National Geographic : 1941 Feb
Arch-Isolationists, the San Bias Indians Because they have succeeded so well in keeping to themselves and in keeping others out, these people wear much the same style clothes, build the same V, kind of houses, and ad here to the same cus toms as did their fore fathers hundreds of years ago. Architecturally, they possess just one design. Their homes are thickly thatched with dried palm leaves, which keep out the heaviest tropical rains (Plates IV and VI). The walls are made of small bamboo poles set close together and laced with lianas, or vine rope, from the jungle. Mother Earth supplies the floors, which are brushed so much they become very hard and clean. Around the inside walls of the huts are piled coconut husks and shells for use as fuel. Here and there are nets, lines, and other odds and ends. A few stools, carved from a solid log, are Unwitting Model placed at convenient More than two centu intervals, though most missionaries from an ea of the people seemed healed the sick. When to prefer standing dur- nesses in balsa wood, pi ing my visit. Ham mocks were stretched around, for none of these Indians ever sleeps on a bed. Sanitation on most of the islands is unheard of. The huts are built so close together that it is hardly possible to pass between them. Eaves are low and a person of average height must stoop when traversing the narrow lanes between the houses. The smallness of the homes and lanes does not bother the natives, for they are small crea tures themselves and get by very well in cramped quarters. The tallest San Blas man I saw was not more than five feet four, and the tallest woman five feet two. Sometimes a family consisting of four generations will live in one hut not so large as an ordinary box car. 'notograpn oy B.urt severin for Their "Medicine Doll" Was a Missionary ries before these children were born, Scottish Presbyterian rly settlement on Caledonia Bay visited the islands and the friendly visitors left, the Indians carved their like lug hats and all. From somewhere down the long line of gen erations, the San Blas Indians have inherited well-defined traditions, laws, and ways. They are ruled by an autocratic chief whose man dates are accepted as law. Eye-for-an-eye Code in Force At certain seasons all citizens assemble for ceremonial rites and dances which no for eigners may witness. While such ceremonies are taking place, no one is permitted to land. In one of the dances the participants torture themselves with nettles tied to their backs. Theoldcodeofaneyeforaneyeanda tooth for a tooth seems to hold good here. Accidents are few, for if a person bumps into, 203 se.