Colorado River -
(Excerpts from: )
Camp 41, Mojave valley, February 10, ~ The gray rocks that skirted the river for a few miles
at the northern entrance to the Mojave range appeared to little advantage, contrasted with
the imposing features of the canon just passed. At every turn we now looked eagerly ahead,
expecting to come in sight of the Mojave valley. Our proximity to it was soon announced by
a lofty column of smoke that ascended from the summit of ii little peak near the bunk, where a
watcher had been stationed to warn tlie inhabitants above of our approach. In a few moments
a gap in the side hills revealed a glimpse of an open country, with bright foliiige and green
trees and a blue range in the distance, and after travorsing a short avenue, lined with low
End of chapter IV
66 MOJAVE VALLEY DESCRIPTION OF VALLEY MOJAVE INDIANS.
bluffs, and terminated by a narrow gateway, we issued from the hills and beheld the broad
and noble valley of the Mojaves spread before us.
At this season of the year, before the burning heat has withered the freshness and beauty
of the early vegetation, this valley, of course, appears in the most attractive aspect. It may
be that the eye, weary of the monotonous sterility of the country below, is disposed to exag-
gerate its charms, but as we first saw it, clothed in spring attire, and bathed in all the splendor
of a brilliant morning's sunlight, the scene was so lovely that there was a universal expression
of admiration and delight. Towards the north, to the limit of vision, the tortuous course of
the river could be traced through a belt of alluvial land, varying from one or two to six or
seven miles in width, and garnished with inviting meadows, with broad groves of willow and
mezquite, and promising fields of grain. Prom either border of this glistening expanse, and
contrasting with its emerald hue, rose dark gray terraces, leading, with regular steps, to the
bases of lofty mountain chains, whose bold and picturesque outlines are so softened by the
distance as to harmonize with the smiling scene below. A pale blue haze, singularly trans-
parent and delicate, lends an exquisite tint both to mountain and valley.
As the steamer emerged from the canon the Mojaves began to cluster upon the banks, and
I was glad to see, from the presence of the women and children, that they had no immediate
hostile intentions. A chief, with a train of followers in single file, approached the edge of
the bank to pay his respects, but as it was not convenient just then to stop, I made signs to him
to visit us in camp at evening. All day the Indians have followed us, examining the boat and
its occupants with eager curiosity. They, on their side, have been subjected to critical
inspection, which they can stand better than any of the tribes that live below. The men, as
a general rule, have noble figures, and the stature of some is gigantic. Having no clothing
but a strip of cotton, their fine proportions are displayed to the greatest advantage. Most of
them have intelligent countenances and an agreeable expression. The women, over the age
of eighteen or twenty, are almost invariably short and stout, with fat, good-natured faces.
Their only article of dress is a short petticoat, made of strips of bark, and sticking out about
eight inches behind. Sonie of the younger girls are very pretty and have slender, graceful
figures. The children wear only the apparel in which they were born, and have a precocious,
impish look. Their delight to-day has been to mimic the man at the bow who takes the
soundings, every call being echoed from the bank with amusing fidelity of tone and accent.
At some of the prominent points as many as fifty women and girls would be collected, pre-
senting, with their brilliant eyes and teeth, an agreeable picture. They regard the steamboat
with a ludicrous mixture of amusement, admiration, and distrust. The stern wheel particu-
larly excites remark. It is painted red, their favorite color, and why it should turn around
without any one touching it is evidently the theme of constant wonder and speculation. The
little babies form a remarkable feature of the group. Those that are very young the mothers,
with unusual good judgment, dispose of by tying them in a wooden arrangement, shaped like
an old fashioned watch case, which may be carried in the hand as conveniently as a walking
stick, or suspended to a tree, and the infant thus be securely and at the same time conve-
niently put away till required for nursing. When a few months older, they are taken out of
the case and carried upon the projecting petticoat, where they sit astraddle, with their legs
clasping their mother's waist and their little, fists tightly clutched in her fat sides. They have
a sharp, wide-awake expression, and their faces may always be seen peering from under their
mother's arms, spying out what is going on. They nurse without moving their position,
having only to elevate their mouths at a slight angle. It is rare for one of them to utter a
cry, which may be attributed to the judicious system of their early training.
When we went into camp large crowds surrounded us, and numbers, ioth of the men and
women, brought corn and beans to trade. Of the latter they have seven or eight varieties.
It was difficult at first to fix upon bargaining terms, and they seemed unwilling to come to any
MOJAVE VALLEY ~ ^VISIT FROM THE CHIEF JOSE. 67
agreement till the arrival of the chief whom I had seen. He, it seemed, had been several
times at Port Yuma, and had picked up, by ear, about thirty English words, without having
an idea of their meaning. These he rung the changes upon with great volubility, producing
an incoherent jumble of nonsense, which made him pass, with his admiring friends, for an
accomplished linguist. Mariano and Capitan declined to interpret, feeling a delicacy in oflFering
assistance in presence of one who spoke so fluently, and our new friend, with his jabbering,
proved a great nuisance. At length, with the help of a little pantomime, in which I have
become expert, a system of prices was arranged, and for a small quantity of beads and manta
I obtained one or two bushels of corn and twice as many beans.
I discovered that the talking Indian held only a subordinate rank; that he belonged to the
clan of Jos6, one of the five principal chiefs of the Mojave nation, and that we are to receive
a visit from the great man to-morrow. The minor chiefs wear a white plume, tipped with
crimson. I infer that rank is, to some extent, hereditary, for I observed a singularly handsome
and well-formed boy wearing the same badge of distinction.
I had some expectation that our visitors would object to being sent away from camp at
sunset, but, though a little astonished at the demand, they complied without hesitation.
Camp 42^ Mojave village, February 11. ~ ^Bright and early the Mojaves were in camp, eager
to trade, and while the fuel was being taken in I collected a considerable amount of provision.
Our own stock will be exhausted in about a week, and as it may be some time before the train
will come up, it is fortunate that we are enabled to lay in a fresh supply. Beans they appear
to have in abundance, corn in smaller quantity, a very slender stock of wheat, and a few
pumpkins. They raise watermelons, but these are not yet in season. Fuel is not so plenty
as it has been, but enough can be found every few miles to answer our purposes. There is
plenty of timber growing in the valley, but the dry wood is consumed in meeting the demands
of the large population.
A few miles from camp we descried an immense throng of Indians standing upon an open
meadow, and Capitan informed me that the chief Jose was awaiting, with his warriors, our
approach. As there was a good wooding place near by, I determined to stop and have an
interview, and, landing, sent him word that I was ready to see him. In a few moments he
marched up with dignity, his tribe following in single file, the leader bearing a dish of cooked
beans. A kind of crier walked a dozen paces in front to disperse from around the spot where
I was standing the women, children, and dogs. Jose is advanced in years, and has rather a
noble countenance, which, in honor of the occasion, was painted perfectly black, excepting
a red stripe from the top of his forehead, down the bridge of his nose, to his chin. There
was, in the first place, a general smoke at my expense, followed by a long conference. I tried
to make him comprehend that we were on a peaceful mission; that I had a great esteem for
him personally; and that I had certain things to ask of him, viz: that he should have provisions
brought in to be traded for; should never permit any of his tribe to come about our camp after
sunset; should send guides to conduct Lieutenant Tipton and train up the river by the best
route; and should at once detail an Indian to carry a package to Port Yuma and bring a return
package to us. In return, his people should be well paid for their provisions and services, and
he himself for his trouble.
My address, which difiered from any speech ever yet mado to a band of Indians since the
formation of our government ~ inasmuch as it contained nothing about the ** Great Father at
Washington*' ~ was at last duly comprehended by Josfi and by the crowd that were seated
around. It was difficult to satisfy them about the expedition; they could not understand why
I should come up the river with a steamboat and go directly back again, nor why it was neces-
sary to keep up a communication with Fort Yuma. I endeavored to explain these suspicious
circumstances, and apparently succeeded; for Jos6 said that my wishes should be gratified, and
that he would visit camp at evening, and meanwhile make the necessary arrangements to
f)8 MOJAVE VALLEY ESTABLISHMENT OF TREATY.
provide a messenger. I invited him to go with me on the steamboat; but he declined, and Jii«
friends appeared to think that he had done a prudent thing.
All of this occupied some time, and involved a great deal of gesticulation and intricate
pantomime, which, even with interpreters, I find it convenient to have recourse to. Oral
communication, under existing circumstances, is a complicated process. I have to deliver my
message to Mr. Bielawski,who puts it into indiflerent Spanish for the benefit of Mariano, whose
knowledge of that language is slight; when Mariano has caught the idea he imparts it in the
Yuma tongue, with which he is not altogether conversant, to Capitan, who, in turn, puts it into
the Mojave vernacular. What changes my remarks have undergone during these different
stages I shall never know; but I observe that they are sometimes received by the Mojaves
with an astonishment and bewilderment that the original sense does not at all warrant.
A shoal upon which the steamer grounded towards evening prevented us from going into
camp till dark, and I had to tell Jose and his followers that they must go away and return in
the morning. I gave the chief a pair of blankets, which, in compliance with what seems to be
an imperative law, he at once tore into strips and distributed to those about him; then he told
them, in a florid speech, that they must respect our property and treat us as friends; and the
crowd started for their homes. One or two stragglers, unable to resist the temptation, caught
up some little articles that were lying exposed and tried to run off with them; supposing that,
in the dusk, they could do so unobserved. They were detected in the act, and, dropping their
plunder, made a precipitate retreat. Jos6 appeared to regret the occurrence, and looked a
little sheepish at this practical result of his oratory; but some of the tribe were disposed to
brave it out, and for a few moments it looked as though our amicable relations were to be dis-
solved. Capitan, who had witnessed the occurrence, came forward and made them a speech.
He has a great reputation both as a warrior and orator, and was listened to with profound
attention and respect. His gestures were so expressive, and the tones of his voice so modu-
lated, that I could follow without difficulty his meaning. In glowing terms he represented the
impropriety of their conduct, and assured them that he was identified with our party and
would espouse our cause in the event of a quarrel. His remarks produced a strong impres-
sion, and the result was that Jose made a formal apology, and assured us that the would-be
plunderers were not Mojaves, but some visitors to the valley from a tribe beyond the mountains;
of which statement I assured him I did not believe a word. They all left camp, but with
serious faces, leaving Mariano and Capitan quite concerned at the turn affairs had taken.
The position of a Mojave chief is one of honor and dignity, but carries little authority with
it unless his views happen to coincide with those of a majority of the tribe. There are some
turbulent spirits who are disposed to hostilities; and should they commit any overt act, the
majority might disapprove, and yet, from unwillingness to give up or punish the offenders, find
themselves obliged to sustain their action.
When Lieutenant Whipple passed through this valley one of the five chiefs, whose name
was Cairook, and a sub-chief called Ireteba, joined him as a guide, and accompanied him
through the country west of the Colorado as far as the Mormon road that leads to Los Angelos.
They were noble specimens of their race, and rendered the party invaluable service. I have
been making inquiry after them with the hope of meeting them again, and learn that Cairook
still lives and retains his authority. The name of Ireteba the Indians do not recognize, and it
is probable that some mistake was made about his appellation.
Camp 47, head of Mojave vaUey, February 17. ~ Jose and his tribe returned on the following
morning, and seemed anxious that the indiscretion of the preceding night should be forgotten.
They brought in a good deal of provision, and a runner presented himself to take the Port
Yuma letters. These were prepared and handed to him, and he started off without delay.
He made no stipulation about the payment, but was much gratified at receiving in advance a
red blanket and a piece of cotton. I gave Jos6 ~ letting him clearly understand that it was in
MOJAVE VALLEY ~ VISIT FROM CAIEOOK. 69
payment for his services ~ some cloth, beads, cotton, and fancy articles, which he forthwith
distributed, retaining nothing for himself but a handsome red scarf ; this caught his fancy so
strongly that he could not part with it, but twisted it about his head, turban fashion, where it
excited general admiration. Their tastes are very arbitrary. Small white beads they highly
prize; blue and red beads they will not accept as a gift, with the exception of a single variety
of large blue glass beads, which they intersperse with the white in their necklaces; for cloth
or blankets, red is the color most esteemed; white cotton and any kind of clothing they are
glad to procure. Apart from their fondness for beads, their tastes are generally for things that
are useful; and for paints, ribbons, imitation jewelry, feathers, &c., they have a contempt.
We left Jose and his clan looking very much pleased at the result of the morning's negotia-
tions, and their friendly demeanor has relieved Mariano and Gapitan from a load of anxiety.
Their position would be a delicate one in the event of hostilities, as it might create unpleasant
complications between the Yumas and Mojaves. I think Mariano, though a good-natured old
fellow, would run away were there to be any fighting; but Gapitan seems disposed to stand by
our side. He quite surprised us by the bold and decided ground he took last night. Any
outbreak would be a cause for much regret. Besides our reliance upon the Indians for pro-
visions, our little party of twenty-four, in an open boat, half the time stuck upon a bar, could be
greatly harassed by six or seven hundred men concealed in the thickets that often line the
banks of the river.
On the same day that we bade farewell to Jose we passed another of the chiefs, whom they
call Manuel. He was seated in state on the bank, with his tribe around him; but it was not
convenient to stop, and when camp was reached at evening I learned that we were beyond
the limits of his domain, and that it would not comport with his dignity to visit us.
The next day we remained in camp. During the morning, while passing in and out of the
boat, I remarked an Indian seated for a long time near the end of the plank. At last I observed
that he was constantly regarding me with a half smiling, half embarrassed air, and, looking at
him more intently, discovered that it was my old friend Ireteba. He had been too modest to
introduce himself. He was delighted at being recognized, and at the cordial greeting he
received. He told me that his chief, ** Gairook,'' lived across the river, and would soon come
to see me. I at once proposed to Ireteba to accompany me on the boat, and upon the arrival
of the pack train to go with us eastward; and he expressed his willingness to do so. I judged
from his appearance that he was very poor, and gave him some blankets and other articles.
When he and Gairook parted from Lieutenant Whipple they were loaded with enough presents
to make them rich, according to an Indian's notions, for the rest of their lives; but it is the
custom of the Mojaves to bum their property when a relation dies to whose memory they wish
to pay especial honor, so that wealth is held by as uncertain a tenure as life.
The appearance of a great crowd upon the opposite bank indicated the presence of Gairook,
and in a few minutes a messenger swam the river, and asked me to send a boat over. This it
was impossible to do, as the skiflF had been hauled upon the bank for repairs that were not yet
completed, and there was no steam up. I was, therefore, obliged to send word that he must
furnish his own transportation. The river was deep, and it was inconsistent with his dignity
to make the first grand entr6 into camp dripping with water; and after a good deal of commo*
tion and delay he hit upon a truly regal method of crossing. A raft was provided, and four of
his tribe, one swimming at each corner, conveyed him over. He stood erect in the centre, and
the water, for an acre or two around, was alive with his swimming followers. The meeting
was friendly and pleasant. Gairook is a noble looking man. He is nearly six feet and a half
high, and has a magnificent figure and a fine open face. He seemed glad to see me, and laughed
a great deal as he alluded to former adventures. He inquired particularly for Lieutenant
Whipple, for whom he had conceived an exalted opinion. Many of his tribe remember, and
have been recalling, incidents of that expedition. Among other things, they were inquisitive
70 MOJAVE VALLEY ~ FRIENDLY INTERCOURSE WITH MOJAVES.
to learn something of the man who could carry his teeth in his hand; which brought to mind an
amusing recollection of the astonishment with which they had seen a member of the party take
out and replace one or two false teeth. Cairook spent the whole day with me. I gave him
plenty to eat, and some tobacco, and made as much of him as possible. He was highly gratified
at his reception, which he saw added to his importance with the tribe. Like the rest, he
required satisfying as to the object of our coming, and desired to know how long we were to
remain, and where wo were next going. As both he and Ireteba are intelligent men, and
quick of comprehension, I drew, upon the ground, a map of the river and the surrounding
country, and explained to them our plans, while they interpreted to the others. They seemed,
for the first time, to clearly understand and feel at ease about the matter. Their countenances
brightened, and there were frequent exclamations of **ahotka," (**good.") I told Cairook
what I required of him in regard to the trading for provisions, the rules to be observed by the
Indians, and the detail of messengers to carry letters to the fort; also that I wanted Ireteba to
accompany me, and that an additional guide must be selected to go with us when we should
leave the river. To all of this he gave a ready assent, and delivered a speech upon the subject
to his people.
I now gave him some presents, which he forthwith distributed, as Jos6 had done, to his
friends. The disposition of a few desirable articles that could not be divided occasioned him
some perplexity. He made an earnest speech upon the subject, and at some one's suggestion
it was decided to submit the matter to the popular vote. A deafening clamor and hopeless
confusion was the immediate result of this experiment in universal suffrage, till Cairook, very
sensibly, threw the objects of strife into the midst of the crowd, to be scrambled for, which
had the effect, after a fierce momentary tussle, of restoring peace.
For two days Cairook, at my invitation, travelled upon the steamboat. He was accompanied,
on the first day, by his wife. She is a nice looking squaw, and I allowed herself and her
spouse the privilege, accorded to no other Indians, of sitting upon the upper deck. We made
a good run, meeting with little detention, and they sat in dignified state, and enjoyed the
admiring gaze of their neighbors, who were assembled in crowds along the banks. From the
airs that were put on by Madam Cairook in consequence of being the only female thus dis-
tinguished, I am afraid that the trip turned her head, and that she must have been quite
unbearable to her friends after she left us.
As we steamed away from the Mojave villages we passed a conspicuous conical peak, a few
miles east of the river, which stands almost upon the 35th parallel, opposite the initial point of
the California boundary. Cairook soon after bid us good bye, and returned home. Ireteba is
to remain; and unwilling to be entirely bereft of the society of his tribe, has brought along a
lad of sixteen, by the name of Nah-vah-roo-pa, to keep him company. Since the meeting with
Cairook, our relations with the Mojaves have been of the most friendly description. They
have, at every stopping place, brought provisions to trade, and of beans and corn we have now
an adequate supply. Our original rations will be exhausted in a few days, and I have made
every exertion to procure some wheat, in order to vary, as much as possible, the fare, but of
this they have a limited quantity. The little flour they have brought is mixed with corn meal.
It makes an excellent bread.
The zoological collections have been largely added to. Fish, squirrels, rabbits, rats, mice,
lizards, snakes, Ac, Ac, have been brought in ~ many of them alive.
The behavior of the Indians has been orderly, and every evening, exactly at sunset, they
have retired in a body from camp. Mariano and Capitan are delighted with the pacific rela-
tions that have been established, and no longer manifest any impatience to return, though, a
few days ago, they were becoming importunate upon the subject. Capitan is a great favorite
with the Mojaves, particularly with the young ladies. For several nights he has been absent
MOJAVE VALLEY ~ DESCRIPTION OF THE TRIBE. 71
at entertaiomente given in his honor, and. If what Ireteba b&jb is true, has been taking advan-
tf^e of his absence from Mrs. Capitan to be altogether too much of a gallant.
There has been a great deal to interest ns among the people of this valley, and I regret that
we have bad to pass so hurriedly, and that we liave been unable to learn more in regard to
their habits and customs. Very few parties of whites have visited them, and none have
remained longer than a few days. They are, therefore, in their native state, as they have
Fig. 17. ~ Boundary Cone,
existed for centuries. Of their religion or superstitions, I have not been able to learn any-
thing. Government, they have ao little of, that there cannot be much to learn. They are not
at all communicative concerning their institutions. The marriage tie seems to be respected in
more than an ordinary degree among Indians. I think that few, if any, have more than one
Their minds are active and intelligent, bat I have been surprised to find how little idea of
the superiority of the whites they have derived from seeing the appliances of civilization that
surround those whom they have met.
Fire-arms, and the Explorer's steam-whistle, are the only objects that appear to excite their
envy. In most respects they think us their inferiors. I had a large crowd about me one day,
and exhibited several things that I supposed would interest them, among others a mariner's
compass. They soon learned its use, and thought we must be very stupid to be obliged to
have recourse to artificial aid in order to find our way. Some daguerreotypes were shown to
them, but these they disliked, and were rather afraid of. I heard one or two muttering, in
their own langnage, that they were "very bad." There being a few musicians and instru-
ments in the party, the effect of harmony was tried, but they disapproved of the entertainment,
as of everything else, and when the sounds died away, appointed two or three of their own
72 MOJAVE VALLEY ~ RELATIONS WITH OTHER TRIBES.
musicians to show ours how the thing ought to be done. These artists performed a kind of
chant, in a discordant, monotonous tone, and after making some of the most unearthly noises
that I ever listened to, regarded us with an air of satisfied triumph. I tried, by showing them
the boundaries upon a map, to make them comprehend the extent of our nation, as compared
with their own, and to explain the relative numbers of the inhabitants. The statements were
received simply as a piece of absurd gasconade, and had the same effect as the visits of some
of the chiefs of the northwestern Indians to the Atlantic cities, which have resulted in destroying
the influence of the unfortunate ambassadors, by stamping them forever, in the estimation of
their own tribes, as egregious liars.
Two of the five great chiefs I have not met. One of them, named *'Sikahot,'' lives not far
below our present camp, but we passed his territory without stopping, and like Manuel, he
does not think it dignified to go beyond his own dominions to visit us. They think it due to
their position to receive the first call. I had a long discussion with Cairook, Ireteba, and
Mariano about it. They were desirous that I should see Sikahot, and importuned me to stop
and visit him. This I was not anxious to do. For the sake of future parties that might visit
the valley, I had determined not to encourage the expectation that they were to receive from
the whites gratuities, but to exact always some equivalent in return for what should be given
them. The others had rendered or agreed to render certain services, for which they had
received payment, but of Sikahot there was nothing to be asked. I told Cairoot, and the
other Indians, that if I met their friend I could not give him anything, but that if he would
bring flour I would pay him for it as I had paid them; the Indians never gave white men any
presents, and ought not to expect any. This was an idea that had never occurred to them,
and they could not help grinning at the fairness of the reasoning. All the crowd laughed
when the remark was translated to them.
It is a fact well known to those who have had much to do with Indians, that, as a rule, they
never give anything to whites. Gratitude seems to be an element foreign to their nature.
The only emotion that benefits excite in their breasts is a desire to receive more. The Mojaves
have been uncontaminated by the vices that the approach of civilization engenders among
Indians, and are. perhaps, rather superior to the generality of their race, but, as far as we can
judge, they have, with few exceptions, certain qualities common to the Indian character.
They are lazy, cruel, selfish, disgusting in their habits, and inveterate beggars. Even Cairook
is not exempt from this last frailty, though, to do him justice, the things he asks for are seldom
for himself. Ireteba is the only one that I have never known to beg for anything.
We have had such agreeable intercourse with the Colorado Indians that it is pleasant to be
able to notice one good quality in them, and that is the exactitude with which they fulfil an
agreement. On several occasions this has been called to our attention, and I am disposed to
give them all credit for so honorable a characteristic.
The Mojaves preserve constant friendly relations with the Chemohuevis and Yumas, and were
allied with the latter in the attack upon the Pimas and Maricopas, last September. At that
time they lost one of their five chiefs and a great many of their best warriors. The Cocopa
Indians they bitterly hate, and make forays into their country, slaying and taking prisoners.
The unwarlike habits of that tribe have not permitted them to offer much resistance to these
incursions, but they avenged themselves by giving the warning to the Pimas, which resulted in
the wholesale slaughter of the attacking force. The animosity of the Mojaves against the
Cocopas has been raised to the highest pitch by the disaster which befel the war party from
this intervention of their despised foes.*
The hatred which the Mojaves bear to this tribe, and the ferocity of their passions when excited, are exhibited
in the following account, by an eye witness, of the treatment to which they subjected a prisoner belonging to
the Cocopa nation. The fearful retaliation which the latter has since visited upon them would seem to be no more than was deserved :
-- Olive Oatman account --
Among the captives they had stolen from the un.iffending Cjopv? w.w a handsome fair complexioned young female,
-- see below --
MOJAVE VALLEY ~ PRECARIOUS NATURE OP THEIR CROPS. 73
It is somewhat remarkable that these Indians should thrive so well upon the diet to which
they are compelled to adhere. There is no game in the valley. The fish are scarce and of
very inferior quality. They subsist almost exclusively upon beans and corn, with occasional
watermelons and pumpkins, and are probably as fine a race, physically, as there is in existence.
Before leaving Washington, the late Secretary of War, Mr. Davis, proposed to me to carry
out varieties of seeds for distribution to the Mojave tribe, and in accordance with this humane
suggestion I provided an assortment of vegetable and fruit seeds, and have given them to the
chiefs and some of the leading men, who have promised to try this season the experiment of
The annual overflow of the river enables them to raise, with little labor, an abundant supply
of provisions for the year, which they improvidently consume, allowing the future to take care
of itself. The failure of a crop is, therefore, an irremediable calamity. During one season, a
few years since, the Colorado did not overflow its banks ; there were consequently no crops,
and great numbers of the Mojaves perished from starvation. It is quite possible that such
visitations are of periodical occurrence, and are among the means adopted by nature to prevent
the population of the valley, as there is no outlet for it nor room for its expansion, from
increasing beyond the capacity of the country to sustain it. There is no question but that for
several centuries, since the first visits of the early Spanish explorers, there has been little or
no increase in the number of inhabitants. This number is apt to be overrated. I have dis-
covered that the crowds seen collected at the different points passed during our progress up
the river have been composed, to a considerable extent, of the same set of individuals, and
suspect that the chiefs in their first formal visits have enhanced their apparent state and
importance by borrowing recruits from their neighbors.
A system of irrigation and an improved method of agriculture would make the valley far
more productive, but it is not certain that it could ever be a profitable place for white settle-
ments. The shifting of the river bed, which, to the Indians who have a certain community of
property, is a matter of little importance, would occasion serious embarrassment to settlers
who had established permanent locations and improvements. The rapidity and extent of the
changes in the position of the Colorado can scarcely be imagined by one who has not witnessed
Having an opportunity to compare the condition of things at present with what it was four
years ago, I have been able to appreciate the transformations that are liable to occur, and am
satisfied that there are few places in the bottom lands that may not, during any season, be
Our camp is fifty-two miles from the foot of the valley by the course of the river, though
little more than half that distance in a direct line. A few places have been encountered where
the navigation is difficult. A rapid, over a gravelly shoal, occurs near the head of the Mojave
-- missing -- follows an account by Olive Oatman ---
about twenty-five years of age. She was as beauttfal as any Indian woman I have ever seen, tall, graceful, and lady-like in
*' A noisy meeting was held, and the night spent in one of their victory dances, during which they would dance around
her, shout in her ears, and spit in her face. The next morning a post was firmly planted in the ground, and about eight feet
from the bottom a cross beam attached. They then drove rough wooden spikes through the palms of their captive's hands,
and by these raised her to the cross-beam, and drove the spikes into the soft wood, extending her arms as far as they would
reach. Then with pieces of bark stuck with thorns they tied her head firmly back to the upright post, drove spikes through
her ankles, and for a time left her.
"They soon returned, and placing me, with their other captives, near the sufferer, bid us keep our eyes upon her untU she
died. Then they commenced running around the stake in circles, hallooing and stamping like demons. After a while several
supplied themselves with bows and arrows, and at every circlet they would shoot an arrow into her quivering flesh. Occa-
sionally she would utter piteous cries, which would awaken from the mocking crowd taunting yells.
** For two hours she hung in this dreadful condition, bleeding and sighing, her body mangled in a shocking manner.
Whenever she would scream aloud they would stuff rags in her mouth to silence her. After she was dead they took her body
to a funeral pile and burned it." ~ Olive Oatman.
-- continues --
74 MOJAVE VALLEY ~ BLACK MOUNTAINS.
canon, and one less violent twenty miles above. There are two or three troublsome shoals,
where the river is divided by islands into several channels, but as a general rule the navigation
has been better in this valley than elsewhere above Fort Yuma. The places that at low water
give most trouble are the bars where the bod is covered with pebbles or gravel, but these,
with a boat of lighter draught or at a higher stage of the river, would present no difficulty.
The range east of the Mojave valley we call the Black mountains. These raonntains run
from a point fifteen or twenty miles east of the foot of the valley in a northwesterly direction,
and cross the Colorado about fifty miles north of camp. Where the river breaks through this
chain there is doubtless a stupendous cation. Beyond the caRon is the supposed position of
the mouth of the Virgen and the Great Bend of the Colorado. Westward, opposite to camp,
is the pass through the spur that connects the Black and Mojave ranges, by which the wagon
trail of Lieutenant Beale leaves the valley of the Colorado.
The winter has given place to spring. The nights are cool, but ice is no longer found. The
days are very warm, but even the rays of the sun have seemed to be more tempered and less
oppressive since entering the Mojave valley.
Y-all are going to need a little imagination reading this until I can get back to it and clean it up all real nice and pretty.