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Previous: Chapter XIndexNext: Chapter XII

DISCOVERY OF THE YOSEMITE
CHAPTER XI.

Camp Amusements—A Lost Arrow—Escape of a Prisoner—Escape of Another—Shooting of the Third—Indian Diplomacy—Taking His Own Medicine—Ten-ie-ya Captured—Grief over the Death of His Son—Appetite under Adverse Circumstances—Poetry Dispelled—Really a Dirty Indian.

Although our camp was undisturbed during the night, no doubt we were watched from the adjacent cliffs, as in fact all our movements were. The captives silently occupied the places by the camp fire. They were aware of Spencer’s mishap, and probably expected their lives might be forfeited; for they could see but little sympathy in the countenances of those about them. The reckless demonstrations of the more frolicksome boys were watched with anxious uncertainty. The sombre expressions and energetic remarks of the sympathizers of Spencer induced Captain Boling to have a special guard detailed from those who were not supposed to be prejudiced against the Indians, as it was deemed all-important to the success of the campaign that Ten-ie-ya should be conciliated or captured; therefore, this detail was designed as much for the protection of the hostages as to prevent their escape. The messengers had assured the Captain that Ten-ie-ya would be in before noon, but the hostages told Sandino that possibly the messengers might not find him near To-co-ya, where they expected to meet him, as he might go a long distance away into the mountains before they would again see him. They evidently supposed that the chief, like themselves, had become alarmed at the failure of his plan to draw us into ambush, and had fled farther into the Sierras; or else doubted his coming at all, and wished to encourage the Captain to hope for the coming of Ten-ie-ya that their own chances of escape might be improved.

Sandino professed to believe their statement, telling me that they—the five prisoners—expected to have trailed us up to the scene of Spencer’s disaster; failing in which—owing to our having forced them to hide near the “Frog Mountains"—they still expected to meet him on the cliff where the rocks had been rolled down, and not at To-co-ya. In this conversation, the fact appeared—derived as he said indirectly from conversations with the prisoners—that there were projecting ledges and slopes extending along the cliff on the east side of Le-hamite to To-co-ya, where Indians could pass and re-pass, undiscovered, and all of our movements could be watched. The substance of this communication I gave to Captain Boling, but it was discredited as an impossibility; and he expressed the belief that the old chief would make his appearance by the hour agreed upon with his messengers, designated by their pointing to where the sun would be on his arrival in camp. Accordingly the Captain gave orders that no scouts would be sent out until after that time. Permission, however, was given to those who desired to leave camp for their own pleasure or diversion.

A few took advantage of this opportunity and made excursions up the North Cañon to the “basket trail,” with a view of examining that locality, and at the same time indulging their curiosity to see the place where Cameron and Spencer had been trailed in and entrapped by the Indians. Most of the command preferred to remain in camp to repair damages, rest, and to amuse themselves in a general way. Among the recreations indulged in, was shooting at a target with the bows and arrows taken from the captured Indians. The bow and arrows of the young brave were superior to those of the others, both in material and workmanship. Out of curiosity some of the boys induced him to give a specimen of his skill. His shots were really commendable. The readiness with which he handled his weapons excited the admiration of the lookers on. He, with apparent ease, flexed a bow which many of our men could not bend without great effort, and whose shots were as liable to endanger the camp as to hit the target. This trial of skill was witnessed by Captain Boling and permitted, as no trouble was anticipated from it.

After this exercise had ceased to be amusing, and the most of those in camp had their attention engaged in other matters, the guard, out of curiosity and for pastime, put up the target at long range. To continue the sport it was necessary to bring in the arrows used, and as it was difficult to find them, an Indian was taken along to aid in the search. The young brave made a more extended shot than all others. With great earnestness he watched the arrow, and started with one of the guard, who was unarmed, to find it. While pretending to hunt for the “lost arrow,” he made a dash from the guard toward “Indian Cañon,” and darted into the rocky Talus, which here encroached upon the valley. The guard on duty hearing the alarm of his comrade and seeing the Indian at full speed, fired at him, but without effect, as the intervening rocks and the zig-zag course he was running, made the shot a difficult one, withuot danger of hitting his comrade, who was following in close pursuit.

This aggravating incident greatly annoyed Capt. Boling, who was peculiarly sensitive on the subject of escaped prisoners. The verdant guard was reprimanded in terms more expressive than polite; and relieved from duty. The remaining Indians were then transferred to the special care of Lt. Chandler, who was told by Capt. Boling to “keep them secure if it took the whole command to do it.” The Indians were secured by being tied back to back, with a “riata” or picket rope, and then fastened to an oak tree in the middle of the camp, and the guard—a new one—stationed where they could constantly watch. The morning passed, and the hour of ten arrived, without Ten-ie-ya. Capt. Boling then sent out Sandino and the scouts to hunt for him, and if found, to notify him that he was expected. Sandino soon came back, and reported that he had seen Ten-ie-ya and talked with him; but that he was unable to reach him from below, on account of the steepness of the ledge. Sandino reported that Ten-ie-ya was unwilling to come in. That he expressed a determination not to go to the Fresno. He would make peace with the white chief if he would be allowed to remain in his own territory. Neither he nor his people would go to the valley while the white men were there. They would stay on the mountains or go to the Monos.

When this was communicated to Capt. Boling, he gave orders for a select number of scouts to make an effort to bring in the old malcontent, alive, if possible. Lt. Chandler, therefore, with a few Noot-chü and Po-ho-no-chee scouts, to climb above the projecting ledge, and a few of our men to cut off retreat, started up the Ten-ie-ya branch, led by Sandino as guide. After passing the “Royal Arches,” Sandino let Chandler understand that he and his scouts had best go up by the Wai-ack or Mirror Lake trail, in order to cut off Ten-ie-ya’s retreat; while he went back to the rock he pointed out as the place where he had seen and talked with Ten-ie-ya; and which commanded a view of our camp. This was distasteful to Chandler; but after a moment’s reflection said: “Let the converted knave go back to camp; I’ll act without him, and catch the old chief if he is on the mountain, and that without resorting to Indian trachery.”

While in camp Sandino had seemed to convey some message to the hostages, and when asked the purport of it had answered evasively. This had prejudiced Chandler, but it had not surprised me, nor did it appear inconsistent with Sandino’s loyalty to Captain Boling; but the Indian was unpopular. As to his code of honor and his morality, it was about what should have been expected of one in his position, and as a frequent interpreter of his interpretations and sayings, I finally told the Captain and Chandler that it would be best to take Sandino for what he might be worth; as continued doubt of him could not be disguised, and would tend to make a knave or fool of him. On one occasion, he was so alarmed by some cross looks and words given him, that he fell upon his knees and begged for his life, thinking, as he said afterward, that he was to be killed.

During the night, and most of the time during the day, I was engaged in attendance on Spencer. Doctor Black understood it to be Spencer’s wish that I should treat him. I gave but little attention to other matters, although I could see from our tent everything that was going on in camp. Not long after the departure of Chandler and his scouts, as I was about leaving camp in search of balsam of fir and other medicinals, I observed one of the guard watching the prisoners with a pleased and self-satisfied expression. As I glanced toward the Indians I saw that they were endeavoring to untie each other, and said to two of the detail as I passed them, “That ought to be reported to the officer of the guard. They should be separated, and not allowed to tempt their fate.” I was told that it was “already known to the officers.” I was then asked if I was on guard duty. The significance of this I was fully able to interpret, and passed on to the vicinity of “The High Falls.”

On my return an hour afterwards. I noticed when nearing camp, that the Indians were gone from the tree to which they were tied when I left. Supposing that they had probably been removed for greater security, I gave it no further thought until, without any intimation of what had occurred during my short absence, I saw before me the dead body of old Ten-e-ya’s youngest son. The warm blood still oozing from a wound in his back. He was lying just outside of our camp, within pistol range of the tree to which he had been tied.

I now comprehended the action of the guard. I learned that the other Indian had been fired at, but had succeeded in making his escape over the same ground and into the cañon where the other brave had disappeared. I found on expressing my unqualified condemnation of this cowardly act, that I was not the only one to denounce it. It was a cause of regret to nearly the whole command. Instead of the praise expected by the guard for the dastardly manner in which the young Indian was killed, they were told by Captain Boling that they had committed murder. Sergeant Cameron was no lover of Indians, but for this act his boiling wrath could hardly find vent, even when aided by some red hot expressions. I learned, to my extreme mortification, that no report had been made to any of the officers. The Indians had been permitted to untie themselves, and an opportunity had been given them to attempt to escape in order to fire upon them, expecting tokill them both; and only that a bullet-pouch had been hung upon the muzzle of one of the guard’s rifles while leaning against a tree (for neither were on duty at the moment), no doubt both of the captives would have been killed.

Upon investigation, it was found that the fatal shot had been fired by a young man who had been led by an old Texan sinner to think that killing Indians or Mexicans

YOSEMITE FALLS
YOSEMITE FALLS.
(2,634 feet in height.)
was a duty; and surprised at Captain Boling’s view of his conduct, declared with an injured air, that he “would not kill another Indian if the woods were full of them.” Although no punishment was ever inflicted upon the perpetrators of the act, they were both soon sent to coventry, and feeling their disgrace, were allowed to do duty with the packtrain. Captain Boling had, before the occurrence of this incident, decided to establish his permanent camp on the south side of the Merced. The location selected was near the bank of the river, in full view of, and nearly opposite, “The Fall.” This camp was head-quarters during our stay in the valley, which was extended to a much longer time than we had anticipated. Owing to several mountain storms, our stay was prolonged over a month. The bottoms, or meadow land, afforded good grazing for our animals, and we were there more conveniently reached by our couriers and supply-trains from the Fresno.

From this point our excursions were made. All Indians attach great importance to securing the bodies of their dead for appropriate ceremonials, which with these was “cremation.” They with others of the mountain tribes in this part of California, practiced the burning of their dead in accordance with their belief in a future state of existence, which was that if the body was burned, the spirit was released and went to “the happy land in the west.” If this ceremony was omitted, the spirit haunted the vicinity, to the annoyance of the friends as well as the enemies of the deceased. Knowing this, Captain Boling felt a desire to make some atonement for the unfortunate killing of the son of Ten-ie-ya, the chief of the tribe with whom he was endeavoring to “make peace,” and therefore made his arrangements to take advantage of this custom to propitiate the Indians by giving them an opportunity to remove the body of the youth. Accordingly, the order was at once given to break camp.

While the pack animals were being loaded, Lt. Chandler with his party brought in Ten-ie-ya. The Indian scouts, who were first sent out with Sandino and who knew where the talk with the chief had been held, passed on in advance and saw that he was still at his perch, watching the movements below him. Some of those out on leave discovered him also, seated on a ledge that appeared only accessible from above. The Pohonochee scouts, thinking to capture him by cutting off his retreat, followed an upper trail and reached the summit of the wall, while a few of Chandler’s men, who were apprized of the situation by some of the pleasure-seekers whom they met, took a lower trail, and thus were in advance of the Indian scouts when Ten-ie-ya’s retreat was reached. To their disappointment, the old chief could not be found, though at intervals fresh signs and heaps of stones were seen along the south-western slope of the mountain.

The sequel to the disappearance of Ten-ie-ya, as explained by Sandino, was simply as follows: When sent back by Chandler, Sandino resolved to make another effort to induce Ten-ie-ya to come in, lest Chandler should kill him if found. Accordingly he again climbed to the foot of the old chief’s perch, and was talking with him, when some small loose stones came rolling down towards them. Seeing that his retreat above had been cut off, Ten-ie-ya at first ran along westerly, on the slope of the mountain towards Indian Cañon; but finding that he was cut off in that direction also, by the Neut-chü and Po-ho-no-chee scouts, he turned and came down a trail through an oak tree-top to the valley, which Sandino had by this time reached, and where he had been attracted by the noise made in the pursuit. Lt. Chandler had not climbed up the trail, and hearing Sandino’s cry for help, and the noise above him, he was able to reach the place when Ten-ie-ya descended, in time to secure him. Ten-ie-ya said the men above him were rolling stones down, and he did not like to go up, as they broke and flew everywhere; for that reason he came down.

Ten-ie-ya accompanied his captors without making any resistance, although he strongly censured the Indians for being instrumental in his capture. They did not reach the valley in time to take part in the capture, but as Ten-ie-ya had said: “It was their cunning that had discovered the way to his hiding place.”

None of the party of explorers or those under Chandler were aware of the event that had occurred during their absence. As Ten-ie-ya walked toward the camp, proudly conscious of being an object of attention from us, his eye fell upon the dead body of his favorite son, which still lay where he had fallen, without having been disturbed. He halted for a moment, without visible emotion, except a slight quivering of his lips. As he raised his head, the index to his feelings was exhibited in the glaring expression of deadly hate with which he gazed at Capt. Boling, and cast his eyes over the camp as if in search of the remains of the other son, the fellow captive of the one before him. Captain Boling expressed his regret of the occurrence, and had the circumstances explained to him, but not a single word would he utter in reply; not a sound escaped his compressed lips. He pasively accompanied us to our camp on the south side of the river. It was evident that every movement of ours was closely scrutinized. Sandino was instructed to notify the chief that the body could be taken away. This permission was also received in silence.

Upon riding over to the camp ground the next morning, it was found that the body had been carried up or secreted in Indian Cañon; as all of the tracks led that way. This ravine became known to us as “Indian Cañon,” though called by the Indians “Le-Hamite,” “the arrow wood.” It was also known to them by the name of “Scho-tal-lo-wi,” meaning the way to “Fall Creek.” The rocks near which we were encamped, between “Indian Cañon” and “The Falls,” were now called by the Po-ho-no-chee scouts who were with us, “Hammo,” or “Ummo,” “The Lost Arrow,” in commemoration of the event. On the morning following the capture of Ten-ie-ya, Capt. Boling tried to have a talk with him; but he would not reply to a question asked through the interpreter; neither would he converse with Sandino or the Indians with us. He maintained this moody silence and extreme taciturnity for several days afterwards.

Finding that nothing could be accomplished through the old chief, Captain Boling gave orders to re-commence our search for his people. Scouting parties were started on foot to explore as far as was practicable on account of the snow. Although it was now May, the snow prevented a very extended search in the higher Sierras. On the first day out these parties found that, although they had made a faithful and active search, they had not performed half they had planned to do when starting. Distances were invariably under-estimated. This we afterward found was the case in all of our excursions in the mountains, where we estimated distance by the eye; and calling attention to the phenomena, I tried to have the principle applied to heights as well. The height of the mountainous cliffs, and the clear atmosphere made objects appear near, but the time taken to reach them convinced us that our eyes had deceived us in our judgment of distance. To avoid the severe labor that was imposed upon us by carrying our provisions and blankets, an attempt was made to use pack-mules, but the circuitous route we were compelled to take consumed too much time; besides the ground we were desirous of going over was either too soft and yielding, or too rocky and precipitous. We were compelled to leave the mules and continue our explorations on foot. Later in the season there would have been no difficulty in exploring the mountains on horse-back, if certain well established routes and passes were kept in view; but aside from these our Indian guides could give us little or no information. This we accounted for upon the theory that, as there was no game of consequence in the higher Sierras, and the cold was great as compared with the lower altitudes, the Indians knowledge of the “Higher Sierras” was only acquired while passing over them, or while concealed in them from the pursuit of their enemies. All scouting parties were, therefore, principally dependent upon their own resources, and took with them a supply of food and their blankets for a bivouac. In this way much time and fatigue of travel was saved. Some were more adventurous than others in their explorations. These, on returning from a scout of one or more days out, would come in ragged and foot-sore, and report with enthusiasm their adventures, and the wonders they had seen. Their descriptions around the camp fire at night were at first quite exciting; but a few nights’ experience in the vicinity of the snow-line, without finding Indians, soon cooled down the ardor of all but a very few, who, from their persistent wandering explorations, were considered somewhat eccentric.

Through our Indian scouts, we learned that some of the Yosemites had gone to the Tuolumne. These were Tuolumne Indians who had intermarried with the Yosemites, and had been considered as a part of Ten-ie-ya’s band. Taking their women and children, they returned to the Tuolumne tribe as soon as it was known that Ten-ie-ya had been captured; fearing he would again promise to take his band to the Fresno. Our orders prohibited us from disturbing the Tuolumne Indians; we therefore permitted them to return to their allegiance without attempting to follow them.

Ten-ie-ya was treated with kindness, and as his sorrow for the loss of his son seemed to abate, he promised to call in some of his people, and abide by their decision, when they had heard the statements of Capt. Boling. At night he would call as if to some one afar off. He said his people were not far from our camp and could hear his voice. We never heard a reply, although the calls were continued by order of Capt. Boiling for many nights.

Although he was closely watched by the camp guard, he made an attempt to escape while the guard’s back was momentarily turned upon him. Sergt. Cameron, who had especial charge of him at the time, saw his movement, and as he rushed from his keeper, Cameron dashed after and caught him before he was able to plunge into and swim the river.

As Ten-ie-ya was brought into the presence of Capt. Boling by Sergt. Cameron, after this attempt to escape, he supposed that he would now be condemned to be shot. With mingled fear of the uncertainty of his life being spared, and his furious passion at being foiled in his attempt to regain his liberty, he forgot his usual reserve and shrewdness. His grief for the loss of his son and the hatred he entertained toward Copt. Boling, who he considered as responsible for his death, was uppermost in his thoughts, and without any of his taciturn, diplomatic style he burst forth in lamentations and denunciations, given in a loud voice and in a style of language and manner of delivery which took us all by surprise. In his excitement, he made a correct use of many Spanish words, showing that he was more familiar with them than he had ever admitted even to Sandino; but the more emphatic expressions were such as may often be heard used by the muleteers of Mexico and South America, but are not found in the Lexicons. As he approached Capt. Boling, he began in a highly excited tone: “Kill me, sir Captain! Yes, kill me, as you killed my son; as you would kill my people if they were to come to you! You would kill all my race if you had the power. Yes, sir, American, you can now tell your warriors to kill the old chief; you have made me sorrowful, my life dark; you killed the child of my heart, why not kill the father? But wait a little; when I am dead I will call to my people to come to you, I will call louder than you have had me call; that they shall hear me in their sleep, and come to avenge the death of their chief and his son. Yes, sir, American, my spirit will make trouble for you and your people, as you have caused trouble to me and my people. With the wizards, I will follow the white men and make them fear me.” He here aroused himself to a sublime frenzy, and completed his rhapsody by saying: “You may kill me, sir, Captain, but you shall not live in peace. I will follow in your foot-steps, I will not leave my home, but be with the spirits among the rocks, the water-falls, in the rivers and in the winds; wheresoever you go I will be with you. You will not see me, but you will fear the spirit of the old chief, and grow cold.* [*It is claimed by all Indian “Medicine Men” that the presence of a spirit is announced by a cool breeze, and that sometimes they turn cold and shake as with an ague.] The great spirits have spoken! I am done.”

Captain Boling allowed the old orator to finish his talk without interruption. Although he did not fully understand him, he was amused at his earnest style and impetuous gestures. On hearing it interpreted, he humorously replied: “I comprehended the most of what he said. The old chief has improved. If he was only reliable he would make a better interpreter than Sandino. As for speech-making, Doc., I throw up. The old Pow-wow can beat me all hollow.” Ten-ie-ya earnestly watched the countenance of the good natured Captain, as if to learn his decision in the matter. The Captain observing him, quietly said: “Sergeant Cameron! the old sachem looks hungry, and as it is now about supper time, you had better give him an extra ration or two, and then see that he is so secured that he will not have a chance to escape from us again.”

I watched the old incorrigible while he was delivering this eloquent harangue (which, of course, is necessarily a free translation) with considerable curiosity. Under the excitement of the moment he appeared many years younger. With his vigorous old age he displayed a latent power which was before unknown to us. I began to feel a sort of veneration for him. My sympathies had before been aroused for his sorrow, and I now began to have almost a genuine respect for him; but as I passed him half an hour afterwards, the poetry of his life appeared changed. He was regaling himself on fat pork and beans from a wooden dish which had been brought to him by order of Cameron. This he seemed to enjoy with an appetite of a hungry animal. His guard had provided his wooden bowl and ladle by chipping them out of an alder tree, but failing to finish them smoothly, they could not be properly washed; but this fact seemed not to disturb his relish for the food. As I looked at his enjoyment of the loaded dish, I now saw only a dirty old Indian. The spiritual man had disappeared. I addressed him in Spanish, but not a word of reply; instead he pointed to his ear, thereby indicating that he was deaf to the language. Afterwards he even repudiated his “Medicineship.


Previous: Chapter XIndexNext: Chapter XII

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