Franz Boas greatly influenced American anthropology, particularly in his development of the theoretical framework known as cultural relativism, which argued against the evolutionary scale leading from savagery to Culture, laid out by his 19th-century predecessors. He believed that cultures (plural) are too complex to be evaluated according to the broad theorizing characteristic of evolutionary “laws” of developing culture (singular). Instead, Boas sought to understand the development of societies through their particular histories.
As a student of Native American languages, Boas emphasized the importance of linguistic analysis from internal linguistic structure, and pointed out that language was a fundamental aspect of culture. Indian Myths & Legends from the North Pacific Coast of America, includes his earliest research in British Columbia concerning Indigenous myths and legends.
Short-listed 2003 BC Book Prize: Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize