The Contemporary Culture of the Cahita Indians

The Contemporary Culture of the Cahita Indians

The Contemporary Culture of the Cahita Indians

The Contemporary Culture of the Cahita Indians

Excerpt

The first part of this study (Beals, 1943) was an attempt to reconstruct the aboriginal culture of the Cáhita Indians. This second part is a general description of the contemporary culture of the Yaqui and Mayo Indians, the sole surviving groups of Cáhita. In the few cases where informants or documents indicated different customs for the period between mission days and the present, the data are included. Where it has been possible to do so, and the matter has seemed important, the development of contemporary institutions has been suggested.

The basic interest, both in field work and in presentation, has been ethnographic. Consequently, there is a minimum of the "social anthropology" which Robert Redfield has so successfully developed in Mexico. Much that is significant for study of the interaction between the Indian and Mexican cultures of the area will, nevertheless, be found in these pages. Indeed, social problems are so obvious, so omnipresent, and at the same time so interesting that it is impossible to ignore them completely, however concentrated one's purpose may be on ethnology. Although in the United States similar problems may exist, they are those of a dying culture which has only minor relations with the dominant civilization. In Mexico one is dealing, not with two cultures of which one is dying, but with two cultures which are each functioning entities. The white and Indian cultures of Mexico have profoundly influenced one another in many regions, but they have not yet merged. Nor is it certain that the European culture is to be wholly dominant in the final synthesis. In content, of course, much of the final culture of Mexico will be Euro-American. But its patterns, its habits of thought, and its organization will probably be profoundly influenced by the Indian cultures. For this reason, the social aspects of Mexican Indian cultures are impossible to ignore entirely.

Because of the dominantly ethnological interest which motivated the field studies, less effort was made to probe current attitudes of the community than some might think desirable. The task of picturing the Cáhita is much greater than Redfield encountered at Tepoztlan, for the isolation is less, the numbers nearly 20 times as great, the local differentiations greater, and the populations more mobile (Redfield . . .

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