Sunday, 20 November 2011

Heads You Lose

This letter to the editor is from a file dated 4 Nov. 1950. We are not sure what the magazine is but the best guess is The Saturday Evening Post.

Heads You Lose

I notice in the current Post, in the article Jungle Census Taker [Report to the Editors, by Juan Pastor and Ashley Halsey, Jr., September 23] that Mrs. Maxwell is quoted as stating:

"Actually no Jivaro ever took such a [white person's] head. . . ."

I do not know where she obtained that information, but it most certainly is incorrect. Not only have I personally collected the shrunken heads of white persons, but they may be seen on exhibition in the ... Heye Foundation in New York City and in other museums. . . .

I doubt if these Indians have taken or shrunken the heads of white persons for quite a number of years; for that matter, even shrunken Indian heads are few and far between, for the Jivaros . . . have found that working on the plantations and lumber camps and gathering chincona bark are more profitable and less risky than taking and shrinking human heads, white or brown.

A. Hyatt Verrill

Lake Worth, Fla.

► Reader Verrill is an author, illustrator, naturalist and explorer who has led many ethnological and archaeological expeditions into Central and South America.—ED.

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As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.