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identification of the speech with the Welsh; Eamirez, and more espe-
cially Pimentel, narrowed the field of afi&liation to Mexico and defined
the tongue as distinct ; Orozco y Berra, and more especially Malte-Brun,
slightly reextended the field and suggested affiliation with the Caribs;
while Herzog, Gatschet, and Brinton reextended the field in another
direction and saw, in a vocabulary obtained from a Seri scion but alien
thinker, similarities between the Serian and Yuman tongues. The
recent researches tend strongly to corroborate the evidence collected
and the conclusions reached by Eamirez and Pimentel; for the some-
what extended comparisons between the Seriaii and neighboring lan-
guages (introduced and discussed in other paragraphs) indicate that the

128 THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ann.17

Seri tongue is distinct save for two or three Cochimi or other Yuman
elements, which may be loan words such as might readily have been
obtained through the largely inimical interchange of earlier centuries
described by Padre Juan Maria de Sonora and other pioneer observers—
certainly the slight and superficial similarities with other tongues of
the region seem insufScient to meet the classiflc requirement of sup-
posititious descent from "a common ancestral speech".' Accordingly
the group may be defined (at least provisionally) as a linguistic family
or stock, and may be distinguished by the family name long ago applied
by Pimentel and Orozco, with the termination prescribed in Powell's
fifth rule,'' viz, Seria/ii. Oonformably, the classification of the group
would become —
Serian stock, comprising —

Seri tribe, including Tiburones and (certain) Salineros;

Tepoka tribe;

Guay ma tribe;

Upanguayma tribe.
Naturally this classification is provisional in certain respects. It is
little more than tentative in so far as the Tepoka are concerned, since
no word of the Tepoka tongue has ever been recorded, so far as is
known, and since the tribe is still extant and within reach of research ;
it must be held provisional also in respect to the separateness of the
stock, which may be found in the future to be afiQliated with neighboring
stocks, though the effect of the more recent and more critical researches
in eliminating supposed evidences of afQliation points in the opposite
direction. The arrangement is in some measure provisional also with
respect to the relations between the long-extinct Guayma and Upan-
guayma and the type tribe, especially since contrary suggestion has been
offered in terms implying the existence of unpublished data; yet the
presumption in favor of the critical work by Eamirez, Pimentel, and
Orozco is so strong that practically this feature of the classification
may be deemed final.

No attempt has been made to render the tribal synonymy exhaustive,
though search of the records has incidentally brought out the more
important synonyms, as follows :

Seri Tribe

Ceres— 1826; Hardy, Travels, p. 95.

Ceri — 1875; Pimentel, Lenguas Indfgenas, tomo ii, p. 229.

Ceris— 1745; Villa-SeHor, Theatre Americano, p. 391.

Ckris Tepocas— 1850 ; Velasco, Noticias Estadistioas, p. 132.

Hbki — 1854; Busohmann, Die Spnren der aztekischen Spraohe, p. 221.

Heris — 1645; Eibas, Triumphos de Nuestra Santa Fee, p. 358.

Hbrises— 1690 (?); Van der Aa, map.

•Indian lingaistic families, by J.W.Powell, in Seventh Annual Keport, Bureau of Ethnology,
1885-86 (1891), p. 11.
"Ibid., p. 10.


Sadi — 1896; San Francisco Chronicle, January 24.

Sb-kre — Etymologic form.

Seres— 1844; Miihlenpfordt, Eepubllk Mejico, Band i, p. 210.

Sbri — 1754; [Ortega], ApostolicoB Afanes, p. 244.

Sebis — 1694; Mange, Eesumen de Notlcias (Doonmentos para la Historia de Mexico,

s^rie 4, tomo i, p. 235).
Seri Sahneros — 1842; Alegre, Historia de la Compania de Jesns, tomo iii, p. 117.
Seris Salinbbos — 1694; Mange, Besnmen de Noticias (Docnraentos, s6rie 4, tomo i,

p. 321-).
Sekys — 1754; [Ortega], ApostoUcos Afanes, p. 367.
SOBis— 1900; DeniKer, Tlie Races of Man, p. 533.
SSbri — 1883; Gatschet, Der Yuma Sprachstamm, p. 129.
Zbris — 1731; Dominguez, Diario (MS.).
Kmikk— 1879; Pinart, MS. vocabulary.
KoMKAK — 1879; Pinart, MS. vocabulary.

KuNKAAK— 1896 ; McGee and Johnson, "Seriland", Nat. Geog. Mag., vol. vii, p. 133.
Salineros — 1727; Rivera, Diario y Derrotero, 1. 514-1519.
TiBURON — 1799; Cortez (Pacific Railroad Reports, vol. lii, p. 122).
TiBUKONBS — 1792; Arricivita, Cr6nica Ser^fica, segunda parte, p. 426.
TiBUKOW Ceres— 1826; Hardy, Travels, p. 299.

TepoJca Tribe

TurBCO — 1847; Disturnell, Mapade los Estados Unidos de Mejico, New York.

Tbpoca — 1748; Villa-Seiior, Theatro Americano, p. 392.

Tepoca Ceres- 1826; Hardy, Travels, p. 299.

Tepocas — 1748; Villa-Senor, Theatro Americano, p. 391.

Tepococ — 1865; Velasco, Bol. Soo. Mex. Geog. y Estad., tomo xi, p. 125.

Tbpoka — Phonetic form.

Tepopa — 1875; Dewey, map.

Tbpoquis — 1757 ; Veuegas, Noticia, tomo il, p. 343.

ToPOKls-rl702 ; Kino, map (in Stocklein, Der Neue Welt-Bott).

ToPOQUiS — 1701; Kino, map (in Bancroft, Works, vol. xvti, 1889, p. 360).

Guayma Tribe

Baymas — 1754; [Ortega], ApostoUcos Afanes, p. 377.

Gayama — 1826 ( ?) ; Pike (Balbi), (in Pimentel, Lenguas Indigenas, tomo ii, p. 234).

Guaima — 1861 ; Buckingham Smith, Heve Grammar, p. 7.

Guaimas — 1702; Kino, map (in Stocklein, Der Neue Welt-Bott).

GUAYAMAS — 1757; Venogas, Noticias, tomo ii, p. 79.

Guay.ma — 1701; Juan Maria de Sonora, Report (Documentos para la Historia de

Mexico, s^rie 4, tomo v, p. 154).
GuAYMAS — 1700; Jnan Maria de Sonora, Report (Documentos para la Historia

de Mexico, s^rie 4, tomo v, p. 126).
GuAYMi^l882 ; Bancroft Works, vol. iil, (Native Races, vol. iii), p. 704,
GUAYMis — 1844; Muhlenpfordt, Republik Mejico, Band i, p.210.
GuBiMAS— 1748 ; Villa-Seuor, Theatro Americano, p. 401.
GuBYMAS — 1748; Villa-Senor, Theatro Americano, p. 402.
GuiAMAS— 1763; [Nentwig?], Rudo Ensayo, p. 229.
GniMiBS (?)— 1701; Kino, map (Bancroft, Works, vol. xvii, 1889, p. 360).

Upanguayma Tribe

HOUPIN GUAYMAS — 1829; Hardy, map.

JuMPANGUAYMAS — 1860; Velasco, Bol. Soc. Mex. Geog. y Estad., tomo ^iii, p. 292.
JUPANGUEIMAS — 1748 ; Villa-Senor, Theatro Americano, p. 401.
17 BTH 9

130* THE SERI INDIANS [eth.akk.17

Opan Guaimas— 1763 ; [Nentwig ?] , Kudo Ensayo, p. 229.
Upanguaima— 1864 ; Orozco y Berra, Geografia de las Lcnguas, p. 42.
Upanguaimas— 1878; Malte-Brun, Congrfes International des Am^rioanistes, tome II,

p. 38.
TJpanguayma — Synthetic form.

Upanguaymas— 1882; Bancroft, Works (Native Races, vol. i, p. 605).
Upan-Goaymas— 1890 ; Bandolier, Investigations in the Southwest, p. 75.

Possibly the name Gocomagues (1864, Orozco y Berra, Geografia de
las Lenguas, p. 42), or Oocomaques (1727, Kiver^, Diario y Derrotero, 1.
1514-1519) should be introduced among the synonyms' of the Seri, but
in the absence of definite information it may perhaps better be left
unassigned. ^

Of the four tribes assigned to the stock, the TJpanguayma have been
extinct probably for more than a century; the Gruayma may survive in
a few representatives probably of mixed blood and adopted language;
the Tepoka have never received systematic investigation, but appear to
survive in limited numbers on the eastern coast of Gulf of Califor-
nia about the embouchure of the Eio Ignacio sand-wash; while the Seri
alone continue to form a prominent factor in Sonoran thought.

External Eelations

The most conspicuous characteristic of the Seri tribe as a whole is
isolation. The geographic position and physical features of their habi-
tat favor, and indeed measurably compel, isolation: their little princi-
pality is protected on one side by stormy seas and on the other by still
more forbidding deserts; their home is too hard and poor to tempt con-
quest, and their possessions too meager to iuvite spoliation; hence,
under customary conditions, they never see neighbors save in chance
encounters on their frontier or in their own predatory forays — and in
either case the encounters are commonly inimical. The natural isola-
tion of the habitat is reflected in modes of life and habits of thought;
and during the ages the physical isolation has come to be reflected in
a bitter and implacable hereditary enmity toward aliens — an enmity
apparently forming the strongest motive in their life and thought, and
indeed grown into a persistent instinct. Thus the Seri stand alone in
every respect; they are isolated in habitat and still more intensely iso-
lated in habits of thought and life from all contemporaries ; they far
out-Ishmael the Ishmael of old on Araby's deserts.

The isolation of the Seri in thought and feeling is well illustrated
by the relations with their nearest neighbors (activitally as well as
geographically), the Papago Indians. The Papago are much esteemed
in Sonora as fearless fighters, always ready to join or even to lead a
forlorn hope; yet when the expedition of 1895 was projected it was
found no easy matter to induce the picked Papago guards quartered
at Costa Eica to enter Seriland. They were ready, indeed mildly eager,
for fray, provided it were on the frontier ; but they held back in dread

* These names seem rather to be Yuman ; cf. Cocopa, 'Coconino, Cocomaricopa, Koikun, etc.


from actual invasion of the territory of the hereditary enemy. Like
representatives of the faith-dominated culture-grades generally, they
spoke weightily of inherent rights descended from the ancient time,
even back unto the creation ; they repeatedly declared the right of the
Seri to protect their territory because it was theirs; yet their converse
but served to show the depth and persistence of their abhorrence of
the Seri and of everything pertaining to them. And when gales arose
to delay the work, when the frail craft of the party was storm-buffeted
and lost for days, when they were seized with the strange sickness of
the sea, when the salt and sugar mysteriously disappeared (having
been secretly sacrificed to diminish suffering from thirst), when all of
the earth-powers and air-powers seemed to be arrayed against the ex-
pedition, they stoically held it to be but just punishment for a sacri-
legious infraction of the ancient law — and their steady adherence to
duty, despite tradition and physical difficulty and constant danger,
revealed a real heroism. The strain was no slight one; it may have
been felt more by the stay-at-homes than by the men in action ; cer-
tainly a sister of one of the party (Anton Castillo) and spouse of a
supporter at the supply station broke under the strain, and died of
her terrors — and the return of the party was, to the Papago women and
oldsters at least, as the rising of the dead. The dread inspired by the
personal presence of the alien is stronger still; when the Seri ran-
cheria at Costa Eica was visited in 1894 it was found needful to keep
the Papago interpreter and others of the tribe at a distance, since the
mere sight of the inimical tribesmen threw even the women and children
into watchful irritation, like that of range-bred horses at scent of bear
or timber-wolf, or that of oft-harried cats and swine at sight of passing
dog — they instinctively huddled into circles facing outward, and ceased
to think connectedly under the stress of nervous tension. The irrita-
tion was so far mutual that it was days before the usually placid inter-
preter, Jos6 Lewis, recovered his normal spirits; while the 1895 inter-
preter, Hugh Norris, was actually rendered ill by the mere entrance
into Seriland at Pozo Escalante. And the antipathy between Seri and
Yaqui is nearly as great as that between the common-boundary

The instinctive antagonism, or race antipathy, between the Seri and
the widely distinct Caucasian is less trenchant and intense than the
local antipathy; yet even between Seri and Caucasian there would seem
to be hardly a germ of sympathy. In the days of his prime, the Tiburon
islanders flocked around Don Pascual, first as a provider of easy prov-
ender and later as a superpotent shaman whose wrath bore destruction;
yet their allegiance was never more than that of the cowed and beaten
brute to a hated trainer, and his coming never brought a smile to their
stolid features — indeed, his passage among their jacales was met with
the same stolid yet sinister indifference accorded the solitary visitor to
a menagerie of caged carnivores. And no sooner did his vision become

132* THE SEKI INDIANS [eth.ans.17

impaired tlian their fear-born veneration evaporated, and their native
antipathy reappeared in original virulence. The 1894 party was for-
tunate in successfully treating a sick wife of sub-chief Masbem, and
subsequently spent days in the rancheria, distributing gifts to old and
young in a manner unprecedented in their experience and making liberal
exchanges for such small possessions as they wished to spare; yet, with
a single possible exception, they succeeded in bringing no more human
expression to any Seri face or eye than curiosity, avidity for food, stud-
ied indifference, and shrouded or snarling disgust. Among themselves
they were fairly cheerful, and the families were unobtrusively affection-
ate; yet the cheerfulness was always chilled and often banished by the
approach of an alien. The Sonorenses generally hold the Seri in inde-
scribably deep dread as uncanny and savage monsters lying beyond
the human pale; while the reciprocal feeling on the part of the Seri
toward Caucasians, and still more toward Indian aliens, seems akin to
that of the average man toward the rattlesnake, which he flees or slays
without pause for thought — it seems nothing less than intuitive and
involuntary loathing. The Seri antipathy is at dnce deepened into an
obsession and crystallized into a cult; the highest virtue in their calendar
is the shedding of alien blood; and their normal impulse on meeting an
alien is to kill unless deterred by fear, to flee if the way is clear, and to
fawn treacherously for better opportunity if neither natural course
lies open.

Concordantly with their primary characteristic, the Seri have avoided
ethnic and demotic union beyond the narrow limits of their own kin-
dred ; and even of these they seem to have cast out parts, annihilating
the Guayma and Upanguayma, displacing and nearly destroying the
Tepoka, and outlawing individuals and (apparently) small groups.
The earlier chronicles indicate that the Jesuit missionaries, and after
them the Franciscan friars and the secular officials, sought to scatter
the tribe by both cajolery and coercion, and endeavored to divide fam-
ilies by restraint of women and children and by banishment of wives;
there are loose traditions, too, of the capture and enslavement of Indian
and Caucasian women in Seriland; yet the great fact remains that not
a single mixed-blood Seri is known to exist, and that no more than two
of the blood (Kolusio and perhaps one other) now live voluntarily
beyond the territorial and consanguineal confines of the tribe. The
romantic story of a white slave and ancestress of a Seri clan, sometimes
diffused through pernicious reportorial activity, is without shadow of
proof or probability; the tradition of the captivity of a Papago belle
was corroborated, albeit indefinitely, by Mash^m's naive admission
that an alien women was once kept as a slave to a childless death due
to her inaptitude for long wanderings; and there is not a single known
fact indicating even so much as miscibility of the Seri blood with that
of other varieties of the genus Homo. Naturally the presumption of
miscibility holds in the absence of direct evidence; yet the presumption


is at least partially countervailed by conspicuous biotic characters,
such as color, stature, etc., so distinctive as almost to seem specific:
the Seri are distinctively dark-skinned, their extreme color-range (so
far as known) being less than their nearest approach to any neighbor-
ing tribe; they are nearly as distinctive in stature, the difference
between their tallest and shortest normal adults being apparently less
than that between their shortest and the tallest of the neighboring
Papago — though they are not so far from the more variable and often
tall Yaqui; and they appear to be no less distinctive in such physio-
logic processes as those connected with their extraordinary food habits.
Still more distinctive are the demotic characters connected with their
habits of life and modes of thought; and when the sum of biotic and
demotic characters is taken, the Seri are found to be set apart from all
neighboring Sonoran tribes by differences much more striking than the
individual range among themselves.'

It is especially noteworthy that the Seri have held aloof from that
communality of the deserts which has brought so many tribes into
union with each other and with their animal and vegetal neighbors
through common strife against the common enemies of sun and sand —
the communality expressed in the distribution of vital colonies over
arid plains, in the toleration and domestication of animals, in the
development of agriculture, and eventually in the shaping of a com-
prehensive solidarity, with the intelligence of the highest organism as
the controlling factor.^ Dwelling on a singularly prolific shore, the
Seri never learned the hard lesson of desert solidarity, but looked on
the land merely as a place of lodgment or concealment, or as a source
of luxuries such as cactus tunas, mesquite beans, and tasty game;
they never formed the first idea of planting or cultivating, and their
only notion of harvesting and storing against time of need was the
intolerably filthy one of nature's simplest teaching; they apparently
never grasped the concept of cooperation with animals, and came to
tolerate the parasitical coyote only in that its persistence was greater
than their own, and in so far as it was stealthy enough to hide its
travail and the suckling of its young against their ravening maws;
and they apparently never rose to real recognition of their own kind
in alien forms, but set their hands against agricultural and zoocultural
humans as peculiarly potent and hence especially obnoxious animals.
Naturally their racial intolerance was seed of battle and blood-feud;
and they would doubtless have melted away under the general antag-
onism but for the natural barriers and unlimited food of their restricted

At present, as for the later and best-known decades of their history,

^ It seems probable that the Seri were nearer to tribes of southern Baja California than to those of
SoDora at the time of the earliest explorations, yet that the distinction was suf&ciently strong to
warrant the extension of the proposition to these tribes also.

'The Beginning of Agriculture, American Anthropologist, Tol. vii:, 1895, p. 350. The Begiliningof
Zooculture, ibid., vol. X, 1897, p. 215.

134* THE SERI INDIANS [eth.ann.17

the Seri are absolutely without extratribal affiliations, or even sym-
pathy. When the chronicles of three centuries are scanned in the
light of recent knowledge, it seems practically certain that they have
been equally isolated since the dawn of Caucasian history in Mexico;
and both recent data and the chronicles combine with the principles
of demotic development to indicate that the Seri have stood alone from
the beginning of their tribal career, and have never foregathered with
the neighboring tribes of distinct blood, distinct arts and industries,
distinct organization, distinct language, and distinct thought and

The present isolation of the Seri throws light on their early history
and reveals the extent of the misapprehension of the pioneer mission-
aries, who half deluded themselves and wholly deluded distant readers
into the notion that the Seri were really proselyted and actually col-
lected in the mission-adjuncts of military posts established to prStect
settlers against forays of the tribe; for, as illumined by later and fuller
knowledge of the tribal characteristics, the chronicles are seen to indi-
cate merely that a few captives, malingerers, cripples, spies, and tribal
outcasts were harbored at the missions until death and occasional
escapes brought the colonies to a natural end, with no real assimila-
tion of blood or culture on either side. So, too, the persistent tribal
antipathy reveals the error of confounding the independent or even
inimically related outbreaks of the Seri and of the Pima or Apache with
the concerted action of confederated tribes. Doubtless the ever-watch-
ful spies from Tiburon habitually gave notice of the disturbance due to
outbreaks of contemporary tribes, just as they do today when the local
soldiery are withdrawn for duty on the Yaqui frontier; naturally the
civil and military authorities were thereby led to provide for protection
against the Seri and Piato, against the Seri and Pima, or against the
Seri and Apache at each period of disturbance, just as they provided
against the Seri between periods; and it would appear that this asso-
ciation in thought and speech led to the unconscious magnification, in
the minds of the chroniclers, of a supposed alliance.

In brief, the tribal relations of the Seri seem always to have been
antipathetic, especially toward the aboriginal tribes of alien blood, in
somewhat less measure toward Caucasians, and in least — ^yet still con-
siderable — degree toward their own collinguals and (presumptive) con-


So far as could be ascertained by inquiries of and through Mash^ra
in 1894, the Seri tribe then comprised about 60 or 70 warriors, with
between three and four times as many women and children — i. e., the
population was apparently between ^50 and 350. The group of about
60 (including 17 warriors) seen at Costa Eica was evidently growing
rapidly, to judge from the proportion of youths of both sexes, infants
in arms, and pregnant women; and there are other indications that


the tribe is prolific and well-fitted to survive unless cut off in conse-
quence of the hereditary antipathy toward alien blood and culture.

The population estimates of the past are naturally vague. In 1645
Ribas spoke of the tribe as " a great people"; and a century later Yilla-
Senor expressed himself in somewhat similar terms, and described
their range in such manner as to indicate a population running into
thousands. A few years after Villa-Senor (in 1750), Parilla claimed
to have annihilated the entire tribe, with the exception of 28 captives;
but according to Velasco's estimates, the people numbered fully 2,000
some thirty years later, when the tribe was, however, once more nom-
inally annihilated. In 1824 Troncoso estimated the Seri at over 1,000,
and two years later Retio reckoned the population of Isla Tibnron
alone at 1,000 or 1,500, while Hardy thought the entire tribe might
number 3,000 or 4,000 at the utojost. About 1841 De Mofras put the
aggregate population at 1,500; and at the time of the vigorous inva-
sion by Audrade and Espence (1844), when a considerable number of
the tribe were captured and a few slain, the total population was esti-
mated at about 550 — though it is j)robable that a good many tribesmen
were left out of the reckoning. According to the chroniclers, a number
of the Seri were slain after, as well as before, this invasion ; and in 1846
Velasco estimated the tribe at less than 500, including 60 or 80 war-
riors. This estimate was in harmony with that made by Senor Encinas,
who reckoned the tribe at 500 or 600 at the beginning of his war, in
which half the tribe lost their lives. The figures of Velasco and Enci-
nas correspond fairly with the reckoning by Mash6m in 1894, due
allowance being made for natural increase and for the losses through
occasional skirmishes ; and Mash^m's count is shown not to be exces-
sive by the oonsilierable number of jacales and rancherias and well-
trodden pathways found throughout Seriland in 1895.

On the whole it seems j)robable that the Seri population extended
well into the thousands at the time of the Caucasian invasion ; it seems
probable, also, that the body was then too large for stability under its
feeble institutional bonds, and hence threw off by fission the Guayma
and TJpanguayma fractions, and the Angeles, Populo, and Pueblo Seri
fragments. Furthermore, it seems probable that the prolific group

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