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Indian Slave Trade

Other Facets of this Indian Slavery

Other facets of this Indian slavery came from the travelers who kept records or diaries of their experiences on the Mojave-Utah branch of the Mojave Trail. One of the first Americans to use the Mojave Trail after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo showed knowledge of the slave activity. Orville C. Pratt, {pic} who was sent to California by Secretary of War Marcy and President Polk in 1848, wrote in Southern Utah that the "Pah Eutahs" were afraid of the Mexicans because they often carried the Indians into captivity. Again at Las Vegas he wrote about the number of Pah Eutahs in the vicinity who ran away like wild deer. (23)

A newly discovered diary kept by W. B. Lorton on his trip to California in 1849 revealed the extent to which this selling of Indians took place. While Lorton was in Utah, before his trip across the Mojave River Trail, he noted that he met the Ute Indian Chief Walkara, the "hawk of the mountains" and famous horse stealer and terror of the "Spanard and Pied". (24) Walkara definitely made two trips into California and perhaps made many more as there were numerous reports of Utes raiding the outlying ranchos in the 1840's. The Pied Indians were in the depth of poverty, Lorton continued; they increased too fast, and for a "plug of tobacco" they sold their children into bondage to the Spanish ranchos.

From the following Lorton quote, it might be assumed that Walkara also bought Indians from California and had some dealings with Isaac Williams' Ranch (Rancho Chino which was once part of the massive Mission San Gabriel holdings), but the veracity of the quote cannot be taken without challenge: "Indian Waker deals largely in Piede children and horse flesh, he agreed with Wms to purchase a lot of children and (when) the time came to receive them Wms had left, but, bound his successors to fill the contract, but this he refused to do, so he (Walkara) assembled his men and proceeded to the place, now says he 'I want the number of children or your scalp'. They were given." (25)

As recompense for the "dishonesty" of the ranchero, Walkara stole one thousand head of horses. In the 1844 census of Los Angeles, Rancho chino recorded sixty-seven Indians, eleven of which were listed as "washer women". Some of those could very well have been the Indians Williams supposedly sold to Walkara. (26)

As early as 1835, Paul Bailey credited Walkara as being the "acknowledged and undisputed lord of the Mexican-Indian traffic in human flesh." (27) This cunning Ute chief, who only fifteen years later was baptized into the Mormon faith, took captive women and children from the weak bands of Shoshonean stock in Southern Utah, Nevada, and probably the Mojave Desert and sold them as slaves around Los Angeles. Depth was possibly added to Walkara's profits by seizing captives on his return trips to Utah; and these, in turn, he would sell to the Mexican traders of Santa Fe.

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