William Jones


            William Jones was born March 28, 1871 on the Sac and Fox reservation near present-day Stroud, Oklahoma to Henry Clay Jones and Sarah (Penny) Jones with an ethnicity of Fox, Welsh and English.  Sarah Jones died during his infancy and he was cared for by his grandmother, Kitiqua, the daughter of a Fox chief, Wa-shi-ho-wa, who taught Jones the traditions, language, and customs of his Fox ancestors.  At age ten, Jones was sent to the Indian school at Newton, Kansas and later spent three years at the Friends’ boarding school in Wabash, Indiana.  He returned to Indian Territory and worked as a cowboy.  In 1889, at the age of 18, he entered Hampton Institute where he was considered a prize pupil.  From there he enrolled in Philips Academy at Andover, Massachusetts and in 1896 he entered Harvard.  He spent the summer of 1897 collecting data among the Sauk and Fox near Tama, Iowa.  At Harvard he wrote for and was editor of the Harvard Monthly and received his A. B. degree from Harvard in 1900.  He continued his studies at Columbia University where he held a fellowship and was later an assistant in anthropology.  During this period, under the auspices of the Bureau of American Ethnology and the American Museum of Natural History, Jones carried on exploratory work among the Sauk and Fox.  After he received his Ph.D. from Columbia in 1904, he commenced investigations among the northern Algonquian tribes.  In 1906 he accepted an assignment from the Field Columbia Museum in Chicago to study the native tribes of the Philippines.  He lived among the natives in Luzon for three years and on March 28, 1909, he was speared to death by members of the Ilongst tribe.


            Jones’s contributions to science were almost exclusively on Algonquian language and lore, particularly on the Fox branch from which he sprang and to whose secrets his Indian connection gave him full access.  In addition to the technical papers listed below, which were intended only for specialists, Jones wrote short stories about Native Americans and the American West, magazine articles, and gave lectures. 


His major technical papers are:  “Episodes in the Culture-Hero Myth of the Sauks and Foxes” (Journal of American Folk-Lore, October-December, 1901); “Some Principles of Algonquian Word-Formation” (American Anthropologist, n.s. Vol. VI, no. 3, Supplement, 1904), his doctor’s thesis; “The Algonkin Manitou” (Journal of American Folk-Lore, July-September 1905);  “Central Algonquin” (Annual Archaeological Report, Ottawa, Canada, 1905); “An Algonquin Syllabary” (Boas Anniversary Volume, 1906); “Mortuary Observances and the Adoption Rites of the Algonkin Foxes of Iowa” (Congrès International des Américanistes, Quebec, 1906, 1907);  “Fox Texts” (Publications of the American Ethnological Society, Vol. I, 1907); “Notes on the Fox Indians” (Journal of American Folk-Lore, April-June 1911);  Algonquian (Fox), an Illustrative Sketch (Bulletin 40, Pt. I, Bureau of American Ethnology, 1911).      


In an article appearing in the January-March 1909 edition of the American Anthropologist, Jones’s Fox Text is praised as being “the first considerable body of Algonquian lore published in accurate and reliable form in the native tongue, with translation rendering faithfully the style and contents of the original . . . these texts are probably among the best North American texts that have ever been published.”[1]

[1] Dictionary of American Biography, p. 205-206 and Anthropologic Miscellanea, p.137-139