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New Lights on the Anthropology of California

Nature volume 78, pages 8990 (28 May 1908) | Download Citation



THE anthropological department of the University of California, thanks to Mrs. Hearst's munificent endowment, is able to issue a further series of studies on the native races of that State. The most voluminous contribution is that of Mr. S. A. Barrett on the “Ethno-geography of the Porno and Neighbouring Indians,” a group of tribes numbering at present about 1000 souls, and occupying the region known to geographers as the Coast Range Mountains immediately north of San Francisco Bay, and running eastward to the Sacramento River. These people are now partially civilised, and support themselves by farming and labour. But sufficient is known of their primitive condition to show that they had no totemic clans or groups, and that their tribal organisation was weak, there being no chief in the commonly accepted sense of the term. There was a sort of council of minor chiefs presided over by a chief captain, whose authority was strictly limited, and who was elected by the community. The inferior chiefs, on the other hand, held their offices by hereditary right, and the succession passed from one incumbent to the family of that sister who was nearest to him in age, kinship and descent being in the female line.

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