Fortunes of War

While Captain Boling was engaged in capturing the Indians we had
“treed” on the north side of the valley, scouting parties were sent
out by Lieut. Chandler. They spread over the valley, and search was
made in every locality that was accessible. Discovering fresh signs
on a trail I had unsuccessfully followed on my first visit, I pursued
the traces up to a short distance below Mirror Lake. Being alone I
divided my attention between the wonders of the scenery and the tracks
I was following, when suddenly I was aroused by discovering a basket of
acorns lying by the trail. Seeing that it was a common carrying basket,
such as was generally used by the squaws in “packing,” I at first came
to the conclusion that it had been thrown off by some affrighted squaw
in her haste to escape on my approach. Observing another on a trail
leading toward the Talus, I felt confident that I had discovered the
key to the hiding-place of the Indians we were in search of. Securing
my mule with the “riata” I continued the search, and found several
baskets before reaching the walls of the cliff, up which, in a kind
of groove, the trail ascended. By this time I began to be suspicious,
and thought that there was too much method in this distribution of
acorns along the trail for frightened squaws to have made, and it
now occurred to me what Sandino had said of acorns being hulled for
transportation up the cliffs; and these _had not been hulled_!

Before reaching the Talus, I observed that the foot-prints were large,
and had been made by the males, as the toes did not turn in, as was
usual with the squaws; and it now began to appear to me, that the
acorns were only left to lead us into some trap; for I was aware that
“warriors” seldom disgraced themselves by “packing,” like squaws.
Taking a look about me, I began to feel that I was venturing too
far; my ambitious desire for further investigation vanished, and I
hastened back down the trail. While descending, I met Lt. Gilbert of
C company, with a few men. They too had discovered baskets, dropped
by the “_scared Indians_,” and were rushing up in hot pursuit, nearly
_capturing_ me. I related my discoveries, and told the Lieutenant of
my suspicions, advising him not to be too hasty in following up the
“_lead_.” After I had pointed out some of the peculiarities of the
location above us, he said with a sigh of disappointment, “By George!
Doc. I believe you are right–you are more of an Indian than I am any
way; I reckon we had better report this to the Captain before we go
any further.” I replied, “I am now going in to report this strategy
to Captain Boling, for I believe he can make some flank movement and
secure the Indians, without our being caught in this trap.” But while
we were descending to the trail, I seriously thought and believed, that
Lt. Gilbert and his men as well as myself, had had a narrow escape.
The bit of history of the rear guard of Charlemagne being destroyed
by the Pyrenians flashed through my mind, and I could readily see how
destructive such an attack might become.

After taking the precaution to secrete the baskets on the main trail,
Lt. Gilbert, with his scouts, continued his explorations in other
localities, saying as he left that he would warn all whom he might
see “not to get into the trap.” I mounted my mule and rode down the
valley in search of Captain Boling, and found him in an oak grove near
our old camp, opposite a cliff, now known as “Hammo” (the lost arrow).
I here learned the particulars of his successful capture of the five
scouts of Ten-ie-ya’s band, and at his request asked them, through
Sandino, who had come over with the “_kitchen mules_,” why they had so
exposed themselves to our view. They replied that Ten-ie-ya knew of our
approach before we reached the valley. That by his orders they were
sent to watch our movements and report to him. That they did not think
we could cross the Merced with our horses until we reached the upper
fords; and therefore, when discovered, did not fear. They said that
Ten-ie-ya would come in and “have a talk with the white chief when he
knows we are here.”

After repeated questioning as to where their people were, and where the
old chief would be found if a messenger should be sent to him, they
gave us to understand that they were to meet Ten-ie-ya near To-co-ya,
at the same time pointing in the direction of the “North Dome.” Captain
Boling assured them that if Ten-ie-ya would come in with his people he
could do so with safety. That he desired to make peace with him, and
did not wish to injure any of them. The young brave was the principal
spokesman, and he replied: “Ten-ie-ya will come in when he hears what
has been said to us.”

Having acquired all the information it was possible to get from
the Indians, Capt. Boling said that in the morning he would send a
messenger to the old chief and see if he would come in. When told
this the young “brave” appeared to be very anxious to be permitted to
go after him, saying: “He is there now,” pointing towards the “North
Dome,” “another day he will be on the ‘Skye Mountains,’ or anywhere,”
meaning that his movements were uncertain.

Capt. Boling had so much confidence in his statements, that he decided
to send some of the scouts to the region of the North Dome for
Ten-ie-ya; but all efforts of our allies and of ourselves, failed to
obtain any further clue to Ten-ie-ya’s hiding-place, for the captives
said that they dare not disclose their signals or countersign, for
the penalty was death, and none other would be answered or understood
by their people. I here broke in upon the captain’s efforts to obtain
_useful knowledge_ from his prisoners, by telling him of the discovery
of baskets of acorns found on the trail; and gave him my reasons for
believing it to be a design to lead us into an ambush–that the Indians
were probably on the cliff above. I volunteered the suggestion that a
movement in that direction would surprise them while watching the trap
set for us.

Captain Boling replied: “It is too late in the day for a job of that
kind; we will wait and see if Ten-ie-ya will come in. I have made up
my mind to send two of our prisoners after him, and keep the others as
hostages until he comes. To make a sure thing of this, Doctor, I want
you to take these two,” pointing to one of the sons and the son-in-law
of Ten-ie-ya, “and go with them to the place where they have said a
trail leads up the cliff to Ten-ie-ya’s hiding place. You will take
care that they are not molested by any of our boys while on this trip.
Take any one with you in camp, if you do not care to go alone.”

Taking a small lunch to break my fast since the morning meal, I
concluded to make the trip on foot; my mule having been turned loose
with the herd. Arming myself, I started alone with the two prisoners
which Capt. Boling had consigned to my guardianship. I kept them ahead
of me on the trail, as I always did when traveling with any of that
race. We passed along the westerly base of the North Dome at a rapid
gait, without meeting any of my comrades, and had reached a short
turn in the trail around a point of rocks, when the Indians suddenly
sprang back, and jumped behind me. From their frightened manner, and
cry of terror, I was not apprehensive of any treachery on their part.
Involuntarily I cried out, “Hallo! what’s up now?” and stepped forward
to see what had so alarmed them. Before me, stood George Fisher with
his rifle leveled at us. I instantly said: “Hold on George! these
Indians are under my care!” He determinedly exclaimed without change of
position, “Get out of the way, Doctor, those Indians have got to die,”
Just behind Fisher was Sergeant Cameron, with a man on his shoulders.
As he hastily laid him on the ground, I was near enough to see that his
clothing was soiled and badly torn, and that his face, hands and feet
were covered with blood. His eyes were glazed and bloodshot, and it
was but too evident that he had been seriously injured. From the near
proximity of the basket trail, I instantly surmised they had been on
the cliff above. The scene was one I shall long remember.

It seemed but a single motion for Cameron to deposit his burden and
level his rifle. He ordered me to stand aside if I valued my own
safety. I replied as quietly as I could, “Hold on, boys! Captain Boling
sent me to guard these Indians from harm, and I shall obey orders.”
I motioned the Indians to keep to my back or they would be killed.
Cameron shouted: “They have almost killed Spencer, and have got to
die.” As he attempted to get sight, he said: “Give way, Bunnell, I
don’t want to hurt you.” This I thought _very condescending_, and I
replied with emphasis: “These Indians are under my charge, and I shall
protect them. If you shoot you commit murder.” The whole transaction
thus far seemingly occupied but a moment’s time, when to the surprise
of us all, Spencer called my name. I moved forward a little, and said
to them, “Throw up your rifles and let me come into to see Spencer.”
“Come in! _you_ are safe,” replied Fisher–still watching the Indians
with a fierce determination in his manner. Spencer raised himself in a
sitting position, and at a glance seemed to take in the situation of
affairs, for he said: “Bunnell is right; boys, don’t shoot; mine is but
the fortune of war;” and telling Cameron to call me, he again seemed to
fall partly into stupor. As I again moved towards them with the Indians
behind me, they with some reluctance, put up their rifles. Fisher
turned his back to me as he said with sarcasm, “Come in with your
friends, Doctor, and thank Spencer for their safety.” They relieved
their excitement with volleys of imprecations. Cameron said that I
“was a —- sight too high-toned to suit friends that had always been
willing to stand by me.”

This occurrence did not destroy good feeling toward each other, for we
were all good friends after the excitement had passed over.

I examined Spencer and found that, although no bones were broken,
he was seriously bruised and prostrated by the shock induced by his
injuries. Fisher started for camp to bring up a horse or mule to carry
Spencer in. I learned that they had fallen into the trap on the “basket
trail,” and that Spencer had been injured while ascending the cliff as
I had suspected. He had, unfortunately, been _trailed in_, as I had
been. The particulars Cameron related to me and in my hearing after we
had arrived in camp. As the Indians represented to me that the trail
they proposed to take up the cliff was but a little way up the north
branch, I concluded to go on with them, and then be back in time to
accompany Spencer into camp. Speaking some cheering words to Spencer
I turned to leave, when Cameron said to him: “You ain’t dead yet, my
boy.” Spencer held out his hand, and as he took it Cameron said, with
visible emotion, but emphatic declaration: “We will pay them back for
this if the chance ever comes; Doc. is decidedly too conscientious in
this affair.” I escorted the Indians some way above “Mirror Lake,”
where they left the trail and commenced to climb the cliff.

On my return I found that Cameron had already started with Spencer;
I soon overtook them and relieved him of his burden, and from there
carried Spencer into camp. We found Fisher vainly trying to catch his
mule. The most of the horses were still out with the scouts, and all
animals in camp had been turned loose. Sergt. Cameron, while Fisher
was assisting me in the removal of Spencer’s clothing aid dressing
his wounds, had prepared a very comfortable bed, made of boughs, that
the kind-hearted boys thoughtfully brought in; and after he was made
comfortable and nourishment given him, the Sergeant related to Captain
Boling the details of their adventure, which were briefly as follows:
Cameron and Spencer while on their way back to camp discovered the
baskets on the trail. Feeling certain that they had discovered the
hiding-place of the Indians, as we had done, they concluded to make
a reconnoissance of the vicinity before making a report of their
discovery. Elated at their success, and unsuspicious of any unusual
danger, they followed the trail that wound up the cliff, along jutting
rocks that in places projected like cornices, until the converging
walls forced them to a steep acclivity grooved in the smooth-worn rock.
Not daunted by the difficult assent, they threw off their boots and
started up the slippery gutter, when suddenly a huge mass of granite
came thundering down towards them. But for a fortunate swell or
prominence just above they would both have been swept into eternity;
as it was, the huge rock passed over their heads; a fragment, however,
struck Spencer’s rifle from his hand and hurled him fifty feet or more
down the steep wall, where he lay, entirely senseless for a time, while
a shower of rocks and stones was passing over him, the shape of the
wall above sending them clear of his body.

Cameron was in advance, and fortunately was able to reach the shelter
of a projecting rock. After the discharge, an Indian stretched himself
above a detached rock, from which he had been watching his supposed
victims. Cameron chanced to be looking that way, and instantly firing,
dropped his man. No doubt he was killed, for the quantity of blood
found afterward on the rock, was great. The echoing report of Cameron’s
rifle, brought back howls of rage from a number of rocks above, as if
they were alive with demons. Anticipating another discharge from their
battery, Cameron descended to the spot where Spencer had fallen, and
taking him in his arms, fled out of range.

After supper, the explorers having all come in, the boys gathered
around the Sergeant and importuned him to give the history of his
adventures. After reflectively bringing up the scene to view, he began:
“We got into mighty close quarters! Come to think of it, I don’t see
how we happened to let ourselves be caught in that dead-fall. I reckon
we must have fooled ourselves some. The way of it was this. We went up
on the south side as far as we could ride, and after rummaging around
for a while, without finding anything, Spencer wanted to go up the
North Cañon and get a good look at that mountain with one side split
off; so I told the boys to look about for themselves, as there were no
Indians in the valley. Some of them went on up the South Cañon, and the
rest of us went over to the North Cañon. After crossing the upper ford,
Spencer and I concluded to walk up the cañon, so we sent our animals
down to graze with the herd. Spencer looked a good long while at that
split mountain, and called it a ‘half dome.’ I concluded he might
name it what he liked, if he would leave it and go to camp; for I was
getting tired and hungry and said so. Spencer said ‘All right, we’ll go
to camp.’

On our way down, as we passed that looking-glass pond, he wanted to
take one more look, and told me to go ahead and he’d soon overtake
me; but that I wouldn’t do, so he said: “No matter, then; I can come
up some other time.” As we came on down the trail below the pond, I
saw some acorns scattered by the side of the trail, and told Spencer
there were Indians not far off. After looking about for a while Spencer
found a basket nearly full behind some rocks, and in a little while
discovered a trail leading up towards the cliff. We followed this up a
piece, and soon found several baskets of acorns. I forgot about being
hungry, and after talking the matter over we decided to make a sort of
reconnoissance before we came in to make any report. Well, we started
on up among the rocks until we got to a mighty steep place, a kind
of gulch that now looked as if it had been scooped out for a stone
battery. The trail up it was as steep as the roof on a meeting-house,
and worn so slippery that we couldn’t get a foot-hold. I wanted to see
what there was above, and took off my boots and started up. Spencer did
the same and followed me. I had just got to the swell of the steepest
slope, where a crack runs across the face of the wall, and was looking
back to see if Spencer would make the riffle, when I heard a crash
above me, and saw a rock as big as a hogshead rolling down the cliff
toward us. I sprang on up behind a rock that happened to be in the
right place, for there was no time to hunt for any other shelter.

I had barely reached cover when the bounding rock struck with a crash
by my side, and bounded clear over Spencer, who had run across the
crevice and was stooping down and steadying himself with his rifle. A
piece of the big rock that was shattered into fragments and thrown
in all directions, struck his rifle out of his hands, and sent him
whirling and clutching down a wall fifty feet. He lodged out of sight,
where in going up we had kicked off our leathers. I thought he was
killed, for he did not answer when I called, and I had no chance then
to go to him, for a tremendous shower of stones came rushing by me. I
expected he would be terribly mangled at first, but soon noticed that
the swell in the trail caused the rocks to bound clear over him onto
the rocks in the valley. I looked up to see where they came from just
as an Indian stuck his head above a rock. My rifle came up of its own
accord. It was a quick sight, but with me they are generally the best,
and as I fired that Indian jumped into the air with a yell and fell
back onto the ledge. He was hit, I know, and I reckon _he went west_.
Every rock above was soon a yelling as if alive. As I expected another
discharge from their stone artillery, I slid down the trail, picked up
Spencer, and “vamoosed the ranche,” just as they fired another shot
of rocks down after us. I did not stay to see where they struck after
I was out of range, for my rifle and Spencer took about all of my
attention until safely down over the rocks. While I was there resting
for a moment, Fisher came up the trail. He heard me fire and had heard
the rocks tumbling down the cliff. Thinking some one was in trouble, he
was going to find out who it was.

“We concluded at first that Spencer was done for; for his heart beat
very slow and he was quite dumpish. We had just started for camp with
him, and met Bunnell going out with the two Indians. I reckon we would
have sent them on a trip down where it is warmer than up there on the
mountains, if Spencer hadn’t roused himself just then. He stopped
the game. He called for the Doctor; but Bunnell was as stubborn as
Firebaugh’s mustang and would not leave the Indians. We had to let
them pass, before he would take a look at Spencer. Doc. is generally
all right enough, but he was in poor business to-day. When I told him
it was his own messmate, he said it didn’t matter if it were his own
brother. If Captain Boling will make a shooting match and put up the
other three, I’ll give my horse for the first three shots. Shooting
will be cheap after that.”

I have given the substance only of Sergt. Cameron’s talk to the group
around him, though but poorly imitating his style, in order to show the
feeling that was aroused by Spencer’s misfortune. Spencer’s uniformly
quiet and gentlemanly manners, made no enemies among rough comrades,
who admired the courageous hardihood of “the little fellow,” and
respected him as a man. Many expressions of sympathy were given by the
scouts who gathered around our tent, on learning of his injury. For
some days after the event, he could scarcely be recognized, his face
was so swollen and discolored. But what Spencer seemed most to regret,
was the injury to his feet and knees, which had been cruelly rasped by
the coarse granite in his descent.

The injury from this cause was so great, that he was unable to make
those explorations that footmen alone could accomplish. He was an
enthusiastic lover of nature, an accomplished scholar and man of the
world. Having spent five years in France and Germany in the study of
modern languages, after having acquired a high standing here in Latin
and Greek.

We thought him peculiarly gifted, and hoped for something from his
pen descriptive of the Yosemite that would endure; but he could never
be induced to make any effort to describe any feature of the valley,
saying: “That fools only rush in where wise men stand in awe.” We were
bed-fellows and friends, and from this cause chiefly, perhaps, all the
incidents of his accident were strongly impressed on my memory. After
his full recovery his feet remained tender for a long time, and he made
but one extended exploration after his accident while in the battalion.

During the camp discussion regarding my course in saving the two
captives, Captain Boling and myself were amused listeners. No great
pains were taken as a rule to hide one’s light under a bushel, and we
were sitting not far off. The Captain said that he now comprehended
the extreme anxiety of the captives to see Ten-ie-ya, as doubtless
they knew of his intentions to roll rocks down on any who attempted to
follow up that trail; and probably supposed we would kill them if any
of us were killed. As he left our tent he remarked: “These hostages
will have to stay in camp. They will not be safe outside of it, if some
of the boys chance to get their eyes on them.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: YOSEMITE FALLS.

(2,634 feet in height.)]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Ten-ie-ya was brought into the presence of Capt. Boling by Sergt.
Cameron, after this attempt to escape, he supposed that he would now he
condemned to be shot. With mingled fear of the uncertainty of his life
being spared, and his furious passion at being foiled in his attempt
to regain his liberty, he forgot his usual reserve and shrewdness. His
grief for the loss of his son and the hatred he entertained toward
Capt. Boling, who he considered as responsible for his death, was
uppermost in his thoughts, and without any of his taciturn, diplomatic
style he burst forth in lamentations and denunciations, given in a loud
voice and in a style of language and manner of delivery which took
us all by surprise. In his excitement, he made a correct use of many
Spanish words, showing that he was more familiar with them than he had
ever admitted even to Sandino; but the more emphatic expressions were
such as may often be heard used by the muleteers of Mexico and South
America, but are not found in the Lexicons. As he approached Capt.
Boling, he began in a highly excited tone: “_Kill me_, sir Captain!
Yes, _kill me_, as you killed my son; as you would kill my people if
they were to come to you! You would kill all my race if you had the
power. Yes, sir, American, you can now tell your warriors to kill the
old chief; you have made me sorrowful, my life dark; you killed the
child of my heart, why not kill the father? But wait a little; when I
am dead I will call to my people to come to you, I will call louder
than you have had me call; that they shall hear me in their sleep,
and come to avenge the death of their chief and his son. Yes, sir,
American, my spirit will make trouble for you and your people, as you
have caused trouble to me and my people. With the wizards, I will
follow the white men and make them fear me.” He here aroused himself
to a sublime frenzy, and completed his rhapsody by saying: “You may
kill me, sir, Captain, but you shall not live in peace. I will follow
in your foot-steps, I will not leave my home, but be with the spirits
among the rocks, the water-falls, in the rivers and in the winds;
wheresoever you go I will be with you. You will not see me, but you
will fear the spirit of the old chief, and grow cold.[13] The great
spirits have spoken! I am done.”

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

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

Considerable hilarity has been exhibited by modern visitors when told
that the Yosemite and its environs were once the favorite resort of
the grizzly bear. After these visitors have returned to New York or
Boston, they tell the public not to be afraid of bears, as they were
quite harmless; rather inclined to become domestic, etc. That is well
enough now, perhaps, although grizzlies may yet be found; but at the
date of the discovery; their trails were as large and numerous, almost,
as cow-paths in a western settlement. Several bears were seen by us,
and one was killed. The Yo-sem-i-tes used to capture these monsters
by lying in wait for them on some rock or in some tree that commanded
their thoroughfare, and after the bear had been wounded, all the dogs
in the village were turned loose upon him. After being brought to bay,
he was dispatched with arrows or the spear. A medium sized terrier
or two will so annoy a large grizzly, keeping out of his way in the
meantime, that he is apt to become stubborn and stand his ground.

In such cases, there is less danger to the hunter. I have known of two
being killed in this way at short range. The approach of the hunter
was disregarded by the bear. Their hams had been so bitten by the
dogs that they dared not run, for fear of a fresh attack. I killed a
large one as he came out of the Merced river, a little above where
the town of Merced has since been built, and the same day, being in
a whale-boat, I had to back from an old she-bear and her two cubs,
encountered in a short turn of the river. I tried to kill these also,
but my rifle had got soaked in the rain that was pouring at the time;
as for the pistol shots, fired by some of the oarsmen, they only seemed
to increase her speed, and that of her cubs, as they reached the shore
and plunged through the willows. I had, previous to the killing of
the grizzly, killed a large black bear with a rifle of small calibre,
and gaining confidence, I attacked the grizzly, and was fortunate in
cutting a renal-artery, from which the bear soon bled to death; but
upon viewing the huge monster, I fully realized the folly of an open
attack upon this kind of game, and ever afterwards, so far as I could,
when alone, avoided their noted haunts. With all my caution and dread
of an unexpected encounter with them, I met several face to face during
mountain explorations; but invariably, they seemed as anxious to get
away from me as I was that they should do so. Once while manœuvering to
get a shot at a deer, a grizzly came out in full view but a few yards
in advance of me. I was tempted to give him a shot, but as I had no
refuge of dog or tree, if I made a poor shot, and knowing that I was
not seen by the bear, I did not molest him, but felt relieved as he
entered a chinquepin thicket, and if there had been _fifty of them_, no
doubt they might have all gone without my _saying a word_.

I have seen a good deal of nonsense in print about bears, but will
venture to give these incidents. Joel H. Brooks and John Kenzie,
ex-members of “The Battalion,” were the least susceptible to fear
of them, of any persons I ever knew. Their skill as marksmen, was
something wonderful. They used to go through a drill on foot, firing
at some imaginary grizzly, then with a representative shot, the bear
was wounded, and pursuing them; they would turn and flee, loading their
rifles as they ran, and then turn and fire with deliberation at the
imaginary bear in pursuit.

This theory of bear hunting, they determined to put into practice, and
after the close of the Indian war, and the disbanding of the battalion,
they established themselves in a camp near the Tehon Pass, a locality
even more famous for bears than the Yosemite. They were successful,
killed a number, and were daily acquiring more confidence in the
practicability of their theory and plans of attack; when one day, while
Kenzie was out hunting by himself, he unexpectedly met a huge grizzly
face to face; both were for a moment startled.

Contrary to the usual, and almost invariable, habit of the bear when
surprised or about to attack, he did not rise upon his hind feet; but
instead of affording Kenzie the advantage of the usual opportunity
to aim at the small, light-colored spot on his neck, which, if
centered, is instant death to the animal, the bear made a direct dash
for the hunter. Seeing his peril, Kenzie at once fired with all the
deliberation the urgency of the occasion would permit. The shot proved
a fatal one, but before Kenzie could avoid the furious charge of the
animal, he was fatally injured by blows from the terrible monster. His
bowels were literally torn out; he was unfortunate in being tripped
by the tangled brush, or he might have escaped, as the bear fell dead
with his first charge, Kenzie succeeded in dragging himself to their
camp. He described the locality of the adventure, and requested Brooks
to go and bring in the liver of the bear. He said it would afford him
some consolation to eat more of the bear than the bear had been able
to eat of him. Brooks brought in and cooked some of the liver, fully
gratifying Kenzie’s whim; but it was the hunter’s last poor triumph–he
died soon after. Brooks swore off from this method of hunting, at least
for a season, and accepted a position offered him at the Indian Agency.

Another member of our battalion killed a grizzly that for a time
made him quite famous as a bear-fighter. As this man was an Indian,
an attempt has been made to weave the incident into a legend, giving
the honor of the combat to one of the Yosemites. The truth is, that
a full-blooded Cherokee, known as “Cherokee Bob,” or Robert Brown,
wounded a grizzly, and to keep the bear from entering a thicket, set
his dog on the game. While “Bob” was re-loading his rifle, and before
he could get the cap on, the bear, disregarding the dog, charged upon
Bob, and bore him to the ground. The dog instantly attacked the bear,
biting his hams most furiously. The grizzly turned from Brown and
caught the dog with his paw, holding him as a cat would hold a mouse.
By this means Bob was released, and but slightly bruised. In an instant
he drew his hunting knife and plunged it to the heart of the bear, and
ended the contest. The dog was seriously injured, but Bob carried him
in his arms to camp, and attended his wounds as he would a comrade’s
or as he might have done his own. As “Cherokee Bob’s” bear fight was a
reality known to his comrades, I have noticed it here.

The various routes to the Yosemite are now so constantly traveled that
bears will rarely be seen. They possess a very keen scent, and will
avoid all thoroughfares traveled by man, unless very hungry; they are
compelled to search for food. Strange as it may appear to some, the
ferocious grizzly can be more reliably tamed and domesticated than
the black bear. A tame grizzly at Monterey, in 1849, was allowed the
freedom of the city. Capt. Chas. M. Webber, the original proprietor
of the site of Stockton, had two that were kept chained. They became
very tame. One of these, especially tame, would get loose from time to
time and roam at will over the city. The new inhabitants of Stockton
seemed not to be inspired by that faith in his docility and uprightness
of character that possessed the owner, for they found him ravenously
devouring a barrel of sugar that belonged to one of the merchants,
and refused to give up any portion of it. This offended the grocer,
and he sent word to Mr. Webber to come and remove his truant thief.
The Captain came, paid for the damaged sugar, and giving him, like a
spoiled child, some of the sweets he had confiscated to induce him to
follow, led the bear home. But bruin remembered his successful foray,
and breaking his chain again and again, and always returning to the
merchant’s premises for sugar, Mr. Webber rid himself and the community
of the annoyance by disposing of his grizzlies.

During a hunt in company with Col. Byron Cole, Messrs. Kent, Long and
McBrien of San Francisco, I caught a good sized cub, and Mr. Long, with
a terrier dog, caught another; the mother of which was killed by the
unerring aim of McBrien. These cubs were taken by Cole and McBrien to
San Francisco on their return, and sent to New York. I was told that
they became very tame. I hope they did, for the comfort and security
of their keepers; for in my first efforts to tame a grizzly, I became
somewhat prejudiced against bear training as an occupation. Not long
after my experience, I heard of poor Lola Montez being bitten by one
she was training at Grass Valley for exhibition in Europe; and I now
lost all faith in their reported docility and domestic inclinations.
The California lion, like the wolf, is a coward, and deserves but
little notice. Among the visitors to the Yosemite, some will probably
be interested in knowing where to find the game: fish, birds and
animals, that may yet remain to gratify the sportsmen’s love of the rod
and the chase. Most of the game has been killed or driven off by the
approach of civilization. Deer and occasionally a grizzly, cinnamon or
black bear may be found on the slopes of the Tuolumne, Merced, Fresno
and San Joaquin, and on all the rivers and mountains south of these
streams. The cinnamon bear of California is much larger than the common
brown bear of the Rocky Mountains.

The _blue_ black-tailed deer of California are distinct from the black
tuft-tailed deer of the eastern ranges; a very marked difference will
be observed in their horns and ears. This distinction has been noticed
by naturalists; but the species are often confounded in newspaper
correspondence. The habits of the California deer are more goat-like;
they are wilder, and more easily startled than the “mule-eared” deer
of the Rockies, and when alarmed, they move with the celerity of the
white-tailed Virginia deer. The bare, tuft-tailed and big-eared Rocky
Mountain deer, seem but little alarmed by the report of a gun; and
their curiosity is nearly equal to that of the antelope.

The California deer are still abundant upon the spurs of the Sierras
during their migrations to and from the foot-hills. These migrations
occur during the Autumn and Spring. As the rainy season sets in, they
leave the higher mountains for the foot-hills and plains, keeping
near the snow line, and as the Spring advances, they follow back the
receding snow to the high Sierras and the Eastern Slope, but seldom or
never descend to the plain below. On account of these migratory habits,
they will most likely endure the assaults of the sportsmen. The haunts
of the grizzly are the same as those of the deer, for they alike prefer
the bushy coverts to the more open ground, except when feeding. The
deer prefer as food the foliage of shrubs and weeds to the richest
grasses, and the bear prefers clover, roots, ants and reptiles; but
both fatten principally on acorns, wild rye and wild oats.

California grouse are found in the vicinity of the Yosemite. During
the months of July and August they were formerly found quite numerous
concealed in the grass and sedges of the valley and the little
Yosemite; but as they are much wilder than the prairie chicken, they
shun the haunts of man, and are now only found numerous in mid-summer
upon or bordering on the mountain meadows and in the timber, among the
pine forests, where they feed upon the pine seeds and mistletoe, which
also afford them ample concealment. Their ventriloquial powers are
such that while gobbling their discordant notes, they are likely to
deceive the most experienced ear. It is almost impossible to feel quite
sure as to which particular tree the grouse is in without seeing it.
He seems to throw his voice about, now to this tree and now to that,
concealing himself the while until the inexperienced hunter is deluded
into the belief that the trees are full of grouse, when probably there
is but one making all the noise. His attention having been diverted,
the hunter is left in doubt from sheer conflicting sounds as to which
particular tree he saw a bird alight in. It is generally pretty sure to
“_fetch the bird_,” if you shoot into the bunch of mistletoe into which
you _supposed_ you saw the grouse alight.

Beside the mountain grouse and mountain quail, among the most beautiful
of birds, that afford the sportsman a diversity of sport, an occasional
flock of pigeons, of much larger size than those of the Atlantic
States, will attract attention; though I have never seen them in very
large flocks. In most of the mountain streams, and their branches,
brook trout are quite abundant. They are not, however, so ravenously
accommodating, as to bite just when they are wanted. I learned from
the Indians that they would bite best in foaming water, when they
were unable to see the angler, or the bait distinctly; their curiosity
stimulating their appetites. It is important that the trout do not see
the angler, and when very wary, the rod even should not be conspicuous.
Below the cañon of the Yosemite, young salmon were once abundant. The
Indians used to catch fish in weirs made of brush and stones; but
during the extensive mining operations on the Merced and other rivers,
the salmon seemed to have almost abandoned their favorite haunts, for
the mud covered spawn would not hatch. Large salmon were speared by the
Indians in all the rivers, with a curious bone spear of but one tine,
while the smaller fry were caught in their weirs. In the Tulare lakes
and in the San Joaquin, King’s, Kern and other rivers, fish, frogs and
turtle are abundant, and water fowl literally swarm during the winter
months in many parts of California.

Among the foot-hills of the Sierra Nevada, as well as in all the lesser
mountain ranges, may be found the common California blue quail, and a
very curious brush or chapparel cock, known to the Spanish residents
of California and Mexico as “El Paisano” (The Countryman), and as the
“Correo Camino” (Road-runner), and to ornithologists as the _Geo-coc
cyx Californicus_.[14] They have received the name of “_countryman_”
because of their inclination to run like country children at the sight
of strangers, and that of “road-runner” from the habit of frequenting
roads and trails, for the purpose of wallowing in the dust, and when
alarmed darting off along the road with the speed of an ostrich or wild
turkey. The object they have in wallowing in the dust is like that
of the ruffled grouse, which indulge in the same practice–they sun
themselves and at the same time are rid of vermin. Trusting to their
legs to escape when alarmed, they take the open ground–the road–until
outrunning pursuit they hide in the chapparel, and thus acquire the
name of “road-runner” or “chapparel cock.”

I have never seen any ruffled grouse in the Sierra Nevada, but
a species of these fine birds, are quite abundant in Oregon and
Washington territory. I have been able to solve a question regarding
them, upon which naturalists have disagreed, that is, as to how they
drum. Whether the sound is produced by the wings in concussive blows
upon their bodies, the air, logs or rocks? I am able to say from
personal and careful observation, that the sound of “_drumming_,” is
made, like the sound of the “_night jar_,” exclusively by a peculiar
motion of the wings _in the air_. It is true, the American “pheasant”
or American “partridge,” commonly stands upon a log while drumming, but
I have watched them while perched upon a dry small branch or twig, drum
for hours most sonorously, calling upon their rivals to encounter them,
and their mistresses to come and witness their gallantry. Darwin has
aptly said: “The season of love, is that of battle.” Notwithstanding
the acuteness of observation of Mr. Darwin, he has been led into error
in his statement that wild horses “do not make any danger signals.”
They snort and paw the earth with impatience, when they cannot discover
the cause of their alarm, and almost invariably circle to the leeward
of the object that disturbs them. A mule is the best of sentinels to
alarm a camp on the approach of danger. Deer and elk whistle and strike
the earth perpendicularly with their feet when _jumping up_ to discover
the cause of alarm. Deer and antelope are both so inquisitive, that
if the hunter has not been seen, or has been but imperfectly seen, by
dropping into the grass or brush, and raising some object to view and
suddenly withdrawing it, the deer or antelope will frequently come up
within a few feet of the object. Antelope are especially curious to
know what disturbs them.

The coyotes, or small wolves, and the grey or tree climbing foxes of
California, make a kind of barking noise, more like the bark of a small
dog than the howl of a wolf; and therefore barking is not so much of
“_an acquired_” art as has been supposed, though the “laughter” of dogs
is more or less acquired.

The whistle of the elk is as complete a call to his mistress, and is
as well understood, as though the female had said, “Whistle and I’ll
come to you.” Elk and antelope are still to be found in California,
as well as wild horses, but they are now quite timid, and resort to
unfrequented ranges. The best hunting now to be found in California,
except for water-fowl, is in the region of Kern River. Near its source
big-horn or mountain sheep may be killed, and from along the base of
the eastern slope, antelope range into the desert. Deer and bear may be
found on either slope of the range, and among the broken hills south of
the head of Tulare valley.

Wolves, foxes, badgers, coons, and other fur-clothed animals, are also
quite numerous. I have _dared_ to question some of Mr. Darwin’s facts,
and as I expect this to be my last literary effort (oh, ye reviewers!),
I wish to remind the publishers of Webster’s Dictionary that a beaver
is not an “_amphibious_” animal, neither is a muscalonge “an overgrown

A few days after we had moved camp to the south side of the Merced,
Captain Boling was prostrated with an attack of pneumonia. From
frequent wettings received while crossing the ice-cold torrents, and a
too free use of this snow-water, which did not agree with many, he had
for some days complained of slight illness, but after this attack he
was compelled to acknowledge himself sick. Although the severe symptoms
continued but a few days, his recovery was lingering, and confined him
to camp; consequently he knew but little of his rocky surroundings.
Although regular reports were made to him by the scouting parties, he
had but an imperfect conception of the labors performed by them in
clambering over the rocks of the cañons and mountains. He would smile
at the reports the more enthusiastic gave of the wonders discovered;
patiently listen to the complaints of the more practical at their
want of success in, what they termed, their futile explorations; and
finally concluded to suspend operations until the fast-melting snow had
so disappeared from the high mountain passes as to permit our taking
a supply-train, in order to make our search thorough. The winter had
been an unusually dry and cold one–so said the Indians–and, as a
consequence, the accumulations of snow in the passes and lake basins
had remained almost intact. A succession of mountain storms added to
the drifts, so that when the snow finally began to melt, the volume of
water coming from the “High Sierras” was simply prodigious–out of all
proportion to the quantity that had fallen upon the plains below.

Sandino persisted in trying to make the Captain believe that most of
the Yosemites had already gone through the Mono Pass, and that those
remaining hidden, were but the members of Ten-ie-ya’s family. This
theory was not accepted by Capt. Boling, and occasional scouting
parties would still be sent out. A few of us continued to make short
excursions, more for adventure and to gratify curiosity, than with the
expectation of discovering the hiding places of the Indians; although
we kept up the form of a search. We thus became familiar with most of
the objects of interest.

The more practical of our command could not remain quiet in camp during
this suspension of business. Beside the ordinary routine of camp
duties, they engaged in athletic sports and horse-racing. A very fair
race track was cleared and put in condition, and some of the owners of
fast horses were very much surprised, to see their favorites trailing
behind some of the fleet-footed mules. A maltese Kentucky blooded mule,
known as the “Vining Mule,” distanced all but one horse in the command,
and so pleased was Capt. Boling with its gracefully supple movements,
that he paid Vining for it a thousand dollars in gold.

For a change of amusement, the members of our “Jockey Club” would
mount their animals and take a look at such points of interest as had
been designated in our camp-fire conversations as most remarkable.
The scenery in the Yosemite and vicinity, which is now familiar to so
many, was at that time looked upon with varied degrees of individual
curiosity and enjoyment, ranging from the enthusiastic, to almost a
total indifference to the sublime grandeur presented. It is doubtful
if any of us could have given a very graphic description of what we
saw, as the impressions then received were so far below the reality.
Distance, height, depth and dimensions were invariably under-estimated;
notwithstanding this, our attempts at descriptions after our return to
the settlements, were received as exaggerated “yarns.”

While in Mariposa, upon one occasion not very long after the discovery
of Yosemite, I was solicited by Wm. T. Whitachre, a newspaper
correspondent from San Francisco, to furnish him a written description
of the Valley. This, of course, was beyond my ability to do; but I
disinterestedly complied with his request as far as I could, by giving
him some written details to work upon. On reading the paper over, he
advised me to reduce my estimates of heights of cliffs and waterfalls,
at least fifty per centum, or my judgment would be a subject of
ridicule even to my personal friends. I had estimated El Capitan at
from fifteen hundred to two thousand feet high; the Yosemite Fall at
about fifteen hundred feet, and other prominent points of interest in
about the same proportion.

To convince me of my error of judgment, he stated that he had
interviewed Captain Boling and some others, and that none had estimated
the highest cliffs above a thousand feet. He further said that he
would not like to risk his own reputation as a correspondent, without
considerable modification of my statements, etc. Feeling outraged at
this imputation, I tore up the manuscript, and left the “newspaper man”
to obtain where he could such data for his patrons as would please him.
It remained for those who came after us to examine scientifically,
and to correctly describe what we only observed as wonderful natural
curiosities. With but few exceptions, curiosity was gratified by but
superficial examination of the objects now so noted. We were aware
that the valley was high up in the regions of the Sierra Nevada, but
its altitude above the sea level was only guessed at. The heights
of its immense granite walls was an uncertainty, and so little real
appreciation was there in the battalion, that some never climbed above
the Vernal Fall. They knew nothing of the beauties of the Nevada Fall,
or the “Little Yosemite.” We, as a body of men, were aware that the
mountains, cañons and waterfalls were on a grandly extensive scale, but
of the proportions of that scale we had arrived at no very definite

During our explorations of the Sierras, we noticed the effects of the
huge avalanches of snow and ice that had in some age moved over the
smooth granite rocks and plowed the deep cañons. The evidences of
past glacial action were frequently visible; so common, in fact, as
hardly to be objects of special interest to us. The fact that glaciers
in motion existed in the vast piles of snow on the Sierras, was not
dreamed of by us, or even surmised by others, until discovered, in
1870, by Mr. John Muir, a naturalist and most persistent mountain
explorer, who by accurate tests verified the same, and gave his facts
to the world. Mr. Muir has also brought into prominent notice, by
publications in “Scribner’s Monthly Illustrated Magazine,” some of the
beautiful lakes of the Sierras, having discovered many unknown before.
Mr. Muir’s descriptions combine the most delightful imagery with the
accuracy of a true lover of nature. His article upon the water-auszel,
“The humming-bird of the California waterfalls,” in the same magazine,
proves him a most accomplished observer.

All of the smaller streams that pour their tribute into the valley
during the melting of the snow, become later in the season but dry
ravines or mere rivulets, but the principal tributaries, running up,
as they do, into the lake and snow reservoirs, continue throughout
the dry season to pour their ample supply. After returning from my
mountain explorations, I freely questioned Ten-ie-ya of the places we
had visited. The old chief had gradually assumed his customary manner
of sociability, and if convinced by outline maps in the sand that we
were familiar with a locality, he would become quite communicative, and
give the names of the places described in distinct words. Our English
alphabet utterly fails to express the sounds of many of them, for they
were as unpronounceable as Apache. This difficulty is owing more or
less to the guttural termination given by the Indians.

Another important fact which causes a confusion of these names is, that
owing to the poverty of their language, they use the same word, or what
seems to be the same, for several objects, which by accent, comparison
and allusion, or by gestures, are readily understood by them, but which
it is difficult for one not familiar with the dialect to comprehend,
and still more difficult to illustrate or remember. This I shall
endeavor to demonstrate in giving the names applied to different
localities in the valley and vicinity.

While I was endeavoring to ascertain the names of localities from
Ten-ie-ya, he was allowed some privileges in camp, but was not
permitted to leave his guard. The cunning old fellow watched his
opportunity, and again made an attempt to escape by swimming the
river; but he was again foiled, and captured by the watchfulness and
surprising strength of Sergeant Cameron.

From this time Ten-ie-ya was secured by a rope which was fastened
around his waist. The only liberty allowed was the extent of the rope
with which he was fastened. He was a hearty feeder, and was liberally
supplied. From a lack of sufficient exercise, his appetite cloyed, and
he suffered from indigestion. He made application to Captain Boling
for permission to go out from camp to the place where the grass was
growing, saying the food he had been supplied with was too strong; that
if he did not have grass he should die. He said the grass looked good
to him, and there was plenty of it. Why then should he not have it,
when dogs were allowed to eat it?

The Captain was amused at the application, with its irony, but surmised
that he was meditating another attempt to leave us; however, he good
humoredly said: “He can have a ton of fodder if he desires it, but I
do not think it advisable to turn him loose to graze.” The Captain
consented to the Sergeant’s kindly arrangements to _tether_ him, and
he was led out to graze upon the young clover, sorrel, bulbous roots
and fresh growth of ferns which were then springing up in the valley,
one species of which we found a good salad. All of these he devoured
with the relish of a hungry ox. Occasionally truffles or wood-mushrooms
were brought him by Sandino and our allies, as if in kindly sympathy
for him, or in acknowledgment of his rank. Such presents and a slight
deference to his standing as a chief, were always received with grunts
of satisfaction. He was easily flattered by any extra attentions to his
pleasure. At such times he was singularly amiable and conversational.
Like many white men, it was evident that his more liberal feelings
could be the easiest aroused through his stomach.

Our supplies not being deemed sufficient for the expedition over the
Sierras, and as those verdureless mountains would provide no forage for
our animals, nor game to lengthen out our rations unless we descended
to the lower levels, Capt. Boling sent a pack train to the Fresno
for barley and extra rations. All of our Indians except Sandino and
Ten-ie-ya were allowed to go below with the detachment sent along as
escort for the train. While waiting for these supplies, some of the
command who had been exploring up Indian Cañon, reported fresh signs
at the head of that ravine. Feeling somewhat recovered in strength,
Captain Boling decided to undertake a trip out, and see for himself
some of our surroundings. Accordingly, the next morning, he started
with some thirty odd men up Indian Cañon. His design was to explore the
Scho-look or Scho-tal-lo-wi branch (Yosemite Creek) to its source, or
at least the Southern exposures of the divide as far east as we could
go and return at night. Before starting, I advised the taking of our
blankets, for a bivouac upon the ridge, as from experience I was aware
of the difficult and laborious ascent, and intimated that the excursion
would be a laborious one for an invalid, if the undertaking was
accomplished. The Captain laughed as he said: “Are your distances equal
to your heights? If they correspond, we shall have ample time!” Of
course, I could make no reply, for between us, the subject of heights
had already been exhausted, although the Captain had not yet been to
the top of the inclosing walls.

Still, realizing the sensitive condition of his lungs, and his
susceptibility to the influences of the cold and light mountain air, I
knew it would not be prudent for him to camp at the snow-line; and yet
I doubted his ability to return the same day; for this reason I felt
it my duty to caution him. A few others, who had avoided climbing the
cliffs, or if they had been upon any of the high ridges, their mules
had taken them there, joined in against my suggestion of providing
for the bivouac. I have before referred to the Texan’s devotion to
the saddle. In it, like Comanche Indians, he will undergo incredible
hardships; out of it, he is soon tired, and waddles laboriously like
a sailor, until the unaccustomed muscles adapt themselves to the
new service required of them; but the probabilities are against the
new exercise being continued long enough to accomplish this result.
Understanding this, I concluded in a spirit of jocularity to make light
of the toil myself; the more so, because I knew that my good Captain
had no just conception of the labor before him. By a rude process of
measurement, and my practical experience in other mountains in climbing
peaks whose heights had been established by measurements, I had
approximately ascertained or concluded that my first estimate of from
fifteen hundred to two thousand feet for the height of El Capitan, was
much below the reality. I had so declared in discussing these matters.
Captain Boling had finally estimated the height not to exceed one
thousand feet. Doctor Black’s estimate was far below this. I therefore
felt assured that _a walk up_ the cañon, would practically improve
their judgments of height and distance, and laughed within myself in
anticipation of the fun in store. On starting, I was directed to take
charge of Ten-ie-ya, whom we were to take with us, and to keep Sandino
near me, to interpret anything required during the trip. As we entered
Indian Cañon, the old chief told the Captain that the ravine was a bad
one to ascend. To this the Captain replied, “No matter, we know this
ravine leads out of the valley; Ten-ie-ya’s trail might lead us to a
warmer locality.”

Climbing over the wet, mossy rocks, we reached a level where a halt was
called for a rest. As Doctor Black came up from the rear, he pointed to
a ridge above us, and exclaimed, “Thank God, we are in sight of the top
at last.” “Yes, Doctor,” said I, “that is one of the first tops.” “How
so?” he inquired; “Is not that the summit of this ravine?” To this I
cheerfully replied, “You will find quite a number of such tops before
you emerge from this cañon.” Noticing his absence before reaching
the summit, I learned he took the trail back, and safely found his
weary way to camp. Captain Boling had over-estimated his strength and
endurance. He was barely able to reach the table land at the head of
the ravine, where, after resting and lunching, he visited the Falls, as
he afterwards informed me. By his order I took command of nine picked
men and the two Indians. With these I continued the exploration, while
the party with the Captain _explored_ the vicinity of the High Fall,
viewed the distant mountains, and awaited my return from above.

With my energetic little squad, I led the way, old Ten-ie-ya in front,
Sandino at his side, through forest openings and meadows, until we
reached the open rocky ground on the ridge leading to what is now known
as Mt. Hoffman. I directed our course towards that peak. We had not
traveled very far, the distance does not now impress me, when as we
descended toward a tributary of Yosemite creek, we came suddenly upon
an Indian, who at the moment of discovery was lying down drinking from
the brook. The babbling waters had prevented his hearing our approach.
We hurried up to within fifty or sixty yards, hoping to capture him,
but were discovered. Seeing his supposed danger, he bounded off, a
fine specimen of youthful vigor. No racehorse or greyhound could have
seemingly made better time than he towards a dense forest in the valley
of the Scho-look. Several rifles were raised, but I gave the order
“don’t shoot,” and compelled the old chief to call to him to stop. The
young Indian did stop, but it was at a safe distance. When an attempt
was made by two or three to move ahead and get close to him, he saw the
purpose and again started; neither threatening rifles, nor the calls of
Ten-ie-ya, could again stop his flight.

As we knew our strength, after such a climb, was not equal to the chase
of the fleet youth, he was allowed to go unmolested. I could get no
information from Ten-ie-ya concerning the object of the exploration;
and as for Sandino, his memory seemed to have conveniently failed him.
With this conclusion I decided to continue my course, and moved off
rapidly. Ten-ie-ya complained of fatigue, and Sandino reminded me that
I was traveling very fast. My reply to both cut short all attempts to
lessen our speed; and when either were disposed to lag in their gait, I
would cry out the Indian word, “We-teach,” meaning hurry up, with such
emphasis as to put new life into their movements.

We soon struck an old trail that led east along the southern slope
of the divide, and when I abandoned my purpose of going farther
towards the Tuolumne, and turned to the right on the trail discovered,
Ten-ie-ya once more found voice in an attempt to dissuade me from this
purpose, saying that the trail led into the mountains where it was very
cold, and where, without warm clothing at night, we would freeze. He
was entirely too earnest, in view of his previous taciturnity; and I
told him so.

The snow was still quite deep on the elevated portions of the ridge and
in shaded localities, but upon the open ground, the trail was generally
quite bare. As we reached a point still farther east, we perceived
the trail had been recently used; the tracks had been made within
a day or two. From the appearances, we concluded they were made by
Ten-ie-ya’s scouts who had followed down the ridge and slope west of
the North Dome to watch our movements. The tracks were made going and
returning, thus showing a continued use of this locality. As the tracks
diverged from the trail at this point, they led out of the direct
line of any communication with the valley, and after some reflection,
I was satisfied that we had struck a clue to their hiding place, and
realizing that it was time to return if we expected to reach the valley
before dark, we turned about and started at once on the down grade.

We found the Captain anxiously awaiting our return. He was pleased
with our report, and agreed in the conclusion that the Indians were
encamped not very far off. Captain Boling had suffered from fatigue and
the chill air of the mountains. In speaking of a farther pursuit of
our discoveries, he said: “I am not as strong as I supposed, and will
have to await the return of the pack train before taking part in these

I told Captain Boling that upon the trip, Sandino had appeared
willfully ignorant when questioned concerning the country we were
exploring, and my belief that he stood in fear of Ten-ie-ya; that
as a guide, no dependence could be placed upon him, and that his
interpretations of Ten-ie-ya’s sayings were to be received with caution
when given in the old chief’s presence, as Ten-ie-ya’s Spanish was
about equal to his own. Captain Boling instructed me to tell Sandino,
that in future, he need only act as interpreter. He seemed satisfied
with this arrangement, and said that the country appeared different
from what it was when he was a boy and had been accustomed to traverse

When we commenced our descent into the valley Ten-ie-ya wanted us to
branch off to the left, saying he was very tired, and wanted to take
the best trail. Said he, “There is a good trail through the arrow-wood
rocks to the left of the cañon.” I reported this to the Captain, and
expressed the opinion that the old chief was sincere for once; he had
grumbled frequently while we were ascending the cañon in the morning,
because we were compelled to climb over the moss covered bowlders,
while crossing and re-crossing the stream, and he told Sandino that
we should have taken the trail along the cliff above. Captain Boling
replied: “Take it, or it will be long after dark before we reach
camp.” Accordingly I let Ten-ie-ya lead the way, and told him to
travel fast. He had more than once proved that he possessed an agility
beyond his years. As his parole was at a discount, I secured a small
cord about his chest and attached the other end to my left wrist to
maintain _telegraphic_ communication with him; but as the hidden trail
narrowed and wound its crooked way around a jutting point of the cliff
overlooking the valley and ravine, I slipped the loop from my wrist and
ordered a halt.

Captain Boling and the men with him came up and took in the view before
us. One asked if I thought a bird could go down there safely. Another
wanted to know if I was aiding “Old Truthful” to commit suicide.
The last question had an echo of suspicion in my own thoughts. I
immediately surmised it possible the old sachem was leading us into
another trap, where, by some preconcerted signal, an avalanche of rocks
would precipitate us all to the bottom. I asked Ten-ie-ya if this trail
was used by his people; he assured me it was, by women and children;
that it was a favorite trail of his. Seeing some evidences of it having
been recently used, and being assured by Sandino that it was somewhere
below on this trail that Ten-ie-ya had descended to the valley when
taken a prisoner, a few of us were shamed into a determination to make
the attempt to go where the old chief could go.

Most of the party turned back. They expressed a willingness to fight
Indians, but they had not, they said, the faith requisite to attempt
to walk on water, much less air. They went down Indian Cañon, and some
did not reach camp until after midnight, tired, bruised and footsore.
We who had decided to take our chances, re-commenced our descent. I
told Ten-ie-ya to lead on, and to stop at the word “halt,” or he would
be shot. I then dispatched Sandino across the narrow foot-way, which,
at this point was but a few inches in width, and which was all there
was dividing us from Eternity as we passed over it. Telling them both
to halt on a projecting bench in view, I crossed this yawning abyss,
while Sandino, aided by a very dead shot above, held the old man as if
petrified, until I was able once more to resume my charge of him.

This I found was the only really dangerous place, on what was
facetiously called, by those who were leaving us, “a very good trail.”
The last fifty or sixty feet of the descent was down the sloping side
of an immense detached rock, and then down through the top of a black
oak tree at the south-westerly base of the vast cliff or promontory
known as the “Arrow-wood Cliff.” The “Royal Arches,” the “Washington
Column,” and the “North Dome,” occupy positions east of this trail, but
upon the same vast pile of granite.

I sometime afterward pointed out the trail to a few visitors that I
happened to meet at its foot. They looked upon me with an incredulous
leer, and tapped their foreheads significantly, muttering something
about “Stockton Asylum.” Fearing to trust my amiability too far, I
turned and left them. Since then I have remained cautiously silent.
Now that the impetuosity of youth has given place to the more
deliberative counsels of age, and all dangers to myself or others are
past, I repeat, for the benefit of adventurous tourists, that on the
southwesterly face of the cliff overlooking the valley and Indian
Cañon, there is a trail hidden from view, that they may travel if they
will, and experience all the sensations that could ever have been felt,
while alive, by a Blondin or LaMountain.

This portion of the cliff we designated as Ten-ie-ya’s Trail, and it
accords well with the scene in the Jungfrau Mountains, where Manfred,
alone upon the cliffs, says:

“And you, ye craigs, upon whose extreme edge
I stand, and on the torrent’s brink beneath
Behold the tall pines dwindled as to shrubs,
In dizziness of distance; when a leap,
A stir, a motion, even a breath, would bring
My breast upon its rocky bosom’s bed
To rest forever–wherefore do I pause?
I feel the impulse–yet I do not plunge;
I see the peril–yet do not recede;
And my brain reels–and yet my foot is firm:
There is a power upon me which withholds,
And makes it my fatality to live.”

During our long stay in the Yosemite, I discovered that almost every
prominent object and locality in and about it, had some distinctive
appellation. Every peak and cliff, every cañon or ravine, meadow,
stream and waterfall, had a designation by which it could be
distinguished by the Yosemites. I made considerable effort to acquire
these names in their native purity. Although I did not at that time
learn all of them, I did in subsequent visits to the valley and to
the camps of the remnants of the tribes, acquire, as I then believed,
a very nearly correct pronunciation of most of them. I used all the
advantages afforded by my position as one of the Spanish interpreters,
and applied myself perseveringly to the task of preserving these names;
for even at that early day I realized that public interest would, in
time, be attached to that wonderful locality. I was ridiculed for
the idea, or at least for the supposition that it probably would be
awakened during my life-time.

I obtained many of the names of objects and locations from old
Ten-ie-ya himself, whenever I could find him in a communicative mood.
As he was reputed to be quite a linguist, speaking, besides his
native Ah-wah-ne-chee, the Pai-ute, and other dialects, I regarded
his authority as superior to that of either the Po-ho-no or Noot-chü
Indians, who differed from him in the pronunciation of some of the

I was unable to converse with Ten-ie-ya except through an interpreter,
but the words I noted down from the old chief’s lips as they sounded
to my ear at the time, getting the signification as best I could, or
not at all. There is really no more sentiment or refined imagery of
expression among Indians than will be found among ignorant people of
any kind. But living as they do in close affinity with nature, natural
objects first attract their attention, and the dominant characteristics
of any object impress themselves upon their language. Hence many of
their words are supposed to be representative of natural sounds. Our
Po-ho-no-chee and Noot-chü scouts were familiar with the dialect in
common use by the Yosemites, and they also aided me, while at times
they confused, in acquiring the proper names. The territory claimed by
the Po-ho-no-chees, joined that of the Yosemites on the south. During
the Summer months, they occupied the region of the Po-ho-no Meadows,
and the vicinity of the Pohono Lake. Their territory, however, extended
to the right bank of the South Fork of the Merced. It was there we
found a little band on our first expedition. Some of this band were
quite intelligent, having with the Noot-chüs, worked for Major Savage.
It was from them that the Major first learned that the Yosemites were a
composite band, collected from the disaffected of other bands in that
part of California, and what is now Nevada; and as the Major said, the
dialect in common use among them was nearly as much of a mixture as the
components of the band itself, for he recognized Pai-ute, Kah-we-ah and
Oregon Indian words among them.

Major Savage was intimately familiar with the dialects of his
Indian miners and customers, and was probably at that time the best
interpreter in California of the different mountain dialects.

I consulted him freely as to the pronunciation of the names, and
learned his interpretation of the meaning of them. These names, or most
of them, were first given for publication by myself, as received from
the Yosemites and Po-ho-no-chees; together with English names which had
been given to some of the same points by the battalion. I purposely
avoided all attempts at description, giving instead, a few estimates of
heights. The data then furnished by myself was published in editorials,
and has been mostly preserved, though in an imperfect state, from some
fault in my writing or that of the proof-reader. Reference to old files
of the “California Chronicle,” “Sacramento Union,” “California Farmer”
and the Mariposa papers, will show a somewhat different orthography
from that now in use.[15]

While in the valley I made memoranda of names and important events,
which I have preserved, and which, with interpretations kindly
furnished me by Mr. B. B. Travis, an excellent _modern_ interpreter,
I am now using to verify my recollections and those of my comrades.
While acquiring these names, I employed every opportunity to make
them familiar, but this proved to be a thankless task, or at least
it was an impossible one. The great length of some of the names, and
the varied pronunciations, made the attempt an impracticable one. I
then gave attention to the substitution of suitable English names
in place of the Indian words, and to supersede the fantastic and
absurd ones already suggested and affixed by some of the command. It
is so customary for frontiersmen to give distinctive names of their
own coinage, that we had great difficulty in getting any of the
Indian names adopted; and considerable judgment had to be exercised
in selecting such English names as would “stick”–as would displace
such names as the “Giant’s Pillar,” “Sam Patch’s Falls,” “The Devil’s
Night-Cap,” etc., etc. Many English names were given because they
were thought to be better than the Indian names, which could not be
remembered or pronounced, and the meaning of which was not understood.
The English names agreed upon and adopted at that time have since
been retained, notwithstanding some adverse criticisms and efforts
to supersede them by some fancied Indian or mythological substitute.
Some of these names were the selection of my comrades–“Cloud’s Rest,”
for one; because upon our first visit the party exploring the “Little
Yosemite” turned back and hastened to camp upon seeing the clouds
rapidly settling down to rest upon that mountain, thereby indicating
the snow storm that soon followed.

The most of the names were however, selected by myself, and adopted by
our command. This deference was awarded to my selections because I was
actively interested in acquiring the Indian names and significations,
and because I was considered the most interested in the scenery.

I have related in a previous chapter the incident of selecting the
name “Yosemite” for the valley, not then knowing its Indian name.
As the “High Fall,” near which we were encamped, appeared to be the
principal one of the Sierras, and was the fall _par excellence_, I
gave that the name of “Yosemite Falls,” and in so naming it I but
followed out the idea of the Indians who called it “Choolook” or
“Scholook,” which signifies in this case “The Fall.” A comparison of
the Yosemite Falls with those known in other parts of the world, will
show that in elements of picturesque beauty, height, volume, color
and majestic surroundings, the Yosemite has no rival upon earth. The
Zambesi and Niagara are typical of volume, but the Yosemite is sixteen
times greater in height than Niagara, and about eight times that of
the Victoria Falls. The upper part of the Yosemite is more than twice
the height of the Svoringvoss, of Norway, and lacks but thirty feet of
being twice as high as the highest of the Southerland waterfalls, of
New Zealand. The three falls of the Southerland aggregate but 1,904
feet, 730 less than the Yosemite.

The Ribbon Fall of the El Capitan has a sheer descent of 2,100 feet,
but its beauty disappears with the melting snow. The other falls
were only designated by the names of the streams upon which they are
situated. The river Merced was spoken of as the river of Ah-wah-ne;
but the three principal branches were variously designated; the main,
or middle, up to the Vernal Fall, as “Yan-o-pah,” the “Water Cloud”
branch, and above the Vernal, as “Yo-wy-we-ack,” “the twisting rock

The north and south branches had their distinctive names; the north,
Py-we-ack, meaning the branch of the “Glistening Rocks,” and the
south, Too-lool-we-ack, or more definitely, Too-lool-lo-we-ack. The
modern interpretations of some of these names may be regarded as quite
fanciful, though Major Savage would declare that Indian languages were
so full of figures of speech that without imagination they could not be

The strictly literal interpretation of this name would be inadmissable,
but it is well enough to say, that to the unconscious innocence of
their primitive state, the word simply represented an effort of nature
in the difficult passage of the water down through the rocky gorge.
It is derived from Too-lool and We-ack, and means, ὁ ποταμὸς, ὃς
διὰ πέτρας οὐρεῖ. This name has been published as if by authority to
signify. “_The Beautiful_”–how beautiful, the learned in Greek may

This really beautiful fall was visited by few of our battalion, and
owing to the impracticability of following up the cañon above the
fall, and the great difficulty of access to it, it was left neglected;
the command contenting itself with a distant view. In view of the
discoveries of Mr. Muir that there were glaciers at its source, and
that the cliff now known as “Glacier Point” may be said to mark the
entrance to this “South Cañon,” a name often confounded with “South
Fork,” and especially because of the impropriety of translating this
Indian name, I think it advisable to call this the Glacier Fall, and,
therefore, give it that name in this volume. The name of “Illeuette” is
not Indian, and is, therefore, meaningless and absurd. In accordance
with the customs of these mountain people of naming their rivers
from the most characteristic features of their source, the North or
Ten-ie-ya branch of the Merced, which comes down the North Cañon from
the glistening glacial rocks at its source, was called Py-we-ack,
“the river of glistening rocks,” or more literally, perhaps, “the
river-smoothed rocks.” Whether from Pai, a river, or from Py-ca-bo, a
spring, I am in doubt. If the first syllable of the name Py-we-ack be
derived from Py-ca-bo, then, probably, the name signified to them “the
glistening rock spring branch,” as the ice-burnished rocks at the head
of Lake Ten-ie-ya stand at the source of the river.

I have never been satisfied with the poetical interpretation given the
name, nor with its transfer to “Yan-o-pah,” the branch of the “little
cloud,” as rendered by Mr. Travis. But as Py-we-ack has been displaced
from Lake Ten-ie-ya and its outlet, it is proper and in accordance with
the custom to call the branch Ten-ie-ya also. The name of Ten-ie-ya
was given to the lake at the time of its discovery. It was there we
captured the remnant of the Yosemite band, as will be explained in
the next chapter. The name of Ten-ie-ya Cañon, Ten-ie-ya Fork and
Lake Ten-ie-ya, has for this reason superseded the original name of
Py-we-ack; but in naming the lake, I preserved an Indian name that
represented the central figure in all of our operations.

Wai-ack was the name for “Mirror Lake,” as well as for the mountain it
so perfectly reflected. The lake itself was not particularly attractive
or remarkable, but in the early morning, before the breeze swept up
the cañon, the reflections were so perfect, especially of what is now
known as Mt. Watkins, that even our scouts called our attention to it
by pointing and exclaiming: “Look at Wai-ack,” interpreted to mean the
“Water Rock.” This circumstance suggested the name of “Mirror Lake.”
The name was opposed by some, upon the ground that all still water was
a mirror. My reply established the name. It was that other conditions,
such as light and shade, were required, as when looking into a well,
the wall of the Half Dome perfecting the conditions, and that when
shown another pool that was more deserving, we would transfer the name.
Captain Boling approved the name, and it was so called by the battalion.

The middle or main branch was designated by the Yosemites–from the
fork of the Glacial Branch up to the Vernal Fall–as Yan-o-pah, because
they were compelled to pass through the spray of the Vernal, to them
a “little cloud,” while passing up this cañon. The Indian name of the
Nevada Fall, “Yo-wy-we,” or Yo-wy-ye, and that of Too-lool-lo-we-ack,
afforded innumerable jests and amusing comments, and when the
suggestion of naming these falls was made, it was received with rude
hilarity. Names without number were presented as improvements on
the originals. These names were indeed more than my own gravity would
endure; Yo-wy-we being represented at first to signify the “wormy”
water, from the twist or _squirm_ given to the water in falling upon an
obstructing rock; and therefore, after consultation with a few of my
personal friends, I suggested Vernal, as an English name for Yan-o-pah,
and Nevada, for that of Yo-wy-we. The Nevada Fall was so called because
it was the nearest to the Sierra Nevada, and because the name was
sufficiently indicative of a wintry companion for our spring.


It would be a difficult task to trace out and account for all of our
impressions, or for the forms they take; but my recollection is that
the cool, moist air, and newly-springing Kentucky blue-grass at the
Vernal, with the sun shining through the spray as in an April shower,
suggested the _sensation_ of spring before the name of Vernal occurred
to me; while the white, foaming water, as it dashed down Yo-wy-we from
the snowy mountains, represented to my mind a vast avalanche of snow.
In concluding my advocacy of these names, I represented the fact that
while we were enjoying the vernal showers below, hoary-headed winter
was pouring his snowy avalanches above us. Then, quoting from Byron, I

The Vernal “… mounts in spray the skies, and thence again
Returns in an unceasing shower, which round
With its unemptied cloud of gentle rain,
Is an eternal April to the ground,
Making it all one emerald.”

These names were given during our long stay in the valley, at a time

“The fragrant strife of sunshine with the morn
Sweeten’d the air to ecstasy!”

It is agreeably complimentary for me to believe that our motives in
giving English names were comprehended, and our action in the matter
appreciated by others. Mr. Richardson, in “Beyond the Mississippi,”
shows an almost intuitive perception of our reasons for adopting
the English names given to the principal falls in the Yosemite. He
says: “These names are peculiarly fitting–Bridal Veil indeed looks
like a veil of lace; in summer when Bridal Veil and Yosemite dwarf,
Vernal still pours its ample torrent, and Nevada is always white
as a snow-drift. The Yosemite is height, the Vernal is volume, the
Bridal Veil is softness, but the Nevada is height, volume and softness
combined. South Fork cataract, most inaccessible of all, we did not
visit. In spring each fall has twenty times as much water as in summer.
On the whole Yosemite is incomparably the most wonderful feature on
our continent.” Speaking of the Vernal Fall, Mr. Richardson says: “I
saw what to Hebrew prophet had been a vision of heaven, or the visible
presence of the Almighty. It was the round rainbow–the complete
circle. There were two brilliant rainbows of usual form, the crescent,
the bow proper. But while I looked the two horns of the inner or lower
crescent suddenly lengthened, extending on each side to my feet, an
entire circle, perfect as a finger ring. In two or three seconds it
passed away, shrinking to the first dimensions. Ten minutes later it
formed again and again, and again as suddenly disappeared. Every sharp
gust of wind showering the spray over me, revealed for a moment the
round rainbow. Completely drenched, I stood for an hour and a half
and saw fully twenty times that dazzling circle of violet and gold
on a ground-work of wet, dark rocks, gay dripping flowers and vivid
grasses. I never looked upon any other scene in nature so beautiful and
impressive.” Mr. Richardson has with a great deal of enthusiasm given
a vivid description of what appeared to me as a glowing representation
of youthful spring; and to which the name of “vernal” was, I think,
consistently and appropriately applied.

Mr. Hutchings, in criticising the name Vernal, has mis-stated the
Indian name for this fall, furnished him by myself, and published in
his magazine and his “Scenes of Wonder;” and while neglecting to speak
in terms of the vivid green of the yielding sod that “squirts” water,
he eloquently describes the characteristics of a _vernal_ shower; or
the Yosemites “little water cloud,” Can-o-pah; or, if it pleases him
better, Yan-o-pah. The name given by the Yosemites to the Ten-ie-ya
branch of the Merced was unmistakably Py-we-ack. This name has been
transferred from its original locality by some _romantic_ preserver of
Indian names. While passing over to Yan-o-pah, it was provided with an
entirely new signification. It is indeed a laughable idea for me to
even suppose that a worm and acorn-eating Indian would ever attempt
to construct a name to mean “_a shower of sparkling crystals_;” his
diet must have been improved by _modern_ intelligent culture. The
signification is certainly poetical, and is but _one step_ removed
from the sublime. One objection only can be raised against it; it is
a little too romantic; something after the style of the tradition
furnished Mr. Bancroft.[16]

Names were given to the numerous little streams that poured into the
valley during the melting of the snow, and formed many beautiful
water-falls and cascades, but I shall not attempt to describe them, as
it would serve no useful purpose to give the common-place, and in some
instances, very _primitive_ names of these ephemeral streams. In any
other mountains, in any other country, great interest would attach to
them; but in the Yosemite, they are but mere suggestions to the grander
objects that overshadow them.

Another witness to the propriety of the English names is Professor J.
D. Whitney, State Geologist. In his admirable “Yosemite Guide Book” he
says: “The names given by the early white visitors to the region, have
entirely replaced the native ones; and they are, in general, quite
sufficiently euphonious and proper, some of them, perhaps slightly
inclined to sentimentality; for if we recognize the appropriateness of
the ‘Bridal Veil’ as a designation for the fall called Po-ho-no by the
Indians, we fail to perceive why the ‘Virgin’s Tears’ should be flowing
on the opposite side of the valley.”

This criticism is undoubtedly just. It seems as if some one had made
an enormous stride across from the poetically sublime to ridiculous
sentimentality. It is fortunate that the fall dries up early in the

The name of “Bridal-Veil” was suggested as an appropriate English name
for the Fall of the Pohono by Warren Bær, Esq., at the time editor of
the “Mariposa Democrat,” while we were visiting the valley together.
The appropriateness of the name was at once acknowledged, and adopted
as commemorative of his visit. Mr. Bær was a man of fine culture, a son
of the celebrated Doctor Bær of Baltimore.

The Pohono takes its rise in a small lake known as Lake Pohono, twelve
or fifteen miles in a southernly direction from the Fall. The stream is
fed by several small branches that run low early in the season.

The whole basin drained, as well as the meadows adjacent, was known to
us of the battalion, as the Pohono branch and meadows.

The band who inhabited this region as a summer resort, called
themselves Po-ho-no-chee, or Po-ho-na-chee, meaning the dwellers in
Po-ho-no, as Ah-wah-ne-chee was understood to indicate the occupants of
Ah-wah-nee. This delightful summer retreat was famous for the growth
of berries and grasses, and was a favorite resort for game. The black
seeds of a coarse grass found there, were used as food. When pulverized
in stone mortars, the meal was made into mush and porridge. I found it
impossible to obtain the literal signification of the word, but learned
beyond a doubt that Po-ho-no-chee was in some way connected with the
stream. I have recently learned that Po-ho-no means a daily puffing
wind, and when applied to fall, stream, or meadow, means simply the
fall, stream, or meadow of the puffing wind, and when applied to the
tribe of Po-ho-no-chees, who occupied the meadows in summer, indicated
that they dwelled on the meadows of that stream.

Mr. Cunningham says: “Po-ho-no, in the Indian language, means a belt
or current of wind coming in puffs and moving in one direction.” There
is such a current, in its season, on the Old Millerton Road, where
the dust is swept off clean. The Chow-chilla Indians call that the
Po-ho-no. The Po-ho-no of the Yosemite makes its appearance where the
two cascade creeks enter the canon, and this air current is daily swept
up the canon to the Bridal Veil Fall, and up its stream, in puffs of
great power. The water is thrown back and up in rocket-like jets, far
above the fall, making it uniquely remarkable among the wonders of the

Mr. Hutching’s interpretation is entirely fanciful, as are most of his
Indian translations.”

The name for the little fall to which the name of “Virgin’s Tears” has
been applied, was known to us as “Pigeon Creek Fall.” The Indian name
is “Lung-yo-to-co-ya”; its literal meaning is “Pigeon Basket,” probably
signifying to them “Pigeon Nests,” or _Roost_. In explanation of the
name for the creek, I was told that west of El Capitan, in the valley
of the stream, and upon the southern slopes, pigeons were at times
quite numerous. Near the southwest base of the cliff we found a large
_caché_. The supplies were put up on rocks, on trees and on posts.
These granaries were constructed of twigs, bark and grass, with the
tops covered in and rounded like a large basket.

If this _caché_ had any connection with the name of “Pigeon Baskets,”
Lung-yo-to-co-ya would probably designate “The Pigeon Creek _Caché_.”

After a reverential salutation, “El Capitan” must now receive my

It has been stated in print that the signification of
Tote-ack-ah-noo-la was “Crane Mountain,” and that the name was
given because of the habit sand-hill cranes had of entering the
valley over this cliff. I never knew of this habit. Many erroneous
statements relating to the Yosemite have appeared–some in Appleton’s
Encyclopædia, and one very amusing one in Bancroft’s Traditions–but
none appear to me more improbable.

During our long stay at our second visit, this cliff was invariably
called by our scouts Tote-ack-ah-noo-la, and with some slight
difference in the terminal syllable, was so called by Ten-ie-ya. This
word was invariably translated to mean the “Rock Chief,” or “The

Upon one occasion I asked, “Why do you call the cliff
Tote-ack-ah-noo-la?” The Indian’s reply was, “Because he looks like
one.” I then asked, “What was meant by _he_?” at the same time saying
that the cliff was not a man, to be called “he.” His reply was, “Come
with me and see.” Taking Sandino with me, I went, and as the Indian
reached a point a little above and some distance out from the cliff,
he triumphantly pointed to the perfect image of a man’s head and face,
with side whiskers, and with an expression of the sturdy English type,
and asked, “Does he not look like Tote-ack-ah-noo-la?” The “Rock
Chief,” or “Captain,” was again Sandino’s interpretation of the word
while viewing the likeness.

This was the first intimation that any of us had of the reason why the
name was applied, and it was _shown_ in response to the question asked,
why the rock had been personified.

To-tor-kon, is the name for a sand-hill crane, and ni-yul-u-ka, is
the Pai-ute for head; but “crane-head” can scarcely be manufactured
out of Tote-ack-ah-noo-la. It appears to me most probable that
Tote-ack-ah-noo-la is derived from “ack,” a rock, and To-whon-e-o,
meaning chief. I am not etymologist enough to understand just how
the word has been constructed, but am satisfied that the primates of
the compound are rock and chief. If, however, I am found in error, I
shall be most willing to acknowledge it, for few things appear more
uncertain, or more difficult to obtain, than a complete understanding
of the _soul_ of an Indian language; principally because of the
ignorance and suspicion with which a persistent and thorough research
is met by the sensitively vain and jealous savages.

In leaving this subject, I would say that before it be too late, a
careful and full collection of vocabularies of _all_ the tongues should
be made. I am aware of what has already been done by the labors of
Schoolcraft, and the officers of the army in more modern times; but
there is yet left a large field for persistent labor, that should be
worked by the Smithsonian Institute or ethnological societies.

In adopting the Spanish interpretation, “El Capitan,” for
Tote-ack-ah-noo-la, we pleased our mission interpreters and conferred
upon the majestic cliff a name corresponding to its dignity. When this
name was approved it set aside forever those more numerous than belong
to royal families. It is said by Mr. Hutchings that a profile likeness
is readily traced on the angle of the cliff. The one pointed out to
me was above the pine tree alcove on the southern face of the cliff,
half way up its wall. It appeared to have been formed by the peculiar
conformation of the rock and oxidation. The chemical stain of iron, or
other mineral substance, had produced this representation, which was
looked upon with superstitious awe.

“The Fallen Rocks,” “The Frog Mountains,” or “Three Brothers,” the
“Yosemite Falls,” “The Lost Arrow,” “Indian Cañon” and “The Arrow-wood
Rocks” have already been noticed in these pages. It remains for me
to briefly notice a few more objects and close this chapter. The
names “North Dome,” “South Dome” and “Half Dome” were given by us
during our long stay in the valley from their localities and peculiar
configuration. Some changes have been made since they were adopted.
The peak called by us the “South Dome” has since been given the name
of “Sentinel Dome,” and the “Half Dome,” Tis-sa-ack, represented as
meaning the “Cleft Rock,” is now called by many the “South Dome.”[17]
The name for the “North Dome” is To-ko-ya, its literal signification
“The Basket.” The name given to the rocks now known as “The Royal
Arches” is Scho-ko-ya when alluding to the fall, and means the “Basket
Fall,” as coming from To-ko-ya, and when referring to the rock itself
it was called Scho-ko-ni, meaning the movable shade to a cradle, which,
when in position, formed an arched shade over the infant’s head. The
name of “The Royal Arch” was given to it by a comrade who was a member
of the Masonic Fraternity, and it has since been called “The Royal
Arches.” The “Half Dome” was figuratively spoken of as “The Sentinel”
by our mission Indians, because of its overlooking the valley. The
present “Sentinel” they called “Loya,” a corruption of Olla (Oya),
Spanish for an earthen water-pot. The mountain tribes use, instead, a
long-pointed basket, shaped somewhat like that rock, which the basket
is supposed to resemble.

[Illustration: SENTINEL ROCK.

(3,043 feet in height.)]

The name of “Glacier Point” is said to be Pa-til-le-ma, a translation
of which I am unable to give. Ho-yas, and not Lo-ya, as has been
stated by some, referred to certain holes in detached rocks west of
the Sentinel, which afforded “milling privileges” for a number of
squaws, and hence, the locality was a favorite camp ground. “The
Sentinel” or “Loya,” simply marked the near locality of the Ho-yas or
mortars, or “_The_ camp ground;” as it does now _The Hotels_. It was
a common practice for visitors to confer new names on the objects of
their enthusiastic admiration, and these were frequently given to the
public through letters to newspapers, while others may be found in the
more enduring monuments of literature. It is a matter of no surprise
that so few of them ever _stuck_. But little change has really been
made in the English names for the more important objects within the
valley and in its immediate vicinity. The Cathedral Rocks and spires,
known as Poo-see-na-chuc-ka, meaning “Mouse-proof Rocks,” from a
fancied resemblance in shape to their acorn magazines or _cachés_, or
a suitability for such use, have been somewhat individualized by their
English names.

Of Ko-sü-kong, the name of the “Three Graces,” I never learned the
meaning. Ta-pun-ie-me-te is derived from Ta-pun-ie, meaning the toes,
because of walking on tip-toes across, and referred to the “stepping
stones” that were at the lower ford. Mr. Travis’ “succession of rocks”
simply indicated the _turning-off_ place. There are other names that it
appears unimportant for me to notice. They have been sufficiently well
preserved in Professor Whitney’s valuable Guide Book.

Some romantic believers in the natural tendencies of the Indians to
be poetical in their expressions, twist the most vulgar common-place
expressions and names into significations poetically refined, and of
devotional sincerity.

Others have taken the same license in their desire to cater to the
taste of those credulous admirers of the NOBLE RED MAN, the ideal
of romance, the reality of whom is graded low down in the scale
of humanity. Mr. Hutchings, who, were it not for his exuberant
imagination, might have learned better, gives the signification of
“Lung-oo-to-koo-ya” as “Long and Slender,” and applies it to what he
calls the Ribbon Fall. His name is better than his interpretation.
Mr. H. also says that the signification of To-toc-ah-nü-la is “a
Semi-Deity;” that of “Tissa-ack” “Goddess of the Valley,” and that
Po-ho-no means “The Spirit of the Evil Wind.”

These interpretations, like the “sparkling shower of crystals” are
more artistically imaginative than correct. The Pai-ute for wind, is
Ni-gat, and the Kah-we-ah, is Yah-i, one or the other of which tongues
were used by the Yosemites; though the Pai-ute, or a dialect of it, was
given the preference.

The savages _have_ a crude, undefinable idea of a Deity or Great
Spirit, a Spirit of Good, who never does them harm, and whose home is
in the happy land they hope to reach after death. This happy hereafter,
is supposed by most on the western slope of the Sierras to be located
in the West, while those on the eastern slope or within the Colorado
Basin, in Arizona and in Mexico, locate it in the East. They all have a
superstitious fear of evil spirits, which they believe have the power
to do them great harm, and defeat their undertakings.

They do not as a rule look to the Great Spirit for immediate protection
from evil, but instead, rely upon amulets, incense and charms, or
“_medicine_” bags. Through these and certain ceremonies of their
priests or “mediums,” they endeavor to protect themselves and their
families from the evil influence of spirits in and out of the flesh.

They believe that the spirits of the dead who have not, through proper
ceremonies, been released from the body and allowed at once to go to
the happy land, were evil spirits that were doomed to haunt certain
localities. They looked with superstitious awe upon objects and
localities, which to them were of mysterious character. Even familiar
objects were sometimes looked upon as having been taken possession of
by spirits. These spirits it was supposed could do injury to those
who might venture near them without the protection afforded by their
charms, or certain offerings to their priests for indulgences from the
spiritual inhabitants. Streams were often said to be controlled by
spirits, and for this reason, offerings of tobacco and other substances
were at times thrown in as a propitiation for past offenses, or as an
offering for something in expectancy. They believe that the elements
are all under control, or may be used by the more powerful spirits,
and, owing probably to its infrequency in California, lightning seemed
to be an especial object of awe and wonder to them.

Waterfalls seemed not to engage their attention for their beauty, but
because of the power they manifested; and in none of their objections
made to the abandonment of their home, was there anything said to
indicate any appreciation of the scenery. Their misfortunes, accidents
and failures were generally believed to have resulted from evil
spiritual interference, and to insure success in any undertaking, these
dark or evil spirits must first be conciliated through their “medicine
men,” from whom they obtain absolution.

All spirits that had not been released and taken their flight to their
happy Western spirit-land were considered as evil; and only the Great
Spirit was believed to be very good. The Indians of the Yosemite
Valley did not look upon Tote-ack-ah-nü-lah as a veritable Deity or
“semi-Deity.” They looked upon this cliff, and the representation
of the likeness of a human face, with the same mysterious awe and
superstitious feeling that they entertained for some other objects;
though perhaps their reverence was in a somewhat higher degree
stimulated by this imposing human appearance; and their ability,
therefore, the better to personify it. They regarded this vast mountain
as an emblem of some mysterious power, beyond their comprehension.
From my knowledge of their _religious belief_, I have come to the
conclusion that their ideas in this direction are wholly spiritual,
without material representation, except as stated, through symbolic
ideas, growing out of their superstitious ignorance, like some ignorant
Christians. They have in imagination peopled the rocks and mountains,
woods and valleys, streams and waterfalls with innumerable spiritual
occupants, possessed of supernatural or spiritual powers, none of which
are believed by them to equal the power of the Great Spirit whose home
is in the West, and who prohibits the return of the evil ones, until a
probationary existence here upon this earth shall have given them such
knowledge of and disgust with evil as will fit them for the enjoyment
of good.

The special inconsistency of this belief seems to be, that if one
of these demons can lure any one to destruction, the victim will be
compelled to take the place and occupation of the evil spirit, who
is at once liberated and takes its flight to join its family or such
members of it, as are already with the blessed. This idea seemed to be
based upon the natural selfishness of human nature, that would gladly
fix its responsibilities and sufferings upon another. A writer in
his descriptions of the Yosemite says: “The savage lowers his voice
to a whisper, and crouches tremblingly past Po-ho-no, while the very
utterance of the name is so dreaded by him, that the discoverers of the
valley obtained it with difficulty.” These statements were prefaced
by the assertion that “Po-ho-no is an evil spirit of the Indians’
mythology.” On our second visit to the valley, it will be remembered,
we found huts built by the Yosemites not far from the Po-ho-no Fall.

I never found any difficulty in learning the name of this fall, or
observed any more fear of spirits exhibited at this fall than at the
Yosemite fall; but in later years, for causes that will appear in the
course of this narrative, the little meadow and detached rocks west of
Po-ho-no, and near to the foot of the Mariposa trail; became haunted
ground to the remnant of the band, for disaster and death followed the
commission of crime at that locality.

Savages are seldom able to trace to themselves the cause of misfortune,
and hence evil spirits must bear the burden of their complaint. For
this service they are well paid through their representatives, the
“medicine men.” I have often been amused, and agreeably entertained
while listening to their traditionary literature.

Among the Chippewa and Dahcota tribes, my likeness to a brother,
who was a trader, was recognized, and many times I was honored by a
prominent place being given me in their lodges and at their dances.
Some of their mysteries I was not permitted to witness, but the
consecration of the ground for the dance, which is performed with great
ceremony, I have several times seen, and had its signification fully
explained to me. The ceremony differs but little among the different
tribes, and consists of invocations, burning incense, scattering
down, feathers and evergreens upon the pathway or floor of the dance,
lighting of the sacred fires with their ancient fire-sticks, which are
still preserved among the priests, and repeating certain cabalistic
words, the meaning of which they do not even pretend to understand,
but which are supposed to have a most potent influence. They also
have their pantomimes and romances, which they repeat to each other
like children. This legendary literature is largely imaginative, but
I found the California Indians less poetical in thought and feeling
than eastern tribes, and less musical, though perhaps as primitively
figurative in expression.

Though seemingly unimpressed by their sublime surroundings, their
figures and comparisons, when not objectionable, were beautiful,
because natural. The Pai-ute and Mono Colony originally established
by Ten-ie-ya, was the result of a desire to improve their physical
condition. They were attached to this valley as a home. The
instinctive attraction that an Indian has for his place of nativity
is incomprehensible; it is more than a religious sentiment; it is a
passion. Here, sheltered in a measure from the storms of winter, and
the burning heat of summer, they met as in an earthly paradise, to
exchange the products of either side of the Sierras, to engage in a
grand hunt and festival offer up religious sacrifices, and awaken the
echoes of the valley with their vociferous orations. Should their skill
fail them in the chase, and the mountain or brook refuse their luscious
offerings, they had a never-failing resource in the skill with which
they could dispossess the native Californian, or the newly arrived
immigrant of his much prized herds, and _translate_ them to their
mountain home. Nor was there need of herd-men to guard their fleecy
flocks or roving herds, for the prancing horse or gentle kine, having
once been slid over the slippery gateway, avoided the obstruction ever
after; and remained contented in their fields of blue grass and clover.

[Illustration: THE INDIAN BELLE.]

But, when the influence of the “golden era” finally reached this once
blissfully ignorant people, and wants were created that their belles
and beaux had never known before, their imaginations excited by the
superfluities of civilization, their natural cunning came at once to
their aid, and lo! the “honest miner” or timid Chinaman contributed
from their scanty stores and wardrobes, or the poorly sheltered goods
of the mountain trader opened their canvas walls to the keen arguments
of their flinty knives, and wants real or fancied were at once supplied.

What then was there lacking, to make the Yosemites a happy people,
removed as they were from the bad influences of whiskey and the white
man’s injustice? Only this: “the whites would not let them alone.” So
Ten-ie-ya had said, as if aggrieved. Like all his race, and perhaps
like all ignorant, passionate and willful persons, he appeared
unconscious of his own wrong-doing, and of the inevitable fate that he
was bringing upon himself and his people.

In his talk with Major Savage, he had spoken of the verdure clothing
the valley, as sufficient for his wants, but at the time, knowing that
acorns formed the staple of their food, and that clover, grass, sorrel
and the inner bark of trees were used to guard against biliousness
and eruptive diseases, little heed was given to his declaration. Now,
however, that we saw the valley clothed with exquisite and useful
verdure, for June was now at hand, Ten-ie-ya’s remarks had a greater
significance, and we could understand how large flocks and herds had
been stolen, and fattened to supply their wants. The late claimants to
this lovely locality, “this great moral show,” have been relieved of
their charge by act of Congress, and fifty thousand dollars given them
for their claims. It will probably now remain forever free to visitors.
The builders of the toll roads and trails should also receive fair
compensation for their pioneer labors in building them, that they may
also be free to all. When this is done, this National Park will be
esteemed entirely worthy of this great republic and of the great golden
State that has accepted its guardianship.[18]

Perhaps no one can better than myself realize the value of the labors
performed by the early pioneers, that has made it possible for tourists
to visit in comfort some of the most prominent objects of interest; but
“_a National Park_” should be entirely free. In suggesting a new name
for the fall of Too-lool-lo-we-ack, or the absurd “Illiluette,” I wish
to honor Mr. Muir for his intelligent explorations and discoveries, and
at the same time feel that the word glacier is the most appropriate. Of
this, however, the residents of the valley will judge.

The names of the different objects and localities of especial interest
have now become well established by use. It is not a matter of so
much surprise that there is such a difference in the orthography of
the names. I only wonder that they have been retained in a condition
to be recognized. It is not altogether the fault of the interpreters
that discrepancies exist in interpretation or pronunciation, although
both are often undesignedly warped to conform to the ideality of the
interpreter. Many of the names have been modernized and adorned with
_transparencies_ in order to illuminate the subject of which the
parties were writing. Those who once inhabited this region, and gave
distinctive appellations, have all disappeared. The names given by
them can be but indifferently preserved or counterfeited by their camp
followers, the “California Diggers;” but June is now with us, and we
must hasten on to our work of following up the trail.

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