Both for its historical and linguistic merits, the document which is presented in this volume is one of the most important in aboriginal American Literature. Written by a native who had grown to adult years before the whites penetrated to his ancestral home, himself a member of the ruling family of one of the most civilized nations of the continent and intimately acquainted with its traditions, his work displays the language in its pure original form, and also preserves the tribal history and a part of the mythology, as they were current before they were in the least affected by European influences.
The translation I offer is directly from the original text, and I am responsible for its errors; but I wish to acknowledge my constant obligations to the manuscript version of the late Abbé Brasseur (de Bourbourg), the distinguished Americanist. Without the assistance obtained from it, I should not have attempted the task; and though I differ frequently from his renderings, this is no more than he himself would have done, as in his later years he spoke of his version as in many passages faulty.
For the grammar of the language, I have depended on the anonymous grammar which I edited for the American Philosophical Society in 1884, copies of which, reprinted separately, can be obtained by any one who wishes to study the tongue thoroughly. For the significance of the words, my usual authorities are the lexicon of Varea, an anonymous dictionary of the 17th century, and the large and excellent Spanish-Cakchiquel work of Coto, all of which are in the library of the American Philosophical Society. They are all in MS., but the vocabulary I add may be supplemented with that of Ximenes, printed by the Abbé Brasseur, at Paris, in 1862, and between them most of the radicals will be found.