Gerónimo Boscana

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Father Gerónimo Boscana

Gerónimo Boscana (Jerónimo Boscana) was an early 19th-century Franciscan missionary in Spanish Las Californias and Mexican Alta California. He is noted for producing the most detailed ethnographic picture of the cultures of Native Americans in California to come out of the missionary period, an account that "...for his time and profession, is liberal and enlightened" (Kroeber).[1]

Life[edit]

Born at Llucmajor on the island of Mallorca, Spain in 1776. Boscana was educated at Palma and joined the Franciscan order in 1792. He traveled to Mexico in 1803 and to California in 1806. He served at Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad (Soledad Mission), Mission La Purísima Concepción (La Purísima Mission), Mission San Luis Rey de Francia (San Luis Rey Mission & Luiseño 'Mission Indians'), and Mission San Gabriel Arcángel (San Gabriel Mission & GabrieliñoTongva 'Mission Indians'). For more than a decade, from 1812–1826, he was stationed at Mission San Juan Capistrano. He died at Mission San Gabriel in 1831, and is the only missionary to be interred in its cemetery among over 2,000 other mission inhabitants, mainly Tongva-Gabrielino Indians, buried there.

Ethnographic studies[edit]

Boscana's first ethnographic contribution resulted from an 1812 questionnaire sent by the Spanish government to the missionaries of Alta California (Geiger).[2] The task of preparing a response on behalf of Mission San Juan Capistrano of the Juaneño may have stimulated the missionary's latent interest in the native culture. While at San Juan Capistrano, Boscana composed two versions of a detailed ethnographic sketch of the Acagchemem (Juaneño) Native Americans, who were primarily speakers of a dialect of the Luiseño language but probably also included Tongva language (Gabrieliño) speakers from the north. One version of Boscana's manuscript, "Chinigchinich; a Historical Account of the Origin, Customs, and Traditions of the Indians at the Missionary Establishment of St. Juan Capistrano, Alta California Called The Acagchemem Nation,",[3] was translated by Alfred Robinson and published in 1846 as an appendix to his book "Life in California".[4] Robinson was apparently responsible for giving the title "Chinigchinix (Chinigchinich)" to Boscana's work. An edition of this version with extensive annotations by the anthropologist and linguist John Peabody Harrington was published in 1933.

The following year, Harrington published a translation of another, variant version of Boscana's account, newly discovered in France and entitled "Relación histórica de la creencia, usos, costumbres, y extravagancias de los indios de esta Misión de San Juan Capistrano llamada la nación Acagchemem" (Harrington 1934). The second version was subsequently also published in its original Spanish by 'Reichlen and Reichlen' in 1971.[5] It seems to have been an earlier draft of the manuscript published by Robinson, but it contains some material not included in the later version.[6] Portions of a still earlier draft made by Boscana, with some additional ethnographic information, have also recently been discovered by Johnson in 2006.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kroeber, Alfred. 1959. p.282
  2. ^ Geiger. 1976.
  3. ^ Boscana, Gerónimo. "Chinigchinich; a Historical Account of the Origin, Customs, and Traditions of the Indians at the Missionary Establishment of St. Juan Capistrano, Alta California Called The Acagchemem Nation." online at: [1]
  4. ^ Robinson, Alfred. 1846. Life in California. Wiley & Putnam, New York.
  5. ^ Reichlen, Henry, and Paula Reichlen. 1971. "Le manuscrit Boscana de la Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris". Journal de la Société des Américanistes 60:233–273.
  6. ^ [Robinson, Alfred. 1846. Life in California. Wiley & Putnam, New York.] Robinson, Alfred. 1846
  7. ^ Johnson. 2006. University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 47:282–293. Berkeley.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Boscana, Gerónimo. "Chinigchinich; a Historical Account of the Origin, Customs, and Traditions of the Indians at the Missionary Establishment of St. Juan Capistrano, Alta California Called The Acagchemem Nation." online at: [2]
  • Johnson. 2006. University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 47:282–293. Berkeley.
  • Reichlen, Henry, and Paula Reichlen. 1971. "Le manuscrit Boscana de la Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris". Journal de la Société des Américanistes 60:233–273.
  • Robinson, Alfred. 1846. Life in California. Wiley & Putnam, New York.