A. Nu-oo-ah: The People
The Indians which occupied the Tehachapi Valley were part of a group of people whose home-land extended from Tehachapi, east and south of the Kern River and as far east as the Panamint Range. The name Kawaiisu, was used by neighboring Yokuts Indians for this people group, and has been used for a century by anthropologists. However, they did not call themselves this. After conversations with elderly Indians, Barras, (1984, p. 2) discovered the word Nu-oo-ah which when translated means "The People". In this paper I use Kawaiisu, following nearly all the source material used in my research.
B. Kawaiisu Cosomology (Schiffman and
Garfinkel, 1981, p. 2-16 ff)
The Kawaiisu have a rich mythology which tells of animal-people, supernatural beings, who see actions accounted for all the key elements in the Kawaiisu world -the origin of fire, of sexual intercourse, of hunting, and for the presence of certain features of plants, animals, and the landscape. Prominently figured in the narratives is coyote, a cunning, foolish and lecherous fellow. Also important is the inipi (soul or ghost). The Kawaiisu world contains an...Death involved an elaborate ritual which first entailed the wrapping of a body in a tule mat, placing it in a rock cleft, and covering it over with a split burden basket and rocks. This took place usually the day after an individual's death. Commemoratory ceremonials for a number of persons were held at irregular intervals and several tribal groups might be represented. A circular enclosure was constructed where the images of the dead would be burned. The images, consisting of brush and bark figures dressed in the clothing of the deceased, were thrown into the fire as were beads, pinyon nuts and other offerings. This was an occasion for dancing and celebration for all but the mourners concluded the ceremony.Invisible domain filled with identifiable beings and anonymous non-beings, with people who are half spirits, with mythical giant creatures and great sky images, with 'men' and animals' who are localized in association with natural formations, with dreams, visions, omens and signs (Zigmond, 1977).Rituals were conducted accompanying key life events. The drinking of toloache (an infusion made from Datura) was initiated following the onset of puberty for both men and women. During the celebration, relatives and friends would gather, sing, dance and make offerings, scattering seeds, beads and berries about the area.
1. Tehachapi Area Creation Mythology
Quoting from Barras (1984, p. 4):
In the beginning of time, the animal/people held celebrations in an isolated rock shelter near Sand Canyon in the eastern Tehachapi Valley.
Scrambling over rockfalls and through stunted juniper groves... brings curious explorers to the rock shelter where the world began. The mortar hole remains; colorful red, white, black paints of ethereal human beings, fanciful creatures defying description, animal designs, hand prints, lines and dots, adorn the walls and ceiling.In this Yokuts account of the origin of the world Tehachapi plays a pivotal role (Powers,1877, p. 383-384).
Once there was a time when there was nothing in the world but water. About the place where Tulare lake is now, there was a pole standing far up out of the water, and on this pole perched a hawk and a crow. First one of them would sit on the pole awhile, then the other would knock him off and sit on it himself. Thus they sat on top of the pole above the waters for many ages. At length they wearied of the lonesomeness, and they created the birds which prey of fish such as the kingfisher, eagle, pelican, and others. Among them was a very small duck, which dived down to the bottom of the water, picked it beak full of mud, came up died, and lay floating on the water. The hawk and the crow then fell to work and gathered from the duck's beak the earth which it had brought up, and commenced making the mountains. They began at the place now known as Ta-hi-cha-pa Pass, and the hawk made the east range [the Sierra Nevada] while the crow made the west one [the Coast Ranges]. Little by little, as they dropped in the earth, these great mountains grew athwart the face of the waters, pushing north. It was a work of many year, but finally they met together at Mount Shasta, and their labors were ended. But, behold, when they compared their mountains, it was found that the crow's was a great deal the larger. Then the hawk said to the crow, "How did this happen, you rascal? I warrant you have been stealing some of the earth from my bill, and that is why your mountains are the biggest." It was a fact, and the crow laughed in his claws. Then the hawk went and got some Indian tobacco and chewed it, and it made him exceedingly wise. So he took hold of the mountains and turned them round in a circle, putting his range in place of the cow's and that is why the Sierra Nevada is larger than the Coast Range.The source of the account "The Legend of Kern" in Lyback (1925, p. 345) is not given. This is a children's book, however, this is an interesting story worth repeating.
When the world was new a tribe of red men dwelt in Kern Valley. At one time they provoked their god. Then he tore the earth open, and they were swallowed up. After that he filled the valley with water, and many giant fish came there. After a while the god began to feel sorry that he had destroyed the beautiful land, and he thought he had been punishing the people long enough. Then he threw up great masses of earth making long banks. At first it was so hot that it smoked, but it became cooler and cooler. The highest places became so cold that the snow did not melt in summer. Trees and plants began to grow on the slopes. When these heights were all finished the god broke down those on the other side of the water. Then the water flowed out through the Golden Gate into the sea. When everything was ready. The god opened the earth and let the people out. They began to sow and plant as they had done before. Soon the valley was beautiful once more. After that they went on the war path, and conquered many other tribes. Then the chief became very vain. That made the god angry once more, and he drove them out of the valley. When they came to Tehachapi they met a tribe of savages. They fought them, but the savages won the battle and killed them all. Then the god became angry at the savages, because they were so cruel. He sent a whirlwind over their country. It swept away every living thing, and their country became a desert. It is a desert to this day, and we call it Mohave.2. Rock Baby
In the rock shelter in Tomo-kahni State Park is a pictograph known as Rock Baby.
According to Kinkade (1997, p. 32-33) who is restating Barras (1984, p. 4):
ROCK BABY (He was called THE SPIRIT OF DOOM) It is believed that he is the Spirit of the Rocks and he painted a picture of himself on the Rock Shelter. The image continues to change each day, as Rock Baby has not yet finished his work, and if you touch Rock Baby's paintings, you will go blind. If you see him in person, or his shadow you will die a tragic death..Barras (1984, p.4) states that if Rock Baby is heard crying in the rocks, it is a portent of future evil. She then quotes a native American informant who stated: "Grandma heard Rock Baby cry in the creek. After that Grandma's stepfather and little brother died. It was a bad sign to hear the cry. They died within three days."
3. Rock Art
Barras (1984, p.5) reports: "...the Paiutes say black, red, yellow, and white represents the colors of the four elements of life, the four courses, the four divides; that they are also the colors of the four Great Ones, the Four Old Men, the sacred Four Great Primary Forces, the four servants of the universe dwelling in four directions... These colors appear not only in the paintings of The People, but in their basketry."
Rock art is found not only at Tomo-Kahni State Park, but also in Horse Canyon in the Sand Canyon area, in Tyler Horse Canyon on the southern slope of the Tehachapi Mountains, between Jawbone and Pine Tree Canyons, west of Golden Hills and near Cummings Valley.
>In Tyler Horse Canyon the pictographs depicts the sun, moon, lines, circles, and wheels, in red black and white.
>The rock art near Pine Tree Canyon resembles a Spanish helmet and medallion.
>In Cummings Valley a boulder clearly portrays a deer's antlers and a bear's track.
>In Tomo-Kahni State Park there is also a Petroglyph (an image etched into the rock) of a big horned sheep being hunted by men with spears.
>Barras (1984, p. 5) also indicates that there are three sites in the Tehachapis where a sticklike figure with an elongated head is found next to an Indian trail
According to Whitley (1996), rock art wasn't just some sort of graffiti or like modern-day gangs tagging their territory. Rock art was spiritually significant. Shamans made rock art at the end of their vision quests. Quoting Whitley (1996, p. 4-7):
The vision quest was the ritual which the shaman conducted to obtain and, sometimes, to manipulate supernatural power.
...After years of training, fasting and meditation a person would ultimately become a shaman by going on his first vision quest, perhaps accompanied by another shaman or perhaps alone. In either case he would leave his band and travel to a known vision quest spot - a rock art site, which was believed to be inhabited by supernatural spirits. This might be at a distant location or it might be relatively close to his own village but, in either case, the quest would occur at a time when the other members of his band were not around.The prospective shaman would pray upon arrival at the vision quest spot and then seat himself in front of a chosen rock, perhaps one already displaying rock art or perhaps not. He would sit at this location without food, water or blankets for a number of days praying and meditating - usually until he had a vision. He might also smoke tobacco which, in its native form, is a strong hallucinogen and aided the onset of the vision.
The shaman's vision or hallucination was believed to represent an entry into the supernatural world. The hallucinatory images he perceived were believed to represent the events and spirits that he saw and participated in while in this sacred realm. Cultural conditioning and personal expectations greatly influenced the nature of the vision. For example, a person who had strong hopes of becoming a rain shaman - someone who could call the rain during times of drought - had a good chance of perceiving the kind of spirit helper that would impart just this type of power. But because all humans have mental systems that are similar, aspects of all shaman' visions were also grossly equivalent.
Because the shaman's vision quest site - a rock art site- was believed to [be] the place where he could enter into the supernatural, rock art sites were believed portals into the sacred realm. The rock art designs were made at the conclusion of a shaman's vision quest, after he had stopped hallucinating, but before he returned to his village.
...Shamans left the illustrations of their visions on the rocks to preserve them for posterity. These images were believed to be sacred in and of themselves and to thereby contain supernatural power - they were both the shaman's signs of power, and that same supernatural power in a physical, embodied form.. That is, like the ritual talismans the shamans obtained in the supernatural and used in their ceremonies, the rock art designs too were "power objects" in their own right. For this reason and because these sites had been marked as sacred spots on the landscape, non shamans sometimes visited rock art sites to pray, to leave offerings and seek cures from illness, or for good luck.
4.Kawaiisu Accounts of the Supernatural
Barras sites numerous examples of the supernatural in her books. Kinkade (1997, p. 33) reproduces this account regarding local Indian Elder Andy Green:
Jerrie Cowan told another fascinating story when Andy's sister who had just died and he had not yet been notified. She had been suffering from diabetes and one of her feet had been amputated. But when Andy went out to his car, he was greeted by her standing erect with both feet intact. Andy opened the car door and she got in and they talked for a while and then she said she had to go, she had just come to say good-bye. A few hours later Andy found out that she had passed away.Other accounts include the following: During the early 1800s a Spanish raiding party apparently looking for slaves attacked a village just north of Loraine. One man was shot, but the bullets only penetrated his horsehair belt. He was not injured (Barras, 1984, p. 9 ). During the 1863 massacre at Kernville "...As they were taking the men down to be shot, one of the Kawaiisu, who was one of those rounded up sat down. The soldiers didn't see him and passed by him. It was unupi that made him invisible. He escaped.
One Yokuts was shot through his right eye. The bullet came out of the back of his head. He lay down on a rock in the shade. Three rattlesnakes came to see him.. He pinched off their heads and ate them; maybe that's how he got well. When he was a little boy, he had dreamt of rattlesnakes. He lost one eye; people saw him later (Barras, 1984, p. 77).
Powers (1981, p. 57-58) relates other supernatural occurrences during the 1863 massacre,
"...There was one man who was shot in the eye, but he had power and recovered. ...One man had an amulet, a bear claw with beads on it. He was running and he got out of breath and dropped the claw; then he was killed. The people found it afterward. If he hadn't lost his power he would have escaped all right. Another man had a rattlesnake for his (supernatural) pet. He was badly hurt; his insides were all cut up. When the people saw him after the massacre there was a rattlesnake lying on top of him and that snake made that man get all right. That man's name was Hi-ay-se-l; he was a Monilabal (Yokuts). He got all right again. My father saw him when he was helping bury those dead Indians; he saw the rattlesnake come and help him.Barras' (1984, p. 9,27-28 ) informants told her of numerous other supernatural works, the following is a sampling:
"If you dream of the crow, when you wake up, go outside and talk to the night. Then you can fly like the crow."
"A dog began to howl for no apparent reason and would do so on and off for some time. A neighbor said something was going to happen. In about a week the brother of the dog's owner died. The brother was sitting in a garage when a bird flew in and settled in his hand. He said he knew he would die and was prepared."
"Large flies kept coming into a woman's house, possibly through the door, though the woman never saw them. She killed many of them. They would be near the window and she would kill them and then return and they would be there again. In just a few days her nephew was killed in a car accident. The woman's husband said the flies were trying to tell them something, but they didn't know it."
"A man has a plant medicine he values very highly. It is medicine for the heart. He brews it and drinks the liquid which looks like whiskey. It feels hot inside, burns like needles. He doesn't know the plant, but used to get it from his mother when she was alive. When he had a physical examination for life insurance, the doctor said he had never listened to a better heartbeat. He should live to be a hundred, the doctor said."
"Two men were hunting in Sand Canyon. The younger returned home while his father stayed near the canyon to bring in some horses. The horses weren't shod. It was the dark of the night and as they were crossing over rock one of the horses was illuminated by a flash of light . The father said this was impossible because the horse wasn't shod. A week late a relative died after he was hit by a car."
"A man's cousin was riding in the desert. A coyote appeared, it was sick, and ran in front of him. At first he didn't think anything of it and then realized that something was wrong at home. A few days later his uncle died."
"Grandma heard a baby cry in the creek. Her mother heard it also. Then grandma's stepfather and little brother died. Her mother said it was a bad sign to hear the cry. They died within three days."
"A man's mother died. Then he dreamed about her; she was telling him that she missed him, she was lonely, and wanted him to come to her. He had this dream a few times. Then the man died."
"A man was found in his cabin beaten to death. The law enforcement authorities tried to get the Indians to tell what they knew, but they wouldn't. They wanted to handle it the Indian way. They were sure the man's son had killed his father. He drank a lot and would want the man's check to pay for his drinking. The people said he would be punished if guilty. One day the son was in a car with some other men crossing a bridge over the Colorado River. The car went off the bridge. Everyone got out except the son. He drowned."
B. Relationship with the White Race
1. Spanish and Mexican Contacts
In the early 1800s some Spanish men invaded their homes in Sand Canyon, located north of Loraine apparently looking for slave labor. Some Indians hid in the rocks, others were herded east to the desert, never to be seen again. There were accounts of supernatural deliverance, but also of mothers killing babies to keep them from crying (Barras, 1984, p. 9). Later (before 1849), some Mexicans seeking to retaliate for horse stealing in Los Angeles came to the Sand Canyon area of Loraine and kidnaped a young woman.
In November 1808 Francisco Palomares launched an expedition from the Newhall area into the Antelope Valley, to recapture runaway neophytes from the Mission San Fernando. Another objective was to find and capture Quipagui, the notorious chief who had established a neophyte refugee "kingdom" in the Tehachapi Mountains. Palomares hunted for Quipagui in the Tehachapi mountains, but was unsuccessful (USAF, 1998, p. 5; Cook, 1960, p. 256-257).
2. The Government of California and the United States
On July 10, 1851, Indian Agent George Barbor signed a treaty with eleven "chiefs" of tribes situated between the Sierra Mountains and the Coast, the Kern River and Los Angeles. Although they ceded all land claims south of the Tehachapi Mountains, the Indians were granted sole right to a tract between the Tehachapi Mountains and the Kern River, comprising 763,000 acres. In similar treaties, the two other Indian agents also offered generous acreage. Nearly 7.5 million acres was offered in the treaties which were negotiated. The residents and legislature of California were incensed. What else could be expected from the State which created in 1850 the "Act of the Government and Protection of the Indians." This Act allowed any white settler to force any Indian found to be without means of support to work for him, and resulted in slave labor and kidnaping rings. Young women and girls brought high prices.
An editorial from the Marysville Appeal summarized the treatment the Indians were subject to by the whites in that area, "But it is from these mountain tribes that white settlers draw their supplies of kidnaping children, educated as servants, and women for purposes of labor and lust...there are parties in the northern portion of the state whose sole occupation has been to steal young children and squaws...and dispose of them at handsome prices to the settlers who...willingly pay $50 or $60 for a young Digger to cook or wait upon them, or $100 for a likely young girl."
California so pressured Washington, the treaties were rejected in a secret session of Congress on June 8, 1852. With the Indian Agents discredited and forced out, Edward F. Beale willingly stepped into this melee in 1853, and proposed a series of reservations to be garrisoned by a military post, on government owned land. The Indians were to support themselves by farming.
In 1853 Congress authorized creation of "military reservations" which were to be composed of not more than twenty-five thousand acres of land. When Lieutenant Beale arrived in the southern San Joaquin Valley in 1853 in search of a suitable location for an Indian reservation, Lieutenant Robert S. Williamson's railroad-survey party was in the Tehachapi Mountains. The surveyors suggested Tejon Canyon - it was remote and isolated, and appeared that it would remain so. Beale was aware that the proposed reservation was within a Mexican land grant, but he hoped if the land claims were upheld the land could be purchased by the federal government. The generous tract of land which was surveyed for the reservation was ordered reduced, but no new survey was undertaken. The name Sebastian Reservation honored William K. Sebastian, United States senator from Arkansas, who supported Beale's plans.
The reservation was operational September 1853, and according to Barras (1984, p. 65 ff), after this, many Indians moved voluntarily. Soon after founding the Tejon reserve, Beale wrote that his feelings for the Indians, "which at first were merely those of compassion, are rapidly changing into deep interest in their welfare, and in many instances to a personal attachment" (Crouter and Rolle, 1960, p. 125).
Boyd (1972, p. 21) describes the early
years at the Sebastian Reservation:
In 1854 Lieutenant Beale reported that twenty-five hundred Indians were living on the Sebastian Reservation, which was in sharp contrast to the three hundred who were natives of Tejon Canyon. A San Francisco newspaperman commented that the reservation program was "one of kind and mild treatment," with the Indians living in rancherias under "a patriarchal form of government by the chiefs." Farm implements were brought to the reservation, and a staff of white employees, with Samuel A. Bishop as the general overseer, was enlisted to supervise the farming activities and to teach the Indians the rudiments of agriculture. Several hundred aces of land were plowed and planted with wheat, barley, and corn. The water of Tejon Creek was used to irrigate gardens, vineyards, and orchards. Cattle and sheep were brought to the reservation, and there was wild game for the taking in the Tehachapi Mountains and the San Joaquin Valley. From the forest of upper Tejon Canyon the Indians hauled timber from which they sawed the lumber needed at the reservation.At the Sebastian Reservation, according to the report of a visitor, the Indians gathered a fine and abundant wheat harvest in 1854, and they worked at farming "with the upmost cheerfulness and alacrity." Lieutenant Beale reported that the Indians had accepted the idea that the government did not seek to destroy them, as had been maliciously stated by some white men, but rather that it was truly concerned with their welfare. Yet the settlers in the San Joaquin Valley objected to the agricultural competition from the Indians, and they claimed that too much land had been set aside for them.
The official report of the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Aught 29, 1854 stated: " He [Beale] is daily receiving application from tribes begging for admission into his colony. Nor is the reputation of the the Tejon reserve confined to the western slope of the Sierra Nevada; it has spread eastward as far as the Rio de la Virgen and the Vegas de Santa Clara inUtah Territory, and bands of miserable Root-Diggers are now soliciting for admission."
However, in early 1854, with the change in political parties in Washington, Beale's detractors launched a campaign against him charging him with embezzlement of government funds. He was removed from his office later in 1854. He ultimately was exonerated of the charges. Colonel Thomas J. Henley, former postmaster of San Francisco was Beale's replacement as Superintendent of Indian Affairs for California. Henly created additional reservations throughout California, and Colonel James R. Vineyard became resident agent at the Sebastian Reservation.
Rainfall in 1856 was sparse at Sebastian Reservation, yet there was sufficient harvest for the seven hundred inhabitants. A flour mill was built, as were adobe buildings for use as a granary, storehouse, dwelling for the resident agent, and houses for the chiefs. A physician was at the site for health care. The drought continued into 1857 resulting in nearly a complete failure of the crops. However, irrigation did save some of them. Grapevines and fruit trees planted a few years earlier began to yield a harvest, and the Indians were encouraged "to collect wild food... during the winter." New adobe buildings were constructed; a milk house, jail and wagon shed. During the year, new arrivals increased the population to over one thousand.
By 1858 nearly all of the inhabitants were living in houses. Several families were raising livestock, and the women had learned to make clothing. However, the self-sufficiency of the Reservation began to be questioned by Colonel Vineyard after another year of drought, again resulted in a reduced harvest. He suggested to his superiors that it might become necessary to relocate the reservation to a location more suitable for agriculture.
The Sebastian Reservation was not to remain isolated for long. Fort Tejon was constructed in 1854 in Uvas [Grapevine] Canyon fifteen miles to the southwest, and the newly constructed Los Angeles and Stockton road, which skirted the western and northern sides of the reservation was seeing increased traffic. A post office was established at the reservation in 1857, but it moved to Sinks of the Tejon, on the Los Angeles and Stockton road. Increasingly the Indians had access to "grog shops." The resulting drunkenness accounted for numerous difficulties.
In 1855 the Indian agent at Sebastian Reservation requested the assistance of the soldiers at the Fort Tejon in returning some Indians who had fled. The commander of the Fort refused, stating the Indians voluntarily resided on the reservation, their role was to protect the Indians and punish any that committed hostile acts (Boyd, 1972, p. 28).
The winter of 1861-1862 was very wet; there was devastating flooding throughout the state. But the rain broke the drought and during 1862 the Indians planted larger fields of wheat and barley. With better prospects for a productive harvest, additional Indians were encouraged to settle at the Sebastian Reservation, beyond the thirteen hundred that already lived there.
By 1863 the anger of the Indians directed toward the whites had reached the boiling point. The Owens Valley Indians had droves of cattle overrun their small farms, the Kawaiisu chief in Walker Basin (whose name was Old Jesus) had a hatred for the whites, feeling they had taken their land, forcing them into the hills, away from the productive land. In retaliation, the Tehachapi Indians had been stealing cattle in the Kern River Valley and had killed a miner. Finally they called for a war council with the Owens Valley Indians at Kernville (Powers, 1981, p. 54).
On April 12, 1863, twenty-six year old Captain Moses A. McLaughlin, rode from Camp Babbitt near Visalia, with an attachment of twenty-four men to Kernville, to teach the Indians a lesson. Early in the morning of April 19, they surrounded the Indian's camp, separated out 35 Indian men either shot or ran them through.
Officially McLauglin reported, "This extreme punishment, though I regret it, was necessary, and I feel certain that a few such examples will soon crush the Indians and finish the war in this and adjacent valleys. It is now a well established fact that no treaty can be entered into with these Indians. They care nothing for pledges given, and have imagined that they could live better by war than peace. They will soon learn that they have been mistaken, as with the forces here they will soon either be killed off, or pushed so far in the surrounding deserts that they will perish by famine."
There were stories of supernatural deliverance associated with the massacre, (see above). According to Andy Greene, his people settled in Sand Canyon, east of Tehachapi, after the 1863 massacre by McLaughlin (Kinkade, 1997). He states Beale sent soldiers afterward to hunt escapees. Andy Greene's account of the aftermath of the massacre resembles the Barras, (1984, p. 9) account of the Spanish raid which resulted in Nu-oo-ah being herded into the desert, presumably as slave labor. In Greene's account, women smothered their babies attempting to keep them quiet. Barras' (1984, p.81) informants related to her another account of attacks by US Army soldiers in Sand Canyon.
Rumors persist that near Sugarloaf Mountain at the northerly head of Sand Canyon, a battle occurred between some of The People and American soldiers. There are no written accounts of the battle, yet it is whispered that beneath mounds of rocks are bodies of dead cavalry men and Indians. Buttons from Army uniforms, bullet cases dating from the 1860's, the paraphernalia of a soldier's mess kit, and arrowheads, have been found on the surface..."Nanna Rankin related the immediate aftermath of the lives of the Tehachapi Indians in Walker Basin.
...[they] came back to their home near the Lightner place and burned their wigwams and all property belonging to the dead warriors. You could hear the screams and yelps across the valley while the fire was burning. After their funeral exercises were over they came down to our home and sat down in a semi-circle on the ground as evenly as if the places were marked for them. There were about 15 women and they were in full mourning with pine gum and dirt daubed all over their faces, groaning and sighing continuously. Mother was grieved for them and brought out everything edible she could find in the house and gave it to them.Frederick Butterbredt, a Kern River miner, found a woman and her baby hiding in the willows after the massacre. She had just been widowed. Butterbredt called the woman Betty, married her, and raised her baby as his own. Together they raised a large family (Barras, 1984, p. 78). His descendants live in the Tehachapi area to this day.
Since 1950, Easter sunrise services are held at the exact location of the 1863 massacre. Descendants of the Indians who died there are among those in attendance. Because of the efforts of Joseph Sumner, an influential mine owner who witnessed the slaughter, the Kern River Tribe was not forced to the Tejon Reservation (Powers, 1981, p. 54).
a. Trail of Tears
Shortly after the massacre, beginning July 10, 1863, Captain McLaughlin, Commander of Camp Independence, forced over 1,000 Indians from Fort Independence to Sebastian Reserve southwest of Tehachapi. The procession included twenty government wagons, along with cavalry and foot soldiers. Along the way, through the Kern River Valley and Walker Pass, ranchers helped many escape. When they were counted in Walker Basin it was determined some 250 missing. Nanna Rankin related a story about a old Indian man, part of the forced march who straggled into their home in Walker Basin (Powers, 1981, p. 55),
An old Indian came, bringing a little girl on his back from camp to our house; she was just a little shadow, so starved and thin. The old man said he did not know what would become of them, he would like to sell her to Mother for a blanket. He was so distressed Mother gave him a blanket and kept the little girl. I wish you could have seen that child eat and grow. In two weeks she was so fat you would never have known what she had been when she came to our house.According to Boyd (1972, p.25) ranchers in Tehachapi were alarmed at the growth in numbers at the reservation, and drove livestock through it to create havoc and distress among the residents. However, testimony, during a 1865 Congressional inquiry of the "Condition of the Indian Tribes," holds Alexander Godey, General Beale's agent at the Sebastian Reservation, responsible for herding cattle through the camp. According to Robert Daley's testimony:
...[I] went to the Tejon about the 20th of July, with seven hundred and fifty Owen's River or Monache Indians, who had been brought from Owen's river. After remaining at Tejon a few days [I] picked out camps for the Indians on the reserve. The Indians were forbidden by Alexander Godey (who was agent for Mr. Beale) to cut brush with which to make their houses. [I] waited upon Godey and forbid his disturbing or interfering with the Indians, as he was left in command with orders to keep the Indians upon the reservation. The next day Godey drove his stock of cattle in among the Indians and herded them in their camps; [I] then forced Godey to remove his stock off the reservation.Godey, a young Frenchman of about 25, met John C. Fremont on his second expedition of 1843-44 in California. Fremont praised him as, "a formidable rival to [Kit] Carson, and constantly afterward was among the best and most efficient of the party, and in difficult situations was of incalculable value." On this trip, the party passed through Tehachapi, passed along the northern base of the San Gabriel Mountains, to Cajon Pass where they joined the Spanish Trail.
Also, white squatters, settlers without any legal right to occupancy, began encroaching on the reservation, corrupting the Indians, and seeking to destroy it
The Mexican title to the Rancho El
Tejon, which encompassed most of the Sebastian Reservation, was ruled
valid in 1858 by Board of Land Commissioners, and a patent was issued a
few years later 1863. Title passed from the United States to the
Mexican-American grantees and was then purchased by General Edward F.
Beale for $21,000. According to John Johnson (1997, see herein)
the deed from the government required the Tejon Indians be allowed to
continue to reside on the property. But Beale did not want to
or sell the land to the United States to create (or continue) a
Reservation, since he had plans for developing the ranch. Beale
demanded immediate removal of the Owens Valley Indians from the Rancho
El Tejon, but allowed occupancy by the Tejon Indians.
Therefore the Owens Valley Indians were moved to a site close to Fort
Tejon. However conditions were deplorable, and the Indians were "very
much discontented." Finally in 1864 nearly six hundred Indians
were granted permission to go to the reservation on the Tule River, as
Fort Tejon was abandoned (Boyd, 1972, p. 19-26). Descendants of
the Tejon Indians have continued to live on the property to this day.
3. Conflicts with Settlers
Martin Hart, Oliver Burke, Moses Hart, William Dawson and James Hazlum were attacked by about 40 Tehachapi Indians while hauling freight through Kelso Valley. Martin Hart and Oliver Burke were killed. At least one Indian was killed. Reportedly they attacked because a white man had been aggravating the Indians (Barras, 1984, p. 80).
Two Tehachapi Indian men and a girl were killed in cold blood 15 miles south of Fort Independence in July 1863. They were scalped and the killers rejoiced over their deeds (Barras 1984, p. 81).
(The following incident, though not
apparently involving the Kawaiisu Indians - does involve later
Tehachapi Residents Fred and Mary Frickert.)
While Fred and Mary Frickert were living at Little Lake in 1864-1865, a neighbor woman and young son were killed by Indians (Englestad, 1996, p. 4). In retaliation, on January 6, 1865, a party of whites, which included Fickert, killed nearly all the inhabitants of a Indian village situated on the northeast shore of Owens Lake (Barras, 1976, p. 27).
The following is a summary of the account of the unhappy events that transpired as given by Chalfant, 1933, p. 219-233. Chalfant knew and interviewed some of the participants regarding this savagery.
In 1864 a man named McGuire established a little way station at Haiwee Meadows, now under the waters of Haiwee reservoir adjacent to Highway 395. McGuire lived there with his wife and 6 year old son, Johnny. On December 31, 1864, McGuire went to Big Pine to purchase a plow and asked two boarders to stay and watch over his family until he returned. Before daylight of the following morning the occupants were awakened by the blazing roof of the house. They attempted to put the fire out from inside the house, using brine from barrels corned beef. The fire was nearly out when an attack of firebrands, shots and stones began. The heat became so intense it was not possible to remain inside. The boarders, named Flanigan and Newman urged Mrs. McGuire to run with them; but she refused, saying that nothing could save them and it would be no use. So the boarders fled. Newman received a wound to his forehead that bled profusely, Flanigan only suffered a shot through his hat. By 11 in the morning they reached Little Lake.
Just before noon Walter James and John Harmon, traveling south found the smoldering ruins of the McGuire cabin. Mrs. McGuire was found about one hundred feet away. She was unconscious with 14 arrows in her body. Her neck was marked with fingerprints. Johnny was lying next to his mother, dead. He had a broken arm and there was a wound on his forehead. His body had been pierced by six arrows, which had been pulled out by his mother. His hand grasped a stone, which was probably used to defend himself. Mrs. McGuire died a short time after the arrival of James and Harmon
The McGuires had been very charitable to the Indians, often denying themselves food to feed them.
Harmon hurried back to Owens Lake and sent a messenger ahead to Lone Pine. James stood guard over the bodies which were placed in their wagon, until they were brought to Lone Pine later that day.
More than a dozen men lead by W. L. Moore and W. A. Greenly, immediately left for Haiwee meadows, camping near Olancha that night. The next day they found the trail of perhaps 15 attackers, and followed until it entered some sand dunes east of the meadow where the attackers had divided up. Some had started south toward Kern River, the remainder headed north and east of Owens Lake.
After reaching the dividing point the men returned to Haiwee. Then Moore and Thomas Passmore (each of whom later became Sheriff and each of whom was killed in line of duty) followed Newman and Flanigan's trail. Along the way they picked up a loaded rifle, a loaded pistol, and a shotgun with one barrel loaded. They found the men at Little Lake, where they related their story. Moore and Passmore, furious with the cowardly action of the two told them to leave the country at once and not to return, under penalty of death.
Moore and Passmore followed the Indian trail to a occupied Indian camp on the northeast shore of Owens Lake, at the mouth of the Owens River, but they rode on to Lone Pine. In Lone Pine, four Piute men were being held prisoner. Some citizens encouraged killing them immediately. A discussion followed and while the men argued one Indian saw his chance to escape. He dodged at least twenty shots until Dick Mead jumped on a horse, overtook the man and killed him. Thomas May and John Tilly took the three remaining prisoners to Tilly's house for the night. Just outside of the house another prisoner made a break, and May shot him. Those in the house, hearing the shot attempted to escape and one was shot by May, the other by Tilly.
A correspondent for the Inyo Independent wrote the following:
The cry now is for extermination. For some time we have been compelled to let the Indians do as they pleased. Only last week an Indian drew his knife on my wife because she would not let him take possession of the kitchen and five him sugar in his coffee. "Poor Indian " is played out with this settler.A meeting was held at Lone Pine which determined to crush the Indians by destroying the camp at the mouth of the Owens River, on the northeast shore of Owens Lake. Two days ere spent arming and gathering men. During the night of January 5th, thirty-two men road to the Indian camp intending to arrive by dawn. The men were led by W. A. Greenly and W. L. Moore. Others included Passmore, Tilly, Charles D. Begole, Thomas May, T. F. A. Connelly, Dick Mead, R. M. Shuey, H. Meyer, John Kispert, F. W. Fickert (later a Tehachapi area rancher), James Heffner, Haslem, McGuire (husband of the murdered woman), J. N. Rogers (who later took in a traveler, was killed - dismembered, and eaten!), Green Hitchcock and three or four of his brothers, Charles Robinson, Hugh P. Edwards and others.
Greenly and a detachment of men crossed the river to guard against an eastward retreat - a three mile trek, while Moore and the remainder were to attack the camp. However, Moore attacked before Greenly had time to ride into position. There was snow on the ground, and there were no Indian sentries. The men rode through camp firing into wickiups. Forty one Indians died, neither age nor sex were spared. Five Indians plunged into the icy water of Owens Lake to escape. McGuire shot and killed two men in the water.
Chalfant (1933, p. 223) recounts the following poignant conclusion of the affair:
A boy aged about fourteen was shot at, and asked in English why they wanted to kill him. He said he had not hurt any one. Heffner told him that if he would come out he would not be hurt. The boy also said his two sisters were in the lake, and was bidden to tell them to come out.
By this time the Greenly subdivision had come up. Some in each party were anxious to do away with the young captives. Heffner asked how many would stand with him in protecting them, and about half declared in his favor. The wrangle threatened to result in bloodshed among the citizens, when Mead requested all who favored sparing the children to stand with him. Two-thirds of the company moved to his side, after which there was no further argument. The girls were taken as far as the foot of the lake and there released. Heffner adopted the boy.