Yosemite > Library > Discovery > Chapter 17 >
|Previous: Chapter XVI • Index • Next: Chapter XVIII|
Captain Boling elected Sheriff—Appointment of Indian Agents—Ten-ie-ya allowed to return to Yosemite—Murder of Visitors—Lt. Moore’s Expedition and Punishment of Murderers—Gold Discoveries on Eastern Slope of Sierras—Report of Expedition, and first Published Notice of Yosemite—Squatter Sovereignty—Assault upon King’s River Reservation—The Supposed Leader, Harvey, Denounced by Major Savage—A Rencounter and death of Savage—Harvey Liberated by a Friendly Justice—An Astute Superintendent—A Mass Meeting—A Rival Aspirant—Indians and Indian Policy.
After being mustered out, the members of the battalion at once returned to their various avocations. I was fully occupied with mining and trading operations, and hence gave little heed to affairs at the Fresno. Through Captain Boling, however, who was elected Sheriff of the county, and whose business carried him to all parts of the country, I learned of the appointment of Col. Thomas Henly as agent for the tribes of Mariposa county, and as sub-agents M. B. Lewis for the Fresno and Wm. J. Campbell for the King’s River Agencies. I afterwards met Col. Henly and Mr. Lewis in Mariposa, and was much pleased with the Colonel. Both of these gentlemen were kind and genial; but Mr. Lewis soon tired of his office as unsuited to his taste, and accepted a position in the State Government under Major Roman. His successor, I believe, was Capt. Vincinthalor. Old Ten-ie-ya, and his band, were never recipients of friendly favors from Savage, nor was he in very good standing with the agent. This was known to the other chiefs, and they frequently taunted him with his downfall. The old chief chafed under the contemptuous treatment of those who had once feared him and applied to the sub-agent or farmer for permission to go back to his mountain home. He claimed that he could not endure the heat at the agency, and said he preferred acorns to the rations furnished him by the Government.
To rid itself of the consequences engendered by these petty squabbles with the old chief, the management at the Fresno consented to a short absence under restrictions. Ten-ie-ya promised to perform all requirements, and joyfully left the hot and dry reservation, and with his family, took the trail to the Yosemite once more. As far as is known, Ten-ie-ya kept faith and disturbed no one. Soon after his departure, however, a few of his old followers quietly left the Fresno as was supposed to join him, but as no complaints were made by their chiefs, it was understood that they were glad to be rid of them; therefore no effort was made to bring them back. During the winter of 1851-52 a considerable number of horses were stolen, but as some of them were found in the possession of Mexicans, who were promptly executed for the theft, no charge was preferred against the Yosemites.
Early in May, 1852, a small party of miners from Coarse Gold Gulch, started out on a prospecting tour with the intention of making a visit to the Yosemite Valley.
The curiosity of some of these men had been excited by descriptions of it, made by some of the ex-members of the Battalion who had gone to Coarse Gold Gulch, soon after their discharge. This party spent some little time prospecting on their way. Commencing on the south fork of the Merced, they tested the mineral resources of streams tributary to it; and then, passing over the divide on the old trail, camped for the purpose of testing the branches leading into the main Merced. While at this camp, they were visited by begging Indians; a frequent occurrence in the mining camps of some localities. The Indians appeared friendly, and gave no indications of hostile intentions. They gave the party to understand, however, that the territory they were then in, belonged to them, although no tribute was demanded. The miners comprehended their intimations, but paid no attention to their claim, being aware that this whole region had been ceded to the Government by treaty during the year before.
Having ascertained that they were a part of the Yosemite Band, the miners by signs, interrogated them as to the direction of the valley, but this they refused to answer or pretended not to understand. The valley however, was known to be near, and no difficulty was anticipated, when the party were ready to visit it, as an outline map, furnished them before starting, had thus far proved reliable. Unsuspicious of danger from an attack, they reached the valley, and while entering it on the old trail, were ambushed by the Indians from behind some rocks at or near the foot of the trail, and two of the party were instantly killed. Another was seriously wounded, but finally succeeded in making his escape. The names of the two men killed were Rose and Shurbon; the name of the wounded man was Tudor.
The reports of these murders, alarmed many of the citizens. They were fearful that the Indians would become excited and leave the reservations, in which case, it was thought, a general outbreak would result. The management of the Fresno agency was censured for allowing Ten-ie-ya to return to the valley, and for allowing so considerable a number of his followers to again assemble under his leadership. Among the miners, this alarm was soon forgotten, for it was found that instead of leaving the reservations, the Indians camped outside, fled to the agencies for protection, lest they should be picked off in revenge for the murders perpetrated by the Yo-sem-i-tes. The officer in command at Fort Miller, was notified of these murders, and a detachment of regular soldiers under Lt. Moore, U.S.A., was at once dispatched to capture or punish the red-skins. Beside the detachment of troops, scouts and guides, and a few of the friends of the murdered men accompanied the expedition. Among the volunteer scouts, was A. A. Gray, usually called “Gus” Gray. He had been a member of Captain Boling’s company and was with us, when the valley was discovered, as also on our second visit to the valley under Captain Boling. He had been a faithful explorer, and his knowledge of the valley and its vicinity, made his services valuable to Lt. Moore, as special guide and scout for that locality. The particulars of this expedition I obtained from Gray. He was afterward a Captain under Gen. Walker, of Nicaragua notoriety. Under the guidance of Gray, Lt. Moore entered the valley in the night, and was successful in surprising and capturing a party of five savages; but an alarm was given, and Ten-ie-ya and his people fled from their huts and escaped. On examination of the prisoners in the morning, it was discovered that each of them had some article of clothing that had belonged to the murdered men. The naked bodies of Rose and Shurbon were found and buried. Their graves were on the edge of the little meadow near the Bridal Vail Fall.
When the captives were accused of the murder of the two white men, they did not deny the charge; but tacitly admitted that they had done it to prevent white men from coming to their valley. They declared that it was their home, and that white men had no right to come there without their consent.
Lieutenant Moore told them, through his interpreter, that they had sold their lands to the Government, that it belonged to the white men now; that the Indians had no right there. They had signed a treaty of peace with the whites, and had agreed to live on the reservations provided for them. To this they replied that Ten-ie-ya had never consented to the sale of their valley, and had never received pay for it. The other chiefs, they said, had no right to sell their territory, and no right to laugh at their misfortunes.
Lieutenant Moore became fully satisfied that he had captured the real murderers, and the abstract questions of title and jurisdiction, were not considered debatable in this case. He promptly pronounced judgment, and sentenced them to be shot. They were at once placed in line, and by his order, a volley of musketry from the soldiers announced that the spirits of five Indians were liberated to occupy ethereal space.
This may seem summary justice for a single individual, in a republic, to meet out to fellow beings on his own judgment; but a formal judicial killing of these Indians could not have awarded more summary justice. This prompt disposition of the captured murderers, was witnessed by a scout sent out by Ten-ie-ya to watch the movements of Lieutenant Moore and his command, and was immediately reported to the old chief, who with his people at once made a precipitate retreat from their hiding places, and crossed the mountains to their allies, the Pai-utes and Monos. Although this was in June, the snow, which was lighter than the year before at this time, was easily crossed by the Indians and their families. After a short search, in the vicinity of the valley, Lieutenant Moore struck their trail at Lake Ten-ie-ya, and followed them in close pursuit, with an expressed determination to render as impartial justice to the whole band as he had to the five in the valley. It was no disappointment to me to learn from Gray, that when once alarmed, old Ten-ie-ya was too much for Lieutenant Moore, as he had been for Major Savage and Captain Boling. Lieutenant Moore did not overtake the Indians he was pursuing, neither was he able to get any information from the Pai-utes, whom he encountered, while east of the Sierras. Lieutenant Moore crossed the Sierras over the Mono trail that leads by the Soda Springs through the Mono Pass. He made some fair discoveries of gold and gold-bearing quartz, obsidian and other minerals, while exploring the region north and south of Bloody Cañon and of Mono Lake. Finding no trace whatever of the cunning chief, he returned to the Soda Springs, and from there took his homeward journey to Fort Miller by way of the old trail that passed to the south of the Yosemite.
Lieutenant Moore did not discover the Soda Springs nor the Mono Lake country, but he brought into prominent notice the existence of the Yosemite, and of minerals in paying quantities upon the Eastern Slope. Mr. Moore made a brief descriptive report of his expedition, that found its way into the newspapers. At least, I was so informed at the time, though unable to procure it. I saw, however, some severe criticisms of his display of autocratic power in ordering the five Yosemites shot.
After the establishment of the “Mariposa Chronicle” by W. T. Witachre and A. S. Gould, the first number of which was dated January 20, 1854. Lieutenant Moore, to more fully justify himself or gratify public curiosity, published in the “Chronicle” a letter descriptive of the expedition and its results. In this letter he dropped the terminal letter “y” in the name “Yosemity,” as it had been written previously by myself and other members of the battalion, and substituted “e,” as before stated. As Lieutenant Moore’s article attracted a great deal of public attention at that time, the name, with its present orthography, was accepted. A copy of the paper containing Moore’s letter was in my possession for many years, but, finally, to my extreme regret, it was lost or destroyed.
To Lieutenant Moore belongs the credit of being the first to attract the attention of the scientific and literary world, and “The Press” to the wonders of the Yosemite Valley. His position as an officer of the regular army, established a reputation for his article, that could not be expected by other correspondents. I was shown by Gray who was exhibiting them in Mariposa, some very good specimens of gold quartz, that were found on the Moore expedition. Leroy Vining, and a few chosen companions, with one of Moore’s scouts as guide, went over the Sierras to the place where the gold had been found, and established themselves on what has since been known as Vining’s Gulch or Creek.
On the return of Lieutenant Moore to Fort Miller, the news of his capture of the Indians, and his prompt execution of them as the murderers of Rose and Shurbon, occasioned some alarm among the timid, which was encouraged and kept alive by unprincipled and designing politicians. All kinds of vague rumors were put in circulation. Many not in the secret supposed another Indian war would be inaugurated. Political factions and “Indian Rings” encouraged a belief in the most improbable rumors, hoping thereby to influence Congressional action, or operate upon the War Department to make large estimates for the California Indian Service.
This excitement did not extend beyond the locality of its origin, and the citizens were undisturbed in their industries by these rumors. During all this time no indications of hostilities were exhibited by any of the tribes or bands, although the abusive treatment they received at the hands of some, was enough to provoke contention. They quietly remained on the reservations. As far as I was able to learn at the time, a few persons envied them the possession of their King’s river reservation, and determined to “squat” upon it, after they should have been driven off. This “border element” was made use of by an unprincipled schemer by the name of Harvey, whom it was understood was willing to accept office, when a division of Mariposa county should have been made, or when a vacancy of any kind should occur. But population was required, and the best lands had been reserved for the savages. A few hangers-on, at the agencies, that had been discharged for want of employment and other reasons, made claims upon the King’s river reservation; the Indians came to warn them off, when they were at once fired upon, and it was reported that several were killed.
These agitations and murders were denounced by Major Savage in unsparing terms, and he claimed that Harvey was responsible for them. Although the citizens of Mariposa were at the time unable to learn the details of the affair at King’s river, which was a distant settlement, the great mass of the people were satisfied that wrong had been done to the Indians. There had been a very decided opposition by the citizens generally to the establishment of two agencies in the county, and the selection of the best agricultural lands for reservations. Mariposa then included nearly the whole San Joaquin valley south of the Tuolumne.
The opponents to the recommendations of the commissioners claimed that “The government of the United States has no right to select the territory of a sovereign State to establish reservations for the Indians, nor for any other purpose, without the consent of the State.” The State Legislature of 1851-52, instructed the Senators and Representatives in Congress to use their influence to have the Indians removed beyond the limits of the State. These views had been advocated by many of the citizens of Mariposa county in good faith; but it was observed that those who most actively annoyed and persecuted those located on King’s river reservation were countenanced by those who professed to advocate opposite views. These men were often to be seen at the agency, apparently the welcome guests of the employes of government.
It soon became quite evident, that an effort was being made to influence public opinion, and create an impression that there was imminent danger; in order that the general government would thereby be more readily induced to continue large appropriations to keep in subjection the comparatively few savages in the country.
It was a well known fact that these people preferred horse-flesh and their acorn jelly to the rations of beef that were supposed to have been issued by the Government. During this time, Major Savage was successfully pursuing his trade with the miners of the Fresno and surrounding territory, and with the Indians at the agency. Frequently those from the King’s River Agency, would come to Savage to trade, thereby exciting the jealous ire of the King’s river traders. Self-interest as well as public good prompted Savage to use every means at his disposal to keep these people quiet, and he denounced Harvey and his associates as entitled to punishment under the laws of the Government. These denunciations, of course, reached Harvey and his friends. Harvey and a sub-agent by the name of Campbell, seemed most aggrieved at what Savage had said of the affray, and both appeared to make common cause in denouncing the Major in return. Harvey made accusations against the integrity of Savage, and boasted that Savage would not dare visit King’s river while he, Harvey, was there. As soon as this reached the Major’s ears, he mounted his horse and at once started for the King’s River Agency.
Here, as expected, Harvey was found, in good fellowship with Marvin, the quartermaster, and others connected with the agency. Walking up to Harvey, Major Savage demanded of him a retraction of his offensive remarks concerning himself. This Harvey refused to do, and said something to the effect that Savage had talked about Harvey. “Yes,” replied Major Savage, “I have said that you are a murderer and a coward.” Harvey retreated a pace or two and muttered that it was a lie. As quick as the word was uttered, Savage knocked Harvey down. Harvey appeared to play ‘possum and made no resistance. As Savage stooped over the prostrate Harvey, a pistol fell from Savage’s waist, seeing which, Marvin picked it up and held it in his hand as the Major walked off. Harvey rose to his feet at this moment, and seeing Marvin with the pistol in his hand exclaimed, “Judge, you have got my pistol!” Marvin replied, “No! I have not. This belongs to Major Savage.” When, instantly, Harvey commenced firing at Major Savage, who, though mortally wounded by the first shot, and finding his pistol gone, strove hard to once more reach Harvey, whom he had scorned to further punish when prostrate before him.
This was in August, 1852. Harvey was arrested, or gave himself up, and after the farce of an examination, was discharged. The justice, before whom Harvey was examined, was a personal friend of the murderer, but had previously fed upon the bounty of Savage. Afterwards, he commenced a series of newspaper articles, assailing the Indian management of California, and these articles culminated in his receiving congenial employment at one of the agencies. Harvey, having killed his man, was now well calculated for a successful California politician of that period, and was triumphantly elected to office; but the ghost of Major Savage seemed to have haunted him, for ever after, he was nervous and irritable, and finally died of paralysis. The body of Major Savage was afterwards removed to the Fresno, near his old trading post. A monument was there erected to his memory by Dr. Leach, his successor in business.
I was in San Francisco at the time of these troubles at the agencies; but upon my return, obtained the main facts as here stated, from one of the actors in the tragedy.
About this time, the management of California Indian affairs, became an important stake in the political circles of Mariposa. I took but little interest in the factions that were assaulting each other with charges of corruption. Notwithstanding my lack of personal interest, I was startled from my indifference by the report of the Superintendent dated February, 1853. His sweeping denunciations of the people of Mariposa county was a matter of surprise, as I knew it to be unjust. This report was considered in a general mass meeting of the best citizens of the county, and was very properly condemned as untrue. Among those who took an active part in this meeting were Sam Bell (once State Comptroller), Judge Bondurant, Senator James Wade, and other members of the State Legislature, and many influential citizens, who generally took but a minor interest in political affairs.
The records of the meeting, and the resolutions condemning the statements of the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, which were unanimously adopted, and were published in the “Mariposa Chronicle” after its establishment, I have preserved as a record of the times. The meeting expressed the general sentiment of the people, but it accomplished nothing in opposition to the Superintendent’s policy, for the people soon discovered that the great “Agitator” at these meetings was a would-be rival of the Superintendent. We therefore bowed our heads and thought of the fox in the fable. I never chanced to meet the gentleman who was at that time Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and know nothing of him personally, but upon reading an official letter of his dated at Los Angeles, August 22nd, 1853, in which he speaks of “The establishment of an entire new system of government, which is to change the character and habits of a hundred thousand persons.” And another letter dated San Francisco, September 30th, 1853, saying that his farm agent, Mr. Edwards, “Had with great tact and with the assistance of Mr. Alexander Gody, by traveling from tribe to tribe, and talking constantly with them, succeeded in preventing any outbreak or disturbance in the San Joaquin Valley.” I came to the conclusion that the Superintendent of Indian Affairs was under astute management, or that he was one of the shrewdest of the many shrewd operators on the Pacific Coast. The schemes of the Indian Ring were not endorsed by Governor Weller, but were practically condemned in a public letter. The charges against the people of Mariposa by the Superintendent of Indian Affairs were absurd and grossly insulting to their intelligence. There had been no assault upon the Indians, except that at King’s river, led by the hangers-on at one of his own agencies. These men continued to be honored guests at the tables of his employes, and one of his most vigorous assailants was given employment that silenced him.
The estimates made by him in his letters and report, were on an assumed probability of a renewal of Indian hostilities. It was true, murders were occasionally committed by them, but they were few as compared with those committed by the Mexicans and Americans among themselves. The estimate of a hundred thousand Indians in California, was known by every intelligent man who had given the subject any attention, to be fabulous. There was probably not a fifth of the number. But that was of no consequence, as the schemes of the “Ring” were successful. Large appropriations were made by Congress in accordance with stipulations of the treaty made between these ignorant tribes, and the Republic of the United States of America. The recommendations were generally carried out in Washington.
The making of a treaty of peace with Indian tribes, may be correctly defined as procuring a release of all claims of certain territory occupied by them. Congress may make appropriations to provide for the promises made, but it is a well known fact that these appropriations are largely absorbed by the agents of the government, without the provisions being fulfilled. The defrauded victims of the treaty are looked upon as pauper wards of a generous nationality; and the lavish expenditure of the Government, is mostly consumed by the harpies who hover around these objects of national charity. This farce of making treaties with every little tribe as a distinct nationality, is an absurdity which should long ago have been ended. With formal ceremony, a treaty of peace is made with people occupying territory under the jurisdiction of our national organization. A governmental power is recognized in the patriarchal or tribal representatives of these predatory bands, and all the forms of a legal and national obligation are entered into, only to be broken and rebroken, at the will of some succeeding administration.
An inherited possessive right of the Indians to certain territory required for their use, is acknowledged, and should be, by the Government, but to recognize this as a tribal or national right, is but to continue and foster their instinctive opposition to our Government, by concentrating and inflaming their native pride and arrogance.
The individual, and his responsibilities, become lost in that of his tribe, and until that power is broken, and the individual is made to assume the responsibilities of a man, there will be but little hope of improvement. The individual is now scarcely recognized by the people (except he be representative); he is but an integral number of a tribe. He has a nationality without a country, and feels that his people have no certain home. He knows that he has been pauperized by contact with the whites and the policy pursued by the Government towards him, and he scorns while he accepts its bounty. These native-born residents of our common country, are not citizens; their inherent rights are not sufficiently protected, and, feeling this, they in turn, disregard the law or set it at defiance. The best part of my life has been spent upon the frontiers of civilization, where ample opportunities have been afforded me to observe our national injustice in assuming the guardianship and management of the Indian, without fulfilling the treaty stipulations that afford him the necessary protection. The policy of the Government has seemed to be to keep them under restraint as animals, rather than of protective improvement as rational human beings. What matters it, though the National Government, by solemn treaty, pledges its faith to their improvement, if its agents do not fulfill its obligations. I am no blind worshipper of the romantic Indian, nor admirer of the real one; but his degraded condition of pauperism, resulting from the mismanagement of our Indian affairs, has often aroused in me an earnest sympathy for the race. They are not deficient in brain-power, and they should rise from degradation and want, if properly managed. I am not classed as a radical reformer, but I would like to see a radical change in their management.
I would like to see the experiment tried by the Government and its agents of dealing justly with them, and strictly upon honor. I would like to see those who have the management of Indian affairs selected because of their fitness for their positions, without making political or religious considerations pre-requisite qualifications. Morality and strict integrity of character, should be indispensable requirements for official positions; but a division of patronage, or of Indian souls among the various religious sects or churches, is contrary to the spirit, if not the letter, of our Federal Constitution, and the strife this policy has already engendered among the various sects, is not calculated to impress even the savage with a very high estimate of Christian forbearance and virtue. The cardinal principles of Christianity should be taught the children by example, while teaching them the necessity of obeying God’s moral and physical laws. I would like to see the Indian individually held responsible for all his acts, and as soon as may be, all tribal relations and tribal accountability done away with, and ignored by the Government.
The question of a transfer of the Indian Bureau to the War Department, has been for some time agitated, but it seems to me that some facts bearing on the subject have not been sufficiently discussed or understood. These are that the various tribes are warlike in their habits and character, and have been engaged in wars of conquest among themselves ever since they first became known to the white settlers of the country. Their immediate right to the territory they now occupy is derived from the dispossession of some other tribe. They recognize the lex talionis as supreme, and their obedience to law and order among themselves is only in proportion to their respect for the chief, or power that controls them. Hence, for the Sioux and other unsubdued tribes, military control, in my opinion, would be best suited to their war-like natures and roving habits. The objection that their management by the War Department had proved a failure, is not a valid one, as when formerly the Bureau was under its nominal control, all appointments of agents were made from civil life, as political rewards from those in power. The political kites, scenting the fat things hidden away in the office of an agent, pounced down upon them, exclaiming: “To the victors belong the spoils.” The title of “Major” given the agent was due to courtesy and the legitimate pay afforded, being that of a major in the army.
The duties of the office are anything but agreeable to an officer who has been educated for the profession of a solider. Few are disposed to do the incessant drudgery required of an effective agent. As a rule, the permanency of office, the education and amour propre of military life, raises the army officer above the temptations of the ordinary politician; therefore, the chances of an honest administration of affairs are very much in favor of the War Department. To make that management more effective, reasonable pay should be given competent men, as the expenses of frontier life are usually considerable. Years are required to comprehend and order, a practical management of people who are, in one sense, but overgrown, vicious children. Such agents should be retained as long as they remain honest and effective, regardless of church or political creeds.
As the wild tribes recognize no authority but that of the lex-taliones; by this law they should be governed. Any attempt to govern or civilize them without the power to compel obedience, will be looked upon by barbarians with derision, and all idea of Christianizing adult Indians, while they realize the injustice done them by the whites, will prove impracticable. The children may be brought under some moderate system of compulsory education and labor, but the adults never can be. Moral suasion is not comprehended as a power, for the Indian’s moral qualities seem not to have been unfolded.
The savage is naturally vain, cruel and arrogant. He boasts of his murders and robberies, and the tortures of his victims very much in the same manner that he recounts his deeds of valor in battle, his prowess in killing the grizzly, and his skill in entrapping the beaver. His treachery, is to him but cunning, his revenge a holy obligation, and his religion but a superstitious fear. The Indians that have resorted to labor as a means of future support, should be encouraged and continued under the care of civilians. Their religious instruction, like that of the whites, may safely be left to their own choice; but for the wild savage a just and humane control is necessary for their own well-being, as well as that of the white people; for even in this nineteenth century, life is sometimes sacrificed under some religious delusion.
The war between different tribes is a natural result of their efforts to maintain independent sovereignties. The motives that influence them are not very unlike those that operate upon the most highly favored Christian nations, except that religion, as a rule, has but little to answer for, as they are mostly of one religious faith. All believe in the influence of and communion with departed spirits. The limited support afforded by the game of a given territory, frequently compels encroachments that result in war. Ambition for fame and leadership prompts young aspirants for the honors awarded to successful warriors, and they bear an initiatory torture in order to prove their fortitude and bravery, that would almost seem beyond human endurance. After a reputation has been acquired as a successful leader, old feuds must be maintained and new wars originated to gratify and employ ambitious followers, or the glory and influence of the successful chieftain will soon depart or be given to some new aspirant for the leadership of the tribe. In their warlike movements, as in all their private affairs, their “medicine men” are important personages. They are supposed to have power to propitiate evil spirits or exercise them. They assume the duties of physicians, orators and advisers in their councils, and perform the official duties of priests in their religious ceremonies. In my inquiries concerning their religious faith, I have sometimes been surprised, as well as amused, at the grotesque expressions used in explanations of their crude ideas of theology. With their mythology and traditions, would occasionally appear expressions evidently derived from the teachings of Christianity, the origin of which, no doubt, might have been traced to the old Missions. The fugitive converts from those Missions being the means of engrafting the Catholic element on to the original belief of the mountain tribes. Their recitations were a peculiar mixture, but they vehemently claimed them as original, and as revealed to them by the Great Spirit, through his mediums or prophets (their “medicine men”), in visions and trances. These “mediums,” in their character of priests, are held in great veneration.
They are consulted upon all important occasions, let it be of war, of the chase, plunder or of marriage. They provide charms and amulets to protect the wearer from the evil influence of adverse spirits and the weapons of war, and receive for these mighty favors donations corresponding to the support afforded Christian priests and ministers. The sanctification of these relics is performed by an elaborate mysterious ceremony, the climax of which is performed in secret by the priestly magnate. The older the relic, the more sacred it becomes as an heirloom.
Marriage among the Indians is regarded from a business standpoint. The preliminaries are usually arranged with the parents, guardians and friends, by the patriarch of the family, or the chief of the tribe. When an offer of marriage is made, the priest is consulted, he generally designates the price to be paid for the bride. The squaws of these mountain tribes are not generally voluptuous or ardent, and notwithstanding their low and degraded condition, they were naturally more virtuous, than has been generally supposed.
Their government being largely patriarchal, the women are subjects of the will of the patriarch in all domestic relations. The result is, that they have become passively submissive creatures of men’s will. Believing this to be the natural sphere of their existence, they hold in contempt one who performs menial labor, which they have been taught belongs to their sex alone.
The habits of these mountain tribes being simple; their animal passions not being stimulated by the condiments and artificial habits of civilized life; they, in their native condition, closely resembled the higher order of animals in pairing for offspring. The spring time is their season of love. When the young clover blooms and the wild anise throws its fragrance upon mountain and dell, then, in the seclusion of the forest are formed those unions which among the civilized races are sanctioned by the church and by the laws of the country.
LAKE STAR KING.
|Previous: Chapter XVI • Index • Next: Chapter XVIII|