Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/484

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indeed, generally considered as the handsomest in New California."

The present Indians of San Diego and Los Angeles Counties, a group of whom are presented in Fig. 1, are fair representatives of the mission Indians of southern California. They approach more nearly to Langsdorff's description than to the pen-portrait drawn by Vancouver. It is to be remembered, however, that these Indians belong to the great inland Shoshonian family, and are doubtless intellectually brighter than were their brethren of the coast farther north, about Santa Barbara and San Francisco, who represent distinct families.

I have seen a considerable number of the mission Indians in recent years, and can testify to the general accuracy of Langsdorff's description, though of course they differ much individually and among different tribes. In general it appears to me that the Indians of the interior of the State are less sluggish physically, and are mentally brighter, than those nearer the coast. Taking the coast tribes all in all, they are the lowest type of Indian I have ever seen, and it is probable that they represent the lowest type north of Mexico.

At first this fact seems totally at variance with the fitness of things; for, if California was not literally a land flowing with milk and honey, it possessed every attribute to be desired by a barbarous people. Its climate was mild and equable; its coast and inland waters teemed with fish and mollusks; while the land abounded with game and with nuts, roots, and seeds which were both nutritious and easily procured. With such advantages as these it might be supposed that the natives would have far outstripped the dwellers of less favored sections. Human progress, however, does not always follow the lines of least resistance, and it is probable that in their struggle toward civilization the races of the world owe less to their advantages than to their disadvantages. To put this seeming paradox in other words, man's improvement has been largely compulsory, and, when he is not too heavily handicapped, adverse surroundings stimulate instead of checking his progress. Certain is it that the fine climate and abundant natural products of California had their full effect in developing, or rather in retarding the development, of the natives. Though not deficient physically, the Indians, especially of the warmer portion of the State, were exceedingly indolent and stupid. As a rule they were not hunters but fishers, and hence their blood was not quickened and their muscles hardened by the excitement and toil of the chase; nor were their wits sharpened to the same extent as those of the hunting tribes by the manifold and varied necessities of their calling, nor by the sterner duties of war; for the hunting tribes are invariably warlike. Not so the Califor-