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Human Relations Area Files
To encourage and facilitate worldwide comparative studies of human behavior, society, and culture.
To encourage and facilitate worldwide comparative studies of human behavior, society, and culture.

Human Relations Area Files's posts

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In eHRAF World Cultures if you search for “Tlingit” and “helmet*” (see for a screenshot of an Advanced Search) you’ll come across paragraphs with references made to helmets, often made out of wood and portraying images of animals (e.g. wolves, foxes, frogs, etc.) associated with clans. In the paragraphs the helmets, often referred to as crest hats or clan hats, are associated with clan ceremonies or hostile encounters.

Interested in learning the use of helmets by cultures from various regions of the world? In eHRAF World Cultures you can do that by searching for the keyword “helmet” with OCM subjects such as ceremonial garments (OCM 292), Uniform and accouterment (714), Paraphernalia (293) (see screenshot Contact for temporary access to eHRAF World Cultures.

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The recent NPR report titled “Deep In China, ‘Cowboys’ Have Skied For Thousand of Years” describes how men in the Altai Mountains in Northwest China use skis made from red spruce to track elk. According to Mark Jenkins, the history of skis dates back thousands of years, and perhaps, as early as 10,000 years, predating the invention of the wheel.

In eHRAF World Cultures the ethnographic texts of cultures from around the world are indexed with subjects (e.g. hunting and trapping).  Use the subjects to “filter” words like ski or skis to find the relevant texts.  This screenshot shows how this is done  Visit to find out more about eHRAF World Culture and to access this unique online resource.

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The Blackfoot consist of three geographical-linguistic groups, or nations: the Siksika (formerly called Blackfoot), the Kainai (or Bloods), and the North Peigan and South Peigan (the Blackfeet of Montana). Although these groups are sometimes called a confederacy, there was no overarching political structure. Each of the nations of Blackfoot came together in their own large camp during the summer. Traditionally, the Blackfoot were hunter-gatherers who depended largely on bison hunting. The basic sociopolitical unit was the clan cross-cut by a series of age-grade men's societies. On the reserves today, the Blackfoot depend on ranching, farming, wage labor, and welfare.

Learn about the Blackfoot in eHRAF World Cultures ( ).  Click Browse Cultures then use the By Region, By Country, or the A-Z index to find the Blackfoot culture and links to its Culture Summary and the various ethnographic works in Collection Documents.

Photo courtesy of the US National Park Service Historic Photograph Collection.
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Culture Quiz! Which of the following is NOT one of applied names (ethnonyms) for the Blackfoot nation?
a) Blood
b) Kainai
c) Bungi
d) Pikunii
e) Siksika

In eHRAF World Cultures you can find the answer. Click Browse Cultures ; then type “Blackfoot” in A-Z index filter and once the culture name shows up click Culture Summary.  Here you will find information about the ethnonyms for the Blackfoot as well as an overview of the culture.

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The photo essay “Stranded on the Roof of the World," by National Geographic  gives an insight into the hard lives of the Kyrgyz, a nomadic ethnic group that lives in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan.

In eHRAF World Cultures the Kyrgyz are described as Turkic-Mongol people who live primarily in Kyrgyzstan. Their traditional livelihood was pastoral nomadism. The former Soviet government both encouraged and forced settlement into permanent Soviet-style settlements in cities and towns and on collective and state farms. The Kyrgyz are Sunni Muslims.

The Pashtun, Hazaras, Baluchi, and Ghorbat are other ethnic groups from the Kyrgyzstan-Afghanistan-Pakistan area that are included in eHRAF World Cultures (see Browse Culture>By Country>Afghanistan). Contact for a temporary log-in to the online eHRAF databases.

Click here for the photo essay

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The Pashtun inhabit southern and eastern Afghanistan and western Pakistan. Their language is Pushto (Pashto), in the Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. Except for a small minority, they are Sunni Muslims. Until recently, Pashtun dynasties controlled the tribal kingdom of Afghanistan. Agriculture, primarily grain farming, and animal husbandry are the most important activities in the Pashtun economy. The most important crop is wheat. In addition to raising stock, nomads as well as some farmers engage in trade and moneylending. The presence of the border dividing Pashtun territory into two countries also makes smuggling a lucrative pursuit.

 Learn more about the Pashtun in eHRAF World Cultures. Visit for a temporary log-in to eHRAF.

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Attending the American Anthropological Association meeting ( in Chicago next week? If so, I would like to invite you to stop by the HRAF booth # 217 to learn more about the new and improved eHRAF World Cultures and eHRAF Archaeology.  I'd like to show you our exciting new features such as being able to sort search results by subsistence type, or give ideas on how eHRAF can be used for teaching. If you have a specific research topic that you would like to answer with eHRAF, let me know and I'll give you useful search methodology tips.
Have a good trip and I look forward to meeting you! Christiane Cunnar, HRAF Member Services,
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