Sacred Texts  Native American  California  Index  Previous  Next 


The tourist who visits the Indian camp in Yosemite expecting to find a village patterned after those of long ago is doomed to disappointment. The encroaching civilization of the white man has pushed all of that into the background, or entirely into the discard. The present day Indian wears the garb of the white man, cheap and dirty though it usually is. As a rule he eats the food of the white man, reverting to his acorn bread and other primitive dishes only on occasion of feast, and as a sort of memoriam to the good old days that are gone. The younger generation are being still further trained in the ways of the white man by attendance at his schools. The younger generation will usually be found to be neatly and cleanly, though more often, cheaply dressed, and living in clean if poor surroundings. The men who spend their summers in the Valley are employed by the government as laborers on the trails and roads, as guides and teamsters, and some of them on other work for which special training has fitted them. Some of the women are employed at the hotels as kitchen help and chambermaids.

The Indians deep in their hearts still harbor a resentment against the whites, although each year they receive

p. 125

many visitors to their camps with seeming indifference. It is well to be sincere in dealing with the Indians as they have an intuitive understanding of and a wholesome contempt for two-facedness. The old supposition, or saying, that an Indian has no place in his heart for gratitude could not be more untrue. They are appreciative of favors and quick to reciprocate a kindness. It takes a long time, a great deal of diplomacy and tact, coupled with at least a little understanding of Indian character, to establish yourself on terms of intimate friendship with the Indian, and always there are hidden recesses in his heart to which the white man will never be admitted.

The traditional honesty of their race is upheld by the present day Indians, although there are, of course, exceptions. Occasionally one will steal from a white man, occasionally from another Indian of his own tribe, but more often, through a queer feeling of jealousy of possession, from a member of another tribe. There are at present making the Valley their summer home very few descendants of the original Ah-wah-nee-chees or Yo-sem-i-tes, most of them being of mixed origin, or half breeds. Most of them will, when they can procure the necessary liquor, get drunk, all, or nearly all, of them gamble, and occasionally one beats his wife or engages in a quarrel or fight with some of his neighbors. But they are in the main a quiet, peaceful, and law-abiding people, preferring to be left alone to work out their own salvation along such lines as they themselves may choose.

Next: Chapter IX. Retrospection and Prophecy