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ROYAL ARCHES AND NORTH DOME
HERE in the valley of Yosemite there dwelt in peace and plenty the people of Te-na-ya. They went about their quiet lives happy and contented. They were never visited except by members of some neighboring tribes, and then only on the occasion of their annual feast. They had few wars and these with their bitterest enemies. One day a runner from a friendly tribe on the great plains to the west brought into the Valley tales of the coming from the west of a strange people who had white skins, who brought with them many beasts of burden and
great quantities of strange goods. Chief Te-na-ya sent out scouts and runners to verify these tales, and from vantage points along the trails to the west these men watched, with keen eyes and breathless interest, for the arrival of these new people. By and by their watch was rewarded by the sight, far in the west, of a long line of the pale faced people moving steadily toward them. At first sight of this invasion of their lands by an alien race the Indians were wrathful; that anyone should venture into their hunting ground without having first obtained the permission of their chief, infuriated them. But thinking it best to be at peace with these new people, they advanced to meet them and to bid them be welcome in the land. This the white men did; making their camps they scattered out here and there into the foothill country in search of gold. The runners of Te-na-ya went back to their chief and reported what they had seen, but for many days no white man came to their valley.
Among the white men was one James D. Savage, who early realized the value of the trust and friendship of the Indian people and set about to win them. The newcomers were all more or less successful in their search for gold and tales of their successes spread back to the plains and caused others to come. They soon found themselves in need of supplies and Savage erected a store and trading post on the Merced River below the mouth of the South Fork. Here the miners brought their gold to be traded for provisions and clothing. Here also came the Indians to marvel at the strange goods and ways of the white
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EL CAPITAN (TU-TOK-A-NU-LA)
Photo H. C. Tibbitts
men. In the round-houses of the tribes throughout the mountains long evenings were spent in discussion of the new people and the strange yellow metal which they dug from the ground or panned from the streams, which was so valuable that it could be traded at the white man's store for blankets and food. They decided to find out about it and accordingly a number of the braves sought employment as laborers on the claims of the pale faces. These carried back to their tribes tales of the metal and the manner in which the white man found it. It was only a short time then until a number of the Indians themselves had claims and were digging the yellow gold and trading it into the store of Savage for clothing, ornaments, blankets, and food. But, the white men came in ever increasing numbers in their feverish search for gold, overrunning the country and bringing with them hogs and donkeys that ate up and destroyed the acorn crop. Meadows of sweet clover and grasses were plowed up and destroyed that the white man might plant his crops of grain. The game was killed or driven from the hills by the rifles of the miners, and the fish were seined from the streams in great numbers. The Indian looked with fear upon this despoliation of his country. The situation grew so grave that a council of the chiefs and headmen of the tribes was called to discuss it. The outcome of this conference was the presentation to the white men of a proposition that they should share with the Indians all the gold found as a compensation for the damage done the country. The Indians also said that if this were done
the miners and their families would be allowed to remain in peace. The implied threat in this proposal made the white men very indignant and they not only scornfully refused to comply with the request, but all of the Indians who had claims of their own were driven from the ground, and the claims taken and worked by white men.
Another council was called to discuss this new move of the whites, and it was decided that all of the tribes should unite to drive them from the country. In the meantime Savage had prospered. He had gone quietly about winning the friendship of the Indians, had taken several squaws to be his wives, and as a consequence was on intimate terms with most of the tribes. But, in spite of this he did not escape the system of depredations now inaugurated by the Indians and his trading post on the Merced River was raided during his absence by a mixed band of marauding Indians, who after carrying off everything that was of any use to them, destroyed the remaining goods. Savage then moved his store to a spot on Mariposa Creek near the present site of the town of Mariposa. He also erected a branch store on the Fresno River, but in a short time this was raided and plundered. Savage, who through his Indian wives was more or less in touch with the feelings and doings of the tribes, feared a general outbreak. In order to prevent this he conceived the plan of taking one of his squaws and a young chief with him to San Francisco, where he hoped to so impress them with the number and strength of the white men that on their return they would advise their tribes against
resistance to the invasion of the miners. This plan was carried out, but upon their arrival in San Francisco the young chief, much to Savage's disgust, got drunk and remained in that happy state throughout their stay. During a quarrel brought on by the conduct of the Indian Savage lost his temper and struck him in the face, knocking him to the floor. He regretted his action instantly and hoped that the Indian, being drunk at the time, would not remember the incident when he became sober. After remaining for several days they returned to the trading post on the Fresno River. On their arrival there the Indians gathered around the young chief and the squaw eager to hear their tales of what they had seen in the white man's village. Savage hoped that the chief would tell all the Indians about the large number of white men in the city. But instead of this he made a speech during which he said that their brother, meaning Savage, was not loyal, that while in the city he had struck him in the face and knocked him down. That, while there were a great number of men in the village of the white men, they were not the same strong men as the miners, that they wore fine robes and high hats and rode in carriages, their faces were very pale, they were a weak people not given to war, and that if the Indians made war on the miners these people from the city would not come to help their brothers. Savage then realized that the plan had failed and that some other action was necessary to subdue the Indians.
A short time after the speech of the young chief the Indians organized their forces and began a series of raids
on the white settlers. Outlying camps were robbed and burned. Miners going to and from their claims were ambushed and killed. Things grew so serious that a force of whites was organized by Savage and Sheriff James Burney, of Mariposa, to drive out the Indians responsible for the outrages. For a time this force was successful in restoring order, but the continued depredations of the Indians in the foothill country resulted in an appeal to Governor McDougall for troops. This appeal was answered by the organization on February 10, 1851, of the Mariposa Battalion, a force of some two hundred men recruited from among the settlers. Savage was elected as Major to command the force, and three Captains were elected, John I. Kuykendall, to command company A, John Bowling, to command company B, and William Dill, to command company C. This force was hurried through a short period of training and entered the field against the hostile Indians. After much chasing around, several minor battles, and the loss of a few men, they were successful in capturing a large number of the Indians. In the meantime the United States Indian Commissioners had taken up the case and a reservation had been prepared for the Indians on the Fresno River twelve miles east of where the city of Madera now stands. Many of the Indians who escaped the soldiers now surrendered on the assurance of the Commissioners that no harm would come to them at the hands of the whites, and they, with those captured, were sent to the reservation.
The Indians accounted for in this way numbered nearly all of those in the region except chief Te-na-ya and his band, who were known to be located somewhere on the upper Merced River, beyond the furthest point yet explored by the whites. Major Savage had been repeatedly warned by his faithful Indian guides that he must not attempt to enter the stronghold of chief Te-na-ya, as it was the valley of death and evil spirits, at whose gateway stood a great rock chief, from the crown of whose head rocks would be rolled down to crush any who tried to enter. However, not daunted by these tales, the little band of hardy men, who, now that their task was nearly finished, were eager to be done and back to their homes, prepared to pursue Te-na-ya into his famous stronghold, and accordingly started in the direction of the Valley. Arriving at the South Fork of the Merced River they surprised and captured a small band of roving Indians who surrendered without resistance. Here the battalion went into camp and despatched a runner into the stronghold of Te-na-ya, requesting him to come to the camp and treat with them. The following day Te-na-ya answered the summons in person. A proposal that he take his tribe in peace to the reservation that had been prepared for them on the Fresno River, where they would be cared for by the white men, was met with the explanation that if he should venture with his people from their stronghold in the Valley they would be pounced upon and killed by their enemies. Te-na-ya said that he and his people were peaceful and happy in
their valley where there was plenty of food, and that he cared not to go to the camp of the pale faces, there to live upon the bounty of an alien race. But the arguments of the white men prevailed and Te-na-ya agreed that if allowed to return to his valley alone he would bring back with him his people to the camp of the soldiers. His request was granted and the next day he returned alone to the camp, saying that his people were coming, but that the snow was so deep that they could not move fast with their heavy burdens. After several days had passed and no Indians arrived, Major Savage detailed a guard for the prisoners and proceeded with the remainder of his command in the direction of the famous stronghold, taking Te-na-ya with him as a guide. On the way they were met by about seventy of Te-na-ya's band making their way through the deep snow in the direction of the soldier's camp. After being told by his Indian guides that these were only a part of Te-na-ya's people Major Savage detailed a second guard to escort the prisoners to the camp, and again proceeded toward the Valley. As he had little faith in Te-na-ya as a guide another Indian from the band was selected and Te-na-ya sent back to the camp with the soldiers.
At a point near what is now known as Inspiration Point, they came upon their first view of the Valley, March 25, 1851. It is impossible to define the feelings with which the different men of the command greeted their first view of this wonderland that has since become famous throughout the world. But, as it was Indians
and not scenery that they were in search of, they made their way to the floor of the Valley and made camp for the night.
After the duties of the camp were attended to, and the men had had their supper, they gathered around the campfire to discuss the events of the day. The question of a name for the Valley came up for discussion. By this time the beauty and majesty of their surroundings had made an impression on most of them, and such suggestions as "Paradise Valley" and "Happy Valley" were numerous, but Dr. L. H. Bunnell, a private in Company B, suggested that it be named for the Indians who lived there. A verbal vote was taken and Dr. Bunnell's suggestion was adopted. The people of Te-na-ya were known to the white men as the Yo-sem-i-tes, and the Valley was accordingly named Yo-sem-i-te.
The following day the command made a thorough search of the Valley, but with the exception of one old squaw, who was too old to travel, and who had accordingly been left behind to die, they found no Indians. They did, however, find some huts which showed signs of recent occupation and several large caches of acorns and nuts, all of which they destroyed. Being short of supplies they returned that afternoon to their camp on the South Fork. From there they returned to their headquarters on Mariposa Creek, sending Te-na-ya and the other captives with an escort to the reservation.
While this was going on a number of the Indians on the reservation had become dissatisfied with the arrangements
made for their comfort, and had made their escape to the hills. A second expedition was determined on to return these to the reservation, where the authorities had determined to keep all of the Indians, as well as for the purpose of another effort to bring in the remainder of Te-na-ya's band. This force under command of Captain Bowling, Major Savage being engaged in conference with the Commissioners at the reservation, entered the Valley again on May 9, 1851, and made camp near where the Yosemite Village now stands.
In the meantime Te-na-ya had made his escape from the reservation and was supposed to have rejoined his people in the Valley. The following day the soldiers surprised and captured a party of five Indian scouts near the base of the peaks now known as The Three Brothers. These were taken into camp where it developed that three of them were brothers, and the sons of the old chief. They assured Captain Bowling that if allowed to go alone they could and would persuade Te-na-ya to surrender with all of his people. Upon this assurance Captain Bowling allowed two of them to go, holding the other three as hostages. The two Indians did not return and Captain Bowling sent out a messenger with instructions to try to get in touch with Te-na-ya and tell him that he was expected in the camp. This messenger located Te-na-ya on top of the cliffs to the right of Indian Canyon, from which point the old chief had been watching the movements of the soldiers in the Valley, and held conversation with him from the bottom of the cliff.
[paragraph continues] Te-na-ya said that he did not want to go back to the reservation, but would make peace with the white men if they would allow him and his people to stay in their Valley. This information the messenger brought back to Captain Bowling, and several scouting parties were sent out in an attempt to capture the old chief. During the day the three captives who had been allowed the freedom of the camp, made an attempt to escape in which one of them was successful. The other two were then bound to a tree, but later in the day succeeded in loosening their bonds and made another break for freedom, whereupon the guards fired at them, killing one and wounding the other. The one killed turned out to be the youngest son of Te-na-ya.
One of the scouting parties sent out by Captain Bowling was successful in surrounding and capturing Te-na-ya, whom they brought back into camp. Upon his arrival there the first object to meet his gaze was the dead body of his youngest son. His grief over this bereavement was pitiful, and for several days he maintained an unbroken silence, making no response to expressions of regret and sympathy on the part of officers and men, and disdainfully ignoring repeated questions as to the whereabouts of the remainder of his band. Despite a feeling of genuine sympathy Captain Bowling declined to take any chances of the wily old chief making another escape and had him bound and watched. With the characteristic hauteur of his race Te-na-ya resented bitterly the indignity of being tied up and made every
effort to escape. There was an abundance of sweet clover growing in the meadow about the camp and Captain Bowling, knowing the Indians' fondness for this, directed that Te-na-ya be allowed to have some of it. The guards then turned the old chief out on the meadow with a rope tied to his leg much in the manner of a hobbled horse. One afternoon while thus occupied he succeeded in freeing his leg from the rope and made a dash for the river and freedom, but was caught and brought back by his guards, whereupon he broke his long silence in an impassioned speech, directed at Captain Bowling, and which Dr. Bunnell in his book, "The Discovery of the Yosemite," translates thus: "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 have 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 (referring to the expressed wishes of the officers that he should call in his people); 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. You may kill me, Sir, Captain, but you shall not live in peace. I will follow in your footsteps, I will not leave
my home, but be with the spirits among the rocks, the waterfalls, in the river and 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. The great spirits have spoken! I have done."
But Captain Bowling had no desire to kill the old chief, whose bravery he so much admired, and told him so with renewed protestations of regret for the death of his son, whereupon Te-na-ya relaxed again into sullen silence.
In the meantime a systematic search for the remaining members of Te-na-ya's band was being conducted by the soldiers, and information was brought in by a guide that they had been located in a camp on top of the mountain at the upper end of the Valley. The soldiers immediately started in pursuit, making their way in some places over snow five or six feet deep. Finally smoke was seen curling through the tree tops and proceeding cautiously, they found the Indians camped near a beautiful little lake. Quietly surrounding the camp they surprised and captured the Indians, who surrendered without resistance. The lake was then given the name of the old chief who had offered such stubborn resistance to the white men, and whose bravery and spirit was universally admired by the command, and to this day is known as Lake Te-na-ya.
The Indians were brought down to the camp in the Valley and thence to the reservation on the Fresno River. Here they early proved the wisdom of their old chief's contention by rapidly degenerating under the influence of the white man's so-called civilization. They
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CATHEDRAL SPIRES (OR PU-SEE-NA CHUCK-AH) AND CATHEDRAL ROCKS
Photo A. C. Pillsbury
demonstrated quickly the Indian's natural ability to absorb all of the white man's vices and inability to absorb any of his virtues. Their morals were ruined in their attempt to follow the examples of the baser sort of white men with whom they came in contact. Their old tribal customs and beliefs were ignored, and diseases with which their medicine men were unfamiliar lessened their ranks.
Te-na-ya begged to be allowed to take the remaining members of his tribe back to their valley in the mountains, promising that neither he nor any of his people would ever again make trouble for the whites. After much pleading he was allowed to go, taking with him only the members of his immediate family, but he was soon joined by other members of his band who escaped from the reservation, and made their way back to the Valley. They were allowed to remain there unmolested until, in the spring of 1852, a party of five prospectors entered the Valley. They were attacked by the Yo-sem-i-tes and two of their number were killed. The remaining three hid in the rocks until nightfall and succeeded in making their way out of the Valley and back to Mariposa. When the story of the murder of the two miners reached the officer in command of the Federal troops at Fort Miller, on the San Joaquin River, a detachment of regular soldiers under command of Lieutenant Moore, U. S. A., was sent into the Valley to capture the Indians responsible for the outrage. This force succeeded in capturing a few of the Indians, the balance, led by Te-na-ya, making their escape to the hills around the Valley. Among those captured were five who were wearing the
clothing of the murdered men, and these five Lieutenant Moore lined up and ordered shot. The naked and mutilated bodies of the dead men were found and buried in the Valley; being the first white men to be killed there. After making an unsuccessful search for Te-na-ya and the remainder of the band, this force returned to Fort Miller.
Shortly afterward Te-na-ya, fearing that the white men would come again to take him to their hated reservation, gathered about him the remaining members of his tribe and crossed the mountains to Mo-no Lake, where they lived until the summer of 1853 with the Mo-no tribe. In the late summer of that year they returned to their Valley. Shortly after their return a party of Te-na-ya's braves again crossed the mountains and stole a band of horses from the tribe whose hospitality they had so lately enjoyed. This ungrateful action so infuriated the Mo-nos that, donning their war paint, they started, under the leadership of a young Mo-no chief, in pursuit of the thieves. From the rim of the Valley above the camp of Te-na-ya this young chief looked down upon the Yo-sem-i-tes in the midst of a feast. Bringing his warriors down into the Valley they surprised Te-na-ya and his braves, and in the hand-to-hand fight that followed Te-na-ya was struck in the head by a rock hurled by a young Mo-no brave and killed. It was perhaps fitting that the old chief should die in the Valley which he had so loved, and which, according to his lights, he had so stubbornly tried to retain for himself and his people. In this battle the Yo-sem-i-tes were practically exterminated and very few of their descendants are to be found today.