The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970

Book Reviews

The Indians of Texas in z83o. By Jean Louis Berlandier. Edited
and Introduced by John C. Ewers. (Washington, D.C.: Smith-
sonian Institution Press, 1969. Pp. xi+2og. Illustrations, bibliog-
raphy, index. $1 o.oo.)
It is lamentable that the first publication in English of the writing
of Jean Louis Berlandier about the Indians of Texas should appear
in both a slip-shod translation and overall sloppy presentation. Ber-
landier's work is of extreme importance for anyone interested in
Indians, ethnology, Texas history, and related fields. The young Euro-
pean scientist acted as official botanist for the 1827 Mexican Boundary
Commission expedition commanded by Manuel de Mier y Terin.
He travelled extensively in Texas for the next few years, making col-
lections of plants and animals and observing the Indian tribes. The
Indians of Texas in r83o, a translation of notes Berlandier made on
Texas Indians between 1828 and 1834, which should have been a boon
to researchers, has been rendered almost useless by a translation in
which accuracy has been sacrificed for readability. When Mrs. Patricia
Reading Leclercq, the translator, is not being careless, she is in error.
Typographical errors, although minor in comparison with the
major errors in translation, abound throughout the book. There are
numberless spelling mistakes not only in the English but also in
both the French and Spanish words, and the use of accents and the
spelling of proper names is often inconsistent. Other minor inaccu-
racies are scattered throughout the book.
However, what really makes the value of the book suspect are
major errors in translation. Perhaps the translator's unfamiliarity with
Berlandier's handwriting was the cause of some mistakes. For instance,
she read propretd (cleanliness) for propriety (ownership, property)
in a spot where the difference was important to the meaning. In
another place she mistook the word mors (horse's bit) for more
(mulberry) and said that the Indians traded their pelts for "loaves
of sugar, corn, blackberries, sword blades ..." It is not clear why the
word "blackberries" (mare sauvage) was used instead of "mulberries,"

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed July 13, 2014.