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SI a.. I 

55th Congress, [ HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, j Document 

3d Session. 

No. 316. 





1 S 9 5 - 9G 








o^X<^C{£u^ /T yJOAA^U^e^ 


Smithsonian Institution, 
Bureau of American Ethnology, 

Washington, B. C, July 1, 1S!)<;. 

Sir: I liave the honor to submit my Seventeenth Annual 
Report as Director of the Bureau of American Ethnology. 

The i)reliminary 2:)ortiou comprises an exposition of the 
operations of the Bureau during the fiscal year; the remainder 
consists of a series of memoirs on anthropologic subjects, pre- 
pared by assistants, which illustrate the methods and results of 
the work of the Bureau. 

Allow me to express my appreciation of your constant aid 
and your wise counsel relating to the work under my charge. 
I am, with respect, your obedient servant, 


Honoralile S. P. Langley, 

Secretary of the Smlthson'uDi [nstitution. 



Introduction XXVII 

Exploration XXXIX 

Archeology XLV 

Descriptive ethnology X LVIII 

Sociology T^I 

Linguistics LII 

Mythology LIV 

Psychology LV 

Bibliography LV 

Publication - LVI 

Miscellaneous work L VII 

Necrology LIX 

Financial statement LXII 

Characterization of accompanying papers LXIII 

Distribution of subjects LXIII 

The Seri Indians LXV 

Calendar history of the Kiowa Indians LXVII 

Navaho houses LXX 

Archeological expedition to Arizona In 1895 LXXII 

List of publications of the Bureau of American Ethnology LXXV 

Annual reports LXXV 

Bulletins LXXX 

Contributions to North American Ethnology LXXXII 

Introductions LXXXIII 

Miscellaneous publications LXXXIV 

Index to authors and titles LXXXV 



Introduction 9 

Salient features 9 

Recent explorations and surveys 12 

Acknowledgments 20 

Habitat 22 

Location and area 22 

Physical characteristics 22 

Flora 31 

Fauna 36 

Local features. . 39 

Summary history 51 

Tribal features 123 

Definition and nomenclature 123 

Externa"! relations 130* 

Population 134* 




Somatic characters 136* 

Demotic characters 164* 

Symbolism and decoration 164* 

Face-i>ainting 164 ' 

Decoration in general 169 * 

The significance of decoration 176 * 

Industries and industrial products 180* 

Food and food-getting 180* 

Navigation 215* 

Habitations 221 ' 

Appareling 224* 

Tools and their uses 232" 

Warfare 254* 

Nascent industrial development 265* 

Social organization .,- 269* 

Clans and totems 269* 

Chiefship 275* 

Adoption 277* 

Marriage 279" 

Mortuary customs 287* 

Serial place of Seri socialry 293* 

Language 296* 


Introduction 141 

Age of aboriginal American records 141 

Aboriginal American calendars '. 141 

The Walam Olum of the Delawares 142 

The Dakota calendars 142 

Other tribal records 142 

The Kiowa calendars 143 

Annual calendars of Doh^san, Poliiu'yi-katdn, Set-t'an, and Anko 143 

The Anko monthly calendar - 145 

Comparative importance of events recorded 145 

Method of fixing dates 146 

Scope of the memoir 147 

Acknowledgments 147 

Sketch of the Kiowa tribe 148 

Tribal synonymy 148 

Tribal sign 150 

Linguistic affinity 150 

Tribal names 152 

Genesis and migration 152 

Early alliance with the Crows 155 

The associated Kiowa Apache 156 

The historical period 156 

Possession of the Black Hills 156 

The extinct K'uato 157 

Intercourse with the Arikara, Mandan, and Hidatsa 158 

Kecollections of other northern tribes 160 

Aci|uirement of horses 160 

Intercourse and war with the Comanche 161 

Peace with the Comanche .' 162 

Confederation of the two tribes 164 


Sketch of the Kiowa trilie— Continued Page 
The histoviral periofl— Continued 

Neutral attitude of New Mexicans 1<>5 

Rehitious with other soutUi-ru tribes 165 

First official Aiuerican notices, 1805-1807 - 165 

Explanation of "Aliatan" and "Tetau" 167 

ITusuccessfril overtures of the Dakota 167 

Smallpox epidemic of 1816 16° 

The Kiowa in 1820 - 168 

The ( tsa<;e massacre and the dragoon expedition, 1833-34 168 

The treaty of 1837 169 

Catlin's observations in 1834 171 

Traders among the Kiowa 1^1 

First visit to Fort Gibson 172 

Smallpox epidemic of 1839-40— Peace with Cheyenne and Arapaho.. . 172 

Texan Santa 1-^e expedition 172 

Cholera epidemic of 1849 1 ' "J 

Fort Atkinson treaty in 1853 173 

Depredations in Mexico — Mexican captives 173 

Defeat of allied tribes by Sauk and Fox, 1854 174 

Hostile drift of the Kiowa 175 

Defiant speech of l)oh:isiiu 17' 

Smallpox epidemic of 1861-62 176 

Indian war on the plains, 1864 176 

Vaccination among the i>lains tribes — Set-t'aiCte 177 

The Little Arkansas treaty in 1865 178 

Death of Dohasiin 180 

Kiowa raids continued '81 

The treaty of Medicine Lodge, 1867, and its results 181 

Renewed hostilities 186 

Battle of the Washita— Removal to the reservatiou ■ 187 

Further insolence of the Kiowa— Raids into Texas 188 

Intertribal peace council, 1872 190 

Joint delegation to Washington, 1872 190 

Thomas C. Battey , first teacher among the Kiowa, 1872 193 

Report of Captain Alvord 193 

Release of Sct-t'aintc and Big-tree, 1873 - 195 

Haworth's administration, 1873-78 197 

First scliool established by Battey 198 

The outbreak of 1874-75 199 

Causes of the dissension 199 

The Comanche medicine-man 201 

Apache and Arapaho friendliness 202 

Further defiance 202 

Battle of Adobe Walls ' 203 

Friendlies collected at Fort Sill 203 

Fight at Anadarko, the Wichita agency 204 

Set-t'ainte 206 

Progress of the campaign 210 

Surrender of the Cheyenne 212 

Prisoners sent to Florida -. 213 

The Germaine family 213 

Surrender of tlie Comanche 214 

Proposition to deport hostile tribes 214 

Kicking-bird 216 


Sketch of tlic Kiowa tribe — Continued Pags 
The historical period — Continued 

Changed conditions 218 

Epidemics of measles and fever in 1877 — First houses built 218 

Agency removed to Anadarko — The last of the buffalo 218 

Threatened outbreak instigated by D:i tekiVn 219 

Epidemic of 1882 — Beginning of church work 219 

Leasing of grass lands 219 

Pa-ingya, the medicine-man and prophet 220 

Indian court established - 220 

Intertribal council of 1888 221 

Death of Sun-boy — The last sun dance 221 

Ghost dance inaugurated — Apiatan's journey in 1890 221 

Enlistment of Indians as soldiers 223 

Measles epidemic of 1892 — Grass lands leased 223 

Commission for allotment of lands — Protest against decision 224 

Present condition — Agents in charge of confederate tribes 225 

Summary of principal events 226 

Sociology of the Kiowa ^. 227 

Absence of the clan system 227 

Local divisions -. 227 

Subtribes -. 227 

The camp circle ---. 228 

Military organization — Yii"piihe warriors 229 

Heraldic system 230 

Name system 231 

Marriage 231 

Tribal government 233 

Character 233 

Population - - 235 

Religion of the Kiowa i. 237 

Scope of their belief 237 

The sun 237 

Objects of religious veneration 238 

Trilial medicines of other Indians - 242 

The sun dance 242 

The Nadiishadeua or Kiowa, Apache 245 

Tribal synonymy 245 

Tribal sign 246 

Origin and history 246 

First official American notice - - - 251 

Treaties 251 

Delegation to Washington, 1872 — Friendly disposition 251 

Progress toward civilization — Death of Pacer, 1S75 252 

Recent history and present condition — 252 

Population 253 

The annual calendars, 1833-1892 254 

1832-33. Money captured from American traders 254 

1833. Massacre by the Osage and capture of the taime — Pedestrian war 

parties — Beheading 257 

1833-34. Meteoric display 2i)0 

1834. Dragoon expedition — First official intercourse — Trade estab- 

lished 261 

1834-35. Bull-tail killed by Mexicans 269 

1835. Cat-tail-rush sun dance — Capture of B6iu-edal and Cynthia 

Parker 270 


The anmial calendars — Contiuued Page 

1835-3tj. Big-face or Wolf-hair killed in Mexico 270 

1836. Wolf-creek sun dauce—Kifiep visit Crows — Battle with Cheyenne. 271 
1836-37. K'iruihiate killed in Mexico 271 

1837. Cheyenne massacred on upper Red river 271 

1837-38. Head-dragging winter 272 

1838. Kiowa and allies defeat Cheyenne and Arapaho 273 

1838-39. Battle with the Arapaho 273 

1839. Peninsula sun dance 274 

1839-40. Smallpox ravages the plains tribes 274 

1840. Eed-bluff sun dance — Peace with Cheyenne and Arapaho 275 

1840-41. Hide-ijuiver war expedition — Expeditious against Mexico 276 

1841. Pawnee massacred on the Soutli Canadian 276 

1841-42. Encounter with Texan Santa Fe expedition — .A'dalhaba'k'ia 

killed 277 

1842. Repeated sun dance - 279 

1842-43. Crow-neck died 280 

1843. Nest-building sun dance — Encounter with Texans 280 

1843-44. Woman stabbed — Raid into Mexico — Trading post on South 

Canadian 280 

1844. Dakota sun dance — Dakota visit Kiowa 281 

1844-45. Great expedition against Mexico — A'tahii-ik'i killed 282 

1845. Stone-necklace sun dance 283 

1845-40. Bent establishes trading post on South Canadian — Allison's post 

on the Arkansas 283 

1846. P.lgunht^nte initiated— The Ka'itsenk'ia 283 

1846-47. Mustache-shooting winter — Fight with the Pawnee 285 

1847. Fight with the Santa Fe traders ; Red-sleeve killed 286 

1847-48. Camp on upper South Canadian 287 

1848. Ka'itsonko initiated 287 

1848-49. Antelope drive on the Arkansas ; the ceremonies 287 

1849. Cholera on the plains — Treaty negotiations postponed 289 

1849-50. Fight witb the Pawnee— The scalp dance 290 

1850. China lierry snn dance on Beaver creek 292 

1850-51. Tafigiapa killed in Mexico 292 

1851. Dusty sun dance — Treachery of the Pawnee 293 

1851-52. Woman elopes and is frozen — "Stealing" a woman 294 

18.52. ,\llied tribes defeated by Pawnee — Iron-shirt killed 294 

1852-53. Race horse stolen by Pawnee boy 295 

1853. Showery sun dance — Taime sacrilege 295 

1853-54. Raid into Mexico, Piingyiigiate killed 296 

1854. Medicine-lodge-creek sun dance — Confederated tribes defeated by 

Sauk and Fox 297 

1854-55. Oyai'koaonte killed by the AUihii 299 

1855. Sitting summer; horses worn out 300 

1855-.56. Big-head kills an Aliihi'i — Raid into Mexico 300 

1856. Prickly pear sun dance 301 

1856-57. Tipis seized by the Cheyenne 301 

1857. Forked-stick-sprouting sun dance — Expeditions against El Paso 

and the Sauk — .Story of the d'poto 301 

1857-58. Horses stolen by the Pawnee 305 

1858. Timber-circle sun dance 305 

1858-59. Giii-k'iite killed by Mexicans — Expedition against the Ute 306 

1859. Cedar-bluff sun dance 306 

1859-60. Giaka-ite aliandoned to die 307 

1860. Attacked by troojis with Indian allies — Increasing hostility 308 


The annual calendars — Continued Pa^e 
1860-61. Crazy bluft" winter — Revenge upon Caddo — Raid into Texas — The 

zotd' or driveway 309 

1861. Horse sacrificed at sun dance — Sacrilege against taime — The lost 

war party 310 

1861-62. Smallpox — Effect of gold discovery in Colorado 311 

1862. Sun dance after the smallpox 311 

1862-63. Expedition against Texas — The echo in the tree tops — The 

Guadagya or travel song 312 

1863. Sun dance on No-arm's river 313 

1863-64. Death of Big-head and Kills- with-a-guu — Anko calendar begins. 313 

1864. Ragweed sun dance — Kiowa stampede horses from Fort Lamed; 

general war upon the plains 313 

1864-65. Muddy travel winter — Kiowa repel Kit Carson 314 

1865. Peninsula sun dance 317 

1865-66. Death of Dohasiln and Tii'nkrtnkya — Smith's trading party 318 

1866. German-silver sun dance — Whitacre the trader — Trade in silver 

with Mexicans 318 

1866-67. Attack on Texas emigrants ; A'pamadalte killed — Andres Martinez 

captured 319 

1867. Horses stolen by the Navaho — Kaitscnko initiated 319 

1867-68. Medicine Lodge treaty — Expedition against the Navaho 320 

1868. Sun dance on Medicine-lodge creek — Disastrous expedition 

against the Ute — Tlie taime captured 322 

1868-69. TiingTifidal killed; his niedicim- lanc( — Burial expedition 325 

1869. War-bonnet sun dance — Expedition against the Ute 326 

1869-70. Bugle stampede— The Cheyenne on the warpath 326 

1870. Plant growing sun dance 327 

1870-71. Set-iiu'gya brings home his son's bones — Drunken fight — Negroes 

killed in Texas— Death of AusiVte 328 

1871. Konpii'te killed — Arrest of Set-t'ainle and other chiefs — Tragic 

death of Setiingya — The Kaitsonko death song — Set-Ungya and 

Set-t'ainte 328 

1871-72(1872-73). Peace with the Pawnee; removal to Indian Territory.. 333 

1872. Biako shot by whites in Kansas 335 

1872-73. Visit of the Pueblos — Dohasiin's tipi burned — Kiowa heraldic 

system 336 

1873. Sun dance on Sweetwater creek — Gni-badiii's wife stolen 336 

1873-74. Set-t'ainte released— Lone- wolf's son killed 337 

1874. Sun dance on North fork — Set-t'ainte gives his medicine lance to 

A''to-t'aiu 338 

1874-75. Fight at Anadarko— Gi-edal killed— Prisoners sent to Florida... 339 

1875. Sun dance at Love-making spring — Escorted by troops 339 

1875-76. Sheep and goats issued to Indians — Stock losses by outbreak 339 

1876. Sun dance on North fork — ^Snn -boy's horses stolen — DohiSn'te dies. 340 
1876-77. A'gabai killed by her husband — Enlistment of scouts 340 

1877. Sun dance on Salt fork of Red river — Ravages of measles 341 

1877-78. Buffalo hunt — Fever epidemic — Houses built for chiefs 342 

1878. Repeated sun dance — Bnft'alo hunt under soldier escort ,343 

1878-79. Hunting party attacked by Texans; A''to-t'airi killed 343 

1879. Horse-eating sun dance — Last of the buffalo — Boy shot 344 

1879-80. "Eye-triumph winter" — Expedition against the Navaho — The 

talking owl 345 

1880. No sun dance — P:ib6te dies — Dead names tabooed 346 

1880-81. Zontam's (?) house built— Dast visit by the Pueblos 346 

1881. Hot or hemorrhage sun dance — Instances of malformation 347 


The annual calendars— Continued Pagp 

1881-82. The do-d contest — The dd-d game — Diitekan's medicine tipi 347 

1882. No sun dance because no buffalo — Stumbling-bear's daughter 

dies— Datekan, the i)rophet 349 

1882-83. B(->t-t^dalte dies— Talk of grass leases 350 

1883. Nez Peroes visit Kiowa — The Nez Perce' war — Taimete succeeds 

to tlie taime 351 

1883-84. House built by Gakiuate— Children taken to Chilocco — Visited 

by Sioux 352 

1884. No sun dance— Kiowa b;iul freight - 352 

1884-85. House building— Woman stolen 353 

* 1885. Little Peninsula sun dance— First grass money 353 

1885-86. T'i5bodar8 cam;) burned 354 

1886. No sun dauce — Anko a policeman — Grass payment 354 

1886-87. Suicide of Pey i 354 

1887. BuHalo bought for sun dauce— Grass payment— Name changes. . . 355 
1887-88. Cattle received for grass leases 355 

1888. Permission for sun dauce refused — Excitement caused by the 

prophet Pa-iugy a 356 

1888-89. Sun-boy dies — Anko splits rails 357 

1889. No sun dauce — Grass payment 358 

1889-90. Grass payment — The Idm dance 358 

1890. Last attempt at sun dance ; stopped by troops 358 

1890-91. Ghost dance inaugurated; A'piatau's mission — Schoolboys frozen. 359 

1891. P'6daliirite killed — The Cheyenue visit the Kiowa 361 

1891-92. P'odaliiute killed — Enlistmeut of Indian soldiers 362 

1892. Terrible ravages of measles — Large grass payment — Delegation 

to Washington — Aiipropriatiou for house building 362 

Kiowa chronology 365 

Terms employed 365 

The seasons , 366 

Kiowa moous or months 367 

Moons or months of other tribes 369 

The Anko monthly calendar : August, 1889— July, 1892 373 

T';igun6tal P'a San (August, 1889); no event 373 

T'iiguudtal l"a; no event 373 

GakiQat'o P'a ; woman whipped 373 

-V'ga'uti ; no event - 373 

Tepgan P'a; wagon stalled - 373 

Ganhina P'a (.January f 1890); annuity issue -- ■ 374 

Ka'gufit P'a Siin ; mares foal - - . 374 

Ka'giiat P'a; split rails 374 

Aideu P'a ; horses lost - 374 

Pal A'ga'nti; visit Cheyenne -- • 374 

Pai Tepgafi P'a ; visit Cheyenne again — first ghost dance 374 

Pai Ganhina P'a (July, 1890) ; sun dance stoi)ped — grass payments 375 

T'aguuotal P'a Siin; no event 375 

T'aguuotal P'a ; Apiatan goes to the messiah - . 375 

GakiQat'o P'a; Sitting-bull comes •• 375 

A'ga'nti; no event 375 

Tepgan P'a ; boys frozen 376 

Ganhina P'a (January? 1891) ; annuity issue 376 

Ka'giiat P'a Siin (February, 1891); A'piatau returns 376 

Ka'giiat P'a; wire issue 376 

Aiden P'a ; no event 376 

Pai A'ga'nti (June, 1891); Caddo and Wichita agreement 376 


The Anko monthly calendar — Continued Page 

Pai Tepgan P'a (July, 1891); Fourth of July races 376 

Pal Oanhiiia P'a; Setk'opte's wife stolen 377 

T'iigurK'ital P'a Siin ; the Pueblo dance 377 

T'aguri('ital P'a ; P'odalU'ilte killed 377 

Gakinat'o P'a; made medicine— cut wood 377 

A'ga'uti (Novemher, 1892) ; lunar eclipse 377 

Tt'pgau P'a; no event 378 

Gauhina P'a (January? 1892); annuity issue _ 378 

Ka'giiat P'a Siin ; wire issue 378 

Ka'guat P'a: move camp — late frost 378 

Aiden P'a (April, 1892) ; emigrants to Cheyenne country 378 

Pai A'ga'nti; latUkiadies — grass payment 378 

Pai Tdpgau P'a ; measles epidemic — grass payment 379 

Pai Gauhiua P'a (July, 1892) ; Fourth of July races 379 

T'agufiotal P'a Siin (August, 1892); visit of Cheyenne and Arapaho 379 

Military and trading posts, missions, etc 381 

The Kiowa language 389 

Characteristics 389 

Kiowa- English glossary - 391 

Englisli-Kiowa glossary 430 

Authorities cited 440 

Index to Part 1 447 


Introduction 475 

•Description of the country - 477 

Habits of the people 481 

Legendary and actual winter hogiins 487 

Summer huts or shelters 494 

Sweat houses - - - 499 

Effect of modern conditions 502 

Ceremonies of dedication 504 

The hogiin o*" the Yebitcai dance 509 

Hogiin nomenclature - 514 


Introductory note 527 

Plan of the expedition 529 

Buius in Verde valley 536 

Classification of the ruins 536 

Cavate dwellings 537 

Jlontezuma AVell 546 

Cliff houses of the Red-rocks 548 

Ruins near Schiirmann's ranch 550 

Palatki - 553 

Honanki 558 

Objects found at Palatki and Honanki 569 

C'onclusions regarding the Verde valley ruins 573 

Ruins in Tusay an 577 

General features 577 

The Middle Mesa ruins 582 

Shufiopovi -' — 582 

Mishouinovi .... 582 

Chukubi 583 

Payupki 583 


Kuins in Tusayan — Continued Page 

The East Mesa ruins 585 

Kiichaptiivela and Kisakobi 585 

Kiikiichomo 586 

Kachinba 589 

Tnkinobi 589 

Jeditoli valley ruins 589 

Awatobi 592 

Cbaracteristics of the ruin 592 

Nomenclature of Awatobi 594 

Historical knowledge of Awatobi 595 

Legend of the destruction of Awatobi 603 

Evidences of fire in the destruction 606 

The ruins of the mission 606 

The kivas of Awatobi 611 

Old Awatobi 614 

Rooms of the western mound 614 

Smaller Awatobi 617 

Mortuary remains 617 

Shrines 619 

Pottery 621 

Stone implements 625 

Bone objects 627 

Miscellaneous objects 628 

Oruaments in the form of birds and shells 628 

Clay bell 628 

Textile fabrics 629 

Prayer-sticks — Pigments 630 

Objects showing Spanish influence 631 

The ruins of Sikyatki 631 

Traditional knowledge of the pueblo 631 

Nomenclature 636 

Former inhabitants of Sikyatki 636 

General features ^. . 637 

The acropolis 643 

Modern gardens 646 

The cemeteries 646 

Pottery 650 

Characteristics — Mortuary pottery 650 

Coiled and indented ware 651 

Smooth undecorated ware 652 

Polished decorated ware 652 

Paleography of the pottery 657 

General features 657 

Human ligures 660 

The human hand 666 

Quadrupeds 668 

Reptiles 671 

Tadpoles 677 

Butterflies or moths 678 

Dragon flies 680 

Birds 682 

Vegetal designs 698 

The sun 699 

Geometric figures 701 

Interpretation of the figures 701 


Euius in Tusayaii — Coiitiiiuecl Page 
The ruins of Sikyatki — Continued 

Paleography of the pottery — Continued 
Geometric figures — Continued 

Crosses 702 

Terraced figures 70H 

The crook 703 

The germinative symbol - 70-1 

Brolven lines 704 

Decorations on the exterior of food bowls 705 

Pigments 728 

Stoue objects 729 

Obsidian 732 

Ornaments, necklaces, and gorgets 733 

Tobacco pipes - 733 

Praycr-eticks 736 

Marine shells and other objects . - 739 

Perishable contents of mortuary food bowls 741 

Index to Part 2 745 



Plate I. Seriland 9 

II. Pascual Encinas. lonqueror of the Seri 13 

Ilia . Seri frontier 40 

I1I6. Sierra Seri, from Encinas desert 40 

IVo. Sierra Seri, from Tiburon island 42 

IV J. Punta Ygnacio, Tibiinm bay '42 

Va. Western shore of Tibtiron bay 44 

V6. Eastern shore of Tiburon bay 44 

Via. Recently occupied rancheria, Tiburon island 80 

VI6. Typical house interior, Tiburon island 80 

Vila. House framework, Tiburon island 110 

VII6. House covering, Tiburon island 110 

VIII. Sponge used for house covering, Tiburon island 112 

IXa. House skeleton, Tiburon island 114 

1X6. Interior house structure, Tiburon island 114 

X. Typical Seri house on the frontier 117 

XI. Occupied rancheri.a on the frontier 119 

XII. Group of Seri Indians on trading excursion 121 

XIII. Group of Seri Indians on the frontier 137* 

XIV. Seri family group 139* 

XV. Seri mother and child 142* 

XVI. A group of Seri boys 144* 

XV'II. SIa.shem, Seri interpreter 146* 

XVIII. "Juaua Maria'', Seri elderwomau 150* 

XIX. Typical Seri warrior 154* 

XX. Typical Seri matron 156* 

XXI. Seri runner 158* 

XXII. Seri matron 160* 

XXIII. Youthful Seri warrior _ 162* 

XXIV. Seri belle : 164* 

XXV. Seri maiden 166* 

XXVI. Characteristic fixce-painting 168* 

XXVII. Face-painting paraphernalia 170* 

XXVIII. Seri archer at rest 200* 

XXIX. Seri archer at attention 202* 

XXX. Seri bow, arrow, and cjuiver 204* 

XXXI. Seri balsa in the National Museum 217" 

XXXII. Painted olla, with olla ring 222* 

XXXIII. Plain olla 226* 

XXXIV. Domestic anvil, side 234* 

XXXV. Domestic anvil, top 234* 

XXXVI. Domestic anvil, bottom 234* 

XXXVII. Domestic anvil (reduced), top and side 237' 

XXXVIII. Metate (reduced), top and edge 237* 

XXXIX. Long-used metate (reduced), to)! 238* 

XL. Long-used metate (reduced), bottom 238* 




XLI. Natural pebble Iiearing slight marks of use 241* 

XLII. Natural pebble used as bone crusher 241* 

XLIII. Llttle-woru pebble used for all domestic purposes 243'* 

XLIV. Natural pebble used as crusher and grinder 243* 

XLV. Natural pebble slightly used as hammer and anvil 244* 

XLVI. Natural pebble slightly used as grinder 247* 

XLVII. Natural pebble slightly used as domestic implement 247* 

XLVIIl. Natural pebble slightly worn by use 249* 

XLIX. Natural pebble considerably -n-orn in use as grinder 249* 

L. Natural pebble considerably worn as cutter and grinder 251* 

LI. Natural pebble considerably used as hammer, grinder, and anvil 

(top and edge) 253* 

LII. Natural pebble considerably used as hammer, grinder, and anvil 

(bottom and edge) 253* 

LIII. Hammer and grinder 255* 

LIV. Implement shaped by use 255* 

LV. Implement perfected by use 257* 

LVI. Perfected implement found in use 259* 

LVII. Range of the Kiowa and neighboring tribes (map) 141 

LVIII. Gui-piigo or Lone-wolf, principal chief, 1866-1874 189 

LIX. Tsen-t'ainte or White-horse 190 

LX. Gui-k';ite or Sleeping-wolf (Wolf-lying-down) and wife 192 

LXI. Quanah Parker, principal chief of the Comanche 202 

LXII. Inside of Set-f ainte's shield 208 

LXIII. Outside of Sefc-t'airite"s shield 210 

LXIV. Set-imkia or Stumbling-bear (Puahing-bear) 219 

LXV. Pai-tUlyior Sun-boy 221 

LXVI. Andres Martinez (" An'dali") 236 

LXVIl. The Porcupine in the tree, and flight of the Sun-woman 238 

LXVIII. Peyote plant and button 241 

LXIX. The iaime 242 

LXX. Arapaho sun-dance lodge, 1893 244 

LXXI. Pacer (Peso), former head-chief of the Kiowa Apache 245 

LXXII. Daha, a Kiowa Apache subchief 246 

LXXIII. Kiowa migration route 249 

LXXI V. Gouk'ou or Apache John, a Kiowa Apache subchief 251 

LXXV. The Se't-t'au annual calendar 254 

LXXVI. Bohon-konkya, "Quayhamkay," Gunpandamli, and "Kotsa- 

toah" (after Catlin) 268 

LXX VII. Sand mosaic of the Hopi Antelope priests 296 

LXX VIII. Lawrie Tatum, with group of rescued captives 331 

LXXIX. The Do-giiigyii-gnat or tipi of battle pictures 337 

LXXX. The Anko calendar 373 

LXXXI. Anko 374 

LXXXII. The Navaho reservation 475 

LXXXIII. A typical Navaho hogiin 483 

LXXXIV. A hog;in in Canyon de Chelly 485 

LXXXV. A Navaho summer hut 495 

LXXXVI. A "lean-to" summer shelter 4P7 

LXXXVII. Inga-qogiin, or medicine hut 501 

LXXXVIII. Modern house of a wealthy Navaho 505 

LXXXIX. A Yebitcai house - 511 

XC. Diagram plan of hogan, with names of parts 514 

XCIa. Cavate dwellings — Rio Verde 537 

XCli. Cavate dwellings — Oak creek 539 

XCII. Entrances to cavate ruins 54:1 



XCIII. Bowlder with pictographs near Wootrs ranch 545 

XCIV. Montezuma Well 547 

XCV. Clitif house, Montezuma Well 549 

XC'VI. Ruin on the brink of Moutezuina Well 551 

XCVII. Pictographs near Clitt' ranch, Verde valley 553 

XCVIII. The Red-rocks; Temjjle canyon 555 

XCIX. Palatki (Ruin i) 557 

C. Palatki (Ruin i) 559 

CI. Front wall of Palatki (Ruin ii) 561 

CII. Honanki (Ruin ii) 563 

cm. Walls of Honanki 565 

CIV. Approach to main part of Honanki 567 

C V. Map (if the ruins of Tu.sayau 583 

CVI. The ruiu^ of Kiikiichomo 587 

CVII. Ground plan of Awatobi 003 

CVIII. Ruins of San Bernardino de Awatobi 007 

CIX. Excavations in the western mound of Awatobi 615 

ex. Excavated room in the western mound of Awatobi 617 

CXI. Vase and mugs from the western mounds of Awatobi 618 

CXII. Paint pots, vase; and dipper from Awatobi 620 

CXIII. Pottery from intraumral l)urial at Awatobi 622 

CXIV^. Bone im|ilements from Awatobi and Sikyatki 626 

CXV. Sikyatki mounds from the Kanelba trail 637 

CXVI. Ground plan of Sikyatki 639 

CXVII. Excavated rooms ou the acropolis of Sikyatki 643 

CX VIII. Plan of excavated rooms on the acropolis of Sikyatki 644 

CXIX. Coiled and indented pottery from Sikyatki 650 

CXX. Saucers and slipper bowls from Sikyatki 652 

CXXI. Decorated pottery from Sikyatki 654 

CXXII. Decorated pottery from Sikyatki „ 654 

CXXIII. Decorated pottery from Sikyatki 657 

CXXI V. Decorated pottery from Sikyatki 660 

CXXV. Flat dippers and medicine box from Sikyatki 662 

CXX VI. Double-lobe vases from Sikyatki 664 

CXX VII. Unusual forms of vases from Sikyatki 666 

CXX VIII. Medicine box and pigment pots from Sikyatki 668 

CXXIX. Designs on food bowls from Sikyatki 670 

CXXX. Food bowls with tigures of ((uadrupeds from Sikyatki 672 

CXXXI. Ornamented ladles from Sikyatki 674 

CXXXII. Food bowls with figures of reptiles from Sikyatki 676 

CXXXIll. Bowls and dippers with ligures of tadpoles, birds, etc., from 

Sikyatki 076 

CXXXIV. Food howls with figures of sun, butterfly, and flower, froui 

Sikyatki 076 

CXXXV. Vases with figures of butterflies from Sikyatki 678 

CXXXVI. Vases with figures of birds and feathers from Sikyatki 678 

CXXXVII. Vessels with figures of human hand, birds, turtle, etc., from 

Sikyatki 080 

CXXXVIII. Food bowls with figures of birds from Sikyatki 082 

CXXXIX. Food bowls with figures of birds from Sikyatki 684 

CXL. Figures of birds from Sikyatki 686 

CXLI. Food bowls with figures of birds and feathers from Sikyatki .... 688 

CXLII. Vases, bowls, and ladle witli ligures of feathers from Sikyatki .... 688 

CXLIII. Vase with figures of birds from Sikyatki 090 

C'XLIV. Vase with figures of birds from Sikyatki (i90 

17 ETH II 



CXLY. A'ases vrith tigures of birds from Sikyatki 690 

CXLVI. Bowls aud potsherd with figures of birds from Sikyatki 692 

CXLVII. Food bowls with figures of birds from Sikyatki 692 

CXLVIII. Food bows with symbols of feathers from Sikyatki 694 

CXLIX. Food bowls with symbols of feathers from Sikyatki 694 

CL. Figures of birds and feathers from Sikyatki 696 

CLI. Figures of birds and feathers from Sikyatki 696 

CLII. Food bowls with bird, feather, and flower symbols from Sikyatki. 698 

CLIII. Food bowls with figures of birds and feathers from Sikyatki 698 

CLIV. Food l)owls with figures of birds and feathers from Sikyatki 700 

CLV. Food bowls with figures of birds and feathers from Sikyatki 700 

CLVI. Food bowls with figures of birds aud feathers from Sikyatki 700 

CLVII. Figures of birds aud feathers from Sikyatki 702 

C'LVIII. Food bowls with figures of sun and related symbols from Sikyatki . 702 

CLIX. Cross and related designs from Sikyatki 704 

CLX. Cross and other symbols from Sikyatki 704 

CLXI. Star, snn, and related symbols from Sikyatki 704 

CLXII. Geometric ornanieutation from Sikyatki 706 

CLXIII. Food bowls with geometric ornamentation from Sikyatki 708 

CLXIV. Food bowls with geometric ornamentation from Sikyatki 710 

CLXV. Food bowls with geometric ornamentation from Sikyatki 714 

CLX VI. Linear figures on food bowls from Sikyatki 718 

CLXVII. Geometric ornamentation from Awatobi 722 

CLXV III. Geometric ornameutatiou from Awatobi 726 

CLXIX. Arrowshaft smoothers, selenite, aud symbolic corn from Sikyatki. 728 

CLXX. Corn grinder from Sikyatki 730 

CLXXI. Stone implements from Palatki, Awatobi. and Sikyatki 732 

CLXX II. Paint grinder, fetish, lignite, aud kaolin disks from Sikyatki 734 

CLXXIII. Pipes, bell, clay birds, and shells from Awatobi and Sikyatki 736 

CLXXIV. Pahos or prayer-sticks from Sikyatki 738 

CLXXV. Pahos or prayer-sticks from Sikyatki 738 

Figure 1. Nomenclatural map of Serilaud 16 

2. Gateway to Seriland — gorge of Rio Baouache 27 

3. Tinaja Anita 29 

4. lieyoud Eucinas desert— the saguesa 33 

5. Embarking on Bahia Kunkaak iu la Ismcha, Auitn 48 

6. .-kuterior aud left lateral aspect of Seri cranium 142* 

7. Suake-skiu belt ITO* 

8. Dried llower necklace 171* 

9. Seed necklace 1"2* 

10. Nut pendants 172* 

11. Shell beads 172* 

12. Wooden beads 172" 

13. Necklace of wooden beads 173* 

14. Rattlesnake necklace 174* 

15. Seriollaring 184* 

16. Water-bearer's yoke 184* 

17. Symbolic mortuary olla 185* 

18. Symbolic mortuary dish 185* 

19. Shell-cup 186* 

20. Turtle-harpoon 187* 

21. Fish-spearhead 193* 

22. African archery posture 202* 

23. Desiccated pork 205* 

24. Seri basket 208* 

25. Scatophagic supplies 213* 



Figure 26. Seri marlinspikes 217* 

27. The balsa afloat 218* 

28. Seri lialsa as seen by XarraganseU party 219* 

29. Seri liairbrnsli 226* 

30. Seri cradle 226* 

31. Hair spindle 227* 

32. Human-hair cord 228* 

33. Hor.sehair cord 228* 

34. Mesquite-filier rope 229* 

35. Bone awl 230* 

36. Wooden awls 230* 

37. Seri arrowheads 249* 

38. Diagrammatic outline of industrial development 2.')3* 

39. Mortuary olla 289* 

40. Woman's fetishes 290* 

41. Food for the long journey 291* 

42. Mortuary cup 291* 

43. Zepko-e^tte or Big-bow 151 

44. Dohasiin or Little-bluff, principal chief, 1833-1866 175 

45. Set-t'ainte (Satanta) or White bear 178 

46. .'*et-;ingya (Satank) or Sitting-bear 189 

47. Tsen-taifite or White-horse 191 

48. A'do-eetteor Big-tree 192 

49. "Ka ati-wertz-ama-na — .\ brave man, not afraid of any Indian". 195 

50. T'ene-ang(')pte or Kicking- bird 196 

51. (Jui-piigo or Lone-wolf, present head-chief of the Kiowa 200 

52. .V'piatan or Wooden-lance 222 

53. H. L. Scott, Captain, Seventh cavalry, U. S. A 224 

54. \ group of Kiowa 225 

55. The Kiowa camp circle 229 

56. Miinyi-ten or Woman-heart, a tyi>ical Kiowa 232 

.57. Gaaiiiatan {alias Haitsiki) or Feathered-lance, a typical Kiowa.. 234 

58. Gray-eagle, a Kiowa Apache subchief 247 

59. Tsayaditl-ti or White-man, present head-chief of the Kiowa 

Apache 249 

60. Diivcko, "The-same-one,'' a KlowaApache subchief and medicine- 

man 250 

61. Sct-t'an or Little-bear 254 

62. Winter 1832-33— Money captured 255 

63. Summer 1833— They cut off their heads 258 

64. Winter 1833-34— The stars fill 261 

65. The star shower of 1833 (from the Dakota calendars) 261 

66. Summer 1834 — Return of Gunp.'iTidama' 261 

67. Meeting of the dragoons and the Comanchn (after Catlin) 264 

68. Ki'tskuk.-itu'k, the Wichita village ou North fork in 1834 267 

69. Winter 1834-35— Bull-tail killed 269 

70. Summer 1835 — Cat-tail rush sun dance 269 

71. Winter 1835-36— Big-face killed 270 

72. Summer 1836 — Wolf-river sun dance 271 

73. Winter 1836-37- Kiniihiate killed 271 

74. Summer 1837 — Cheyenne massacred 271 

75. Battle pictures (from the Dakota calendars) 272 

76. Winter 1837-38— Head dragged 273 

77. Summer 1838— Attacked by Cheyenne 273 

78. Winter 1838-39— Battle with Arapalio 274 

79. Summer 1839— Peninsula sun dance 274 



Figure 80. Winter 1839-40— Smallpox 274 

81. Smallpox (I'rom the Dakota oaleuilars) 275 

82. Summerl840— Eed-bhitf suudauce 275 

83. Wiutcr 1840-41— Hide-quiver war expedition 276 

84. Summer 1841— Pawnee figlit 276 

85. Winter 1841-42— A'dalhaba'k" fa killed 277 

86. Summer 1842 — Repeated suu dance 279 

87. Winter 1842-43— Crow-neck died 280 

88. Summer 1843 — Xest-building sun dance 280 

89. Winter 1843-44— Woman stabbed 281 

90. Summer 1844 — Dakota sun dance : 281 

91. Winter 1844-45— A'taha-ik'i killed 282 

92. Giving the war pipe (from the Dakota calendars) 282 

93. Summer 1845 — Stone-necklace sun dance 283 

94. Winter 1845-46— Wrinkled-neck's trading post 283 

95. Summer 1846 — Hornless-bull initiated 284 

96. Dog-soldier initiated ( ?) (from the Dakota calendars) 285 

97. Winter 1846-47— JIustaehe shooting 286 

98. Summer 1847— Red-sleeve killed 286 

99. Winter 1847-48— Winter camp ' 287 

100. Summer 1848 — Initiation sun dance 287 

101. Winter 1848-49— Antelope drive 287 

102. Antelope drives (Irom the Dakota calendars) 288 

103. Sunmier 1849— Cholera, sun dance 289 

104. Cholera (from the Dakota calendars) 290 

105. Winter 1849-50 — Dance over slain Pawnee 292 

106. Summer 1850— Chinaberry sun dance 292 

107. Winter 1850-51— liuck-deer killed 293 

108. Summer 1851 — Dusty sun dance; flag stolen 293 

109. Winter 1851-52— Woman frozen 294 

110. Summer 1852— Iron-shirt killed 294 

111. Winter 1852-53— Guadaltscyu stolen 295 

112. Summer 1853 — Showery sun dance 215 

113. Rain symbols (Cliinese, Hopi, and O.jibwa) 296 

114. Winter 1853-54— PUTigyiigfate killed 296 

, 115. Summer 1854— Black-horse killed 297 

116. Winter 1854-55— Gyafkoaoute killed 299 

117. Svrmuier 1855 — Sitting summer 300 

118. Winter 1855-56- Big-head kills an A'hihii 300 

119. Summer 1856 — Prickly-pear sun dance 301 

120. Winter 1856-57— Tipis left 301 

121. Summer 1857 — Forked- stick -sprouting sun dance 302 

122. Winter 18.57-58— Horses stolen 305 

123. Summer 1858 — Timber-circle sun dance 306 

124. Winter 18.58-59— Giii-k' ate killed 306 

125. Summer 18.59 — Cedar-blntf sun dance 306 

126. Winter 1859-60— Giaka-ite died 307 

127. Summer 1860— Bird-appearing killed 308 

128. Winter 1860-61— Crazy-bluff wi nter 309 

129. Summer 1861— Pinto left tied 310 

130. Winter 1861-62— Smallpox 311 

131. Summer 1862— Sun dance after smallpox 311 

132. Winter 1862-63— Tree-top winter 312 

133. Summer 1863 — Xo-arm's-river sun dance 313 

134. Winter 1863-64— Big-head dies; HaTizepho da dies 313 

135. Summer 1864 — Ragweed suu dance; soldier tight SH 



Figure 136. Winter 1864-65— Ute tight 315 

137. Summer 186.5 — Peninsula sun dance 317 

138. Winter 186.5-66— TUn-kiinkya (lied; I)ob:i8::u died 318 

139. Summer 1866 — German-silver sun dance 319 

140. Winter 1866-67— .ViLimfi dalte killed 319 

141. Summer 1867 — Black ear stolen: tbe Ka its nko 320 

142. Winter 1867-68— Medicine Lodge treaty ; Xavaho killeil 320 

143. Summer 1868— Ute tight 322 

144. Winter 1868-69— Tiingiiadal killed 32.5 

145. Summer 1869 — AVarbonnet sun dance 326 

146. Winterl869-70— Bugle scare 326 

147. Summer 1870 — Plant-growing sun dance; dusty sun dance 327 

148. Winter 1870-71 — Set-augya's bones brought home; drunken fight; 

ucgroe.s killed 327 

149. .Summer 1871 — Set-tainte arrested ; Koupate killed 328 

150. Set-tainte in prison 330 

151. Winter 1871-72(1872-73) — Pawneevisit; camp on Long-tree creek. 333 

152. Summer 1872— Viejo shot 335 

153. Winter 1872-73— Pueblo visit ; battle tipi burned 336 

154. Summer 1873 — Pa-konkya's horses killed 337 

155. Winter 1873-74— Set-t'ainte returns; Lone-woU"s son killed 337 

156. Summer 1874— The medicine lance; Bluff-end sun dance 338 

157. Winter 1874-75— Gi-edal killed; Kiowa imprisoned 339 

158. Summer 1875 — Love-making spring sun dance 339 

159. Winter 1875-76 — Sheep and goats issued .339 

160. Summer 1876— Horse-stealing sun dance 340 

161. Winter 1876-77 — A'gabai killed; scouts enlisted 341 

162. Summer 1877 — Measles sun dance 341 

163. Winter 1877-78 — Camp at Signal mountain; hunt on Pecan creek. 342 

164. Summer 1878 — Repeated sun dance .343 

165. Winter 1878-79— i'to t'iiin killed 343 

166. Summer 1879— Horse-eating sun dance ; boy shot 344 

167. Winter 1879-80— Eye-triuraph -winter 345 

168. Summer 1880 — No dance ; Pabcite died 346 

169. Winter 1880-81— House built; Pueblo visit 347 

170. Summer 1881 — Hemorrhage or hot suu dance .347 

171. Winter 1881-82 — D6-aganie; medicine tipi 3J8 

172. .Summer 1882 — Buffalo medicine; Pii'tso'gate died :!49 

173. Winter 1882-83 — Bot-edalte dies; grass leases; camp on Pecan 

creek ,350 

174. Summer 1883 — Nez Perce sun dance 351 

175. Winter 1883-84— House built; children taken; Sioux dances 352 

176. .Sunuuer 1884 — No suu dance ; hauled freight 3.52 

177. Winter 1884-85— Winter camp; Ti>nak'a's elopement 353 

178. Summer 1885 — Little Peninsula suu dance; grass payment 353 

179. AVinter 1885-86— Camp burned 354 

180. Summer 1886 — No sun dance; policemen; grass payment 354 

181 . Winter 1886-87 — Pey i conunits suicide 354 

182. Summer 1887 — No sun dance (?) ; payment 355 

183. Winter 1887-88— Cattle payment 355 

184. Summer 1888— Sun dance ( ?) ; Pa-ingya's prophecy 356 

185. Winter 1888-89— Wiuter camp; Sun-boy died; split rails 358 

186. Summer 1889 — No sun dance ; grass payment 358 

187. Wiuter 1889-90— Winter camp; grass payment ; /«hi dauce 358 

188. Summer 1890 — Unfinished sun dance 359 

189. Winter 1890-91— Sitting-bull comes; A'piatan; boys frozen 359 



Figure 190. Summer 1891— P'6ilalli'rite killed; visit Cheyenne 361 

191. Winter 1891-92— Soldiers enlisted; PTidalaTite killed 362 

192. Summer 1892 — Measles; grass payment 362 

193. T'aguruital P'a Siin 373 

194. T'agnriiital P'a 373 

195. Gakinat'o P'a — Woman whipped 373 

196. A'ga'nti 373 

197. T^pgan P'a— Wagon stalled 373 

198. Ganhina P'a — Annuity issue 374 

199. Ka'giiat P'a Siin— Mares foal 374 

200. Ka'guat P'a— Split rails 374 

201. Ai-deu P'a— Horses lost 374 

202. Pal A'ga'nti— Visit Cheyenne 374 

203. Pal Tepgau P'a— Ghost dance 374 

204. Pai Ganhina P'a — Sun dance stopped.; grass payment 375 

205. Tagunotal P'a Siin 375 

206. T'aguni'ital P'a— A'piatan 375 

207. Gakinat'o P'a— .Sitting-bnll 375 

208. A'ga'nti 375 

209. Tepgau P'a — -School-boys frozen 376 

210. Ganhina P'a — Annuity issue 376 

211. Ka giiat P'a Siin — A'piatan returns 376 

212. Ka'giiat P'a — Wire issue 376 

213. AidenP'a 376 

214. Pai .\'g.1'nti— Treaty sale 376 

215. Pai T(5pgan P'a— Races 377 

216. Pai Ganhifia P'a — Woman stolen 377 

217. T'agundtal P'a Siin— Pneblo dance 377 

218. T'agunotal P'a— P'odaliiTitB killed 377 

219. Gakinat'o P'a — Maile medicine ; cut wood 377 

220. A'ga'nti — Lunar eclii)se 378 

221. Topgafi P'a 378 

222. Ganhina P'a — Annuity issue 378 

223. Ka'guat P'a Siin— Wire issue 378 

224. Ka'guat P'a— Move camp 378 

225. Ai-deu P'a — Immigrants arrive 378 

226. Pai A'ga'nti — latiikia dies; grass payment 378 

227. Pai Tepgau P'a — Measles ; grass payment 379 

228. Pai Ganhina P'a— Fourth of July races 379 

229. T'ilgunotal P'a Siin — Cheyenne dance 379 

230. The three main timbers of a hoga'n 489 

231. Frame of a hogiin, seen from below 491 

232. Frame of a doorway 492 

233. Ground plan of a summer shelter 495 

234. Supporting post in a summer hut 496 

235. Ground plan of a summer hut 496 

236. Section of a summer hnt 497 

237. Masonry support for rafters 497 

238. A timber-built shelter 498 

239. Shelter with partly closed front 499 

240. Low earth-covered shelter 500 

241. Ground plan of Yi-bitcai house 510 

242. Framework of Yebitcai house 512 

243. Diagram showing measurements of Ycbitcai house 513 

244. Interior of Ycbitcai house, illustrating nomencl.iture 516 

245. Plan of cavate dwelling on Rio Verde 540 



Figure 246. Casa Montezuma on Beaver creek 552 

247. Ground plan of Palatki (Ruins i and ii) 5.54 

248. Ground plan of Honanki 559 

249. The main ruin of Honanki 562 

250. Strncturi; of wall of Honanki 564 

251. Stone implement from Honanki , 571 

252. Tinder tube from Honanki 572 

253. Kukiicbomo 587 

254. Defensive wall on thi' Mesa 588 

255. Ground plan of San Bernardino de Awatobi 608 

256. Structure of wall of Awatobi 615 

257. Alosaka shrine at Awatobi 620 

258. Shrine at Awatobi 621 

259. Shrine at Awatobi 621 

260. Shrine at Awatobi 621 

261. Clay bell from Awatobi 629 

262. The acropolis of Sikyatki 644 

263. War god shooting an animal ( fragment of food bowl ) 665 

264. Mountain sheep 669 

265. Mountain lion 670 

266. Plumed serpent 672 

267. Unknown reptile 674 

268. Unknown reptile 675 

269. Unknown reptile 676 

270. Outline of plate cxxxv, a 078 

271. Butterfly design on upper surface of plate cxxxv, b 679 

272. Mau-i-agle 683 

273. Pendent feather ornaments on a vase 690 

274. Upper surface of with bird decoration 691 

275. Kwataka eating an animal 692 

276. Decoration on the bottom of plate cxLvi,/ 694 

277. Oblique parallel line decoration 706 

278. Parallel lines fused at one point 706 

279. Parallel lines with zigzag arrangement 706 

280. Parallel lines connected by middle bar 707 

281. Parallel lines of dirt'erent width; serrate margin 707 

282. Parallel lines of dirt'erent width; median serrate 707 

283. Parallel lines of ditierent width; marginal serrate 707 

284. Parallel lines and triangles 708 

285. Line with alternate triangles 708 

286. Single line with alternate spurs 708 

287. Single line with hourglass figures 708 

288. Single lino with triangles 709 

289. Single line with alternate triangles and ovals 709 

290. Triangles and quadrilaterals 709 

291. Triangle with spurs 709 

292. Rectaugle with single line 709 

293. Double triangle ; multiple lines 710 

294. Double triangle ; terraced edges 710 

295. Single line; closed fret 710 

296. Single line; open fret 711 

297. Single line ; broken fret 711 

298. Single line ; parts displaced 711 

299. Open fret; attachment displaced 711 

300. Simple rectangular design 711 

301. Rectangular S-form 712 



Figure 302. Rertanguliir S-form with crooks 712 

303. Rtrtangular S-form -n-itb triaugles 712 

301. Rectangular S-form with terraced triangles 712 

305. S-form with interdigitating spurs 713 

306. Siiuare with rectangles and parallel lines 713 

307. Rectangles, triangles, stars, and featliers 713 

308. Crook, feathers, and parallel lines 713 

309. Crooks and feathers 714 

310. Rectangle, triangles, and feathers 714 

311. Terraced crook, triangle, and featliers 714 

312. Double key 715 

313. Triangular terrace 715 

314. Crook, serrate end 715 

315. Key pattern ; rectangle and triangles 716 

316. Rectangle and crook 716 

317. Crook and tail-feathers 716 

318. Rectangle, triangle, and serrate spurs 717 

319. W-patteru; terminal crooks 717 

320. W-pattern ; terminal rectangles 717 

321. W-pattern; terminal terraces and crooks 718 

322. W-pattern ; terminal spurs 718 

323. W-pattern ; bird form 719 

324. W-pattern; median triangle 719 

325. Double triangle ; two breath feathers 720 

326. Double triangle ; median trapezoid 720 

327. Double triangle; median rectangle 720 

328. Double compound triangle; median rectangle 720 

329. Double triangle; median triangle 721 

330. Double com pound triangle 721 

331. Double rectangle; median rectangle 721 

332. Double rectangle; median triangle 721 

333. Double triangle with crooks 722 

334. W-sbape figure ; single line with feathers 722 

3.35. Compound rectangles, triangles, and feathers 722 

336. Double triangles 722 

337. Double triangles and feathers 723 

338. Twin triangles 723 

339. Triangle with terraced appendages 723 

.340. Mosaic pattern 723 

341. Rectangles, stars, crooks, and parallel lines 724 

342. Continuous crooks 724 

343. Rectangular terrace pattern 724 

344. Terrace pattern with parallel lines 725 

345. Terrace pattern , 725 

346. Triangular pattern with feathers 725 

347. S-patteru 726 

348. Triangular and terrace figures 726 

349. Crook, terrace, and parallel lines 726 

350. Triangles, squares, and terraces 726 

351. Bifurcated rect.angular design 727 

352. Lines of life and triangles 727 

3.53. Infolded triangles 727 

354. Human hand 728 

355. Animal paw, limb, and, triangle 728 

356. Kaolin disk 729 

357. Mortuary prayer-stick 736 





By J. W. Powell, Director 


Ethnologic researches have been carried forward through- 
out the fiscal year ending June 30, 1896, in accordance 
with the act of Congress making provision "for continuing 
ethnological researches among the American Indians, under 
the direction of the Smithsonian Institution," approved March 
2, 1895. 

The purpose of ethnologic research is the discovery of rela- 
tions among tribes and peoples. The relations sought may be 
either structural or activital. Ethnologic inquiry began many 
years ago. Throughout the civilized world men of research 
had engaged in the study of tribal man. Their inquiries were 
directed mainly toward the discovery of physical character- 
istics, and toward the definition of races in terms of such 
characteristics. Much work of this kind was done, and a great 
body of useful data pertaining to tribal men was accumulated. 
When this Bureau was instituted in 1879, the primary purpose 
contemplated by statesmen was the practical definition of tribes 
in such terms as to guide officials engaged in grouping the 
Indians on reservations; and the experience gained through 
the inquiry soon demonstrated that the relations of practical 
moment are not physical but demotic. Thus immediate prac- 
tical needs forced inquiry toward relations transcending those 
discovered among beasts by biologists, and led to a study of 
the essentially human activities. 


As research proo-ressed under this practical impetus, the 
lines of human conduct leading toward amity or tending 
toward enmity among the tribesmen were necessarily studied 
with especial care. It was soon observed that diversities in 
mythology or belief easily engender distrust and strife, while 
similarities in faith inspire mutual confidence and thus pro- 
mote i)eace. Accordingly the fiducial activities of the tribes, 
including the myths and ceremonies, were investigated and 
defined. It was also observed that tribes and confederacies 
organized or regimented on parallel lines and governed by 
chiefs chosen in the same way commonly associate peacefully, 
while groups whose institutions are unlike seldom associate 
without friction and clashing. Thus the practical importance 
of primitive institutions was necessarily recognized. It was 
observed, too, that aboriginal groups whose industries, sports, 
and games are similar usually live together in harmony, Avhile 
Indians whose arts and industries are diverse are mutually 
suspicious and prone to animosity; so that it was deemed 
needful to investigate and discriminate the esthetic and indus- 
trial activities of tlie several tribes. Finally it was observed 
that the arts of jjleasure, the industries, the institutions, and 
the beliefs of the tribes are intimately connected with the 
languages by which they are expressed and continually revivi- 
fied, and, as observation ])rooeeded, this connection was found 
so intimate as to show that languag-e may be regarded as an 
index to all the other acti vital attributes, and hence as a basis 
for tribal classification and for the arrangement of the Indians 
in amicable groups. 

As the researclies went on from year to year, the early 
observations were extended and the earh' generalizations cor- 
roborated, and a system of classification based on essentially 
human activities was developed and applied. This system is 
set forth in the preceding reports and is expressed in the sev- 
eral lines of research pursued in the Bureau. 

With the definition of the activities, ethnic research gradually 
rose to a new plane. The investigator of today feels less con- 
cern in the physical characteristics of tribesmen than in their 
conduct and in the motives and other intrinsic attributes 


expressed by conduct; and lie finds that just classification of 
the activities of peoples removes the need for other classifica- 
tions of men, at least in so far as civil conditions are concerned. 
With tlie concentration of study on the human activities, they 
gradually came to be recognized as at once the expressions and 
the products of human intelligence. Considerable thought 
has been given to the mode of development of the activital 
products and of the activities themselves; and the researches 
in this direction are yielding results worthy of record. 

1. The esthetic instinct is strongly developed among the 
American aborigines, especially in childhood and early adoles- 
cence; and even iu maturity and old age it is abundantly 
manifested in ceremonial dances, in oral and instrumental 
music, in symbolic decoration, in diA'inatory games, and in 
other ways. Now, the researches indicate (1) that play 
springs spontaneously in the individual as the exjDression of 
hereditary function, normally strengthened by exercise in each 
generation so as to pass on in increasing potency as the gen- 
erations run; (2) that the play of the individual normally 
epitomizes the serious as well as the lighter ancestral activi- 
ties, and presages both the serious and the lighter activities 
of the individual in later life and of his descendants in later 
generations; (3) that through this inherent relation the spon- 
taneous activities are gradually directed, during the life of the 
individual and during the succession of generations, to more 
serious ends; (4) that, in this way, industries spring perpet- 
ually from pleasures; and (5) that the pleasures constantly 
spread from individual to individual and from group to group 
through mimicry and other manifestations of the social instinct. 
Accordingly, while the esthetic activities tend to increase and 
multiply through individual initiative, they are extended and 
perpetuated only through interchange and heritage; so that, 
despite a minor cliflferential tendency, the general trend of 
esthetic development is toward combination and integration. 

Pleasure and industry are concomitant and connate. Both 
moti\'es appeai- not only in the human race, but even among 
the lower animals. Pleasure and life are ends which men 
seek and have sought from primordial time, but pleasure is 


the cradle in which industry is rocked, for the earliest pleas- 
ures of mankind are mimetic industries. 

2. Although less perfect than in higher culture, the indus- 
trial instinct of the American aborigines is developed to a 
suggestive degree. Observably springing from the desire 
for sustenance and the need for protection from unfriendly 
environment, the industries of the tribesmen, as the researches 
among them indicate, are developed through the regulation or 
control of spontaneoiis activities. The impulse toward regu- 
lation arises in various ways. Doubtless the initial impulse is 
physiologic, and hence pertains to the individual rather than 
the group; but the observably effective impvilses are predomi- 
nantly mimetic and subordinately rational, and in either case are 
essentially collective. Throughout primitive industry, mimicry 
plays a leading role; the activities of food-getting are learned 
by example, not merely the example of human food-getters 
but that of beasts deified in reco"'nition of their strength and 
swiftness and ferocity. Teeth, claws, horns, spines, and shells 
are chosen as implements by reason of a mythic magnification 
of their efficiency in offense and defense, and wholly artificial 
implements and weapons are fabricated in imitation of the 
animal structures, in the faith that they are thereby endowed 
with si;perphysical potency. As the amicable workers multi- 
ply their devices are interchanged, with the effect that the 
more efficient are retained and the less efficient aliandoned. 
Even when the workers are inimical some interchano-e g-oes on 
under the process of acculturation, for the leading motive of 
strife in savagery and barbarism is the conquest of deities 
symbolized by the devices of warfai'e. With the growtli of 
faculty example is integrated and experience coordinated and 
mysticism measurably eliminated, so that industrial activity 
is regulated by rational arrangement of realities — and thus 
invention begins; but invention arises with exceeding slow- 
ness among lower men, and remains dominated liy primitive 
imitation until the liigher culture-stages are attained. The 
factors involved in regulating spontaneous impulses and direct- 
ing them toward individual and collective welfare appear to 
be (1) heritage, (2) environmental interaction, (3) imitation, 


(4) coordination of experience of self and others, and (5) inven- 
tion. It would be difficult to evaluate these several factors 
fairly; but when they are so grouped as to opjxtse the individ- 
ual and the collective, or more properly («) the independent 
and (b) the imitative, it is not difficult to judge their rela- 
tive importance; for, especially in that lower culture in which 
invention is subordinate, the imitative element is so largely 
predominant that the independent element is commonly rele- 
gated to the limbo of paradox — as when curiosity-seekers puz- 
zle over activital coincidences or interpret them as evidences of 
former contact between unrelated peoples. In general terms, 
it would seem that, while the industrial activities tend to 
increase and multiply through individual initiative (though in 
much less degree than the esthetic activities), they are extended 
and perpetuated partly through heritage but chiefly through 
imitative interchange; so that the essential trend of industiial 
development is toward integration and coordination. 

3. The institutional activities of the American Indians have 
been found peculiarly instructive. The relationsliips which 
arise from the physical conditions of reproduction of children 
from parents is seized upon as an obvious method for org-aniz- 
ing the groups of society in a hierarchy. The tribes that live 
in the lowest stage of culture (which we call savagery) recog- 
nize parents and children, but they practically give to the 
mother superior authority over the children. The next higher 
group is the clan; this is organized so as to include a peculiar set 
of persons. The mother and her brothers and sisters together 
with the grandmother with her brothers and sisters constitute the 
group, which may also include the great-grandmother and her 
brothers and sisters. The group is thus projected into antiquitv, 
so that all persons who recognize kinship by an unbroken 
descent through mothers are included therein, and future gen- 
erations have their clan organization fixed thereby. Tlie chief 
or ruler of the group is always the elder man of the gToup; the 
chieftaincy is therefore avuncular. 

In the family, authority is in the elder, and if two or more 
generations constitute the same household, the aiithority is still 
in the elder, but the mother has authority over the father. In 


the clan the uncle or mother's brother has chief authority, and 
superior age always gives authority in savagery. This is the 
theory upon which the savage proceeds; but superior age is 
conventional age, and men may be advanced from number to 
number in age; a younger son may be advanced over an elder 
son, and when this occurs they exchange kinship names; a 
nephew may be promoted over his uncle, when they also 
exchange kinship names. 

In addition to the family and the clan a still higher group 
is organized. All persons who claim relationship by consan- 
guinity are included in this group; this is the tribe. Marriage 
is forbidden within tlie clan; it is, therefore, an incest group; 
but men and women of different clans mate, and thus marriag-e 
is within the tribe. If a person not a member of the tribe 
wishes to marry a person within the tribe, he must be adopted 
into some clan other than that of his mate, and if a person 
wishes to marry within the clan, he must be adopted into some 
other clan; so that incest in this stage of society is prohibited 
marriage within a conventional group of persons, and is thus 
based on convention and not on degree of consanguinity. 
Again, while the mother s brothers and sisters belong- to her 
clan, the children of the brothers belong to the clan in which 
they are married. The children of the sisters of the clan call 
one another brothers and sisters, but the children of the broth- 
ers call the children of the sisters by a term which may be 
rendered by the English term cousin. 

Tribes are also organized into confederacies. Such organ- 
izations seem always to I'esult from war, Ijut when ])eace is 
established a convention is made, and the contracting pnrties 
assume artificial relationship. They may be brothers, in which 
case they are elder brothers and younger brothers. They 
ma}', by convention, be fathers and sons, or even grandfathers 
and grandsons, or uncles and nephews, the conquering jiarty 
taking the name which implies superior age. But several 
tribes may be organized into a confederacy ; then kinship 
terms are parceled out among them in compliance with jjre- 
viously arranged conventional kinship. 

In all the American tribes of savagery we find that peculiar 


groups of persons are organized. We call these groups sliaman- 
i.stic societies; they are organized as religious bodies, hut the 
term must he used with an extended meaning so as to include 
the ceremonies which savage men believe to be religious. 
Pleasure and pain, welfare^ and want, peace and warfare, 
health and disease, and all good and evil are believed by the 
savage men to be under the control of these shamanistic socie- 
ties. Such religious bodies (if the term is permitted) i)lay a 
very important part in savage society; they are known as 
brotherhoods, and the chief of the brotherhood is called their 
fatlier, and the members of the brotherhood call one anotlier 
brothers and sisters. Thus even their societies are planned 
on kinship ideas. 

Some of the tribes of America are organized on a somewliat 
different plan which may be set forth. When they are organ- 
ized on this new plan we call them barbarians, and thus dis- 
tinguish them from tribes that are organized on the clanship 
system. First, the father becomes the head of tlie family and 
authority is in the father rather than in the mother. Second, 
for the group whicli is called the clan in savagery there is sub- 
stituted the gens in barbarism; this group embraces all of 
those persons who reckon kinship through fathers, so that the 
fatlier and his brothers and sisters, together with the grand- 
father and his brothers and sisters, and all other consanguineal 
kindred back in past generations and forward in future gener- 
ations are called a gens. Children of the same father only are 
called brothers and sisters, but the childi'en of his brothers are 
designated by his children in terms which may be translated 
cousin; then cousins wdio are children of the father's brotli- 
ers and sisters, and also those who are children of the mother's 
brothers and sisters, are called by terms which are often trans- 
lated into English as coming under the designation cousin, 
though in barbarism a distinction is made, cousins through the 
father and cousins through the mother having different desig- 
nations. Thus there are two terms which signify cousins; and 
these cousins are further classed by age relative to the person 
speaking. The gens appears in Greek and Roman history, 
where it is known as the agnatic kindred. The tribe remains a 



bodv of consangiiineal kindred: it is composed of groups of 
gentes that are incest groups, and the mates in marriage must 
belong- to different o-entos. 

We next find a pecuhar devehjpment in tlie organization and 
government of shamanistic bodies or phratries. In barbarism 
the head of the family presides over the religious observances 
of the family and all the household. The chief of the gens is 
in the same manner the chief of its phratries ; the chief of the 
tribe is also ex ofticio the chief of its phratries, and the chief of 
the confederacy is in like manner chief of all tlie ])lii-atries. 
Thus tlie phratries are organized into a hiei'archy of bodies as 
households, gentes, tribes, and confederacies, and the chief of 
the confederacy has authority over all the units of organizati(.)n. 
Yet throughout both savaa•er^' and barbarism tribal org-aniza- 
tiou is founded on kinship, real or conventional, and seems to 
be developed from the constitution of tlie family. 

Now institutions are necessarily collective, but the institu- 
tional factors mav be analyzed in such manner as to be recom- 
posed with reference to (rt) the natural element or element 
of actual kinship, and (I)) the conventional or more strictly 
demotic element. When this is done, it becomes clear that, while 
the more personal institutional activities tend to perpetuate 
themselves through heredity, the g'eneral course of institu- 
tional development is determined by the artificial or demotic 
element, which gains strength through the integration and 
combination normally attending the growth of groups. 

4. The languages of the American Indians have tlu-own 
much light on the course of linguistic develojjment. Like the 
institutional activities, they are essentially collective; and they 
reflect the esthetic, industrial, and institutional activities with 
close fidelity, and are themselves reflected in activities of a 
still higher order. The lowliest known languages of the tribes- 
men display a spontaneous element, which may take the form 
of exclamatory and often inarticulate utterance or of gestin-e, 
these primitive forms of expression being especially character- 
istic of lower culture, while all the tribes possess regulated 
systems of expression in articulated speech, and at least inchoate 
systems of graphic symbolism. Most of the aboriginal tongues 


are lioloplirastic in verbal form, complex in <^Tammatic structure, 
aud largely associative or connotive in idea. A vague family 
resemblance is supjjosed by some philologists to indicate a 
genetic connection between them; but the conspicuous fact of 
the aboriginal Amei-ican tongues is their diversit}', a diversity 
so wide as to imply essentiall}* independent development. 
Briefly stated, the developmental factors correspond with those 
of the industrial activities, save that the role of imitation seems 
relati^•ely more important, and that there is more effective 
reaction on the organs (especially those of speech) than com- 
monly attends performance of industrial function; while the 
relative importance of the more strictly physiologic and the 
more largely psychologic elements is much the same as in the 
institutional activities — i. e., the artificial features so far pre- 
ponderate that the purely natural features are negligible. So, 
while language indeed tends to diff"erentiate through pure 
spontaneity and through the impulse of creative invention, the 
prevailing tendency is toward diffusion through imitation, and 
this tendency is so far prejionderant that the vast collections of 
records of American aboriginal languages are little more than 
records of linguistic blending; so that the well-ascertained 
course of hnguistic development is toward interchange and 
thence to ultimate union. 

5. The fiducial activities of the American tribesmen have 
been found of special interest, partly because their range is 
relatively wider than in higher culture. Advanced peoples 
possess manv philosophic systems, resting on reason and faith 
separately and in combination, and these systems control 
thought and action in their several ways ; but in primitive 
culture, such as that represented by the aborigines of America, 
the controlling philosophic systems rest exclusively on faith. 
Accordingly their g-ames are divinatory, their music projjitia- 
tory, and their dances and decorations invocatory. Even their 
apparently commonplace smoking is habitually connected with 
adoration of the mysteries ; their industries are conducted 
with constant reference to darklj^ mysterious potencies ; their 
social organization is always affected and sometimes dominated 
by thaumaturgic motives and the influence of the shamans ; 


their speech is held to be the token of au arcanum whence the 
word derives mystical powers; their ultimate opmions cluster 
about a zoic pantheon. Most of the tribes instinctivelv or 
deliberately withhold their abounding- faith and conceal their 
fiducial observances from unsympathetic aliens, sometimes 
with such success that their ver}^ existence is doubted ; yet 
expert inquirv indicates that all the tribesmen are devotees of 
fiducial systems, closely corresponding among each other and 
also with those of the primitive peoples of other continents. 
The earlier researches served to throw liffht on the stages of 
philosophic development among the American aborigines 
and other peoples. The first stage is that of diffused mvsti- 
cism, in which the crude thinker conceives himself surrounded 
by inscrutable potencies of capricious character, commonly 
maleficent sa^^e when controlled by rites. In savagery there 
is observed a growing tendency to withdi'aw mystical attri- 
butes from things that are not conspicuous or do not play an 
apparent part in the aft'airs of life, and to concentrate such 
attributes in the great animals of the world, so that this stage 
has been called zootheism. In the second stage the mystery 
is withdrawn from conqueraVjle animals and irom things of 
innocuous motion and sound, and is concentrated either in 
physical manifestations like wind, storm, thunder, and light- 
ning, or in the greater nature-objects like the sun, moon, and 
ocean, and the powers or objects are invested with sujier- 
natural attnbutes and assigned to the higher places of the 

Now, the sophic activities, unlike those of lower order, are 
essentially intellectual, and grow out of the integration of the 
primary activities, which are reshaped in turn through exercise 
of the higher function ; vet in these activities, as in those of lower 
order, there are two antithetic developmental elements, (ff) 
individual initiative, and (6) collective assimilation. Doubt- 
less the individual element predominates in range of activity, 
since the normal l)rain spontaneouslv produces concepts unceas- 
ingl}'; yet only a few of these products go beyond the pro- 
ducer, only a few of these are assimilated by others, and only 
a few of those assimilated remain j)ermanently in the great 


body of thought which the peoples of the workl are engaged 
in building; so that the finally effective element in sophic 
development is tliat of assimilation. True, each discrete human 
group, howsoever small, develops a certain capacity, and accu- 
mulates and svstemizes a certain body of experience, which 
reflects customary activities, themselves shaped by environ- 
ment; but the processes are no less collective in the smaller 
group than in the larger. The researches among the abo- 
rigines reveal an insatiable hung-er for thou"-ht-material; when 
the hunter uses implements of tooth and claw, he studies the 
animals to learn the most effective modes of use and imputes to 
his zoic teachers powers created in his own imagination; when 
wan-iors engage in battle, each strives for the mysterious 
potencies assumed to imbue the weapons and standards of the 
enemy; when shaman meets shaman, each strives to excel in 
thaumaturgic essay, yet each seeks still more fervidly to mas- 
ter the mysteries of the other; when marriage is pi'oposed 
between representatives of certain clans, the sacred tra- 
ditions are balanced, like pelf among certain peoples, to deter- 
inine the fitness of the union; and primitive travelers exchange 
tales with tireless avidity. Accordingly, it would seem that 
intellectual products must arise spontaneously under the stimu- 
lus of interaction with environment, and that they must })re- 
sent points of similarity wlien the environments are similar; 
yet it seems equally certain that the products are diffused witli 
great facility through absorption, and that the act of absolu- 
tion is a potent intellectnal stimulus. So, in brief, the course 
of sophic progress is toward integration of the lower activi- 
ties, and toward the combination, interaction, and ultimate 
union of jihilosophic systems. 

The researches indicate, in general terms, that each of the 
five primary categories of activities displays a convergent 
trend, and that all of them are interrelated; and when the five 
categories are juxtaposed, the convergence becomes so con- 
spicuous as to afford a criterion for distinguishing human or 
demotic development from biotic development. Tlie lines of 
biotic development with which naturalists are concerned are 
essentially divergent, the dominant process is difterentiation, 


and the accepted keynote is evolution; in human or demotic 
development the main lines are convergent and the effective 
processes are integ-ration and blending-. 

When the effect of activital development on the human 
body — the material object-matter of ethnolog'y — is considered, 
it is found that the demotic and the ethnic elements so interact 
that the former dominates the latter both directly and indi- 
rectly: (1) The mind-led activities of both advanced and 
primitive men lead to the exercise of certain structures (e. g., 
muscles of the hand) and to the disuse of others (e. g., auricular 
muscles), whereby the former are invigorated and enlarged, 
while the latter are atrophied. Accordingly, the somatikos is 
gradually reshaped by the demotic activities; and, since the 
course of development of the activities is convergent, the 
somatic modification is also convergent, and hence bodies of 
unrelated peoples tend toward a common type. (2) By rea- 
son of the essentially converg-ent character of the activities, 
discrete tribes and peoples interchanging demotic attributes 
through contact, are gradually brought into intellectual har- 
mony; such liarmony is attended or soon followed, as obser- 
vation among the American aborigines clearly discloses, by 
commingling of blood, which still further reduces tribal differ- 
ences, both somatic and demotic; and the ultimate effect is 
somatic coordination and equalization. 

Conformably to custom, the operations of the Bureau during 
the year have; been carried forward in accordance with law, 
and with the principles outlined in the foregoing paragraphs. 

In each stage of the work the plans are determined liy the 
data previously collected; accordingly, the annual summary 
of results made in pursuance of the plan formulated at the 
beginning of the year is never cpiite up to the revised classifi- 
cation of the end of the year. During the last year the opera- 
tions were somewhat nrbitrarilv divided into the commonly 
recognized dei^artments of (1) Prehistoric Esthetology and 
Technology, or Archeology, (2) Descriptive Ethnology, (3) 
Sociology, (4) Linguistics, (5) Mythology, (6) Psychology, 
(7) Bil)liograi)hy, and (8) Publication, witli the necessary 
administrative and miscellaneous work. Most of the researches 


are necessarily carried forward in tlie field, while the field 
material is elaborated in the oflfice. Accoi'dingly, the field 
work and the office work are treated together except in so far 
as the former mav be considered exploratory, when it commonly 
relates to different lines t)f primary research. 


At the beginning of the fiscal, year Dr J. Walter Fewkes 
was in the field in Arizona, having- completed daring Jane a 
reconnoissance of tlie little-known countrv including the north- 
eastern extension of the Mogollon escarpment about the head- 
waters of Rio Verde. He repaired ea,rly in July to Holbro( )k, 
and proceeded to explore the ruined villages of northeastern 
Arizona. After a more or less successful reconnoissance, extend- 
ing over a considerable district, he chose for detailed work the 
ruin known as Sikvatki. Here he was joined by ^Ir F. W. 
Hodge. It was ascertained through tradition and literary 
record that the ruin represented a wholly prehistoric village; 
and excavations were begun with the certainty that all mate- 
rial exhumed would, for this reason, be of especial value in 
indicating the aboriginal condition of the pueblo builders of 
this district. The anticipations were fully realized in the 
results. In all of the abundant material exhumed and duly 
transferred to the laiited States National Museum no trace of 
intrusive accultural art was found; every piece was clearly 
prehistoric; and the collection was the richest both in quantity 
of niaterial and the quality of the ware and its svmlxilic deco- 
ration thus far obtained in this country. While it is especially 
rich in decorated pottery, many other articles illustrating prim- 
itive handicraft and customs were obtained, together with a 
sufficient amount of somatic material — crania, etc. — to reveal 
the i)rominent physical chai'acteristics of the ancient people. 
Extensive collections were made also in the ancient ruin of 
Awatobi. I)r Fewkes' operations were brought to a close 
toward the end of August, when he retm'ned to Washington 
with his collections, comprising- seventeen boxes from Sikvatki 
and Awatobi, and three from the ruins on the headwaters of 
Rio Verde. 


Separating from Dr Fewkes at Holbrook about tlie end of 
August, Mr Hodge, accompanied b}' Mr James S. Judd, a 
volunteer assistant, made a reeonnoissance of all the inhabited 
pueblos of New Mexico, comprising Zuni, Acoma, and Lagmia, 
in the western part of the teiTitory, Cochiti, San Felipe. Santo 
Domingo, Santa Ana, Sia, Jeniez, Isleta, Sandia, Taos, Picuris, 
Santa Clara, San Juan, San Ildefonso, Pojoaque, Nambe, and 
Tesuque, in the valley of Rio Grande. At nearly all of these 
pueblos he was able to obtain valuable information relating to 
the social organization, beliefs, migrations, and affinities of the 
natives. In several cases the Indians have remained so com- 
pletely isolated as to be little known to students, and accord- 
ingly nuich of the information is essentially new. 

j\Ir James Mooney s})ent the early part of the year in the 
field of Oklahoma in researches concerning the Kiowa Indians, 
the details of which are set forth elsewhere. 

Noteworthj' exploratory work was conducted by Mr W J 
McGee in continuation and extension of the explorations in 
Arizona and Sonora, Mexico, begun during the last fiscal 
year. Outfitting at Tucson, he started southward on Novem- 
ber 9, 1895, crossing the frontier at Sasab^ and proceeding 
thence in a different direction from that already reconnoitered. 
By the middle of the month he reached the most elaborate 
prehistoric works known to exist in northwestern ]\Iexico, near 
the rancho of San Rafael de Alamito, on the principal wash 
known locally as Rio Altar. The works comprise terraces, 
stone walls, and enclosed fortifications, built of loose stones, 
nearU' surrounding two buttes, of which the larger is three- 
fourths of a mile in length and about 600 feet in height. 
These ruins are known locally as ''Las Trineheras", or as 
"Trinchera" and "Trincherita". The whole of the northern 
side of the larger butte is so teiTaced and walled as to leave 
hardly a square yard of the surface in the natural condition; 
and for hundreds of s([uare rods the ground is literally sprin- 
kled with fragments of pottery, spalls, and wasters produced 
in making chipped implements, and other artificial material. 
Mr Willard D. Johnson, who accompanied the party as topog- 
rapher (on furlough from tlie United States Geological Survey), 


and who cari-ied foi'ward a route map, made detailed surveys 
of these ruins; a numijer of photographs were taken also, 
while a considerable collection representing- the fragmentary 
pottery and stone art of the builders was obtained. 

After spending some days in surveying the ruins at Alamito, 
the expedition pushed on southward, traversing the principal 
mountain range of western Sonora in a narrow canyon below 
Poso Noriega, and thence following for 50 miles the sand wash 
known as Rio Bacuache, which was not pi'eviouslv mapped. 
Leaving this wash near its indefinite termination on the desert 
plains, the course was headed toward Rancho de San Francisco 
de Costa Rica, where a raneheria of Seri Indians was found 
in 1894. On reaching this point it was ascertained that the 
Indians had, through a combination of circumstances, become 
more hostile toward Avhite men than ever before, so that the 
prospect for studying their arts, institutions, and beliefs seemed 
most gloomy. Nevertheless, it was decided to make the effort. 

At Costa Rica a rude boat was built, with the aid of Seuor 
Pascual Encinas, of Hern:iosillo; a preliminary trip was then 
made over the continental portion of Seriland, including the 
Seri mountains, which were ascended for the first time by 
white men, and wer6 carefully mapped b}' Mr Johnson. It 
was expected that the Indians would be encountered on this 
trip; but unfortunateh' there had been a skirmish between a 
small party of the Seri and a party of IMexican A^aqueros two 
davs before the expedition entered Seriland proper, and the 
Indians had apparently withdrawn to the coast and Tiburon 
island. Returning from this side trip, the boat was, with much 
difiieulty, transported across Encinas desert and launched in 
Kino bay, a reentrant in the coast of the Gulf of California. 
The stock, witli the teamsters and guides, were sent back to 
the rancho, while the main party proceeded up the coast to the 
strait separating Tiburon island from the mainland. It had 
been estimated from the best available data that from five to 
seven days would be required for crossing the strait, surveving 
Tiburon island, and making collections; and ten days' rations 
with five days' water supply were provided. The party, in 
addition to the leader, comprised Messrs W. D. Johnson, topog- 


rajjlier, J. W. Mitchell, photographer, and S. C. j\Iillard, 
interpreter; Sefiores Andres Noriega, of Costa Rica, and 
Ygnacio Lozania, of Hermosillo; Mariana, Anton, I\Iiguel, 
Anton Castillo, and Anton Ortiz, Papago Indians; and Kuperto 
Alvarez, a mixed-blood Yaqni. A military organization was 
adopted, strict regulations were laid down for the protection 
of life and property, and watches were instituted and rigidly 

On proceeding up the coast toward the turbulent strait El 
Infiernillo, severe gales were encountered, whereby progress 
wns greath' retarded; and on reaching the strait the winds 
ct)ntiiiued to blow so violently as to fill the air with sand 
ashore and spray at sea, and to render it impossible to make 
the passage. Finall}^ after five days, when the water was 
exhausted, the gale lulled sufficiently to permit a difficult 
crossing with a portion of the party and a small j)art uf tlie 
scanty food and bedding; but when IMessrs Johnson and 
Mitchell set out on the return trip to Ijring over Senor Noriega 
and two of the Indians, who remained with the supjjlies on tlie 
inainland, the gale rose again and, des])ite the most strenuous 
efforts, blew the frail vessel 25 miles down the gulf, where it 
was practically wrecked on a desert island. On the following 
day the wind subsided somewhat, and the two men were able 
to empty the boat of the sand with which it had become filled, 
to repair it, and finally to reach the rendezvous on the shore of 
Kino bay in time to jneet tlie teamsters from the rancho when 
the}' returned to bring in the party. Here water was obtained, 
and Messrs Johnson and Mitchell again worked their way up 
the coast in the face of adverse winds, usually tracking the 
boat laboriously along the rocky coast; but it was not until the 
end of the fourth day that they rejoined the three men left on 
the mainland (wlio had suffered much from thirst) and again 
crossed the strait to find the larger portion of the party with 
the leader on Tiburon island. Meantime the group on the 
island had suffered inconvenience from dearth of food and 
blankets, and had been compelled to devote nearly all their 
energies to obtaining water from a little tinaja, or water pocket, 
in the rocks in the interior of the islyjul, 6 or 7 miles from 


the shore. All hope of the return of boat had been aban- 
doned, and wlien it finally appeared the partA' were collecting 
driftwood and branches of the palo bianco — a tree gnawing 
sparsely on the mountains in the interior of the island — to 
build a raft, while one of the party was engaged in making 
the necessary ropes from provision bags and clothing. 

On the reassembling of the party the original plans were 
resumed; the leader visited a score or more of Seri house 
bowers or rancherias, oidy to find them abandoned (though 
some bore evidence of occupancy within a few hours), while 
Mr Johnson continued the topographic surveys. Bv this time 
the food supplies were iiractieally exhausted, but were eked 
out by collecting oysters, clams, and crabs, and by a shark 
taken on the next to the last day of the stay on the island; 
and, as before, most of the energies of the party were expended 
in caiTying water from 4 to 15 miles, for which purpose squads 
of five or more heavily armed men were requisite, since the 
dano-er of ambusli was considerable and constant. Bv these 
journeys over the jagged rocks, in which Tiburou island 
abounds, the shoes of the white men and the sandals of the 
Indians were worn out; and this condition finally compelled 
the abandonment of further eftbrt to conie into connnuni cation 
with the wary Indians. Considerable collections representing 
their crude arts, domestic and maritime, wei'e, however, made 
in their freshly abandoned rancherias, and a fine balsa, or 
canoe-raft made of canes,' was obtained. 

After some delay and danger the strait was recrossed, and 
the party found themselves on the mainland, still beset bv 
storms, without food or water, reduced by arduous labor and 
insufficient food, and practically barefoot in a region abound- 
ing in thorns and spines and jagged rocks. Moreover, they 
were still constantly under the eyes of Seri warriors watching 
from a distance and awaiting opportunity for attack. After 
fully considering the situation, the leader left the party and 
the boat in charge of Mr Johnson and skirted the coast on foot 
for 25 miles to the rendezvous on Kino bay in the hope of 
reaching the teamster from the rancho with supplies on the 
last day of his stay there under the instructions given him by 


Mr Jolmsou on last leaving that point after the wreck. He 
reached the rendezvous early in the night of December 28, 
only to find it abandoned by reason of the accidental escape 
of the stock. He at once pushed on across the desert to the 
rancho, reaching there at sunrise of the 29tli, and, immediately 
returning ^^-^th food and water, rejoined the party a little way 
below the strait early in the morning of the 30tli. The entire 
party arrived at the rancho on the evening of December 31, 
and two days later proceeded to Hennosillo, whence the leader 
returned directly to Washington, while Mr Johnson retraA^ersed 
the countr}' thence northward to the Arizona boundary, col- 
lecting objects and information among the Papago Indians, and 
completing the triangulation and topographic surveys. He 
reached Tucson about the end of January. 

While the expedition was, by reason of the hostility of the 
Indians, unsuccessful so far as the anticipated studies of tlie 
Seri institutions and beliefs are concerned, considerable collec- 
tions representing their arts were obtained. Moreover, the 
whole of Seriland, the interior of which was never before trod- 
den by white men, was examined, sui'veyed, and mapped; 
indeed the survey was of such character as to yield tlie first 
topographic map of a broad belt in Sonora extending from tlie 
international boundary to Sonora river. The area covered by 
this surve}- is about 10,000 square miles. Forty-seven stations 
were occupied for control, and a considerably larger number 
of additional points for topographic sketching. The portion of 
the map comprising Seriland, being essentially new to geogra- 
phers, has been published in tlie National Geographic Magazine 
(vol. VII, 1896, plate xiv). 

It is a pleasure to say that the work of the expedition was 
facilitated in all possible ways by the state officei's of Sonora 
and the federal authorities of the Republic of Mexico. By 
special authority of His Excellency Seilor Leal, Secretario de 
Foraento, the party was permitted to cross the boundary with 
the outfit and necessary supplies, while the governor of Sonora, 
Senor Kamon Coral, offered to furnish a guard of state troops, 
and in other ways displayed constant interest in the work of 
the expedition. Mvxch is due, also, to Senor Pascual Encinas, 


an intrepid pioneer to whose courage and energy the exten- 
sion of settlement in the borders of Serihmd must be ascribed, 
and a well-known citizen of Hermosillo, Avithout whose assist- 
ance the work would have been crippled. 


1 )r J. AV. Fewkes brought his field explorations and excava- 
tions to a close toward the end of ^Vugust and proceeded to 
AVashington, where he was for several months employed in 
unpacking, cleaning, repairing, labeling, and installing in the 
National ]\Iuseum the collections of potteiy and other aborig- 
inal material obtained in the course of his work in Arizona. 
In connection with this duty he prepared a general paper on 
the results of his work for the annual report of the Smithso- 
nian Institution, and began the preparation of a more extended 
and fully illustrated m.emoir for incorporation in tlie seven- 
teenth annual report of the Bureau. He was occupied on this 
memoir during- most of December 1895, and until his departure 
to the field in May 1896. In this report especial attention is 
given to the symbolic decoration of the pottery and to its 
bearing on the mythology of the Hopi Indians. 

Toward the end of the fiscal year Dr Fewkes returned to 
the field for the purpose of making excavations and surveys 
of ruins lirought to light through his previous reconnoissance. 
He was accompanied by Dr Walter Hough, of the National 
Museum, who was detailed as a field assistant for the season. 
The operations were commenced at the ruin known as Homo- 
lobi, on Little Colorado river, about three miles from Winslow, 
Arizona. As indicated by tradition, this village was the ancient 
home of a Hopi Indian clan. For a time the results of the 
work were not encouraging, but toward the middle of June a 
productive part of the ruin was reached, and within a few 
days 4()0 fine specimens were obtained, including 250 beauti- 
ful bowls, dippers, vases, jars, and other specimens of aboriginal 
fictile ware similar to that obtained from Sikvatki during' the 
preceding season. Examination showed that the ware is tvpi- 
callv Tusayan, yet in its form and decoration is archaic and 
without infiuence of civilized culture, thus demonstrating pre- 


historic character. The party then repaired to another site, 
known as Chevlon pass, on Little Colorado river, where the 
excavations were successful almost from the first, so that bv 
the end of June the field catalog of specimens had exceeded 
the number of one thousand. Several imique and especially 
significant objects were brought to light at this ruin. Some of 
the pottery found here is remarkably tine in texture, form, and 
decoration. Numerous baskets were also recovered, as well as 
cotton cloth, sandals, pahos (ceremonial prayer-sticks), and 
marine shells. Although Dr Fewkes' collections during the 
summer of 1895 were unprecedented in the United States for 
wealth and scientific value, his collections during the first half 
of the season of 1896 were even richer and more significant in 
their bearing on ethnic problems. 

Early in December, Mr Frank Hamilton Gushing proceeded 
to Florida to resume the researches relating to the archeology 
of that region and to the Seminole Indians, which were com- 
menced several months before and tempoi-arily discontiimed by 
reason of the inadequacy of the funds at disposal for field 
work. It was found impracticable to make the requisite allot- 
ment for necessary field expenses, and a tender was accepted 
from the Archeological Association of Philadeljjhia, represent- 
ing the Museum of the University of Pennsylvania, for cooper- 
ation. Under the terms of the cooperation the Archeological 
Association assumed the cost of field work, including the sub- 
sistence of the party, the salaries of assistants to Mr Cushing-, 
and incidental expenses connected with the operations, Avhile 
the material proceeds, in the form of collections, became the 
joint property of the Bureau and the association, to be divided 
after examination and iise in the preparation of reports, the 
scientific results remaining the property of the Bureau for 
publication. Under this arrangement Mr Cushing organized a 
party including ^Ir Wells J\I. Sawyer, of the Uilited States 
Geological Survey (furloughed for the purpose), as photogra- 
pher and artist; Mr Carl F. W. Bergmann, formerly of the 
United States National Museum, as an expert assistant in col- 
ecting-; Mr Irving Sayford as clerk; and a number of work- 
men, who were engaged in excavation. Several localities 
were reconuoitered and exploited with moderate success. 


During Feliruaiy the work was piislunl into the region of 
coral isUmds in the neighborhood of Punta Rassa, where traces 
of extensive aboriginal handiwork were found on the islands, 
and especiallv in ancient atolls and lagoons lined with bogs 
and saline marl. Here the works were of such character as to 
mdicate an extensive and well-organized primitive population, 
subsisting on sea food, and cruising not <)nly the lagoons and 
bavs but also the open gulf Their island domiciles were pro- 
tected bv dikes built of large sea shells, evidently collected 
for the purpose; their habitations, at least in part, were pile 
sti'uctures, ruins of which still remain. In some cases these 
structures were occupied so long that the kitchen refuse accu- 
mulated to form mounds (initiating in time the custom of erect- 
ing mounds as sites for domiciles), and within the refuse heaps, 
or midden-mounds, extensive traces of handiwork of the peo- 
ple were found. 

The most extensive collections were made trom bogs adja- 
cent to the habitations, or beneath habitations occujned too 
brietly to permit extensive accumulations of middens. In 
these bogs were preserved numerous artifacts, comprising 
shellwork in large vai:iety; wooden ware, including utensils, 
tools, weapons, masks, and other ceremonial objects, often 
elaborately carved and painted; textile fabrics and basketry in 
abundance, though usually in such a state of decay as hardly 
to be preservable; implements and other objects made partly or 
wholly of teeth and bone of sharks, land animals, etc.; and a 
few stone imj^lements of the usual aboriginal character. The 
painting and carving are especially noteworthy, not only as 
indicating moderately advanced symbolic art of the native 
type, but as suggesting community of culture between the 
maritime people of Florida and prehistoric peoples of the 
western and southeni shores of the Gulf of Jlexico. The 
handiwork shows no trace of Caucasian influence, and must 
therefore be regarded as pre-Columbian, though the mode 
of life indicated by the relics is similar to that observed on 
the Florida peninsula by the earliest white explorers. The 
wooden ware, textiles, etc., preserved in the salt-water bogs 
commonly retained their aboriginal appearance until exposed 
to the air, when they rajtidly disintegrated and fell to pieces, 


or else shrunk or warped so greatly as to give little indication 
of the original form. A considerable part of the energies of the 
jiart}^ were expended in efforts to preserve these perishable 
articles by various devices and the use of such materials as 
could be obtained at points remote from civilized stores, while 
Mr Sawyer was constantly employed in photographing or 
in drawing and painting in the original colors all the more 
perishable objects; in this way the evidence concerning the 
prehistoric people recorded in the better-preserved ])ortions of 
the collection was greatly amplified and extended. 

In April the Director visited I\Ir Gushing and remained with 
the partv, personally inspecting and directing the work, for 
several days. The operations in Florida were brought to a 
close in May, when the collections were carefully loaded in a 
car and transpoi-ted direct to Philadelphia, where the space and 
facilities for unpacking were ample. Mr Gushing returned to 
Washington, and on the arrival of the car proceeded to Phil- 
adelphia, where he unpacked that portion of the collection re- 
quired for immediate study. 

Mr Cushing's Florida work threw new light on the shell 
mounds and otlier aboriginal works on the American coasts, 
and it was accordingly thought desirable to review the earlier 
and more superficial examination of these Avorks at different 
points along the coast. Carrying out this plan, the Director 
proceeded about the middle of June to the coast of Maine, 
which has long been known to abound in aboriginal shell 
heaps There he was soon afterward joined by Mr Gushing, 
and surveys and examinations of the prehistoric works were 
under way at the close of the fiscal year. 


As administrative duties permitted, Mr F. W. Hodge carried 
forward the Gyclopedia of the American Indians, his field 
work among the Pueblos in August and September yielding 
much information concerning the relations, and especially con- 
cerning the clan organization, of the southwestern Indians. 
In February Dr Cyrus Thomas, having completed his revision 
and extension of work on Indian land treaties, was transferred 


to the Cyclopedia, and during- the remainder of the tiscal year 
he was employed in collecting and arranging material relating 
to the tribes of the Algonquian stock, l^he character of this 
Cyclopedia, was set forth fullv in the last report. 

During the earlier part of the year Dr Thomas revised and 
brought up to date the Royce memoir on treaties with the 
Indian tribes relating to the cession of lands (also described 
in the last report). The task proved greater than liad been 
anticipated, since extended research was required for bringing 
the work to date, and since this necessitated the reconstruction 
of several of the maps. The laborious work was carried for- 
ward energetically by Dr Thomas, and the requisite additions 
to and modifications in the schedule were made, the maps 
were prepared, and an introductory and explanatory chapter 
was written. The work was completed early in April, and 
was prepared for transmission to the Public Printer f<ir 
issue as volume viii of the Contributions to North American 
Ethnology, when on examination of the statutes it was found 
that the public printing law appi-oved January 12, 1895, seems 
to terminate that series. Accordingly, the document was held 
for incorporation in the eighteenth annual report. 

In the early part of the year Mr James Mooney was 
enqjloyed in the field in researches among the Kiowa and 
Kiowa Apache Indians of Oklahoma and Indian Territory. 
One of his lines of research related to the camping circle of 
the combined Kiowa and Kiowa Apache group, in which 
the tents are arranged in a certain definite order expressing the 
social organization and conveying other symbolic meanings; 
his studies extended also to the patriarchial shields attached to 
the tents, and to the drawings and j^aintings by which both 
shields and tents are decorated. He found tiiat all of these 
decorations are symbolic, and collectively represent a highl}- 
elaborate system of heraldry, and most of his time in the field 
was devoted to tracing the ramifications and interpreting the 
details of the heraldic system. Special attention, too, was 
given to the calendars, or "winter counts," of which several 
were found among these Indians. These calendars, which 
represent the beginning of writing, are long-continued records 

17 ETH IV 


of cui-rent events, represented pictographically by rude draw- 
ings and i)aintings on skins or fabrics; and from them the 
important events in the history of tlie tribes for many years 
can be determined with accurac}'. 

Another line of research related to the use of peyote hx 
several of the southern plains tribes in their ceremonials as a 
j)aratriptic and mild intoxicant; this ai-ticle, as used by the 
Indians, is the upper part of the cactus known botanically as 
Anhalonium Invinii or ■ Lopliojiliora wilUamsU lewinii, which 
grows in the arid region of Texas and eastern Mexico. The 
tops of the plants are collected and dried, wdien they form 
button-like masses an inch or more in diameter and perhaps 
one-eighth of an inch in thickness; these buttons are eaten 1)v 
the Indians in certain protracted and exhausting ceremonies. 
Tlieir effect is to stimulate and invigorate the system to sucli 
an extent as to permit active participation in the dance and 
drama for many consecutive hours without fatigue, wdiile at 
the same time mental effects somewhat akin to those of hashish 
are produced, whereby the condition of trance or hallucina- 
tion, w'hicli plays so important a part in all primitive ceremo- 
nies, is made more comidete than is customary or even possible 
luider normal circumstances. In addition to studvinjj- effects 
produced on the Indians themselves by the use of the poison, 
Mr Mooney collected a considerable quantity of the material 
for scientific examination. By courtesy of the Department of 
Agriculture, the buttons were analyzed by Dr Harvev W. 
Wiley and Mr E. E. Ewell, of that Department, and were 
found to yield three alkaloids, designated, respectivelv, as 
anhalonine, mescaline, and alkaloid 3, besides certain i-esinous 
substances; all possess peculiar pli>'siologic properties. Tlie 
})hysiologic action of the mescal buttons administered entire, 
and also of the three alkaloids, has been tested bv D. W. Pren- 
tiss, M. 1)., and F. P. Morgan, M. I)., and the results have been 
found to be of great interest, leading the experimentalists to 
consider the exti-acts as important thera|)eutic agents and valu- 
able additions to the pharmacojtoeia. 

On his return from the field Mr Mooney began the i)repara- 
tion of a memoir t)n the Kiowa calendars, which was nearly 


completed at the end of the fiscal year, and is appended to this 

As dnrino- past years, iiuich attention has been given to pho- 
tographing Indians and Indian subjects, and a small photo- 
gra})hic laboratorv has been maintained. During tlie winter 
advantage was taken of the presence of representative Indians 
in the national capital, and a number of portrait photographs 
were obtained, together with considerable genealogic informa- 
tion concerning various chiefs and leading men among several 



Except while occupied in administrative work, Mr W J 
McGee, ethnologist in charge of the Bureau, has been carrying- 
forward researches relating to the social organization of the 
Indian tribes. His work is based on the voluminous records 
in tlie archives of the Bureau and on observations especially 
among the Papago and Seri Indians. It has been the aim to 
render this work fundamental, and to this end the jirhnary 
characteristics of mankind as distinguished from lower organ- 
isms liave been considered with especial care. The studies of 
the Seri Indians have been particularly fruitful. Among the 
results of the I'esearches there may be mentioned (1) an analv- 
sis of the beginning of agriculture, (2) the recognition of the 
beginning of zooculture, (3) a study of the growth of altruistic 
motive, and (4) an examination of early stages in the develop- 
ment of marriag'e. These results are incorporated partly in a 
preliminarv memoir on tlie "Siouan Indians" printed in the 
tifteenth annual re|)ort, partly in several administrative reports, 
partly in an address published in the Smithsonian annual report 
for 18y5, Init mainlv in a memoir appended to this report. 

It mav be noted sunnnarih" that the researches concerning- 
the beginning of agriculture indicate that this important art 
originated independently in different desert regions, and was at 
first merely an expression of a solidaritv into which men and 
lower organisms were forced by reason of the environmental 
conditions characteristic of the desert. Later the art was raised 
to a liigher plane through the gradual development of irriga- 
tion, and still later it was extended into areas in which irrigation 


was not required. The researches concerning zoocuhure serve 
to define a stage antecedent to domestication, as that term is 
connnonly employed, in wliich the rehations between men and 
animals are collective rather than individual, and in which the 
men and animals become mutually tolerant and mutually bene- 
ficial, as when the coyote serves as a scavenger and gives 
warning, in his o^yn cowardly retreat, of the approach of ene- 
mies. Later, such of the tolerated animals as are thereby 
made more beneficial are gradually brought into domestication, 
as was the coyote-dog among many Indian tribes, the turkey 
among some, and the reindeer among certain Eskimo. The 
researches concerning the development of human motive are 
involved in the study of primitive law, and indicate that regu- 
lations concerning conduct are framed by the elders in the 
interest of harmony and collective benefit, and that these regu- 
lations are enforced until their observance becomes habitual, 
when the habit in turn grows into motive. In some other direc- 
tions, also, substantial progress has been made in the study of 
the organizations and institutions of the American Indians. 


During a considerable pai-t of the year the Director has been 
occupied in researches concerning several characteristics of the 
American Indians, with the view of developing a system of 
classification so complete as to indicate not only the affinities 
of tribes and stocks among each other, but the general aflinities 
of the native American people and their position among the 
races of men as well as among other living organisms. In the 
course of this woi'k much thought has been given to the sub- 
ject of Indian language, and the rich collections of linguistic 
material in the archives of the Bureavi have been scanned anew. 
It was the innnediate purpose of this study to trace the devel- 
opment of various languages in such manner as to educe the 
laws of linguistic evolution. Satisfactory progress was made, 
and a considerable body of manuscript was prepared, while a 
jireliminary pul^lication was presented during the year in the 
form of an address titled "The Kelation between Institutions 
and Environment", delivered in the United States National 


Museum, May 23, IH'JG, ami printed in ilie Smithsonian 
report for 1895. The records indicate that the four or five 
dozen distinct Hnguistic stocks in this country have been ren- 
dered more or less composite by the blending of peoples; the 
researches seem to show tliat a still larger number of distinct 
languages were originally developed independently, in small 
discrete groups, which gradually combined into larger tribes 
and confederacies, and sometimes grew so large as again to 
subdivide and to sjjread over vast areas; and in various other 
directions these researches have been found to throw light on 
the characteristics and relations of the Indians. 

Dr Albert S. Gatschet has been continuously employed in 
the collection and study of linguistic material pertaining to the 
Algoncpiian stock. During July he utilized the services of 
Mr William Jones, a mixed-blood Sauk of exceptional intelli- 
gence, a pupil at Phillips Academy, Andover. Althol^gh he 
has been absent from his tribe for some time, he was able to 
convey to Dr Gatschet a large amount of new material. About 
the middle of October Dr Gatschet visited the survivors of the 
Miami Indians at Peru, Indiana, and afterward proceeded to the 
Miami town on Osage river, Indian Territory, now the center 
of the Peoria confederacy. At both places he was able to 
obtain extensive collections relating to the language and 
mythology of the jJeople. During the remainder of the fiscal 
year he Avas occupied in arranging the new material and in 
comparing it with other Algonquian records, and made consid- 
erable progress in the jireparation of a comparative Algonquian 

Mr J. N. B. Hewitt was emploj^ed in the early part of the 
year in applying the laws of linguistic development to the 
Iroquoian stock, and thereby tracing the affinities and prehis- 
toric growtli of this extensive and important group of American 
Indians. Thrnugh this study he was able to ascertain the order 
in which different members of the group differentiated, and 
either separated from the main body . or developed distinct 
organization. Representing the Iroquoian body as the trunk of 
a genealogic tree, it appears that the lowest branch is repre- 
sented by the Cherokee and the second and third by the Huron 


and Seneka-Ououdaga, tlie several tribes represented liv the 
uppermost branches being but slightly differentiated. Tluis 
the linguistic history of the Iroquoian stock is one of differen- 
tiation and division, prol)ably combined witli assimilation from 
other stocks. It may be observed that tliis history is parallel 
to that wrouglit out for the Siouan stock by Dorsey and that 
which Gatschet is now tracing in the Algoncptian stock; Ijut 
this apparently aberrant course of linguistic evolution in 
certain instances is in no way inconsistent with the general 
course of the development of language, which tends toward 
iniitv through the combination and assimilation of the Aarious 
tongues. Subsequent]}- i\Ir Hewitt was occupied in anah-zing 
and scheduling the vocabulary of the Tubari language, col- 
lected in northern Mexico by Dr Carl Lumholtz, and in 
preparing the matter for publication. llie closing mouths of 
the year were spent in cataloguing manuscripts and other 
material stored in the fireproof vaults of tlie Bureau. 


Mrs Matilda Coxe Stevenson continued the study and 
elaboration of her records concerning the mythology and cere- 
monies of the Zuiii Indians, and practically completed her 
monograph on this subject. The Pueblo Indians, and espe- 
cially the Zufii, are characterized by an extraordinary sidiser- 
viency to belief and ritual. Before her connection with- the 
Bureau Mrs Stevenson became intimately acquainted with the 
Indians of several pueblos and with their peculiar fiducial 
customs, and has consequently had unprecedented opportvniitv 
for the study of observances and esoteric ceremonies, and it 
has been her aim to record the details of her observations with 
pencil and camera so fully as to perpetuate these myst0i"ies f( )r 
the use of future students. In nearly every respect she regards 
her records concerning the Zuni as complete. At the end of 
the fiscal year her monograph was finished with the excejition 
of a single chapter, the material for which was incomplete It 
was j)lanned to liave this material collected during July and 
August, 1896. 


During- the greater ])art of the year Mr Cushing's work iu 
mythology was suspended, as he was engaged iu general arche- 
ologic work. During the early jiart of tlie year, however, he 
spent several weeks in combining tlie records of archeology, 
mythology, and modern custom bearing on the evolution and 
multifarious uses of the arrow, and incidentally on the inven- 
tion of the bow. His researches illustrate well not only the 
great importance of the arrow as a factor in human develop- 
ment, but also the way in which primitive peoples think, act, 
and evolve. The hnal report on this subject is not yet com- 
plete, but a preliminary statement of results was made public 
in the form of a vice-presidential address before the American 
Association for the Advancement of Science at the Springfield 
meeting, 1895. 


It has not been found expedient in the Bureau to extend the 
researches to the somatology of the Indians, and all the mate- 
rial pertaining to this subject has been turned over to another 
branch of the Federal service; but it has Ijeen found impos- 
sible to trace the development of the arts and institutions, 
beliefs and languages of the aborigines without careful study 
of primitive modes of thought, and nuich attention has been 
given by the Director and some of the collaborators to the 
subject of psychology, as exemplified among the Indians The 
researches in this direction have been carried forward during 
the year in connection with the work in classification of the 
Indians, and considerable material has been accumulated for 
publication in future reports. 


The bibliographic work, which has been continued for several 
years, practically closed with the last fiscal year, and finally 
terminated, so far as the original plan is concerned, with the 
death, on Julv 26, of James Constantine Pilling. The biblioo-- 
raphy of the Mexican languages was left in an advanced con- 
dition; but it has not yet been found practicable to complete 
this work and prepare it for the press. 



Satisfactory progress has been made during the year in the 
editorial work of the Bureau, which has heen conducted chiefly 
by Mr F. W. Hodge. 

The manuscrii)t of the fourteenth annual report was sent to 
press toward the close of the last fiscal year; the first proofs 
were received on January 25, 1896, and by the close of the 
fiscal year the body of the volume was nearly all in type. This 
report, which is to be jjublished in two volumes, making about 
1,200 pages, comprises, in addition to the report on the opera- 
tions of the Bureau and an exhaustive index, three memoirs — 
"The Menomini Indians", by Walter J. Hoft'man, and " Coro- 
nado's Expedition in 1540-1542", by George Parker Winshij), 
occupying the first part, and the "Ghost-dance Religion", by 
James Mooney, occupying the second part. This report, like 
the preceding volumes of the series, will be amply illustrated, 
and it is expected that it will be ready for distribution before 
the close of the calendar year. 

Although the manuscript of the fifteenth annual report was 
transmitted to the Public Printer on June 14, 1895, no text 
pi'oof was received during the fiscal year ; the proofs of the 
illustrations have, however, been received and approved. The 
accompanying papers of the fifteenth report comprise " Stone 
Implements of the Potomac-Chesapeake Tidewater Province," 
by W. H. Holmes ; " The Siouan Indians," by W J McGee, a 
]ia])er complementary with and introductory to a posthunious 
memoir on " Siouan Sociology," by James Owen Dorsey ; 
"Tusayan Katcinas," by J. Walter Fewkes, and "The Repair 
of Casa Grande Ruin, Arizona, in 1891," by Cosmos Mindeleft". 
The volume contains upward of a hundred plates, in addition to 
numerous figures in the text, all of which have been engraved. 

The manuscript of the sixteenth annual report was sent to 
the Government Printing Office on September 27, 1895. The 
illustrations have all been engraved, but no proof of the text 
had been received at the close of the fiscal year. The accom- 
panying papers of this report are " Primitive Trephining," by 
Manuel Antonio Mufiiz and W J McGee; " Clift' Ruins of 


Canyon de Chelly, Arizona," by Cosmos Mindeleff, and " Day 
Symbols of the ]\Iaya Year," b}" Cynis Thomas. 

The only volume published by the Bureau during the fiscal 
year was the thirteenth annual report, which was delivered by 
the Public Printer in May, and at once transmitted to the 
numerous correspondents of the Bureau throug-hout the world. 
This volume, for which the demand from students has been 
unusually large, contains, in addition to the Director's report 
of 59 pages, the following memoirs: (1) "Prehistoric Textile 
Art of Eastern United States", by William H. Holmes, pages 
3-46, plates i-ix, figures 1-28. (2) "Stone Art", by Gerard 
Fowke, pages 47-178, figures 29-278. (3) "Aboriginal 
Remains in Verde Valley, Arizona", b}- Cosmos Mindeleff", 
pages 179-261, plates x-l, figures 279-305. (4) "iJmaha 
Dwellings, Furniture, and Imj)lements", by James Owen 
Dorsey, pages 263-288, figures 30G-327. (5) "Casa Crande 
Ruin", by Cosmos Mindeleff", pages 289-319, plates li-lx, 
figures 328-330. (6) "Outlines of Zuni Creation Myths", by 
Frank Hamilton Cushing, pages 321-447. 


Librari/. — It is tlie plan of the Bureau to maintain a small 
working library for the use of the collaborators, and it has 
grown slowly through accessions, acquired chiefly by exchange 
for reports, the growth liarel}* keeping pace with the publica- 
tion of anthropologic works. At the end of the fiscal year the 
library numbered 5,501 Aolumes, having increased by 472 
volumes during the preceding twelve months. In addition, 
there was a proportionate accession of pamphlets and period- 

IJlnstrations. — The preparation of illustrations for the reports 
has been continued under the direction of Mr DeLancey W. 
Gill. The drawings have been executed by a number of 
artists, while the photographs have been made chiefly by Mr 
William Dinwiddie. In addition to the photographic work 
required for the immediate illustration of reports, the various 
collaborators at work in the field are supplied with cameras, 
and make considerable numbers of photographs, by which 


their notes are supplemented and enrirhed, and many of these 
photogTaphs are incorporated in subsequent reports. Exten- 
sive series of photog-raplis were made during the year bv L)r 
Fewkes in connection with his collections of Pueblo pottery; 
by Mr J. W. Mitchell, photograjjlier for Mr McGee in tlie 
Seriland expedition, and by Mr Wells M. Sawyer, artist for 
Mr Gushing in his Florida work. 

Exhibits. — The Bureau cooperated with the National 
Museum in arranging the Smithsonian Institution exhibit in 
the Cotton States and International Exposition held at Atlanta 
during the autumn of 1895. An alcove in the Government 
building was allotted to the Bureau, and this was tilled by tlie 
installation of six wall cases and four floor cases, togetlier 
with a number of bulky objects arranged on top of tlie wall 
cases. This exhibit was so arranged as to illustrate tlie char- 
acteristics and modes of life, of three tribes, viz: The Chero- 
kee Indians, who formerly occupied the country which is 
now northern Georgia, and whose descendants still live in 
western Nortli Carolina only 150 miles from the site of the 
exposition; tlie Fa])ago Indians, a little known though highly 
interesting tribe of peaceful Indians, occupying southwestern 
Arizona and northern Sonora; and the Seri Indians, a tierce 
and exclusive tribe of the Gulf of California, part of whom 
were found on their borderland in the course of an expe- 
dition by the Bureau during 1894. In addition to the objects 
exhibited, there were in two wall cases illustrations of the 
physical characteristics and costumery of the Papago and Seri 
Indians. The former were rejiresented l)y a group of life-size 
figures engaged in the manufacture of pottery — their t^•})i(•al 
industry. In the other case a life-size figure of a Seri warrior 
was introduced. The collections were supplemented by a 
series of twelve transparencies, made from photograjihs, show- 
ing the Papago and Seri Indians in characteristic attire, with 
their habitations and domestic surroundings. In the installa- 
tion of this exhibit, primary attention was given to fidelity of 
rejjresentation rather than to artistic finish or grouping; and 
it is a soui'ce of gratification to observe that the exhibit 
attracted much attention during the progress of the exposition. 
It was awarded a grand prize, diploma, and gold medal. 



James Constantine Pilling-, avIio ilied July 26, 1895, was a 
native of the national capital, where he was born November 
16, 1846. He was educated in the public schools and Gon- 
zao-a College, and subsequently strengthened his predilection 
toward books by taking a position in a leading bookstore of 
the citv; at the same time he studied the then novel art of 
stenography, in which he became remarkably proficient. At 
the age of twenty he was a]ipointed a court stenographer. 
His services soon came into demand among the Congressional 
committees and in different commissions employed in the settle- 
ment of war claims. In every instance his notable speed and 
accuracy were joined with even more notable discretion and 
straightforwardness that g-uined for him the esteem of all with 
whom he came in contact. His career as stenographer was in 
every respect exemplary, and his example served to hasten the 
general introduction, and at the sjime time to elevate the 
standard, of stenographic art as an aid in the transaction of 
the public business. 

In 1875 Mr Pilling was employed by the Director, then in 
charge of the Geographical and Geological Survey of the 
Rocky IMountain Region, to aid in collecting native vocabula- 
ries and traditions, a task for which he was eminently iitted by 
reason of his phonetic and manual skill. In this service ;is in 
his eai-lier work he displayed not only high ability but signal 
strength of character. His connection with the Sur^'ey Avas 
continued until that organization was brought to an end in 
1879 by the in.stitution of the United States Geological 
Survey to carry forward the geologic A\-ork, and the Bureau 
of American Ethnology to continue the ethnologic researches; 
he was then transferred to the latter Bureau, where his work 
on the Indian languages was continued. During this period 
of connection with ethnologic work his studious habits were 
strengthened, and he developed great interest in the literature 
relating to the Indians; so that he readily adopted the sugges- 
tion of the Director to begin the preparation of a list of books 
and papers containing Indian linguistics. In this study the 
industry and accuracy which characterized his stenographic 


work were constantly displayed, and ever-increasing confidence 
was reposed in his trustworthiness. In connection with his 
stenographic and bibliographic work, he was iuti-usted with the 
supervision of the editorial work of the reports of the Rocky 
Mountain survey and the newly instituted Bureau, and in 
addition considerable clerical work fell to him; yet every duty 
was performed with alacrity, fidelity, and wisdom. Despite 
the multiplication of duties, his literary and bibliographic 
methods remained excellent, and even improved with time; 
and his conscientious care was so invariably manifested in his 
bibliographic work that his rapidly growing list came to be 
recognized as a standard from which it were bootless to appeal. 
It was during these years, from 1875 to 1«80, tliat the founda- 
tion for Filling's character as bibliographer was laid and 
securely established. 

In 1881 the Director of the Ethnologic Bureau was made 
Director also of the United States Geological Survey; Mr Pill- 
ing was then appointed chief clerk of the Survey, and the cus- 
tomary administrative duties were devolved on him. These 
duties were ever performed energetically yet judiciously, and 
withal so courteously and impartially as to gain for him the 
confidence of e^'ery collaborator in that rapidly growing 
Bureau. In this position he continued until June 30, 1892. 
During this period he served also as chief clerk of the Ethnologic 
Bureau in an eminently acceptable manner; and although his 
administrative work as the second officer in the two Bureaus 
might well have been regarded as sufficient to occupy all the 
energies of one man, he never forgot his bibliography, and so 
ordered his duties that few days passed without some addition 
to his list of books on Indian linguistics. Meantime his search 
for rare and little-known works brought him into correspond- 
ence with dealers, bibliophiles, missionaries on the outposts of 
civilization, travelers in Indian lands, and many others, and he 
frequently found it necessary to purchase books in order that 
their contents might be examined and their titles noted; and 
in this way he gradually accunmlated a unique library — one 
of the richest collections of rare books relating to Indian 
tougiies now in existence. In 1885 there was issued for the 


use of collaborators and corres])ondeiits of the Bureau, in a 
small edition, a quarto volume of nearly twelve hundred pages, 
entitled " Proof-sheets of a Bibliography of the Languages of 
the North American Indians, by James Constantine Pilling." 
This volume represented the results of Mr Pilling's bibliographic 
work up to tliat date, and served as a basis for the classitication 
on the part of the Director of the North American tribes by 
linguistic characters. Tlie printing of this volume served to 
deepen the interest of the bililiogi'apher in his task, and within 
a year or two the issue of a series of bibliographies relating to 
various Indian stocks or families was begun. 

As time passed Mr Pilling developed an ailment that cul- 
minated in his death, and his duties were varied, so far as the 
legal conditions controlling governmental bureaus permitted, 
in the hope of bringing relief; but despite every eftbrt the mal- 
ady increased. In 1892 he was relieved of his duties as chief 
clerk of the Geological Survey and the Bureau of American 
Ethnology, and was transferred to the latter Bureau and 
employed solely in continuing the bibliographic work. For a 
time he benefited by the transfer, and his duty was performed 
with great energy and continued skill and success, so that by 
the end of 1894 his bibliographies of the Eskimo, Siouan, 
Iroquoian, Muskhogean, Algonquian, Athapascan, Chinookan, 
Salishan, and Wakashan languages were completed and printed. 
He was then engaged in the bibliographies of the Shahaptian 
language and the Indian languages of Mexico, and this work 
was carried forward during the early months of 1895, even 
after its author had become practically helpless tlii'ough the 
insidious and uncontrollable advance of a hopeless disease. 
The work was not finished. 

The series of bibliographies prepared by ^fr Pilling are a 
monument to his memory and a model for students. In thor- 
oughness and accuracy of work they afford a bright example 
of American scholarship. 

In personal character Mr Pilling was above reproach. No 
man was more steadfast to his moral and intellectual convic- 
tions, which were held with that charity for others which is 
possible only to those who have strong and well-founded 


convictions of tlieir own. Tlie inflnence of his example and 
his character will long- remain in the institutions witli which 
he was connected. 


Appropriation liy Congress for the fiscal year ending .June 30, 
1896, "for continuing ethnological researches among the 
American Indiana, under the direction of the Smithsonian 
Institution, including salaries or compensation of all neces- 
sary employees " (sundry civil act, approved March 2, 1895) $J0, 000. 00 

Salaries or compensation for services $1'9, 773, 6.5 

Traveling and iield expenses $5, 166.22 

Drawings and illustrations 290. 50 

Officerental 999.96 

Ethnic material (specimens, etc.) 21. 48 

Office furniture 393.77 

Publications for library 218. 48 

Stationery 474. 59 

Freight 31.40 

Temporary services 440. 00 

Supplies 617. 81 

Miscellaneous 128. 01 

8, 782. 22 

38, 555. 87 

lialance, July 1, 1891), to meet outstanding liabilities 1, 444. 13 


Distribution of Subjects 

The four accompaiiyino; papers, illustrating the methods and 
results of work conducted b}' the Bureau, find their subjects 
in the western portion of the continent. The first paper deals 
with a little-known portion of northwestern Mexico and a local 
tribe which retains aboriginal characteristics to an unusual and 
perhajjs uuequaled degree. The field work involved the sur- 
vey of considera1)le areas hitherto untrodden by white men 
and the first scientific observation of the tribesmen and their 
customs in their own habitat. The second paper relates to a 
typical tribe of the plains, hitherto little known to scientific 
students; and while the tribesmen are now confined to a reser- 
vation, they formerly ranged from the snowy plains of Canada 
to the siui-])arched bolsons of Mexico, while the tribe as a 
whole slowly migrated from the Saskatchewan to the Arkan- 
sas, so that the area covered by the study is coincident with 
that of the Great Plains from the Mississipjii to the Rocky 
mountains. The two remaining papers deal with the arid 
plateau region of the southwest. The third treats of a tribe 
jirominent in the history of American exploration and settle- 
ment, revealing- a new and highly significant aspect of their 
everyday life and their adjustment to a distinctive environment. 
The researches summarized in the fourth paper shed light on 
the life and habits of other tribes, under the same peculiarly 
effective environmental conditions, during prehistoric time. 

The historical range of the papers covers several centuries. 
The objects described by Dr Fewkes represent, for the most 
part, a period considerably antedating the Columbian discov- 
ery; but tlie method of research has been to compare the pre- 
historic works with those of living people in the same region, 
ill such manner as, in some measure, to penetrate the mists of 


antiquit}'. Dr Fewkes' interjiretation of the prehistoric objects 
is supplemented by Mr ^lindeleff's rendering- of traditions and 
ceremonial customs, developed in the sliadowy past and perpet- 
uated throug-h the generations up to the present. In somewhat 
similar fashion Mr I\Iooney analyzes and inteiprets the calen- 
(h'ic records and traditions of the Kiowa Indians in such man- 
ner as to trace their history through many generations, and at 
the same time he is able to verify the history and reduce it 
to a fairly definite chronology by identifying events as those 
attending the Caucasian invasion. ]\Ir McGee's memoir is 
devoted chiefly to the contemporary condition of the tribe 
described, but attention is given to its history for the three and 
a half centm-ies during which some of the outward character- 
istics of the people have been known to Spanish and American 
pioneers, while the prehistoric records of the region receive 
some consideration. One of the ends of ethnologic research is 
the determination of the trend of tribal development ; and the 
investigations described in the accompanying papers have 
been so directed as to cover a considerable period, with the 
view of throwing liglit on the causes, conditions, and effects of 
sequential progress among primitive peoples. 

The obverse of historical succession is cultural progress; and 
the several papers exemplify almost the entire range of culture 
status found among the American aborigines. Among these 
aborigines known to Caucasians the Seri Indians appear to 
stand nearly or quite at the bottom of the scale. They are 
without agricultural or other organized industries; they still 
liaunt their primeval shorelands, and their fisheries are crude 
and simple, while their watercraft (in which their culture cul- 
minates) are practically individual in design, manufacture, and 
function; and their social organization is of peculiarly signifi- 
cant simplicity. Much higher in the scale of cultural advance- 
ment stand the Kiowa Indians, who were successful huntsmen, 
and had reached a jieculiarlv developed social organization 
adjusted to their customs of chase and war. Still more ad- 
vanced in some respects, though apparently less so in others, 
were the Navaho tribesmen, who were proficient in the cliase, 
yet predominant!}' agricultural in industry and almost or quite 
sedentary in habit, though their social organization was but 


moderately advanced anterior to the .shock of contact with 
white men. Somewhat fnrther advanced in certain respects 
must have been the prehistoric Hopi of Sikyatki whose arti- 
facts were exhumed in such abundance by Dr Fewkes, a peo- 
ple at least culturally related to the peculiarly advanced tribes 
of ^lexico wliose structures and institutions so impressed the 
conquistadores; they were practically sedentary like their 
descendants in Tusayan today and essentially agricultural 
through aid of irrigation, were skilled artificers in certain lines, 
and were organized on a social and fiducial plan of consider- 
able complexity and refinement. 

In their relation to the categories of human activities the 
range of the papers is broad. The first is general, touching 
on the somatologv and incidentally on the psychology of the 
Seri Indians, and traversing the entire series of their activities 
so far as these are known ; the second is devoted especially to 
activital products of the Kiowa Indians connected equally with 
arts of pleasure and arts of expression, but the description and 
discussion touch and fairly c«ver the entire series of activities; 
so, too, the third paper pertains primarily to a special line of 
industrial activity, yet the consideration extends to beliefs, 
institutions, form of expression, and even to esthetic concepts 
and j)roducts; while the fourth paper deals with esthetic prod- 
ui'ts in their relations to a considerable range of activities. 
Collectively the ])apers contribute especially to esthetology 
and technology, in somewhat less degree to sophiology and 
sociology, and in some measiire to philology. 

The Seri Indians 

The aboriginal tribe known as Seri, Seris, Sseris, Ceris, or 
Ceres, is of interest in many ways. Notably exclusive and 
intolerant of aliens, the tribesmen retain priscan characteris- 
tics to an exceptional degree, and their activities accordingly 
reflect environment with exceptional closeness. Thus the study 
of the tribe niateriallv extends the developmental range cov- 
ered b}' the researches of the Bin-eau, and correspondingly 
enlarges and strengthens the conceptions of human develop- 
ment based on the study of the native American tribes. 

17 ETH V 


It is significant that the Seri Indians make little use of stone 
in their industries; shell, tooth, bone, wood, cane, and other 
less refractory substances are freely used, but the emjjloy- 
ment of stone is subordinate and largely incidental, despite 
the abundance of this material. This industrial characteristic 
is in line with the other characteristics of these tribesmen, and 
ap^iears merely to measure their slight advance in conquest of 

It is equally significant that the stone art of the Seri is 
largely inchoate, as indicated by the absence or feebleness of 
design on the part of the artisans. In large part the industrial 
use of stone is fortuitous and temporary, or of such sort as 
merely to meet emergency; when the use is repeated, the 
emergency implement gradually assumes a fairly definite form 
determined by the wear of use; but the users have evidently 
not risen to the plane of preconceived pattern for their connnon 
industrial implements, or indeed for any stone artifact save the 
little-used arrowpoint. It is particularlv noteworthy that, except 
in the case of the arrowpoint, fracture is not only not employed 
in the manufacture of implements, but is regarded as destructive 
of the utility of the implement to such an extent that acci- 
dentally fractured pieces are cast aside and abandoned. The 
distinctive featiu'es of Seri stonework have led to a redefini- 
tion of primitive stone art as (1) protolitJnc and (2) teclinolitJilc. 
The essential feature of protolithic art is absence of design — 
while the artifacts of tlie class shaped merely by use are often 
polished, they are seldom if ever shaped by fracture ; the essen- 
tial feature of technolithic art is antecedent design or pattern, 
to which the implements are conformed by fracture, battering, 
grinding, and other purposive processes. The sequence of the 
types, although brought out clearly for the first time by the 
researches among the Seri, is evidently a natural one, marking 
normal advance in that conquest of environment in which all 
known peoples are engaged. 

Although less complete than would be desirable, the obser- 
vations on face-painting among the Seri Indians are of 
interest. The researches of recent j^ears have shown that the 
decorative devices of primitive peoples are largely symbolic. 


The observations among the Seri not only snpport the general 
conclusion, but apparently illumine an initial stage in the 
development of decoration in which the nascent devices repre- 
senting the major portion of the esthetic exercise of the people 
are interwoven with the fundamental activities of social char- 
acter. Accordingly, the face-painting of the Seri matron 
appears to represent a priscan stage in the conquest of environ- 
ment tlu-ough social mechanism; and the low culture stage 
marked by the esthetic development accords with that marked 
by the industrial development as manifested in stoneworking. 
Another sig-niiicant characteristic of the Seri Indians is a 
peculiar and nearly unique marriage custom, which apparently 
reflects, and at the same time tends cumulatively to strengthen, 
animosity toward alien neighbors. Previous researches have 
shown that intertribal mating, especially when prescribed by 
the tribal rulers, affords the most effective means of integrating 
tribes, strengthening demotic units of all grades, and promot- 
ing the growth of peoples; and the observably effective opera- 
tion of this social de^^ce among various primitive peoples 
suggests a still more primitive stage in which the device was 
less effective or absent. Now, the custom of the Seri appears 
to represent the lower stage of social mechanism toward which 
the higher customs point as the initial one; hence, although 
perhaps intensified by conditions, the custom appears to com- 
plete the series of stages in tribal development as defined by 
that most effective of all simple social devices, mamage. It is 
noteworthy that the social mechanism of the Seri is adapted 
only to a restricted environment limited by alien neighbors, so 
that the marital mechanism corresponds with the associated 
industrial and esthetic and social de\'ices in marking slight 
advance in conquest of environment. 

Calendar History of the Kiowa Indians 

In some respects a typical plains people, the Kiowa Indians 
are characterized by distinctive features revealed through Mr 
Mooney's researches. Originally inhabiting a northerlj' and 
mountainous territory, they were di'iveii to subsistence on the 
products of the chase; becoming expert and vigorous hunts- 


men, they ranged in parties far over adjacent territory; l)r()ught 
into contact with a wide range of cliniatal conditions and the 
long series of natural conditions depending on climate, the 
tribe was led in the direction of easier livelihood; and thus 
the body slowly migrated first from the mountains to the foot- 
hills and plains, and then southward over the open plains until 
the movement was an-ested by encroaching settlement, when 
they occupied the country drained by the Platte and neigh- 
boring rivers. Meantime the rovino- habit continued, "-aining- 
strength through the acquisition of the horse, and the hunting 
parties frequently invaded and traversed territory claimed by 
other tribes, so that the huntsmen became warriors and the 
hunting expeditions became predatory forays; and about the 
time of the Caucasian's coming, roving parties of the Kiowa 
occasionally passed northward well toward Hudson bay, east- 
ward nearly or quite to the Mississippi, southeastward to the 
Gulf of Mexico, and southwestward nearly or quite to the 
Pacific. Naturally these migratory and predatory wanderings 
kept the tribesmen in contact with an exceptionally extended 
and varied environment, both physical and social; and the 
effects of the environmental interactions are revealed in the 
several disti^^cti^'e characteristics of the tribe. 

A conspiciious characteristic of the Kiowa is the apparent 
absence of the clan or gentile system; for, despite intimate 
accjuaintance with and adoption into the tribe, Mr Mooney was 
unable to discover unmistakable traces of this commonly 
prominent feature of primitive organization. Now, on review- 
ing the tribal customs, it becomes evident that the roving 
Kiowa Indians enjoyed contact with other tribes and conse- 
quent acculturation to an exceptional if not unique degree; 
sometimes the association was amicable, when ideas and 
devices were freely interchanged; frequently the association 
was inimical, when the Kiowa were cummoidy enriched by 
the acquisition not only of plunder but of captives, who were 
subsequently adopted into the tribe; so that the general eff'ect 
of the wide association was to extend tlie intellectual range and 
differentiate the blood of tlie Kiowa. Especially important 
was the habitual adoption of captives, since the effect of adop- 


tioii in Indian tribes is always to iutroiluee arbitrary relation- 
ships tending to break down the natural kinship system; j-et 
hardlv less important were the oft-recurring- expeditions, since 
they involved more or less arbitrary extensions of the simple 
tribal organization, somewhat analogous to those attending the 
development of patriarchy among regularly nomadic jieoples. 
Collectively, the conditions growing out of the roving and 
predatory habits of the Kiowa must have tended in excep- 
tional if not unique degree to subordinate the prevailing con- 
sauguineal organization of primitive society, and to gloss or 
even to replace it with a more strictly artificial or demotic sys- 
tem corresponding to that of higher culture. Accordingly, the 
mconspicuousness of gentile organization among the Kiowa 
Indians would seem to be but a normal consequence of the 
measurably peculiar habits and history of the tribe. 

Another noteworthy characteristic of the Kiowa Indians is 
found in an elaborate system of heraldi-y, to which Mr Mooney 
makes little more than casual reference, full details being- 
reserved for another memoir. While the heraldic system does 
not require extended explication in this connection, it demands 
allusion by reason of its connection with the social organiza- 
tion; for it is evidently an artificial substitute for the simpler 
and more nearly natural clan or gens or totem normal to primi- 
tive culture, and marks social advance comparable with that 
reached by certain other peoples only with the abandonment 
of tribal organization and the adoption of organization on a 
territorial basis. Accordingly the heraldic s^'stem is peculiarly 
significant in attesting the direct interpretation of the social 

A noteworthy, although not unique, characteristic of the 
Kiowa Indians is expressed in a calendar system or system 
of recording conspicuous events in the history of individuals 
and the tribe. This system is described in detail in the accom- 
panying memoir. Previous to the institution of the Bureau, 
the best-known example of aboriginal inscription t)f the pres- 
ent territory of the United States was the Walam Olum of the 
Dela wares; with the inauguration of systematic researches 
relating to native pictography, the now well-known winter 


count of Loue-dog was brought to light. For some years this 
was regarded as a unique production on the part of the plains 
Indians, and hence of less significance and value than tAqjical 
productions; but the discoveries of similar records among the 
Kiowa Indians, including the three calendars acquired by Mr 
Mooney, the one obtained b}^ Captain Scott, and the tradition 
of a fifth example buried with the body of its maker a few 
years ago, serve to show that calendric inscription was typ- 
ically characteristic of the plains Indians up to the time of 
modification by white influence. Accordingly, the discoveries 
of the Kiowa calendars are of no little significance to ethno- 
logic students, while the interpretation of the records through 
the aid of contemporar}' tradition and individual memory 
materially enhances their importance. 

The chief value of the Kiowa calendars lies in the fact that 
they are not merely illustrations, but seriously considered 
applications, of primitive jiictography. They stand for that 
critical stage in the development of expression in which men 
sought to perpetuate their deepest impressions, and hence con- 
stitute the germ of writing, and reveal the mental and manual 
processes attending the all-imj)ortant transition from the pre- 
scriptorial plane to scriptoria] cultui-e. The carefully inter- 
preted calendars of the Kiowa supplement the tribal traditions, 
and render it feasible to compare the episodes of their history 
with those recounted and recorded by other peoples; thus they 
furnish a striking example of practically useful historical rec- 
ords })repared by aboriginal historians in accordance with 
aboriginal methods. Yet even tliis strong interest is over- 
shadowed by the significance of the interpreted calendars as 
mirrors of primitive method, and as guides to the meainug of 
ill-understood aboriginal records from other sections. 

Navaho Houses 

The Navaho Indians stand in strong contrast to the Kiowa, 
alike in habitat and habits. They ranged over a peculiarly 
arid and arenaceous jjortion of the plateau country lying south 
and southwest of the Rocky mountains. Originally combining 
a crude agriculture with the chase as means of subsistence, 
their hard environment tended to limit occupancy to jjarticular 


localities in which the water supply, tillable land, ami liuuting- 
possibilities were such as to serve the needs of small groups 
but not of large assemblages; so that the interaction of envi- 
ronment produced a scattered but fairly sedentary population, 
shifting abodes only with seasonal or secular chang-es in water 
supplv, or with the more lasting exigencies of the chase. 
Under these conditions there was a strong tendency toward 
the maintenance of family groups as primarv social units, and 
as nuclei for ideas, arts, and ancillary institutions. After the 
Spanish invasion, the Navaho acquired horses and slieep, with 
some other domestic animals, and rapidly became pastoral, 
and in some measure nomadic to meet the seasonal conditions; 
yet the impress of widely distributed but sedentary life 
remained to mold thought and shape daily habit. 

A characteristic of the Navaho Indians is the retention of 
maternal organization in the form of the clan. As explained 
by Mr Mindeleff, descent is in the female line, while the chil- 
dren and much of the property are regarded as pertaining to 
tile mother. This persistence of the most primitive known 
form of society is in harmony with the environmental condi- 
tions, and attests the deep-rooted conservatism born of sed- 
entary life; it stands in strong contrast to the advanced 
organization of the roving Kiowa. Yet the Navaho reveal 
the beginnings of social reconstruction along typical lines. 
While most of the property, inchiding the slieep and the 
goats, belongs to the matrons, the larg-er stock are regarded as 
the property of the men; i. e., among the Navaho, as among 
the i)eoples of the Old World, the possession of herds of such 
sort as to require strength and vigor for their management led 
to a transfer of resjionsibilitv from the matron to the patriarch. 
Several other social factors among the Navaho similarly mark 
the economic transition normally attending- the chang-e from 
maternal to paternal organization; and tliev are peculiarly 
significant as aifording a well-recorded and practically con- 
temporary example of one of the three great transformations 
in the course of social development. 

Intimately connected witli tlie kinship group of a seaentary 
people is the family domicil — indeed, among most of the 
aboriginal tribes of America the domicil reflects the social 


organization, as in the Iroquoian long- house, tlie Dakota and 
Kiowa camping circle, and many other examples. In these 
and all other known cases the relation between the consan- 
guineal gronp and the habitation is expressed and ])erpetuated 
by devices mainly of mystic or mythologic character. So, 
among the Navalio, the family domicil is the family temple. 
It is invested in the minds of the occupants with superphvsical 
attributes in the form of mysterious potencies ever working 
for or against the interests of the family and clan and tribe; 
hence the erection and dedication of the house are made fidu- 
cial cei'emonies, regulated by a ritual embodying the faith of 
the builders. The Navaho house or hogan is of interest as a 
type of primitive habitation. It is of far deeper interest as a 
tangible expression of a primitive faith, and as an example of 
a widespread domicil cult culminating in the lares and penates 
of classic history. 

Archeological Expedition to Arizona in 1895 

Related in habitat and hence in habits to the Navaho, and 
correspondinglv antithetic to the Kiowa, were the prehistoric 
Pueblo peoi)les, whose ruins were successfully explored bv Dr 
Fewkes in 1895. The Pueblo peoples, ancient and modern, 
grew up under hard environment ; shadowed ever bv the spec- 
ters of thii'st and famine, they were exceptionally impressed b}^ 
the potencies of pitiless nature and the impotency of their own 
puny power ; and like other desert peoples, seafarers, and risk- 
haunted folk generall}'^, they developed an elaborate system of 
ceremonies and symbols designed to jdacate the m^^sterious 
powers. The ruins of the prehistoric settlements aliound in 
relics of tlie ancient tribesmen and their mystical cult ; and 
the relics are largely interpretable through researches in the 
modern pueblos. 

Occupying an arid region in which water is the most ^Ji'ecious 
of all commodities, the Pueblo peoples early acquired skill 
in tlie manufacture of utensils adapted to the conservation 
of water, and eventually became the potters par excellence of 
aboriginal America. It was quite in accord, too, with the lines 
of iDrimitive thought that the fictile ware, representing the 


highest product of their genius and liandici-aft, was raised to 
hii>h rank in their ceremonial system and made the vehicle of 
invocatory and thaumaturoic symbolism. Indeed, the strong- 
est motives of Pueblo life, simply economic on the one hand 
and crudely philosophic on the other, seem to have met and 
culminated in the fictile art. Accordingly, the characteristics 
of the prehistoric inhabitants of the Pueblo region appear to 
be recorded with remarkable completeness in a single class of 
artifacts — the rich and ^■aried jn'oducts of their potteries. 

The best collections of ancient Pueblo pottery, l)oth in 
number and quality of specimens, are from ancient mortuaries. 
This association is especially significant as a revelatioii of 
fiducial custom; it indicates that the finest ware was made, 
not for everyday use but for sacrificial or sacramental ])ur- 
poses, in connection with the alwavs tragic mortality of man- 
kind, just as the finest baskets of the California Indians are 
made for sacramental burning or burial with the body of the 
maker; and the evidence of the association is confirmed by 
that of the contents of dwellings in which the pottery rem- 
nants are prevailingly of commoner ware. The symbols so 
abundantlv depicted on tlie mortuary vessels throw light on the 
features of the iaith in which they were conceived; and to 
some extent the^s' illumine also the industrial and social char- 
acteristics of the prehistoric pueblo builders. Accordingly 
the descriptions and illustrations comprised in Dr Fewkes' 
memoir constitute a noteworthy contribution to knowledge of 
one of the most interestiii"' lines of ethnoloo'A'. 


(Compiled by Frkdkrick Webb Hooge) 

First auuual report of the Bureau of Etbuology to tlie secretary of 
the Smithsonian institntiou 1879-'80 by J. W. Powell Director 
[vig'uettej Washington Government printing oflice 18S1 

Eoy. 8°. XXXV, 603 p., 346 fig., 1 map. Out of print. 

Report of the Director, pp. xi-xxxiii. 

On the evolution of language, as exhibited in the specialization of gramniatic 

processes, the ditierentiation of the parts of speech, and the integration of the 

sentence; from a study of Indian languages, hy J. W. Powell, pp. 1-16. 
Sketch of the mythology of the Xorth American Indians, by J. W. Powell, pp. 

Wyandot government: a short study of tribal society, by .1. W. I'owell. pp. 

On limitations to the nse of some anthropologic data, by J. W. Powell. )ip. 71-86. 
A further contribution to the stmly of the mortuary customs of the North Ameri- 
can Indians, by H. C. Yarrow, act. asst. surg., U. S. A. pp. 87-203, figs. 1^7. 
Studies in Central American picture-writing, by Edward S. Ilolden, professor of 

mathematics, U. S. Naval Observatory, pp. 20.5-245, figs. 48-60. 
Cessions of land by Indian tribes to the United States: illustrated by those in 

the state of Indiana, by C. C. Royce. pp. 247-262, map. 
Sign language among North American Indians compared with that among other 

peoples and deaf-mutes, by Garrick JIallery. pp. 263-552, ligs. 61-346. 
Catalogue of linguistic manuscripts in the liln-ary of the Bureau of Ethnology, 

by James C. Pilling, pp. 553-577. 
Illustration of the method of recording Indian languages. From the manuscripts 

of Messrs. .1. O. Dorsey, A. S. Gatschet, and S. R. pp. 579-589. 
Index, pp. 591-603. 

Second annual report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the secretary 
of the Smitb.soniau institution ISSO-'SI by J. W. Powell director 
[vignette] Washington Government printing office 1SS3 [1884.] 

Eoy.So. XXXVII, 477 p., 77 pi., figs. 1-35, 347-714, 2 maps. Outof print. 

Report of the Director, pp. xv-x.xxvii. 

Zufii fetiches, by Frank Hamilton Cushing. pp. 3-45, pis. i-xi, figs. 1-3. 
Myths of the Iroipiois, by Erminnie A. Smith, pp. 47-116, pis. xii-x\'. 
Animal carvings from mounds of the Mississippi valley, by Henry W. Henshaw. 

pp. 117-166, figs. 4-35. 
N.avajo silversmiths, by Dr Washington Matthews, U. S. A. pp. 167-17S, pis. 

Art in shell of the ancient Americans, by William H. Holmes, pp. 179-305, pis. 



Iliu8trated catalogue of the collections obtained from thi' Imlians of New Mex- 
ico and Arizona in 187;), by Jauies Stereusou. jiji. 307-422, ligs. 347-697, map. 

Illustrated catalogue of the collections obtained from the Indians of New 
Mexico in 1880, by James Stevenson, pp. 423-465, figs. 698-714, map. 

Index, pp. 467-477. 

Third auiiual report of tlie Bureau of Ethnology to the secretary 
of the Smithsonian institution lSSl-'8li by J. W. Powell director 
[vignette] VVashini-ton Goverument printing oflBce 1884 [1885.] 
Koy. 8^. LXXIV, 606p., 44 pi., 200 (-f-1) tig. Out of print. 

Report of the Director, pp. xiii-LXXi v. 

Notes on certain Maya and Mexican manuscripts, by Prof. Cyrus Thomas, pp. 
3-65, pis. i-iv, figs. 1-11 (10). 

On masks, labrets, and certain aboriginal customs, with an inquiry into the bear- 
ing of their geographical distribution, by William Healey Uall. asst. U. S. Coast 
Survey ; honorary curator U. S. National Museum, pp. 67-202. pis. v-xxix. 

Omaha sociology, by Rev. J.Owen Dorsey. pp. 205-370. pis. xx.x-xxxiii, tigs. 

Navajo weavers, by Dr Washington Matthews, U. S. A. pp. 371-391, pis. 
xxiv-xxxvm, figs. 42 [sic] -.59. 

Prehistoric textile fabrics of the United States, derived from impressions on 
pottery, by William H. Holmes, pp. 393-425, pi. x.xxix, figs. 60-115. 

Illustrated catalogue of a portion of the collections made by the Bureau of Eth- 
nology during the field season of 1881, by William H. Holmes, pp. 427-510, 
figs. 116-200. 

Illustrated catalogue of the collections obtained from the pueblos of Ziiiii, New 
Mexico, and Wolpi, Arizona, in 1881, by James Stevenson, pp. 511-594, pis. 


Index, pp. 595-606. 

Fourth annual report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the secretary 
of the Sniith.soniau institution 1882-83 by J. W. Powell director 
[vignette] Washington Goverument printing otirtce 1880 [1887.] 

Eoy. 8'3. LXIII, 532 p., 83 pi., 5(M fig. Out of i)rint. 

Report of the Director, pp. xxvii-Lxm. 

Pictographs of the North American Indians. A preliminary paper, by Garrick 

Mallery. pp. 3-2.56, pis. I-Lxxxili, figs. 1-209. 
Pottery of the ancient pueblos, by William H. Holmes, pp. 2.57-360, tigs. 210- 

Ancient pottery of the Mississippi valley, by William H. Holmes, pp. 361-136, 

figs. 361-463. 
Origin and development of form and ornament in ceramic art, by William H. 

Holmes, pp. 437-465, tigs. 464-489. 
A study of Pueblo pottery as illustrative of Zuni culture growth, by Frank 

Hamilton Gushing, pp. 467-521, figs. 490-.564. 
Index, pp. 523a-532. 

Fifth annual report of the Bureau of Ethnologj^ to the secretary 
of the Smithsonian institution 1883-84 by J. W. Powell director 
[vignette) Wa.shingtou Government printing ofiice 1887 [1888.] 

Eoy. 8°. Liii, 560 p., 23 pi., 77 fig. Out of iwint. 

Report of the Director, pp. xvil-Liii. 

Burial mounds of the northern sections of the United States, by Prof. Cyrus 
Thomas, pp. 3-119, pis. I-^■I, figs. 1-49. 


The Cherokee nation of Indians: a narrative of their official relations with the 

colonial and federal goverumeuts, by Charles C. Royce. pp. 121-378, pis. vil- 

IX. 'Pis. vllt and IX are pocket map.*.) 
The monntain chant : a Navajo ceremony, by Dr Washington Matthews, U. S. A. 

pp. 37i1-4t)7, pis. x-xviii, tigs. ."iO-.59. 
The Seminole Indians of Florida, by Clay MacCauley. iip. 469-531, pi. XIX, 

tigs. GO-77. 
The religions life of the Znni child, by Mrs. Tilly E. Stevenson, pp. .'i33-555, 

pis. XX-XXIII. 
Index, pp. 557-560. 

Sixth annual report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the secretary 
of tlie Smithsonian institution 18S4-'S5 by J. W. Powell director 
[vignette] Washington (iovernment itrinting office 1888 [1889.] 

Roy. 8^. LViii, 675 p. (incl. 15 pi. and G p. of music), 10 pi. (iucl. 2 
pocket maps), 546 fig. Out of print. 

Report of the Director, pp. xxiii-LViii. 

Ancient art of the province of Chiriqui, Colombia, by William H. Holmes, pp. 
3-187, pi. I, tiga. 1-285. 

A study of the textile art in its relation to the development of form and orna- 
ment, by William H. Holmes, pp. 189-2.52, figs. 286-3.58. 

Aids to the study of the Maya codices, by Prof. Cyrus Thomas, pp. 253-371, 
tigs. 3.59-388. 

Osage traditions, by Rev. J. Owen Dursey. pp. 373-397, fig. 389. 

The central Eskimo, by Dr Franz Boas. pp. 399-669, pis. il-x, tigs. 390-546. 
(Pis. II and III are pocket maps.) 

Index, pp. 671-675. 

Seventli annual report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the secretary 
of the Smithsonian institution 188.V86 by J. W. Powell director 
[vignette] Washington Government printing oflBce 1891 [1S92.] 

Koy. 8°. XLIII, ■409 p., 27 pi. (incl. pocket map), 39 fig. Out of 

Report of the Director, pp. xv-XLl. 

Indian linguistic families of America north of Mexico, by .1. W. Powell, pp. 

1-142, pi. I (pocket map). 
The MidO'wiwin or "grand medicine society" of the Ojibwa, by W. J. Hott'man. 

]ip. 143-300, pis. ii-xxiil, tigs. 1-.S9. 
The sacred formulas of the C'herokees, by .James Mooney. pp. 301-397, pis. 


Index, pp. 399-409. 

Eighth annual report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the secretary 
of the Smithsonian institution 1886-87 by J. W. Powell director 
[vignette] Washington Government printing office 1891 [1893.] 

Eoy. 8°. XXXVI, 298 p., 123 pi., 118 fig. Out of print. 

Report of the Director, pp. xiii-xxxvi. 

A study of Pueblo architecture: Tusayan and Cibola, by Victor Mindelett. pp. 

3-228, pis. i-cxi, tigs. 1-114. 
Ceremonial of Ha:sjelti Dailjis and mythical sand painting of the Navajo Indians, 

by James Stevenson, pp. 229-285, pis. c.Mi-c.xxiii, ligs. 115-118. 
Index, pp. 287-298. 


Ninth annual report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the secretary of 
the Smithsonian institution 1SS7-'S8 by J. W. Powell director 
[vignette] Washington Government printing ofQce 1892 [1893.] 

Eoy. 8-=. XLVi, 617 p., 8 pi., 448 flg. Out of print. 

Report of the Director, iip. Xix-XLVI. 

Ethnological results of the Point Barrow expedition, by John Murdoch, natural- 
ist and observer. International polar expedition to Point Barrow, Alaska, 1881- 
1883. pp. 3-441, pis. i-ii, tigs. 1-428. 

The medicine-men of the Apache, by John G. Bourke, captain, third cavalry, 
U. S. army. pp. 443-603, pis. iil-viii, figs. 429-448. 

Index, pp. 60.5-617. 

Tenth annual report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the secretary of 
the Smithsonian institution 1888-89 by J. W. Powell director 
[vignette] Washington Government printing office 1893 [1894.] 

Eoy. 8^. XXX, 822 p., 54 pi., 1290 fig. Out of print. 

Report of the Director, pp. iii-xxx. 

Picture-writing of the American Indians, by Garrick Mallery. pp. 3-807, pis. 

i-Liv, figs. 1-1290. 
Index, pp. 809-822. 

Eleventh annual report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the secretary 
of the Smithsonian institution 1889-'90 by J. W. Powell director 
[vignette] Washington Government printing office 1894 

Eoy. 8°. XLVii, 553 p., 50 pi., 200 fig. Out of print. 

Report of the Director, pp. x.xil-XLVii. 

The Sia, by Matilda Co.Ke Stevenson, pp. 3-157, pis. i-xxxv, tigs. 1-20. 

Ethnology of the Ungava district, Hudson Bay territory, by Lucieu M. Turner. 

Edited by John Murdoch, pp. l.")9-350, pis. xxxvi-XLiii, figs. 21-155. 
A study of Siouan cults, by James Owen Dorsey. pp. 351-544, pis. XLi v-L, figs. 

Index, pp. 545-553. 

Twelfth annual report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the secretary 
of the Smithsonian institution 18it0-'91 by -T. W. Powell director 
[vignette] Washington Government iirinting office 1894 

Eoy. 8°, XLViii, 742 p., 42 pi,, 344 fig. Out of print. 

Report of the Director, pp. xix-xlviii. 

Report on the mound explorations of the Bureau of Ethnology, by Cyrus 

Thomas, pp. 3-730, pis. i-XLii, tigs. 1-344. 
Index, pp. 731-742. 

Thirteenth annual report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the secre- 
tary of the Smithsonian institution 1891-92 by J. W. Powell 
director [vignette] Wasliiugtoii Government printing office 1896 

Eoy. 8°. Lix, 402 p., 60 pi., 330 flg. Out of print. 

Report of the Director, pp. xix-Lix. 

Prehistoric textile art of eastern United States, by William H. Holmes, pp. 

3-46, pis. l-ix, figs. 1-28. 
Stone art, by Gerard Fowke. pp. 47-178, figs. 29-278. 
Aboriginal remains in Verde valley, Arizona, by Cosmos Mindelefl:'. \>\>. 179-261, 

pis. x-L, figs. 279-305. 


Omaha dwellings, furniture, anil implements, b.y James Owen Dorsey. pp. 

21)3-288, figs. 306-327. 
C'asa (iiande ruin, by Cosmos Jliudeleff. pp. 289-319, pis. li-lx, figs. 328-330. 
Outlines of Zuni ereatiou myths, by Frank Hamilton Gushing, pp. 321-447. 
Index, pp. 449-462. 

Fourteentli annual report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the sec- 
retary of the Smithsonian institution 1892-'93 by J. W. Powell 
director In two parts Part 1 [-part 2] [vignette] Washington 
Government printing office 1S9G [1897.] 

Koy. 8°. two parts, lxi, 1-637; C39-1136 p., 122 pi., 104 fig. 
Otit of print. 

Report of the Director, pp. xxv-Lxi. 

The Menomini Indians, by Walter James Hoffman, M. D. pp. 3-328, pis. 

i-xxxvii, figs. 1-5.5. 
The Corouado expedition, 1540-1542, by George Parker Winship. pp. 329-613, 

pis. XXXVI1I-LXXX1\'. 

Index to part 1. pp. 615-637. 

The Ghost-dance religion and the Sioux outbreak of 1890, by .lames Mooney. 

pp. 641-1110, pis. Lxxxv-cxxii, figs. 56-104. 
Index to part 2. pp. 1111-1136. 

Fifteenth annual report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the secretary 
of the Smithsonian institution 1893-94: by J. W. Powell director 
[vignette] Washington Government printing office 1897 

Roy. 80. cxxi, 36Gp., 12-5 pi., 48 ( + 1) fig. Out of print. 

Report of the Director, pp. xv-cxxi. 

Stone implements of the Potomac Chesapeake tidewater province, by William 

Henry Holmes, pp. 3-152, pis. i-cui and frontispiece, fig. l-29a. 
The Siouiin Indians: a preliminary sketch, by W J McGee. pp. 153-204. 
Siouan sociology: a posthumous paper, by James Owen Dorsey. jip. 205-244, 

fig. 30-38. 
Tusayan katcinas, by Jesse Walter Fe wkes. pp. 245-313, pis. civ-cxi. figs. 39-48. 
The repair of Casa Grande ruin, Arizona, in 1891, by Cosmos Mindelefl:'. pp. 

315-349, pis. cxii-cxxv. 
Index, pp. 351-366. 

Sixteenth annual report of the Bureau of American Ethuology to 
the secretary of the Smithsonian institution 1894-'9o by J. W. Powell 
director [vignette] Washington Government printing office 1897 

Roy. 8o. cxix, 32G p., 81 pi., 83 fig. Out of print. 

Report of the Director, pp. xiii-cxix. 

Primitive trei)hining in Peru, by Manuel Antonio Muniz and W J McGee. pp. 

3-72, pis. i-xr,. 
Cliff ruins of Canyon deChelly, Arizona, by Cosmos Mindeleff. pp. 73-198, pis. 

XLi-LXHi, figs. 1-83. 
Day symbols of the Maya year, by Cyrus Thomas, pp. 199-265, pis. lxiv-lxix. 
Tusayan snake ceremonies, by Jesse Walter Fewkes. pp. 267-312, pis. lxx-lxxxi. 
Index, pp. 313-326. 

Seventeetith annual report of tlie Bureau of American Ethnology to 
the secretary of the Suiith.souian institution 1895-'90 by J. W. Powell 


director lu two parts Part 1 [-part 2] [viguette] Washington 
Governiueut printing ofiBce 1S9S [1900] 

Eoy. 8^. two parts, xciii, 1 ; 467-752 p., 175 pi., 357 fig. 

Report of Ibe Director, pp. xxv-xciii. 

The Scri Inilians, by W J JIcGee. pp. 3-128, pis. i-LVi, figs. 1-42. 

Calendar history of the Kiowa Indiaus, by James Mooney. pp. 129-445, pis. 

Lvii-Lxxxi, figs. 43-229. 

Index to jiart 1. pp. 447 . 

Navaho houses, by Cosmos Mindeleff. pp. 169-517, pis. Lxxxii-xc, figs. 230-244. 
Archeological expedition to Arizona in 1895, by Jesse Walter Fewkes. pp. 

519-744, pis. xcin-CLXXV, figs. 245-357. 
Index to part 2. pp. 745-752. 

Eighteenth annual report of the Bureau of American Ethnology to 
the secretary of the Smithsonian institution 1890-97 by J. W. Powell 
director In two parts Part 1 [-part 2] [vignette] Washington 
Government printing oflBce 1899 In press. 

Report of the Director, pp. xxiii-LXXViii. 

The Eskimo about Bering strait, by Edward William Nelson, pp. 3-518, pis. 

i-cvii, figs. 1-165. 
Indian land ce.ssions in the United States, compiled by Charles C. Royce, with 

an introduction by Cyrus Thomas, pp. 521-964, \As. (Jviii-clxxiv. 
Index, pp. 965-997. 

Nineteenth annual report of the Bureau of American Ethnology to 
the secretary of the Smithsonian institution 1897-98 by J. W. Powell 
director In two parts Part 1 [-part 2] [vignette] Washington 
Government printing ofiSce 1900 In preparation. 


(A = l). Bibliography of the Eskimo language by James Constantine 
Pilling 1887 
8°. V, lie p. (iucl. 8 p. of facsimiles). 

(B=:2). Perforated stones from California by Henry W. Henshaw 
8°. 34 p., 10 flg. 

(C=3). The use of gold and other metals among the ancient inhabit- 
ants of Chiriqui, Isthmus of Darien by William H. Holmes 1887 
so. 27 p., 22 fig. 

(D=4). Work in mound exploration of the Bureau of Ethnology by 
Cyrus Thomas 1887 
8°. 15 p., 1 flg. 

(E=5). Bibliography of the Siouan languages by James Constantine 
Pilling 1887 
8°. V, 87 p. 

(F=6). Bibliography of the Iroquoian languages by James Con- 
stantine Pilling 1888 [1889] Out of print. 
8°, VI, 208 p. (incl. 4 p. facsimiles), 5 unnumbered facsimiles. 


(G = 7). Textile fabrics of ancieut Peru by William M.Holmes 1889 

8°. 17 p., 11 tig. 

(H=8). The problem of the Ohio monnds by Cyrus Thomas 1889 

80. 54 p., 8 lig. 

(1=9). Bibliography of the Muskhogeaii languages by .Tames Con- 
stantine Pilling 1889 Out of jn-int. 

8o. V, 114 p. 

(J=10). The circular, siiuare, aud octagonal earthworks of Ohio by 
Cyrus Thomas 1889 

8°. 35 p., 11 pi., 5 lig. 

{K=ll). Omaha and Ponka letters by James Owen Dorsey 1891 
80. 127 p. 

(L=12). Catalogue of prehistoric works east of the Rocky mountains 
by Cyrus Thomas 1891 

8°. 24G p., 17 pi. and maps. 

(M = 1.3). Bibliography of the Algonquiau languages by James Con- 
stantine Pilling 1891 [1892J 
8°. X, 614 p., 82 facsimiles. 

(N = 14). Bibliography of the Athapascan languages by James Gon- 
stantine Pilling 1892 
8°. XIII, 125 p. (incl. 4 p. facsimiles). 

(0 = 15). Bibliography of the Ohinookan languages (including the 
Chinook jargon) by James Constautine Pilling 1893 

8°. XIII, 81 p. (incl. 3 p. facsimiles). 

( P = IG). Bibliography of the Salishan languages by James Coustaa- 
tiue Pilling 1893 

8°. XIII, 86 p. (incl. 4 p. facsimiles). 

(Q = 17). ThePamunkey Indians of Virginia by Jno. Garland Pollard 

8°. 19 p. 

(R = 18). The Maya year by Cyrus Thomas 1894 

8-. 64 p., 1 pi. 

(S = 19). Bibliography of the Wakashan languages by James Con- 
stantine Pilling 1894 

8°. XI, 70 p. (incl. 2 p. facsimiles). 

(T = 20). Chinook texts by Franz Boas 1894 

8°. 278 p., 1 pi. 

(U = 21). An ancient quarry in Indian Territory by William Henry 
Holmes 1894 

8°. 19 p., 12 pi., 7 fig. 

(V = 22). Siouan tribes of the east by James Mooney 1894 

8o. 101 p., map. 
17 ETH YI 


("\V=23). Archeologic iuvestigatious in James and Potomac valleys 
by Gerard Fowke 1894 
8°. 80 p., 17 fig. 

{X=24). List of the publications of tbe Bureau of Ethnology with 
index to authors and subjects by Frederick Webb Hodge 1891 Out 
of print. 

8°. 25 p. 


(-•1// of the volumes of this series are out of jiriiit) 

Department of the Interior U. S. geographical and geological survey 
of the Rocky mountain region J. W. Powell iu charge — Contributions 
to North American ethnology volume I [-VII, IX] — [seal of the de- 
partment] Washington Government printing office 1877 [-1893.] 

4c. 9 vols. 

Volume I, 1877: 

Part I. Tribes of the extreme umthwest, l>y W. H. Dall. 156 p., 9 fig., 10 pi., 
pocket map. 

1. On the tlistributidD and nomenclature of the native tribes of Ala.slva and 
the adjacent territory. With a map. pp. 7-40. 

2. On succession iu the shell-heaps of the Aleutian islands, pp. 41-Hl. 

3. On the origin of the Innuit. pp. 93-106. 
Ajipeudix to Part i. Linguistics, pp. 107-156. 

1. Notes on the natives of Alaska, by J. Furnhehu, [1862.] pp. 111-110. 

2. Terms of relationship used by the Innuit: a series obtained from natives 
of Cumberland inlet, by W. H. Dall. pp. 117-119. 

3. Vocabularies, by Gibbs and Dall. pp. 121-153. 

4. Note on the use of numerals among the T'sim si-an', by George Gibbs, 
M. D. pp. 155-156. 

Part II. Tribes of western Washington and northwestern Oregon, by George 
Gibl)S, M. D. pp. 157-241; appendix, pp. 243-361, pocket map. 
Ajipendix to Part ii. Linguistics, pp. 247-361. 

1. Comparative vocabularies, by Gibbs, Tolmie, and Mengarini. p|i. 247-283. 

2. Dictionary of the Niskwalli, by George Gibbs. pp. 285-361. 

VOLUMK II, 1890 [1891]: 

The Klamath Indians of southwestern Oregon, by Albert Samuel Gatschet. 
2 pts. — cvii, 711 p., map; iii. 711 \i. 

Volume III, 1877 : 

Tribes of California, by .Stephen Powers. 635 p., 1 pi., 44 fig., 3 p. music, 
pocket map. 
Appendix [Linguistics], edited by ,1. W. Powell, pp. 439-613. 

VOLUMK IV, 1881: 

Houses and house-life of the American aborigines, by Lewis H. Morgan. 
XIV, 281 p., 57 pi. and tig. 

Volume V, 1881: 

Observations on oup-sh.aped and other lapidarian sculptures iu the old world 
and in America, by Charles Rau. [1882.] 112 p., 61 tig. 


Ou pn'liistiiric trephining and cranial amulets, by Robert Fletcher, M. K. C. S. 

Eiig. Act. asst. surgeon U. S. army. [1882.] 32 p., 9 pi., 2 tig. 
A study of the manuscript Troano, by Cyrus Thomas Ph. L). with an iutrodnc- 

tioti by D. G. Briutou M. D. [1882.] xxxvii, 237 p., 9 pi., 101 tig. 

Volume VI, 1890 [1892] : 

The Cegiha language, by James Owen Dorsey. sviii, 794 p. 

Volume VII, 1890 [1892] : 

A Dakota-English dictionary, by (Stephen Return Riggs, edited by Jame-i Owen 
Dorsey. x, 665 p. 

Volume VIII: 

[Note — As anuouuced in the List of Publications issued as Bulletin x=21, it 
was the Intention to publish Professor Holmes' memoir ou "Pottery of 
Eastern United States" as Volume VIII of the Contrihiitions, but as the act 
of January 12, 1893, failed to provide for the completion of this series, the 
eighth volume will uot be published.] 

Volume IX, W93: 

Dakota grammar, texts and ethnography, by S. R. Riggs, edited by James Owen 
Dorsey. xxxn, 239 p. 


(JU of the volumes of this series are out of print) 

(1). Introduction to the study of Indian languages, witli words, 
phrases, and sentences to be collected. By J. W. Powell. [Seal of 
the Department of the Interior.] Wasbiugton : Government iirinting 
ofiice. 1877. 

4°. 104 p., 10 blanli leaves. 

Second editiim as follows: 

(2). Smithsonian institution — Bureau of Ethnology J. W. Powell, 
director — Introduction to the study of Indian languages with words, 
phrases and sentences to be collected — By J. W. Powell — ^Second 
edition — with charts — Wasshington Government printing office ISSO 

4°. xi, 228 p., 10 blank leaves, kinship charts i-iv in jiocket. A 
16° "alphabet" of 2 leaves accompanies the work. 

(3). Smithsonian institution — Bureau of Ethnology — Introduction to 
the study of sign language among the North American Indians as 
illustrating the gesture speech of mankind — by Garrick Mallery, bre- 
vet lieirt. col., U. S. army — Washington Government printing office 

4°. iv. 72 p., 33 unnumbered figs. 

(4). Smithsonian institution — Bureau of Ethnology J. "VY. Powell, 
director — Introduction to the study of mortuary customs among the 
North American Indians — By Dr. H. G. Yarrow act. asst. surg., 
U. S. A.^Washiugton Government printing ofiice 1880 

4°. ix, 114 p. 



(AH of the wnrk>i in this series are out of print) 

(1). Smithsonian iustitutiou — Bureau of Etlinology J. W. Powell, 
director— A collection of gesture-signs ami signals of the North Ameri- 
can Indians with some comparisons by Cxarrick Mallery. Brevet 
lieut. col. and formerly acting chief signal ofticer, U. S. army — Distrib- 
uted only to collaborators — Washington Government printing offlce 

■40. 329 p. 

Note — 250 copies printed for use of collaborators only. 

(2). Smithsonian institution — Bureau of Ethnology J. W. Powell 
director — Proof sheets of a bibliography of the languages of the North 
American Indians by James Constantine Pilling — (Distributed only to 
collaborators) — Washington Government printing oflice 1SS5 

40. XL, 1135 p., 29 pi. (facsimiles). 

Note — Only 110 copies jirinted for the use of collaborators, 10 of them on one side 
of the sheet. 

It the intention to have this Bibliography form Volume x of "Contributions 
to North American Ethnology,'' but the work assumed such proportions that it was 
subseciuently deemed advisable to publish it as ajiart of the series of Bulletins, devot- 
ing a Bulletin to each linguistic stock. 

(3). [Linguistic families of the Indian tribes north of Mexico with 
provisional list of the principal tribal names and synonyms.] 
16°. 5.5 p. 

XoTK — A few copies printed in 1885 for the xise of the comiiilers of an Indian Cyclo- 
pedia and Synonymy now in preparation. It is without title-page, name, or date, 
but was compiled from a manuscript list of Indian tribes by .Tames Mooney. 

(4). [Map of] Linguistic stocks of American Indians north of Mexico 
by J. W. Powell. [1891.] 

Note— A limited edition of this map, which forms plati' l of the .Seventh Annual 
Report, was issued on heavy paper, 19 by 22 inches, for the use of students. 


A=Annnal Report. B^ Bulletin. C^CoutribntionstoXortliAmeriran Ethnology. 
Int.=Introdnction. JI = Mi8cellaueons publications. 

AcTiviT.vL similaritie.s (Powell) A iii. ixv. 

Alaska, Notes ou the natives ot (Furulielm) C i, 111. 

AxGoxQuiAN LANGU.AGES, Bibliograiihyof tlie(Pilling) B M^13. 

Amulets, cranial, Prehistoric trephining and (Fletcher) C v (pt.2). 

Anlmal CARVINGS from monnds of Jlississipjii valley (Hen- 

sha w ) A ii, 117. 

Apacub, Medicine-men of the (Bonrke) A ix, 443. 

Archeologic INVESTIGATION'S in James and Potomac valleys 

(Fowkc) B w = 23. 

Archeologicwl expedition to Arizona in 1895 (Fewkes) A xvii, .519. 

Architecture of Tusayan and Cibola (V.Mindeleff) A viii. 3. 

Arizona, Aboriginal remains in Verde valley (C. Mindeleff)..A xiii, 179. 

, Archeological exi>edition to, in 189.5 (Fewkes) A xvii, 519. 

, Clitf riiinsof Canyon de Chelly (C. Mindeletf ) A xvi, 73. 

, sccCasa Grande; Tusayan. 

Art, Ancient, of Chiriqui, Colombia (Holmes) A vi, 3. 

, ceramic. Form and ornament in (Holmes) A iv, 437. 

in shell of the ancient Americans (Holmes) A ii, 179. 

, Prehistoric textile, of eastern United States (Holmes) ..A xiii, 3. 

— — , Stone (Fowke) A xiii, 47. 

, textile. Study of (Holmes) A vi, 189. 

Athapascan languages. Bibliography of the (Pilling) B n = 14. 

Bibliography of the Algonquiau languages (Pilling) B M = 13. 

of the Athapascan languages (Pilling) B n = 14. 

of the Chinookau languages, including the Chinook jar- 
gon (Pilling) B = 1.5. 

i)f the Eskimo language (Pilling) B .4. = 1. 

of the Iroquoian languages (Pilling) B F=:6. 

of the languages of the North American Indians, Proof 

sheets of (Pilling) M 2. 

of the Muskhogean Languages (Pilling) B 1 = 9. 

of the Salishau languages (Pilling) B p = 16. 

of the Siouan languages (Pilling) B E=;5. 

of the Wakashan languages (Pilling) B s = 19. 

Boas, Franz; The Central Eskimo A vi, 399. 

, Chinook texts B T^20. 

Bourke, John G. ; Medicine-men of the Apache A ix, 443. 

Brinton, Daniel 6. ; The graphic system and ancient meth- 
ods of the Mayas C v (pt. 3), xvii. 

Calendar history of the Kiowa Indians (Mooney) .- A xvii, 129. 

California, Tribes of (Powers) C iii, 1. 



Carvings, Animal, from mounds of the Jlississippi valley 

(Henshaw) A ii, 117. 

C'ASA Grande ruin (C. Mintleleft) A xiii.289. 

, Repair of, in 1891 (C. Mindeleff) A xv, 315. 

Catalogue of collections from New Mexico and Arizona in 1879 

(.J. Stevenson) A ii, 307. 

of collections from pueblos in 1881 (J. Stevenson) A iii, 511. 

of collections made in 1881 (Holmes) A iii, 427. 

of collections obtained from New Mexico in 1880 (.1. Ste- 
venson) A ii,423. 

of linguistio manuscripts in the library of the Bureau of 

Ethnology (Pilling) A i,553. 

of prehistoric works east of the Rocky mountains (Thomas) . B L = 12. 

0E(;iiiA language (Dorsey) C vi. 

Central A:\ierican picture-writing. Studies in (Holden) A i, 205. 

Ceremonial of Hasjelti Dailjis and mythical sand painting of 

the Navajo (J. Stevenson) A viii, 229. 

Ceremonies, Tusayan snake (Fewkes) A xvi, 267. 

Cessions ofland by Indian tribes to the United States (Royce). A 1, 247; xviii, 521. 

Cherokee nation of Indians (Royce) A v, 121. 

sacred formulas (Mooney) A vii, 301. 

Chinook texts (Boas) B T=20. 

Chinookan languages, Bibliography of (Pilling) B o = 15. 

Chiriqui, Ancient art of (Holmes) A vi, 3. 

, Use of gold and other metals among the ancient inhabi- 
tants of (Holmes) B = 3. 

Cibola, Architecture of Tusayan and (V. Mindeleft) A viii, 3. 

, see ZUNI. 

Cliff ruins of Canyon de Chelly, Arizona (C. Miudeletf) A xvi, 73. 

Collections, Catalogue of, from New Mexico and Arizona in 

1879 (J. Stevenson) A ii, 307. 

from pueblos in 1881 (J. Stevenson) A iii, 511. 

made in 1881 (Holmes) A iii, 427. 

obtained from New Mexico in 1880 (J. Stevenson) A ii, 423. 

Coronado expedition, 1540-1542 (Winship) A xiv, 329. 

Cults, Siouan, Study of (Dorsey) A xi, 351. 

Cup-shaped and other lapidarian sculptures (Ran) C v, 1. 

CUSHING, F. H.; Ziini fetiches A ii, 3. 

, Pueblo pottery as illustrative of Zuni culture growth.. .A iv, 467. 

, Outlines of Zuni creation myths A xiii. 321. 

Dakota-English dictionary (Riggs) C vii. 

grammar, texts, and ethnography (Riggs) C ix. 

Dall, William H. ; Tribes of the extreme northwest C i, 1. 

, Terms of relationship used by the Innuit C i, 117. 

, Ou masks, labrets, and certain aboriginal customs A iii, G7. 

and Giniis, George. Vocabularies of tribes of the ex- 
treme northwest C i, 121. 

Day symbols of the Maya year (Thomas) A xvi, 199. 

Dictionary, Dakota-English (Riggs; C vii. 

Dorsey, J. Owen; Illustration of the method of recording In- 
dian languages A i, 579. 

, A study of Siouan cults A xi, 351. 

, Omaha and Ponka letters B K = 11. 

, Omaha dwellings, furniture, and implements A xiii, 263. 

, Omaha sociology A iii, 205. 


DoRSKY, J. Owen; Osage traditions A vi, 373. 

, Si ouan sociology. . .- A xv, 205. 

, The Cegiba language C vi. 

, eililor; A Kakota-English tliftionary, by Stephen Betiini 

Riggs C vii. 

, Dakota grammar, ti'xts.andctlinograpUy, by S. R. Kiggs.C ix. 

DWELI.IXGS, furniture, anil implements of the Omaha (Dorsey). A xiii.2t)3. 

Eskimo aliout Bering strait (Nelson) A xviii, 3. 

language, Bibliograiihy of the (Pilling) B A:=l. 

, The central (Boas) - A vi.399. 

, see Point Barrow; Ungava district. 

Ethnography, grammar, and texts, of the Dakota (Kiggs) . . . C ix. 

Ethnology of the Ungava district (Turner) A xi, l.~)9. 

Evolution of language (Powell) A i. 1. 

Fetiches, Zuni (Cushing) A ii, 3. 

Fewkes, J. Walter; Archeological expedition to Arizona in 

1895 A xvii, 519. 

, Tusayan katcinas A xv. 2i5. 

, Tusayan snake ceremonies A xvi, 267. 

Fletcher, Rouert; On jirehistoric trephining and cranial 

amulets C t (pt. 2). 

FowKE, Gerard ; Stone art A xiii, 47. 

, Archeologic investigations in .James andPotomacvalleys.B w^23. 

Ft RNlTtRE, dwellings, and implements of the Om.aha(Dorsey). A xiii, 263. 

Fcruhelm, J. ; Notes on the natives of Alaska C i, 111. 

Gatschet, Albert S. ; Illustration of the method of record- 
ing Indian langiiages A i . 579. 

, The Klamath Indians of soutliwestern Oregon C ii. 

Gesture signs and signals of the North American Indiana 

(Mallery) M 1. 

Gesture speech, Introduction to the study of sign language 
as illustrating (Mallery) Int. 3. 

Ghost-dance religion (Mooney) A xiv, (541. 

GlBiss, George ; Notes on the use of numerals among the T'sim 

si-an' - C i, 1.55. 

, Tribes of western Washington and northwestern Oregon .C i, 157. 

and Dall, W. H. ; Vocabularies of tribes of the extreme 

northwest C i, 121. 

Gold and other metals. Use of, among the ancient inhabitants 

of Chiriqui (Holmes) B c=3. 

Grammar, texts, and ethnography of the Dakota (Riggs) .. ..C ix. 

Grand Medicine society of the Ojibwa (Hoffman) A vii, 143. 

Graphic system and ancient methods of the Mayas (Brinton).C v (pt. 3), xvii. 

Hasjelti Dail.jis ceremonial of the Navajo (J. Stevenson). ..A viii, 229. 

Henshaw, H. W. ; Animal carvings from mounds of the Mis- 
sissippi valley A ii. 117. 

, Perforated stones from California B v.^2. 

Hodge, F. W.; List of publications of the Bureau of Ethnol- 
ogy with index to authors and subjects B x=24. 

Hoffman, W. J. ; TheHide' wiwin or "grand medicinesociety" 

of the Ojibwa A vii. 143. 

, The Menomini Indians A xiv, 3. 

Holden, E. .S. ; Studies in Central American picture writing- A i, 205. 


Holmes, AV. H. ; An aiicieut quarry in Intlian Tirritoiy B u=21. 

, Ancient art of the province of Chiriqui. Colombia A vi, 3. 

, Art in shell of the :mcient Americans ..A ii, 179. 

, Illustrated catalogue of a portion of the collections 

made by the Bureau of Ethnology during the field 

season of 1881 A iii, 427. 

, Origin and development of form and ornament in cera- 
mic art A i V, 437. 

, Ancient pottery of the Mississippi valley A iv, 361. 

, Pottery of the ancient pueblos A iv, 257. 

, The use of gold and other metals among the ancient 

inhabitants of Chiriqui, Isthmus of Darien B c = 3. 

, Prehistoric textile art of eastern United States A xiii, 3. 

, A study of the textile art in its relation to the develop- 
ment of form and ornament A vi, 189. 

, Prehistoric textile falirics of the United States, derived 

from impressions on pottery A iii, 393. 

. Textile fabrics of ancient Peru B G = 7. 

, Introductory to archeologic investigations in James and 

Potomac valleys (Fowke) B w^23. 

, Stone implements of the Potomac-Chesapeake tidewater 

prorince A xv, 3. 

Houses and house-life of theAmerican aborigines (Morgan). .C iv. 

, Navaho (C. Mindelefi') A xvii, 469. 

Hudson Bay territouv, ethnology of the Ungava district 

(Turner) A xi, 159. 

Illustuated catalogue of collections from New Mexico and 

Arizona in 1879 (J. Stevenson) A ii, 307. 

of collections from jiueblos in 1881 (J. Stevenson) A iii, 511. 

of collections made in 1881 (Holmes) A iii, 427. 

- — of collections obtained from New Mexico in 1880 (.J. 

Stevenson) A ii, 423. 

Illustration of the method of recording Indian languages 

(Dorsey, Gatschet, Riggs) A i, .579. 

Imi'lemext.s, Omaha dwellings, furniture, and (Dorsey) A xiii, 263. 

, stone, of the Potomac-Chesa]ieake tidewater province 

(Holmes) A xv, 3. 

Indian Territory, Ancient quarry in (Holmes) B u=21. 

Innuit, Terms of relationship used by the (Dall) C i, 117. 

Iroijuoian l.^nguages, Bibliography of the (Pilling) B i==6. 

Iroijuois, Myths of the (Smith) A ii, 47. 

Jasies and Potomac valleys, Archeologic investigations in 

(Fowke) B w=23. 

Katcinas, Tusayan ( Fe wkes) A xv, 245. 

Kiowa Indians, Calendar history of (Mooney) A xvii, 129. 

Klamath Indians of southwestern Oregon (Gatschet) C ii. 

Labkets, masks, and certain aboriginal customs (Dall) A iii, 67. 

Land cessions, Indian, in the United States (Royce-Thomas). A xviii, 521. 

LANGUA(iE, Evolution of (Powell) A i, 1. 

Languages, Indian, Illustration of the method of recording 

( Dorsey, Gatschet, Riggs) A i, 579. 

, Indian, Introduction to the study of (Powell ) Int. 1, 2. 


LANtiUAGKS of tLe North Americiiii ludiaiis, Proof sheets of a 

bibliography of the (Pilling) M 2. 


Limitations to the use of some anthropologic data (Powell). A i, 71. 

LiNGUi.'iTic families of America north of Jlexico (Powell) A vii, 1. 

manuscripts in the library of the Bureau of Ethnology 

(Pilling) A i, v5'.i. 

stocks north of Jlexico, map of (Powell) M 4. 

tribes north of Mexico ( Jloouey) M 3. • 

List of publications of the Bureau of Ethnology (Hodge).. .B s^24. 

MacCai'LEY, Clay; The Seminole Indians of Florida A v, 469. 

McGee, W J ; Preface to the Pamunkey Indians of A'irginia 

(Pollard) B Q=17. 

, Prefatory note to the Maya year (Thomas) B R^18. 

, The Siouan Indians A xv, 153. 

, The Seri Indians A xvii, 3. 

, and MnSiz, M. A. ; Primitive trephining in Peru A xvi, 3. 

Malleuy, Garuick; A collection of gesture-signs and signals 
of tlie North American Indians, with some compari- 
sons M 1. 

, Introduction to the study of sign language among the 

North American Indians as illustrating the gesture 
speech of mankind Int. 3. 

, Pictographs of the North American Indians: a prelimi- 
nary paper A i v, 3. 

, Picture-writing of the American Indians A x, 3. 

, Sign language among North American Imliaus compared 

with that among other jieoples and deaf-mutes A i, 263. 

Manuscripts, linguistic, in the library of the Bureau of Eth- 
nology (I'illing) A i, 553. 

, Notes on certain Maya and Mexican (Thomas) A lii, 3. 

Manuscript Troano, Study of the (Thomas) C v (pt. 3), 1. 

Map of linguistic stocks north of Mexico (Powell) M 4. 

Masks, labrets, and certain aboriginal customs (Dall) A iii, 67. 

Matthews, W. ; Navajo silversmiths A ii, 167. 

, Navajo weavers A iii, 371. 

, The mountain chant : a Navajo ceremony A v, 379. 

Maya codices. Aids to the study of (Thomas) A vi, 253. 

and Mexican manuscripts. Notes on (Thomas) A iii, 3. 

, Graphic system and ancient methods of the (Brinton) . .C v (pt. 3), xvii. 

year (Thomas) B R = 18. 

year. Day symbols of tlie (Thomas) A xvi, 199. 

Medicink-men of the Apache (Bourke) A ix, 443. 

Mexomini Indians (Holiman) A xiv, 3. 

Mexican and Maya manuscripts. Notes on (Thomas) A iii. 3. 

MiDii'wiwiN or "grand medicine society" of the Ojibwa 

(Hoflman) A vii, 143. 

MiNDELEFF, C. ; Aboriginal remains in Verde valley, Arizona. A xiii, 179. 

, Casa Grande ruin A xiii, 289. 

, Clitf ruins of Canyon de Chelly, Arizona A xvi, 73. 

, Navaho houses A xvii, 469. 

, Repair of Casa Grande ruin in 1891 A xv, 315. 

MiNDELEFF, V.; A study ofpueblo architecture : Tusayan and 

Cibola A viii, 3. 

MoONEY', .Iames; Linguistic families of Indian tribes north 

of Mexico M 3. 


MooNKy, James; Calendar history of the Kiowa Iiulians A xvii, 129. 

, Sacred formnlas of the Cherokees A vii, 301. 

, 8ioiian tribes of the east B v:=22. 

, The Ghost-dance religion, with a sketch of the Sioux 

outbreak of 1890 A xiv, 641. 

Morgan, Lewis H. ; Houses and house-life of the American 

aborigines C iv. 

Mortuary customs, Introduction to the study of (Yarro-sv) . .Int. 4. 

^1 of the North American Indians (Yarrow) A i, 87. 

Mouxu EXPLORATIONS of the Bureau of Ethnology (Thomas) . . A xii. S ; B 
Mounds, Burial, of the northern sections of the United States 

(Thomas) A v, 3. 

of the Mississippi valley, Animal carvings from (Hen- 

shaw) A ii, 117. 

, Ohio, The problem of the (Thomas) B H^8. 

, Prehistoric, east of the Eocky mountains 'Thomas) B L=rl2. 

Mountain chant : a Navajo ceremony (Matthews) A v, .'579. 

MuNiz, M. A., and McGee, W J; Primitive trephining in 

Peru A XV i, 3. 

Murdoch, John; Ethnological results of the Point Barrow 

expedition A ix, 3. 

, editor; Ethnology of the Ungava district, Hudson Bay 

territory, by Lucien M. Turner A si, 159. 

MrSKHOGEAN LANGUAGES, Bibliography of the (Pilling) B 1 = 9. 

Mythology of the North American Indians (Powell) A i, 17. 

Myths of creation (ZuTii), Outlines of (Cushing) A xiii, 321. 

of the Iro(juois (Smith) A ii. 47. 

Navaho ceremonial of Hasjelti Dailjis and mythical sand 

painting (J. Stevenson) A viii, 229. 

ceremony. The mountain chant (Matthews) A v, 379. 

houses (C. Miudeleft) A xvii, 469. 

silversmiths (Matthews) A ii, 167. 

weavers (Matthews) A iii, 371. 

Nelson E. W. ; The Eskimo about Bering strait A xviii. 3. 

Numerals, Notes on the use of, among the T'sim si-an' (Gibbs) . C i, 15.5. 

Ohio Mounds, The problem of the (Thomas) B n^8. 

Ojibwa, Mide'wlwin or "grand medicine society " of the (Hoft- 

man) A vii, 143. 

Omaha and Ponka letters (Dorscy ) B k := 11. 

dwellings, furniture, and implements (Dorscy) A xiii, 263. 

sociology (Dorsey) A iii, 205. 

Oregon, northwestern, Tribes of (Gibbs) C i, 1.57. 

Osage traditions (Dorsey) A vi, 373. 

Pamunkky Indians of Virginia (Pollard) B ij = 17. 

Perforated stones from California (Henshaw) B n ^2. 

Peru, ancient, Textile fabrics of (Holmes) B (; = 7. 

, Primitive trephining in (Muniz-McGee) A xvi, 3. 

Pictographs of the North American Indians (Mallery ) A iv, 3. 

Picture-writing of the American Indians (Mallery ) A x, 3. 

, Studies in Central American (Holden) A i, 205. 

Pilling, J. C. ; Bibliography of the Algonqnian languages.. -B M = 13. 

, Bibliography of the Athapascan languages B N = 14. 

, Bibliography of the ChinooUan languages B = 15. 

, Bibliography of the Eskimo language B A:=l. 


Pli.LiNc, J. C. ; Bibliography of the Iroquoiau languages. .. .B i''^6. 

. Bibliography of the Muskhogean languages B i = 9. 

, Bibliography of the Salishau languages B i' = 16. 

, Bibliography of the Siouan hiuguages B e^o. 

• , Bililiography of the Wakashan languages B s = 19. 

, Catalogue of linguistic manuscripts iu the library of the 

Bureau of Ethnology V i. 553. 

, Proof-sheets of a bibliography of the languages of the 

North American Indians M 2. 

Point Barrow expedition, Ethnological results of the (Mur- 
doch) A ix, 3. 

PoLL.\UD, .John Garland; Pamunkey Indians of Virginia ..B q = 17. 

PoNKA and Omaha letters (Dorsey ) B k = 11. 

Potomac and James valleys, Archeologic investigations in 

(Fowke) 1! \v=2.$. 

Potomac-Chesapeake tidewater province. Stone implements 

of (Holmes) A xv, 3. 

Pottery, Ancient, of the Mississippi valley (Holmes) A iv, 361. 

of the aneient pueblos (Holmes) A iv, 257. 

, Pueblo, illustrative of Zufii culture growth (Cushing) ... A i v, 467. 

Powell, J. W. ; Indian linguistic families of America north of 

Mexico A vii, 1. 

, Introduction to the study of Indian languages, with 

words, phrases, and sentences to be collected Int. 1, 2. 

■ , Waji of linguistic stocks north of Mexico M 4. 

, On acti vital similarities A in. Ixv. 

, On limitations to the use of some anthropologic data .\ i. 71. 

, On regimentation ^ A xv, civ. 

, Sl<etcli of the mythidogy of the North American Indians. A i, 17. 

, The evolution of language -A 1,1. 

, AVyaudot government : a short study of tribal society - .A i, 57. 

, editor; Linguistics (of the tribes of California) C iii, 139. 

Powers, Stephen; Tribes of California C iii, 1. 

Proble.m of the Ohio mounds (Thomas) B h = 8. 

Proof-sheets of a bibliography of the languages of the North 

American Indians (Pilling) M 2. 

PUHLiCATlONS of the Bureau of Ethnology, List of (Hodge) ..B x^24. 

PUEKLO architecture: Tusayan and Cibola (V. Mindelelf) A viii, 3. 

pottery as illustrative of Zuni culture growth (Cushing). A iv, 467. 

Pueblos, ancient, Pottery of the (Holmes) A iv, 257. 

Quarry, Ancient, in Indian Territory (Holmes) B r = 21, 

Rau, Charles; Observations on cup-shaped and other lapi- 

darian sculjitures iu the old world and in America C v, 1. 

Regimentation (Powell) -A .\v, civ. 

Relationship, Terms of, used by the lunuit (Dall) C i, 117. 

RiGGS, Stephen E. ; Dakota-English dictionary C vii. 

, Dakota grammar, texts, and ethnography C ix. 

, Illustration of the methodof recording Indian languages. A i, 579. 

RoYCE, C. C. ; Cessions of land by Indian tribes to the United 

States; illustrated by those in the state of Indiana .-A i,247. 

, Indian land cessions in the United States A xviii, .521. 

, The Cherokee nation of Indians A v. 121. 

Sacred formulas of the Cherokees (Mooney) A vii, 301. 

Salisiian languages. Bibliography of the (Pilling) B p = 16. 


Sand rAlNTiN(; of the Navajo (J. Steveusou) A viii, 229. 

Seminole Indians of EloriiTa (MacCauley) A v, 469. 

Seri Indians (McGee) A xvii, 3. 

Shell, Art iu, of the ancient Aniericaus (Holmes) A ii, 179. 

SiA, The (M. C. Stevenson) A .xi, 3. 

Sign lajnguage among North American Indians (Mallery).. ..V i. 263. 

, Introduction to the study of (Mallery) Int. 3. 

Signals, Gesture-signs and, of the North American Indians 

(Mallery) M 1. 

SI^^•EI;SMITHS, Navajo (Matthews) A ii, 167. 

Similarities, activital (Powell) A ni, Ixv. 

SiDUAN cults, Study of (Dorsey) A xi, 351. 

Indians (McGee) A xv, 153. 

languages, Bibliography of the (Pilling) B K=5. 

sociology ( Dorsey ) . . A xv. 205. 

tribes of the east (Moouey) B A' ^22. 

Sioux outbreak of 1890 (Mooney) A xiv, 641. 

Smith, Erminnie A. ; Myths of the Iroquois A il,47. 

Snake ceremonies, ^Tusayau (Fewkes) A xvi, 267. 

Sociology, Omaha (Dorsey) A iii, 205. 

, Siouan (Dorsey) A \", 205. 

Stevenson, James; Illustrated catalogue of collections ob- 
tained from the Indians of New Jlexico and Arizona 

in 1879 A ii. 307. 

, Catalogue of collections obtained from the Indians of 

New Mexico in 1880 A ii. 423. 

, Catalogue of collections obtained from the pueblos of 

Zuni, New Mexico, and Woljii, Arizona, iu 1881 A iii. 511. 

, Ceremonial of Hasjelti Dailjis and mythical sand paint- 
ing of the Navajo Indians A viii, 229. 

Stevenson, Matilda C; The religious life of the Zuni child. A v, 533. 

, TheSia A si, 3. 

Stevenson, Tilly E. {See Stevenson, Matilda C.) 

Stone art (Fowke) A xiii,47. 

Stone ijiplemexts of the Potomac-Chesapeake tidewater 

province (Holmes) A xv, 3. 

Stones, Perforated, from California (Henshaw) B u = 2. 

Studies iu Central American picture-writing (Holden) A i, 205. 

.Study of Pueblo architecture : Tusayau and Cibola (V. Min- 

deleft') A v i i i , 3 . 

of Indian languages. Introduction to the (Powell) Int. 1. 2. 

of mortuary customs, Introduction to the (Yarrow) Int. 4. 

of sign language, Introduction to the (Mallery) Int. 3. 

of Siouan cults (Dorsey) A xi, 351. 

of the manuscript Troauo (Thomas) C v (pt. 3), ] 

■ of tribal society (Powell) A i, .57. 

of Maya codices. Aids to the (Thomas) A vi. 253. 

Symbols, Day, of the Maya year (Thomas) A xvi, 199. 

Textile art, Form and ornament in (Holmes) A vi, 189. 

, Prehistoric, of the United States (Holmes) A iii, 393. 

, Prehistoric, of eastern United States (Holmes) A xiii,3. 

fabrics of aucieut Peru (Holmes) B G^7. 

Texts, grammar, and ethnography of the Dakota (Riggs) C is. 

, Chinook (Boas) B T=20. 

Thomas, Cyrus; Aids to the study of the Maya codices A vi, 2.53. 


Thomas, Cykus; A study of the manuscript Troaiio C v ( jit. 3), 1. 

, Burial mounds of the northern sections of the United 

Stat.'s A V. 3. 

, Catalosne of prehistoric works east of the Kocky moun- 
tains H i. = 12. 

, Day symbols of the Maya year A xvi, 199. 

, Introduction to Indian land cessions (Royee) A sviii,521. 

, Notes on certain Maya and Mexican manuscripts A iii. 3. 

, Report on the mound explorations of tlie Bureau of 

Ethnology A xii, 3. 

, The circular, squitre, and octagonal earthworks of Ohio. B J^IO. 

, The Maya year B R=18. 

, The problem of the Ohio mounds B H = 8. 

, Work in mound exploration of the Bureau of Ethnology .B ]>^4. 

Traditions of the Osage (Dorsey ) A vi, 373. 

Trephining, Prehistoric, and cranial amulets (Fletcher) C v (pt. 2). 

, Primitive, in Peru (Muniz-McGee) A xvi, 3. 

Tribal socikty. Short study of (Powell) A i, 57. 

Tribes of California (Powers) C iii. 1. 

of the extreme northwest (Dall) C i, 1. 

of western Washington and northwestern Oregon (Gibbs).C i, 157. 

Troano MANfSCRiPT, Study of the (Thomas) C v {pt. 3), 1. 

T'sim si-an'. Notes on the use of numerals among the (Gibbs) .C i. 155. 

Turner, Ll'Cien M. ; Ethnology of the Ungara district, II ud- 

son Bay territory A xi, 159. 

TtSAYAN anc} Cibola, Architecture of (V. Mindeleft) A viii, 3. 

katciua.s (Fewkes) A xv, 245. 

■ snake ceremonies (Fewkes) ...^ A xvi, 267. 

Ungav.\ district. Ethnology of the (Turner) A xi. 1.59. 

Vocahui.aries of tribes of the extreme northwest (Gibbs- 

Dall) C i, 121. 

, sec Bibliography; Lancuage; Linguistics. 

Wakashan lajjguages. Bibliography of the (Pilling).. B s^l9. 

Washington, western, Tribes of (Gibbs) C i, 157. 

Weavers, Navajo (Matthews) _ _ A iii. 371. 

WiNSHiP, G. P. ; Coronado expedition in 1540-1.542 A xiv, 329. 

Wyandot government : Ashortstudyof tribal society (Powell) A i. 57. 

Yarrow, H. C; Introduction to the study of mortuary cus- 
toms among the North American Indians Int. 4. 

, A further contribution to the study of the mortuary cus- 
toms of the North American Indians A i, 87. 

ZUNi child. Religious life of the (T. E. Stevenson) A v, 533. 

creation myths. Outlines of (Cnshiiig) A xiii, 321. 

culturegrowth, pueblo pottery asillustrativeof(Cushing)A iv, 467. 

fetiches (Cushing) A ii. 3. 

, see Cibola; Coronado. 



^v J m:c(:>ee 

17 ETH 1 

N T E X T S 


Introduction 3 

Salient features - '' 

Keceiit exploraticius and surveys 12 

Acknowledgments 20 

Habitat 22 

Location and area - 22 

Physical characteristics 22 

Flora 31 

Fauna 36 

Local features 39 

Summary history 51 

Tribal features - - 123 

Definition and nomenclature 123 

External relations 130 

Population 134 

Somatic characters 136 

Demotic characters , - - - 164 

Symbolism and decoration 164 

Face-painting — - 164 

Decoration in general - 169 

The significance of decoration 1^6 

Industries and industrial products - 180 

Food and food-getting - 1*^0 

Navigation 215 

Habitations 221 

Appareling 224 

Tools and their uses 232 

Warfare 254 

Nascent industrial development - 265 

Social organization - 269 

Clans and totems 269 

Chiefthip - 275 

Adoption 277 

Jlarriage - - 279 

Mortuary customs 287 

Serial place of Seri socialry 293 

Language 296 




Plate 1. Soriland 9 

II. I'ascual Eucinas, conqueror of the Seri 13 

Ilia. Seri frontier 40 

III6. Sierra Seri, from Enclnas desert 40 

lYa. Sierri Seri, from Tiburou island 42 

lYb. Punta Ygnacio, Tiburou bay 42 

Va. Western shore of Tiburou bay 44 

Vi. Eastern shore of Tiburou bay 44 

Yla. Recently occupied raneheria, Tiburon island 80 

Vlh. Typical house interior, Tiburon island 80 

Vllfl. House framework, Tiburou island 110 

Vlli. House covering, Tiburou island 110 

VIII. Sponge used for house cori'ring, Tiburon island 112 

IXa. House skeleton, Tiburon island 114 

IX/j. Interior house structure, Tiburon island 114 

X. Typical Seri house on the frontier 117 

XI. Occupied raneheria on the frontier 119 

XII. (Jroup of Seri Indians on trading excursion 121 

XIII. Group of Seri Indians on the frontier 137 

XIA'. Seri family group 139 

XV. Seri mother and child 142 

XVI. Group of Seri boys 144 

XVII. Mashcm, Seri interpreter 146 

XVIII. ".Juana Maria", Seri elderwoman 150' 

XIX. Typical Seri warrior 154 

XX. Tyjjical Seri matron 156 

XXI. Seri runner . . ; 158 

XXII. Seri matron 160 

XXIII. Youthful Seri warrior 162 

XXIV. Seri belle 164 

XXV. Seri maiden 166 

XXVI. Characteristic face-painting , 168 

XXVII. Face-painting paraphernalia 170 

XXVIII. Seri archer at rest 200 

XXIX . Seri archer at attention 202 

XXX. Seri bow, arrow, and quiver 204 

XXXI. Seri balsa in the National Museum ; 217 

XXXII. Painted olla, with olla ring (Museum number 155373) 222 

XXXIII. Plain olla (Museum number 15.5373) 226 

XXXIV. Domestic anvil, side (Museum number 178858) 234 

XXXV. Domestic auvil, top (Museum number (178858) 234 

XXXVI. Domestic auvil, bottom (Museum number 178858) 234 

XXXVII. Domestic anvil (reduced), top and side (Museum number 178838) . 237 

XXXVIII. Metate (reduced), top and edge (Museum number 178839) 237 

XXXIX. Long-used metate (reduced), top (Museum number 178840) 238 


b ILLUSTRATIONS [ktu.axn.17 

Platk XL. Loiig-u.sed metate (reduceil), bottom (Museum uunibur 17SS40)... 238 
XLI. Natural peljlile bearing slight luiirks of use (Museum number 

178841) 240 

XLII. Natural pebble used as bone-crnslier (Mnseuni number 178842; 240 

XLIII. Little-worn pebble used for all douicstic purposes (Mu.seum num- 
ber 174570) 243 

XLIV. Natural pebble used as erusber and grinder (Museum number 

178843) 243 

XLV. Natural pebble slightly used as hammer and anvil (Museum num- 
ber 178844) 244 

XLVI. Natural pebble slightly used as grinder (Museum number 178N45). 247 
XLVII. Natural pebble slightly used as domestic implement (Mu.scuui 

number 178846) 247 

XLVIII. Natural jiebble slightly worn by use (Museum number 178847 249 

XLIX. Natural pebble considerably worn in use as grinder (Museum num- 
ber 178848) 249 

L. NaturaJ pebble conslderabl3' worn as cutter and grinder (Museum 

number 178849) 251 

LI. Natural pebble considerably used as hammer, grinder, and anvil 

(top and edge) (Museum number 1788;)0) 253 

LII. Natural pebble considerably u.sed as hammer, grinder, and anvil 

( bottom and edge) (Museum number 178850) 253 

LIII. Hammer and grinder (Museum number 178851) 255 

LIV. Implement shaped by use (Museum number 1788.52) 255 

LV. Implement jierfected by use (Museum number 178853) 257 

LVI. Perfected implement found in use (Museum number 178854) 259 

FiciKK 1. Nomenelatural map of Seriland 1(5 

2. ( Gateway to Seriland — gorge of Rio Bacuache 27 

3. Tinaja Anita 29 

4. Beyond Kncinas desert — the saguesa 33 

5. Embarking on Bahia Kunkaak in la lancha Anita 48 

(i. Anterior and left lateral aspect of Seri cranium 142 

7. Snake-skin belt 170 

8. Dried Hower necklace 171 

9. Seed necklace 172 

10. Nut pendants 172 

11. Shell beads 172 

12. Wooden beads 172 

13. Necklace of wooden beads 173 

1 4. Rattlesnake necklace 174 

1."). Seri ol la ring 184 

Ifi. Water-bearer's yoke 184 

17. Symbolic mortuary olla 185 

18. Symbolic mortuary dish 185 

19. Shell-cup 186 

20. Turtle-hariioon 187 

21. Fish spearhead 193 

22. African archery posture - 202 

23. Desiccated pork 205 

24. Seri basket 208 

25. Scatophagic supplies 213 

26. Seri marlinspikes 217 

27. The balsa afloat 218 

28. Seri balsa as seen by Xarragantett party 219 



... 22(j 
Fi(:ure29. Seri hairbrush ^^g 

30. Seri craiUe - ^^.^ 

SI. Hair spindlf ^.,g 

32. Human-hair cciid 

33. Horsehair cord 

34. Mesqiiite-tiber mpe 

35. Bone awl 

36. Wooden awls 

37. S^ri arrowheads '" 

38. Diagramuiatio outline of industrial deveh)pnu-nt -^^ 

39. Mortuary olla " 

40. Woman's fetishes 

41. Food for the longjourne.v 

42. Jlortuary cup 






''/'/'■' 'J 

1 ' 

ytt^uudw Santa Ana 

KAiichu San Francisco., 
dp CoKtttRira'-' 


^V" D Johiitiim, Topogi-apfit-r 


W.r Mit;pr, KthnoloAisl in Charge 


By W .1 McGee 


Salient Features 

Something has been knowu of the Seri Indians (Seris, Ceris, Ceres, 
Heris, Tiburones) since the time of Coronado, yet they remain one of the 
least-studied tribes of North America. The lirst systematic investiga- 
tion of the tribe was made in the course of expeditions by the Bureau 
of American Ethnology in 1894 and 1895; it was far from complete. 

The Seri Indians are a distinctive tribe iu habits, customs, and lan- 
guage, inhabiting Tiburon island in Gulf of California and a lim- 
ited adjacent area on the mainland of Sonora (Mexico). They call 
themselves Kun-laalc or Kmile: then' common appellation is from 
the Opata, and may be translated "spry". Their habitat is arid and 
rugged, consisting chiefly of desert sands and naked mountain rocks, 
with permanent fresh water in only two or three places ; it is barred from 
settled Souora by a nearly impassable desert. Two centuries ago the 
population of the tribe was estimated at several tliousauds, but it 
has been gradually reduced by almost constant warfare to barely three 
hundred and fifty, of whom not more than seventy-five are adult males, 
or warriors. 

The Seri men and women are of splendid physique; they have fine 
chests, with slender but sinewy limbs, though the hands and especially 
the feet are large; their heads, while small iu relation to stature, 
approach the average in size; the hair is luxuriant and coarse, ranging 
from typical black to tawny in color, and is worn long. They are nota- 
bly vigorous in movement, erect iu carriage, and remarkable for tleet- 
ness and endurance. 

The Seri subsist chiefly on turtles, fish, mollusks, water-fowl, and 
other food of the sea; they also take land game, and consume cactus 
fruits, mesquite beans, and a few other vegetal products of their 
sterile domain. Most of their food is eaten raw. They neither plant 
nor cultivate, and are without domestic animals, save dogs which 
are largely of coyote blood. 

The habitations of the Seri are flimsy bowers of cactus and shrubbery, 
sometimes shingled rudely with turtle-shells and sponges; in some 



[ETH. ANN. 17 

cases these are in clusters pertaining to matronymic family groups; iu 
other cases they are isolated, and are then otteu abandoned and reoc- 
cujiied repeatedly, and are apparently common property of the tribe. 
The habitations atibrd some protection from sun and wind, but not 
from cold and wet, which are hardly known iu winterless and nearly 
rainless Seriland. 

The Seri clotlnug consists essentially of a. kilt or skirt extending 
from waist to knees; sometimes a pelican-skin robe is worn as a 
blanket or mantle, and used also as bedding; the head and feet, as 
well as the bust and arms, are habitually bare, though a loose-sleeved 
wamnuis reaching not quite to the waist is sometimes worn. These gar- 
ments were formerly woven of coarse threads or cords made from native 
vegetal fibers; the belt is generally of twisted human hair, of horse hair, 
of dressed deerskin, or of snake skin; the robe consists of four, six, or 
eight pelican skins sewed together with sinew. The pelican-skin robes 
are still used, though the aboriginal ftibric is commonly replaced by 
cotton stuffs obtained through barter or plunder. Cords of human 
hair and skins of serpents are used for necklaces. 

The sports and games of the Seri Indians include racing and dancing, 
and there are ceremonial dances at the girls' puberty feasts, accom- 
panying the rude music of improvised drums. Decoration is ordinarily 
linuted to symbolic face-pamtiug, which is seen especially among the 
females, and to crude ornamentation of the scanty apparel. A peculiar 
pottery is manufactured, and the pieces are sometimes decorated with 
simple designs in plain colors. 

The bow and arrow are habitually used, especially in warfare, and 
turtles and tish are taken by means of harpoons, shafted with cane and 
usually tipped with bone, charred wood, or flotsam metal. The arrows 
are sometimes provided with chipped stone points, though the art of 
chii)ping seems to be accultural and shamauistic. The ordinary stone 
implements are used for crushing bone and severing sinew or flesh, and 
also for mulling seeds and other food substances; they are mere cob- 
bles, selected for fitness, aud retained only if their fitness is increased 
by the wear of use, after the manner of protolithic culture, (rraceful 
balsas are made from canes, bound together with mesquite-flber cords; 
and on these the people freely navigate the narrow but stormy strait 
separating Tiburon and the neighboring islets from the mainland. 
They make a distinctive pottery, which is remarkably light and fragile. 
Its chief use is carryiug water to habitations (always located miles from 
the spring or tinaja) or on desultory wanderings. Shells are used for 
cups, and to some extent for implements. They have a few baskets, 
which are not greatly different frou'i those made by neighboring tribes. 

The modern Seri are loosely organized in a number of materual 
groups or clans, which are notable for the prominence given to mother- 
right in marriage and for some other customs; and there are indications 
that the clan organization was more definite before the tribe was so 


greatly reduced. The leading clans are those of tlie Pelican, tbe cliief 
tribal tutelary, aud the Turtle, a minor tutelary. At present polygyny 
prevails, professedly and evidently because of the prepouderance of 
females due to the decimation of warriors in battle; but both custom 
aud tradition tell of former monogamy, with a suggestion of polyandry. 
The ])rimary marriage is negotiated between the mothers of the would- 
be groom aud the prospective bride; if the mother aud daughter in the 
latter family look with favor on the proposal, the candidate is subjected 
to rigorous tests of material aud moral character; and if these are suc- 
cessfully passed the marriage is considered complete, and the husband 
becomes a privileged and permanent guest in the wife's household. 
Family feeling, especially maternal affection, is strong; but petty dis- 
sensions are common save when internal peace is constrained by 
external strife. The strongest tribal characteristic is implacable 
animosity toward aliens, whether Indian or Caucasian; certainly for 
three aud a half centuries, and probably for many more, the Seri have 
been almost constantly on the warpath against one alieu group or 
another, and have successfully stayed Spanish. Mexican, aud American 
iuvasion. In their estimation the brightest virtue is the shedding of 
alien blood, while the blackest crime in their calendar is alien conjugal 

The Seri vocabulary is meager and essentially local; the kinship 
terms are strikingly scanty, and there are fairly lull designations for 
food materials aud other local thiugs, while abstract terms are few. 
Two or three recorded vo<^ables seem to resemble those of the Yumau 
lauguages, while the numerals and all other known terms are distiuct. 
The grammatic construction of Seri speech appears not to differ greatly 
from that of other tongues of Sonora and Arizona; it is highly complex 
and associative. The speech is fairly euphonious, much more so than 
that of the neighboring Papago and Yaiiui Indians. 

The Seri Indians appear to recognize a wide variety of mystical 
potencies and a number of zoic deities, all of rather limited powers. 
The Pelican, Turtle, Moon, aud Sun seem to lead their thearchy. Crea- 
tion is ascribed to the Ancient of Pelicans — a mythical bird of marvel- 
ous wisdom aud melodious song — who first raised Isla Tassne, and 
afterward Tiburon and the rest of the world, above the primeval 
waters. Individual fetishes are used, and there is some annual cere- 
mony at the time of ripening of cactus fruits, and certain observances at 
the time of the new moon. The most conspicuous ceremony is the girls' 
puberty feast. The dead are clothed in their finest raiment, folded 
and fastened in small compass like Peruvian mummies, placed in shal- 
low graves, and covered with turtle-shells, when the graves are filled 
with earth aud heaped with stones or thorny brambles for protection 
against beasts of prey. Fetishes, weapons, and other ]iersonal belong- 
ings are buried with the body, as well as a dish of food aud an olla 
of water, and there are curious customs connected with the place of 


sepulture. There is a weird, formal mourning for dead matrons, and 
suggestions of fear of or veneration for the manes. 

Seriland is surrounded with prehistoric works, telling of a numerous 
population who successfully controlled the scant waters for irrigation, 
built villages and temples and fortresses, cultivated crops, kept domes- 
tic animals, and manufactured superior fictile and textile wares; but 
(save possibly in one spot) these records of aboriginal culture cease at 
the borders of yeriland. In their stead a few slightly worn pebbles 
and bits of pottery are found here and there, deeply embedded in the 
soil and weathered as by the suns of ages. There are also a few cairns 
of cobbles marking the burial places, and at least one cobble mound 
of striking dimensions but of unknown meaning; and there are a few 
shell-mounds, one so broad and high as to form a cape in the slowly 
transgressing shoreline (Punta Antigualla), and in which the protolithic 
implements and other relics are alike from the house-dotted surface to 
the tide level, 90 feet below. 

The absence of relics of a superior culture, and the presence of Seri 
relics throughout deposits of high antiquity, suggest that the tribe is 
indigenous to Seriland; and this indication harmonizes with the pecul- 
iar isolation of the territory, the lowly culture and warlike habits of the 
people, the essentially distinct language, the singular marriage custom, 
and the local character of the beast-gods. And all these features com- 
bine to mark the Seri as children of the soil, or aittochtliones. 

Recent Explorations and Surveys 

Present knowledge of Seriland and its inhabitants is based primarily 
on the work of two expeditions by the Bureau of American Ethnology, 
conducted in ISiUand 1895, respectively; and, secondarily, on researches 
into the cartography and literature (descriptive, historical, and scien- 
tific) of the region. Both of the expeditions were projected largely for 
the purpose of making collections among little-known native tribes 
in the interests of the National Museum, and the general ethnologic 
inquiries were ancillary to this purpose. 

The 1804 expedition was directed chiefly toward work among the 
Papago Indians in the vaguely defined territory known as Papagueria, 
lying south of Gila river and west of the Sierra Madre in southwest- 
ern Arizona and western Sonora (Mexico). Outfitting at Tucson early 
in October, the i)arty moved southward, visiting the known Papago 
rancherias and seeking others, and thus defining the eastern limits 
of the Papago country. On the approach to the southern limits of the 
tribal range toward Eio Sonora, the evil repute of the Seri Indians 
sounded laiger and larger, suggesting the desirability of scientific 
study of the tribe; and it was decided to attempt investigation. 
Accordingly the party was reorganized at Herraosillo, and, with the 
sanction of the Secretary of State and Acting Governor, Seuor Don 
Ramon Corral, proceeded to Rancho San Fran(;isco de Costa Rica, 



















where a tempoiary Seri raiicberia was found occupied by about sixty 
of the tribe, including subchief Mashem, who speaks Spanish. In this 
part of the work the expedition was accompanied by 8euor Pascual 
Eucinas, the owner of the rancho visited, and doubtless the best 
informed white man concerning the habits, customs, personnel, and 
habitat of the tribe. About a week was s[)ent in intercourse with the 
occupants of the raucheria, when the studies were brought to an end 
through the illuess of Senor Encinas, and the consetiuent necessity for 
return to Hermosillo. The expedition then proceeded northwestward 
and northward along a route so laid as to define the western limits of 
Papagueria proper, and reached Tucson near the end of the year. In 
addition to the leader, the party comprised Mr William Dinwiddle, 
photographer; Jose Lewis, Papago interpreter, and E. P. Cunningham, 
teamster. The outfit was furnished chiefly by Mr J. M. Herger, of San 
Xavier (near Tucson). On the visit to the Seri frontier the party was 
accompanied by Senor Encinas, Don Arturo Alvemar-Leon (wlio acted 
as Spanish interpreter), and two or three attacln'S of Molino del Encinas.' 

The second expedition was directed primarily toward investigation 
of the Seri, and only incidentally to continuation of the researches 
among the Papago. Outfitting at Tucson in October (again with the 
aid of Mr Berger), the expedition proceeded southward by a route 
different from those previously traversed, and carried forward a plane- 
table route survey covering a considerable zone from the international 
boundary at Sasabe to Kio Sonora. Descending the previously 
unmapped course of Rio Bacuache, the expedition reached the Rancho de 
San Francisco de Costa Rica on December 1, 1895, and, although condi- 
tions were found unfavorable in that the Seri were on the warpath, 
immediately prepared for the extension of the work into Seriland. 

A preliminary trip was made into the mainland portion of the Seri 
habitat, terminating at the crest of Johnson peak, the highest point in 
Sierra Seri. The triangulation and topographic surveys were carried 
over the territory traversed, and several points were fixed on Isla 
Tiburon; but the natives, agitated by a skirmish with vaqueros on 
the frontier a day or two earlier, had withdrawn to remoter parts of the 
territory, and were not encountered. The party returned to Costa Rica, 
a rude boat was completed, transported across the desert via Pozo 
Escalante to Embarcadero Andrade, and launched in Bahia Kunkaak. 
The surveys were extended to the southern portion of Sierra Seri and 
Isla Tassne, and, after various difficulties and delays due to dearth of 
fresh water, to gales, and to other causes, the party (enlarged for the pur- 
pose) finally landed on Tiburon. Many Seri rancherias were found on 

1 The more noteworthy details of the orgauization and work of the two expeditions are set forth in 
the administrative reports of the Bureau for the iiscal years 1894-95 and 1895-96. Certain members of 
this party are shown in the accompanying half-tone, forming platen: Sefior Encinas seated at the end 
of the table: his son, Don Manuel (bareheaded), and Don Ygnacio Lozania at his right; a grandson 
behind Itim, and Senor Alvemar-Leon seated at his left, with Mashem kneeling over the table in the 

14 THE SERI INDIANS [eth. a.\n.17 

botL sides of Babia Kuukaak and El lufiernillo. Some of these bad 
been occupied almost to tbe liour of the visit, but tbe occupauts 
bad taken fligbt, leaviug most of their unattached possessions behind, 
and were not seen, though it was evident that, like wary birds and 
game animals, they kept tbe invaders in sight from points of vantage 
and bidden lairs. The eastern scarps and foot-slopes of Sierra Kuukaak 
were traversed extensively and repeatedlj'; its crest was crossed by 
Mr Johnson with a small party at a point west of Punta Xarragansett, 
and tbe triaugulation and topographic sketching were connected with 
the work on the mainland and carried over practically tbe entire sur- 
face of the island, being tied to the work of the Hydrograpbic Office 
about tbe coasts. Then, despairing of finding the wary natives, and 
having exhausted food supplies, tbe party returned to the mainland 
and thence to Gosta Eica, arriving in tbe evening of December 31. 

Tbe original party comprised, in addition to the leader, Mr Willard 
U. Johnson, topographer; Mr J. W. Mitchell, photographer; IJugh 
Norris, Papago interpreter, and Jose Goutrares, teamster. The party 
engaged in the expedition to Sierra Seri comprised the leader, Messrs 
Johnson and Mitchell, Mr L. K. Thompson of Hermosillo, Don Andres 
Koriega of Costa I'ica, Jose Goutrares, and two Papago Indian guards, 
Miguel and Anton, of Gosta Eica. The Tiburon party was made up of 
the leader, Messrs Johnson and Mitchell, S. G. Millard of Los Angeles, 
and Senores Andres Noriega and Ygnacio Lozania, togetlier with 
Euperto Alvarez, a Yaqui Indian guaid, and Miguel, Anton, IMariana, 
Anton Ortiz, and Anton Gastillo, Papago guards; while Hugh jSTorris 
and Jose Contrares, with half a dozen Papago guards and other 
attaches of tlie rancho at Gosta Eica, maintained an intermittent sup- 
ply station at Embarcadero Andrade. Senor Encinas cooperated in 
the work of tbe expedition, part of tbe time at Gosta Eica and ])art at 
Molino del Encinas, bis principal hacienda in the outskirts of Hermo- 
sillo; while Mr Thompson and Dr W. J. Lyons aided in the work, the 
former at both Hermosillo and Gosta Eica and the latter at Hermosillo. 

The return trip from Gosta Eica lay via Hermosillo, and permitted 
the extension of the plane-table surveys to this longitude. While at 
the city advantage was taken of tbe opportunity to obtain linguistic 
and other data from "El General" Kolusio, a full-blood Seri retained 
at tbe capital by the State for occasional duty as a Seri interpreter, 
who was obligingly assigned to the service of tbe party by Senor 
Don Eamou Gorral, then governor of Sonora. At Hermosillo tbe 
leader of the expedition left the main party, which then proceeded 
northwestward and northward along the route followed by the 1894 
expedition on the return journey, tbe party comprising :\Ir Johnson, in 
charge, witb Messrs Mitchell and Millard, Hugh Norris, and Jose Gou- 
trares; and tbe plane-table surveys were continued and combined with 
the route surveys made on tbe outward journey. 


The piiucipal etliuologic results of both expeditions relating to the 
Sei'i Indians are incorijorated in the following pages; the data concern- 
ing the Papago are reserved for further study. The topographic sur- 
veys of the 1S95 expedition covered a zone averaging 50 miles in width, 
extending from the international boundary to somewhat beyond liio 
Sonora. Mr Johnson, by whom these surveys were executed, was on 
furlough from the United States Geological Survey, and his resumption 
of survey work prevented the construction of finished maps, except that 
of Seriland (plate i), which forms but a small fraction of the area sur- 
veyed. The results of the remaining, and by far the greater, part of 
the topographic surveys are withheld pending completion of the inqui- 
ries concerning the Papago Indians. 

The geographic nomenclature found requisite in the field and iu 
writing is partly new and partly restored, yet conforms with general 
and local custom so far as practicable; and nearly all of the new names 
have been applied in commemoration of explorers or pioneers. Most 
of the names pertaining to Seriland proper are incorporated in the map 
forming plate i; the others (including a few minor corrections) appear 
iu the outline map forming figure 1, prepared after the larger sheet 
was printed.' 

The following list of place-names is designed primarily to give the 
meaning and raison d'etre of the nomenclature; with a single excep- 
tion,- the names are Hlspanized or Mexicauized in accordance with local 

Nomenclature of Seriland.-' 

'Seriland: Extra-vern:ioular name of tribe, with Englisli locative. 
Mak de Cout£:s (Sea of Cort(^s=Gulf of California): Ciistoniary Sonoran designa- 
tion, applied by Ulloa (1539) iii honor of Hernando Cortes, first discoverer of 

the gulf. 
*Pas.\.je Ulloa (Ulloa passage): Generic Spanish; specific applied iu honor of 

Captain Francisco de Ulloa, first n.'ivigator of the ]>a88age and the upper gulf, 

*ESTRECHo Alarcox (.\larcou strait): Named in honor of Hernando de Alarcon, 

second navigator of the gulf, 1510, 
El Infiernillo (The Little Hell) : Local designation, retained by the Hydrographic 

OtHce, U. S, N. (miswritten "Estrecho Infiernillo" on larger map), 
tBocA Inkierno (Mouth of Hell): A colloquial local designation (miswritten 

"Puerto Inflerno" on larger map). 
* Bahia KusKAAK (Kunkaak bay) : Generic Spanish; specific the vern.icular name 

of the Seri tribe (miswritten " Tiburon bay'' on plates iv and v). 

' The larger map was drawn early in 189G, and a preliminary edition iu the form of a photolithograph 
of the drawing was pahliahed in the National Geographic Magazine, vol. vii. 180G. It i.s proper— and 
historically desirable — to explain that while a considerable part of the copy for this paper was pre- 
pared at about the same time, circumstances prevented the completion of the manuscript and the final 
rectification of the nomenclature and bibliographic references until September 1, 1900. 

^Johnson peak. It is proper to aaj- that this name was applied by the author (and leader of the 
expedition) after the drawing was completed and submitted by Mr Johnson, as a meager tribute to 
his excellent work in the field and on the drawings named. 

2 An indicates new names, au obelisk old naines restored or collot|iiial names adoj>ted. 



[ETH. ANN. 17 



Bahia Kino (Kino bay): l>onj;-8taiidinn name given in honor of Padre Ensebio 
Francisco Kino, an early .lesnit missionary (the ''Babia San .luan Bant.ista" of 
various early maps): adopted in Anglicized form by the Hydrographic Office, 
U. S. N. 

tBAHiA Tepopa iTepopa bay): .Specific a corniption of Tepoka, the extra-vernacu- 
lar name of a local tribe related to the Seri; applied in 1746 by Padre Couaag, 
and used by most navigators and cartographers of later dates, though it does 
not aijpear on the charts of the Hydrographic Office, U. S. N. 

Bahia Agua Dulce (Freshwater bay; : Named by Lieutenant R. W. H. Hardy, 
R. N., 1826; name retained (in Anglicized form) by Hydrographic Office, U. S. N. 
(The name is misplaced on Hardy's map, but the bay is correctly located in his 
text, p. 293.) 

t Bahia Bru.ia (Witch bay) : Named (in honor of his vessel) by its discoverer. Lien- 
tenant Hardy, 1826. 

* Bahia Espence (Spence bay) : Named in honor of Pilot Tomiis Espence (Thomas 

Spence), second ciri-uninavigator of the island, who landed in the bay in 1S44. 
tEsTERO CoCHLA (Cockle inlet): Named by Lieutenant Hardy, 1821!. 

* Ba.iios de Ugarte (Ugarte shoals): Named in honor of Padre .Tuan de Ugarte, 

first visitor to the shoals and circumnavigator of Tiburon, 1721. 

*Rada Ballena (Whale roadstead): Named from the stranding of a whale about 
1887, an incident of much note among the Seri. 

' Ancl.we Dewey (Dewey anchorage): Named in honor of its discoverer. Com- 
mander (now Admiral) George Dewey, in charge of the surveys by the Hydro- 
graphic Office, U. S. N., 1873. 

Lagina la Cruz (Lagoon of the Cross): Name adopted (Anglicized) by Hydro- 
graphic Office, U. S. N.; the •' Laguna de los Cercaditos" (Lagoon of the Little 
Banks) of Colonel Francisco Andrade, 1844. 

ISLA Tiburon (Shark island): Name of long standing; used alternatively with 
"Isla San Agustin" since the seventeenth century, both names being appar- 
ently applied to Isla Tassne by several writers, and also to Isla Angel de la Guarda 
(the second largest island in the gulf) by Kino and others, while the present 
Tiburon was regarded as a peninsula. 

Isla San Esteban (Saint Stephen island): Name of long standing; in consistent 
use since early in the seventeenth century. 

'Isla Tassne (Pelican island): Name recast by the use of the Seri specific in lieu 
of the Spanish (Alcatraz), which is too hackneyed for distinctive nse. 

Isla Turner (Turner island) : Name used (and probably applied in honor of Kear- 
Admiral Thomas Turner, U. S. N.) by the Hydrographic Office, U. S. N. 

Isla Paios (Duck island — i.e.. Island of Ducks): Name of long standing; adopted 
by the Hydrographic Office, U. S. N. 

RocA FOCA (Seal rock): Name used (and probably applied) by the Hydrographic 
Office, U. S. N. 

Pena Blanca (White crag) : Name used (and probably applied) by the Hydro- 
graphic Office, U. S. N. 

Punta Tepopa (Tepopa point): Namad (probably corruptly) from a local tribe 
related to the Seri ; used by the Hydrographic Office, U. S. N. 

PuNTA Sargent (Sargent point): Name applied by Lieuteu.ant Hardy in 1826 to 
what is now known as Punta Tepopa; adopted for the minor point by the 
Hydrographic Office, U. S. N. 

* Punta Pekla (Pearl point): Name applied in commemoration of the traditional 

pearl fisheries of the vicinity. 

* Punta Arena (Sand point) : A descriptive designation. 

"Punta Tortuga (Turtle point): Name applied in recognition of the extensive 
turtle fisheries of the Seri in the vicinity. 
17 ETH 2 


•PUNTA ToRMENTA (Hurricane jjoint) : Name applied in recognition of the nearly 
continuous gales and tide-rips by which navigation is rendered hazardous, and 
by which the long sand-spit has been built. 

PuNTA JIlGl'EL (Miguel point): Recast from "San Miguel point", partly throng li 
association with the name of a Papago guard accompanying the expedition of 
1895: in the old form the name is of long standing, was probably applied by 
Escalante in 1700, and was adopted by the Hydrographlc Office, U. S. N., 1873. 

'PUNTA (iRANiTA (Granite point) : A descriptive designation. 

*PnNTA BLA^'CA (White point) : A descriptive designation. 

* PuNTA Narragansett (Narragansett point) : Specific (of Algonquian Indian deri- 

vation) applied in commemoration of the vessel employed in the surveys by the 
Hydrographlc Office, IT. S. N., in 1873, the point being that at which the commander 
of the jVan'(i(;«n8f(( located the principal Seri rancheria of that time and made 
observations on the tribe. 

*PuNTA Y(iNACio (Ygnacio point) : Specific applied in honor of Don Yguacio Lozania, 
a trusted aid in the 1895 expedition, who had visited this point in connection with 
the Andrade expedition of 1844 ; described as " Dark bluif " on charts of the Hydro- 
graphic Office, U. S. N. 

*Pdnta Antigualla (Antiquity point — i. e.. Point of Antiquities) : Name applied in 
recognition of a great shell-mound which has retarded the transgression of the 
sea and produced the point. 

Punta Kino (Kino point): Name of long standing; specific in honor of the early 
missionary; used by the Hydrographlc Office, U. S. N. 

* Punta Mashem (Mashem point): Specific in honor of the Seri chief Mashem (some- 

times called Francisco Estorga or Juan Estorga), who speaks Spanish and acted 
as Seri-Spanish interpreter in 1894. 

Punta Monimexta (Monument point) : Named by the Hydrographlc Office, U. S. N. 

Punta Colorada (Ked point) : Recast from the "Red Blutf point" of the Hydro- 
graphic Office, U. S. N. 

Punta Willard (Willard point): Origin of name unknown; used by the Hydro- 
graphic Office, r. S. N. 

*Embarcadero .\ndrade (Andrade landing): Named in memory of the embarca- 
tion for Tiburon of Colonel Francisco Andrade, 1844. 

*Cami'0 Navidad (Christmas camp) : Named in memory of a camp occupied Decem- 
ber 24-26 by the expedition of 1895. 

•Sierra Seri (Seri range): Generic Spanish, specific the extra-vernacular tribe 

* Sierra Kunkaak (Kuukaak range) : Specific the vernacular tribe name. 
•Sierra Menor (Minor range) : A descriptive designation. 

"Cerros Anacoretos (Anchorite hills): A designation suggested to Topographer 
Johnson by the solitary series of spurs rising singly or in scattered groups from 
the sheettlood-carved desert plain. 

* Johnson peak: Name applied in commemoration of the first and only ascent of 

the peak, and of its occupation as a survey station, December 7 and 8, 1895, l)y 
Willard D. Jobnsou, accompanied by .lohn Walter Mitchell and Miguel (Papago 

"Desierto Encinas (Encinas desert): Generic Spanish, specific in honor of the 
intrepid settler on the outskirts of the desert, Sefior Pascual Encinas. 

*Playa Noriega (Noriega playa) : Generic Spanish, specific in honor of Don Andres 
Noriega, kinsman of Sefiora Anita Encinas, a resident on the outskirts of the 
desert, and the leading Mexican aid in the expedition of 1895. 

*Arenales de Gil (Gil sandbanks): Generic Spanish, specific in honor of Fray Juan 
Crisostomo Gil de Bernabe, sole missionary to Seriland, massacred at this jioint 
in 1773. 

"Rio Sonora (Souora river) : Generic Spanish, specific a long standing and origi- 
nally colloquial corruption of Sefiora, a dcsiguatiou said to have been applied 



by Spanish pioneers to a hospitable uativo chieftainess ; afterwards apparently 
fixed through the name of an early mining camp and garrison and perhaps by 
similarity to a local aboriginal (Opata) term connoting maize, i. e., aoiwt. 

Kio Bacuache (Bacuache river): Name of long standing; specific doubtless from 
the Opata term Mcot, "snake", with a locative termination, i. e., "Snake 

tARROYO Carrizal (Reedy arroyo) : Generic and specific Spanish; colloquial desig- 
nation used by the Seri chief Mashem in describing the island; a traditional 
name of long standing. 

iAKROYO Agua Dulce (Freshwater arroyo): A traditional name like the former, 
also used by JIashem. 

*Arroyo Millard (Millard arroyo) : Named in memory of S. C. Millard, aid and 
interpreter in the expedition of 1895 (died 1897). 

*Arroyo Mariana (Mariana arroyo): Named in honor of Mariana (Papago Indian), 
a guard accompanying the 1895 expedition, who had once approached this arroyo 
on a hunting expedition. 

*Arroyo Mitchell (Mitchell arroyo): Named iu honor of John Walter Mitchell, 
photographer of the 1895 expedition. 

tPozo Escalante (Escalante well): Generic Spanish, specific in honor of Sergeant 
Juan Bautista de Escalante, the first Caucasian to cross El Infiernillo (in 1700), 
who is reputed to have dug the shallow well still existing; the name has 
been retained ever since alternatively with "Agua Amarilla" ^Yellow water); 
doubtless the " Carrizal " of certain early mai)s ; the site of the only mission ever 
established in Seriland, and of the massacre of Fray Crisostomo Gil iu 1773. 

*Pozo Hardy (Hardy well) : Named in honor of Lieutenant R. W. H. Hardy, R. N., 
second known Caucasian visitor to the spot, 1826. 

*Aguaje Anton (Anton water, or water-hole): Generic a common Mexican term; 
specific applied iu memory of Anton (Papago Indian), a guard and visitor to the 
spot in the expedition of 1895. 

* Parilla ( Parilla water) : A traditional water (not f»und by rhe expedition 
of 1895) named in memory of Colonel Diego Ortiz Parilla, the vaunted destroyer 
of the Seri in 1749, whose imposing expedition may have reached this point. 

"Barranca Salina (Saline gorge): Generic colloquial Mexican, specific denoting 
the character of the practically permanent water; the designation applied by 
Mexican vaqueros and Papago hunters, who occasionally visit the locality. 

*Tina.)a Anita (Anita basin) : Generic a useful Mexican term for a water-pocket, 
or rock basin containing water supplied by storms or seepage; specific a tribute 
to Anita Newcomb McGce, M. D., Actg. Asst. Surg. I'. S. A.; perhaps the 
"Aguaje de Andrade" of 1844. 

*Tina.ja Trinchera (Entrenched basin) : Specific a common Mexican term for the 
ancient eutrenchments found on many mountains of Papagueria; applied in 
recognition of a few low, loose-laid stone walls about the tinaja, the only 
structures of the kind known in Seriland. 

Kancho San Francisco de Costa Rica: Name applied by the founder, .'<enor 
Pascual Encinas( about 18.50. 

Kancho Santa Ana: Name applied by the founder, Seuor Encinas, about 1870. 

Rancho Libertad: Name applied by the founder, Senor Encinas, about 1875. 

The fairly full geographic nomenclature of Seriland merely expresses 
the necessity for place names, felt in .some measure by all intelligent 
beings, and idealized especially by explorers and describers of the 
region. Excei)ting the ranchos and perhaps Pozo Escalante, they denote 
natural features only, and, with the same exceptions, the features are 
seen but rarely or from great distances by enlightened men. Despite 

20 THE SERI INDIANS 1eth.ann.17 

the wealth of place-uames autl the strongly accentuated cod figuration 
which the nomenchiture expresses, Seriland is one of the most hopeless 
deserts of the American hemisphere. 


Since most of the iield work of the two expeditions lay in the neigh- 
boring Republic of Mexico, it became necessary to ask official sanction 
for the operations from the Mexican government; and it is a pleasure 
to say that every possible privilege and courtesy were extended by 
both federal and state officials. Especial acknowledgments are due to 
the Mexican minister (and afterward ambassador) to the United 
States, his Excellency Don Mateo Romero (now deceased); to the 
Ministro de Fomento of the Mexican Republic, Excelencia Don Fer- 
nando Leal; and to the governor of the State of Sonora, Scnor Don 
Ramon Corral. Equal acknowledgments are due to various United 
States officials, notably Honorable W. Woodville Rockhill, First Assis- 
tant Secretary of State when the expeditious were planned; and it is 
a pleasuie to advert to the active interest taken in both expeditions by 
Honorable S. P. Langley, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, and 
to the careful attention given the 1894 expedition by the late Dr G. 
Brown Goode, Assistant Secretary of the Institution. 

Mr Willard D. Johnson did invaluable service in connection with 
the second expedition, particularly in the execution of surveys and the 
construction of uuijjs in inimitable style. Mr William Dinwiddie is to 
be credited with the excellent photographs made daring the 1894 expe- 
dition, with the representation of the devices used in Seri face-paint- 
ing, and with various other aids to the investigation ; while Mr J. W. 
Mitchell is to be credited with the photographs made on Isla Tiburon, 
and with other contributions to the success of the 1895 expedition. 
Acknowledgments are due also to all of the participants in both expe- 
ditions, whose names appear in other paragraphs. Their contributions 
were not primarily intellectual, yet were of a kind and amount to be 
forever remembered among men who have worked and hungered and 
thirsted and stood guard together. The deepest debt connected with 
the tield work is to the now venerable but ever vigorous pioneer, 
Senor Pascual Bncinas; and no small part of this debt goes over to his 
estimable spouse, Seuora Anita Encinas, who twice traversed the long 
road from Hermosillo to Costa Rica in the interest of the 1805 expedition. 

The scientific results of the researches have been enriched by invalu- 
able contributions from Director Powell's store of ethnologic knowledge, 
and by suggestions from Messrs Frank Hamilton Cushing, F. W. 
Hodge, James Mooney, and other collaborators in the Bureau of 
American Ethnology. The qualities of the colored illustrations are 
due largely to the artistic skill of Mr Wells M. Sawyer, by whom they 
were designed, and of Mr DeLancey Gill, by whom the proofs were 
revised. The Spanish translations are due chiefly to Colonel F. F. 


Hilder, ethnologic translator of the Bureau, partly to Mr Emauviele 
Fronani ; though neither can be charged with errors of interpretation or 
of Englishing, both finally shaped by the author. The somatic determi- 
nations and discussions were by Dr Ales HrdliCka, of New York ; the 
tests for arrow poison were made by Dr S. Weir Mitchell, of Philadel- 
phia; while the jihilologic comparisons were made almost wholly (with 
notable thoroughness and perspicacity, and in such wise as to illus- 
trate the wealth and utility of the linguistic collections of the Bureau) 
by Mr J. X B. Hewitt. Finally, it has become due, i)robably for the 
first time in the nearly four centuries of their history, to make public 
acknowledgment of services by Seri Indians, viz, sabchief Mash('m, 
the real sponsor for the Bureau vocabulary and many other data, and 
"El General" Kolusio, the outlaw interpreter of Hermosillo and con- 
tributor to certain historical identifications. 

Location and Area 

Seriland, the home from time immemorial of the Seii Jiuliaus, lies in 
nortbwesteru Mexico, forming a part of the State of Soiiora. It com- 
prises Tiburou island, the largest and most elevated insnlar body in 
Gulf of California, together with a few islets and an adjacent tract of 
mainland; the center of the district being marked appi'oximately by 
the intersection of the parallel of 29° with the meridian of llL"^. The 
territory is divided by the narrow but turbulent strait, El Intiernillo. 
It is bounded on the west and south by the waters of the gulf with its 
eastward extensions to Kino bay, on the east by a nearly impassable 
desert, and on the north by a waterless stretch of sandy plains and 
rugged sierras 50 to 100 miles in extent. 

Tiburon island is about .'lO miles in length from north to south and 
12 to 20 miles in width; its area, with that of the adjacent islets, is 
barely 500 square miles. The mainland tract held by the Seri is with- 
out definite boundary; measured to the middle of the limiting desert 
on the east and halfway across the waterless zone on the north, its 
area may be put at 1,500 square miles. To this land area of 2,000 
square miles may be added the water area of the strait, with its north- 
ern and southern embouchures, and the coastwise waters habitually 
navigated by the Seri balsas as far as Kino bay, making half as much 
more of water area. Such is the district which the Seri claim and seek 
to control, and have practically protected against invasion for nearly 
four centuries of history and for uncounted generations of prehistory. 

Physical Characteristics 

Seriland forms part of a great natural province lying west of the 
Sierra Madre of western Mexico and south of an indefinite bound- 
ary about the latitude of Gila river, which may be designated the 
Sonoran province; it differs from Powell's province of the Basin ranges 
in that it opens toward the sea, and also in other respects; and it is 
allied in many of its characteristics to the arid piedmont zone lying 
west of the Andes in South America. 

In general configuration the province may be likened to a great roof- 
slope stretching southwestward from a comb in the Sierra Madre to a 
broad eaves-trough forming Gulf of California, the slope rising steeper 
toward the crest and lying flatter toward the coast; but the expanse is 
warped by minor swells, guttered by waterways, and dormered by out- 


lying ranges anil buttes. The most conspicuous inequality of tbe slope 
(partly because of its coincidence with tide-level) is offered by the 
rugged ranges of Seriland. These may be considered four in number, 
all approximately parallel with each other and with the coast; the first 
is a series of eroded remnants ((Jerros Anacoretos) from OOO to 1,200 
feet in height; the second is the exceedingly rugged Sierra Seri, culmi- 
nating in Johnson peak 5,000 feet above tide; the third is Sierra Kun- 
kaak, attaining about 4,000 feet in its highest point; the fourth is 
Sierra Menor, some i',000 feet high, with the northern extremity sliced 
off obliquely by marine erosion. The principal arm of Desierto Enci- 
nas lies between the first two ranges, El Infiernillo separates the second 
and third, while a subdesert valley divides the thii-d from the fourth. 
The valleys correspond more closely than the ranges; if the land level 
were 100 feet higher the strait and its terminal bays would become an 
arid valley like the others, while if the sea-level were 500 feet higher 
the four ranges would become separate islands similar to Angel de la 
Guarda and others in the gulf. 

The Sonoran jirovince is notably warm and dry. The vapor-laden 
air-currents from the Pacific drift across it and are first warmed by 
conduction and radiation from the sun scorched land, to be chilled 
again as they roll up the steejier roof-slope to the crest; and the precip- 
itation flows jiart way down the slopes, both eastward and westward 
from the Sierra Madre — literally the Mother (of waters) range. A 
climatal characteristic of the province is two relatively humid seasons, 
coinciding with the two principal inflections of the annual temperature- 
curve, i. e., in January-February and July- August, respectively. In 
the absence of meteorologic records the temperature and precipitation 
maybe inferred from the observations at Yuma and Tucson,' which are 
among the warmest and driest stations in America, or indeed in the 
world: though it is i)robal)le that such points as Oaborca, Bacuachito, 
and Hermosillo are decidedly warmer and perhaps slightly moister 
than Yuma. The ordinary midday summer temperature at these points 
may be estimated at about 110° in the shade (frequently rising 5^ or 
10^ higher, but dropping 20^ to 50^ in case of cloudiness); the night 
temperature at the same season is usually 50° to 75°, though during 
two-thirds of the year it is liable to fall to or below the freezing point. 
The sun temi)erature is high in comparison with that measured in 
the shade, the exposed thermometer freiineutly rising to 150° or 160°, 
according to its construction, while black-finished metal becomes too 
hot to be handled, and dark sand and rocks literally scorch unprotected 
feet. The leading characteristic of the tem])erature is the wide diurnal 
range and the relatively narrow annual range; another chai-acteristic 
is the uniformity, or periodic steadiness, of the maxima, coupled with 
variability and nonperiodicity of the minima. 

' The following monthly and annual met^ornlogic summaries, compiled from United Statea Weather 
Bureau records at these stations, havt- been kindly furnished by Pruf. Willis L. Moore, Superintend- 



[ETH. ANN. 17 

The })recipitatioii on the Soiiorau province is chiefly in the form of 
rain ; in the winter humid season snow falls frequently on the Sierra 
Madre and rarely on the outlying ranges; in both humid seasons (and 
in humid spots at all seasons) dew forms in greater or less abundance. 
Fog frequently gathers along the const, especially during the winter and 
in the midsummer wet season, and sometimes drifts inland for miles. The 
mean annual precipitation may be estimated at 20 or 25 inches toward 
the crest and half as much toward the base of the high sierra; thence 
it diminishes coastward, probably to less than 2 inches; the mean for 
the extensive plains forming the greater part of the province may be 
estimated at 3 or 4 inches. The greater part of the precipitation is in 

eutot' the Bureau. The tabulated records represent the oliBervations of twenty years atTumaaud 
ten years at Tucson. 

Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May June July Aug. Sept. Oct. Kov. Dec. Year 

Absiilute maxi- 
mum tempera- 
ture, Fahr. : 



Absolute min i- 
m um tempera- 
ture, Fabr. : 



M ean maximum 
Falir. : 

Yuma , 

Tvu'son , 

!M ea n niiuiiiium 
tern perature, 
Fahr. : 



Meau tempera- 
ture, Fabr. : 



Mean precipita- 
tion (inches anil 
hundredths) : 



Prevailing winds: 


'4' acson 

Average cloud i- 
nessiscaleO-lO) : 




22 I 
U ' 

65.1 I 70.7 
62.9 ; 67.0 



78. 5 85. 4 
74. 5 81. 4 













































101.2 106.7 
100. 2 99. 











104. 9 99. 6 
94.8 I 92.2 








87. 2 75. 
82. 8 71. 5 








73. «1. 9 



68.5 57.0 














0.28 ; 0.29 
0. 33 0. 37 

1.8 2.3 
4.5 ; 4.4 


1.1 I 1.3 

1.9 I 1.6 








72. 2 

12. 2B 



local storms, freiiuently accompanied bj' thundergusts or sadden tem- 
])ests, though cold drizzles sometimes occur, especially at the height 
of the winter humid season. Except where the local configuration is 
such as to affect the atmospheric movements, the distribution of pre- 
cipitation is erratic, in both time and space; some spots may receive 
half a dozen rains within a year, while other spots may remain rainless 
for several years; and the wet spot of one series of years may be the 
dry spot of the next. 

The cliraatal features of Seriland are somewhat affected by the pro- 
nounced topographic features of the district. Snow sometimes falls on 
Sierra Seri, and probably on Sierra Kunkaak; gales gather about the 
rugged ranges at all seasons, and sometimes produce precipitation out 
of season; the extreme heat of midday and midsummer is tempered 
by the ijroximity of the tide-swept gulf; and since most of the local 
derangements tend to augment precipitation and reduce temperature, 
it would seem safe to estimate the mean annual rainfall of the tract at 
4 or 5 inches, and the mean temperature at about 70^, with a mean 
annual range of some 3(1° and an extreme diurnal range of fully so^. 

The configuration and climate combine to give distinctive character 
to the hydrography of the Sonoran province. The melting snows and 
more abundant rains of tlie high sierras form innumerable streams 
flowing down the steeper slopes toward the piedmont plains, or soak 
into the pervious rocks to reappear as springs at lower levels; some- 
times the streams unite to form considerable rivers, flowing scores <it 
miles beyond the mountain confines; but eventually all the running- 
waters are absorbed by the dry sands of the plains or evaporated into 
the drier air; and from the mouth of the Colorado to that of the Yaqui, 
500 miles away, no fresh water ever flows into the sea. During the 
winter wet season, and to a less extent during that of summer, the 
mountain waterways are occupied by rushing torrents, rivaling great 
riveis in volume, and these floods flow fai- over the plains; but during 
the normal droughts the torrents shrink to streamlets purling among 
the rocks, or give place to blistering sand-wastes furlongs or even miles 
in width and dozens of miles in length, while beyond stretch low, 
radially scored alluvial fans, built by the great freshets of millenniuii;s. 
Only a trifling jiart of the i-ainfall of the plains ever gathers in the 
waterways heading in the mountains, and only another small part 
gathers in local channels; the lighter rains from higher clouds are so 
far evaporated in the lower strata of the air as to reach the earth in 
feeble sprinkles or not at all; the ])roduct of moderate showers is 
absorbed directly by earth and air; while the water of heavy rains 
accumulates in mud-burdened sheets, spreading far over the plains, 
flowing sluggishly down the slopes, yet suffering absorption by earth 
and air too rapidly to permit concentration in channels. These moving 
mud-blankets of the plains, or sheetfloods,' are often supplemented by 

' Oetined mul dcscribod in Sheetflood Erosion. Bull. Geol. Soc. Am., vol. vil. 18!t7 

26 THE SERI INDIANS [ eth. ann. 17 

the discharge from the waterways of adjacent sierras and buttes; they 
are commoaly miles and fre(iuently dozens or scores of miles in width, 
and the linear flow may range from a fraction of a mile to scores of 
miles according to the heaviness of the rainfall and the consequent 
dilution of the mud. Such sheetHoods, esi)ecially those produced bj- 
considerable rains, ai'e characteristic agents of erosion throughout most 
of the province; their tendency is to aggrade depressions and corrade 
laterally, and thus to produce smooth plains of gentle slope interrupted 
only by exceptionally precipitous and rugged mountain remnants. A 
part of the sheettiood water Joins the stronger mountain-born streams, 
particularly toward the end of the great storm whereby earth and air 
are saturated ; another part forms ground- water, which slowly flnds its 
way down the slopes toward the principal valleys, jjcrhaps to reappear 
as springs or to supply wells. These with certain other conditions 
determine the water supply available for habitation throughout 8eri- 
land and adjacent Papagneria. 

Another condition of prime importance arises in a secular tilting of 
the entire province south westward. This tilting is connected with the 
upthrnst of the Sierra Madre and the uplifting of the plateau country 
and the southern Kocky mountain region north of the international 
boundary. Its rate is measured by the erosion of the Grand Canyon of 
the Colorado and other gorges; and its dates, in terms of the geologic 
time-scale, run at least from the middle Tertiary to the present, or 
throughout the Neocene and Pleistocene. Throughout this vast period 
the effect of the tilting in the Sonoran province has been to invigorate 
streams flowing southward, and to paralyze streams flowing toward 
the northerly and easterly compass-points; accordingly the streams 
flowing toward the gulf have eroded their channels effectively during 
the ages, and have frequently retrogressed entirely through outlying- 
ranges : so that throughout the province the divides seldom correspond 
with the sierra crests. 

A typical stream of the province is Eio Bacuache, one of the two 
practicable overland ways into Seriland (albeit never surveyed until 
traversed by the 1895 expedition). Viewed in its simple geographic 
aspect, this stream may be said to originate in a broad valley parallel 
with the gulf and the high sierra, 200 miles northeast of Kino bay; its 
half-dozen tributary arroyos (sun-baked sand-washes during three 
hundred and sixty days and mud-torrents during live days of the 
average year) gather in the sheetflood plain and unite at Pozo 
Noriega, where the ground- water gives permanent supply to a well ; then 
the channel cleaves a rocky sierra 3,000 feet high in a narrow gorge, 
and within this canyon the ground-water gathered in the valley above 
seeps to the surface of the sand wash and flows in a practically perma- 
nent streamlet throughout the 4 or 5 miles forming the width of the 
sierra; then the liquid sinks, and 25 miles of blistering sand-wash 
(interrupted by a single lateral spring) stretch across the next valley 



to Pueblo Viejo, wbere auoMier sierra is cleft by the cbaimel. and 
where the water again exudes and Hows through a sand-lined rock-bed 
(figure 2). In the local terminology this portion alone is Rio Bacuache, 
the upper stretches of the waterway bearing different names: it sup- 
I>lies the settlement and tields of liacuachito. flowing above the sands 
5 to 15 miles, according to season; tlien it returns to the sand-wash 
habit for oU miles, throughout much of which distance wells may find 
supply at increasing depths; finally it passes into the delta phase, and 
enters northeastern Seriland in a zone mariied by exceptionally vigor- 
ous mesquite forests. Normally the 200 miles of streaniway is actual 
stream only iu two stretches of say 5 miles each, some -5 miles apart. 

Fia. li — iiateway to Seriland— gorge of Rio liacnache, 

and the farther of these stops midway between the head of the chan- 
nel and the open sea toward which it trends and slopes; but during 
and after great storms it is transformed into a river approaching the 
Ohio or the Rhine in volume, flowing tumultuously for 150 miles, and 
finally sinking in the sands of Desierto Encinas, 30 to 50 miles from the 
coast. Viewed with respect to genesis, Kio Bacuache has responded 
to the stimulus of the southwestern tilting, and has retrogressed 
up the slope through two sierras, besides minor ranges and 100 miles 
of sheetflood-carved plains; while the debris thus gathered has filled 
the original gorge to a depth of hundreds of feet, and has overflowed 
the adjacent sheetflood-tiattened expanses to form the great alluvial fan 
of eastern Serdand. The genetic conditions explain the distribution 

28 THE SERI INDIANS [eth.anx.17 

of the water: the product of the semiannual storms suffices to form a 
meager supply of ground water, which is diffused in the sands and 
softer rocks of the plains, and concentrated in the narrow channels 
carved through the dense granites of the sierras; and enough of the 
flow passes the barriers to supjjly deep wells in the terminal fan, as at 
the frontier ranches Libertad (abandoned) and iSanta Ana, just as the 
subterranean seepage from the Sonora more richly supplies the deep 
well at San Francisco de Costa Rica. In these lower reaches the min- 
eral salts, normally present in minute quantities, are concentrated so 
that the water from these wells is slightly saline, while deeper in the 
desert the scanty water is quite salt. 

Jn Seriland proper the distribution of potable water is conditioned 
by the meager precipitation, the local configuration (shaped largely by 
sheettiood erosion), and the disturbance of equilibrium of the scanty 
ground- water due to the tilting of the province. The most abundant 
permanent supply of fresh water is that of Arroyo Carrizal, which is 
fed by drainage and seepage from the broad and lofty mass of pervious 
rocks forming the southern part of Sierra Kunkaak, the abundant 
supply being due to the fact that the eastern tributaries are energetic- 
ally retrogressing into the mass in deep gorges which effectually tap 
the water stored during the semiannual storms. The ari-oyo and valley 
of Agua Dulce are less favorably conditioned by reason of a trend against 
the tilting of the province and by reason of the narrower and lower 
mass of tributary rock in the northern part of the range, and the flow 
is impermanent, as indicated by the absence of canes and other stream 
plants; yet lour explorers (Ugarte, 1721; Hardy, 1<S26; Espence, 1844; 
Dewey, 1875) reported fresh water, apparently in a shallow well tapping 
the underflow, at the embouchure of the arroyo. On the eastern slope 
of Sierra Kunkaak there are several arroyos which carry water for weeks 
or even months after the winter rains, and sometimes after those of 
summer; but the only permanent water — Tinaja Anita — is at the base 
of a stupendous cliff of exceptionally pervious and easily eroded rocks, 
so deeply cut that ground- water is eflectually tapped, while an adjacent 
chasm — Arroyo Millard — is so situated that the cliff-faced spur of the 
sierra above the tinaja absorbs an exceptional proportion of the surface 
flowage from the main crest. The tinaja (figure 3) is permanent, as 
indicated by a canebrake some 20 by 50 feet in extent, and by a native 
fig and a few other trees — though the dry-season water-supply ranges 
from mere moisture of the rocks to a few gallons caught in rock basins 
within the first 50 yards of the head of the arroyo. No other i)erma- 
neut supplies of fresh water are known on the island, though there are 
a few rather persistent tinajas along the western base of Sierra Menor 
above Willard ])onit. 

On the mainland tract there is a cliff-bound basin, much like that of 
Tinaja Anita, at the head of Arroyo Mitchell and base of Johnson peak, 
christened Tinaja Trinchera; but the range is narrow and the rocks 



grauitic, and lieuce the supply is not quite permanent.' A pra(!tically 
permanent supply of water is found in one or more pools or barrancas 
at the head of Playa Noriega in Desierto Encinas. The liquid lies in 
pools gouged by freshets in the bottoms of arroyos coming in from the 
northward, just where the flow is checked by the spread of the waters 
over the always saline playa; and, since tliey are modified by each 
freshet, they are sometimes deep, sometimes shallow, sometimes en- 
tirely sand-filled. When the barrancas are clogged, or when their 
contents are evaporated, coyotes, deer, horses, and vaqueros obtain 
water by excavating a few feet in the sand lining the larger arroyos. 
Commonly the barranca water is too saline for Caucasian palates save 

Fui. :!— Tina.ia Anita. 

in dire extremity, but the salinity diminishes as the arroyos are 
ascended. An apparently permanent supply of saline and nitrous 
water is found in a 10-foot well, known as Pozo Escalante, or Agua 
Amarilla (yellow water), near the southern extremity of Desierto 
Encinas, reputed to have been excavated by Juan Bautista de Escalante 
in 1700, and still remaining open; its location is siu-h that it catches 
the subterranean seepage from both Bacuache and 8onora rivers. The 
water is potable but not palatable. Among the vaqueros of San 
Francisco de Costa Rica there is a vague and ancient tradition of a 
carrizal -marked tiuaja or arroyo (Aguaje Tarilla) at the eastern base 
of the southern portion of Sierra Seri; and both vaqueros and Indians 

' Tinaja TrincliBra was entirely dry and without trace of carrizal in December, 1894. 

30 THE SERI INDIANS [eth.akx.17 

refer to one or more saline barrancas about the western base of the 
same seniirauge, probably in Arroyo Mariana. 

In brief, Arroyo Carrizal, Tinaja Anita, and Pozo Bscalaute are the 
only permanent waters, and Pozo Hardy, Barranca Saliiia, and Tinaja 
Trincliera the only subiiermanent waters actually known to Cau- 
casians in all Seriland, though it seems probable that permanent 
water may exist at Aguaje Parilla and in Arroyo Mariana, aud imper- 
manent supplies near Bahia Espence. There may be one or two 
additional places of practically permanent water in smaller quantity, 
and a few other places in which saline water might be found either at 
the surface or by slight excavation, and which may be approximately 
located by inspection of the map under guidance of the principles set 
forth in the preceding paragrajjhs; but this would seem to be the limit 
of trustworthy water supply. During the humid seasons the waters 
are naturally multiplied, yet it is improbable that any of the arroj'os 
excei)t Carrizal and Agua Dulce and a few minor gulches along the 
more precipitous sliores shed water into tlie gulf save at times of 
extraordinary local flood.' 

The geologic structure of the Sonorau province is complex and not 
■well understood. So far as the meager observations indicate, the basal 
rocks are granites, frequently massive and sometimes schistose, some- 
times intersected by veins of quartz, etc. The granitic mass is upthrust 
to form the nuclei of Sierra Madre and otlier considerable ranges; it 
also ai)proaches the surface over large areas of plains. Resting uncou- 
formably on the granites lie heavy deposits of shales and limestones, 
commonly more or less metamorphosed; these rocks outcrop on the 
slopes of most of the main ranges and form the entire visible mass 
of some of the lower sierras and buttes, while they, too, sometimes 
approach the surface of the sheetfloodcarved plain. The rocks, both 
calcareous and argillaceous, combine the characters of the vast Mesozoic 
limestone deposits of eastern Mexico and the immense shale accumula- 
tions of corresi)onding age in California, and hence probably reiiresent 
the later half of the Mesozoic. This is the only sedimentary series 
recognized in the province. Both the granites and the sedimentary 
beds are occasionally overlain by volcanic deposits, chiefly in the form 
of much-eroded lava-sheets and associated tuff-beds, which sometimes 
form considerable ranges and buttes (notably Sierra Kunkaak, of 
Isla Tiburon); these remnantal volcanic deposits are probably late 
Mesozoic or early Tertiary. Newer volcanics occur locally, forming 
mesas, as about Agua Nueva (40 miles northwest of Hermosillo), or 
even coulees apparently tilling barrancas of modern aspect, as in the 
vicinity of Bacuachito,^ or rising into cinder cones surrounded by 

'The physiographic features of the Sonoran province in general are treated in greater detail in a 
paper on Slieetflood Erosion, Bull. Geol. Soc. Am., vol. viii, 1897, pp. 87-1J2, and in a paper on Papa- 
gueria, Nat. Geog. Mag., vol. ix, 1898, pp. .'J45-371 ; while certain local features are described in a paper 
on Seriland, prepared .jointly with Willard D. Johnson, Nat. Geog. Mag., vol. VII, 1896, pp. 125-133. The 
aggregate available fresh water of Seriland is estimated on p. 181. 

'Noted by Willard D. Johnson. 

57e-^T M'5%1 X^^^-^L^ 


ejectameiita, as at Pico Piiiacate, in northwestern Sonora. The various 
rocks are usually bare or meagei-ly mantled with talus in the iiiouu- 
tains; over the greater part of the plains they are commonly veneered 
with sheetflood dejiosits, ranging from a few inches to a few yards in 
thickness; while tlie central portions of the larger valleys are lined 
with alluvial accumulations reaching many hundreds offset in thickness. 

Tlie clearly interpretable geologic history began with extensive 
degradation and eventual baseleveling of a granitic terrane in Paleo- 
zoic or early Mesozoic time ; then followed the deposition of the shales 
and associated limestones during the later Mesozoic; next came eleva- 
tion, accompanied or followed by corrugation, chiefly in folds parallel 
with the present coast, whereby the granite-based sierras were jiro- 
duced, and accompanied also by the earlier vulcanism to which the 
volcanic sierras owe their existence. A vast period of degradation 
ensued, during which the land stood so high as to induce greater precip- 
itation tlian thatof today and to permit the streams to carve channels 
far below the present level of tide, and during which the present gen- 
eral configuratiou was developed; then came the southwestward tilting 
and cousetiuent climatal desiccation, the tilling of the deeper valleys, 
the inauguration of sheetflood erosion, some local vulcanism, and the 
progressive shifting of the divides. 

The geologic structure att'ects the hydrography, especially that factor 
determined by subterranean circulation, or ground-water; for the 
superficial sheettlood and alluvial deposits are highly pervious and 
many of the volcanics hardly less so, while the shales and limestones 
are but slightly pervious and the granites nearly impervious. The 
geologic structure also determines the character of the soil with excep- 
tional directness, since the dryness of the air and the dearth of vegeta- 
tion reduce rock decay to a negligible quantity. The characteristically 
precipitous sierras and cerros are of naked ledges, save where locally 
mantled with a mechanical debris of the same rocks (much finer than 
the frost jiroduct of colder and humider regions) ; the soil of the normal 
plains is but the little-oxidized upper surface of sheetflood deposits 
made up of the mechanical debris of local rocks and varying in coarse- 
ness with the slope; while the soil of the valleys is detrital sand and 
silt, derived from tributary slopes, passing into adobe where conditions 
are tit, and essentially mechanical in texture and structure save where 
cemented by ground-water solutions at the lower levels. 


The flora of the Sonorau province affords a striking example of tbe 
adjustment of vegetal life to an unfavorable environment. The pre- 
vailing vegetation is perennial, of slow growth and of stunted aspect; 
and it is not distributed uniformly but arranged in separate tufts or 
clusters, gathering into a nearly continuous mantle in wetter spots, 
though commonly dotting the plains sparsely, to completely disappear 

32 THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ann.IT 

iu the driest areas. Nearly all of the plants have roots of exceptional 
length, and are protected from evaporation by a glazed epidermis and 
from animal enemies by thorns or by offensive odors and flavors; while 
most of the trees and shrnbs are practically leafless except during the 
humid seasons. Grasses are not characteristic, and there is no sward, 
even in oases; but certain grasses grow iu the shadow of the arbores- 
cent tufts and in the fields of the farmer ants, or spring up in scattered 
blades over the raoister portions of the surface. The arborescent veg- 
etation represents two characteristic types, viz, (1) trees and shrubs 
allied to those of humid lands, but modified to fit arid conditions; and 
(2)distinctive forms, evidently born of desert conditions and not adapted 
to a humid habitat, this type comprising the cacti and related forms, 
as well as forms apparently intermediate between the cacti and normal 
arborescent type. The various plants of the district, inclixding those 
of the distinctive types, are communal or commensal, both among 
themselves and with animals, to a remarkable degree; for their com- 
mon strife against the hard physical environment has forced them into 
cooperation for mutual support. The tufts or clusters in which the 
vegetation is arranged express the solidarity of life in the province; 
commonly each cluster is a vital colony, made uj) of plants of various 
genera and orders, and forming a home for animal life also of ditterent 
genera and orders; and, although measurably inimical, these various 
organisms are so far interdependent that none could survive without 
the cooperation of the others.' 

In Seriland proper, as in other parts of the Sonoran province, a pre- 
vailing tree is the mesquite {I'rosoj^in juUjiora); on the alluvial fan of 
Eio Sonora it grows in remarkable luxuriance, forming (with a few 
other trees) a practically continuous forest 20 to 40 feet in height, the 
gnarled trunks sometimes reaching a diameter of 2 or 3 feet; over the 
Rio Bacuache fan and much of the remaining i)lain surface it forms the 
dominant tree in the scattered vital colonies; and here and there it 
pushes well into the canyon gorges. The roots of the mesquite are of 
great length, and are said to penetrate to water-bearing strata at depths 
of 50 to 75 feet; its fruit consists of small hard beans embedded in slen- 
der woody pods. Associated with the mesquite in most stations are the 
still more scraggy and thorny cat-claw {Acacid fireggii) and ironwood 
(Ohicyn te.sofa), both also yielding woody beans in limited quantity. 
Similarly associated, especially in the drier tracts, and characteristically 
abundant over the plains portions of Isla Tibnron, are the |)aloverdes 
{Parkinson iu torreyaiia, etc), forming scraggy, wide-branching, green- 
bark trees 5 to 15 feet high, and commonly 3 to 10 Inches in diameter 
of trunk. Over the mountain sides, especially of Sierra Seri and Sierra 
Kunkaak, grow sparsely the only straight-trunk trees of the region, 
rooted in the rocks to the average number of a few score to the square 

'The vital characteristics of the rej;i"U have been rlescriljcd in some detail in Tlie Beginning of 
Agriculture, American Authropologiat, vol. vlll, 1805, i)p. 350-375; The Beginning of Zooculture, Amer- 
iran .Xnthrojiolofiist. vol. X. 1897, P11.215-23U; and Expedition toSerilaml, Scieuie, vol. HI, 1896, pp. 493-505. 



mile; this is the paloblaiico {Acacia wiUardiana), Associated with it 
along- rocky barrancas of permanent water supply is a fig tree {Ficus 
pahneri), which has a habit of springing from the walls and crests of 
cliffs, and sending white-bark roots down the cliff-faces to the water 
50 or 100 feet below, and which yields a small, insipid, and woody fruit. 
Interspersed among tlje larger trees, and spreading over the intervening 
spaces, particularly in the drier and more saline spots, grow a number 
of thorny shrubs, much alike in external appearance and habit, though 
representing half a dozen distinct genera {Cassia, .}[ic)-orJiamn>(s, Celtis, 
Krameria, Acacia, liandia, Stegnosplierma, Franl-enia, etc), while con- 
siderable tiacts are sparsely occupied by straggling tufts of the Sonorau 

Fig. 4 — Ileyoud Enciiiaa desert — the aaguesa. 

greasewood, or creosote bush {Larrea tridentata), whose minute but 
bright green leafage relieves that prevailing gray of the landscape in 
which the lighter greens of the paloverde and cactus stems are lost. 

Intermingling with the woody trees and shrubs in most stations, and 
replacing them in some, are the conspicuous and characteristic cacti 
in a score of forms. East of Desierto Encinas, and sometimes west 
of it, these are dominated bj^ the saguaro (Cereiis {/iyanteus), though 
throughout most of Seriland the related saguesa {Cereiis pringlcii?) 
prevails. The saguaro is a fluted and thorn decked column, 1 foot to 3 
feet in diameter and 10 to GO feet in height, sometimes branching 
into a candelabrum, while the still more monstrous saguesa (figure 4) 
usually consists of from three to ten such columns springing from a 
17 ETII 3 

34 THE SERI INDIANS [eih. ann 17 

single root; both are masses of watery pulp, revived aud renewed 
during each humid season, and both flower in a crown of fragrant 
and brilliant blossoms at or near the top of column or branch, aud 
fruit in lig-lilie tunas (or prickly ])cars) during late summer or early 
autunni. Ordinarily the saguesa, like the saguaro, is sparsely dis- 
tributed; but there is an immense tract between Desierto Enciuas and 
the eastern base of Sierra Seri iu which it forms a literal forest, the 
giant trunks close-set as those of trees in normal woodlands. Hardly 
less imposing than the giant cactus is the wide branching species 
known as pitahaya (Gereus thurhuri'^:), in which the trunks may be ten 
to tifty in number, each 4 to 8 inches in diameter and 5 to 40 feet iu 
height; and equally conspicuous, especially in eastern Serilaud, is the 
cilia (Gereus schoffi), which is of corresponding size, and differs chietiy 
in the simpler fluting of the thorn-protected columns. Both the pita- 
haya and the cina tiower and fruit like the saguaro, the tunas yielded 
by the former being especially esteemed by Mexicans as well as Indians. 
Another important cactus is the visuaga [Echinocactus icislizeni lecon- 
tei), which rises in a siugle trunk much like the saguaro, save that it 
is commonly but 3 to G feet in height and is protected by a more effect- 
ive armature of straight and curved thorns; it yields a pleasantly acid, 
pulpy fruit, which may be extracted from its thorny setting with some 
difficulty; but its chief value lies in the purity and jiotability of the 
water with which the ptdi)y trunk is stored. The visnaga is widely 
distributed throughout the Souoran province and beyond, and extends 
into eastern Serilaud; it is rare west of Desierto Enciuas and is prac- 
tically absent from Isla Tiburon, where it may easily have been 
exterminated by the improvident Seri during the centuries of their 
occupancy. ]\Iost abundant of all the cacti, and less conspicuous 
only by reason of comparatively small size, is the cholla (an arborescent 
Opiniti(i); on many of the sheetflood carved plains it forms extensive 
thickets 5 to 8 feet high, the main trunks being iJ to G inches in diame- 
ter, while dozens or hundreds of gaunt and thorn covered branches ex- 
tend 3 to S feet iu all directions : and it occurs here and there throughout 
the district from the deptlis of the valleys and the coast well up to the 
rocky slope of the sierras. It yields (pian titles of fruit, somewhat like 
tunas, but more woody and insipid; this fruit is seldom if ever used 
for human food, but is freely consumed by herbivores. Much less 
abundant than the cholla is the nopal, or i)rickly pear; aud there are 
various other opuutias, often too slender to stand alone and intertwined 
with stitter shrubs which lend them su])port, and niauy of these yield 
small berry like tunas. Another characteristic cactus, widespread as 
the cholla and abundant in nearly all parts of Serilaud save on the 
rocky slopes, is the okatilla {Fouquiera uplendcns). It consists of half a 
dozen to a, score of slender, woody, aud thoru-set branches radiating 
from a common root, usually at angles of 30° to 45° from the vertical, 
and ordinarily reaching heights of 10 to 20 feet. 


The pulp masses of tlie larger cacti, especially tbe saguaro, saguesa, 
pitahaya, and ciiia, are supported by woody skeletons in the form of 
vertical ribs coincident with the external flutings; within a few years 
after the death and decay of these desert monsters the skeletons 
weather out, and the veitical ribs form light and strong and approxi- 
mately straight bars or shafts, valuable for many industrial purjioses; 
while the slender arms of okatilla are equally valuable, in the fresh 
condition after removal of the spiny armament, and in the weathered 
state without special preparation. 

On many of the higher plain-slopes, especially in eastern Seriland, 
there are pulpy stemmed shrubs and bushes, sometimes reaching the 
dignity of trees, which present the normal aspect of exogenous ]>eren- 
nials during life, but which are so spongy throughout as to shrink into 
shreds of bark like debris shortly after death. These aie the torotes 
of the Sonoran province — common torote {Jatropha cardiophylla), torote 
amarillo (Jatropha spathulatn), torote bianco (Btirsera microphi/lla), 
torote prieto [Biirsera htjcifora), torotito {Jairopha canescens !), etc. 
These plants grow in the scattered and scraggy tufts characteristic of 
arid districts (a typical torote tuft appears in left foreground of figure 4) ; 
they are protected from evaporation by the usual glazed epidermis, 
and maintained by the water absorbed during the humid seasons; but 
they are thornless and are protected from animal enemies by pungent 
odors, and at least in some cases by toxic juices. Like various i)lauts of 
the province they are measurably communal — indeed, the torotito appears 
to be dei)endent on union with an insect for reproduction, like certain 
yuccas, and like the cina and (in some degree at least) the saguaro and 
other cacti. 

Along the lower reaches of Eio Bacuache, and in some of the deeper 
gorges of Sierra Seri and Sierra Kuukaak, grow a few veritable trees 
of moderately straight trunk and grain and solid wood, such as the 
guaiacan {Giiaiaoum coulteri) and sanjuanito (Jacquinui pinujenK)-, both 
of these fruit, the former in a wahoo like berry of medicinal properties, 
and the latter in a nut, edible when not quite ripe and forming a favor- 
ite rattle-bead when dry. On the flanks of such gorges the slender- 
branched baraprieta {G(vsalpima f/racilis) grows up in the shelter of 
more vigorous shrubs, its branches yielding basketry material, while 
its fruit is a woody bean much like that of the cat-claw. In like sta- 
tions there are occasional clumps of yerba mala or yerba de tlecha 
{Sebastiana biloculari,s), an exceptionally leafy bush growing in straight 
stems suitable for arrowshafts, and alleged to be poisonous from root 
to leaf — with inherent probability, since the plant is without the thorny 
armature normal to the desert. Along the sand-washes, especially 
about their lower extremities wet only in Moods, springs a subanuual 
plant (Hi/menoch'(( monogyra) which shrinks to stunted tussocks after 
a year or more of drought, but llourishes in close set fens after floods; 
though of acrid flavor and sage-like odor, it is eaten by herbivores in 

36 THE SERI INDIANS [eth.axn.17 

time of ueed, aud it yields abimdaut seeds, consumed by birds, small 
animals, and men. About all of the permanent waters not invaded by 
wbite men aud tbe wbite man's stock there are brakes of cane or car- 
rizal [nragmites communis ?); the jointed stems are half an inch to 
an inch in thickness and 8 to 25 feet in height; the seeds are edible, 
while the stems form the material for balsas aud alfoid shafts for arrows, 
hari)oons, fire-sticks, etc., aud the silica-coated joints may be used for 
iucisiug tough tissues. 

The coasts of Seriland, both insular and mainland, are skirted by 
zones of exceptionally luxuriant shrubbery, maintained chietly by fog 
moisture. Along the mountainous parts of the coast the zone is nar- 
row and indefinite, but on the plains portions itexteuds inland for sev- 
eral miles with gradually fading characters; this is especially true in 
the southern iK)rtiou of Uesierto Encinas, where the fog effects maybe 
observed in the vegetation 12 or 15 miles from the coast. Most of the 
fog fed species are identical with those of the interior, though the 
shruljs are more luxuriant and are otherwise distinctive in habit. On 
the Tiburon side of gale-swept El Inliernillo, and to some extent along 
other parts of tbe coast, some of these shrubs (notably Maytenus pliyl- 
lantliroides) grow in dense hedge-like or mat-like masses, often yards 
in extent and i)ermanently modeled by the wind in graceful dune-like 
shapes. Somewhat farther inland the flatter coastwise zones of Tiburon 
are rather thickly studded with shrubby clumps from 6 inches to 2 feet 
high, made up of Frankrnia imlmeri with half a dozen minor com- 
munals; while still farther inland follows the prevailing Sonoran 
flora of mes(iuite, scrubby paloverde, and chaparral (Celtis pallida), 
etc, only a little more luxuriant than the normal. 

Throughout Seriland proper, and especially in the interior valleys of 
Tiburon, grasses are more prevalent than in other portions of the 
Sonoran province, their abundance doubtless being due to tbe rarity of 
graminiverous animals during recent centuries. 


Considered collectively, the fauna of the Sonoran province is meas- 
urably distinctiv'e (though less so than the flora), especially in the habits 
of the organisms. The prevailing animals, like the plants of extrane- 
ous type, evidently represent genera and species develoi)ed under more 
humid conditions and adjusted to the arid province through a long- 
continued and severe process of adaptation; and no fundamentally 
distinct orders or types comparable with the cacti and torotes of the 
vegetal realm are known. The prime re(iuisite of animal life in the 
province is ability to dispense with drinking, either habitually or for 
long intervals, and to maintain structure and function in the heated 
air despite the exceptionally small consumption of water; the second 
requisite is ability to cooperate in the marvelously complete solidarity 
of animal and vegetal life characteristic of subdesert regions. No 


systeiiintic studies liave been made of special structures in the aiiiinal 
bodies adai)tiiig tliem to retention of liquids, either by storage (as ia 
the stomach of the camel) or by diminished evaporation, though the 
])revaleiice of practically noni)erspiring mammals, scale-covered rep- 
tiles, and cbitin coated insects suggests the selection, if not the devel- 
opment, of the fitter genera and species for the peculiar environment. 
Much more conspicuous are the characters connected with cooperation 
in the ever severe but never eliminative strife for existence iu the sub- 
desert solidarity; the mammals are either exceptionally swift like the 
antelope, excejitionally strong like the local lion, exceptionally pugna- 
cious and prolilie like tlie peccary, or exceptionally capable of subsist- 
ing on waterless sierras like the bura and mountain goat; the reptiles 
are either exceptionally swift like the rainbowhued lizards, exception- 
ally armed like the sluggish horned toads, exceptionally venomous 
like the rattlesnake, or exceptionally repulsive, if not poisonous, like 
the (lila monster; even the articulates avoid the mean, and arc excep- 
tionally swift, exceptionally protective iu form and coloring, excep- 
tionally venomous like the tarantula and scori)ion and centipede, or 
exceptionally intelligent like the farmer ant and the tarantula-hawk; 
while there is apparently a considerable class of insects comjiletely 
dejiendent on the cooperation of plants for the perpetuation of their 
kind, including the yucca moth and (undescribed) cactus beetle. Among 
plants the intense individuality (which is the obverse of the enforced 
solidarity) is expressed in thoins and heavily lacquered seeds and toxic 
l)rincip]es; among animals it is expressed by chitinons armament, as 
well as by fleetness and fangs and <leadly venom. 

Tlie larger land animals of Seriland proper are the mountain goat in 
the higher sierras, the bura (or mule-deer) and the white-tail deer on 
the mid height plains and larger alluvial fans, with the antelope on 
the lower and drier expanses. Associated with these are the ubiqui- 
tous coyote, a puma, a jaguar of much local repute which roams the 
higlier rocky sites, and a peccary ranging from the coast over the allu- 
vial fans and mid-height plains of the mainland (though it is apparently 
absent from Tiburon). Of the smaller mammals the hare (or Jack- 
rabbit) and rabbit are most conspicuous, while a long-tail nocturnal 
squirrel abounds, its burrows and tunnels penetrating the plains of 
finer debris so abundantly as to render these plains, especially on 
Tiburon, impassable for horses and nearly so for men. The California 
quail and the small Sonoran dove are fairly common; a moderate num- 
ber of small birds haunt the more humid belts, and there is a due pro- 
portion of Mexican eagles and hawks of two or three forms, with still 
more numerous vultures. Ants abound, dominating the insect life, 
while wasps and spiders, with various flies and midges, gather about 
the vital colonies of the drier plains and swarm in the moister belts. 
Horned toads and various lizards— bright-colored and switt, or earth- 
tinted and sluggish — are fairly abundant, while black-tail rattlesnakes 


haunt the more luxuriant vegetation of fog zones, permanent waters, 
and cienegas. On the whole, the land fauna of Seriland is much like 
that of the provin(;e iu general, though the various forms of life are less 
abundant than the average, since all (except the ahounding squirrel) 
are sought for food by the omnivorous Seri; and the distribution, even 
when relatively abundant, is woefully si)arse, as befits the scant and 
scattered vegetal foundation for the animal life. 

Strongly contrasted with the meagerness of the laud fauna is the 
redundant aquatic fauna of that portion of the gulf washing the shores 
of Seriland. Tiburon island is named from the sharks, said by some 
explorers to have been seen by thousands along its coasts; these 
voracious feeders find ample food in literal shoals and swarms of smaller 
fishes; a not inconsiderable number of whales have survived the early 
fisheries (one, estimated at 80 feet in length, was stranded in Kada 
Ballena about 1SS.7) ; while schools of porpoises play about Boca Inflerno 
and elsewhere, making easy prey of slower swimmers caught iu the 
tide-rips and gale-swept breakers. Proportionately abundant and varied 
is the crustacean life; littoral mollusks cling to the ledges exposed along 
all the rocky coast stretches, and the entire beach from Puuta Ar.tigualla 
to Punta Ygnacio is banded by a ijractically continuous bank of wave- 
cast moUuscan shells, the shell-drift being often yards in width and 
many inches in depth. Common crabs abound in many of the coves, 
and a large lobster like crab frequently comes up from deeper bights and 
bottoms; oysters attach themselves to rocks and to the roots of shrubby 
trees skirting itrotected bays like Itada Ballena, while clams are numer- 
ous in all broad mudflats, such as those of Laguna la Cruz; and the 
pearl oyster was fished for centuries toward Punta Tepopa, until the 
ferocity of the Seri put an end to the industry. Especially abundant 
and large are the green turtles on which the Seri chiefly subsist, leaving 
the shells scattered along the shore and about rancherias in hundreds; 
while two land tortoises {(jopkerusaynnsizii and Cinosternum sonorense) 
range about the margins of the lagoons, and one of these is alleged to 
enter the water freely. 

The abundance of water-fowl is commensurate with that of the subma- 
rine life. The pelican leads the avifauna in prominence if not in actual 
numbers, breeding on Isla Tassne (Pelican island), and periodically 
patrolling the whole of Bahia Kunkaak and El Infieruillo in lines and 
platoons of military regularity; gulls are always in sight, and the cor- 
morant is common ; while different ducks haunt several of the islets, and 
the shores are promenaded by curlews, snipes, and other waders. There 
is a corresponding wealth of plankton, which at low spring tide with 
offshore gale covers acres of shallow littoral with squirming or inert 
but always slimy life, the substratum for that of higher order; and 
jellyfish and echinoids are cast up by nearly every wave, while at night 
the surf rolls up the smooth strands iu shimmering lines of phosi)hor- 
escent light. On the whole, the aquatic life teems in tropic luxuriance 


aud more tliau ordinary littoral variety; for the waters of the gulf are 
warmed by radiation and coiidui'tiou from its sun-parched basin, while 
the concentrated tides distribute and stimulate the species and keep 
the vital streams astir. 

Local Features 

Considered as a tribal habitat, Serilaud comprises four subdivisions 
of measurably distinct character, viz, (1) the broad desert bounding 
tiie territoiy on the east; (2) the motmtainous zone of Sierra Seri; (3) 
Tiburon island and the neighboring islets; and (4) the navigable straits 
and bays contiguous to island aud mainland. 

1. So far as its marginal portions are concerned, Desierto Encinas 
is a tyi)ical valley of the Sonoran province, sparsely dotted with vital 
colonies of the prevailing type aud variegated by the exceptionally 
luxuriant mesquite forests of the Bacuache and Sonora fans; but the 
interior of the valley is rendered distinct by the fact that it lies near, 
if not below, the level of the sea.' The central feature is Playa 
Noriega — a film of brackish water for a few days after each consider- 
able .semiannual freshet, a sheet of saline mud for a few weeks later, 
and for the greater ])art of the year a salt-crusted sherd 20 square miles 
in area, level as a tioor and unimpressionable as a brick pavement. 
The jdaya is rimmed by dunes 10 to 40 feet in height, and about these 
and along the arroyos which occasionally break into it there is some 
aggregation of salt enduring shrubs, evidently sustained in i)art by the 
semiannual freshet with its meager vapors and fogs. Outside this 
rim the surface is exceptionally broken; low dunes and irregularly 
wandering banks of soft and dust tine sand are interspersed witli 
meandering salt flats much like the central playa, ranging from a few 
feet in width and a few yards in length up to mappable dimensions, as 
in the lesser playa lying east of the great one; and many of the dust- 
banks are honeycombed with sfjuirrel burrows. This annulus of broken 
snrlace is narrow on the west, soon passing into okatilla scrub and then 

'The expedition of 1895, diirinfr which Serihind was surveyed, was not provided with apparatus 
fur accurate vertical measorenient, and hence altitudes were only approximately determined. The 
determinations hy Mr .Johnson, who executed the topographic surveys, indicated that even the 
lowest part of the valley is somewhat ahove aea-level; hut other facts indicate that it actually lies 
below the level of the waters of the gulf, and forms a miniature homologueof Colorado desert (in south- 
ern California) : in the tirst place the central playa, which is undoubtedly flooded occas)onall,v if not 
semiannually, does not embouch ioti>. and has no channels extending toward, the sea; in thesec-onil ])lac© 
it is hijrbly saline; again, the alluvial fans of Rio Bacuache and (especially) of Ilio Sonora are so 
placed as to intercept and dam the trough occupie(\ by Lagunala Cruz in its southern portion, and 
r]a,\ a Noriega in its northern ]iortion; concordantl.y, the detail conliguratiou of the coast indic:ites 
marine transgression, apparently due to secular subsidence of the land — though the abundant marine 
Bliellsof recent species toward the valley-hotlom attest recent displacement of the sea. On the whole, 
the tacts seem to indicate that, during recent geologic times, the lower portion of this valley was a 
.shallow gulf extending northward (and i)robably also southward) from the eastern limit of Bahia 
Kijio; that the importation and deposition of sediment, chiefly b,y Kio Sonora. outran the secularsub- 
sidence of the land so far as t<i disjdace the watersof the gulf in its central portion and to separate the 
northern arm from the sea; and that the waters of this northern arm were subsequentl.y evaporated, 
disappearing linally in the central playa in which local inflow and evaporation are balanced by the 
u.sual mechanism of interior basins. I 

40 THE PERI INDIANS [eth. ann. 17 

into the saguesa forests of the eastern base of Sierra Seri; on the east 
it is miles in breadtb, liassiug gradually into the normal Sonoran plain; 
on the south it widens still farther, stretching all the way to Arenales 
de Gil and Pozo Escalante, and merging into the playa like mud-flats 
bordering Laguna la Cruz, into which the gulf waters are sometimes 
forced by southwesterly aales at high spring tides. Throughout this 
portion of the desert, marine shells are scattered over the playa-lilie 
flats or lodged in the adjacent banks, sometimes in great beds; the 
vegetation is scantier than usual and largely of salt loving habit; the 
uuid-flats are usually coated with saline and alkaline crusts, while the 
dunes are soft and fluffy, and expand into broad belts perforated with 
the tunnels of the surprisingly abundant rodents. Across this plain 
of .bitter sand-dust lie the two hard land routes to Seriland — tlie sup- 
posed Escalante route of 1700, down the fan of Hio Bacuache and 
thence by Barranca Salina; and the Encinas route, down the northern 
border of the Rio Sonora fan and thence by Pozo Escalante to the 
shores of Baliia Kino.' 

Desierto Encinas is an impossible huinau habitat in any proper sense; 
it is merely a broad and hardly passable boundary between habitats. 
The hardy stock of the frontier ranchos, pasturing partly on the thorny 
fruit of the cholla, push far out on the plains, and are sometimes watered 
for short periods, under strong guards of heavily armed vaqueros, at 
Barranca Salina; yet the greater part of the expanse is trodden only 
by the Seri. Two or three rained frames of Seri jacales and a few 
graves crown the low knoll near Pozo Escalante, and there are one or 
two house remnants near Barranca Salina; these are notable not only 
as the easternmost remaining outposts of Seri occupancy, but because 
they represent the only known instances in all Seriland of the erection 
of even temporary houses adjacent to water. UiVstinct paths, trodden 
deep by bare Seri feet, radiate from both waters toward the Seriland 
interior, but no traceable trails extend eastward. 

The southern limit of Desierto Encinas is marked either by the broad 
mud-flats opening into Laguna la Cruz or by the coast of the gulf, the 
coast cutting the lower portions of the plain being accentuated by a 
sand-bank 30 or 40 feet high, against which the surf thunders in nearly 
continuous roar, audible halfway or all the way to Pozo Escalante. A 
Seri trail skirts the crest of this bank, sending occasional branches into 

' Both the routes were traversed by tlie expedition oi' 1895, tlie former from the headwaters of Rio 
Bacuache to tlie upper portion of its alluvial tan. ami then from the abandoned Uanelio Libertad on 
the lower portion of the fan across Desierto Encinas by way of liarranca Salina. In the northern 
crossing a liglit A-ehicle (the first to traverse this portion of the desert), dr.iwn by four horses and 
aided b.v several horsemen, was taken from Kancho Libertad across the northern portion of Playa 
Norie-ja and thence up Arroyo Mitchell to a point midwa.v between Bari-anca Salina and Johnson 
peak, and was brought back over the same route. The Encinas trail from R;incho San Francisco de 
Costa Rica was traversed four times each way by the same outfit, and once each way by the running 
gear of a heavy wagon carrying the rude craft (about l.llllO pounds in weight) in which the Seri 
waters were navigated, this vehicle being di-awn by 8 to 12 horses, frequently changed. Typical 
aspects of botli routes are sliown in jdate ill, the upper figure representing the Encinas trail and 
the lower a distant view of Sierra Seri. taken from Playa Noriega, in the depths of Desierto Encinas. 







the interior. At Puiita Aiitiguall;i tlie bank expands aud rises iuto a 
great maiiimillated sliell-mound nearly 100 feet bigb, with several of 
the cusps occupied by more or less ruined jacales ; and occasionally occu- 
liied houses occur midway thence to the southernmost point of Sierra 
Seri, and again at the base of the first spur east of Punta Ygnacio. 
Beyond Punta Antigualla the sweep of tlie waves is stronger than in 
Babia Kino, and the coastal sandbank is generally higher. Between the 
rocky buttresses of Punta Ygnacio and the next spur eastward the sand- 
ridge rises fully 50 feet above mean low tide, and here, as elsewliere, 
its verge is protected by a fog-fed chaparral thicket with occasional 
clumps of okatilla and other cacti. Behind the coast barrier lie lagoon- 
like basins, generally dry and floored with saline silt-beds, though 
sometimes occupied by briny pools formed through seepage during 
southwesterly gales; and there are i)hysiographic indications that the 
northwestward extension of Laguna la Cruz formerly stretched some 
miles farther than now aud lay iu the rear of Punta Autigualla in 
such wise as to form a source of supply of the clam-shells of which the 
eminence is built. 

2. Sierra Seri is a double range, divided mid-length by a broad saddle 
barely 2,000 feet in height.' Like other Sonoran ranges, the nucleal 
portions are exceedingly rugged and precipitous — at least two of its 
picachos shoot so boldly that they commonly seem to overhang, and 
have been called leaning peaks. In large part the precipices rise 
abruptly from a symmetrical dome molded by sheettlooding, much as 
the insulated battes rise from the Bacuache fan iu northeastern Seri- 
land; so that the tract lying between Desierto Encinas and El lufier- 
nillo is a composite of exceptionally precipitous aud exceptionally 
smooth mountain slopes. One of the Seri trails radiating from Bar- 
ranca Salina lies across the mid-sierra saddle; others push into several 
mountain valleys, and the largest leads to Tinaja Trinchera, at the 
base of Johnson peak, where there are a few low walls of loose-laid 
rubble, somewhat like those of the trinchei-as (entrenched mountains) 
farther eastward — the only structures of the sort seen in Seriland. 
Toward the southern end of the range lie various trails, the most con- 
spicuous paralleling the coast, either near the shore or over the steep 
salients, according to the configuration; while here and there ruinous 
jacales a few yards from the coast attest sporadic habitation. The 
eastern shore of Bahia Kunkaak from Punta Ygnacio northward 
reveals a typical geologic section of the Sonoran province: the trans- 
gressing waves have carved in the granitic subterrane a broad shelf 
lying just below mean low tide aud usually stretching several furlongs 
offshore; this shelf is relieved here and there by remnantal crags of 
obdurate rocks, cumbered by bowlders and locally sheeted with sand 
and arkose derived from mechanically disintegrated granite; while the 

'The northern portion, as seen from the east, ia sliowii in plate III; the southern portion, as seen 
from the west. ai)pears iu the upper part of plate IV. while the eouthwesterniuost point is ahowu in 
the lower part of the saun- plate. 

42 THE SEKI INDIANS [eth.ann. 17 

inner margin of the shelf is a sea (tliff, usually .'50 to 50 feet liigb, of 
which the lower half is cominouly granite and the upper half unconsoli- 
dated and recent-looking mecliaiiical debris collected by sheettiood 
erosion. Sometimes the granite of the siibterraiie is replaced by vol- 
caiiics; sometimes ancient and lirmly cemented talus deposits separate 
the superficial mantle from the subterrane, as shown in the lower part 
of plate V; sometimes the line of sheettiood planation passes below 
tide level, when the waves beat against the unconsolidated deposits in 
a deep embayment; sometimes the sharply detiued planation surface 
ends abruptly at the sides of subranges or buttes shooting upward iu 
the abrupt slopes characteristic of the sierra proper; yet this lOmile 
stretch of coast is a nearly continuous revelation of the structure of 
sheetrlood-carved plains and of modern marine transgression. The 
debris of the combined processes forms an abundant and varied assort- 
ment of bowlders, cobbles, and pebbles, whence the inhabitants readily 
derive their simple implements without need foi' studied forethought 
or manual cunning. 

The long sand-spit terminating in Punta Miguel and the shorter one 
terminating in Punta Arena are the product of geologically recent 
wave building, and consist of irregular series of Vbars, backed by 
lagoon-like basins and enclosing considerable bodies of brine in the 
central i)ortions; and the bars and basins become successively higher 
outward, in such wise as to attest the secular subsidence of this coast. 
Several jacales are located on the higher portion of the southern sand- 
S])it, midway between Punta Granita and Punta Miguel, while foot- 
paths traverse the flat and skirt the coast. Toward the terminal por- 
tion of the spit the sand is blown into hummocks, held by clumps ot 
salt enduring and sand-proof shrubbery; but there are no rancherias 
here, despite the fact that it is a natural point of embarkation— doubt- 
less because no Seri structure could withstand the sand-drifting gales 
and storm inundations of this exposed spot. The more protected 
lagoons behind the outer bars harbor abundant waterfowl, within 
bowshot of shrub-clumps and dunes well adapted to the concealment 
of hunters, while the mud Hats open to the tide abound in clams and 
other edible things. The features of the Punta Miguel sand spit are 
repeated with variations along tlie eastern shore of El Inflernillo; and 
Seri Jacales, evidently designed for temporary occupancy, occur here 
and there, usually on higher banks above reach of the severer storms. 

3. Tiburon island itself is apparently the chosen home of the Seri— 
a habitat to which the mainland tract is at once a dependency, an alter- 
native refuge, and a circumvallatiou. Its dominant range. Sierra Kun- 
kaak, mates Sierra Seri iu its essential features, though the rocks are 
for the greater part ordinarily obdurate eruptives rather than excep- 
tionally obdurate granites, as in the mainland sierra; accordingly the 
range is somewhat lower and broader, while the sheettiood sculpture, 
with its sharp transition into precipitous cliffs, is somewhat less trench- 







ant. Sierra Meiior is a third term in the inountaiii series, in structure 
and seoiuorphy as iu altitude; while the iuterior plain is a homologiie 
of that portion of Desierto Eucinas lying' north of IMaya Xoriega — 
i.e., of its (potentially) free drained portion. Almost the entire perim- 
eter of Tiburon is suffering marine transgression, and is faced with 
seaclitt's overlooking. wave-carved shelves; and in both form and struc- 
ture the greater part of the coast rei)eats, with minor variations, the 
tV'atures of the mainland coast from Punta Ygnacio northward. Partly 
because of the superior magnitude and height of its debris-yielding 
sierra, i)artly because of protection from the wave-beat of tlie open 
gulf, the eastern shore is skirted with a talus slia|>e slope, usually two 
to four miles wide; and while there are unmistakable evidences of 
sheettlood carving in the higher portions of this plane, the coastal cliff 
commonly reveals nothing but heterogeneous debris, sometimes rising 
thirty or forty feet above tide. Somewhat the greater part of the vol- 
ume of this debris is line — i.e., sand and silt and nondescript rock- 
matter; but there is always a considerable element of larger rock- 
fragments, which gather along the shore in a pavement of bowlders 
and cobbles (upper figure of i)late v). These coarse materials — impor- 
tant factors In aboriginal industry — are harmoniously distributed ; more 
conspicuously on the ground than on the map, the coast is set with 
salieTits (of which Punta Xarragansett is a type), consisting merely of 
excejitional accumulations of debris from gorges in the sierra and from 
shallow arroyos, or pebble washes, traversing the coastwise i)lain. These 
salients owe their jirorainence partly to the relative coarseness, partly 
to the abundant sup|)ly, of fragmental material from the heights; and 
about their extremities the beach is paved with bowlders, which grade 
to cobbles or even to pebbles along the reentrant shores on either 
hand. Tiiis distribution of cobbles is one of the conditions govern- 
ing the placement of Seri rancherias; and in many cases the jacales are 
located, either singly or in groups, where the coastal salients and 
reentrants meet, and where there is an abundant supply of cobbles of 
convenient size and wave- tested hardness. 

The plain skirting eastern Tiburon has a few wave built 
projections analogous to those east of El Intiernillo; the most con- 
spicuous of these are Punta Tormenta, Punta Tortuga, and Punta 
Perla with its tide-swept extensions, Bajios de Ugarte. All of these 
are located primarily by sierra-fed arroyos, bat all are greatly extended 
by wave-borne material laid down along lines determined by the pre- 
vailing currents of this best-protected portion of the coast. The long 
outer face of Punta Tormenta, shaped by the storms of Bahia Kun- 
kaak, is strikingly regular and symmetric; its broad extremity and 
inner face are diversified by subordinate bars and lagoons, evidently 
tending to connect with the main coast toward Punta Tortuga, and 
thereby to transform the whole of Rada Ballena into a lagoon. 
Already the narrow embayment is so shallow that, although a com- 

44 THE SERI INDIANS [ethaxxi; 

fortable liaveii at bigh tide, it is mostly mnd-flat and sand-waste at 
extreme low tide — a condition wliich explains tlie stranding ol' an 
8()-foot whale in this treacherous harbor about 1887. Tlie rada is 
between two and three miles in length. It abounds in marine lite of 
kinds iireferring quieter waters: clams are i)lentiful in its mud-llats, 
a sponge lines portions of the bottom toward its inner extremity, 
oysters cluster numerously on bowlders and on the mangrove-like roots 
and trunks of a large shrub along the outer shore, and various fishes 
find refuge here from the fierce currents and the hungry sharks and 
porpoises of the open strait; these and other creatures form food for 
innumerable waders and other water-fowl that seek shelter in the quiet 
bay, which is still fuitlier protected by salt-enduring shrubbery on the 
bars of the point and by the shrubby thickets and wave cast banks 
and wind built dunes on the mainland side. 

The combination of conditions renders this portion of the Tiburon 
coast the optimum habitat of the Seri Indians. There are, indeed, no 
houses or other traces of permanent habitation on Punta Tormenta itself, 
which is not only swept by gales but must sometimes be inundated by 
gale-driven waters at high spring tide; but at the inner end of the 
long sand-spit, and also on the mainland opposite the outer i)ortion of 
Eada Ballena, there are extensive and well-kept rancherias, capacious 
enough to accommodate comfortably thirty or forty Seri families, i. e., 
l.">(> or 200 persons. Toward its landward end the sand-spit is built 
largely of pebbles and cobbles, of which thousands of tons are adapted 
to industrial use; sea-food is practically unlimited and is readily taken; 
water-fowl literally crowd the protected rada within arrow-shot of 
natural cover; the outer slo])e of the bar is admirably suited for 
landing and embarking balsas in calm weather, while the bay is an 
ideal harbor for the jiortable craft, and the shrub grown shores give 
unlimited opportunity for concealing them when not in use; the dimes 
and banks are high enough to protect the low jacales from storm- 
winds, while the abundant sponges and turtle-shells afford material for 
thatching and shingliTig the more exposed walls and roofs: and finally, 
it is but a. favorite distance (about 4 miles) to the permanent fresh 
water of Tinaja Anita. From this Seri metropolis well trod trails 
radiate towaid all other i)arts of the island; the best beaten leads to 
the tinaja, sending branches into all the neighboring gorges, in which 
game is sometimes taken ; next best- worn is the trail laid across Sierra 
Kunkaak to strike Arroyo Carrizal mid length of its permanently wet 
portion; others jjass northward to rancherias at different points on 
the coast, and still another skirts the coast southward by several 
smaller rancherias to the considerable jacal collection near Punta Nar- 
ragansett — this, like other longshore routes, having alternative trails, 
the evanescent fair-weather one following the beach, while the jierma- 
nent path threads the thorn-set thickets marking the crest of the sea- 
cliflf or cuts across the longer salients. The Nariagansett rancheria is 










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also a center for radiating trails, the best-beaten of these leading toward 
the fresh waters of Tinaja Anita and Arroyo Carrizal; and even the 
rancherias half-way thence to I'unta Mashem send their most peima- 
nent ])aths over 15 niilesof intervening ranges and spall-strewn valleys 
toward the same waters. According to Mashem's cautious statements, 
there is a minor Seri metropolis at the northwestern sj)ur of Sierra 
Kuiikaak, within reach of I'ozo Hardy and Arroyo Agua Dulce, and 
two or three smaller rancherias along the western shore; but these were 
not reached by the 1S!)5 expedition. 

4. The seas washing Seriland are notably ti'oubled by tides and 
winds. Gaping toward the Pacific, and narrowing and shoaling for the 
8(tO miles of its length (measured from midway between Islas de Tres 
Marias and Cabo San Lucas), Gulf of California api)r()aches Bay of 
Fundy, Bristol channel, and Ihoad sound as a tide accumulator; while 
the semidiurnal sweep of the waters in the upper half of the gulf is 
conditioned by the constriction of the basin to a fraction of its average 
cross-section at the narrows between Isla Tiburon and I'unta San 
Fraucisquito. Toward the head of the gulf the ordinary spring tides 
range from 20 to 25 feet, and may be much increased by favoring 
winds; the debacles culminate there, but the currents culminate off 
Seriland in the great tide-gate half dammed by the islands of Tiburon, 
San Esteban, San Lorenzo, and Salsipuedes,' with their marine but- 
tresses, and through the breaches of Pasaje Ulloa, Estrecho Alar- 
con, and Canal de >alsii)uedes How, four times daily, some two or three 
cubic miles of water in tremendous tidal floods, probably unsurpassed 
in vigor elsewhere on the globe. Naturally the islands and the adjacent 
coasts afford extraordinary examples of marine transgression; and 
while exceptional wave-work is a factor, the transgression is undoubt- 
edly due mainly to the extraordinary tidal currents in this gateway of 
the gulf. The fierce currents and the fre(|uent storms of the region 
condition local navigation, and have undoubtedly contributed to the 
development of the peculiarly light, strong, and serviceable water-craft 
of the aboriginal navigators among the islands. 

El Lifiernillo derives its distinctive characteiistics largely from the 
local character of the tides. Baliia. Kunkaak is a funnel-shape embay- 
ment so placed as to catch half the volume of the incoming tide and to 

' Originally the name Islas Sal-si-pm-des (Get-out-if-canst) was applied to the vai-ious islands of this 
gateway of the gulf, including San Lorenzo, San Esteban, and San Agustin (now Tiburon), together 
with the smaller islets, as shown in tlie map of Padre Fernando Consag (in Koticia de la California y 
de su Conquista, etc., por ei Padre Miguel Venegas, 1757, tomo ill, p. 194) ; and Padre Consag's account 
of the currents encountered in 1746 explains the designation : " The great sea which runs here even in 
fair weather would not allow us to stay, and it was with great difficnlty we took in a Utile water. We 
now atleuipted to weather the Cape of San (lahriel de Sal-si-puedes, so greatly dreaded by seamen on 
account of those islands, several contiguous jioints of land and many ledges of sunken rocks extend- 
ing a great way from the laud. Uere the sea is so agitated by the current that a gale or a calm makes 
but little ditference'' (English translation of Venegas' Noticia, titled A Natural and Civil History of 
California, 1759, vol. II, pp. 312-.'il3). Hittell speaks nf "the group of islands known as Salsipuedes, the 
largest of which is now called Tiburon " (History of California, 1898. vol. I, p. 225). Dewey restricted 
the name to a single small island near the Ba.ja California coast. Further references to the islands 
and their designations are noted postea, p. 65. 

AG THE SEHI INDIANS [eth.ann.17 

concentrate the tlow into a bore hurtling through Boca Infierno and 
thence throughout the shoaUut>- strait with greatly accelerated velocity; 
meantime the body of the tidal stream is diverted around Tiburon-, 
and then enfeebled in its northward flow by the expansion of the gulf 
above the Tiburou-8an Franeisquito gateway, so tliat the entire strait 
is flooded (to the limit lixed by the capacity ot Boca Infierno^ before the 
main tide flows into its head past Isla Patos and through Bahia 
Tepopa; and with this unobstructed inflow the strait is reflooded with 
a connterbore, whereby the waters are heaped and pounded into an 
unstable, swirling, churning mass.* The flooding is little less than 
catastrophic in magnitude and suddenness; indeed, the volume of 
water in the body of the strait between Punta Perla and Boca Intieruo 

' Unquestionably the clearest view of El Infiernillo ever enjoyed by Caucasian eyes was that of Messrs 
Johnson and Mitchell from the culminating point of Sierra Seri (Johnwon peak), which they occupied 
for ahont twonty-thren hours on December 7 and 8, 1895. Mr Johnson's notes on the appearance of the 
strait arv as follows : " On the ocrasion of the ascent of Sierra Seri, wliich rises from the coast, shut- 
ting f»fl' tht^ view of Isht Tiburon from the desert on the east, I received a striking imi)ression of the 
elaborate and beautifully symmetrical plan of the long swirling currents of El Infiernillo. The climb 
had been made from the east direct to tiie summit jieak. so that the tirst sight of both ishind and gulf 
wa.s not only from close at hand, but from an elevation of about a mile. The crest of the ridge was 
reached at the instant of sunset, and the spectacle of the innumerable current-markings was brief. 
Our position was nearly opposite the northern end of the strait; and its elevation was so great that 
the opposite mainland and island shorelines were seen in map etfect rather tlian in perspective. The 
entire strait, to its northern end at Punta Perla, was in the shadow of tlie island; and the current 
design was revealed only in the shadow. At the shadow-margin extending from tlie nortliern tip of 
the island the lines were sharply cut otf ; and beyond, along the westward bend of waters forming 
Bahia Tepopa and opening intn the giilf in full sunlight, there was no suggestion of them. AYithin 
the shadow the elfect was that nt a film of oil on a water-surface which had been stirred and allowed 
to come to rest— though tlie regularity of the lines was as though the stirring had been orderly. Not 
the slightest motion was perceptible from the peak during the minute or two that the spectacle 
lasted before the sun disappeared and twilight fell, tliough the suggestion from configuration alone 
was that of violent swirling. The general nuwement was evidently southward toward Boca Infierno, 
and the swirls were apparently the result of fricl.ional resistance along both shores; the system of 
curving lines as a whole was very much that which would be presented by a broad feather thrust into 
a bottle. There were central lines in great number, somewhat sinuous though never crossing, diverg- 
ing one !)y one toward the shores on either hand, where they curved backward with complex interfer- ' 
ences in large reversing arcs and many minute circliugs. The straightening out of the curves in 
perspective was quite perceptible toward Boca Infierno, and beyond it was pronounced. The air 
appeared to be still, so that the current pattern was not at all obscured by waves; and the spectacle 
of the broad strait, appearing almost beneath me, incised with a crowded design of sweeping fine 
lines, the delicate clearness of which recalled a steel engraving, was peculiarly impressive. That we 
bad been fortunate in the moment of reaching the summit was apparent next day. The spectacle was, 
indeed, repeated at sunrise and for a short period thereafter, though the general design was markedly 
ditferent, and less intricacy of pattern was discernible, while the general eftect was comparatively 
vague: perhaps the shadow of Sierra Seri was too heavy, or, more juobably (as was my impression at 
the time), our position was not favorable for that direction of illuuiination. In full light during the 
day up to thehour of our departure in late afternoon, no bint or vestige of the current design remained. 
It was evident that the lines were brought out with especial clearness by the favorable illumination and 
comparative stillness of air; and it was particularly evident that the lines marked movements in the 
water, even if there were cori'esponding air-currents, since they harmonized perfectly with the con- 
figuration of the shores and with the trend of spits and bars and offshore markings seen through the 
shallow waters, especially toward the northern end of the strait. The accord between shore curves 
and the current lines seen in the evening indicated a southward motion much more vigorous than the 
reverse movement witnessed next morning; for the marked variation in the design noted in the morn- 
ing was of a character strongly suggesting a reversed movement of the water, while the faintness of 
the markings then may perhaps have been due to comparative feebleness of current rather than to 
unfavorable lighting. Certainly the close agreement between the elaborate system of markings, so 
clearly revealed in the evening, and the prevailing curves of the shores would seem to indicate unmis- 
takably that, whatever the direction and strength of tlow, the markings were a product of current 


is approximately doubled at neap tide and tripled at spring tide twice 
in each twenty four hours. Then, as the crest of the main debacle 
advances into the upper gulf beyond Punta Tei)opa, the trough of the 
ebb is already approachino- the TiburonSan Frnncisquito constriction; 
and even bef re the final hooding of El Inflernillo from the north is 
completed, the waters of Bahia Kunkaak are receding and a tiderip is 
tearing through Boca Infierno at a rate sufficieiit to half empty the 
reservoir of its accumulated volume before the ebb trough lias rounded 
the island to the head of the strait. Thus the efiect of the exceptional 
tides of the gulf and the peculiar configuration of Seriland is to concen- 
trate and accentuate tidal currents in El Inflernillo, and to convert the 
channel into a raceway for nearly continuous tide rips. According 
to Dewey, the spring tides are 10 feet and the neaps 7 feet about the 
northern end of the strait:' in December, 1895, the tides about Punta 
Blanca and Punta Granita were roughly determined as 13 or 14 feet at 
spring and 7 or 8 at neap, the range varying considerably with the 
direction and force of the wind; and the consequent current through 
Boca Intierno was estimated at 4 to 8 miles per hour, the higher velocity 
of course coinciding with the spring tide. The change in direction of 
the current is almost instantaneous— indeed, the run is in opposite 
directions on opposite sides of the narrow strait when the wind sets 
obliquely— so that the tidal flow is practically continuous. The cur- 
rents are of course slacker in the body of the strait, but even here suffice 
to transport coarse sediments; audit is to this agency that the "shoals 
and saud spits" noted by Dewey' and the naaintenance of a deep 
channel through Boca Infierno are chiefly to be ascribed. The mate- 
rials of Punta Tornienta and I'unta Tortuga attest the ttausportatiou 
of pebbles up to 3 or 4 inches in diameter by the combined work of 
waves and tidal currents. 

Like other mountain bound water bodies, the portion of the gulf 
washing Seriland is exceptionally disturbed by winds of given velocity 
by reason of the high angle of incidence; and moreover the exception- 
ally prominent local configuratu)n disturbs the atmospheric currents iu 
a manner somewhat analogous to that iu which the tidal currents are 
disturbed; so that the winds are highly variable but generally strong. 
Under the combined action of tide and wind the waters are normally 
ruffled; choppy seas freely flecked with whitecaps are rather the rule 
than the exce])tion,^ and are replaced less frequently by calms than by 
steadier billows breaking in continuous surf on sand-beaches (figure 5) 
and dashing into foam-flecked and rainbow-tiuted spray-jets, bathing 
the rocky clitts for ."lO feet above their bases. Sometimes the wind stills 
suddenly, when the sea sinks to rythndc swells, soon extinguished by 
reaction from the irregular shores and by the interference of tide-cur- 
rents; but the swell seldom dies away before the gale springs again. 

' Publication No. 56, U. S. Hydrographic Office, Bureau of Navigation, 1880, p. 142. 

•'Op. cit., p. 143. 

'A stiller and navigable condition ol ihc- si-a is .shown in the view of Punta Ygnacio, plate iv. 



[ETH. ANN. 17 

The broad valley betweea Sierras Seri and Kuidvaak, bottomed by El 
Iiifieriiillo, is especially beset by fierce and capricious gales; the gen- 
eral attuospberic drift is disturbed by the leading and lesser sierras, as 
well as by temperature convectiou from the gulf, and eddies are devel- 
oped in such wise as to send air-currents directly or obliquely up or down 
the valley. These local or sublocal winds are cliaracteristic. Judg- 
ing from observations covering several weeks, the valley is wind-swept 
longitudinally for an average of eighteen or twenty hours daily, the 
winds ranging fiom strong breezes to gales so stiff as to load the air 
with sand ashore and spray asea; and even the calms may be broken 

Fid. .1— Embarking on B.iliia Kiiiik.iak in la lanrha Anita. 

any minute by sudden gusts and wiJliwaws, passing rapidly as they 
arrive. Not only waves but wind itself combines with tides to shape the 
structural features of the valley; nowhere within it do tlour-fine sands 
like those of Desierto Encinas occur, save as a hardly perceptible con- 
stituent of the dunes and banks of coarser sand — they have been blown 
into the sea or beyond the limits of the valley. Throughout the strait 
so expressively named by its explorers, the capriciousness of the sea 
culminates, despite the shoaluess and the protection from easterly and 
westerly winds; the storm currents and tide-currents are half the time 
opposed, raising breakers even when the air is nearly still; eddies and 
whirls and crosscurrents arise con.-tantly, and even at the stillest 


hours tumultuous waves come aud go sporadically, while about the Jiiile- 
witle boca the choppy sea sometimes takes the form of spire like jets, 
spurting 5 or 10 feet high aiul breaking into aigrettes of glittering 
spray in most unwaterlike and wholly indescribable fashion. Dewey 
described the strait as "unsafe for navigation by any except the small- 
est class of vessels"; it is safe, indeed, only for portable and inde- 
structible craft like the Seri balsas, which may be put off or carried 
ashore at will by craftsmen willing to wait for wind and tide, and unpos- 
sessed of impedimenta of a sort to be injured by wetting. Of such au 
environment the balsa is a natural product. 

The adjunct islets of Seriland are miniatures of Tiburon in all essen- 
tial respects, save that they are without fresh water. The largest is 
San Esteban, a somewhat com])lex butte rising sharply from the waters 
in a nearly continuous seacliff recording vigorous work by storms 
and tides; it is occasionally visited by the Seri, chietly in search of 
water-fowl and eggs. The most important of the series in Seri 
economy and mythology is Isla Tassue, off the mouth of Bahia 
Kino; it is a rugged butte some GOO feet higb, rising in wave-cut 
cliffs on the sea side and pedimented by low spits and banks of sand 
toward the lea; the sandbanks are literally flocked Fith, pelicans, 
while other fowl cover the flatter ledges and crowd the crannies of the 
pinnacle. Isla Turner is a somewhat smaller and still more rugged 
butte, bounded on both sides by precipitous cliffs, while Roca Foca is 
merely a great rock shelving upward from the storm-swept waters off 
the most exposed angle of Tiburon; in the crannies of the former 
birds nest abundantly, while the lower ledges of both are haunted by 
seals. Isla Patos, north of Tiburon, is a breeding-place for difl'erent 
water-fowl, aud is especially noted as a refuge for ducks; it, too, is for 
the most part a rocky butte, with a sandy shelf at the eastern base. 
Beyond San Esteban lies the similar but smaller Isla San Lorenzo, 
while Isla Salsipuedes and a few other islets stretch thence northward 
half way to the southern point of Isla Angel de la Guarda, the second- 
largest island of the gulf. San Lorenzo and the smaller islets are 
occasionally visited by the Seri, partly for a mineral pigment used in 
face-painting, partly in quest of game; and they sometimes push on to 
the larger island to enjoy its fairly abundant game, including the 
easily taken iguana, amid the ruins of an ancient culture apparently 
akin to that of southern Mexico. Even the most frequented islets, 
Tassne and Patos, can be reached only by crossing miles of open scii; 
but in their way the Seri are as canny navigators as they are skilful 
boat-builders — it is their habit to hug the shore in threatening weather, 
to await wind and tide for hoars or days together, to set out on 
distant journeys only when all conditions favor, and in emergency to 
seize inspiration from the storm like the vikings of old, and bend 
supernormal power to the control of their craft. 

Summarily, the prevailing features of Seriland may be said to be 
17 ETH 4 

50 THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ann.17 

characterized by extreme development or intensity, many of tliem being 
of such sort as to be adequately de.scribed only by the aid of strong 
comparatives or superlatives. Serilaud is the most rugged portion of 
piedmont Sonora, and is bounded by its most forbidding desert; the ter- 
ritory is nearly if not (piite the most arid and inhospitable of the Sonorau 
province; the diurnal and spoi-adic temperature ranges are apparently 
the widest, and the gales and other storms apparently the severest of 
the entire province; the flora is among the most meager and least fruit- 
ful, and the mountains are among the craggiest of the continent; the 
tides are among the strongest and the tidal currents among the swiftest 
of the world; and, as shown by the limited direct observations and by 
the extraordinary marine transgression, the waters are among the most 
turbulent known. At the same time, the waters washing Scriland are 
among the richest of America in sea-food, so that the habitat is one of 
the easiest known for a simple life depending directly on the product of 
the sea. It is but natural that these extreme factors of environment 
should be measurably reflected in pronounced characteristics on the 
part of the inhabitants. 


There is some doubt as to who was the first aiuoug the Caucasian 
explorers of the Western Hemisphere to set eyes on the Seri Indians. 
Nuno de Guzman, rival of Cortes aud invader of Jalisco and Sinaloa, 
must have ajipoached the southern boundary of Seri territory about 
1530, though there is no record of contact with these tribesmen. Diego 
Hurtado de Mendoza, one of Cortes' captains, coasted along southern 
Sonora in loo'i to a point considerably beyond Rio Yaqui, where he was 
massacred on his return, and hence left no record of more northerly 
natives.' IJoth of these pioneers must accordingly be eliminated from 
the list of probable discoverers of the Seri. 

In the course of their marvelous transcontinental journey, Alvar 
Nunez Cabeza de Vaca and his companions also approached Seriland, 
and apparently skirted its borders shortly before meeting Captain 
Diego de Alcaraz, of Guzman's party; this was in April, 1536, accord- 
ing to Bandelier.^ Vaca wrote: "On the coast is no maize: the inhab- 
itants eat the powder of rush and of straw, and lish that is caught in 
the sea from rafts, not having canoes. With grass and straw the 
women cover their nudity. They are a timid and dejected people."^ 
He added half a dozen ambiguous sentences, of which only a part, 
apparently, refer to the ''timid and dejected people"; half of these 
describe a poison used by them "so deadly that if the leaves be bruised 
and steeped in some neighboring water, the deer and other animals 
drinking it soon burst". The people were identified as Seri (Ceris) by 
Buckingham Smith and General Stone,'' and the identification may be 
considered as strongly probable, provided the Tepoka be classed with 
the Seri. 

The next Caucasians to approach Seriland appear to have been the 
two Si)auish monks. Fray Pedro Nadal and Fray Juan de la Asuncion, 
who, in 1538, sought to retrace Vaca's route, and traveled northward 
to a river somewhat doubtfully identified as the Gila;-' but the meager 
accounts of this journey contain no clear reference to the Seri Indians. 

On March 7-19, 1539, the Italian friar Marcos de Niza left San 
Miguel de Culiacan under instructions from the Viceroy, Don Antonio 

1 Theodore H. Hittell, History of California, 1898, vol. I, pp. 43-44. 

^Coiitrilnitioua to the Hi.story of the Southwestern Portiou of the United States (Hemenway South- 
we.stern Archaeological Expedition), Papers of the Archieological Institute of America, American 
series, v, 1890, p. 44. 

3 Relation of Alvar Nunez Cab09a de Vaca, translated from the Spanish by Buckingham Smith ; New 
York, 1871, p. 172. 

nbid, p. 178. 

'Cf. Bandelier, Magazine of We.steru History, TV, 1880, p. 660. 


52 THE SERI INDIAN [ethan.n.17 

de Mendoza, to explore the territory traversed by Yaca, under the 
guidance of the negro Estevanico, the only one of Vaca's three com- 
panions remaining in Mexico; in good time he reached a point prob- 
ably not far from the center of the present state of Sonora, whence 
messengers were sent coastward to return duly accomi)anied by certain 
"very poor" Indians wearing pearl-oyster (?) ornaments, who were 
reputed to inhabit a large island (almost certainly Tiburon) reached from 
the mainland by means of balsas, liandelier identified tliese coastwise 
Indians with the Guayma tribe, a supposed branch of the Seri;' but 
if the "large island" were Tiburon, it would seem more probable that 
the Indians belonged to the tribe now known as Seri, while botii descrip- 
tion and location suggest the Tepoka. This record is of questionable 
weight, partly by reason of the doubtful identification of the Indians, 
and ]iartly because the friar's itinerary was found to be misleading by 
his immediate successors, because of the fact that portions of his nar- 
rative were based on hearsay; though it is just to note that Bandelier, 
after critical study, deemed the record about as trustworthj' as others 
of the time, and to add that the disparagement of Niza's discoveries 
by his followers was in accord with the fashion of the day — indeed it 
was little more severe relatively than the criticism of the strikingly 
trustworthy Ulloa by his first follower, Alarcon. 

On July 8-19, 1539, according to the collection of Eamusio, three 
vessels sent out by Cortes to discover unknown lands — "Of Which 
Fleete was Captaine the right worshipfull knight Francis de VUoa 
borne in the Oitie of Merida" — sailed from Acapulco.'- Skirting the 
mainland northwestward, they explored Mar de Cortes, or Gulf of 
California; and ou September 24 (as fixed by interpolation from Ulloa's 
excellent itinerary) they descried and described the features of the coast 
in such fashion as to locate their vessels (one was already lost) ofi" the 
southern point of Tiburon, and in sight of the islands of San Estebau 
and San Lorenzo, as well as locally prominent points on the mainland 
of Lower Califoruia. Here they "discerned the countrey to be plaine, 
and certaine mountaines, and it seemed that a certaine gut of water 
like a brooke ran through the plaine" (p. 322). Judging from other 
geographic details, this "gut of water" was certainly the tide- torn 
gateway now named Boca Inflerno; while the next day's sailing (it is 
noteworthy that this was "north" instead of northwestward as usual) 
carried them by "a circuit or bay of leagues into the land with many 
cooues or creeks", evidently Bahia Tepopa with the northern end of 
the turbulent strait El Infiernillo. The record shows clearly that Ulloa 
discovered Tiburon, but failed (quite naturally, in view of the route 
pursued and the peculiar configuration at both extremities of the strait) 
to perceive its insular character. No mention is made of inhabitants 
or habitations on this land-mass, though both are described on the 

' Ibid, pp. 661-663; Papers of the ArchiEological Inatitute (if America. American series, v, p. 118. 
'Tbe Voyages of the Englisli Nation to America, collected hy Kiohard Halilujt and edited by 
Edmund Goldsmid, 1890, vol. Ill, p. 317. 


neisliboriug- island of Angel de la Guarda in terms that would be 
api)licable to the Seri. 

On Monday, February 23, 1540, according to Winsbip,' Captain- 
General Francisco Vazquez Coronado set out on his ambitious and 
memorable expedition to the Seven Cities of Cibola. His course lay 
from Compostela along the coast of Culiacan, and thence uorthward 
through what is now Sinaloa and Soiiora. On May !t-20, 1540, Her- 
nando de Alarcou set sail on the ancillary expedition by sea; he fol- 
lowed the coast from Acapulco to Colorado river, and although he 
undoubtedly saw and was the first to name Tiburon,- and claimed to 
have "discouered other very good hauens for the ships whereof Captaine 
Francis de Vlhia was General, for the Marquesse de Valle neither sawe 
uor found them",^ he made no specific record of any of the features of 
. Seriland or of contact with the Seri Indians. IMeantime Coronado's 
forces were divided, a considerable part of the army falling behind the 
leader; and some time during the early summer the belated army, under 
Don Tristan de Arellano, founded the town of San Hieronimo de los 
Corazones, which in the following year (1541) was transferred to a ])lace 
in Sefiora (Sonora) not now identifiable. From Corazones Don Kodrigo 
Maldonado went down to the seacoast to seek the ships, and brought 
back with him "an Indian so large and tall that the best man in the 
army reached only to his chest", with reports of still taller Indians 
along the coast.' It is impossible to locate Maldonado's route with close 
accuracy, but in view of geographic and other conditions it is evident 
(as recently shown by Hodge^) that he must have descended Eio Sonora 
and approached or reached the coast over the broad delta-plain of that 
stream south of Sierra Seri, and thus within Seri territory. The re- 
ported gigantic stature practically identifies the Indians visited by him 
with the Seri, since no other gigantic tribes were consistently reported 
by explorers of western North America, and since the foot Seri 
warriors, with their frequent Sauls of greater stature, are in fact gigan- 
tic in comparison with the average Spanish soldiery of earlier centuries. 
There are indications that the fame of these giants of the Southern 
sea spread to Europe and filtered slowly throughout the intellectual 
world, and that the timcy-clothed colossi grew with their travels, after 
the manner of their kind— indeed, there is no slender reason for opining 
that these half mythical islanders were the real originals of Jonathan 
Swift's Brobdinguagians," despite his location of their fabled laud a 

'^The Coronado Kxpedition, 1540-1542, Fourteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, 1896, 

=^A8 a harbor or anchorage marked "del Tiburon " on the map of " Domingo del Castillo, Piloto" 
drawn in 1541, and reproduced in Historia de Nueva-Espana, escrita por su csclarecido Conquistador 
Mernan Cortes, con otras ducumentos, y notas, por el ilustrissimo Seiior Don Francisco 
Antonio Lorenzana, Arzobispo de Mexico: Mexico, 1771), p. :!28. 

3The Voyages of the English Nation to America, vol. iv, p. 6. 

'Winahip, op. cit., p. 484. 

aCoronado's March to Quivira, in J. V. Grower, Harahey (Memoirs of Explorations in the Basin 
of the Mississippi, vol. II), 1899, p. 36. 

' ^f; Tlie History of Oregon, California, and the other Territories on the Northwest Coast of North 
America, by Robert Greenliow, 1845, p. 97 ; History of California, by Theodore H. Hittell, 1898, vol. i. 

54 THE SERI INDIANS [eth.axn.17 

few degrees farther northward on the long-mysterious coast below 
the elusive "Straits of Anian". 

About the middle of September, 1540, Captain Melchior Diaz, then 
in command at Corazones, selected 25 men from the force reniaiu- 
iug at that point, and set out for the coast on what must have been 
one of the most remarkable, as it is one of the least-known, expe- 
ditions in the history of Spanish exploration; for he traversed either 
the streamless coast or the liardly more hospitable interior through 
one of the most utterly desert regions in North America, from the lower 
reaches of Rio Sonora to the mouth of the Colorado. The record of 
this journey is meager, ambiguous, and apparently inconsecutive; it 
indicates tliat he encountered the Indian giants seen by Maldonado, 
but confused them with the Indians of the Lower Colorado. On the 
return journey Diaz lost his life through an accident, and his party 
reached Corazones on January 18, 1541, after encountering hostility 
from Indians not far from that settlement. Word was seut to Coro- 
nado, then in winter quarters on the liio Grande, who dispatched Don 
Pedro de Tovar to the settlement for the purpose of punishing the 
hostile natives; he, in turn, sent Diego de Alcaraz with a force to seize 
the "chiefs and lords of a village". This Alcaraz did, but soon 
liberated his prisoners for a petty exchange. "Finding themselves 
free, they renewed the war and attacked them, and as they were strong 
and had jioisoii, they killed several Spaniards and wounded others so 
that they died on the way back. . . . They got back to the town, 
leaving 17 soldiers dead from the poison. They would die in agony 
from only a small wound, the bodies breaking out with an insupportable 
pestilential stink."' 

The Coronado expedition had still further experience with (evidently) 
the same Indians; for as the aruiy approached Corazones on the return 
a soldier was wounded, and was successfully treated, according to the 
record, with the juice of the quince. "The poison, however, had left its 
mark upon liim. The skin rotted and fell ofl' until it left the bones and 
sinews bare, with a horrible smell. The wound was in the wrist, and 
the poison had reached as far as the shoulder when he was cured. The 
skin on all this fell off."' 

There is some question as to the identity of the Indians met by Diaz's 
men, Alcaraz and his force, and the Coronado army near Corazones; 
but various indications point toward the Seri. In the first place, the 
several Indian settlements mentioned in the records define what must 
have been then, as it was two centuries later, the Seri frontier, beyond 
which lay the "despoblado" of Villa-Seuor, i. e., the immense area 
hunted and harried by roving bands from Tiburoii ; so that the Seri 
must frequently have crossed the paths pursued by the Spanish pio- 
neers. In the second place, the accouuts themselves seem to be typical 
records of contact with Seri Indians, which might be repeated for each 

' Winsliip, op. cit., p. 502. ' Ibid., p. 538. 


subsequent episode in tbeir history or century in time. The descrip- 
tion of the eltect of the poison is especially suggestive of the Seri; as 
pointed out on a later page, the Seri arrow-venom is magical in motive, 
but actually consists of decomposing and ptomaine-tilled organic mat- 
ter, so that it is sometimes septic in fact, while the arrow-poison of the 
neigld)oriug Opata, Jova, and other Piman tribes was (so far as can be 
ascertained) vegetal; and these accounts seem to attest septic poison- 
ing rather than the effects of any known vegetal toxic' 

Such (assuming the validity of the several identifications) are the 
earliest records concerning the truculent tribesmen and the desolate 
district known centuries later as the Seri and Seriland. 

About 1545 began the Dark Ages in the history of northwestern 
Mexico; the excursion of Guzman, and the journeys of Oabeza deYaca 
and Friar Marcos and of Coronado himself, died out of the memory of 
the solitary adventurers and scattering settlers who slowly infused 
Spanish culture and a strain of Cauc^asian blood into the Sonoran 
province; even the route taken by Coronado"s imposing cavalcade was 
lost for centuries, to be retraced only during the present generation, 
largely through the determinations of Simi)Son, Bandelier, Winship, 
and Hodge.- It is true that Don Francisco de Ibarra penetrated the 
territory in 1563, and remained until rumors of gold in other districts 
drew him elsewhere; it is also true that Captain Diego Martinez de 
Hurdaide pushed into the province in 1584, and entered on a career 
of subjugation, waging persistent war with the Yatjui, which resulted in 
the acquisition of the territory of Sonora by treaty April 15, 1010;-' yet 
few records of exploration or settlement were written before the advent 
of the Jesuit missionaries, toward the end of the seventeenth century. 

Still more astounding was the eclipse of knowledge of the gulf. 
Despite Tlloa's survey of the entire coast, recorded in an itinerary so 
detailed that every day's sailing may readily be retraced, and despite 
Alarcon's repetition of the surveys and extension of the discoveries far 
up Eio Colorado (where his work was verified by that of Melchior Diaz), 
a mythic cartography arose to shadow knowledge and delude explora- 
tion for a century and a half; for " upon the authority of a Spanish 
chart, found accidently by the Dutch, and of the authenticity of which 
there never were, or indeed could be, any proofs obtained, an opinion 
prevailed that California was an island, and the contrary assertion 
was treated even by tlie ablest geographers as a vulgar error ■';^ and a 
mythic strait formed by cartographic extension of the Gulf of California 
indefinitely northward haunted the maps of the seventeenth century. 
This error was adoj>ted by various geographers, including Fredericus 

'It should be noted tliat Mr. F. W. Hodge, whose large acquaintance with the Southwest aud its 
literature gives his opinion great weight, ia inclined to class the Indians in question as Opata. 

2 Op. cit., pp. 29-73. 

3 Sonora Histurico y Descriptivo, por F. T. Djlvila. 1894, p. 8. 

*A Natural and Civil History of California; translated from the original Spanisii of Miguel 
Venegaa ; London. 1759. vol, i, preface. 

56 THE SERI INDIANS [eth. ann.17 

de Witt in 16G2, Peter van der Aa in IGDO, and even Herman Moll so 
late as 170S; but it was consistently rejected by Guillaume Delisle and 
other French geographers. The myth was finally punctured by Padre 
Kino in 1701; though eveii he and all his erudite co-evangels were 
apparently unaware that his observations only verified those of Ulloa, 
Alarcon, and Diaz. 

During the stagnant sesquicentury 1545-1695 there was little record 
of the Seri Indians, though that little indicates recognition of their 
leading characteristics and their insular habitat. Writing especially 
of the Yaqui before 1615, Padre Andres Perez de Eibas declared 
(freely translated) : 

There IS inloriiuitiou of a great people of another nation called. Heris; they are 
excessively savage, without towns, without houses, without fields. They have 
neither rivers nor streams, and drink from a few lagoonlets and waterholes. They 
suhsist by the chase, but at harvest time they oljtaiu corn by bartering salt extracted 
from the sea and deerskins with other nations. Those nearest to the sea also subsist 
ou fish; and it is said that there is, in the same sea, an island on which others of 
the same nation live. Their language is exceedingly difficult.' 

The same author mentions cannibalism among the aborigines of 
northwestern Mexico, saying: 

The vice of those called anthropophagi, who eat human flesh, introduced by the 
devil, enemy of the human genus, among nearly all these nations during their 
heathenism, is more or less common. In the Acaxee and mountains this inhuman 
vice is customary as eating of flesh obtained by the chase; it is of daily occurrence 
among them; just as they sally in chase of a deer, they go out over mountains and 
fields in search of enemies to cut in pieces and eat roasted or boiled. - 

There is nothing to indicate that the anthropophagy was confined 
to, or even extended to, the Seri — a fact of interest in connection with 
later opinion. Eibas' reference to an island inhabited by the Heris 
(Seri) indicates that the occupancy of Tiburon was fully recognized by 
the native tribes of the region. 

Throughout the seventeenth century the western coast of Gulf of Cali- 
fornia, and in lesser degree the eastern coast also, became famous for 
pearl oysters, and expeditions were sent out and fisheries established 
at different times. The earliest of these expeditions was that of Cap- 
tain Juan Iturbi in 1615; he sailed well up the gulf, reaching latitude 30° 
according to his reckoning (though the accounts imply between lines 
that he turned back at the Salsipuedes), collecting many pearls along 
the western coast "so large and clear that for one only he paid, as 
the King's fifth, UUO crowns";^ and on his return he carried the fame of 
the Californian pearls to Ciudad Mexico, whence it resounded to Madrid 
and reverberated through all Europe. One of the more noteworthy 

' Historiii de los Trivraplios de Xvestra Santa Fee entre Gcntes las mas Barbaras vFieras del Nueuo 
0rl)e; Madrid, 1645, p. 358. Tlie "Heris" are identified as Seri by naudelier (Final Keport of Investi- 
gations aiuonj; tbe Indians of the Southwestern United States, in Papers Arch. Inst. Am., American 
series, lu, 1890, p. 74). 

20p. cit.,p. 11. 

3 Venegas, op. cit., vol. i, p, 182. 


pearl-gathering" expeditions was that of Admiral Pedro Portel de Cas- 
sanate, which covered several years; he "took a very careful survey 
of the eastern coast of the gulf" in 1648, but was deterred from estab- 
lishing a garrison by "the dryness and sterility of the country'';' yet 
neither this voyage nor any of the others appears to have resulted in 
any considerable rectification of the maps, or iu valuable records relat- 
ing to the aboriginal inhabitants. Various records indicate, however, 
tliat both pearl tishers by sea and gold seekers by land must have met the 
warlike Seri — and sometimes survived to enrich the growing lore con- 
cerning the tribe, and to establish the existenceof their islaudstronghold. 

New light dawned on Sonoran history with the extension of evangeli- 
zation by the Order of Jesuits into that territory under the jiilotage 
of I'adre Eusebio Francisco Kino (Kaino, Kuino, Kiihn, Kiihne, Quino, 
Chino, etc.), who sailed from Chacala, March IS, 1GS3, - for California, with 
the expedition of Admiral Isidro Otondo y Antillon. This expedition 
failing, the padre returned to the mainland in 1086, and during the 
same year obtained authority and means for establishing missions in 
Sonera, of which one was to be "founded among the Seris of the gulf 
coast ".^ Although the record of the padre's movements is hardly com- 
plete, it would appear that several years elajised before he actually 
approached, and also (contrary to the opinion of two centuries) that he 
never saw, the real Seri habitat. According to the anonymous author of 
"Apostolicos Afaues'' (identified by modern historians as Padre Jose 
Ortega), Padre Kino made many journeys over the inhospitable wastes 
now known as Papagueria during the years KJSO-lTOl,^ and must have 
seen nearly the whole of the northern and eastern portions of the ter- 
ritory ; but only a single journey led him toward Seriland. In February, 
1694, he, with Padre Marcos Antonio Kappus, Ensign Juan Mateo 
Mange (chronicler of this expediti(m), and Captain Aguerra, set out for 
the coast; and Mange's itinerary is so circumstantial as to locate their 
ronte and every stopping place, with a jiossible error not exceeding 5 
miles in any case. 

According to Mange's itinerary, the explorers left Santa ^lagdalena 
de Buquibava, on the banks of Kio San Ignacio or Santa Magdalena, 
February 9, traveling northwestward down the valley of that river 
(for the most part) 12 leagues to San Miguel del Bosna; the original 
party having been enlarged at Santa Magdalena by the addition of 
Nicolas Castrijo and Antonio JNfezquita, with two Indians for guides. 
On February 10 they traveled from Bosna 5 leagues southward (evi- 
dently in the valley of Eio San Ignacio, which is here 5 to 25 miles in 
width), to sleep at the watering place of Oacue, or San Bartolome. The 

1 Venegas, A Natural and Civil History of Calil'ornia, vol. i. p. 192. 

^Venegas, Noticia de la California, vol. l ; Madrid, 1757, p. 219. 

3 The Works of Hubert Howe Baucroft, vol. xv (History of the North Mexican States, vol. I, 15U1- 
1800), 1884, p. 252. 

^ Apostoiicos Afanes de la Compauia de Jesus, escritos por un Padre de la misnia Sagrada Religion 
de sn Proviucia de Mesi(;0; Barcelona, 1754, p. 246 et seq. 

58 THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ann.17 

nest day tbey journeyed westward along tbe wash (of San Ignacio), 
stopping! "S was their custom, to baptize the sick and others, and after 
covering 10 leagues camped at a tanque. On February 12 they con- 
tinued westward over mesipute-covered plains for 4 leagues, and then 
turned northwestward for .'> leagues along the San Ignacio to Caborca, 
where they spent the remainder of the day in evangelical work. Xext 
morning, after saying mass, they again proceeded westward "por la 
vega del rio abajo'' (down the bank of the river); at 2 leagues distance 
they arrived at the place at which the river "sinks", bat continued west- 
ward along the sand-wash 5 leagues farther, passing the night at a 
tan(iue of turbid water. On February 14 they again celebrated mass, 
and then proceeded westward over the plains ("x>iosiguiendo nosotros 
al Poniente por llanos"); at 4 leagues they reached a raucheria which 
was dubbed San Valentin (still persisting as a Papago temporale; the 
"Bisauig" of various maps), watered from a well in the river bed; pro- 
ceeding westward ("prosiguieudo al Poniente") 6 leagues farther, they 
ascended a sierra trending from south to north ("trasmontada una 
sierra que sita de Sur a Norte") of which they named the principal 
peak Nazareno, in a dry and sterile barranca in which they afterward 
slept; from this sierra they saw "the Gulf of California, and, on the 
farther (;oast, four mountains of that territory, which we named Los 
Cuatro Stos. Evangelistas, and toward tlie northwest an islet with three 
cerritos named Las Tres Marias, and in the southwest the Isla de Seris, 
to which they retreat when pursued by soldiers for their robberies, 
which we call San A gustiu and others Tiburon." ' Tlie record continues: 

On tlie fifteenth, after saying mass, we continued our route to tbe west by a dry 
and stony ravine which there is between the mountains, and at 3 leagues we met 
some Indians taking water from a small well in earthen jar.<, who, on seeing ns, 
ran away, flying from fear; but at two musket shots we overtook them, treated 
them kindly, and brought them bai-k to the well that they might assist in watering 
the horses, giving them all the water necessary, for the reason that they had not 
drunk tbe day before. For this reason we called this place Paraje de las OUas. 
They were nakeil people, and only covered their private parts with small pieces of 
hare skin; and one of them was so aged that liy his looks he must have been about 
120 years old. We continued to the west over barren plains, arid and without pas- 
ture, a country as sandy as a sea-beach, until we reached the sand-banks, where the 
horses had great ditticulty ; and after another 7 leagues Father Kappus and the other 
people camped without water, and with only pasture of salt grass; but Padre Kino 
and I [Mauge], with guides, and the governor of Los Dolores [Aguerra], in order to 
be forehanded, went west 2 leagues farther, crossing the bed of Rio San Ignacio; 
we arrived at tbe banks of an arm of the sea to which, in the sixty years that the 
province of Sonora had been peopled, no one had come, and we were the first who 
hfid the great privilege of seeing the Island of the Seris and that of Tres Marias, as 
well as th.- mountains of Cuatro Evangelistas, in California, on the other side of the 
gulf, the width of which, according to the measuring instruments at this position 
of 30*^ [.actually about 30° 35'], is some 20 leagues. We returned to the bed of the 
river [San Ignacio], where we found a well nearly dry; we drew from it water 
for the horses, who had had nothing to drink, and took some ourselves, although 
it was turbid, muddy, and disagreeable. 

' Translated somewhat freely from Resumen de Xoticias, in Documentos para la Historia de Mexico, 
cuarta sine, tomo i, 1856, pp. 235-236. 

MCQEE] kino's famous ENTKADA 1694 59 

ISTiiw, this itinerary recounts, in definite and unmistakable terms, the 
incidents and localities of a. journey down the valley of Kio San Ignacio 
(also called Santa Masdalena, Altar, Ascuncion, Piti(|uito, Caborca, 
etc, in different parts of its course), from the present city of Santa 
I\I a,i;dalena by the jneseut town of Caborca to the coast at a point almost 
directly west of both Caborca and Santa Magdalena. ^loreover. Kino's 
map of 1702 ' locates '• Xa/areno " on this river, and permits identifica- 
tion of the sierra with Dewey's "three conspicuous pealcs" placed 
dire(-tly inland from the lagoon at the mouth of San Iguacio river, on 
the Hydrographic Office charts; it also locates Caborca (miswritteu 
"Cabetka") in approximate position. Furthermore, it would have been 
physically impossible for the rather heavily outfitted Kino party, with 
carriages and cliurchly eipiipage, to traverse the untrodden and forbid- 
ding wastes from Caborca to even the nearest part of Seriland within 
the period of two days and a fraction, and the distance of 29 leagues 
(some 7-t miles), detailed in the itinerary. The direct way from Caborca 
to Tiburon would lie due southward, over sierra-ribbed and barranca-cut 
plains never yet explored by white men, nor even traversed by Indians 
so far as known, for more than 100 miles in an air line; while the nearest 
practicable route, i)assing by way of Cieneguilla, Las Cruces, Pozo 
Noriega, Bacuacliito, Sayula, Tonuco, liaEcho Libertad, and Barranca 
Salina (or Aguaje Parilla) measures fully 200 miles, and requires at 
least six days for the passage with good horses and light etjuipage. 
The Kino party might, indeed, have turned southwestward at Caborca 
and pushed to the now abandoned landing at the anchorage below Cabo 
Lobos;- but the directions and distances specifically stated, and the 
specific identification of Kio San Ignacio at the end and at other jioints 
of the journey, all prove that this was not the route actually traveled. 
The terminus of the trip so clearly fixed by the itinerary is over 100 
miles from the nearest point of Seriland proi)er; moreover, Tiburon is 
rendered invisible both from the coast and from Cerro Nazareno not 
only by distance, but by intervening sierras, notably those projecting 
into the Grulf to form Cabo Lobos and Punta Tepopa. It follows that 
Kino and Mange completely missed Seriland in their expedition to the 
coast, and there is nothing to indicate that they ever saw the Seri 
tribesmen. Their descriptions of the Indians encountered fairly fit 
the peaceful Papago of the interior and the timid Tepoka of the coast; 
and neither Mange's narrative nor other contemporary records suggest 
contact between the exploring pnrty and the distinctive holders of Til)u- 
ron. The specific and repeated references in the itinerary to the island of 
San Agustin, or Tiburon, evidently relate to the ancient Isla de Santa 

' Tabula CaliforulB?, anno 1702 (Via terrestris in Californiam comperta et cletetta per R. Patrera 
Ensebium Fran. Cbino 6 S. I. GeiTnaniini. Adnotatis novig ilissionilms ejusdem Soctis ab anno 1(198 
ail annum 1701), in StocUlein, Der Nene Welt-Iiott, Augspnr<^ und Griitz, 1726. 

^Elaborately mapped and established {on paper) as the " Puerto y Villa de la Libertad " in 1861 
(Boletiu lie la Sociedad llexicana de Geografia y Estadistica, 1863, X, p. 263 et seq.), and actually 
maintained from 1875 to 1884 as tho port ut* Libertad {not the abandoned Rancho Libertad on Ibe 
border of Seriland), or Serna, according to Diivila {Sonora Histiirico y Descriptivo, pp. 140 309). 

60 THE SERI INDIANS [etu.ann. 17 

Inez, the modern Isla Angel de la Guarda,' one of the most prominent 
geographic features visible either from Gerro Nazareiioor from the adja- 
cent coast. There is no reasim to infer that Kino or any of his party ever 
detected their error in identification of geographic features which must 
have been consiiicuous in the lore of the aborigines and settlers of 
Sonora; indeed, the error well attests the prouiiuence of the Seri and 
their habitat in tiie local thought of the time.'' 

An effect of the Jesuit invasion was to give record to episodes grow- 
ing out of alien contact with the Seri. One of the earliest of these 
records recounts nocturnal raids by the "Seris Salineros" for robbery 
and murder in the pueblos of Tuape, Cucurpe, and Magdalena (de 
Tepoca).^ In January, 1700, Sergeant Juan Bautista de Escalante 
set out with fifteen soldiers to this mission of Santa Magdalena de 
Tepoca on an expedition of ])rotection and reprisal; and here he learned 
that the " Seris Salineros'' had killed with arrows three persons. Taking 
their trail, be reached Nuestra Sefiora del Populo only to find that ten 
families of converts had deserted to steal cattle, whereupon he started 
in search of them; he overtook them 20 leagues away, and, despite 
armed resistance on their part, arrested and whipped them and returned 
them to the pueblo. Among the captives were two "Seris Salineros" 
concerned in the murders at Tepoca, and three others guilty of similar 
outrages at the Pueblo de los Angeles de Pimas Cocomacagiies ; these 
he executed as a warning to the others, after taking their depositions 
and confessions, and after they were slirived by Padie Adano Gilo (or 
Adau Gilg), the priest of Populo. This duty performed, he resumed 
the trail of the Seri, accom])anied by the padre; and, approaching the 
sea, he found a port, as well as an island to which most of the Seri had 
escaped in balsas, leaving eight of their number, who were arrested and 
turned over to the priest.* 

This is the first record of actual invasion of Seriland by Caucasians. 
According to Bancroft, it "may be deemed the beginning of the Seri 
wars which so long desolated tiie province"."' 

The next noteworthy episode occurred when Sergeant Escalante, 
who had returned to Tuape and Santa Magdalena (de Tepoca), again 
set out for the coast on February 28, 1700, taking a new route (probably 
down Eio Bacnache). He traveled 30 leagues, passing four watering 
places, and on March 6 arrived at the Paraje de Aguas Frias (probably 

' Ideotified by Alexandre de Humboldt in his Carte Giin^rale du Roj-aumede la Xouvelle Espagne, 
of 1H()4 (in Atlas Geoyrapluquo et Pliysique, Paris, 1811). Su late as 1840 the old name was soinetiiuea 
retained, e. g., on Robert Greenhow's map aeconipanyin^ liia History of California and Oregon. 

2In one of the last letters from his pen. dated NoTeniber 25, 1899, the late Dr Elliott Coues wrote, 
"I lind you trailing Kino and Mange in 1694 preeisely as I had them, and I make no doubt of the sub- 
stantial accuracy of yonr typewritten MS. I accept your position that the large island they sighted 
and named San Agustin was not Tihuron, but Angel de la Guarda Isl " 

3A mission founded in 1699 by Padre Melchor Bartirouio (Histori-i de la Compania de Jesus en 
Kueva Espafia, que esta escribiendo el P. Francisco Javier Alegre, 1842, tomo III, p. 117), of which the 
location has long been lost. 

•Resumen de Xoticias, op. cit., tomo I. p. 321. 

*0p. cit., p. 275 (the year is misprinted 1800 on this page and in the index). 


Pozo Escalante or Agua Amarilla of recent maps): there, three nights 
later, he was attacked by archers, who discharged arrows into the 
soldiers' camp and immediately tied. Sixbseqnently, seeking their ene- 
mies close to the sea 2(1 leagnes away (probably on the eastern shore 
of El Infiernillo), Escalante and his men were joined by 120 Tepoka 
people; and, failing to find their assailants, they gave these allies a sup- 
ply of provisions and turned them over to Padre Melchor Bartiromo, 
who allotted to them, in conjunction with 300 deserters from the mis- 
sions who had been captured by the soldiers, not only lands but corn 
for sowing and eating. Having thus disposed of the Indians, Escalante 
and his soldiers returned to the coast on March 28, 1700, to punish the 
boldness and pride of the Indians in their stronghold ("los indios seris 
' de la rancheria del medio"). Passing by balsas to the island, "they 
overtook those who caught up bows and arrows to fight, of whom they 
slew nine as an example to the others"; and these others they captured 
and sent to the priest at Populo — after which the party returned to 
Cucurpe in time to celebrate Holy Thursday on April 8.' 

This contemporary recital, written by Escalaute's acquaintance and 
rival in exploration and subjugation, Juan Mateo Mange, bears both 
internal and external evidence of falling well within the truth. It is 
corroborated and extended by Alegre's version, written forty or fifty 
years later on data at least partially independent: according to Alegre, 
Escalante and his soldiers went on balsas to the"Isla de los Seris, 
which is called San Agustin by some, bnt more commonly Tiburon". 
He added that the retreats of the Seri after the murders and robberies 
committed at the pueblos of Pimeria, as well as the abundant pearl 
fisheries, have made this place highly noted ("muy famosa"); and he 
correctly described the strait and the jirojecting sandbanks opposite 
the center of the island, which reduce the open water to a width of 
barely half a league: "At this constriction the Seri cross in balsas 
composed of many slender reeds, disposed in three bundles, thick in the 
middle and narrowing toward the ends, 5 and 6 varas in length. These 
balsas sustain the weight of four or five persons, and with light two- 
bladed paddles 2 varas in length cut the water easily." He remarked 
also that while a part of the Seri seen on the island by Escalante were 
captured the major portion escaped, "fleeing with great swiltness".^ 

The early record is also corroborated, in a manner hardly credible in 
regions of more rapid social and physiographic development, by local 
tradition and by the survival of the well excavated by the party and 
still bearing Escalante's name. 

On the whole it may be considered established that Sergeant Esca- 
lante crossed El Inflernillo and visited Tibnron in 1700; and, although 
it may be possible that pearl fishers or others preceded him, he must 
be credited with the first recorded exploration of strait and island by 
white men. 

•Resumen de Noticiaa. op. (^it., tomo l, pp. 321-322. ^ Op. cit.,tomo in, pp. 117-119. 

62 THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ann.17 

The specific references to tlie Seri and tbeir insular liabitat by Itibas, 
by Kino and his chronicler, and by the various recorders of Escalante's 
expeditions, establish the extent of the lore concerning people and 
place, even before the end of the seventeenth century. This lore found 
measurable expression in maps prepared in Europe, even by those car- 
tographers who purposely or otherwise ignored the surveys of IHloa 
and Alarcon. In his "newest and most accurate" map of America, 
1062, Fredericus de Witt depicted the Gulf of California ("Mare Ver 
mio olim Mare Kvbrvm") as extending northward to connect with the 
mythic Strait of Auian (" Fretum Auiani"), yet he located Rio Colorado 
("R. de Tecoii") and Rio Gila ("R. de Coral") approximately, placing 
the largest island in the gulf, named " T. Gigante", just off their (com- 
mon) embouchure;' and an anonymous map of the Pacific ocean, appar- 
ently by the same author and of closely corresponding date, is essen- 
tially similar.- The map of the northern part of America by Peter 
van der Aa, about IGOO, is also similar, though on smaller scale ;^ and 
the same may be said of that cartograj)her's new map of America, issued 
about the same time, in which the island is designated " I. de Gigante".^ 
A somewhat later map by Van der Aa (although supposed to have been 
issued in 1090) is greatly improved ; the " Mer de Californie " is brought 
to lather indetiuite end a little above the mouth of Rio Colorado ("R. 
de bona guia"); the "Pimases" are placed in proper position with 
respect to the (iila("R. de Coral"), and the "Herises" are located a 
third of tlie way and the "Ahomeses" halfway down the gulf; while a 
greatly elongated island stretches from the one to the other oft the 
province of "Sonora".'' The origin of the name "Gigante" is uncer- 
tain; it may be borrowed from a laiid feature. As used in some cases 
it apparently connotes the size of the island, while the use in other 
cases evidently connotes gigantic inhabitants. 

Naturally, in view of the slow and imperfect diffusion of knowledge 
characteristic of early times, cartographers were dilatory in introducing 
the observations of Kino and Escalante. The map of America by 
Herman Moll, about 1708," represents the "Gulf of California or Red 
Sea", connecting the "South Sea" with the "Straits of Annian", and 
depicts Rio Colorado ("Tison R.") and a composite river apparently 
designed to represent Rio Gila (made up of "R. Sonaca", "R. Azul", 
and "R. Colorado", with two other long tributaries from the south) 
embouching separately a little below midlength of the gulf. Somewhat 
above these are three islands, one of which is designated "Gigate 

'Noviasima et Acciiratiaaima Septentrionalis ac Meridionalis Ainericse, Amsterdam. (In American 
Maps, 1579-1796, Library U. S. Geological Survey, 135.) 

2Mar del Zvr, Hispanis, Mare Paciticnra. (Uiid., 129.) 

3 "r Noorder Deel van Amerika, Leydeo. (Ibid., 178.) 

■^Nouvelle Carte de I'Amerique, Leydeu. (Ibid., 156.) 

^L'Anierique Septenlrionale Suivant lea Nouvelles Observations, etc., Leyden. (Ibid., 181.) This 
island is not named, but is undoubtedly tbe Santa Inez of .several other maps — the Angel de la Guarda 
of the pre.sent. 

* North America, according to ye Newest and moat Exact Observationa, etc., Loudon. (Ibid., 93.) 


Isle", while "Pimeria" is located correctly with respect to Rio Gila, 
thougli too close to the sea, and "K. Sonora" is located too far south- 
ward, with a province of the same name Just north of it. There is no 
reference to the Seri, but a locality in Lower California opposite Sonora 
is named "Gisaute".' Quite similar is the map of North America 
drawn and engraved l>y K. W. Seale about 1722, though the i)rovinces 
of Pimeria and Sonora are brought closer together, wliile the niagnitied 
Gila is named Colorado ("Tisou R." also being retained).^ The maj) of 
North America ])resented to tlie line de Bourgogne by H. laillot about 
1720 is much the same; the "Isle de Californie" is separated from the 
continent by "Mar Vermejo ou Jler Rouge" with four islands, of which 
the southernmost, "I. de Gigante", lies somewhat below the separate 
mouths of "R. de Tecon" and "R. de (3oral", while the extravagantly 
magnified Gila of i)revious ma])S is partially replaced by a still more 
extravagant "R. del Norte", rising in a mythical lake above the forti- 
eth parallel and falling into the gulf under the thirtieth.' The map of 
Mexico and Florida by Guillaume " De I'Isle", published in Amsterdam 
by Covens and Mortier, 1722, patently begs the question as to the 
northern extension of " Mer de Californie" by cutting off the cartography 
at the critical point. "R. del Tison" is retained as a subordinate river, 
while the sei)arate and greatly nuignitied Gila corresponds with that of 
the laillot map, the upper tributary being "R. Sonaca ou de Hila"; 
"R. di Sonora" is depicted in approximate position, with the province 
of the same name extending northward and "Seris" located a little 
above the mouth of the river. No islands are shown in the vicinity, 
but the name "Gigante" appears on the western coast of the gulf, about 
latitude 26°.* The map of North America by the same author, sup- 
posed to date about 1740 though jirobably earlier, recalls the Van der 
Aa map of 1090 ( ?) ; "Mer de Californie ou Mer Vermeille" ends doubt- 
fully about latitude 34°, where "R. de bona guia" and "R. de Coral" 
bound the"Cami)agne de bona guia", and fall se])arately into the gulf 
near its head; the "Piniases", "Herises", "Sumases", "Aibinoses", and 
"Ahomeses" are distributed thence southward along the coast to about 
the twenty-eightli parallel, while a nameless island stretches parallel 
with the coast of "Sonoia" from about 28° to 320.-' 

With one or two exceptions, these maps demonstrate the prevailing 
neglect or ignoianceof tlie classic explorations along the western coast 
of America early in the sixteenth century; yet they introduce features 
representing vague knowledge of the Seri Indians and their insular 
habitat, undoubtedly derived (like that of Padre Kino and Sergeant 
Escalaute anterior to their expeditions) from native sources. 

'Doubtless the mountain " La Giganta", named by Admiral Otondo toward tbe end of tbe seven- 
teenth century (Documentas jiara la Hi.storia de Mexico, cuarta s6rie, 1857. tomo v, p. 122), and noted 
by Hardy in 1826 (Travels iu Interior ol Mexico in 1825, 1826, 1827, and 1828, London, 1829, p. 243). 

■^A map of North America, with the European Settlements and whatever else is Remarkable in ye 
West Indies, from the latest and best Observations. (American maps, loc. cit., 110.) 
^Amerique Septeiitrionale Divisee en Ses Principales Paitiea. (Ibid., 11)9.) 

^Carte du Mexique et de la Floride, des Terres Angloisea et dea Isles Antilles, etc. (Ibid., 136.) 
'•L'Amerique Septentrionale . . . ]>ar G. de I'Isle: Amsterdam, Chez Pierre Mortier. (Ibid., 172.) 
The island is, of course, Santa Inez, i. e., Augel de la Guarda. 

64 THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ann.17 

The Kino map of 1702 gradually came to be recognized as trustworthy 
in important particulars, and brought to an end the baseless extension 
northward of the gulf; yet it was seriously inaccurate in details, par- 
ticularly those affected by the erroneous identification of the second- 
largest island in the gulf with the largest. Accordingly Isla Santa 
Inez (the modern Isla Angel de la Guarda) is omitted from its proper 
iwsition, and replaced by "I. S. August" close to the eastern coast; 
yet the land-mass of Tiburon is roughly defined as a peninsula bounded 
on the north by "Portus S. Sabina" (Bahia Tepopa) and on the south 
by "Baya S. loa. Bapt." (Bahias Kunkaak and Kiuo). Two other 
considerable islands are represented as dividing the width of the bay 
west-southwest of "I. S. August", and are named "2. Saltz-Iusel"; 
although evidently traditional, their positions correspond roughly with 
those of San Estebau and San Lorenzo. The map locates the "Topo- 
kis" between Eio San Ignacio and Rio Sonora, with the "Guaiuias" 
immediately below the latter.' Kino's three pier-like islands bridging 
the gulf were adopted in Delisle's map of America, published in Am- 
sterdam by Jean Covens and Corneiile Mortier about 1732, in greatly 
reduced size, though larger islands are shown farther northward; and 
an ill-defined i)eniusula corresponding to Tiburon is retained.^ The 
D'Auville map of 1746 embodies Kino's discoveries about the head of 
the gulf and retains his pier-like islands, yet not only corrects his error 
in omitting the second greatest island of the gulf, but perpetuates equal 
error in the oi)posite direction: "J. de S. Vicente"' is made the largest 
of the islanils and located near the western coast a little below the mouth 
of Rio San Ignacio, while "I. de Sta. Incs" is made second largest and 
is located southeast of it and near the eastern coast. The third island 
in size is named "Seris", while the fourth and lifth, completing the Kino 
trio, are called " Is. de Sal", and the mainland projection remains defined 
on the south by "B. de S. Juau".^ The Vaugondy map of 1750 locates the 
transverse trio of islands in greatly reduced size, and omits the larger 
islands of the gulf.* The islands, etc., of tiie Covens and Mortier map of 
1757 correspond closely with D'Anville's map of 1746, and a nameless bay 
defines a peninsula in the position of Tiburon.'* The I*ownall map of 1783 
also follows that of D'Auville so far aa the islands are concerned, though 
the position of that corresponding to the present Angel de la Guarda 
lies beyond the limit of the sheet; "I. de Inez" lies some distance 
below the mouth of "Sta. Madaleua" river, off the territory of the 
"Sobas" and "Seris"; "Seris I." is smaller, the two "Sail Is." are 
smaller still, and there is an ill-defined projection of the mainland, 
bounded on the south by "B. de S. Juan"." 

While the makers of the later of these maps were engaged in perpet- 

> Map in Stocklein, op. cit. 

^ Carte d' Anierique, etc. (American maps, loc. cit., 20.) 

'AmC-rique Seplentrionale . . . par le Sr. iVAnville, Paris. (Ibid., 50 and 51.) 
■■Amfrique Septciitrionale . . . par le Sr. Eobert de Vaugoiidj-, Paris. (Ibid., 27.) 
fiL'Anierique Septeutrionale, etc., Amsterdam. (Ibid., 160.) 

6 A now map of North America, with the West India Islands. . . . Laid down according to the 
Latest Surveys, and Corrected from the Original Materials of Gover; Pownall, London. (Ibid., 22.) 


uating the vestigial features, erroneous aud otherwise, of the Kino map, 
the Jesuitsof peniusularCalifoniiaemployed themselves iu reexploratiou 
of the western coast of the gulf, a particularly productive expedition 
being that of Padre Ferdinando Consag, iu 1747. The padre's map rep- 
resents the western coast in considerable though much distorted detail, 
and depicts "1. del Angel de la (1 uarda " as a greatly elongated body, a 
third of the way across the gulf from the western coast; next in size is 
"I. d S. Lorenzo"; then come " I. dS. esteban"iu the middle of the gulf, 
and iu the same transverse line, but quite near the eastern coast, " I. d S. 
Agustiii ", the two being approximately equal in size, while above aud 
about equidistant from them is "I. de S. Pedro", about half so large as 
either. These, with four smaller islands near tbe western coast, bear 
the general designation "Islas de Sal, si puedes", which in this case 
may be translated "Salt (possibly) islands," though later forms of the 
name imply a quite difl'erent meaning, i. e., " Islands of Get-out-if-(you-) 
can", or "(iet-outifcanst".' The eastern coast shows two deep inden- 
tations named "Tepoca" and "Bahia d S. Juau Bautista" bounding a 
peninsula corresponding in jiosition to iusular Seriland.- It is evident 
that the cartography of the eastern coast is based on that of Kino, that 
the island of San Agustin is hypothetic, and that the Lind-mass of 
Tiburon proper is not separated from the mainland, while San Pedro 
island is apparently the Isla Patos of the present. The more geueral 
map by Venegas combines details of the Consag, Kino, aud other maps; 
"I. del Angel de la Guarda" is greatly magnified and jdaced some- 
what too far northward, while both San Lorenzo and San Esteban are 
made much larger than "I. San Agustin", which is represented as 
scarcely larger thau "I. de S. Pedro"; the mainland is indented to 

* It seems probable that yarioua early cartographers were misled by the traditional lore of '■ saline- 
ros", or salt-making Indians, in combination with the unusual designation of these islands. In his 
text Padre Consag rendered the term "* Sal-si-puedes", and strongly emphasized the violent tidal cur- 
rents and consequent dangers to vessels which suggested the vigorously idiomatic designation to 
early navigators (Venegas. Noticia de la California, ill, p. 145) ; in the Venegas map (ibid., tomo I, p. 1) 
the name is used witliout the tiualifying comma, and in the test it is hyphenated " Sal-si-puedes'", the 
author observing concerning the local currents, *' These currents run with astonishing rapidity, and 
their noise i.s equal to that of a large r.ipid river among rocks; nor do they run only in one direction, 
but ^^et in many intersected gyrations" (A Katural and Civil History of California, p. G3). And the 
"Sacerdote Iteligioso", whose letters place him among the authorities on Lower California, wrote: "In 
thenarrowsof the gulf are a multitude of islets, for the passage ijeing so dangerous to vessels they are 
called Sal si puedes " (Noticias de la Provincia de Califomias, Valencia, 1794, p. 11) ; while Hardy, who 
navigated this portion of the gulf early in the present century (Travels in the Interior of ilexico, London, 
1829, p. 279), mentioned a passage " between the islands called ' Sal si Puedes ' (get back if you can)". 
So, too. Duflot de Mofras wrote of "les iles de .Sal si puedes {Sors si tu peux)" in his Explorations du 
Territoire de I'Oregon, Paris, 1844, p. 219. Bancroft properly reduced the obscure counotive phrase to 
the single denotive term " Salsipuedes," and Doted the signification as "Get out if thou canst" (North 
Mexican States, vol. I, p. 444)- In 1873-1S75 Dewey restricted the name to a single island aud a channel, 
and emphasized the currents in the latter " against which sailing vessels found it almost imjiossible 
to make any headway " (The West Coast of Mexico, Publication 56, U. S. Hydrogi-aphic Oflice, Bureau 
of Navigation, 1880, p. 113), and rendered the name "Sal-si-puedes " in the text, "Sal si puedes " on the 
charts. Hittell's reference to "the group of islands then known as Salsipuedes, the largest of which 
is now called Tiburon " (History of California, vol. I, p. 225), doubtless expresses the early use of the 
terra precisely, save that the present Tiburon was long treated as a part of the mainland, while its 
names were applied to Isla Tassue or some other islet. Vide postea, p. 45. 

^Seno de California, etc., in Venegas, Noticia <le la California, tomo in, p. 194. 
17 ETH 5 

66 THE SERI INDIANS [eth.anx.17 

great depth by Kino's "Pto. de Sta. Sabina" and " Bahia de Su. Juan 
Baptista", in such wise as to define a decided i)eninsula, while the 
"Seris" ai-e located 2° farther southward and below Rio Soiiora, and 
the "Guaiinas" still farther down the coast,' Another illustration of 
the chaotic notions of the time is afforded by the Baegert map, pub- 
lished in 1773, and credited largely to Cousag.- The sheet locates the 
author's routes of arrival (1751) and departure (1708), the former over 
land from far down the coast to the mouth of "Torrens Hiaqui," and 
thence directly across " Mare C ali for niae", via "Tiburon "(lying just off' 
the month of the river, in latitude 28°), with the usual congeries of 
islands, headed by "I. S. Aug. Gart" (Angel de la Guarda), in lati- 
tude SOO-Sl"^, and the usual shore configuration above the debouchure 
of IJio Sonora; "Los Seris" are located in the interior between Rio 
Sonora and "Torrens Hiaqui", while just above the moilthof the latter 
lies " Guaymas M.[issiou] destr. per Ajmstatas Seris". The Pownall 
map of 1780 incorporates Padre Cousag's results on reduced scale, but 
omits the islands toward the eastern shore of the gulf. ' 

On the whole the cartography of a century indicates that the strik- 
ing exph)rations of Ulloa, Alarcon, and Diaz were utterly neglected: 
it indicates, too, that Kino's observations were promptly adopted, but 
that his erroneous identification of the island seen from Nazareno 
occasioned confusion; yet there is nothing to indicate definite knowl- 
edge of Escalante's discoveries. Apparently the cartographic tangle 
began with the failure to discover the narrow strait traversing Seriland, 
coupled with hearsay notions of an insular Seri stronghold; it was 
complicated by Kino's erroneous identification of the hearsay island; 
and it grew into the mapping of a traditional islet about the position 
of Tiburon, and the extension of the mainland into a i^eninsula 
embracing the actual land-mass of that island^ — the islet lying about 
the site of the modern Isla Tassue, and often appearing under the 
name San Agustin.'' Accordingly, so far as maps are concerned, Esca- 
lante's discoveries were no less completely lost than those of Ulloa. 

The recorded history of the Seri Indians during the earlier two-thirds 
of the eighteenth century is largely one of zealous effort at conversion 
on the part of the Jesuit missionaries, who rei>eatedly approached the 
territory by both laud and sea; yet the records touch also on events 
of exploration and on the characteristics of the tribe. 

One of the earliest chroniclers was Padre Juan Maria de Sonora, who 
in 1099-1701 inspected many of the missions of Lower California and 

' Noticia de la California, tomo I, p. 1. 

''Ualitornia, pt^r P. Ferdiuanduin Couaak, S. I., et alioa, in Nacbrichten von der amerikani.sclieu 
Halliinsel Californieii. . . . Geschrieben A-oneiiieni Priester der Geaellscbaft Jesu (ideDtilied as Jacob 
EaHgert by Eaii, Smitlisouian Report, 1863, p. 352) ; Mannlleini, 1773. 

3 A New Map of tbe Wbolo Continent of America, London. (American maps, loc. cit., 4.) 

^ This cartograpliy reappeared occasionally- nji to about the middle of tbe nineteenth century, as 
illustrated by tbe Greenbow map accompanying lb)- edition of bis bistory issued in 1845. 

' This condition is revealed in Mlibleupforilt, Versucli einer getreuen Scbilderuns der Republic 
Mejico, etc. ; Hannover, 1844. 


Sonora and acquainted himself in exceptional degree with the neophytes 
and their wilder kindred. About tlie beginning of 1701 he crossed with 
great danger ("pase con grande i)eligro'') from Loreto to the eastern 
coast, and, accompanied by two " Indios Guaymas, caciques," proceeded 
among tlie Sonoran settlements.' On February 18 he was at tlie new 
town of Magdalena (de Tepoca), " where, with great labor, Padre 
Melchor Bartiromo had gathered more than a hundred souls of the 
maritinu^ nation of Tepocas", and where the visitors were accorded an 
enthusiastic reception. He went on to say: 

It IS notable that where the Tepocas and Salineios aie located the sea is populous 
with islands [mu\' poblado de islas], and the first of these toward the coast con- 
taius foot-folk [gente de a pic], who live ou it. Then there are two islands much 
nearer the mainland of California, and it is said that they [the Tepoka] are able to 
navigate in their baniuillas [balsas] to the adjacent coast; and the posse.ssion of 
these Tepocas, who are all Scris by nation, of cert.aiu words of the Cuchimies of 
[Lower] California, who occupy the opposite coast, indicates that they have com- 
municated in other times. - 

This record is especially significant as indicating the afiinity between 
the Seri and the Tepoka, as establishing the transnavigatiou of the 
Gulf by the Seri craft, and as explaining the possible i)assage of loan 
words from the Cochimi to the Seri, and presumptively from the Seri 
to the Cochimi. 

A notable visitor to the shores of Serilaud was Padre Juan Maria Sal- 
vatierra, who had previously "made a peace betwixt the Seris cris- 
tians, and the Pimas", soon violated by the former " in the mur- 
der of 40 Pimas ". In August, 1700, he essayed the recovery of a vessel 
wrecked "ou the barren coast of the Seris", which these Indians were 
engaged iu looting and breaking up for the nails; and, by dint of his 
" persuasive elocution . . . not a little forwarded by the respect- 
able sweetness of his air", aided by timely explosions of tlie bark's 
pateraroes (mortars), he induced restitution, the restoration of peace, 
and the reinstatement of several of the robbing and murdering Seri as 
communicants.^ Padre Salvatierra observed the distinctive character 
of the Seri tongue, but made no extended exploration of Seriland, 
either coastwise or interior. 

The next noteworthy visitor was Padre Juan de Ugarte, who, at the 
instance of Salvatierra, undertook an exploration of tlie gulf coast 
complementary to Kino's land explorations about its northern terminus. 
Dgarte was the Hercules of Baja California history; he awed the 
natives by slaying a California lion, unarmed save with stones, and 
enforced orderly attention to his catechizing by seiziiig an obstre|)er- 
ous champion by the hair, lifting him at arm's length, and shaking him 
into submission; and under incredible difficulties due to absence of 
material and distance of timber, he built the first vessel ever con- 

' Docuiuentos para la Historia <le Mexico, cnarta s6rie. tomo V: Mexico, 1857, pp. 125-126. 

nbid.p. 132. 

3 Veuegas, A Xatural and Civil History of California, vol. I, pp. 405-411. 

68 THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ann.17 

structed in Califoruia, tbe bilander (two-master) I]l Triiinfo de la 
Cruz — a fit prototype of the Oregon of nearly two centuries later — 
which proved to be the finest craft ever seen on the coast, and played 
an important rule in later history.' 

On May 15, 1721, Ugarte embarked at Loreto (Lower California) and 
skirted the coast northward to the Islas de Salsipuedes, whence he 
crossed the gulf to " Puerto de Santa Sabina, 6 Bahia de San Juan 
Bautista^^ near the islands " en la Costa de los Tepoquis, y Seris ".^ The 
Indians soon appeared and, in excess of amity (ascribed to the display 
of the cross), threw themselves into the sea and swam to the ship, and 
afterward aided in taking water; for "early next day the Indians 
appeared in troops, and all with water- vessels; the men each with two 
in nets hanging from a pole across their shoulders, and the women 
with one." '■' After watering, the Ugarte party, accompanied by two 
of the Indians, set sail in tbe bilander with a pinnace and n canoe, and 
in the early morning found themselves in a narrow channel apparently 
separating the island from the mainland ; the pinnace and the canoe were 
dispatched to courier the larger craft; but '• the channel, besides being 
narrow and crooked, was so full of shoals that . . . tlie bilander 
stuck and was in danger of being lost", while the canoe and the pinnace 
were caught by the currents and carried "to such a distance as not to 
be seen". Finding it impossible to return, the party pushed on, and 
" after three days of continual danger, they reached the mouth of the 
channel, where they found the boat and pinnace"; when they were 
surprised to find the strait opening, not into the gulf, but into a great 
and spacious bay. Approaching a landing, they were met by Indian 
archers wearing feather headdresses and comporting themselves in a 
threatening manner; but these were pacified by the two Indians 
Iprought from the watering-place. Here Ugarte was taken ill, and the 
islanders made thirteen "balsillas" on which fifty Indians passed to 
the bilander and urged him to land on the island, where they had pre- 
pared a house for his reception ; this he did, despite severe suttering, 
and was received with great ceremony. After a short stay, the party 
explored the coast northward, stopping oft' Caborca to lay in supplies, 
and discovered (anew and independently) the mouth of the Colorado; 
then, despite repeated risk and much suft'ering from the exceeding 
tides, severe storms, and the terrible tiderips oft' Islas Salsiijuedes, 
they finally made return to Loreto. 

The itinerary of tliis voyage recounts the first recorded navigation 
through El Infiernillo; and, while it is too meager to permit retracing 
the trip in detail, it seems practically certain that the vessels entered 
Bahia Tepopa, watered at Pozo Hardy, passed around Punta Perla 
and thence southward through the strait, and emerged through Boca 
lufierno into Bahia Kunkaak, afterward i)roceeding westward and 

iHittell, op. cit., vol. I, pp. 191-193, 219-221. 

* Veuegas, Noticiii de la California, tomo ii, p. 343. 

3 Venegas, A Natural and Civil History of California, vol. ii, p. 48. 


iiorthwnid arouiid the <iutcr ccm-^t, and thus cirriiiiiiiMviuatiiij;' 'I'ihu- 
roll. Whih', rfi'arte's pihil, (iiiili'iiim l'',.stra.toit \»v Strat'ort),' dis- 
phiyccl ureat ciRTuy and coiirauc in cliaitiii;;' the coasf. tlir voya.ue 
iH'itlit'i- yieUU'd imblislicd maps iKir aHccred cnnciit and siihst'(|iu'iit 
(•art(ii;ra|ihy : (iir, altboii<;ii U;;ai'tt'"s nairathc and Ivstralorfs map and 
Jiiariial were sent to -Mexico to lie presented to the viceroy. liiey were 
apparently hisl.' Nor (hies the itinerary indicate recoi;nilion of Kino's 
error in iih'iit ilicalion ot' the Seri ishliid. tlioui;]i several <iays were, 
occupied in voyayili;.; from tiie island to the latitude ot Caliorca : indeed, 
it seems jiroliahle tliat ir was either Salvatierra, Kino's intimate asso- 
ciate, or I'uarte, Kino's <'olh'ai;iie and Salvatierra's intiinate Irieiid. 
who lixed the name ot the jiioneer jiadre on the ^eo^raiiliic teatui-es 
still known as llahia Kino and I'uiila Kino — teatiires \vhi(di Kiiu) never 
knew, as already shown. 

Althoin;h both Salvatierra and I 'g'arte were on siiperlicially amicable 
terms with the Seri, the amity was evidently of tlie shallowest and 
most e\aiiescent sort. X'ene.uas says: 

01' till' Seri.1 1111(1 TiiKiiiis, ;iltli(mi;li The ]i:iclrc jKisscd niiioiij; tlietii with tlio iiav in 
his liaiid. lie could not iiiduc'' tlieni to .i.s.sisl Iiiin in ;in\ \\';iy, cNi/n when they s.iw 
the partv in the ijicalest diNtrcss: wliiln nthins 1 1 died, tliey icrlincd with tlic f;icat- 
I'.-t sen-nit \ . nur have they sIkiwu the piiesis tin- slij^litest ■■i\ ility diiriiii; (he forty 
years ot their ae((iiaiiitaiice — they utterly refused to part willi ollas <>f eoaise ware, 
eveii for a liberal exi hinge. 

And tlie contemiiorary lore. cryslalli/e(l in current tidministrative 
jiolicy and later I'ccords, and corroborated by deep-rooted customs 
lutiiutained for centuries and still iiersistiiiji', is sig'iiilieant; it indicates 
tliat then, as now. it was the habit of the 'i'dmron islanders to tiee 
from or lawn upon }iowerl'ul visitors, to ambush or assail by niolit 
parties of moderate streno'th. to o|ieuly attack tioiu' liiit the weak or 
dtd'enseless. yet evei' to deli.uht in trickiiifi' t he credulity and consumino 
the stores and stock of aliens, and to rcvid in sheddino- alien blood when 
otM'asion offered. The aih'entiirons hunters and o(dd .seekers of the 
mainland, and the still hardier ]iearl lishers of the coast, wrote iiolh- 
iny; but both civil and ecclesiastical records iiniily common kiiowled.i;e 
that \seaker partii's venturing' into the purlieus of Seriland never 
returned — they disa)i]ieared and lett no siun. 

AN hile SaUatierra and I oai-te were occupied on the coast, the 
missionaries were no less industrious in ihe interior. The mission of 
Santa Magdalena de Tejioca was appaicntly soon abamhnied; but the 
So-called Seri missions at I'opulo ( Xuestra Seilora del I'opiilo) and 
Aii.oeles (Nnestra Senora ib' los .Vnjieles) were maintained from the 
time of Jxino's comino up to the e.Ypulsion of the .lesnits(in I7t>7), 
while that at Xaeaiueri was nearly as well sustained. The relations 

' Au Eiigli.sliluiin iiamfil (pnilialily I WiHiiiiK Strnll.iiil, .i.. c.nliiij; l.i I'.jii.rnll . e|i. ,il i |.. 441. 
' Veue,i:a.s. Noticia de la ('aiitoruia Iniim ii p. ;wO. 
Mln.l "i..:;fiti. 

70 THE SERI INDIANS [eth.a.nn l? 

of these luissioiis to Seriland are significant: according to tlie anon- 
ymous aiitlior of Sonora's classic, " Eudo Ensayo", written in 1763, 
Nacameri lay in the valley of IJio Opodepe (or Horcasitas), 7 leagues 
below the town of the same name (still extant); 9 leagues down the 
same stream lay Populo (on the site of the present town of Horcasitas) ; 
Angeles lay 3 or 4 leagues farther downstream, or over 13 leagues 
above the site of Pitic' (the i)resent Herniosillo); while various refer- 
ences indicate that the temporary mission of Santa Magdalena was 
located in the same valley, probably a few leagues above Ojiodepe.^ 
Accordingly, the missions ranged from 100 to 150 miles inland, meas- 
ured in an air line, or four hard days' journey, as shown by Escalante's 
record, from the Seri coast. The nearest mission at Angeles was 75 
miles, or three days' journey, from the inland margin of Seriland ])roper, 
and the intervening territory was a depopulated expanse (" el grande 
despoblado") according to VillaSefior,-' ranged but not inhabited by 
Seri and Tepoka hunting parties. Never traversed by white men, save 
those of ( 'oronado's parties nearly two centuries before and of Esca- 
lante's hurried expeditious of 1700, this "despoblado" was practically 
unknown; even the surprisingly well-informed author of " Rudo 
Ensayo" was unaware of tlie existence of Rio Bacuache, and noted 
only such prominent mountains as (Jerro Prieto and " Bacoatzi the 
Great in the land of the Seris",^ lying far outside the tribal home. The 
remoteness of the missions from the habitat of the tribe bears testi- 
mony to the dread with which they were regarded, and to the slight- 
ness of the induence exerted on the tribesmen by the zealous padres. 

Despite the efforts of both priesthood and soldiery, the number of 
Seri converts at the missions was limited. In 1700 there were ten fami- 
lies at Populo; true, they had slipped away to maverick the herds 
("por ladrones deganados"), but Escalante overtook them and whii)ped 
them back to the shadow of the church; later he captured 120 Tepoka 
people (probably some twenty families, with a few strays), and recap- 
tured 300 backsliders ([)erliaps fifty families or more), and haled them 
all to the mission, where lands were allotted to them and where they 
were carefully guarded by the ecclesiastics — until opportunity came for 
reescapc; autl to this congregation Escalante added a few Seri jirisoners 
taken on Tiburon, as noted above. In 1727Brigadier Pedro de Rivera 
noted a dozen tribes in central Sonora. including the "Seris" and 
"Tepocas", numbering 21,74(i "of all ages and both sexes", all receiving 

' Kudo Ensayo, G-uiteras' translation in Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of 
Philadelphia, a-oI. v, 1894, ]>. 124. Baudelier identified the author as Padre Nfutwij^. S. J-, of Hnassa- 
vas, eastern Sonora (Final Keport of Investis^ations among tlie Indians, etc., part 1. in Papers of 
the Archajological lu.stitute of America," vol. in, 1890, p. 78). The name is written "John Nentuig" 
in a third-person reference in Guiteras' translalion; hut an editorial footnote adds, " Xo doubt a 
]irinter's mistake for Mentuig— L. F. F [lickj" (ibid., p. 191). 

^Xolicias Esiadisticas del Estado de Sonora, by Jose Francisco Yelasco, Mexico, 1850, p. 124. 

^ Theatro Americano, Descripcion (.leneral de los Reynos, y Provineias de la Nueva-Espaua, .v sus 
Jurisdicciones, Joseph Antonio de Villa-Senor, y Sanchez, segunda parte; iiexico, 1748, p. 392. 

JOp. cit., p. 133. 

mc:gee] remoteness of MISSIONS 1700-1763 71 

tlie ministrations of " los Padres de la Compiiiiia de Jesvs''. He added : 
"Besides the above-named Indians there are found in the middle part 
of the province of Ostininri, iii the western part bordering on the Gulf 
of California, certain iiations of pagans in small numbers; they are 
the Salineros, Cocomaques, and Guaymas." ' Neither the numbers of 
Seri and Tepoka at the missions, nor the respective proportions at the 
missions and on the native habitat, were recorded by the brigadier. 
According to Alegre, eighty families (including those transferred 
from Pitic) were gathered at Populo and Angeles, under the specially 
sedulous eftbrts of Judge .lose Pafael Gallardo, in 1749;^ although 
Padre Mcolas de Perera, "who for the longest time bore with their 
insolent behavior, . . . did not see more than 300 hundred 
persons when they had all come together".^ It would ap])ear that the 
great majority of the I'opulo and Angeles converts belonged to the 
Tepoka, while others belonged to the Guayma and Upanguayma, with 
whom the Seri were at war about that time ; * yet there were enough 
representatives of the Seri to gain a sliockiug character for sloth, filth, 
thievery, treachery, obstinacy, and drunkenness. Assuming that a 
quarter of the converts were Seri (and this ratio is larger than any of 
the known records would indicate), there could hardly have been more 
than a hundred of the tribe gathered about the several missions at this 
palmiest time of Jesuit niissioniziug; and the records show that by far 
the greater portion of these were women, children, cripples, and vieil- 
lards, the warriors being commonly slain in the vigorous i^roselyting 
expeditions conducted by the civil and military coadjutors of the 
padres. If at this time the Seri population reached the 2,000 estimated 
by Davila^ and others, the proportion of proselytes (or apostates from 
Seri naturalism) was but 5 per cent of the tribe and natuially comprised 
the less vigorous and characteristic element. The writer of '-Kudo 
Eusayo" reckons that during six years preceding 1763 the Seri stole 
from the settlers (for eating, the sole use to which they jjut such stock) 
"more than ^(OOO mules, mares, and horses",^ i. e., enough to sustain 
two or three hundred people, or a full thousand if this meat formed no 
more than a fourth or a fifth of their diet, as the contemporary records 
imply — and this was after the "extermination" of the Seri by Parilla 
in 1750. 

Evidently the good padres greatly overestimated their knowledge of 
and influence on this savage yet subtle tribe; actually they touched 
the Seri character only lightly and temporarily, contributing slightly 

' Diario y Derrotero de lo Camiuado, Visto, y Obcervado en el Discurso de la Visita general de Pre- 
cidios. situados en las Provincial Ynteruaa de Nueva Espaua; Gnatheniala, 1836, leg. 1514-1519. 

^Historia de la Conipaiiia de Jesns. vol. III. p. 290. 

^Rudo Ensayo, p. 193. 

^Bancroft, op. cit.. vol. I. pp. 532-53:t. The former were annihilated or driven into tlie Vaqui coun- 
try by 1763 (Rudo Ensayo, p. 166). 

^Sunora Historico y Descriptivo, p. 319. 

"Ibid., p. 140. 

72 THE SEKI INDIANS [eth.axn. 17 

to spontaneous acculturation, but never coming into relation with the 
tribe as a whole. 

And despite the eilbrts of both soldiers and priests, the savages 
continued to ravage the settlements, to repel pioneering, to decimate 
the herds and murder the vaqueros who sought to protect them, to 
plunder everything portable and ambuscade punitive parties, and even 
to engage in open hostilities. "In 1730 the Seris, Tepocas, Salineros, 
and Tiburon islanders kept the xjroviiice in great excitement, killing 
twenty-seven persons and threatening all the pueblos with a general 
conflagration";' and both before and after this date the recorded san- 
guinary ejiisodes were too frequent for even passing mention, while the 
indications between lines point to robberies and assassinations and 
minor conflicts too many for full record even by the patient chroniclers 
of the time. 

Sometime about the beginning of the eighteenth century the Spanish 
settlements pushed down Rio Sonora beyond the confluence of the 
Opodepe to the last water gap, made conspicuous by a. marble butte in 
its throat and by the fact that here the sometimes subterranean flow 
always rose to the surface in a permanent stream of pure and cool 
water. Here, according to Padre Dominguez, " it was attempted to 
locate the Presidio of Cinaloa against the rapacity of the Zeris, 
Tepocas, and Pimas; and here General Idobro, of Cinaloa, wished to 
found a pueblo of Tiburon Indians, brought for the purpose [probably 
from Populo and Angeles] that thej' might be kept in subjection, but 
most of them returned to their island and attempted to make attacks 
from their hiding places."- Nevertheless, the padre found 29 married 
l)ersons, 14 single, and 99 children of these "races" at the rancho. At 
the time of his visit the place was known as Eanfrho del Pitquin; later 
it became the Pueblo of Pitic, or Pitiqui, or Pitiquin, or San Pedro de 
Pitic,^ and long afterward the city of Hermosillo, while the beautiful 
marble butte was christened Cerro de la Campana. 

By 1742 the settlements were so far extended as to warrant the 
establishment of a royal fort in the water-gap at Pitic ;^ and the 
ecclesiastics kept pace with the military movement by founding the 
mission of San Pedro de la. Conquista, ' or " Pueblo de San Pedro de la 
Conquista de Seris"" (now abbreviated to "Pueblo Seris", or merely 
"Seris"); both fort and mission being designed primarily for better 

■ Bancroft, op. cit., p. 517. 

^JDiario del Padre Dominguez eu Sonora y Sinalna, 1731: manuscript in archives of the Bureau of 
American Ethnology. 

3 This place on Kio Sonora i.s not to he confounded with the Rancho {afterward Puelilo) of Pitiqui or 
San Diego de Pitiqui (The Geographical and Historical Dictionary of America and the West Indies 
* * * of Colonel Don Antonio de Alcedo, hy G. A. Thompson, London, 1814, vol. iv, p. 153), or Pitic 
chiquito (Bol. Soc. Mex. Geog. y Est., vol. vni, 18G0. p. 454), or Pitiquin, now the town of Pitiquito on 
Kio San Ignacio. 

■■Alegre, Historia de la Compafiia dc Jesua, tomo in. p. 288; Villa-Seiior, Theatro Americano, 
segunda parte, p. 392 ; Eudo Ensayo, p. 193. 

^ Bancroft, op, cit., vol. I, p. 528. 

^Keise.Erinnerun;reu und Abenteuer aus der neuen "Welt, von C. A. Pa.)el;en. Bremen, 1861, p, 97. 


protection of tlie settlements against Seri sorties. These outposts 
broiigbt tlie missionaries and tlieir soldier supporters a day's journey 
nearer Serilaud, i. e., to witliin some 27 leagues (71 miles), or two days' 
journey, from Babia Kino and tbe desert boundary of tbe Seri strong- 
bold; and altbougli neither fort nor mission was continuously main- 
tained, the event marked a practically permanent advance on the "des- 
poblado" previously despoiled and desolated by the wandering- Seri. 

Even before this date friction between missionaries and laymen bad 
grown out of the ecclesiastical charity for a people whose repeated atroci- 
ties placed them outside the i)ale of sympathy on the part of the indus- 
trial settlers ; and this friction was felt especially about tbe new presidio. 
In 1749 Colonel Diego Ortiz Parilla became governor of Sonora, and 
began a rigorous rule over civilians, soldiers, ecclesiastics, and Indians; 
and when the S(» families (classed as Seri, but mainly of Tepoka and 
other tribes) domiciled at Populo were dissatisfied with bis transfers 
of land and people, be promptly met tlieir protests by arresting them 
and transporting the greater part of them, including all tbe women and 
children, to various places, "some even in Guatemala and other very 
distant parts of America.'*' Naturally this was resented, not only by 
the Seri messmates at tbe missions, but to some extent by their kins- 
men over the plains and along the coast, with whom sporadic commu- 
nication was maintained — chiefly through spies, but partly by occasional 
escapes of the practically imprisoned j^roselytes and tbe less frequent 
but more numerous captures of new converts; and tbe Seri raids 
became more extended and vindictive, reaching northward to Caborca, 
northeastward to Santa Ana and Cucurpe, and eastward into the fertile 
valley of Ivio Opodepe at several points. I)eei)ly incensed in his turn, 
Parilla undertook a war of extermination — a war interesting not merely 
as an episode in Seri histoi'y, but still more as a type of tbe Seri 
wars of two f enturies. Organizing a force of 500 men, and bringing 
canoes from Eio Ya(iui, be planned an expedition to Tiburon, to cover 
two mouths — and returned with 28 xjrisoners, " all women and children 
and not a single Seri man"; though he reported killing 10 or 12 warriors 
in action (according to other accounts tbe slain comprised only 3 or 4 
oldsters). These women and children were domiciled at tbe pueblo of 
the Conquest of the Seri, which in current thought thenceforth became 
the pueblo of the Seri, and gradually jiassed into lore and later into 
history as the home of the tribe rather than tbe mere penitentiary 
which it was in fact. Tbe padres waxed satirical over this quixotic 
conquest: Alegre recounts that — 

The good jiovernor returned so vainglorious over bis expedition that it was even 
said he ■n-ould punish anyone intimating that there was a Seri left i» Ike world, and 
proclaimed through all America and Europe that he had extirpated by the roots 
that infamous race. . . . The truth is that the force, on reaching Tiburon, 
ascertained that the enemy had retreated to the mountains; that none of the 75 
Spaniards who accompanied the governor could be induced, either by entreaties or 

' Rudo Knsaj'o, p. 194; Bancroft, op. cit., vol. i, p. 535. 

74 THE SEKI INDIANS [eth. ann. 17 

threats, to ascend in search of the Seri ; but that some of the Pima allies uuflertook 
to beleaguer the mountains, these, with one or another of the officers, being the 
only ones that saw the face of the enemy, and even these on two occasions only. 
From the first sally they returned reporting that they had killed 3 of the Seri, and 
their empty word was accei)ted ; the second time tliey wi-re so fortunate as to dis- 
cover a village of women and children, whom they took prisoners, and returned 
declaring that the men had been left dead on the field. This famous conquest, which 
the manuscript drawn up by the commander of the expedition did not hesitate to 
compare with those of Alexander and Ca-sar, who were as nothing beside the gov- 
ernor of Sonora, intoxicated much more the allied chief of the Pima, who had taken 
• the leading part in the final victory.' 

Eventually the vanity of this chief (Luis, or " Luys de Saric") led to 
a revolt on the part of the Pima tribe Avith the massacre of Padres 
Tello and Eoheii at Caborca. 

Ortega was still more sarcastic in his fuller record of the expedition. 

The skepticism of the jjadres as to the completeness of rarilla'-s 
extermination was well grounded, as was attested by the continuation 
of Seri sorties with undiminished frequency and by the persistence of 
hippophagy at the expense of the stoclcmen as already noted ; more- 
over, in the absence of records of maritime operations, in view of the 
impracticability of transporting .so large a force as that of Parilla on 
balsas, and in the light of a still common application of the name 
Tiburon to Sierra Seri and its environs as well as to the island, it would 
seem to be an open question whether the much-lauded exi)edition ever 
attained the insular stronghold, or even reached the seashore. How- 
ever this may be, the expedition was the first of a long series sent 
out to exterminate one of the hardiest and acutest of tribes, wonted to 
one of the hardest and aridest of habitats; and, save in the subsecpient 
advertising, all have yielded results more or less similar. 

Another curtailment of the range of the Seri dates from the refounding 
of the mission of "San Jose de Guaimas"- (on the site of the present 
Guaymas) in 1751, and the establishment of a "rancho called Opan 
Guaimas" some distance up the coast about the same time; the site of 
the mission being that of a .sanctuary located by Kino in 1701, and 
revisited by Salvatierra and Ugarte, though never continuously main- 
tained. True, the padre and the ranchero suffered from the Seri, who 
displaced the former, killed eight of his converts, burned the churcli, 
and scattered the hundred families of the pueblo, afterward keeping 
the Spaniards at a distance for ten years ; ' yet the settlers only returned 
with new vigor, and gradually gained the strength requisite for hold- 
ing the town. Xaturally the belligerency of the Seri in this vicinity 
impres.sed the state authorities with the desirability of further ''exter- 
mination"; and when in 17.50 a band of the Seri, after a hypocritical 
suit for peace, entrenched themselves among the all but inaccessible 

' Hiatoria (le la Compaiiia c!e Jesus, toino in. pj>. 290-291 : cf. Apostolicos Afanes de la Coinpafiia 
de Jesus, escritos per uu Padre de la misnia Sagrada Keligion de su Provincia de Mexico; Barcelona, 
1754, pp. 366-368. 

*Rudo Ensayo, p. 229 (misspelled "Guiamas"). 

^Baucroft, up. oil., vol. I, p. 554 


rocks and barrancas of Cerro Prieto (a rugged sierra midway between 
Pitic aud Sau Jose de Guaiuias, which for this reason came to be 
regarded — erroneously — as the headquarters of the tribe), Don .Tuau 
Antonio de Meudoza, then governor of Sonora, sent out a strong body 
of soldiery to dislodge or destroy them ; but after 200 of the soldiers 
were ambushed and 24 of them wounded, the expedition returned to 
the (-apital, San Miguel de Ilorcasitas. Stung by this defeat, Mendoza 
reorganized his force and led the way iu jyerson to Oerro Prieto, where 
one of the four parties into which the force was divided wrought such 
execution that, in the following May, there were seen the bodies of 
enemies " dead and eaten by animals, dead and partly buried in the 
earth, dead lying in caves, and dead in the water-pockets of the sierra".' 
In this battle Mendoza himself was ambushed and attacked by three 
Seri archers, escaping only by the mediation of his saint (-'por medio 
de mi santo"); but during the ensuing night he carried out the ingeni- 
ous ruse of beating drums in ditlerent parts of the canyon, which 
reechoed frotn the rocky heights with such terrifying effect that the 
enemy tied, leaving him in victorious possession of the field. 

Again in 1760, when a band of the Seri (supposed to. be temporarily 
combined with the Pima) took refuge in Cerro Prieto, Governor 
Mendoza attacked them with over 100 men; but a band of 10 Seri suc- 
cessfully held this force at bay for several hours, until their chief 
(called El Becerro) fell wounded and dying, yet retaining sufficient 
vitality to rise, as the Spaniards approached, and transfix Mendoza 
with an arrow — when the two leaders died together.-' Mendoza was 
succeeded by Governor Jose Tienda de Cuervo, who, in 1761, led a 
force of 420 men to Cerro Prieto, where a still bloodier battle was fought, 
the Seri losing 40 killed and 03 captured, besides 322 horses; though 
the greater part of their force escaped to the island of San Juan 
Bautista (San Esteban?).^ 

In 1763 Don Juan de Pineda succeeded to the governorship, and 
obtained the cooperation of a force of national troops under Colonel 
Domingo Elizondo : 

Headi|»arteiiug in El Pitiqui, he commencfid active war against the said Seris, 
but was unable to reduce them, because, being separated and dispersed over their 
vast territory, they wore out the troops, who only occasionally stnniVded on one 
little rancheria or another. For this reason, and because in many years they could 
not exterminate them, and desiring to leave the country, they opened negotiations 
with them, making them small presents and offering them royal ]irotection if they 
would surrender peacefully. Some of them pretended to do this and :is.sembled at 
Pitiqui, where they remained with the samf bad faith as always, fed at the expense 
of the royal treasury, when the troops retired, leaving the evil uncured, but merely 

In the same year Padre Tomas Ignacio Lizazoin reported, for the 

' Documentos para la Historia de Mexico, cuarta sfirie, tomo i, p. 85. 
^Historia tie la Compafiia de Jesxis, torao in, p. 298. 

' Ibid., p. 299 ; Rudo Ensajo, p. 196. It is iiiubable that part cr all of the eaptivi-s wt-n.- iiuarteird St 
Pueblo Seri, though the recftrd i.s silent on this point. 
^ Resumen de Noticias, op. cit., vol. i, p. 2:^4. 


information of the viceroy, that the ravages of the Seri and other 
Indians "had caused the ahuost total abandonment of Pimeria and 
Sonera provinces", and projjosed plans for protection which were 
apparently never carried out.' 

The aggressive and bloody policy of Parilla, Mendoza, and Cuervo 
undoubtedly widened the divergence between the civil and ecclesiastical 
authorities, and brought to nought the pacific policy of the latter. 
Inspired by fervid zeal, the good padres stretched the mantle of char- 
ity to its utmost over their converts, bringing into the fold all whom 
they could coax or coerce, and clinging unto all whom they could sub- 
sidize or suppress. Uninformed or misinformed concerning the extent 
of Seriland and the numbers and real traits of its inhabitants on their 
native heath, and ijrofessionally prone to see the most favorable side of 
the situation, they imagined themselves making conquest over a cruel 
and refractory tribe; yet careful review of the records indicates that they 
deluded themselves, and in some measure distorted history, through 
overweening notions concerning their progress in evangelizing the 
Seri. Actually, their converts were the lame and halt and blind left 
behind in the harder-pressed raids, captives taken in battle by the 
intrepid Escalante and other soldiers, apostates and outlaws ostracized 
and driven oif by their fellows, spies sent out to find the way for fur- 
ther rapacity,- and the general riflfrafif and offscouring of the tribe, 
who esteemed parasitism above the hereditary independence of their 
kin. This condition is attested by later examples ; it is also attested by 
the rapidly growing divergence of the ecclesiastical and civil policies; 
it is equally attested by at least partial recognition of the situation on 
the part of several of the ])adres: Villa-Seiior, writing about 1745, 
parades the mission and two pueblos of the tribe, and says, "All the Ceris 
Indians are Christians" ("Todos los Indios Ceris, son Cristianos");^ 
yet he adds that "it is rare to find one who does not cling to tlie idol- 
atry of their paganism'', and elsewhere describes the great "des- 
poblado" extending to the coast as inhabited by pagan Seri and Tepoka 
Indians ("habitadodelos Indios Seris.y Tepoca, Gentiles").^ Venegas, 
writing about 1750, reters to "the Seris and Tepocas, who are either 
infitlels or imperfectly reduced, and tho' Father Salva Tierra civilized 
them and the missionaries have baptized many, they still retain such 
a love for their liberty and customs as all the labours of the mission- 
aries have not been able to obliterate, so that it is impossible to incor- 
porate them with the missions by mildness";'^ and his last word of them 
notes their massacre of Padres Tello and lichen in Caborca, and ends 

' Bancroft, op. cit., p. 565. 

^Captain Fernando Sanchez Salvador, in his official Eepresentaciones to the Crown in 1751, com- 
])lain9 that these Indians *' are allowed ou frivolous pretests to visit the presidios, and they make use 
of the privilege to discover weak points and to plan attacks" (Bancroft, op. cit., p. 542). 

3 Theatro Americano, segunda parte, p. 4U1. 

"Ibid., p. 392. 

5 History of California, vol. n, p. 190. 


with an invocatiou "for the complete reductiou of these unhap|)y sav- 
ages, now involved in the shadow of death".' So, also, tlie talented 
author of "Rudo Ensayo", writing in 1763, say.s of the Seri: 

Tliey liiive always been wild, resisting the law of God, even those who had removed 
from among them to Popiilo, Nacameri, and Angeles, and who constituted the small- 
est part of the nation. And even these few, in oi'der to have constant communica- 
tion with and give information to their heathen relatives, used to go, as if they 
could not arouse suspicion, to spy out in other villages what they wanted to know 
for their plans, and immediately giving the intelligence they obtained to the runa- 
way Indians, these would act accordingly and nobody could guess how they acquired 
the necessary information. - 

Again, in summarizing the relations with the tribe, this anonymous 
author naively remarked: 

And at the present day. notwithstanding that in difl'erent encounters during the 
campaign of November, 1761, and before and since then, more than forty men have 
been killed by our arms and over seventy women and children have been captured, 
still they are as fierce as ever and will not lend an ear to any word of reconciliation.^ 

In general, the Jesuit history of the Seri is clear enough with respect 
to the small extruded fraction, but nearly blind to the normal tribe; 
there is nothing to indicate clear recognition of Serilaud as a heredi- 
tary habitat and stronghold ; yet the records are such as to define the 
salient episodes in Seri history as seen from a distantly external 
view-i)oint. Nor can it be forgotten that the erudite evangelists made 
a deep and indelible impression on the intellectual side of Sonora, and 
drew the strong historical outline on which their own relations to the 
civil authorities on the one hand and to the Seri Indians on the other 
hand are cast by the light of later knowledge. 

The discordance between the civil and military authorities and the 
dominant ecclesiastical order of Sonora sounded to Giudad Mexico, and 
eventually echoed to Jladrid, and was doubtless one of a series of 
factors which led to the needlessly harsh expulsion of the scholarly 
Jesuits in 1707 — and hence to a hiatus in the history of the province 
and its tribes. 

Although the padres knew little of the habits and customs of the 
" wild " Seri save through hearsay, some of their notes are of ethnologic 
value: Villa-Seuor located them on the deserts extending from Pitic 
and Angeles to Tepopa bay, aiid added: 

They hold and occupy various raucherias, and subsist by the chase of deer, bura 
[mule-deer], rabbits, hares, and other animals, and also on the cattle they are able 
to steal from the Spaniards, and on fish which they harpoon with darts in the sea, 
and on the roots in which the land abounds. ^ 

Villa-Seiior distinguished the "Tepocas ", whom hecombined with the 

' niid., p. 211. It is improbable that the Seri had anything to do with this particular butchery. 
According to Coues, the latter padre was killed at Sonoita ; and he renders the name ' ' Kuen or Kuhen " 
(On the Trail of a Spanish Pioneer ; the Diary and Itinerary of Francisco Garc6s, etc., 1900, vol. i, p. 88), 

'Op. cit., p. ms. 

= 0p. cit.,p]). I'.i5^196 

*Theatro Americano, i). 401. 

78 THE SERI INDIANS [ethann.! 

"Gueimas" aucl ■' Jupaiigueimas". Alegre located the, Seri on tlie coast 
of the gulf from a few leagues uorth of the mouth of Rio Yaqui to Baliia 
Sau Juau de Bautista (Bahia Kino), adding, " with them may be classed 
the Guaimas, few in number and of tlie same language".' Writing 
about the same time, Jose Gallardo observed : " The distinction is slight 
between the Seri and Upanguaima, the one and the other having the 
same idiom'' ("Poco es la distincion que hay entre seri y upanguaima, 
. . . y unos y otros casi hablan uu mismo idioma").^ The author of 
"Kudo Ensayo" wrote: "The Guaimas speak the same language, with 
but little difference, as the Seris."^ He mistook Oerro Prieto as their 
j)rincipal retreat; menti()ne<l the mountains of Bacoatzi Grande, Las 
Esi)uelas, and others as other haunts ; noted Tiburon and San Juan Bau- 
tista (San Estebau ?) islands as less-known shelters, and gave extended 
attention to "the poison they use for their arrows" as "the most viru- 
lent known in these parts"; for "even in cases where the skin only is 
wounded, the injured part begins to swell, and the swelling extends all 
over the body to such a size that the flesh bursts ;;nd falls to pieces, 
causing death in twenty-four hours." To test this poison, the Seri 
"bandage tightly the thigh or arm of one of their robust young men; 
then make an incision with a tiint and let the blood flow away tVom the 
wound. When the blood is some distance from the incision, they apply 
the point of an arrow to it, steeped in the deadly poison. If at the 
approach of the point of the arrow the blood begins to boil and recedes, 
the poison is of the right strength, and the man who lends his blood 
for the experiment brushes it out with his hand to prevent the poison 
from being introduced into his veins." He Wiis unable "to tind out 
with certainty of what deadly materials the deadly poison is composed. 
Many a thing is spoken of, such as heads of irritated vipers cut at the 
very moment of biting into a piece of lung; also half putrefied human 
flesh and other filth with which I am unwilling to provoke the nausea 
of the reader." He added the opinion that "the main ingredient is 
some root."^ Padre Joseph Och, who, with other German evangels 
including padres Mittendorf, Pfefferkorn, and Ruen (or Roheu), was 
stationed in northwestern Sonora shortly before the eviction of the 
Jesuits, was one of the recorders of. aboriginal traits and features, 
though his record (like that of most of his confreres) is impoverished 
by his failure to discriminate tribes; but one of his notes is specific: 

As iin extraordinary trapping- [Zierde] the Seris pierce the nasal septum and liang 
small colortd stones, whii'h swing in front of the month, thereto by strings. A few 
carry, suspended from the nose, little blue-green pebbles, in wbicli they repose 
great faith. They prize these very highly, and one must give them at least a horse 
or a cow in exchange for one." 

' Historia de la Compafiia de Jesus, p. 216. 

2 The Works of Hubort Howe. Hannrol't, vol. ui (The Native Kaces, vol. ni). 1882, p. 704. 

30p. cit., p. 166. 

••Ibid., pp. 197, 198. 

*Nacbricbteu von verschiedeoen Liinderii des Spanisches Anierika, aus eigenbandigeu Aufsjit. 
zen einiger Missiouare der Gesellschart Jesu, lierausgegebeu von Christopli Gottlieb von Murr, 
erster Tlicil ; Halle, 1809, p. 255. 


It is significant fact, and one attesting the pliysical and intellectual 
distance of tbe padres from tlie normal Seri, that so few notes of ethno- 
logic value were made during the Jesuits' regime. With a single excep- 
tion, so far as is known,' they recorded not a word of the Seri tongue, not 
a distin(;tive custom beyond those evidently of common knowledge, none 
of the primitive ceremonies and ideas such as attracted their coadjutors 
in Canada and elsewhere. They made no reference to the alleged canni- 
balism so conspicuous in later lore; but their silence on this point can- 
not be regarded as evidential, since they were equally silent concerning 
nearly all the characteristic customs and traits. The neighboring Pap- 
ago tribe met the invaders frankly as man to man, displaying a notable 
combination of receptivity and self-containment which enabled them to 
as.siniihite Just so much of the Caucasian culture as they deemed desir- 
able, yet to maintain their purity of blood and distinctiveness of culture 
for centuries; the Seri, on the other hand, met the invaders as enemies, 
to be first feared, then blinded, baiked, and bled by surreptitious and 
sinister devices, and finally to be assassinated through ambuscade or 
remorseless treachery; and it is manifest that they surpassed the gentle 
padres in shrewdness and strategy, using them as j)lay things and tools, 
and carefully concealing their own characters and motives the while. 

With the passing of the Jesuits, the publication of Sonoran records 
received a check from which thejirovince has never completely recovered. 
True, the place of the order was partly taken by the Colegio Apostolico 
de Querctaio, which promptly dispatched fourteen Franciscan friars to 
Sonora, early in 17GS, to take possession of the old missions and to found 
others;- it is also true that civil enactments and commissions, as well as 
military orders and reports, increased with the growth of population; 
but comjjaratively few of the events and actions found tlieir way to 
the press. Seri ei)isodes continued to recur with irregular frequency; 
according to Diivila, the Seri outbreaks and wais "exceed fifty in num- 
ber since the conquest of Sonora",' and there are decisive indications 
that the Franciscan regime was not without its due quota of strife. 
Moreover, the period was one of somewhat exceptionally vigorous pio- 
neering, of the initiation of mining and agriculture, and of conquest over 
the "despoblado" formerly ranged and inhabited by the Seri. It was 
during this period that the Seri were j)ermanently dislodged from their 
outlying- haunts and watering-places in Oerro Prieto; and it was during 
this period, too, that exploration and settlement were extended to liio 
Bacuache with such energy as to ilisplace the Seri from their other out- 
lying refuge in the barrancas of this stream. But, as the events and 
Hues of progress multiplied, the burden for the contemporary chronicler 

^Tlie Noticia de las Peraouas que ban escrito o publicado algunas obras sobre Idiomas nue se 
hablan en la Republica {of Mexico), by Dr .Jose Guadalupe Eouiero, includes a MS. " Vocabulario 
delas Lenguas Eudeve, Pina y Seris", written by Padre Adamo Gils (Bol. Sue. Mex. Geog. y Estad., 
I860, tomo vill, p. 378). 

2 Da Vila, Sonora Historico y Descriptivo, p. 10; Bancroft, op. cit., p. 672. 

sjbid., p. 319. 

80 THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ann.17 

aiigniented without corresponding increase in incentive to writing, and 
it is little wonder that the custom of writing, coi)ying, manifolding, and 
printing the contemporary rec(n'ds fell into desuetude. 

Despite the meagerness of the Franciscan chronicles, the friars of 
this order are to be credited with making and recording one of the most 
noteworthy essays toward the subjugation of the Seri — an essay involv- 
ing the first aTid last actual attempt to found a Caucasian establishment 
within Seriland proper. The ecclesiastical corps, sent out from Quere- 
taro college under the presidency of Fray Mariano Antonio de Buena 
y Alcalde, reached Sonora early in 17(58, and were distributed among 
the missions to which they were respectively assigned before the end of 
June; and Fray Mariano participated in the efforts to subdue the Seri 
ensconced in Cerro Prieto. After some months of apparently nominal 
siege, the hostiles straggled out of their retreat, whereupon "the gov- 
ernor, seeing them assembled and peaceful, besought the friar to instruct 
and baptize them";' the friar promptly acquiesced, with the provision 
that he should be furnished with the requisite appurtenances of a mis- 
sion, including not only a church and sacred ornaments, but a house and 
living for a resident minister. The requirements delayed procedure, 
but resulted in the appointment of Fray Juan Crisostomo Gil de Ber- 
nabe (already designated by the Quer('taro college as Fray Mariano's 
successor) to take charge of the Seri mission. " The new president, 
desiring to gratify his proper zeal and the insistence of the gov- 
ernor as to the need of those miserable Indians for the bread of doc- 
trinism", obtained candles and wine from private benefactors, and, 
despite his inability to find even a hut for shelter, established a sanc- 
tuary in the Rancheria de los Seris (Pueblo Seri) on November 17, 1772: 

It was impossible to satisfy the ambition of the missiouaries to catechize all the 
Indians,, although the whole nation was peaceable, no small portion of 
them were devoid of desire to hear, as many of them had withdrawn to 
their .ancient lurking haunts, principally on Isla Tiburon, whence they came to the 
Presidio Horcasitas, making false displays to the governor of great fidelity and 
obedience, petitioning that they should not be taken from the island, but should be 
given a minister to baptize them the same as those at Pitic; and they did not wish 
to join those nor to leave the rocky fastness of their libcrtinage and asylum of their 
crimes. ... To conceal their purposes, they petitioned that a town for them 
should be established on the opposite coast, where they might assemble on leaving 
the island. Their request was embarassing because on examination of tlie coast 
there was found only a single scanty spring in a carrizal in a playa-like country 
[toda la tierra como de playa], with little fuel and no timber. 

Not unnaturally Fray Oris(')Stomo hesitated to locate a mission on the 
practically uninhabitable site, in which, moreover, "the mission would 
be of no utility because the Indians did not really wish to leave their 
island and submit to religions in.struction, nor could the coast supply the 
necessary food, as it was a barren sand-waste, so that it would become 

' Crinica Serdfica y ApostdUoa del Colegio de Propaganda Fide de la Santa Cruz de Quer^taro en 
la Nuera Espafia. . . . escrita por el Padre Fray Juan Domiugo Arricivita, 2" itarte, Mexico, 
1793, p. 426. 







necessary for the King to constantly supply provisions, else tlie converts 
would have a pretext for wandering around and avoiding attention to 
the catechism." But the governor was obdurate, and only complained 
to the viceroy and the Querctaro college. Between tires, Fray Crisos- 
tomo yielded, and on jSTovember 2(j, 1772, proceeded to Oarrizal and 
established himself as a minister, without company or escort save a 
little boy to serve as acolyte. "With the aid of the Indios Tiburones 
the friar erected a jacal [or hut bower] ' to serve as a church, and a tiny 
hut as a habitation, and began immediately, with the greatest kindness, 
to convoke the jjeople for religious instruction, only to see that the 
desires they had expiessed to the governor to become Christians were 
not deep enough to bring them from their island to attend services — 
except a few who came and took part in the prayers when they thought 
fit. But as the congregation at the place was only nominal, and with 
only thi-ee jacales under control, so also was the instruction they 
sought: and because of both the condition of the land and their wan- 
dering instinct, which is in them almost a necessity and more excusable 
than in other Indians, because neither within their island nor on the 
coast is the territory fit for cultivation, and still less for the stability 
essential to civil and political life", the missionary naturally despaired 
of substantial progress; indeed, ''the only fruit for which he could 
hope, under his mode of living, was reduced either to a child or an 
adult whom he could, in special circumstances, shrive in extremis." In 
this disheartening condition the friar spent the winter from near the 
end of November to jMarch 0, 1773. Then, as appears from an official 
declaration, there came to him by night an Indian called Yxquisis, 
with a trumpery tale about a revolt on the part of the Pinto and 
Apache, which led the guileless friar away from the poor shelter of 
his jacal under the guidance of the Indian. At the inquest Yxquisis 
confessed, although with many falsehoods ("con muchas raentiras"), 
that he had stoned the friar, but "without stating any motive for com- 
mitting such an atrocious crime ". Yet even before the story reached 
Horcasitas two "Indios del Tii)uron", supposed to be implicated, were 
beaten to death with sticks on the spot in which the friar's body was 
found,' and the body was buried by a chief of the tribe. And so ended 
the nussion of Oarrizal in the land of the Seri. 

Traditions of this Franciscan mission still linger about Hermosillo 
and at Rancho San Francisco de Costa Eica, and they, like Arricivita's 
account, indicate that the ch archly jacal was planted either hard by 
Pozo Escalante or at a traditional Ojito Oarrizal (Aguaje Parilla, not 
found in the surveys of 1895), supposed to lie a few miles farther north- 
westward. All the probabilities point to Pozo Escalante as the site, 
despite the fact that no cane now grows there ; the topographic 
description applies exactly, while the state of the padre's remains, 

'Doubtless the structures approached the conventional Seri pattern, illustrated in the accompany- 
ing plate vr. from photographs taken on Tiburoii in 1895. 
2 Arricivita. op. cit., pp. 426-429, 520-521. 
1 7 E TH 6 


when exhumed six mouths later, attests the dry and saline soil iu this 
vicinity. None of these conditions exist about Aguaje Parilla at the 
southeastern base of Sierra Seri. The i^resent absence of living carrizal 
at Pozo Escalante is of little significance, since the extinction of the 
plant might easily have been wrought either by the stock of later expe- 
ditions or by the rise of the salt-water horizon accompanying the local 
subsidence of the land; certainly dried roots and much-weathered 
fragments of cane still remain about the margin of the playa extending 
southward from the well. 

The episode culminating in the assassination of Fray Crisostomo 
was characteristic: beset at all points and rankling under the invasion 
of their range, the Seri sought anew to delude the governor with 
fair words, using their owu reprobates and apostates at Pitic and else- 
where to point their asseverations; and remembering the facility with 
which the earlier ecclesiastics were duped into unwitting allies, they 
made the kindly and long-suffering friars the immediate object of their 
petitions. But some of the tribe galled under the lengthy and still 
lengthening bloodfeud too deeply to tolerate the alien presence; and 
one of these, either alone or supported by the alleged accomplices or 
others, tried a typical ruse, suggested less by need than inherited 
habit; for the friar was helpless in their hands, and 7uight have been 
slain in his Jacal as easily as in the open. Typically, too, the assassina- 
tion initiated or deepened factional dissension aud further bloodshed. 

The Franciscan records are of even less ethnologic use than those of 
the Jesuits. Beyond his incidental expressions concerning Seri char- 
acter and custom in connection with the founding and abandonment of 
Carrizal, it need only be noted that Arricivita makes hardly a refer- 
ence to the Tepoka, but habitually combines the " Seris y Piatos '' — 
the latter perhaps representing the "confederate Pima" of "Eiido 
Ensayo", or the Soba occupying the lower reaches of Rio San Ignacio 
about that time. 

Among the meager aud scattered Franciscan records is a letter from 
Fray Francisco Troneoso, dated September 18, IS24, which is of note 
as containing an estimate of the Seri population at the time: 

This island [Tiburon] has more than a thousand savage inhabitants, enemies of 
those of California, and it has frequently occurred that, on balsas of reeds, . . . 
they have crossed over to invade the mission [of Loreto], killing and robbing some 
of those they found there.' 

The record is of value also as indicating that the Seri traversed the 
gulf freely, and raided settlements and tribes of the peninsula ruth- 
lessly as those of the mainland. 


The Carrizal episode was followed by a half century of comjiarative 
silence concerning the Seri, though various contemporary records and 
later compilations indicate customary continuance of the Seri wars. 

'Incorporated in EscuOero, Noticias Estadisticas de Sonora y Sinaloa; Mexico, 1849, p. 18. 



Among the more useful compilations is that of Velasco; and among the 
more important episodes noted l)y him was the Cimarrones-Migueletes 
war of 1780.' The Cimarrones included the greater part of the Seri 
of Tiburon and the Tepoka (then estimated at 2,000 of both sexes),- to- • 
gether with the "Pimas called Fiatos, of the pueblos of Cavorca, Tubu- 
tama, Oquitoa, etc", and supposedly >iertain other representatives of the 
Pima and Apache, who had shortly before marauded Magdaleua and 
sacked Saric, killing a dozen xjersous;^ the Migueletes were uatioual 
troops assigned to Sonora under the command of Colonel Domingo Eli- 
zoudo. The forces met iu several bloody battles in Cerro Prieto, at 
Jupanguaimas, and at Presidio "V iejo ; and the former, or at any rate 
the Seri, were once more "annihilated" ("reducidos a nulidad"). Never- 
theless, the hydra-headed tribe retained enough vitality iu 1807 to 
induce Governor Alejo Garcia Conde to send an army of a thousand 
meu to Guaymas, en route to Tiburon, to repeat the extirpation — though 
the expedition came to naught for international reasons, 
. Among the more useful contemporary records is an unpublished 
manuscript report by Don Jose Cortez, dated 1799, found iu the Force 
library, translated by Buckingham Smith, and abstracted by Lieuten- 
ant A. W. Whipple for the Eeport of the Pacific Railway Survey. A 
subsection of this reijort is devoted to '-the Seris, Tiburoues, and 
Tepocas". It runs: 

The Seri Indians live towards the coast of Sonora, ou the famous Cerro Prieto, and 
in its immediate neighborhood. They are cruel and sanguinary, and at one time 
formed a numerous baud, which committed many excesses in that rich province. 
With their poisoned shafts they took the lives of many thousand inhabitants, and 
rendered unavailiug the expedition that was set on foot against them from Mexico. 
At this time they are reduced to a small number; have, on many occasions, been 
successfully encountered by our troops ; and are kept within bounds by the vigi- 
lance of the three posts (presidios) established for the purpose. None of their cus- 
toms approach, at all, to those of civilization; and their notions of religion and 
marriage exist under barbarous forms, such as have before been described iu treating 
of the most savage nations. The Tiburon and Tepoca Indians are a more numerous 
tribe, and worthy of greater consideration than the Seris, but their bloodthirsty 
disposition and their customs are the same. They ordinarily live ou the island of 
Tiburon, which is connected with the coast of Sonora by a narrow inundated isth- 
mus, over which they pass by swimming when the tide is up, and when it is down, 
by wading, as the water then only reaches to the waist, or not so high. They come 
onto the continent, over which they make their incursions, and, after the commis- 
sion of robberies, they return to the island: on which account no punishmeut 
usually follows their temerity. It is uow twenty-three or twenty-four years siuce 
the plan was approved by His Majesty, and ordered to be carried out, of destroying 
them on their island; but, until the present season, no movement has been made to 

1 Noticiaa Eatadlsticas del Estado de Sonora; Mexico, 1850, p. 124 et seq. 

2Ibid.,p. 132. 
^ ^ Bancroft, op. cit., vol. n, p. 682. It is incredible that such a confederation of so incongruons elements 
could ever have been effected ; it is incomparably more probable that there was a succession of out. 
breaks of the Seri, Plato, and Apache, each stimulated by the removal of soldiers for defense against 
the other enemies, just as Seri outrages follow Yaqni outbreaks today; but it was imdoubtedly a 
custom of the times (a custom still existing) to connect the several enemies iu current thought and 

84 THE SERI INDIANS [eth. a.nn.17 

put it into execution. To this end the troops of Sonora are being equipped; a cor- 
vette of the department of San Bias aids in the expedition and two or three vessels 
of troops from the companies stationed at the port of that name on the South sea.' 

The record is signiflcaut as voicing an ill-founded discrimination of 
the wandering Seri from the inhabitants of Tiburon, as echoing per- 
sistent conception of Tiburon as a peninsula, and as summarizing the 
characteristics of the tribe recognized at the end of the last century. 

Meantime population and industries iucrea.sed, while civil and mill 
tary development pursued its course; the Presidio of Pitic expanded 
into a pueblo, and later into the city which gradually adopted the cog- 
nomen of General Jose Maria Gonzalez Hermosillo, a hero of Sonora in 
the stirring times of 1810-1812; Pueblo Seri became Mexicanized, 
retaining only a few Seri families in 1811, according to Manuel Cabrera; ' 
Guaymas grew into a port of some commerciivl note; pearl fishing pro- 
gressed along the coast and prospecting in the interior; despite con- 
stant harrying by Seri raids, the rancho of Bacuachito (probably the 
Bacoachizo of Escudero-') became a flourishing pueblo; and plans for 
ports in the northern gulf were broached and even tested. Moreover, 
the dawn of the nineteenth century stirred scientific interest in the 
native tribes, including the obstinate owners of Tiburon — an interest 
stimulated by Humboldt's American journeys of 1803. 

Combining earlier cartography (originating with Kino) and persist- 
ent tradition up to the beginning of the nineteenth century, Humboldt 
mapped "Isla de Tiburon" nearly a degree too far northward, and 
separated from the mainland by a greatly exaggerated strait. The land 
portion of the map is strikingly defective, revealing in numerous imag- 
inary mesas the author's penchant for Mexican plateaus, while "Eio 
Hiaqui" ("de Taqui on de Sonora" in the text) is combined with Rio 
Sonora and given an intermediate position, and "Eio de la Asceneiou" 
(Rio San Ignacio) is represented as passing through an estuary into the 
gulf just oft" the northern end of Tiburon; the "Indiens Seris" being 
located on a flgmeutary mesa north of the latter river and due west of 
Caborca, Pitic (apparently a composite of San Diego de Pitic, or modern 
Pitiquito, with San Pedro de Pitic, or modern Hermosillo), and Altar.^ 
His text corresponds: 

On the right bank of Kio de La Asenoiou live some very bellicose Indians, the Seris, 
to whom many Mexican savants ascribe an Asiatic origin by reason of the analogy 
ottered by their name with that of the Seri located by the ancient geographers at 
the base of the Ottorocorras mountains." 

' Reports of Explorations and Surveys to ascertain the most practicable and economical Konte for a 
Kailroad irom tlie Mississippi River to tlie Pacific Oi-ean, vol. lu, part 3 ; Report upon the Indian 
Trihes, 1855, pp. 122-123. The original Coiiez manuscript is now in the Library of Congress. 

^In VeLisco, op. cit., p. 137. 

^Noticias Estadiaticas de Sonora y Sinaloa. Compiladaa y Anipliticadas para la Comision de Esta-* 
distica Miiitar, por el Lie. D. Jose Agustin de Escudero ; Mexico, 1849, p. 88. 

'Atlas Geographique et Physique du Royaume de la Nouvelle-Espagne, par Al. de Humboldt; 
Paris, 1811, carte geuerale. 

'Voyage de Humboldt et Bonplaiid, troisieme partie: Essai Politiiiue sur le Royaume de la 
Nouvelle-Espagne, tome i; Paris, 1811, pp. 296-297. 

MCGKE] HAEDY'S explorations 1826 85 

Naturally most of the scieiitiMc inquiries of tlie time were, like those 
of Humboldt, based on tradition rather than ou direct observation. 

Toward the end of the first third of the century an important con- 
tribution to actual knowledge of Seriland and the Seri at last grew 
out of the pearl industry. lu 'Slay, 1825, Lieutenant K. W. H. Hardy, 
R. N., was commissioned by the "General Pearl and Coral Fishery 
Association of London"' to investigate the pearl fisheries of tlie Cali- 
fornian gulf; and his task was performed with promiJtness and energy. 
On February 13, 1826, he visited Pitic (under Hermosillo): 

Half a league sliort [south'] of it is another small place, called the Pueblo ile los 
Ceres, inhabited by a squalid race of Indians who are said to indulge in constant 
habits of intemperance and to have lost the fire of the warrior. In its stead they 
manifest the sullen stupidity peculiar to those who, feeling themselves iiuiitted for 
companionship, strive to vent their pusillanimous rage upon objects the most helpless 
and unoffending, such as women, children, and dogs, who appear to be the chief 
victims of their revenge. ' 

His chief object in visiting Pitic was to obtain information concern- 
ing Tiburon, its natives, and its pearl-oyster beds; and he was rewarded 
with characteristic accounts of the ferocity of the tribesmen and their 
use of poisoned arrows, which he received with some incredulity.- 

After examining the principal pearl fisheries of the western coast, 
Lieutenant Hardy reached the "Sal si Puedes" in the throat of the 
gulf, and, on August 9, " got aslant of wind, which carried us up to 
the northwest end of Tiburow island" ' — i. e., apparently over the pre- 
cise route sailed by Padi'e Ugarte in 1721. Anchoring on the island, 
he had the good fortune first to meet a native able to sjieak Spanish, 
and later to successfully treat the sick wife of the principal chief, after 
which he was treated with great consideration, and — unwittingly on 
his part — adopted into the tribe as a member of the chief clan by the 
ceremony of face painting, the symbol being that of the turtle totem, to 
judge from the superficial descrii)tiou. Taking slightly brackish water, 
just as Ugarte had done one hundred and five years before, and arm- 
ing his crew, he spent the night near the rancheria (evidently in Baliia 
Agua Dulce). Next morning he "traveled over the greater part of the 
island" (!) in fruitless search for pearls and gold, and in the afternoon 
" got undei' weigh, and stood into a bay of the continent to the northeast 
of the island,'' discovering and naming "Sargent's Point", together with 
"Cockle Harbour", and "Bruja's bay" in the lee of the point, and also 
"Arnold's Island"; this island being apparently the ])resent prominent 
cuspof Punta Sargent, now connected with the mainland by a continu- 
ous wave-built bar rising a little way above reach of tide. Anchoring 
jn the bay named from his ves.sel (La i>Viya),he examined the adjacent 
shore, ascertaining that "there is no fresh water near the spot, except 

' Travels in the Interior of Mexico in 1825, 1826, 1827, and 1828j London, 1829, p. 95. 
'Ibid., p. 107. 
sibid., p. 280. 

8G THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ann.17 

duriug thii raiuy .season, which only lasts about a mouth or six weeks", 
uor ''auy vestige of Indians to be seen except a solitary hut erected by 
the Tiburous to serve them when they go there to fish''; and, noting the 
report that Padre Kino had visited this point, he quite appositely ques- 
tioned the truth of the tradition, partly ou the ground of the absence 
of fresh water, partly because "the Tepocalndian establishuienfmen- 
tioued in the tradition "is many leagues farther to the northward." 
Awakened by an ap])roachiug storm, he was under way next morning 
at daylight, and, getting out of the "bad holding ground", was caught 
by a gale and carried back to his "old anchorage in Freshwater Bay", 
where he found the Indians rejoicing over the success of a ceremouial 
incantation to which they ascribed his return. The reconnaissance map 
is ill-drawn, locating " Fresh Water B." on the mainland side and appar- 
ently combining "Sargent's Point" and "Arnold's Island" as "Sar- 
geutsl."; "San Miguel Pt." is properly located, and idealized route lines 
traverse the "Canal peligroso de San Miguel'' (El Inflernillo), which is 
of greatly exaggerated width. The careful itinerary shows, however, 
that Hardy scarcely entered this strait, and made but three or four 
anchorages in the vicinity— i. e., in Bahia Agua Uulce, in Bahia Bruja, 
probably in Cockle harbor (or " Cochla Inlet"), and finally off Isla Patos. 
Hardy's notes ou the Indians are firsthand, and hence of exceptional 
value. He says: 

The Indians on the island of Tiburou are very stout, tall, and well-built fellows, 
exceedingly like the Twelchii tribe of Indians in Patagonia, and with a language 
so like theirs that I imagined I was transported hack into those wild regions. They 
by no means look so ferocious as they are represented, and there is something 
I>eculiarly mild in the countenances of the females. Their dress is a sort of blanket, 
extending from the hi]is to the knees. But most of the old women have this jiart of 
the body covered with the skins of the eagle, having the feathers turned toicarda the 
flesh. The upper part of the body is entirely exposed, and their hair is dressed ou 
the top of the head in a knot which greatly sets off the eli'ect of their painted faces. 
The men use bows and stone-pointed arrows; but whether they are poisoned I do 
not know. They nse likewise a sort of wooden mallet called Maeana, for close ijuar- 
ters in war. They have >a curious weapon which they employ for catching fish. It 
is a spear with a double point, forming an angle of about 5 degrees. The insides of 
these two points, which are 6 inches long, are jagged; so that when the body of a 
fish is forced between them it cannot get away on account of the teeth.' 

He saw "about fifteen or twenty canoes made of three long bamboo 
bundles fastened together", and observed that, when engaged in turtle 
fishing, the Indian "paddles himself from the shore on one of these by 
means of a long elastic pole of about 12 or 14 feet in length, the wood 
of which is the root of a thorn called mesquite, growing near the coast", 
this pole serving also as a harpoon shaft, provided with a harpoon head 
and cord, such as those still in use. Eespecting the invocatory appur- 
tenances, he says: 

My attention was directed by the old women to a pile of bushes outside the hut, 
which had a start' of about 5 feet in length sticking up through the center. From 

' Op. i-it.,, p. 289-290. 

MCGEE] hardy's explorations 1826 87 

the upper end of the staft' was suspended by a cord 12 or 14 inches long a round 
stone ball, and to this ball was fastened another string furnished with bits of cork, 
surrounded with small feathers stuck into them at the distance of about 3 inches 
apart: the only use of the stone ball being to prevent the wind from blowing out 
horizontally the string which was furnished with feathers. . . . Upon examin- 
ing the bushy pile, I discovered a wooden figure with a cayved hat, and others of 
different shapes and sizes, as well also as'leathern bags, the contents of which I was 
not permitted to explore.' 

He aLso meutious that " in their festivities the Indians wear the head 
(with the horns on) " of the bui-a or mule deer. He add.s : 

It is believed that the Cores Indians have discovered a method of poisoning their 
arrows, and that they do it in this way: They kill a cow and take from it its liver. 
They then collect !i number of rattlesnakes, scorpions, centipedes, and tarauttilas, 
which they confine in a hole with the liver. The next process is to beat them with 
sticks in order to enrage them, and being thus infuriated, they fasten their fangs 
and exhaust their venom upon each other and upon the liver. When the whole 
mass is in a high state of corruption the old women take the arrows and pass their 
points through it. They are then allowed to dry in the shade, and it is said that a 
wound inflicted by them will prove fatal. Others again say that the poison is 
obtained from the juice of the yerba de la fl(?cha (arrow wortt.- 

He purchased some of the arrows, which were stone-tipped, and had 
" certainly had an unguent apjilied to them'; 

He was impressed by indications of family affection, and noted the 
custom of having two wives. Concerning tribal relations he says: 

These people have been always considered extremely ferocious, and there is little 
donl)t, from their brave and warlike character, that they may formerly have devas- 
tated a great part of the country ; l)ut in modern days their feuds are nearly con- 
fined to a neighboring tribe of tlie same name as themselves (Ceres), who speak 
the same language and in all probability originally descended from the same stock. 
They are said to be inferior to those of this island both in courage and stature, and 
they are never suffered to cross the channel. From what I was told » * ' the 
Tiburow C^res have lately retnrned from a sanguinary war with the T^poca Ceres, 
in which the former were victorious. ' 

Later in his itinerary Hardy noted a typical Yaqui revolution, with 
a characteristic effort to secure the cooperation of the Seri.^ He defined 
the Seri habitat as " the island of Tiburow, the coast of Tepoca, and the 
pueblo of Los Ceres, near Pitic"; ' and he estimated the population at 
"3,000 or 4,000 at the very utmost"," and (pioted the estimate of Don 
Jose Maria Eetio, viz, that the Seri population of Tiburon was ],00(l 
to 1,500.' 

Like most of those visitors to the Seri who have returned to tell their 
tale. Hardy "praised the bridge that carried him over" and gave the 
tribe passable character — worse, of course, than that of any other, yet 
hardly so bad as painted at Pitic. 

A noteworthj' traveler in western America during 1840-1842 was 
M. Dutlot de Mofras, an attache of the French legation in Mexico. He 

' O]). cit., Jip. 294-295. ■> Ibid., p. 395 et seq. ' Ibid., pp. 235, 540. 

nbiil. pp. ,298.299. 'Ibill.. p.437. 

nbid., pp. 299, 300. nbid., p. 438. 


traversed the Califoruias and entered Sonora, and while lie failed to 
see Seriland, lie made a note on the tribe, valuable as a current esti- 
mate of the population : 

At tbe gates of the city of Hermosillo is established a Mission which contains 500 
Seri Indians; 1,000 of them inhabit the coast to the north of Guaymas and lie du 
Eequin (Isla del Tiburon).' 

The next noteworthy espisode in the external history of the Seri 
chronicled in the civil records of Sonora culminated in 1844. "The 
above-named Seris, although their number never became important, 
did not abandon their propensity to revolt, and, while they never rose 
en masse, made many factional uprisings. Ultimately . . . they dis- 
played such boldness, robbing ranches, assassinating all they encoun- 
tered, assaulting on the roads arrieros and other travelers", that a 
considerable force was sent against theoi from Hermosillo under the 
direction of Captain Victor Araiza. It was planned to support this 
land force by a sea party from Guaymas, but delays and misunder- 
standings caused tbe practical abandonment of the plan. Tiring of 
the delay, Araiza "declared war on the Indians, surprising them on 
Punta del Carrizal, killing 11, including several innocent women and 
children", and taking 4 captives of from 1 to 11 years in age; where- 
upon the army returned to Ilerniosillo.' 

Disapproviiig of this undignified and inhuman crusade, the acting 
governor. General Francisco Ponce de Leon, planned a still more 
vigorous campaign by land and sea for the purpose of capturing the 
entire tribe and transporting them to Pueblo Seri, where a few of 
their kin were still harbored.^ The command was intrusted to Colonel 
Francisco Audrade, who took i^ersonal charge of the land force, includ- 
ing 160 infantry from Guaymas, 00 infantry and 30 cavalry from 
Hermosillo, and considerable corps from Horcasitas and Altar. The 
naval auxiliary, in charge of Don Toniiis Espence,^ pilot, comprised a 
schooner of 12 tons; two launches, one carrying a 4-pound cannon and 
the other a 2-pound falconet; and one rowboat. On August 11, 1844, 
Espence sailed from Guaymas, and six days later cast anchor at the 
embarcadero (apparently a convenient place on the coast of Bahia Kino 
due west of Pozo Bscalante — the Embarcadero Andrade of figure 1) 
opposite Tiburon. Andrade marched from Hermosillo August 13, 

1 Exploration du Territoire de l'Or6gon, des Californies et de la Mer Vermeille, ex6cut6e pendant 
lea annfics 1840, 1841 et 1842, tome I ; Paris, 1844, p. 214. 

'VeLlsco, Noticias Estadlsticas, pp. 124, 125. This chronicle is rendered peculiarly valuable by 
supplements in tlie tbrin of Andratle's and Espence's journals, the latter incorporated (p. 125) after 
Velasco's own writiu<^ was completed. Tlie whole was revised, extended, and republished in tbe 
several volume.s of the first series of Bol. Soc. Mex. Geog. y Estad., 1861-1866. 

^On August 14, 1844. Secretary Manuel Cabrera reported that "there are in this pueblo not more 
than fifteen families of Ceris located within its borders, maintaining themselves by tbe manufacture 
of earthen ollas and by the garbage of their neighbors, i. e., in time of harvest they glean the wheat 
and corn left scattered, and tbe bones, entrails, and hoofs of the stock slaughtered for consumption by 
the inhabitants." {Incorporated in Velasco, op. cit., p. 138.) 

•Thomas Spence, of Guayuias; apparently the " Mr. Spence" mentioned favorably by Hardy 
(Travels, p. 90). 

MCGEE] A^TDRADE'S expedition 1844 89 

reached Carrizal August IC, and had detachments at the coast to meet 
the squadron the next (hiy. Both the vessels and this detachment 
were out of water, and next morning Espence, taking a few soldiers 
and an Indian guide, made his way to Tiburou in search of springs; 
but "on arriving it turned out that the Indian had deceived the party 
or did not wish to reveal the water." Nevertheless they landed, and 
Espence hoisted the Mexican flag, "taking possession of the island in 
the name of the Mexican Government, as the first civilized person to 
touch the soil." Afterward he divided his force, and he and the 
sailors wandered far, spending the entire day in vain search for 
water. Toward evening he "made the men wade into the sea up to 
their necks, and in this manner mitigated somewhat their burning- 
thirst." Meantime the soldiers had traveled inland some C or 8 miles, 
and found water at the head of an arroyo (apparently a temporary 
tiuaja west of Punta Narragansett), but it was surrounded by Indians, 
who at once gave battle. Such was their thirst that the soldiers 
held their ground, drinking one at a time under the protection of 
their comrades. At length they killed two chiefs (one of whom wore a 
jacket taken from one Hijar, robbed on the Cienega road a few days 
before), and succeeded in withdrawing to a small eminence and shel- 
tering themselves behind a rock. Later they effected a retreat without 
loss, and of course without water, so that they arrived at the shore 
even thirstier than the sailors. Making their way back to the main- 
land during the night, the party were relieved the following day by 
mule- loads of water sent over from Carrizal. On August 20 Colonel 
Audrade marched to the coast with most of his force, leaving a detach- 
ment to guard the route; and the next day Espence transported to the 
island 125 troops, 16 horses, and some mules and cattle, without other 
accident than the drowning of a mule and a steer "by the strength of 
the current". Suffering much from thirst, the troops pressed inland to 
the watering-place already discovered, where they camped. The next 
day Colonel Andrade, with Lieutenant Jesus Garcia, worked north- 
ward, finding another watering-place (doubtless Tinaja Anita) oi 
leagues distant from the first; and this was made headquarters for the 
force. Several parties were sent out in search of water and Indians. 
A few watering-places were found, and a number of women and children 
with a few men were captured, though the journals indicate that the 
excursions were of limited extent only. Meantime Espence brought 
over the baggage and provisions; and on August 24, leaving a launch 
and a rowboat for the use of the troops, he sailed northward through 
the strait, and three days later, after passing many bars of sand, entered 
the bay at the extreme north (Bahia Agua Dulce), opposite Punta 
Tepopa, finding sharks swarming in thousands. Here he found fresli 
water 250 paces from the beach— the water which sustained Hardy 
eighteen years before, and Ugarte over a century earlier still. He 
found no Indians here, but a number of Jacales and balsas (which he 

90 THE SERI INDIANS [eth. ann.17 

immediately burned), as well as boues and other remains of horses.' 
On August 28 and 29 Espence skirted the abrupt and rocky coasts 
of Tiburon, west and south of the northern bay, without seeing 
trace of natives; on the 3()th he reached the western bay, where 
he found huts and fresh tracks, aud captured a woman disabled by 
snake-bite. Farther down the bay he encountered a considerable 
party, who first prepared to attack, aud then, overawed by his bold 
front, sued for peace; whereupon he accepted their submission, and 
sent them with a letter to Colonel Audrade. This afl'air concluded, 
and escaping currents so contrary that he was nearly locoed ("por 
las corrientes encontradas que me volviau loco"),- he coasted south- 
ward; and ou September 1, at the southwestern point of the island, 
he found another rancheria, and made jieaceful conquest of the occu- 
pants, whom he also sent with a letter to Andrade. Thence he coasted 
eastward, aud, on Septembers, returned to his startin<^- point, "hav- 
ing navigated the island in the period of nine days, having in this 
time burned 64 huts aud 97 balsas, and reduced to peace 104 Indians 
with their families." The next day he transported the captives to 
the mainland, "their number, comprising men, women, and children, 
reaching 384, besides about 37 remaining at large on the island." ' On 
Se])tember 5 the remaining troops were transferred to the mainland, 
with the exception of a small detachment, which remained for an 
unspecified, but evidently short period, in the vain hope of corraling 
the warriors, with the families to which they belonged, supposed 
(on grounds not given) to remain on the island. The troops and their 
captives immediately moved to Laguna de los Cercaditos (probably 
Laguna la Cruz) to rejoin the cavalry guard; thence, suffering much 
from thirst, they marched toward Hermosillo, arriving at that place 
September 12,^ where the troops aud captives formed a triumphal pro- 
cession, met on the highroad by the merchants and the civil and niili 
tary authorities, and greeted by the ringing of bells and the firing of 
rockets, and with music and refreshments. 

■ The expressions of the journal indicate that Espence was not familiar with the Seri custom of 
eviscerating and quartering stolen stock, consuming the entrails at once, and transporting the more 
substantial pieces across the strait on their balsas. Vclasco fell into still fuither error in assuming 
that the expressions relate to tracks and other indications of the ]iresence of living stock on the 

^ Velasco, op. cit., i). 168. 

^Ibid., J). 169. On the same page Espence classiiies tlie captives as G (ddsters ("viejos do seseuta 
alios arriba"), 12 beldames ("viejas de cuarenta arriba"). 1 blind. 1 idiotic boy, 5 cripples male, 1 
cripple female, 180 women, 160 children, and 144 men— 510 in all. Andracle's report enumerates the 
captives as 120 in each of two lots, with 20 or more in a third, making 260 odd (ibid., p. 180) ; while 
Velasco put the number at 200 and odd (" docientas y tentas personcs "), men, women, and children, 
including only 30 odd oldsters and warriors combined. The discrepancies are characteristic, and 
of apiece with tliose prevailing in the same latitude and longitude today; e. g., Velasco says there 
are but four waters on the island, Espence says there are eight or ten, and Andrade implies that there 
are mauy ; Velascosays there were 160 troops froniGuaymas, while Andrjide mentions only 80; Espence 
says that in transporting the stock {as noted above) but one mule was drowned by the strength of the 
current, while Audrade says that a mule aud a steer were lost on account of the bad storm which 
prevailed during the day; yet there is such agreement between dates and facts in the independent 
journals of Andrade and Espence as to establish general verity despite the provincial weakness 
concerning details. 

■1 According to Andrade (ibid., p. 182) ; Velasco says Septenibcr 16 (ibid,, p. 126). 


The captives were imprisoned over uigbt in the mint, the children 
weeping, the women chattering angrily or humbly, and the men sulk- 
ing. Next day the Hermosillenos began distributing the children among 
themselves, some families taking three and many two, while the adults 
were transferred to Pueblo Seri, placed in charge of a .single keeper, 
and set to gathering fuel, etc. Naturally this unstable status did not 
long persist; "within two months thej- began to disappear, fleeing to 
their respective and native haunts, stealing and carrying with them 
the children from whom they had been separated"; ' and, according to 
Espence, they committed "many murders on the Pitic and (iuaimas 
roads'' as they returned to Tiburon.- 

While the Tiburon captives were escaping, the campaigning con- 
tinued; and, in November, 1844, several Seri families, comprising G3 
men, women, and children, who had been scavengering Rancho del 
Burro ("manteuiendose alii a merced de los desperdicios de dicho 
rancho"),' were captured and transported to the mint at Hermosillo, 
and soon afterward transferred to Pueblo Seri. During the same 
month a report came from Rancho del Pocito, on the Guaymas road, 
that Seri marauders (assumed to belong to the 10 families left on the 
island) had killed 10 head of stock; and a detachment of 15 cavalry 
was sent to inflict punishment. Early in December this party met a 
Seri force of over seventy warriors, including some of those captured 
on Tiburon and escaped from Pueblo Seri; after a battle of four hours 
the troops found their ammunition exhausted, several of their carbines 
out of order, and all but four or Ave of their horses winded; so that 
they were driven to parley with the Indians and to ])rocure their surren- 
der by pacific means — especially promises of good treatment.^ Subse- 
quently a municipal commission from Hermosillo reminded the defeated 
Seri of their surrender, and "three, four, or eight" of them ])resented 
themselves ("i)resentandose tres, euatro li ocho hombres"), and were 
probably added to the colony at Pueblo Seri. 

Espence's journal clearly indicates a complete circumnavigation of 
Tiburon, the second in history (that of Ugarte in 1721 being the tirst); 
and naturally some of his notes are of ethnologic value: 

The Ceris Indians are tall, well formed, not very corimlent; the wouien are 
remarkable for small breasts and feet and high insteps. At night they travel ill; 
this is to be attributed to the reflection of the sun on the sand, which is quite white, 
and as they all live on the shore where they gain sustenance, which is (ish and plank- 
ton [marisco], they are daily exposed to a glare which injures their visiou. Their 
favorite food is turtles and horses. . . . They are all in the most savage condi- 
tion it is possible to conceive. Their language is guttural, and they are most lilthy 
in their persons, as in their food, which is mostly eaten raw, or at the best half 

' Velaaco, Noticias EstEulisticas, p. 127. 

^Ibid., p. 170. 

'Ibid., p. 128. 

*Ibid,, ji. 129. This naive recital is far from unique among tlie cbronicles of conquest over the Seri. 
All of the records recount victories more or les.s brilliant, even wlien tliere are strong indications 
between lines tliat the Caucasians were outnnmbered, outfought, forced from tbe field, and even 
driven into tbe jirotcction of tbe pueblos. The Seri side of the story has never been told. 

92 THE SERI INDIANS [eth.a.nn 17 

cooked; they eutlure :i thousand miseries on tlie island, yet the love they have for it 
is incredible. They are always accompanied by innumerable dogs, . . . which 
they have domesticated. ' 

Velasco adds: 

The Ceris snl) on fish, the seeds ol' grass, and coastwise shrnbs, as well as on 
the flesh of horses and deer, which they kill. There is no better proof of this fact 
than this — on approaching the said Ceris, one instantly perceives that their bodies 
exhale an intolerable stench, like that of a corpse of eight or more days, totally rot- 
ten, so that it is necessary to withdraw far as possible from them. - 

Of all the Indian tribes known in Sonora, none are more barbarous and uncivilized 
than the Ceris. They are perverse to the limit, vioions beyond compare in drunken- 
ness, infinitely filthy, the bitterest enemies of the whites, like the worst of the 
Indians. ■'■ 

He adds also that tlie men wear a pelicauskiu robe aud a breecbcloutof 
cotton cloth, with most of the body uncovered; "they have their faces 
painted or barred with prominent black lines. They use no foot-gear of 
any kind, aud many have the nasal septum pierced and adorned with 
pieces of greenstone or ordinary glass." " They are robust in stature, 
tall and straight, generally with bright black eyes. The women are not 
uncomely, and of bronzy color [de color abronzado]. Their clothing 
is made of pelican skins fastened together, retaining the feathers; with 
this they are covered from the waist downward", the remainder of the 
body being bare. The women of Hermosillo provide them with cast oft' 
garments when they approach the city, aud these they wear, unwashed, 
until they fall to pieces. " The said tribe, in addition to being the vilest 
and most brutal known in the country, are preeminently treacherous 
aud traitorous, so that forty of their outbreaks may be counted during 
the efforts to reduce them to civilized life." At the time of the Cimar- 
rones outbreak, the Seri of Tiburoii and Tepoka numbered 2,000; 
"today [about 1S4G or 1847], counting the 259, which are all that 
inhabit Tiburon and the most that can be presented, including the 
Tepoka Seri [los Ceris Tepocas], who have always been much fewer, 
their whole number will not amount to 500 persons of all sexes and 
ages, and the warriors can not exceed (iO or 80 at the most." The Seri 
are not polygamous, though apparently promiscuous (" se uota en sus 
matrimonies mucha tolerancia mutamente"). They "adore the moon, 
which they venerate and respect as a deity ; when they see the new 
moon, they kneel and make obeisance; they kiss the earth and make a 
thousand genuHcctions, beating their breasts."^ 

The remarkably vigorous expedition of Andrade and Espence 
occurred within the memory of men still active, and naturally it lives 
in tradition at Hermosillo and Bacuache, and among the ranchos lying 
toward the border of Seriland; indeed, one of the two Mexicans 
accomi)auying the 1895 expedition, Don Ygnacio Lozania, retained 
shadowy impressions of participating in an invasion of the island, 
which could have been none other than that planned by Governor Ue 

'Velasco, Noticias Estadlsticas, jip. 16a-171. ^jijid., pp. 127-128. 

3 Ibid., i>. 129. ' Ibid., pp. 131-133. 



Leou aud executed by Colonel Audrade. Yet it is not uuchaiacteiistic 
of Sonoran history that the wave of anti-Seri activity culminating iu 
1841 hardly outlasted its own breaking; certainly Escudero, writing 
less than five years later, declared of "la nacion Serr-. '-During 
thirty-three years they have committed not a single act of hostility and 
live in peace and perfect harmony with the Sonorenses." He added 
that they occupied the islands of Tiburon and Tepoca (sic) and the 
coasts of the gulf contiguous to Sonora and California, and from the 
most remote antiquity had been known by the names of ^Hibiiroues" 
or "ser/s". Describing Pueblo Seri, he observed: "It now contains 
hardly a dozen aged Seris of both sexes"; and he forecast the early 
extinction of the tribe, since the people were incapable of abandoning 
their independent and solitary existence.' 

Here ends, practically, the history of Pueblo Seri as a Seri settle- 
ment, for, although one of the tribe survived for half a century and a 
few others may have survived for a decade, the "aged Seris of both 
sexes " melted away so rapidly as to leave no later record, and were 
apparently never replaced by others. Briefly, the history of the pueblo 
began with the establishment of a presidio or military post in 1741 iu 
the natural gateway aud watering-place leading into the settled valleys 
of the Opodepe and upper Sonora, for the sole purpose of protecting 
the settlements against the wandering Seri, who used this typical 
Sonora watergap as a way-station on forays but never as a place of 
residence. The history grew definite when the Jesuits obtained the 
allotment of lands for the Seri and established for them a mission, 
which was at the same time a place of catechizing for Seri neo])hytes, 
a place of detention for Seri captives, a jdace of refuge for Seri weak- 
lings, and a place of resort for Seri sneaks and spies. The history 
proceeded with many vicissitudes, as the ])residio was alternately 
abandoned under Seri attacks and reoceupied when the attacks were 
repulsed, and as the neophytes alternately escaped aud suffered recap- 
ture; the formal history waned in relative importance as the i)opula- 
tion and interests of Pitic and afterward of Hermosillo waxed, and as 
the lands originally allotted to the Seri were gradually taken and held 
by Mexican settlers, and ended when the Seri tenure was formally 
extinguished in 1844, as described by Cabrera and Velasco; and the 
general history dropped into unimi)ortance with the escape of Andrade's 
captives, after temporary quartering on the legally established land- 
holders and householders of the Mexicanized pueblo. For a century 
and a half the name of the pueblo has continually raised and renewed 
the assumption that it marks a site of aboriginal Seri habitation or 
has played some other leading role in Seri history, and this assumption 
has shaped opinion i)ast and present; yet its error is clearly shown by 
scrutiny of the liistorical records, as well as by collateral ethnologic 
and archeologic evidence. 

'Koticiaa Estadlsticuy, pp. 141-142. 

94 THE SERI INDIANS [eth.axn.17 

Here may be said to end, too, the local chronicles of the Seri; for 
although the state archives are crowded with charges, petitions, com 
missions, reports, and other liajiers pertaining to the irrepressible Seri; 
although these materials have overflowed to Ciudad, Mexico, and even 
to "Washington, in official documents both numerous and voluminous; 
although Dtivila in ISO-t increased Yelasco's forty Seri wars to fifty; 
and although the weightiest events in the internal history of the Seri 
have occurred since 1S44, little attempt has latterly been made to 
reduce the abundant data to print. 

The Mexican geographic knowledge of the time was surprisingly 
vague, as is shown by the current maps, for example, the Tanner maps 
which appeared in several editions: the 184(5 edition recalls and evi- 
dently reflects the Humboldt map of the beginning of the century; "R. 
Ascencion" is represented as embouchiug through an estuary about 
30° 20', with the "Seris Indians" north of its lower half-length and west 
of "Pitic" and "Ft. del Alter"; Ures is located 3 or i miles southeast of 
this fort, and "Racuach" (the Bacuachito of the present) is 20 miles 
farther southeastward. Ifeither Rio Sonora nor any of its important 
branches are indicated, while "Pitic" is placed several times too far 
from the coast and from (luaymas, in a featureless expanse of paper; 
"Rio Hiaqui" is shown as a branchless and conventional stream of a 
single crescentic curvature, embouching in about the right latitude. 
The coast of the gulf is distorted, and "Tiburon" is shown as an island 
much too large and nearly a degree too far north, separated from the 
mainland by a greatly exaggerated strait, with an elongated mesa 
("Mt. del Picu ") skirting the mainland coast — in short, the cartogra})hy 
is largely traditional if not fanciful.' 

The career of the Seri during the half century 1844-1894 is traceable 
by aid of (1) unpublished documents, (2) jrablished results of scientific 
inquiries and surveys, and (3) personal reminiscences of men living on 
the Seri frontier; but in a sunnnary touching only salient points the 
first-named source may be passed over. 

One of the first foreign visitors to follow Baron Humboldt in sys- 
tematic inquiries concerning the aborigines of northwestern Mexico 
was Henri Ternaux-Com])ans; his information, too, was secondhand 
and remote, yet he correctly recognized Isla Tiburon as "inhabited 
by the Seris, who have some huts also on the mainland".^ 

Later came Eduard ]\Iiililenpfordt,an attache of a German commercial 
company and later a Mexican state official, who traveled extensively and 
wrote partly at first hand, though there is little indication of personal 
acquaintance with Seriland or the Seri : he described " Bahia de San 

'A Map of the United States of Mexico, as organized and defined by the several Acta of the Oon* 
gross of that Republic, con.structed from a groat variety of Printed and Manuscript Document.s, by 
H. S. Tanner. Third edition, 1846. The map in Be Jlofras (op. cit., atlas) is little better. 

2 Nouvelles Annalijs des Voy.Tges, tome III, 1842, p. 320 (cited by Buschmann, Die Spuron der 
azteliischen Sprache im nordliclifu Mexic-o und hiihfrou amerikaniscbeu Nordon, in Abhandlnugen 
der Konigliclien Akademie der M'issensrliafteu /.u Berlin, aiis dem Jahre 1854, zweiter Supplement 
Band: Berlin, 1859, p. 219). 


Juan Bautista", with "tbe small island Sau Augustin" lying before it 
(in sucli manner as to identify this islet with Isla Tassne), and located 
"the large island Tibnron farther northward, opposite a mountainous 
coast".' He added: 

The waterless but cattle-stocked jilaius lictweeu tlie jjlace Pitic and tlie cDast, 
aud thence up to the river Asceusiou, are inhabited by a. uieager remnant of the 
Seii tribe, while ou Tiburou island, opposite this coast, the Tiburones dwell. The 
Seris were foi-merly very numerous, by far the fiercest of all the Indian tribes of 
northern Mexico, aud very warlike. Through ceaseless war with the Til)nroues 
aud the troops from the Spanish presidios they are now nearly extinct. - 

Elsewhere the Tiburones were characterized as enemies of the Seri,^ 
while the "Heris" tribe was enumerated as a branch of the ''Pimas 
Bajas" people. Herr Miihlenpfordt's characterization of the Seri aud 
the Tiburou islanders as enemies would appear to be groundless, yet 
not wholly incomprehensible; in the first place, the earlier literature 
indicates that the term Seri (Seris, Ceris, Heris, etc.) was an alien 
designation of lax application,^ doubtless exteiuled occasionally or 
habitually to marauding nomads, regardless of afiBnity; again there is 
conclu.sive evidence that in many instances Seri convert-captives 
attached to the missions and jiueblos were often regarded as tribal 
apostates and outlaws whose lives were forfeit; and, moreover, the 
region in which Herr IMiihleupfordt gained his itiformation was and 
still is one of abounding tale, whose frequent exaggeration and not in- 
frecjuent invention conceal and distort the simple facts. 

In 1850, Don Diego Lavandera transmitted to the Mexican Society 
of Geography and Statistics, through the hands of Senor Jose P. 
Eamirez, certain documents, accompanied by a note to the effect that 
"The tribe of the Seris speak Arabic, and it is understood by the Moors 
at the first interview" — this note merely expi'essing a i)revailing cur- 
rent opinion. Undertaking to test the opinion, Senor Ramirez sent to 
Lavandera, in Sonora, a number of words in three Arabic dialects, at 
the same time asking for the Seri equivalents; and the inquiry yielded a 
Seri vocabulary (probably the first ever printed) of eleven words. Of 
these none show the slightest affinity with the Arabic dialects; atleast 
four (horse, chamber, population, wine) express concepts alien to the 
Seri; and only three or four cau be identified with Seri terms recorded 
in later vocabularies. No reference is made to Senor Lavandera"s 
aboriginal informant; but there is a strong presumption that it was 
the official interpreter at Hermosillo and Pueblo Seri — a presumption 

' Tersuch einer getreuen Schilderuiig der Republik Mejico besonders in Beziebniig .anf GeograpLie, 
Ethnographie, luid Statistik: Hannover, 1844, Band I. p. 441; Baud n, p. 415. 

'Ibid., Band ll, pp. 419-420. 

^Ibid., Band, I p. 210. 

'Penafiel defines *'Seris" a.*i the "name of a tribe of Sonora. originating probably in the Opata 
language ' (Nouieuclatura Geogrilfica de Mexico — Etimologiaa de lo3 Nombres de Lugar . . 
por el Dr. Antonio Peuafiel, priniera parte, 1897, p. 225) ; while Pimentel dei5ne.s two .suggestively 
similar Opata words, '*Serarai, paso menudo y bueno", and " Sererdi, velocidad de la persona quo 
corre" (Vocabulario Manual de la Lengua Opata, Bol. Soc. _Mex. Geog. y Estad., tonio x, 1863, p. .i06), 
i. e., a good and direct pace, and the speed of a persou ruuuing, respectively (of. postea. p. 125). 

J)f; THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ann.17 

warranted by coincident historical records and statements of coutem- 
porarit'S still living, to tbe effect (1) that an ofBcial interpreter was 
tbere tbeu and for a long time later, (2) tbat neitber tben nor later 
were tbere other Seri representatives able to furnish vocabularies at 
Hermosillo, Pueblo Seri, or other towns, and (3) tbat at tbat time (as at 
most others) tbe relations between the Seri and the whites were such as 
to prevent amicablecommunication through casual meeting or otherwise. 
Proceeding with his discussion, Senor IJamirez sought to correct tbe 
allegation of Abb('' Hervas that "in tbe nussion of Belen live three 
uations, called Hiaqui, Seri, and Guaima, who speak three different lan- 
gnagesJ'' After quoting a Jesuit manuscript of July, 1730, rej)orting 
that "the language of the Seris is tlie same as that of the Guaimas'', 
be added a siguilicant statement contained in a manuscript report from 
the Bishoi) of Sonora, directed to Don Jose de Galvez, under date of 
September -'0, 1784, concerning tbe mission of Belen: '-Two nations 
of Indians, Pimas Bajos and Gnaimas, live united, the latter having 
abandoned their pueblo under tbe continuous assaults of the Seris. 
The Pimas use their own language. . . . Tbe Guaimas use their 
ancient language." Summarizing the evidence (of course secondhand 
and derived from the observations and reports of the missionaries), 
Seiior Ramirez held as proved, first, "the existence of two diverse 
languages at tbe mission of Belen — that of tlie Guaimas and that of 
tbe Pimas Bajos'"; and second, tbat "tbe Guainuis and the Seri are 
tbe same".' It would appear that Senor Ramirez hardly appreciated 
tbe significance of the statement of sixty-four years before tbat the 
Guayma were still using their " ancient'' language, with tbe implication 
tbat they were accjuiring familiarity with tbe Piman tongue — a famili- 
arity tbat may well have misled later inquirers. 

It is just to say that scientific Ivnowledge of tbe Seri began with tbe 
visit to Hermosillo of United States Boundary Commissioner John 
Russell Bartlett, on December 31, 1851. True, Commissioner Bartlett 
approached no nearer Seriland than Hermosillo and Guaymas, and saw 
but a single Seri; yet he obtained an excellent vocabulary and consid- 
erable collateral information from this Indian. According to this 
information — 

The Ceris tribe of Indians, with the exception of those which are christianized 
and reside in the villiige near Hermosillo, occupy the island of Tiburon in the 
Gulf of California, north of Guaymas. Although believed not to number over 100 
warriors, they have long been the dread of the Mexicans between Guayuuis and 
Hermosillo, as well as the country to the north, on account of their continual 
depredations and murders. Their practice is to lie in w.ait near the traveled roads, 
and there surprise small and unprotected parties. Their place of abode being on 
an island or the shores adjacent, and their subsistence being chiefly gained by fish- 
ing, they have no desire to steal animals, which would be of no use to them; nor do 
they take any prisoners. To murder and plunder small parties of Mexicans seems 

'Lenguas rriraitivas, in Boletin del Iu.stituto Nai-ioiial tie Geografia y Eatadistica de la Repilljlica 
Mexicaua, third edition, tonio M; Mexico, 1861, pp. 148-149. 

Ml oEEl BARTLETT's record I8.V_> 97 

to be their only aim, and every arrow or lauce thrown by the Ceris that pierces the 
sliin causes death, as all are poisoned. Many expeditions, fitted ont at a great 
expense, havebeen sent against them; but, though commanded by competent officers, 
all have failed. The number being so small, they manage when pursued to conceal 
themselves where they can not be found. The island of Tiburon, as well as the 
mainland adjacent, is exceedingly barren and destitute of water; hence parties have 
suflered greatly in the campaigns against them, without accomplishing anything. 
I was told that the Government had already expended more than .$1,000 for every 
male of the tribe. The last serious attack of these i)eople was made upon a gentle- 
man traveling to Guaymas in his carriage with his family and attendants, embrac- 
ing 16 persons. They were surprised in an unfrequented place and every soul put 
to death.' 

Commissioner Bartlett quoted Hardy's description of tlie arrow jioisoii, 
and, speaking of the Seri tonjiue, added: 

I found it an extremely harsh language, very difficult to express witli our letters, 
and totally ditierent from any al)original tongue I had heard spoken ; . . . but it 
was impossible for me, without a close philological comparison with other Indian 
languages, to arrive at any correct conclusiou as to whether this people are allied or 
not to other aboriginal tribes. 

He also referred to a prevalent notion that "the Ceris were of Asiatic 
origin, in proof of which some statements were made too improbable to 
repeat. This idea seems to have originated from the resemblance 
between their naiiic and that given by the ancients to the Chinese."' 

In order to obtain a Seri vocabulary, Commissioner Bartlett had a 
messenger dispatched "to a pueblo or village of these Ijidians near 
Hermosillo. The person sent for made his appearance in a few hours"; 
he was "a good-looking man, about 30 years of age. His complexion 
was fair, and resembled that of an Asiatic rather than an American 
Indian. His cheek bones were high, and his head round and well 
formed, though the anterioi' portion was somewhat angular and i)romi- 
nent. His hair was short, straight, and black. He was a full-blooded 
Ceris, and came originally from the island of Tiburon. In about three 
hours I completed the vocabulary (pute satisfactorily to myself.'"- The 
vocabulary was not printed with the narrative; nor were references 
made to the 8eri pojjulation, either in the pueblo or in Seriland. 

While the vocabulary was not published by Commissioner Bartlett, 
it was preserved and passed into the hands of George Gibbs. who made 
a .systematic transcrii)t; ' this came into possession of Dr Albert S. 
Gatschet, and a copy is preserved in the archives of the Bureau of 
American Ethnology. The name of the native informant is not recorded, 
but fortunately he was found .still living, and was fully identified, dur- 
ing the expeditions of 1894 and 1895— especially toward the end of the 

I Personal Narrative of Explorations and Incidents in Texas, Xew Mexico, California, Sonora, and 
Chihuahua, Connected with the United States and Mexican Boundary Commission, during the years 
1850, '51, '52, and '53 ; New York, 1854, vol. I, p. 463 et seq . 

^Ibid., pp. 463-464. 

'This transcript is entered in a blank scheilule Vocabulary of 180 Words, printed liy the Scuith- 
snnian Institution for Gibbs, with a supplementary sheet; it is dated January 1, 1852; and while the 
published ■Xarmtire" implies that it was recorded December 31. 1851. the manuscript date is con 
riniied by the Seri interpreter, Kolusio. 
17 ETH 7 

98 THE SERI INDIANS [eth. anx. i: 

lacter, when, on January 4, 189(i, lie was employed as an inforraaut. 
He was then a fiue-looking man of noble stature and figure, and of nota- 
bly dignified air and manner, dressed in couventioual attire; his hair 
was luxuriant, iron-gray in color, and trimmed in Mexican fashion. His 
looks indicated an age of about 70, but in his own opinion (which was 
corroborated by that of Senor Pascual Euciuas and other old acquaint- 
ances) he was at least T.'j. His movements were vigorous, his eyes clear 
and bright, his vision good, and, except for hardly perceptible imper- 
fection of hearing, he was in full possession of normal faculties. He 
was in the employ of the state as a trustworthy attache of the gover- 
nor's palacio, where his services were nominal ; his real function was 
that of a Seri interpreter in case of need; and on the day specified 
he was temporarily assigned to the service of the expedition by His 
Excellency Governor Corral. By Mexican acquaintances he was com 
monly called Fernando, though he called himself Kolusio, sometimes 
using the former designation as a forename; he was also known as "El 
General" (= Chief), or '*E1 General de los Seris". He had a vague 
memory of Tiburon island, which he left in childhood (at about 6 years 
of age, according to his estimate) and had never revisited, though he 
had been on the Seri border so late as 1870. Except when temporarily 
at Rancho San Francisco de Costa Rica, he had lived in Pueblo Seri, 
usually reporting in Hermosillo daily for such duty as might be assigned 
to him at the palacio. He was aware that he was regarded as a tribal 
outlaw, and admitted that no consideration could induce him to approach 
Seriland, since he would be slain by his tribesmen more eagerly than 
any alien; indeed, he hardly dared venture so for westward as Molino 
del Enciuas, in the outskirts of Hermosillo, and only did .so in daylight 
or in company of others. His few kinsfolk in Pueblo Seri had died or 
deserted so long before that he had forgotten names and dates: and, 
as he remarked with half-realized pathos, he had been alone amid 
aliens for very many years ("muy muchos anos"). The linguistic 
inquiries put to him reminded him of previous interrogations of the 
sort, and he voluntarily described the visit of a distinguished Auierican 
who, a long time ago (more than 40 years, he thought), came down from 
TJres, with many books and papers, and spent New Year's day in 
interrogating him about his language and his people. He was much 
impressed with the ability displayed by the "Gringo muy graude'' in 
writing the terms and afterward repronouncing them properly; and he. 
described the visitor as appearing very pale and sick ("muy palido y 
malo"), and under the necessity of frequently resting and taking njedi- 
cine, and also as having wavy hair, worn so long as to hang down over 
the neck and shoulders. He could not recall that he had ever heard 
tlie American's name; but his description pointed clearly to Commis- 
sioner Bartlett. who had ri.sen from a sick-bed at Ures and was on his 
way to Guaymas to get the benefit of a sea voyage, and who wore his 
hair long during a part or all of his expedition (as was subsequently 


ascertained by extended inquiry). Kolusio also remembered " giving 
his language" (a bold if not sacrilegious act, according to bis view) to 
two or three other persons, (one "not a Mexicano'" though speaking- 
Spanish, none "Americano " ') ; but the iirst-mentioned instance was the 
one most deeply impressed on his mind. At* this time (1890) he 
retained a working knowledge of the Seri tongue, and was able to serve 
satisfactorily as a Spanish-Seri interpreter; yet careful test showed that 
he had forgotten numerous native terms, and sometimes inadvertently 
substituted other Indian (Yaqui, Papago, and ]irobably Opata) and 
Spanish words; while lie knew so little of the tribal customs and 
beliefs that inquiries pertaining to them were too nearly fruitless to be 
long pursued. Undoubtedly his knowledge of the Seri tongue was 
fresher and fuller in 1852; but since he was practically isolated from 
his tribe in early childhood, he probably never possessed much infor- 
mation concerning the esoteric characters of his people. 

The next noteworthy scientific student of the Seri was Johann Garl 
Ednard Buschmann, who visited various Mexican tribes, but wbose 
knowledge of the Seri was wholly secondhand. Quoting Villa-Seuor 
and Arrecivita and other early writers, noting nnfortuuate passages from 
Bartlett, and magnifying Miihlenpfordt's misapprehensions into posi- 
tive error, he reduced knowledge of this and neighboring tribes to 
chaos. The "Gruaymas'' were separated from the "Seris (oder Seres)", 
and these (at least by implication) from the "Tiburones", while the 
"Piatos" were combined with the Seri, the traditional alliance with 
the Apache was greatly overdrawn, and the "Heri oder lleris" and 
the "Tepocas" were treated as distinct.- No new facts were adduced, 
no use was made of local sources of information, and no notice was 
taken of other than literary data. 

In 1857 the gigantic surveying enterprise of Jecker & Co. was under- 
taken, under a concession from the Government of Mexico, and the 
scientific surveys were intrusted to a commission headed by El (Japi- 
tan Carlos Stone (General Charles Pomeroy Stone, U.S.A.). The com- 
mission lieadquartered at Guaymas, purchased vessels for the survey 
of the coast, and began operations also in the interior; liahia Pinacati 
and George island (named by Hardy in 1826) were surveyed, as well 
as the entire Sonorau coast south of Guaymas, and "one hundred miles 
of coast near Tibnron", besides many hundred square miles of valuable 
lands. At this stage friction developed between the iirogressive com- 
mission and tlieconservativeSonorenses, which ended in the expulsion of 
the scientific commission by the State government.'^ By reason of the 

' At the time of inquiry tlie importance of the other vocabularies was not suspected, and the inter- 
rogation was not puslicd far enough to permit ideutiflcatiou of tlie persons to whom they were given. 

■'Die Spureu der aztekisclien Sprache im nordlichen Mexico und hoheren amerikanischen Xorden. 
Zugleich eine Musterung der Volkerund Sprachen des niirdlichen Mexicos und der Westseite Nord- 
amerikaa von Guadalaxara an his zum Eisnieer. Von Job. Carl Ed. Buschmann (in Abhaudluugen 
der Koniglichen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin, aua dem Jahro 1854, zweiter Supplement- 
Hand) ; Berlin, 1859, pp. 218-221 and elsewhere. 

'Arizona and Souora, etc., by Sylvester Mowry ; New York, 1861 pp. 1I8-1U2. 


premature tenuiuatioii of the work, few of the observations and other 
results were ever published. General Stone himself traveled exten- 
sively in Souora, and delved deeply in the historical records of northern 
Mexico; and, while there is no indication that he ever came in personal 
contact with the Seri, he collected and sifted current local infornmtion 
relating to the tribe with notable acumen. In certain " Notes " pre 
pared in Washington in December, I8G0, he wrote: 

The Ceris are .a peculiar tribe of Indians occupying the islaud of Tiburon and the 
neighboring coast. They arc yet in a perfectly savage state, and live solely by 
lishiug and hunting. Having been at war with the whites from the time of the first 
missions, they h.ave becomi^ reduced in numbers to about 300, counting some 80 war- 
riors. They are of large stature, well made, and athletic. In wiir and in the chiisc 
they make use of poisoned arrows, the wounds from whicli are almost always fatal. 
In preparing the i)oisou, it is said they procure the liver of a deer or cow, and by 
irritating riittlesnakcs and scorpions with it, cause it to be struck by a great many 
of these reptiles. They then hang up the mass to putrefy in a bag, and in the drip- 
pings of this bag they soak their arrowheads. I can not vouch for the truth of this 
statement, but it is current in .Sonora. I was informed by a gentleman in Hirmo- 
sillo that one of his servants, who was slightly shot by a Ceri's arrow, died quickly 
from the effect of the wound (which mortified almost immediately) in spite of the 
best medical treatment. Their language is guttural, and very different from any 
other Indian idiom in Sonora. It is said that on one occasion some of these Indians 
passed by a shop in Guaymas, where some Welsh sailors were talking, and on hear- 
ing the Welsh language spoken, stopped, listened, and appeared much interested, 
declaring that those white men were their brothers, for they had a tougne like their 
own. They are very filthy in their habits, and are said to be worshipers of the 

Another Mexican traveler of note who collected local and contem- 
porary inforinatioii concerning the Seri, though enjoying no more than 
sligiit inimical contact with them, was Herr Clemens A. Pajeken, of 
Bremen (for some time a resident of California). He classed as wild 
Indians ("Wilde Indianer, ludios broncos") the Seri and Apache tribes. 
Of the former he wrote : 

Ceris. This is a small tribe, their number not exceeding 400 souls, or rather head 
[dessen Seelenzahl oder besser Kopfzahl] ; yet the government of the State could 
not restrain this little baud of robbers and marauders that for more than twenty 
years have perpetrated their atrocities on travelers between the port of Guaymas 
and the city of Hermosillo, the metropolis of the State. . . . The Ceris appear 
not to grasp the idea that they are human. Like the prey-beasts of the wilderness, 
they go out to slay men and animals, sparing only their own kind. In many respects 
they are viler than the beasts, since they sl.ay without need merely to satisfy a lust 
for slaughter. They are not only the stupidest .and laziest of the Indians of Sonora, 
but also the most treacherous and deceitful. Dnring the Spanish rule, from the 
time the first visit was made to lead them toward social life, they have rebelled 
more than forty times. Only a couple of families [ein paar Familien] still reside 
in the village [Pueblo Seri], where they make ollas .and subsist on the offal of the 
shambles. The proper home of these barbarians is the island of Tiburon and the 
adjacent coasts, whither they return after their outbreaks, although it is an incred- 
ibly desert region. Thence they repair to the highways to kill travelers and arri- 

' Notes on the State of Sonom, by Charles P. Stone, IStiO; Washinjjton, 1861, p. 19. Reprinted in 
Historical Magazine, vol. v, 1861, pp. 101-169. 


eros, or to the rauges to steal cattle. They contiue themselves to the bow anil arrow, 
aii<l the latter arc poisoned, so that every wound made by them is deadly, or at best 
highly dangerous. On my second journey into the interior of tlie eountry my horse 
received an arrow in the hip; the arrow, which entered 4 inches, could not l)e with- 
drawn until the following day ; and for seven months the wound suppurated. 
. . . Their chief food consists of oysters, mussels, snakes, with fish and other 
sea food, which they consume entirely raw and which surrounds them with an intol- 
erable stench : though this may be partly due to their exceeding uncleanliness. since 
the process of washing is wholly unknown to them. Their clothing consists of a 
kilt of pelican sliin. They tattoo their faces, and some pierce their noses to insert 
a certain green stone [olisidian]. They are of darlc copper color, large and strongly 
built. Although in their faces no human sentiments can be discerned, yet they cm 
not be called ugly. Their limbs are so beautifully proi>ortioned that the Spanish ladies 
in Hermosillo view with envy the slender shapes and the comely hands and feet of the 
young Ceris maidens. They wear no headdresses, and as their coarse, shaggy hair 
is neither combed nor cleaned, it sticks out in tangled tufts in all directions like 
spines on a hedgehog; this alone gives them a forbidding ajipearance. Their speech 
is quite lilie their character: it is guttural, discordant, and meager, resenjbliug 
more the howling of wild animals than human speech, wherefore it is ditiicnlt for a 
human to learn. They have no religion — at least, I do not deem the gambols and 
amusing capers in which they indulge at the new moon to be religious customs. 
The tribe is con.sta.ntly diminishing in numbers, and it is hoped they may soon dis- 
appear from tlie earth by natural decrease— unless the State government sooner 
undertakes a war of extermination.- 

Herr Pajekeu's record beans iiihereut evidence (at least to one familiar 
with the region) of reflecting the current local knowledge and opinion 
concerning the Seri with unsurpassed — indeed uneijualed — fidelity; 
and it is also of value in that it indicates the approximate number of 
the tribe then surviving in Pueblo Seri, and in that it gives the con- 
temporary estimate of the tribal population. 

Among the more careful students of tlie Seri at second hand should 
be mentioned Buckingham Smith, an enthusiastic collector, translator, 
and publisher of rare Americana. lu the introduction to an anony- 
mous and dateless grammar of the Heve language he wrote in 1861 : 

The lower I'ima are in the west of the jirovince [of Sonora], having many towns 
e.xtending to the frontier of the indomitable Seri, who live some 30 leagues to 
the north of the mouth of the Hiaqui, and have their farthest limit inland some 
dozen leagues from the sea, finding shelter among the ridges and in the neighboring 
island of Tiburon. 

He added in a note: 

The Guainia speak nearly the same language as the Seri, are lew in uumbei'. and 
live among the Hiai]ui in Belen and elsewhere, having retreated before the san- 
guinary fury of their con(|uerors.' 

While the scientific knowledge of the Seri began with liartlett's 
visit, it assumed definite sha])e only through the classic researches of 
Don Francisco Piuieutel (Count Herras) in the early sixties. His 
analysis and classification of the Seri tongue rest on a short vocabulary 

' Reise-Eriiineruugeu \iud Abenteiier .ins iter iieuen Welt in etlniugraphisclicii IJihleri), von r. A. 
Pajekeii; Bremeu, 1861, }i\>. '.17-99. 

'A Graniinatioal Sketch of the Heve Lanj;iiago.traDslateil from an iinpulilisln'cl Spanish manuscript; 
in Library of American ingiustics. vol. lu. New York, 1861, p. 7 . 

102 THE SERI INDIANS (eih.ans.17 

collected by Seiior 1). A. Teiiochio and trausraitted lu tlie Mexican 
Society of Geography and Statistics. Noting the condition of the tribe 
at the time, Senor Piuientel wrote : 

The Seris are non- reduced to a few families only, inhabiting Sonora, especially 
the island of Tiburon, for which reason they are also known sometimes by the 
name Tibnrones. The Indians called Salineros, who live on the borders of Pimeria 
Alta, and the Tepocas, who live toward the south, belong to the Seri nation. The 
Seris have always been notable for their ferocity and barbarism, preferring death 
in war against the whites to the adoption of civilization. They are dreaded and 
notorious for their arrows, jjoisoned with a most virulent venom [emponzouadas 
con activisimo veueuo]. They are tall and well formed, and their women are good- 
looking. By reason of their distrust of the whites, it has not been possible to ascer- 
tain their traditions, further than that their ancestors came from distant lands of 
unknown direction. Of their religion it is known that they adore daily the rising sun.' 

After brief discussion of the grammar, and extended comjiarison of 
some sixty out of the seventy vocalile.s selected by Sefior Tenochio, he 
concluded : 

Although in the list of Seri words consulted the foregoing reveal analogies with 
those of the Mexican group, there are, without doubt, other terms belonging exclu- 
sively to the Seri or some other branch extraneous to the Mexican group; for this 
reason it would appear that the i<liom represents a distinct family. -' 

The list of these distinct words was appended. Keferring to the 
dialects, Seiior Pimentel expressed the opinion, based on literary refer- 
ences, that the "Giiaynia" or "Gayama", "Upanguaima"', and "Coco- 
maques" niaj' be considere<l as belonging to the Seri family ." 

While Senor Pimentel gave credit to his informant, Sefior Tenochio, 
he did not indicate the origiual source of the vocabulary; but the 
source may be defined approximately by a process of elimination: 
there is hardly a possibility that the terms were obtained from any 
tribesmen in Seriland, since they were all inimical to the whites, aud 
since very few of them have ever known enough of the Spanish tongue 
to permit communication with the Mexicans; accordingly, it is prac- 
tically certain that the Seri interpreter must have been either (1) a 
resident of Pueblo Seri or (2) an attache of raucho San Francisco de 
(Josta Rica (of which more anon^; and in either case it would seem 
certain that the native informant could have been none other than the 
standard Seri-Spanish interpreter of the last half century — Kolusio. 
Indeed, Kolusio was, at the time, the only Seri habitue of Pueblo Seri 
possessing sufficient knowledge of the Spanish and enough intelligence 
aud independence to "give his lauguage", and was one of the two 
frequenters of the rancho similarly equipped. 

Pimentel's contemporary, Licenciate Manuel Orozco y Berra, contri- 
buted in important measure to systematic knowledge of the Seri, which 

• Cuadro Descriptivo y Compar.itivo tie l.ia Len^uas Inillgf uaa de Mexico, I'l Tratado de Filologla 
Mesicana, por Francisco Pimeutd, -segunda edicion uoica c-ompleta, tomo ll; Mexico, 1H75, p. 229. 
The lirst edition of tlie work was published in two volumes, dated, respectively, 1862 aud 1865. 

•'Ibid., p. 241. 



he dertued (apparently ou the basis of the Tenochio vocabulary system- 
ized aud published by Pimeutel) as a distinct liiiynistic family with 
two dialectic branches,' viz: 

JX FAMILIA.^Sf:i;i. 

XXXIII. Si'ri, por loa seris, CRris, tiburones, tepocas, s:iUueii>s, cii Soiioru. 
Gl. I. I'panguaima, \>ox los upiiuguaimas, en Souora. 
(i2. II. Giiuima, por los giiaimas, guaymas, gayamas, coconiaqui-s, eu Souora. 

Orozco's map assigns to the Seri family an immense area (recalling 
Villa-Senor's "d8Si)oblado'') extending from just above the mouth of the 
Yaqui, northward to the thirtieth parallel on thw coast, stretching 
inland nearly to Cucurpe, Opodepe, aud Ures, and including Tiburon ; 
the "Salineros" lying adjacent to the coast in the north, the "Tepocas" 
medially, and the "Guaymas" in the south, within this area. In eluci- 
dating the ina]) he wrote, under the title "El seri. — El upanguaima.— 
El guaima" : 

The Scri.s, a tribe inhabiting Souora, forms, with its subtribes, a separate I'nuiily. 
By their language, by their customs, and by their physiognomy, they are completely 
set apart from atfiliatioii with the surroundiug nations; and apparently they have 
lived in the district which they now occupy from times anterior to the establish- 
ment of the Pima race and its afifiues; their use of jioisoned arrows recalls the 
Caribs of the islands, as well as of the continent, and it seems not unlikely, 
although very curious, that they are related to them. The Se'ris, Icnown also as Tib- 
urones, a name derived from the island of Tiburon in the Mar de Cortes, which serves 
them as a shelter, considered as parts of their tribe the Tepocas and the Salineros. 

The "Uitanguaima" (a very small tribe occupying the Seri border) 
aud the "Guaimas", as well as the "Cocomagues" were combined 
chiefly on the authority of Jesuit writers.- In describing the State ot 
Souora he further wrote: 

The .Seris, bounded by the sea on the west, the Pimas Altos on the north, the 
Opatas and the Pimas Bajos on the east, aud the pueblos of Rio Yaqui on the south, 
form the smallest nation of Sonora, biit at the same time the most cruel aud deceit- 
ful aud the least capable of reduction to political organization. Hardly uniting 
with the smaller pneblos as at Populo and Belen, the rest of the nation engaged so 
constantly in crnel warfare that it was necessary to persecute aud exterminate 
them. . . . Small as was the tribe, three divisions are known: the Salineros, 
extendmg to the oonfines of Pimeria Alta; south of them the Tepocas, nearest to the 
island of Tiburon ; the (iuaymas and Upanguay mas occupying the territory adjacent 
to the harbor of the same name, afterward added to the pueblo at Belen aud 
blended with the Indians of Rio Yaqui. Ferocious and savage, they preferred to 
die in war against tlie whites rather than adoj>t their usages and customs; lazy and 
indolent, they so surrendered themselves to the passion of intoxication that mothers 
conveyed aguardiente from their mouths to the smallest babes. They are tall and 
well formed, the women not lacking in beauty. The poison with which they 
envenom their arrows is proverbial for deadly effect; they compound the venomous 
.juice from a multitude of ingredients and fortify the compound by superstitious 

' Geografia de las Lengiias y Carta Etnogrjifica de Mexico, Precedidas de un Ensayo de Clasifica- 
clou de bis Mismas Lenguaa y de Apuntes ]»ara las luniigracioncs de las Tribus, por el Lie. Manue y Berra; Mesicn, 1864, p. 59. 

' Ibid., p. 42. 2 Ibid., pp. 353-354. 

104 THE SEKI INDIANS [etoanv. it 

Tlie classifications by Pimentel and Orozco were widely aecepted, 
and were given still wider cnrrency by republication in standard 
works, such as the classic dictionary of the Naluiatl tongue by Eemi 
Simeon, in which is defined "La fainille Scri, dans la Souora, avec 3 
idiomes: le Seri,\e Guuima et VUpaiiynaimaJ'" In his ethnographic 
tableau of the nations and languages of Mexico, M Y. A. MalteBrun 
followed Orozco almost literally, save that he emphasized the sug- 
gested Caribbean affiliation of the Seri, saying: 

. They make use of poisoned arrows, and when one studies their manners, their 
habits, their modes of life, one is tempted to find in them a strong affinity [j;rande 
affinitej with the Caribs of the continent ami the islands. - 

During the seventies Hubert Howe Bancroft was engaged iir collect- 
ing material for his monumental series of works, and in arranging the 
ethnologic data for fmblication. Of the Seri he wrote: 

East of the Opata and Pima bajo, on tlie shores of the Gulf of California, and 
thence fur some distance inland, and also on the island of Tibnron, the Ceri language 
with its dialects, the Guaymi and Tepoca, is spoken. Few of the words are known, 
and the excuse given by travelers for not taking vocabularies is, that it was too 
difficult to catch the sound. It is represented as extremely harsh and gutteral in 
its pronunciation and well suited to the people A^ho speak it, who are described as 
wild and fierce. It is, so i'ar as known, not related to any of the Mexican linguistic 
families. ■ 

The only vocabulary of this language which Bancroft was able to 
tind was added (without reference to the aboriginal source); it com- 
prised the eleven words collected by Lavandera and discussed by 
Eamirez in 1850.^ 

The Seri, with their ailines, the Tepoka, Salinero, Guayma, and 
Upanguayma, were included by Bancroft in his arbitrarily defined 
"Northern Mexican familj".' The accompanying map (which is highly 
inaccurate) located the "Salineros" on the gulf coast, considerably 
north of the common embouchure of " E. de Horcasitas" and '• Rio de 
Sonora", while the "Seris" were more conspicuously represented about 
the broad estuary into which the rivers embonch, and the "Tepocas" 
were located still farther southward on both Tibnron and the mainland, 
the island being placed too far southward and the river much too far 
northward.'' Xnmerous data relating to the Seri were incorjiorated in 
his text; all were second-hand, though many were taken from unique 
or rare manuscripts. The coastwise natives of bonora were said to 
"live on pulverized rush and straw, with fish caught at sea or in arti- 
ficial enclosures'"; mention was made of the allegation that " the Sali- 

1 Dictionnaire de la Langue Nahuatl on Mexicaine, rfiilige d"apr<^s les Documents imprijuus et 
ManiLscrits le.s plus authentiques et pr^c^de d'une Introiluctinu ; Paris. 1885, p. xviii. 

2 Tableau do la Distribution fib uographiques ties IS at ions et (les Laogues au Mesique; T'lmgrus Inter- 
national des Aniericanistes, Compte-rendu de la Secoude Session, tome n, 1878, p. 37. 

3Tbe Works of Hubert Howe Eanerot't, vol. ni (Tlie Xative Races, vol. ni, 1882, p. 704). Tbe' 
"east " in tins quotation is obviously a niisju-int for west. ■ 
'Ibid.. |>. 703. 

M)|i. fit., vol. I, pp. 004-605. 
"Uiid., p. 471. 

MriiEEl DKWEyV surveys — 1871 lit;') 

iieros sometimes eat tbeir own excrement''; antbropopbagy was noted, 
but as i>eitaining ratber to tbe interior than to tbe coastwise tribes:' 
and prominence was given to tlie Seri arrow poison, of wliicb an early 
iiutlior wrote: 

The ])oi.S(m with which they eiiveimni the points of their arrows is the most activi: 
that has ever heeu known hi're. ... It has not been possible to ascertain with 
certainty the deadly materials of which this pestilential corajionnd i.s brewed. 
Many things are alleged, e. g., that it is made from the heads of vi])ers, irritated 
and decapitated at the moment of striking their teeth into a jiieceof lung or of half 
putrefied human flesh. 

Keference was made also to the "magot" (i)robably the yerba mala of 
tbft modern Mexicans) as a source of arrow poison.^ The girls' puberty 
feast was said to be kept up for several days among tbe Seri and 
Tepoka, and the former were said to "superstitiously celebrate tbe new 
moon, and bow reverentially to the rising and setting suu", and also to 
"employ charms in tbeir medical practice".'' Finally, the constituent 
tribes were discriminated in a manner recalling tbe persistent assump- 
tion that tbe parasite-converts at the missions fairly represented the 

The Te])ocas and Tiburones are tierce, cruel, and treacherous, nutre warlike .'lufl 
courageous than the C'eris of the mainland, who are singularly devoid of good 
qualities, being sullenly stupid, lazy, inconstant, revengeful, depredating, and much 
given to intemperance. Their country even has become a refuge for evil doers. In 
former times they were warlike and brave, but even this quality they have lost, and 
have become as cowardly as they are cruel.* 

It is evident that this characterization of " the Ceris of the mainland" 
was based on tbe degraded scavengers outlawed by the tribe and 
attacheil to tbe missions and imeblos during much of tbe historical 

It was also during tbe seventies that the errors and uncertainties of 
three and a half centuries concerning tbe coasts of the Califoniian gulf 
were linally brought to an end through tbe surveys of Commander 
(now Admiral) George Dewey, U. S. N., and the officers of the United 
States shiii y»rr<i<ianiieii, under the direction of the Hydrographic 
Office of the United States. These surveys resulted in trustworthy 
and complete geodetic location of all coastwise features, in geographic 
placement of the entire coast-line, in soundings of such extent as 
to determine the bottom conttguration, in tidal determinations, in 
recognition of the currents, in definition of harbors and anchorages, 
and eventually in a series of elegant and accurate charts (dated 
1873-75) available for the cartographers and navigators of tbe 
world. As tbe largest island in tbe gulf, Tiburon received especial 
attention; its coast was accurately surveyed and mapped, while the 
interior was sketched in considerable detail, and the adjacent channels 
were carefully defined and sounded. 

iTlie Works of Hnl)ert How-e Banrroft, vol. ui (The Xative Races, vol. ui, 1882, p. i'> 

■'Ibid., p. 579. 

3 Ibid., pp. 584,587,589. 'Ibid., p. ,590, 

106 THE SEKI INDIANS [ ann. 17 

>'atiii;illy the surveyors catne iuto contact with the Seri trihesmcn. 
Of them Coiiimauder ])ewey wrote: 

During the gre:iter jiart of the year Tiliuron Ishind is rcsoited to liy the Seris (or 
Ceri'S) tribe of Indians, who inhabit the adjacent niainhmd. and their huts and 
encampments may be seen in many places along the shore, i)rincipally on the east- 
ern side of the island. They are reputed to be exceedingly hostile and to use 
poisoned arrows in opposing the landing of strangers on what they consider tlieir 
domain, but during the stay of the Narrafiansett in the vicinity they were very 
friendly. At first they were shy and made threatening gestures, but soon finding 
that our intentions were iieaceabie, became friendly and returned our visits to the 
shore by frequent and lengthy calls on board ship. They are very expert in hunt- 
ing with the bow and arrow and in catching fish and turtles, which abound in the 
surrounding waters. The canoes of these Indians deserve especial mention. They 
are matie of long reeds, which are bound together with strings after the manner of 
fascines, three of which when fastened together . . . have sufficient buoyancy 
to support one or two persons. They kneel in these canoes when paddling, the 
water being at the same level in the canoe as outside of it.' 

Illustrations of the "Tiburou canoe" (or balsa), drawn by H. A'on 
Bayer, were also introduced.'^ In addition Mr Von Bayer succeeded 
in obtaining two photographs of Seri Indians, taken on shipboard; one 
of these is of special interest in that it illustrates the j)eculiar attitude 
of the Seri archer in the act of using his weapon.^ 

TJnfortnnately the surveys were confined to the coast, and the 
interior remained unmeasured and unmapped save on the basis of tra- 
dition and travelers' tales, supplemented by a few vague itineraries 
and traverses. Except along the international boundary and the rail- 
way (Ferrocarril de Soiiora), the locations of jjueblos and laiichos 
remained guesses, the delineation of mountains remained a work of 
imagination, and even the best cartographers continued to run in rivers 
at random or in such wise as to afford artistic effect.' 

In 1879 M Alphonse L. Pinart traveled extensively in northern 
Mexico and southwestern United States, and made considerable lin 
guistic collectioTis among various tribes. Desiring to obtain a Seri 
vocabulary, be planned a visit to the tribal territory; but on reaching 
(Jaborca in March he was met by the information that the Seri were 
on the warpath, and had recently devastated a hacienda on their fron- 
tier and slain more than a dozen white settlers."* Thence he repaired 

'Publication No. 56, U. S. Hydrograpliic Office, Bureau of Navigation. The West Coa,st of Mexico, 
from the Bouudary Line between the United States aud Mexico to Cape Corrientes, including the 
Gulf of California (revised edition), 188U, p. 145. 

- Ibid., pi. XV, p. 136 (one of these illustrations is reproduced in figure 28). 

■'The negatives of these pii;tures were retained by Mr Von Bayer, and have been kindly turned 
over to the liureau of American Ethnology. Unfortunately the archery negative had been shattered, 
hut enough of the fragments were preserved to show all essential details and to afford a basis for 
the drawing reproduced in (date XXIX. 

■The imposing olHcial map of 1890, titled Carta General de la Eepublica Mexicana, formada en 
el Ministerio de Fomento con los dates mas recientes. por disposiciou del Secretario del Ramo, General 
Carlos Pacheco, engraved and printed by Erliard Bermanos, Paris, on a scale of aboat 32 miles to 
the inch, represents Eio Bacuache as about the right length and with its center in about the right 
location, but as running at almost exactly right angles to its actual course; and it contains divers 
other equally startling errors. 

^Recorded by Gatschet, Zeitsehrift fiir Ethnologic, Berlin. Band xv, 1883, p. 130. The location 
of The hacienda was not specified, but there are local traditions of Seri raids about that time, both at 
Hacienda Serna (between Caborca and Libertad anchorage) aud at Bacuachito. 


to I'ueblo Seri, and earlj- iu April obtained tkere a Seri-Spanish 
vocabulary of several hundred words, with a number of short phrases 
tbrowiug some light on the grammatic construction. This record was 
transmitted to Dr Albert S. Gatschet. It comprises a title page 
inscribed "Vocabulario de la lengua Seri | Interprete el Gl. dc los 
Seris ( y otro Indio. | Pueblo de Seris | -t Abril 1879"; four foolscap 
sheets (written on both sides, thus making 16 pages) of vocabulary; 
and a final page bearing two short phrases and inscribed "Los Seris, 
lue dice el general de ellos, sou como doscientos hombres de llevar 
armas — viven todavia parte en la isla de Tiburou, parte en la costa.' 
Pueblo de Seris, 4 Abril, 187!), Alph. Piuart." A transcript of this 
invaluable vocabulary is preserved in the Bureau of American Eth- 
nology. There is nothing either iu the original vocabulary or in 
the known correspondence relating to it to identify the aboriginal 
informant, but the identification is made easy through the coincident 
testimony of living witnesses and the unmistakable implication of 
the historical records to the effect that there was at that time but 
a single Seri Indian- resident at Pueblo Seri — i. e., the official inter- 
preter, "El General" Kolusio. This identification is strengthened by 
the remarkable similarity between this vocabulary and that of Bart- 
lett, a similarity made the more striking by the fact that one was 
recorded in English, the other in Spanish; the identification is sup- 
ported, too, by Kolusio's memory of "giving his language" to a 
stranger "not a Mexicano" yet familiar with the Spanish; and the 
identification is practically established by the considerable numlter of 
terms expressing concepts alien to the Seri (e. g., ax, adobe, house, 
horse, hog, field, irrigate, pigeon, thresh, tobacco, shirt, the names of 
the months, etc), evidently acquired through long and intimate 
acquaintance with Mexican customs and domiciles and modes of 
thought — for all these concepts were familiar enough to Kolusio, yet to 
no other known Seri Indian of recent decades. Accordingly it may be 
deemed practically certain that .M Pinart's vocabulary, like that of 
Commissioner Bartlett, was obtained from Kolusio; and it is at least 
strongly probable that both the Lavandera-Ramirez and the Tenochio- 
Pimentel vocabularies were derived from the same aboriginal source — 
an indubitably excellent source, save for the occasional interjection of 
alien notions, and the infrequent substitution of foreign e(ju!valents 
for forgotten terms. 

Barred from Serilaiid by the current war craze, M Pinart was pre- 
vented from obtaining much collateral information concerning the Seri; 
but he concluded (on grounds not stated) that "the Tepoca spoken on 

' " The Seris, the chief tells rae. comprise about 200 men fit to bear arms — they still live part ou the 
island of Tiburon, part on the coast." 

^M Pinart's reference to his interpreter is not only impersonal hut ambiguous. •■ Interpreted \>y 
the chief of the Seri and another Indian " might be considered to imply tico Seri Indians, thougli it 
may, with equal lingiustic ijrobability, be interpreted to mean the specified Seri and another Indiar. ; 
and while the temporary presence of a second Seri at the pueblo seems possible, the sum of probabili- 
ties i)oints so clearly the utlier way as tu demand the latter interpretation. 

108 THE SERI INDIANS | kth. anx. 17 

the south of Kio del Altar is ideiiticiil with the Seri",' and also that 
''the Guaymas were of the stock of the southern Piiuas, or Neboiues".' 

While M Pinart failed to publish, his linguistic collections were com- 
pared, systemized, and made i)ublic by Dr Albert S. (latschet in a 
notable memoir on "Der YumaSi)rachstamin", 1883. Oompariug the 
Seri, as represented by the Pinart and Bartlett and Pimentel vocabu- 
laries, with the Yavapai, M'Mat, and incidentally with the Konino, 
Tonto, Oochinii, and other tongues, Dr Gatschet was led to adopt the 
suggestion of Professor Wilhelni Herzog^ that the Seri is a dialect of 
the Yuman sto('k. In the comparative vocabulary, which comprises 
about a hundred and forty Seri words (selected from the 611 terms in 
the Pinart collection), there are perhaps a dozen terms presenting some 
similarity to those of one or more Yumau dialects; among these are 
terms for ax, tree, split, tobacco, heaven, pigeon, dog, and others of 
presumptively or certainly alien character.^ 

Herzog's suggested classification, with Gatschet's indorsement, was 
accepted even more promptly and widely than the earlier classitica- 
tions of Pimentel and Orozco. It was tacitly adopted by Director 
J. W. Powell iu his classic arrangement of Indian linguistic families ot 
Ameiica north of xMexico;' it was explicitly approved by Adolph F. 
Bandelierin his "Final Report of Investigations";'' and it was inii)Ii(v 
itly accepted and fortified by Dr Daniel G. Brinton in his work on 
"The American Race".' Brintou's Seri words were " chiefly from the 
satisfactory vocabulary obtained by the late John Russell Bartlett"; 
of the 21 terms, about S (including that for the alien concept "house") 
suggest affinity with the Yuman, chiefly in the Mohave dialect; the 
others are either wholly distinct or only superficially similar, e. g., in 
the concurrence of a consonant or two, or merely in the corres])on(U-nce 
in number of syllal)les." 

Stated briefly, the scientific researches relating to Seriland and the 
Seri during tiie fifty years from the fourth decade of the century to tlie 
middle of the last deitade resulted in (1) a satisfactory survey of the 
coast, (2) the collection of two excellent Seri vocabularies, with a few 
others of less extent, and (3) two discrepant linguistic classifications of 
the tribe, both widely quoted and accepted. 

' Gatschet, op. oit., p. 131. 

' I!an Ji'lier, Report of luvestigatioDS amonj; the Indians of tlip Southwestern United Slates, 
part I, in Capers of the Arch.ToIogica) Institute of America, Ann'riiiin series, in. Cambridge. 1890, 
p. 70. As already noted, it is probilhle that the Guayma lost their 'antigua idioina " (Kamirez, op. eit. 
p. 149) long before M Piuart's visit; .and pending definite statement of the facts on which his conclusion 
rests it is necessary to retain tlie classilication based on specific .and repeated, albeit unskilled, oli.ser- 
vatious of tlie identity of the Guayma speech with that of the Seri. 

^In CI rrespondeuce with Dr Gatschet, op. cit., ji. 133. 

<Dr. Gatschet has recently revised the data and recognized the distimtness of tlie Seri tongue 
(Science, new series, vol. xii, 19U0, p. 556-558). 

= Seventh Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, 1885-'86; Washington, ISill, p. 137. 

sQp.cit., p. 74. 

'The American Race; A Linguistic Classification and Ethnographic Description of the Xative 
Tribes of North ;inil South America; New York, 1891, p. 335. 

'Mr. Hewitt's discussion ipostea, pp. 299-314) gives fuller details of this short vocabulary. 


During the half century of historical silence from 1844 forward, aud 
pending the progress of the desultory researches, the Seii suffered a 
succession of external shocks more serious iu their internal effects tlian 
any of those of the three centuries preceding; indeed it is Just to say 
that during this half century the Seri range was curtailed, the Seri 
customs were modified, and the Seri po])ulatioTi was diminished more 
eftectively than during the preceding sesquicentury of fairly definite 
record. The chief factor in this transformation was an intrepid pioneer, 
who i)ushed actual settlement toward the Sei'i frontier more vigorously 
than any predecessor — Senor Pascual Encinas, a son of Sonora.^ 

Born near Uermosillo in 1819, Don I'ascual was iu early maturity at 
the time of Colonel Andrade's expedition, and was fully convei'sant 
with the later history of the Seri. Of adventurous disposition, and 
holding interests in Bacuachito, he was familiar with the Seri frontier; 
and in hunting deer aud other large game over the vast delta plain of 
Eio Sonora he had perceived the agricultural pos.sibilitiesof the region. 
During the struggle of 1814 he became impressed with the idea tluit 
the Seri might be controlled and gradually inducted into useful citizen- 
ship through a judicious combination of industrial, educational, and 
evangelical agencies; and before the end of the year he began the 
establishment of a rancho(the present Eauclio San Francisco de Costa 
Eica) on the Seri borderland, witli the double object of developing new 
resources and regulating the relations between tribesmen and settlers. 
Enlisting, the aid of a corps of vaqueros, niechauics, aud farmers, he 
excavated a deep well, erected corrals and adobe houses, cleared away 
the exceptionally Inxuriant mesquite forests, fenced fields, and stocked 
the plains with horses, burros, and cattle. At the same time he sought 
Seri wanderers and treated them with such kindness and firmness as 
to gain their conlidence; and while most of the tribe held aloof, some 
attached themselves to the rancho, aud a few even were taught to labor, 
albeit in desultory fashion. In this stage, as for some yeai's after- 
ward, he was materially aided by his contemporary, Kolusio, then in 
Lis physical prime and still in good repute among his kinsmen. Mean- 
time he obtained tlie assignment of two priests, who made it tlieir chief 
duty still further to placate the tribesmen and their families and to 
induct them into religious observances and belief; and as the confi- 
dence of the Indians increased, he had two boys domiciled in the rancho 
and educated iu the Spanish as well as iu the faith, iu the hope that 
they might j^ass into priesthood and so form a future bond with their 
kin One of these neophytes disappeared in the troublous times of 
a later decade, though tradition indicates that he became a tribal out- 
cast (like Kolusio still later) and slunk away to Piticjuito and Altar, 
and afterward to California; the other, christened Juan Estorga and 

' The following paragraphs are condensed from oral recitals by Sefior Encina.s (a notably straight- 
forward and judicious authority), supplemented and corroborated iu all essential details by Sefiores 
Andres Noriega, Tgnacio Lozania, and several other habitues of the Seri borderland, :ts well as by 
Kolusio and Masli^m, several Papago informants, and various collateral documents. 

110 THE SEKI Ii\'DIAN8 [Eni.ANN.l7 

uickiiaiiied El Gran Pelado ("The Great Shorn"), survives as subchief 
Mashi'm, limg since rehii>sed into his native savagery, save that he 
remembers the Spanish, affects a hat, cuts liis hair to the ne('k (whence 
his nickuame), and prefers footgear to the fashion of liis fellows. 

Industrially, Don PascuaFs venture proved successful; the fertile 
soil, periodically watered from below by the underflow of the semi- 
annual freshets, yieldeil incredible crops ; reveling iu the exceptional 
tloral wealth of the delta and tided over bad seasons by the artificial 
forage, the stock increased and multiplied beyond precedent; and so 
the rancho became a flourishing (establishment, housing a score or more 
of families and harboring a hundred or two dependents, in addition to 
the thousands of half- wild horses and cattle. Meantime, the industrial 
lines ramifying from the rancho formed a drag net for Seri raiders, prac- 
tically cutting off forays eastward toward Hermosillo and Horcasitas, 
and greatly reducing the sallies southeastward toward Guaymas and 
northeastward toward Bacuachito and Caborca; and Don Pascual 
began to receive recognition and state and federal concessions as a 
public benefactor. For a decade the industrial and evangelical influ- 
ence and the effect of the bold kindness of El Patron extended and 
became felt throughout the tribe, and most of the families visited the 
rancho at least occasionally. Yet even the best of them remained 
averse to labor save iu sporadic spurts, and indifferent to the religious 
teaching, save when sweetened by substantial largess; while all but 
the decrepit and the two carefully restrained neophytes came and went 
capriciously, and were much given to decamping incontinently by 
night to return shamefacedly one by one in the course of a week or 
two, without consistent oi' adequate excuse for their stampede — indeed 
the vaqueros habitually classed these nocturnal flights of the Seri and 
the reasonless stampedes of their stock in the same categmy. Osten- 
sibly a few of the larger boys and girls and a still smaller number 
of the adults were helpers about the rancho; actually they were scav- 
engers, consuming the waste of the shambles and the earth-mixed 
scatterings from the thrashing floors, and saving the rancheros the 
noisome duty of removing the carcasses of animals dead by disease or 
accident; and as their indolence increased under the easy regime, they 
grew into more and more open thievery. By no means deficient in 
shrewdness and cunning, they adopted numberless devices for impos- 
ing on the credulity of the majordomo and other officials of the rancho. 
When coin-like tokens of stamped copper were used in the transactions 
of the rancho as equivalents of labor, the Seri ingeniously obtained 
sheet copper by stealth or barter, systematically counterfeited the 
tokens, and exchanged them for supplies at the rancho store; it was a 
favorite trick to surreptitiously break the neck or a leg of a horse, cosv, 
or burro, and report finding the dead or crippled animal, at the same 
time begging for the carcass; and, whenever opportunity ottered, they 
slyly slaughtered a head of stock, consumed it to the hoofs and horns 








MCGEE] THE KNCINAS WARS 1855-1865 111 

aud larger bones, sucked up the blood stains, and buried tlie few 
remains in cactus thickets, impenetrable save by their own hardy 
limbs and bodies. Nor did any of the tribe except the two restrained 
neophytes ever really enter the collective life of the patriarchal group 
headed by Don Pascual; they attended uo industrial or soeial or 
churchly function save in response to reminder and solicitation: they 
craved the white man's medicines in slight disorders, but rejected them 
in extremis: and the dying or dead were spirited away to be inhumed 
and mourned, according to their wont, in their liarsh but beloved 

During this period of mutual toleration the Seri were so deeply 
influenced by the white contact tiiat, for probably the only time in their 
history, they voluntarily allowed an alien free entry into their terri- 
tory; aud Don Pascual explored the coast of Bahia Kino, projected a 
port, and even visited Isla Tiliuron twice or thrice. In one of these 
visits he was ferried over Boca Inlierno on a balsa, but, tinding him- 
self unable to keep pace with the swift-footed Seri on their hilly path- 
ways, he returned for his saddle mule; halfway across, the poor animal 
swimming behind the balsa suddenly plunged and struggled, and, on 
lauding, hobbled out on three legs — the fourth having being snajjped 
by a shark. Warned by this incident, Don Pascual abandoned a half- 
formed plan of stocking the Island, and afterward brought up a small 
vessel from Gnaymas in which he carried across a dozen caballeros 
(including Don Ygnacio Lozania, who had visited the island witii the 
Andrade expedition); and this party examined the southeastern (quar- 
ter of the island, w'atering two or three times at Tinaja Anita, and 
pushing as far westward as Arroyo Carrizal. On this trip he studied 
the Seri house-building, and was the first to note the large use of 
turtle-shells and sponges in the process.' 

About the nuddle fifties it became apparent that the Seri were divid- 
ing into a parasitical portion clustered about the rancho (as their tor- 
bears gathered about Populo and Pueblo Seri long before), and a more 
independent faction clinging to their rugged ranges and gale-swept 
fishing grounds; and it became evident, too, that the thievery of the 
dependent faction would soon ruin the rancho if not checked, or <at 
least greatly diminished. Accordingly the passive policy was modified 
by introducing a more active ])olice service. At first the penalties for 
theft and misdemeanors were light, and the system iiromised well — 
especially as even a slight punishment was equivalent to banishment, 
the criminal fleeing to Tiburon on his escape or immediately after the 
crime; yet the experience of a year or two proved that the escaped 
parasites seldom resumed the hard customs of their tribal life, but gen- 
erally returned to the borderland and there preyed on the wandering- 
stock from the rancho. Finally, driven to extremity, and supported 

• Typical Seri jacalea, as described by Don Pascaal ia 1894, were observed on Tiburon by the 1895 
espeditiou, as shown by the photographs reproilnct-n in ])late3 vir, Vlll, and TX. 

112 THE SERI INDIANS (eih.anx. 17 

by the state aud federal authorities (themselves confessedly uuable suc- 
cessfully to cope with the condition), Don Pascual reluctantly adopted 
a severer regime. Sending out as messengers several Seri still remain- 
ing at the rancho, he convened the leading chiefs and clanmothers 
of the tribe in a council, and announced that the stock-killing must 
cease, on pain of a Seri head for each head of stock thereafter slain. 
The Indians seemingly acquiesced, and separated; but within two 
days a group of Seri women "milled" a band of horses, caught and 
threw one in such wise as to break its neck, and immediately sucked 
its blood, gorged its intestines, and buried its ((iiarters to "ripen", 
after their former fashion. Thei'eupon a matron remaining near the 
rancho was sent to demand the delivery of the perpetrators; and, 
when she failed to return, the vaqueros were instructed to shoot the 
first Seri seen on the llano. Within two days more, the tribe were on 
the warpath for revenge — and the war raged for a decade. 

During the early months of the Encinas war Don Pascual's vaqueros 
sought merely to enforce the barbaric law of a head for a head; but, as 
they found themselves beset by ambush, assailed and wounded by night, 
despoiled of favorite animals, and kept constantly in that most nerve- 
trying state of eternal vigilance, their rancor rose to an intensity nearly 
equal to the savage passion for blood-vengeance; aud thenceforth the 
Seri were hunted from the plain east of Desierto Encinas precasely as 
were the stealthy jaguar and sneaking coyote — and the ghastly details 
were better spared. There were few open battles; commonly the 
va(ineros rode in groups and guarded against ambuscades, and the Seri 
were picked oft one by one; but once in the early sixties Don Pascual, 
at the head of some 30 vaqueros, fell into an ambush on the frontier, 
and several of his horses were killed aTid siime of his men wounded, 
while 00 or 70 Seri warriors were left on the held. Don Pascual's 
horse received a slight arrow wound, to which little attention was paid ; 
next morning the gash was swollen and inflamed and the beast too stiff 
and logy for use; in the afternoon the glands under the jaw were swollen, 
aud there was a purulent discharge from eyes and nostrils. On the 
second morning the animal was hardly able to move, its head was enor- 
mously swollen, there were fetid ulcers about the jaws and throat, and 
the swelling extended to the legs and abdomen. On the third morning 
there were suppurating ulcers on various parts of the body, while rags 
of putrefied flesh aud stringy i)us hung from the head aud neck, and 
the animal was unapproachable because of the stench; during the day 
it dropped dead, and even the coyotes aud Imzzards shrank from the 
pestilential carcass. This and parallel incidents impressed Don Pascual 
with the dangers incident to Seri war; but fortunately the fact that 
he — the leader of the party, the first to fall into the ambush, and the 
target of most of the arrows — had escaped unscathed impressed still 
more deeply the surviving savages, and they soon sued for peace. 
Thenceforth he was revered as a shaman greater thau those of the tribe, 
feared as an invulnerable fighter, and honored as a just lawgiver; aud 






gradually the coiiditiou of mutual tolerance was restored, to rest on a 
firmer basis than before. 

Don Pascual estimates that during tlie dozen years of strife between 
his men and the Seri forces about half of the tribe were slain. The 
horror of the history of this period may be passed over; it may njerely 
be noted as a casual fact that one of the two Mexicans accompanyiug 
the 1895 expedition was credited with 17 Seri heads. When he iKiiiitcd 
out the site of his last exploit, a mile or two south of Rancho Libertad, 
and some incredulity was expressed, he immediately galloped to the 
spot and brought back a silent witness in the form of a bleached Seri 

At the close of the war Don Pascual continued the industrial devel- 
opment of the plains lying east of the desert border of Seriland, 
received new concessions in recognition of his conquest, and developed 
the ranclios of Santa Ana and Libertad; but the evangelical arm of 
his vigorous mission gradually withered. For a dozen years the Seri 
looked up to "El Patron" as aquasi ruler, whose approval was requisite 
for the ratification of chieftainship, and through him ran a slender 
thread of nominal fealty to the state and the republic; yet few para- 
sites gathered about the rancho. Mashem had gone back to his clan; 
and when depredations were committed at Bacuachito or elsewhere 
and the criminals were caught, usually through Don Paspual's instru- 
mentality, they were sometimes haled to Hermosillo for trial, and 
Kolusio was kept there as the official interpreter of charges and evi- 
dence and findings. Sometime during the sixties a few Seri youths were 
coaxed to Pueblo Seri for education, but when they were instructed to 
cut their hair they slunk dejectedly to their temporary domicile, only 
to decamp during the ensuing night; again, in 1870, Kolusio was 
commissioned to bring in a few young people and a matron or two of 
the tribe, and succeeded in doing so just in time to encounter an epi- 
demic of measles, from which some died, while the others shook the 
dust of the pueblo from their feet forever: and this last straw, added 
to his alien residence and his presence at the dreaded trials, broke 
down the tribal toleration of Kolusio and made him an outlaw forever. 

In the later seventies Don Pascual's energies began to wane, while the 
Seri population was waxing again; and, although the Encinas frontier 
was protected, raids began to recur toward Bacuachito, on the ranchos 
southwest of Caborca, and sometimes toward Guaymas; and the hostili- 
ties then engendered have never terminated. In the eighties Don 
Pascual suffered from cataract, gradually losing his sight, and his rule 
relaxed still further; Eancho Libertad was abandoned, and a condition 
of armed neutrality supervened at San Francisco de Costa Rica and 
Santa Ana; and this condition still persists, save as occasionally modi- 
fled by a crude sort of diplomacy on the part of the Seri: when blood-feud 
is not burning (and it is usually extinguished by the killing of an alien 
on the coast or some remote part of the frontier), and when no stock have 

' The specimen ileseribed by Dr Hrdlii'kn. postea, p. 141. 
17 ETII 8 


been slaughtered for some inoiitlis, an aged woman may be seen skulking 
about the mes(iuite clumps iu sight of the rancho; if her presence is 
tolerated for a day or two, she approaches to beg for water and food and 
to receive the cast-off' I'agS hastily forced on her nakedness by the sen- 
sitive senoras; if she deem her welcome not too chill, she erects a jacal 
a few hundred yards away, and there she is usually found, a morniug or 
two later, to be accompanied by a younger matron with a child or two; 
and if these are tolerated, the rancheria may grow to half adozen jacales 
and half a hundred persons.' The band may remain a fortnight or eveu 
a month; but in case of serious illness of any of their number, or of 
threat or punishment for petty xieccadillos, or of an unusual storm, or 
of a brilliant meteor, or of any exceptional occurrence about the rancho, 
the rancheria is commonly found empty next morning. If the attaches 
of the rancho are iiulisposed to tolerate the first envoy, yet feel kiiully 
rather than rancorous, she is merely dogged and stoned away like a 
depredating domestic animal from another hacienda; if the rancor of 
past encounters remains, the mercy accorded her is precisely that shown 
the predatory coyote or other feral animal from the fastnesses of tlie 
sierras — and the tribe take warning and doubtless rejoice that their 
loss is no greater. 

Any recital of the common history of the peculiarly savage Seri 
and the whites necessarily conveys an exaggerated notion of intimacy 
and mutual influence, since it emphasizes the few positive interrelations 
scattered along the decades of neglected nonrelation ; aiul this is true 
of the Encinas regime as of earlier centuries. The great fact is that 
throughout their recorded history the Seri have touched civilization so 
slightly and so seldom that the effect of each contact was largely lost 
before the next supervened; and theunprecedentedly intimate contact 
of the Encinas regime, especially during the initial period of abnormal 
toleration, serves less to indicate relationshii) in characteristics and 
sympathies than to measuie the breadth of the cliasni between the 
Seri and the Mexican — a chasm not exceeded, and probably not 
equaled, elsewhere in America. About the nnddle fifties, probably 
every Seri above infancy and below decrepituile had seen Don Pascual 
and some other habitues of the rancho; they yielded to the seductions 
of indolent scavengering apparently more numerously than ever before ; 
they substituted cast-off' rags and barter-bought manta (plain cotton 
cloth) for the products of their own primitive weaving; they ate 
cooked food when it fell in their way; they half-heartedly adopted 
metal cutting implements, and sought or stole nails and hoop-iron for 
arrowpoints; some of them acquired a smattering of Spanish, and 
many of them solicited and sported Spanish names, just as they begged 
and daunted tawdry handkerchiefs and beads; and they generally 
enjoyed mildly the ecclesiastical tiestas, and took kindly to the cross 
as a symbol of peace and plenty and perhaps of deeper import. Yet 

' A typical single jacal and the entire rancheria gathered at Costa Rica in 1894 are shown from 
])lioto^rai)b9 in plates x and XI. 






even during this halcyon term no Seri save Kolusio and the Altar 
outlaw ever learned to live in a house; none but these and Mashem 
wore hats liabituallj'; and, despite the fact that they often witnessed 
and sometimes jilayfully or perfoi'ce participated in the processes, 
no Seri ever really encompassed the idea of housebuilding or even of 
making adobe. Though surrounded by horses when near the ran- 
cho, they never learned to ride mn- to use the animals otherwise than 
for immediate slaughter and consumption; though in frequent sight 
of skilful ropers, they never fully grasped the idea of the riata, pre- 
ferring to seize their prey with hands and teeth; though familiar with 
the agricultural operations of the rancho, they never turned a sod 
nor planted a seed on their own account; though in frequent sight of 
cooking, they seldom began and never finished the process with their 
own food; though acquainted with firearms, they continued to regard 
them as thauinaturgic devices, and chose the bow and arrow for actual 
use; though submitting to apparel on the frontier, they commonly cast 
away the incumbrances on returning to their lairs; and no JVIexican 
or other Caucasian ever saw within their esoteric life — their names 
remained unrevealed, their hair remained sacred, their mourning for 
the dead was unheard save at a distance, and no alien, even unto today, 
has ever seen the birth of their babes, the christening of their children, 
the burial of their dead, or the ceremonies of their shrines. The Seri 
anil the whites were, indeed, mutually tolerant; but, so far as concerns 
mutual sympathy, the toleration was almost precisely on a par with 
that between the ranchero and the vulture-Hock that scavengers his 
corrals — and when depredation began the toleration was of a piece 
with that between householders and their unwillingly domiciled 
rodents. It is not too much to say that the interracial mistrust and 
hatred of the Western Hemisphere culminates on the borders of Seri- 
land; though the antipathy is commonly regarded by the alien tribes- 
men and the Mexicans as other than racial, since the Seri are felt to be 
hardly human — a feeling fully shared by the Seri, who undoubtedly 
deem themselves more closely akin to their deified bestial tutelaries 
than to the hated humans haunting their borders. 

Even during the Encinas regime the Seri came in occasional contact 
with aliens on other parts of the frontier: on Hacienda Serna, the 
somewhat remoter borderland outpost on the north, the relations 
between the landholders and tlie Seri were analogous to those on the 
Encinas plains, though less acute in the ratio of relative distance. 
Occasionally small parties of warriors journeyed to Guaymas ' on balsas 
or on foot to barter pelican-skin robes for Caucasian commodities, 
chiefly aguardiente and manta; still more rarely similar jiilgrimages 
were made to the outskirts of Hermosillo; a few marauding raids were 
made to the ranclios lying near Cieneguilla and Caborca; and a num- 

' The accompanying plate xil is reproduced from a photograph of a small group of Seri traders taken 
near Guaymas, probably during the eighties. It was kindly furnished by i\ A. Ober, who purchased 
it in Guaymas. 

116 THE SERl INDIANS [eth, ann. 17 

ber of ill-advised prospectiug parties, coming by land or water, paid 
the penalty of foolbardiness. Writing about 1864, Historian Velasco 
recurred to the Seri to say : 

This handful of bandits, assassins, tliieves, brutes [inhumauos], inlinitely vile 
aud cowardly, on February 23 last, on the Guaynias road, at the place called Huer- 
fano, assassinated 4 unhappy women, including a girl of 9 years, and 7 men who 
were conducting them in a cart toward that port. 

He bitterly denounced the apparent apathy of the state aud federal 
authorities, adding: 

When it is read in history iifty years hence that a handful of murderous Ceris, 
certainly not more than 80 of the tribe able to bear arras, was able to domineer in 
the midst of their crimes with unexampled .ludaeity on account of the debility of 
the government and the inhabitants, it will be regarded as a romance or a fable; 
for it seems impossible that in the nineteenth century snch a condition of things 
could exist to degrade the reason, the morality, and the dignity of civilized man. 

Yet a final uote, apparently added in press, recorded that — 

In consequence of the last incident of the Ceris, the prefect of Guaymas, Don 
Cayetauo Navarro, took the field, returning with 12 women and 16 children pris- 
oners; also 2 striplings and a vieillard. He slew 9 among those who had no leader. 
This was on Isla Tiburon. The Indians fled thence, aud are supposed to be at 

These may be considered as characteristic skirmishes attending the 
Eucinas war. Other episodes followed, including the outbreaks of 
1879, noted in part by M Pinart. Bacuachito suffered in various 
locally important events that will never be written : when Don Jesus 
Omada, a water- guide to the esjjedition of 1895, was asked about the 
Seri at Bacuachito, he answered with cumulative vehemence, "They 
killed my father. They killed my brother! They killed my brother's 
wife!! They have killed half my friends! ! !" As he spoke he was fever 
ishly baring his breast; displaying a frightful scar over the clavicle, he 
exclaimed, "There struck a Seri arrow"; then he stripped his arm 
with a single swee[) to reveal a ragged cicatrix extending nearly from 
shoulder to wrist, and added in a tone tremulous with pent bitterness, 
" The Seri have teeth ! " 

In the coarse of the half century from 1844 onward, the population 
of Sonora increased materially, and carried more than a proportionate 
increase in the development of agricultural aud mineral resources; and, 
especially under the beneflceiit Diaz n'-gime, the state passed from the 
condition of a remote frontier province into that of a well-governed 
commonwealth, i^aturally this i)rogress carried the Caucasian element, 
including that of blended blood, farther and farther away from tlie 
nonprogressive Seri ; aud thereby the horror and detestation awakened 
by the very utterance of the name of the lowly tribe were inteusitied 
beyond description or ready understanding. The traditions of arrow 
poisoning were kept alive, and, doubtless, growing; the recitals of car- 
rion eating were repeated, and possibly — just possibly — magnified 
beyond the reality; the accounts of otlense and defense by nails aud 

' Boletin de la Sociedad Mexicana de Geografla y Estadistica, tomo XI, 1862, pp. 124-125. 














teetli (snc-h as that of Jesus Oiiiada) passed from nioutli to moutb 
until — incredible as it may seem — tlie more timid Sonorenses stood in 
greater dread of'tliese natural weapons of the Seri tlian of their brutal 
clubs and swift-thrown missiles, or even of their jioisoned arrows; while 
traditions of canuibalisra came n\^ and received such general credence 
that the current items of Seri outrages, both in local gossip and in the 
iMexicaii and American press, customarily recounted savage butch- 
eries ending with gruesome feastings on the raw or slightly cooked 
flesh of the victims. The shuddering antipathy felt for the perpetra- 
tors of these inhumanities even a thousand miles away increased 
toward their frontier, as light toward its source; the dread was deep- 
ened by the failure of punitive expeditions sent out again and again 
only to be balked by waterless sand- wastes or wrecking tiderips; and 
in 1894 and 1895, at least, the horror of the Seri was a daily and nightly 
incubus on half the citizens of Uermosillo and the tributary pueblos 
and ranches, and a thorn in the flesh of the state officials. 

The external history of the Seri since the spring of 1894 is fairly 
known, both tlirongh the direct researches and through press reports, 
and would seem to be typicaL This era may be assumed to open with 
the arrival on Tiburon's shores of the sloop Examiner, carrying two 
San Francisco newspaper writers, l\o1)inson and Logan, with two assist- 
ants, (Jlark and Oowell. The to-have-beeu-expected happened duly, 
save that two of the party escaped, and on reaching Guaymas adver- 
tised the disaster through correspondence and the press. Several of 
the accounts indicated that the two victims were not only slain but 
eaten, and various plans were laid in California, Arizona, and Sonora 
for the recovery of the bones' — as if, forsooth, the omniverous and 
strong-toothed Seri si)ared anything save scattered teeth and split 
sections of the longer shafts of skeletons the size of those of Homo 
■sapiens. While in Guaymas the two survivors set up claims for 
indemnity, which initiated international correspondence and inquiry 
into the details of the affair. These details are indicated, in sufficient 
fulness for present purposes, in a formal communication incorporated in 
the international correspondence, viz: 

Smithsonian Institution, 
Bureau ok Amekicax Ethnologv, 

WiishhKjtou, December 14, 1804. 
Sir; Early iu November I visited the Seri tribe of Indians, inhabiting Tiburon 
island in the Gulf of California and an area of several thousand square miles of the 
adjacent mainland in Si'onora, Mexico. The visit was for the purpose of making 
eollections under your authority as Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution ; but I 
availed myself of the opportunity for obtaining additional information relating to 
the customs, habits, and history of the tribe. In addition to my own party I was 
accompanied by Seiior Pascual Encinas, a prominent citizen of Hermosillo, and 

'A number of Californiana and Arizoniana, especially M. M. liice, of Phoenix, intimated a strong 
desire to join the 1895 expedition of the Bureau of American Ethnology for the express purpose of 
personally ascertaining the fate and seekint; the remains of Kohiuson, who was extensively known 
iu southern California and southwestei'n Arizona. 

118 THE 8ER1 INDIANS [eth.ann.17 

owner of sereral ranches adjacent to, and one within, the territory claimed liy the 
Seri Indians; also by Seiior A. Alvemar-Loou of Hermosillo, a young Mexiiau gen- 
tleman educated in the United States. For Senor Encinas the Seri Indians have the 
highest regard, and his kindly motive in accompanying the party was to facilitate 
friendly intercourse with the Indians; Senor Alvemar-Leon acted as Spanish- 
English iutrrpreter, and one of the tribe who speaks Spanish [Mashi'm] acted as 
the Seri interpreter. 

One of the subjects of in(iniry of the Indians related to the alleged killing of two 
Americans by the Seri Indians on Tiburon island during last spring at a date not 
definitely known either to the Indians or to myself. At lirst the Indians were 
indisposed to convey information on the subject, but after receiving presents from 
Senor Encinas and myself, and friendly assurances from the former, the interpreter 
for the tribe confessed the crime and detailed the circumstances, denying, however, 
that any of the Indians j)reseut at the place of conference (Raucho de San Fran- 
cisco de Costa Rica, 17 leagues west-southwest of Hermosillo and near the coast) 

According to the lirst account given through the Indian interpreter, the Indians 
on the island .saw a small vessel approach the shores of the island, and saw four men 
laud therefrom in a small boat. The spokesman among the strangers made inquiry, 
chielly by signs, as to whether game was abuudautin the interior of the Island, and 
was by signs answered in the affirmative by the chief of the tribe, who displayed a 
letter of authority from the state officials at Hermosillo. Then the strangers divided, 
two remaining on the shore by the small boat, while the spokesman and another, 
accompanied by several Indians, started toward the interior of the island. When 
they were some distance away — the account continues — some of the Indians remain- 
ing on shore indicated by signs a desire to borrow the rifle of one of the two men on 
the beach, and after some parley the rille was turned over to them ; then the Indians 
desired also to borrow the small boat in which the party of white men had lauded, 
and after one of the two men remaining on the .shore was put aboard the vessel, 
this, too, was placed in the hands of the Indians. Thereupon several of the Indians 
entered the small boat, carrying the white man's rifle, and rowed around a head- 
land a'sliort distance away. Passing this point they landed and a part of them ran 
quickly into the interior in such direction as to intercept the course of the white 
men. There they lay in wait until the strangers appeared, when they shot the 
spokesman, killing him almost instantly. Ou this the second white man cried out 
for help, whereupon he too was shot and wounded, and then (according to the tirst 
account) ran away aud concealed himself in the bushes and was seen no more. The 
Indians who had borrowed the boat then went back to the shore, and reentered the 
boat with the intention of returning aud capturing the line vessel of the strangers; 
but as they approached the vessel, being at the time quite near the shore, the man 
on board arose suddenly with a gun pointed toward them and shouted, whereupon 
they dropped the borrowed gun and, leaping from the boat, ran away among the mes- 
quite bushes, all escaping unhurt. The white man on the beach then, as the account 
ran, leaped into the boat, and, recovering his gun, rowed to the vessel and got aboard, 
when the two men at once made sail and escaped down the bay. 

The foregoing account was given to .Senor Encinas alone by the Indians through 
their interpreter, aud was afterward conveyed to me through Senor Alvemar-Leon. 
Both of us recognized the incongruity with the character of the Seri Indians of 
that part of the narrative relating to the wounding and escape of the second man, and 
Seuors Euciuas aud Leon and myself sought to impress the improbability of the 
account on the iuterpreter. Subsequently the Indians, through their interpreter, 
conveyed to Senor Encinas a modification of the account (after adhering to the first 
version for twenty-four hours), which agreed in all essential respects with the first, 
excepting the supplementary statement that some of the Indians (but neither the 
party who accompanied the white men nor those who followed in the boat) ran after 
the wounded man, caught him, shot him again — whereupon he again cried out — and 


ri*--. ■ ' v. 









then killed him with stixies. This iiiodilli'd aocount, also, .Sonoi- Enciuas duly con- 
veyed to iiie. 

Still later, in eollei'tinu; linguistic material through the Seii interpreter with the 
assistanee of Senor Alvemar-Leon, I recurred to the snhjeet inridentally (or at least 
ostensibly so) on two or three occasions, partly with the view of verifying or dis- 
proving the current report that the men were eaten by the Indians; and since the 
first distrust ou the part of the interpreter and the companions (by whom he was 
commonly surrounded) had worn off, the i|nestions were answered freely and with 
apparent truth. In lirief, the information gained in this way was a repetition in 
general terms of the statement of the killing of both men; but the responses indi- 
cated (1) that the Indians are not cannibals, (2) that they do not eat any portion or 
portions of the body of an enemy slain in war, (3) that they donot eat human flesh in a 
sacrificial way, and (4), specifically, that they did not eat the flesh of the two white 
men killed last spring. I am disposed to give credence to all of these statements. 

Sefior Encinas informed me that for a long time after the reputed killing of the 
two Americans on the island the Seri W(^re exceptionally shy and were seldom seen 
on the mainland; that the first representatives of the tribe to appear were one or 
two old women who came to his rancho with much trepidation; that these repre- 
sentatives being not ill-treated, a man appeared, who was also well treated, and 
that still later other members of the tribe appeared, though it was only a few days 
before our visit that any considerable body of the Seri Indians showed themselves 
at their favorite mainlaud haunt ou his rancho. It was his first communication 
with the IiKlians since the killing, and, both he and they agreed, the first confession 
of the crime outside of their own tribe. 

While in l^onora various conflicting accounts of the aft'air were given me. ("Ine, to 
which I was disposed to attach credence by reason of the character of my informant 
and his explanation of the circuuistauces under which the Information was gained, 
was given me (jnst before the visit referred to above) by ex- Consul Forbes, of Guaymas. 
This account corresponds in all essential details with that conveyed to my party by 
the Indians, except that, according to Mr Forbes' account, the survivors were alto- 
gether unarmed after the borrowing of the rifle by the Indians, and that when the 
man in the boat arose suddenly and shouted he pointed at the Indians not a gun but 
a stick, in the hope of deceiving them thereby, as he fortunate enough to do. 

It may be adde<l that the Seri Indians are at the same time the most primitive and 
the most bloodthirsty and treacherous of the Indians of North America, so far a.sniy 
knowledge extends; also that their character is well known throughout Sonora, and 
indeed generally throughout Mexico, Arizoua, and the southern part of California. 
I was assured by the aitiug governor of Sonora and by the prefect of Hermosillo that 
it would be little short of suicide for even a Mexican official to visit these Indians 
or land on their island without an armed guard. Through conference with the 
Indians, also, I learned that any white man, Mexican, or Indian of another tribe com- 
ing in contact with them is killed without the slightest compunction, unless they 
are restrained by fear. Accordingly I am satisfied that the character of the Seri 
Indians is quite as had as the unsavory reputation they have aciiuired throughout 
the .Southwest. 

It should be observed that while the Indians were unable to give the names of the 
men killed, their description of men and vessel agreed exactly with those of the 
newspaper correspondent Robinson and his companion, and with the sloop Examiner; 
and Mr Forbes' information was obtained direct from the survivors of the expedition 
of which Mr Rol>inson had charge. There can thus be no doubt that it was Mr 
Robinson and his companion who were killed by these Indians, and whose killing 
was confessed by them, as set forth above. 

With great respect, your obedient servant, 

W ,J McGee, 

Ethnologist in charije. 
Honorable S. P. Langley, 

Secretary of ike Smithauniun liistiliilion. 

120 THE SERI INDIANS Ieth.ann.17 

On first learning of tbe incident, months before the diplomatic corre- 
spondence began, the state and federal anthorities promptly adopted 
vigorous punitive measures. A vessel carrying a foi'ce of federal 
troops was dispatched from (luaymas and a body of state troops were 
sent from Hermosillo with instructipns to meet on the coast and capture 
the criminals at any cost, even to the extermination of the tribe if resist- 
ance was ottered. But like so many others, the expedition failed; the 
horses of the land party were stalled in the sands and burrow-riddled 
plains, the vessel was harassed by storms and tidal currents, and the 
landing boats were swamped by the surf, Avhile tlie Indians merely tied 
at sight of the invaders toward inaccessible lairs or remote parts of their 
territory; and when the water was gone and men and animals were at 
point of famishing, tbe forces retired without so mucli as seeing a single 

During the ensuing autumn the tribe, having quenched their blood- 
feud in alien blood, turned toward i)eace, and sent a matron of the 
Turtle clan, known as Juana Maria, to Costa Itica — i.e., Kanclio de San 
Francisco de Costa Kica — where she was gradually followed by younger 
matrons and children, then by youths, and finally by warriors (after 
the fashion of Seri diplomacy) to the aggregate number of about sixty. 
Here they were found by the first expedition of the Bureau of American 
Ethnology, in November, 1894; and here, under the still strong influ- 
ence of the venerable Don Pascual, supplemented by small gifts and 
persistent pressure, they gradually "gave tlieir language", submitted 
to extensive photographing, confessed specifically to the Robinson kill- 
ing, and yielded up nearly the whole of their portable possessions in 
tbe way of domestic implements and utensils, face-painting material, 
pelican skin robes, snake skin necklaces, etc. 

With the return of the Bureau party to Hermosillo the Indians 
became restive and soon withdrew beyond the desert. In the course 
of the ensuing winter a group returned to the neighborhood of Costa 
Rica, where, by aid of strategy, seven warriors (including some of those 
seen at tbe ranclio in the jjreceding November) with the families of 
four, were arrested, taken to Hermosillo, tried, and, acc-ording to oral 
accounts, l)anished. Irritated by this action, and connecting with it 
the visit of Don Pascual and the strangers desiring their language 
and sacred things, tbe clans resumed the warpath, displaying siiecial 
animosity toward the residents of Costa Rica. There were a few minor 
skirmishes; then, at the instance of tbe state officials, a number of 
i'apago Indians, who arn feared by the Seri beyond all other enemies, 
were domiciled at tbe rancho, where their mere iiresence proved a suffi- 
cient protection. Meantime, accoi ding to api)arently trustworthy press 
accounts, two small exploring parties entered Seriland; the first con- 
sisted of seven prospectors, who kejit well together until about to leave 
tbe territory, when one of their number fell behind — and bis companions 
saw him no more, tiiough they carefully retraced tiieir trail beyond the 


point at which he had stopped; the other was a (Terinaii iiiitmalist- 
prospector with two mozos (servaut-companious), purporting to hail 
from Chihuahua, who started across the delta-plain of Rio Bacuache 
and Desierto Bnciuas with saddle animals, and never reappeared. 

Then came the second expedition of the Bureau of American Eth- 
nology, to which several Papago domiciled at Costa Rica were attached 
as guards. While the party were at the rancho the day before the 
first entrada into Seriland via Barranca Salina, a party of vaqueros 
from Rancho Santa Ana tended a herd of stock to the barranca for 
water; one of the animals strayed behind a dune, and the vaqueros, 
following its trail, came on a small band of Seri already devouring the 
entrails, and attacked them so vigorously that they escaped only by 
outrunning the horses, leaving behind all their unattached possessions, 
including a bow and quiver of arrows and an ancient and nouusable 
army rifle. This incident, albeit typical, was untimely, and doubtless 
aided in rendering the Indians too wild to permit communication with 
the aliens during the ensuing weeks spent in their territory. 

After the withdrawal of this expedition the Seri resumed their range 
over the borderland plain, with the evident intention of avenging the 
insult of the invasion. There were a number of skirmishes, in which 
some of the Papago guards of the 1895 expedition were wounded and 
had horses killed under them, though they did customary execution on 
the worse armed Seri; and extensively published press items indicate 
that, toward the end of January, 1890, a ])arty of five gold i)rosiJectors 
landed on Tiburon, whence one escaped. 

A well-attested episode ensued toward the end of 1896: Captain 
George Porter and Sailor Jolm Johnson spent the later part of the 
summer in cruising the coasts of the Gulf, collecting shells, feathers, 
and other curios in the small sloop World. About the end of October 
the}- apparently anchored in llada Ballena; and a day or two later 
Captain ^Martin Mendez, of Guaymas, in charge of the schooner Otila, 
being driven up the gulf and into Bahia Kunkaak by storms, came on 
a horde of Seri looting Porter's vessel. The ei)isode received publicity 
on Mendez's return to Guaymas; United States Consular Agent 
Crocker instituted inquiries, and Governor Corral sent a force to Costa 
Rica, where, after some delay, a parley was held with a strong band of 
Seri under the chiefship of "a seven-foot warrior named El Mudo (The 
Mute), • . . so called for his reticence of speech."' The testimony 
obtained at the parley and from Captain Mendez indicates that Porter 
and Johnson landed, or at least approached the shore, jirobably in a 
small boat; that they were met by a shower of arrows, under which 
Johnson immediately fell, while Porter defended himself with a shot- 

' San Francisco Clirouicle, October 16, 1898, \t. 3. The details of the episode, including the corre- 
spondence of Consular Agent Crocker, were printed in tlie newspapers of San Diego (the place of 
residence of Porter and Jolinsou), as well as in those of San Francisco and other cities; and there was 
consideraljlc correspondence concerning the matter with the State Department at Washington. Some 
reports recount that the bodies of Porter and Johnson were rent to fragments and devoured, Ijut tliese 
details naturally lack contirinatiou. El Mudo's portrait appears in plale xix. 

122 THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ann. 17 

gun, slaying' five of the Seri before he was himself transfixed; that the 
vessel was then looted, and that Mendez and his crew were prevented 
from lauding and apparently driven oft' by the Seri force. In the coarse 
of the parley the state officials "demanded the surrender of the ring- 
leaders in the massacre", with the alteriuitive of "regarding the whole 
tribe as guilty and punishing them accordingly"; but El Mudo, evi- 
dently holding the invasion of the island as the initial transgression 
and deeming the loss of the tribe under Porter's marksmanship as 
more than commensurate witli the Caucasian loss, peremptorily ended 
the conference and returned to the island. Vigorous eftbrts were made 
to ])ursue the tribesmen beyond their ])ractically im[)assable frontier, 
with the usual product of ruined horses and famished riders. Then the 
episode died away in an armed neutrality strained somewhat beyond 
the normal. Meantime the Pai)ago guards remained at Costa Eica. 
"They are continuously on tlie lookout for these Seris, and once or twice 
have killed a stray one or two." ' 

Both before and after the Porter-Johnson episode schemes were 
devised by various parties, chiefly Californiaus, for obtaining conces- 
sions covering Tiburon and its resources, most of these schemes involv- 
ing idans for the extermination of the Seri; and press accounts indicate 
that a concession covering the islands of the gulf above the latitude of 
29° (i. e., including about half of Isla Tiburon) was granted to an 
American corajiany of much distinction. It would appear from numer- 
ous news items that representatives of the company sought to land ou 
Tiburon, wLiere they were first cajoled with offerings of food, afterward 
found to be poisonous, and later driven oft' by an enlarged force of 
naked archers. A recent publication bearing some official sanction 
announces that " ^Ir W. J. Lyons, of Hermosillo, Sonora, has secured 
a concession for tbe exploration of the island and in November of this 
year will fit out an expedition for that purpose."^ The various move- 
ments are significant as indices of current oi)inion and ofticial policy 
with respect to the tribe. 

On the whole, the later episodes are natural sequels of the eventful 
and striking earlier history of the Seri; and they can only be inter])reted 
as ]iointing to early extinction of one of the most strongly marked and 
distinctive of aboriginal tribes. 

' The quotations are from the account of T. H. Silsbee, of San Diego, prepared on his return from 
a visit to Costa Hica. 

2 El Estado lie Sonora, Mexico. Sus Induatrias, Coraerciales, Mineras y Manufacturaa. 0br;t Puljli- 
cada bajo los Auspicios del Gobierno del Estado. Obra Ilustrada, Octubre de 1897. By J. R. South- 
worth, Nogales; p. 73. 

Definition and Xomenclature 

Accordiug to Mashi^m and the claniiiotlier known as Juaiia Maria, 
the proper name of the tribe known as Seri is Kunh'ial; (the first vowel 
obscure and the succeedini;- consonant nasaUzed; perhaps fi'"-A««/.- or 
K'"-Mak would better express the sound). According to Kolusio, as 
rendered by ]\I Pinart, the Seri term for people or nation is lom-kal; 
while the Seri people are designated specifically as Kmike, this desig- 
nation being practically equivalent phonetically (and doubtless seinat- 
ically) to Sr Tenochio's general term for women, l-anuilij. Masheni 
was unable or unwilling to give the precise signification of the tribal 
appellation used by him, merely indicating Juana Maria and one or 
two other elderwomen squatting near as examples or types; but com- 
parison of the elements of the term with those used in other vocables 
affords a fairly clear inkling as to its meaning. The syllable kiiii (or 
k", koii, kom, etc.) certainly connotes age and woman, and apparently 
connotes also life or living (kun-kaie=a.n old woman, McGee; i-kom 
=a wife, e/i«)H=alive, Bartlett; liikkam=a. wife, km(im-kikamm(m=a, 
married woman, l'rt/i-/iOw = Yaqui tribe, Pinart; kon-kabi e = a,n old 
woman, Tenochio), the forms being distinct from the word for woman 
{kmamm, McGee; ek-e-mam, Bartlett; kmam, Pinart and Tenochio) and 
widely different from the term for man (kii-iumm, McGee; eke-tam, Bart- 
lett; ktam, Pinart; tain, Tenochio) with its several combining variants; 
there are also indications in numerous vocables that it connotes per- 
son or personality. On the whole, the syllable appears to be an ill- 
formulated or uncrystallized expression, denoting at once and associa- 
tively (1) the state of living or being, (2) personality, (3) age or ancient- 
ness (or both), and (4) either femininity or maternity (much more 
probably the latter), this inchoate condition of the term being quite 
in accord with other characters of the Seri tongue, and frequently 
paralleled among other primitive languages. The syllable kaak (or 
ArtA', and probably AoA, koj, kolrh, etc.) would seem to be a still more 
vague and colloidal term, despite the fact that it is used sepaiately to 
designate the fire-drill. There are fairly decisive indications that it is 
composite, the initial portion denoting place and the final jjortion per- 
haps more vaguely connoting class or kind with an implication of 
excellence, both elements appearing in various vocables (too Tiumerous 
to quote). On the whole, kaak would appear to be a typical egocentric 
or ethnocentric term, designating and diguifying Person, Place, Time, 


124 THE SEKI INDIANS [eth.asn.17 

and ]Mode, after the luaiiuer characteristic of primitive tliougbt;' so 
that it may perbaps be translated " Our-Great-(or Strong-)Kind-Now- 
Hcre". The combination of the two syllables affords a characteris- 
tically colloidal connotation of concepts, common enongh in primitive 
use, but not expressible by any single term of modern language; in a 
descriptive way the complete term might be interpreted as " Our-Living- 
Ancient-Strongiiind Elderwonien-Now-Ilere," while with the utmost 
elision the interpretation could hardly be reduced bejond "Our Great- 
Motherfolk-Here" without fatal loss of original signification. It should 
be noted that the designation is made to cover the animals of Seriland 
(at least thezoictutelariesof the tribe) and Areas well as the human folk. 
The proper tribe name is of no small interest as an index to primi- 
tive thought, and as an illustration of an early stage in linguistic devel- 
opment. It is significant, too, as an expression of the matronymic 
organization, and of the leading role played by the clanmothers in the 
simple legislative and judicative att'airs of the tribe; and it is especially 
significant as an indication of the intimate association of fire and life 
in primitive thought. 

The designation "Seri", with its several variants, is undoubtedly an 
alien appellation, and neither Mashem nor Kolusio could throw light 
on its origin or meaning, though they did not apparently regard it as 
opprobrious. Penafiel describes it as an Opata term; and Pimentel's 
Opata vocabulary - (extracted from the grammar and dictionary com- 
piled by Padre iSTatal Lombardo) indicates its meaning satisfactorily, 
albeit without special reference to the tribe. The key term in this 
vocabulary is " tH-rerai, velocidad de la persona que corre." The accent 
over the first vowel serves to indiiiate i)rolongation, so tliat term and 
definition may be rendered, literally, se-ererai, speed of the person who 
runs. Analysis of the term shows that the essential factor or root is 
that introduced elsewhere in the same vocabulary as ^^Erc, llegar." 
Now, "llegar" is a protean and undifferentiated Spanish verb neuter, 
without satisfactory English equivalent; it may be interpreted as ariive, 
reach, attain, fetch, endure, continue, accomplish, suffice, ascend, or 
mount to, while as a verb active and verb reflective its equivalents are 
approach, join, proceed a little distance, unite, etc; it maybe said to 
imply movement or process with a centripetal connotation — i. e., a con- 
notation antithetic to that of the expressive irregular verb "ir" in its 
protean forms, including the ubiqviitous and ever present "vamos" (an 
American slang equivalent of the Gastilian verb "llegar" in certain of 
its phases is the strong iuterjectory plirase, " get together"). The prefix 
se is merely an intensive, running not merely through the Opata, 
but throughout various tongues of the Piman stock. In his extensive 
vocabulary of the Pima and Papago Indians of Arizona (1871),' Captain 

' Cf. The Beginning uf Mathematics, iu the American Antliropologist, new series, vol. I, 1899, p. 651. 
^Vocabulario Manual de la Leugua 6pata, por Francisco Pimentel; Boletin de la Sociedad Mexicana 
de Geografia y EstaUistica, tonio X. 186:t, pp. 287-313. 
3 In the archives of the Bureau of American Ethnology. 


F. E. Grossinaiin defines tbe term ".se, very, ad. (prefix)", and over a 
hundred and fifty of bis terms illustrate the use of this adjectival or 
adverbial jirefix as an undififerentiated yet vigorous intensive (e. g., 
tif, female or woman, se-uf, a lady — great or grand woman; o'A-, high 
or height, xe-o'Ji-, highmost); and in tbe Pimentel vocabulary this sig- 
nification is attesteil by several other terms (e. g., " Sererai, paso menudo 
y bueno"). Finally, the intercalated consonant r is a common par- 
ticii)ial element in the Piman, while the suffix ai is a habitual assertive 
termination, as shown by various terms in the Pimentel and other voi-ab- 
ulaiies. Dropping this termination, the expression becomes se-erer, or — 
without the nonessential participial element — se-ere, signifying (so far as 
can be ascertained from the construction of the language) "moving", 
or "mover", qualified by a vigorous intensive.' To one familiar with the 
strikingly light movement characteristic of the Seri — a movement far 
lighter than that of the professional sprinter or of the thoroughbred 
"collected" by a skilful equestrian, and recalling that of the antelope 
skimming the plain in recurrent impulses of unseen hoof-touches, or 
that of the alert coyote seemingly fioatiug eerily about the slumbering 
camp — this appellation appears peculiarly fit; for it is the habit of the 
errant Seri to roam spryly and swiftly on soundless tiptoes, to come 
and go like tleeting shadows of passing cloudlets, and on detection to 
slip behind shrul) or rock and into the distance so lightly as to make 
no audible sign or visible trail, yet so fleetly withal as to evade the 
hard-riding horseman. The Seri range over a region of runners: the 
0])ata themselves are no mean racers, since, according to Velasco and 
Bartlett, "In twenty-four hours they have been known to run from 40 
to 50 leagues";- and, according to Lumholtz, their collinguals, the 
Tarahumari, or "Counting-Runners", are named from their custom of 
racing,-' and display almost incredible endurance: 

All Indian bas been known to carry a letter from Giiazapares to Cliibuahiia and 
back ayain in five days, tbe distance being nearly 800 miles. In scmie parts wbere 
tbe Tarabiiinaris serve tbe Mexicans tbey are used to rnn in tbe wild boises, driving 
tbem into tbe corral. It may take tbeni two or tbree days to do it, sleeping at nigbt 
and living on a little pinole. They bring in tbe horses thorongbly exhausted, while 
they themselves are still fresh. They will ontruii any horses if you give them time 
enongh. Tbey will pnrsue deer in the snow or with dogs in tbe rain for days and 
days, until at last the animal is cornered and shot with arrows or falls an easy prey 
from sheer exhaustion, its hoofs dropping off.^ 

'The latter form (se-ere) corresponds ]'recisely with the ciirreut Papago proiiiiiiciation of the term, 
though none of the various Papago informanT.s consulted were able to interpret the expre.ssion; 
indeed, they simply relegated it to the category of "old names*' which they deemed it needless to 
discuss. An arcliaic form of ortliograpliy, noled in tlie synonymy (pp. 128-130), is SSeri, which 
suggests tlie same sounding of the initial siliihmt. 

^From 10.1 to 130 miles; Bartlett, Personal yarrative, vol. i, p. 445. 

^ilenuiirs of the International Congress of Anthropology, Chicago, 1S94. p. 104. In a letter to Mr 
F. W. Hodge, under date of September 11, 1900. Dr Lumholtz says: "After renewed investigation 
I have come to another opinion regarding the meaning of the tribal name Tarahumare. This word is 
a Spanish corruption of the native name ' Ralameri '. Tliough the meaning of this word is not clear, 
that much is certain that rala or tara means ' foot', and I therefore take it that we must be at least 
approximately correct when we say that the word signifies ' ibot-runner'." 

* American Anthropologist, vol. vni, 1895, p. 92. 

12G THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ann.17 

The Papago, of the same region and linguistic stock, liave a racing 
game in wliicli a ball of wood or stone caught on the foot is thrown, 
followed, and thrown sigain until the two or more rival racers have 
covered 20 to 40 miles in the course of a few hours; and their feats 
as couriers and trailers are quite up to those of the Opata. Yet 
among all these tribes, and among the Mexicans as well, the Seri are 
known as the runners par excellence of the Sonoran province; and it 
is but natural that their astounding swiftness and lightness of foot 
should have brought them an appellation among contemporaries to 
whom these qualities peculiiirly appeal. 

Accordingly, both derivation and connotation give meaning to the 
name, and warrant the rendering (much weakened by linguistic infelic- 
ities) of "spry" or "spry-moving", used iu substantive sense and with 
an intensive implication. 

The chronicles of the tribe, especially those written during the seven- 
teenth and eighteenth centuries, indicate that the alien designation 
was applied loosely and with little ai)preciatiou of the tribal organiza- 
tion, just as was the case elsewhere throughout the continent. Grad- 
ually the chroniclers took cognizance of intertribal and intratribal 
relations, and introduced various distinctions in nomenclature express- 
ing tribal or subtribal distinctions of greater or less importance. One 
of the earliest distinctions was that between the Seri and the Tepoka, 
and this distinction has been consistently maintained by nearly all later 
authorities, <lespite the commonly accepted fact (brought out most 
authoritatively by Hardy > that the tongues of the tribes are substan- 
tially alike. Another early distinction was that made between the Seri 
and the Guayma; it was based primarily on diversity of habitat and 
persistent enmity, though all the earlier authorities agreed, as well 
shown by Eamirez, that the tongues were essentially identical. The 
distinction has been maintained by most authorities and strongly empha- 
sized by one (Pinart, as quoted by Bandelier), and since the (xuayma 
are extinct, and hence beyond reach of direct inquiry, the early inter- 
pretation of tribal relation must be peri)etuated.' Still another distinc- 
tion was that made between the Upanguayma and the Guayma. and 
inferentially the Seri also ; althougli the grounds for this distinction were 
not specifically stated, it seems to have grown out of diversity in habitat 
merely ; but there were clear implications that the tribe or subtribe was 
affiliated linguistically with the Guayma, and hence with the Seri, and 
this assignment has been adopted by leading authorities, including 
Pimentel and Orozco. Among the earlier distinctions based on indus- 

• In view of the clear iDdications, both a priori and a posteriori, that the latest Guayma survivors 
must have taken the language of the Pinian (Yaqui) tribesmen with whom they found refuge, and in 
view of his failure thus f:ir to present his data tor jiublic fonsidi^ration, il Piuart's inference that the 
Guayma belonged linguistically to the Pinian stoi-k can hardly be admitted to hold against the specific 
statements of the Jesuit missionaries and such accomplished inquirers as llamirez and Pimentel. 


trial factors was tbe setting apart of the Salineros, or Seri Salineros; 
yet tliis tlistiiiutioii, fortuitous and variable at the best, expressed no 
essential character and has not been maintained. A much later dis- 
tinction was that between the Seri and Tiburones, emphasized by 
j\Iiihlenpfordt and exaggerated by Buschmann; but there seem to have 
been no better grounds for it than misai)prehensions naturally attend- 
ing a slowly crystallizing nomenclature. In any event it has not been 

At several stages the chroniclers coupled the Seri with other tribes, 
on various grounds: in the eighteenth century they were thus com- 
bine<l with the I'ima, the Piato, and especially the Apache tribes. In 
the earlier half of the nineteenth century they were frequently coupled 
in similar fashion with the Pima and Apache tribes, and in the later 
half of the nineteenth century, and even in its last lustrum, they have 
been similarly combined with the Yaqui. The later couibinations seem 
to explain the earlier: the Yaqui outbreaks withdraw portions of the 
arm bearing population from the Seri frontier, and the marauders take 
advantage of the withdrawal so regularjj^ that a Yaqui scare is inva- 
riably followed bj' a Seri scare, and hence the two warlike tribes are 
constantly associated in the minds of the Sonoreuses as synchronous 
insurrectionists; and scrutiny of the earlier chronicles indicates that 
most of the so-called combinations of former times were of similar sort. 

On putting the chronicles together, it seems clear that the term " Seri" 
was originally of lax appli_catiou, but was gradually restricted to the 
tribe inhabiting Tibur(ni and ranging adjacent territory, including the 
coUingual but inimical Guayma and Upanguayma, and also the col- 
lingual and cotolerant Tepoka; and that the various Piman tribes, as 
well as the Apache, were always distinct, and commonly if not invari- 
ably inimical. 

The ethnic relations of the Seri people attracted early and repeated 
attention. Humboldt gave currency, albeit not unciuestioningly, to a 
supposed Chinese or related Oriental affiliation; Hardy noted the sim- 
ilarity of the Seri tongue to that of the Patagouians; Lavandera classed 
the language as Arabic; Stone and Bancroft circulated a sut)posed 
identiticatiou of the speech with the Welsh; Ramirez, and more espe- 
cially Pimentel, narrowed the field of afiSliation to Mexico and defined 
the tongue as distinct ; Orozco y Berra, and more especially Malte-Brun, 
slightly reextended the field and suggested afliliation with the Caribs; 
while Herzog, Gatschet, and Briuton reextended the field in another 
direction and saw, in a vocabulary obtained from a Seri scion but alien 
thinker, similarities between the Serian and Yuman tongues. The 
recent researches tend strongly to corroborate the evidence collected 
and the conclusions reached by Ramirez and Pimentel; for the some- 
what extended comparisons between the Serian and neighboring lan- 
guages (introduced and discussed in other paragraphs) indicate that the 

128 THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ann.i? 

Sei'i tongue is distinct save for two or three Cocliimi or otber Yumau 
elements, which may be loan words such as might readily have been 
obtained through the largely inimical interchange of earlier centuries 
described by Padre Juan Maria de Souora and other pioneer observers — 
certainly the slight and superficial similarities with other tongues of 
the region seem insufficient to meet the classific requirement of sup- 
posititious descent from "a common ancestral speech".' Accordingly 
the group maj' be defined (at least provisionally) as a linguistic family 
or stock, and may be distinguished by the family name long ago ap]jlied 
by Pimentel and Orozco, with the termination prescribed in Powell's 
fifth rule,'^ viz, Serian. Conformably, the classification of the group 
would become — 
Serian stock, comprising — 

Seri tribe, including Tiburones and (certain) Salineros; 

Tepoka tribe; 

Guayma tribe; 

Upanguayma tribe. 
Naturally this classification is provisional in certain respects. It is 
little more than tentative in so far as the Tepoka are concerned, since 
no word of the Tepoka tongue has ever been recorded, so far as is 
known, and since the tribe is still extant and within reach of research; 
it must be held provisional also in respect to the separateness of the 
stock, whicli may be found in the future to be affiliated with neighboring 
stocks, though the effect of the more recent and more critical researches 
in eliminating supposed evidences of affiliation points in the opposite 
direction. The arrangement is in some measure provisional also with 
respect to the relations between the long-extinct Guayma and Upan- 
guayma and the type tribe, especially since contrary suggestion has been 
offered in terms implying the existence of unpublished data; yet the 
presumption in favor of the critical work by Eamirez, Pimentel, and 
Orozco is so strong that practically this feature of the classification 
maybe deemed final. 

No attempt has been made to render the tribal synonymy exhaustive, 
though search of the records has incidentally brought out the more 
important synonyms, as follows : 

Seri Tribe 

Ceres— 1826; Hardy, Travels, p. 95. 

Ceki — 1875; Pimentel, Lenguas ludigenas, toiiio ii, p. 229. 

Ceris — 1745; Villa-Sefior, Theatro Aiuericauo, p. 391. 

C'EUis Tepooas — 1850; Velaseo, Noticias, p. 132. 

Heri — 1851; UuBchinann, Die Spuren der aztekischen SpracLe, p. 221. 

Hums — 1645; Ribas, Triunipbos de Nueatra Santa Fee, p. 358. 

Hkhises — 1690 (?); Van der Aa, map. 

'Indian liDguistic families, by J.W.Powell, in Seventh Annual Keport, Bureau of Ethnology, 
1885-86(1891), p. 11. 
!Ibid., p. 10. 


Sadi— 1896; San Francisco Chronirlc, January 24. — Etymologic form. 

Seres — 1S<44; Miihlenpfordt, Republik Mejico, Band i, p. 210. 

Seri — 1754; [Ortega], Apostolicos Afanes, p. 244. 

Seris— 1694; Mange, Resumen de Noticias (Documentos para la Historia de Mexico, 

s^rie 4, tomo i, p. 235). 
Seri Salineros — 1842; Alegre, Historia de la Compania de ,■ 'sns, tomo iii, p. 117. 
Seris Salineros — 1694; Mange, Resumen de Noticias (Documentos, serie 4, tomo i, 

p. 321). 
Serys — 1754; [Ortega], Apostolicos Afanes, p. 367. 
SoKis— 1900; Deniker, The Races of Jlan, p. 533. 
SSeri — 1883; Gatschet, Der Yuma Spracbatamm, p. 129. 
Zeris — 1731; Dominguez, Diario (MS.). 
Kmike — 1879; Piuart, MS. vocabulary. 
KOMKAK — 1879; Piuart, MS. vocabulary. 

Kunkaak— 1896 ; McGee and Johnson, "Seriland", Nat. Geog. Mag., vol. vii.].. 133. 
Salineros— 1727; Rivera, Diario y Derrotero, 1. 514-1519. 
TiBUUON— 1799; Cortez (Pacific Railroad Reports, vol. ill, p. 122). 
TiBiKoXES — 1792; Arricivita, Crdnica Seratica, segunda parte, p. 426. 
TiBUROW Ceres— 1826: Hardy, Travels, p. 299. 

Tepoka Tribe 

TK.rECO — 1847; Disturnell, Mapade los Estados Unidos de Mejico, New York. 

Tepoca — 1748; Villa-Senor, Theatro Americano, p. 392. 

Tepoca Ceres— 1826; Hardy, Travels, p. 299. 

Tepocas — 1748; Villa-Senor, Tlieatro Americano, p. 391. 

Tepococ — 1865; Velasco, Bol. Soc. Mex. Geog. y Estad., tomo xi, p. 125. 

Tepoka — Phonetic form. 

Tkpopa — 1875; Dewey, map. 

Tepoquis — 1757; Veuegas, Noticia, tomo ii, p. 343. 

Topokis — 1702; Kino, map (in Stocklein, Der Neue Welt-Bott). 

Topoquis — 1701 ; Kino, map (in Bancroft, Works, vol. xvii, 1889, p. 360). 

Guayma Tribe 

Baymas — 1754; [Ortega], Apostolicos Afanes, p. 377. 

Gayama — 1826 ( ?) ; Pike (Balbi), (in Pimentel, Lenguas, tomo ii. p. 234^. 

GuAiM.\ — 1861; Buckingham Smith. Heve Grammar, p. 7. 

GUAIMAS — 1702; Kino, map (in Stocklein, Der Neue Welt-Bott). 

Glaya.mas — 1757; Veuegas, Noticias, tomo II, p. 79. 

GuAY.MA — 1701; Juan Maria de Sonora, Report (Documentos para la Historia de 

Mexico, g^rie 4, tomo v, p. 154). 
GUAY'MAS — 1700; Juan Maria de Sonora, Reijort (Documentos para la Historia 

de Mexico, serie 4, tomo v, p. 126). 
GUAY.MI — 1882; Bancroft Works, vol. Ill, (Native Races, vol. iii), p. 7iM 
GCAYMis — 1844; Miihlenpfordt, Republik Mejico, Band i, p. 210. 
Gl'ElJiAS — 1748; Villa-Senor, Theatro Americano, p. 401. 
GuEYMAS — 1748; Villa-Senor, Theatro Americano, p. 402. 
GflA.MAS— 1763; [Neutwig?], Rudo Ensayo, p. 229. 
GuiMlES ( ?)— 1701 ; Kiuo, map (Bancroft, Works, vol. xvii, 18S9, p. 360). 

IJpanguaijma Tribe 

Houpix GuAY.MAS — 1829 ; Hardy, map. 

Ju.MPANGUAY.MAS — 1860; Velasco, Bol. Soc. Mex. Geog. y Estad., tomo viii, p. 292. 
JUPANGiTEiMAS — 1748; Villa-Senor, Theatro Americano, p. 401. 
17 ETH 9 


Opan Otaimas — 1763; [Neutwii; ?], Rudo Ensayo. p. 229. 
Upaxi;uaima — 1864 : Orozco y Berra, Geografia <le las Lcuguas, p. 42. 
UrANGUAiMAS — 1878; Malte-Briin. Congivs Interuatioiial ties Auidricauistes, tome ii, 

p. 38. 
Upanguayma — Synthetic form. 

Upanouaymas — 1882; Baucrut'r, Works (Native Races, vol. i. p. 605). 
Upan-Guay.mas — 1890; Bamlelier, luvestigatious iu the Southwest, p. 75. 

Possibly the name Gocomagues (1864, Orozto y Beria, Geografia de 
las Lcuguas, p. 41'), or Cocomaques (1727, llivera, Diario y Derroteio, 1. 
1514-1.519) should be iutroduced amoug tbe .synouyius of the Seri, but 
iu the absence of definite information it ra.iy perhaps better be left 

Of the four tribes assigned to the stock, the Upanguayma have been 
extinct iirobably for more than a century; the Guayma may survive iu 
a few representatives probably of mixed blood and adopted language; 
the Tepoiia have never received systematic investigation, but a]ij)ear to 
survive in limited numbers on the eastern coast of Gulf of Califor- 
nia about the embouchure of the Rio Ignacio sand-wash ; while the Seri 
alone continue to form a prominent factor in Souoran thought. 

External Eelations 

The most conspicuous characteristic of the Seri tribe as a whole is 
isolation. The geographic position and i)hysical features of their habi- 
tat favor, and indeed measurably compel, isolation: their little princi- 
pality is protected on one side by stormy seas and on the other by still 
more forbidding deserts; their home is too hard and jioor to tempt con- 
quest, and their possessions too meager to invite spoliation; hence, 
under customary conditions, they never see neighbors save iu chance 
encounters on their frontier or in their own i)rediitory forays — and in 
either case the encounters are commonly inimical. The natural isola- 
tion of the habitat is reflected in modes of life and habits of thought; 
and during the ages the physical isolation has come to be reflected in 
a bitter and implacable hereditary enmity toward aliens — an enmity 
apparently forming the strongest motive in their life and thought, and 
indeed grown into a persistent instinct. Thus the Seri stand alone in 
every respect; they are isolated in habitat and still more intensely iso- 
lated in habits of thought and life from all contemporaries; they far 
out-Ishmael the Ishmael of old on Araby's deserts. 

The isolation of the Seri in thought and feeling is well illustrated 
by the relations with their nearest neighbors (activitally as well as 
geographically), tlie Papago Indians. The Papago are much esteemed 
iu Sonora as fearless fighters, always ready to join or even to lead a 
forlorn hope; yet when the expedition of 1805 was projected it was 
found no easy matter to induce the picked Papago guards quartered 
at Costa Rica to enter Seriland. They were ready, indeed mildly eager, 
for fray, provided it were on the frontier; but they held back iu dread 

' These iiauies seoiii rather to he Yumau ; cf. Cocypa, Coconiuo, Oocoraaricopa, iiohun, etc. 


from actual invasion of the territory of the hereditary enemy. Like 
representatives of the faith-doniiuated culture-grades j;enerally, they 
spoke weightily of inherent rights descended from the ancient time, 
even back unto the creation; they repeatedly declared the right of the 
Seri to protect tlieir territory because it was theirs; yet their converse 
but served to show the depth and persistence of their abliorreiice of 
the Seri and of everything jiertaining to them. And when gales arose 
to delay the work, when the frail craft of tlie party was stonn buffeted 
and lost for days, when thej' were seized with the strange sickness of 
the sea, when the salt and sugar mysteriously disappeared (having 
been secretly sacrificed to diminish suffering from thirst), when all of 
the earth-powers and air-powers seemed to be arrayed against the ex- 
jjedition, they stoically held it to be but just ])UMishment for a sacri- 
legious infraction of the ancient law — and their steady adherence to 
duty, despite tradition and physical difficulty and constant danger, 
revealed a real heroism. The strain was no slight one; it may have 
been felt more by the stay-at-homes than by the men in action ; cer- 
tainly a sister of one of the party (Anton Castillo) and spouse of a 
su]ii)orter at the supply station broke under the strain, and died of 
her terrors — and the return of the party was, to the l*apago women and 
oldsters at least, as the rising of the dead. The dread inspired by the' 
j)ersonal presence of the alien is stronger still; when the Seri ran- 
cheria at Costa Kica was visited in ISIU it was found needful to keep 
the Papago interpreter and others of the tribe at a distance, since the 
mere sight of the inimical tribesmen threw even the women and children 
into watchful irritation, like that of range-bred horses at sceiit of bear 
or timber-wolf, or tLiat of oft-harried cats and swine at sight of ])assing 
dog— they instinctively huddled into circles facing outward, and ceased 
to think connectedly under the stress of nervous tension. The irrita- 
tion was so far mutual that it was days before the usually placid inter- 
preter, Jose Lewis, recovered his normal spirits; while the 1895 inter- 
l>reter, Hugh Norris, was actually rendered ill by the mere entrance 
into Seriland at Pozo Escalante. And the antipathy between Seri and 
Yaqui is nearly as great as that between the common-boundary 

The instinctive antagonism, or race antipathy, between the Seri and 
the widely distinct Caucasian is less trenchant and intense than the 
local antipathy; yet even between Seri and Caucasian there would seem 
to be hardly a germ of sympathj-. In the days of his prime, the Tiburon 
islanders flocked aiound Don Pascual, first as a provider of easy prov- 
ender and later as a superpotent shaman whose wrath bore destruction; 
yet their allegiance was never more than that of the cowed and beaten 
brute to a hated trainer, and his coming never brought a smile to their 
stolid features — indeed, his passage among their jacales was met with 
the same stolid yet sinister indifference accorded the solitary visitor to 
a menagerie of caged carnivores. And no sooner did his vision become 

132* THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ann.17 

impaired than tlieir fear-born veneration evaporated, and their native 
antipathy i-eappeared in original virulence. The ]8!)4 party was for- 
tunate in successfully treating a sick wife of sub-chief Masliein, and 
subsequently spent days in the rancheria, distributing gifts to old and 
young in a manner unprecedented in their experience aiul making liberal 
exchanges for such small i)Ossessions as they wished to spare; yet, with 
a single possible exception, they succeeded in bringing no more human 
expression to any Seri face or eye than curiosity, avidity for food, stud- 
ied indiiference, and shrouded or snarling disgust. Among themselves 
they were fairly cheerful, and the families were unobtrusively affection- 
ate; yet the cheerfulness was always chilled and often banished by the 
approach of an alien. The Sonorenses generally hold the iSeri in inde- 
scribably deep dread as uncanny and savage monsters lying beyond 
the human pale; while the reciprocal feeling on the part of the 8eri 
toward Caucasians, and still more toward Indian aliens, seems akin to 
that of the average man toward the rattlesnake, which he Hees or slays 
without pause for thought — it seems nothing less tbau intuitive and 
involuntary loathing. The Seri antipathy is at once deepened into an 
obsession and crystallized into a cult ; the highest virtue in their calendar 
is the shedding of alien blood; and their normal im])ulse on meeting an 
alien is to kill unless deterred by fear, to tlee if the way is clear, and to 
fawn treacherously for better opportunity if neither natural course 
lies open. 

Concordantly with their primary characteristic, the Seri have avoided 
ethnic and demotic union beyond the narrow limits of their own kin- 
dred; and even of these they seem to have cast out parts, annihilating 
the Guayma and Upanguayma, displacing and nearly destroying the 
Tepoka, and outlawing individuals and (apparently) small groui)S. 
The earlier chronicles indicate that the Jesuit missionaries, and after 
them the Franciscan friars and the secular officials, sought to scatter 
the tribe by both cajolery and coercion, and endeavored to divide fam- 
ilies by restraint of women and children and by banishment of wives; 
there are loose traditions, too, of the capture and enslavement of Indian 
and Caucasian women in Seriland; yet the great fact remains that not 
a single mixed blood Seri is known to exist, and that no more than two 
of the blood (Kolusio and perhaps one other) now live voluntarily 
beyond the territorial and consanguineal confines of the tribe. The 
romantic story of a white slave and ancestress ol' a Seri clan, sometimes 
diffused through iieruicious reportorial activity, is without shadow of 
])roof or probability; the tradition of the captivity of a Papago belle 
was (jorroborated, albeit indefinitely, by Mashem's naive admission 
that an alien women was once kept as a slave to a childless death due 
to her inaptitude for long wanderings; and there is not a single known 
fact indicating even so much as miscibility of the Seri blood with that 
of other varieties of the genus Homo. Naturally the presumi)tion of 
miscibility holds in the absence of direct evidence; yet the presumption 


is at least partially coinitervailed by conspicuous biotic characters, 
such as color, stature, etc., so distinctive as almost to seem specific: 
the Seri are distinctively dark-skinned, their extreme color-range (so 
far as known) being less than their nearest approach to any neighbor- 
ing tribe; they are nearly as distinctive in stature, the dilference 
between their tallest and shortest normal adults being apparently less 
than that between their shortest and the tallest of the neighboring 
Papago — though they are not so fiir from the more variable and often 
tall Yaqui; and they ap|)ear to be no less distinctive in such physio- 
logic processes as those connected with their extraordinary food habits. 
Still more distinctive are the demotic characters connected with their 
habits of life and modes of thought; and when the sum of biotic and 
demotic characters is taken, the Seri are found to be set apart from all 
neighboring Sonoran tribes by difl'erenees much more striking than the 
individual range among themselves.' 

It is especially noteworthy that the Seri have held aloof from that 
commuuality of the deserts which has brought so many tribes into 
union with each other and with their animal and vegetal neighbors 
through common strife against the common enemies of sun and sand — 
the conimuualitj^ expressed in the distribution of vital colonies over 
arid plains, in the toleration and domestication of animals, in the 
development of agriculture, and eventually in the shaping of a com- 
prehensive solidarity, with the intelligence of the highest organism as 
the controlling factor.- Dwelling on a singularly prolific shore, the 
Seri never learned the hard lesson of desert solidarity, but looked on 
the laud merely as a place of lodgment or concealment, or as a source 
of luxuries such as cactus tunas, mesquite beans, and tasty game; 
they never formed the first idea of planting or cultivating, and their 
only notion of harvesting and storing against time of need was the 
intolerably filthy one of nature's simplest teaching; they apparently 
never grasped the concept of cooperation with animals, and came to 
tolerate the ])arasitical coyote only in that its ])ersistence was greater 
than their own, and in so far as it was stealthj- enough to hide its 
travail and the suckling of its young against their ravening maws; 
and they apparently never rose to real recognition of their own kind 
in alien forms, but set their hands against agricultural and zoocultural 
humans as peculiarly potent and hence especially obnoxious animals. 
Naturally their racial intolerance was seed of battle aiid blood-feud; 
and they would doubtless have melted away under the general antag- 
onism but for the natural barriers and unlimited food of their restricted 

At present, as for the later and best-known decades of their history, 

' It seems probable that the Seri were nearer to tribes of southern Biy'a California than to those of 
Sonora at the time of the earliest explorations, yet that the distinction was suflBcientlj strong to 
warrant the extension of the proposition to these tribes also. 

^ The Beginning of Agriculture, American Anthropologist, vol. Vlll, 1895, p. 350. The Beginning of 
Zooculture, ibid., vol. x, 1897, p. 215. 


the Seri are absolutely without extratril);il at'liliatioiis, or even sym- 
pathy. When the chronicles of three centuries are scanned in the 
liglit of recent knowledge, it seems practically certain that they have 
been equally isolated since the dawn of Caucasian history in Mexico; 
and both recent data and the chronicles combine with the principles 
of demotic development to indicate that the Heri have stood alone from 
tbe beginning of their tribal career, and have never foregathered with 
the neighboring tribes of distinct blood, distinct arts and industries, 
distinct organization, distinct language, and distinct thought and 

Tbe present isolation of the Seri throws light on their early history 
and reveals the extent of the misapprehension of the pioneer mission- 
aries, who half deluded themselves and wholly deluded distant readers 
into the notion that the Seri were really proselyted and actually col- 
lected in the mission-adjuncts of military jiosts established to protect 
settlers against forays of the tribe; for, as illumined by later and fuller 
knowledge of the tribal characteristics, the chronicles are seen to indi- 
cate merely that a few captives, malingerers, cripples, spies, and tribal 
outcasts were harbored at the missions until death and occasional 
escapes brought the colonies to a natural end, with no real assimila- 
tion of blood or culture on either side. So, too, the persistent tribal 
antipathy reveals the error of confounding the independent or even 
inimically related outbreaks of tlie Seri and of the Pima or Apache with 
the concerted action of confederated tribes. Doubtless the ever-watch- 
ful spies from Tiburon habitually gave notice of the disturbance due to 
outbreaks of contemporary tribes, just as they do today when the local 
soldiery are witlidrawn for duty on the Yaqui frontier; naturally tlie 
civil and military authorities were thereby led to provide for protection the Seri and Plato, against the Seri and Pima, or against the 
Seri and Apache at each period of disturbance, just as they provided 
against the Seri between periods; and it would appear that this asso- 
ciation in thought and speech led to the unconscious magnification, in 
the minds of the chroniclers, of a supposed alliance. 

In brief, the tribal relations of the Seri seem always to have been 
antipathetic, especially toward the aboriginal tribes of alien blood, in 
somewhat less measure toward Caucasians, and in least — yet still con- 
siderable — degree toward their own collinguals and (presumptive) con- 


So far as could be ascertained by inquiries of and through Mashcm 
in 1894, the Seri tribe then comjjrised about CO or 70 wai-riors, with 
between three and four times as many women and children — i. c, the 
population was apparently between 250 and 350. The group of about 
GO (including 17 warriors) seen at Costa Rica was evidently growing 
rapidly, to judge from the proportion of youths of both sexes, infants 
in arms, and pregnant women; and there are other indications tluit 


the tribe is i)rolific and well-fitted to survive unless cut oft" in conse- 
quence ot the hereditary antipathy toward alien blood and culture. 

The population estimates of the past are naturally vague. In 1045 
Ribas spoke of the tribe as "a great people"; and a century later Villa- 
Senor expressed himself in somewhat similar terms, and described 
their range in such manner as to indicate a population running into 
thousands. A few years after Villa-Serior (in 1750), Parilla claimed 
to have annihilated the entire tribe, with the exception of 2S captives; 
but according to Velasco's estimates, the people numbered fully L*,000 
some thirty years later, when the tribe was, however, once more nom- 
inally annihilated. In 1821 Tropcoso estimated the Seri at over 1,000, 
and two years later Retio reckoned the po]mlation of Isla Tiburon 
alone at 1,000 or 1,^00, while Plardy thought the entire tribe might 
number ;>,00(> or 4,000 at the ntmost. About 1841 De Mofras put tlie 
aggregate population at 1,500; and at the time of the vigorous inva- 
sion by Andrade and Espence (1844), when a considerable number of 
the tribe were captured and a few slain, the total population was esti- 
mated at about 550 — though it is ])robable that a good many tribesmen 
were left out of the reckouiug. According to the chroni(;lers, a number 
of the Seri were slain after, as well as before, this invasion ; and in 1846 
Yelasco estimated the tribe at less than 500, including 00 or 80 war- 
riors. This estimate was in harmony with that made by Senor Encinas, 
who reckoned the tribe at 500 or COO at the beginning of his war, in 
which half the tribe lost their lives. The figures of Yelasco and Enci- 
nas correspond fairly with the reckoning by Mashem in 1894, due 
allowance being made for natural increase and for the losses through 
occasional skirmishes; and I\Iash('m's count is shown not to be exces- 
sive by the considerable number of jacales and raucherias and well- 
trodden pathways found throughout Seriland in 1895. 

On the whole it seems jirobable that the Seri ijopulation extended 
well into the thousands at the time of the Caucasian invasion ; it seems 
probable, also, that the body was then too large for stability under its 
feeble institutional bonds, and hence threw off by fission the Guayma 
and Upanguayma fractions, and the Angeles, Populo, and Pueblo Seri 
fragments. Furthermore, it seems probable that the prolific group 
fairly held its own against these normal losses and repeated decima- 
tions by battle up to the IMigueletes-Cimarrones war of 1780, despite 
the vaunted annihilation in 1750; but that thenceforward the deatli- 
rate due to increasingly frequent encounters with incoming settlers 
exceeded the birth-rate, gradually reducing the tribe from some 2.000 
to the 2.")0 or 300 surviving the lOncinas conflict. Finally, it seems 
probable that the tribe has again held its own and perhaps increased 
slowly under the renewed isolation of the last decade or two. 


Several pliysical cliaracteristics of tbe Seri Indians are so conspicuous 
as to attract attention even at first siglit. Perhaps tbe most striking 
is the noble stature and erect yet easy carriage; next in prominence is 
the dark skin-tiut; a third is the breadth and depth of chest; another 
is the slenderness of limbs and disproportionately large size of extremi- 
ties, especially the feet; still another is length and luxuriance of hair; 
and an impressive character is a peculiar movement in walking and 

The mean stature of the adult Seri may be estimated at about feet 
(1.825 meters) for the males, and 5 feet 8 inches (1.727 meters) or 5 feet 
9 inches (1.73 meters) for the females, these estimates resting on visual 
comparisons between Caucasians of known stature and about forty 
adult Seri of both sexes at Costa Rica in 1S94. In several of the 
accompanying photomechanical reproductions (e. g., plates xiii, xvi, 
XIX, XXIII, and xxviii) a unit figure, introduced partly for the encour- 
agement of the individuals and groups but chietiy to aflbrd a basis for 
approximate measurement, gives opi)ortunity for test of the estimate, 
the figure measuring 5 feet 11 inches (1.80 meters) to 5 feet Hi inches 
(1.812 meters), and weighing about 215 ptmnds in the costume shown, 
including hat and boots.' These pictures and some thirty unpublished 
photographs, like the observations on the ground, indicate that practi- 
cally all of the fully adult males and several of the females overtop the 
Caucasian unit. The only definite measurement known is that of the 
youthful and apparently immature female skeleton examined by Dr 
Hrdlicka, of which the dimensions indicate a stature (estimated by the 
uu'thod of Manouvrier) of about 5 feet 3'^ inches (1.02 meters),^ or 3.J 
inches above the female normal of 5 feet ^ inch (1.53 meters) given by 
Topinard ; but this considerable stature is, probably on account of the 
youth of the subject, nuich below the mean indicated by the ocular and 
photographic comparisons (it corresponds fairly with that of the Seri 
maiden represented iu plate xxv, whose age was estimated at 18 years). 
Naturally this striking stature, especially that of the warriors, has 
been much exaggerated by casual observers; the typical warrior. El 
^Nludo, depicted in plate xix, is indeed commonly reckoned as a 7-footer, 
though his actual stature (diminished somewhat in Hie pictures by fear- 
some shrinking from the ordeal of photographing) can hardly exceed 

> Tbe average net height and weight of the unit figure (that of the author) are about 5 feet 88 inches 
an<I 200 pounds, respectively. 

'Or alpdiit 1.G176 meters estimated by the luethod of licillet (rf. The Races of Man, J. Dcuiker, 
London, moo, p. 33). 


6 feet 3 inches (1.90 meters); wliile for centuries the folk have been 
reputed a tribe of giants. 

The estimation of Seri stature is difflcilitated by the impossibility of 
defining maturity; and the effort to determine whether particular indi- 
viduals were adult brought out clear indications of slowness in reach- 
ing complete maturity, i. e., of the continuation of somatic growth 
throughout an exceptionally long term in proportion to other stages in 
the life of the individual. Thus, with scarcelj^ an exception, the polyp- 
arous matrons were taller than the mean of 5 feet 9 inches, while the 
apparently adult maidens (with one exception) and the younger wives 
were below this mean; and in like manner the stature of the warriors 
varied approximately with appearance of age, all of the younger men 
falling below the mean, and all of the older (except Mashem) rising 
above it. The difficulty of estimation is further increased by the absence 
of age records and the impracticability of ascertaining and standardiz- 
ing the habitually guarded expressions for relative age implied in the 
kinship terminology; so that the age determinations were rougldy rela- 
tive merely, and there was no means of flxing the absolute age of 
maturity, of puberty, of marriage, or of the assumption of manhood 
and womanhood howsoever defined. 

Under the conditions, the determination of stature-range in the Seri 
rancheria at Costa Rica in 1894 was not only difficult but uncertain; 
yet in general terms it maybe said that the women having two or more 
children — about twenty in number — were notably uniform in stature, 
ranging from about 5 feet 7i inches (in the case of an aged and slirunken 
elderwoman) to 5 feet 11 inches; that the younger women were more 
variable; and that the warriors (seventeen in number), of whom only a 
part were apparently heads of families, were more variable still, though 
the variation, apart from that apparently correlated with age. was less 
than is customarily found among the exceptionally uniform Papago, 
and decidedly less than that seen among the Yaqui or the local 

The Seri skin-tint is of the usual Amerindian bronze, save that it is 
exceptionally dark, with a decided tone of black. Essayed representa- 
tions of the characteristic color appear in plates xa'iii and xxiv; but 
the essays are little more satisfactory than the innumerable attempts 
at depicting the skin-color of the American aborigines that have gone 
before. Experienced observers of the native tribes may form an impres- 
sion of the Seri color from the explanation that they are as much darker 
than the neighboring Papago as the Papago are darker than the aver- 
age tribesmen about the Great lakes; the Papago themselves being 
as much darker than the southern plains or Pueblo folk as these are 
darker than those of the Lake region. The range in color seems to be 
slight; the variation among the 60 individuals of both sexes and all 
ages seen at Costa Eica was hardly perceptible, being less than that 
usually observed in a single family of any neighboring tribe; while the 

13S* THE SERI INDIANS [cth. axn. 17 

color distinction aloue sufficed to distiugnisli the Seri from any other 
people at a glance. 

Foi'euiost among- the general somatic distinctions between the Cau- 
casian and the American native is the peripheral development of the 
former, displayed iu better-muscled limbs, more expressive features, 
etc — i. e., the Caucasian body expresses a readily perceptible but diffi- 
cultly describable peripherization,in contradistinction from the centrali- 
zation displayed by the aboriginal body. Save in a single particular 
(the large feet and hands), the Seri exemplify this distinction in remark- 
able degree: their chests are strikingly broad, deep, and long, recalling 
the thoroughbred racer or greyhound; their waists are shortened by 
the chest development, yet are rather slender; their hips are broad 
and deep, with a clean-cut yet massive gluteal development; and, 
in comparison with the robust yet compact bodies, the tapering arms 
and legs seem incongruously slender.' This physical characteristic, 
like that of color, is insusceptible of quantitative expression, at 
least without much more refined observations than have been made; 
but its value may be indicated roughly by the statement that the 
Seri differs from the average aboriginal American in degree of somatic 
concentration as much as the average aborigine differs from the 
average Caucasian — though it is noteworthy that the dei>arture in 
this direction from the aboriginal mean is iu some measure regional 
(i. ('., the Seri differ less in this respect from the Papago and other 
swift-footed natives than from the average tribesmen of the continent). 
The Seri robustness of body and slenderness of limb are brought out by 
the absence (in appearance at least) of adipose; the skin is strikingly 
firm and hard and evidently thick, yet the play of muscle and tendon 
beneath indicate a dearth of connective tissue and convey that impres- 
sion of physical vigor which their familiars so miss in the photographs; 
and in no case, save perhaps in the young babe, could the slighest 
trace of obesity be discerned. Thus the Seri, male and female, young 
and old, may he described as notably deei)-chested and clean-limbed 
(|uick-steppers, or as human thoroughbreds. 

The somatic symmetry of the average Seri, marred somewhat by the 
slenderness of limb, is still more marred by the large extremities. The 
hand is broad and long, the fingers are relatively long as those of the 
Caucasian, the nails are peculiarly thick and strung, and the skin is so 
thick and calloused as to give a clumsy look to the entire organ ; the feet 
are still larger and thicker-skinned, appearing disproportionately long 
and broad for even the heroic stature of the tallest warriors. The integu- 
ment covering the feet, ankles, and lower legs is incredibly firmand hard, 
more resembling that of horse or camel than the ordinary human type; 

' The plioto-meoliauical reproiluctions ilo but meager jiislice to the splendid chest development of 
the Seri, youug anil old; for tliey were not only at semisomuolent rest during the hotter hours at 
whiell photography was most feasihle, but iuvariahly ([uaikd before the mysterious apparatus and 
crouehed slirinkingly in such wise as to contract their chests and lose their habitually erect and 
exi)ausive carriage. 










its astoaiidiiig' protective I'tificiciicy being attested by the readiness with 
which the Seri runthrougli cactus thickets so thorny asto stopliorses and 
dogs, or over conglomerated spall-beds so sharp that even the light coyote 
leaves their trail. In the absence of measurements it may merely be 
noted that the hands and feet of the Seri are materially larger, not only 
absolutely but relatively to their stature, than those of neighboring 
tribesmen or even of Mexican and American workmen. And, on the 
whole, it may be said that in their proportions, as in their stature and 
color, tlie Seri are strilcingly uniform, their range being less than that 
commonly observed in contemporary tribes, and the differences between 
them and theirneighbors much exceeding the range among themselves. 

Somatically distinctive as is the Seri at rest, he (or she) is nmch 
more so in motion — though the characteristics so rcadilj- caught by the 
eye are not easily analyzed aud described. Perhaps the most con- 
spicuous element in their walk is a peculiarly quick knee movement, 
bringing the foot upward and forward at the end of the stride; this 
merges into an equally quick thrust of the foot forward and downward, 
with toe well advanced, toward the beginning of the next stride; aud 
these motions combine to jiroduce a singular erectness and steadiness 
of carriage, the body moving in a nearly direct line with a minimum of 
lateral swaying or vertical oscillation, while the legs neither drag uor 
swing, but spurn the ground in successive strokes. Thus the walk 
seems notably easy and graceful, while the walker carries an air of 
alertness aud reserve power, as if able to stop short at any iioiut of a 
X)ace or to bolt forward or backward or sidewise with equal facility; 
he simulates the '"collected" animal whose feet tap the ground lightly 
and swiftly while his body appears to yield freely to voluntary impulse. 
In this deer-like or antelope-like movement all the Seri are much alike, 
and all are decidedly removed from their neighbors, even the light- 
footed Papago. The component motions are most conspicuous in lei- 
surely walking, though the resultant movement is more striking iu 
rapid walk or the incredibly swift run of youths and adults. The gen- 
eral movement is akin to that shaped by the habit of carrying burdens 
balanced on the head, as the Seri women actually carry their water 
oUas for astonishing distances; but the carriage is shared — indeed, 
best displayed — by the warriors and growing boys, who are not known 
to carry water in this w.ay. 

Among the conspicuous but nondistinctive somatic characters of the 
Seri is luxuriant straight hair, habitually worn long and loose. Com- 
monly the hair is jet-black for most of the length, growing tawny 
toward the tii)s; sometimes it is black throughout, while again the 
tawny tinge, or perhaps a bleached appearance, extends well toward 
the scalp. Age-grayness seems not to be characteristic; the most aged 
matrons known have no more than a few inconspicuous and scattered 
gray hairs, though the pelage of some is slightly bleached or faded. 
None of the warriors at Costa Rica showed the slightest grayness except 

140* THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ans.17 

Mashc^in (aged about 50 years), who had a few gray strands about the 
temples; but it maybe significant that the hair of the tribal outlaw 
Kolusio, who has lived with white men for full three score years, is iron- 
gray. Kolusio's pelage is trimmed in Oaucasiou fashion ; thatof Mashem 
is cut off mid-length iu a manner exciting comment, if not derision, 
on the i)art of his fellows and others, and resulting in his (Spanish) 
sobriquet, Pelado (literally, Peeled, or idiomatically, Shorn); but with 
few exceptions the hair is kept long as it can be made to grow, and 
receives careful attention to this end. Naturally the length is some- 
what variable; iu many cases it dei)ends to or slightly below the waist, 
while in other cases it merely sweeps the shoulders; and in general it 
appears to increase in both length and luxuriance not only throughout 
adolescence, but up to late maturity, for the best pelages are presented 
by moderately aged ijersoiis, while none of the youths are so luxuriantly 
tressed as their elders. Not the slightest trace of baldness appears. 
The infantile pelage is short, brownish in color, soft or even silky, and 
inclined to curl toward the tips. It is not until the age of several 
months that the hair begins to acquire the adult character, and at 
least some children retain traces of the infantile pilary character up to 
5 or even 10 years ; and none of the children display such jet-black 
shock-heads as ai's frequently found among other tribes, whose adult 
l)elage may nevertheless be much less luxuriant than that of the Seri. 
On the whole, it maj^ be said that the Seri hair is luxuriant aud vigorous 
beyond the aboriginal average, and that it, like various other somatic 
features, indicates a relatively late maturation in the life-history of the 

Both sexes are beardless. The female faces seen were entirely free ot 
strong pilary growth ; one or two of the warrior faces showed scattering 
hairs, and Mashem sported a feeble and dowuy but jet-black mustache 
with an exceptional number of scattered hairs about the chin; while 
Kolusio shaved regularly, and might, apparently, have grown moder- 
ately stiff but straggling mustaches and beard. Axillary hair seems to 
be wanting; pubic hair is said to be scanty; otherwise the bodies are 
practically hairless (more nearly so than those of average Caucasians). 

The teeth are solid, close-set, and even, and impress the observer as 
large; they close with the upper incisors projecting slightly beyond 
the lower denture in the usual manner. 

The skeletal characteristics of the Seri are known only from a single 
specimen obtained in the course of the 1895 expedition in such manner 
as to establish the identification beyond shadow of question. This 
skeleton was submitted to Dr Ale.s Hrdlicka for measurement and 

In making his examination, Dr Hrdlicka compared the unquestiou- 

•A aejiarate crauium \va.s obtained by the 1895 exiieditiuu, liavin-; been .sougbt and picked up by a 
lle.xican niember of tlie i»arty in verification of his acrniint of tlie killinjx of one of the Seri: hut, in 
view of the possibility of erroneous identification, tliis skull was not submitted in connection with 


ably authentic cranium of the entire skeleton with two skulls ])reserved 
in the American Museum of Natural History, viz, No. 09 84, designated 
as a skull of a Tiburon mound-builder, and No. 99/85, labeled as having 

the complete skeleton. Subsequently this specimen also was put in Dr Hrdlicka's hands (at his 
request), and was kindly examined, with the results recorded in the following letter: 

March 20. liioo. 
Professor W J McGee, 

Bureau of American Ethnology , Washington, I). C. 

Dear Sir: The skull which you submitted to ni© for examination .shows tin; following: 

The skull is that of a male between 40 and 50 years of age. The facial parts and a portion of the 
left temporal bone are wanting; otherwise the specimen shows nothing pathologic. There are signs 
that the skull belonged to a very muscuhir individual. The occipital depressions, ridges, and protu- 
berance are rery marked, and the temporal ridges a])prnacli to within 1 7 cm. un tlii> left and 2.3 cm. 
on the right of the sagittal suture. The whole skull is rather heavy and massive; thickness of parie- 
tal boot's 4-8 mm. 

The shape of the skull is unusual. Tbe frontal region is rather broad {frontal diameter, minimum, 
9.7; frontal diameter, maximum, 12.1 cm.), but quite tlat and sloping. Frontal ridges wanting (broken 

The sagittal region is elevated into a crest which begins 4 cm. posteriorly from the bregma, is most 
marked at the vertex, and i)roceeds in two tapering diverging crura to the lambdoid suture. The 
whole vertex region is considerably elevated and forms a blunt cone, which is particularly notice- 
able when the skull is viewed from the side. 

The temporoparietal regions are moderately convex and expanded anteriorly, but become flattened 
and gradually narrow toward the parietal bosses. The parietal bones measure each 11 cm. along the 
coronal, but only 8.8 ciu. along the lambdoid snture. The gradual tapering of the parietal regions 
from their middle backward continues on the occipital bone up to the iniou, and gives the norma ver- 
ticalis of the skull a peculiar appearance. 

The occipital region, as a whole, does not protrude much, as in true dolichocephals, but it shows a 
prominent broad crest, formed by the two auperictr semicircular lines and the region between them. 
The extreme occipitid protuberance is pronounced and shows signs of strong muscular attachments. 
A small distance above the foramen magnum, on each side of tbe median line, is a very marked 
depression, surmounted by a dull ridge. 

Of the mastoids, the right has been broken olfand the left is damaged, l>ut they do not seem to have 
been of extraordinary size. 

The base of tbe skull is fairlj- well preserved and shows the following characters: The basilar pro- 
cess and the petrous portions of the temporal bones are more massive than usual. The glenoid foss<TB 
are broad and of fair depth. The styloids are quite diminutive (right 0.7, left 0.5 cm. long). The 
foramen magnum is hexagimal in outline; it is 4 4 cm. long, 3.4 em. wide; its plane is inclined back- 
wards in such a way that its antero-posterior diameter prolonged would touch about the lower bor- 
ders of the nasal aperture. 

The cranial cavity can be well inspected through the opening cansed by injury. The internal sur- 
face of the frontal bone shows but very few traces of brain imiiressions. There are several large 
impressions on eai-h parietal bone, and deep, though rather small, fossie for the extremities of the 
occipital lobes on the occipital bone. The superior border of the dorsum selhe shows in the middle 
a rounded notch about 3 mm. deep. 

The serration of the sutures is throughout very simple. 

Measures— The glabello-occipital length and maximum width of tlie skull can not be accurately 
determined on account of injuries to the bones. They amount, respectively, to about 18.8 and 14 cm., 
giving the cephalic index of about 74.4 (moderate dolichocephal.v). The basion-bregiua height is 14.1 
cm. ; basion vertex, 11.8cm. ; basion-obelion, 13.6 cm.; hasion-lamhda, 12.2 cm. The two more anterior 
of these measures characterize the skull as a rather high one. The two more jiosterior measures 
show the rapid downward slope of the jjosteriur half of the sagittal region. The maximum circum- 
ference of the skull (above the ridges) is 52 cm. 

The hregma-lambda arc measures 13.3, the lambda-opisthion arc 12.2 cm. Diameter between the 
aaterions-- 1(1.7 cm. 

If the skull under examination is considered from a purely- evolutionary standpoint, it must be 

pronounced to be in many points inferior to the average white and even to the majority of Indian 

crania. An anthropological indentitication of the specimen is difficult, for the reason that we are still 

very impi-rfectly acquainted with the craniology of the peoples of southwestern United States and 

northern Mexico. From what we know of the crania of the Pima, and the extinct Santa Barbara, 

Santa Catalina, etc, Caliiorniaus, it is i)ossible to say that the individual whose skull is here 

reported upon may have belonged to a people physically related to either of these groups. The skull 

is very distinct from that of an Apache. The female Seri cranium examined by me before does not 

show certain of tbe ]jeculiarities of this specimen; nevertheless it is very nossible that both crania 

belonged to individuals of the same tribe. 

Ales HrdliCka. 

142* THE SERI INDIANS [eth. ann. 17 

been found in a shell mound at Tiburon, California; but, in view of the 
possible error in identification in these cases, the couijiarisous are 
omitted. Otherwise, Dr Hrdlicka's determinations are as recorded in 
the following report (and his drawings of the anterior and left lateral 
aspects of the cranium are reproduced in iigure G) : 

a b 

Fig. 6 — Anterior and left lateral aspects of Seri cranium. 


[By Dr Ales Hkulicka, Associate iu Anthropology, Pathological Institute, New York] 

The Skeleton 

All the bones of the skeleton are present, except the sternum, tlie coccyx, a few of 
tbe teeth, and a few of the stuall lioues of the extremities. 

It is a skeleton of a young- adult, between 20 and 24 years of age, female. The 
age of the subject is indicated mainly by the unattached eiiijihyses of the long and 
somi- of the short bones, those epiphyses, namely, which are the last to coossify. 
The femininity of the subject is indicated by the generally slightly marked ri<lges, 
etc, of muscular attachment, and by the decidedly feminine character of the jielvis 
(light, well-spread ilia, broad subpubic arch) and of the skull (lack of supraorbital 
ridges, thin dental arches, small mastoids, etc). 

There are no wounds or pathological conditions noticeable on the skeleton. 
Several peculiarities and anomalies are observable. They will be described with 
the parts they concern. 

The measurements to follow are expressed in centimeters. The French anthropo- 
metric methods and nomenclature have been adopted. 

The Skull 

The skull is of fair size, and is symmetrical throughout, with the exception of a 
slight irregularity iu the occipital region. All the sutures, with the exception of the 
l)nsilar, open; nerve foramina all large; serrations rather simple; no intercalate 
bones of any kind. 

X^orma frontalis — Visage symmetrical. Forehead well arched, medium height. 





Sujiraorbital ridges almost absent; glabella convex. Nasiou depression medinn\. 
Orl)it8 obliquely quadrilateral ; tlieir axes (internal inferior corner — internal sui)erior 
corner) meet at opliryon. Spheno-maxillary fissure, Lachrymal canal, and nerve 
foramina all above average in size. Nasal bones well bridged, very slightly concave ; 
nasal aperture regular; no "gouttieres''; turbinated bones well formed; sejitum 
wanting; spine 0.6.5 long, bilid at the end. Zygom;e of medium size and strength. 
8n2)erior maxilla of medium .size, well formed. Dental arches regular; no progna- 
thism. Bone of lower jaw moderately strong; does not protrude anteriorly; con- 
formation normal. 

Xorma hasalis — Contour almost round. Whole symmetrical, except as noted 
below; the middle structures apjiear shortened autero-posteriorly, slightly more on 
the left than on the right; basilo-vomeric angle rather acute (100^) ; foramlDaof the 
base all spacious; the petrobasilar suture is large (average diameter, 5 mm.) and is 
throughout pervious. Superior dental arch regular and of medium thickness. Den- 
tition incomplete — right ujiper wisdom tooth not fully erupted; left lower "wLsdom 
tooth wanting entirely. Denture fine and regular; no teeth decayed. Both upper 
first incisors absent.' Teeth set regularlj' in socket and of medium size. Palatine 
arch symmetrical. Shape of palate normal. Posterior nasal foramina oblong. 
Styloids small, shell-like, flattened. 

yoniia nfcipiliilis — The jiosterior ]iart of the skull is somewhat flattened. The 
sides of the surface present a pentagonal outline with rounded corners, the apes 
corresponding to the sagittal suture, or obelidu. There is a slight asymmetry, the 
right side being somewhat flattened. Exterior occipital ])rotuberance not well 

yoniin rcylicalis — Outline an irregular ovoid, wider ]iosteriorly and more promi- 
nent on the left and jiosteriorly. Slight symmetrical depression of the jiarietals, 
beginning about 1 cm. and ending 5 or 6 cm. behind the coronal suture and extending 
laterally from the sagittal suture to the upper temporal ridge. 

XovDia Iiileralis — Outline ovoid, larger posteriorly. Pterious en II, of meilium 
breadth. Temporal ridges not very distinct. Parietal bosses prominent. 


Skull capacity, Broca's method 1, 545 

Skull capacity. Flower's method 1, -I'JO 

Anteroposterior diameter, maximum IG. 3 

Lateral diameter, maximum 14. 4 

Cephalic index, 88. 3::=Brachyoephalic.= 

Chin-hregma 21.2 

Chin-ophryon 13.2 

Alveolar jioint-ophryon 8. 6 

Bizygomatic breadth, maximum 13. 

Facial index i)8. 5 

Superior facial index (Broca's), 66. l = Me8oseme. 

Height of nose aperture 5. 4 

Breadth of nose aperture 2. 65 

Nasal index, 49.0 = Mesorhiue. 

Mean height of orbits 3.80 

Jlean breadth of orbi ts 3. 95 

J Botli tlipse incisors were apparentl.y lost at tlie same time, not from general lesion, and some years 
previous to the death of tlie individual, as tlie soclteta appear exactly alike, bear no .signs of violence, 
and are almost filled r,p witli cancellous tissue {some religious or social rite ?). 

2If allowance is made fur the effects of flattening of the occijiital on the long diameter, and hence 
on the index, of a skull, it becomes apparent that the true index of this skull is probably of a low 
brachycephalic, or, at most, of mesocephalic order. It is very doubtful if the deformity is intentional ; 
its moderate extent and the total lack of signs of counter-compression would indicate with more ])rob- 
ability that the deformity might bavt^ been produced by the individual lying, when an infaut, by 
conjpnlsion or habit, on something hiird, probably a board. 


Orbital iiulex, 96.2^Megaseme. cc. 

Mean depth of orbits 4.6 

Dacry on to dacryon 2. 3 

Frontal diameter, niiuimum 9.2 

Frontal diameter, maximum (interstephanic) 11. 4 

Biauricular diameter ' 12. 3 

Diameter tliroiigh jiarietal bosses 14.3 

Bimastoid diameter 10. .55 

Distance from superior alveolar arcli to inferior occipital 

ridge ._ 14. 35 

Distance between supramastoid eminences 13. 9 

Length of basilar process (notch of vomer to basion) 2. 95 

Basion-brcgma height 13. 45 

Basion-obelion height ? (obelion indistinct, ) 

Basion-ophryon 14.0 

Basion- inicm 8. 1 

Circumference, maximum 49. 4 

Nasion-ophryon arc 1.8 

Nasion-bregma arc - 12. 3 

Nasion-inion arc 30. 

Nasion-opistbion arc 35. 5 

Pterion-bregma arc 11.2 

Arc external meatuses, over forehead 29. 2 

Arc external meatuses, over frontal bosses 30.4 

Arc external meatuses, over bregma 34. 

Arc external meatuses, maximum 35. 7 

Arc external meatuses, over inion 23. 6 

Temporal ridges to sagittal suture (stephanions-bregma), 

(arc) mean 7.5 

Lateral diameter of foramen magnum, maximum 2.75 

Antero-posterior diameter of foramen magnum, maximum. 3.60 

Index of foramen magnum 76. 4 

Length of hard palate, maximum 4.6 

Height of h.ard palate at tirst molars 1. 55 

Breadth of hard palate at first bicuspids 2.9 

Breadth of hard palate at first molars 3. 55 

Breadth of hard palate at third molars 4. 1 

Height of posterior nares 3. 1 

Breadth of posterior nares 2. 55 

Index of posterior nares 82. 2 

Angle of mandibles 114 ^ 

Length of mandibular rami 9.55 

Bigoniac diameter of mandibles 9. 85 

The T'ertehral Column 

Cervical vertebra- — Number complete; characters normal. All cervical 8)iiuous 
processes bifid ; vertebra prominens well defined. All absent. 

Transverse diameter of third cervical vertebra (between 

posterior tubercles of the pedicles), maximum 5.05 

Anteroposterior diameter of third cervical vertebra (body- 

spinous process), maximum 4.20 

Greatest lateral diameter of foramen, same vertebra 2. 15 

1 The " biauricular" signifies the distance between points of the skull immeiliately above the lom- 
meDCemeiit of the superior zygomatic border on the temporal. 






Greatest antero-iiosterior diameter of foramen, same verte- 
bra 1.^5 

Height of body in center, same vertebra 90 

Dorsal vertebra: — Number complete; characters absolntely normal. Resemblance 
to lumbar processes begins with tenth dorsal vertebra; a number of the epiphyses of 
the various processes either imperfectly united or detached; body epiphyses absent. 

Anteroposterior diameter of body of sixth dorsal vertebra, 

maximum 2.55 

Lateral diameter of body of sixth dorsal vertebra, maxi- 
mum 2.90 

Height of body in center 1.67 

Separation of transverse processes 5. 63 

Edge of upper articular processes-tip of spinous proc- 
esses 5.50 

Breadth of foramen, maximum 1. 60 

Length of foramen, maximum 1.50 

Lumbar vertebra! — Number complete; characters absolutely normal. Only disk 
epiphyses detached. 

Antero-posterior diameter of body, maximum 3. 12 

Antero-posterior diameter of whole vertebrie, maximum . . 7. 10 

Lateral diameter of body, maximum 4.55 

Lateral diameter of transverse processes, maximum 7. 10 

Height of articular processes, maximum 4. 33 

Height of l>ody in center, maximum 2.20 

Antero-posterior diameter of canal, maximum 1.50 

Lateral diameter of canal, maximum 2. 10 

The Sacrum 

Aspect normal with the following exception : There are distinct intervertebral 

disks between the differeut segments (5 segments) ; there are deep lateral incisures 

in places Avhere the lateral processes unite, and the fourth and iifth segments are 

entirely separated (in one ]>iece) from the upper three (four small spots of coossiti- 

cation along the posterior border of the articulation are visible). The articular 

processes of the iirst and second sacral segments are similar in form to the lumbar, 

and form open articulations. There is a large foramen situated below the spinous 

processes of the first and third segment, and a smaller beneath the second. Coccyx 

absent. Curvature medium. 


Breadth of the sacrum, maximum 10.5 

Height of the sacrum, maxinuini 11. 2 

Index of the sacrum 93. 7 

Tlie Thoracic Cage 

Aspect of ribs normal. Strength medium. Sternum absent. 

Length second right rib (arc) 21. 8 

Long diameter second right rib 12. 5 

Maximum height of the curve 7.2 

Length ninth right rib (arc) 28.8 

Long diameter ninth right rib 18. 7 

Maximum height of curve 8. 45 

17 ETH 10 

146* THE SERI INDIANS [eth.axn.17 

Bones of the Upper Limbg 

Clavicles — Form uormal, slender; epiphyses united. Length, maximum, 13.5. 
Muscular attachments of slight prominence. 

Scapula — Form normal, spine directed somewhat more up\^ard than is usual; 
whole bone liglit and slender; acromial epiphyses absent. 

Height (middle of glenoid fossa-tip of inferior angle) 12.0 

Breadth (middle of glenoid point, maxiniuni) 8.7 

Humeri — Form normal; bone slender; liead-epiphyses not united; left head per- 
forated by large oval foramen from corouoid to olecranon fossa (8 mm. by 4i mm.) 

Length of left hnmerns (with epiphysis) 31. 3 

Length of right humerna ( witli eiiiphysis) 31. 

JJlno' and radii — Form normal; bones slender; lower epiphyses ununited. 

Length of left radius (head and end of styloid) 24. 1 

Length of left ulna ( olecranon-styloid) 25. 8 

Metacarpua, carpus, and phalanciex — Nothing sjtecial. 

Bones of the Pelvis and Lower Limbs 

All the bones of the pelvis and lower limbs of normal shape and medium size. 
Pelvis apparently that of a female (subpubic angle 100°). Bones well united, 
all traces of the union in acetabulum effaced. Epiphyses ununited except on the 
ischiatic protuberances, where bony union just begins. Above the fossa acetabuli 
(8 mm. postero-superiorly from the uppermost edge of the fossa) there is in botli 
acetabula an irregularly triangular depression of about 2 water-drops capacity 
(accessory tendon?). 

Anterior to posterior- superior spine 13. 7 

Point of pubis to posterior-superior spine 15. 8 

Point of pubis to anterior-superior spine 12. 7 

Point of pubis to point of ischium 10. 8 

Biiliac diameter of whole bony pelvis (between internal 

iliac borders), maximum 21.0 

Height of coxal bones (tuberosity of ischium to iliae bor- 
der in this case without its epiphyses), maximum 19.4 

Antero-jiosterior diameter of superior strait 11. 8 

Lateral diameter of superior strait 11.4 

Oblique diameter of superior strait 11. 3 

Heio-ht of subject (determined after Manouvrier's method) about 1.620 m. (above 
the general average). 
Femurs — Lower ejjiphyses ununited. Muscular attachments, including linea 
aspera, but little prominent. 

Length of femurs (both condyles applied to base) 43.6 

Inclination of neck to shaft - 130° 

Xibia; — Both platycnemic. All the epiphyses ununited, especially the upper. 

Antero-posterior diameter at center, maximum 2. 5 

Lateral diameter at center, maximum 1. 62 

Length ( articular surface-tip of styloid) 35. 6 

„ ii ■ 1 ■ 1 I length of tibia X 1001 „„ ^ 

Femoro-tibial index ■^, — —r,— „-,. J ^82.0 

I lengtli ot temora J 

This index is 81 in the European, 83 in the negro, and 86 in the Bushman.' 
f'ibuhv — Length, 35.2. Epiphyses not yet united, particularly the upper. 
Tarsal, metatarsal, and phalangial bones — Nothing special. 

> Quain, Anatomy, 1893 : Osteology, p. 127. 





Si'Sume of the I'eciiliariliea of the Skeleton 

The nerve and blood-vessel foraniina are generally large. This character and the 
platycneniic tibuK indicate an ample musculature of the subject. 

The height is above the general average for a woman, which, according to Topinard, 
is 1.53. 

The petro-biisilar fissures are large and visibly pervious. This condition is found 
occasionally; significance doubtful; it is more frequent in young subjects. 

PUitycncmic tihin- — This is considered a simian character." It was found firi^t by 
Broca in 1868- on bones from Eyzies; it is associated with relative strength of the 
muscles of the leg; is "X'ery frequent among the characters found on bones from the 
epoch of polished stone in Europe.' J. Wymau found this character more accentu- 
ated than at Cro-Magnon or at Gibraltar on a third of the tibias from the mounds 
of the United States.' 

Perforated humerus— tiotiQed first by Desmouliiis, IS'26, on the humeri of Guanches 
and Hottentots ;< occurs with greatest frequency in the following peoples:'' 

Per titjnt. 

156 neolithic humeri from around Paris 21. 8 

97 humeri of African negroes 21.7 

122 humeri of Guanches 25. 6 

80 humeri from the mounds of United States (J. Wyman).. 31. 2 

32 humeri of Polynesians 34. 3 

30 humeri of altaii' and American races '. 36.2 

Summarily, Dr Hrdlii'-ka's special determinations conform with the 
external observations on the Seri body; they indicate an exceptionally 
large stature, together with a notably well-developed and well-propor- 
tioned osseous framework, of the native American type, yet signifi- 
cantly approaching the Caucasian in several respects. It is especially 
noteworthy that the cranium is well formed and capacious, the precise 
measurements corroborating the external observation that the Seri 
head is of good ab.solute size, though relatively smaller (in comparison 
with height and weight) thau that of some neighboring tribes of less 
stature — e. g., the Papago. It may be noted, too, that the imperfect 
ankylosis of the epiphyses, and various other skeletal features, are in 
accord with the inferences from the liviug body as to the slowness of 
attaining maturity. It may be noted further that the extraordinary 
development of the muscular attachments, especially in the masculine 
cranium, is quite iu harmony with the habits of the tribe. 

The remaining .somatic characteristics of the Seri are for the greater 
part of such sort as to be described by generalities and negatives. In 
general they correspond with those of typical Americau tribesmen and 
other peoples; and tlieydo not exhibit striking peculiarities in propor- 
tion or structure. In the opposability of the thumb, the nonopjiosa- 
bility of the hallux, and the independence of fingers and toes, the Seri 
hands and feet are developed quite up to, if not somewhat beyond, the 

' Hovelacque et Herv6, Precis d'Anthropologie, 1887, pp. 112, 2937. 
2 Bulletin de la Socitti d'Authropologie, 1868. 
^ Hovelacque et Hervt;, op. cit., p. 113. 

* Histoire Xaturelle dea Races Humaines, 1826. p. 304, 

* Hovelacque et Herv6, op. cit., p. 291. 

148* THE SERI INDIANS [kth.ann.17 

Amerindian ' average; the feet are set straiglit in walking, as befits the 
pedestrian habit; the arms are not elongated, and the thighs seem no 
longer in proportion to other elements of the stature than are those of 
the highest human types. In like manner the bodies are notably free 
from artificial deformation; the skulls are not flattened or otherwise 
distorted; there is no scarification, or even tattooing; neither ears nor 
lips are pierced for pendants or labrets; the teeth are not filed or 
drilled, though in some cases at least the first incisors of females are 
extracted; and while there are trustworthy records of the piercing of 
the nasal septum for the insertion of pendants, no examples were fiiund 
at Costa Rica in 1894. The food habits and other customs of the tribe 
indicate, or at least suggest, more or less specialized and perhaps dis- 
tinctive internal characters; but, without actual examination of the 
organs, these inferred characters demand little more than passing notice. 

On reviewing the more prominent somatic characters of the Seri, it 
is found that the greater number are either functional or i^resump- 
tively correlated with function, aud that ouly a few — chiefly stature 
and color — are simply structural; accordingly a comparison of the 
peculiar somatic features and the peculiar individual habits of the 
tribe would seem to be instructive in more than ordinary degree. 

The most striking trait of the Seri is the pedestrian habit. The 
warriors and women and children alike are habitual rovers ; their jacales 
aud even their largest rancherias are only temporary domiciles, evi- 
dently vacant oftener than occupied; the principal rancherias are 
separated by a hard day's journey or more; and none of the known 
rancherias or jacales of more persistent use are nearer than 4 to 10 
miles from the fresh water by which their occupants are supplied. 
Probably the most persistently occupied rancherias of the last half 
century have been those located from time to time near Costa Kica, 
yet even these were seldom occupied by the same grou}) for more than 
a fortnight or possibly a month, aud were often vacated within a day 
or two after erection. Still more temporary camps intervene between 
jacales, and their sites may be seen in numbers in the neighborhood of 
the better-beaten paths, or along the shores, or even over the track- 
less spall-strewn plains; they may be merely trampled spots, sparsely 
strewn with oyster shells and large bones gnawed at the ends, usually 
in the lea of a shrub or rock; in places of small shrubbery or excep- 
tionally abundant grass there may be two or three or perhaps half a 
dozen "forms" (suggesting the temporary resting places of rabbits), in 
which robust bodies nestled aud shrugged themselves into the warm 
earth and under the meager vegetation. Rarely there are ashes and 
cinders hard by, to mark the site of a tiny fire, and more frequently 
battered and stained or greasy bowlders recoixl their own use as meat- 

• The term Amerind (with the self-explanatory rautations Amerindian, Amerindize, etc.) has been 
established by the Anthropological Society of Washington as a convenient collective designation for 
the aboriginal American tribes ( American Anthropologist, new series, vol. 1, 1899, p. 582). 


blocks or luetates, thougli it is manifest that most of the camps were 
fireless aud mauy foodless. It is particularly noteworthy that even 
the more temporary resting-places are seldom if ever less tlian a mile 
or two from the nearest fresh water. In short, the Seri are not a domi- 
ciliary folk, but rather homeless wanderers, customarily roving from 
place to place, frequently if not commonly sleeping where overtaken 
by exhaustion or storm, ordinarily slumbering through a pavt of the 
day and watching by night, habitually avoiding fresh waters save in 
hurried aud stealthy visits, and apparently gathering in their flimsy 
huts only on special occasions. 

In conformity with their rovingness the Seri are notable burden- 
bearers. They habitually carry their entire stock of personal belong- 
ings (arms, implements, iitensils, and bedding), as well as their stock 
of food and — weightiest burden of all — the water requisite for pro- 
longed sustenance amid scorching deserts, in all their wanderings, the 
water being borne chiefly by women, in ollas, either balanced on the 
head singly or slung in pairs on rude yokes like those of Chinese coolies. 
Aud they have never grasped the idea of imposing their burdens on 
their bestial associates; their coyote-curs are not harnessed or even 
led; when they surround and capture horses, burros, and kine they 
make no use of ropes, never think of mounting even when pursued by 
vaqueros, but immediately break the necks or club out the brains of 
the beasts, perchance to tear the writhing body into quarters and flee 
for their lives with the reeking flesh still (juivering on their sturdy 
heads and Ijrawny shoulders — and scores of vaqueros agree in the 
aflirmation (whoUj' incredible as it would be if supported by fewer wit- 
nesses) that even when so burdened the Seri skim the sand wastes of 
Desierto Eucinas more rapidly than avenging horsemen can follow. 

The hardly conceivable fleetness of the Seri is conformable with their 
habitual rovingness and their ability as burden-bearers; and this 
faculty is established by cumulative evidence so voluminous and con- 
sistent as to outweigh the presumption arising from the standards 
attained among other peoples. A few minutes after they were photo- 
graphed, the group of boys shown in jjlate xvi, with several others of 
about the same size, provided themselves with a stock of their favorite 
human-hair cords, "rounded up" a dozen mongrel coyote-dogs haunting 
the rancheria at Costa Eica, and herded the unwilling animals toward 
a shrubbery-free space a quarter of a mile away, in order to ro2)e them 
in imitation of the work of the Mexican cowboys earlier in the morn- 
ing. From time to time as they went a frightened cur sneaked or 
broke through the cordon of boys, and made for distant shrub-tufts at 
top speed ; yet in every case a boy darted from the ring, headed off 
the animal within one or two hundred yards, and lashed it back to its 
jjlace. On arriving at their miniature rodeo the boys widened their 
ring, and at a signal scattered and frightened the dogs; then, when 
the fleeing animals had a fair start, each selected his victim and fol- 

150* THE SERI INDIANS [ethannI? 

lowed it, yelliug and swinging his light lasso, until, after nincli doubling 
and dodgiug and many unsuccessful casts, he caught and dragged the 
howling beast back to the open; and it was only after half a dozen 
reiietitions that enough dogs had esitaped to spoil the sport. As the 
boys lounged chattsring back toward the rancheria their course lay 
between two clumps of the usual desert shrubbery, so jjjaced that when 
the first was obliquely left and 40 or 50 feet distant from them, the 
other was obliquely right and 100 feet away. At this point a bevy of 
small binls (perhaps blackbirds — at any rate corresponding to black- 
birds in size and flight) fluttered suddenly out of the nearer clump 
toward the more distant one, when, too instantaneously for the 
untrained eye to catch exchange of signal or beginning of movement, 
the boys lunged forward iu a common effort to seize the birds; and 
though none were entirely successful, one exultantly displayed a tuft 
of feathers clutched by his fingers as the bird darted into and through 
the thorny harbor. When the distances were paced it was found that, 
although the birds had the advantage of the start, the boys covered at 
least 90 per cent of their distance in the same time; while the spon- 
taneity of the in]pulse demonstrated habitual chase of flying game 
under fit conditions. 

While obtaining the Seri vocabulary with Mashem's aid, advantage 
was taken of every opportunity to secure collateral information con- 
cerning the actual use of the terms, and thereby of gaining insight into 
the tribal habits. Through his naive explanations, usually repeated 
and corroborated by the elderwoman of the Turtle clan (Juana Maria) 
and others of the tribe, it was learned that half-grown Seri boys are 
fond of hunting hares (jack-rabbits) ; that they usually go out for this 
purpose in threes or fours; that when a hare is started they scatter, 
one following it slowly while the others set oft' obliquely in such nuvnner 
as to head it off and keep it in a zigzag or doubling course until it 
tires; and that they then close in and take the animal in their hands, 
frequently bringing it in alive to show that it was fairly caught^-for it is 
deemed discreditable, if not actually wrong, to take game animals with- 
out giving them opportunity for escape or defense by exercise of their 
natural powers. Similarly, Mashem described the chase of the bura 
and other deer as ordinarily conducted by five i)ersons (of whom one or 
two may be youths), who scatter at sight of the quarry, gradually sur- 
round it, bewilder it by confronting it at all points, and finally close 
in eitlier to seize it with their hands, or perhaps to brain it with a stone 
or short club; the former being held the proper way and the latter a 
partial failure. This hunting custom, described as a commonjilace by 
Mashem, is established by the vaqneros who had frequently witnessed 
it from a distance; and the same extra-tribal observers described still 
more striking feats of individual Seri hunters: Don Manuel, son of 
Senor Encinas, and Don Ygnacio Lozania were endeavoring to train to 
work a robust Seri (one of a band sojourning temporarily at Costa 





Ricii) noted for his prowess in buiitiug. One Liot afternoon lie begged 
relief from bis tasks, saying the spirit of catching a deer had hold ou 
liira; and he was excused on condition that the deer be brought entire 
to the rancho. Two hours later lie was seen driving in a fnll-growu 
buck; on approaching the rancho the terrified animal turned this way 
and, describing long arcs in wild efforts to avoid the human habi- 
tation ; yet the hunter kept beyond it, heading it off at every turn and 
gradually working it nearer, until, at a sudden turn, he was able to rush 
ou it; whereupon he caught it, threw it over his shoulders, and ran in to 
the rancho with the animal still struggling and kicking off its over- 
heated hoofs. 

Sefior Encinas himself, with Don Andri-s Noriega and several otlier 
attaches, vouch for the catching of a horse by a Seri hunter in still 
more exjieditious fasliion: one of the horses belonging to the rancho 
was ex<?eptionally fat, and hence exceptionally tempting to the Seri 
band (and at the same time worthless to the vaqueros); the chief 
begged for it jiersistently until, wearied by his importunities, the 
ranchero offered the horse to the band on condition that a single one 
of them should catch it within a fixed distance (about 200 yards) from 
the gateway of the corral — and the offer was promptly accepted. With 
the view of making the test of fleetness fair, a Viiquero was called in to 
frighten the horse and start him running around the interior of the 
corral, while a boy stood by to drop the bars at the proper moment, the 
Indian standing ready outside the gateway; when the animal had 
gained its best speed the bars were dropped and it bolted for the open 
plains — but before the l-'OU-yard limit was reached the hunter had over- 
taken it, leaped on its withers, caught it by the jaw in one hand and 
the foretop in the otlier, and thereby thrown it in such manner as to 
break its neck. Knowing of tliese and other instances, L. K. Thompson, 
of Hermosillo, undertook arrangements for publicly exhibiting Seri 
runners as deer catchers at different expositions during the nineties; 
but his arrangements failed, chiefly liecause of the anticipated (and 
probably underestimated) ditticulty of taming the Seri sufficiently for 
the purpose. 

About 1893, Senor Encinas and several attendants left Oosta Eica 
one morning for Hermosillo, leaving at the rancho, among others, a 
Seri matron with a sick child nearly a year old; in the evening (as 
they learned later) the child was worse, and the matron took the trail 
about dusk, in the hope of linding a cure in the white man's touch or 
other medicine — and at dawn next morning she was at ^lolino del 
Encinas, 17 leagues (nearly 45 miles) away, with her helpless child 
and a peace offering in the form of a hare, which she had run down and 
caught in the course of the journey. And the matrons, with children 
astride their hips and water-filled ollas balanced on their heads, and 
all their goods and chattels ])iled on their backs, habitually traverse 
Desierto Encinas from the sea to Oosta Eica (some 30 miles), or from 
Costa Eica to the sea, in a night. 


Examples of Seri fleetness and endurance might be multiplied in- 
definitely, and many of still more striking character might be adduced ; 
but these instances, all attested by several witnesses, all corroborated 
by independent facts, and all consistent with the observations of the 
1S94 expedition, seem fairly to represent one aspect of the i)edestriaa 
habit of the tribe. 

A trait of the Seri hardly less conspicuous than their pedestrian 
habit is habitual use of hands and teeth in lieu of the implements 
characteristic of even the lowly culture found among most primitive 
tribes. Perhaps the most nearly universal implement is the knife — at 
first of shell, tooth, bone, or wood, later of stone, and last of metal — 
and hardly a primitive tribe known from direct ob.servation or from 
relics has been found independent of this most serviceable implement; 
yet the Seri may be described with reasonable accuracy as a knifeless 
folk. Awls and marlinspikes of bone and wood, shall cups, and pro- 
tolithic muUers or hammers are found in numbers in their hands, on 
their rancheria sites, and in their ancient shell accumulations, while 
rudely chipped stone arrowp iuts are sparsely scattered over their 
range; yet not a single knife of stone or other wrought substance lias 
been found in their territory or in their possession, save for an occa- 
sional metal knife obtained by theft or barter. And the hftbit of dis- 
Ijensing with this primary implement is attested both by everyday 
customs and by the tradition sand chronicles concerning the tribe. Thus, 
various observers (notably Hardy) have recorded the features and 
uses of balsas, harpoons, ollas, etc, yet no records of cutting imple- 
ments have been found; similarly the chronicles contain records of 
barter between the Seri and the Sonorenses through which the savages 
acquired aguardiente, manta, garments, sugar, grain, etc, yet no record 
is known of the leading articles of exchange to practically all other 
tribes of the continent, viz, cutlery; and in like manner the local tradi- 
tions recount the constant desire of the Seri for liquor and tobacco, sac- 
charine and other food substances, clothing or material for making it, 
tin cups, lard-cans, and other metallic utensils, as well as nails for 
harpoons and hoop-iron for arrowpoints, in addition to firearms and 
ammunition ; yet the recounters are significantly silent on the subject 
of knives. 

Conformably, the GO Seri gathered near Costa Kica in 1894 made it 
their business to pick up or beg all sorts of industrial products and 
materials, yet apparently did not possess so many as a dozen knives 
in the entire band; and whilo protolithic implements, ollas, sbell 
cups, paint-stones, etc., were seen in constant use, none of the men, 
women, or children were observed to use knives for cutting meat or for 
any other customary purpose. Among the supplies laid on top of the 
jacal shown in plate x, to keep them out of the way of the dogs, was a 
hind leg of a horse, from femur to hoof (some tliree days dead and still 


ripening); most of the larger muscles were already gnawed away, 
leaving loose ends of liber and strings of tendon clinging to the bone, 
the condition being sucli that the remaining flesh might easily have 
been cut and scraped away by means of a knife; yet whenever a war- 
rior or woman or youth hungered he or she took down the heavy joint, 
squatted or sat on the ground with back to one side of the doorway, 
held the mass at the height of the mouth, and gnawed, sucked, and 
swallowed, frequently tearing the tissue by twisting and backward 
jerks of the head, and not only masticating, but swallowing the free 
ends of tendons still attached to the bone. This process was varied 
only by seizing with the hands and tearing off a strip of flesh or skin 
already loosened by the teeth; and it was continued until the bones 
were practically clean, when they were wrenched apart by the stronger 
men in order that the cartilaginous cushions and epiphyses might be 
gnawed away. The only approach to cooking or carving was a parboil- 
ing of the foot, after the leg was wrenched oft' at the hock, until the 
hoof was sufficiently softened to be knocked oft" with the protolithic 
hu-pf shown in plate XLiii, when half a dozen matrons and well- 
grown maidens gathered about to gnaw the gelatinous tissue (already 
softened by incipient decay as well as by the parboiling) investing the 
cofSu bone. The entire procedure in this as in many other cases i)ro- 
claimed the absence of knife-sense. The Caucasian huntsman does not 
have to think of his knife when game is to be bled or skinned or dis- 
sected; his habit trained hand knows where to find the implement, how 
to seize it. and in most cases how to wield it advantageously; but the 
Seri hand possesses no such cunning, and uses the knife only clumsily 
and at second thought, if at all. The Seri huntsman, on the other 
hand, does not have to think of nails and teeth, for they are trained 
and coordinated by hereditary habit to spontaneously act in unison and 
•with the utmost possible or needful vigor; while the Caucasian at least 
has completely lost the claw-and-teeth instinct of offense and defense. 
Conformably with their striking independence of knives, Hhe. Seri are 
conspicuously imskilful in all mechanical operations involving the use 
of tools. Their most elaborate manufacture is the balsa, made from 
reeds broken at the butts and with the leaves and tops removed by the 
hands or by Are, bound together with handmade cords; next in elabo- 
rateness come the bow and arrow, normally made without cutting tools; 
then follows their fictile ware, which is made wholly by hand, without 
aid of the simple molds and paddles and other devices used by neigh- 
boring tribes; while their iiriniitive fabrics were apparently of hand- 
extracted fibers, twisted and woven wholly by hand, with the aid of 
wood or bone perforators in sewing and possibly in weaving. Practi 
cally the Seri possess but a single tool, and this is applied to a pecul- 
iarly wide variety of iJurposes — it is the originally natural cobble used 
for crushing bones and severing tendons, for grinding seeds and 

' DefiDed postea, p. 188. 

154* THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ann. 17 

I'libbiiig face-paint, for bruising woody tissue to aid in breaking okatilla 
poles for house-frames or mesquite roots for harpoons (both afterward 
finished by firing), and on occasion for weapons; and this many-func- 
tioned tool is initially but a wave-worn pebble, is artificially shaped 
only by the wear of use, and is incontinently discarded when sharp 
edges are produced bj' use or fortuitous fracture. The hupf is sup- 
plemented chierty by the simple perforator of mandible or bone or fire- 
hardened wood; and these two i)rimitive imjjlements, together with 
molluscan shells in natiiral condition, apparently serve as the primary 
tools for all the 7uechauical operations of the tribe. 

The dearth of tools and the absence not only of knives but of knife- 
sense among the Seri illumine those traditions of Seri fighting made 
tangible by the teeth-torn arm of Jesus Omada; for they exi)lain the 
alleged recourse of the Seri warriors to nature's weapons, used in the 
centripetal fashion characteristic of nascent intelligence. 

The Seri are distinguished by another trait hardly less striking than 
the pedestrian habit, and even more conspicuous than the tooth-aud- 
nail habit with the correlative absence of tool-sense; the trait is not 
tangible enough for ready definition or description in terms (of course 
because so unusual as not to have bred words for its expression), but 
is akin to — or, more properly, an exceeding intensification of — race- 
pride in all its protean manifestations; it may be called race-sense. 
Like other primitive folk, the Seri are self-centered (or egocentric) in 
individual thought, i. e., they habitually think of the extraneous phe- 
nomena of their little universe with reference to self, as in the labyrinth 
ofconsanguinealrelatioushipextendingand ramifying from the speaker; 
furthermore, they typify primitive culture in their collective thinking, 
which is tribe-centered (or ethnocentric), i. e., they view extraneous 
things, especially those of animate nature, with reference to the tribe, 
like all those lowly folk who denote themselves by the most dignified 
terms in their vocabulary and designate aliens by opprobrious epi- 
thets; but the Seri outpass most, if not all, other tribes in dignify- 
ing themselves and derogating contemj)orary aliens. Concordantly 
with this habitual seutiment, they glory in their strength and swift- 
ness, and are inordinately i)roud of their fine figures and excessively 
vain of their luxuriant locks — indeed, they seem to exalt their own 
bodies and their own kind well toward, if not beyond, the verge of 
inchoate deification. The obverse of the same sentiment appears in 
the hereditary hate and horror of aliens attested by their history, by 
their persistent blood-thirst, and by the rigorous marriage regulations 
adapted to the maintenance of tribal purity; lor just as their highest 
virtue is the shedding of alien blood, so is their blackest crime the 
transmission of their own blood into alien channels. The potency of 
the sentiment is established by the unparalleled isolation of the tribe 
after centuries of contact with Caucasians, by their irreducible love of 
native soil, by their implacable animosity toward invaders, and by 






their rigorously miiiutaiiie.d jiurity of blood; it is iiiaiiitested in tlieir 
commonplace conduct by a singular combination of hauteur and ser- 
vility, forbidding association with aliens on terms of equality. The 
entire group at Costa Rica in 1894 were on good behavior, i)artly, no 
doubt, for profit, partly because they were at peace bought by blood- 
shed; yet they ke})t an impassable gulf between themselves and the 
Caucasians, and a still wider chasm against the Papago and Yaqui. 
They came to the tanqne, usually in groups, rarely alone, always alert; 
especially when alone or in twos or threes, they moved slowly and 
stealthily in their peculiar collected and up-stepping gait, often stop- 
ping, always glancing furtively with roving eyes, and bearing a curi- 
ous air of self-i'epression — as of the camp-prowling coyote who seems to 
hold down his instinctively bristling mane by voluntary ettbrt. And 
the visitor to their rancheria sent a wave of influence before as his 
approach was noted: laughter ceased, languor disappeared, and a 
forced, yet sullen, amiability took their place, tliough the children and 
femal6s edged away; if he appeared unexpectedly or came too close, 
the children and younger adults simply flitted like young partridges, 
while the elders stiffened rigidly, with bristling brows and everting 
li2)s and purpling eyes, perhaps accompanied by harsh gutturization — 
indeed the curiously canine snarl and growl, often evoked by the 
stranger unintentionally, betrayed the bitterness of Seri anti])athy 
toward even the most tolerable aliens. Every human is ])anoplied in a 
personality, perha])S intangible but none the less real, which repels 
undue appioach and Axes limits to familiarity on the part of strangers, 
friends, kinsmen, and mates, according to their respective degrees of 
mutually elective attinity; but the Seri are so close to each other and 
so far from all others that they are collectively panoplied against extra- 
tribal personalties even as are antipathetic; animals against each other 
— and the Seri can no more control the involuntary snarl and growl at 
the approach of the alien than can the hunting-dog at sight or smell of 
the timber- wolf. 

While the highly developed traits represented by pedestrian habit 
and handand-tooth habit and segregative habit expressing race-sense 
are conspicuous during exercise, each carries an equally well-marked 
obverse. Thus, while the Seri are known as runners par excellence in 
a region of runners, and were named by aboriginal neighbors from their 
sprynessof movement, they have been no less notorious among the Cau- 
casian settlers of two genenftions for unparalleled laziness — for a lethar- 
gic sloth beyond that of sluggish ox and somnolent swine, which was 
an irritating marvel to the patient j)adres of the eighteenth century, 
and is today a by word in the even-tempered Land of Manana; concord- 
antly the sinewy hands and muscular jaws are noticeably inert during 
the intervals between intense functionings, are practically free from the 
spontaneous or nervous movements of habitually busy persons, and 
contribute by their immobility to the air of indolence or languor which 

156* THE SEKI INDIANS [eth.ann.17 

SO imi)rGssed padres aud rancheros ; conconlautly also, tlie manifesta- 
tious of race liate, doubtless culiiiiuating auioug warriors on the war- 
path, are strongly contrasted with the abject docilitj' of the Seri groups 
when at peace and iu camp near Gosta Rica and other ranches — a docil- 
ity far exceeding that of the Papago, personal dignity is an ever- 
present possession, or that of Yaqai, whose strong spirit so often breaks 
the curb of Caucasian control. So the observer of the Seri is impressed 
by the intensity of functioning along lines detined by their character- 
istic traits, and equally by the capriciousness of the functioning and the 
remarkably wide range between activity and inactivity which render 
them aggregations of extremes — the Seri are at once the swiftest and 
the laziest, the strongest and the most inert, the most warlike and the 
most docile of tribesmen; and their transitions from role to role are singu- 
larly capricious and sudden. At the sametimetheobserveris impressed 
by the relatively long intervals between the periods of activity; true, 
the intense activity may cover hours, as in the cha!<e of a deer, or days, 
as in a distant predatory raid, or perhaps even weeks, when the tribe 
is on the warpath ; j'et all tlie known facts indicate that far the greater 
portion of the time of warriors, women, and childreu is spent iu idle 
lounging about rancherias and camps, in lolling and slumbering in the 
sun by day and in huddling under the scanty shelter of jacales or 
shrubbery by night — i. e., when their activity is measured by hours, 
their intervals of repose must be measured by days. 

Summarizing those somatic traits connected with habitual function- 
ing, the Seri may be considered as characterized by (1) distinctive 
pedestrian habit, (2) conspicuous hand-and-tooth habit correlated with 
defective tool-sense, and (3) pronounced segregative habit correlated 
with a highly specialized race-sense; yet they are characterized no less 
bj' extreme alternations from the most intense lunctioning to complete 
quiescence — the periods of intensity being relatively short, and the 
intervals of quiescence notably long. 

On reviewing the more conspicuous somatic structures and functions 
jointly, they are found to throw some light on their own development, 
and hence on the natural history of the Seri tribe. 

Certain characteristics of the tribe strongly suggest lowly condition, 
i. e., a condition approaching that of lower animals, especially of car- 
nivorous type; among these are the specific color, the centripetally 
developed body, the tardy adolescence, the defective tool-sense, the 
distinctive food habits (especially the consumption of raw offal and 
carrion), the independence of fixed habitations, and the extreme alterna- 
tions between the rage of chase and war and the quiescence of sluggish 
repose. But these primitive characteristics are opposed or qualified 
by such features as the noble stature, the capacious and shapely 
brain-case, the well-developed hands, and the considerable intelligence 
revealed in native shrewdness as well as in organization and belief. 
Collectively the characteristics are in some measure incongruous; yet 




I . ^" V 




all are at least fairly compatible with the iufereuce that the tribe is 
exceptionally (if uot incomi)arably) low iu the scale of geueral human 
development, yet at the same time highly specialized along certain lines ; 
and the inference in turn is corroborated by the coincidence between 
the special lines of development and the peculiar conditions of environ- 
ment characterizing the habitat of the tribe. 

A striking correspondence between Seri physique and Seri habitat is 
revealed in the pedal development, with the attendant development of 
muscle and bone, lung capacity, and heart power, together with other 
faculties involved in the pedestrian habit. Seriland is a hard and 
inhospitable home; sea-food is indeed abundant and easily taken, but 
water is terribly — often fatally — scarce, and obtainable only by distant 
journeying from the places of easy food supply; moreover, the monot- 
ony of the diet is alleviable only by extensive wandering for the collec- 
tion of vegetal products or severe chase after land animals; while the 
warlike spirit, apparently inherited from a still less humane ancestry 
and fostered by the geographic isolation, combines to keep the tribe 
afoot, avoiding waters, conducting raids, and moving constantly from 
place to place in the endless search for safety. There is a wides])read 
Sonoran tradition that the Seri systematically exterminate weaklings 
and oldsters; and it is beyond doubt that the tradition has a i)artial 
foundation in the elimination of the weak and helpless through the 
literal race for life in which the bands participate on occasion. A par- 
allel elimiuative i)rocess is common among many American aborigines; 
the wandering bands frequently undergo hard marches under the lead- 
ership of athletic warriors with whom all are expected to keep i>ace, 
and this leads both to desertion of the aged and feeble and to increased 
strength and endurance on the part of the strong and enduring; yet it 
would appear that this merciless mechanism for improving the tit and 
eliminating the unht attains unusual, if not unequaled, perfection among 
the Seri. Now pedal development is one of the special jirocesses of 
peripheral (or centrifugal) functioning and growth involved in the gen- 
eral process of cheirizatlon, which, coordinately with cephalization, 
defljies human progress;' and this development il process explains the 
specialization of the Seri along one or more lines, and connects the 
special development directly with environing conditions. 

A notable correspondence between structure and function, of such 
sort as to reflect the habit and habitat, appears in the conspicuous 
manual development of the Seri. Enjoying a climate too mild to make 
houses necessary, finding animal food too ijlentiful to necessitate elabo- 
rate contrivances for the chase or milling or other devices for reducing 
vegetal food, provided by nature with material (in the form of carrizal) 
for an ideally suitable water craft, barred by geographic boundaries from 
neighboring tribes, and having neither material for nor interest in com- 
merce, the denizens of Seriland were never forced into the way of 
mechanical development; yet their simple industries, involving as they 

' The Trend of Human Progress, American Anthropologist, new aeries, toI. 1, 1899, p. 401. 

158* THE SERI INDIANS [eth.axn.17 

do swift stroke and strong grasp and dexterous digitation, are mainly 
sucli as urge manual development more strenuously than would be 
normal among tribesmen connected with their environment through 
the medium of tools. The demand for manual strength and skill is 
inteusitied among the Seri by both natural and domestic conditions; 
the ever-ready (and almost the sole) material suitable for simple 
adjuncts to the hand abounds in the form of wave- worn cobbles; these 
cobbles are easily usable in such wise as to serve all ordinary purposes, 
and their abundance discourages the jiroduction of more highly differ- 
entiated tools; while their habitual use promotes manual strength and 
deftness, coupled with that digital freedom (reipiired, for e.xample, in 
grasping a ball) which most clearly distinguishes the human hand from 
the subhuman paw. Conjoined with these natural conditions are 
demotic demands tending to cultivate manual fitness and eliminate the 
manually unfit; for, in addition to the direct industrial premium on dex- 
terity, through which the dexterous survive while the clumsy starve, there 
is a special premium growing out of the marriage custom, through which 
only the manually efiflcieut (and at the same time morally acceptable) 
are put in the way of leaving lines of descendants.' Naturally, in view 
of the combination of factors, all traceable directly or indirectly to 
environmental conditions, the Seri afford a peculiarly striking example 
of cheirization extended to an entire tribe (if not to a genetic stock of 
people) — indeed the remarkably developed Seri hands and feet first 
suggested the importance of this process of human development and 
led to its fornuil characterization. 

Accordingly, the robust-bodied and slender-limbed yet big-fisted and 
big-footed Seri seem to be adjusted, so far as several of their more 
striking somatic characters are concerned, to distinctive habits them- 
selves reflecting a distinctive habitat; and the coincidences appear to 
reveal and establish the law of interaction between the human organism 
and its environment — an interaction effected through the habits and 
hence through the normal functioning of the individual organisms as 
constrained through their collective relations. And recognition of the 
law of interaction opens the way to consideration of other correspond- 
ences ])etween structures and functions and environing conditions. 

Con.spicuous among the more strictly functional traits of the Seri is 
the intensity of action characteristic especially of the warriors, though 
in less degree of the entire tribe — an intensity made all the more strik- 
ing by contrast with the extreme inertness between stresses. Mani- 
festly the capacity for concentrated effort is in harmony with the 
tribal habits, themselves reflecting habitat. The resource of prime 
importance in Seriland — that which directly and constantly conditions 
the very existence of human inhabitants — is potable water. This prime 
source of life is too heavy to be transported and too unstable to be 
stored with the facilities of primitive culture, yet it is always within 
reach of an organism strong enough to journey ten or twenty or fifty 

1 Thu marital customs of the iribb arL^ described i)o.stea, pp. 279-287. 






miles ill search of it, ami aiuite enough to follow trails and iiidicatious. 
Naturally the meager water-supply serves as a mechanism for sorting out 
aud i)reserviug the strong and tlie acute, and for eliminating the weakly 
and the dull; and lience the tribe have develojied a tacnlty, or perliaps 
a potentiality, of distinctive sort — the potentiality of providing against 
tbirst-deatli by a reserve power in the organism itself rather tlian in 
the form of mechanical devices such as characterize higher culture. 
Quite similar are the relatious to the resource of second importance, 
i. e., ordinary food. Habituated to dispensing with storage and trans- 
portation of their primary resource, and acimstomed to finding food 
whenever forced to sufficiently active effort to obtain it, the Seri have 
never grasped that first principle of thrift expressed in the accumula- 
tion of food supplies; aud accordingly they intuitively rely on success- 
ful fishing or chase or search of vegetal edibles for sustenance, and 
habitually delay eft'ort until they are stirred into activity by tlie jiangs 
of hunger. Naturiilly this improvidence serves as another mechanism 
for perpetuating families of stored vitality, and especially those able 
to prevail over swift or strong or cunning (juarry by sustained vigor 
and alertness after prolonged deprivation; and the effect of this mech- 
anism, too, is to develop a reserve power in the orgaiiisin itself, in lieu 
of the material reserve made through thrift in higher culture. Similar 
in their consequences are the relations of the individual organisms to 
the third industry of Serilaud, i. e., navigation of the gale-swept and 
tide-troubled waters. Even the buoyant balsa can not weather the 
williwaws or ride the tideiii)s of El Infiernillo witliout exercise of the 
utmost strength and skill on the part of the navigators; while the often 
persistent storms may delay for days embarkation on voyages in quest 
of fresh water or food. Naturally, the frequent delays and not infre- 
quent perils of such navigation constitute a mecliauism for selecting 
navigators possessed of reserve powers adequate to meet desperate 
emergencies with vigor and judgment even after enervating waits for 
wind and tide, while those not so well endowed are either brought up 
to standard in their hard training-school or expelled from their class by 
drowning or dashing on the rocks, as niay happen ; so that the ette(!t of 
this mechanism also is to jireserve individuals and perpetuate genera- 
tions characterized by reserve power, and hence to develop latent 
potentiality in the tribe. Now, the normal product of these and other 
natural mechanisais immediately refiecting environmental conditions 
is capacity for spurts, or for intense functioning under severe stress, 
despite accentuation of the stress by thirst or hunger or exhaustion, or by 
all combined — i. e., the effect of habitat and habit is to produce precisely 
such a somatic regimen as that so consiiicuously displayed by the Seri 
folk. So the intensified activity with long intervals of inertness, simu- 
lating the habits of carnivorous and some other lower animals, and hence 
suggesting primitive condition, would appear to be largely a jihyloge- 
netically ac(iuired character expressing specific adjustment to environ- 


To the actual observer of the Seri in his prime there is an indetinable 
but none the less impressive harmony between the intense regimen and 
the trenchant structural development characteristic of the tribe — a 
harmony like unto that felt by naturalist and artist alike in viewing 
at once the clean-cut form and vigorously easy mobility of tiger or 
thoroughbred horse; and simple inspection of the lithe limbs and body- 
muscles stirs into living realization a half-felt inference from many 
facts — the obvious and indubitable inference that they are stress- 
shaped structures. Accordingly, the concentrated and robust bodies, 
the shapely jaws, the well-chiseled arms, and the statuesque legs of the 
Seri, no less than their powerful hands and bulky feet, direct special 
attention to tlie axiom that somatic structures are the i)roduct of exer- 
cise, and indicate with convincing clearness that the structures are 
trenchantly developed because of the supreme intensity of the creative 
exercise. It may be impracticable to outline in terms of metabolism 
the precise processes of waste and repair in organs and organisms, or 
to define the relative periods of action and assimilation (or of catabolism 
and anabolism) best adapted to the development of motile tissue; yet 
the external facts of all bodily growth demonstrate the efticiency of 
alternating effort and repose, while the characteristics of highly devel- 
oped animal bodies (including those of the Seri) demonstrate that the 
most beneficial exercise is that of relatively brief but intense stresses 
alternating with relatively long intervals of sluggish movement or com- 
plete repose. Moreover, the facile metabolism involved in the widely 
alternating regimen implies exceptional somatic plasticity of the sort 
normally accompanying youth and attending tissue growth; and this 
persistent bodily plasticity is in harmony with the peculiarly dilatory 
maturation characteristic of the Seri tribe. So the animal-like bodies of 
the Seri, no less than their animal-like movements, which at first sight 
suggest primitive condition, may safely be held in large measure to 
reflect specific habits of life, themselves reflecting a distinctive habitat. 

Still more suggestive to the observer than the well-molded structures 
and the intense functioning with which they are conjoined are those 
elusive yet persistent characteristics of the Seri comprised in their dis- 
tinctive race sense — characteristics ranging from overweening intra- 
tribal pride to overpowering extratribal hatred. Even at first blush 
it would seem obvious that the tribal isolation, itself the reflection of 
environment, would necessarily tend toward a segregative habit with 
concomitant hostility toward aliens; yet the race-sense of the Seri so 
far transcends that of other segregated tribes as to suggest the exist- 
ence of a specific cause. So, too, it would seem obvious that the race 
feeling gathers about a corporeal nucleus in the form of the race-type 
exemplified in the heroic stature, the shajjely face, the mighty chest, 
the luxuriant hair, the well-modeled muscles, the powerful feet and 
hands, the "collected" carriage, and the stored vitality, which (as 
already indicated) synthesize the environmental interactions of gener- 
ations; yet the actual student can not avoid the imi)ression that the 




" ,» 


'. ^ 

The meliotvpe printing CO.. boston 



race-sense dominates tbe race type — that tbe Seri are farther away 
from neigli boring tribes in feeling than in features, in function than in 
structure, in mind than in body. Now, in seeliing the sources of this 
distinctive (not to say specific) race-sense, several suggestions arise. 
Naturally the first suggestion is that of simple sexual selection, the 
(assumptive) analogue of an important factor in biotic evolution; but 
the suggestion is at once .apparently negatived l)y the fact that all the 
mature men and women are married and have tamilies of children pro 
portionate to their ages. True, undesirable fiances may be expelled 
from the tribe, or even executed (as intimated by neighboring ^ono- 
renses); yet there is little ev. deuce that either method of selection is 
employed among the Seri more largely than among other peoples; and, 
as all recent researches indicate, the higher peoples at least have risen 
above the plane of sexual selection i)er se as an effective factor in 
somatic development. A second suggestion arises in the axiom (vivi- 
fied by realization of the connection between Seri movements and Seri 
structures) that perfected organs are the product of stressful function- 
ing — indeed, the suggestion is but the extension of the axiom from the 
individual to the stirp'aiid the grouji. In developing the suggestion it 
is convenient to divide the career of the stirp into periods defined by 
the successive wax and wane of vitality in its most significant mani- 
festations; and this may be done in terms of successive individual life- 
times iu their three successive aspectsof (1) youth, (2) maturity, and (.'>) 
senility, in which the dominant constructive functions are respectively 
(1) somatic growth, (2) collective growth (comprising both procreation 
and the accumulation of artificial possessions), and (3) dissipation of 
somatic vitality and distribution of extrasomatic accumulations (gen- 
erational as well as material and intellectual). Now, it is a common- 
place in every stage of culture that vital capacity, and also tbe inherent 
sense of kind manifested in pairing, culminate iu the medial portion, or 
prime, of individual life; and if this universal recognition is valid, it 
is just to hold that the career of the stirp is defined by the successive 
vital climaxes expressing the primes of the series of generations per- 
taining to the stirp. It follows that each generation must represent, 
not the average qualities of the entire generation past, but the quali- 
ties of the most virile and muliebrile fraction of that generation; 
whence it follows in turn that iu general the generations must develop 
along the lines most prominent in the lives of each people in their 
prime. The process may be formulated as the law of periodic conjuga- 
tion, under which successive generations are initiated, not at random, 
but at periods of culminant effectiveness in shaping tbe course of the 
stirp. The immediate api)lication of this law to tbe Seri tribe is mani- 
fest, for it explains (the initial condition of isolation and the conse- 
quent incipient segregative habit being given) bow and why tbe tribal 
standards have grown more definite from generation to generation, 
and have interacted cumulatively with tbe distinctive environment in 
such manner as continually to widen the chasm between the desert- 
17 ETH 11 


bound tribe and tbeii- alien ueigbbors. Yet the general application of 
the law leads only to a more specilic apjilieation; for, just as the career 
of tbe stiri> is made up of a succession of vital maxima and minima, so 
the lifetime of the individual, even in the median stage, is made up of 
a series of vital climaxes separated by relatively inert intervals; and, 
as recognized by every naturalist and romancist, every philosopher 
and poet, iu every stage of culture, it is during the periods of conative 
domination by the master passion that the career of the individual is 
shaped and that the stirj) sentimeut (or susceptibility to kind) culmi- 
nates iu intensity. It follows that the progeny of successive genera- 
tions represent not merely the optimum median stage of life in which 
vitality and virility and muliebrity are at tiood, but the very climaxes 
of this stage in which manhood and womanhood attain their ideals, 
and in which the ideals react on the physical system with unequaled 
intensity; it follows in turn that each generation must (in so far as 
intellectual tension can control long series of metabolic interactions 
after thie manner in which short series are controlled by direct volitional 
exercise) incarnate the ideals of the preceding generation ; whence it 
follows still further that in general isolated race types tend constantly 
and cumulatively to increase in definiteness — at least until the somatic 
factors are counterbalanced by demotic relationships arising with con- 
siderable increase in population. It is true that the extent to which 
the incarnation of ideals is effective or even possible has not been 
measured; it is also true that tbe naturalists of the higher culture- 
stages commonly neglect the process; yet the occasional recognition of 
its positive aspect, as in Goethe's "elective aftinities" and in Jacob's 
getting of " ringstraked, speckled, and spotted'' stock (Genesis xxx, 
37-41 ), and the practically universal recognition — more especially 
among primitive peoples — of its negative aspect in adverse prenatal 
iutiuences, clearly indicates its importance; the fact that the ancient 
Greeks at onceidealized in unparalleled degree, and produced unexcelled 
perfection iu, the human form beingof no small significance. Even if the 
measure of the incarnation of ideals be reduced to the lowest minimum 
consistent with common knowledge, it remains true that the progeny 
of successive generations are not the oft'.-pring of average parents, but 
of pairs at the perfection and conjugal culmination of their virile and 
niuliebrile excellencies; so that the generations must run in courses of 
cumulatively increasing racial (or human) perfection, under a general 
lair of conjuf/al conation. 

In extending the general law of conjugal conation to the Seri, it 
is found peculiarly applicable, in view of their distinctive marriage 
custom, the effect of which is to intensify conjugal sentiments, with the 
attendant magnification, and potential if not actual incarnation, of 
ideals.' Accordingly there would appear to be a harmony between 

^ The law of conjugal conation was indeed sujrgeated by observations on the peculiar marriage cus- 
tom and peculiarly developed race-sense of the Seri trilje. and it lias already been applied in certain 
of its aspects as an explanation of the initial huraanization of mankind (The Trend of Human Prog- 
ress, American Anthroiiologiat, new series, vol. 1, 1899, pp. 415-418). 






Sei'i race-sense and Seri race-type no less delicate tlian that between 
the stressful action and tbe stress-shaped structures of the tribe, 
and while the incejition of both ty])e and feeling may be ascribed to 
tlie isolated environment, it seems manifest that both have interacted 
constructively and in cumulative fashion through a significant jjrocess 
exemplified more clearly by this tribe than by others thus far studied. 
At the same time, analysis of the harmony between type and senti- 
ment indicates that the lowly Seri are actually, albeit unconsciously, 
carrying out a meaningful experiment in stirpiculture — an experiment 
whose metliods and results are ecjually valuable to students. The Seri 
gymnastic and the Seri stirpiculture are ia close accord, in that both 
are conditioned by initially dilatory yet ultimately intense action; the 
results are equally accordant in that the one conduces toward individ- 
ual vigor and the other toward a vigorous and distinctive stirp; while 
the excellence of the methods (viewed from the somatic standpoint) is 
attested by the magnificence of the product. Now, comparison of the 
stirpicultured Seri with contemporary tribes shows that the desert- 
bound folk have attained une(]ualed somatic development, and sug- 
gests that the intuitive stirpicultural processes have been rendered 
peculiarly effective through the persistence of that tribal isolation in 
which the processes apparently took rise; so the race-sense of the 
Seri may be regarded as the i)roduct of long-continued stirpicultural 
processes, initially shaped by environment, yet developed to unusual 
degree by somatico-social habits, kept ^live largely through continuous 
environmental iuter action. 

Summarily, the Seri are characterized by noble physique, by pecu- 
liarly swift and lightsome movements, by great endurance coupled with 
capacity for vigorous action, by animal like symmetry and slowness of 
maturation, and by various minor attributes combining with the major 
features to form a distinctive race- type; and they are still more con- 
spicuously characterized by an acute race-sense which holds them apart 
from all aliens. At first sight, several of their somatic attributes seem 
incomparably primitive, yet analysis of the attributes in the light of 
certain laws which they exemplify better than other peoples thus far 
studied indicates not so much a lack of development as an excess of 
growth along purely somatic lines, with a correlative defect of develop- 
ment along demotic lines; and when the lines of growth are traced to 
the sources and conditions, it becomes fairly clear that the aberrant 
development of the tribe is merely the reflection of a distinctive environ- 
ment operating (evidently) throughout a long period. In brief, the 
somatic interest of the Seri seems to center in the remarkable adjust- 
ment of the tribe to a ])eculiar environment — an adjustment of such 
delicacy as to imply interaction throughout many generations. 


The Seri, like all other i)eo))le.s, are cliaracterized by various collect- 
ive attributes which vastly transcend in interest and importance the 
somatic attributes exhibited by the individuals. These superorganic 
attributes are essentially activital — i. e., they i-epresent what the peo- 
ple do rather than what they merely are; and in both collective and 
activital aspects they serve to distinguish the human realm from the 
organic realm, and to afford a basis for the classification of mankind — 
i. e., they combine to form demotic characters. 

The demotic characters of the Seri, like those of other peoples, may 
be classed as (1) esthetic, (2) industrial, (3) institutional, (4) linguistic, 
and (5) sophic; and in this order the essentially human attributes of 
the tribe (except the last named) uuiy be described. It is a matter of 
deep regret that the data concerning the demotic characters of the tribe 
are too meager to afford more than a mere outline of their activities, and 
that their suggestive mythology must be passed over for the present. 

Symbolism and Decoration 


One of the most conspicuous customs of the Seri is that of painting 
the face in designs by means of mineral pigments. Of the 55 mem- 
bers of the tribe shown in the group forming plate xiii, 28 (in the 
original photograph; a somewhat less number in the reproduction) 
exhibit face-painting more or less clearly, and this proportion may be 
regarded as typical; i. e., about half of the tribe are painted. 

On noting the individual distribution of face-painting, it is found to 
be practically confined to the females, though male infants are some- 
times marked with the devices pertaining to their mothers, as adult 
warriors are said to be on special occasions; and so far as observed all 
the females, from aged matrons to babes in arms, are painted, though 
sometimes the designs are too nearly obliterated by wear to be trace- 
able. About 35 of the individuals shown in the group (plate xiii) are 
females; of these, fully four fifths showed designs or definite traces of 
the paint, while the remaining fifth bore traces too faint to be caught 
by the camera; but none of the men or larger boys were painted. In 
the smaller group shown in plate xiv all of the females display paint, 
as does the small boy in the center also, while the man (husband of the 
middle-aged matron) reveals no trace of the symbol. The two pictures 
typify the prevalence and the distribution by sex of the painting, 







The painted designs vary among different individuals, but are fairly 
persistent for each. The prevailing design at Costa Kica in 1893 was 
that of the aged matron known as Juaua Maria (plate xviii), with 
variations in detail such as that exhibited by her unmarried daughter 
Candelaria (the Seri belle shown in plate xxiv); next in frequency 
were the designs, in white and red, exhibited by the matrons portrayed 
in plates xx and xxii. Other designs observed are indicated in plate 
XXVI. The variations in individual designs are apparently due either 
to varying care in the application of the paint or to the degree of oblit- 
eration by wear— e. g., the withered .Juana Maria sometimes put on her 
design askew and was negligent of details, while the blooming Can- 
delaria greatly elaborated the details of the pattern and carefully per- 
fected the symmetry of tiie whole when preparing for her full dress 
sitting before the camei'a (plate xxiv), so that her design was then 
gorgeous by contrast with the nearly obliterated blur of a half-hour 
before. The designs are renewed every few days, especially for cere- 
monious occasions, and hence are practically permanent. 

When grouped in relation to their wearers, the designs are found to 
exhibit family connection. Thus, Juana Maria's design is repeated, 
with greater elaboration of detail and with a pair of supplementary 
marks, in that of her daughter Candelaria; the winged symbol of the 
Seri matron portrayed in plate xx is repeated with minor variations in 
that of her daughter, the Seri maiden jjictured in plate xxv; while the 
symbols of the mother and infant daughter depicted in plate xv ai'e 
essentially alike. It is noticeable, too, that in the nearly spontaneous 
arrangement of individuals in the group shown in plate xiii there is a 
tendency toward subgrouping bj' symbols; and it was constantly 
observed that the family groups gatliered about particular jacales 
(such as tliat shown in plate xiv) displayed corresponding designs, 
though there were frequent visitors from neighboring jacales bearing- 
other designs. Briefly, all the observed facts, as well as the supple- 
mentary information gained by inquiry, indicate that the designs are 
hereditary in the female line, but are susceptible of slight modification 
both in elaborateness of detail and in the addition of minor supple- 
mentary features. 

The principal apparatus and materials used in the face-painting are 
illustrated in plate xxvii. The chief pigments are ocher, gypsum, and 
tlie rare mineral dumortierite; the ocher yields various shades of red, 
ranging from pink to brown ; the gypsum affords the white used in most 
of the designs; while the dumortierite is the source of the slightly vary- 
ing tints of blue. So far as was observed, the pigments are not blended 
by mixing, though there is some blending due to overlapping in appli- 
cation. The ocher is commonly extracted and transported as lumps of 
ocherous clay or ocherous gypsum (plate xxvii, figures 1 and 5), though 
it is sometimes reduce<l to powder and transported in bits of skin or 
rag, or in cylinders of cane (plate xxvii, figures 3 and 4); and it is 

166* THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ann.17 

prepared by ti-ituratiou with a ])ebble or rubbing with the tiujjers, 
usually iu a shell cup. Sometimes the shell used for the ])ur|iose is the 
valve of a Cardiitm, which serves indiscriminately as cup, spoou, skin- 
scraper, etc; but preference is apparently given to thick and strong 
shells, such as the wave-worn valve of Cliama ( ?), shown in plate 
XXVII, figure 7, which are consecrated to the use and eventually buried 
with the user, together with a supply of the paint (like that illustrated 
in the cane cylinder — figure 4 — which was a mortuary sacrifice). The 
gyi)suin is usually carried iu natural slabs or other fragments, perhaps 
rounded by wear (plate xxvii, figures 6 and 8); it is pre|)ared by wet- 
ting and rubbing two pieces together, the larger being reduced to 
metate shape by the operation. The dumortierite was observed only 
in the form of a pencil made by pulverizing the substance and mixing 
with sufficient clay to give consistency. The several pigments are 
applied wet by means of human-hair brushes kept for the purpose, the 
process occupying from half an hour to three or four hours for the 
more elaborate designs. So far as observed at Costa Eica in 1894, the 
paints were mixed iu water only; but since painting outfits found on 
Tiburou island in 1895 were smeared with grease, it is probable that 
either water or fats may serve for menstrua, at the convenience of the 
artists. Commonly the process of painting is measurably cooperative. 
The matron usually depicts her device on the faces of her daughters 
up to the age of 12 or 15 years, when they learn to make the applica- 
tions themselves; and frequently two or more women (usually those 
with similar devices) work together in preparing aud applying the pig- 
ments, each laying the paint on her own face and apparently guiding 
her hand partly by the sense of feeling and partly by suggestions 
from her coworkers; but Caudelaria and some other of the youuger 
women at Costa Rica frequently worked alone, aided by a mirror 
in the form of a shallow bowl of water set in the shadow while the 
brilliant desert glare fell full on the face. 

The mines yielding the pigments were not located. The geologic con- 
ditions are such that the ochers are undoubtedly abundant; but it is 
probable that the gypsum is uncommon and confined to a remote local- 
ity or two, and that the dumortierite is rare and scanty here as else- 
where. The care with which the paints are preserved, prepared, and 
applied, the fact that they are indispensable feminine appurtenances 
even on the longest journeys, aud their sacred role in the mortuary 
customs, all combine to indicate that they are among the most highly 
prized possessions of the people and by far the most xjrecious of their 

The sematic, functions of the designs are esoteric, yet an inkling of 
their meaning was obtained through Masheni, the interpreter at Costa 
Eica in 180-t; from his expressions it appears that the designs are 
sacred insignia of toteinic character, serving to denote the clans of 
which the tribe is composed. 15ut three clans were identified, and 





these only with some uncertainty, viz, the Turtle clan,' denoted by the 
.symbols of Juaua Maria (plate xviii) and Candelaria (plate xxiv and 
the upper left figure in plate xxvi); the Pelican clan, denoted by the 
designs of two typical matrons (plates xx and xxri) and a typical 
maiden (plate xxv), and probably also by those of the niediolateral 
figures in idate xxvi; and (still less certainly) the Rattlesnake clan, 
denoted by the symbol of the lower left figure in this plate. The 
special sematic values of the colors also are esoteric, and were not 
ascertained; even in the case of the simple pelican design, the differ- 
ence in meaning between the solid red pattern of one group and the 
similar pattern of white in another group was successfully concealed. 
So, too, the significance of the various subordinate or supplementary 
devices — the distinct borderline shown in plate xx, the lower cheek 
devices in i)late xxiv, the separate chin mark in plate xxv, the fetish- 
like symbols on the lower cheeks in the lower left figure of plate xxvi, 
etc — eluded inquiry; while some of the minor features of both form and 
color were sufficiently variable in the devices borne by different faces 
of the same family, and even in successive paintings of the same face, 
to suggest some individual freedom in carrying out the detail of the 
generally uniform designs. 

The telle functions, or ultimate purposes, of the face-painting are 
also esoteric, though not beyond the reach of inference from the sematic 
functions, coupled with general facts of zoic and primitive human cus- 
toms. Even at first sight the painted devices bring to mind the 
directive markings of lower animals defined by Professor Todd ' and 
interpreted by Ernest Seton-Thompson;^ and in view of the implacably 
militant habit of the Seri it would seem evident that the artificial 
devices are, at least in their primary aspect, analogous to the natural 
markings. On analyzing the directive markings of animals, it is conve- 
nient to divide them into two classes, distinguished by special function, 
usual iilacement, and general relation to animal economy: the first 
class .serve jjrimarily to guide tiight in such manner as to permit ready 
reassembling of the flock; they are usually posterior, as in rabbit, 
white-tail deer, antelope, and various birds; and they primarily signify 
inimical relations to alien organisms, with functional exercise under 
stress of fear. The second class of markings serve primarily for 
mutual identification of approaching individuals; as comports with 
this function, they are usually facial, or at least anterior; and their 
functional exercise is normally connected with peaceful association — 
though the strongly emphasized facial symbols of the males doubtless 

' This tutelary may be the sliark ; it waa described aa a water monster instrumental in the creation 
and good for food, but the identification is uot beyond doubt. Cf. p. 278. 

■'American XaturalisI, rol. .xxil, 1888, pp. 201-207. 

^Wild Animals I Have Known, 1898, p. 119; Century Magazine, vol. LI.X, 1900, pp. 656-660. In his lec- 
tures, Mr Selon-Thompsou extends bis interpretations to anterior as well as to posterior markings, 
especially the conspicuous and persistent facial features of deer, antelope, mongrel (or ancestral) dog, 
etc. .Such facial markings seem especijill.v characteristic of grcgariou.s animals; and they are 
peculiarlj- signiticant as social symbols rather than as mere beacons for guidance in flight. 


blazoa fortb the alternative meauiugs of prefereuce for peace or readi- 
ness for strife, lilie the calumet tomahawk of the Sioux warrior (as 
interpreted by Gushing). So the directive markings of the first class 
are substantially beacons of danger and fear, while those of the second 
are just as essentially standards of safety and confidence; and they 
may properly be designated as heaconmarkimjs and standard-markinfifi, 
respectively.' On seriating the two classes in terms of development, 
it is at once found that the beacon-markings are in large measure con- 
nected with excursive movement and are centrifugal in ettect, while the 
standard-markings are connected mainly with incursive movement and 
are centrijjetal in elfect; at the same time the latter express not only 
the higher intelligence, but also the greater degree of that conjustment 
which forms the basis of collective organization; so that the latter 
unquestionably represents the higher developmental stage. Now, the 
primary functions of these directive markings of the higher grade — 
signalizatioTi (or attentionization) and identification — correspond pre- 
cisely with paramount needs of the alien-hating and clan-loving Seri; 
so that careful analysis would seem fully to Justify the casual impres- 
sion of functional similitude between the Seri face-painting and the 
directive markings of social animals. 

While the first survey establishes a certain analogy between the 
primitive face-painting aTid the standard-markings of aninnils, an im- 
portant disparity is noted when the survey is extended to individuals; 
for among beasts and birds the standards are usually the more con- 
spicuously displayed by the males, while the paint devices of tlie Seri 
are confined to the females. A suggestion pointing toward explana- 
tion of this disparity is readily found in the seriation of developmental 
stages marked by (1) the fear-born beacon-markings, (2) the confidence- 
speaking standard-markings, and (3) the painted symbols; for the arti- 
ficial devices coincide with an immeasurably advanced mental develop- 
ment, with concomitant advance in safety and peace on the one hand 
and in artificializing weapons on the other hand. This suggestion 
alone fails to explain the disparity fully, yet it raises another, growing 
out of the great social advancement connected with the mental devel- 
opment — i. e., the eft'ect of the distinctively demotic organization of 
the human genus as represented by the Seri people. On considering 
this organization, it is found strictly maternal: the tribe is made up of 
clans defined by consanguinity reckoned only in the female line; each 
clan is headed by an elderwoman, and comprises a hierarchy of daugh- 
ters, granddaughters, and (sometimes) great-granddaughters, collect- 
ively incarnating that purity of uncontaminated blood whii-h is the 
pride of the tribe; and this fenmle element is supplemented by a mas- 
culine element iu the persons of brothers, who may be war-chiefs or 
shamans, and may hence dominate the movements of groups, but whose 

1 The fundamental distinction is none tlie lesa valid by reason of tlie occasional combination of 
functions, as in the antelope "chrysanthemum " interpreted by Seton-Thompson. 





blood counts as notbing in the establishment and maintenance of the 
clan organization. Tbus the females alone are the blood-carriers of 
the clans; they alone require ready and certain identification in order 
that their institutional theory and practice maybe maintained; and 
hence they alone need to become bearers of the sacred blood-standards. 
The warriors belong to the tribe, and are distinguished by luxuriantly 
flowing hair, by the up stepping movement from which the people 
derive their appellation, by their unique archery attitude, and by their 
dark skin-color: the boys count for little until they enter the warrior 
class; but on the females devolves the duty of defining and maintain- 
ing the several streams of blood on which the rigidly guarded tribal 
integrity depends.' Undoubtedly the blood-markings play an impor- 
tant role in courtshii) and marriage, but too little is known of the 
esoteric life of the tribe to permit this role to be traced. 

In brief, the Seri face-painting would seem to be essentially zaose- 
matic, or symbolic of zoic tutelaries, and to signify subspeciflc (or sub- 
varietal) cliaraeteristics maintained by the clan organization and kept 
prominent by the militant habit of the tribe; at the same time it is 
noteworthy that the purely symbolic motive is accompanied by a 
nascent decorative tendency, displayed by the individual refinement of 
form and color in the symbol proper to each of the groups. 


Aside from the face-painting there is a conspicuous dearth of decora- 
tion or tangible symbolism among the Seri. 

The symbolic or decorative modification of the physique would seem 
to be limited to two classes of mutilations, of which one was observed 
at Costa Rica in 1894 while the other is apparently obsolete. The 
observed corporeal modification is the absence of medial su{)erior 
incisors of the females, in consequence of forcible removal at a period 
not definitely ascertained. The interpreter at Costa Rica was uncom- 
nuiuicative on the subject; Don Pascual opined that the mutilation 
formed part of an elaborate puberty ceremonial, and this opinion would 
seem to be corroborated by the condition of the cranium of an imma- 
ture female examined by Dr Hrdlicka; but since the half dozen adult 
maidens at the rancho in 1894 were free from the mutilation while all the 
wives bore its gruesome trace, it would seem more probable that the 
custom is connected with marriage. Whatever the period of the inflic- 
tion, Mashcm's guarded expressions seemed to indicate that it was 
a mark of physical inferiority; and this suggestion, interpreted in 
the light of the Seri use of teeth as weapons of offense and defense, 
would seem to indicate that the mutilation is at once the badge of cor- 
l^oreal inferiority and a means of maintaining the physical superiority 
of the males— of course in that theoretically fiducial but actually force- 
ful way characteristic of primitive culture. 

• The essentially zoocratic nature of Seri law and custom is set forth postea, p. 294. 



[ETH. ANN. 17 

The second mutilation was tbe only corporeal modification noted by 
early missionaries and explorers — it was the perforation of the nasal 
septum for the insertion of a skewer, perhaps of polished stone (though 
doubtless more commonly of bone), to which swinging objects were 
attached. One of the most useful records is that of the Jesuit, Padre 
Joseph Och, who described the nasal attachment as a small, colored 
stone suspended by cords from the perforated septum, and guarded with 
such jealous veneration that "one must give them at least a horse or a 
cow for one" (ante, j). 78); while according to Hardy's record, the 
nasal fetish is "a small, round, white bone, 5 inches in length, taper- 
ing off at both ends, and rigged something like a cross-jack yard.'" 

Fig. 7— Snake-skin belt. 

The custom is apparently obsolete, and nothing is known directly of 
details or motives. 

pjxcepting these mutilations the corporeal decoration of the Seri is 
apparently limited to the face-painting: among the 00 individuals at 
Gosta Rica in 1804 there was no trace of tattooing or scarification of 
face, limbs, or body; there were no labrets or earrings, and neither 
lips nor ears were pierced, nor were nasal septa observed to be per- 
forated in accordance with the reputed ancient custom; the teeth were 
neither tiled nor drilled; no indications of amputation or other maim- 
ing (save the removal of the incisors) were observed — indeed, the 
instinct for physical markings of symbolic or decorative character, 
which seems to be normal to primitive men, was apparently satisfied 
by the prevalent and persistent face-painting among the females. 

The extra-corporeal decorative devices are of a meagerness and pov- 

' Travels, p. 286. 







erty even transcencling the poor apparel, flimsy liabitatious, and gen- 
erally ill-developert artifacts of the lowly tribe. 

The most prominent ])ersoiial ])ossession is the pelican-skin robe; it 
is usually made of six skins, slightly dressed and in full plumage, sewed 
together with sinew iu a conventional pattern of such sort as to give 
the greatest possible expanse consistent with the irregular outlines of 
the individual skins, and at the same time to disi)lay a conventional 
color pattern on the feathered side, the colors ranging from the dorsal 
slate to the ventral white of the fowl (as Indicated in plate xxiii); 
sometimes there are only four skins and rarely there are eight, but the 
conventional arrangement is maintained. Before the beginning of a 

Fig. S — Dried flower necklace. 

fairly regular barter at Eancho de Costa Rica, and hence before the intro- 
duction of manta and other stuffs, the pelican-skin robe.s were supple- 
mented by kilts made of mesquite root or other fibers, spun and twisted 
in the fingers and woven probably on some primitive device no longer 
in use; but so far as is known these native fabrics were devoid of deco- 
rative patterns in color or weave. Less habitually a short wanimus or 
shirt, with long sleeves, made of a material similar to that of the kilt, 
was worn; but it, too, was without ornamentation, so far as can be 
ascertained. The remaining article of utilitarian a^jparel is the belt, 
usually consisting of a strip of skin (of deer, rabbit, peccary, etc), 
slightly dressed with the hair on; frequently this is replaced by a cord 
or braided baud of human hair, while the favorite belt of some of the 



[ETH. ANN. 17 

young- warriors is a snake skin (such as that illustrated in figure 7) ; but 
so far as was seen tbe belts are not extended into tassels, decorative 
appendages, or even flowing ends. 

Tbe presnmiitively decorative costuniery observed is limited to neck- 
laces, usually of strung seeds, sbells, and beads of wood or bone (fig- 
ures 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13), tbougb animal appendages, sucb as boots, 
teeth, etc, are sometimes worn. Tbe most highly prized necklace found 
at Costa Rica was a Imman hair cord with nine crotalus rattles attached 
(figure 14), worn by a young warrior of tbe liattlesuake (1) clan. Not 
tbe slightest indication of bead- 
dresses was seen (tbougb deer 
and lion masks are said by 
Hardy to have been worn on 
occasions) ; there were no brace- 

Fig. 10— Nut penilant3. 

Shell beads 

Fig. 12— Wooden be.ids. 

lets, leg-bands, or rings of any description, and the cheap jewelry 
given to many of tbe women and youths at Costa Rica was either 
strung about tbe neck or concealed ; while it is significant that even tbe 
showiest jewelry was less appreciated than bits of manta or lumps of 
sugar. When it is remembered that tbe Seri have been in occasional 
contact with Caucasians for over three and a half centuries, the fact 
that not a single glass bead was found among them becomes signifi- 
cant; and tbe significance of tbe simple fact is increased by tbe virtual 
absence of that persistent desire and protean use for beads — or bead- 
sense — so prominent among most primitive tribes. 



^Naturally the conditions at Costa Eica were unfavorable to the study 
of native ideas conci'rning apparel. The women and some of the chil- 
dren were arrayed chiefly in cast-off habiliments of 
the raucheras or in nondescript rags, while the men 
either aped ^lexican fashions, like Mashem, or shame- 
facedly sweltered under the unaccustomed burden of 
tatterdemalion gear; yet there was a meaningful 
absence of that desire for finery so prominent among 
primitive peoples — a fact quite as eloquent in itself 
as the absence of bracelets and bangles, tassels and 
trappings. It is jtrobable that the shamans and 
mystery-hedged crones in the depths of Seriland 
enhance tlieir iuHnence by the aid of symbolic jiara- 
l)hernalia (indeed, some inkling of such customs is 
found in the meager records of earlier visitors);' yet 
the conspicuous feature of Seri costumery is the 
dearth of decorative devices. 

The habitations of the tribe are the simplest of 
jacales — mere bowers, affording partial protection 
from sun and wind, but not designed to shed rain 
or bar cold. Half a dozen of these were examined at 
Costa Rica in 1894 and probably a hundred more, in 
viirious stages of habitability, in Seriland proper in 
189.5, yet not the slightest trace of decoration was 
observed — the structures are plainly and barrenly 
utilitarian in every feature. The same may be said 
of the balsas in which the Seri navigate their stormy 
waters; for the peculiarly graceful curves of the craft 
evidently stand for nothing more than the mechanical 
solution of a complex problem in balanced forces, 
wrought out through the experience of generations, 
while the simple reed bundles are absolutely devoid 
of paint, of sujierfluous cord, of fetishistic appendages 
or markings, of tritons, nereids, or other votive sym- 
bols at bow or stern, and of industrially sujjerfluous 
features or attachments in general — indeed, the only 
appendages discovered were one or two simple wooden 
marlinspikes (shown in figure 20), thrust among the 
reeds to be at hand in case of need for repairs. 

Among the utensils employed in the primitive 
householdry of the Seri the most conspicuous and 
at the same time the most essential is the olla, or 
water-jar. Its technical features are described elsewhere; but it may 
here be noted that the olla is the central artifact about which the very 

' Hardy noted the use of " a small leatUeru bag, painted and otherwise ornamented ", as a medicine 
rattle (Travels, p. 282), and also described a wind-symbol and an eifigy used for thaumaturgic pur- 
poses (ibid., pp. 294, 295). 

Fig. 13— Necklace of 
wooden beads. 



[ETH. ANN. 17 

]ffe of the tribe rotates: since tbe clans never reside and rarely camp 
nearer tlian 3 to 15 miles from the aguaje, a large part of tbe water 
consumed must be transported great distances in tliese vessels; since 
tbe region is one of extreme aridity, the lives of small parties often 
depend on the integrity of tbe olla and on tbe care with which tbe 
fragile vessel is protected from shock or overturning; and hence the 
utensil must occupy a large if not a dominant place in everyday 
tbought — indeed, the fact tbat it does so is attested by constant 
custom and also by its employment as tbe most conspicuous among 

riQ. 14— liattlesuakb ueoklait.-. 

the mortuary sacrifices. Thus, tbe relation of tbe Seri olla to its 
makers and users is parallel with that of the ever-present earthen pot 
to tbe Pueblo people, or tbat of the cooking basket to the acorn- 
eaters of (Jalifornia, save that its relative importance is enhanced 
by the fewness of activital lines and motives in Seri life. Moreover, 
this most characteristic utensil is established and hallowed in Seri 
tbought by immemorial associations: its sherds are sown over the 
hundred thousand square miles of ancient " despoblado" from Tiburon to 
Caborca, Magdalena, Kio Opodepe, and Cerro Prieto, and are scattered 
through the 90 feet of shells forming Punta Antigualla (perhaps the 
oldest shell mound of America); and all the sherds from the range 


and tlie shell-strata are so like and so different from any other fictile 
ware as to be distinguished at a glance. Hence it would seem manifest 
that the Seri oUa must constitute a normal nucleus for the Seri esthetic; 
yet even here the field is practically barren, as is shown by the study of 
a score of usable and mortuary specimens and of thousands of sherds. 
The most ornate siiecimen seen is that depicted in plate xxxii. Its 
form, like that of the balsa, is a mechanical equation of forces and 
materials; its body color is that of the clay, blotched and blackened 
irregularly by the smoke of the firing; and its decoration is limifed to 
17 faint lines or bands ratliating downward from tlie ill-shaped neck. 
The radial bauds were evidently drawn by a linger dii)ped in clayey 
water after the vessel was otherwise finished for the firing; they are 
irregular in ])lacement, width, length, and directioTi; they generally 
run in pairs, two straight lines alternating with two zigzag lines, though 
the circuit is completed by two zigzags drawn wide apart and separated 
by a single straight line. The meaning of the device (if meaning there 
be) was not directly ascertained ; but it is suggestive that its maker and 
owner was tlie motht^r of the youthful warrior from whom the rattle- 
snake necklace was obtained (her face-symbol is that shown in the 
lower left figure of plate xxvi), and that the vessel was surrendered 
moi'e reluctantly than any other article obtained from the tribe. 

Another utensil of some importance to the tribe is a basket of the 
type illustrated in figure 24. It is manufactured with much skill 
and is used for various domestic purposes, being practically watertight 
and unbreakable, and materially lighter than even the unparalleledly 
light fictile ware of the Seri. In form and size and weave the half dozen 
examples seen correspond with widespread southwestern types; yet it 
is noteworthy that while otherwise similar baskets are habitually decor- 
ated by other basket-making tribes, the Seri specimens were absolutely 
devoid of decorative devices. 

Practically the only remaining artifacts available for decoration are 
those connected with archery ; and it suffices to say that while the bows 
are skilfully made and the arrows constructed with exceeding pains, 
not a single specimen seen showed the slightest trace of symbolism or 
of nonutilitarian motive. 

Summarily, the Seri are characterized by extreme esthetic poverty. 
This has been noted by the early missionaries and by the few other trav- 
elers who have approached their haunts, as well as by the vaqueros on 
the Encinas and Seriia and other ranchos bordering their range, who 
know them as " los pobrecitos". All observers have been struck with 
their destitution and squalor; yet when the impressions are particular- 
ized they are seen to denote absence of the poor luxuries, rather than 
the bare necessities, of primitive life. The people are pathetically poor 
in the industrial sense; their equipment in artifacts — implements, 
weapons, utensils, habitations, a])parel — is meager almost, if not quite, 
beyond parallel in America; yet their esthetic equipment, practically 

176* THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ann.17 

limited as it is to a single line of symbolic portrayal, is still more 
abjectly meager. 

Any comparison of the Seri esthetic with that of other Amerind 
tribes serves only to emphasize its paucity: the tribes of the plains, 
with their eagle-feather headdresses, elaborately arranged scalp-locks, 
widely varied face- painting, and ritualistic camp circles; the Pueblo 
peoples, with their ornate masks, elaborate altars, figured stuffs, and 
painted pottery; the denizens of the eastern woods, with their feather- 
decked peace-pipes, divinatory games, fringe-bordered garments, and 
prayer-inscribed arrows; the coastwise ijeoples of the upper Pacific, 
with their labrets and tattoo-marks, totem-poles and carved house- 
fronts, painted canoes and prodigal potlatches; the neighboring desert 
tribes, with their festal footraces, decorated pottery and basketry, 
pendent scarfs and garters, and well- wrought caskets for family fetishes; 
even the timid acorn-eaters of California, with their sacramental baskets, 
artistically befringed kilts, bead-strings of fixr-traveled nacre, and 
patiently wrought fabrics of rare feathers — all of these seem rich in 
esthetic motives when contrasted with "los pobrecitos" of arid Seriland. 
And the contrast is only intensified whe' the economic motives of the 
various tribes are compared: the industrial motives of the Seri are 
fairly numerous and; they are skilful huntsmen, successful 
fishermen, capable navigators, and competent warriors (as attested by 
the protection of their principality for centuries), so that despite the 
absence of agriculture and the avoidance of commerce, their industrial 
range is not very far below the aboriginal average; and while they are 
deficient in thritt, this shortcoming Is balanced by a peculiarly devel- 
oi)e(l vital economy whereby they are delicately adjusted to their 
environment, as has been already shown. On the whole, it would 
appear that the Seri are not only lower in esthetic development than 
the contemporary tribes thus far studied, but that they stand at 
the bottom of the scale in the ratio of esthetic to industrial motives. 


Largely through recent researches among the American aborigines, 
it has been shown that decorative and many if not all other esthetic 
concepts normally arise in symbolism, gradually expand in conven- 
tionism, and eventually mature in a realism which is itself the source 
of ever-extending esthetic motives; and the observations on the lowly 
Seri afford opportunity for somewhat extending the generalizations 
based on higher tribes. 

When peoples of unequal cultural development are compared, it is 
commonly found that the higher are the more independent in action 
and thought: thus, advanced peoples make conquest of nature for their 
own behoof, while primitive peoples are largely creatures of environ- 
ment; Caucasian citizens are self conscious lawmakers, while Amerind 
tribesmen are semicousciously dominated by mysteries fearsomely 


interpreted by their shamans; and, in general, enlightened men think 
and speak freely, come and go as they like, and discard the badges of 
conventionism, while savages are constrained bycnstoms carrying the 
power of law, controlled by precedent, and clothed in hierarchic regalia. 
So, too, when a particular series of tribes are compared, it is found that 
those of higher culture (or wider knowledge) are the more independent? 
the more given to essays in social and industrial and other lines of 
activity, and hence the more varied in esthetic and economic motives: 
thus, the several Iroqnoian tribes integrated the knowledge proper to 
each, and thus made themselves an intellectual and physical i)ower 
able to elinnuate or assimilate the isolated tribes on their borders: the 
sages of the Siouau stock induced the warriors of their leading tribes 
to combine in a circle of seven council fires, which grew into the great 
Dakota confederacy and soon gained strength to dominate the entire 
northern plains; but while these and other federations were pushing- 
forward on the way leading to feudalism and thence to national organi- 
zation, the self centered California tribes consecrated tiieir tongues to 
their own kindred, thereby stifling culture at its source and virtually 
leashing themselves unto the acorn-bearing oaks of their respective 
glades. Still more striking are the differences in independence revealed 
by a comparison of human and subhuman organisms; for the humans 
are immeasurably freer and more spontaneous in tliought and action 
than even the highest beasts: thus, the Scri blood-bearer api)lies, 
renews, and elaborates her face-mark at will, while the antelope and 
the raccoon unconsciously develop their standard-marks through the 
tedious operation of vital processes regulated under the cruel law of 
survival; men make their beds according to the dictates of judgment, 
while the half artiticiiilized dog lies down in accordance with a heredi- 
tary custom which has been needless for a hundred generations; and 
the very essence of human activity is volitional choice (or artificial 
selection), while the keynote of merely organic agency is the nonvoli- 
tional chance of natural selection, j^o less striking are the diflerences 
found on comparing other realms of nature, in which the higher are 
invariably characterized by the greater independence; the animal 
realm is distinguished from the vegetal realm mainly by the posses- 
sion of volitional motility; while the vegetal is distinguished from 
the mineral realm chiefly by those l)etter selective powers exemplified 
in vital growth. The several comparisons seem to define that course 
of volitional development arising in the chemical and mechanical affini- 
ties of the mineral realm, burgeoning in simple vitality, nuiltiplying in 
the motility of animal life, greatly expanding in the collective activity 
of demotic organization, and culminating in the conquest of nature 
through the mind-guided powers of enlightened maidciud. Expressed 
briefly, this course of development may be characterized as the pro- 
gressive passage from aiitomacy to autonomy. 
The volitional development thus seriated may be divided, somewhat 
17 ETH 12 


arbitrarily yet none tlie less safely, into its esthetic and economic 
factors; and, for convenience, tbe latter maybe considered to comprise 
tbe industrial, institutional, linguistic, and sophic constituents — i. e., 
the esthetic activities may be juxtaposed against the several other activi- 
ties of demotic life. When this division is made, it at once becomes 
manifest that the esthetic activities are the freest and most spontaneous 
of the series, and hence lead the way to that autonomy which marks 
the highest development. This significant relation has been glimpsed 
bj^ various artists and poets, scholars and naturalists; it was at least 
partly caught by Goethe when he taught that knowledge begins in 
wonder; it was loosely seized by Schiller, and later by Spencer, in the 
surplus-energy theory of play; it was grasped by Groos in his prophecy 
theory of play,' and still more firmly (although less cousjiicuously) by 
Seton-Thompson in his analysis of animal conduct and motives. The 
relation has for some years been recognized as one of the principles 
underlying the American ethnologic researches; yet it is not so well 
understood as to obviate the need for further consideration. Accord- 
ingly it may be pointed out that while the human activities and the 
agencies of lower nature rest alike on a mechanical foundatio)i, the 
mechanical element diminishes in relative magnitude in passing from 
the lower to the higher realms of nature: in the mineral realm the 
agencies may be deemed mechanical in character and individual in 
effect; in the vegetal realm vitality is superadded, and the efi'ects are 
carried forward through heredity; in the animal realm motility is 
added in turn, and instinct arises to shape the individual and heredi- 
tary and motile attributes; the social realm may be considered to be 
marked by the accession of conjustment, with its multifarious and 
beneficent efi'ects on individuals, generations, movements, and groups; 
while the rational realm maybe defined as that arising with the acces- 
sion of reason as a guide to action, and with the development of 
nature-conquest as its most characteristic ettect — though it is to be 
noted that the several transitions are progressive rather than saltatory. 
Thus each realm is characterized by the attributes of each and all of 
those lower in the scale, plus its own distinctive attribute. It may 
also be pninted out that each new attribute defining a higher realm is 
freer and more spontaneous than those of lower realms; for vitality is 
freer than mere affinity, self-movement than mere growth, and cooper- 
ation than mere movement, while reason-led action is freest of all. 
Accordingly each realm (as already implied) is characterized by a larger 
autonomy than any of those lower in the scale; i. e., by all the factors 
of autonomy in the lower realms, plus its own distinctive factor. 

It may be pointed out further that, in the higher realms at least, 
the action normal to each realm tends to generate that characteristic 
of the nest higher realm: the self-movement of the animal realm is, 
under favorable conditions, constrained through vital economy to fall 

' Cf. American Anthropologist, new aeries, vol. 1, 1899, p. 374. 


into tlie conjustment of the social realm; and the organization of the 
social I'ealiu, involving as it does a hierarchic arrangement of organ- 
isms according to mentality,' habituates the higher individuals of the 
orgaiuzations to that control of lower individuals which buds in agri- 
culture, blossoms in civil rule, and fruits in nature-conquest. Thus 
the factors of each realm are prophetic of the distinctive factor of the 
next higher — and the prophecy is not merely passive, but is, rather, an 
actual step in causal sequence. 

It may be pointed out still further that, in the higher realms at least, 
spontaneous action necessarily precedes maturely developed function: 
in the vegetal realm the tree shoots upward before its iorm is shaped 
and its tissue textured by wind and sun and environing organisms; in 
the animal realm youthful play presages the prosaic performances nor- 
mal to adult life; in the social realm men behave before framing laws 
of behavior; and in the rational realm fortuitous discovery i)aves the 
road for sure footed invention. Thus natural initiative arises in spon- 
taneous action, while mechanical action is mainly consequential. 

It may be ijointed out finally that the field of spontaneous action is 
relatively increased with the endless multiplications of action accom- 
l)anying the passage from the lower realms to the higher — indeed the 
relations may be likened unto those of exogenous growth, which is 
largely withdrawn from the irresponsive and stable interior structures 
and gathered into the responsive and spontaneously active peripheral 
structures; so that spontaneous activity attending natural development 
is relatively more important in the higher stages than in the lower.^ 

Now, on combining the several indications it is found clear (1) that 
the more spontaneous developmental factor in all normal growth coi-- 
responds with the esthetic factor in demotic activity; (2) that this is 
the initiatory factor and the chief determinant of the rate and course 
of development; (3) that it is of relatively enlarged prominence in the 
higher stages; and hence (4) that the esthetic activities afford a means 
of measuring developmental status or the relative positions in terms of 
development of races and tribes. 

On applying these principles to the Seri tribe, in the light of their 
meager industrial motives and still poorer esthetic motives, it would 
appear that they stand well at the bottom of the scale in demotic 
development. Their somatic characteristics are suggestively primi- 
tive, as already shown; and the testimony of these characteristics is 
fully corroborated by that of their esthetic status as interpreted in the 
light of the laws of growth. 

' The spontaDeous arrangement of organisms in accordance with mental grade is well illustrated by 
that solidarity of desert life which matures in the cultivation if plants and the investigation of ani- 
mals (The Beginning of Agriculture, in The American Anthropologist, vol. VIII, October, 1895, pp. 
:i50-375; The Beginning of Zooculture, ibid., vol. x, July 1807, pp. 215-230.) 

2 The laws of growth recognized herein liave been more fully outlined elsewhere, notably 
in The Earth the Home of Man (Anthropological Society of Washington, Special Papers 2, 1894, pp. 
3-8), and in Piratical Acculturation (American Anthropologist, vol. XI, 1898, jip. 243-249). 

180* THE SEKI INDIANS [eth.ann.17 

Industries and Industrial Products 

The pacific vocatious of the Seri are few. They are totally without 
agriculture, and even devoid of agricultural sense, though they con- 
sume certain fruits and seeds in season ; they are without domestic 
animals, though they live in cotoleratiou with half-wild dogs, and per- 
haps with j)elicans ; and they are without commerce, save that primi- 
tive and inimical interchange commonly classed as pillage and robbery. 
Accordingly, their j)acific industries are limited to those connected 
with (1) sustentation, chiefly by means of iishing and the chase; (2) 
navigation and carrying, (3) housebuilding, (I) appareling, and (5) 
manufacturing their simple implements atid utensils; and these con- 
structive industries are balanced and conditioned by the destructive 
avocation of (G) nearly continuous warfare. 


The ijrimary resource of Seriland is raised to the first place in 
realized importance only by its rarity, viz, potable water — a com- 
modity so abundant in most regions as to divert conscious attention 
from its paramount role in physiologic fuuctiou as well as in industrial 
economy. The overwhelming importance of this food-source is worthy 
of closer attention than it usually receives. Classed by function, 
human foods are (1) nutrients, including animal and vegetal substances 
which are largely assimilated and absorbed into the system ; (2) assimi- 
lants, including condiments, etc, which ])roinote alimentation and 
apparently aid metabolism; (3) paratriptics, or waste preventers, 
including alcohol and other stimulants, which in some little-understood 
way retard the waste of tissue and consequent dissipation of vital 
energy; and (4) diluents, which modify the consistency of solid foods 
and thereby facilitate assimihition, besides maintaining the water of 
the system. Classed by chemic constitution, the foods may be divided 
into (1) proteids, or nitrogenous substances, including the more com 
plex animal and vegetg,l compounds; (2) fats, or nonnitrogenous sub- 
stances in which the ratio of hydrogen and oxygen is unlike that of 
water, and which are second iu complexity among animal aud vegetal 
compounds; (3) carbohydrates, or nonnitrogenous compoumls of car- 
bon with hydrogen and oxygen in the proportions reijuired to form 
water, which are among the simpler vegetal and animal compounds; 
and (4) minerals, chiefly water, with relatively minute quantities of 
various salts. Both classifications are somewhat indefinite, largely 
because most articles of food combine two or more of the classes; yet 
they are useful iu that they indicate the high place of the simple 
mineral water among food substances. (Quantitatively this constit- 
uent stands far in the lead among foods; the human adult consumes 
a daily mean of about 4.J pounds of simple liquids aud 2i pounds of 
nominally solid, but actually more than half watery, food; so that the 


average iiiau daily ingests nearly (I pounds of water and but littleover 1 
pound of actually solid nutrients. Thus tlie i-atio ol the consumption 
ofli(|uid food to that of solids is (uaturally, in view of that readier elimi- 
nation of the liquid constituent so characteristic especially of arid 
regions) somewhat larger than the ratio of water to solids in the human 
system, the ratios being nearly G : 1 and 4:1, respectively.' This analysis 
serves measurably to explain the peculiarly developed water-sense of all 
desert peoples, a sense flndiug expression in the first tenets of faith 
among the Pueblos, in the fundamental law of the Papago, and in the 
stiongest instinct of the Seri; for among folk habituated to thirst 
through terrible (albeit occasional) exi)erience, water is the central 
nucleus of thought about which all other ideas revolve in a]>propriate 
orbits — it is an ultimate standard of things incomparably more stable 
and exalted than the gold of civilized commerce, the constantly 
remembered basis of life itself. 

The potable water of Seriland is scanty in the extreme. The aggre- 
gate daily quantity available during ten months of the average year 
(excluding the eight wettest weeks of the two moist seasons) can hardly 
exceed 0.1 or 0.2 of a second foot, or 60,000 to 125,000 gallons per day, of 
living water, i. e., less than the mean supjdy for each thousand lesidents 
of a modern city, or about that consumed in a single hotel or ai)artment 
house. Probably two-thirds of this meager supply is confined to a sin- 
gle livulet (Arroyo Oarrizal) in the interior of Tiburon, far from the 
food yielding coasts, while the remainder is distributed over the 1,500 
square miles of Seriland in a few widely separated aguajes, of which 
only two or three can be considered i)ermanent; and this normal sup- 
ply is supplemented by tbe brackish seepage iu storm cut runnels, as 
at Barranca Salina, or in shallow wells, as at Pozo Escalante and Pozo 
Hardy, which is fairly fresh and abundant for a few weeks after each 
moist season, but bitterly briny if not entirely gone before the begin 
ning of the next. The scanty aggregate serves not only for the human 
but for the bestial residents of tbe Seri principality; and its distribution 
is such that the mean distance to the nearest aguaje throughout the 
entire region is 8 or 10 miles, while the extreme distances are thrice 

The paucity of potable water and the remoteness of its sources natu- 
rally affect the habits of the folk; and the effect is intensified by a curi- 
ous custom, not fully understood, though doubtless connected with 
militant instincts fixed (like the habits of primitive men generally) by 
abounding faith and persistent ritualistic practice — i. e., the avoidance 
of living waters in selecting sites for habitations or even temporary 
camps. Thus the principal rancherias on Tiburon island, about Rada 
Ballena, are some 4 miles from Tinaja Anita, the nearest aguaje; the 

' The plaee of water among food subatances is more fully discussed in The Potable Waters of 
Eastern United States, 14th Ann. Eep. of tbe U. S. Geol. Survey, 1894. pp. 5-8; tbe pbysiolosic conse. 
quences of deprivation of water are outlined in The Thirst of tbe Desert, Atlantic Monthly, April 
18D8, Jip, 483-488. 

182* THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ann.H 

extensive rancherias near Piiiita Narragaiisett measure 10 miles by 
trail from the same ajiiiaje; the half do/.eu jacales about Oam])o Xaviiiad 
are separated by some 15 miles of stony and billy pathway froui the 
alternative watering places of Tinaja Anita and Arroyo Carrizal;' and 
the huts crowning the great shell-heap of Punta Antigualla — one of 
the most striking records of immemorial occupancy iu America — are 
nearly or quite 10 miles by trail from Pozo Escalaute, and still further 
from Aguaje Parilla, the nearest sources of potable water. These are 
but typii'al instances; and while there are ruined huts (evidently 
regarded as temporales) near the dead waters of Barranca Salina and 
Pozo Escalante, they tell the tribal policy of locating habitations iu 
places surprisingly remote from running water. Like other desert 
folk, the Seri have learned to economize in water-carrying by swigging 
incredible quantities on their occasional visits to the aguajes; it is prob- 
able, too, that their systems are inured, somewhat as are those of 
the desert animals that survive deprivation of water for days or months, 
to prolonged abstinence from liquid food; yet it seems safe to assume 
that at least half of the water required in their vital economy (say 2 or 
3 pounds apiece daily, on an average) is consumed after transportation 
over distances ordinarily ranging from -i to 12 miles. Under these 
conditions the Seri have naturally produced a highly developed water 
industry; they are essentially and primarily water carriers, and all 
their other industries are subordinated to this function. 

Concordantly with their customs, the Seri have a highly differentiated 
aquarian device in the form of a distinctive type of olla, which is 
remarkable for the thinness and fragility of the ware, i. e., for largeness 
of capacity in proportion to weight. Representative specimens are 
illustrated in plates xxxii and xxxiii (the former painted, as already 
described). The dimensions of the two vessels are as follows: painted 
olla, height 34 cm. (13| inches), mean diameter 32.5 cm. (12^ inches); 
plain olla, height 32 cm. (12g inches), mean diameter 32 cm. Iu both 
specimens the walls are slightly thickened at the brim, those of the 
painted vessel measuring about 4 mm. and those of the ])laiu vessel 
about 4.5 to 5 mm. in thickness. Below the brim the walls are thinned to 
about 3 mm., as is shown in the fractured neck of the painted specimen. 
The capacity of these Seri vessels iu proportion to their weight, com- 
pared with that of typical examples of ware produced by other desert 
peoples, is shown in the accompanying table. 

Comparison of the mean ratios indicates that the Seri ware is almost 
exactly twice as economical as that of the Pueblos — i. e., that its capacity 
is twice as great in proportion to the weight of the vessel; and that 

' The preciousuess of water in this IiartI province was impressed in the 1895 expedition, during 
wiiich the cost of the commodity, reckoned on tlie hasis of the time and lahor involved in obtaining 
it, was estimated at $10 or $rj per gallon, or about the wholesale price of the finest champagnes. 



even the ware of the wide-wauderiiig Papago is more extravagant thau 
that of the Seri iu the ratio of 100 to 54. It is noteworthy, too, that 
the typical Seri ware is much more uniform than that of the other 
tribes; the various specimens seen in use at Costa Rica, and nearly 
entire iu various parts of Seriland, were closely similar in form aud 
nearly alike in dimensions; while the innumerable smaller fragments 
scattered over Seriland and the neighboring " despoblado" or buried 
amid the shells of Punta Antigualla correspond precisely in thickness, 
in curvature, in material, and in finish with the ware observed in use. 
Neither the manufacture of the ware nor the sources of material have 
been observed by Caucasians. Examination of the specimens indicates 
that the material is a flue and somewhat micaceous clay, apparently 
an adobe derived from granitoid rocks; and such material might be 

Ratio of capacity to weight among Indian ollus^ 


Plain . . 

Papago : 

No. 1... 

No. 2... 







15. 61 




Batio Hean ratio 



39 1 
79 j 










obtained in various parts of Seriland. The structure of the ware 
reveals no trace of coiling or otlier buihling process, nor does the tex- 
ture clearly attest the beating process employed by the Papago potters; 
but there is a well-defined lamellar structure, and the surfaces (espe- 
cially inner) are striated circumferentially or spirally in such manner 
as to suggest a process of rubbing under considerable pressure. All 
the specimens are so asymmetric as to indicate the absence of mechan- 
cal devices approaching the potter's wheel, while the necks are of such 
size as to admit the hand and forearm of an adult female but not of a 
warrior. Some suggestion of tlie manufacturing process is aftbrded by 
miniature fetishistic and mortuary specimens, such as those depicted 
in figures 17 and IS, and the larger specimens shown in figure 39, which 
were evidently shaped from lumps of suitable clay first hollowed and 
then gradually expanded by manipulation with the fingers, with little 
if any aid from implements of any sort. On putting the various indi- 

'In ibis table the ratio is expressed by the wei<;bt in Itilugrams for each liter in capacity. The 
Papago and Pueblo specimens were selected from typical material in the National iluseum and at 
random, save that in the Pueblo ollas choice was made of specimens corresponding approximately in 
size with those of the Seri. 



|KT11 ANN. 17 

cations together it would seem probable that the 
ware is made by the women, and that each piece is 
shapad from a lump of tempered and wellkneaded 
clay of suitable size, first hollowed and rudely shaped 
over one hand, and gradually expanded by spiral 
rubbing, kneading, and pressure between the hands 
of the maker. The burning is incomjdete and vari- 
able, suggesting a little outdoor fire in a shallow pit 
adapted to a single vessel. The ware is without 
glaze or slip or other surficial treatment save that 
the lamellar texture is best developed toward the 
surfaces; hence it is so porous that the filled vessel is 
moist even in the sun. 
Ordinarily women are the water-bearers, each car- 
rying an olla 
balanced on 
the head with 
the aid of a 
slightly elas- 
tic annular 
cushion, usu- 
ally fashioned 
of yucca fiber 
(plate XXXII 
and figure 
15), though in 
some cases 
two ollas are 
slung in nets 
at the ends of 
a yoke (figure 

F.o. 15-Seri olfa ri„g. jgj ^f^^^ ^jjg 

Chinese coolie fashion (this device being apparently 

The function of the conventional Seri olla is exclu- 
sively that of a canteen or water-carrying vessel, and 
its form is suited to no other use; while its lines, like 
its thinness of wall, are adapted to the stresses of 
internal and external pressure in such wise as to give 
maximum strength with minimum weight. Jt is by 
reason of this remarkably delicate ada[)tation of 
materials to puri>oses that the plain olla figured in 
l)late XXXIII, weighing an ounce or two more than 10 
pounds in dry air, holds and safely carries three and 
one-third times its weight of water. When such ollas 
are broken, the larger pieces may be used as cups or 


Fir;. 16— Water- 
bearer's yoke. 





-Symbolic mortuary 

dislies, or even as kettles, in the rare cnlinary operations of the tribe (as 
sbowu 111 plate x) ; but the entire vessels appear to be religiously devoted 
to their primary purpose. 

While some three-lburthsof the observed fictile ware of the Seri and 
a still larger proportion of the scattered sherds represent conventional 
ollas, there are a few erratic forms. The most couspiouous of these is a 
smaller, thicker-walled, and larger-necked type, of which three or four 
examples were observed; two of these were in 
use (one is represented lying at the left of the 
jacal in plate x), and another was found cracked 
and abandoned on the desert east of Playa 
Noriega. The vessels of this type are used pri- 
marily as kettles and only incidentally as can- 
teens. In both form and function they suggest 
accultural origin; but the ware is much like 
that of the conventional type. Another erratic 
type takes the form of a deej) dish or shallow 
bowl, of rather thick walls and clumsy form, 
which may be accultural; a single example was 
observed in use (it is shown in plate xiv). There are also mortuary 
forms, including a miniature olla (figure 39) and bowl (figure 41), and 
such still smaller examples as those illustrated in figures 17 and 18. 
In addition to the utensils a few fictile figurines were found. Most of 
these were crude or distorteil animal efBgies, and one (broken) was a 
rudely shaped and strongly caricatured female figure some 2 inches 
Ligli, with exaggerated breasts and pudenda. Analogy with neighbor- 
ing tribes suggests that the very small 
vessels aiid the figurines are fetishistic 
appurtenances to the manufacture of 
the pottery; e. g., that the fetish is 
molded at the same time and from the 
same material as the olla, and is then 
burned with it, theoretically as an in- 
vocation against cracking or other in- 
jury, but practically as a "draw-piece" 
for testing the progress of the firing. 

By far the most numerous of the 
ntensils connected with potable water 
are drinking-cups and small bowls or 
dishes; but these are merely molluscan shells of convenient size, picked 
up alongshore, used once or oftener, and either discarded or carried 
liabitually witliout other treatment than the natural wear of use (an 
example is illustrated in figure 19). Larger bowls or trays are improvised 
from entire carapaces of the tortoise (probably Gopherux <t(jmsizii), 
which are carried considerable distances; and still larger emergency 
water- vessels consist of carapaces of the green turtle (Clielonia agas- 

FiG. 18 — Symliolic mortuary disb. 




sizii), laid inverted in the jacales ; these shells also being used in natural 
condition. Iso wrought shells, molluscan or chelotiian, were observed 
in use or found either in the jacales or on the hundreds of aban- 
doned sites; but the viciaage of the rancherias, the abandoned camps 
and house sites, and the more frequented paths are bestrewn with 
slightly worn shells, evidently used for a time and then lost or dis 
carded. The relative abundance of the fictile ware and this natural 
shell ware in actual use is about 1:3; i. e., each adult female 
usually possesses a single olla of the conventional type, and there may 
be one or two extra ollas and two or three clay dishes in each band or 
clan, while each matron or marriageable maid is usually supplied with 
two to four shell-cups and each little girl with one or two; and tbere 
are twice as many carapace trays as clay dishes. The disproportion of 

Fio. 19— Shell-cup. 

pottery and shell about the abandoned sites is naturally much greater; 
for the former is the most highly prized industrial possession of the 
women, while the shells are easily gained and lightly lost. 

With respect to solid food the Seri may be deemed onmiverous 
though their adjustment to habitat is such that they are practically 

The most conspicuous single article in the dietary of the tribe is the 
local green turtle. This cheloniau is remarkably abundant throughoiit 
Gulf of California; but its optimum habitat and breeding-place would 
appear to be El Inflernillo, whose sandy beaches are probably better 
adapted to egg laying and hatching than any other part of the coast. 
Here it has been followed by the Seri; perhaps half of the aggregate 
life of the tribe is spent within easy reach of its feeding and breeding 
grounds, and tribesman and turtle have entered into an inimical com- 

M< r,EE) 



muiialty soniething like that of Siouan Indian and butialo iu olden time, 
whereby both may beuetit and whereby the more intelligent communal 
certainly profits greatly. The Hesh of the turtle yields food; some of 
its bones yield implements; its carapace yields a house covering, a con- 
venient substitute for umbrella or dog-tent, a temporary buckler, and an 
emergency tray or cistern, as well as a comfortable cradle at the begin- 
ning of life and the conventional coftiu at its end ; while the only native 

foot-gear known is a sandal made from the 
integument of a turtle-flipper. 

Doubtless the eggs and newly hatched 
young of the turtle are eaten, and analogy 
with other peoples indicates that the fe- 
males are sometimes captured at the laying 
grounds or on their way back to water; 
but observation is limited to the taking of 
the adult animal at sea by means of a 
specialized harpoon. A typical specimen 
of this apparatus, as constructed since the 
introduction of flotsam iron, is illustiated 
in figure 20. It comprises a point 3 or i 
inches long, made from a nail or bit of stout 
wire, rudely sharpened by hammering the 
tip (cold) between cobbles, and dislodging 
the loosened scales and splinters by thrusts 
and twirlings in the ground; this is set 
firmly and cemented with mesquite gum 
into a foreshaft of hard wood, usually 4 or 
5 inches long, notched to receive a cord 
and rounded at the proximal end; the 
rounded end of this foreshaft fits into a 
socket of the main shaft, which may be 
either a cane-stalk (as shown in the figure) 
or a section of mesquite root; while a stout 
cord is firmly knotted about the foreshaft 
and either attached to the distal portion of 
the main shaft or carried along it to the 
hand of the user. The main shaft is usually 
10 or 12 feet long, with the harpoon socket in the larger end, and is ma- 
nipulated by a fisherman sitting or standing on his balsa. On catching- 
sight of a turtle lying in the water, he approaches stealthily, prefer- 
ably from the rear yet in such wise as not to cast a frightening shadow, 
sets the foreshaft iu place, guides the point close to the carapace, and 
then by a quick thrust drives the metal through the shell. The fric- 
tional resistance between the chitin and the metal holds the point iu 
place, and although the foreshaft is jerked out at the first movement of 
the transfixed animal the cord prevents escape; and after partial tiring 




Fig. 20~Turtle-harpoon. 

188* THE t^ERI IXDIAXS [eth.ann.17 

the turtle is either drowned or driven asliore, or else lifted on the craft.' 
Immediately on lauding tbe (juarry, the i)lastron is broken loose by 
blows of the liupf^ and torn off by vigorous wrenches of the warriors 
and their strong-taloned spouses in the impetuous fury of a tierce 
blood-craze like that of carnivorous beasts; the blood and entrails aud 
all soft parts are at once devoured, and the firmer tlesh follows at a 
rate depending- on the antecedent hunger, both men and women 
crushing integument and tendon and bone with the hnitf, tearing other 
tissues with teeth and nails, mouthing shreds from the shells, and 
gorging the whole ravenously if well ahungered, but stopping to 
singe and smoke or even half roast the larger pieces if nearer satiety. 
If the quarry is too large for immediate consumption aud not too far 
from a rancheria the remnants (including head and llippers and shells) 
are hoisted to the to]) of the jacal immediately over tbe open end — the 
conventional Seri larder — to soften in the sun for hours or days: and 
on these tough and gamey tidbits the home-stayers, especially the 
youths, chew luxuriously whenever other occupations fail. In times of 
plenty, such sun-ripened fragments of reeking feasts are rather gener- 
ally appropriated lirst to the children and afterward to the coyote- 
dogs; and it is a favorite pastime of the toddlers to gather about an 
inverted carapace on hands and knees, crowding their heads into its 
noisome depths, displacing the rare scavenger beetles and blowflies of 
this arid ])rovince, mumbling at the cartilaginous processes, and 
sucking and ^wallowing again and again the tendonous strings from 
the muscular attachments, until, overcome by fulness and rank efflu- 
vias, they fall asleep with their heads in the trough — to be stealthily 
nudged aside by the cringing curs attached to the rancheria. Goiq- 

' A lively aud explicit account of Seri turtle-fisliing appears in Hardy's Travels in the Interior of 
Mexico, 1829, pp. 29fi-297: "Bru.ja's bay is of considerable extent, and there are from live to three 
fathoms water close to Arnold's island, in the neighborhood ot wliicli the Indians catch abundance of 
turtle in a singular manner. I have already described their canoes, which in Spanish are called 
'balsas'. An Indian paddles himself from the shore on one of these by means of a long, elastic pole of 
about 12 or 1-t feet in length, the wood of which is the root of a thorn called niesquite, growing near 
the coast; and although the branches of this tree are extremely brittle, the \uiderground roots are 
as pliable as whalebone and nearly as dark in color. At one end of this i*ole there is a hole an inch 
deep, into which is inserted another bit of wood, in shape like an acorn, having a square bit of iron 
4 inches long fastened to it, the other end of the iron being jiointed. Both the hnll and cup are 
first moistened and then tightly inserted one within the other. Fastened to the iron is a cord of very 
considerable length, which is brought up along the jiole, and both are held in the left hand of the 
Indian. So seetirely is the nail thus tixed in the pole that although the latter is used as a paddle it 
does not fall out. 

"A turtle is a very lethargic animal, and may frequently be surprised in its watery slumbers. The 
balsa is jilaced nearly perpendicularly over one of these unsuspecting .sleejiers, when the fisherman, 
softly sliding the i)ole through the water in the direction of the animal till within a foot or two of it, 
he suddi-nly plunges the iron into its back. No sooner does the creature feel itself transtixed than it 
swims hastily forward and endeavors to liberate itself. The slightest motion of the turtle displaces 
the iron point from the l<)ng pole, which would otherwise be inevitably broken and the turtle would 
as certainly be lost; but in the manner here described it is held by the cord fastened on to the iron 
which h:is penetrated its back till, after it has sutiiciently exhausted its strength, it is hoisted on 
board tbe canoe by the fisherman, who proceeds to the shore in order to disjjose of his prize." 

2The universal stone implement of the Seri, improvised from a cobblestone and used in nearly 
every industrial occupation {see postea, p. 235) ; the designation is mimetic, crouomatopoetic, from the 
sound Of the stroke, particuhaly on animal tissue. 


mouly the carapace and the longer bones fi-om tbe flippers of the larger 
specimens aie preserved entire for other uses, and are cleaned only by 
teeth and talons and tongues, aided by time but not by fire; but the 
plastron, unless broken up and consumed immediately, is sulyected to 
a cooking process in which it serves at once as skillet and cutlet — it is 
laid on the fire, flesh side up, and at intervals the shriveling tissues are 
clawed off and devoured, while at last the scorched or charred scutes 
themselves are carried away to be eaten at leisure.' 

Perhaps the most significant fact connected witli the Seri turtle- 
flshing is the excellent adaiitation of means to ends. The graceful and 
ettective balsa is iu large measure an ajipurtenance of the industry; 
the harpoon is hardly heavier and is much simpler than a trout-fishing 
tackle, yet serves for the certaiii capture of a 200 pound turtle; and the 
art of fishing for a quarry so shy and elusive that (Jaucasians may spend 
weeks on the shores without seeing a specimen is reduced to a perfec- 
tion even transcending that of such artifacts as the light harpoon and 
fragile olla. Hardly less significant is the nonuse of that nearly uni- 
versal implement,the knife, in every stage of the taking and consumption 
of the characteristic tribal prey; for it may fairly be inferred that the 
comparative inutility of the knife in dis.severing the hard and horny 
chelonian derm, and the comparative effectiveness of the shell-breaking 
and bone-crushing hupf, have reacted cumulatively on the instincts of 
the tribe to retard the adoption of cuttingdevices. Of much significance, 
too, is the limited cooking process; for the habitual consumption of raw 
flesh betokens a tireless ancestry at no remote stage, while the crude 
cooking of (and in) that portion of the shell not consecrated to other 
uses might well form the germ of broiling or boiling on the one hand and 
of culinary utensils on the other hand. On the whole, the Seri turtle 
industry indicates a delicate adjustment of both vital andactivital pro- 
cesses to a distinctive environment, iu which the abundant chelonian 
fauna ranks as a prime factor. 

Analogy with other primitive people^ would indicate that the flesh of 
the turtle is probably tabu to the Turtle clan, that the consumption of 
the quarry is preceded by an oblation, and that there are seasonal or 
other ceremonial rites connected with turtle-fishing; but no information 
has been obtained on any of these points save a few vague and unwill- 
ing suggestions from Mashem tending to establish the analogy. 

Flotsam and stolen metal have played a role in the industries of 
Seriland so long that it is difficult to learn much of the turtle fishing 

* These details were furnisbed largely by Mashi-m ami Seuor Encinas, but were verified in essentials 
by persoual observation of dietetic customs at Costa Kica in 1894; and tliey were corroborated by 
observations on both shores of El Intiernillo and Bahia Kunkaak in 1895. Especially significant were 
the remnants of a turtle feast on the southern beach of Piinta Miguel iuterru])ted by the approacli of 
the exploring jjarty. The indications were clear that the turtle had been landed and largely consumed 
before the fire was kindled, and that the cooking of the firmer portions had hardly been commenced 
before the camp was abandoned so hurriedly thiit not only the nearly eaten turtle and the glowing 
embers, but the harpoon {the specimen illustrated in figure 20), the still bloody and greasy hupf (that 
represented in plate Liv), and the fire-sticks were left behind. Gnawed fragments of charred plastrons 
are common relics about hastily abandoned camps generally. 

190* THE SERI INDIANS [ethann.17 

duiiug premetal times; but an intiinatiou from Maslu-m tbat the old 
men thought it much better to take the turtle with the teeth of an 
"animal tbat goes in the water", and the similarity in terms for "har- 
poon"' (or arrow) and " teeth "' both suggest that the aboriginal point may- 
have been a sea-liou tooth, and that the foreshaft itself may have been 
a larger tooth of seal or cetacean. While the modern harpoon is shaped 
with the aid of metal (hoop-iron, etc.), the forms are quite evidently 
vestigial of knifeless manufacture, in which a naturally rounded or 
abraded or fire-sliaped foreshaft was fitted into the natural socket 
afforded by a cane stalk broken at its weakest point — i.e., Just below the 
joint; and both function and socket arrangement (as well as the lin- 
guistic evidence) strongly suggest the cylindrical tooth as the germ of 
the apparatus. 

It is probable that water-fowl, considered collectively, stand second 
in importance as Seri prey; and the foremost fowl is undoubtedly the 
pelican, which serves not only as a fruitful food-supply but as the chief 
source of apparel. 

The principal haunt and only known breeding ground of the pelican 
in the (julf of California is Isla Tassue, an integral part of Seriland; and 
while the great birds are doubtless taken occasionally in Bahia Kun- 
kaak. El Infiernillo, Bahia Tepoka, and other Seri waters, this island 
is the principal pelican hunting ground. According to IMashem's 
account, the chase of the pelican here is a well organized collective 
I)rocess: at certain seasons, or at least at times deemed propitious by 
the shamans, pelican harvests are planned; and after some days of 
preparation a large party assemble at a certain convenient point (pre- 
sumably Punta Antigualla) and await a still evening in the dark of the 
moon. When all conditions are favorable they set out for the island 
at late twilight, in order that it may be reached after dark; on ap- 
proaching the shore the balsas are left in charge of the women, while 
the warriors and the larger boys, armed only with clubs, rush on the 
roosting fowls and slaughter them in great numbers — the favorite 
coup de grace being a blow on the neck. The butchery is followed by a 
gluttonous feast, in which the half famished families gorge the tenderer 
parts in the darkness, and noisily carouse in the carnage until overcome 
by slumber. Next day the matrons select the carcasses of least injured 
plumage and carefully remove the skins, the requisite incisions being 
made cither with the edge of a shell-cup or with a sharp sliver of cane- 
stalk taken from an injured arrow or a broken balsa-cane. The feast 
holds for several days, or until the last bones .are picked and the whole 
party sated, when the clans scatter at will, laden with skins and 
lethargic from the fortnight's food with wliich each maw is crammed. 

Mashcm's recital gave no indication as to whether the Pelican clan 
participate in the hunting orgies, though it clearly implies that the 
chase and feast are at least measurably ceremonial in character; and 
this implication was strengthened by the interest and comparative 


vivacity awakened in the Seri bystanders by their spokesman's frequent 
interlocutions with them during the recital. Unfortunately the accouut 
was not clear as to the seasons selected, though the expressions indi- 
cated that the feasts are fixed for times at wliich the young are fully 
Hedged. It would seem inconceivable that the Seri, with their insa- 
tiate appetite for eggs and tender young, should consciously respect a 
breeding time or establish a closed season to perpetuate any game; yet 
it is probable that tlie pelican is somehow protected in such wise that 
it is not only not exterminated or exiled, but actually fostered and cul- 
tivated. It is certain that the mythical Ancient of Pelicans is the 
chief creative deity of Seri legend, and its living representative the 
chief tutelary of one of the clans; it is certain, too, that tliis Heshly 
fowl, sluggish and defenseless as it is on its sleeping grounds, would 
be the easiest source of Seri food if it were hunted indiscriminately; 
and it is no less certain that the omnivorous tribesmen would cpiickly 
extinguish the local stock if they were to make its kind, including eggs 
and young, their chief diet; yet it survives in literal thousands to 
patrol the waters of all Seriland in far-stretching tiles and vees seldom 
out of sight in suitable weather. On the whole, it would seem evident 
that an interadjustment has grown up between the tribesmen and their 
fish-eating tutelary during the centuries, whereby the fowl is protected, 
albeit subconsciously only, during the breeding seasons; and in view 
of other chaiacteristics of the tribe it would seem equally evident that 
the protection is in some way effected by means of ceremonies and 

Somewhat analogous, though apparently less ceremonial, expeditions 
are made to Isla Patos and other points in search of ducks, and to Isla 
San Esteban, and still more distant islands in search of eggs (prefer- 
ably near the hatching point) and nestlings; while the abundant water- 
fowl of the region are sought in liada Ballena and other sheltered bays, 
as well as in such landlocked lagoons as those of Punta Miguel and 
Punta Arena. This hunting involves the use of bows and arrows, 
though the archery of the tribe pertains rather to the chase of larger 
land game, and apparently attains its highest development in connec- 
tion with warfare. No specialized fowling devices have been observed 
among the Seri; and their autonomous recitals, the facies of their arti- 
facts, and the observed habits of the tribe (especially the youth) with 
respect to birds, all indicate that ordinary fowling holds a subordinate 
l)lace in Seri craft — i. e., that it is a fortuitous and emergency avoca- 
tion, rather than an organized art like turtle-fishiug and water-carrying. 
Concordantly, culinary i)rocesses are not normally employed in connec- 
tion with waterfowl, and the customary implements used for incising 
the skin and severing other tissues are the shell-cup, which is carried 
habitually for other purposes, the cane-splint, which appears to be im- 
provised on occasion and never carried habitually, and the ubiquitous 

192* THE 8EEI INDIANS [eth. anx. 17 

Probably second in importance among Seri prey, as a food-source 
merely, stand the multifarious tishes with which the waters of iSerilaud 
teem, particularly if the class be held to comprise the cetaceans and 
seals and sela(;hians ranked as leaders of the lish fauna in Seri lore. 

Naturally, whales lie outside the ordinary range of Seri game, yet 
they are not without place in the tribal economy. During the visit to 
the Seri rancheria near Costa Rica in 1894, it was noted tluit varioa>i 
events — births, deaths, journeys, etc — were referred to " The Tinu^ of 
the Big Fish"; and it was estimated from apparent ages of children and 
the like that this chronologic datum might be correlated roughly with 
the year 1887. The era-marking event was memorable to Mashi'm, to the 
elderwomen of theTurtle clan, and to other mature members of the group, 
because they had been enabled thereby to dispense with hunting and 
hshing for an agreeably long time, and because they had moved their 
houses; but the providential occurrence was not interpreted at the time. 
On visiting IslaTiburon in 1805, the interpretation became clear; along 
the western shore of Kada Ballena, near the tirst sand spit north of the 
bight, lay the larger bones of a whale, estimated from the length of the 
mandibles and the dimensions of the vertebra' to have been 75 or 80 
feet long. It was evident that the animal had gone into the shoal 
water at exceptionally high tide and had stranded during the ebb; 
while the condition of the bones suggested an exposure to the weather 
of perhaps half a dozen years. On the shrubby bank above the beach, 
hard by the bleaching skeleton, stood the new rancheria, the most 
extensive seen in Seriland, comprising some tifteen or twenty habit- 
able jacales; and fragments of ribs and other huge bones about and 
within the huts ' attested transportation thither after the building, 
while the shallowness of the trails and tlie limited trampling of the fog 
shrubbery gave an air of freshness to the site and surroundings. The 
traditions and the relics together made it manifest that "The Time of 
the Big Fish"' had indeed marked an epoch in Seri life; that when the 
leviathan landed (whether through accident or partly through ettorts 
of balsa men) it was quickly recognized as a vast contribution to the 
Seri larder; and that some of the clans, if not the entire tribe, gathered 
to gorge first Hesli and blubber, next sun-softened cartilage and chitin, 
and then epiphyses and the fatter bones. Some of the ribs were splin- 
tered and crushed, evidently by blows of the hupf, in order to give 
access to the cancellate interiors; several of the vertebne were bat 
tered and split, and nearly all of the bones bore marks of hupf blows, 
aimed to loosen cartilaginous attachments, start epiphyses, or remove 
spongy and greasy processes. Little trace of fire was found; in. one 
case a mandible was partly scorched, though the burning appeared to 
be fortuitous and long subsequent to the removal of the flesh; and a 
bit of charred and gnawed epiphysis, much resembling the fragments 
of half cooked turtle plastron scattered over Seriland, was picked up in 

' One of the smaller vertebrae and part of a rib are showu in the upper figure of plate vi. 







one of the bats. The coudition of the remains and the various indica- 
tions connected with the rancheria corroborated the tradition that the 
great creature had afforded unlimited and acceptable food for many 
moons; and various expressions of the tradition indicated that the 
event, though the most memorable of its class, was not unique in Seri 

A few bones and fragments of skin of the seal were found in and 
about the rancherias on Isla Tiburon, and an old basket rebottomed 
with sealskin was picked up in a recently abandoned jacal on Eada 
Ballena; a few bones provisionally identified with the porpoise (which 
haunts Boco lufierno in shoals) were also found amid 
the refuse about the old rancheria at the base of the 
long sand-spit terminating in Punta Torraenta; but 
nothing was learned specifically concerning the chase 
and consumption either of these animals or of the abun- 
dant sharks from which the island is named. 

Among the exceedingly limited food supplies brought 
from the coast by the Seri group at Costa IJica in 181)i, 
were rank remnants of partly desiccated flsh, usually 
gnawed down to heads and tails: and Mashem and 
others spoke of flsh as a habitual food, while Sefior 
Eucinas regarded it as the principal element of the 
tribal dietary. The harder bones and heavier scales of 
several varieties of flsh were also found abundantly 
among the middens of both mainland and Tiburon 
shores in 1895. Xoue of the remains bore noticeable 
traces of fire; and all observations, including those of 
Seiior Eucinas, indicate that the smaller varieties of fish 
are habitually eaten raw, either fresh or partially dried, 
according to the state of appetite at the time of taking — 
or the coudition of finding when picked up as beach 
flotsam. But a single piscatorial device was observed, 
i. e., the barbed point and foreshaft, shown in figure 21 — 
the iron point being, of course, accultural, and probably 
obtained surreptitiously. This harpoon, which measures 
C inches in length over all, is designed for use in con- 
nection with the main shaft of a turtle-catching tackle; and it is 
evidently intended for the larger varieties, perhaps porpoises or sharks. 
In 1827 Hardy observed a related device: 

They ha^e a nirious weapon which they employ for catching lish. It is a spear 
with a double point, formini; im angle of about 5°. The iiisides of these two points, 
which are 6 inches long, are jagged, so that when the body of a fish is forced 
between them, it can not get away on account of the teeth.' 

Don Andres Noriega, of Ctsta Eica, described repeatedly and cir- 
cumstantially a method of obtaining fish by aid of pelicans, in which a 


Fig. 21— Fish- 

17 ETH- 

' Travels, p. 290. 

194* THE SKHl INDIANS [eth.ann.IT 

young or crippled fowl was ro])ed to a shrub or stone, to be fed by his 
fellows; when at intervals a youth stole out to rob the captive's pouch. 
At first blush this device would seem to rise above the normal indus- 
trial plane of the Seri and to lie within the lower stages of zooculture, 
like the cormorant fishing of China if not the hawking of medieval 
Europe; yet on the whole it may be deemed fairly consistent with that 
cruel yet mutually beneficial toleration between tribesmen and i)elicans 
attested by the preservation of the avian communal, as already noted. 
Moreover, Don Andres observations are in accord with eai-ly notes 
of the exceedingly primitive aborigines of California, from whom the 
Seri have undoubtedly borrowed vai'ious cultural suggestions; thus 
Venegas quotes Padre Torquemada as saying: 

I accidentally found a gull tied with a string and one of his wings broke. Around 
this maimed bird lay heaps of excellent pilchards, brought thither by its compau- 
ions; and this, I found, was a stratagem practiced by the Indians to procure them- 
selves a dish of fish; for they lie concealed while the gulls bring these charitable 
supplies, and when they think that little more is to be expected they seize upon the 

The jjadre says also of these gulls that " they have a vast craw, 
which in some hangs down like the leather bottles used in Peru for 
carrying water, and in it they put their captures to carry them to their 
young ones'' — from which it is evident that he refers to the pelican. 
Yenegas adds, "Such are the mysterious ways of Providence for the 
support of his creatures!"' And in the margin of his accompanying 
"Mapa de la California", he introduces a vigorous picture of a captive 
fowl, its free fellow, and the mess of, the cut being headed "Alca- 
trazes" (pelicans). 

Despite these devices, the dearth of fishing-tackle among the Seri is 
evidently extreme. Save in the single specimen figured, no piscatorial 
apjiaratus of any sort was found among the squalid but protean pos- 
sessions at the Costa Rica rancheria; neither nets nor hooks nor rods 
nor lines nor any other device suitable for taking the finny game were 
found in the scores of jacales containing other artifacts ou I'iburon; 
while Seiior Enciuas was conversant only with the simple method of 
taking fish by hand from the pools and shallows left by receding 
breakers or ebbing tides. This dearth of devices is significantly har- 
monious with other Seri characteristics: it accords with the leading 
Ijlace assigned the turtle in their industry and their lore; it is in har- 
mony with that primitive and nonmechanical instinct which leads them 
to rely ou bodily strength and skill and swiftness rather than ou extra- 
corporeal artifacts in their crude and incomplete conquest of nature; 
and it is a manifest expression of relation with their distinctive phys- 
ical environment — for the ever-thundering breakers of their gale-swept 
coast are abundant, albeit capricious, Uringers of living grist, while 
the offshore gales at low tide lay bare hundreds of acres of shoaler 

* History of California, 1759, vol. i, p. 41. 


bottoms literally writliiug with flsbes stranded among beds of mollusks 
and slimy with the abounding plankton of a fecund coast. The region 
is one of ample, albeit lowly, food supply, where every experience tends 
toward inert reliance on providential chance, and where the stimulus 
of consistently conscious necessity seldom stirs the inventive faculty. 

Closely connected with fish as a Seri food-source are the various 
molluscan and crustacean forms collectively called shellfish ; and these 
contribute a cimsiderable share of the sustenance of the tribe. 

Apparently the most important constituent of this class of foods is 
the Pacific coast clam, which abounds i'n the broad mud-flats border- 
ing Laguna La Cruz and other lagoons of Seriland, and which was still 
more abundant during a subreceut geologic epoch, to judge from tlie 
immense accumulation of the shells in Punta Antigualla. The clams 
are usually taken at low tide, without specialized apparatus. They are 
located by feeling with the feet in shallow water, and caught either 
with toes or with fingers, to be tossed into any convenient receptacle. 
When the water is entirely withdrawn from the flats, they are located 
by means of their holes, and are extricated either with a shell-cup or 
with some other improvised implement. Frequently the entire mess is 
thrown into a fire until the shells open, when they are withdrawn and 
the mollusks devoured practically raw; perhaps more commonly the 
shells are opened by blows of the hupf, and eaten without semblance 
of cooking; and, except on the surface, no trace of roasting was found 
among the vast accumulations of shells in Punta Antigualla. 

Perhaps second to the clam in frequency of use is the local oyster, 
which abounds about the more sheltered shores of Tiburon. It is gath- 
ered with the hands, aided perhaps bj' a stone or stick for dislodging 
the shells either from the extended offshore beds at extreme low water, 
or from the roots of a mangrove like shrub at a medium stage. The 
shells, like those of the clam, are frequently opened by i>artial roast- 
ing ; and shells, sometimes scorched, are extensively scattered over the 
interior, indicating that the oyster is a favorite portable food. The 
popularity of this bivalve is shared by the Noah's-ark (Area), to which 
some mystical significance is apparently ascribed; and the abundant 
limpets and bivalves and other mollusks are eaten indiscriminately, to 
judge from the abundance of their shells in the middens. The ordi- 
nary crab, too, is a favorite article of food, and its claws are numerous 
in camp and house refuse; while the lobster-like deep-water crab is 
introduced into the menu whenever brought to the surface by storms, 
as shown by its massive remains in the middens. 

On the whole, shellfish form a conspicuous factor in Seri economy 
by reason of the considerable consumption of this class of food; but, 
viewed in the broader industrial aspect, the produce is notably primi- 
tive, and significant chiefly as indicating the dearth of mechanical and 
culinary devices. 

196* THE SERI INDIANS [eth, ann. 17 

While by for the larger share of Seri sustenance is drawn from the 
sea, a not inconsiderable portion is derived from the land; for the war- 
riors and striplings and even the women .are more skilful hunters than 

The larger objects of the feral chase are deer of two or three species 
(the bura, or mule-deer, being most conspicuous and easiest taken), 
antelope, and mountain sheep; to which the puma, the jaguar, and 
perhaps two or three other carnivores might be added. The conven- 
tional method of taking the bura and other deer is a combination of 
stalking and coursing, usually conducted by five of the younger war- 
riors, though three or four may serve in emergency ; any excess over 
five being regarded as superfluous, or as a confession of inferiority. The 
chase is conducted in a distinctly ceremonial and probably ritualistic 
fashion, even when the finding of the game is casual, or incidental to 
a journey: at sight of the quarry, the five huntsmen scatter stealthily 
in such manner as partially to surround it; when it takes fright one 
after the other strives to show himself above the shrubbery or dunes 
in order to break its line of fiight into a series of zigzags; and whether 
successful in this eflbrt or not they keep approximate pace with it un- 
til it tires, then gradually surround it, and finally rush in to either 
seize it in their hands or cripple it with clubs — though the latter pro- 
cedure is deemed undiguifled, if not wrong, and hardly less disrep- 
utable than complete failure. When practicable the course is laid 
toward the rancheria or camp: and in any event the ideal finish is to 
bring the animal alive into the family group, where it maybe dissected 
by the women, and where the weaklings may receive due share of the 
much-prized blood and entrails. The dissection is merely a ravenous 
rending of skin and fiesh, primarily with the teetli (perhaps after 
obliijue bruising or tearing by blows with the hupf over strongly fiexed 
joints), largely with hands and fingers aided anon by a foot planted on 
the carcass, and partly with some improvised device, such as a horu or 
tooth of the victim itself, the serrated edge of a shell-cup, or perhaps 
a sharp-edged cane-splint from a broken arrow can-ied for emergency's 
sake. Commonly the entire animal, save skin and harder boues, is 
gulped at a sitting in which the zeal of the devotee and the frenzy of 
the carnivore blend; but in case the grouj) is small and the quarry 
large, the sitting is extended by naps or prolonged slumberings, and 
the more energetic squaws may even trouble to kindle a fire and par- 
tially cook the larger joints, thereby inciting palled appetite to new 
eftorts. Finally the leg bones are split for the marrow and their ends 
preserved for awls; the horns are retained by the successful huntsmen 
as talisman-trophies; while the skin is stretched in the desert sun, 
scratched and gnawed free of superfluous tissue, rubbed into partial 
pliability, and kept for bedding or robe or kilt. 

The chase of the hare is closely i)arallel to that of the deer save that 
it is conducted by striplings, who thereby serve apprenticeship in hunt- 


iiig and at the same time enrich the tribal larder with a game beneath 
the dignity of the warriors; while still smaller boys similarly chase the 
rabbit, which is commonly scorned by the striplings. The conventional 
harelumting party is three, and it is deemed disreputable to increase 
this number greatly. The youths spread at sight of the game and seek 
to surround it, taking ingenious and constant advantage of the habit 
of the hare to run obliquely or in zigzags to survey more readily the 
source of its fright; for some time they startle it but slightly by suc- 
cessive appearances at a distance, but gradually increase its harass- 
ment until it bounds hither and thither in terror, when they rapidly 
close in and seize it, the entire chase commonly lasting but a few min- 
utes. The quarry is customarily taken alive to camp, where it is (quickly 
rent to fragments and the entrails and flesh and most of the bones con- 
sumed; the skin usually passes into possession of a matron for use as 
infantile clothing or cradle bedding, while the ears are kept by the 
youth who first seized the game until his feat is eclipsed by some other 
event — unless chance hunger sooner tempts him to transmute his trophy 
into pottage. 

While the collective, sennceremonial style of chase alone is thor- 
oughly good form in Seri custom, it is often i-endered impracticable by 
the scattering of the tribe in separate families or small bauds, in which 
case the bura and its associates, like the larger carnivores customarily, 
are taken by strategy rather than by strength. This form of chase is 
largely individual; in it archery plays a leading role; and in it, too, 
ambuscade, stealthy lying in wait, and covert assault attain high devel- 
opment. It is closely analogous with the warfare typical of the tribe; 
and it is especially noteworthy as one of the most effective stimuli to 
intellectual activity, and hence to the development of invention — if the 
term may be applied to industrial products so lowly as those of the 

The chief artifact produced by the strategic chase on land would 
seem to be the analogue of the harpoon used at sea, i. e., the arrow. 
This weapon is one of the three or four most highly differentiated and 
thoroughly perfected of the Seri artifacts, ranking with canteeu-olla 
and balsa, and perhaps outranking the turtle-harpoon. It is fabricated 
with great care and high skill, and with striking uniformity in details 
of material and construction. A typical example is 2.5 iuches in length 
and consists of three pieces — point, foreshaft, and main shaft (feathered 
toward the nock). The foreshaft is 8i inches long, of hard wood care- 
fully ground by rubbing with quartzite or pumice into cylindrical form, 
about three eighths of an inch in diameter at the larger end and taper- 
ing slightly toward the point; the larger end is extended by car^'ful 
grinding into a tang which is fitted into the main shaft, the. joint being 
neatly wrapped with sinew. This main shaft is a cane-stalk {Phrag- 
mitis commuuisl) 15 or IG inches long, carefully selected for size and 
well straightened and smoothed ; it isfeathered with three equidistantly- 

198* THE SERI INDIANS (ethaxn.17 

placed wing-feathers of hawk or falcou, neatly prepared by removing 
a thin strip of the rachis bearing the wider vexillum and attaching it 
by sinew wrappings at both ends, the feathers being about oi inches 
in length. The nock is a simple rounded notch, placed just below a 
Joint and supported by the sinew ferrule; there is no foot-plug. The 
favorite point is a bit of flotsam hoop-iron, ground into elongate 
triangular shape with projecting barbs, and a short tatig or shank 
fitted into a shallow notch in the foreshaft, cemented there with mes- 
quite gum, and finally fixed firmly with sinew wrappings. A typical 
iron-poijit arrow, with bow and quiver, is depicted in ])late xxx. Alter- 
native points are of rudely chipped stone (two examples are illustra- 
ted in figure 37) somewhat clumsily attached to the foreshaft by 
mesquite guin and sinew wrapping; while the arrows used by boys 
and hunters of small game are usually pointless, the tip of the fore- 
shaft being sharpened and hardened by slight charring. In some of 
the arrows, especially those designed for use in war, the foreshaft is 
notched, or else loosely attached to the main shaft, in order that it may 
be detached from the main shaft and remain in the body of enemy 
or prey. The foreshaft is commonly painted some bright color (red is 
prevalent), while the points and attachments of the "poisoned" speci- 
mens are smeared with some greasy substance. 

The aboriginal Seri arrow has undoubtedly been modified during the 
centuries since the coming of Cortes and Mendoza with their metal- 
armed troopers; yet certain inferences as to the indigenous form ot the 
weapon are easily drawn from its construction and the homologies of 
its parts. 

Tlie first feature of the artifact to attract attention is the relative 
clumsiness of attachment and frecjuent absence of points. The chipped- 
stone points are so rude as to be quite out of harmony with the other- 
wise delicately wrought and graceful arrow, while the attachment is 
strikingly rude; and it is still more noteworthy that the very name for 
stone arrowpoint was little understood at Costa Kica, and was obtained 
only after extended inquiry and repeated conferences among the ohler 
informants. Even the attachment of the effective points made from 
hoop-iron is bad constructionally; the sinew wrapping is carried 
around the entire blade in such manner as to sheathe the sharply 
ground edges and itself be cut on contact with firm tissue; and the 
fitting and wrapping are so rude as to be incongruous with the rest 
of the apparatus. On the whole the suggestion is strong that the 
arrowpoint is accultural — and this suggestion is further strengthened 
by the very existence of the practically fuiictionless, and hence mani- 
festly vestigial, hard-wood foreshaft. Turning to the structural homol- 
ogies, the observer is at once struck with the parallelism running 
through the three most conspicuous compound artifacts found among 
the Seri, i. e., the harpoon, the fire-drill, and the arrow. All of these 
alike consist of two essential parts, main shaft and foreshaft; all are 


akin in fuuctioii even in tlie superficial view of the Caucasian, and are 
much more closely related in primitive thought — indeed the fire-drill is 
but a featherless and nockless arrow, with the foreshaft charred at its 
tire-giving tip; and all are closely linked in language and allied with 
other terms in such wise as practically to establish identity among thcni 
in the thinking of their lowly makers (though unfortunately the incom- 
plete vocabularies extant are insufficient for full study of the linguistic 
homologies). Briefly the indications are that the harpoon was the pri- 
mary device, and that its foreshaft was a tooth of an aquatic fish-cater 
like the seal, or perchance in some cases an os penis; that its lineal suc- 
cessor was a loose-head lance for use on sea and land, at first with the 
unaided hand and later with the atlatl, or throwing-stick (the lance 
being now extinct, though recorded by early visitors to Seriland); that 
the next artifact-generation in the direct line was represented by the 
arrow, foreshafted with hard wood or tooth, made light and graceful 
and loose headed or not, according to needs, and by the substitution of 
bow for atlatl; and that a somewhat aberrant line was marked by the 
taming of fire, its reproduction by the modified arrow, and the differ- 
entiation of fire-stick from arrow and either atlatl or bow. 

In tracing these stages in technologic growth, it is to be remembered 
that the Seri are so primitive as to betray some of the very beginnings 
of activital concepts; that to them zoic potencies are the jiaramount 
powers of the cosmos; that in their simple thought fire is a bestial 
rather than a physical phenomenon ; that in their naive philosophy the 
production of devouring flame is of a kind with vital birth and a simil- 
itude of sexual reproduction ; and that according to their notions the 
conquest of quarry, including fire, is made practicable only by aid of 
the mystical potencies of beasts and flames gained through invocatory 
use of symbols or actual organs. 

In the Seri tongue the term "fire drill" is l-aal; an indefinite generic 
meaning "kind" or "strong kind", with an egocentric connotation 
("Our-Strong-Kind"), as in the proper tribal designation Knnlaak or 
Km-laal-; while the term for the nether tire-stick or hearth is either 
maam ("woman", or more properly "mother"), or else (and more com- 
monly) l^aakmaam, which may be rendered " Kind- Mother" — the " Kind", 
as among primitive folk generally, comprising both men and tutelary 
beasts, and in this case tire as the most mysterious of the beasts; there 
is thus a suggestive analogy between the designation for the tire-pro- 
ducing apparatus and that for the tribe itself. It should be noted that 
the zoic concept of fire is widespread among the more primitive peoples 
of various provinces, and sometimes persists in recognizable form in 
higher culture (witness the tire-breathing dragons of various mytholo- 
gies, the "Red Flower" notion gathered in India by Kipling, etc); also 
that the ascription of sex to the fire sticks is prevalent among North 
American tribes, and at once helps to interpret the development of the 
fire-drill, fire-syringe, and other primitive devices, such, for example, as 

200* THE SERI INDIANS [eih.ann.17 

those so fully described by Hous'h,' and serves to explain the otherwise 
obscure genesis of the tire-sense, which must have accomi)anied and 
shaped that most significant of all steps in human progress, the con- 
quest of tire. 

The modern coordinate of the Seri arrow is the bow, made prefer 
ably from a straight and slender branch of the palo bianco. A typical 
specimen is illustrated in plate xxx; it is 4 feet 9i inches long, with 
the outer face convex and the inner face flat; greatest width 1| inches, 
narrowed to IJ inches at the handhold; thickness at the handhold 1 
iu(!h, thinning to five-eighths inch at 8 inches from this point: tapering 
gradually in both dimensions toward the extremities, which are rudely 
notched to receive the cord (of mesquite-root fiber). The s])ecimen 
illustrated has been cracked and repaired in two places; in one place 
the rei^air was effected by a rough wrapping of sinew, and in the other 
by slipping over the wood a natural sheath of rawhide from the leg of 
a deer. The specimen is of added interest in that it combines bow 
and nether fire-stick ("Strong-Kind-^lother"), one of the friction holes 
being worn out to the notched margin, and the other remaining in 
usable condition, as shown in the enlarged marginal drawing.'' 

Compared with the delicately finished and graceful arrow, the typ- 
ical bow is a rude and clumsy device; it dis^jlays little skill in the 
selection and shaping of material, and evidentlj' involves little labor 
in manufacture — indeed, the indications are that more actual labor is 
spent in the construction of a single arrow than in the making of a 
bow, while the arrow-making is expert work, betokening craft of a high 
order, and the bow-making little more than simple handiwork of the 
lowest order. The comparison aftbrds some indication of the genesis 
of Seri archery, and at the same time corroborates the independent 
suggestion that the arrow is of so much greater antiquity than the 
bow as to represent a distinct stage in cultural development —though 
the precise cultural significance of the bow is not easily ascertained. 

Ettbrts were made to have different Seri warriors at Costa Eica in 189-1: 
assume the normal archery attitude, with but moderate success, the 
best pose obtained (illustrated in plate xxviii) being manifestly unnat- 
ural and a mere reflection of the attitude in the mind of the Caucasian 
poser; while the results of inquiries served only to indicate that the 
normal archei'y attitude was purposely avoided for reasons not ascei'- 
tained. Fortunately another observer was more successful: in the 
course of the United States hydographic surveys in 1873, Commander 
(now Admiral) Dewey received several visits from Seri warriors on 
board the Xarraf/ansett; and on the occasion of one of these visits, Mr 
Hector von Bayer, of the hydrographic party, caught a photograph of 
an archer in the act of drawing his bow. The negative was accident- 

Tire-making iipparatus in the V. S. National Museum,- Smithsonian Report for 1888, pt ll, 1890, 
pp. 531-587, ami elsewhere. 

2 Ordinarily the nether fire-stick i.s ol" sol't and porous wood, liotsam palm- wood and water-logged 
pine being prefeiTed. 





ally shattered, and no prints are known to have been made from it; 
but the fragments were carefally joined, and were kindly transferred 
to the Bureau by Mr Von Bayer in 1S97, and from them jilate xxix 
was carefully drawn. The posture (partly concealed by the drapery) is 
extraordinary, being quite beyond the reach of the average human, and 
impossible of maintenance for any considerable interval even by the 
well-wonted Seri. The posture itself partly explains the difidculty of 
inducing the warriors at Costa Rica to assume it, since it is essentially a 
fleeting one, and indeed but a part of a continuous and stressful action — 
it is no less dilticult to assume, or to catch in the camera, than the typical 
attitude of a baseball pitcher in action. The posture thus fortunately 
caught is quite in accord with the accounts of Seri archery from the 
esoteric side given by Mashem, and with the exoteric observations of 
Senor Encinas, Don Andres, and others; for all accounts agree in indi- 
cating that the archer commonly rests inert and moveless as the watch- 
ing feline np to a critical instant, then springs into movement as swiftly 
as the leaping jaguar, and hurls, rather than shoots, one, two, or three 
arrows before rushing in to the death or skulking to cover as the issue 
may require. 

The Seri archery habit is in every way consistent with the general 
habits of the tribe, alike in the chase and in warfare, iu which the tribes 
men, actuated by the fierce blood-craze common to carnivores, either 
leap on their prey with purpling eyes and gnashing teeth, or beat 
quick and stealthy retreat; and it is especially significant in the light 
thrown on the bow as a device for swift and vigorous rather than accu- 
rate ottense, an apparatus for lengthening the arm still more than does 
the harpoon, and at the same tiuie strengthening and intensifying its 
stioke. The quick-changing attitudes of half hurling are equally sug- 
gestive of the use of the atlatl, and support Oushing's hypothesis' 
that the bow was derived from the corded throwing-stick. While the 
critical posture of Seri archery is unique in degree if not in kind iu 
the western hemisphere, so far as is known, an approximation to it 
(illustrated in fig. 22) has been observed in Central Africa.^ On the 
whole the Seri mode of using the bow, like its crude form and rude 
finish, indicates that it is a relatively new and ill-developed artifact, 
possibly accultural though more probably joined indigenously with the 
archaic arrow to beget a highly effective device for food getting as 
well as for warfare; while the genetic stages are still displayed not only 
iu the homologies between arrow and harpoon, but by the common 
functions of both arrow and bow with the fire-sticks. 

Coucordantly, as indicated by the use of the archery apparatus, the 
individual taking of large game is effected either by stealthy stalking 
or by patient ambuscade ended by a sudden rush ; when, if the chase is 
successful, the quarry is rent and consumed as at the finish of the 

' The Arrow: Proceedings Am. Ass. Adv. Sei., vol. XLIV, 1895, pp. 232-240. 

'Slave's Journey to the Livingston Tree, The Century Magazine, vol. ui, 1896, p. 768. 

202* THK SERI INDIANS [eth.ann.17 

semiceremonial collective cbase. The fleet but wary antelope, the pug- 
nacious peccary, thewaudering puma and jaguar, and the mountain 
sheep of the rocky fastnesses, are among the favorite objects of this 
style of chase: while the larger land birds and some of the water- fowl 
are taken in similar fashion. 
The smaller land game comprises a tortoise or two, all the local 

Fig. 22— African archery posture 

snakes and lizards, and a good many insects, besides various birds, 
including hawks and owls, as well as the eaters of seeds and insects. 
The crow and vulture are also classed as edible, though they are rare 
in Seriland, probably because of the effective scavengering of the 
province by its human residents. It is a signiticant fact that the 





smaller rodents, especially the long-tail nocturnal squirrel, are 
excluded from the Seri menu by a rigidly observed tabu of undiscov- 
ered meaning. A general consequence of this tabu is readily observed 
on entering Seriland; there is a notable rarity of the ser])ents, the 
high-colored and swift efts, and the logy lizards and dull i)hrynosoinas 
so abundant in neighboring deserts, as well as of song birds and their 
nests; and this dearth is coupled with a still more notable abundance 
of the rodents, which have increased and multiplied throughout Seri- 
land so abundantly that their burrows honeycomb hundreds of square 
miles of territory. A special consequence of the tabu is found in the 
fact that the myriad squirrel tunnels have rendered much of the terri- 
tory impassable for horses and nearly so for pedestrians, and have 
thereby served to repel invaders and enable the jealous tribesmen to 
protect their principality against the hated alien. Seriland and the 
Seri are remarkable for illustrations of the interdependence between a 
primitive folk and their environment; but none of the relations are 
more striking than that exemplified by the timid nocturnal rodent, 
which, protected by a faith, has not only risen to the leading place in 
the local fauna, but has rewarded its protectors by protecting their ter- 
ritory for centuries. 

In both the collective and the strategic chase, constant advantage is 
taken of weakness and incapacity, whether temporary or permanent, 
of the prospective quarry; so that diseased and wounded as well as 
sluggish and stupid animals are eliminated. The effect of this policy 
on the fauna is undoubtedly to extinguish the less capable species and 
to stimulate and improve the more capable; i. e., the presen('e of the 
human factor merely intensifies the bitter struggle for existeace iu 
which the subhuman things of this desert province are engaged. At 
the same time, the entrance of the human folk into the struggle char- 
acteristic of subhuman species serves to bar them from one of the most 
helpful ways to the advancement of their kind — i. e., the way leading 
through cotoleration with animals to perfected zooculture. The most 
avidly sought weaklings in the Seri chase are the helpless young, and 
the heavily gravid dams which are pursued and rent to fragments with 
a horrid fury doubtless reflecting the practical certainty of capture 
and the exceptionally succulent tidbits afforded by the fetal flesh; 
naturally the cruel custom reacts on habitual thought in such wise that 
the very sight of pregnancy or travail or newborn helplessness awakens 
slumbering blood-thirst and impels to ferocious slaughter. To such 
custom and deep-planted mental habit may be ascribed some of the 
most shocking barbarities in the history of Seri rapine, tragedies too 
terrible for repetition save in bated breath of survivors, yet explaining 
the utter horror in which the Seri marauder is held on his own frontier. 
At the same time the hunting custom and the mental habit explain the 
blindness of the Seri to the rudiments of zooculture, and clarify their 
intolerance of all animal associates, save the sly coyote that habitually 

204* THE ISEKI INDIANS [eth.ann.17 

hides its travail aud suckling- in the wilderness, and perhaps the deified 

Parallel to the chase of the larger land game is the hunting of horses 
and other imported stock; for the animals are regarded in no other 
light than that of easy quarry. The horses of the Seri frontier, like 
those of wild ranges generally, are strongly gregarious, and the herds 
are well regimented under recognized leaders, so that the chase of 
their kind is necessarily collective on the part of both hunters and 
game; and the favorite method is for a considerable group of either 
warriors or women to surround the entire herd, or a band cut out from 
it, "mill" them (i. e., set them running in a gradually contracting 
circle) and occasionally dash on an animal, promising by reason of 
exceptional fatness or graviduess. The warrior's customary clutch is by 
the mane or foretop with one hand and the muzzle with the other, with 
his weight thrown largely on the neck, when a quick wrench throws 
the animal, and, if all goes well, breaks its neck;'- while the huntress 
commonly aims to stun the animal with a blow from her hupf. In 
either case the disposition of the carcass is similar to that of other 
large quarry, save that thought is given to the danger of ensuing attack 
byvaqueros; so that it is customary to consume at ouceonly the blood and 
pluck, and if time permits the paunch and intestines with their contents, 
aud then to rend the remainder into quarters, which warriors or even 
women shoulder and rush toward their stronghold. Burros (which, 
next to the green turtle, afford the favorite Seri food) and horned cattle 
are commonly stalked aud slain, or, at least, wounded with arrows, so 
that it is commonly the stragglers that are picked off; though some- 
times several animals are either milled or rushed, and thrown by a 

^ A .single incident expressing tlie Seri seutiiiient toward travailing animals must bo noted; a few 
minutes after the group aliown in plate xi was photographed, a starveling cur— a female apparently 
of nearly pure coyote blood and within a week of term — slunk toward the broken oUa-kettle in the 
left center of the picture, in which a rank horse-foot was simmering; the woman bending over the ket- 
tle suddenly straightened and shot out her foot with such force and directness that the cur was lifted 
entirel,v ovcrthecorner of the nearest. jacal, and ilie poor beast fell stunned aud moaning, a prematurely 
born pup protruding from her two-tliirds of its length. The souud of the stroke and fall attracted 
atlentiftn throughout the group; the women smiled and grunted approval of the well-aimed kick, and a 
dozen children gathered to continue the assault. I'artially recovering, the cur struggled to its feet, and 
started for the chapparal, followed liy the .jeering throng; at first the chase seemed sportive onl.y, but 
suddenly one of the smaller boys (the third from the left in the group shown in plate xvi) took on a 
new aspect — his figure stitlened, his jaws set, his eyes shot purple and green, aud he plunged into the 
lead, and .j ust before the harried beast reached cover he seized the x>rotruding embryo, .jerked it away, 
aud ran olf in triumph- Three minutes afterward he was seen in the shelter of a .jacal greedilv 
gorging his sjjoil in successive bites, just as the Caucasian boy devours a peeled banana. Meanwhile, 
two or three mates who had struck his trail stood around begging bites .and sucking at chcance blood 
spatter.s on earth, skin, or tattered rags; aud as the victor came forth hiter. licking his chops, he was 
met b.y half .jocular but admiring plaudits for liis prowess from the dozen matrons lounging aboutthe 
neighboring Jacales. P;irallel instances, both observed and gathered at second hand, might be added 
in numbers; but this may sntfice as the sole specilic basis for the generalization which places the 
Seri below the plane of possible zooCTllture — a generalization so broad as to demand some record of 
data which it would be more agreeable to ignore. 

'•'This warrior's clutch, and the notion that it is discreditable if not criminal for the masculine 
adult to take recourse to weapons in hand-to-hand slaughter, are strongl.v suggestive of zoomimic 
motives aud of studied mimicry of the larger carnivores, such as the jaguar — the " neck-twister *' of 
the Maya. 





''■ :m/ 


'i >': 









Stroug wrench ou the horns or stunued with a blow of war-ehib or hiipf, 
as conditions may demand. Straggling- swiue and wandering dogs are 
occasionally ambushed or stalked and translixed with arrows, torn 
hurriedly into fragments, or shouldered and carried off struggling, as 
exigency may require; while sheep and goats are practically barred 
from the entire Seri frontier because of their utter helplessness in the 
face of so hardy huntsmen. 

The quantity of stock consumed liy the Seri varies greatly with the 
policy of rancheros and vaqueros. At different times during the last 
two and a half centuries it has been estimated that the chief portion 
of the subsistence of the tribe was derived from stolen stock, and it 
is probable that during the early period of the Encinas I'pgime this 

Flu. L':;-I).si,,at,.(l 1 

estimate was fair; but under the Draconian rule of a Seri head for each 
head of slaughtered stock, the consumiition is reduced to a few dozen 
head annually, including superannuated, crippled, and diseased ani- 
mals unable to keep up with the herds, those bogged in Playa Xoriega 
and other basins during freshets, the stallions and bulls slain in strife 
for leadership of their bands, and the festering or semimummied car- 
casses gladly turned over by idle rancheros on the chance visits of 
Seri bands to the frontier (such as the specimen iu the protograph 
reproduced in figure 23). 

jSIo special devices have been developed in connection with the chase 
for stock, nor has material progress been made in acquiring Cau- 
casian devices. There are, indeed, indications of a disposition to use 

200* THE SERI INDIANS 1eth.axnM7 

knives in severing the tougk integuments and tendons of liovses and 
kine, altliougli the tendency Las not j-et resulted (as elsewhere noted, 
ante, pp. 152-154) in the development of a knife-seuse; and although 
boys on the frontier play at roping dogs, no effort to use the riata or 
any form of rope is made in the actual chase. As naively explained 
by Mashem amid approving grunts from his clan-mates, they have no 
time for ropes or knives when hungry. 

A quantitatively unimportant yet by no means negligible fraction 
of the nornml diet of Seriland is vegetal; and while the sources of 
vegetal food are many and diverse, the chief constituent is a single 
jjroduct characteristic of American deserts, viz, the tuna, or prickly 

All of the cacti of the region yield tunas iu considerable quantity. 
The pitahaya is perhajjs the most abundant producer, and its name is 
often given to the fruit; the huge saguaro attbrds an enormous annual 
yield, and the still more gigantic saguesa is even more i)rolitic, espe- 
cially in its immense forests along the eastern base of Sierra Seri ; the 
cina adds materially to the aggregate product, while the noi)al, or 
common prickly pear, contributes a quota acquiring importance from 
the facility with which it may be harvested. The fruits of all these 
cacti are sometimes classed as sweet tunas, in contradistinction from 
the sour tunas yielded in great abundance by the cholla and consumed 
with avidity by stock, though seldom eaten by men. The edible tunas 
average about the size of lemons, and resemble figs save that their skin 
is beset with prickles. The portion eaten is a luscious pulp, filled with 
minute seeds like those of the fig save that they are too hard for mas- 
tication or digestion, its flavor ranging from the sickly sweet of the 
overcultivated fig to a pleasant acidity. While occasional tunas may 
be found at any time during the year, the normal harvest occurs about 
midsummer, or shortly before the July-August humid season, and lasts 
for several weeks. During the height of the season the claus with- 
draw from the coast and give undivided attention to the collection and 
consumption of the fruits, gorging them in such quantities that, accord- 
ing to the testimony of the vaqueros, they are fattened beyo7id recog- 
nition. Commonly the tunas are eaten just as they are gathered, and the 
families and larger bands move about from pitahaya to pitahaya and 
from valley to valley in a slovenly chase of this natural harvest, until 
waning supply and cloying appetite drive them back to the severer chase 
of turtle and pelican. The fruit is not cooked, and never jireserved save 
in the noisome way of nature, and is rarely transported iu quantities 
or over distances of industrial importance; yet the product may have 
some connection with the basketry of the tribe. The devices for col- 
lecting the fruits, especially from the lofty saguaro and saguesa, are 
mere improvisations of harpoon shafts, paloblanco branches, or chance 
canestalks carried primarily for arrow-making or balsa construction. 


There is no such well-studied and semiceremonial apparatus for tuua 
gathering as, for example, the Papago device made from the ribs of 
the dead saguaro in accordance with traditional formula. 

Perhaps second in importance among the vegetal constituents of 
Seri diet is the mesquite bean, which is gathered in random fashion 
whenever a well-loaded tree is found and other conditions favor. The 
woody beans and still woodier i)ods are roughly pulverized by pound- 
ing with the hupf on any convenient stone used as an ahst (metate or 
mortar), or, if suitable stones are not at hand, they are carried in 
baskets or improvised bags to the nearest shore or other place at which 
stones umy be found. The half ground grist is winnowed in the ordi- 
nary way of tossing in a basket; and the grinding and winnowing con- 
tinue alternately until a fairly uniform bean meal is obtained. So far 
as was actually observed this is eaten raw, either dry in small pinches 
or, more conmionly, stirred in water to form a thin atole; but expres- 
sions at Costa Pica indicated that the meal is sometimes stirred in 
boiling water or pot-liquor, and thus partially cooked, in times of rest 
and i)]enty. 

( )ther vegetal products used as food comprise a varietj' of seeds col- 
lected from sedges and grasses growing about the mud-flats of Laguna 
La Cruz and other portions of the province, as well as the seeds and 
nuts of the scant shrubbery of shores and mountains; while a local 
seaweed or kelp is eaten in small (j^uantity, apparently as a condiment, 
and is sometimes carried on journeys even as far as Costa Pica, where 
specimens were obtained in 1S94. 

it is of interest to note that one of the most distinctive constituents 
of the Sonoran flora, and one intimately connected with human life in 
the great neighboring province of Papagueria, is of negligible rarity 
in Seriland; this is the visnaga {Uchinocactus, probably of two or 
three species), the thorniest of the cacti and the only one C(mtaining 
consumable pulp and sap. This peculiar plant is of no small interest 
in itself as a striking example of the inverse relation between pro- 
tective devices of chemical sort (culminating in acrid, oftensive, or 
toxic juices) and the mechanical armaments so characteristic of desert 
plants;' it is of still deeper interest economically as the sole source of 
water over broad expanses of the desert, and one to which hundreds of 
pioneers and travelers have been indebted for their lives; and it is 
of interest, too, as a factor of Papago faith, in which the visnaga ranks 
among the richer guerdons of the rain gods. Throughout most of Papa- 
gueria this cactus is fairly abundant; usually there are several speci- 
mens to the square mile of suitable soil (it is not found in playas or on 
the ruggeder sierras), so that it is always within reach of the sagacious 
traveler; but it diminishes in abundance toward the borders of Seri- 
land, and not more than a dozen examples were found in the portions of 
that province traversed by the 1S95 expedition. Its rare occurrence, 

* Of. The Begiouin2 of Agriculture ; The American Anthropologist, vol. viii, Oct., 1895, pp. 350-375. 



[ETH. ANN. 17 

cliiefly in the form of wounded and dwarfed speeiinens, seems to indi- 
cate that its original range comprised all Serilaud; while its dearth 
suggests destruction nearly to the verge of extinction by improvident 
generations better armed with their hupfs and harpoons and shell cups 
than the subhuman beasts against whom the plant is so well protected. 

Aside from the universally used hupf and ahst (which may be 
regarded as differentiated implements or tools), the only special device 
used in connection with vegetal food is the basket, or, rather, basketry 
tray (illustrated in figure -4). This ware is of the widespread coil type 
so characteristic of southwestern tribes. The coil is a wisp of stems 
and splints of a fibrous yet spongy shrub, apparently torote; and the 
woof consists of paloblanco ( ?) splints deftly intertwined by aid of an 
awl. The construction is fairly neat and remarkably uniform; the 

Fig. 24— Seri basket. 

coiled wisps vary somewhat in size, both intentionally and inadvert- 
ently, ranging from an average of three-eighths of an inch toward the 
bottoms of the larger specimens to half that diameter in the smaller 
specimens and toward the margins of the larger. The initial coil 
starts in an indefinite knot, rather than a button, at the center; and the 
spiral is continuous throughout, the final coil being quite deftly worked 
out to a single splint smoothly stitched to the next lower spiral with the 
woof splints. The ware is practically water-tight, remarkably strong 
and resilient, and quite durable in the dry climate of Seriland. Ordi- 
narily the basket is abandoned when the bottom decays or breaks, but 
an ancient specimen obtained on Isla Tiburon was roughly rebottouied 
with a patch of sealskin attached by means of sinew. The baskets 
are notably uniform in shape, though the size varies from 8 or 1) inches 
to fully 17 inches in diameter. 

The most .striking feature of the Seri basketry, as of the pottery, is 



extreme light iies.s iu proportion to capacity, a quality due to the spongy 
character of the torote coil aud to the thinness of the .splints used iu the 
woof. The inside dimensions, \> eight, and dry-measnre capacity (tilled 
to the level of the brim with rice) of two typical specimens approach- 
iug extremes in size are indicated in the accompauying table. As 
noted elsewhere, the ware is absolutely without decorative devices 
iu weave, ])aiut, or form; it is baldly utilitarian, a model of economy 
in material and iu the balance between structure and function, approach- 
ing in this respect the thin-walled canteen-olla, the graceful balsa, and 
the light but ett'ective harpoou. The structural correspondence of the 
ware to a widespread type and its limited use among the tribe suggest 
an accultural origin for the Seri basketry; but the delicate adjustment 
of means to ends in the manufacture and the strictly local character 
of the material ([uite as strongly suggest an iudigenous development. 

Muaeuiii No. 



Wei^lit Capai-ity 

174528« .. 

38 cm. (15 in.) 
23cm. ( 9in.) 

5'.0cm.(2 in.) 

142 g.( 5oz.) 

6.25 1.(6.6 qt.) 
1 l.(1.06iit.) 

It is irai>ossible to portray Justly the food habits of the Seri without 
some reference to a systematic scatophagy, which seems to possess 
fiducial as ^Yell as ecouomic features. In its simplest aspect this custom 
is conuected with the tuna harvests; the fruits are eaten in enormous 
(pxantity, and are imperfectly digested, the hard coated seeds esi>ecially 
passing through the system unchanged ; the feces containing these seeds 
are preserved with some care, and after the harvest is passed the hoard 
(desiccated, of course, in the dry climate) is ground between hupf and 
ahst, and winnowed in baskets precisely as are the mesiiuite beans; and 
the product is then eaten either dry or in the form of atole like the 
mesquite meal. In superficial view this food factor is the precise honio- 
logue of the "second harvest" of the California Indians as described 
by Clavigero, Baegert,' aud others; but it gains importance, among 

1 An Account of tlio Aboriginjil Inbabitants of Ibe Californian Peninsula, aw y,iven by Jacol) Baegurt, 
a German Jesuit niiHsionarv. . . . Translated and arranged for tbe Smithsonian Institution by 
Cbarles Kau; Ann. Kep. Smithsonian Inst, for 1863, pp. 35"2-369. Eaegert's account of foods (pp. 363- 
367) ia so apposite as to bo worthy of quotation nearly entire: 

"Notwitlistandinf; the barrenne-s of tins country, a Califoinian hardly ever dies of hunger, except, 
I>erhap8, now aud then an individual that falls sick in the wilderness and at a great distance from the 
mission, for tliose who lire in good health trouble themselves very little about such patients, even if 
these abonld bajipen to be their liusbanda, wives, or other relations ; and a little rhild that has lost its 
mother or both parents is also occasionally in ilanger of starving todeatli, beeause iu some instances no 
one will take charge of it, the father being sometimes inhuman enough to abandon his oH'spring to its 

"The food of the Californians, as will be seen, is certainly of a mean quality, yet it keeps them in a 
healthy condition, and they become strong and grow old in spite of their poor diet. Tbe only period 
of tbe year during which tbe Californians can satisfy their a]>petite without restraint is the season of 
the pitahayas, which ripen iu the middle of June and abound for more than eight weeks. Tbe gather- 
ing of this fruit niay be considered as the harvest of the native inbabitants. They can eat as much of 
it as they please, and with some this food agrees so well that they become corpulent during that period ; 
and for this reason I was simietinies unable to recognize at first sight individuals, otherwise jierfectlv 
17 ETH 14 

210^ THE SERI INDIANS Ieth.ann.17 

tbe Seri at least, as the sole method of storing or preserving food- 
supplies, and hence as the germ of industrial economy out of which a 

familiar to ine, who visited me after having fed for three or four weeks on these pitahayas. They do 
not, however, preserve them, and when the season is over they are puta^jainon short rations. Among 
the roots eaten hy the Califoruians may be mentioned tlie yuka, whicli constitutes an iiuportantarticle 
of food in many parts of America, as, for instance, in the island of Cuba, but is not very abundant in 
California. In some provinces it is made into a kind of bread or cake, while the Californiaus, who 
would find this process too tedious, simply roast the yukas in a tire like jiotatoes. Another root eaten 
by the natives is that of the aloii plant, of which there are many kinds in this country. Those species 
of this vegetable, however, which aftbrd nourishment — for not all of them are edible — do not grow as 
plentifully as the Californians might wish, and very seldom in the neighborhood of water; the prepa- 
rations, moreover, which are necessary to render tlii^ ]dant eatable, require much time and labor. 
. . . 1 saw tbe natives also frequently eat the roots of the coniniou reed, just as they were taken 
out of the water. Certain seeds, some of them not larger tliau of tlie mustard, and different sorts 
in pods that grow on shrubs and little trees, and of which there are, according to Father Piccolo, more 
than sixteen kinds, are likewise diligently sought ; yet they furnish only a small quantity of grain, 
and all that a person can collect with much toil during a whole year may scarcely amount to 12 

"It can be said that the Californians eat, without exceptiim, all animals they can obtain. Besides 
the ditfereiit kinds of larger indigenoxis quadrupeds and Itirds, they live nowadays on dogs and cats; 
horses, asses, and mules; iteni, on owls, mice, and rats; lizards and snakes-, bats, grasshoppers, and 
crickets ; a kind of green caterpillar without hair, about a tinger long, and an abominable white worm 
of the length and thickness of the thumb, which the3' find occasionally in old rotten wood, and con- 
sider as a particular delicacy. The chase of game, such as deer and rabbits, furnishes only a small 
portion of a Califoruian's provisions. Supposing that for 100 families 300 deer are killed in the course 
of a year, which is a very favorable estimate, they would supply each family only with t hree meals in 
three hundred and sixty-five days, and thus relieve but in a very small degree the hunger and the pov- 
erty of these people. The hunting for snakes, lizards, mice, and tiekl-rats, which tliey practice with 
great diligence, is by far more profitable and supplies tliem with a much greater quantity of articles 
for consumption. Snakes, esi>ecially, are a favorite sort of small game, and thousands of them find 
annually their way into the stomachs of the Californians. 

"In catching fish, particularly in the Pacific, which is much richer in that respect than the Gulf of 
California, the natives use neither nets nor hooks, but a kind of lance— thut is, a long, slender, pointed 
piece of hard wood — which they handle very dexterously in spearing and killing their prey. Sea turtles 
are caught in the same manner. 

'*I have now mentioned the difi'erent articles forming the ordinary food of the C'aliforniaus ; l)Ut, 
besides these, they reject nothing that their teeth can chew op their stomachs are capable of digesting, 
however tasteless or unclean and disgusting it may be. Thus they will eat the leaves of the Indian 
fig-tree, the tender shoots of certain shrubs, tanned or untanned leather, old straps of rawhide, with 
which a fence was tied together for years ; item, tlie bones of poultry, sheep, goats, and calves: putrid 
meat »u- fish swarming with worms, damaged wheat or Indian corn, and many other things of that sort 
which may serve to appease tbe hunger they are almost constantly suffering. Anything that is thrown 
to the hogs will be also accepted b>' a Californian, and betakes it without feeling ofiendcd, or thinking 
for a moment that he is treated below his dignity. For this reason no one took the trouble to clean 
the wheat or maize, which was cooked for them in a large kettle, of the black worms and little hugs, 
even if the numbers of these vermin had been equal to that of the grains. IJy a daily distribution of 
about 150 bushels of bran (which they are in the habit of eating without any ])reparation) I could have 
induced all my parishioners to remain permanently in the mission, excepting during the time when 
the pitaliayas are gathered. 

" I saw one day a blind man, 70 years of age, who was busily engaged in pounding between two 
stones ;in old shoe made of raw deerskin, and wbenevei- he had detached a pieee he tr;insferred it 
promptly to his mouth and swalh>wed it; and yet this m:in had adaughter and grown grandchildren. 
As soon as any of the cattle are killed and the hide is spread out on tbe ground to dry, half a dozen 
boys or men will instantly rush upon it and commence to work with knives, flints, and their teeth, 
tearing and scratching off pieces, which they eat immediately, till the bide is full of boles or scattered 
in ;ill directions. In the mission of St. Ignatius and in others further toward the north there are 
persons who will attach a piece of meat to a string and swallow it and pull it out again a dozen times 
in succession, for the sake of protracting the enjoyment of its taste. 

"I must here ask permission of the kiiul leader to numtion something of an exceedingly disgusting 
and ainiiist inhuman nature, tbe like of which prnbably never has been recorded of any people in the 
world, but which demonstrates better than anything else the whole extent of the poverty, uncleaii- 
ness, and voracity of these wretched beings. In describing the pitahayas I have already stated that 
they contain a great many small seeds resembling grains of powder. For some reason unknown to 
me these seeds are not consumed in the stomach, but j>ass otTin an undigested state, and in order to 
save them the natives collect during the season of the pitahayas that which is discharged from the 


feeble tlirift-seuse may be regarded as emerging. And the rise of thrift 
in Seriland, like esthetic and industrial beginnings generally, is shaped 

liuiuan body, separate the seeds from it, and roast, grind, aud eat them, making merry over their 
lojithsome meals, which the Spaniards therefore call the second harvest of the Californiana. [This 
stalemeBt is corroborated in all particulars by Clavigero in hia Storia della California. Venice, 1789, 
vol. I, p. 117.] "When I iirst heard that such a filthy habit existed among them I Avas disinclined to 
believe the report, but to luy utter regret I became afterwards repeatedly a witness to the proceeding, 
which they are unwilling to abandon, like many other bad practices [probably because of the fiducial 
character of the custom— "W J M.]. Yet I nuist say in their favor that they have always abstained 
from human flesh, contrary to the horrible usage of so many other American nations wlio can obtain 
tht'ir daily food much easier than those poor Californians. 

•They have no other drink but the water, and heaven be praised that they are unacquainted with 
such strong beverages as are distilled in many American provinces from Indian corn, the aloe, and 
other plants, and which the Americans in those parts merely drink for the purpose of intoxicating 
themselves. When a Californian encounters during his wanderings a pond or pool, and feels a desire 
to quench his thirst, he lies fiat on the ground and applies his mouth directly to the water. Some- 
times the horns of cattle are used as drinking vessels. 

"Having thus far given an account of the difterent articles used as aliment hy the aborigines of the 
peninsula. I will now proceed to describe in what manner they prepare their victuals. They do not 
cook, boil, or roast like people in civilized countries, because they are neither acquainted with these 
methods nor possessed of vessels and utensils to employ for such purposes; and, besides, their 
jiatience would be taxed beyond endurance if they had to wait till a piece of meat is well cooked or 
thoroughly roasted. Their whole process simply consists in burning, singeing, or roasting in an open 
fire all such victuals as are not eaten in a raw state. Without any formalities, the piece of meat, 
the fish, bird, snake, field mouse, bat, or whatever it may be is thrown into the flames or on the 
glowing embers, and left there to smoke and to sweat for about a quarter of an hour; after which the 
article is withdrawn, in most cases only burned or charred on the outside, but still raw and bloody 
within. As soon as it has become sutficieutly cool, they shake it a little in order to remove the 
ailheringdust or sand, and eat it with great relish. Yet I must add here, that they do not previously 
take the trouble to skin the mice or disembowel the rats, nor deem it necessary to clean the half- 
emptied entrails aud maws of larger animals, which they have to cut in pieces before they can r,oast 
them. Seeds, kernels, grasshoppers, green caterpillars, the white worms already mentioned, and 
similar things that would be lost, on account of their smallness, in the embers and flames of an open 
fire, are parched on hot coals, which they constantly throw up and shake in a turtle shell or a kind 
of frj'ing i>an woven out of a certain jilant. What they have parched or roasted in this m.inner is 
ground to jiowder between two stones, and eaten in a dry state. Bones are treated in like manner. 

"They eat everything unsalted, tlnmgh they might obtain plenty of salt; but since they cannot 
dine every day on roast meat aud constantly change their quarters, they would find it too cumbersome 
to carry always a supply of salt with them. 

"The preparation of the aloe, also called inescale or maguey by the Spaniards, requires more time 
and labor. The roots, after being properly separated from the plants, are roasted for some hours in a 
strong fire, and then buried, twelve or twenty together, in the ground, and well covered with hot 
stones, hot ashes, and earth. In this state they have to remain for twelve or fourteen hours, and 
when dug out again they are of a tine yellow color, and perfectly tender, making a very palatable 
dish, which has served me frequently as food when I had nothing else to eat, or as dessert after dinner 
in lieu of fruit. Bat they act at first as a purgative on persons who are not alffcustomed to them, and 
leaAe the throat somewhat rough for a few hours afterwards. 

"To light a fire the Calilnrniaus make no use of steel and flint, but obtain it by the friction of two 
pieces of wood. One of them is cylindrical, and pointed on one end, which fits into a round cavity in 
the other, and by turning the cylindrical piece with great rajudity between their hands, like a twirl- 
ing stick, they succeed in igniting the lower piece if they continue the process for a sufficient length 
of time. 

"The Californians have no fixed time for any sort of business, and eat, consequently, whenever 
they have anything, or feel inclined 1o do so, which is nearly always the case. I never asked one of 
them whether he was hungry who failed to answer in the affirmative, even if his appearance indicated 
the couti'ary. A meal in the middle of the day is the least in use among them, because they all set 
out early in the morning for their foraging expeditions, and return oulj' in the evening to the place 
from which they started, if they do not choose some other locality for their night quarters. The day 
being thus spent in running about and searching lor food, they have no time left for x>reparing a 
dinner at noon. They start always empty-handed; for if perchance something remains from their 
evening repasts they certainly eat it during the night in waking moments or on the following morn- 
ing before leaving. The Californians can endure hunger easier and much longer than other peojile; 
whereas they will eat enormously if a chance is given. I often tried to buy a piece of venison from 
them when the skin had but lately been stripped off" the deer, but regularly received the answer that 
nothing wits left ; and I knew « ell enough that the hunter who killed the animal needed no assistance 

212* THE SERI INDIANS [eth.anx.17 

by faitli aud attendant ceremony; for the doubly consumed food is 
credited with intensified powers and virtues, and lield to be specially 
X^otent in the relief of hunger and in giving endurance for the hard 
warpath or prolonged chase; it is — and makes — very strong (''mucho 
fuerte" ), in the laconic and confident explanation of Mashem. Incon- 
gruous as the custom is to higher culture, it finds natural suggestion 
in the everyday habits of the tribe, who are w(»nted not only to the 
eating of animal entrails in raw and uncleaned condition, but especially 
to the relief of the sharpest pangs of hunger by means of the soft 
structures and their semiassimilated contents — an association of much 
influence in primitive thought. Coucordantly with the custom and tlie 
faith grown out of it, the excreta in general take a prominent place 
in the Seri mind; the use of urine in ablution, etc, is little understood 
and may be passed over; but all bony feces — and it may be noted that 
the '*sign"of the Seri more resembles that of wolves or snake-eating 
swine than that of men — following gorges of large quarry are custom- 
arily located and kept in mindfor recourse in time of ensuing shortage, 
when the mass is ground on the ahvSt and reconsumed; and even the 
ordinary dischar«ge is preserved during the seasons of less reliable 

There is an obscure connection between this curious and repulsive 
food custom of the Seri and the mortuar^^ customs of the tribe, which 

to finish it. Twenty-four pounda of meat in twenty-fonr hours is not deemed an extraordinary ration 

for a single person, and to see anything eatable bfifore him is a temptation for a Californian which he 
cannot resist; and not to make away with it before night would be a victory he is very seldom 
capable of gaining over himself." 

Clavi.iiero's account of the food-habits of the California Indians is similar, though generally less 
explicit. According to him the seeds formiug the ".'second har% est of pitahay'is" are extracted care- 
fully ^vhile fresh, and are afterward roasted, gn>Mnd, -and preserved in the form of meal against the 
ensuing winter. Of thereswallowing babit, he sjiys: 

"The savages living in the nortliern part of tbe peninsula have found the secret, unknown to 
mortals in general, to eat and re-eat the same meal repeatedly. They tie a string around a mouthful 
of meat dried and hardened in tbesun. Aftercbewingit for a wbilethey swallow it. leaving tbe string 
hanging from tbe month. After two or three minutes, by means of the string they draw the meat up 
again to be rechewed, and tins tliey repeat as nmny times as may be necessary until the morsel is 
consumed or so softened that the string will not hold it any longer. In extracting it from the throat 
they make such a no^e that to one who has not before heard it it ajtpears that they are choking 

" When many individuals are gathered together to eat in this raaunerit is practiced with more cere- 
mony. They seat themselves on the ground, forming a circle of eight or ten persona. One of them 
takes the mouthful and swallows it. and afu-rwards draws it up again and passes it to the next, one, 
and this one to anutber. proceediu:: tlius around tbe circle with much enjoyment until tbe morsel is 
consumed. This has astonished the Spaniards who have seen it, and indeed it would not be credible 
jlit had not been unanimously testified to by all who have been in that country. .Siveral Jesuits who 
did not believe this, notwithstamling that sincere and prominent persons confirmed it, having after- 
wards gone to California saw it with their (iwn eyes. Among tliose Indians who have embraced 
Christianity this loathsome and dangerous method of eating has been abandoned in con.sequeuce of 
the continual reproofs of the missionaries." {Historia do la Antigua 6 liaja California, obra postuma 
del Padre Francisco Javier Clavijero; Mexico, 1852, p. 24.) 

The records of Clavigero and Baegert indicate fair correspondence in tlie food habits (,f the Califor- 
nia Indians and the Seri, though there are certain noteworthy difieiences, e. g., the tabu of the badger 
among the former and of the ground-squirrrel arnoug the latter; it would also appear that the Call- 
fornians were the m<uo largely vegetarian and the better advanced in culinary processes. The cus- 
toms of the Seri tlirow llglit on the genesi.s of '■ re-eating'", i\n- the process woiihl aii)peai- to be but an 
extension of the repeated mouthing and swallowing of tendouous strings still attached to the boneaof 
larger animals. 



was not detected until the opportunity for personal iuc^uiry had gone 
by. About the rancherias on Isla Tiburon, and especially about the 
extensive house-group at the base of Punta Torinenta, there are burial 
places marked by cairns of cobbles, or by heaps of thorny brambles 
where cobbles are not accessible; and most of these cairns and bramble- 
piles are supplemented by hoards of desiccated feces carefully stored 
in sliells, usually ofArc(( (a typical specimen is illustrated in figure 25). 
The hoards range from 50 to 500 shells in quantity, and there were fully 
a score of them at Punta Tormenta alone. About the newer rancherias, 
as at Eada Ballena, where there are no cemeteries, the hoards are simply 
piled about small clumps of shrubbery. The ineainng of the association 
of the dietetic residua and death in the Seri mind is not wholly clear; 
yet the connection between the "strong food" for the warpath and the 

Fig. 25 — Scatophagic supplies. 

mystical food for the manes in the long journey to the hereafter is close 
enough to give some inkling of the meaning.' 

In recapitulating the food supplies of the Seri it is not without inter- 
est to estimate roughly the relative (juantities of the several constitu-* 
ents consumed; and the proportions maybe made the more readily 
comprehensible by expression in absolute terms. As a basis for the 
quantitative estimate, it may be assumed that the average Seri, living, 
as he does, a vigorous outdoor life, consuming, as he does, a diet of less 
average nutrition than the selected and cooked foods of higher culture, 
and attaining, as he does, an exceptional stature and strength, eats 
something more than the average ration; so that his ration of solid 
food may be lumped at 2.75 pounds (about 1,2.50 grams) daily, or 1,000 

' Cf. Scatologic Eites of aU Kations, by Captain Jolm G. Bonrke, 189] , especially chapter LI, pp. 459-460. 
The Seri custom, resting:, aa it dnea. nn an evident economic basis, tends to explain the scatophagy of 
the Hopi and other tribes described by Bourke. 



[ETH. ANN. 17 

pounds (about -455 kilograms) yearly. The aggregate diet of the tribe 
may be estimated also by assuming the population to comprise 300 full 
eaters, besides, say, '>0 nurslings negligible in the computation; so that 
the annual consiimiition of the tribe may be reckoned at 300,000 pounds 
(130,000 kilograms), or 150 tons, of solid food. Accordingly the several 
constituents may be estimated, as shown in the accompanying table, in 
percentages of the total, in pounds aggregate and apiece for the eaters, 
and (so far as practicable) in units both aggregate and apiece; the 
■weights of units being roughly averaged at 100 pounds (45 kilograms) 
for turtles, 12i pounds (5.G kilograms) for large land game, 450 pounds 
(about 200 kilograms) for stock, aud 2 ounces (56.7 grams) for tunas. 

Estimated annual dietary of the Seri tribe 












75, 000 
15, 000 
45, COO 
30, 000 
21, 000 
24. 000 
18, 000 
27, 000 
15, 000 

















Otlier water- fowl and eo'ffs 

Fish . 


Slielltish (except turtles) 




216, 000 


Otlier ve<»'etals 

Miscellaneous .... 



300, 000 


Of course the constituents vary with temporary conditions; during 
"The Time of the Big Fish", practically all other sources of food were 
neglected until the jirovidential supply was exhausted; during the 
decades of main subsistence on stolen stock it is probable that the con- 
sumption of other constituents, perhaps excepting the tunas, was pro- 
portionately reduced; and it is not improbable that during the warfare 
between Seri and Tepoka, described by Hardy, the consumption of tur- 
tles was materially diminished. Judging from the direct and indirect 
data and from general analogies, the least variable constituent is the 
cactus fruit, which probably fails but rarely aud is so easily harvested as 
practically to supplant all other supplies during its season of a month or 
more. At the best, too, the quantitative estimates are nothing more 
than necessarily arbitrary apj)roximations, based on incomplete inquir- 
ies and observations;' yet they are better than no estimates at all, and 

'About 200 turtle-shells were noticed about tlic rani'heriiis jit Pnnta Tormenta aud liada llalleua 
alone in 1895. all being lese thau two years old, as .judged from the degree of weathering. 


appear to form a fairly trustworthy basis for cousideration of the Seri 
food habits. 

On reviewino- the constituents it would appear that the Seri must be 
regarded as essentially a maritime people, in that about two-thirds of 
their food is derived from the sea; also that they must be deemed essen- 
tially carnivorous, since fully five-sixths of their diet (84 per cent 
plus a share of the miscellaneous— chiefly scatophagous — category) is 
animal. The tabulation does not show the relative proportions of the 
several constituents cooked and eaten raw, but the best available data 
indicate that fully three-fourths of the ordinary dietary, both animal 
and vegetal, is ingested in raw condition, and that the greater part of 
the remaining fourth is imperfectly cooked. 

In recapitulating the devices for food-getting, it is found that nearly 
all of the more distinctive artifacts and crafts are either directly or 
indirectly connected with that primary activity of living things, food- 
conquest. Foremost among the distinctive artifacts of the Seri, in its 
relation to daily life and in its technical perfection, is the canteeuolla; 
probably second in importance, and also in technical perfection, is the 
balsa — whose functions, however, extend beyond simple food-getting; 
next comes the crude and simple, yet economically perfected, turtle-har- 
poon, with its variants in the form of arrow (with a function in warfare 
as well as in food-getting) and firedrill; while the light basket-tray, 
although capable of carrying ten to twenty-five times its own weiglit, 
is perhaps the least perfect technically of the artifacts directly connected 
with sustentation. And it should be noted that the prevailing tools — 
hupf, ahst, multifunctional shell, and awl of mandible or bone or tooth — 
have either an immediate or a secondary connection with food-getting, 


At first sight Seriland seems an abnormal habitat for a primitive 
people, since its land area is cleft in twain by a stormy strait — a strait 
whose terrors to the few Caucasian navigators who have reached its 
swirling currents are indicated by their appellations, " El Canal Peli- 
groso de San Miguel"' and "El lufiernillo"; for such a stretch of 
troubled water is commonly a more serious bar to travel than any mod- 
erate laud expanse. This intuitive notion of the effectiveness of a 
water barrier, and the conelative feeling of the incongruity of a land 
barrier insuperable for centuries, is well illustrated by prevailing opin- 
ion throughout northwestern Jlexico; for it is commonly supposed in 
Sonora and neighboring states that Seriland is conterminous with Isla 
Tiburon, i. e., that the mainland portion of the province (including 
Sierra Seri with its flanking footslopes) lies beyond the diabolic chan- 
nel. Yet longer scrutiny shows that the superficial impression merely 
mirrors Caucasian thought and fails to touch the essential conditions, 

'Hardy, Travels, p. 291. 


[ETH. ANN. 17 

especially as tliey are reflected iu the primitive minds of the local tribe; 
and careful study of the habits and history of tlie Seri shows that the 
dangerous strait has been a i)otent factor in preserving tribal existence 
and i)erpetuating tribal integrity. Naturally the factor operates through 
navigation ; for it is by means of this art tliat the tribesmen are able to 
avoid or to repel the rare invaders of either mainland or insular portions 
of their province, the overland pioneers from the east being stopped 
by the strait and the maritime explorers from south and west being 
unable to maintain themselves long about the stormy shores and never 
outfitted for pushing far toward the mainland retreats and strongholds; 
while by means of their light and simple craft the Seri were able to 
retreat or to advance across the strait as readily as over the adjacent 
lands to which they were wonted by the experience of generations. In 
their minds, indeed, El Intiernillo is the nucleus of their province. So 
the Seri were among the lowliest learners of that lesson of highest state- 
craft, that lands are not divided but united by intervening sea; and 
their ill-formulated and provincial notions are of much significance in 
their bearing on autochthonous habits and habitats. 

The water craft of which the Seri make so good use is a balsa, made 
of three bundles of carrizal or cane lashed together alongside, meas- 
uring barely 4 feet abeam, li feet in depth, and some 30 feet in length 
over all. A fine specimen (except for a slight injury at one end) is 
shown in plan and profile in plate xxxi. It was obtained near Boca 
Inflerno in 1805, partly towed and partly paddled thence to Embar- 
cadero xVndrade, wagoned laboriously across Desierto Encinas and on 
to llermosillo, conveyed in an iron sheathed box on two gondolas of 
the uairow-gage Ferrocarril de Souora to the international frontier, 
and finally freighted to the United States National Museum, where (iu 
the Mall just outside the building) the photographs reproduced in the 
plate were taken. 

The manufacture of the balsa has never been seen by Caucasian eyes, 
but the processes are safely inferred from the structure, whose testimony 
is corroborated in part by Mashem's imperfect descriptions. Tiie first 
step is the gathering of the carrizal from one of the patches growing about 
the three or four j)ermanent fresh watersof Seriland, thecanes being care- 
fully selected for straightness, symmetry, and uniformity in size; these 
are then denuded nf leaves and tassels, tied in bundles of convenient 
size (one seen on Tiburon contained 40 or 50 canes), and carried to the 
shore. In actual construction the canes are laid butt to butt, but over- 
lapiiing 2 or ■> feet, the overlaj) being shifted this way and that with 
successive additions, so that the aggregate length of overlai)ping in the 
bundle reaches 10 or 12 feet — i. e., the full length of the body of the 
finished craft. The growing bundle is wrapped from time to time with 
lashings of mesquite root or maguey fiber, and kejit in cylindrical form 
by constant rolling and by means of the lashing; though the cord used 
for the purpose is so slender as to do little more than serve the purposes 

















of maiiufiictnre (only stray sbreds of tbe interior 
cording could be foiuul in an old and abandoned balsa 
on Punta Autigualla). As tbe bundle approacbes 
tbe requisite size, tbe building process cbanges; tbe 
butts of tbe successively added stalks are tbrust 
obliquely into tbe interstices extending beyond tbe 
butts of earlier-used canes, and tbe stems are 
slightly bent to bring tbem into parallelism witb 
their fellows; and this interweaving process is con- 
tinued with increasing care until, when tbe bundle is 
completed, there are no visible butts (all being 
puslied into tbe interior of tlie bundle), while tbe 
only visible tips are those projecting to form tbe 
tapering extremities. Tbe finished bundle is then 
secured by a spiral winding of slender cord. Two 
other bundles are next made, tbe three being entirely 
similar, so far as is known; tlien the three are joined 
by a lashing of slender cord like that used for tlie 
separate bundles, which is twined alternately above 
and Itelow the central bundh' in such manner as to 
hold the three in an approximate plane save toward 
the extremities, where the lashing is much firmer 
and the tapering tips of thebundles are broug' t into 
a triangular position, i. e., the position of smallest 
compass. The cordage is of either mesqnite root or 
maguey tiber, the former being the more common, 
so far as observed (doubtless by reason of the dearth 
of the latter |ilant); it is notably uniform in twist 
and size, though surprisingly slender for the pur- 
pose, barely three-sixteenths of an inch, or 5 mm., in 
diameter, and limited in quantity.' The only tools 
or implements used in the manufacture (and repair), 
so far as is known, are light wooden marlinspikes, 
two of w^hich are illustrated in figure 20; these are 
used in working the cane butts into the bundles. 
In collecting the caues the tassels are broken off and 
the leaves stripped by the unaided hands, while 
tbe stalks are broken off usually below the secondary 
roots in the downward taper, and the rootlets and 
loose ends are removed either with the hands or 
by fire. 

The finished balsa is notably light and buoyant. 
The Boca Infierno specimen was estimated to weigh 
about 250 pounds (113 kilograms) when thoroughly 
dry, and little more than 301) pounds (126 kilograms) 


Fig. 26— Seri marl 

'Only the finer cording abowii in plate xxxi is original, the coarser ropes haviiig been added to 
facilitate handling. 



[ETH. ANN. 17 

wheu completely wet; so that it could easily be picked up by tbree or 
four, or eveu by two, strong men and carried ashore to be hidden in the 
fog-shrubbery skirting the coast. The craft iioated high with one man 
aboard, rode better with two, carried three without much difficulty even 
in a fairly heavy sea, and would safely bear four adults aggregating 
600 pounds (:272 kilograms) in moderate water. The most striking 
features of the craft atloat are its graceful movement and its perfect 
adaptation to variable seas and loads. The lines are symmetric and of 
great delicacy, as indicated even by the photograplis out of its element; 
the reed-bundles are yielding, i>artly by resilience and partly in the way 
of set, so that the body of the craft curves to fit the weight and distri- 
bution of the load and to meet the impact of swells and breakers. In 
smooth water a lightly laden balsa may appear heavy and logy, but 
with a heavier load and stronger sea each tapering end rises strongly 
and then recurves slightly in a Hogarthian line graceful as the neck of a 
swan, while the whole craft skims the waves or glides sinuously over their 

Flo. 27— The balsa afloat. 

crests in a lightsome way, recalling the easy movement of gull or petrel. 
A suggestion of its efl'ect is shown in figure 27, a composite drawn largely 
from photographs; another suggestion is shown in figure 28, reproduced 
in facsimile from a drawing by the artist of the U. S. S. Narrai/aiisett 
in 1873,' the only known picture of the craft antecedent to the 1895 

Almost e(iually striking features of the balsa are its efficiency and 
safety under the severe local conditions. Carrying twice its weight of 
(chiefly) living freight, it breasts gales and rides breakers and stems 
tiderips that would crush a canoe, swamp a skift', or capsize a yawl; 
while if caught in currents or surf and cast ashore it is seldom wrecked, 
but drops lightly on beach or I'ocks, to be pushed uninjured by the 
broken wave-tips beyond the reach of pounding rollers, even if it is 
not at once caught up by its passengers and carried to complete safety. 
The strength of the craft is amazing, es[)ecially in view of the slender- 

* Publication No. 56, U. S. Hydrographic Office, Bureau of Navigation, 188U, plat* XV, p. 136. 



ness of the cords used in construction ; in fact, the outer layers of canes 
are so ingeniously interlocked by the insertion of their butts intoiuter- 
stices that each bundle holds itself together with slight aid from the 
exterior cording, while even the bundles themselves are held in proper 
relative position by the secure terminal tying rather than by the inter- 
twined cording of the body of the craft. And the entire construction 
exemplifies the compartment principle to perfection; a slight injury 
may aftect but a single Joint of one out of several thousand canes, while 
even a severe fall on sharp rocks seldom injures more than a few score 
canes, and these in a few joints only. The most objectionable feature 
of the balsa lies in tiie fact that it affords little protection from the wet. 
The water rises fieely through the reed bundles to a height depending 
on the load, and not only the spray but the whitecaps and combers 
as well dash freely over the unprotected body of the craft; but this 
defect is of little consequence to the hardy and nearly nude navigators, 
or to their scanty and practically uninjurable freight. 

Fig. 28— Seri balsa aa seen by Narragansett party. 

The gracefulness and efficiency of the balsa itself stand in strong 
co'itrast with the crude methods of propulsion. According to Mashem, 
the craft is commonly pro])elled by either one or two women lying 
prone on the reeds and paddling either with bare hands or with large 
shells held in the hands; according to Hardy, the harpoon main shaft 
is used by turtle fishermen for paddling (and probably for poling, also); 
according to the Dewey picture (figure 28), the vessel is driven by a 
wonum with a double-end paddle like that used in connection with the 
conventional canoe; while the expedition of 1895 found on Isla Tiburon 
four or five paddles rudely wrought from flotsam boards and barrel- 
staves, and i)artly hafted with rough sticks 3 or -t feet long, but partly 
without handles and evidently designed to be grasped directly, like the 
shells of Mashem's descriptions. No trace of oars, rowlocks, sculls, 
rudders, or masts were found, and there is nothing to indicate the 
faintest notion of sails and sailing. On the whole there is no trace of 
well differentiated propelling devices — i. e., the craft is perfected only 
&s a static device and not at all as a dynamic mechanism. 


Despite their poverty iu propelling devices, the Seri uavigate their 
waters successfully aud extensively. Perhaps the commonest function 
of the craft is that exercised in connection with the turtle fishery, 
though its chief olfice as a factor of general industrial economy is that 
of bridging El Infiernillo at the will of the roving clans. It is by means 
of this craft, also, that the semiceremonial pelican feasts on Tibiiron 
are consummated; it is by the same means that Isla Patos, Isla Turner, 
Roca Foca, and other insulated sources of food-supply are habitually 
reached; aud both Mashem's accounts and the Jesuits' records indi- 
cate that occasional voyages are pushed to San Esteban, San Lorenzo, 
Angel de la Guarda, and even to the Baja California coast. 

Concordantly with the tribal customs, little freight is carried. The 
traveling family transport their poor possessions to the shore, bring 
out the balsa from its hiding place in the thick and thorny fog-shrub- 
bery, launch it, lade it with a filled olla and the weapons of a man aud 
implements of a woman, besides any chance food and clothing, and 
embark lightly to enjoy the semirepose of drifting before the breeze — 
until the rising gale brings labor still more arduous than that of scour- 
ing the spall-strewn slopes or sandy stretches of their hard motherland. 
Commonly the terminus of the trip is fixed largely by the chance of 
wind and tide; and when it is reached the party carry the craft inshore, 
conceal it shrewdly, and then take uj) their birdskin bed and walk 
forth in search of fresh water and meat. The successful fishing trips 
of course end in orgies of gorging, and when the voyage is the climax of 
a foray to the mainland frontier for stock-stealing, the quarters and 
paunches aud heads hastily thrown aboard at the mainland side of the 
strait are carried to the rancherias for consumption at leisure; and this 
has hai)pened so often that equine hoofs and bovine bones are common 
constituents of the middens on Tiburon. 

Although measurably similar to Central American and South Amer- 
ican types of water-craft, the Seri balsa is a notably distinct type for 
its region. The California natives, as well as those of the mainland of 
Mexico south of Eio Yaqui, used rafts made either of palm trunks 
or of other logs lashed alongside rather than balsas; while the far- 
traveling tribes used either sails or well-differentiated paddles for 

Briefly, the Seri balsa is remarkable for perfect adaptation to 
those needs of its makers shaped by their distinctive environment. 
It seems to approach the ideal of industrial economy — the acme of 
Ijracticality — in the adjustment of materials aud forces to the ends 
of a lowly culture; and, like the olla and harpoon and arrow, it aflbrds 
an impressive example of the adjustment of artifacts to environment 
through the intervention of budding intelligence. Yet the chief 
significance of the craft would seem to reside in its vestigial character 
as a survival of that orariau stage in the course of human development 


in which men lived alongshore and adjusted themselves to maritime 
conditions rather than to terrestrial environments; a stage evidently 
but barely passed by the Seri, siuce they still subsist mainly ou sea 
food, still retain their suggestive navigation, and still view their stormy 
straits and bays as the nucleus and noblest portion of their province. 


Among the Seri, as among primitive folk generally, the habitation 
reflects local conditions, esi)ecially climate and building materials, 
i^ow, Seriland is a subtropical yet arid tract, where rain rarely falls, 
frost seldom forms, and snow is known only as a tieeting mantle ou 
generally distaut mountains, so that there is little need for protectiou 
from cold and wet; at the same time the district is too desert to yield 
serviceable building material other than rock, which the lowly folk 
have not learned to manipulate. Moreover, the tribesmen and their 
families are perpetual fugitives (their movements being too erratic and 
aimless to put them in the class of nomads); they are ti o accustomed to 
wandering and too unaccustomed to long resting at particular spots to 
have a home-sense, save for their motherland as a whole; and, just as 
they rely on their own physical hardihood for preservation against the 
elements, so they depend on their combined tleetness and prowess for 
preservation against enemies. Accordingly, the Seri habitation is not 
a permanent abode, still less a domicile for weaklings or a shrine for 
household lares and penates, not at all a castle of proprietary sanctity, 
and least of all a home; it is rather a timeserving lair than a house in 
ordinary meaning. 

Despite the poverty of the material and the squalor of the structure, 
certain features of the Seri jacal are notably uniform and conventional. 
In size and form it recalls the passing '• prairie schooner", or covered 
wagon ; it is some 10 or 12 feet long, half as wide measured ou the 
ground, and about 4J feet high, with one end (the front) open to the 
full width and height, and tlie other nearly or quite closed. The con- 
ventional structural features comprise the upright bows and horizontal 
tie sticks forming the framework. The bows are made of okatilla 
stems (Fouquiera splendcns) roughly denuded of their thorns; each is 
formed by thrusting the butts of two such stems (or more if they are 
slender) into the ground at the requisite distance apart, beinling the 
tops together into an overlaj) of a yard or two, and securing them 
partly by intertwisting, partly by any convenient lashing; and about 
Ave or sis such bows sutlice for a jacal (the appearance of the bows is 
fairly represented by the ruin shown in plate vii). Next come the tie- 
sticks, which consist of any convenient material (okatilla stems, cane- 
stalks, paloblanco branches, mesquite roots, saguaro ribs, etc.), and 
are lashed to the butts by means of withes, splints, or fiber wisps, at a 
height of some 4 feet above the ground, or about where the walls merge 
into the roof. With the jjlacing of these sticks the conventional part 

222* THE SERI INDIANi^ [eth.ann.17 

of the building process may be said to eud; for up to this point the proc- 
ess is a collective one and the materials are essentially uniform, while 
thereafter the completion of the work depends largely on individual or 
family caprice, and the materials are selected at random. Moreover, 
the framework is fairly permanent, usually surviving a number of occu- 
pancies extending over months or years, and outlasting an equal num- 
ber of outer coverings ; so that all habitable Seriland is dotted sparsely 
with Jacal skeletons, sometimes retaining fragments of walls or roof, 
but oftener entirely denuded. 

The conversion of the framework into a habitable jacal is effected by 
piling around and over it any convenient shrubbery, by which it is made 
a sort of bower; sometimes the conversion is aided by the attachment 
of additioual tie sticks both above and below the main horizontal pieces, 
as illustrated in the upper figure of plate ix ; sometimes, too, the material 
of walls and roof is carefully selected and interwoven with such pains as 
to form a rude thatch, as in the chief jacal at Eada Ballena (the upper 
figure iu plate vi); but more commonly the covering is collected at 
random and is laid so loosely that it is held in place only by gravity and 
wind pressure, and may be dislodged by a change of wind. Ordinarily 
the walls are thicker and denser than the roofs, which are supplemented 
in time of occupancy by haunches of venison, remnantal quarters of cattle 
and horses, half-eaten turtles, hides and pelts, as well as bird-skin robes, 
thrown on the bows partly to keep them out of reach of coyotes and 
partly to afibrd shade. Most of the jacales about the old rancheria at 
Punta Toruienta (abandoned at " The Time of the Big Fish ''), which may 
be regarded as the center of the turtle industry, are irregularly claj)- 
boarded with turtle-shells and with sheets of a local sponge, as illus- 
trated in plate vii. This sponge abounds in the bight of Eada Ballena, 
where at high water it s])reads over the silty bottom in a slimy sheet, 
and at low water with offshore gales is left by the waters to dry into a 
light and fairly tenacious mat, which is gathered in sheets for bedding as 
well as for house making material (a specimen of the sponge — probably 
ChaUim — is shown on larger scale in plate Viii). On the frontier the 
jacales may be modified by the introduction of sawed or riven lumber, 
as illustrated by some of the structures at Costa Rica (shown in plate 
XI); but even here there is a strong disposition to adhere to the cus- 
tomary form, and especially to the conventional framework, as indicated 
by the example in plate x. 

While the jacales are not consistently oriented, they reveal a primary 
preference for facing away from the prevailing wind and toward the 
nearest sea, with a secondary preference for southern and eastern expo- 
sures — the former preference being easily explained, since a gale from 
the front quickly strips walls and roof and scatters the materials afar. 
Xo definite order is observed in the placement of the several jacales iu 
the larger rancherias; apparently the first is located at the choice of the 
leading elderwoman, and the others are clustered about it at the com- 




MroEE] THE builders' CHANT 223* 

moil convenieuce. Usually the several jacales are entirely separate; 
but at Punta Tormenta, Punta Narragansett, and still more notably at 
Eada Balleua, iudividual hut-s were found either extended to double 
length or joined obliquely in such wise as to show two fronts (as illus- 
trated in plate vi). The conventional frameworks appear to be common 
tribal property, at least to the extent that an abandoned skeleton may 
be ])reempted by any comer ; while the addition of walls and roof appears 
to afford a prescriptive proprietary right to the elderwoman and family 
by whom the work is done — though the right seems to hold only during 
occupancy, or until the temporary covering is dislodged. 

The jacales are without semblance of furnishing, beyond an occa- 
sional ahst and a few loose pebbles used as hupfs; though the uooks 
behind the bows and tie-sticks sometimes serve as places uf conceal- 
ment for paint-cups, awls, hair bobbins, and other domestic trifles. 
There is uo floor but earth, and this remains in natural condition, 
except for trampling and wearing into wallows, recalling those of fowls 
and swine, which aflbrd a rough measure of the periods of occupancy; 
there is no fireplace— indeed, fires are rarely made in the jacales, nor 
for that matter frequently anywhere; and there are no fixed places for 
bedding, water ollas, or otber portable possessions, none of which are 
left behind when the householders are abroad. 

Little is known of the actual process of jacal building, especially iu 
Seriland proper; but the observations of Sefior Encinas and his 
vaqueros on the frontier corroborate Mashem's statements that the 
houses are built by (and belong to) the matrons; that several women 
customarily cooperate in the collection of the okatilla and erection of 
the framework; that the only tools used in the processes are hnpfs 
and miscellaneous sticks; and that the placing and fitting of the beams 
and tie sticks are accompanied by a chant, usually led by the eldest 
matron of the group. The same informants support the ready infer- 
ence from the structure that the shrubbery and other material forming 
walls and roofs are gathered and placed from time to time by the 
women occupying the jacales. 

The Seri building chant is suggestive. Neither Senor Encdnas nor 
Mashem regarded it as religious or even ritualistic, but merely as a 
work-song designed (in the naive notion of the latter) to make the task 
lighter; and it seems probable that the local interpretation is correct. 
If so, the simple chant at once offers rational explanation for its own 
existence, and opens the way to explanation of the elaborate building 
rituals of more advanced tribes. The work-song is a common device in 
many lowly activities, ranging from those of children at play to those 
of sailors at the windlass, and undoubtedly serves a useful purpose in 
guiding, coordinating, and concentrating effort; to some extent the 
vocal accompaniment to the manual or bodily action apparently 
expresses that normal interrelation of functions manifested by second- 

224* THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ann.i7 

ary sense-effects (as when the sense of smell is intensified by exercise 
of the organs of taste), or, in another direction, by the habit of the 
youthful penman who shapes his letters by aid of lingual and facial 
contortion; yet it is a characteristic of primitive life — one doubtless 
due to the interrelations of psycho-physical functions — to not only 
employ but to greatly exalt vocal formulas associated with manual 
activities, so that words, and eventually the Word, accpiires a mystical 
or talismanic or sacred significance pervading all lower culture — indeed 
the savage shaman is unable to work his marvels without mumbled 
Incanfatioiis ending in some formulated and well-understood utterance, 
and his practice persists in the meaningless mummery and culminating 
"presto" of modern jugglery. So, viewed in the light of ijsychophysi- 
cal causes and prevalent customs connected with vocal formulas, it 
would seem probable that the conventional features of the Seri jacales 
are crystallized in the tribal lore <juite as effectually through the asso- 
ciated work-chants as through direct memory of the forms and struc- 
tures themselves. And the simple runes chanted in unison by Seri 
matrons engaged in bending and lashing their okatilla house-bows 
apparently define a nascent stage in the development of the elaborate 
fiducial house-building ceremonies characteristic of various higher 
tribes; for the spontaneous vocal accompaniment tends naturally to run 
into ritual under that law of the development of myth or fable whi(;h 
explains so many of the customs and notions of primitive peoples.' 


Slightly as they have been affected by three centuries of sporadic 
contact with higher culture, the Seri reveal many marks of accultura- 
tion; and the most conspicuous of these are connected with clothing, 
especially on the frontier, where women and even warriors habitually 
wear a livery of subserviency in the form of cast-oft' Caucasian rags 
(as illustrated in most of the photographs taken at Costa Kica). Even 
in the depths of Seriland the native fabrics are largely replaced liy 
white men's stuffs, obtained by barter, beggary, and robbery; yet it is 
easy to distinguisli the harlequin veneer of borrowed trappings from 
the few fixed types of covering that seem characteristic. 

The most distinctive piece of apitarel is a kilt, extending from waist 
to knees, worn alike by men and women and the larger children. 
Aboriginally it was either a birdskin robe or a rectangle of coarse 
textile fabric, secured at the waist by a hair-cord belt; acculturally it 
is usually a rectangle of manta (coarse sheeting) or other stuff, prefer- 
ably cotton or linen but sometimes woolen, fastened either by tucking 
in the corners or by a belt of cord. Good specimens of the accultiiral 
cloth kilt worn by men and larger boys are illustrated in plates xvi 

'Tlii^ law of fable in its relation to primitive surgery is formulated in the Sixteenth Ann. I^ep. Bur. 

Am. Eth., 1897, p. 22. 


and XIX; the birilskin kilt (put on for the purpose) is illustrated iu 
lilate xviit, while tbe aboii^inal fabric is fairly represented in plate 
XXIX. Although ordinarily worn as a kilt, the same article (tempora- 
rily replaced by an improvised substitute) serves other purposes at the 
convenience of the wearer; in the chase for tunas and for moving' game 
it becomes a bag or pack-sheet; in case of cold rain it is shitted to the 
shoulders or the exposed side; during the siesta it is elevated on a 
shrub and a stick to serve as a canopy; at sleeping time generally it 
forms (esjiecially when of birdskin) a bed, i. e., a combined mattress 
and coverlet ; aiul in attack or defense the pelican skin is at once stand- 
ard, buckler, and waving capa to confuse quarry or enemy after the 
manner of the toreador's cloak. 

An almost equally distinctive garment is a short shirt or wammus, 
with long sleeves, worn by men and women but not by children ; ordi- 
narily it covers the thorax, missing connection with the kilt by a few 
inches, and so attording ventilation and si)ace for suckling the teeming 
ottspring. Unlike the kilt, it is au actual garment, fitted with sleeves 
and fastened iu front with hair-cord strings. Although the Seri 
wammus corresjjonds fairly with a Yatjui garment, it seems practically 
certain that it is of local aboriginal design, and that it was made ])rim- 
itively of haircloth or native textiles (as illustrated iu plate xxix) and 
woiii rather ceremoniously; but latterly it is made of nuinta and is 
worn habitually (at least by the women and on the frontier), though 
cast aside iu preparation for any special task or effort — i. e., it is not 
connected with pudency-sense, save to a slight degree in the younger 
women. The form, function, and ])revaleuce of the wammus are illus- 
trated by the group shown iu plate xiii, iu which nearly all of the 
thirty-odd adults wear the garment. 

These two articles constitute the ordinary wearing apparel of the 
Seri, though they are commouly supplemented (especially when both 
are of manta) by a pelican-skin robe, which is habitually carried to 
serve as bed or mackintosh, according to the chance of journey and 
weather, or as a shield in sudden warfare. No head-covering is used, 
save iu the ceremonial uiasijuerade, when the heads of animals are worn 
as masks,' or iu aping Caucasian customs, especially on expeditions for 
barter (as illustrated iu plate xii). Loose trousers of Mexican pattern 
are sometimes put on at frontier points, but are discarded in Serilaud 
proper, save by Mashcm, who maintains i)restige jiartly by this bor- 
rowed badge of Caucasian superiority. Leggings and moccasins are 
eschewed, naturally enough, since they would afford little protection 
from the sharp spalls and savage thorns of the district, and would give 
lodgment for the barbed spines inevitably gathered in rapid chase or 
flight over cactus-dotted stretches; and the only foot-covering seen 
(save MaslK'm's boots) was a single sandal made from the rough skin 
of a turtle-flipper, apparently for ceremonial rather than practical use. 

' Hardy (Travels, p. 298) describes the ceremonial wearing of the lieads of deer with horns attached. 
17 ETH 1.3 



[eTH. ANN. 17 

Of all the party at Costa Rica in 1894 subcliief Mashem was the ouly 
oue who wore Caucasiau apparel with any air of comfort and fitness; yet 
even he, with hat and shirt, boots and breeches, and loose bandana 
about his neck in cowboy style (plate xvii), did not feel fully dressed 
without the slender hair-cord necklace of his kin in its wonted place. 
On the frontier improvised fig-leaves were sometimes put on the chil- 
dren of less than a dozen years (as illustrated by the standing infant 
shown in plate xiv, who was thus dressed hastily for her picture); and 
a common garb of the smaller children at Costa Rica, as they played 
about the raucberia or wandered in directions away from the white 

FlQ. 29— Seri hairbrush. 

Fig. 30— Seri cradle. 

man's rancho, was limited to a cincture of hair cord or snake skin, or 
perhaps of agave fiber, under which an improvised kilt might be tucked 
on the Caucasian's approacli. 

In addition to the individual apparel, each clan, or at least the elder- 
woman or her fraternal executive, accumulates some surplus material 
as opportunity offers, and this serves as family bedding until occasion 
arises for converting it to other uses. Of late the prevailing materials 
are pelican skins, lightly dressed and joined into robes by sinew stitch- 
ing; deerskins, dried or partially dressed; cormorant skins, treated like 
those of the pelican; seal skins, usually fragmentary; peccary skins, 







apparently dried without dressing, together with 
skius of rabbits, uiouutaiu sheep, antelope, etc, 
usually tattered or torn into fragments. Commonly 
the hides and pelts are nearly or quite in natural 
condition, retaining the hair, fur, or feathers. The 
dressing is apparently limited to scratching and 
gnawing away superfluous flesh, followed by some 
rubbing and greasing; tanning is apparently un- 
known. By far the most abundant of the collective 
possessions are. the pelican-skin robes, which form 
the sole article of recognized barter with Aliens. 
The aggregate stock accumulated at any time is but 
meager, never too much to be borne on the heads 
and backs of the clan in case of unexpected de- 

Aside from the painting paraphernalia, there is 
but a single conspicuous toilet article; this is a hair- 
brush made of yucca fiber bound into cylindrical 
form, as illustrated in figure 29. This article is in 
frequent use; both women and men give much atten- 
tion to brushing their own long and luxurious locks 
and cultivating the hair and scalps of their children, 
the process being regarded as not only directly useful 
but in some measure sacramental. Ordinarily the 
hair is parted in the middle and brushed straight, 
the tresses being permitted to wander at will and 
never braided or bound or restrained by fillets save 
in imitation of Caucasian customs on the frontier; 
though iu certain ceremonies the pelage is gathered 
in a lofty knot on the top-head.' 

The Seri cradle is merely a bow of paloblanco or 
other switch with rude cross-sticks lashed on, as 
shown iu figure 30. On this is laid a small pelican- 
skin robe, with a quantity of pelican down for a 
diaj)er, and perhaps a few pelican feathers attached 
as ])lumes to wave over the occupant's face; though 
on the frontier these primitive devices are largely 
replaced by rags. 

Among the important appurtenances of Seri life 
are the cords used for belts and necklaces, as well as 
for the attachment of ceremonial headdresses, for con- 
verting the kilts into bags, and for numberless minor The Quest of these are made from human 
hair; and for this purpose the combings are care- 
fully kept, twisted into strands, and wound on thorns 
or sticks iu slender bobbins, such as that illustrated 


Fig. 31— Hair spindle. 

' Cf. Hardy, Travels, p. 290. 



[ETH. ANN. 17 

in figure 31. Wheu the accumulation suffices the strands are doubled 
or quadrupled, as shown in figures 32 and 33, and the coi ds are either 

Fig. 32— Huniaii-hair coril. 

applied to immediate use or added to the matron's meager store against 
emergency demands. The cordage used for other purposes than apparel- 

' Fig. S3— Horsehair rord. 

ing is commonly made from fiber extracted either from the roots of the 
mesquite or the stipes of the agave; usually it is well twisted and notably 




uniform in size and texture; au inferior example appears in figure 3i. 
The manes and tails of horses and other stock are also couverted into 
cordage, of which the chief knowu application is in toy riatas. It is of 
no small significance that the most highly prized cordage material is 
human hair, and that its chief uses are connected with the person ; that 
the next in order of diminishing preciousness is that derived from the 
fibrous i)lants, which is used in balsa-making, bowstrings, harpoon 
cords, etc, as well as in the native fabrics; and that the least prized 
material is that derived from imported animals, which is largely limited 
in its utilization to youthful imitation of Caucasian industries; for the 
association of material with function reflects a distinctive feature of 

Fiii. 34 — ilesquite-fiber rope. 

primitive thought, akin to that displayed in somewhat higher culture 
as synecdochic magic, the doctrine of signatures, etc. 

Partly because of that decadence of aboriginal devices correlated 
with acculturation, partly by reason of imperfect observation, practi- 
cally nothing is knowu of Seri spinning and weaving, and little of Seri 
sewing. The religiously-guarded hair-combings are twisted in the 
fingers and wound on stick-bobbins without aid of mechanical appli- 
ances; and, so far as has been observed, the final making of hair cords is 
merely a continuation of the strictly manual process. The agave stipes 
and mesquite roots are alleged by vaqueros to be retted in convenient 
lagoons and barrancas (a statement corroborated by the finding of half 
a dozen sections of mesquite root soaking in a lagoon near Punta Anti- 



[ETH. ANN. 17 

gualla by the 1895 expedition), and then hatcheled with the hupf or the 
edge of a shell ; when the libers are gathered in slender wisps or loosely 
wound coils, both of which were among the possessions of the Seri 
matrons at Costa Rica in 1894. So far as could be ascertained, the 
final processes parallel those of hair-cord making, i. e., the fibers are 
patiently sorted into strands, sized in the fingers 
and twisted by rolling on the thigh, the strands 
being subse(|uently combined in similar fashion.^ 
Neither the weaving nor the woven fabrics of the 
Seri have ever been seen by technologic students 
so faf as known, though the fabrics are shown in 
Von Bayer's photograjihs and have been described 
by various observers. According to Seiior Encinas, 
they resemble coarse bagging, and are woven or 
netted quite plainly. The ordinary sewing material 

is sinew, used in 
connection with a 
bone awl (a good 
example of which 
is illustrated in 
figure 35), a fish 

FlQ. 35— Bone awl. 

Fig. 36 — Wooden awls. 

spine or bone, a cactus thorn, or either the mandible of a water-bird 
or a hard-wood skewer shaped after this natural needle (figure 36 
a and h). Sometijues hair or vegetal fiber is substituted for the sinew; 
and for certain purposes an agave thorn, with the fibers naturally 
attached, serves for needle and thread. 

' A rope-twistiDg device of the Rort commonly employed by southwestern Indians was found in use 
by Seri boys at Costa Rica in 1894, and was included m the Seri collection; but the indications were 
that the device was a mere toy used, like the horae-hair riatas made by its aid, only in youthlul 


Summarily, the customary apparel of Seri men and women may be 
regarded as limited to three articles — (1) a kilt, normally of coarse 
textile fabric,- which is made a prime necessity by a well-developed 
pudency; (2) a short wammus, also normally of coarse textile fabric, 
which is apparently regarded as a convenience and luxury rather than a 
necessity ; and (.'?) a robe, normally of pelican skin, sometimes substituted 
for either or both of the other articles, but ordinarily used as bedding 
or as a buckler. The most valued of these articles is the robe, which 
in the absence of the others replaces the kilt; yet pudency demands 
the habitual use of some form of kilt, while both wammus and robe are 
held so far superfluous that they may be laid aside or bartered or 
otherwise dispensed with whenever occasion arises. 

On considering the special functions and probable genesis of the Seri 
appareling, the student is impressed by the absence of the breech-clout, 
except perhaps in temporary improvisations — though the absence of this 
widespread article of primitive costumery need awaken little surprise 
in view of the environment, and especially of the abounding barbs of 
Seriland, which render all appareling of doubtful value save for the pro- 
tection of tissues softened by habitual covering. The prevailing thorni- 
nessof the habitat renders the free-flowing and easily removable ajjrou 
the most serviceable protection for the exposed vitals of the pubic 
region; and this device, a common one in thorny habitats generally, 
grades naturally into the short skirt or kilt; while it would well accord 
with the maritime habit and habitual thought of the Seri to apply the 
tough and densely feathered skin of the pelican to the purpose. This 
suggestion as to the nascent covering of the tribe consists with the 
tribal faith, in which the Ancient of Pelicans ranks as the creative 
deity, while its modern representative is esteemed a protective tutelary 
possessing talismauic powers against cold, wet, bestial claw and fang, 
alien arrows, and all other evils; so that the use of this feathered i>elt 
as a shield against spiny shrubbery, siiarp-leaved sedges, and barb- 
thorned cacti is quite in harmony with Seri philosophy. Accordingly 
it seems clear that the pelican-skin kilt was autochthonous among the 
Seri, and that it was the original form of tribal appareling; and it is of 
no small significance that the type persists in actual use as well as in 
suggestive vestigial forms, such as pelican-down swaddling for infants, 
pelican- feather plumes on cradle nets, etc. 

The passage from the pelican-skiu kilt to the garment of textile fabric 
under the slow pi'ocesses of primitive thought may not be traced confi- 
dently, though a strong suggestion arises in the Seri hair-cult (a Sani- 
soiiian faith not without parallel in far higher culture) under which 
mystical powers and talismanic virtues are imputed to the human 
pelage. It is in connection with this cult that the Seri locks are so 
attentively cultivated and so assiduously preserved and consecrated 
to more intimate personal uses in belts, necklaces, and the like; and 
although the connecting links ha\e not been found, it is thoroughly 

232* THE SEKI INDIANS [eth.ann.17 

ill accord with Seri thought to assume that iu earlier times the hair 
neclilaces were expanded iuto rudimentary apjiarel in connection with 
])elican-skin shiekls, and after the conquest of vegetal fibers into more 
finished garments probably woven paitly of hair and worn in such 
wise as to suiiplement the natural i)elage in the i)rotection of back, 
shoulders, chest, and arms. If the indication of the tribal cult be valid, 
it would appear that the wammus was the second piece of appaiel iu 
order of genesis, though the first to l)o made of artificial fabric; and 
it is noteworthy that the suggestion is supported by the form of the 
short and free-flowing garment underlying the flowing tresses of war- 
riors and matrons, as well as the vestigial use of humau-hair cords for 
neckbands and fastening strings; while its antiquity in comparison 
with the textile kilt is indicated by the fact that it is a finished artifact, 
evidently fitted to its functions by generations of adjustment. 

The step from the making of the wammus to the substitution of arti- 
ficial fabrics for the pelican-skin kilt was an easy and natural one; and 
it need only be noted that the transition is still incomplete, since the 
feathered jielt is uuquestioningly substituted for tbe fabric whenever 
occasion demands, yet that the kilt in some form must be much more 
archaic than the wammus, since it is correlated with the pudency sense,' 
while the complete garment is not so correlated save in slight and 
incipient degree. 

Accordingly the three articles of apparel may be seriated genetically 
as (1) the pelican-skin robe, used long as a kilt, and only lately rele- 
gated to emergency use and bedding; (2) the well-differentiated wam- 
mus of textile fabric with hair-cord fastenings; and (3) the textile kilt, 
with or without a hair-cord belt. And the three artifacts are local and 
presumptively — indeed manifestly — autochthonous, and exemplify the 
interdependence of artifacts and environment no less strikingly than 
the Seri balsa or basket or jacal. 


In advanced culture tools are finished products, made and used in 
accordance with preconceived designs or established arts for the pro- 
duction of commodities; in primal life (as well exemplified by Seri 
handicraft) tools are mere by-products incidental to the largely instinc- 
tive activities directed toward the maintenance of life. Accordingly, 
the tools of advanced culture form the nucleus of industries, while tiie 
designless tools of the prime cluster about the outskirts of industrial 

•Iu this writing tlie conclusion reached in an unpttblisbeil discusaion of the beginnino; of clothing 
is assumed — i. e., tliat tbe jirimal apparel was purely protective, and that the habitual concealment of 
portions of tbe body incidental to its wearin*; gradually planted the pudency sense. The germ of 
clothing, without attendant i>udeucy, is well illustrated in Karl von den Steineu's observations and 
discussions of tbe Krazilan natives {Unler den Naturvolkern Zentral-Braailiens, Berlin, 1894,>0- 
199). It is noteworthy that the Seri, more primitive as they are iu so many respects than any other 
American aborigines known, are much farther advanced than the Brazilian nati\"es iu appareling and 
its efiects on character. The similarities and the ditlerenees are alike interesting : yet in both cases the 
costumes reflect environmental conditions and needs with remarkable Udelity . 

mcgee; the rudiments OF TOOLS 233* 

activities; i. e.. in developed industries the tool is a primary factor, 
while in nascent industries it is but a collateral. 

The tools of any primitive tribe may be defined as appliances used 
primarily in the production of im]>lements and utensils, and incidentally 
in preparing food, mailing habitations, manufacturing ajiparel, build- 
ing vehicles or vessels, etc — in short, the appliances used in producing 
devices for the maintenance of active life. The definition emphasizes 
both the deartli and the unditterentiated character of Seri tools; for the 
appliances used in the production of devices are exceedingly few, and 
are commonly emjjloyed also in food-getting or iu other vital industries. 

Perhaps the most conspicuous general fact in connection with Seri 
tools and their uses is the prevalence of natural objects employed 
either (1) in ways suggested by natural functions or (2) in ways deter- 
mined by the convenience of users; the former grading into artificial 
devices shaped iu similitude of natural objects and employed iu ways 
suggested by natural functions. 

Prominent among the natural objects employed in natural ways are 
mandibles of birds, used in piercing pelts and fabrics; fish spines and 
bones, also used as piercers; thorns of cacti and mimosas, used in 
.similar ways; teeth and horns of game animals, used in rending their 
own tissues, and afterward in miscellaneous industrial processes; 
together with cane splints, used for incising. Frequently the employ- 
ment of such objects is mere improvisation; yet, so far as could be 
ascertained through direct observation at Costa Uica, through Mashem's 
incomplete accounts, and through inquiries from residents on the fron- 
tier, even the improvisations are made in accordantie with regular cus- 
tom firmly fixed by as-sociations — quite iu the way, indeed, of primitive 
life generally, and of the physiologic and psychic processes from which 
primitive custom is so largely b(nrowed. With these objects may be 
grouped the turtle-shells and ])elicau-pelts used as shields against alien 
and animal enemies or as protectors against the elements; and the Seri 
sages would class with them the deer-head masks and deer-hoof rattles 
worn ill the dance to at once symbolize and invoke strength and swift- 
ness. One of the most striking among the artificial devices of sym- 
bolic motive is the piercer, or awl, of wood or bone, shaped in imitation 
of the avian mandible; yet still more significant in a vestigial way 
(provided the most probable inference as to genesis be valid) is the 
hard-wood foreshaft of arrow and harpoon, shaped and used in trench- 
ant symbolism of the deadly tooth. 

Theie are two conspicuous classes of natural objects employed in 
ways determined largely by the convenience of the users, viz, ((/) marine 
shells and {b) beach pebbles. 

The marine shells applied industrially comprise the prevailing local 
genera, Gardium, Mactra, Area, Cliama, and others. They are used ordi- 
narily as drinking-cups, dishes, dippers, receptacles for tats and face- 

234* THE SERI INDIANS [eth.axs.17 

paints, and as small utensils generally ; and they are used nearly as com- 
monly for scraping skins, severing animal and plant tissnes, digging 
graves and waterholes, propelling balsas, and especially for scraping 
I'eeds and sticks and okatilla stems in the manufacture of arrows, har- 
poons, bows, balsas, and jacalframes — indeed, the seashell is the Seri 
familiar, the ever present haudmate and helper, the homologue of the 
Anglo-Saxon Jack with his hundred word-compounds, a lialf-personifled 
reflex of habitual action and thought. Ordinarily — always, so far as is 
known — the shells are used in the natural state, i. e., either in the con- 
dition of capture and opening for the removal of the animal, or in the 
condition of finding on the beach. For certain purposes the fresh and 
sharp-edged shell is doubtless preferable, and for others the well-worn 
specimen (like the paint cup illustrated in plate xxvii) is chosen; but 
everything indicates that the need for smoothed shells is met by 
selecting wave-worn specimens, and nothing indicates that the value 
of the appliance is deemed to be enhanced by wear of use — in fact, the 
abundance of abandoned shells about the raucherias and cam|) sites, 
and over all Seriland for that matter, indicates that the objects are 
discarded as easily as they are found along the prolific shores. 

Next to the shells, the most abundant industrial appliances of the 
Seri are beach pebbles or cobbles. They are used for crushing shell and 
bone, for rending the skins of larger animals, for severing tendons and 
splintering bones, as well as for grinding or crushing seeds, uprooting 
canes, chopping trees and branches, driving stakes, and for the multi- 
farious minor purposes connected with the manufacture of arrows and 
balsas andjacales; they are also the favorite women's weapons in war- 
fare and the chase, and are sometimes used in similar wise by the war- 
riors. The material for these appliances ])aves half the shores of Seri- 
land, and is available in shiploads; and its use not only illnstrates Seri 
handicraft in several siguiticant aspects, but illumines one of the more 
obscure stages in the technologic development of mankind. 

The cobble-stone implements of the Seri range from pebbles to bowl- 
ders, and there is a corresponding range in function from light hand- 
implements at one end of the series to unwieldy anvils and metates at 
the other end. The intermediate sizes are not infrequently utilized, 
and are customarily used interchangeably, the smaller of any two used 
in conjunction serving as the hand implement and the larger as the 
anvil or metate; yet there is a fairly definite clustering of the objects 
about two types, a larger and more stationary class, and a smaller and 
more portable one. 

The Seri designation for the larger stone implement is that applied 
to rock generally, viz, altst (the vowel broad, as in " father'") j and it 
seems probabh that the term is onomatopoetic, or mimetic of the sound 
produced in the use of the implement as a metate, and that its applica- 
tion to rocks generally is secondary. The designation ax)plied to the 








'' ■■- '■• '.-$# 








smaller implement is hiip/ov Am/*/ (the initial sound explosive, combin- 
ing the phonetic values of /( and /i-; the vowel nearly as in •' put", or like 
"oo" in "took"); the term is clearly an onomatope, imitating the sound 
of the bh)w delivered on tlesh, on a mass of partially crushed mesquite 
beiins, etc — indeed, both the word and the sound of the blow seem to 
connote food or eating, while regular pounding with the implement 
(either in ordinary use or by special design) is a gathering signal. So 
far as ascertained, the term is not extended to other objects save poten- 
tial implements in the form of suitable pebbles; but it is significant 
that there is no distinction in speech — nor in thought, so far as could 
be ascertained — between the natural pebble and the wear-shaped imple- 
ment.' The local terms ahst and hnpf are explicit and specific, and 
without ])reoise equivalents in other known tongues; moreover, the 
objects designated are too inchoate in development and hence too pro- 
tean in function to be appropriately denoted by the designations of 
implements pertaining to more differentiated culture (mortar, metate, 
pestle, muller, mano, etc). Accordingly it seems desirable to retain the 
Seri designations.- 

A typical specimen of intermediate size, used commonly as an ahst, 
but susceptible of employment as a hupf, is illustrated (natural size) in 
plates XXXV and xxxvi.^ It is a hard, tough, hornblende-granite or 
greenstone, with a few structure-lines brought out by weathering and 
wave- wearing. Its weight is 4 pounds 10 ounces (2.10 kilograms); its 
form and surface are entirely natural, save for slight battering shown 
on the two principal faces and still less conspicuous bruises along one 
edge (as imperfectly shown toward the left of plate xxxv). The speci- 
men was found in a jacal (illustrated in plate Vi) on Rada Ballena, 
within a few hours after abandonment, in the position in which it was 
hastily left by the last users; it was smeared with blood and fat (which 
still remain, as is shown in plate xxxv) and bits of flesh, and bore bloody 
finger prints of two sizes — those of a man and those of a woman or 
large child; beside it lay the hupf depicted in plate xlii. In its last 
use the unwieldly cobble served as an ahst, but the markings on the 
edge record use also as a hand imi)lement. 

A functionally similar implement is illustrated in plate xxxvii (on 
reduced scale; maximum length 8^ inches =: 210 cm.). It is of tough 

'The failure to (Uscriraiuato uatural objects from artificialized implements produced from such 
objects by wear of use is a uotewortby trait of primitive folk. It is couspicuous among tbe acorn 
ludiaDS of California, who fail to apperceive the manufacture of their own mills and who conceive that 
their bowlder mortars and ci'eekpebble pestles, even when enmpletely jirtiiieialized by ,a generation's 
use, are merely found and appropriated : and a similar state of mind persists among the well-advanced 
Papago, who have no conception of making their well-tinislied mortars and pestles, or even the stone 
tomahawks occasionally surviving, but regard the implements as fruits of discov<'ry or treasures- 
trove onl,y. 

2 It should be noted that I lie lernis used in the titles of the accompanying plates are not denotive, but 
merely descriptive. 

^This, like the other illustrations of the series (except plate Lvi, which is a lithograph, partly proc- 
ess and partly handwork), are photo-mechanical reproductions made directly from the objects; all 
are natural size unless otherwise specified. 

23G* THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ann.17 

but slightly vesicular and pulverulent volcanic tuff', piuki.sli-butt' in 
color, and weighs 4 pouud.s 1 ouuce ( l.S-t kilograms). The form and sur- 
face are almost wholly natural, save for slight battering about the 
larger end and severer battering, with the dislodgment of a flake, about 
the thinner end; yet the faces are smeared with blood and grease and 
flecked with turtle debris, and bear a few marks of hupf blows, as is 
shown in the reproduction. This specimen was found at a temporary 
cam]) of a small party on Puiita Jliguel, where it had been used in 
breaking up a turtle — the camj) having been abandoned so precii)itately 
that a considerable part of the (luarry, with this hupf, the ahst illus- 
trated in plate Liv, the turtle-harpoon shown in figure 20, the half-made 
fire, and the fire-sticks used in kindling it, were left behind. The speci- 
men is a good exam|de of the cobbles carried into j)ortions of the terri- 
tory lacking the material (the camj) at which it was found was on the 
great sandsi)it forming the eastern barrier of I>oca lufierno, several 
miles from the nearest pebbly shore); it is of less specific gravity than 
the average rocks of the region, and looks still lighter by reason of its 
color and texture. Similar cobbles abound along the eastern coast of 
Tibnron, being derived from the immense volcanic masses of Sierra 

About the more permanent rancherias and on many abandoned sites 
lie ahsts usually too heavy for convenient transjjortation. In the hab- 
itable jacales such stones form regular household appurtenances, with- 
out which the menage is deemed incomplete;, though the implement is 
commonly kicked about at random, often buried in debris (perha|)S to 
be completely lost, and brought to light only by geologic changes, as 
demonstrated by the shell-heai) of Punta Antigualla), and i)ressed into 
service only in case of need. Au exceptionally well-worn specimen of 
the kind is illustrated in plate xxxviii (scale one half linear; maximum 
width measured on base, 9;^ inches =23") cm.). The material is a hard, 
ferruginous, almost Jaspery quartzite, somewhat obscurely laminated. 
It weighs 10 i)Ounds 11 ounces (4.8.^ kilograms). It is a natural slab, 
evidently from a talus rather than the shore, its native locus being i)rob- 
ably the western slope of Sierra Seri. The edges and apex are formed 
by natural fractures; the most-used face (that shown in the plate) is 
a natural structure plane; the obverse side is partly a sinnlar plane, 
partly irregular; while the base is an irregular fracture, evidently due 
to accident after the specimen had been long in use, though the frac- 
ture occurred years or decades ago, as indicated by the weathering 
of the surfaces. The entire face of the slab is worn and more or less 
polished by use as a metate, the wear culminating toward the center 
of the base (evidently the center of the original slab), where the hol- 
lowing reaches some three-sixteentlis of an inch ('> mm.); yet even in 
the depths of the incipient basin the i)olished surface is broken by 
irregular pitting of a sort indicating occasional use as an anvil. The 
edges are quite unworn, but the smoother portion of the obverse is 

















■%; ■>:^% -i^" ,-' '^-^^"^ 















worn and polished like the face, though to a less degree. The speci- 
men was found at a recently occupied jacal, midway between Punta 
Antigualla and Pnuta Ygnacio; it lay in the position of use, though 
half concealed by a cholla thrown over it, with tlie liupf shown in i)late 
LVi; it was soaked wiih fat and smeared with the debris and intestinal 
contents of a turtle, as ])artly shown in tlie illustration. 

The largest ahst seen in Seriland is illustrated in plates xxxix and 
XL, on a scale of one-third linear (its maximum length being 15* 
inches = 30.T cm.); it is a dark, finegrained silicious schist or quartzite, 
(jnite obscurely laminated: it weighs 3.) pounds 8 ounces (15.'_'0 kilo- 
grams). It is a natural slab, probably washed from a talus and slightly 
wave-worn ; it might have come originally from either the southwestern 
flanks of Sierra Seri or the more southerly half of Sierra Kuidcaak — 
certainly hundreds of similar slabs strew the eastern shore of Bahia 
Kunkaak, while the western shore, especially about Punta Narragan- 
sett, would yield thousands. Its artificial features (aside Ironi miscel- 
laneous battering) are limited to grinding of the two faces defined by 
structure planes. The principal face is abraded into an oblong or 
spoon-shape basin, about 8 inches (20 cm.) long, o inches ( 1(J cm.) broad, 
and fully three fourths of an inch (2 cm.) deep, the basin penetrating- 
two or three lamina' of the slab in such wise as to ])roduce the annular 
markings faintly shown in plate xxxix; the obverse is slightly rubbed 
and giouud and somewhat battered, like the face of the pre(;eding 
specimen ; and both sides are flecked with a fine but dark fiour-like 
substance (doubtless derived from uTi'Kling mesqnite beans, etc) forced 
into the texture of the stone by the grinding process. The entire slab 
is greasy and blood-stained, while battered spots about the edges and 
angles of the i)rincipal face record considerable use as an anvil for 
breaking n\> <juarry — indeed, shreds of turtle flesh and bits of intes- 
tinal debi'is still lodge in some of the interstices. The specimen was 
taken from the old ranclieria at tlie base of Punta Tormenta, where it 
had api)arently been in desultory use for generations. 

A sort of connecting link between ahst and hupf is afforded by elon- 
gate beach pebbles, such as that illustrated in plate XLi, which lay 
beside the large ahst last described, and which bears a few inconspicu- 
ous marks of use in slight battering at both ends, with a few shreds of 
turtle flesh about the blunter extremity (at the right on the plate). 
The specimen is shown natural size; it is of pinkish-giay trachyte (?), 
and weighs 1 pound 12 ounces (0.79 kilograms). It is noteworthy 
chiefly as an illustration of the Seri mode of seizing and using hand- 
implements (a mode repeatedly observed at Oosta Kica in 1894);. the 
pebble comfortably fits the Caucasian hand, held hammerwise; it is 
intuitively graspe<l in this way, and when so seized and used with an 
outward swing forms an ett'ective implement for bone-crushing, etc, the 
natural striking-iioint being near the free end ; but tlie centripetally 
moving Seri invariably seizes the specimen in such manner that the 

238* THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ann.17 

free end is directed iuward, while the thumb laps over the grasped end, 
when the strokes are directed downward and inward, the striking-point 
being the extreme ti]i of the free end. A similar specimen is illustrated 
in plate XLii. It is of tough aud homogeneous hornblende-granite, 
somewhat shorter and broader than its homologue, but of exactly the 
same weight; it, too, is battered at the ends, but is otherwise quite nat- 
ural in form. It was collected at Rada Ballena in conjunction with the 
ahst illustrated in ])late xxxv; and like that specimen it is soaked with 
blood and fat, and bore shreds of flesh when found. Both these elon- 
gate cobbles are of interest as representatives of a somewhat aberrant 
type; for the favorite form of hnpf is shorter and thicker, as shown by 
the prevailing shapes, both in use and lying about the jacales — indeed, 
the elongate form is seldom used on the coast and never carried into 
the interior. 

A typical hupf is illustrated in plate xliii. The si)ecimen is of tine- 
grained, dense, and massive quartzite, its homogeneity being interrupted 
only by a thin seam of infiltrated silica and by an obscure structure-plane 
brought out by weathering toward the thinner end. Its weight is 1 
pound it ounces (0.S.5 kilogram). In general form and surface the 
specimen is an absolutely natural pebble, such as may be found in thou- 
sands along the shores of Seriland. Its artificial features are limited 
to slight battering' about the edges, especially at the thinner end; 
partial polishing of the lateral edges by repeated handling (as imper- 
fectly shown in the edge view) ; very perceptible polishing of both faces 
by use as a grinder: some tire blackening on both sides; seniisaturation 
with grease and blood; and the flecks of red face-paint shown in the 
reproduction. The specimen was obtained at Costa liica after some 
days' observation of its use. The chief observed functions of this 
implement were as follows: (1) Skinning the leg of a partially con- 
sumed horse; this was done by means of centripetal (i. e., downward 
and inward) blows, so directed that the thinner end fell obliipiely on 
the tissue, bruising and tearing it with considerable rapidity. (2) Sev- 
ering tough tendons already sawed nearly through by rubbing over the 
edge of an ahst, the hupf in this case being in the hands of a coadjutor 
and used in rather random strokes whenever the tissue seemed par- 
ticularly refractory. (3) Knocking off the parboiled hoof of a horse to 
give access to the coflflnbone. (4) Crushing and splintering bones to 
facilitate sucking of the marrow. (5) Grinding mesquite beans; the 
process being begun by vertical blows with the end of the implement (ni 
a heap of the pods resting on an ahst, continued by blows with the 
side, and finished by kneading and rubbing motions similar to those of 
grinding on a metate. ((!) Pounding shelled corn mixed with slack lime, 
in a ludicrously futile attempt to imitate IMexican cookery. (7) Chop- 
ping trees; in this case the implement was grasped in the centripetal 
manner and used in pounding and bruising the wood at the jjoint of 
greatest bending under the xjuU of a coadjutor. (8) Cleaving and 











breakiug wood for fuel. (9) Detboriiing okatilla steins, by sweeping 
centripetal strolses delivered adzwise from top toward butt of a bunch 
of stems Ij'ing on the ground. (10) Severing a stout hair cord; in this 
use it was grasped between the knees of a matron squatting on the 
ground, while the cord was held in both hands and sawed to and fro 
over the use-roughened thinner end. (11) Supporting a kettle (shown 
in plate x) as one of the tire stones used in frontier mimicry of the 
Papago custom. (12) Triturating face-paint by pounding and knead- 
ing; in one case the specimen served as a hand implement, while in 
another case it took the place of the ahst, the ocher lump itself being 
struck and rubbed against it. (13) Beating a troo]i of dogs from a pile 
of bedding in a jacal; in this use the implement was held in the custom- 
ary manner and used in swift centripetal blows, the matron relying on 
her own swiftness and reach and not at all on jjrqjection to come within 
reach of her moving targets; the blows usually landed well astern, 
and were so vicious and vigorous as to have killed the agile brutes 
had they chanced to fall squarely — indeed, one blow temporarily par- 
alyzed a large cur, which escajjed only by running on its fore feet and 
dragging its hind quarters. In most of these uses the specimen was 
employed in conjunction witli an improvised ahst in the form of a stone 
carried from the rancho. Several of the processes, notably those of 
tissue-tearing and dog-beating, were executed with a vigor and swift- 
ness quite distinct from the sluggish lounging of the ordinary day- 
tide and, indeed, partaking of the tierce exaltation normal to the Seri 
chase. When not in use the implement usually lay just within the 
open end of the owner's jacal, though it was often displaced and some- 
times kicked about the patio for hours. It was one of perhaps a dozen 
similar implements brought across the desert from the coast by as many 
matrons. All were regarded as personal belongings jiertainiug to the 
custodians about as definitely as articles of apparel, though rather 
freely loaned, especiallj' in the owner's clan. The specimen was pur- 
chased from the possessor, who parted from it lather reluctantly, 
though with the tacit iipproval of her clanswomen, at a rate implying 
considerable appreciatiDU of real or supposed value. Three or four 
other matrons declined to barter their hupfs, either arbitrarily or on 
the plea that they were a long way from the source of supply. 

A common variety of hupf is illustrated in plate XLiv. It is of 
pinkish, slaty tuff of rather low specific gravity, somewhat vesicular 
and pulverulent, though moderately hard and tough. It weighs 17 
ounces (0.48 kilogram). In form and surface it is essentially a wave- 
worn pebble, doubtless derived originally from the volcanic deposits of 
Sierra Kunkaak. Its artificial markings are limited to slight battering 
about the edges, especially at the tiiinner end (as shown in the'edge 
view); slight rubbing, striation, and semipolishing of the smoother 
face (shown In the plate) ; a few grease spots and a stain showing use in 
crushing sajjpy vegetal matter, also on this face; and an inconspicuous 

240* THE SERI INDIANS [eth.anx.)7 

fire-mark on the obverse. It was found in a recently abandoned jacal 
near Campo i^avidad. It is one of the thi-ee tuff specimens among those 
collected, one of a dozen or two seen: perhaps 10 per cent of the 
implements observed in Seriland are of this material, and it is signifi- 
cant that this ratio is several times larger than the proportion of tuff 
pebbles to the entire paving of the beaches, so that the material seems 
to be a jireferred one. The preference was indeed discovered at Costa 
Kica in 181)4, where two or three of the more highly prized hupfs weie 
of this material, and where vagne intimations were obtained that it is 
especially favored for meal-making, doubtless by reason of the associa- 
tion of color and texture— associations that mean much to the primitive 
mind, perhaps in suggesting that the grinding is easier when done by 
a soft implement. An ec^onomic reason for the preference is easily 
found in the lower specih<- giavity, and hence the greater portability of 
a hupf of ordinary size, of this material; but there is nothing to indi- 
cate that this economic factor is weighed or even apperceived by the 

A typical pebble bearing slight marks of use is illustrated in plate 
XLA". It is of line grained pinkish sandstone, probablj' tuff'aceous. and 
is fairly hard and (piite tough; it weighs 1 pound ounces (0.71 kilo- 
gram). It is wholly natural in form and surface save for slight batter- 
ing or pecking on the face illustrated, and for a few stains of grease 
and abnndant marks of tire. It was found in a fire still burning (and 
abandoned within a half hour, as indicated by other signs) two or three 
miles inland tVoin Punta (Jraiiita on the Seri trail toward Agnaje 
Parilla, whitlier it had evidently been carried from the coast. 

A fairly coiumoii material for both hnpfs and ahsts is highly vesicular 
basalt grading into pumice stone, the material corresi)oniling fairly with 
a favorite inetate material among the Mexicans. The rock was not cer- 
tainly traced to its source, but seems to come from the northern part 
of Sierra Kunkaak. A typical hupf of this material is shown in plate 
XLVi; it weighs 1 pound 13 ounces (0.82 kilogram). It is wholly natu- 
ral in every respect save for slight grinding and subi)olishiug, with 
some filling of interstices, on both faces. From the slight wear of this 
specimen, together with the absence of battering, and from similar 
features })resented by others of the class, it maybe inferred that imple- 
ments of this material are habitually used only for grinding — for which 
purpose tliey are admirably adai)ted. The specimen emi)hasizes the 
importance of the luqif in Seri thought, for it was one of a small series 
of mortuary sacrifices from a tomb at Pozo Escalante (ante, p. 290). 

Throughout the surveys of Seriland, constant search was made for 
cntting implements of stone; and the nearest approach to success was 
exemplified by the specimen illustrated in. plate XLVii. It is of bluish- 
gray volcanic rock (not s])ecifically identified) of close texture and 
decided toughness and hardness; it weighs 10 ounces (0.28 kilogram). 
In greater part its form and surface are natural, but a projecting por- 



'■^afife'-; ■■■■■■ 


■' ' '. ; ■•V■.^■' 

1*5 . ■• 

'■T;,<; : ■, 



)^ - 









tion brougbt out by -n-eathering ou one side is split ofi", piesnmablj- by 
iutention, and the fractured surface thus produced is i)artly smoothed 
by rubbing, probably in use, though possibly by design. The edges are 
more or less battered, especially at the ends, and several rude flakes 
have been knocked off, evidently at random and presumably in ordinary 
use as an ahst. The smoother face is wholly natural. The specimen 
was picked up in a jacal at Rada Ballena, but bore no marks of recent 

A tuff implement of suggestively axlikeform is shown in plate XLViii; 
it is firmer and less pulverulent but more vesicular than most imple- 
ments of its class; it weighs but 7 ounces (0.20 kilogram). The speci- 
men was picked up in a ruinous Jacal, which had evidently been occu- 
pied temporarily within a fortnight, on the summit of the great 'shell- 
mound forming Punta Antigualla. The somewhat indelinite texture 
and color render it diflQcult to distinguish between natural and artiticial 
features; but careful examination indicates that it is wholly natural in 
form and in nine tenths of the surface, and that the ax-like shape 
expresses nothing more than accidents of structure and wave-work. 
This interpretation is practically established by the slight battering 
along the edges and about the smaller end, as illustrated in the edge 
view; for this wear of use, which has produced a distinctive surface, is 
practically absent from the notches which give the ax-like ett'ect. 
Besides the battering, the only artiticial marks are ancient fire-stains 
ou one of the faces. On the whole it is clear that the artificial appear- 
ance catching the eye at first glance is purely fortuitous, and that the 
specimen is but a natural pebble very slightly modified by ordinary use. 

A suggestive specimen is illustrated in plate XLix; it is of purplish- 
gray granitoid rock, of decided toughness and considerable hardness, 
and weighs 12i ounces (0.35 kilogram). The surface and general form 
indicate that it is a natural pebble entirely without marks of artificial 
use; but the regular curvature of the principal face (the shape is that 
of a segment of a cylinder rounded toward the ends) suggests artificial 
shaping, while it was found far in the interior, near Barranca Salina, 
whither it must have been carried from the coast. It may iiossibly be 
a fragment of a pestle subsequently wave- worn; but all the probabili- 
ties are that it is wholly natural, and that its suggestive features are 

The constant search for chipped or flaked tools which was extended 
over nearly all Seriland seldom met the slightest reward; but the speci- 
men shown in plate L was deemed of some interest in connection with 
the search. It is of hard and tough greenstone, showing obscure and 
irregular structure lines, though nearly homogeneous in texture; it 
weighs 10 ounces (0.28 kilogram). It is primarily a natural pebble 
with form and surface reflecting structure and texture in conuectiou 
with wave-action. Its artificial features are limited to the usual slight 
battering of the smaller end, still less conspicuous battering or griud- 
17 ETH 10 

242* THE SEKI INDIANS [eth.ans.17 

ing of the margin about the larger eud, slight but suggestive chip- 
piug of the thinner edge, inconspicuous hand-wear and polish on the 
principal face, and a few obscure scratches or strife on the same face, 
as illustrated in the plate. The position and character of the tiake- 
fractures, which are fairly shown in the edge view, indicate that they 
were made while the pebble was in use as a bruising or cutting tool, 
a use at once suggested to the Caucasian mind by the form of the 
pebble; yet it is noteworthy that its thin edge displays less batter- 
ing than either end of the object and no more than the opposite and 
thicker edge, while it is still more significant that the specimen was 
apparently discarded immediately on the modification of form by the 
spalling — a modification greatly increasing its efticiency, as all habit- 
ual users of chipped stone tools would realize. The specimen is one 
of a large number of examples showing that whenever a hupf is broken 
in use it is regarded as rained, and is immediately thrown away. This 
particular specimen is archaic; it was found in the cliff- face of the 
great shell-heap at Punta Autigualla, embedded in a tiny stratum of 
ashes and charcoal (some of which still adheres, as shown in the black 
flecking at the outer end of the striae), associated with scorched clam- 
shells, typical Seri potsherds, etc, some 40 feet beneath the surface. 

While the great majority of the hupfs are mere pebbles bearing 
slight trace of artificial wear, as illustrated by the foregoing examples, 
others bear traces of use so extended as to more or less completely 
artiflcialize the surface. A typical long-used hupf is depicted in plates 
LI and LIT. It is a tough and hard quartzite, dark gray or brown in 
color, massive and homogeneous in texture; it weighs 2 pounds 4 
ounces (1.02 kilograms). In general form it is a typical wave-worn 
pebble of its material, and might be duplicated in thousands along the 
shores of Bahia Kunkaak and El Infiernillo ; but fully a third of its sur- 
face has been more or less modified by use. The flatter face (plate li) 
is smeared with blood, grease, and charcoal, which have been ground 
into the stone by friction of the hand of the user in such manner as to 
form a kind of skin or veneer; portions of the face bear a subpolish, 
due probably to the hand-rubbing in use; near the center there is a 
rough pit about an eighth of an inch (3 mm.) deep, evidently produced 
by peckiTig or battering with metal, while three or four neighboring 
scratches penetrating the veneer appear to record ill-directed strokes 
of a rather sharp metal point. In the light of observed customs it may 
be inferred that this pitting was produced by use of the implement as 
an anvil or ahst in sharpening a harpooiipoint and fitting it into its 
foreshaft. The thinner edge (shown in i)laue Li; that toward the right 
in the face view on the same plate) displays considerable battering of 
the kind characteristic of Seri hupfs in general; it is smoked and tire- 
stained, as shown, while the lower rounded corner is worn away by 
battering to a depth of probably one-fourth inch (5 mm.). The obverse 
face reveals more clearly the battering about both corners and edges, 



















^ «J'.::»V* '■TT.'' 

















'■*♦ "^W 



iuclucling the dislodgment of a flake toward the narrower eud; but its 
most couspicuous feature is a bi-oad subpolished facet (rounding slightly 
toward the thinner edge) produced by griuding on a flat-surface ahst. 
This face, too, exhibits fire-staiuing,while the surface beyond the facet — 
and to a slight extent the facet itself — is veneered like the other face. 
There are a few scratches on this side also, as well as a slight pitting 
due to contact with metal. The thicker edge (plate lii) displays con- 
siderable battering, especially a recent pitting near the middle evi- 
dently due to use as an anvil held between the knees for sharpening a 
harpoon point by rude hammering. The specimen was one of a score of 
implements lying about the interior of the principal jacal in the great 
rancheria at the base of Punta Tormenta (illustrated in plate vii). 

A related specimen, though of somewhat aberrant form, is illus- 
trated in plate Liii. It is of peculiarly tough and quite hard green- 
stone and weighs 2 pounds 1 ounce (0.93 kilogram). Somewhat less 
than half of the surface is that of a wave-worn pebble; the remainder 
is either battered out of all semblance to wave work, or thumb- worn by 
long-continued use. The object well illustrates the choice of the most 
prominently projecting portion of the hand-implement as the point 
of percussion, and consequently the concentrated wear on such por- 
tions whereby the object is gradually reduced to better-rounded and 
more symmetric form. This specimen displays some minor flaking, 
apparently connected with the battering and regarded by the user as 
subordinate to the general wear. It was found at Puuta Tormenta, con- 
cealed in the wall of a jacal, as if preserved for special use. 

One of the best-known examples of a use-perfected hupf is Illustrated 
iu plate Liv. It is of coarse-grained but massive and homogeneous 
granite, similar to that forming Punta Blanca, Punta Grauita, and, 
indeed, much of the eastern coast of Bahla Kunkaak. It weighs 1 
pound 10 ounces (0.74 kilogram). In general form it is just such a 
pebble as is produced from this material by wave-wear, and might be 
duplicated along the shores in numbers. The artificial surfaces com- 
prise (1) both ends, which are battered in the usual manner; (2) both 
lateral edges, of which one is slightly battered and worn, while the 
other is somewhat battered and also notched, evidently by a chance 
blow and the dislodgment of a flake; (3) both faces, which are flattened 
by grinding, while one of them (that shown in the plate) is .slightly 
pitted, evidently by metal- working; so that the natural surface is 
restricted to small areas about the corners. The implement was found 
at the camp site on Punta Miguel, already noted (page 189), whence a 
group of five Seri were frightened by the approach of the 1895 expedi- 
tion; it was covered with blood and shreds of turtle flesh, and is still 
saturated with grease. Moreover, it is quite confidently identified 
(not only by form and material, but especially by the fortuitous notch) 
as a hupf seen repeatedly at Costa Rica in 1894; it was the property 
of a matron of the Pelican clan (whose portrait appears in plate xxii), 

244* THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ann.h 

who was observed to use it for various industrial purposes, and who 
refused to part with it for any cousideration. 

A still more beautiful example of Seri stone art is depicted iu_ plate 
LV. It is of the same homogeneous and coarse-grained granite as the 
last specimen, and closely approaches it in dimensions; it is slightly 
longer and broader, but somewhat thinner, and weighs 1 pound 11 
ounces (0.77 kilogram); and, except for the absence of the accidental 
notch, its artificial features are still more closely similar. The ends 
are slightly battered, as illustrated in the end view at the right of the 
plate; the edges are similai-ly worn, but to a less extent; while both 
sides have been symmetrically faceted by use in grinding, the facets 
being straight in the longitudinal direction but slightly curved in the 
transverse direction, in the shape of the Mexican mano. The specimen 
displays well-marked color distinctions between the artificially worn 
and the natural surfaces, the former being gray and the latter weathered 
to yellowish or pinkish-brown; these colors show that something like 
two-thii-ds of the surface is artificial and the intervening third natural; 
and the natural portion corresponds in every respect, not only in form 
but in condition of surface, with the granite cobbles of Seriland's stormy 
shores. Unfortunately the color distinctions, with tlie limits of facet- 
ing and other artificial modifications, are obscure in the photomechan- 
ical reproduction ; they are indicated more clearly in the outline draw- 
ing oversheet. The specimen is partially saturated with fat, and bears 
an ocher stain attesting use in the preparation of face-paint. It was 
found carefully wrapped in a parcel with the shell paintcup illustrated 
in plate xxvii, a curlew mandible, two or three hawk feathers, and a 
tuft of pelican down (the whole evidently foi iniug the fetish or medicine- 
bag of a shamanistic elderwouuin), in an outof the-way nook in the 
wall of an abandoned jacal at Punta Narragausett. 

A somewhat asymmetric though otlierwise typical hupf is illustrated 
in natural colors in plate lvi. It is of andesite, and may have come 
originally either from the extensive volcanics of southern Sierra Seri 
or central Sierra Kunkaak; it weighs 1 pound 15 ounces (0.88 kilo- 
gram). The general form is that of a wave-worn cobble, and fully one- 
third of the surface retains the natural character save for slight 
smoothing through hand friction in use. The chief artificial modifica- 
tion is the faceting of both sides in nearly plain and approximately 
parallel faces, the maximum thickness of material removed from each 
side, estimated from the curvature of the adjacent natural surface, 
being perhaps three-sixteenths of an inch (5 millimeters); in addition, 
both ends are battered in the usual fashion, while the thinner and more 
projecting edge is battered still more extensively, in a way at once sub- 
serving convenient use and tending to increase the symmetry of form. 
One of the facets is quite smooth; the other (that on the right in the 
plate) is slightly pitted, as if by use in metal-working. The specimen 
is somewhat greasy — the normal condition of the hupf — and bears 





■ f. 


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«ff:'; - 


.j-v . 



r ■'/V./'M-y 




couspiouous records of its latest uses; both faces (more especially tlie 
pitted one) are stained with sap from green vegetal substance (probably 
immature mesquite pods), while one face is brilliantly marked with 
ocher in such manuer as to indicate that a lump of face-paint was 
partially pulverized by grinding on the slightly rough surfece. It was 
found, together with the ahst illustrated in ]ilate xxxviii, in the rear 
of a recently occupied jacal midway between Punta Antigualla and 
Punta Tgnacio, cached beneath a thorny cholla cactus uprooted and 
dragged thither for the purpose. The trail and other signs indicated 
that the jacal had been occupied for a few days and up to within 
twenty -four hours by a family group of six or seven persons; that it 
was vacated suddenly at or about the time of arrival of the party 
of five whose trail was followed by the 1895 expedition from Punta 
Antigualla to Punta Miguel (where they were interrupted in the midst 
of a meal and frightened to Tiburon); and that the larger party tied 
toward the rocky fastnesses of southern Sierra Seri. 

Of the foregoing hupfs several are aberrant, and serve merely to 
illustrate the prevailing directions of departure from the optimum 
form and size of implements. Six of the specimens may be deemed 
typical ; they are as follows : 

Plate No. 





Lb. Ozs. 


CoBta Rica 

Quartzite . 

1 14 (0.85 kg.). 
1 l(.48kg.)... 

Nearly natural. 
Four-fifths natural. 


Campo Navidatl 


Pozo Escalante 


1 13 (.82 kg.).. 

Nearly natural. 


Punta Miguel 

Granite . . . 

1 10 (.74 kg.).. 

One-fifth natural. 


Punta Xarragansett 

1 11 (.77 kg.).. 

One-fourth natural. 


South point Sierra 

Andesite . . 

1 15 (:.88kg.) .. 

One-third natural. 

From these specimens a type of Seri hand implement may easily be 
formulated: it is a wave-worn pebble or cobble of (1) granite, quartz- 
ite, or other tough and hard rock, (2) tutf, or other light and pulverulent 
rock, or (3) vesicular lava; it is of flattened ovoid form, or of biscuit 
shape; it weighs a trifle under 2 pounds (about 0.8,") kilogram); 
originally the form and surface are wholly natural, but through the 
chance of use it is modified (a) by a battering of the ends and more 
projecting edges, and (b) by grinding and consequent truncation of 
the sides; though initially a natural pebble, chosen nearly at random 
from the beach, it eventually becomes personal property, acquires 
fetishistic import, and is buried with the owner at her death. 

The ahsts and the heavier cobbles used alternatively as ahsts and 
hupfs are too fortuitous for reduction to type; while the protean peb- 



[ETH. ANN. 17 

bles utilized in emergency, aud commonly discarded after a single use, 
are too numerous and too various for convenient or useful grouping. 

There is a distinctive type of Seri stone artifacts represented by a 
single category of objects, viz, chipped arrowpoints. Several of the 
literary descriptions of the folk — particularly those based on second- 
hand information and far-traveled rumor — credit the Seri with habitual 
use of stone-tipped arrows,' and it is the current fashion among both 
Mexican and Indian residents of Sonora to ascribe to the Seri any 
shapely arrowpoint picked up from plain or valley; yet the observa- 
tions among the tribesmen and in their haunts disclose but slight basis 
for classing the Seri with the aboriginal arrow-makers of America. 

Among the 60 Seri (including 17 or IS warriors) atCostaEicain 1S9-I, 
three bows and four quivers of arrows were observed, besides a number 
of stray arrows, chiefly in the hands of striplings. The arrows seen 
numbered some 60 or 70, including perhaps 20 "poisoned" specimens; 

nearly half of them were tipped with 
hoop-iron, as illustrated in plate xxx, 
while about as many more were fitted 
only with the customary foreshafts 
(usually sharpened and hardened by 
charring), and the small remainder had 
evidently lost iron tips in use; there was 
not a single stone-tipped arrow in the 
rancheria. Moreover, when the usually 
incisive and confident Mashem was 
asked for the Seri term for stone arrow- 
point he was taken aback, and was 
unable to answer until after lengthy 
conference with other members of the tribe — his manner and that of 
his mates clearly indicating ignorance of such a term rather than the 
desire to conceal information so frequently manifested in connection 
with esoteric matters; and the term finally obtained (ahst-cM, conno- 
ting stone aud arrow) is the same as that used to denote the arrowpoint 
of hoop-iron. Tlie most reasonable inference from the various facts is 
that whatsoever might have been the customs of their ancestors, the 
modern Seri are not accustomed to stone arrow-making. 

The 1895 expedition was slightly more successful in the search for 
Seri arrows. About midway between the abandoned Eancho Libertad 
and Barranca Salina, an ancient Seri site was found to yield hundreds 
of typical potsherds, half a dozen shells such as those used for utensils, 
the fragments of a hupf evidently shattered by use as a fire-stone, and 
the small rudely chipped arrowpoint shown in figure 37a; aud among 
the numerous relics found on a knoll overlooking Pozo Escalante 
(including two jacal frames, two or three graves, an ahst, several shells 

1 The most specific reference is that of Hardy : "The men use bows and stone-pointed arrows ; but 
whether they are poisoned, I do not know." Travels, p. 290. 

Fig. 37 — Seri arrowpoint^*. 








































and discarded hupfs, a broken fictile figurine, etc), was the still ruder 
arrowpoint represented in figure 3~b (both figures are natural size). 
The specimens are nearly identical in material — a .jet-black slaty rock 
witli a few lighter flecks interspersed, weathering gray on long expos- 
ure (as is shown by the partly natural surface of the larger point) : similar 
rock abounds in several easterly spurs of Sierra Seri. The smaller 
specimen was evidently finished and used; its features indicate fairly 
skilful chipping, though its general form is crude — in addition to the 
asymmetric shouldering, the entire point is curved laterally in such man- 
ner as to interfere with accurate archery. The larger specimen is still 
more strongly curved laterally, and the chipping is childishly crude; 
while the rough surface, clumsy tang, and unfinished air indicate that 
it was never used even to the extent of shafting. It is possible that the 
specimens may have been imported by aliens, but the probabilities are 
strong that they were manufactured by the Seri. No other arrowpoints 
and no chips or spalls suggesting stone arrow-making were found in all 
Seriland, though the entire party of twelve were on constant lookout for 
them for a month. The natural inference from these facts is that the 
ancestral Seri, like their descendants, were not habitual stone arrow- 

There is a final category of Seri artifacts which would be classed as 
distinctive by Caucasians on the basis of material, though they are 
combined with the stone artifacts by the tribesmen; it comprises arrow- 
])oints of lioopiron or other metal, harpoon points of nails, spikes, or 
wire, awls of like materials, and other metallic adjuncts to ordinary 
implements. The use of iron is of course post-Columbian, and its 
ordinary sources are wreckage and stealage. The date of introduction is 
unknown, and probably goes back to the days of Cortes and ."Mendoza; 
certainly the value of metal was so well understood in 1709 that when 
Padre Salvatierra's bilander was beached in Seriland the tribesmen at 
once began to break her up for the nails (ante, page 67); yet the 
metal is wrought cold and only with hupf and ahst like the local mate- 
rials, and is habitually regarded and designated as a stone. By reason 
of the primitive methods of working, the metals are of course available 
only when in small pieces or slender shapes. There is a tradition 
among the vaqueros of the frontier that a quantity of hoop-iron designed 
for use in making casks was carried away from a rancheria in the vicin- 
ity of Bacuachiti) during a raid in the seventies, and that this stock has 
ever since served to supply the Seri with material for their arrowpoints; 
l)ut it is probable tliat the chief supply is derived from the flotsam 
swept into the natural drift trap of Baliia Kunkaak by i>revailiug 
winds and tidal currents, and cast up on the long saudspit of Puuta 
Tormenta after every storm. A surprising quantity and variety of 
wreckage was found on this point, and thence down the coast to Punta 
Narragansett, by the ISO.T expedition : staves and heads of casks broken 
up after beaching, a telegraph pole crossbar which had evidently 

248* THE SERI INDIANS [eth.amn.17 

brought in a cargo of large wire, and a piece of door-frame with heavy 
strap iron hinges attached with screws, were among the troves of the 
tribesmen within a few weeks; and it was noted that while even the 
hinge screws and the tacks attaching tags to the casliheads had been 
extracted by breaking up the wood, the roughly forged hinges of 
2 by §-inch wrought iron had been abandoned after a tentative battering 
with cobbles, and lay among the refuse stones about the jacales. 

A rough census of the stone implements of Seriland is not with- 
out interest, even though it be no more than an approximation. 
Some 20 or 25 habitable and recently inhabited jacales were visited, 
with about twice as many more in various stages of ruin, fully two- 
thirds of these being on the island; and at least an equal number of 
camps or other houseless sites were noted. About these 150 jacales 
and sites there were, say, 50 ahsts, ranging from nearly natural bowl- 
ders to the comparatively well-wrought specimen illustrated in i)late 
XXXIX, and an equal number of cobbles used interchangeably as ahsts 
and hupfs; there were also 200 or 300 pebbles bearing traces of use as 
hupfs, of which about a third were worn so decidedly as to attest 
repeated if not regular use; while no tiaked or spalled implements were 
observed save the two doubtful examples illustrated in plates xlvii 
and L, and only two chipped arrowpoints. It may be assumed that 
the sites visited and the artifacts observed comprise from a tenth to a 
fifth of those of all Seriland, in addition to, say, 75 finished hupfs 
habitually carried by Seri matrons in their wanderings; and it may be 
assumed also that 50 or 100 metallic harpoon-points and several hundred 
hoop-iron arrowpoints are habitually carried by the warriors and their 

The most impressive fact brought out by this census is the practical 
absence of stone artifacts wrouglit by flaking or chipping in accord- 
ance with preconceived design ; excepting the exceedingly rare arrow- 
points there are noiie of these. And the assemblage of wrought stones 
demonstrates not merely that the Seri are practically without flaked 
or chipped implements, but that they eschew and discard stones edged 
by fracture whether naturally or turough accident of use. 

Summarily, the Seri artifacts of inorganic material fall into three 
groups, viz: (i) The large and characteristic one comprising regularly- 
used hupfs and ahsts, with their little-used and discarded representa- 
tives; (II) the small and aberrant group represented by chipped arrow- 
points, and (III) the considerable group comprising the cold- wrought 
metal points for arrows and harpoons and awls — though it is to be 
remembered that the Seri themselves combine the second and third of 
these groups. 

I. On reviewing the artifacts of the larger group it becomes clear (1) 
that they immediately reflect environment, in that they are character- 
istic natural objects of the territory; (2) that they come into use as 
implements through chance demands met by hasty selection from the 

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abuudaut material; (3) that the great majority of til e objects so em- 
ployed are discarded after a use or two; (4) that when the object 
proves especially serviceable, and other couditions favor, it is retained 
to meet later needs; (5) that the retained objects are gradually modi- 
tied iu form and surface by repeated use; (G) that if the modiflcatiou 
diminishes the serviceability of the object in the notion of the user 
(e.g., by such fracture as to produce sharp edges), it is discarded; (7) 
that if the modiflcatiou enhances the serviceability of the specimen iu 
the mind of the user it is the more sedulously preserved; and (8) that 
through the instinctive desire for perservation, coupled with the thau- 
maturgic cast of primitive thinking, the object 'acquires at once an 
artiticialized form and a fetishistic as well as a utilitarian function. 
The significant feature of the development is the total absence of 
foresight or design, save in so far as the concepts are fiducial rather 
than technical or directly industrial. 

II. On reviewing the almost insignificantly small group of chipped 
stone artifacts, it seems clear that while the material is local the 
design is so incongruous with custom and characteristic thought as to 
raise the presumption that stone-chipping is an alien and imperfectly 
assimilated craft. The conspicuous and significant feature of the 
chipped stone artifact is the shapement in accordance with precon- 
ceived design. 

III. On reviewing the arbitrarily separated group of metallic arti- 
facts it is found clear (1) that the material is foreign; (2) that it is 
avidly sought and sedulously saved and utilized; (3) that it is wrought 
only by the crude methods used for fashioning the most primitive of 
implements and tools; and (4) that it is used chiefly as a substitute for 
organic substances employed in symbolic imitation of the natural 
organs and functions of animals. The significant features of the use of 
iron artifacts are (a) the absence of either alien or specialized designs, 
and [h) the mimicry of bestial characters as conceived iu primitive 

Classed by material and motive jointly, the three groups are diverse 
iu important respects : The first is local in material, local iu motive; 
the second is local in material, foreign in design; the third is foreign 
in material, local in motive. 

On recapitulating the several phases of Seri handicraft, the devices 
are found to fall into genetic classes of such sort as to illumine certain 
notable stages of primitive technic. 

The initial class comprises teeth, beaks and mandibles, claws, hoofs, 
and horns, used in imitation or symbolic mimicry of eitner actual or 
imputed function of animals, chiefly those to which the organs pertain, 
together with vegetal si)ines and stalks or splints, used similarly under 
the zootheistic imputation of animal powers to plants; also carapaces 
and pelts, used as shields combming actual and symbolic protective 
functions. While this class of devices is well displayed by the Seri, it 
is by no meaus peculiar to them ; clear vestiges of the devices have 

250* THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ann.17 

been noted among many Amerind tribes. Xovr the essential basis of the 
industrial motive has been recognized by all profounder students in zoo- 
tbeisni, animism, or bylozoism — indeed, the industrial stage is but the 
reflex and expression of the zootheistic or hylozoic plane in the devel- 
opment of philosophy; while both the devices and the cultural stage 
which they represent have already been outlined by the late Frank 
Hamilton Gushing, on the basis of surviving vestiges and prehistoric 
relics, and characterized as " prelithic''.^ Cushing's designation tor 
the initial stage of technic has the merit of euphony, and of suggest- 
ing the serial place of the stage in industrial development; but since 
it denotes a most important cLass of artifacts only by exclusion and 
negation it would seem desirable to supplement it by a positive terui. 
The class of devices (considered in both material and functional 
aspects) and the cultural stage in general might appropriately be 
styled hylozoic, though it woukl seem preferable to emphasize the 
actual objective basis of the class and stage by a specific designation — 
and for this linryiose the term zoomimetic (from Zc^ov^ to and fxi^rfrin6^\ 
or its simplitied equivalent, zoomimie^ would seem acceptable. 

A transitional series of devices is represented by awls of wood or 
iron fashioned in imitation of mandibles or claws, by wooden foreshafts 
shaped in symbolic mimicry of teeth, and by other vicarious replace- 

' The Development of Form ami Function iu Implements ; an imimblished pajter presented liefore 
the British Association for the Advancement of Science at the Toronto meeting in 1897. A brief 
ab.stract, revised l»y tlie author of the paper, was printed in the Anu-rican Anthropologist, vol. X. 1897, 
pp. 325-^26; and in the absence of full authorial publication, the more .strictly germane passages of 
the abstract are worthy of quotation ; "Beginning with the semiarboreal [human] progenitor indi- 
cated jointly by projecting forward the lines of biotic development and projecting backward the lines 
of human development, Mr Gushing undertook to trace hypotbetically, yet by constant reference to 
known facts, (1) the genesis of artificiiU devices, and (2) the concurrent ditlerentiation of the human 
brain and body in the directions set forth by Sir William Turner; and be gave special force to his 
exposition by frequent reference to commonly neglected characteristics, physical and psychic, of 
young infants. He pointed out that the prototype <if man, whether infantile or primitive, is a clumsy 
ambidexter, the dilierentiation of hand and brain remaining inchoate; that one of the earliest artifi- 
cial processes is a sawing movement, in which, liowever, the object to be severed is moved over the 
cutting edge or surface, and that the infant or savage at first selects sharp objects (teeth, shells, i-tc) 
as cutting implements, and only after long cultivation learns to make cutting implements of stone; 
this early stage in development he called prelithic. Passing, then, to the age of stone, be showed that 
this substance is first in the form of natural ]jebbles or other pieces for hammering, crushing, bruis- 
ing, and as a mia.<*ile. That in time the user learns that the stone is made more eflective for severing 
tissues by fracturing it iu such way as to give a sharp edge, the fracture being originally accidental 
and afterward designed; yet that for a long time it is the bammerstone that is fractured and not the 
object against which the blows are directed. In this stage of development (called 2> ''otolithic, after 
McGee) stone iiuplemeuts come into more or less extended use in connection with iiuplemeuts of 
shell, tooth, etc; yet the implements are obtained by choice amimg natural pieces and by undesigned 
improvement of these through use. The next stage is that of designed shaping through frac- 
ture by blows from a bammerstone, followed by intentional chipi)ing. This may be regarded as 
the beginning of paleolithic art, and also marks the beginning of dexterity and the activital 
ditlerentiation of the hands. Incidentally the author brought out the importance of that con- 
cept of mysticism which is found of so great potency among infantile and primitive minds, in such 
manner as to suggest the genesis, and the obscure reasons for the persistence of this phase of intel- 
lectuality ; for the inchoate imagination is able to expand only in the direction of mystical explana- 
tion, so that fertility in primitive invention seems to be dependent on appeal to the mysterious iiowera 
of nature. At first the mystery pervades all things, but in time it is largely concentrated in animate 
things ; then animate ]iowers are imputed, e. g., to physical phenomena. So to the infant or race-child 
fire is a mystical animal or demon which, in prelithic or protolitbic times, must have been at first 
tolerated, then fed with fuel and punished with water and eventually subjugated and tamed, much 
as the real animals were afterward brought into domestication." 

















.--5^^.. .~:-~ 






ments of material in devices of zoomimic motive; but this series may 
be regarded as coustitutiug a subclass, or as a conuecting link between 
classes rather than a major class of devices. Yet the subclass is of 
great signifieance as a mile-mark of jnogress in nature-conquest, and 
as the germ of that industrial revolution consummated as tribesmen 
grew into reliance on their own acumen and strength and skill rather 
than on the capricious favor of beast-gods. 

The next major class of devices comprises shells and cobbles and 
bowlders picked up at random to meet emergency needs, wielded in 
ways determined by emergency adjustment of means to ends, and some- 
times retained and reused under the budding instinct of fitness, though 
never shaped by design. The devices of this class are best exemplified 
by the tool-shells and by the hupfs and ahsts of the Seri matrons, partly 
because of the practical absence of higher artifacts from their territory; 
yet the class is by no means confined to this notably primitive folk: 
the greater part of the implements used by the California Indians and a 
large part of those used by every other known Amerind tribe in aborigi- 
nal condition consist of shore cobbles, river pebbles, talus bowlders, or 
other natural stones of form and size convenient for emergency use; 
and (despite the fact that such objects are often ignored by observers, 
for the prosaic reason that they represent no familiar or trenchant 
class), there is no lack of evidence that they are or have been in habit- 
ual use among all primitive peoples. Although zootheistic or sortilegic 
motives doubtless plaj^ an undetermined role in the selection of the 
objects, and although wonted zoomimic movements doubtless affect the 
initial processes, the essential distinction from zoomimic artifacts 
resides in the selection and use of natural objects through a mechanical 
chance tending to inspire volitional exercise rather than through a 
fiducial rule tending to paralyze volitional efi'ort; while the class is no 
less trenchantly separable from those of higher grade by the absence 
of preconceived models or technical designs. The class of devices and 
the culture-stage which they represent have already been outlined and 
defined as JJ ''otolith ic.^ 

A transitional series of devices allied to the Seri hupf on the one 
hand and to the chipped artifact on the other hand is frequently found 
among the aborigines of California and other native tribes; it is typified 
by a cobble or other natural piece of stone cleft (first by accident of use 
and later by design) insuchwiseastoaffordan edged tool. This subclass 
of artifacts is religiously eschewed by the Seri ; but it is of much inter- 
est as an illustration of the way in which artificialization proceeds, and 
of the exceeding slowness of primitive progress. 

The third great class of devices defined by technologic development 
comprises stones chipped, flaked, battered, ground, or otherwise 
wrought iu accordance with preconceived designs, together with cold- 
forged native metal, horn, bone, wood, and other substances wrought 

■American Anthropologist, vol. ix, 1896, pp. 317-318. 



[ETH.ANN. 17 

in accordance with preconceived models and direct motives. Among 
tbe Seri this class of devices is represented only by the rare arrowpoiuts 
of chipped stone, which seem to be accultural and largely fetishistic ; 
but the class is abundantly represented by the artifacts of most of the 
Amerind tribes. The class and the cultural stage have already been 
outlined under the term ttchnoUthic.^ 

A transitional series of devices intervenes between stone artifacts 
and artifacts of smelted metal; it is represented by malleable native 
metals (chiefly copper, silver, meteoric iron, and gold), originally 
wrought cold, after the manner of stone, though heating under the 
hammer in such wise as to prepare the way for forging, fusing, and 
founding. These devices and the processes with which they are cor- 
related are not represented among the Seri ; indeed, the crude use of 
iron by the tribe would seem to lie on a lower plane in industrial 
development than even the arrowpoint-chipping, in that the artifacts, 
though of foreign material, are wrought largely in accordance with 
zoominiic motives. 

The fourth major class of devices, comprising the multifarious artifacts 
of smelted and alloyed metal, was barely represented in aboriginal 
America; only a few of the more advanced tribes had attained the 
threshold of metallurgy, and even among these the crude metal work- 
ing remained hieratic or esthetic, and did not displace the prevalent 
stone craft. 

Briefly, the several stages in the development of tools and imple- 
ments may be seriated as follows : 


Typical materials 

Typical products 

Essential ideas 

1. Zoominiic Bestial orgaiis Awls, spears, har- 
poons, arrows. 
A. Transitional j Symliolized organs j Piercing and tear- 
ing implements. 

Zootheistic faith. 
Faith + craft. 

2. Protolithic . 

Natural stones . . . . ! Hammers and grind- Mechanical chance, 
ers — h 11 p f s and 

B. Transitional I Cleft stones ! Grinders and cutters Chance + craft. 

\ \ 

• Anmial Report of the Smitlisonian Institution for 1898. pp. 42-43. The long extant and well-tnown 
ola.ssification of stone artifanta a.s "paleolithic" and "neolithic" may not be overlooked. This classi. 
fication was based originally on prehistoric relics of Europe, and it served excellent purpose in dis- 
tin;;iiiishing finely finished atone implements from tlinse of rudely chippod atone; but botli classes of 
artifacts were shaped in accordance with preconceived design, and hence both belong to the tecbno- 
litbic class as herein defined. It may be added that tlie classification was made with little if any 
reference to jirimitive thought, was not based on observation among i)rimitive peoples, and has not 
been found to apply usefully to the aborigines and aboriginal artifacts of America, where the repre- 
sentative tribe or i)relii9toric village site i.s characterizrd by inii>lements of both "paleolithic" and 
"neolithic" types which intergrade in such manner as to prove contemporaneous manufacture and 
interchangeable use; while the preponderance of polished- stone implements is generally indicative of 
simpler rather than of more advanced culture. 

'■■,,., ^ « y^*?r^ 

V*:-. -..■>- 

f UJ 



































^ UJ 

































Typical materials 

Typical products 

Essential ideas 

3. Technolithie 


Chipped, battered, 

Designed shape- 


and polished im- 

ment by molar 



C. Transitional 

Malleable native 

Copper celts, gold 

Designed s li a p e - 


ornaments, etc. 

m e n t by molar 
action + chance 



4. Metal 

Smelted ores ... 

Steel tools etc 

Shapement by 
molar and molec- 

ular action. 

It Is to be realized that the successive stages represent characteristic 
phases of normal and continuous growth, and hence that their relations 
are intimate and complex. The fundamental factor of the growth is 
intellectual advancement, and hence in actual life each stage is at once 
the germ and the foundation for the next higher; each stage is charac- 
terized by a type or a cognate series of types, yet each commonly con- 

FlG. 38 — Diagrainmatir outliue of industrial development. 

tains a few forms i)rophetic of the next stage and many forms vestigial 
of the earlier stages ; so that the stages are to be likened unto successive 
generations of organisms, or (still more appropriately) to the successive 
phases of ovum, larva, pui)a, and imago iu the ontogeny of the insect 
rather than to the arbitrary classes of pigeonhole arrangements. The 
complex relations conceived to exist among the stages can be indicated 
more clearly by diagraphic representation than by typographic arrange- 
ment, and such a representation is introduced as figure 38. The succes- 
sive curves in the diagram express the rhythmic character of progress 
and the cumulative value of its interrelated factors, as well as the domi- 
nance of successive types until gradually sapped and absorbed (though 
not immediately or completely annihilated) by higher types reflecting 
a strengthened mentality. 

The place of the normal pacific industries of the Seri in this genetic 
classification of human technic is definite. The Seri craft combines the 
features of the zoomimic and protolithic stages more completely than 
that of any other known folk, and in such wise as to reveal the relations 

254* THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ann.17 

between tbese stages and that next higher in the series with unparal- 
leled clearness; their craft also displays an aberrant (and hence pi'e- 
suiuptively accultural) feature pertaining to the technolithic stage; and 
in so far as their craftsmen use the material typical of the age of metal 
they degrade it to the transitional substage between dominant zoomim- 
icry and desigidess stone-using. 

Viewed in the general light of their pacific industries, the Seri are, 
accordingly, among the most primitive of known tribes; their technic is 
in harmony with their esthetic, and also with their somatic and tribal 
characteristics, in attesting a lowly plane of development; while their 
industries, like their other demotic features, are essentially autoch- 


Something is known of Seri warfare through the history of the cen- 
turies since 1540, and especially through the bloody episodes of the 
Encinas regime and the occasional outbreaks of the last decade or two. 
The available data clearly indicate that the warfare of the tribe comple- 
ments their pacific industries in every essential respect. 

As befits their primitive character, warfare has played an important 
role in the history of the folk, forming, indeed, one of the chief factors 
iu determining the course of tribal development. There is no means of 
estimating the losses suffered and occasioned in warfare with the neigh- 
boring tribes during either prehistoric or historic times; but the indi- 
cations are that they were much greater than the losses connected with 
Caucasian contact. Neither is it practicable to estimate reliably the 
fatalities attending the interminable conflicts with the Spanish invaders 
and their descendants, though it is safe to say that the Seri losses iu 
strife against Spaniards and Mexicans aggregate many hundred, and 
that the correlative loss on the iiart of their enemies reaches several 
score, if not some hundred, lives. Few if any other aboriginal tribes of 
America have had so sanguinary a history as the Seri, and none other 
has at once so long and so bloody a record. 

According to the consistent accounts of several survivors of con- 
flict with the Seri, their chief weapons are arrows, stones, and clubs — 
though several survivors manifest greater fear of the throttling hands 
and rending teeth of the savage warriors than of all their artificial 
weapons combined. A striking feature of the recitals, indeed, is the 
rarity of reference to weapons; the ambushes or surrounds or chance 
meetings, with their disastrous or happy consequences, are commonly 
described with considerable detail; the carbines or rifles, the machetes 
and knives, or the deftly thrown riatas employed by the rancheros or 
vaqueros are mentioned with full appreciation of their serviceability; 
but the ordinary expressions concerning the despised yet dreaded Seri 
are precisely those employed in recounting conflicts with carnivorous 
beasts. When Andres Noriega's kinswoman proudly related how he 



















aloueonce overawed and routed au attacking party of 30 Seri warriors, 
she duly mentioned the carbine ready for use in his hands and the 
six-shooter and machete in liis belt; but iiothii]g was said of the Seri 
weapons. When a distinguished sportsman citizen of Caborca, the 
local authority on the Seri, sought to dissuade the 1895 expedition from 
visitiTig Tiburon, he was repetitively and cumulatively emphatic in his 
oracular forecast, "lis vont vous tuer! Tin ront rous tuerU Ils tunt 
voustuer!!!" — yethemadebutpassingreferenceto"poisoned"arrows, 
and none to other weapons, in the general implication that invaders of 
the tribal territory were toru limb from limb and strewn over the rocks 
and deserts of Seriland. When Jesus Omada, of Bacuachito, boasted 
his Seri scars, he indeed emphasized the arrow-mark on his breast, but 
only as a prelude and foil to the far ghastlier record of his teeth-torn 
arm. When Robinson and his companion were butchered on Tiburon 
in 1894, the bloody work was effected chiefly by means of a borrowed 
Winchester; and neither the account of the survivors nor that of the 
actors made mention of native weapons — save the stones with which the 
second victim was finished according to the local version. In short, 
most of the casual expressions and fuller recitals alike indicate that 
while the Seri are famous fighters their weapous — except the much- 
dreaded "poisoned" arrows — are incidents rather than essentials to 
savage assaults, and that their prowess rests primarily on bodily the 
strength and swiftness. 

The stones used in battle, as described by the survivors and as inti- 
mated by Mashem, are cobbles as large as a fist, i. e., hupfs of typical 
form and size. So far as is known they are never hurled, slung, nor pro- 
jected in any other manner, nor are they hafted or attached to cords 
after widespread aboriginal customs; they are merely held in the hand, 
as in the slaughter of quarry. Hardy made note of a war-club — "They 
use likewise a sort of wooden mallet called Maciina, for close quarters 
in war"' ; ' but nothing of the kind was found at Costa Rica in 1894, and 
no woodwork suggesting such use was found in the depths of Seriland 
in 1895. 

The most conspicuous and doubtless the most effective war weapon 
is the arrow projected from the bow in the unusual if not unique fashion 
already noted (ante, p. I'Ol