Friday, August 29, 2008

Respect for our ancestors, good and bad.

Captain Jack, chief of the Modoc Indians, and one of the greatest warriors to ever live.

Keith Pace said:
“I know allot of u will find it hard to believe but my name is keith pace and i am a direct decendent of frank and pierce asbil. and i really didnt know that much about them, but now i know a little more thanx to this site. its crazy to think im a decendant of some crazy indian killing bad ass's!! pretty cool! but i dont think i should ever go to covelo. sounds like the indians there are still a little pessed. Lol.”

I found this comment way, way back in a post that I made in reply to Kym, who had just found out that one of her ancestors was in Jarboe’s Eel River Rangers. I explained to her that she should not feel too guilty about her ancestor killing Indians, and that for the most part, they thought that it was part of surviving. A “them or us” attitude, that almost wiped out the Indian people.

By now most of you know that Spyrocks ancestors were killed by Indians in the area of Cato near Laytonville. Without going into great detail, I have a relative that was raped by two Indian men who then cut her throat and left her to die. She survived and told who her rapists were, and they caught them, and hung them. The story goes that she was impregnated by the Indians, and raised the baby as her own, which indeed it was, along with the rest of her children.

What I’m trying to say, is there was provocation for what happened to the Indian people, and, the white people. They were in a life or death conflict. Many people died unfairly and many people died fairly. Should any of us today bear any burden of guilt for what happened in the 1860’s? No.

What I feel for both of our ancestors is deep respect, both Indian and White, they were doing what they thought they had to do to survive. I owe my present Indian friends the honor of not disrespecting their ancestors, and they do a good job of not disrespecting my ancestors. The people of today have, for the most part, put aside what happened in the past, with the hope that we can get along and share a bright future and respect for each other.

Now, having said that, I want to say that I’m glad that Keith Pace wrote to me. I’m glad that he had the courage to sign his name. The fact that he is related to the Asbils intrigues me to no-end. But, at no point should he feel that it is okay to think that his ancestors were “Indian killing bad asses” or were they in any way “cool” because of it.

He owes all of our ancestors more respect.

Now Keith, if you will forgive me for chewing on you, I really would like for you to tell me anything that you know about your ancestors, and I will be glad to give you volumes of information about the Asbils, if you are interested.

Thank you for reminding me that respect is important. Usually I’m so busy trying to explain what happened back then, and how, that I forget how much respect that I have for them. It is truly great that the White Man and the Indian now walk on common ground.


ben said...

Mr Pace will find that he has quite a few Indian Asbill relatives.

Robin Shelley said...

I think so, too, Ben. He may even find he's related to me.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Well Robin, are you "Bad ass" or "Cool." (humor)

I guess it's okay to disrespect the living.

But, just think of the stories that you will have to tell that Grandbaby when she gets bigger.

Mr. pace has a most interesting history, I hope that he forms a curiosity about it, and persues it. Someday he will have great stories to tell his grandkids.

Ernie Branscomb said...

My Grandmother, Ruby (Middleton) Branscomb personally knew the last Indian surviver of the "Battle of Bloody Run". Where the last of the Laytonville Indians were killed. My mother Elsie (Rathjens) Branscomb remembers him. His name was Fox Burns and his nick name was “foxie” When you are that close to what happened back then, it has a tendency to yank things into prospective.

To have people relate to you the horror of what actually happened, is mind numbing.

Both the white man and the Indian thought that they were doing what they had to do to survive. We have no basis in today’s society to relate to them back then, so most of us don’t understand. But, common sense should tell you that what they did was not just for sport. It may be depicted that way by today’s “historians”, but there was basis for the people that did kill others “just for sport” to feel the way that they did. Some of them had tragic stories of conflict in their past that caused blinding hatred in their souls that they couldn’t see past. That is why we had so many “Massacres”. Again, we have no basis to judge what they did back then by who we are now. Try to understand that.

spyrock said...

What a great picture of Captain Jack. Before we got a TV, the only entertainment we had on Friday nights was to go out to Uncle Delbert's ranch where he had a lighted Rodeo Arena. For $5 entry fee, you could team rope for money and sometimes steer wrestle.
Aunt Daisy was up in the announcing booth with her Patsy Cline voice and I started out helping put the steers in the shute. I graduated to hot shots, then barrier breaker, and finally stop watch and flags. When we finally got a TV, all I did was watch the old westerns in which most of the battles were with Indians. I used to think that John Wayne was a city slicker when he first started appearing in some of the movies. He was just cleaner looking than all the old school boys. When the TV wasn't on, I'd be down on the floor with my toy cowboys and Indians or just playing cards and directing afternoon long westerns of my own on the living room carpet.
My vision of the American Indians has come a long way since those days. But I totally understand how all of us were conditioned by our media to have the values that we have today. There are some great epic movies to be made in the future about Round Valley, the Modoc War, Joaquin Miller's story, and even a Deliverance Eel River style. These movies could be fear based as most movies are these days or they could evoke the respect that both the red and white people of those days deserve.
It just depends on who makes them.
I think that it's important to "dig" what the Indians were all about instead of just passing them off as "diggers" over 150 years later.

Robin Shelley said...

I've never been either one, Ernie, but I guess some of my shirt-tail/by-marriage relatives (notice how I distance myself from them - heh) were ashamed of their family history in Round Valley as I remember how upset some of them were when "Genocide & Vendetta" came out. "Lies!" they cried. "All lies!"
As for me, I just find it interesting &, like you, try to be respectful of all living things. Except snakes, of course. And spiders. And Jimmy. Oh, never mind.
I'm enjoying the posts here as well as your input & insight, Ernie. Thanks.
And thanks to you, too, Spyrock, for your insight & for the wonderful pictures. I don't know the people or even the specific places in them but I appreciate the history. Good to meet you.

Anonymous said...

Ernie, I agree with spyrock, that is a great picture of Captain Jack. I saved that picture and expanded it but still can't tell what he has on his lap. That blanket looks like one of the Hudson Bay wool blankets we had as kids.


Jim Baker said...

Ernie, thanks again for providing this forum for a very interesting and important subject. It has always amazed me how interrelated the ancestors of the Indian people and non-Indians are today. The very same people from both cultures who were killing each other here in the 19th century now have descendants with intermixed geneologies and family members. The Wood family is another good example, as you know. The fact is that non-Indians had the advantage in terms of numbers and armaments, but if the situation were reversed when the clash took place, you and I would be the ones living on reservations. I agree with you that we can all be proud of the positive accomplishments of our ancestors, and at the same time learn from the mistakes and bad decisions we may be able to see now with the advantage of hindsight. Just like them, we are all making decisions today that will be judged by future generations. And like them, we are all trying to do the best we can. Nothing much has changed, except that we have bigger toys and the effects of our decisions today have a greater impact on more people, for good or for bad. History is never clean and tidy and black or white, and never will be. Thanks to everyone who is sharing personal histories on your blogsite. You're a good bunch of people.

Robin Shelley said...

Here I am off topic again but I just heard about a movie called "Humboldt County" that is opening next month & thought you all might be interested. This is the website although I believe only Ernie can activate this link for you: