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A Mission Record of the California Indians, by A.L. Kroeber, [1908], at

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San Carlos48

At this mission there are seven nations of Indians. They are called Excelen and Egeac, Rumsen, SargentaRuc, Sanconeños, Guachirron and Calendo Ruc. The first two are from inland. They have one and the same language or speech, but this is totally distinct from that of the other five, who speak a common tongue. 49

In the native state they ordinarily lived at war with one another.

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The languages which there are among these seven nations are two, one called Rumsen, and the other Excelen, entirely different. For instance in Rumsen they say, muxina muguiant jurriquimo igest oyh laguan eje uti maigin. In Excelen, egenoch lalucuimxs talogpami ege salegua lottos tahezapami laxlachis. Both of these examples mean: "The men who shoot well with a bow are esteemed and well liked." 50


The principal Indians are their chiefs or kings. Each nation has one. They obey and respect him all their lives. The position is inherited by succession, or in case of want of direct succession it goes to the nearest relative. In the native condition such a captain was the only one in his nation who could have and leave various unmarried women. If he had children from any one of them, she was the best beloved and he lived with her forever. However he had the privilege of going with unmarried women whenever he desired. The whole nation rendered him vassalage. He went ahead in war, furnishing bows and arrows and animating his people. He was regularly an excellent marksman with the bow.


There is a custom among the men of entering daily a subterranean oven which is called temescal. Into this they bring fire. When it is sufficiently heated, they go in undressed. Then they sweat profusely, so that when they come out they look as if they had been bathing. It is known that this is very beneficial to them. For some time the [sweat-houses] were forbidden, and many itches, tumors, and other epidemics were found among the men. On the [sweat-houses] being given back to them, hardly a

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man with the itch could be discovered, and this is a disease common among the women and children, who do not use such sweat-baths. The women who have recently given birth employ another method of sweating. They make a hole inside of the house, put wood into it, light this, and put many heavy stones upon it. When the stones are hot, they cover them with much green verdure which makes a sort of a mattress. The woman who has given birth lies down on this with the baby. The mother sweats much and the child is kept warm. 51 They do this for six or seven days, and then are as agile as if they had not given birth, and this although their broths and foods are very poor.


They use a split stick like a distaff which serves them to beat the measure for their songs, 52 which, whether happy or sad, are all in the same time (tonata). For instance they sing as follows to the lively tunes, in which they mention their seeds or their asañas: Bellota—a—a, bellota; mucha semilla—a—a, mucha semilla. If the song is one of vengeance or bad wishes, which is very often, and from which many fights result, they sing, and dance to the same time, speaking evil of that nation with which they are on bad terms, thus: Manco—o—o, manco, or other words or defects which they know concerning the nation or person which they are comparing (contrapuesta).


The kind of idolatry which has been found among these natives is that they sometimes smoke, blowing the smoke to the sun, the moon, and to certain people who they believe live in the sky; and with this they say: "Here goes this smoke in order that you will give me good weather to-morrow." Thus also of the seeds which they gather and of which they make pinole or flour. Of these they throw a handful to the sun, the moon, or the sky, saying: "I send you this so that another year you will give me greater abundance." Thus they recognize in the sun and the

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moon influences bearing upon their necessities, and recognize also that in the sky there is another people which sends them what they wish, and for this reason they offer them flour, seeds, and tobacco smoke.

They have often been asked if they have heard tell anything of the place of their origin. To this all answer that they do not know. And this ignorance is not strange, for these natives hold it for the greatest affront that one should speak of their dead parents and relatives; to such a degree, that a boy whose parents should die while he is quite small, would have no one who would tell him how his deceased father, grandfather, and other kindred were called. 53 If they quarrel among one another, they say in order to be more vituperative: "Your father is dead (a ti se te murio tu padre)" and then they become more angry. 54 On account of these practices they have no way of retaining a recollection of their ancestors, the more so since when anyone dies, they burn all his clothing and property, and if he has animals, like chickens, dogs, or a horse, they kill them, and pull up his plants. If they are asked the reason, they say that it is in order that they may no longer remember the dead. 55


Some of them gain a reputation as a doctor (curandero). The sick person calls such a one and lets him suck the part which is paining. Presently the doctor extracts a stone which he has hidden in his mouth, and says: "Look. This was the cause of your sickness. Inside of you was this stone." They receive pay for this deceit and the patient does not become well front it. Others sing and dance before the sick person. Others, old women, say that it is they who make fruits and seeds grow, and for this presents are made to them; and if by chance the year is barren in fruits, the old woman pretends that she is angered, making

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them believe that she has not wished to give them fruits; wherefore they feel themselves compelled to make her more presents in order to allay her displeasure and make her give them seeds the next year. If indeed this next year is a fruitful one, the old woman receives their contentment and approval and all humor her.


20:48 The mission of San Carlos, near Monterey, is so far as known the only one to which Indians of the Esselen family were brought, except perhaps that of Soledad. San Carlos is one of seven missions, extending from Soledad to San Francisco, founded in Costanoan territory. The following report, which is one of the most detailed and careful in the entire series of replies, appears to have been written either by Father Juan Amoros or by Father Vincente de Sarria.

20:49 The seven ''nations" are village communities. On account of unusual size or prominence, the names of these seem to have come to be chosen to designate somewhat larger groups that had no political organization or real coherence except possibly a distinct dialect. The first two, "from inland," who have the same speech, distinct from that of the others, belong to the Esselen family; the other five, who "speak a common tongue," are Costanoan. Excelen is evidently the same name as Esselen, which appears also in the forms Eslen, Ecclemach, Ecselen, Escelen, and Ensen. Originally probably only the name of a village-site, extended by the Spaniards to cover a group of people, it has come to be the recognized name of an entire linguistic family. This family was never large since known to history, and is the only stock in California to have become entirely extinct. However, only the lives of a few individuals separate several other families from the same condition, so that there is nothing peculiar in the fate of the Esselen. Egeac is the Ekgiagan given by Alexander Taylor as a village of the Chalone of Soledad, who, however, were Costanoan; -gan seems to be an ending, as it appears also in Eslanagan, Yumanagan, and Aspasniagan. The writer in 1902 was told by the Costanoan Indians at Monterey that Ekkheya was a former village-site in the mountains to the south. This accords with what is known of the Esselen territory. Rumsen or Rumsien is the name which has come to be used for the Costanoan Indians of the vicinity of Monterey. The few survivors state that it was applicable to the people, or a district, along Carmel river in the mountains south of Monterey. Rumsen and Eslen are the most commonly mentioned "tribes" at Monterey, which have by some, writing at a distance, been extended so as to divide a large part of California between them. In this more general sense they are about equivalent to "Costonoan and Esselen Indians at San Carlos mission." SargentaRuc is Sirkhintaruk, or Sirkhinta, also called Kakonta, a former Costanoan village at Point Sur. Kakon means chicken-hawk; ta is the locative ending at; and ruk, literally house, means village, or people of; or, as the writer's informants put it, Kakonta is Sur, Kakontaruk the Sureños, the ''gente" of Sur. Guachirron is several times mentioned, as by Taylor, who speaks of the Goatcharones with the Ekgiagan. The writer's Monterey informants placed the Huacharones beyond Ekkheya. Calendo Rue, finally, is Kalindaruk, a Costanoan village near the mouth of Salinas river. Like most the other terms in this list, it has generally been used to include the people of the surrounding district. Kalin is ocean, ta is at, and ruk, house, as in Sirkhintaruk. The name has also been written Calendaruc and Kathlendaruc.

21:50 The Esselen language is extinct. All that is known of it is collected in a paper on the Languages of the Coast of California South of San Francisco, issued in the second volume of the present series of publications. The sentence here added is therefore a welcome contribution, even though it does not yet yield to analysis. Egenoch is man and lottos arrow, according to the vocabularies. The mx in lalucuimxs is doubtful in the manuscript, also the g in ege, and the z in tahezapami, for which taherapami should perhaps be read. The Costanoan dialect of San Carlos and Monterey has been briefly discussed, under the name of Rumsen, in the publication just mentioned. Mukiamk is man, uti is they, ekhe is much, very, lauwan is bow, ins or iwis, not discernible in the sentence above, is like, love, tepek, also without parallel, is to shoot; -st and -n are verbal endings. Igest should perhaps be read iyest, and the end of maigin is not clear in the manuscript.

22:51 This method of sweating used by women who have recently given birth, suggests the Luiseño and Diegueño practice at the girls’ puberty ceremony, as described by Boscana and in an article by H. N. Rust in the American Anthropologist for 1906.

22:52 The split stick is the clap-stick or rattle that has been previously mentioned. It is the dancing rattle of central California, as compared with the cocoon rattle used by the shamans of the same tribes.

23:53 This might be literally true.

23:54 Some such statement is the usual form which a deadly insult or curse takes among the California Indians, from the Yurok of the extreme northwest to the Mohave of the southeast.

23:55 The reason here given for the destruction of the property of the dead, and the avoidance of his name, is the one usually obtained upon inquiry among the present Indians of California. That there were also other motives, appears from the preceding statement from San Fernando. The matter has been discussed in Notes on California Folk-Lore in the Journal of American Folk-Lore for 1906.

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