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Boas, Franz. Race, Language and Culture – T36


Ethnological Problems in Canada 1

At the meeting of the International Congress of Americanists, held
at Quebec in 1906, I called attention to a number of unsolved
problems relating to the ethnology of Canada. If on the present occasion
I venture to speak again on this subject, I am prompted by its
urgency. With the energetic economic progress of Canada, primitive
life is disappearing with ever-increasing rapidity; and, unless work is
taken up at once and thoroughly, information on the earliest history of
this country, which has at the same time a most important bearing upon
the general problems of anthropology, will never be obtained.

During the last three years, comparatively speaking, very little anthropological
work has been done in the Dominion. The Archæological
Institute of Ontario has continued its work. Mr. Teit is still carrying
on his valuable researches on the Salish tribes of British Columbia. Dr.
Lowie has obtained some information on the tribes of the southern
Mackenzie region; but the most important investigation has been the
study of the Ojibwa by the lamented William Jones, who lost his life
in the service of science. Under the auspices of the Carnegie Institution,
he made a profound study of the tribes of Lake Superior. Some
work has also been conducted by Mr. Hill-Tout, under the auspices of
the Committee of your Association 2 appointed to conduct an ethnological
survey of Canada. Some valuable information, collected by Scotch
and American whalers in the northern waters of the Dominion, has also
been accumulated since 1906.

I do not propose to discuss today in detail the various special problems
that invite investigation. I may be allowed merely to point out
again that the interior of Labrador, the eastern part of the Mackenzie
Basin, the northern interior of British Columbia, the Kootenay valley,
and southern and western Vancouver Island require intensive study.

During the last twenty years a general reconnaissance of the ethnological
conditions of the Dominion has been made, largely stimulated
by your Association; and it seems to my mind that the time has passed
331when superficial reports on the various tribes and on the archaeological
remains of various districts are of great value. Collections of miscellaneous
data hastily gathered can no longer take the place of a thorough
study of the many important anthropological problems that await
solution. Brief reports on local conditions were well enough when even
the rough outlines of our subject had not come into view. Since these
have been laid bare a different method is needed. Not even exhaustive
descriptions of single tribes or sites fulfil the requirement of our time.
We must concentrate our energies upon the systematic study of the
great problems of each area. The fruitfulness of such inquiries following
general surveys has been demonstrated by the scientific success of the
work of the Cambridge Torres Strait Expedition, and by the many
points cleared up by the systematic inquiries of the Jesup North Pacific
Expedition, which dealt with the ethnology of the coasts of British Columbia,
Alaska, and north-eastern Asia.

I may be allowed to formulate today a few problems that seem to
me of great magnitude, and which must be solved by the labors of an
ethnological survey of Canada. In doing so, I may omit mention of the
importance of all anthropological and ethnological research for the purpose
of clearing up the earliest history of the country. I will rather call
attention to a few problems relating to the whole continent, the solution
of which rests on a thorough study of the tribes of Canada.

In a general survey of the ethnic conditions of the American Continent
a peculiar uniformity of culture may be observed among the
Indians living around the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, on
the Great Plains, in the eastern United States and in a considerable
part of South America. All these tribes, notwithstanding far-reaching
differences among themselves, have so much in common, that their culture
appears to us as specifically American. The extended use of Indian
corn, of the bean and the squash, the peculiar type of ritualistic development,
their social institutions, their peculiar angular decorative art, are
among the most characteristic features common to this area. When we
compare this culture with the cultures of Polynesia, Australia, Africa,
or Siberia, the similarities appear clearly by contrast with the non-American
types of culture, and the common American traits stand out
quite markedly.

There are, however, a number of American tribes that differ in their
culture from that of the large area just mentioned. In South America
many tribes of the extreme south and of the Atlantic coast, far into the
332interior of Brazil, exhibit marked differences from their north-western
neighbors. On the northern continent the tribes of the Arctic coast,
of the Mackenzie basin, of the Western Plateaus, and of California,
do not participate in the type of culture referred to before. Looking at
the distribution of these phenomena from a wide geographical standpoint,
it appears that the tribes inhabiting the extreme north and northwest
and those inhabiting the extreme south and south-east, have ethnic
characteristics of their own.

This observation gives rise to two important lines of inquiry: the one
relating to the origin of the similarities in what may be called in a wider
sense the middle part of America, the other relating to the interpretation
of the characteristics of the marginal areas: the one in the extreme
south-east of South America, the other in the extreme north-west of
North America. The unity of culture in the former area suggests
mutual influences among the tribes of this vast territory. The solution
of this problem must be attempted by a searching study of the tribes
concerned, beginning in the Argentine Republic and reaching northward
to the Great Lakes and the Western Prairies, and including the
continental bridge between North and South America formed by Central
America, as well as the insular bridge formed by the West Indies.

The isolation of the tribes of the extreme south-east and of the
extreme north-west suggests that these districts may have preserved an
older type of American culture that has not been exposed, or that has
at least not been deeply impressed by the influences that swept over the
middle parts of the continent and left their impress everywhere. If our
point of view is correct, we might expect to find a gradual decrease of the
typical middle American elements as we go northward and southward;
and we might expect that on the whole the tribes least affected were also
the latest to come under the dominating influences of middle American
culture. From what I have said it appears that the bulk of the Canadian
aborigines belong to the northern marginal area. The important problem
of the significance of the type of culture here found is therefore
specifically a Canadian problem.

Its solution must be attempted by means of a painstaking analysis of
the physical characteristics, languages, and forms of culture of the
various tribes of the Dominion, with a view to segregating the characteristics
of the older aboriginal type of culture from those elements that
may have been imported from the south. Some general considerations
relating to this subject may here be given.333

In the east the Iroquois seem to be closely allied to tribes of the
south. Although historical evidence shows that at the time of the discovery
the Iroquois were located along the lower St. Lawrence River,
where they were met by Champlain, I have reasons to believe that the
previous seats of this tribe were somewhere in the southern part of the
United States, perhaps near the Mississippi River.

The Cherokee, who are linguistically related to the Iroquois, have
resided in the Southern Appalachian area ever since they have been
known, thus forming a link between the Iroquois and the Southern
tribes. Other tribes, still more closely related to the Iroquois, lived near
them. What appears to me as more important is the fact that the morphological
structure of the Iroquois language has nothing in common
with the structure of Eskimo, Algonquian, and Siouan tribes, whose
neighbors they are in the north, and with whom they have been in
contact during the last few centuries; but that it must be classed with
the highly incorporating languages of the south-west, which embody
the nominal object in the verb — a peculiarity which was formerly believed
to be characteristic of all American languages.

Although the relationship between the Iroquois and the tribes of the
south, if it really exists, may well be so old that none of the cultural
elements belonging to the one area exist in the other, the linguistic observations
here referred to necessitate inquiries in this direction. As a
matter of fact, it is easy to show that the Iroquois have absorbed or
retained many of the most characteristic features of middle American
culture; and we may even venture to point out that some of their
inventions, like the blow-gun, connect them directly with the tribes of
the Gulf of Mexico and of South America. I am inclined to lay great
stress upon the peculiar development of the clan system of the Iroquois
and upon the type of their tribal organization, which exhibits the very
common American trait that social divisions are assigned definite political

If these views should prove to be true, the Iroquois would have to be
considered as not belonging to the northern marginal area.

The conditions among the Algonquian are quite different. The Algonquian
tribes have changed their habitat so extensively during the last
few centuries that it seems necessary, first of all, to reconstruct their
earlier distribution. In comparatively speaking recent times the two
important western tribes of Canada — the Ojibwa and Cree — resided
north and north-east of the Great Lakes. They have gradually migrated
334westward, and their territory extends at present to the foot-hills of the
Rocky Mountains. We even know of Cree warriors who reached a
point near Kamloops on the Thompson River in British Columbia.

A comparison between the culture of the Algonquian and that of
their neighbors of the prairies shows even at the present time a peculiar
contrast. The Algonquian appear as the typical inhabitants of the
north-eastern woodlands. They were essentially food-gatherers, and
agriculture played a very unimportant rôle in their life. They carried
with them the peculiar mide ceremonies which have been adopted by
their nearest Siouan neighbours, particularly by the Winnebago. The
most western offshoots of the Algonquian are highly differentiated. The
Cheyenne and Arapaho, as well as the Blackfoot who belong in part
to the Dominion of Canada, have come to be prairie tribes. It has
been shown, however, that the Cheyenne and Arapaho, who resided
formerly upon the eastern borders of the Prairie, practised agriculture;
while the Blackfoot seem to have come from the Saskatchewan, where
they may have lived in a way similar to the present Central Algonquian
tribes north of the Great Lakes. From these considerations I am inclined
to infer that the Algonquian were at one time a north-eastern
tribe; that the most southern branches — namely those extending
through the Middle Atlantic States, and south of the Iroquois towards
Lake Michigan — have by contact been assimilated to the tribes of the
south-east; while the most western offshoots, then living on the upper
Mississippi, were influenced by the agricultural tribes of the Lower Mississippi.
If this view be correct, we may expect to find the earlier type
of Algonquian culture north of the Great Lakes and in the interior of
Labrador, which for this reason are particularly inviting to the student.
From what little I know of the unpublished results of Dr. Jones's study
of the Ojibwa, north of Lake Superior, the views here expressed seem
to be fairly well supported, and are certainly worthy of further investigation.
On the whole, the organization of the northern Algonquian seems
to be so loose, their social structure so simple, that the impression of a
strong contrast between the tribe and those of the south is conveyed.
The conditions in Nova Scotia and the Atlantic provinces, where related
though distinct tribes reside, are also in accord with the views here

Still clearer are these conditions in the vast area extending from
Hudson Bay north-west to the Arctic Ocean, and westward into the
interior of Alaska and to the Coast Range of British Columbia. This
335is the home of the Athapascan tribes. Their migrations and adaptations
to different social conditions secure to them a peculiar place among the
tribes of North America.

Isolated Athapascan tribes are found all along the Pacific Ocean, in
British Columbia, in Washington, Oregon, and California; and two
of the most important tribes of the South — the Apache and Navaho,
who occupy the borderland between the United States and Mexico —
belong to this stock. All the isolated bands in Oregon share the
Oregonian culture, and are indistinguishable in their physical type from
their neighbors speaking other languages. The Athapascans in California
are Californians in type and culture; and those of the southwest
are a typical south-western tribe in appearance as well as in their
industrial arts and their beliefs. What is true of the isolated bands is
also true of the large body of Athapascans of the north. Wherever they
come into contact with neighboring tribes they have readily adopted
their customs. Thus the Athapascan tribes of the lower Yukon are to
all intents and purposes Eskimo; those of the upper course of the
Skeena River in British Columbia have adopted much of the coast
culture; and those of the coast of Alaska have learned many of the arts
and beliefs of their neighbors. The most southern groups of the
Mackenzie Basin proper have adopted the customs of the Algonquian
tribes. I do not think that this adaptability should be considered as a
characteristic racial trait. It seems much more an effect of the lack of
intensity of the old Athapascan culture. The same phenomenon is
repeated among other tribes whose culture resembles that of the
Athapascan. The Salishan tribes of British Columbia and Washington
and the Shoshonean tribes of the Western Plateaus of the United States
have been affected by their neighbors in exactly the same manner. It
would seem, from reports of older travellers, that Athapascan culture,
comparatively speaking, uninfluenced by neighboring tribes, may be
found in the district west of Hudson Bay, and perhaps also on the upper
courses of the western tributaries of the Mackenzie River.

Investigation of this simple culture must be considered as one of the
most important problems of Canadian ethnology. Its importance lies
in the probability that we may recognize in it an older type of American
culture than the cultures observed on the prairies and in the eastern
part of the United States.

From what little we know about this district, it seems likely that its
culture may be similar to that of the Salishan tribes of the interior of
336British Columbia, which are being thoroughly investigated by Mr.
James Teit. A simple social organization, simplicity of industrial life,
and what may perhaps be called a general individualistic tendency,
seem to be common to both groups of tribes. This tendency, combined
with sparsity of population, with lack of great rituals which bring people
together, and accompanied by a lack of strong artistic proclivities, seems
to make these tribes susceptible to foreign influence.

There is little doubt that the Eskimo, whose life as sea-hunters has
left a deep impression upon all of their doings, must probably be classed
with the same group of peoples. The much-discussed theory of the
Asiatic origin of the Eskimo must be entirely abandoned. The investigations
of the Jesup North Pacific Expedition, which it was my privilege
to conduct, seem to show that the Eskimo must be considered as, comparatively
speaking, new arrivals in Alaska, which they reached coming
from the east.

I must not leave the discussion of the significance of the culture of
this whole district without referring, at least, to the important question
of the relation between America and Asia. The Jesup North Pacific Expedition,
the plans for which I suggested in 1897, was intended to
contribute to the solution of this problem, and I think our investigators
have succeeded in showing that there has been close contact between
Siberia and the northern marginal area of America. I may be permitted
to mention a few of the points which prove the existence of
diffusion of culture throughout this territory. Many traditions have
been found that are common to Siberia and the north-western part of
the American Continent, reaching as far as northern California, the
northern Prairies, and Hudson Bay. The treatment of birch-bark, the
method of embroidering with reindeer and moose-hair, the forms of
houses — all suggest long-continued intercourse. A consideration of the
distribution, and the characteristics of languages and human types in
America and Siberia, have led me to suggest the possibility that the
so-called Palae-Asiatic tribes of Siberia must be considered as an offshoot
of the American race, which may have migrated back to the Old
World after the retreat of the Arctic glaciers.

I have so far left entirely out of consideration one of the most difficult
problems of Canadian ethnology — that of British Columbia.
Nowhere in the Dominion is a like number of types and languages met
within so small an area; nowhere is found a culture of such strong
individuality as in this region.337

The fundamental features of the material culture of the fishing tribes
of the coast of north-eastern Asia, of north-west America, and of the
Arctic coast of America, are so much alike that the assumption of an
old unity of this culture seems justifiable, particularly since the beliefs
and customs of this large continuous area show many similarities. These
have been pointed out by Mr. Jochelson in his descriptions of the
Koryak of the Okhotsk Sea. On this common basis a strongly individualized
culture has originated on the coast of British Columbia, particularly
among the Haida, Tsimshian, and Kwakiutl, which presents
a number of most remarkable features, and is best exemplified by the
style of art of this region, that has no parallel in any other part of our
continent. At the same time some of the customs and beliefs of these
people recall so strongly customs that are found only east of the Rocky
Mountains, and again customs of the Melanesians that a highly interesting
and difficult problem arises, which has so far baffled a complete
interpretation, notwithstanding the detailed investigations that have
been conducted.

Let us turn now from the consideration of these geographical and
historical problems to that of their bearing upon fundamental theoretical
questions. In our previous discussions we made the tacit assumption,
with which perhaps not all of you agree, that the culture of the
tribes of our continent is a complex historical growth, in which by
careful analysis the component elements may be segregated, and which
in this way becomes historically intelligible. We started with the hypothesis
that the ideas of a people depend upon the cultural elements handed
down to them by their ancestors, upon additions to their knowledge
based on their own experience and upon ideas that they have acquired
from their neighbors. Our hypothesis implies that ideas and activities
of a people undergo fundamental changes due to complex causes.

We must recognize that this hypothesis does not exhaust the field of
anthropological experience. Besides similarities due to obvious cases of
borrowing, there are others that cannot be thus explained — similarities
sometimes extending to minute details, which occur in regions widely
separated. We believe that their occurrence is due to a psychological
necessity, which brings about the appearance of certain groups of ideas
and activities on certain stages of culture.

The phenomena here referred to have, however, given rise to the
further hypothesis that these peculiar similar phenomena, which are
not historically connected, arise by necessity whenever a tribe lives in
338the corresponding cultural conditions; and, furthermore, that these phenomena
show us the sequence of all early cultural development the
world over. So far as the theory assumes a psychological basis for
similarities of ethnic phenomena in regions far apart, it seems to me
incontrovertible; in so far as it assumes the necessary occurrence of
this whole group of phenomena and their fixed sequence, I believe it is
open to grave doubt.

An example will make clear the difference between these points of
view. One of the striking features found among primitive people are
the customs and beliefs which we are used to combine under the term
“totemism.” Totemism is found among many American tribes. In
Canada it occurs among some Algonquian tribes, the Iroquois, and on
the Pacific coast. It is often combined with maternal descent — with
the custom of reckoning the child as a member of the mother's family,
not as a member of the father's family. Totemism — and maternal descent
have existed in earlier times among many people where they have now
disappeared, and a complete recurrence to these customs, after they
have once been given up, is rare, and has never been observed in the
history of the civilized world. From this it is inferred that totemism and
maternal descent belong to an earlier period in the evolution of civilization,
and have gradually been superseded by other forms of social
organization and belief. While we may grant that this is the general
course of events, the conclusion that totemism and maternal descent
precede everywhere paternal descent and family organization does not
seem to me necessary. The tendency to their disappearance may exist
everywhere; but this does not prove that they are a necessary stage in
human development. In many parts of the world they may never have
existed. The conditions in America are not at all favorable to the
assumption of their omnipresence. The tribes which have the least complex
culture, like those of the Mackenzie Basin, and which therefore
would appear to be less developed, have paternal descent and no trace
of totemism. Those that are socially and politically highly organized,
like the tribes of the eastern part of the United States, have maternal
descent and highly developed totemism. This has been proved by the
investigations of Dr. John R. Swanton. Furthermore, I have tried to
show that totemism and maternal descent have been adopted by tribes
of British Columbia that were apparently in former times on a paternal
stage. Mr. Hill-Tout later on confirmed some of my conclusions, and
similar observations were made by Father Morice in the interior of
339British Columbia. The attempts to give a different interpretation to
these facts, which have been made, for instance, by Breisig, do not seem
convincing to me, because they start from the assumption that the unusual
sequence of cultural forms is against the hypothetical general
scheme of evolution.

It would seem that an acceptable general theory of the development
of civilization must meet the demand that the historical happenings in
any particular region conform to it. So far as I can see, the various
theories of totemism all fail to do so, because they try to explain too
much. To the student who delves into the depths of the thought of
primitive man, without paying attention to theories, it becomes very
soon apparent that the convenient term “totemism” covers a wide range
of the most diverse ideas and customs, which are psychologically not
at all comparable, but which have in common certain ideas in regard
to incest groups — groups in which marriage is forbidden — and peculiar
types of religious ideas. Where these ideas occur they tend to associate
themselves, and are called “totemism.” Where only the one or the
other prevails, no totemism can develop. Therefore it seems that totemism
may be viewed as a product of peculiar combinations of cultural
traits that develop here and there.

I do not wish, however, to add a new theory to the many already
existing, I merely wish to point out that, as long as the hypothetical
sequence of events does not fit actual cases, the evolutionary scheme
cannot be proved to represent the line followed by the whole of mankind.

On the other hand, the proof of dissemination of cultural elements
seems to be incontrovertible. The sameness of Algonquin and Iroquois
mythology, which Brinton derived from the psychic unity of their minds,
is obviously due to borrowing. During the last fifteen years the process
and extent of borrowing of myths has been studied in such detail in
America, that no reasonable doubt can exist in regard to the gradual
dissemination of tales from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean,
from the Plateaus of Mexico to the Mackenzie River, and from the
heart of Asia to Hudson Bay. No less convincing is the proof derived
from the study of American decorative art, with its uniformity of style
and its multiplicity of interpretation. In short, it seems to my mind
that the fact can no longer be ignored, that the ethnic life of even the
most primitive tribe is a complex historical growth. With this, the
necessity arises of making the attempt to unravel the historic process,
and to verify our general theories by application to the history of each

I wish to state once more that, in advocating this procedure, I do not
mean to imply that no general laws of development exist. On the contrary,
the analogies that do occur in regions far apart show that the
human mind tends to reach the same results, not under similar, but
under varying circumstances. The association of decorative art with
symbolic interpretation, that of social classification and religious belief,
of material actions and magic results, of novelistic happenings and
interpretations of nature, are among the fundamental tendencies common
to humanity in the earlier stages of civilization. The problem that
we have to solve is, on the one hand, the psychological one, how these
fundamental tendencies come into existence, and the more specifically
ethnological one, why they manifest themselves in various ways at different
stages of culture.

I believe this is the anthropological problem that our time is called
upon to solve. It has the most far-reaching influence upon the whole
treatment of our science, and its investigation must be based on observations
made in a region where dissemination can easily be traced.
Conditions for this study are favorable wherever a number of distinct
types of culture are in close contact, and still sufficiently distinct to allow
us to recognize the peculiar traits of each. These conditions are remarkably
well fulfilled in Canada. The Arctic coast, the Eastern Woodlands,
the Prairies, the Plateau and Mackenzie area, and the Pacific coast,
are so many districts sharply individualized, and still not segregated
by insuperable barriers from the others. Therefore attempts to carry
through a comparative analysis of neighboring tribes is promising. I
have referred briefly to some facts that seem suggestive, but the method
of research here advocated may perhaps be further elucidated.

The Eskimo, who appear, on the whole, sharply differentiated from
their neighbors, have nevertheless many traits in common with them.
With the Chukchee and Koryak of north-eastern Asia they share almost
all the fundamental inventions relating to the sea-hunt — the kayak, the
boat, the harpoon, household utensils. Their pictographic art and their
realistic carvings have the same style, which reaches its highest perfection
among the Koryak. Certain rituals of the Eskimo and of these
tribes are alike. Their hero-tales show similarities in type, and, to some
extent, in detail. With their Athapascan neighbors the Eskimo have
in common looseness of social organization; with both Athapascan and
Iroquois, the concept of confession as a means of warding off the results
of sin; that is, of the breaking of customary behavior. With the
Athapascan and northern Algonquian they share the occurrence of a
341peculiar type of animal fable, that, so far as I am aware, has not its
like in any other part of America. A number of specific tales can be
traced from southern British Columbia to East Greenland and from
Lake Superior to Smith Sound. To the former group belongs the tale
of the blind man who recovered his eyesight by diving with a loon, and
who then took revenge on his mother, who had maltreated him while
he was blind; and the story of the being that robbed graves, and was
overcome by a courageous youth, who, feigning death, had himself
buried, was carried away by the monster, and finally escaped by the
incidents known as “the magic flight.” The characteristic feature of
all these phenomena is their occurrence over continuous areas and their
absence outside of this area. Indeed, the study of the component features
in the culture of any given tribe must lay the greatest stress upon
geographical continuity of occurrence; for, as soon as we admit in our
proof the possibility of loss in intermediate districts, we might prove
connection between all parts of the world. Continuity of distribution
and a sufficient number of analogous elements in neighboring cultures,
seem, however, to justify the assumption of borrowing and mutual influences.
Ample opportunity for such relations is given in the wars,
trading relations and intermarriages of tribes.

I may perhaps now be allowed to enumerate a few of the most obvious
gaps in our knowledge of Canadian ethnology, which should be
filled to enable us to conduct the searching analysis suggested. Among
tribal monographs, those of the Athapascan tribes of the Mackenzie,
between Great Slave Lake and Hudson Bay, and that of the Algonquin
tribes in the northern part of the Labrador Peninsula, seem to me the
most urgently needed, because, as explained before, they are presumably
the least affected types of northern marginal culture. In the west, the
Kootenay are only little known, and the relation of the Tsimshian to
their neighbors requires an exhaustive study. The Coast Salish and the
Nootka of the west coast of Vancouver Island still offer important fields
for detailed investigation.

In the field of Algonquian research we require a full record of the
gentile system of the tribes and of their rituals, particularly an inquiry
into the essential characteristics of the mide ceremonies; in the Athapascan
group, a detailed study of the complicated customs of avoidance and
of the correlated intimacy, which, both in America and Siberia, always
seem to go hand in hand, but have until recently escaped the attention
of observers, because they are not as striking as the customs of avoidance.

In archaeology one of our most important tasks must be the accurate
342determination of the most north-western extent of ancient pottery and
of the relations between the prehistoric types of the Great Lake area and
the present population of the same district. I may also point out here the
need of an investigation of the shell heaps of Alaska in regard to the
question whether a short-headed type preceded the present Eskimo, the
only link that is lacking in closing the proof of the eastern origin of the

Most important appears a thorough and systematic study of Canadian
languages, based on modern phonetic systems. While we suspect
a relationship between Tlingit, Haida, and Athapascan, and again between
Salishan and Wakashan, this has not been proved yet. The relationship
between these languages is a problem of fundamental importance.

I might go on with my enumeration, but enough has been said.

After the analysis of individual types of civilization, here suggested,
has been made, the problem of what constitutes the individuality of the
culture of each tribe stands out with great clearness. The tenacious conservatism
of the Eskimo, his inventiveness, his good nature, his peculiar
views of nature, cannot be explained as resultants of borrowing, but
appear as the outgrowth of his mode of life, and of the way in which
he has remodelled the cultural materials transmitted to him by his
forbears and by his neighbors.

I have dwelt so fully on this question, which is of fundamental importance
for a right interpretation of ethnic phenomena, because
Canada offers an exceptionally favorable field for their discussion. An
exhaustive study of the types of culture and of their relations will show
in how far we may be allowed to consider them as representatives of
evolutionary types, or in how far the present conditions are the outgrowth
of complicated historical happenings, in how far the widest
generalisations of anthropology may be expressed in the form of sequences
of beliefs and customs, or in how far they are rather psychological
laws relating to the mental activities of mankind under conditions
determined by the traditional views and attitudes found in different
types of culture. Whatever our views may be in regard to these questions,
their importance will be recognized by all. The opportunity to
solve these theoretical questions, as well as the historical ones propounded
before, is given. May we not hope that it may be seized upon,
and that the aborigines of the Dominion may be studied before it is
too late?343

1 Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, vol. 40 (1910), pp. 529-539.

2 British Association for the Advancement of Science.