Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/355

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EDWARD PALMER

removing the skull and skin of the animal, allow her to proceed with its body to her little ones. In this way he secured specimens of several new rodents. He also gives an interesting account of a raid by a party of Indians in the Indian Territory, who were about to destroy his collections, but stopped short at the sight of snake-skins, evidently recognizing them as the property of a medicine man with whom it was dangerous to trifle.

Dr. Palmer's reputation as a collector having been established, he was sent by the commissioner of agriculture, in March, 1869, on a mission to New Mexico and Arizona, to report on the agricultural resources, the commercial products, the climate and fertility of the soil, and the general habitable features of the various localities to be visited by him.

He proceeded to Fort Wingate, N. M., and across the border to Fort Defiance, Ariz., whence he visited the Navajo Indians and the Hopis, or Moquis, of northeastern Arizona. Dr. Palmer in his notes describes the agriculture of the Hopis and gives an account of a feast at which the principal articles of food were thin, scroll-like cakes of blue corn-bread, which were used by the Indians for plates and spoons as well as for food; syrup made from the roasted crowns of an agave; peaches, which the Indians had begun to cultivate; and mutton from their flocks. At the village of Oraibi a rabbit hunt was organized in honor of his visit, and Dr. Palmer for the first time saw boomerangs used as weapons of the chase. Specimens of these were secured for the National Museum. Some of the cactaceƦ collected in this region were described by Engelmann, and by Coulter in Vol. 3 of the Contributions from the U. S. National Herbarium.

After his return to Fort Wingate, Dr. Palmer was furnished with an army escort for his journey to Fort Whipple, Ariz. On his way thither he stopped to collect on the slope of San Francisco Mountain, a locality which had never before been visited by a botanist. From Fort Whipple he made various excursions to neighboring localities, securing much botanical material and objects of ethnological interest illustrating the habits and customs of the various tribes of Indians inhabiting the territory of Arizona. This was forwarded to San Francisco, by way of the Colorado River and the Gulf of California. It was shipped at San Francisco on the Golden City to go to New York by way of the Isthmus of Panama; but the vessel was lost, with everything on board. Only a collector can realize what a blow this was to Dr. Palmer. "When I heard of the disaster," said he, "every hardship and risk I had endured came to my mind; one by one I recalled some special object of beauty or of interest which I felt I could never replace."

From Arizona he entered the Mexican state of Sonora and proceeded southward to Guaymas, collecting on the way. After visiting the