The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 43, July 1939 - April, 1940 Page: 414

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

nick of time, for in a few more years the Kiliwa will lose
their ethnic identity.
The University of Texas.
The Last of the Seris. By Dave and Mary Roberts Coolidge.
(New York: E. P. Dutton and Company, 1939. Pp. 264.
In this book the Coolidges attempted to do for the Seris what
they did for the Navajos in an earlier book. They have failed
due to the fact that they did not spend sufficient time among
the Seris adequately to collect the necessary data to make the
study measure up to the ethnological standards which the authors
had previously set for themselves.
The book is interesting, fast moving, and in places achieves
considerable unity. The major part of the work is devoted to
the telling of the chants, legends, and cosmogeny of the Seris
as related by Santo Blanco, a medicine man. In between the
chants, legends, and so on, is sketched sufficient cultural material
to give the lay reader some sort of a picture of the senile remnants
of a once vigorous and fierce people.
As an ethnological study the book has its limitations for obvious
and admitted reasons. The writers refused to adhere to ethno-
logical research methods of collecting and integrating data. The
result is a narrative full of undigested and misconstrued bits of
information. Their constant reference to "savages" leaves one
slightly uncomfortable, as do their several implications of affin-
ities to the higher culture of Mexico based on items of non-
utilitarian culture. The value of the book would have been en-
hanced had the writers collected the native words for the chants,
legends, and cosmogonies so as to have allowed a competent
ethnologist to have later made use of phonetic methods in at-
tempting to ascertain the provenience, chronological sequence and
other relevant data concerning the material.
The Seris are a fast vanishing race, and, if present trends
continue, their days on this earth are numbered. Unlike their
warlike neighbors, the Yaquis, they are little known; and, con-
sequently, any information concerning them, recorded by reputable


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 43, July 1939 - April, 1940, periodical, 1940; Austin, Texas. ( accessed June 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.