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UNDER the 10th and 11th sections of the Military Appropriation Act, approved 3rd March, 1853, directing such explorations and surveys to be made "as might be deemed necessary in order to ascertain the most practicable and economical route for a railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean," the War Department (on May 14, 1853) directed such "explorations and surveys" to be begun as would develop the availability for that purpose of the portion of our territory lying near the parallel of 35° north latitude; and a party was forthwith organized under the command of First Lieutenant A. W. Whipple, of Topographical Engineers, assisted by Brevet Second Lieutenant I. C. Ives, T. E., together with such civil assistants as seemed to be required.
The main party was ordered to rendezvous at some convenient point on the Mississippi River, and thence proceed, by the most favorable route, westward, toward the Rio del Norte:
"The reconnaissance will continue along the head-waters of the Canadian, cross the Rio Pecos, turn the mountains east of the Rio del Norte, and enter the valley of that river at some available point near Albuquerque. Thence westward, extensive explorations must determine the most practicable pass for a railway through the Sierra Madre, and the mountains west of the Zuni and Moquis countries, to the Colorado. From Walker's Pass it would be advisable to pursue the most direct and practicable line to the Pacific Ocean, which will probably lead to San Pedro, the port of Los Angeles, or San Diego."
On the 20th of May the last division of the party left Washington for the Mississippi River and the frontier; on the 2d of July they arrived at Fort Smith, just one hundred feet west of the western boundary of the State of Arkansas; and here the business of the expedition began in earnest.
Let us accompany Messrs. Whipple and Ives, for the sake of some new and curious acquaintance-for which we shall be indebted to those intelligent and experienced path-finders-with the interesting Indian tribes who hold the right of way in the territory they traversed.
On July 15 the explorers struck camp and moved southwest ten miles. to Ring's Plantation, within the country coded to the Choctaw nation, wherein no white man can, in his own right, acquire a land-title or residence without permission of the Indians or their agents. Ring married a Choctaw woman, and in her name holds a valuable estate.
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On the 18th of August the exploring party had traversed the whole extent of country occupied by the semi-civilized Indians of the Choctaw nation, and were now on the verge of the great Western prairies, over which the veritable Bedouins of the Western continent hold undisputed sway. The season had been remarkably dry; many streams and springs, usually unfailing, were now waterless. The Canadian River was, almost without precedent, low; and Black Beaver, a Delaware chief and famous guide, apprehended that they would soon suffer for want of water.
Every inducement was held out to the tried guides of the neighborhood. Black Beaver, the only Indian of the country who had traversed the route to be taken, near the Canadian, was in ill health; nor could he, by any means, be prevailed upon to accompany the party.
Johnson, the Shawnee guide, who had conducted them thus far, refused to proceed, for fear of savages. John Bushman, the Delaware, said, "Maybe you find no water--maybe you all die." Impressed with this idea, no arguments, no money, could prevail on him to go.
Jesse Chisholm, the Cherokee, had just arrived. He is a man of considerable wealth, and engaged in trade. In the prosecution of his regular business he could realize twice the amount that Government would be willing to pay for his services. Therefore he also declined. This was the more to be regretted, as he is a man of excellent judgment, who has decided influence among the wild tribes westward. At a great Indian Council, held not long before his introduction to the Whipple party, he was chosen Interpreter-General for all--Comanches, Kioways, Kichais, Creeks, Delawares, Shawnees, Chickasaws, and Choctaws. He has traded much among the Comanches, and understands not only their language but their customs, traditions, and ceremonies, probably better than any Indian not belonging to their tribe. Lieutenant Whipple succeeded in compiling a tolerably accurate vocabulary of Comanche words, according to his pronunciation.
Chisholm possesses several Mexican captives, purchased from the Comanches. Among these was a bright, active, intelligent lad, named Vicente, son of one Demensid, from Parras. Vicente was a long time among the Comanches, and had learned to speak their language perfectly; so that Chisholm, although much attached to the boy, very kindly permitted the explorers, who greatly needed an interpreter, to take him with them.
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Their dress consisted of a blue cotton blanket, twisted around the waist, a head-dress of eagle's feathers, brass-wire bracelets, and moccasins. The outer cartilages[sic] of their ears were perforated in many places, and short sticks inserted instead of rings. They were painted I with vermilion, and carried bows of bois d'arc three feet long, and cow skin quivers filled with arrows. The latter were about twenty-six inches in length, with very sharp steel heads, tastefully and skillfully made; the feathers with which they were tipped, and the sinews that bound them, were prettily colored with red, blue, and green; the shafts were colored red, and said to be poisoned.
After the two Indian visitors had eaten and smoked, Vicente, Chisholm's " Spanish boy," was required to examine them. They understood neither Comanche, Spanish, nor English, but the little interpreter was not at all disconcerted by that difficulty. With an occasional word of Caddo, which, to some extent, seems to be understood by all the tribes of the " Canadian" region, and with signs, such as are comprehended by the universal Indian race, a rapid conversation was maintained. The graceful motions of their hands seemed to convey ideas faster than words could have done, and our friends were highly amused and interested by the performance.
The strangers now acknowledged that they were not Kichais, but Huecos, and that they were on a hunting excursion; that their tribe numbered " plenty," and lived beyond the Washita River, toward Texas. When they had received some presents, and the accompanying sketch of them had been taken, they took their leave, well pleased with the entertainment they had met with. These Huecos wore neither beard nor mustache, so common among the Shawnees and Delawares. Some of the Choctaws sport a heavy board, for which manly development their intermixture of white blood may account.
September 7th. A relief party, scouring the prairies, came across a small party of mounted Comanches, whom they brought in prisoners;
they appeared wary and watchful. Having told their captors, glibly enough, that on the other side of the Canadian were large numbers of their tribe, they suddenly forgot all their Spanish, and by signs protested that they could not understand a word that was said to them. Indians consider it undignified to speak out of their native tongue, hence all great chiefs have their interpreters. Vicente was sought for, but as usual, when urgently needed, he was off, chasing deer and buffalo over the prairies-that was his passion.
The Comanches declined an invitation to camp; but before suffering them to depart, the explorers gave them pipes and tobacco to smoke. They performed the operation in an especially noticeable manner: the first two puffs, with much ceremony and muttering between, were discharged toward the sun; the third, with equally imposing demonstrations, was blown downward to the earth.
Speaking of the Comanches, Jesse Chisholm expressed much respect for their intellect. Their language is copious, but difficult to learn -there being often many words to express the same idea. They entertain an unwavering confidence in the Great Spirit, and believe that, however formidable the disproportion of numbers or strength, if He be on their side the victory must surely fall to their share. If defeated, they say, " He was angry with us, and He sends this punishment for some offense." They have yearly gatherings to light the sacred fires; they build numerous huts, and sit huddled about them, taking medicine for purification, and fasting for seven days. Those who can endure to keep the fast unbroken become sacred in the eyes of the others. While the ceremony proceeds perfect silence reigns-not a word is spoken. But when the " Spirit moves," they arise and dance until they are exhausted; then resume their seats on the ground.
The custom of fasting is practiced by all the tribes of this region. With the Cherokees it is the received mode of purification, and an abstinence of seven days renders the devotee famous.
Seven is a magic number. The seventh son is necessarily a prophet, and has the gift of healing by the touch.
On the 9th of September the path-finders entered upon a broad trail which, leading through a deserted camp, soon brought them to an Indian village. Their advent threw the red citizens into noisy excitement. The scene presented was a strange one. On one side of the "Valley River"-a rapid stream flowing into the Canadian a hundred yards below-was gathered a crowd of wild Indians; on the other, the exploring party, each ignorant of the other's purpose and temper. The Indians were plainly prepared for battle, decked in their gayest attire, mounted on spirited horses, having bows and arrows in their hands.
As the whites advanced, Vicente thought proper to attach a white handkerchief to the end of a ramrod, and wave it; whereupon the Indians, with friendly shouts, rode briskly toward the party. They called themselves Kaiowas, and professed to be amicably disposed. They presented quite a splendid spectacle as they flew to and fro, their horses prancing, their silver trappings gayly glittering in the sun. An old fellow, who appeared to be their chief-or, more probably, their medicine-man--was on foot, and almost naked. He begged permission to ride in the carretela, and informed the strangers, through Vicente, that, as friends, they ought to encamp at the village and hold a council. The road beyond, he said, was very bad. The explorers accepted his invitation, and drove at once into the village, where, among a mixed crowd of old men, women, and children, were two Mexicans, endeavoring to trade flour, biscuits, and sugar, for horses and buffalo-robes. They confirmed the Kaiowa's statement, that there was no better place for encampment than this, and that our friends would be compelled to cross the river at this point. They added that they were defenseless, with only three peons to attend them; and, the Indians having robbed them of nearly all their goods, they wished to accompany the exploring party toward New Mexico.
The village contained about a dozen large conical tents and as many wigwams. The tent-frames were of shapely poles, from fifteen to twenty feet long, " stacked" at the top, and covering a circular area of about twelve feet diameter--the whole being covered with buffalo-robes, with the hair inside, the skins beautifully dressed and painted with curious figures.
A pretty blue-eyed boy of twelve years made his appearance, to the pleasant surprise of the voyageurs. His mother was a Mexican captive, named José Maria, from Rio de Noces, who had been captured by the Comanches when she was but twenty years of age, and had lived with them seven years. Her pretty child was the son of a chief; but she earnestly desired to quit her hard masters and accompany our friends, in the hope of being restored to her home. She was closely watched, and with difficulty stole a chance to speak with the strangers. There were other captives; one, a man named Andres Nunares, from Chihuahua, who had been a prisoner five years. On a pole in the centre of the village hung two scalps, sacredly guarded by an old woman, who made much ado if any one attempted to approach them.
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Co-tat-Sin, the great chief of the Kaiowas, was said to be on a buffalo hunt to the northward. Some who appeared to be petty chiefs had painted their faces yellow, and colored the tops of their heads, where the long black hair was parted, with vermilion. Their noses were long and aquiline, their chins beardless, their eyes small, bright, and sparkling, their foreheads retreating, their cheek-bones high and ugly. They carried superb bows of bois d'arc, adorned with brass nails, silver plates, and wampum beads; the arrows were about twenty-eight inches long, with steel points and painted feather trimmings; the quiver and belt, of wolf-skin, were wrought with beads. They wore moccasins and buckskin leggins, bound with wampum and bead-work, and fastened with silver buckles. From the crown of the head was suspended a queue of horse-hair reaching nearly to the ground, and decorated with ten circular plates of silver, from one to three inches in diameter, and terminating in a silver crescent and wampum. They wore no pendents [sic] to the nose, but in their ears were brass rings, to which were attached chains and bugle-beads of bone or iridescent shells, hanging low on the shoulders. Similar ornaments were worn on the neck; and all had bracelets of brass wire or silver bands. One of the chiefs had suspended from his neck a large silver cross, weighing half a pound or more, curiously wrought, and terminating in a crescent-a trophy, probably, from some Mexican church. Hanging on a post in the village was a yet more elaborate head-dress--a cap, richly embroidered with wampum, with a pendent eight feet long to trail behind, composed of a row of scarlet goose-quills, which, when worn, stand out fiercely from the back.
Our friends expressed a wish to purchase some of these fine vanities; but the Indians said they loved their ornaments, and would not part with them. In truth, there was nothing in the exploring train of equal magnificence wherewith to tempt the red nabobs to exchange.
At length the chiefs were invited to be seated in what they styled the Grand Council. A pipe was passed from hand to hand around the circle; and it was especially noticeable that every man of them directed his first puff toward the sun. The old chief then spoke.
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Mr. Whipple replied, that the Great Chief at Washington had sent him and his friends on a long journey through many Indian tribes, and had given them merely a few presents, to indicate to the good people they might meet his approbation, and in token of his assurance that, if they continued friendly to small parties of emigrants, Government would protect and assist them.
A red blanket, some beads, and tobacco were then offered to each of the five chiefs. They looked disdainfully on the gifts, and said that the good, white-haired Father had led them to expect at least a blanket for each individual of the band, besides calico for the women and children, and that on these terms only could they be friends with Americans.
They were told that the American Government gave free gifts only-nothing on compulsion; if they were not satisfied with the presents they could return them; no doubt the peace could be preserved with powder and ball.
Besides, there was another account to settle with them, regarding certain Mexican captives who wished to return to their friends.
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So, making a virtue of a necessity, he presently agreed that if they really desired to leave, and their protectors would give him "a heap of things," he would consent to their departure;
but he begged that his white brothers would bestow something to eat on their red friends, who were hungry.
As the storm was lulled, and the fear of aggression now evidently on the Indian side, the explorers could afford to be generous, and a cow was presented. Good-humor was at once restored; the Kaiowas proposed to entertain their guests by hunting and killing the cow, as if she were a wild buffalo. So, mounting their horses, and goading the poor animal to madness, they pursued her, piercing her with arrows until she fell exhausted.
During the commotion in the tent Vicente was terribly frightened; he disliked their smoking toward the sun, and said " they were bad men to do that; they were sorcerers, and were casting a spell to do us harm." Nothing could shake the boy's belief in the witchcraft he had seen practiced among the Comanches. Andres, the Mexican captive, was asked why the Kaiowas smoked to the sun; he replied, that they thus invoked the blessing of their God.
Next day a chief, the reputed father of the pretty blue-eyed boy, came into camp soon after daybreak, leading the child, for whom he begged a present. Doubtless he thought that, by the judicious exhibition of a little -paternal affection, he might be spared the costly pangs of separation. The mother soon followed, riding up to the tents on a vicious-looking pony, with a rough thong for a bridle and two strings for stirrups. The old chief seemed vexed at her coming, she being his third and favorite wife. He probably ordered her to return, for she suddenly retired without speaking a word; the child followed her. The woman seemed very sad; her looks eloquently supplicated for freedom.
While Messrs. Whipple and Jones (First Lieutenant 7th infantry, in command of escort) were discussing, this matter, one of the Mexican traders reported that the Indians had robbed him of several articles. The chief was ordered to see them restored, and repaired to the village as if to obey; but almost instantaneously their skins were packed, their lodge-poles tied to the sides of their horses, and the whole party mounted, ready for a start. Confiding in the fleetness of their horses, and with their captives well guarded, they quietly awaited the departure of the exploring party.
On the 14th of November we find the explorers at Covero--a small Mexican town, of about sixty families, in one of the valleys between San Mateo and the Rio San Jose. Covero being a frontier settlement, the people had suffered much from incursions of the Navajos. Occasionally they had been driven from their village to take refuge among the neighboring clifts, where defiles and difficult passages afford- concealment and defense. Many had been made captives by the Indians, and ransomed after years of servitude. One of the men exhibited a Navajo shield called " chimal" -a trophy he had won in battle. It was of raw hide, circular, about two feet in diameter, with an image of a demon painted on one side; it had also a border of red cloth, the ends of which hung in long streamers trimmed with feathers.
The Navajos are not always hostile--they have frequently visited the village on friendly terms; and probably the inhabitants have gained as much in trade with them as they have lost in war. It was once the boast of these Indians that, if they chose, they could exterminate the Mexicans, and that they spared them only to save themselves the trouble of raising corn and sheep. Caravajal, the Navajo chief seems to have been a man of much enterprise and cunning. It is said that, formerly, he was accustomed to hover about the settlements until a chance for pillage presented itself, when he would communicate the fact to some band in the vicinity, prepared to improve the opportunity; then, turning informer, he put the Mexicans on the trail of the freebooters-thus securing a reward from both sides.
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Near the centre of the apparent plain stood, on an eminence, the compact city of Zuni. Beside it flowed the river of the same name- said to be sometimes a large stream, but at present an humble rivulet. The Zunian guide was communicative by the way, and pointed out various places where he had displayed valor in battle with the Navajos. Of the ruined pueblo on the mesa, called by Simpson " Old Zuni," he related a tradition, which he said had been handed down by the caciques from time immemorial. In the most ancient times (tiempo quanto hai) their fathers came from the West, and built the present town. Here they lived till one noche triste, at midnight, a great flood came, rolling in from the west. The people fled in terror-some to the mesa, and escaped; , the rest perished in the deluge. The waters rose to near the top of the mesa, and there rested; and the people built the pueblo crowning the hill. To appease the angry spirit who had brought this calamity upon them, a young man and a maiden were thrown from the cliff into the flood, which thereupon subsided, leaving the victims transformed into statues of stone; and so they stand to this day. The people then returned to the valley.
On reaching the town of Zuni a most revolting spectacle met the eyes of our friends; smallpox had been making terrible ravages among the people, and the strangers were soon surrounded by men, women, and children infected with this loathsome disease in the different stages of its progress. Passing beneath an arch, they entered a court consecrated to the Montezuma dances-ceremonies of a most singular character: the corn-dance, also, is a fantastic, annual festival. This court was quite surrounded by houses of several receding stories, communicating by means of ladders. One of three stories was pointed out as the residence of a cacique, where frequently, at night, all the officers of Government met in consultation. The caciques are the chief of these; they are four in number-their office hereditary. The caciques exercise a general superintendence over all that pertains to the public welfare, and have the power of declaring war or peace. They appoint two chief captains, whom they consult on all occasions-one is the war-chief the other a sort of superintendent of police. The latter, mingling intimately with the people, selects the most active and intelligent, whom he nominates to the caciques for the appointment of Governor and subordinate officers. Should any one of these prove avaricious and exacting, the people complain to the caciques, and the offender is officially decapitated. The caciques are supreme, though sometimes voluntarily deferring to the will of the people.
The strangers ascended to the house-tops, climbing ladder after ladder, and encountering on the way successive groups of miserable wretches who bore unmistakable signs of incipient or departing disease. Here were many tamed eagles; they are caught in the cliffs when young, and become quite domesticated; the people are attached to them, and can not easily be persuaded to part with them.
From the top the pueblo reminds one of an immense ant-hill, from the denseness of its population, and even some similarity of form. There are said to be white Indians in Zuni, with fair complexions, blue eyes, and light hair; the prevalence of small-pox prevented the explorers from seeing them. A sort of tradition, too vague to be worthy of credence, prevails among the New Mexicans in explanation of this phenomenon. They say that, many years ago-centuries perhaps-a company of Welsh miners, with their wives and children, emigrated thither, and that the Zuaians killed the men and married the women.
There is a most curious resemblance between certain Zuni and English words: "Eat-a" is to eat; " Eat-on-o-way" signifies eaten enough: to express admiration they exclaim, "Look ye!" or, sometimes, "Look ye here!" These facts, known to Americans, may serve to explain the origin or revival of the Welsh legend.
As the train unwound itself, stretching along in the direction of Zuni, the explorers turned their looks wistfully toward the legendary tableland that lay about a league away, on their left.
A Zuni captain, who had promised to conduct them, not appearing, Messrs. Whipple and Parke and Dr. Bigelow resolved to find their own way to the top, if possible. Striking a trail, they proceeded southward two miles, to a deep canyon, where were springs of water, whence, by a zigzag course, they led their mules up to the first bench of the ascent. Here, hollowed from the rock, was an Indian cave, looking down into which they saw, in the centre, six small birds, carefully placed side by side, m two rows; as no other object was visible within the apartment, they concluded that some superstitious rite was being performed. Beyond this place, on the sandy slope, were orchards of peach-trees, which, although the soil seemed dry, and there was no arrangement for artificial irrigation, presented a flourishing appearance.
Overhead, the projecting summit of the cliff .seemed inaccessible, and as Indians were here gathering fuel, an effort was made to engage their services as guides; but, being very young men, and probably fearful of offending their elders, they were shy and not to be tempted.
At length an old man, crippled by his weight of years, accepted the reward, and pointed to the road, along which the young fellows now led the way with alacrity; and the explorers, leaving their mules, followed a trail which, with singular pains, had been hammered out from seam to -seam of the rocks along the side of the precipice. At various points of the ascent, wherever a projecting ledge permitted, were barricades of stone, whence, the old man said, the Zunians had hurled rocks upon the invading Spaniards. Having ascended about one thousand feet, they found themselves on a plateau covered with thick cedars, the old man having been left far behind. The young guides, who understood no Spanish, led the way to the opposite side of the mesa, and pointed to a pair of stone pillars, which, from description, were at once recognized as the legendary statues of the Flood and the Sacrifice.
Jose Maria, the war-chief, on another occasion, repeated this story of the flood:
Once, he said, the waves rolled in from the west, and water gushed from the earth. It was at midnight. A few of the people fled to the top of the mesa and were saved; the rest perished in the greedy waters. Navajos, Apaches, and even wild beasts, save only such as took refuge on the mountain-top, suffered a common fate. The Zunians, on the lofty eminence, built a pueblo go await the subsidence of the waters. But as time passed, and the waves still resounded from the sandstone cliffs that begirt their island of refuge, it was evident that the Great Spirit was angry. A sacrifice of signal honor and awfulness must be offered to appease him. The youthful son of the cacique and a beautiful virgin were the devoted ones.
Girt with sticks trimmed with feathers they were lowered into the deep. Immediately the waters retired, leaving the young man and the maiden solemn statues of everlasting stone.
Then the people returned to the valley, abandoning the city on the hill till the Spaniards came, when once more they climbed the heights--fortifying at every turn two steep approaches, by which alone they could be assailed. " Old Zuni" was rebuilt; and by hurling down stones upon the heads of their invaders, for a long time they held their own. But at last the enemy were victorious--the heights were scaled; and the Zunians say that, imprinted in the solid rock, as though in clay, may be seen to this day the foot-print of the first white man that reached the summit.
The top of the mesa, a mile in width, was of an irregular figure, defined by perpendicular blurs. Three times our friends crossed it, searching in vain for traces of a ruin; not even a fragment of pottery could be found, and they were about to relinquish to pleasant fable all claim to the vaunted pueblo, when the old Indian, to the surprise of all, made his appearance, like Meg Merrilies, at the top of the cliff. Probably the guide had waited for his permission;
for he now led the party at once to a spot which, on examination, displayed interesting traces of art. A few very small fragments of pottery were lying on the ground, and with some care the remains of a thick wall, in the shape of a V, could be demonstrated.
But the guide hurried the party forward half a mile, where, indeed, appeared the ruins of a city; crumbling walls, from two to twelve feet high, were gathered, in confused heaps, over several acres of ground. Covering every mass of rubbish were tall cacti, opuntia arborescens, tipped with bright yellow fruit, that gave the place the appearance, from a little distance, of a garden. On examining the pueblo, the explorers found that the standing walls rested on ruins of greater antiquity. The original masonry, as well as they could judge, must have been about six feet thick; the more recent did not exceed a foot, or eighteen inches, but the small sandstone blocks had been laid in mud mortar with considerable skill.
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Symmetrically placed upon the opposite side was a cedar post, about two and a half feet high, and quaintly carved. Shells were suspended from the centre; and below was inserted a grooved horizontal picco, decorated with heads and shells. Between and around these was a little forest of feathered sticks, planted generally in rows, and united by means of twine.
Behind stood a thin board, two or three inches wide and three feet high, with seven angular notches at the top; while, in regular order below, were representations of a star, the moon, the sun, a T, and two parallel lines. Back of all lay a flat rock, apparently placed for an altar, though there were no signs of a fire or a ' sacrifice. Upon this rock were piled a great number of sticks, cut precisely like those already described, all partially decayed, and some in the last stage of decomposition : it was evident that they had once, in their turn, occupied places in the basin. Judging from the soundness of cedar ties at El Moro, some of those remnants of carved pieces of wood indicated great antiquity.
Although many sea-shells and other ornaments were lying around the guide would not suffer the strangers to take away the least thing. When the party were about to leave he took from his pouch a white powder, and, muttering a prayer, blew it three times toward the altar.
He then followed the officers, intimating by signs that, on other table-lands, cast, south, and west, were similar consecrated spots. The white powder he had used was found to be " pinole," the flour of parched corn. His object, he said, was "pidiendo fortuna," to ask the blessing of Montezuma and the Sun on his daily bread.
On the 28th, a Mexican herder deserted. His services could not well be spared, and, besides, should he have escaped, his example would have been followed by others; so the Governor was requested to search the town. The church bells were rung, and the chief of police passed through the streets proclaiming the order. Very soon the fugitive was dragged from his hiding place, and sent under escort to the train, where he was delivered over to the safe-keeping of the guard. The promptness and success with which the Governor discharged the duties of his office, in this case, spoke well for his ability to maintain discipline among his people.
Having heard that some curious manuscripts were in the keeping of the chief cacique, several of the exploring party went to his house to see them. Climbing a ladder, they entered a comfortable room where the old man sat by the fire in the midst of his family. The papers were sent for, and, after some delay, brought in by a very good-looking boy of twelve years, with auburn hair, blue eyes, and fair complexion-a son of the cacique, and claiming to be of pure Indian blood. These manuscripts were found to consist of a correspondence between the Governor of New Mexico and certain priests of Zuni, and one bore the date of 1757.
The old man declined giving them to his guests, saying that, a long time ago, they had been found in a corner of the old church, and had ever since been handed down from generation to generation, till now they were regarded as a part of the insignia of the cacique's office.
Besides, they were sacred, and to part with them would bring evil upon the pueblo. He consented that they might be copied; but there was not time for that.
The Pueblo Indians say that there is but one God, but Montezuma is his equal. Inferior to both of these is the Sun, to whom they smoke and pray, because he looks upon them, knows their wants, and answers their prayers. The Moon is the younger sister of the Sun, and the Stars are their children; all are worshiped.
Besides these there is the Great Snake, to whom, by command of Montezuma, they must look for life.
Some Pueblo Indians, called Tiguex, who visited the camp on the Canadian, near the Llano Estacado, related many interesting traditions of their tribe:
The Tiguex, they said, first appeared at Shipap, the northwest source of the Rio del Norte. Whence they came is not known. They were wandering without fixed abode, and sought shelter among the canyons of the river, in caves which yet remain. They sojourned a while at Acoti, the birth-place of Montezuma, who became the leader and guide of the subsequent migration. He taught them to build pueblos, with lofty houses and estufas, and to kindle sacred fires, to be guarded by priests. Taos was the first pueblo established by him. Thence he proceeded southward, forming settlements in the order of succession represented in a rude map which they traced upon the ground. Acoma was strongly built and fortified under his direction. Pecos also was one of his principal towns. While here, Montezuma took a tall tree and planted it in an inverted position, saying that when he should disappear a foreign race would come and rule over his people, and there would be no rain; but he commanded them to watch the sacred fire till that tree should fall, at which time white men would pour into the land from the east, and overthrow their oppressors; and he himself would reappear to restore his kingdom; the earth would again be fertilized by rain, and the mountains yield treasures of silver and gold.
From Pecos, which--as though it had fulfilled its destiny-is now desolate, Montezuma continued southward, spreading pueblos far and wide, till he reached the City of Mexico. There, they say, he lived till the arrival of the Spaniards, when he disappeared.
"Since then," said the narrator, becoming quite excited by his story, " the prediction has been verified, and the tree at Fecos fell as the American army was entering Santa F6." For some time previous the Indians of that pueblo had boon dwindling away; and soon after the falling of the sacred tree an old priest, the last of his tribe, died at his post, and the sacred fire was extinguished. They are now anxiously expecting the return of Montezuma; and it is related that, in San Domingo, every morning at sunrise, a sentinel climbs to a house-top and looks eastward for his coming.
The Tiguex say that Comanches, Navajos, and, indeed, all tribes of Indians, are alike descended from Montezuma. All smoke to the Sun, that he may send them antelope to kill and Indians to trade with, and that he may save them from their enemies.
The first of the Indian hieroglyphics discovered on the route were at Rocky Dell Creek, between the edge of the Llano Estacado and the Canadian. The stream flows through a gorge, on one side of which a shelving sandstone rock forms a sort of cave. The roof is covered with paintings, some evidently ancient; and beneath are innumerable carvings of footprints, animals, and symmetrical lines.
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In the valley of Zuni there is a singular spring, surrounded by high walls of earth, on the top of which are many earthen jars in an inverted position. Pedro Pino, Governor of Zuni, was questioned regarding this fountain. He replied:
"We live in a country without ace'quias, and for the growth of our crops depend upon rain.
To obtain this blessing from the Great Spirit it is necessary that we perform the rites, and keep I holy the traditions, of our ancestors. This spring has been ever sacred to the rain-goal; no animal may drink of its waters. It must he annually cleansed with ancient vases, transmitted from generation to generation by the caciques, and which, having been thus used, are deposited upon the walls, never to be removed.
The frog, the tortoise, and the rattlesnake, represented upon them, are sacred to Montezuma, the patron of the place, who would consume by lightning any sacrilegious hand that should dare to despoil the holy place of its relies.
The caciques are priests as well as governors; and Pedro Pino is the high priest-his special duty being to officiate before the water deities. To him belong the invocations for rain.
Although tolerating in their pueblo a church of the Cross, and the occasional visits of a Christian priest, these people seem to have but little regard for the Catholic religion. In secret they glory in their loyalty to Montezuma. They endeavor to keep their Spanish neighbors ignorant of their ceremonies, but say that Americans are brothers of the children of Montezuma, and their true friends; therefore they hide from them neither their sacred dances in the courts nor the midnight meetings of caciques in the estufa.
In passing through the Navajo country the natives kept obstinately aloof from the exploring party. A Mexican herder, from Covero, who understood their language, supplied the materials for a vocabulary. A few years since, while playing at Covero spring, he was captured by Navajos. For nine months he was a prisoner, and followed the Indians on their hunting and war paths. He accompanied a party of one thousand warriors through the Moqui country, and afterward spent much time among their rancherias in the famous Canyon de Chelly. Though their fields are numerous, they are cultivated by women alone-no man ever condescending to lend a helping hand.
Their numbers, he says, can not be told. They are thickly spread from Canyon de Chelly to Rio San Juan, and he believes them equal to the total population of New Mexico. But these statements must be taken with abatement, in consideration of the characteristic and invariable exaggeration of these people. It is probable that the number of Navajos exceeds the usual estimates. Their wealth, according to this herder's account, consists of immense flocks and herds; some of the richer chiefs own one thousand horses each, besides mules, cattle, and sheep.
The Navajo marriage-ceremony consists simply of to feast upon horse-flesh. A plurality of wives is allowed, and a man may purchase according to his means-the price being paid in horses; hence the wealthy often keep from ten to twenty women-the wife last chosen being always mistress of the household.
The Navajos believe in one Great Spirit, to whom, like the Zunians, they make offerings of flesh and flour, imploring particular blessings, or invoking general good fortune. They also erect altars, with stones, and sticks trimmed with feathers. Sun, moon, and stars are sacred to them, as the authors of rain and harvest.
But here the resemblance to the Pueblo Indians ceases; they do not acknowledge Montezuma, nor is he referred to in their traditions.
Neither they nor any other tribe of Apaches regard rattlesnakes as sacred, though they have a superstition which leads them to entertain a particular veneration for bears, which they will neither kill nor eat. Pork, also, they have been known to refuse, even when suffering from hunger.
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It is a coincidence worth noting, that when Father Marco de Nica, in 1539, was in search of the kingdom of Cevola (now Zuni), he met an Indian from that place who gave him information of several great nations and pueblos.
Having described Cevola, the friar adds: "Likewise he saith that the kingdom of Totonteac lieth toward the west-a very mighty province, replenished with infinite store of people and riches." The position indicated (west from Zuni) would apply to Pueblo Creek; and from " Totouteac" to " Tonto" is an easy corruption.
Don Jose Cortez calls them Apaches; but Savedra, a well-informed Mexican, who has been much among the wild tribes, and is considered authority as to whatsoever relates to them, says the Tontos are Indians of Montezuma, like the Pueblo tribes of New Mexico; Pimas, Maricopas, Cuchans, and Mojaves, also, he says, belong to the same great nation. In proof of this he asserts that they have a custom in common-that of cropping the front hair to meet the eyebrows, and suffering the rest, behind the ears, to grow and hang down its full length. Lieutenant Whipple says there is not an exception to this rule among the Gila and Colorado Indians.
On the 29th of January, while the exploring party were at breakfast, an Indian whoop was heard, and two tawny figures looked down upon them from the hills. A couple of Mexicans were sent out to bring the savages into camp which they did under cover of a flag of truce, and all the ceremonious precautions that pertain to it. These fellows, calling themselves Yampais, produced a fire-brand from behind a bush, and showed a slender column of smoke as their signal of peace. One of them was facetiously inclined, and without ceremony converted the Mexicans' flag of truce, which happened to be a towel, into a breech-cloth for his abominable person. These Yampais were broad-faced specimens of the red man, with aquiline noses and small eyes, not unlike the Dieginos of California.
Their language, also, bore some resemblance to that of the Dieginos. The first word they uttered--"hanna," meaning good-was at once recognized as an old acquaintance, learned several years before, from the Mission Indians at San Diego. Two other words--"n'yatz," I; and "pook," beads--were likewise familiar as belonging to the language of the Cuchans (Yumas) and of the Coco Maricopas. Their hair was rudely clipped in front, to hang over the forehead, in the fashion of the Gila and Colorado tribes. Their back hair hung down nearly to the waist, and was bound with variegated fillets of Pima manufacture-a custom prevailing, but not universal, among all the tribes that trim the hair in front. For costume, the strangers were not remarkably distinguished; the breech-cloth was, of course, the principal feature. One had a blue woolen shirt, and the other a Navajo blanket, which, they said, were obtained from the Moquis. Their moccasins were of buckskin, of home manufacture; and one sported leggins, made from the skin of a mountain sheep. This man had also a quiver of sheep-skin, on which the soft hair of the same animal yet remained. On his neck he wore strings of white and blue heads, which, he said, were obtained from Mojaves. Both had painted their faces with red ochre.
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They permitted the explorers to purchase their best how and a quiver of beautiful arrows. The former was of cedar, strung with sinews; the arrows of reed, fledged with feathers, tipped with a wooden stem, and pointed with stone. Some were of white quartz or agate, others of obsidian-all exquisitely cut and highly finished. As lapidaries, these Yampais would seem to excel the other tribes.
Savedra had already recounted some interesting examples of the courage and daring of the Yampais. 110 had formerly joined a party of Moquis and Mexicans, for the purpose of stealing children for slaves. On entering this country they were met by the Yampais, and attacked with such fury that the whole party fled.
They are said to possess in a most remarkable degree the characteristic stoicism of the Indian race. Neither fear for their lives, nor the hope of escape, nor despair, nor gratitude for freedom and for gifts, disturbs even for a moment the quiet dignity of their deportment.
On the 22d of February, in the magnificent Valley of the Colorado, our friends first came in contact with the Colorado Indians. As they entered a ravine a whooping band sprang up on all sides, some armed with bows and arrows, others without weapons, and many carrying articles of private baggage abandoned at the last camp. They professed to be Chemehuevis--a band of the great Pai-Ute nation--and spoke a language bearing no relation to that of the Cuchans or the Mojaves.
About fifty Pai-Utes came into camp. The chief, followed by a long train of warriors, approached to pay his respects. He was short, muscular, and inclining to corpulency, his face oval and pleasing, though painted in black-and-red stripes. His black hair was cropped in front and clubbed behind, although some of his people wore it in plaits, matted with mud and cut squarely, to hang in the middle of the back. His nose was wide and slightly aquiline, his eyes small and oval, and surrounded by large blue circles of paint. His dress consisted of an old blue flannel shirt, instead of the simple apron worn by his people; but the white strangers soon decked him in gay costume.
This excited among the rest the desire for finery, and they accordingly brought in, for trade, considerable quantities of maize, wheat, beans, and squashes--affording dainty fare for the camp.
These Pai-Utes are closely allied to the hand that massacred the lamented Captain Gunnison and his party. Though supposed to maintain a scanty and precarious subsistence, principally upon roots, they are probably distinct from the Digger Indians of California. We have seen that, in favorable localities, they sometimes cultivate a fair supply of corn, wheat, and vegetables.
The Chemehuevis bind their infants to a board, and cover their heads with a cradle-like contrivance made of osiers. The hands are not confined, however, and the constraint does not seem irksome to the child. Partly to this practice may be ascribed & the erect and faultless forms for which the Colorado Indians are famous.
Leaving the beautiful valley of the Chemchuevis, we presently find our friends among the shrewd, sprightly, and C hospitable Mojaves. On the 25th of February they were honored by a visit of ceremony from a pompous old chief of the Mojaves, who presented credentials from Major Heintzelman.--The Major wrote that the bearer, Captain Francisco, had visited Fort Yuma, with a party of warriors, while on an expedition against the Cocopas, and that he had professed friendship; but Americans were advised not to trust him.
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Savedra counted six hundred Indians in camp, of whom probably half had brought bags of meal or baskets of corn for sale. The market was opened, and all were crowding, eager to be the first at the stand, amidst shouts, laughter, and a confusion of tongues-English, Spanish, and Indian.
When the trading was concluded, the Mojave people sauntered about the camp in picturesque and merry groups, making the air ring with peals of laughter. Some of the young men selected a level spot, forty paces in length, for a play-ground, and amused themselves with their favorite game of hoop-and-poles. The hoop is six inches in diameter, and made of elastic cord; the poles are straight, and about fifteen feet in length. Rolling the hoop from one end of the course toward the other, two of the players chase it half-way, and at the same time throw their poles. He who succeeds in piercing the hoop wins the game.
Target-firing and archery were then practiced--the exploring party using rifles and Colt's pistols, and the Indians shooting arrows.
The fire-arms were triumphant; and at last an old Mojave, mortified at the discomfiture of his people, ran in a pet and tore down the target. Notwithstanding the unity of language, the family resemblance, and amity between the Cuchans and Mojaves, a jealousy, similar to that observed among Pimas and Maricopas, continually disturbs their friendship. A squaw detected her little son in the act of concealing a trinket that he fancied. She snatched the bauble from him with a blow and a taunt, saying, "Oh, you Cuchan!" Some one inquired if he belonged to that tribe. "Oh no," she replied " he is a Mojave, but behaves like a Cuchan, whose trade is stealing !" Nevertheless, the Cuchans are welcomed by the Mojaves wherever they go.
These Indians are probably in as wild a state of nature as any tribe on American territory.
They have not had sufficient intercourse with any civilized people to acquire a knowledge of their language or their vices. It was said that no white party had ever before passed through their country without encountering hostility.
Nevertheless they appear intelligent, and to have naturally amiable dispositions. The men are tall, erect, and well-proportioned; their features inclined to European regularity; their eyes large, shaded by long lashes, and surrounded by circles of blue pigment, that add to their apparent size. The apron, or breech-cloth, for men, and a short petticoat, made of strips of the inner bark of cotton-wood, for women, are the only articles of dress deemed indispensable; but many of the females have long robes, or cloaks, of fur. The young girls wear heads.
When married, their chins are tattooed with vertical blue lines, and they wear a necklace with a single sea-shell in front, curiously wrought.
Those shells are very ancient, and esteemed of great value.
From time to time they rode into the camp, mounted on spirited horses; their bodies and limbs painted and oiled, so as to present the appearance of highly-polished mahogany. The dandies paint their faces perfectly black. Warriors add a streak of red across the forehead nose, and chin. Their ornaments consist of leathern bracelets, adorned with bright buttons, and worn on the left arm; a kind of tunic, made of buckskin fringe, hanging from the shoulders; beautiful eagles' feathers, called "sormeh"--sometimes white, sometimes of a crimson tint-tied to a lock of hair, and floating from the top of the head; and, finally, strings of wampum, made of circular pieces of shell, with holes in the centre, by which they are strung, often to the length of several yards, and worn in coils about the neck.
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The Mojave rancherias are surrounded by granaries filled with corn, mesquite beans, and tortillas. The houses are constructed with an eye to durability and warmth. They are built upon sandy soil, and are thirty or forty feet square; the sides, about two feet thick, of wicker-work and straw; the roofs matched, covered with earth, and supported by a dozen cottonwood posts. Along the interior walls are ranged large earthen pots, filled with stores of corn, beans, and flour, for daily use. In front is a wide shed, a sort of piazza, nearly as large as the house itself. Here they find shelter from rain and sun. Within, around a small fire in the centre, they sleep. But their favorite resort seems to be the roof, where could usually be counted from twenty to thirty persons, all apparently at home. Near the houses were a great number of cylindrical structures, with conical roofs, quite skillfully made of osiers; these were the granaries, alluded to above, for their surplus stores of corn and mesquite.
As the explorers passed these rancherias, the women and children watched them from the house-tops; and the young men, for the moment, suspended their sport with hoop and poles. At first only a few of the villagers seemed inclined to follow them, but at length their little train swelled to an army a mile in length.
On the 27th of February, being favored with a clear and calm morning, they hastened to take advantage of it to cross the river; but the rapid current and the long ropes upset their " gondola" in mid-stream. The Mojaves, who are capital swimmers, plunged in, and aided them in saving their property. Many had brought rafts to the spot, anticipating the disaster. These were of simple construction, being merely bundles of rushes placed side by side, and securely bound together with osiers.
But they were light and manageable, and their crews plied them with considerable dexterity.
It was night when finally the great work was accomplished-the Colorado crossed, and the camp pitched on the right bank.
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As long as our explorers were among them, these Mojaves were gay and happy, talking vicariously, singing, laughing. Confiding in the good intentions and kindness of the strangers, they laid aside for the time their race's studious reserve. Tawny forms glided from one camp-fire to another, or reclined around the blaze, their bright eyes and pearly teeth glistening with animation and delight. They displayed a new phase of Indian character, bestowing an insight into the domestic amusements which are probably popular at their own firesides: mingling among the soldiers and Mexicans, they engaged them in games and puzzles with strings, and some of their inventions in this line were quite curious.
No doubt these simple people were really pleased with the first dawning light of civilization.
They feel the want of comfortable clothing, and appreciate some of the advantages of trade. There is no doubt that, before many years pass away, a great change will have taken place in their country. The advancing tide of emigration will sweep over it, and, unless the strong arm of Government protects them, the Mojaves will be driven to the mountains or exterminated.
When the exploring party wore about to leave, the chiefs came with an interpreter, to say that a national council had been held, in which they had approved of the plan for opening a great road through the Mojave country. They knew that on the trail usually followed by the Pai' Utes toward California the springs were scanty, and insufficient for the train; that thus the mules might perish on the road, and the expedition fail. Therefore they had selected a good man, who knew the country well, and would send him to guide their white brothers by another route, where an abundance of water and grass would be found. They wished their white brothers to report favorably of their conduct to the Great Chief at Washington, in order that he might send many more of his people to pass that way, and bring clothing and utensils to exchange for the produce of their fields.
Desiring to learn something of their notions regarding the Deity, death, and a future existence, Lieutenant Whipple led an intelligent Mojave to speak upon these subjects. 110 stooped and drew in the sand a circle, which he said was to represent the former casa, or dwelling-place of Mat-e-vil, Creator of Earth (which was a woman) and Heaven. After speaking for some time with impressive, and yet almost unintelligible, earnestness regarding the traditions of that bright era of their race which all Indians delight in calling to remembrance, he referred again to the circle, and suiting the action to the word, added:
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The narrator then became enthusiastic in the anticipation of that event, which is expected to realize the Indian's hopes of a paradise on earth. Much that he said was incomprehensible. The principal idea suggested was the identity of their Deliverer, coming from the east, with the Montezuma of the Pueblo Indians, or perhaps the Messiah of Israel; and yet the name of Montezuma seemed utterly unknown to this Indian guide. His ideas of a future existence appeared somewhat vague and undefined. The Mojaves, he said, were accustomed to burn the bodies of the dead; but they believe that an undying soul arises from the ashes of the deceased, and takes its flight, over the mountains and waters, eastward to the happy spirit-land.
Loroux says, that he has been told by a priest of California that the Colorado Indians were Aztecs, driven from Mexico at the time of the conquest of Cortez. He thinks the circle represents their ancient city, and the water spoken of refers to the surrounding lakes. This idea derives some plausibility from the fact, mentioned by Alargon, that, in his memorable expedition up the Colorado River in 1540, he met with tribes that spoke the same language as his Indian interpreters, who accompanied him from the City of Mexico, or Culiacan.
It is to be regretted that the explorers had not a better medium of communication with this people, as, on this subject, much that is interesting might be learned from them. They have not yet received from white men any impressions to conflict with or to change the traditions handed down from their ancestors. They seem to be isolated even front the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico. Although a blanket made by Moquis, and a sash of Zuni manufacture, were found among them, they stated that these had been brought to them by Pai-Utes and Yampais Indians.
Between the Mormon Road and the Pacific Ocean our attention is called to but one tribe more. In the blooming valley that leads to Los Angeles, and near the rancho of Cocomonga, a village of the wretched Cahuillas was found. With them was an old Indian, attired in an entirely new suit, in the fashion of a Californian ranchero, who professed to have come from José Antonio, the general-in-chief of the tribe. His object was to learn from the explorers, officially, whether the Californians had told them the truth, in saying that Santa Anna was on his way thither to drive the Americans from the land. The old fellow declared that he was not a Cahuilla, but a Christian, because, when a boy, a priest of San Luis Rey converted him. When questioned regarding the traditions and religious notions of his tribe he became very reserved, as though he suspected some sinister design beneath the inquiry. His people were a filthy and miserable set, presenting a painful contrast to the Indians on the Colorado.
The wilder bands of these Cahuillas range from the Mormon Road to the Sierra Nevada, and frequently commit depredations upon the frontier ranchos of California. They are not numerous-perhaps do not exceed five hundred in number. Formerly, they all belonged to the California missions; but since the decadence of those institutions they have been peons on the ranchos, where many yet remain.
On the 24th of March we find Lieutenant Whipple and his party at San Pedro, on the Pacific, whence all the officers, with the exception of Messrs. White and Sherburne, immediately proceeded by steamer to San Francisco en route for Washington.