Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The muck of history.

Reply to Ben from post below:


You should never have “trepidations” when offering your opinions to me. If I had to make a list of all of the researchers that I trust the most, you would be in the top ten of the list.

For those of you that don't know Ben. He is a serious researcher of early north coast history, and especially those things that concern the indigenous people. He has interpreted their language and the place names of the early people. He is a student of early human relations, and speaks from a position of authority on such matters. He has the trust of the indigenous people and the local white people. He has been on many serious field studies. He can tell you about the local history, in the original Indian language, and the English language. I would almost always defer to his opinion, unless I had direct knowledge of a good reason to disagree. Some of my comments are not directed toward Ben, but novice researchers instead. Ben is usually right.

I know that Ben has information on the history of the indigenous people, and the indigenous artifacts of this area that he can never talk about. The reason that I know that, is because any serious researcher of the local history finds out about things that they can't, or won't talk about. It's one of the advantages of being a local historian that can be trusted with the “Local Secrets”. Ben has seen Indian Petroglyphs that few others can be trusted to see. Some times people will allow someone like Ben, that can be trusted, “in on some local history”. History that just plain wouldn't be fair to repeat, but sometimes just a small tidbit of information will put many confusing stories together and make history clear as a bell ringing at the break of dawn. Ben knows those kind of stories, so when he tells you something, you should always give his opinion the benefit of the doubt.

Having said that, I would like to point out a few of the things that a generational native knows that no others do.(A generational native is a person that has lived here for generations, rather than years.) A generational native has been raised here, not only knowing the stories that they hear, but they know the stories that they have heard from their ancestors, people that knew the first white people to settle here. A Generational Native has heard stories from their ancestors that knew the last survivors of the Indian Massacres. They have heard the stories of how terrible the fear was that their families would have been chased off, killed, or ruined by the thugs that ran things on the north coast. Surely only a very naive researcher could have studied very long without saying “hmmm... there was some pretty heavy intimidation back then”. The facts of the intimidation was very under-reported.

Even astute researchers, such as Ben often miss some very big salient points. The point from my prospective is that human life on the north coast was very much about survival. For both the indigenous people and the white interloper. I agree with Ben in that there was a plan afoot to spread the new Americans throughout the land. The tacit plan was called “Manifest destiny”. The plan was to settle and “civilize” the new world.

From Wikipedia:
Manifest Destiny is a term that was used in the 19th century to designate the belief that the United States was destined, even divinely ordained, to expand across the North American continent, from the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes Manifest Destiny was interpreted so broadly as to include the eventual absorption of all North America: Canada, Mexico, Cuba and Central America. Advocates of Manifest Destiny believed that expansion was not only ethical but that it was readily apparent ("manifest") and inexorable ("destiny"). Although initially used as a catch phrase to inspire the United States' expansion across the North American continent, the 19th century phrase eventually became a standard historical term.
The term, which first appeared in print in 1839, was used in 1845 by a New York journalist, John L. O'Sullivan, to urge for the annexation of Texas. Thereafter, it was used to encourage American settlement of European colonial and Indian lands in the Great Plains and the west... ...some commentators believe that aspects of Manifest Destiny, particularly the belief in an American "mission" to promote and defend democracy throughout the world, continues to have an influence on American political ideology.

Another popular saying of the time was “Go West Young Man”. People were encouraged to populate the west, and bring civilization with the settling of the west. People were assured that the United States Military would protect them from the “Native Savages”. Many people were headed to the west even before gold was discovered. Indeed, California was admitted into the union before gold was found at Sutter's Mill. The gold discovery wasn't part of the planned expansion. Many people that had considered moving to California, but hadn't quite decided to do so, changed their minds and "Went West". The discovery of gold enticed many people to move west with the hopes that “they could walk down the creeks in California and find gold nuggets the size of chicken eggs”.

The expansion of the civilized world into California happened much faster than the United States could move troupes west to protect them, and a lot of the soldiers deserted to find their own fortune in the gold fields. Any manner of human being moved to California during the Gold Rush. Many good people moved out here with their wives and families. Many thugs, ne'er do wells, ornery no good S.O.B's moved out here also. Many people failed in the pursuit of gold, and were ran off with there tail between there legs. Some decided to try their luck on the west coast, where gold had been discovered washed up on the beach, and in the remote areas of the Trinity River. Some on the determined people figured out that there was more money in supplying the miners with leather and beef, than there was in the “Golden Opportunity”. They also found that they were in “Indian Territory”. With very little of the “promised” protection that they expected.

Without mentioning names, a few of the mean SOB settlers saw the opportunity to build their empires within a lawless land. Through lies and intimidation, they were able to further their agenda. They killed anybody in their way, settlers, ranchers, Indian people, or anybody that crossed them. They used strychnine poison in peoples food. The shot people to death, and had phony witnesses testify that it was self-defense. To put it in modern terms that you can understand, “you were either with them, or against them”, and it wasn't healthy to be on the wrong side of a thug. Some thugs became very wealthy.

But, even a thug saw the value of having people on his side. The thugs controlled the local sheriff and judges. If you were able to prove your worth to them, you were allowed to live. But, probably not prosper. When the Pony soldiers left for the civil war, private contractors were hired to “keep the peace”. Many of the thugs saw the opportunity to let these people “Prove their worth” and get rid of the Indian problem. Many Indians were killed with the idea that they had refused to move onto the reservations. Many were driven into areas that had cattle. The starving Indians killed the cattle, and in return they were killed by the cattle ranchers.

Now, if you didn't understand any of that, go back and read it again. But, if you are still reading maybe I can share with you some of what the local people know and feel, that the person that wakes up in the new found pond of north coast history doesn't have the prospective to understand. In my particular case the genocide of the local tribes, and marauding tribes from Oregon and Northern California, and Nevada happened five generation ago! Hardly a current event, but still very significant in our local history.

As a lad, I was raised in the local history. Mostly the history of the Laytonville area, but certainly aware of the whole north coast, and northern California. I walked through the swamp of the Laytonville human condition. I felt the muck of local history squeezing up between my toes. I felt the glare of the knowledge that a conflict had happened a long time ago between the Indian people and the whites. I was told about the thugs that everybody had to deal with. It wasn't so much “fear” that was expressed, but the fact that you could be killed for doing something as simple as trying to build a fence around your garden. I had a possible relative murdered by thugs for building a fence. I was raised with the knowledge that those things happened. So, please don't tell me that intimidation was not a factor in north coast history. Some researchers have felt bold enough to do so.

I was raised with stories about the local Indian tribes that would have great battles, for no apparent reason other than that's what they did. There was not even an apparent reason for them to hate each other. But, they did battle and killed each other. If they ran out of arrows they would stand and dare the other side to shoot at them so they could gather the arrows and shoot them back. One of the local tribes, to the south, had a bad habit of cutting the heads off of the enemies that they killed and used them for kickballs. But, in the great wisdom of these waring people, if it rained they would go home, because they didn't believe that they could fight good in the rain. The area at the top of the Bell Springs ridge was a well known spot where the Indians liked to gather to kill each other. Many artifacts have been found from the “wars”.

I was raised hearing many stories of thievery, and the great skill of stealth that the local Indian had. I heard that if they could steal something from you without getting caught, that it belonged to them. I heard that they didn't believe that any body could own an animal, and they had the right to eat it if they killed it.

Many Indian tribes went on marauding missions with the idea of getting rid of the whites. I was raised hearing about a woman and her kids being attacked by Indians in the area of Camp Grant. They chased and hunted the woman and her kids through a long and epic story, and her descendants became great heroes in their own rights in the Laytonville area. One of them blazed a trail up the Eel River canyon that became the 101 highway.

There was a tribe that had decided to kill all the whites. The tribe was from east of Fort Seward. The Pony Soldiers rounded them up and shot them and burned their bodies in front of their own people as a “lesson”.

I know many descendants of murders and rapes by the Indian people on the whites. I've heard all of the stories. Many of the recent students of north coast history seem to find any treachery by the Indian people as “forgivable” because, after all, the white people were the Interlopers. The same people will go on forever about the horror of a rape on an Indian woman. It would seem that a normal person would see BOTH as horrible. If it was your wife, I'm sure you would get my reasoning.

At this point I'm sure that you see my position. The white man ended up in California. Whether he was encouraged to come because of “manifest destiny”. Because of greed, opportunity to own land and raise a family, gold, or any of many reasons that man does the things that he does. He did end up in California. But, there was little, or none, of the promised law and order.

California had thugs, no good rotten bastards, cut throats, thieves, outlaws, opportunists, and ne'er do wells. Some of them were Indians, and some of them were white. But, California also had some good people along with the bad. Some of them were Indian and some of them were white. -We are what we are.- I have no apologies, and I don't want any. None of us alive today had anything to do with the early conflicts.

I have nothing but the most respect for the local Indian people. Indeed, I find them, and their, culture to be most fascinating. I have, and enjoy, many Indian friends, and grieve over what they have lost of their culture and history. Their knowledge of the north coast must have been immense.

But...Anybody that says Early California life wasn't mostly about survival, just doesn't have the muck of north coast history between their toes. Something that always slightly offends me is the arrogance of the people that discover our terrible little secret history and start wagging the finger of blame, when I'm sure that they wouldn't have to look very far back in their own history to find a ruthless no-good bastard. So, if you don't mind, I would invite you to do just a little hunt in your own history, and stop finding fault in mine. If you do what I ask, I'm sure that you will return with a little more humility.


Anonymous said...

You crow and crow about the superiority of the viewpoint of one who has lived here a long time, and then ask for humility on the part of those studying the murdering ways of some of the oldtimers. Huh?
The invaders who stole the land were in survival because they invaded. You keep justifying the first step made. Invading other peoples domain. Golly why did those Iraquis shoot at us? Let me guess, you probably supported that invasion too?
You tell history like a white man. Let others tell it like an Indian would.

Lynette M said...

Wow... I think we are talking about two different issues here, and I'm sure I'm partially to blame for not communicating more clearly.
I started by blog (lynette707.wordpress.com) to honor Lucy, an Indian woman murdered in Arcata in 1862. She knew her life was in danger and chose to face it bravely with the hope that staying in Arcata would increase her children's chance of survival. Survival among the WHITES--she didn't trust the other Natives to care for her children. How's that for ironic?
I want to honor her choices, her experiences, her life, because so many other natives suffered and died anonymously.... and I think understanding her experience, and the experiences of that time period, for both the natives and the whites, will help my effort.

The other question that has come up is that of assigning (or assuming) blame for the actions and decisions of our ancestors. Are we responsible? Hell no. My great-grandfather married young, had three children, and left his wife. Those three children ended up in an orphanage. Before his first divorce was final, he married my great-grandmother, had two children and left her. Those children, my grandmother and her brother, ended up in the same damn orphanage--their mother, my great grandmother, would leave them "every time she met a new man"--by the time my grandmother was nine, she'd been abandoned completely.
Was she responsible? Am I? Of course not, but I can't pretend that her experiences didn't affect her later parenting. And that my mother and then I weren't affected. And that I probably unknowingly act in ways that are influenced by my mother, etc, etc...
It's not about blame, but recognizing where we come from, and gaining a greater understanding of WHY we do what we do, can only help.

Anonymous said...

Amen about Ben. He always seems to know something concrete and important about any local subject.

I agree with Lynette that "It's not about blame, but recognizing where we come from, and gaining a greater understanding. .." At the same time, I find it hard not to pass judgment on the sins of my fathers. I appreciate your reminders that we don't walk in their shoes. How many compromises do we make today that our descendants will vilify and be astounded by?

By the way did you coin the term Generational Native? I don't remember hearing it before and I agree there is a difference in being born here and in having your great great grandfather born here and all your direct line since. There is a seeping of the area into your very bones so that you know stuff you don't even know you know. I know that I'll remember that term.

Dave said...

Blaming our ancestors (both white and Native American)for horrid deeds serves no purpose other than finger-pointing, and claims of "being right" about a past none of us will ever truly know or understand.

Ernie Branscomb said...

I hope that you realize that you are one of the people that I have in my “Top Ten List of Researchers”. I didn’t know about the “Lucy Story” that you printed on your blog. Southern Humboldt / Northern Mendocino has it’s own Lucy story. So, maybe I thought that the northern Lucy story and the southern Lucy story were about the same person. With very few more details I would have known they were not the same Lucy. “Our Lucy” was one of the witnesses of the killing of the Fort Seward Indians. (Chief Lassic and his group) She was the teller of one of my favorite stories.
After hearing about how a white man struggled to get through the winter, and calling it a “rough winter”, Lucy told about her Indian family’s story of survival, about a winter that the snow was so deep that they could not make their way through it. They had no food or shelter and they were starving. They found where a coyote had eaten too much meat from a carcass, and had thrown it up in the snow. They picked the larger chunks of meat out of the vomit and boiled it. They ate the coyote puke to keep from starving. Lucy said “That what I call “Rough winter””.

Ben pointed out that there was more than one “Sally Bell”. A fact that I didn’t know, and without his research, I would have gone on being confused about the conflicting history about her. Sally was a much revered local Indian woman that was a survivor of the “Needle Rock Massacre”. She was a midwife and Medicine Woman. She delivered many people along the coast and in Laytonville. There is some history of a Sally Bell in Covelo, but I think she was the other one.

I don’t mind the history, and the lessons that can be learned from it. But the arrogance of the people that discover that the white people murdered the Indians, and are now trying to pick up the fight and rub open the old wounds are what I find unforgivable. It is obvious that they don’t know much about history, but that is because it is so Damn hard to trace a family name like “Anonymous”. There are just so many conflicting stories that Anonymous tells.

Anon, you can have a name now, and you can tell your own story. We are at peace now, We have laws and enforcement. You won’t be killed for objecting to the killing that happened one hundred and fifty years ago.

I may have coined "Generational Native". I have never heard the term before, but it seems like it should be a term of common usage. I have tried so many times to explain the difference between being raised and steeped in the history, knowing where the bodies are buried, and knowing who are the “Keepers of the Tales”. I have come to realize that a “Generation Native’ is the only one that knows what I am talking about. Sadly, I see no indication of anyone that has even as much as a clue as to what a “generation native” knows. Even more sadly, they don’t care. I saw the river before the two major floods. Not one time have I had an “Expert” ask me what it was like. The difference between what we have today and what we used to have would explain many things about what is wrong with our river. I can clearly see how it is being “protected” poorly. But, just as “Anonymous” so gleefully pointed out from behind his curtain. “You crow and crow about the superiority of the viewpoint of one who has lived here a long time....

I don’t require respect, but I would appreciate acknowledgement.

Ekovox said...

"How many compromises do we make today that our descendants will vilify and be astounded by?"

Thank You Kym for that comment

It sure seems to me the finger pointing and attempts on playing the blame game seem to be coming not from the local Native American people, but from recently located white newcomers to the area. Why?

You must realize the local Indians and Whites have inter-married for nearly six generations, as has happened within my own family.

But, people are people no matter what ethnic background they come from. Read this week's North Coast Journal about the new Hupa tribal chair, Leonard Masten. Can you read deeper than the words written by Heidi Walters? Do you have generational history to understand the workings of the valley? Or, how about murders in the backcountry areas like Hettenshaw or Western Trinity County between whites that happened in the late 1800's yet, that animosity between families is still carried on to this day.

The more you become involved with the long-time local generational natives, both Indian and White, the more you'll understand my point.

We're all trying to go forward one generation at a time to understand the past and vow not to repeat it.

Ross Rowley
Generational Native

suzy blah blah said...

You crow and crow about the superiority of the viewpoint of one who has lived here a long time, and then ask for humility on the part of those studying the murdering ways of some of the oldtimers. Huh?

sorry Ernie but Suzy has to agree with Anon on this one. You come off pretty arrogant yourself. i feel that a spoonful or two of sharing the guilt might be the antidote for this diseased attitude of 'hell no we aren't guilty for our ancestor's deeds' nonsense that you and your cronies spout.

Of course you are guilty! --no matter how much you may try and rationalize it away. Well at least that's the way this fool sees it. I don't think that it's a healthy attitude, it's denial of who you are. But denial doesn't change the truth, it just passes the buck --in this case back to the dead. Seems sort of a cowardly thing to do. But if it makes you guys feel better temporarily . . .

But a real researcher imho would search by recognizing and then reaching to the source of the evil and work to eradicate it there, otherwise, you are in denial and then it really IS nothing other than bullshistory and not worthy of much respect from where i sit.


Ernie Branscomb said...

"How many compromises do we make today that our descendants will vilify and be astounded by?"

1- They ate meat! Can you imagine? the actually raised animals to slaughter and eat. The Horror!!!

Ernie Branscomb said...


Would you tell us about your ancestors... back say, about seven generations? Then come back and tell us how horrified and guilty YOU feel. Don't forget to detail all of the things that you feel guilty about.

You have not yet walked in anybody's Moccasins!

I agonized about how to say that nicely, but I don’t think that you understand. What you are reading about here is OUR history. Good, bad, and ugly. I, indeed, welcome other peoples history on this blog. Are you Al Capone’s niece, and how do you feel about that?

Most students of the north coast history eventually stop judging and trying to change history to make it better. They start trying to document the things that happened. I really don’t think that it is fair to not be able to tell the horror of what some of the White settlers went through. Everybody, including myself are willing to understand what the Indian people were put through.

The westward movement was similar to giving childbirth. Once you have made the mistake of getting pregnant there is no stopping it. People moved west for a lot of very young and naïve reasons. Once they got here, they had to survive. Just like a child the new settlers had needs. They couldn’t just disappear. Like a child, it was here, like it or not. The child survived.
I know that you were born here Suzy. So, where is your family from? Were they wonderful people? How many generations of your family do you know about?

Granted much of what I know about, is what I would call “Bullshistory”. But, you have to remember that many of the stories that I know were told to me a very young age, and honestly, I was fascinated, but I don’t remember the microscopic details. Most of the people that told the stories to me were dead before I figured out that they were important. Like the stories that we are telling today. Someday, you will remember that we talked about local history, and that I thought that I had a point, but you might not remember what the point was.

There is more than one side to history, and much of what the Generational Native knows can never be told. I feel uncomfortable talking about what I know in the light that I know that you will not understand. You will never know some of the things that the locals know. You will never have the prospective to understand. The fact that the Local Indians didn’t mind killing their enemies and kicking their heads down the path doesn’t seem so bad until it’s your daddies head. The fact is, I would have never mentioned that If Spyrock hadn’t brought it up. Mentioning something like that, that is factual, is just not accepted by the people that want to believe in the “Noble Savage”. The fact that people were killed by thugs unless they cooperated in the Indian extermination is quickly swept under the rug by the Johnny-Come-Lately anthropologists. I have no hate of the Indian People today. In fact I have some great admiration for them. And, I don’t go around preaching to them that they should be apologetic that they killed and raped my ancestors. Were any of your ancestors killed and raped??? Did you apologize that your ancestors were there for that to happen?

Not arrogance… fact.

Ekovox said...

So, let's say the 5th generation Humboldt families are all to blame for the 1800's atrocities.

Now what? What would YOU like to see happen? If apologies aren't enough, then what? What would YOU like to see our contemporary society do? Do you want lists of names? How about we just list the entire Humboldt County phone book for 2009 and blame everyone for their families past five generations ago no matter where they originally came from

Shall we all come to confessional? Who goes first?

Yes, my grandfather on my mother's side were French Canadians who were outcast by the British....
All British decendents are evil.
I want a list of British names dammit! They must pay through guilt!

Ross Rowley

Ernie Branscomb said...

Hey! I know... To help ease our guilt, let's give them Casinos!

Much to their credit, the local Wailaki have voted not to accept a Casino. They feel that Casinos aren't part of their Native Culture, and would not be beneficial to them.

I am humbled by that kind of wisdom over greed. We could all learn something about character from the Wailaki.

Olmanriver said...

Here I am on a beautiful day on the Mendo coast having missed the turn that would have taken me to the Hoage Museum in Ukiah. That perty road to the coast through Branscomb called me again. I better stop talkng about it, or I am gonna create more traffic for my future runs. 'Course I am on one of my book hunter/gatherer runs for the local libraries, Cahto and Wailaki.

I am reading as many history sources from the olden days as is possible and there is plenty of finger-pointing with far more indicting language than anything I have seen on any local history blog.

I like every single comment in this thread, some more than others.
We are all right, and we are all wrong. Red and white, newcomer vs. oldtimer perspective, everyone has a slice of the truth. I acknowledge that.

Ernie Branscomb said...

I particularly appreciate the way you can point the finger of truth, without wagging the finger of blame. When we can all get away from the moral judgment we will start to have a meaningful dialog about what truthfully happened in the history of the north coast.

Have a nice trip! See what I mean about not having the genetic history? Olmanriver gets lost on his way to the library, my folks built the roads!

suzy blah blah said...

Mr Branscomb, Meaningful dialog my butt. You are so far into denial that there is no getting through to you on this issue.

Mr Kovacs, the arrogance and flippancy you displayed here adds insult to injury. It disgusts me.

OMR, your new age bullshit is just that.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Arrrgh… Three arrows through three hearts. Okay Spyrock, Kym, and Ben, it’s up to you now…Carry on… Let the truth shine through… Gasp…

I’m sure glad I didn’t tell Suzy where gold is hid……………Crooooak.

Ernie Branscomb said...

“But Jesus said unto them, “a prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.””

“there is the problem of a prophet being without honour in his home town - that people who know you well are not so inclined to recognise the exceptional in you”.

So as they say, “Familiarity breeds contemp” and we have lost the respect of Suzy through our attempts to be open and candid. Yet, she still has not told us about HER history. Perhaps she is much wiser than us. If we knew her history, maybe we would also be contemptuous.


Ekovox said...

Ernie, don't worry, I took the gold from our hiding place years ago and spent it on a D-9 Cat and a low-boy. I made a ton of money punching roads into Humboldt County to make it easier for the newcomers to get here to live the easy life. Pretty good investment, wouldn't you say?

suzy blah blah said...

Ernie, i did NOT say that any of you have lost my respect.

Ernie Branscomb said...

“Ernie, i did NOT say that any of you have lost my respect.”
Suzy, thank-you for that!

A very wise person told me once that. “Love is perfreeale to understanding anyway-- except sometimes I think maybe theyre close to the same thing…”

Maybe if you tried harder to understand us, you wouldn’t have to love us so much…

Sadly, so much is lost in the written word.



Robin Shelley said...

As for the painting accompanying your post, Ernie, all I can say is, "There goes the neighborhood!"

suzy blah blah said...

Ernie, i DO understand you, but i DON'T agree with you.

Anonymous said...

With age comes wisdom. Sometimes just age shows up.

spyrock said...

when chester told the story about how his grandmothers family was killed by the pony soldiers in arizona because they didn't go to the reservation when they were told to, he would simply ask "why?" he did that for a half an hour each time telling about something very sad happening to his people and asking "why?" at the end of it.
i'm not going to try to answer that question although several things come to mind. but i did walk away from his talk crying because for all that he and his family had endured, he had forgiven everyone involved. we were about the only people there wearing baseball hats and the day he left for home i gave him some high tech chocolate to eat on his way and told him to keep on telling his story. a lot of people need to hear his story. so its not about blaming, it's about forgiving.

spyrock said...

after my mom died,i found a star of david ring that grandma nye simmerly left behind. there was no church up at spyrock back in the day and pappy was episcapaleon, c of e. and if you look up simmerly in the geneology engines it comes up zimmerly. kauble has a jewish ring to it as well. but as far as i know, no one ever claimed to be a jew, or wore one of those little beanies under their cowboy hats. they did what they had to do to survive. my great grandma never told anyone she was part indian either. they killed breeds in those days. it wasn't pc to be indian like it is now. both of my kauble grandparents died in 1872 about the time the ghost dance reached northern california. around the same time the modocs killed a u s general, a preacher, and others under a flag of truce. you did what you had to do in those days. the funny thing is that none of my redneck relatives know they are jews but me.

Ben said...

Well... Robin gets my vote for best comment... Reminds me of an old hippie cartoon of a pair of Indian elders waving as they watched the last spaceship full of whites leaving the Earth. In the end the question is philosophical. How is it that one culture became boundlessly expansive and inventive and the other seemingly content with birth and death in the same watershed and the greatest innovation being the arrival of the sinew backed bow in place of the spear. Some will actually suggest that Indians were less intelligent. We certainly know that is not and never was true. So what happened? Was it agriculture that changed our own stone age ancestors? Was it an ability to think abstractly as our mental language developed? Plenty of fighting and killing went on in both cultures but I suspect the Europeans get the trophy in that department.
Modern society wants Native American culture to represent a peaceful life close to nature but we want that vision on our own terms and choose not to look too closely. A close look such as Lynette is engaged in, is really enriching. We empathize with the other and feel a connection to Lucy's struggles and her wish for the safety of her children. These are the stories that personalize the life of the "other", the enemy. Despite our aggressive nature, we are intensely sympathetic. When I first read Lucy Young's Story, I was carried away with the image of this brave little girl escaping her captors and finding safety the best way she could, with a white man. What a story. Why isn't it taught in school? Well, when you stand back and look at it, it is not the story itself but rather the place the imagination goes when the story is read. In the 1861 Hayfork census, Abe Rogers, Lucy's eventual husband, is found cohabiting with two Indian girls ages 31 and 15 neither was Lucy. A situation like that would be national news today. Then, it was "normal". in my opinion our values have improved.
The interesting thing for me in this discussion is the thread of oral history. These family and old time community oral histories are really important. Most of our families have them though they may be about other "old home places" than this area. What is peculiar to me is that these stories are discounted by "real" historians as not verifiable. The same situation exists in Indian families who have "historians" and researchers telling them that their oral histories are wrong. Wrong because they don't agree with the oral history of another Indian 100 years before. These judgments can cause real problems and it is important that we learn to respect oral history without worrying about the fact that something else may contradict the story. Our lives are far richer for all these stories we find in backwaters such as Ernie's Place.
Now let me tell you about my Uncle Boob and the dog at Tarzan's funeral... Maybe later.

suzy blah blah said...

he would simply ask "why?" he did that for a half an hour each time telling about something very sad happening to his people and asking "why?" at the end of it.

Compiling stories and facts of who, what, where, when, and how is merely a mechanical activity. Without answering the question 'why?' any study of history is meaningless.

Ben said...

Whoops... Abe Rogers' co inhabitants were 15 and 13 not 31. My piont is that we no longer consider such things acceptable, to our credit.

gabby haze said...

just back from the drive home... climbed away from the coast through the ascending forest, leaving the lavender sunset fog. the smooth drop down into long valley from the west is soooo beautiful. what a great Land holds our love and regard. the people are colorful though contentious at times, but they (mostly) only shoot each other with words these days, amazingly often missing the vital organs in some unspoken understood code of civil blogging.

oldmanriver is laying down exhausted... he said to tell suz she is right, but it is a survival matter. if my fridge goes out i may not get it repaired if i overly insult the blogmeister. you should understand that a little cherry garcia makes the skee* go whee; these are the kind of modern day survival considerations to weigh. and he said he was too content today to blargue today, as he walked away from the hot tub to the massage room.

on the way back we stopped to put feed in the feedsack of his pony.
the teller asked if i was going to look at mars tonite. i said why. she said it is supposed to be as big as the moon. i know i shot her the look without thinking, and she repeated her understanding that it would be literally as big as the moon. i could have made her feel silly, but i decided to thank her for telling me and to use it as an astrology reading...

and now I find my favorite chatroom getting all us and themmy again. that is the part of the brain that needs to be talked about.
which wolf are you going to feed?

*acorn mush... you yeehaws!

Jim Baker said...

Whoa! I just opened up Ernie’s blog to see if I could pick up any historical nuggets, and I feel like I stepped into the wrong bar just before a brawl erupts. I’ll try to make a graceful, if hasty exit. I feel that I must agree with Ms. BlahBlah, however, as I back out the door, that trying to answer the question of “why?” is the ultimate purpose of studying history (at least for me). But you can’t get to that question until you get the facts – just the facts - a la Joe Friday. That means looking for them without defensiveness or preconceived ideas of what you are going to find or where they will lead. I say this as one of Ernie’s “generational natives” who recently discovered that my great-great grandmother threw my great-great grandfather’s rifle down the well to stop him from shooting my orphaned teenage grandfather for locking his sister in the carriage house. And he would have done it. No wonder my grandfather ran away from the old man’s prune farm to join a survey crew on the Feather River. I don’t think I would have cared for my great-great grandfather whether he was kith and kin or not. But – Ernie is right that violence was a part of the landscape on the western frontier, and it was not confined to any single group of people or another. You learned to accommodate it or you left for more refined locales if you had the means to do so. Lynette’s Lucy did not. Modern day “finger pointing” or unproven accusations against long dead individuals who cannot defend themselves is not something to be encouraged. On the other hand, the objective gathering of facts surrounding historical incidents, some of which may be unpleasant, is pretty hard to do if all the names associated with the facts have to be purged. I don’t have an answer to the question of how to deal with it, but I would hate to go through life avoiding the truth because it makes me uncomfortable, especially if discovering and telling the truth serves some good purpose, which I believe an accurate recounting of our own history does.
Good night all, and thanks Ernie as usual for providing the opportunity for a mostly respectful dialogue.

gabby haze said...

i meant yee-haws in the most endearing way!

Lynette M said...

Thanks, Jim Baker, for some practical words of wisdom. Part of what I am realizing is that I need to recognize my own tendency to look for villains and heros in these stories and that people are never that simple.

I recently did a speech on the practice of indenture and used Helen Carpenter's (from Mendocino) description of Indian slaver Woodman (was it George, maybe?) . Helen was horrified at the treatment of the children he'd acquired and described their suffering. And I thought, "what a wonderful woman with a good heart". It seemed she recognized the natives as people.

Then... the other day I found the book, No Rooms of Their Own (edited by Ida Rae Egli), and in it is a story by the same Helen Carpenter called "The Mitchells". She writes about a freed "negro" and his squaw wife. In her glowing description of the man, she says that he has the "love of a true gentleman for his wife, although she was only a Digger Indian." Ah, Helen !

And then I also started thinking about how she described the suffering of native children, but obviously didn't intervene in any way, even when the children were obviously malnurished and abused...

I'll include a more detailed description of Carpenter's writing in my blog (lynette707.wordpress.com) for those who are interested.
I do think efforts to understand past behavior (of both our ancestors and strangers) can help us understand history, decisions and potential consequences of our own decisions, but trying to assign blame to today's generation is just silly.

Lynette M said...

Looks like I lied (unintentionally) about blogging today about Helen Carpenter... I do talk about indenture, though. Guess I shouldn't predict what I'm going to write until I've written it...

suzy blah blah said...

I know that you were born here Suzy. So, where is your family from?

there from back east Ernie.

Were they wonderful people?


Are you Al Capone’s niece


and how do you feel about that?

just fine.

You will never know some of the things that the locals know.

The locals?

You will never have the prospective to understand.

That must be because my relatives weren't prospectors.

The fact that the Local Indians didn’t mind killing their enemies and kicking their heads down the path doesn’t seem so bad until it’s your daddies head

we'll have agree to disagree on this one Ernie, Suzy thinks it IS bad no matter whos head it may be.

Oldmanriver said...

Mr. Haze, we have discussed this privately, but still you are tainting the blogs with inaccuracies. I have asked you to leave the history blogging to us pros. .

Your yeehaw comment was unneccessary and just wrong. Not to mention you stole one of my best lines and botched it. I am sorry to harsh your mellow, but when you point fingers like that you are also pointing three fingers at yourself.

"Wohahs" was the appellation given the whites by the Indians who observed and heard the oxen drivers shouting whoa and haw. Wohah, not yeehaw. Stephen Powers in his Indian Characteristics tells us: " Let an Indian see an American coming up the road and cry out to his fellows, 'There comes a wohah', at the same time swinging his arm as if driving oxen, and it will produce convulsive laughter" (pg 13).

Thanks Jim for jumping into the fray. It is no doubt annoying to some to go over the same ground that has been covered by our elder homeys, a post boomer term equivalent to generational natives.
For many of us newbies, this is all new information and so there is the initial horror that is hard to comment on without judgement. That is why I have posted so may of the contemporary judgements of those times. At some point, the endless chronicling of abuse becomes wearying, personally I have become more interested in the post Indian war period.

Talking about the Indians and their "head-games" out of context, and to make a point of equal cruelty to whites gets my goat. The warfare practices of the Yuki, Cahto, and Wailaki as described by Kroeber or Curtis were very different from the white battle mentality. From what I have read these tribes would get riled up over territory disputes or killings, take months to organize allies, get together on a battle field and shoot arrows at each other from a distance. The headmen would stand together, and after a few casualties on each side, they would call off the battle. I recently read an 1880 account that said the headmen would be out front of the battle lines dodging arrows. Sometimes they would get a body and take the head, wave it at the adversaries, take it back to the villages, etc. That is a cliffnote version of the Kroeber and Curtis accounts. This is a very different notion of warfare than the white model. the point people are trying to make is that to our modern eyes there were barbaric activities on both sides, and with that I would agree. However, from what I have read, the whites "out savaged the savages" much of the time; and just as in present times, rationalized their domination over others with the flimsiest of self-preservation notions.

This is my perspective at this time.

suzy blah blah said...

Mr. Haze, we have discussed this privately, but still you are tainting the blogs with inaccuracies. I have asked you to leave the history blogging to us pros. Your yeehaw comment was unneccessary and just wrong. I am sorry to harsh your mellow, but when you point fingers like that you are also pointing three fingers at yourself.

Dr. River, i must chime in here to say that Suzy feels that ur judgments of Mr. Haze a bit biased and unfair. Wouldn't it be more pc to say that when he points two fingers at his other he is also pointing two at himself. Do the math.

And take it easy on that old soul Haze, his is a long tail (or tall tale, depending on yr poor spective and also on ur bifocality ability) and but the good part of the story is that we are now on the historical cusp of the new-age of Aquarious. Mars is beginning to be capable of understanding the phrases of Moon, and I believe all things are holistic in the hottub at midnight and that the best thing since the sliced bread of life is the whisclip of death, bucuz you dont have the gang without the gin and theres always two sides to each cd but only one is rap music, which is why, uh . .

the whites "out savaged the savages" much of the time


gabby haze said...

ms. blah blah, thanks for coming to my rescue. omr isn't as swift as he thinks he is, but that don't stop him from lording it over me.
your fingers pointing math is correct, fingers pointing leaves two fingers pointing back at the pointer. and where the thumb is aimed is rarely talked about.

omr actually shot an indian recently, i was there so he can't sweep it under rug. he can be one angry s.o.b... this is true, btw:
we were coming home from another day of ecstatic history digging in bookstores and libraries, etc when an angry thought crossed his mind right in the middle of a peaceful day. as we crossed the briceland road bridge he screamed an angry declaration, just let it rip. as we entered the redwood grove there was an Indian man standing there, just standing there. trying to recover from his outburst, omr tried to wave at the Indian but it came out as a three finger salute that looked a lot like he was shooting the indian. when omr looked in the mirror he had that tweakerfire angry look which the Indian (if he could even see inside the car) must have seen or felt. omr felt so badly, he had opened a portal into his limbic mind where the bad behavior gets started from. he is hoping to see that indian and see if he felt shot, and whether an apology is in order. now that is a true story.
i guess anyone can go limbic. we'll see how he reacts to my sharing his "secret atrocity".
ps. there are parts of your comment i don't understand. but i am just a "backwater" blog reader.

spyrock said...

chester said that many of the younger Navajo were still angry and they had joined with other Native American tribes around the country who felt the same way and were petitioning the American government for a formal apology. I sat with that for a moment. What a small thing to ask... I thought. With all my heart I can support that apology and a similar apology to others who have been brutalized and hurt by the American government - the African Americans, the Japanese, and now the Iraquis. Would it hurt us so much to say we were on the wrong path and have now changed our ways and are walking the high path, and that we are sorry for the harm caused by our mis-steps, our mis-deeds?
i'm sorry these things happened. but good luck finding out the who what why or where. that's why all the books are locked up in the uc library and you can't check them out, you have to read them there if allowed to at all. that's why genocide and vendetta fetches $900 a copy. i've done a lot of research in this area for the last 10 years, some of it i have shared here but i don't feel the need to educate an audience who already has their mind made up and can't listen to anything without preconceived judgements about everything. so you are sol. i would suggest you walk your talk, do your own research since you seem to be unable to appreciate the research of others.
chester also said that 6000 navajo disappeared and were sold into slavery during the 200 years the spanaids controled their land. the american people didn't even show up until 1846. this one little example might prove to you that we aren't the only mean people in the world. maybe not. that every race, religion, and all of our ancestors can tell a similiar story.
in conclusion, there are probably only 2 people on my moms side of the family who know another name besides digger for a california indian. i am the only one who is a simmerly. if you read any account of any indian activity in any newspaper back in the 1800's digger is the name they used. there were also some people called diggers who provided food and shelter for the 1000's of runaways who fled to the haight in the 60's. so being called a digger doesn't always have a "bad" connotation.

Ernie Branscomb said...

“i would suggest you walk your talk, do your own research since you seem to be unable to appreciate the research of others.”

You are not talking to any virgin here. Like I say I was raised in the history, and I learned, finally, to never say anything that you can’t point to in print. Most of my ‘History” is word of mouth from people that I trusted.

What seems like most people, I’m not sure, will not find fault with any of the Indian People. It’s like sticking your finger in a fan. They see the white as an interloper, and no matter what happens, or no matter how pure and innocent the victim is, people take the attitude that “you are the intruder, you had it coming”. which I find particularly unfair.

I will never tell some of the things that I know, unless I see them somewhere else, verified in print. Then there are things that I won’t share with anybody that I don’t know to be a fair and unbiased custodian of the truth.

I see much of history being lost, from people simply not looking at the facts. The west was a brutal place. Russian, Spaniards, whites. And, Yes The Indian people could be brutal too.


EVERETT FREEMAN and his son live about one hundred and fifty yards east of us! EVERETT is one of the TRIBAL elders at the NOMLAKI casino that is about three miles from our houses! NO WORRIES HERE,not worried about the past! every one is rockin'& rollin,big bucks to be made off of the I-5 corridor!!!

Anonymous said...

"With all my heart I can support that apology and a similar apology to others who have been brutalized and hurt by the American government - the African Americans, the Japanese, and now the Iraquis. Would it hurt us so much to say we were on the wrong path and have now changed our ways and are walking the high path, and that we are sorry for the harm caused by our mis-steps, our mis-deeds?"

Spyrock, you said that so well. I wonder why as a culture we find it so hard to say "I'm sorry. I screwed up. I'll try to do better."

I've had it explained to me that the government can't apologize because then we would be taking blame for what our ancestors did. Now here I agree with Suzy. The government has to carry the blame from past deeds and try to fix wrongs done. People though, are different. For gods sake, I don't want my children blamed for what I do.

Anonymous said...

By the way, Ernie, your blog has the best conversations.

Lynette M said...

OK, so here is a strange coincidence... Everett is a direct descendant of Lucy ( my Lucy, the Lucy I write about... the reason I am here at all)...


... EVERYONE is complicated... everyone is lucky to be alive. I don't know about Everett benefitting from the casino, but I am glad he exists at all...

suzy blah blah said...

Now here I agree with Suzy. The government has to carry the blame from past deeds and try to fix wrongs done.

Now here I agree with Suzy. The government has to carry the blame from past deeds and try to fix wrongs done.

Kym, apparently you are as bad a listener as Ernie. Please don't put words in Suzy's mouth --i did NOT say that. It is insulting and painful and in the end tiring to come here to read my ideas misrepresented so that i have to repeatedly post that i did NOT say this that and the other thing that y'all's imagination runs with.

Ernie Branscomb said...

E:"You will never have the prospective to understand."

S:"That must be because my relatives weren't prospectors."

Just one other thing...
What are the perspects of having Suzy funnin' my typos?

suzy blah blah said...

Sorry Ernie but Suzy's not on the page. What you display here is the typical attitude of a repressed narrow minded ignorant redneck. Gag! No doubt largely due to inherited shame. This is understandable but really unnecessary. You seem to have a big heart and a good sense of humor which are commendable attributes. You even have at times proclaimed love and peace in an attempt at integrating your viewpoints. Yet you continue to sing the same old cowboy song, the song inside your head, like lemmings without a choice but to go over a cliff you agree and nod to the cloppety clop-clop beat of horses hoofs, riding onward to a Gene Audry tune ingrained deeply in memories of a boy's fantasies. LOL!

But seriously Ernie, i'm afraid that Suzy must say that i feel that, at least on this issue --you are in total denial. And it seems as if that is really the thing here that cannot be changed! So in parting i will just say that, if you won't smoke the offered pipe of peace and look deeply into the hiding place of evil, then at least wake up and smell the coffee of a new era and --get over it! Anyone who proclaims innocence sooooooo much is suspect.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Jeeeze Suzy, Bring you flowers and you eat them with your sprouts.

Sorry you're wrong. And I don't like Gene Autry. That's Bunny's cowboy.

Only humanity bears the guilt of the conflict, to say that the white man or the Indian was more guilty is only showing your repressed racism. I find it offensive. I am thankful that we live in a time where the thought that law and order can keep us away from killing each other over the thought of survival.

If you don't want to get it, that's your prerogative, nobody will kill you for thinking that way. But, there was a time that maybe they would have.

suzy blah blah said...

Just for the record, in case anyone reading this actually is capable of listening --Suzy NEVER SAID anyone was more guilty than another one. That is merely a goofy ol' man's delusion.\

Anonymous said...

Suzy, you didn't say that anyone was more guilty than any other person but your interpretation did.
If you really want the truth about Ernie's Generational Native history just go to the local reservation in Laytonville and see which family is mentioned as one of the most respected of all families in the area - both then and now, by the natives. Our families helped the Indians all of the time and they helped my grandmother in return. Yes, a couple of family members back in the 1860s faught with the Indians at Bloody Run, as did many settlers...Do you think we like it!! and I'll bet your family isn't squeaky clean either. Do you really think our families moved into this area to fight the Indians? You can bet it wasn't a one-sided fight. If a child was orphaned in a battle, many were raised by the settler families of our valley. They were treated well and in return respected their adoptive family. We do not condone what happened and we can't change history, but we can learn by our research and not let it happen again. You know, the Spaniards may even have their own little story to tell.

My mother's ggrandmother was partially scalped in Ukiah in the orchard on their property where she was merely picking pears.Their family had no feuds with the Indians. Yep, some of the family have pretty high cheek bones. Guess that was grandma's fault for picking her pears.

To say that what happened between the Indians and Whites in the 1860s is anyone's fault other than the government and people of that time is ludicrus. Would you blame your grandchild if you have one, for something your great great grandfather said or did? If you would, SHAME ON YOU. Even the Indians don't hold us accountable for what our ancestors did to each other.

suzy blah blah said...

Suzy, you didn't say that anyone was more guilty than any other person but your interpretation did.

i said something, YOU interpreted it, not me --duh.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Well at least it's not hard to interpret that she thinks that we're wrong, If i might be so bold.

Thanks for the support “Cousin”. We may be too defensive of our positions. Some of the people that we ague with on the blog have some pretty good points, but their one-sided idea of who was right and who was wrong makes me not only grieve for the Indian People, but also for OUR ancestors. Usually, I’m told in no uncertain terms that our ancestors were wrong, that they were the “interloper.” They don’t see the parallel of the fact that they are the new interloper.

I appreciate your care for me. We know the history of this area, and that we could no more stop the westward momentum than they can convince me that the culture clash was all our fault. Some of them are very naive, but not all. Some of the new people with strange ideas are catching on. They have discovered that it may have very well been survival on all of humanities part.

If we look around us, this is the only bubble of place and time where peace is thought of as ideal. For now I just going to be grateful for that.

I will have to say that, the way I got into this whole thing is knowing that few people feel the pain that we feel for our early ancestors. It is indeed a good feeling to know that we are family. Thanks again Cuz.

suzy blah blah said...

Well at least it's not hard to interpret that she thinks that we're wrong,

Yep, it's real easy, for a slightly paranoid shame laden biased old goofball.

Anonymous said...

Suzy, I don't think that you or anyone on this blog are wrong, I just read that you were being completely closed minded and it heated me up for a quick moment. What I want you to know is that we do care about our heritage, we hate especially what went on in Humboldt, Lake and Mendocino counties, we hate that lives were taken ruthlessly, it was a horrible time in history that hopefully will never be repeated. What White and his company did in Covelo was unbelievable. Anyone who researches will understand this. I don't think that stone throwing is the route. But, I believe in one's right to believe what they want. We have heard from both native and family, stories for generations. Even the research books are mostly from someone's memory ie Kroeder and Curtis. You can access information from the internet re: them.

Off the subject: Bill Ray was a very important person of the Kato Tribe in Laytonville who came down the Eel from the north. He'd have been their Chief according to the Generational Natives which are still around our community. There were in fact, many Lucys and Bill Ray's woman was one of them. It can be proved by the Phoebe Museum in SF. Old families named and renamed people for each other through the generations. It's very easy to confuse them.

Sorry if I bit your head off. I actually usually LOVE your comments. I don't think you're a "slightly paranoid shame laden biased old goofball." You have a fantastic sense of humor that can put humor into a long, tiring day.. Please keep commenting.

suzy blah blah said...

thanx 4 lifting me up Cousin, you are kind. Suzy fell into the ditch from her high perch, thanx 4 checking the conditions on the ground and being a good Samaritan. That you care about your heritage is accentuated by you caring for me.


Anonymous said...

Huggles Suzie:) Maybe we'll meet some day in the ditch, lol.

spyrock said...

yeah, we all love suzie.
somehow i think she might secretly be hanging out on the high road.

Anonymous said...

Oooooops. Phoebe Hurst Museum is in Berkely.

spyrock said...

dear cousin,
its really a shame that our ancestors aren't around anymore. they don't make people like them anymore. people might have been land rich but everyone was dirt poor. no electricity, no running water, outhouses, etc. we remember the most beautiful people we have ever met in our lives and its a real shame that people like them don't exist anymore. i feel really lucky to have been around those 1st contact people. their loss, not ours.

spyrock said...

the ancestors told me to come here. to tell their story. when my mom left spyrock they bought a dairy ranch. they lost all their cows twice to hoof and mouth but my uncle did the dairy thing until his wife died. they had a roping arena where they did team roping on friday nights. my cousins who got up early to milk the cows every day and i helped run the rodeo. i would put the cattle in the shoots, do the barrier, and do the flag and keep the time with a stop watch. auntie daisy was the announcer and she had the greatest voice. pappy had hereford bulls and cattle on his ranch. we used to take salt to them, move the irrigation pipes, doctor them, feed them hay, even brand them. i pretty much spent the first part of my life around cattle just like my ancestors in covelo and spyrock did and before that marysville. so when i went to the cemetery in covelo with dove and walked around seeing the simmerly mounument, it felt like people where saying to me, well looky whose here, its grace's grandson, and they've been with me ever since that summer in 2005.
so i'm finding out their story anyway i can, some of you are writing it for me. i think cousin is one of them who writes their story. i'm not sure that i'm worthy to write about them, but i sure have found out quite a bit these last 4 years. and hope to find out more. i'm not ashamed of my ancestors one little bit. i'm really proud of them. when someone like chester tells the story of how his family was killed i feel like my family was killed and some of them were.
i forgot to mention that chester is bahai besides being navajo. so we are all his people now.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Spy. You are truly a Generational Native. You have the passion, we do too. We come from the earliest families of the area and are fortunate their history was passed on to us. How great it is; our ancestors will live on because we won't let them die. I think they're smiling.