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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/82

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6o Reviews.

distribution among the various peoples with which he deals. Neighbourhood and race he shows to be the great agents in the distribution of myths ; and by ascertaining where a cycle is most fully known, and in the most homogeneous manner elaborated, he is able to assign the tribe to which it originally belongs. His conclusions, however, must be regarded as provisional only ; because further inquiry may seriously modify them, and there is still some room for doubt whether the greatest development is an infallible index of original invention of a myth. Other tables disclose the proportion told among each tribe of stories which are common to other tribes. And here it is noticeable that, although neighbouring tribes and those connected by race have the greatest proportion of tales in common, still the proportion which they have in common is comparatively small. The Tlingit and Tsimschians, who have the greatest number of incidents in common, only possess in common about one-tenth. Some of the sagas told among the tribes of the North-west are, as might be expected, known all over the North American continent. Pro- fessor Boas gives examples from the Poncas of the Mississippi basin, the Micmacs of the North Atlantic coast, and the Atha- bascans of the Mackenzie basin ; and his tables show the pro- portion of tales from these families which appear to have spread among the inhabitants of British Columbia and Southern Alaska. Comparative distance and seclusion are here, of course, the chief obstacles to transmission. Yet, if the tables may be relied on, there are some remarkable divergences from the rule. Thus, the Chinook, living at the mouth of the Columbia River, in the States of Washington and Oregon, display the greatest number of stories in common with the Micmacs. These may, as the author con- jectures, have descended the river. Again, a large tributary of the Columbia is the Lewis or Snake River, by which it may be con- jectured that the Ponca stories have travelled from the south-east. But we find that the Chinook are acquainted with no larger pro- portion of stories in common with the Poncas than are the Nutka on the coast of Vancouver Island,^ more than one hundred and

' Professor Boas conjectures, if we understand him aright, that the knowledge of the Micmac and Ponca stories was transmitted by the Chinook to these and other coast tribes. But are no Micmac and Ponca stories known to the coast tribes which are not known to the Chinook ? The Chinook stories, it should be said, are not comprised in the present collection. They are to be found in the same author's Chinook Texts.