This classic of American Indian ethnography, originally published in 1877, is again available in its complete form. In the summers of 1871 and 1872 Powers visited Indian groups in the northern two-thirds of California. A journalist by profession, he was untrained in ethnography, but was nonetheless an astonishingly intelligent observer who had a gift for writing in a spirited manner. He reported faithfully what he heard and portrayed accurately what he saw among the native survivors of Gold Rush days in a series of seventeen articles published mostly in The Overland Monthly. These were partly unwritten, added to, and reorganized by Powers to be published in 1877 as a report of the U.S. Geographical Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region.
Powers’ book is still basic and is referred to by everyone who deals with native cultures. The 1877 edition was not large, and Tribes of California is at last reprinted in response to growing demand for this rare volume. For this edition all of the original illustrations have been retained and the basic text printed in facsimile. Professor Robert F. Heizer has provided annotations throughout and an introduction to indicate contemporary thought about the volume.