocean, or "Ocean of Sunrise," as a religious ceremony, and carrying it to their temple in the Pueblos. Four of the Zunis returned, while Mr. Cushing remained with the other two during the summer in Washington, for the purpose of writing, with their aid, his contribution to the bureau of ethnology on Zuni fetiches. In September of the same year he returned to Zuni; but, in the spring of 1884, failing health obliged his return for two years to the east. He brought with him three Indians to aid him in the preparation of a dictionary and grammar of the Zuni language, and translations of myth and beast stories, hero legends, songs, and rituals. Mr. Cushing's publications and contributions to periodical literature include "Antiquities of Orleans County" (Washington, 1874); "Zuni Fetiches" (1881); "The Relationship between Zuni Sociologie and Mythic Systems" (1882); "The Nation of the Willows" (1882); "Adventures in Zufii " (1883); "Studies of Ancient Pueblo Keramic Art, as Illustrative of Zuni Culture-Growth" (1884); and" Zuni Breadstuff" (1885).

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