John Gregory Bourke (June 23, 1843 – June 8, 1896) was a captain in the United States Army and a prolific diarist and postbellum author; he wrote several books about the American Old West, includingethnologies of its indigenous peoples. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions while a cavalryman in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Based on his service during the war, his commander nominated him to West Point, where he graduated in 1869, leading to service as an Army officer until 1886.
John G. Bourke was born in Philadelphia,Pennsylvania, to Irish immigrant parents, Edward Joseph and Anna (Morton) Bourke. His early education was extensive and included Latin, Greek, and Gaelic. When the Civil War began, John Bourke was fourteen. At sixteen he ran away and lied about his age; claiming to be nineteen, he enlisted in theFifteenth Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry, in which he served until July 1865. He received a Medal of Honorfor "gallantry in action" at the Battle of Stones River,Tennessee, in December 1862. He later saw action at the Battle of Chickamauga.
His commander, Major General George H. Thomas, nominated Bourke for West Point. He was appointed cadet in the United States Military Academy on October 17, 1865. He graduated on June 15, 1869, and was assigned as a second lieutenant in the Third U.S. Cavalry. He served with his regiment at Fort Craig, New Mexico Territory, from September 29, 1869 to February 19, 1870.
He served as an aide to General George Crook in theApache Wars from 1870 to 1886. As Crook's aide, Bourke had the opportunity to witness every facet of life in the Old West—the battles, wildlife, the internal squabbling among the military, the Indian Agency, settlers, and Native Americans.
Bourke kept a diary in sequential journals throughout his adult life, documenting his observations in the West. He used these notes as the basis for his later monographs and writings.
In 1881 Bourke was a guest of the Zuni Indians, where he allowed to attend the ceremony of a Newekwe priest. His report of this experience was published in 1888 as The use of human odure and human urine in rites of a religious or semi religious character among various nations.
While in Washington he was one of the board of the Anthropological Society.
Scatalogic Rites of All Nations
Several subsequent studies led in 1891 to the completion of his major work Scatalogic Rites of All Nations. A Dissertation upon the Employment of Excrementicious Reemdial Agents in Religion, Therapeutics, Divination, Witch-Craft, Love-Philters, etc. in all part of the Globe. This work was distributed only among selected specialists. A revised version by Friedrich S. Krauss was published postumously in 1913, with a preface by Viennese psychiatristSigmund Freud. Freud wrote:
Marriage and family
At the age of 40, Bourke married Mary F. Horbach ofOmaha, Nebraska, on July 25, 1883. They had three daughters together.
Bourke died in the Polyclinic Hospital in Philadelphia on June 8, 1896, and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. His wife was buried with him after her death.
- The Snake-Dance of the Moquis of Arizona: Being A Narrative of a Journal from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to the Villages of the Moqui Indians of Arizona. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1884. Retrieved 2007-07-08.
- An Apache Campaign in the Sierra Madre: An Account of the Expedition in Pursuit of the Hostile Chiricahua Apaches in the Spring of 1883. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1886. Retrieved 2007-07-08. Full-text version also available via Internet Archive.
- Compilation of Notes and Memoranda Bearing Upon the Use of Human Ordure and Human Urine in the Rites of a Religious or Semi-Religious Character Among Various Nations. U.S. War Department. 1888. Retrieved 2007-07-08.
- Mackenzie's Last Fight with the Cheyennes: A Winter Campaign in Wyoming and Montana. 1890.
- Scatalogic Rites of All Nations. Washington, D.C.: Lowdermilk. 1891.
- On the Border with Crook. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1892. Retrieved 2007-07-08. Full-text version also available via Internet Archive.
- Medicine-Men of the Apache. Washington: Government Printing Office. 1892. Retrieved 2007-07-08. Full-text version also available via Internet Archive.
- The Laws of Spain in their Application to the American Indians. Washington, D.C.: Judd & Detweiler, Printers. 1894. Retrieved 2007-07-08.
- Folk-Foods of the Rio Grande Valley and of Northern Mexico. 1895. Retrieved 2007-07-08., reprinted from the Journal of American Folk-lore, April–May 1895
- Notes on the Language and Folk-Usage of the Rio Grande Valley (With Especial Regard to Survivals of Arabic Custom). 1896. Retrieved 2007-07-08., reprinted from Journal of American Folk-lore, April–June 1896
- The Urine Dance of the Zuni Indians of New Mexico. 1920. Retrieved 2007-07-08. Full-text version also available via Internet Archive.
- The Diaries of John Gregory Bourke: Vol. I - November 20, 1872, to July 28, 1876, Vol. II - July 29, 1876 to April 7, 1878, Vol. III - June 1, 1878 to June 22, 1880.
- This article incorporates public domain materialfrom websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.
- John Gregory Bourke by F. W. Hodge in theAmerican Anthropologist journal Vol. 9, No. 7 (July, 1896), pp. 245–248 accessed July 7, 2007.JSTOR 658692.
- Bell, William G. (1978). John Gregory Bourke: A Soldier-scientist of the Frontier. Washington: Potomac Corral, The Westerners.
- Bourke, John G; & Condie, Carol J. (1980).Vocabulary of the Apache or 'Indé language of Arizona & New Mexico. Greeley, CO: Museum of Anthropology, University of Northern Colorado.
- Porter, Joseph C. (1980). John Gregory Bourke: Biographical notes. Greeley, CO: University of Northern Colorado, Museum of Anthropology.
- "Tlaçolteotl is Dead: The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Captain Bourke's Scatalogic Rites of All Nations". Retrieved September 29, 2010.