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    Naturevolume 134pages740742 (1934) | Download Citation



    Mr. J. P. Harrington, of the Bureau of American Ethnology, has recently discovered, the manuscript, which had long been missing, of the earliest, and indeed the only, account of the Indians of California dating from the period of the Spanish occupation, which is worthy of the name of an ethnological treatise. The author, Fr. Jeronimo Boscano, was a Franciscan missionary, born in the island of Mallorca in 1776, who worked at San Juan Capistrano from 1812 until 1826 and died in 1831. The Indians of San Juan Capistrano whom he described are a north-western sub-division of the San Luiseno Indians of the San Luis Rey Mission, who speak a dialect of the Aztecan family of languages. They had almost disappeared before they came under modern scientific observation. A version of Boscano's account was published in 1846; but the manuscript proves to be far more valuable than was expected, as it contains data not in the published version, and, indeed, the two supplement one another in important particulars. The treatise centres around the cult of Chinigchinix, who had once lived among the people as a prophet. On his death, it was believed, he was translated to heaven, leaving no visible,remains behind. From heaven he continued to watch his people, and to judge and punish them for wrong-doing. In addition to his account of their cult the author describes the relation of the people to their chiefs, their marriages, their principal feasts and their calendar together with some miscellaneous customs. The temple of Chinig chinix was so sacred that no boy or girl was allowed to approach it, and it was an effectual sanctuary for anyone guilty of any crime. Mr. Harrington has published a translation of the manuscript (Smith-sonian Miscellaneous Collect., 92, No. 4) and is also preparing a full commentary on the material it records.

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