Sacred-Texts Native American South American Index Previous Next

p. 107


   When, some seven years ago, I took up the duties of stipendiary magistrate, medical officer, and protector of Indians in this mosquito-cursed district of the Pomeroon, I determined upon devoting all my spare time—and there has been plenty of it—to an ethnographical survey of the native tribes of British Guiana, somewhat on the lines I had already followed in the case of North Queensland. As the work progressed, I recognized that, for the proper comprehension of my subject, it was necessary to make inquiry concerning the Indians of Venezuela, Surinam, and Cayenne, with the result that the area to be reviewed comprised practically that portion of the South American continent bounded, roughly speaking, by the Atlantic seaboard, the Orinoco, and the northern limits of the watershed of the Rio Negro, and the lower Amazon; and it was not long before I realized that for the proper study of the Arawaks and the Caribs I had to include that of the now almost extinct Antilleans.

   In the course of my ethnographical work, I collected sufficient material in the way of myth, legend, and fable to warrant the publication of a separate volume on Animism and Folk-lore, and so the following pages have come to be written. The legends collected have been drawn mainly from Arawak, Carib, and Warrau sources, and are initialed (A), (C), and (W), respectively.


   Pomeroon River, British Guiana, June, 1913.