Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 28.djvu/384
372 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
Still, the making of our text-books and new histories has been going on with the Atlantic States marking the beginnings and the Pacific domain introduced as a product of the present century, with a mere reference to its three hundred years of romantic past. For any notices of that we must go to books about Mexico, to find very little of it there. Some of the earliest and most interesting developments of the history of the country as we now know it were worked out on the Pa- cific coast ; but their story was hidden in masses of documents and loose records that were inaccessible to ordinary historians till J\Ir. Hubert II. Bancroft unearthed them for presentation in solid form in his " History of the Pacific States of North America."
This history, when completed, will fill thirty-nine volumes, of which eighteen have now been published. It consists of two series, of which the first series, published ten years ago in five volumes, gives all that was known at that time of the native races. As there has been some discussion, and it is growing more lively, about the theories of these races, and the author's position in the matter has been brought into question, it is proper to say here that he disavows having anything to do with theories or the solution of disputed questions. His purpose has simply been to collect all the material that is worthy of notice, and put it where it will be accessible, making only such critical ob- servations as suggest themselves in course, leaving closer special in- vestigations to future students. The richness of the material he has provided and put here, in the hands of such investigators, can not fail to be of great help to them. Without it they might have to work for years to secui'e a position of knowledge available for comparative research, where they now find themselves at the start.
The first two of the volumes on the native races are devoted to the ethnographical description of the tribes ; the third to their myths and language ; the fourth to their antiquities ; and the fifth to their primi- tive history. The tribes are classified, for convenience of treatment rather than to conform to a scientifically accurate standard, into geo- graphical groups, as Hyperboreans, those natives whose territory lies north of the fifty-fifth parallel ; Columbians, between the fifty-fifth and forty-second parallels, and mainly in the valley of the Columbia and its tributaries ; Californians and the inhabitants of the Great Basin, New Mexicans, Wild Tribes of Mexico, Wild Tribes of Central America, and Civilized Natives of Mexico and Central America, the last having a volume to themselves. In these descriptions the author aims to portray such customs and characteristics as were peculiar to each people at the time of its first intercourse with European strangers, leaving scientific inquirers to make their own deductions. Much of the ground covered by the accounts has been gone over in later years by the new school of American ethnologists, whose observations have been fully published by the Government bureaus and various archrso- logical societies, and have added considerably to what Mr. Bancroft