Now and then it seems permissible for the student to leave off his daily association with specific facts and rise above them on the gyroscope of his imagination to discover if a broader view may not give him new insights into their relations, or alter his conception of their setting in the larger landscape of nature as a whole. Such flights indeed appear almost incumbent on him at intervals if his occupation With his materials is close and unremitting. The requirement which integrity imposes on these ventures is that knowledge and fancy, fact and fabrication, be kept as distinct as possible, lest one come to pass for the other. The present essay is such a soaring of hypothesis. While it starts from the solid ground of twenty years of inquiry into the culture and speech of the Californian aborigines, it pretends to no greater validity than any summary, undocumented, historical reconstruction may claim.
A number of early travelers and residents have left pictures of the Californian tribes they knew, without having come into contact with the inhabitants of any larger portion of the area. The first broader description, the well-known Tribes of California of Stephen Powers, deals with nearly all of the groups north of the Tehachapi Mountains. Powers wrote from observation and possessed to a high degree the journalist’s faculty of rapid perception and vivid presentation. In spite of some overdrawing, his work remains unsurpassed as a delineation of California Indian psychology. Some of his characterizations of groups are unusually felicitous. His survey was however too rapid to allow of the assemblage of a sufficient number of exact ethnic data for systematic study.
Several years after the foundation of the Department of Anthropology at the University by Mrs. Hearst, I attempted, in volume two of this series, a review entitled Types of Indian Culture in California. In its outlines this classification seems to have been generally accepted, although accumulating knowledge has resulted in some revisions and considerable shifts of emphasis.
Sixteen years later, in the seventeenth volume of the present series, I returned to the subject with an essay on the culture provinces of California. By this time, enough information had become available through studies of members of the University and others to make possible not only a fairly accurate delimitation of the areas of distinctive culture within California, but an appraisal of the relation of these areas to the generally recognized larger culture areas of America and an indication of the focal centers within the areas. The findings were embodied in two maps, the principal features of which are consolidated and embodied in the map herewith.
All this has been a labor first of accumulation, and then of classification. The unraveling of sequential developments in California has heretofore been attempted chiefly for restricted areas or limited aspects of culture. Yet every natural classification contains within itself, so far as it is sound, genetic indications. Recognition, for instance, of the affinity between the culture of northwestern California and that of the North Pacific Coast, or again between those of southern California and the Southwest, long ago forced the inference of a flow of cultural elements or stimuli from these more remote regions into the affected parts of what is now California.
At the same time, there would be something summary and shortcircuiting in viewing these Californian tracts as mere reflections or extensions of extraneous culture developments. They are actually in juxtaposition to other local culture types which have been little affected by the remote centers, or at least not so specifically; and which have undergone their own growth on the spot. Local interrelations may not be lost sight of because of the presence of foreign i