Originally published in Cultural Histories of the Material World, edited by Peter N. Miller. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2013. 59–73.

In 2008, a new long-term exhibit opened in the Arthur M. Sackler Museum at Harvard University.1 Named Re-View, it draws on all parts of the museum’s collection. This highly selective presentation of the museum’s holdings is to be on view in successive versions while the neighboring Quincy Street building that had housed the Fogg Art Museum since 1927 is closed for renovation and expansion. The first version of Re-View closed in 2010.

One floor of the 2008–10 version of Re-View was devoted to the Western tradition from classical antiquity until 1900. With only six galleries available, the curators responsible had to compress the story they sought to tell both chronologically and geographically. I was one of two scholars responsible for planning the display of European and American art between 1600 and 1900 in three adjacent galleries, my collaborator being Theodore Stebbins Jr. Rather than follow the common practice of dividing the works by continent and tracing formal and stylistic developments within each, we decided to treat the material as belonging to a single extended moment in a single cultural area. We arranged the works we selected thematically—showing, for instance, history paintings together (a Poussin beside a Winslow Homer), and landscapes together (a Ruisdael next to a Sargent). Two constant themes were the persistence of motifs and modes of representation from classical antiquity, and the increase in cultural encounter during this period, eventually encompassing the world.

To exemplify cultural encounter, we included objects that are not normally considered part of the Western tradition. We showed a sixteenth-century bronze staff finial representing a bird of prophecy from the Benin Kingdom in what is now Nigeria beside a Giambologna bronze falcon from sixteenth-century Florence. We presented a bow, said to have been taken from an Indian by an English colonist in 1660, among European and European-American history paintings. I shall use the bow to explore aspects of what I take the production of cultural histories of the material world to involve within an art museum.

The bow is delicately fashioned from a single piece of hickory wood. It is over five-and-a-half-feet long, subtly asymmetrical longitudinally about the handgrip. A faded inscription in ink states, “The bow was taken from an Indian in Sudbury, Massts AD 1660 by William Goodenough who shot the Indian while he was ransacking his house for plunder.” This information has long been accepted literally, causing the object to be known as the Sudbury Bow.2 Successive members of the family of the man who had captured it are said to have preserved it until Reverend Charles C. H. Crosby donated it to the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts, in or before 1826.3 In 1895, the society presented it to the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University, which generously lent it to the Arthur M. Sackler Museum for the new exhibit in 2008.4 If the inscription, which is in what appears to be an eighteenth- or early nineteenth-century italic hand, indeed preserves information that had previously been handed down orally, the bow must be counted a very rare survival of an indigenous North American artifact from the seventeenth century.

Before examining this possibility in a little more detail, let us pause to offer an initial assessment of what such a thing might ideally provide to historians. All material things available to us are traces of the past. Many material things embody human making or intervention. When Westerners consider material things—things available to the human senses or their extensions—they classify them, whether as things made, adopted, or modified by humans on the one hand, or as things purely in nature on the other. Human-made things—artifacts—are the result of the purposeful modification of materials. The bow we are considering is an artifact. Adopted things are not modified by humans, but are imbued by them with particular qualities. They can be small and portable—like a shell carried as an amulet—or vast like a river or mountain invested with socially acknowledged properties. Modified things include living beings in whose reproductive cycles humans have intervened, such as selectively bred crops and domesticated animals. These definitions imply an anthropocentric viewpoint, for they suggest that human making, adoption, and modification are unavoidable wherever humans might be found, or to whatever their reach extends perceptually, including the most distant detectable heavenly bodies. It can be objected that histories of the material world might be conceived in which humans play but a marginal role, if any: a history of ocean currents, for instance, or of insects, or of the formation of igneous rocks. This is incontrovertible. Humanity is but a recent and vulnerable arrival on this planet. Yet the particular care of history, as distinct from, say, oceanography, entomology or geology, is the activity of human beings, even though this can usually best be understood in conjunction with other constituents of the material world.

Cultural historians of the material world are often, though far from exclusively, concerned with artifacts. However, opinion as to what constitutes the human-made varies from society to society. In the Christian tradition, for instance, some devotees hold certain miraculous images that might appear painted to be acheiropoietic—not the products of human hands.5 Intimately connected with notions of divine making is variation among societies regarding what is living and what is not, the animate and the inanimate. Our bow may have been human made, but it does not follow that those who made and first used it subscribed to a Western understanding of its material—hickory wood—as once living, but subsequently dead. To them, the bow, made of a once-living tree, may well have retained its living status. As historians, we are obliged to bear in mind that conceptions of materiality vary considerably among societies, and that any given material object can be conceived of in more than one way—whether simultaneously by different groups with different beliefs, or consecutively within any given social group as uses and beliefs change. As a historian, my aim is not ontological definition; rather it is to acquire an understanding of any given thing that ideally takes as many socially viable conceptions of it into account as possible, and to describe differences and—when appropriate—changes among them.

If non-Western conceptions of material objects can be peculiar, confusing—or even nonsensical—to Westerners, the bases in Greek philosophy of Western notions of materiality are also generally unfamiliar, other than in colloquial derivations. Even before considering the binary distinction between the term material and its antonym, immaterial, puzzles arise over identity, persistence, and the consequences of change over time. In what sense is the bow that concerns us the same material thing when displayed in the Sackler Museum as the bow previously displayed in the Peabody Museum, or again as the bow belonging to the American Antiquarian Society, or to the putative William Goodenough, or, before him, to the unidentified indigenous person who used it, who may or may not have been its maker? Museum scholars generally subscribe to the persistence of identity of the objects with which they work. This is no small issue, given the perceived need to intervene in their physical states through conservation treatment. Material things constantly change, whether as a result of direct or indirect human action, or other processes, both gradual and sudden. Curators and conservators usually seek to arrest change, at the very least. The historian using a material thing as a trace or source should ideally be well informed of the nature and sequence of the physical changes it has undergone. This can often only be attempted with the collaboration of conservators and analytical scientists. Underlying any such analysis, though, is generally an assumption of the persistence of the identity of the object concerned. At what point, though, if ever, does a material thing change to such an extent that its original identity is compromised or even lost? This is but one puzzle among those that philosophers have long discussed under the rubric, the Problem of Material Constitution (PMC).6

Identity presents a particular puzzle within the PMC.7 It found prototypical articulation in the account of the Greek historian and philosopher Plutarch (AD 46–ca. 122) of the Ship of Theseus, the legendary founder-king of Athens. “The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned has thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus [ca. 350–ca. 280 BC], for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting new and stronger timber in their place, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.”8 Plutarch presents us with a paradox: a thing that incrementally changes physically in its entirety, and yet retains its original identity—or does it?

In his discussion of the individuation of material things, the seventeenth-century philosopher Thomas Hobbes introduced a further complication to the Ship of Theseus paradox. He illustrates what he counts as the absurdity of the idea that “two Bodies existing both at once, would be one and the same Numerical Body” by supposing that the planks removed for replacement from the Ship of Theseus could themselves be reconstituted to form an identical vessel, so that there would be not one but two vessels with claims to be the Ship of Theseus.9 Hobbes contends that identity is a matter of naming, a claim taken up with respect to artworks (among other things) by later philosophers including Nelson Goodman and Arthur Danto.10 Whether or not this provides a satisfactory solution to the Ship of Theseus paradox (and not all agree that it does), Hobbes’s analysis of individuation reminds us of the role played by immaterial constituents (such as names) in the definition of what we take to be material things.

In the case of the bow, we can be confident that, but for the effects of aging on the wood and the loss of certain original appurtenances (including the bow string), the item is materially substantially the same as when it was made: physically, it is constitutionally simple, in that the greater part of it, which survives, is not made of replaceable parts, but is a single stave. Yet it now carries a name: the Sudbury Bow. Its identity as such is culturally contingent. Its name is an element of its immaterial transformation from whatever it might have been in the minds of its maker and first user into a trophy commemorating heritable family pride in the subjugation of an enemy, and subsequently, into an anthropological specimen. The latest immaterial transformation of the bow is from a specimen displayed in the Peabody Museum to illustrate the material lifeways of Eastern Woodlands Indians into an artwork displayed in the Re-View exhibit in the Sackler Museum.

The two successive museum identities of the bow—as specimen and as artwork—are the result of cultural appropriation. This is understandably a distrusted phenomenon, but one that is not invariably offensive or harmful.11 However, the power relationship between originating and appropriating groups can be asymmetrical and persistently unjust, leading to demands by originating groups or their successors for the appropriate treatment of things by appropriators or their successors, including museums, even to the extent of their return. Just as important as an acknowledgement of the fact of appropriation must be an appreciation of differences in dominant modes of perception of appropriated things fostered by originating groups on the one hand, and by museums on the other. The engagement of first users with tangible things was often multisensory, involving actions such as touching, lifting, sounding, kissing, and carrying. As Elizabeth Edwards, Chris Gosden, and Ruth Phillips have pointed out, far from being excluded in museums “multisensory engagement with objects remained fundamental to the investigation of material culture, but … [as] part of the privileged access accorded to a new priesthood of curators and museum professionals.”12 Curators, conservators, and analytical scientists handle, heft, manipulate, smell, and occasionally disassemble museum objects, whereas the experience of ordinary visitors is confined to no more than visual inspection—viewing objects, either at a distance or through a protective barrier of plexiglass. As Edwards and her colleagues point out, this limitation is a necessary consequence of mass access, a matter of security in its widest sense, preventing incremental damage, as well as accidents and theft. That this should be the reason does not lessen the privilege these conditions confer on vision over the other senses, exacerbating the differences between the engagement of Western museum visitors with a wide range of tangible things, and that of originating or successor groups, whose members likely value other forms of sensory engagement. The same can hold true even within Western culture: to what extent can we claim to understand the qualities of, say, a particular kind of chair on display without being able to sit on it? Some kinds of artifacts, including bows, are found in a variety of societies; so, to what extent can we claim to understand the qualities of the bow recently on display in the Sackler Museum without being able to assess its balance in the hand, let alone to string it and feel its draw weight? In a study room, a curator might be able to experience at least some of the bow’s tactile qualities, but, when presenting it in a gallery, the focus must inevitably be on its visual characteristics. However constraining, this is a condition imposed by the medium of museum gallery display, and it undoubtedly has epistemological consequences. While it can illuminate certain qualities of an object, display cannot exhaust it.13

Even with in the visual realm of display, there is, of course, more than one way of exploiting the visual characteristics of a thing. In the Peabody Museum, where the bow was displayed until its loan to the Sackler Museum, it was set vertically against a backboard in a large vitrine containing many other tangible things representative of the material culture of Eastern Woodlands Indians. It was part of an ensemble—one of a number of varied things treated equally—rather than a focus of attention. It took up as little space within the vitrine as possible, and its vertical position implied that it was at rest. This display very effectively served its curator’s purpose of illustrating material lifeways shared by related cultural groups. The display of the bow in the Sackler Museum was radically different, serving quite another purpose. In its temporary change of location from an anthropology to an art museum, it is almost inevitable that its character should have changed from that of a representative specimen of a particular way of life to a thing with unique qualities presented for aesthetic contemplation. Different circumstances promote attention to different aspects of a complex thing. No tangible thing reveals all of itself in any one set of circumstances. Curators have a responsibility to contrive specific circumstances in which particular characteristics of specific things can become apparent. As the presentation of the bow in the Sackler Museum exhibit was my initiative, I shall try to account for it.

First, I wished to encourage focused attention on the bow by presenting it on its own, in the round, so that visitors might see it from as many viewpoints as possible. In the context of an art museum, this means presenting it on the same terms as a sculpture, implying cultural value. Further, I aimed to present the bow not as a thing at rest (as it was in the Peabody Museum display), but as a dynamic object, implying use. I had a mount contrived for it so that it was inconspicuously supported diagonally in space, at a commanding height, suggesting a drawn bow in action. Although this presentation accentuated the dynamic, sculptural aspects of the bow, and permitted viewers to see it in the round, as a thing apart, there are problematic consequences.

The elongated curvilinearity of the bow brings to mind sculptures by Constantin Brâncuşi (1876–1957), notably Bird in Space (first version, 1922–1923), an icon of European modernism prized for its balance and refinement. Troubling questions follow. Did the presentation in the Sackler Museum amount to an unambiguous invitation to view a seventeenth-century American Indian bow in terms of a twentieth-century modern European sculpture? If so, did it compound any offense caused by the appropriation of the bow? Did this presentation amount to cultural misrepresentation? This is a delicate matter.

It might be helpful if we consider in a little more detail aspects of what occurs in consequence of the cultural appropriation of material things, such as this bow.14 When a thing moves from one society to another, one or more of three attitudes is in play: (1) the new users employ and interpret it solely on their own terms without regard to the uses and interpretations of its earlier users, either oblivious to those earlier uses, or purposefully to expunge them; (2) the new users discern familiar characteristics that they value, and that they assume earlier users also discerned and valued; (3) the new users attempt to learn the terms of use, interpretation and value of the earlier users by means of cultural acquisition and translation, acknowledging that these may differ from their own wholly or in part, but in the belief that their acquisition will bring them advantages.

I term these three attitudes, respectively, supersession, assumption, and translation. Translation is especially complex, because in some instances new users wish to understand a thing purely intellectually, and in others with emotional engagement. All three attitudes are legitimate, but this does not exempt their application from ethical scrutiny in individual cases, nor from acknowledgment of their shortcomings. Ethically flawed practices include depriving or withholding from subordinated social groups artifacts that are properly their own, mistreating or unwarrantably exposing artifacts that have sacred significance, and using artifacts to promote or uncritically perpetuate asymmetrical power relationships. Furthermore, the application of each of these attitudes varies depending on the terms in which a thing is considered. Westerners are more likely to accept and incorporate subaltern aesthetic terms into their own belief systems than they are to accept subaltern magical or religious terms. Therefore, translation by Westerners in the case of the magical, sacred, and divine is likely to be more reserved and cautious than in cases of aesthetic values. Furthermore, there is likely to be greater scope for assumption—recognizing or ascribing characteristics valued in common—in aesthetic than in sacred terms.

In their examinations of artifacts in both aesthetic and sacred terms, Western scholars generally favor translation. They expect that through translation they can retrieve the original, supposedly paramount, meaning of a thing, thereby enhancing intellectual and aesthetic understanding. This is often a worthy aim, but, even if this were possible—if translation were not itself a species of new use—translation ignores both vital characteristics of things, and enduring human practice acknowledged by supersession and assumption. Supersession and assumption recognize that artifacts perdure and are physically and cognitively adaptable, and that human beings put artifacts to various uses over time. Furthermore, translation is as open to abuse as are supersession and assumption. Western (and some other) anthropologists have persistently used translation to promote colonialism and other forms of asymmetrical power relationship between hegemonic and subaltern peoples. Some of the drawbacks of supersession and assumption are more readily recognizable. Supersession—the uncompromising cognitive adaptation of an artifact regardless of its earlier use—can unjustly promote the suppression of the cultural identity of earlier users. Assumption can bolster hegemony by fostering panculturalism—a belief that works from all cultures exhibit common aesthetic characteristics. The error of panculturalism is not that societies can produce, recognize, and value identical aesthetic characteristics, but that such common characteristics count for more than those that might be peculiar to a given society. Each attitude, therefore, has its drawbacks, as well as its advantages.

Returning to the bow with these distinctions in mind, we should acknowledge that humans view things comparatively, drawing on memories of a wide range of items. For Westerners (and others) to view the bow in implicit comparison with Bird in Space is one effective way of focusing on certain of its characteristics (curvilinearity, balance, refinement). This might be helpful, but only so long as it does not encourage the error of panculturalism. As long as viewers do not make any comparison with a Western item at the expense of the cultural peculiarity of the bow, they are likely to respect its origin. Its display in Re-View did not explicitly encourage viewing the bow in terms of European modernism through directly available comparisons.15 Instead, it invited consideration of the mythology of hunting, for the bow was juxtaposed with representations of the hunt in the form of a fourth-century BC Greek red-figure nestoris (attributed to the Choephoroi Painter) with a scene of the death of Actaeon, and a monumental painting, Diana on a Chase (1805), by Washington Allston. The bow was on display because it is an Indian artifact, presented as of value owing to its indigenous status. The juxtapositions invited attention to its potential use as a hunting implement rather than as a weapon of war, so as not to reinforce a Western stereotype of Indian belligerence.16 As such, it was a reminder that the spread of European settlement to North America—specifically New England—was not a historical starting point, but that human presence—with all the cultural complexity that this implies—long predates the arrival of newcomers from beyond the ocean.

Let us consider the bow itself in more detail. The inscription informs readers (implicitly understood to be European as opposed to indigenous) that it allegedly changed hands in violent circumstances during the early years of the English colonization of what became New England. What attraction might a bow have had for an English settler, presuming that he actually took it from an Indian antagonist?

For the English, bows were characteristic of Indians, particularly Indians of high status. The Algonquian “weroan or great Lorde of Virginia” represented from both the front and the back in an engraving by Theodor de Bry in the 1590 edition of Thomas Harriot’s A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, after a watercolor by John White, holds a strung bow. Harriot, a careful first-hand observer who learned an Algonquian language, observed of the “princes of Virginia” that “They carye a quiver made of small rushes holding their bowe readie bent in on hand, and an arrow in the other, radie to defend themselves. In this manner they goe to warr, or tho their solemne feasts and banquetts. They take much pleasure in huntinge of deer where of there is great store in the contrye …”17 Harriot acknowledges three distinct uses of bows by the Indians he had noticed: warfare, hunting, and ceremony. A bow-bearing Indian even became the emblem of colonial endeavor. The first seal of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, chartered in 1629, represents an Indian holding an arrow pointing downward in his right hand—signifying peace—and a bow in his left, with the words “Come over and help us” in a phylactery.18 This seal was in use until 1686, and again from 1689 to 1692.

Bows were more than signifiers of Indianness for English colonizers. As Joyce Chaplin has pointed out, they had a special place in the colonizers’ own self-image.19 Proficiency in archery was a value shared by Indians and colonists, though in culturally distinct ways. Until the end of the sixteenth century, the bow and arrow had remained the principal English missile weapon; enrollment of archers for military training ended in 1595. Nonetheless, many English persons continued to view prowess in archery as a measure of manliness—both individually, and communally. Not until the lighter and more reliable wheel-lock arquebus superseded the ungainly matchlock did firearms make significant inroads in North America.20 The Frenchman Samuel de Champlain and his Indian allies’ defeat of the Iroquois Mohawks beside Lake Champlain in 1609 demonstrates that the wheel-lock arquebus, especially when multiply charged, was immensely effective against lightly armored Indian archers used to fighting in close order.21 Indian battle tactics changed swiftly in response to diminish warriors’ exposure. They abandoned both massed formations and wooden armor—and Indians rapidly acquired firearms. Although gunpowder weapons began to replace bows, their use continued in North America during at least the first third of the seventeenth century, owing to supply problems (especially of gunpowder), cost, the relative efficiency of the respective weapons (reliability, rate of fire, range, and accuracy), and cultural resistance. English colonists continued to use bows regularly until about 1640. Thereafter, they long retained a nostalgic respect for archery bolstered by similar sentiments expressed in the metropole by writers such as William Wood, whose Bow-mans Glory; or Archery Revived was published in 1682.22 Nostalgia was compounded by identification. In the Indians who practiced the fine crafting of bows, and their use in hunting, military exercises, warfare, and ceremony, English settlers saw earlier, virtuous versions of themselves. Nourished by studies of the works of Julius Caesar and Tacitus, their dominant historical mythology led to a belief that just as the Romans had civilized the valiant, virtuous ancient Britons—forebears of the English—so their descendants—the modern English—would, in turn, lead the Indians from savagery to civility. Confronting an Indian, an English colonist saw a contemporary equivalent of his own ancestor: savage, but uncorrupted. As Chaplin has pointed out, this measure of identification was a condition of mutually intelligible conflict as well as of peaceful coexistence. The bow acted as what she terms “a historical marker” in this relationship.23

These circumstances may help to explain the continuing significance of the particular bow we are considering to its first white possessor—William Goodenough of Sudbury, Massachusetts, we are told—and to his successors, to whom it likely served as a signifier of their forebear’s martial settler skills. What, though, of the specific conditions of acquisition by that first Englishman? A search of online genealogical databases and Alfred Sereno Hudson’s monumental History of Sudbury (1889) reveals the presence in Sudbury, following its division from Watertown and its incorporation in 1639, of five siblings—three brothers and two sisters—named Goodnow. All had come from Wiltshire in England. The oldest was John (1595/96–1654). The middle brother, Edmund (1611–1688), was successively ensign, lieutenant, and captain of militia, and builder of the fortified house known as the Goodnow Garrison.24 Thomas (1617–1666), the youngest brother, was one of the Sudbury inhabitants who moved to Marlboro—a new plantation to the immediate southwest of Sudbury, incorporated in 1660.25 There is no record of a William Goodenough, Goodnough, Goodenow, or Goodnow in such Sudbury records as I have been able to consult. Although tensions certainly existed, neither is there any record of any violence between colonists and Indians in either Sudbury or Marlboro in or around 1660. However, William Hubbard, one of the earliest to give an account of the later conflict known as King Philip’s War (1675–1676), noted in 1677 that “Further also where it is said, p. 7. that the Indians had lived peaceably with the English here near forty years, ever since the Pequod Warr; it is to be understood with reference to publick acts of Hostility; for particular mischiefs have been committed by several Indians in some parts of the Country but the actors not abetted therein by any of their Country-men.”26 There may have been an isolated incident in or near Sudbury that led to the death of an Indian at the hands of a settler—one of the Goodnows—in or around 1660. In 1675–1676, things were very different. The New England colonies came under the most severe military threat they were ever to experience. The assault on Sudbury by at least 500 Nipmuc warriors in April 1676 led to great loss of life. In addition to the Indian dead, over thirty colonists, many of them members of a column sent from Boston, were killed. Might this have been the occasion of the capture of the bow? While not impossible, this is improbable, for by then most, if not all, belligerents had firearms. Indicative of a wider symbolic shift from bow to gun among Indians is the captive Mary Rowlandson’s eyewitness account of a ritual that preceded the departure of a Nipmuc war party for Marlboro and Sudbury in which the participants used guns, not bows.27 As we have seen, the inscription on the Peabody Museum bow is likely to express an orally transmitted tradition. Oral tradition often preserves true or plausible accounts, though in this case there is no corroborative evidence. Furthermore, there is much circumstantial evidence that casts doubt on the account given by the inscription. Consequently, the inscription is best taken as evidence of an enduring white, local—likely family—tradition exemplifying one aspect of the New England mythology of colonization.

Where does this leave the bow itself, independent of the inscription? We should not dismiss the logical possibility that it is not what it purports to be, whether as result of honest error or pious fraud. Relics—and this is a secular relic—are notoriously subject to fakery.28 However, its status as a bow of New England Indian manufacture has never been doubted (to my knowledge), and there is no specific reason to do so now. I used it in the Sackler Museum to proclaim an uncompromising Algonquian presence, challenging the implicit claims to hegemony of the Western tradition. The bow was not present to suggest inclusiveness—it was present to remind viewers of the habitual want of acknowledgment of indigenous peoples and their values in American society.29 It was, however, a complex presence, and was irreducible to a single meaning. In any given display of any given thing, a curator can only gesture toward a limited range of its characteristics, and the display of the bow is no exception. Cultural historians can, and should, make use of curatorial manipulations of material things to explore their contingencies and interrogate their immaterial, as well as their material, aspects. In doing so, they might take note of the consequences of the Ship of Theseus paradox: while things may perdure, they never stop changing.

© Bard Graduate Center, Ivan Gaskell.

1.The Arthur M. Sackler Museum is a constituent, with the Fogg Art Museum and the Busch-Reisinger Museum, of what for many years was called the Harvard University Art Museums, renamed the Harvard Art Museum and renamed yet again in July 2010 the Harvard Art Museums.

2.Describing and discussing the bow in 1923, Saxton T. Pope referred to it as “King Philips’s Bow” (alluding to the Wampanoag sachem also known as Metacom who led an Indian war of resistance to colonial settlers in 1675–1676), despite transcribing part of the attached label, including the date (1660) of its reputed capture: Bows and Arrows (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1962), 34. Originally published as A Study of Bows and Arrows (University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 13, 9, 1923).

3.Note in the Accessions Ledger, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, 95-20-10/49340.

4.I should like to acknowledge the generosity of the staff of the Peabody Museum, notably its then director, William Fash, who not only loaned one of the most celebrated objects in its collection, but removed it from display in the Hall of the American Indian.

5.Hans Belting, Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image before the Era of Art, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 55.

6.A useful recent discussion of the Problem of Material Constitution is offered by Christopher M. Brown, Aquinas and the Ship of Theseus: Solving Puzzles about Material Objects (London and New York: Continuum, 2005).

7.Particularly useful discussions include David Wiggins, Sameness and Substance (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980); and Randall R. Dipert, Artifacts, Art Works, and Agency (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993), especially chapter 7, “Toward a Metaphysics of Artifacts: Individuation, Identity through Time, and Group Agency.”

8.Arthur Hugh Clough, trans., Plutarch’s Lives (New York: Dutton, 1910), I, 15.

9.Thomas Hobbes, Elements of Philosophy, the First Section, Concerning Body (London: Andrew Crocke, 1656), 99–101 (1st Latin edition, De Corpore, 1655, II, 11, 7).

10.See, in particular, Nelson Goodman, Languages of Art: an Approach to a Theory of Symbols (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1976); Arthur C. Danto, The Transfiguration of the Commonplace: a Philosophy of Art (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981).

11.See A. W. Eaton and Ivan Gaskell, “Do Subaltern Artifacts Belong in Art Museums?” in The Ethics of Cultural Appropriation, ed. James O. Young and Conrad Brunk (Oxford and Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 235– 67; also Ivan Gaskell, “Ethical Judgments in Museums,” in Art and Ethical Criticism, ed. Garry L. Hagberg (Oxford and Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008), 229–42. Useful contributions to the discussion of cultural appropriation include Michael F. Brown, Who Owns Native Culture? (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003); and James O. Young, Cultural Appropriation and the Arts (Oxford and Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008).

12.Elizabeth Edwards, Chris Gosden, and Ruth Phillips, “Introduction,” in Sensible Objects: Colonialism, Museums and Material Culture, ed. Elizabeth Edwards et al. (Oxford and New York: Berg, 2006), 19.

13.Saxton T. Pope went to the trouble of making a replica of the bow so as to be able to assess its functional characteristics. He reported a draw weight of 46 pounds, and a range with a flighted arrow of 173 yards, describing it as “soft and pleasant to shoot” (Pope, Bows and Arrows, 34).

14.This discussion is adapted from Ivan Gaskell “Encountering Pacific Art,” Journal of Museum Ethnography 21 (2009): 202–10.

15.Unlike, for example, the Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts, University of East Anglia, Norwich, England, where sub-Saharan African, Oceanic, and other subaltern artworks are presented for formal comparison with works of European modernism (see A. W. Eaton and Ivan Gaskell, “Do Subaltern Artifacts Belong in Art Museums?”).

16.Presenting a cultural artifact from a society other than one’s own ideally entails consulting with representatives of any successor community with a direct interest in the artifact concerned, about its status and appropriate uses. My decision to emphasize hunting resulted from my discussions with Tobias Vanderhoop, tribal administrator of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe, to whom I am grateful for insights and advice.

17.Thomas Harriot, A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia (Frankfurt, 1590), pl. III. For the John White drawing, see Kim Sloan, A New World: England’s First View of America (London: British Museum Press, 2007), 120–21, cat. 13.

18.“The History of the Arms and Great Seal of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.” http://www.sec.state.ma.us/pre/presea/sealhis.htm.

19.Joyce Chaplin, Subject Matter: Technology, the Body, and Science on the Anglo-American Frontier, 1500–1676 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001), 80–115.

20.Patrick M. Malone, The Skulking Way of War: Technology and Tactics among the New England Indians (Lanham, New York, Oxford: Madison Books in cooperation with Plimoth Plantation, 1991), 32–36.

21.David Hackett Fischer, Champlain’s Dream (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008), 1–3, 268–70.

22.See Tony Kench, “Sir William Wood (1609–1691) and the Society of Finsbury Archers.” Posted at the Web site of the Worshipful Company of Bowyers: http://www.bowyers.com/longbow/williamWood.html.

23.Joyce Chaplin, Subject Matter, 83, 101.

24.Alfred Sereno Hudson, The History of Sudbury, Massachusetts, 1638–1889 (Boston: Town of Sudbury, 1889), 34.

25.Alfred Sereno Hudson, The History of Sudbury, Massachusetts, 1638–1889, 37.

26.William Hubbard, A Narrative of the Troubles with the Indians in New-England, from the first planting thereof in the year 1607. to this present year 1677. But chiefly of the late Troubles in the last two years, 1675. and 1676. (Boston: Published by Authority, 1677), “To the Reader.”

27.Mary Rowlandson, The Soveraignty & Goodness of God, Together, With the Faithfulness of His Promises Displayed; Being a Narrative of the Captivity and Restauration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson (Cambridge, MA: Printed by Samuel Green, 1682), 51–52; discussed by Jill Lepore, The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity (New York: Knopf, 1998), 97–98.

28.Compare the so-called Penobscot War Bow in the Canadian Museum of Civilization (catalogue number III-K-84), Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, discussed by Gordon M. Day, “The Penobscot War Bow,” In Search of New England’s Native Past: Selected Essays, ed. Gordon M. Day, Michael K. Foster, and William Cowan (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1998), 14–159.

29.Regrettably, a comparison between the Arthur M. Sackler Museum display of the bow and other art museum displays that include North American indigenous works in conjunction with those of the colonizers, such as in the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, is beyond the scope of this chapter.