SINCE the scientific value of the myths and accounts of ceremonials which I have collected will depend wholly upon their exactness and accuracy, it is important that I should give enough of personal detail to account satisfactorily for this.
The first requisite in securing the Indian narrations and songs is to gain the good-will and complete coöperation of the old Indians who recite them. This my many years of philanthropic work for the betterment of their tribes has won in a general way; while individually, being liberally paid for their trouble, they freely give a full return.
A second point, and one much more difficult, is the securing of a perfect interpreter.
Finding that translations made by white people from the Spanish, with which I first began my work, could not be entirely relied upon, I determined to depend wholly upon interpretation direct from the Indian into English.
The Mesa Grande version of the Story of Chaup (Cuy-a-ho-marr) was well rendered in this way by an educated Indian girl; while at Campo (the Manzanita region) and at La-Jolla-in-the-mountains, I found in each case the sort of interpreter for whom I was seeking.
Sant, interpreter of the Manzanita version of the Cuy-a-ho-marr story, herewith given, and of all the Diegueño songs, accounts of ceremonials, etc., which I have lately secured, lived as a little naked boy among the desert Indians; listened as a child to the old myths; has seen twenty-one celebrations of the Image fiesta, extending as far as the coast Indians and ranging to Yuma in the other direction; and is saturated with the atmosphere and terminology of the past, which are completely unknown to nine tenths of the younger generation to-day.
On the other hand, having lived for years in a white man's family. he has a full and sufficient English vocabulary.
I was equally fortunate in my Luiseño interpreter at La-Jolla-in-the-mountains. José is an educated Indian, fluent in his English, and able to read and write it. At the same time, he is the son of a renowned hechicero, and lives in a region where every rock has its name and legend, and the past and present have suffered no divorce.
The Luiseño creation myth, the Ouiot songs and stories, were well rendered by him.
As to method,--the old men are extremely intelligent in catching
and carrying out the idea which I enforce, that a pause must be made after each sentence or two for translation and transcription. Nothing is left to memory, but all is written down as nearly as possible word for word.
It only remains, in recopying, to put into slightly better form the English of my interpreter, being extremely careful never to introduce the slightest change in idea. For instance, where Sant says, "It looked ugly," I write, "It was an ugly sight." Whenever it seems expedient, however, I use the exact words of my interpreter, my constant endeavor being towards simplicity, and always towards the truth.
145:1 This paper has been communicated as part of the Proceedings of the California Branch of the American Folk-Lore Society.