Indian Languages of Mexico and Central America and Their Geographical Distribution

Indian Languages of Mexico and Central America and Their Geographical Distribution

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Indian Languages of Mexico and Central America and Their Geographical Distribution

Indian Languages of Mexico and Central America and Their Geographical Distribution

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Excerpt

About the year 1895 Maj. J. W. Powell, Director of the Bureau of American Ethnology, determined on the preparation of a linguistic map of that part of North America south of the Mexican boundary, having in view the extension southward of the classification and mapping of the linguistic families north of that border. Dr. Cyrus Thomas was assigned the task of assembling the preliminary data and the preparation of a sketch map, but the death of Major Powell before the research had assumed final shape, and the assignment to Doctor Thomas of more urgent work, necessitated delay in the completion until the latter part of 1908. At that time Dr. J. R. Swanton, who had entered on a study of the languages of the tribes of the lower Mississippi valley and the Gulf coast, became interested in the linguistic classification of the tribes of middle America, and on the joint suggestion of Doctors Thomas and Swanton copies of the map were prepared and submitted to a number of students who had devoted attention to the languages and ethnology of Mexico and Central America, soliciting criticism and making inquiry respecting the advisability of publication at this stage. The following anthropologists responded, furnishing valuable data: Dr. Carl Sapper, Dr. A. L. Kroeber, Dr. Frederick Starr, Dr. Nicolás León, Dr. H. Pittier de Fábrega, Dr. A. M. Tozzer, Señor Francisco Belmar, Dr. Aleš Hrdlička, and Dr. Franz Boas. Corrections and additions were made in accordance with some of the suggestions offered, bringing the classification and the map as nearly to date as possible. These results are now submitted, not as a final work, but as an attempt to represent the present state of knowledge regarding a subject which may never be cleared entirely of obscurity.

W. H. HOLMES, Chief.

JUNE 2, 1909.

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