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Frederick W. Hodge

by Richard Flint and Shirley Cushing Flint

Born in England, Frederick Webb Hodge came to the United States in 1871 at the age of seven. He was schooled in Washington, D.C. and at 23 went to work for the five-year-old U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Two years later, in 1886, New York philanthropist Mary Hemmenway funded the Hemmenway Southwestern Archaeological Expedition with anthropologist Frank Hamilton Cushing as its director. Between 1879 and 1884 Cushing had lived at Zuni Pueblo doing ethnological field work. Naturally, therefore, the Hemmenway Expedition focused much of its work at Zuni and the adjacent portion of New Mexico.

Hodge was selected as Cushing's secretary and assistant. The two became not only professional associates but also relatives when they married sisters Margaret Magill (Hodge) and Emily Tennison Magill (Cushing). Emily, already Mrs. Cushing, traveled from Washington, D.C. to New Mexico to be present for the Hemmenway Expedition and brought her sister with her as a companion. Margaret later married Fredrick Hodge and although Hodge and Cushing had such close family ties and worked directly together for three years, an animosity developed between the two, and they often traded insults and recriminations in later years. Nevertheless, after Cushing died in 1900, Emily Magill Cushing lived with the Hodges.

Another member of the Hemmenway Expedition staff was Adolph Bandelier, hired on Cushing's recommendation to be the project's historiographer. Hodge and Cushing, journeying from the East, met Bandelier at the train depot in Lamy, New Mexico in 1886, and the three continued from there to Albuquerque. Bandelier and his wife Joe then went on to Mexico to search for documents pertinent to the history of the Southwest. All three men, Hodge, Cushing, and Bandelier, maintained close contact, exchanged correspondence, and discussed ideas about New Mexico and the Southwest throughout their lives. Hodge and Bandelier were especially close.

Betweem1888 and 1889, the Hemmenway Expedition excavated the pueblo ruins of Halona and Heshotauthla in the Zuni River Valley. It was during this time that the nearby ruins of Hawikku, an ancestral Zuni pueblo, came to Hodge's notice. He became intensely interested in Hawikku because of what he described as "the important role that the pueblo and its inhabitants played in the Spanish history of the Southwest from 1539 to 1672." It would be nearly 30 years, before Hodge would excavate Hawikku.

At the conclusion of the Hemmenway Expedition, with three years of ethnological experience alongside Cushing under his belt, Hodge joined the Smithsonian Institution's Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE); like the USGS the brainchild of John Wesley Powell. During his 19-year tenure at the BAE, Hodge's most significant work was editing the first edition of the Smithsonian's Handbook of North American Indians, published between 1907 and 1910. Hodge ended his stint at the BAE as its chief ethnologist from 1910-1918. In 1916, Hodge was approached by Fanny Bandelier, Adolph's second wife and recent widow, to write an introduction to a reissued edition of Bandelier's novel of prehistoric Pueblo Indian life, The Delight Makers. In the end, Hodge shared writing credits with Charles Lummis, newspaper man, author, and collector.

During the First World War, Hodge revived his interest in Hawikku. He was a driving force in what came to be called the Hendricks-Hodge Expedition carried out under the joint auspices of the BAE and the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, in New York. Beginning in 1917 and extending through 1923, Harmon Hendricks, a trustee and patron of the Museum of the American Indian, underwrote the cost of the expedition, the aim of which was to comprehensively excavate Hawikku ruins on the Zuni Reservation, about 13 miles down the Zuni River from the modern pueblo.

As Watson Smith, designated by Hodge to prepare the final report of the Hendricks-Hodge Expedition, wrote nearly 50 years later, "it was not the purpose of the Expedition to investigate the earliest remains [of Hawikku]. Hodge was concerned only with the village as it existed at the time of discovery and thereafter until its destruction. The workmen repeatedly came upon walls and objects of the earlier occupancy beneath later ones, but these were usually not further investigated. Hodge considered [incorrectly] that they did not belong to the builders of Hawikku or to the Zunis."

Since at least the 1840s there had been speculation among North American scholars about Hawikku, as the probable site of the first contact between Europeans and Pueblos in 1540, as a result of the Coronado expedition. Cushing had maintained that Kyaki:ma, another of the ancestral Zuni pueblos, was the pueblo where Esteban the Moor and forerunner of the Coronado expedition, was killed in 1539. That same notion was propounded by Bandelier, who picked up the theory when he visited Cushing at Zuni in 1883. Hodge maintained that the actual site of Esteban's death was Hawikku. Most modern scholars agree with Hodge, although the issue is still sometimes a contentious one. Almost without exception, scholars today agree that Hawikku was the place where the Coronado expedition and Pueblo people first met. It was principally for this reason that Hodge wanted to excavate the ruin.

Excavation began in June 1917 and continued, with the exception of a one-year hiatus until the fall of 1923. Hodge, who always objected to having his name included with Hendricks' in the expedition's title, resigned from the BAE after the first field season at Hawikku and joined the Museum of the American Indian staff, where he remained for 14 years.

During the six years of excavation at Hawikku, the crew of eastern anthropologists and Zuni workmen cleared some 370 rooms of the accumulated debris of more than three centuries; exhumed more than 1,000 burials; excavated the Spanish mission church and convento; and recovered 1,600 restorable ceramic vessels, plus thousands of other objects, both European and Native American. Among the artifacts recovered were five copper crossbow dart points characteristic of the Coronado expedition, as well as other objects also likely associated with the expedition. In 2002 and 2003, survey work at Hawikku under the auspices of the Zuni Cultural Resource Enterprise directed by Jonathan E. Damp, located numerous metal objects associated with the Coronado expedition, overlooked or disregarded by Hodge's team. These recent discoveries confirm the view of Hodge and others that Hawikku was, indeed, the "first city of Cíbola."

Hodge was ably assisted in the excavation of Hawikku by George H. Pepper, Alanson "Buck" Skinner, Jesse L. Nusbaum, Donald A. Cadzow, Charles O. Turbyfill, and Edwin F. Coffin, plus dozens of Zuni workmen, who often also served as consultants about the use and fabrication of objects encountered during digging. The Hendricks-Hodge team was among the earliest users of stratigraphic excavation, in which digging is carried out in discrete layers so that the most recent deposits (at and near the ground surface) can be studied separately from successively older (deeper) material.

Excavation revealed Hawikku to be a pueblo of some 1,000 total rooms, built of sandstone slabs and blocks set in "stiff red adobe" mortar. Some parts of the pueblo were two and three stories high. As a result of the excavation, it was estimated that no more than 500 rooms of the pueblo were ever occupied at any one time and that its permanent population may have been about 660 at its peak. Artifacts recovered from Hawikku were taken to New York and housed at the Museum of the American Indian. Since passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act by the United States Congress in 1990, members of the Zuni Tribe and staff of the new National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. (part of the Smithsonian Institution), have worked diligently to see that many of the objects have been returned to the Zuni people. To display some of those objects for public education and appreciation, the Zuni Tribe opened a new museum in 2002. In addition, Indian burials from Hawikku, excavated by Hodge or others, have been returned to Zuni for reburial.

During the decade of the 1920s, Hodge published ten articles and pamphlets on aspects of the excavation of Hawikku. In 1937 he published History of Hawikuh, New Mexico, One of the So-Called Cities of Cíbola, which he described as "little more than the results of armchair study, coupled with certain knowledge, gained during the excavations that supported or abrogated recorded historical data." But no comprehensive report on the work of the Hendricks-Hodge Expedition was published during Hodge's lifetime. Before his death in 1956 in Santa Fe, Hodge asked anthropologist Watson Smith to put together such a report from Hodge's own voluminous field notes. In 1966 The Excavation of Hawikuh by Frederick Webb Hodge: Report of the Hendricks-Hodge Expedition, 1917-1923 was finally published by the Museum of the American Indian, with Smith, Richard B. Woodbury, and Nathalie F.S. Woodbury as co-authors. The report includes little analysis and few conclusions resulting from the excavation. It is primarily a recitation of the objects that were found, room by room.

Hodge's career continued long after his work at Hawikku. In 1924, Fanny Bandelier transferred her papers and other possessions to him. He already held many of Adolph Bandelier's papers and journals. After Fanny's death in 1938, there was a brief dispute between Hodge and Edgar Lee Hewett of the School of American Research in Santa Fe over additional journals that Adolph Bandelier had kept. The School of American Research won that struggle.

In 1931, Hodge left the Museum of the American Indian, taking up instead, at age 67, the directorship of the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles. That museum had been founded in 1907 by Charles Lummis and the Southwest Society, a branch of the Archaeological Institute of America. Frederick Webb Hodge died at age 92, a much-honored figure in the fields of history and anthropology of the American Southwest.

Sources Used:

Damp, Jonathan E. The Battle of Hawikku: Archaeological Investigations of the Zuni-Coronado Encounter at Hawikku, the Ensuing Battle, and the Aftermath during the Summer of 1540. Zuni: Zuni Cultural Resource Enterprise, 2005.

Green, Jesse, ed. Cushing at Zuni: The Correspondence and Journals of Frank Hamilton Cushing, 1879-1884. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1990.

Green, Jesse, ed., Zuni: Selected Writings of Frank Hamilton Cushing. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1979.

Hodge, Frederick W. History of Hawikuh, New Mexico, One of the So-Called Cities of Cíbola. Los Angeles: Southwest Museum, 1937.

Hodge, Frederick W. "The Six Cities of Cibola, 1581-1680.” In New Mexico Historical Review 1(4) (October 1926):478-88.

Lange, Charles H. and Carroll L. Riley. Bandelier: The Life and Adventures of Adolph Bandelier, American Archaeologist and Scientist. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1996.

Smith, Watson, Richard B. Woodbury, and Nathalie F.S. Woodbury. The Excavation of Hawikuh by Frederick Webb Hodge: Report of the Hendricks-Hodge Expedition, 1917-1923. Contributions from the Museum of the American Indian Heye Foundation, vol. 20. New York: Museum of the American Indian/Heye Foundation, 1966.