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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 26, Issue 2, 2006

Issue cover

In Memoriam

William Oliver Bright

The World of California and American Linguistics, as well as the field of linguistics worldwide, lost an important and beloved figure with the recent passing of William Bright. Bill was a native Californian, born in Oxnard on August 13, 1928, to a father, Oliver Bright, who was a butcher and chicken farmer and a mother, Ethel Ruggles Bright, who was a homemaker and a lover of flowers. He died of a brain tumor near his home in Boulder, Colorado, on October 15,2006. He is survived by his wife, linguist Lise Menn, his daughter, author Susie Bright, stepsons Joseph Menn and Stephen Menn, granddaughter Aretha Bright, and two step-grandchildren.


The Huamalgüeños of Isla Cedros, Baja California, as Described in Father Miguel Venegas' 1739 Manuscript Obras Californianas

Father Miguel Venegas' 1739 Obras Californianas is the most extensive and detailed document covering the first forty years of the Jesuit period in Baja California. In addition to providing discussions of historical events, Venegas wrote extensively on the natural world and on indigenous cosmology, social networks, and lifeways. The section translated and annotated here includes the bulk of Venegas' writing on Isla Cedros and its native people. The island, located on the Pacific Coast of central Baja California, was home to a large, maritime-adapted indigenous society. The period of time (1728-1732) covered in this section of the much larger Venegas manuscript details the tragic end of Cedros Island's indigenous society, but preserves an account of their culture that is of inestimable value. The annotations included provide not only clarifications of meaning, but critical evaluations of the text and of the significance of particular passages within the larger context of Baja California indigenous and colonial history.

California's Prehistory as a Remembered Past

Numerous oral traditions are among the diverse sources of information available for reconstructing California's prehistory. These accounts were preserved by the prehistoric inhabitants' descendants and then documented by ethnographers, primarily during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. For oral traditions to be used effectively in arriving at an understanding of factual events in the region's past, it is essential that the historicity of their content and their chronological range be critically evaluated. Empirical testing of the traditions' contents against independent evidence suggests that the traditions often preserved some elements of authentic information that extended back to well beyond the narrators' own experiences, across several generations or even through several centuries. There is no credible support for claims that events or conditions as remote as a millennium or more in the past were remembered.

The Impact of the Medieval Climatic Anomaly in Prehistoric California: A Case Study from Canyon Oaks, CA-ALA-613/H

This study tests the hypothesis that the Medieval Climatic Anomaly (MCA) resulted in resource stress and a decline in health in prehistoric California. Data were collected on the human remains (n = 98) from Canyon Oaks in Pleasanton, California. This analysis focuses on stature, linear enamel hypoplasias (LEH), dental caries, and evidence of violence in order to interpret patterns of growth stress, diet, and interpersonal violence in relationship to climatic changes. Statistical treatment reveals little diachronic change in the occurrence of stature, LEH, or interpersonal violence. However, the prevalence of dental caries shows significant temporal and sexual differences. These results suggest a substantive shift in diet during the MCA, without accompanying changes in growth stress or violence. It appears that this population mitigated stress through cultural and social means of buffering environmental changes. These findings underscore the role of the environment in prehistory, and the complexity of human responses to stress and climate.


On the Ethnolinguistic Identity of the Napa Tribe: The Implications of Chief Constancio Occaye's Narratives as Recorded by Lorenzo G. Yates

About 1876, Lorenzo G. Yates interviewed Constancio Occaye, described as the last "Chief of the Napas," and recorded several items of folklore from his tribe. Yates included Constancio's recollections about the use of charmstones in his classic article on that subject, but he does not appear to have ever published Constancio's account of Napa oral traditions regarding the Land of the Dead, creation, and the acquisition of fire. Anthropologists, although not without some uncertainty, have long considered the Napa tribe to have been of Southern Patwin affiliation. The narratives themselves, and the native words recorded parenthetically by Yates, appear to be mostly of Coast Miwok derivation, which suggests that a reconsideration of Napa ethnolinguistic identity is in order.

Early Ethnographic Notes from Constance Goddard DuBois on the Indians of San Diego County

Between 1899 and 1908, Constance Goddard DuBois, a novelist, philanthropist, and amateur anthropologist, published two dozen ground-breaking studies of San Diego County's Native Americans Her writings focused on myths, ceremonies, and other elements of traditional culture, as well as the difficult circumstances faced by native groups in early twentieth-century America. DuBois' previously unpublished manuscripts and notes contain some additional information on these subjects, which is presented here.

Lost and Found

Dreams and Dream Interpretation of the Diegueño Indians of Southern California

While not precisely 'lost,' the paper presented in this installment of Lost and Found appears to be little cited in the literature, and it certainly deserves wider scholarly recognition than it has received so far. Although the theoretical framework employed by the authors now seems somewhat dated, the interesting ethnographic data they present shed new light on significant but rather sparsely documented aspects of indigenous Kumeyaay medical beliefs and practices. The paper was originally published in the Psychoanalytic Quarterly [Vol. 5, pp. 195-225,1936]; it has been reformatted slightly for presentation here.


Madsen and Schmitt: Buzz-Cut Dune and Fremont Foraging at the Margin of Horticulture

Buzz-Cut Dune and Fremont Foraging at the Margin of Horticulture David B. Madsen and Dave N. Schmitt Anthropological Paper No. 124, University of Utah Press. 162 pages, 36 black and white photographs, 45 Illustrations; notes, references, two appendixes. $30.00. ISBN 0-87480-812-X

Schmitt and Madsen: Camels Back Cave

Camels Back Cave Dave N. Schmitt and David B. Madsen Salt Lake City: The University of Utah Press, 2005, (University of Utah Anthropological Paper No. 125), xui -I- 281 pp., 112 Illustrations, $40.00 (paper).

Smoak: Ghost Dances and Identity: Prophetic Religion and American Indian Ethnogenesis in the Nineteenth Century

Ghost Dances and Identity: Prophetic Religion and American Indian Ethnogenesis in the Nineteenth Century Gregory E. Smoak Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006,302 pages, 3 illustrations, $44.95 (cloth).