The Indian Tribes of Los Angeles County:
Hugo Reid's letters of 1852
Edited and annotated by Robert E. Heizer
LETTER NO. I
LETTER NO. II
LETTER NO. III
LETTER NO. IV
LETTER NO. V
LETTER NO. VI
LETTER NO. VII
LETTER NO. VIII
LETTER NO. IX
LETTER NO. X
LETTER NO. XI
LETTER NO. XII
LETTER NO. XIII
LETTER NO. XIV
LETTER NO. XV
LETTER NO. XVI
LETTER NO. XVII
LETTER NO. XVIII
LETTER NO. XIX
LETTER NO. XX
LETTER NO. XXI
LETTER NO. XXII
LETTER NO. I
Before the Indians belonging to the greater part of this
county were known to the Whites, they comprised as it were one great Family
under distinct Chiefs. They spoke nearly the same language, with the exception
of a few words; and were more to be distinguished [by] a local intonation of the
voice than any thing else.1
Being related by blood and marriage, war was never carried on between them. When war was consequently waged against neighboring tribes of no affinity, it was a common cause. The following are the principal Lodges or Rancherías, with their corresponding present local names:2
Yang-na3 Los Angeles
Sibag-na4 San Gabriel
Isanthcag-na5 Mision Vieja
Sisitcanog-na6 Pear Orchard
So nag-no Mr. White's Farm
Acurag-na7 The presa
Cucomog-na9 Cucamonga Farm
Pasinog-na10 Rancho del Chino
Awig-na11 La Puente
Chokishg-na The Saboneria
Nacaug-na Carpenter's Farm
Pineug-na'12 Santa Catalina Island
Pimocag-na Rancho de los Ybarras
Toybipet13 San Jose
Hutucg-na14 Santa Ana [Yorbes]
Aleupkig-na15 Santa Anita
Maug-na16 Rancho de los Felis
Hahamog-na17 Rancho de los Verdugos
Pasecg-na San Fernando
Houtg-na19 Ranchito de Lugo
Chowig-na23 Palos Verdes
Kinkipar San Clemente Island
There were a great many more villages than the above, probably some forty;25 but
these are a fair sample of their names in which it will be observed that, with
the exception of two, they all terminate in gna or na.
Jurupa,26 San Bernardino &c belonged to another distinct tribe possessing a language not at all understood by the above Lodges; and, although reduced by the Spanish missionaries to the same religion and labor, they never mixed their blood, they being considered much inferior, and called Serranos or Mountaineers. They look upon them to this day, with great disdain.
That these names formerly had a signification there can be do doubt of. But even the oldest now alive confess themselves ignorant of their meaning.
The Chief of each Lodge took its name followed by ie,27 with sometimes the alteration of one or more final letters. For instance, the chief of Asucsagna was called Asucsagnie. That of Sibanga, Sibavie.
The title of a Chief's eldest son was Tomear. Of his eldest daughter, Manlsar.
Their huts were made of sticks, covered in around with flag mats worked or platted, and each village generally contained from 500 to 1500 huts. Suanga was the largest and most populous village,28 being of great extent.
It probably may not be out of place here to remark, that this tribe had no distinguishing appellation. And it is almost certain that many other tribes are similarly situated; for the so called Cahuillas have been named by Spanish Missionaries through the mistake of taking the word to designate the people. Whereas Cahuilla signifies nothing more than master.
LETTER NO. II
It is not the intention here either to compose a vocabulary of their words, nor
yet a grammar to their language. Yet probably an insight to a few terms and their
formation, may not be uninteresting to some.
They have a great many liquid sounds, and their gutturals are so softened down as to become quite agreeable to the ear. In the following examples, i has the sound of ee, u of oo, e of a as in fare, a of a as in father, ay of i as in ire, and gn is sounded as in French.
7 Watza caviá
8 Wehés Watzá
9 Mahár caviá
10 Wehés Mahar
11 Wehés mahár coy pucu
12 Wehés mahár coy Wehé
3 times Páhes
4 times Watzáhes
5 times Maháres
10 times Wehés mahares
20 Wehes wehes mahar32
30 Pahes wehes mahar
40 Watzahes wehes mahar
50 Mahares wehes mahar
100 Wehes wehes mahares wehes mahar
There is Woni33
There is not Yahay34
He or she Mane
The Sun Tamit
The Moon Moar
The Stars Zoót
Two examples of their verbs in the present, past, and future tenses, will suffice to show [their] formation.
I hear Non im nahacua
Thou hearest O-a nahacua
He hears Mané nahacua
I heard Non him nahacua
Thou hearest O-a him nahacua
He heard Mane him nahacua
I shall hear Nop uom nahacua38
Thou shalt hear O-pam nahacua39
He shall hear Mane pam nahacua
I speak Nou im sirauaj40
Thou speakest O-a sirauaj
He speaks Mane sirauaj
I spoke Non him sirauaj
Thou spokest O-a him sirauaj
He spoke Mane him sirauaj
I will speak Nop uom sirauaj41
Thou wilt speak O-pam sirauaj
He will speak Mane pam sirauaj42
It will be perceived that neither the person or tense alter the verb, but the
pronoun preceding it.
Their language is simple, rich, and abounding in compound expressive terms. Although they have words denoting to desire, to like, to possess, to regard, to have an affection for, and to esteem, yet, they have no word to express Love.43 At the same time they have many phrases to which we have no equivalent.
Their innumerable stories are all legends, and more than half believed; being of incredible length and containing more metamorphoses than Ovid could have engendered in his brain had he lived a thousand years.44 Everything is Oriental, even to their language.—Their fables are few and short. We may perhaps be tempted on some future occasion to give a couple of their traditions, one of their legends and a fable as an example.
Their language has deteriorated so much since the conquest, that the present generation barely comprehend a part of what one of the “old standards” say, when they speak the original tongue. There is now at San Gabriel an old woman named Bona, who takes a pride in speaking sometimes the “Court language” to the “young ones,” to stultify their intelligence.
LETTER NO. III45
Government, Laws and Punishment
The government of the people was invested in the
hands of their Chiefs: each Captain commanding his own lodge. The command was
hereditary in a family.46 If the right line of descent ran out, they elected one
of the same kin, nearest in blood. Laws in general were made as required, with
some few standing ones. Robbery was never known among them. Murder was of rare
occurrence, and punished with death. Incest was likewise punished with death:
being held in such abhorrence, that marriages between kinsfolk were not allowed.
The manner of putting to death was by shooting the delinquent with arrows.
All prisoners of war, after being tormented in a most cruel manner, were invariably put to death. This was done in the presence of all the chiefs, for as war was declared and conducted by a council of the whole, so they in common had to attend to the execution of their enemies. A war-dance on such an occasion was therefore grand, solemn and maddening.47
If a quarrel ensued between two parties, the chief48 of the Lodge took cognizance in the case, and decided according to the testimony produced. But, if a quarrel occurred between parties of distinct49 Lodges, each chief heard the witnesses produced by his own people; and then, associated50 with the chief of the opposite side, they passed sentence. In case they could not agree, an impartial chief was called in, who heard the statements made by both,51 and he alone decided. There was no appeal from his decision.
Whipping was never resorted to as a punishment; therefore all fines and sentences consisted in delivering money, food and skins.
If a woman proved unfaithful to her husband, and he caught her in the act, he had a right to kill or wound52 her without any intervention of chief or tribe. And any one hurting him made it a crime for which he stood amenable to the captain. But what was more generally practiced, the injured husband informed the wife's paramour that he was at liberty to keep her. He then went and took possession of the lover's spouse and lived with her. The exchange was considered legal, and no resource was left to the offending party but submission.53
Until the age of puberty, they were under the control of their parents; in default of these, of their nearest relatives. But from the age of puberty upwards, they came under the jurisdiction of the chief.
If a seer or wizard (they had no witches) was known or suspected of having made away with any one, the chief had no jurisdiction over him, because he conversed with the Great Spirit. But other seers could do him the damage they saw fit, in their capacities as such.54
LETTER NO. IV55
Religion and Creed
“They believed in one God, the maker and creator of all things, whose name was
(and is) held so sacred among them, as hardly ever to be used; and when used only
in a low voice. That name is Qua-o-ar. When they have to use the name of the
Supreme Being on any ordinary occasion, they substitute in its stead, the word
or “The Giver of Life.” They have only one word to designate life and soul.
The world was at one time in a state of chaos, until God gave it its present formation; fixing it on the shoulders of Seven Giants, made expressly for this end. They have their names, and when they move themselves, an earthquake is the consequence.56 Animals were then formed; and lastly man and woman were formed separately from earth, and ordered to live together. The man's name was TOBOHAR,57 the woman's PABAVIT. God ascended to Heaven immediately afterwards, where he receives the soul of all who die. They had no bad spirit connected with their creed; and never heard of a “Devil” or a “Hell” until the coming of the Spaniards.
It has been a current belief in this county, that the Indians of it worship the “Bald headed Eagle” as a GOD. There is no such thing.—The Indians make “feasts” to the Eagle58 on account of a tradition, which states it formerly to have been a remarkably clever, industrious man, chief of a large tribe, and who, when dying, told his people that he intended becoming an eagle, and that he bequeathed them his feathers, from henceforth to be employed at their feasts and ceremonies. Feasts are in consequence held in honor of his memory; and great reverence is shown to the bird.
Now, ten to one if an Indian at the present day be asked if they worship the Eagle as a god, he will answer, yes! because he is accustomed to hear the whites make game of their ceremony, and he does not care about giving an explanation which he knows will be laughed at.
The porpoises were believed to be intelligent beings, created for the purpose of guarding the world, and whose duty consists of going round and round the earth to see that all is safe.
The owl was held in deep reverence, and supposed to predict death, by screeching near the residence of the doomed one. It was never killed.
The crows advised them when a stranger was coming on a visit.
They believed in no resurrection whatever; either in particular cases, or a general one; but the transmigration of the souls of wizards for a time into the bodies of animals, particularly of the Bear, is firmly believed in.
Each Lodge had a church, called Yobagnar, which was circular and formed of short stakes, with twigs of willow entwined basket fashion, to the height of three feet. This church was sacred, but was consecrated nevertheless every time it was used. This took an entire day, being done by the seers in a succession of different ceremonies. There was also an unconsecrated one used for the purpose of rehearsing in and teaching children dedicated to this end, to dance and gesticulate. Having nothing to care about their souls, it made them stoical in regard to death. The only services performed in their churches were—asking for vengeance on their enemies; giving thanks for a victory; and commemorating the worth of their dead relatives.
The only ones admitted into the church, were the seers and captains, the adult male dancers, the boys training for that purpose, and the female singers. But on funeral occasions the near relatives of the deceased were allowed to enter.
LETTER NO. V59
Food and Raiment
The animal food in use among them was deer meat, young coyotes,
squirrels, badgers, rats, gophers, snakes, raccoons, skunks, wildcats, the small
crow, the blackbirds, hawks, ground owls, and snakes, with the exception of the
rattle snake. A few eat the bear, but in general it is rejected, on superstitious
grounds hereafter to be mentioned. The large locust or grasshopper was a favorite
morsel, roasted on a stick at the fire. Fish, whales, seals, sea-otters, and
shellfish, formed the principal subsistence of the immediate coast-range of
Lodges and Islands. Acorns, after being divested of their shell, were dried, and
pounded in stone mortars, put into filterns of willow twigs worked into a concave
form, and raised on little mounds of sand, which were lined inside with a
coating of two inches of sand; water added and mixed up.—Then
filled up again and
again with more water, at first hot, then cold, until all the tanning [tannin]
and bitter principle was extracted. The residue was then collected and washed
free of any sandy particles it might contain. On settling, the water was poured
off. After being well boiled, it became a sort of mush, and was eaten when cold.
The next favorite food was the kernel of a species of plum which grows in the
mountains and Islands, called by them, Islay (pronounced eeslie). Some Americans
call it the Mountain Cherry, although it partakes little either of the plum or
cherry. It has a large stone, to which numerous fibres are attached, pervading
the pulp, of which there is very little. Its color, when perfectly ripe, inclines
to black, and very much like what in Mexico is called the Ciruela. This, cooked,
formed a very nutritious, rich, saccharine aliment; and looked much like
dry boiled frijoles. Chia, which is a small, gray, oblong seed, was procured from
a plant apparently of the thistle kind, having a number of seed vessels on a
straight stalk, one above the other, like wild sage. This, roasted and ground
into meal, was eaten with cold water, being of a glutinous consistency, and very
cooling. Pepper grass seed was also much used, the tender stalks of wild sage,
several kinds of berries and a number of roots. All their food was taken either
cold or nearly so, which, of course, tended to preserve the teeth. Salt was used
very sparingly in their food, from an idea that it had a tendency to turn their
The men wore no clothing, but the women in the interior had a deerskin wrapped round the middle, while those on the coast had sea-otter skins put to the same purpose. Their covering at night consisted of rabbit skins, cut square and sewed together in the form of a bed-spread.60 Rings or ornaments of any kind were never attached to the nose, although all the Indians of Buenaventura and Santa Barbara used them. The men inserted a reed or a piece of cane through each ear; while the women wore regular ear-rings; each of which was composed of four long pieces of a whale's tooth, ground down smooth to a cylindrical form of eight inches in length, and half an inch in diameter. These were hung with the feathers of the hawk and turkey-buzzard, from a ring made of the oblong61 shell. Their necklaces were very heavy and large consisting of innumerable strings, of various lengths, of their money beads, of beads made of black stones,62 and pieces of whale's teeth, ground round and perforated. They used bracelets on both wrists, of very small shell beads.
During the season of flowers, the females and children decked themselves in splendor; not only entwining them in the hair, but stringing them with the stalks and leaves, making boas of them.
LETTER NO. VI63
Chiefs had one, two or three wives, as their inclinations dictated.
The subjects only one.64 When a person wished to marry, and had selected a
suitable partner, he advertised the same to all his relations, even to the
nineteenth cousin. On a day appointed, the male portion of the lodge, and male
relations living at other lodges brought in a collection of money beads. The
amount of each one's contribution was about twenty-five cents. All the relations
having come in with their share, they (the males) proceeded in a body to the
residence of the bride, to whom timely notice had been given. All of the
bride's female relations had been assembled, and the money was equally divided
among them; the bride received nothing, as it was a sort of purchase. After a few
days the bride's female relations returned the compliment by taking to the
bridegroom's dwelling baskets of meal made of Chia, which was distributed among
his male relations. These preliminaries over, a day was fixed for the ceremony,
which consisted in decking out the bride in innumerable strings of beads,
paint, feathers and skins. On being ready, she was taken up in the arms of one of
her strongest connections, who carried her dancing towards her sweetheart's
habitation. All of her family, friends and neighbors accompanied, dancing around,
and throwing food and edible seed sat her feet every step, which were collected
in a scrabble as they best could by the spectators. The relations of the man met
them half way, and taking the bride, carried her themselves, joining in the
ceremonious walking dance. On arriving at the bridegroom's (who was sitting
within his hut) she was inducted into her new residence by being placed along
side of her husband: while baskets of seeds were liberally emptied on their
heads, Lb denote blessing and plenty. This was likewise scrambled for by the
spectators; who on gathering up all of the bride's seed cake, departed, leaving
them to enjoy their “Honey Moon,” according to usage.
A grand dance was of course given on the occasion, where might be seen warriors and hunters in full costume, making their various gestures in character, indicative of their respective callings. The old women took a part in the dance either as if carrying of game, or of dispatching their wounded enemies, as the avocation of their husbands called for. The younger portion of the women and old men sat around as singers.
The wife never visited her relations from that day forth, although they had undebarred leave to visit her.
In case her “Lord” ill used her, and continued to beat her in a cruel manner, she gave advice of it to her kin, who in consequence collected together all the money which had been paid in at the marriage, and taking it in deputation to the husband's hut, left it with him, leading off the wife. They immediately married her to another.
The last case of bigamy or rather polygamy, was in one of the Chief's from Santa Catharine; who was ordered by the priest to San Gabriel, and there baptized. He had three wives, the first of which was allowed him, and the others discarded. The Priest joined him in the holy bonds of matrimony according to the form of the Catholic Church; which to him appeared highly ridiculous. He is still alive and now resides at San Fernando; his name, as known at present, is Canoa, or Canoe: he is still a Captain and accounted a great wizard.
LETTER NO. VII65
Births and Burials
Immediately on the birth of a child, the mother and infant
were baked, or in other words purified. In the centre of a hut a large hole was
dug; an immense fire was kindled therein, and large stones heated until red-hot;
when nothing but hot embers and the aforesaid stones remain, bundles of wild
tanzy are heaped on, and then the whole is covered with earth, with the exception
of a small aperture in the middle. The mother had to stand over this hole, with
her child wrapt up in a mat, funnel fashion, while cold water was gradually
introduced into the opening. This generated great quantities of steam, which was
so hot at the commencement as to cause the patient to leap and skip not a little,
while it produced profuse sweating afterwards. When no more steam was produced,
the mother and child laid down on a heap of earth, and were well covered up until
the steaming process was renewed. Three days was the term of purification, and
morning and evening the times for sweating. No food was allowed to the mother
during that time, and her drink (water) was warmed. She was now allowed to eat of
everything at discretion, except animal food, which was debarred her for the
period of two moons. Her diet at length completed, three pills were prepared of
the size of a musket ball compounded of one part meat and one part wild tobacco.
These were administered to her, swallowed, and from henceforth she was declared
free to eat meats of any kind. But not until the child could run about, was
she privileged to share her husband's bed.
If a child was born to a chief, the old women immediately assembled, and washing it in water drank the same, with great gusto. They then had a dance around the happy father, chanting all the while the future renown of the little one.
When a person died, all the kin collected to lament and mourn his or her loss. Each one had his own peculiar mode of crying or howling, as easily distinguished, the one from another, as one song is from another. After lamenting awhile, a mourning dirge was sung, in a low whining tone, accompanied by a shrill whistle, produced by blowing into the tube of a deer's leg bone. Dancing can hardly be said to have formed a part of the rites, as it was merely a monotonous action of the foot on the ground. This was continued alternately until the body showed signs of decay, when it was wrapt up in the covering used in life.
The hands were crooked upon the breast, and the body tied from head to foot. A place having been dug in their burial place, the body was deposited, with seeds, &c, according to the means of the family.66 If the deceased were the head of a family, or a favorite son, the hut in which he died was burned up, as likewise all of his personal effects,67 reserving only some article or another, or a lock of hair. This reservation was not a memento of the deceased, but to make a feast with on some future occasion, generally after the first harvest of seeds and berries.
LETTER NO. VIII68
Medicine and Diseases
Their medical men69 were esteemed as wizards and seers, and
called A-hub-su-voi-rot. They not only cured diseases, but created them; they
poisoned people with herbs and ceremonies, made it rain when required, consulted
the good spirit and received answers, changed themselves into the form of divers
animals, and foretold coming events. All of this was firmly believed by the
people, and in consequence their seers were held in dread and deep reverence.
In regard to the diseases then prevalent, inasmuch as syphilis was unknown, Brandy and its associates unused, and high living at a low ebb, their nosology was very limited. Toothache seldom or never troubled them for which reason they carried the teeth perfect to the grave. Rheumatism was cured by applying a string of blisters to the part affected, each about the size of a ten cent piece. The blister used was made of the furz of dry nettle stalks, rolled up and compressed, put on and made to adhere with spittle. Fire being applied, it burned like spunk70 and when one went out another was lit. The blisters formed were immediately opened. Lumbargo was cured by making the patient lay on his back for twenty or thirty hours on hot ashes and giving him sweating herbs to drink. Fever was cured by giving a bolus of wild tobacco,71 to insure vomiting, herbs administered and manupitations [manipulations] of the seer, accompanied by a song. Local Inflammation was treated by drawing blood from the surrounding parts by scarifying with sharp pieces of flint. Paralytic affections, stagnation of the blood, and loss of action in the limbs were cured by whipping with bunches of nettles; as likewise by drinking the juice of the thorn apple (datura stramoniuns) which produced an ebriety of three days duration.72—Decline (of very rare occurrence) was treated by giving, for a length of time, the meat of mud turtles, cooked.
They were well acquainted with lime in medicine, and made it from shells; but not aware of its presence in rocks. It was pounded up with wild tobacco and used immediately if intended to produce a nauseous intoxicating feeling, but in a more agreeable state it was powdered up well and kneaded into thick cakes, kept, and when required, a piece of the requisite size broken off and eaten.72—Lime was supposed not only to clean the stomach, but likewise the bladder.
Strangury was cured by steaming the patient as in the purification of women after parturition; only that marsh mallows were used instead of tanzy. Immediately after a very large ball of masticated tobacco was given, which caused great depression and relaxation of the nervous system, often times producing the desired effect. If not, blood was drawn by sucking the abdomen immediately over the region of the bladder. This operation was performed with many prior rights [rites], such as smoking to the Great Spirit, pressure and rubbing of the part73 with the hands, and a song,74 every verse of which concluded with
NOM IM MANOC, IN MANOC,
NOM IM MANOC, IN MANOC.
I do, what I am doing,
I do, what I am doing.
Even the name of the Deity was not invoked in this, but the place of worship.
Bites of snakes were cured by the application of herbs and ashes to the wound;
and herbs, ashes, and the fine dust found at the bottom of ant's nests given
The hair was at times plastered all over with red clay, which was allowed to
remain twenty-four hours on and was then washed off. This was supposed to impart
a gloss and prevent it from splitting. To cure baldness, [chilicotes]75 were
burned to a charcoal, ground to paste and rubbed into the grain of the scalp,
morning and evening.
The seers (as medicine men) collected the poison used for dipping the heads of arrows—Fire was supposed to destroy its hurtful properties; consequently the flesh of animals killed with poisoned arrows was eaten without any misgivings. The truth of the matter is that said poison contained nothing virulent, it being only gall boiled down to the consistency of honey.
The seers pretended not only to be acquainted with poisons which destroyed life, by giving it internally, but also with others whose tact [contact?] alone produced death, some being instantaneous, and other requiring one, two, or even twelve moons to operate.76
LETTER NO. IX77
A great number of their young men being hunters, they of course had
their peculiar superstitions. During a hunt they never tasted food; nor on their
return did they partake of what they themselves killed, from an idea that whoever
eat of his own game hurt his hunting abilities. Before going on a hunting
expedition they stung themselves all over with nettles, more particularly the
eyes, the lids of which were opened to introduce the leaves.—This was done
to make them watchful, vigilant and clear sighted. The skin of a deer's head and
neck was put on their own, and on seeing game they would feign to be grazing—lifting up the head occasionally
to stare about. By such means they approached so
near to make the first arrow “tell.” To make them hardy and endure pain without
wincing (for cowardice as to corporeal suffering was considered, even among the
women, as disgraceful) they would like down on the hill of the large red ant,
having handfuls of them placed in the region of the stomach and about the eyes.
Lastly, to insure a full dose, they swallowed them in large quantities, alive!78
A small string of buckskin was tied around the neck of those who were swift of foot.
When a girl came to the age of puberty, it was a joyful occasion for her relations. She underwent a purification in the same manner as women did at child birth,79 accompanied by singing, and all were informed of her being marriageable.
The children were not without some education, for if an adult asked a boy or girl for a drink of water, they were not allowed to put it to their lips until the other had satisfied his thirst. If two persons were in conversation, a child was not permitted to pass between them, but made to go round them on either side. No male from childhood upward was allowed to call his sister liar even in jest.80 The word for liar being yayare.
The name of God, as before mentioned, was never taken in vain, and the only
exclamation amounting to anything like an oath was nió-mare! which simply
means bless me!81
Animosity between persons or families was of long duration, particularly between those of different tribes. These feuds descended from father to son until it was impossible to tell how many generations. They were, however, harmless in themselves, being merely a war of songs, composed and sung against the conflicting party, and they were all of the most obscene and indecent language imaginable.—There are two families at this day whose bad feelings commenced before Spaniards were even dreampt of and they still continue yearly singing and dancing against each other. The one resides at the Mission of San Gabriel, and the other at San Juan Capistrano; they both lived at San Bernardino when the quarrel commenced. During the singing they keep stamping on the ground to express the pleasure they would derive from tramping on the grave of their foes. Eight days was the duration of the song fight.82
They saluted each other on meeting by saying ava aha? how are you? To which the other, if well, responded by answering tehépko; but if unwell, by chainoc. On parting they bid no good bye; the one merely said yamu uimi, I am going; to which the other answered, mea! go!
In regard to painting themselves, they had different grades according to the occasion.—Warriors and dancing parties were painted with different colors. Young females in “love” painted sparingly on the cheeks with red ochre. Women to the middle age and a little over, when required to be in the sun, put it on plentifully all over their features, to prevent their getting sun burnt.
Summer was considered to have commenced whenever the croaking of frogs was heard.—This, with the sun's declination north and south, served them to reckon long periods by; but short time was reckoned by days and months.
LETTER NO. X
Boys were trained to carry messages from one chief to another, and they
continued in that service until worn out. It required a retentive memory.
They were not much given to travel, for they only relate of one traveler, who left his people and proceeded North, until he came to where the geese breed. And even he appeared to have possessed the organ ascribed to his genus; for on returning, he reported having fallen in with a nation whose ears reached to the hips! with another of diminutive stature; and finally, with a people so perfect, that they would take a rabbit or other animal, and merely with the breath inhale the essence; throwing the rest away, which on examination proved to be excrement!84
They had only names for the four cardinal points of the compass, to wit:85
When a church feast was held—for instance in commemoration of the dead—they rehearsed with the tiros for eight days previous, in unconsecrated place of worship. All being ready, the seers took an entire day to consecrate the church; this done the fast [feast] commenced on the second day. The singers (women) were seated in a circle around the church, leaving only the doorway free. The men and children, adorned with eagle and hawk's feathers, and a plentiful supply of paint laid on the face, neck, arms, and upper part of the body, proceeded to dance, being governed in the operation by numerous gestures, both of hands and feet, made by the seers. Each dancer represented some animal in his movements; but the growl given simultaneously at the end of each verse, was for the Bear.
At the four quarters of the compass, poles of some ten feet in length, were placed upright with a string at the end, on which feathers were filed, forming a sort of banner. Food was furnished the performers in abundance, at short intervals, and this continued six days and nights. They sung songs in praise of the deceased, and sung others to the destruction of his enemies. They danced to his memory, and did the same to the destruction of his foes.
On the eighth day the church was more adorned than before. When no more feathers could be stuck around, they placed them on their persons in profusion. The old women were employed to make more food than usual, and when the sun was in its zenith it was distributed, not only among the actors, but to the spectators likewise. After eating, a deep hole was dug, and a fire kindled in it, when the articles reserved at the death of relatives were committed to the flames; at the same time, baskets, money, and seeds were thrown to the spectators, as in the marriage ceremony. During the burning process, one of the seers, reciting mystical words, kept stirring up the fire to ensure the total destruction of the things.—The hole was then filled up with earth and well trodden down. The feast was over.86
LETTER NO. XI87
Traffic and Utensils
Although money in the strict sense of the word did not
exist among them, they had an equivalent, consisting of pieces of thick rounded
shells, less in diameter than a five cent piece. These had a hole in the centre
and were strung on long strings. Eight yards of these beads (for they were also
used as such) made about one dollar of our currency. Their mode of
measuring consisted in meting from the knuckles of the left hand to the point of
the middle finger, thence round to the wrist, back again to the end of the
finger, and thence round to one inch above the wrist. This quantity was called
pucu ponto, and a real of Spanish currency received the same name.88 Double that
quantity was called wehé peca, as also were two reals; three times the quantity
was called páhe ponco; four times, sayaco; five times, máhar ponco; six times,
babahe paca, and seven times, which was watza cavia or páhe motke, finished
their count. On account of their having no “eight times,” they now adopt
the Spanish economy, and say puen peso, one dollar. They had thereby a
circulating medium and legal tender to transact business, when barter could not
be employed. Considerable barter and trade was carried on between those of the
coast and those of the interior, the latter furnishing deer skins and seeds in
exchange for money, fish, sea otter skins and soapstone pots.89
Hemp90 was made from nettles, and manufactured into nets, fishing lines, thread, &c. Needles, fish-hooks, awls and many other articles were made of either bone or shell, although for cutting up meat, a knife made of cane was invariably used.
Mortars and pestles were made of granite, about sixteen inches wide at the top, ten at the bottom, ten inches high and two thick. Sharp stones and perseverance were the only things used in their manufacture,91 and so skillfully did they combine the two, that their work was always remarkably uniform.
Their present clay pots were at that time unknown; the Spaniards taught them their manufacture.
Their pots to cook in were made of soap-stone of about an inch in thickness, and procured from the Indians of Santa Catalina; the cover used was of the same material. Their baskets made out of split rushes are too well known so [to] require description; but though water-proof, they were used only for dry purposes. The vessels in use for liquids were roughly made of rushes and plastered outside and in with bitumen or pitch, called by them sanot.
LETTER NO. XII92
Sports and Games
These were few, and all of a gaming nature. The principal one
was churchurki93 or peon as it is called by the Spaniards. It consists of
guessing in which hand a small piece of stick was held concealed by another. Four
persons on a side composed a sett, who sat opposite each other. They had their
singers, who were paid so much a game, and an umpire who kept count, held the
stakes, settled disputes and prevented cheating. He was paid so much a night,
and had to provide the firewood. He was provided with fifteen counters, which
were of reed and eight or ten inches long. The guessers never spoke, but giving
the palm of the left hand a sharp slap with the right pointed with the finger to
the side they guessed contained the peon. Those who guessed right, won the peon,
and the others took a counter each, and so on, until they possessed all
the counters or lost all the peons, when the opposite side took the counting
The peon was white, of an inch or two in length; but they had also a black one, which to prevent fraud, they had to remove to the other hand on changing; so as always to retain one in each hand, to show when called upon.
This was their favorite game, and they at times bet their all on it. It still continues to be their ruling passion to bet at this game in preference to any other; for the by-standers take as much interest and wager as heavily as those principally concerned.
Another game called chachaukel94 was played between two. The counters consisted of 50 small pieces of wood, stuck on end in the ground in a row, and two inches apart, with a pointer for each player to show his stage of the game. Eight pieces of split reed, with the under side blackened, were thrown, points down, and as many white sides as came up, counted to the thrower; but where all came up black, they counted also. To throw eight entitled the player to another throw.
The adversaries counted from opposite ends, and if one's count came to that of the other, the rule was for the party caught to commence anew; which prolonged the game sometimes to a great length.
A game called hararicuar consisted in rolling a ring95 and two persons threw long lances of reed, and if the ring lay on one or the other so it counted. Three times constituted a game.
The last I shall mention is wauri, in which one person placed under a basket eight pieces of reed (painted on one side) as he thought proper; while another made corresponding marks on the ground. They were then compared to see whether the guess were right or not.
Foot-ball was unknown until the conquest, when they learned it of the Indians of San Diego.96
LETTER NO. XIII97
There were seven brothers married to seven sisters, according to their
respective ages, who lived in a large hut together. The men went daily to hunt
rabbits and the women to gather roots of flags for food. The husbands invariably
returned first and on their wives' arrival invariably reported “bad luck” in
their hunt, with the exception of the youngest, who, without fail, handed his
wife a rabbit. Consequently the poor women fared badly as far as animal food was
concerned. This continued, as a daily occurrence, for a long time, until in a
conference held by the females they were convinced that they were cheated by
their partners. Considering that it was so very strange that nothing was ever
killed except by the youngest, they determined to arrive at the truth.
Accordingly they agreed that the youngest sister should remain at home on the
morrow, under pretext of having a pain in her jaw,98 and so watch the return of
the party—Next day the men as usual took their bows
and arrows and set forth.
The six sisters then departed leaving the other concealed among the flags and
rushes at the back of the hut in such a position as to command a view of
everything transacted within.
Several hours before sunset the hunting party returned laden with rabbits which they commenced roasting and eating, except one which the youngest put apart. The others called him a fool and bade him eat the remaining one which he refused to do saying he still had some affection for his wife and always intended to reserve one for her. More fool you said the others; we care more for ourselves than for these root-diggers. On the conclusion of the feast, the bones were carefully gathered together and concealed in a suitable place on the outside.
After some time had elapsed, the youngest wife arose and presented herself to the men in the hut, to their great surprise. On being asked where she came from she answered: I have been asleep at the back of the house, having had to remain behind from a pain in the jaw, but am now better, as the sleep did me good. After a while the women came home and running up to their sister inquired after her health.
They soon found an opportunity to leave the hut and inquired the result of the espionage besides visiting the deposite of bones. They cried a great deal and talked over what they should do. Let us turn into water said the eldest. That would never do responded the rest for in that case our husbands would drink us.
The second proposed being turned into stones which was
rejected on the ground of being trodden upon by the fraternity. The third wanted
they should turn to trees which was not acceded to because they would be used for
fire wood. Everything proposed was put aside on account of some defect until it
came to the turn of the youngest. Her proposition to change themselves into Stars
was objected to on account of being seen but not overruled as they would-be out
They proceeded to the lagoon where they daily collected flag-roots and constructed a machine (impossible to describe)99 out of reeds, and ascended to heaven and located themselves at the Pleiades. These seven stars still retain the names of the originals.
Only the youngest brother appeared to be vexed at the loss of his spouse seeking her daily in the woods. One day, on going to the edge of the lagoon, bewailing his hard fate, the sisters had compassion on him. They instructed him how to use the machine they had made, and receiving him on high, placed him apart, as the constellation Taurus shows. The Indians still retain a song about these seven stars.
LETTER NO. XIV100
Tradition and Fable
Among the most curious of their traditions was the
following: Four brothers and a sister lived together in [a] hut and were very
fond of each other. The young men were principally engaged in hunting. The girl,
whose name was Chukit, had refused many offers of marriage. After a while she
became melancholy and fond of solitude and appeared to be enamored of the
lightning, after expressing a desire to possess it.—Her eldest brother in the
course of time perceived that she was with child and taking the others into the
woods spoke as follows: “Bretheren, I perceive with sorrow that our sister has
been harmed; she holds no intercourse with the young men of our village,
therefore one of you has done this evil.—Which of you is it? Speak!”
The three declared themselves innocent, and each one mentioned his having had his suspicions regarding his fellows. They concluded at last to ask their sister, which was done.—“Who is the father of your child,” said the eldest on their return to the hut. Bursting into tears she denied ever having had any connection with man, but stated that about seven moons previous, having wandered into the woods saying ever and anon to herself “would that the lightning were mine!” that the lightning came out of a cloud and flashed over her, when she perceived a strange sensation of cold pass like a piece of ice through her brain into the abdomen. That she had subsequent intercourse with it always producing the same effect.
After some time the pains of labor commenced and a man-child was born. The midwife having asked for something to cut the navel string, to the astonishment of all, the child said, “No! It will hurt me!” According to the Indian custom all new-born children are given urine to drink for a medicinal purpose and on a by-stander's recommending the dose to be given, the child said, “No! it is bitter.” He was called Mactutu, and every day became more and more wise, arguing with all the old men and seers on divers subjects, always to the discomfiture of their allegations and prostration of their wisdom. After gaining a victory he always told them it was useless to dispute with him, as he was the Son of God.
The chiefs and wise men of the tribe at length determined to put him to death. He was aware of it and bantered them continually by saying, “Put me to death, but in three days I will arise again!”
After many consultations his enemies hit upon a plan which destroyed him completely, for they said among themselves, if we burn his body how can he rise again, seeing that he is consumed! He was accordingly burned alive, and his body dissipated. He never appeared more.
Some Indians after this said, “there is no God,” because they had destroyed him; but the greater part said “No! we have only destroyed his body, for his soul ascended to Heaven!”101
The Coyote and the Water
A coyote, which, like all the rest of his kin, considered himself as the most austere animal on the face of the earth, not even excepting man himself, came one day to the margin of a small river. Looking over the bank, on seeing the water run so slow, he addressed it in a cunning manner. “What say you to a race?” “Agreed to.” answered the water very calmly. The Coyote ran at full speed along the bank until he could hardly stand from fatigue and on looking over the bank saw the water running smoothly on. He walked off with his tail between his legs and had something to reflect upon for many a day afterwards.
LETTER NO. XV102
In the Lodge of Muhuvit, which lay behind the hills of San Fernando, once
lived a chief connected with the following legend, who was a great wizard and
enchanter. He had a son and daughter. The daughter was good-looking and possessed
as her father and brother did, a most astonishing head of hair, which, when
loose, trailed on the ground. She however possessed a niggardly disposition, and
moreover was lazy. After awhile the chief of Hahamogna (Verdugos) asked her in
marriage, and was accepted.
In due time she presented her husband with a daughter. Shortly after, she proved herself to be a glutton as well as parsimonious, for the people were commanded every day to bring rabbits, ready roasted, for her to eat, and she devoured the whole, without ever offering the lookers on a single morsel. This caused universal discontent, so much so that the wise men of the village consulted together and at last urged the chief to send her home. “Do with her as seemeth best,” said the husband. So, on a second consultation, the old men determined to put her to death instead of putting her away, fearing her father. “What shall be done with the child?” asked the seers. “Let it die with the mother!” answered the husband.
Orders were given the next day to have no water brought from the wells to their huts, but that all should go there and drink when so inclined. The rabbit-hunters were likewise instructed to stuff the game, before cooking it, with all kinds of reptiles. A large basket used for bringing water was placed in the last hut of the village and filled with urine. The hour having arrived for her to eat, the rabbits were presented, according to custom. On this occasion, however, she proceeded differently than in the habit of doing; for pulling out the leg of a toad, she enquired what it was. “It is part of a quail,” replied some one. “Then eat it,” said the victim. “No, eat it yourself,” was the response. Pieces of lizards and other disgusting matter came to light, with the same result, until she finished the mess. This repast gave her great thirst, and she asked for water. Not procuring it there, she proceeded from one habitation to another in quest of it, with the same success. At last she arrived at the extremity of the Lodge, and on receiving the proffered dish with eagerness, and at three draughts she finished it, with the exception of a little which she reserved for the child. For ten days did the same thing occur; at the end of which time, finding all the hair of her head and eye-brows gone—for it fell off by drinking the urine—and moreover that she was wasted in flesh and wrinkled, she determined on leaving and going to her father's. So taking her child in her arms, she left the hut secretly.
After proceeding some distance, she repented having done so, exclaiming, “What a fool I am to carry this burden, as if he liked me so much!” Throwing it away, she went on her road; but after going on a short way, she looked back and saw the infant, with its arms stretched out towards her: her heart relented at the sight, and returning, she again took it up saying ” thou hast committed no sin, that I should revenge myself upon thee.” She went on and on, until extreme fatigue from her load, brought her to stand; when observing a large rock close by, she took the child by the heels and dashed its brains out. The blood still exists, visible on the stone to this day. Still some Indians maintain that the child did not die, but turned into a squirrel. On she went, alone, sad and slow, until she came to where her mother preserved her seeds in the woods, and she crept into a large basket, called a chamuca,103 capable of containing about sixteen bushels.
Not long after her arrival, came the mother to procure a supply of seeds and acorns, and putting her hand in at the mouth, she touched her daughter, and not being aware what it was, gave a scream. “Yes!” said the daughter, “be afraid of me, after the injury you have done me, in marrying me to a man who cared nothing about me!” The mother approached, but could scarcely recognize her own daughter, and heard from beginning to end the tale of her sorrows. The parent then said, “I will go to thy fatherland inform him.” which she did.
The father being informed by his wife, secretly he proceeded with her to the place of deposit taking his daughter food and drink.—This they did day after day, and herbs were administered to her, to restore her, and purge her from the filth she had eaten. Her head was also cured by the oil from a black berry growing on the seacoast, called hamisar. In four moons the wrinkles had nearly disappeared from her face, and her hair reached to her waist.
At this stage of her cure, she was commanded by her father to go daily and bathe in her brothers' bathing place. She did so, but the brother soon began to note how turbid the water was when he came to bathe. He became sad in consequence, and more so when he saw a hair in the water, which, on measuring with those of his own, was not one third their length. He spoke to his mother on the subject, but she threw no light on the subject, being anxious to conceal with her husband, the daughter's return until her shame and sickness had both passed away. The son going to his bath one day sooner than usual, caught his sister in the water, but he knew her not. Taking her by the leg he threw her out, saying, “so it is you who daily disturb my well, be-gone!” In doing so, he beheld her nakedness, which caused her so much shame that she wandered off, and traveling to the sea shore, drowned herself.104
The brother, well satisfied with himself, returned home and told his mother of having found an unknown woman in his bath, how he had thrown her out and had seen her nakedness. The parents left the hut and went in search of the daughter, but without success.—“Shame has driven her away, where can we find her?” said the wife. The husband answered not, but taking a willow twig he made a ring of it, covering it with buckskin: this he threw to the north, but the ring returned to him. He then threw it south, and back it came again; then east, with the same result: but when he threw it west, it kept on. The father followed it up in all its crooks and turns until he saw it enter the Ocean. “She has drowned herself from shame, but deeply shall she be revenged,” said he.
On arriving home, he informed his wife, who cried bitterly, much to the astonishment of all the Lodge, but knew not what had occurred.
He called all of his people and told them to go a-hunting, stop out all night, and take his son along.105 The son was then advised of the party he was to join, and dressed in all his ornaments, finery and money beads. They set out and obeyed orders, by sleeping in the mountains, having a large fire to warm themselves at.
A little before daylight one of the old men let loose a screech owl, which he had brought concealed and which was no other than the boy's father. This caused general consternation, and all fled save the young man himself. Immediately an enormous bird called by the name of Cuwot,106 (but which was the father again) carried him up into the air. Seeing this, the people came running back, exclaiming, “The Cuwot has carried off the Chief's son!” On coming to the spot his bones fell among them, which were gathered up and buried.
A few days after this, a man was seen approaching the village: the chief went and met him.
“Where dost thou come from?” asked the chief.
“From Hahamogna” (Verdugos).
“Ah!” said the chief, “how are they getting on there?”
“Very well, indeed; the Captain there is about to take a new wife, and in consequence a great feast is progressing.”
“Be it so,” said he, “they have had their laugh, now I shall have mine, and we will all perish together.”
He took the road to the village, and before arriving there, he fell in with all the women gathering prickly pears. He asked one of the women to do him the favor of sifting a basket full of tunas over his eyes. She objected and he persisted, until her companions told her to comply; but no sooner had she done so, than all of them commenced crying out and wailing in piteous terms—they were all stone blind! “Now it is my turn to laugh,” said the chief, and he proceeded on towards their village.
Going to the west side of the Lodge, he transformed himself into a huge eagle, and proceeded, flying close down to the ground. The cry was immediately raised among the people of “catch the eagle!” But an old woman who was taking care of two children107 while their mothers108 were off, begged them not to do so, as it was not an eagle, but a wizard; at this they only laughed, but the old woman covered up the children with a basket to keep them from harm.
They soon caught it, and saying “let us pull its wings off,” put it into execution. The moment its wings were separated from the body, a gush of blood poured out from one side, and another of green water109 from the other. Fever and bilious vomiting commenced, and killed all, save the old woman and children. The eagle soared, without his wings, to the clouds, and the chief was never heard of more by his people.
The old woman had to bury the dead, as she best could, and rested contented in raising the children, who consisted of a boy and girl.—When old enough she made a bow with arrows for the one, teaching him how to use it, and a flat basket for the other, showing her how to clean seed for food.110 When of age, she married them, and they lived happily together.
The girl's disposition altered very much after her marriage, for her husband being a great hunter she never lacked meat: and yet, with all, she refused to supply the old creature with animal food. The old woman, to be revenged, placed an awl made of deer's bone, with the point upwards, where the young one usually sat. It come near killing her, and it was again placed in her pool for bathing, with a like consequence. At last she informed her husband telling him moreover that she expected to be made away with, in which case he would be apprised of it by a few drops of water falling on his left shoulder.
Being out a hunting one day, the fatal sign was given. Throwing down his bows and arrow she hastened home, and enquired for his spouse.
“Poor thing, she is dead!” answered the hag, “and I have buried her there,” pointing to a grave.
“Bad woman, thou hast murdered her,” said he, snatching up a billet of wood to kill her with, but she was too quick for him, for in a moment she was converted into a gopher, and burrowing in the earth.
For three days and nights did he lie upon her grave, lamenting her loss. On the third day he observed a small whirlwind arise from the grave and immediately disappear. Shortly after another arose and exhausted itself quickly. A third made its appearance, of a large size, and proceeded to the south. This he followed up, and at every step he perceived it augment in its proportions. Still going on in pursuit, he at length saw footprints in the sand where it passed over. “It is my dear wife,” exclaimed he, and the more he urged forward, until he had gone an immense distance.
A voice at length proceeded from the cloud saying, “Return back, husband mine, for I am not as formerly. No earthly thing ever came where I am going; remember I am dead to the world.” He, however, could not be persuaded and insisted on accompanying her. “I will risk it,” said the spirit, taking him up, but forget not that no earthly eye ever did, or ever will see us.”111
They passed over an immense sea, and ultimately reached the land of spirits, where he heard myriads of voices in unison say in sweet tones, it smells of an earthly substance, sister, what has thou brought hither?” The wife spirit confessed having brought a human being. “Take him away,” exclaimed the voices, which, though all around him, still he saw nothing. She pleaded his being allowed to remain, on the ground of superior qualities to the common herd, as well as for hunting powers. “Let us try him,” said the voices. He was ordered to bring down a feather from the top of a pole so long as hardly to be visible, which made him hesitate. “Fear not,” said the voice of his wife, “but look not down in thy ascent.” He accomplished it,112 and was given a long hair to split from end to end. This likewise was a hard task, but the wife told him to have faith. He had faith and the difficulty was overcome. Lastly, he was commanded to make a map on the ground of the constellation of the lesser Bear,113 and show the exact situation of the North Star. Now he had on earth often seen the seers draw the required map114 but he knew nothing about doing it himself. His wife once more lent her aid, and he performed his job satisfactorily, for the spirits cried out, “Well done our brother-in-law.” Nothing now remained but to give proof of his hunting abilities; and in order to assist him, four spirits went along to drive the deer in his tract. It was not long before he heard the cry of “there they come!” but nothing could he see during the entire hunt, notwithstanding the number of advices he had. He was hooted at on his return, but allowed another trial of his skill which resulted the same as before. A third and last trial was allowed on the intercession of his wife, who told him he must now kill something. He declared it impossible if game could not be seen; to which she replied, “you have doubtless observed black beetles when a hunting, these are deer, kill them!” He went out, the cry was raised as before, “here they come.” Beetles came swarming along, he killed one, and in an instant a fine buck was lying at his feet. Encouraged by this he went on slaying, until voices bade him desist. All he killed was lifted in the air and carried home, but he saw nothing of the porters, though their shadows were visible on the ground. Great joy was manifested at his success, for he heard them saying, “Sister, no one, as thou knowest, was ever permitted to return to earth: death, thou art aware, exists not among beings in Tucupar (heaven)115 but [as] our brother-in-law is unable to participate in the pleasures we partake of, on account of the grosser materials of which he is composed, it is permitted out of compassion to him that thou return again to earth.” And addressing the husband, the voices added, go thou with thy wife, but remember thou must not have intercourse with her until after three days; for a punishment awaits thee, if disobedient.”
They left the spirit realms and traveled on earth; still she was invisible to him, until at night having made a fire and laid down, he perceived a short distance off the outline of his wife, asleep. They traveled the second day in the same manner, and he again made a fire, and on laying down he saw her more distinct than the previous night. On the third night, she was perfectly plain. He could stand it no longer. “Wife of my bosom!” exclaimed he, and at the same time he clasped in his arms a billet of rotten wood! He remained a sorrowful wanderer on earth until the day of his death.
Here ends a legend, firmly believed in, which is selected from many others, as giving a good idea of their mode of thinking, belief, &c. It is faithful to the text, but the conversations, being tedious, are curtailed.116
Some persons affirmed that the woman did not kill her child, but that it became a squirrel. This is reported as having caused much bloodshed between the contending parties of belief.
The bird called Cuwot is strenuously believed in, at the present day. It is never seen, inhabits the mountains, and is nocturnal. Its cry is simply cu, and it often carried people117 away.
In regard to the woman's returning to life, they say it never would have happened, as the whole affair was merely a heavenly ruse, out of compassion to the man, to get him back to earth, so as to appear again among them in his proper form as a celestial being.118
LETTER NO. XVI
First Arrival of the Spaniards
The Indians were sadly afraid when they saw the Spaniards
coming on horseback.—Thinking them gods, the women ran to the brush, and hid themselves, while the
men put out the fires in their huts. They remained still more impressed with this
idea, when they saw one of their guests take a flint, strike a fire and commence
smoking, having never seen it produced in this simple manner before. An
occurrence however soon convinced them that their strange visitors were,
like themselves, mortals, for one of the Spaniards leveled his musket at a bird
and killed it. Although greatly terrified at the report of the piece, yet the
effect it produced of taking life, led them to reason, and deduce the
impossibility of the “Giver of Life” to murder animals, as they themselves did
with bows and arrows. They consequently put them down as human beings, of a
nasty white color, and having ugly blue eyes! This party was a small one, and
soon left; having offered no violence, they were in consequence not disliked.
They gave them the name of Chichinabros, or reasonable beings. It is a fact
worthy of notice, that on becoming acquainted with the tools and instruments of
steel used by the Spaniards, they were likewise called Chichinabros, which shows
the estimation in which they held them.
Another event soon convinced them of their visitors' mortality, for shortly afterwards they received another visit from a larger party, who commenced tying the hands of the adult males behind their backs; and making signs of their wish to procure women—these having again fled to the thicket, at the first appearance of their coming. Harsh measures obtained for them what they sought, but the women were considered contaminated, and put through a long course of sweating, drinking of herbs, &c. They necessarily became accustomed to these things, but their disgust and abhorrence never left them till many years after. In fact every white child born among them for a long period was secretly strangled and buried!
The whites made them a number of presents prior to using any means to convert them; the presents were never refused, but only those consisting of goods were put to any use whatever. All kinds and classes of food and eatables were rejected and held in abhorrence.—Instead, therefore of partaking of them, they were buried secretly in the woods. Two old Indians, not long since dead, related to me the circumstance of having once assisted when boys to inter a quantity of frijol and Indian corn, just received from the whites. Some length of time afterwards, being out in the woods amusing themselves, they came where the articles were deposited. Their surprise knew no bounds when they beheld an infinity of stalks and plants unknown to them, protruding through the earth which covered the seed.—They communicated the fact at home; it was ascertained to be the case, and the wizards pronounced it white witchcraft! Even panocha, of which they are now so fond, was declared to be the excrement of their new neighbors.
LETTER NO. XVII
Having now given a brief sketch of the manners and customs of the Indians, prior
to their acquaintance with reasonable (?) people,119 and having noticed the first
impression produced by their appearance on the aboriginals, I shall continue a
letter or two more, so as to give an idea of the state they were brought to, by
the formation of the Missions of San Gabriel120 and San Fernando. Still the former
shall serve as a guide in reference to everything; although on a smaller scale,
the same will answer for the latter, or, in fact, any other establishment of the
kind in California.
However, I may as well remark that no attention whatever will be paid to dates—and the text is as related by the old Indians, or as noted by the writer himself.
The site occupied by the principal building of the Mission, the vineyards and the gardens, was at the conquest of this country, a complete forest of oaks, with considerable under wood.
The water, which now composes the lagoon of the Mill, (one mile and a half distant) being free, like everything else, to wander and meander where it pleased, came down into the hollow nearest to the Mission, on the Angeles road. This hollow was a complete thicket, formed of sycamores, cotton-wood, larch, ash and willows; besides, brambles, nettles, palma cristi, wild roses and wild grape-vines lent a hand to make it impassable, except were footpaths had rendered entrance to its barriers a matter more easy of accomplishment. This hollow, cleared of all encumbrance, served to raise the first crops ever produced at the Mission, and although now a washed waste of gravel and sand, nevertheless, at that time it rejoiced in a rich black soil. On the side of this hollow, stood the Lodge of Sibagua.121 Bears innumerable prowled about their dwellings and large quantities of deer sported in the neighborhood. The present site, however, was not chosen until some time after a building had been erected at the “Old Mission,” which was intended to have been the principal establishment. The now San Gabriel river was named Rio de las Temblores (earthquake river)122 and the building referred to, the “Mission of the Temblores.” Those names were given from the frequency of terrestrial convulsions at that time and for many years after. They were not only monthly and weekly, but oftentimes daily.
The brand for marking animals was a T with an S on the shank, like an anchor and entwined cable, to express “Temblores.” Even after San Gabriel was founded, no other iron was ever adopted.
When the Priest came to found the Mission, he brought a number of vagabonds, under the name of soldiers, to carry out the proposed plan. Some of these were masons, carpenters, &c. The priest having converted some few by giving them cloth and ribbons, and taught them to say Amar á Dios, they were baptized and co-operated in the work before them.
Baptism as performed, and the recital of a few words not understood, can hardly be said to be a conversion; nevertheless, it was productive of great advantage to the Missionaries, because once baptized they lost “caste” with their people, and had nolens volens to stop with the oppressor. This, of course, was put down by the Padre as a proof of the influence of religion on their minds, and the direct interposition of the Virgin Mary! Poor devils, they were the Pariah of the West! Not one word of Spanish did they understand—not one word of the Indian tongue did the Priest know.—They had no more idea that they were worshiping God, than an unborn child has of Astronomy. Numbers of old men and women have been gathered to the dust of their Fathers—and a few still remain—whose whole stock of Spanish was contained in the never-failing address of “Amar a Dios!” And whose religion, as Catholics, consisted in being able to cross themselves, under an impression it was something connected with hard work and still harder blows. Baptism was called by them soyna, “being bathed”, and strange to say, was looked upon, although such a simple ceremony, as being ignominious and degrading.123
We are, of course, unable to say that the severe measures adopted emanated from the Priest; still there can be no doubt he either winked at the means employed by his agents, or else he was credulity personified! Baptism could not be administered by force to adults, it required a free act; so taking an Indian as guide, part of the soldiers or servants proceeded on expeditions after converts. On one occasion they went as far as the present Rancho del Chino, where they tied and whipped every man, woman and child in the Lodge, and drove part of them back with them. On the road they did the same with those of the Lodge at San Jose. On arriving home the men were instructed to throw their bows and arrows at the feet of the Priest, and make due submission.—The infants were then baptized, as were also all children under eight years of age; the former were left with their mothers, but the latter kept apart from all communication with their parents. The consequence was, first, the women consented to the right [rite] and received it, for the love they bore their offspring; and finally the males gave way for the purpose of enjoying once more, the society of wife and family. Marriage was then performed, and so this contaminated race, in their own sight and that of their kindred, became followers of Christ (?).
The Indians, from the beginning, never offered resistance or flew to arms,124 although they had of times distinguished themselves in warfare with other tribes. At first, surprise and astonishment filled their minds; a strange lethargy and inaction predominated afterwards. All they did was to hide themselves as they best could from the oppressor.
From the first misnamed conversion until the arrival of Fray Jose Maria Salvadea, they knew nothing about the various rites and ceremonies daily performed, and in which they took a part. No explication was, or could be offered, for the Indians only learned a few words of Spanish, and the Padres none of their language. The soldiers, it is true, picked up a smattering of the Indian tongue, but such words only, as to enable them to gratify with more ease their lust and evil propensities, and not to afford instruction.
But the Padre Jose Maria, who was a man of talent, and possessed of a powerful mind—which was as ambitious as it was powerful, and as cruel as it was ambitious—formed a new era in their existence. In a short time he mastered the language and reduced it to grammatical rules. He translated the prayers of the church, and preached every Sunday a sermon in their own tongue. His translation of the Lord's prayer, commencing with Ayoinac (our Father,) is a grand specimen of his eloquence and ability.125
He gave them, thereby, an insight of the Catholic religion, but did not in one iota alter their own. His predecessors had done nothing of the kind, and his successors, Padre Jose Bernardo Sanchez and Padre Tomas Estenaga, contented themselves in having their sermons translated sentence by sentence, to the Neophites, through an Indian interpreter, named Benito. On the death of Padre Tomas, the custom ceased.
I shall have occasion to say more regarding their present religious state, before concluding this series of letters, as well as to speak more fully of Padre Jose Maria.
LETTER NO. XVIII
First Missionary Proceedings
Having, at length, a sufficiency of Neophites to build with, ground was cleared
and laid off; adobes were made and laid up; timber, cut in the neighboring
mountains, was hauled; and at last a proper covering being required, tule or
flags were put on, tied with nettle hemp made by the Indians, which formed a
thatched roof suitable for present exigency. The Church had a steeple to it,
which was afterwards taken down, having sustained damage during an earthquake.
The present belfry was substituted instead.
In after years, not only were other buildings erected, but tile manufactured, and placed on all of the edifices, including four rows of new double houses, forming three streets for the married portion of the community. Living in houses, however did not suit their tastes; they were always vexed and annoyed with them, and debarred the satisfaction of burning them up according to usage, when their observances demanded it.126
All this while, the former small stock of animals were carefully herded and were augmenting greatly.
Vine slips, fruit trees, and pulse, &c., were procured from Lower California. The first vineyard planted consisted of 3,000 Vines. It retains the name of Vina Madre, and from it spring all the present generation of vineyards.
A better class of people than the low vulgar soldiers, both men and women, were induced to emigrate from Sinalva127 and Lower California. They were a great acquisition, as were likewise a few Indians from the latter place, who had been well instructed by the “Jesuits” in various arts. The men among the newcomers served as major-domos and overseers in the different branches of industry carried on. And being likewise well acquainted with agriculture, and some of the required trades, their services were invaluable. The women were no less useful, for they taught the young female Indians to sew, and they became most expert at the business. Last and not least in the eyes of many beside Priests, they instructed the older heads in the art of cooking, making of chocolate paste, preserves, and other edible knickknacks unknown for some time previous to our Missionary friends.
Water was brought to irrigate the crops, from numerous little streams, and more produce was raised than necessary for the sustenance of all. The Neophites were supplied with blankets and some few cotton goods, but not to any great amount.
Indians of course deserted. Who would not have deserted?128
Still, those who did had hard times of it. If they proceeded to other missions,
they were picked up immediately, flogged and put in irons until an opportunity
presented of returning them to undergo other flagellations. If they stowed
themselves away in any of the rancherías, the soldiers were monthly in the habit
of visiting them; and such was the punishment inflicted on those who attempted to
conceal them, that it rarely was essayed. Being so proscribed, the only
alternative left them was to take to the mountains, where they lived as they
could, making occasional inroads on the Mission property to maintain themselves.
They were styled hindas, or runaways, and at times were rendered desperate
through pursuit, and took the lives of any suspected of being traitors. They were
always well informed of all passing at the Mission.—They, sometimes, when
things got too hot, went as far as the Tulares.129
A considerable quantity of books to compose a library, were brought from the College of San Fernando, in Mexico, and a number of additional contributions were received during the time of Salvedea and Sanchez, from the same source, and also, some by purchase from Lima. I cannot say much for the collection—it being nothing to compare with remnants of the Bibliothekes I have examined in Lower California, in the Missions established there, which are now, I am sorry to say, reduced to ashes.
The more valuable part of the works consisted of those treating on Theology and Law, with a scanty number of rather curious, quaint manuscript; the balance being antiquated and erroneous productions on natural history, geography, &c., imparting little or no information. The best of the library has, long ere this, either been stolen or destroyed, and the refuse at the present time, consisting of some three or four hundred volumes is mere rubbish.
LETTER NO. XIX
New Era in Mission Affairs
On the arrival of Padre Jose Maria Salvedea, cattle were plenty, as were
likewise horses, mares, sheep and hogs. Cultivation was carried on to
considerable extent, but it was to him that the after splendor of San Gabriel was
due. He it was who planted the large Vineyards intersected with fine walks,
shaded by fruit trees of every description, and rendered still more lovely by
shrubs interspersed between—who laid out the orange garden, fruit and olive
orchards—built the mill and dam—made fences of tunas (cactus opuntia) round
the fields—made hedges of rose bushes— planted trees in the Mission square,
with a flower garden and sun-dial in the centre—brought water from long
distances, &c., &c.
He likewise remodeled the general system of government, putting everything in order and to its proper use, and placing every person in his proper station. Everything under him was organized and that organization kept up with the lash!
Thus people were divided into various classes and stations. There were baqueros, soap-makers, tanners, shoemakers, carpenters, blacksmiths, bakers, cooks, general servants, pages, fishermen, agriculturists, horticulturists, brick and tile makers, musicians, singers, tallow-melters, vignerons, carters, cart-makers, shepherds, poultry keepers, pidgeon tenders, weavers, spinners, saddle makers, store and key keepers, deer hunters, deer and sheep skin dressmakers, people of all work, and in fact every thing but coopers, who were foreign; all the balance, masons, plasterers, &c., were natives.
Large soap works were erected; tanning yards established; tallow works, bakery, cooper, blacksmith, carpenter, and other shops; large spinning rooms where might be seen 50 or 60 women turning their spindles merrily; and looms for weaving wool, flax and cotton. Then large store rooms were allotted to the various articles, which were kept separate. For instance, wheat, barley, peas, beans, lentils, chick-peas, butter and cheese, soap, candles, wool, leather, flour, lime, salt, horsehair, wine and spirits, fruit, stores, &c., &c.
Sugar cane, flax and hemp, were added to the other articles cultivated but cotton wool was imported.
The ranchos belonging to the Mission were put on another footing, as were the sheep farms. A house was built at San Bernardino and other exterior operations carried out.—The principal ranchos belonging at that time to San Gabriel were San Pasqual, Santa Anita, Asuza [Azusa], San Francisquito, Cucumonga, San Antonio, San Bernardino, San Gorgonio, Yucaipa, Jurupa, Guapa, Rincon, Chino, San José, Ybarras, Puente, Mission Viga, Serranos, Rosa Castillo, Coyotes. Saboneria, Las Bolsas, Alamites and Serritos.
A principal head Mayordomo commanded and superintended over all. Claudio Lopez was the famed one during Padre Salvedea's administration, and although only executing the Priests' plans, in the minds of the people he is the real hero. Ask any one who made this, or who did not, and the answer on all sides is the same: El difunto Claudio! And great credit is due him for carrying out, without flogging, the numerous works set before him.
There were a great many other mayordomos under him, for all kinds of work, from tending of horses down to those superintending crops, and in charge of vineyards and gardens.
It is strange no medical man was kept on the establishment, as the number of people was great, and the stock of medicines very large.—They were provided not by the pound, but by the quintal! Not in gallons, but in barrels full! Still all the dependence for medical aid (with the exception of midwives) was either on a casual foreigner passing, or on the stupidity of some foreigner employed on the premises. I know not why, but an Anglo-Saxon in those days was synonymous with an M.D. Many an “Estrangero” who never before possessed sufficient confidence in himself to administer even a dose of Epsom, after killing, God knows how many, has at length become a tolerable emperic! One thing in favor of the sick was, that after a lapse of years, the greater part of the drugs lost their virtue.
Indian Alcaldes were appointed annually by the Padre, and chosen from among the very laziest of the community; he being of the opinion that they took more pleasure in making the others work, than would industrious ones! From my own observation this is correct. They carried a wand to denote their authority, and what was more terrible, an immense scourge of raw hide, about ten feet in length, plaited to the thickness of an ordinary man's wrist!—They did a great deal of chastisement, both by and without orders. One of them always acted as overseer on work done in gangs, and accompanied carts when on service.
The unmarried women and young girls were kept as Nuns, under the supervision of an abbess, who slept with them in a large room.—Their occupations were various; sometimes they sewed or spun, at others they cleaned weeds out of the gardens with hoes, worked at the ditches or gathered in the crops. In fact, they were Jacks or sennies [Jennies] of no trade in particular.
The best looking youths were kept as pages to attend at table and those of musical talent reserved for church service.
The number of hogs was great and were principally used for making soap. The Indians, with some few exceptions, refused to eat hogs, alleging the whole family to be transformed Spaniards! I find this belief current through every nation of Indians in Mexico. Why should they, without being aware of it, have each selected the hog more than any other animal to fix a stigma upon? It probably may be from its filthy habits; or, can something appertaining to the Jews be innate in them?
At San Francisquito, near the Mission, were kept the turkies, of which they had a large quantity. The dove-cote was along side of the soap works, and in an upper story, affording plenty of dung to cure leather and skins with.
The Padre had an idea that finery led Indians to run away, for which reason he never gave either men or women any other clothing (including shirts and petticoats) than coarse frieze (Xerga) made by themselves, which kept the poor wretches all the time diseased with the itch. If any handkerchiefs or cotton goods were discovered among them, the same was immediately committed to the flames.
He was an inveterate enemy to drunkenness, and did all in his power to prevent it, but to no purpose. He never flogged, however, while the influence of liquor lasted; but put them into the stocks, under care of the guard, until sober. Finding the lash alone was of no avail, he added warm water and salt to the dose, which was given until it ran out of the mouth again! If was of no use, the disease was as incurable as consumption.
Having found out the game practiced in regard to destroying the children born to the whites, he put down all miscarriages to the same cause. Therefore, when a woman had the misfortune to bring forth a still-born child, she was punished. The penalty inflicted was, shaving the head, flogging for fifteen subsequent days, iron on the feet for three months, and having to appear every Sunday in church, on the steps leading up to the altar, with a hideous painted wooden child in her arms!
He had no predilection for wizards, and generally (as some one or another was always reporting evil of them), kept them chained together in couples and well flogged. There were, at that period, no small number of old men rejoicing in the fame of witchcraft, so he made sawyers of them all, keeping them like hounds in couples, and so they worked, two above and two below in the pit.
On a breach occurring between man and wife, they were fastened together by the leg, until they agreed to live again in harmony.
He was not only severe, but he was, in his chastizements, most cruel. So as not to make a revolting picture, I shall bury acts of barbarity known to me through good authority, by merely saying that he must assuredly have considered whipping as meat and drink to them, for they had it morning, noon and night.
Although so severe to the Indians, he was kind in the extreme to travelers and others.—There being so much beef, mutton, pork, and poultry, with fruits, vegetables and wines, that a splendid public table was spread daily, at which he presided. Horses to ride on were at their service, and a good bed to sleep on at night. Whenever ready to start either up or down the coast, horses and a servant were at command to go as far as the next Mission.
Having brought the establishment and every thing connected with it, to the climax of perfection, he had still calculated on doing more. He purchased large quantities of iron, with the intention of railing in all of the vineyard and gardens. But, alas! even Catholic societies are not proof against the “capital sins” they so strongly condemn. Envy and jealousy stepped in and prevailed. He was ordered by his superior to the Mission of San Juan Capistrano.
The loss of his favorite hobby130 capsized his reason, and after lingering for many years in a disturbed religious state of mind, he at length expired, regretted by all who knew his worth and gigantic intellect.
LETTER NO. XX
The Padre Jose Bernardo Sanchez had, for some time previous, been a colleague of
Salvedeas but attended only to matters connected with the church. On the
translation of Padre Jose Mariato San Juan, he became his successor. He was of
cheerful disposition, frank and generous in his nature, although at times he lost
his temper with the strange, unruly set around him.
He was a great sportsman and capital shot, both with rifle and fowling piece. Although no one could complain of Salvedea, in regard to his kind treatment, still there was a certain restraint in his presence, arising from his austerity and pensiveness, which even custom did not erase from the mind. Padre Sanchez was different; his temper was governed according to circumstances. In Ecclesiastical affairs, his deportment was solemn; in trade he was formal; in the government of the Mission, active, lively and strict; in social intercourse he was friendly, full of anecdote, fond of a joke, even to a practical one. Picnic parties were of weekly occurrence and generally held at the Mill, when, independent of a yearling heifer baked under ground, many other good things reigned on the table.
I cannot refrain from relating an anecdote connected with those parties of pleasure, as it shows the relish the old man had for anything ludicrous. A few of the actors are still alive, but the greater part have been gathered with the Padre, to the dust they sprang from.
Don J. M. M., an old Spaniard, who had large commercial relations with the Mission, having a negro cook, called Francisco, who was science itself in all relating to the kitchen, the Priest and M. made up a plan to carry out a joke at the expense of their guests. So having procured a fine fat little puppy, he was stuffed and roasted in a manner that would have tempted the most fastidious epicure to “cut and come again.” This was brought on as a last course under the name of lamb, with an excellent salad to correspond.
All eat of it and praised it much, with the exception of the two concerned in the joke.—After concluding with a glass of wine, the old man enquired of his guests how they relished the Dog? No one would believe it, until the negro made his appearance with the head and paws on a plate. Then a mixed scene ensued, which brought tears into the old man's eyes, while he nearly killed himself with laughter. All, of course, were squeamish, but while the quiet portion retired to ease themselves, in discharging the detested food, the pugnacious remained to fight M. first, and do the other afterward. The Padre eventually procured harmony, but for many a day after, roast lamb and salad were viewed with suspicion by the former partakers of his cheer.
The same regulations which had been observed by his predecessor, were still in force under him, but more lenity was shown to the failings of the Neophites. Although the lash was ever ready; yet many other modes of chastising were adopted in its stead for minor offenses.
The general condition of the Indians was rendered better, and a more healthy state prevailed even in their morals. Many an Indian who had previously stolen and committed other acts of insubordination, from a vindictive spirit, now refrained from such deeds, through the love and good will held to their spiritual and temporal ruler.131
The purchases made at one time seldom exceeded $30,000 consisting of domestics, bleached brown and printed; flannels, cloth, rebosas, silk, goods, and, in fact, everything; besides supplies of sugar, panocha, rice, hosiery, &c. These goods were fitted up in two large stores for the accommodation, not only of the public, but for the necessities of servants and use of the Neophites. The females had their frieze (xerga) converted into sweat-cloths, and more suitable garments provided them. This measure effected a great change, for now of a Sunday might be seen coming out of church, women dressed in petticoats of all patterns and colors, with their clean chemise protruding from the bosom, with a 'kerchief round the neck and rebosa round the shoulders; while the men had their pants, jacket, trousers, hat and fancy silk sash. Even the children sported in a white or fancy shirt, with a handkerchief tied around the head.
This was, indeed, a transformation, and one for which they felt grateful. It elevated them to better thoughts and principles, and made them esteem themselves more than probably anything else would have done. Nor did the reformation stop here. The married people had not only sheets provided for their beds, but even curtains. It was the duty of the Mayordomo to visit each room weekly, and see that every article was kept clean and report accordingly. The Priest paid a monthly visit for the same end.
On coming out of Mass, the whole community was assembled and rations given to families for the ensuing week. Besides, each man received half a pint of spirits, and the women a pint of wine. Panocha, molasses and honey were distributed, and if required, clothing; as also two or three dollars each on occasions.—Although rations were given as stated, yet the Mission provided daily food for the laborers.
The Mission bell, on being rung, roused the Alcaldes from their slumbers, who in loud voice soon set all the world agog. Mass was heard, and again the bell rang to work. At eleven its notes proclaimed dinner, when in they flocked with their baskets to receive posole and a piece of beef. Posole consisted of boiled beans and corn or wheat. At twelve o'clock they were again warned to their labors, which concluded a little before sundown to afford them time to receive supper, which consisted of atole or mush. If a gang were at a distance, a copper kettle and attendant accompanied to provide food on the spot.
After twelve o'clock oil Saturdays, soap was distributed, and all the world went a washing of clothes and persons, to make a decent appearance at church on Sunday. Saturday night was devoted to playing peon, and with few exceptions, none slept, for whites and Indians, men, women and children, were generally present.
After service, on Sunday, football and races were on the carpet until the afternoon, when a game called by the Scotch “shinty,” and I believe by the English, “bandy,” took place.—One set being composed of all men and one of all women. People flocked in from all parts to see the sport, and heavy bets were made. The Priest took a great interest in the game, and as the women seldom had less than half a dozen quarrels, in which hair flew by the handful, it pleased him very much. The game being concluded, all went to prayers, and so ended the Sabbath.
He died in 1833, regretted by all the community, and leaving every one who knew him sad at his loss.
His course was a good one, yet probably the Padre Salvedea's was equally so. It was required in his time, no doubt, and the step from the one to the other had a more beneficial tendency than had he from the first carried out measures such as those of Sanchez. He was succeeded by Padre Tomas Estenga.
LETTER NO. XXI
Decay of the Mission
The Mission, as received by the Padre Tomas was in a flourishing condition, but
in 1834 (I think it was) the Mexican Congress passed a law secularizing all of
the Missions, by which each Indian was to receive his share of land, gardens and
stock; but immediately on the top of it a change was effected in the general
government, and instead of carrying out the law, they abolished it. They,
however, secularized them and ordered Administrators to have charge instead of
the clergy. These facts being known to the Padre Tomas, he (in all probability
by order of his superior) commenced a work of destruction. The back buildings
were unroofed and the timber converted into firewood. Cattle were killed on
halves with people who took a lion's share. Utensils were disposed of, and goods
and other articles distributed in profusion among the Neophites. The vineyards
were ordered to be cut down, which, however, the Indians refused to do.
It did not require long to destroy what years took to establish. Destruction came as a thief in the night. The whites rejoiced at it. They required no encouragement, and seemed to think it would last forever. Even the mere spectators were gladdened at the sight, and many of them helped themselves to a sufficiency of calves to stock farms.
It is not the intention here to give a detail of all that occurred, as our line, as marked out from the first, relates merely to the Indians, and to other persons and things only so far as they are connected with them.
General Figueroa, having been appointed political Chief and Commandant General of the territory, arrived, and his adjutant, Col. Nicolas Gutierrez, received the Mission from the Padre Tomas, who remained as minister of the church with a stipend of $1500 per annum from the establishment, independent of his synod from the Pious Fund in Mexico.
As a wrong impression of his character may be produced from the preceding remarks, injustice to his memory, be it stated that he was a truly good man, a sincere Christian and despiser of hipocrisy. He had a kind, unsophisticated heart, so that he believed every word told him. There was never a purer Priest in California. Reduced in circumstances, annoyed on many occasions by the petulancy of Administrators, he fulfilled his duties according to his conscience, with benevolence and good humor. The nuns, who when the secular movement came into operation, had been set free, were again gathered together under his supervision and maintained at his expense, as were also a number of the old men and women. Everything he got was spent in charity upon those of the ranchería whom he considered as worthy of it and they remember him with gratitude and affection.
The Indians were made happy at this time in being permitted to enjoy once more the luxury of a tule dwelling, from which the greater part had been debarred for so long; they could now breathe freely again.
Administrator followed Administrator, until the Mission could support no more, when the system was broken up. I shall make no remarks here on their administration: it is to be presumed they complied either with their instructions or their own ideas.
The Indians during this period were continually running off. Scantily clothed and still more scantily supplied with food, it was not to be wondered at. Nearly all of the Gabrielinos went north while those of San Diego, San Luis and San Juan overran this county, filling the Angeles and surrounding ranchos with more servants than were required. Labor in consequence was very cheap. The different Missions, however, had Alcaldes continually on the move, hunting them up and carrying them back, but to no purpose: it was labor in vain.
This was a period of demoralization. People from Sonora came flocking in to assist in the general destruction, lending a hand to kill off cattle on shares, which practice, when at last prohibited by government orders, they continued on their private account.
These Sonorenos overran this country. They invaded the ranchería, gambled with the men and taught them to steal; they taught the women to be worse than they were, and men and women both to drink. Now we do not mean or pretend to say that the Neophites were not previous to this addicted both to drinking and gaming, with an inclination to steal, while under the dominion of the church; but the Sonorenos most certainly brought them to a pitch of licentiousness before unparalleled in their history.
LETTER NO. XXII
Having given a sketch of the Angeles County Indians from the time they were the
free, natal possessors of the soil, living contended in a state of nature, until
these civilized times of squatting and legislative oppression, in which not only
they but those bearing their blood in a fourth degree, are included, to the shame
of this our country, and disgrace of the framers of such laws, I shall now
conclude them, with a very short review of how far their ancient manners and
customs remain in force among the handful left of a once happy people.132
Their former lodges are not now in existence, and most of the Indians remaining in the county are from other parts—from Santa Ynez to San Diego. A few are to be found at San Fernando, San Gabriel and the Angeles. Those in service on ranchos are a mere handful. You will find at present more of them in the county of Monterey than in this, excluding the three places named above. Death has been busy among them for years past, and very few more are wanting to extinguish the lamp that God lighted! The Indians from the northwest coast killed great numbers years ago on the Islands.133 Those of San Clemente, the remains of which some eighteen years since were collected in caves on the Island, showed the whole of them to have been possessed of double teethall-round, both in the upper and under jaw.134
I have previously mentioned that their language has deteriorated much since the conquest. Numerous causes effect all languages, and one of the many which did so to theirs, was the want of their former Councils held so frequently, in which their wise men spoke with eloquence suited to the occasion, using more dignity and expression, which naturally elevated the minds of all and gave a tinge of better utterance even in ordinary conversation.
They have at present, two religions—one of custom, and another of faith. Naturally fond of novelty, the Catholic one serves as a great treat—the forms and ceremonies an inexhaustible source of amusement. They don't quarrel with their neighbor's mode of worship, but consider their own the best. The life and death of our Savior is only, in their opinion, a distorted version of their own life. Hell, as taught them, has no terrors. It is for whites, not Indians, or else their fathers would have known it. The Devil, however, has become a great personage in their sight; he is called Zizu,135 and makes his appearance on all occasions.
Nevertheless, he is only a bugbear and connected with the Christian faith; he makes no part of their own. The resurrection they cannot understand, but a future state of spiritual existence is in accordance with their creed.
Their chiefs still exist. In San Gabriel remain only four, and those young. There are more, but of tribes formerly from the direction of San Bernardino. They have no jurisdiction more than to appoint times for the holding of Feasts and regulating affairs connected with the church.136 No standing Church [i.e., church] remains nowadays; it is made yearly and consecrated when required, on any spot they choose to select.
Their food continues the same, with the addition made to the list of what the Spaniards introduced. Their clothing is of course distinct, and a cloak made of rabbit skins, has within his year or two become a novelty among themselves.
For a long time back, marriage has been performed in the Catholic Church; and only one instance of its fulfillment in their own alone, exists in the case of a young girl who contracted matrimony about three years ago. Marriage vows, I am sorry to say, are not very binding, although many examples of strict fidelity exist. Women undergo the same purification after childbirth as formerly, with the exception of such as were in the service of whites at their first parturition.
The seers have declined very much in their ability both of predicting events and doing harm; although instances of sickness occasionally occur of which they stand the blame. In performing cures, however, they still take the precedence of the other members of the faculty known as M.D.'s.
Ten years ago shell bead money was current in the Mission, not only between Indians, but between them and the whites. It is now extremely scarce, and hoarded from one year to another to use at their church ceremonies, and repurchased again for double its value.
I have refrained from touching on politics. The Administrators I have left to work out their own salvation—and dates, with statistics, I leave to those possessed of abler pens to furnish an account of, and of which there is a fine field open to write about—confining myself entirely to the title of these letters.
If these sketches of Indian character have been at all interesting to the readers of the “STAR,” I shall consider myself amply paid for the time occupied in writing them.
1 Reid is, of course, referring to the tribe
called Gabrielino, so named
after their attachment to Mission San Gabriel. Merriam (n.d.) heard from Mrs. J.
V. Rosemyre, a Gabrielino woman living at Bakersfield in October, 1903, that the
Gabrielino called themselves Tong-vamacr;. Hoffman (1885: 26-27) refers to the
Gabrielino of the Mission San Gabriel vicinity as Tobikhar, “settlers”, a term
first used by A. S. Gatschet in 1876. The Gabrielino were earlier called Kizh or
Kij “houses”, by H. Hale in 1846 and Buschmann in 1856. Kroeber recorded
the Luiseño name for the Gabrielino as Tumangamalum, “northerners”, and Merriam
was told in 1903 that the Hametwole Yokuts of Buena Vista Lake called the
Gabrielino Miyah'-hik-tchal-lop, “long arms”, and the Kitanemuk of the San
Bernardino Mountains called the Gabrielino Pahpi'-na-mo'-nam. The Ventura Chumash
called the Gabrielino Ataplili'sh, and the Cahuilla designation for the
Gabrielinos was Kisianos. The Gabrielino name for the Cahuilla was Kumitaraxam,
“easterners”; and for the Chumash, Pavait, “in the water” (Johnston 1962:15).
Harrington (1962: viii) states that the Gabrielino language contained four
dialects: Gabrielino proper, Fernandeño, Santa Catalina Island, and San Nicolas
Island. Kroeber (1925: 620) points out that the Fernandeño, of Mission San
Fernando, and the Gabrielino dialects were “distinguishable, but not notably
so.” In 1811 a missionary at Mission San Fernando wrote that “the Indians of this
mission speak three distinct tongues” (Kroeber 1908: 12). It is suggested by
Kroeber (op. cit.) that these three languages were Gabrielino ( i.e., Fernandeño and Gabrielino proper), Serrano and Chumash, the latter two
being, respectively, tribes bordering on the east and northwest and therefore
likely to have been drawn into the San Fernando mission as neophytes. At Mission
San Gabriel the 1811 report states that four “distinct idioms” were spoken by
the Indians. These are named Kokomcar, Guiguitamear, Corbonamga and Sibanza.
Kokomcar is not identifiable and, probably, is not a distinct dialect term but
more likely a reference to a village or local group. Guiguitamear is identified
by Kroeber (1908: 11) as Gitanemuk, a Shoshonean tribe of Upper Tejon Creek who
spoke a Serrano dialect. On the other hand the baptismal record of Mission San
Gabriel records 125 persons (27 men, 36 women, 62 children) from
“Guinguina, ranchería of the island” (variants: Guiguipat; Guinquipat, on the
island: island of Guiguina) which can be identified with San Clemente Island,
called Kinki or Kinkipar. Weconclude, therefore, that the Guiguitamear speech at
San Gabriel was probably the one used by neophytes brought there from San
Clemente. There is an additional name duplication which causes confusion here,
however. Johnston (1962: map; 89, 112) locates a mainland Gabrielino village
Kinki near San Pedro. Since the baptismal records clearly indicate the village
was on an island, the mainland village by the same name could be one applied by a
group of San Clemente people resettled on the mainland shore. Corbonamga is not
certainly identified, and granting that the -mga ending is an imperfect
rendering of the Gabrielino locative suffix -nga, the word might be Cucamonga,
the name of a Gabrielino village. Sibanga is the name of the village at San
2 Location of many of these villages is shown in the accompanying map, taken largely from Johnston (1962).
3 In Mission San Gabriel baptism records this appears as Yanga, Yabit, or Yavit with a total of 166 entries from 1777 to 1805.
4 In Mission San Gabriel baptism records this appears as Sibapet, Sibanga, Sibap, etc. A total of 218 baptisms from 1774 to 1811 are recorded: The San Fernando register has 32 entries (1802-1811) for the ranchería of Chibugna (Chibubit, Chibuna). Alexander S. Taylor (California Farmer, Feb. 22, 1860; May 11, 1860) states that the site of San Gabriel Mission was called Tobiscanga or Toviscanga.
5 No definite or probable cognate occurs in the San Gabriel Mission baptismal register.
6 Doubtfully identified with Siutasegena, Siutcabit and Siutcanga, from which35 baptisms are recorded in the San Fernando Mission register from 1798-1811. A printer's error based on reading si for u in Siut could account for this. In the Mission San Gabriel baptism record is Siuccabit, Siupcabit, which, ignoring the locative suffix, might be the village named here by Reid. There are 11 entries dating from 1785-1804.
7 Mission San Gabriel baptismal register has Acuranga and Acurabit entered 6 times between 1775-1800. The locative suffix -nga, -ngna, is Gabrielino and is affixed to the village name. The suffix -bit, -vit, -pet, -bet, etc., is the Serrano locative. Where both groups came together each applied its locative suffix to the village name. Johnston (1962: 10), however, quotes information from J. P. Harrington that the ending -vit, -bit or -pet “indicated the habitat of an individual, much as a New Yorker adds the 'er' to his city's name.”
8 Mission San Gabriel baptismal register shows this as Asucsabit, Acuzabit, there being 228 entries for the period 1774-1811.
9 Hoffman (1885: 2) renders this Cucumog-na. In the San Gabriel Mission baptismal register the ranchería name appears as Cucamonga, Cucamobit, Cucamobuit, etc., 102 times for the period 1785-1813.
10 San Fernando Mission baptismal register gives this as Passenga, Passanga, Pachanga, Patzanga, etc. There are 14 entries dating from 1797-1804. It is probably the same name as Reid's Pasecg-na further on in this list and identified with him as “San Fernando.” It is not the native village at the mission, however, since in the introduction to the San Fernando baptismal record it is stated that the “mission was founded in the place called by the natives Achoiscomihabit.”
11 Given by Hoffman (1885) as Awizna. Otherwise perhaps identifiable with the village of Ajuibit, Ajuinga, which is listed 188 times between 1774-1802 in the San Gabriel Mission baptismal record.
12 Almost certainly a printer's error for Pimug-na. Hoffman (1885) gives it as Pimugna. The San Gabriel Mission record lists the village “of the island” (Santa Catalina) 31 times between 1789-1818 under variant spelling, such as Pimubit, Pimunga, Pumunga, Pimuunam. The San Fernando Mission baptism record has 3 entries for 1821 “Pimu, island of Piimua” and 1 in 1812 for Pimunga. One would conclude from this that Pimu is both the name of a village on Santa Catalina Island as well as the native name of the island itself.
13 San Gabriel Mission baptismal register has 68 entries from 1784-1813 for Toibipet, Toibit, etc.
14 Mission San Gabriel baptismal register has 241 entries for a ranchería “on the Santa Ana River” covering the years 1773-1790. The name is variably rendered as Jutucubit, Jutucuvit, Jutubit, Jutucunga, Utucubit, Otocubit. Possibly the same village, represented by 141 entries (1774-1801), is given as Uchubit, Ychubit, Uchunga.
15 Written by Hoffman (1885) as Almpquia-na.
16 Perhaps a printer's error. Compare with San Fernando Mission baptismal records, ranchería of Moonga, Moomga, Momonga, entered 18 times between1797-1805.
17 Compare with San Gabriel baptismal record ranchería, listed 35times between 1785-1813, Jujuabit, Guguavit, Jujuvit. Another possible equivalence, listed 347 times between 1774-1804, is Juyubit, Juubit, Juyunga, Juuinga.
18 Possibly identifiable with Cabuepet, Cabuenga, listed 20 times between 1778-1815, in the San Gabriel Mission baptismal register and 62 times (1800-1806) in the San Fernando Mission register.
19 May be the same as Jutucubit, Jutucunga, already (see note 14) tentatively equated with Hutucg-na of Reid's list.
20 Probably the village entered in the San Gabriel baptismal records as Soabit, Suanga. There are 15 entries for the years 1788-1813.
21 Identifiable with the ranchería called Pububit, or Puvuvit, listed 35 times between 1785-1805 in the San Gabriel Mission baptismal register.
22 Entered as Tibajabet, Tivajavet or Tiba on 23 occasions between 1784-1813 in the San Gabriel Mission baptismal register.
23 Perhaps Chaubit (or Chaubipet) entered 39 times between 1785-1813 in the San Gabriel Mission baptismal register. This may be the same village listed 33 times (1791-1810) in the same record and rendered as Chajaibit, Sajaibit, Jajabit, Jaabit. Alexander S. Taylor (California Farmer, May 11, 1860) reported that “the beach or plaza of San Pedro was called Sowvingt-ha.
24 No location is suggested for this place by Reid, and Hoffman (1885) ignores it. It could be the ranchería mentioned as Guasna, Guaschna and Guaaschna in the San Gabriel Mission baptismal record. It is listed 46 times between 1807-1815. Johnston (1962: 112) cannot decide whether it was the name of a village near San Pedro or of San Clemente Island. It is possible that the native inhabitants of San Clemente Island were in part removed to the missions, and in part to the mainland where they were allowed to live in a village whose name was that formerly used by them for their old village on the island, or for the island itself. We do not know the historical facts to account for the obvious name duplications (cf. Johnston 1862: 89-112). The Chumash name for San Nicolas Island was Ghalas-at and Kroeber (1925: 635) thinks this may be the Chumash pronunciation of Haras-nga. A. Pinart (1952: 38) recorded in 1878 that “the Indians of San Nicolas Island called themselves xax'ašat in the language of Santa Cruz Island.” It is tempting to identify Haras-nga with San Nicolas Island, but we cannot be certain.
25 There are over 40 Gabrielino villages listed in the San Fernando and San Gabriel Mission baptismal records which do not occur in Reid's list. Since many of the rancherías listed are mentioned only once or twice, these names may be unrecognizable renderings of village names from which larger numbers of converts were drawn. Taking villages from whom 50 or more people were drawn into Mission San Gabriel, and which are not listed by Reid, we have the following taken from the baptismal records: Amuscopopiabit (Moscopiabit) 70 converts, 1795-1819; Cayubit (Guayabit, Guayaba, Jayabit), 87 converts, 1777-1815; Guapiabit (Guapian, Apiambit, Apiagma), 89 converts, 1795-1815; Guaspet. 91 baptisms, 1790-1815; Japchibit (Japchina, Jajachibit), 53 converts, 1781-1813; Jautibit, 102 baptisms, 1776-1816; Jaibepet, 74 baptisms, 1775-1811; Jaisobit (Guisaobit), 98 baptisms, 1780-1807; Jurupet, 72 baptisms, 1798-1819; Juyubit, 347 baptisms, 1774-1804; Paimabit (Pamaibit), 171 baptisms, 1797-1819; Tochajana, 114 baptisms, 1811-1815; Uchubit (Uchunga), 141 baptisms, 1774-1801. The locations of these villages are not given in the mission records. Some must have been quite large settlements. San Fernando Mission baptismal records list the rancherías of Piru (Pirubit, Piiruvit), 95 baptisms, 1802-1820; Tochonabit (Tochonanga), 50 baptisms, 1797-1811.
26 Hoffman (1885: 3) gives this as Irup.
27 Hoffman (1885: 3) speaks of captains or chiefs of each “lodge”, where the 1852 publication implies there was only one chief in a village. Reid, in print, gives ie, but Hoffman (1885: 3) gives this as ic. Asucsagna and Asucsagnie here are given by Hoffman as Azucsagna and Azucsavic and Reid's Sibavie is given as Sibapic by Hoffman.
28 This is not indicated by the numbers of baptized Indians given in the mission records. Compare with numbers of baptisms listed in notes 3-25 supra.
29 Hoffman (1885: 27-28) adds the lengthy and interesting note referring to counting and record keeping in the historic period:
The herds of cattle and horses owned by the Missions were grazed in favorable localities, each herd being under the control of a chief herder and the necessary number of assistants. The chief herder's duty was, also, to have every animal branded, a record of which was kept in the shape of a notched stick, or Bali, which was regularly submitted to the major domo of the Mission. Fig. 1 represents a stick of this kind, now in the collection of Mr. Coronel of Los Angeles.
The stick is about twenty-four inches in length, and three-fourths of an inch in diameter, each way. The handle has the edges beveled and upon each of the four faces thus produced are the characters I, II, X, signifying respectively bull, cow, heifer or ox. For cattle, the end opposite the handle is notched, thus giving the rude idea of horns. For horses, the end is pointed, in imitation of the sharp ear of a horse. When the stick is used by a herder of horses, the same marks are used, upon the handle, as for cattle, but with the signification, in order, as follows: stallion, mare, colt, gelding. Whenever an animal is branded, a notch is cut into the sharp edge of the proper stick, and upon the line of the character on the handle to designate the sex or age of the subject. Thus an accurate record was kept of all stock handled, a custom and method which was copied by the Mexican herders and retained until a few years ago.
Notched sticks were also used by the herders and laborers to record their accounts with the major domo. These sticks were nicely worked out of dogwood, polished, though not quite as long as the above. Only two sides were used, one bearing the character X, for money, and a simple line cut crosswise, for work. On the money side there were notches for reals and long cuts, extending across the stick, for dollars. Upon the opposite side notches for days worked, and lines across the surface for weeks. In this manner credit could be given on the “money side,” and there was always exactness between these stick records and those kept in proper form by the superiors.
Other records were also examined by the writer, in which the authors had recourse to paper: at the top of the sheet was a representation of the brand used, and beneath the regular number of short and long lines, denoting the decimal system of recording. Sometimes small rings were inserted at every tenth point, instead of the longer vertical stroke.
When a ranchería possessed cattle only, there was no necessity for notching the end of the stick to denote “cattle,” and there was no cause for error. Consequently the sticks were cut off transversely, without any specific pointing or notching. The same was adopted, also, where horses were owned, exclusively.
Tattooing was practised and nearly all of the older members of the tribe still bear faint lines upon the chin: this is noticeable to a greater extent among the women than the men. At present, personal ornamentation is done in colors only, applied in the form of vertical lines upon the chin, transverse bars upon the cheeks, or both. The tattoo design worn by a land-owner, formerly served as a property mark by being cut or painted, upon trees or posts selected to indicate the boundaries. These marks were almost equivalent to the owner's name, and were known to the remainder of the tribe. In this respect of engraving tattoo marks upon the bark of trees, there is great resemblance to a custom practised by the natives of New Zealand, where the facial decorations of a dead man are reproduced upon trees near his grave: this is equal to an autograph and can be readily interpreted by a native.
Knotted cords were used by some of these Indians, in business transactions, a custom adopted after their northern neighbors, the Palonies,—a sub-tribe of the Chemehuevi,—so called by the Spanish settlers, on account of wearing the hair cut so short as to suggest the idea of “baldheadedness.” The method of using knotted cords was in the following manner: Each year the Paloni selected a certain number of their tribe to visit the settlement to sell native blankets, and every one who sent goods provided the salesman with two cords, twisted out of the hair of some animal, on one of which a knot was tied for every real received, and on the other, the number of blankets sold. When the amount reached one dollar, a double knot was made. Upon the return of the agent, each person would select his own cords, count up the number of blankets sold and the amount received for the goods, for which the seller was responsible.
30 Hoffman (1885) gives this as Watzu.
31 Given by Hoffman as Babahe.
32 Hoffman (1885: 4) gives a slightly variant rendering of this and the following three native terms for numbers as follows:
20 Wehez wehez maghar (g and h combined)
30 Pahez wehez maghar
40 Watzahez wehez maghar
50 Mahares wehez maghar
Hoffman adds the following note of explanation: “The combination of the letters g and h is intended to represent the sound of the Spanish j in mujer; ach, German, etc., now expressed by the character % in the ms., Mr. Reid wrote the letter g over the h.”
33 Hoffman (1885: 4) adds to “There is”, “There are.”
34 Hoffman gives the native word as Yahez with the English meaning “There is none; there are none.”
35 Hoffman renders this Ehez and adds in the list of words the following which were apparently omitted in the Star, 1852:
Far off Poane
36 Hoffman gives this as Quité and prefaces the conjugation with “To hear,—Nahacua.”
37 Hoffman renders this Zacat.
38 Hoffman gives the second native word as nom rather than uom, apparently a printer's error in the Star, 1852.
39 Hoffman gives the second native word as pom.
40 Hoffman gives the first native word as Non and prefaces the conjugation with “To speak,—Sirauaj.”
41 Hoffman gives the second native word as nom.
42 Hoffman gives the second native word as pom.
43 In Hoffman (1885: 5) there follows: “The nearest approach to express the idea of love is uisminoc.
1. Nonim uisminoc
2. O-a uisminoc
3. Mané uisminoc
1. Non him uisminoc
2. O-a him uisminoc
3. Mane him uisminoc
1. No que im uisminoc
2. O-que-a uisminoc
3. Mane que uisminoc”
44 Kroeber (1925: 622-626) gives a brief survey of Gabrielino mythology.
45 Reid's published Letter III is Hoffman's Letter V. Hoffman's Letter III does not appear in the Reid letters published in 1852. Hoffman's Letter III follows:
The Santa Inéz tongue is understood by the Indians of the Purissima. Santa Barbara and San Buenaventura (Missions), with this difference, that the two latter splutter their words a little more, which seems almost impossible! The l is used in this (Chumash) tongue, although not in the Gabrielino, which is strange. The only word in the Gabriel tongue which has an l is an interjection, alala equal to Oho! The Serranos have no l either, in use, and their language is as easy as that of San Gabriel. The Serranos generally employ a t when the Gabrielinos would use an r.
Dakin (1939: 196) says that, after Reid wrote and published in 1852 his Letters, he “then commenced another long-cherished project, that of compiling a vocabulary and complete language-manual, Indian-English, for the Southern California tribes, that they might understand their new (American) masters better than the old, and he hoped, fare more happily under them. But before finishing the congenial task, Hugo fell sick again.” It is possible that Hoffman's Letters III and IV are part of this unpublished linguistic project of Reid's.
Alexander S. Taylor (California Farmer, May 11, 1860) prints a vocabulary of 148 words which he recorded “from an old Christian-Indian about sixty years old” and which was the “vocabulary of the Indians living near the Mission of San Gabriel.”
Woodward (1944) has published an important mission period document, which he found at Mission San Fernando, entitled “The Quiligui, That Is to Say, Language San Gabrielino,” which is, in effect, an abbreviated primer on how to speak Gabrielino. The original author is not known, but may be assumed to have been one of the resident priests.
46 Hoffman (1885: 7) adds to this sentence “descending from father to son, and from brother to brother.”
47 Hoffman (1885: 29) adds the following informative note:
Three forms of war-clubs are given in Figures 2, 3 and 4. They are all made of extremely hard, heavy wood, and in some examples there is evidence of an attempt at ornamentation, done in lines burnt upon the surface, no doubt with a metallic substance. The club represented in Fig.2, measures thirty-four inches in length, one and a quarter inches in diameter near the handle, and two and a half inches at the opposite end; Fig. 3 measures eighteen inches in length, the handle two and a half inches in diameter, while the four-sided head, four inches each way, is armed with sharp conical points of wood projecting nearly an inch above the surface. These projections are of hard wood, and are secured by a socket, into which the pieces were driven previous to pointing.
Fig. 4 is of the same length as the preceding; it has three sides, each face measuring four inches in width, with just sufficient handle to afford a good grasp.
The object represented in Fig. 5 was used as an accompaniment to the rattle, in dances. Two pieces of hard wood twenty inches long, each two inches broad and a little more than half an inch thick, are secured at the handle with thongs and vegetable gum, allowing the ends of the wooden blades to be about an inch apart. This is shaken, and makes a noise resembling clapping of hands. Fig. 6 is a rattle, made by passing a wooden handle through two boards, each three and three-fourths by four inches in width, over which rawhide is stretched to form a hollow case. Inside of this are seeds, and small stones. The top is ornamented with feathers.
48 Hoffman says “chiefs.”
49 Hoffman says “distant.”
50 Hoffman says, in place of “associated”, “in council.”
51 Hoffman does not say “both”, but “the two captains.”
52 Instead of “kill or wound”, Hoffman says “put her to death.”
53 In place of the last phrase in this sentence Hoffman writes “and the paramour would not object.”
54 This paragraph and the one immediately preceding it do not occur in Hoffman's Letter V, which is Reid's published Letter III. Hoffman instead provides the following:
Although they counted by moons, still they had another mode for long periods, which was to reckon from the time the sun was farthest north, till he was at his southern extremity, and then back again. Summer was counted from the time frogs were first heard to croak. This was used to count war scrapes by, and under the recollection of the chief. When other tribes had to be chastized, the chief sent an express to all other lodges. They brought up from children a number of males, who were taught to hear long stories by the chief and to repeat them word for word. In this manner they became so perfect as to be able to recite the longest oration any one could produce.
They were not much given to travel, for they only relate of one who left his people and proceeded north till he came to the land where the geese breed. And even he appears to have possessed that property ascribed to his race, for on his return he informed them of having fallen in with people whose ears reached down to the hips; others of a small stature; and finally a people so perfect that they would lay hold of a rabbit or other animal, put it near the mouth, draw a long breath and then throw the rest away; which upon examination was nothing but excrement. They sucked with their breath the essence of the food and so lived without any calls of nature.
What is mentioned here that is of interest is the solstitial calendar where the year is divided into two equal halves. This calendrical system is described in detail by Cope (1919) and Spier(1955).
55 This Letter does not occur in Hoffman (1885). Hoffman adds a note to the mention of snow and ice, saying “The word, at the present time, is iv'at.”
56 A widely held belief among California Indians is that earthquakes were caused by an underground sleeping giant who rolled over.
57 The word Tobohar is derived from the widespread word stem for “earth”. Since elsewhere in Southern California the earth is the first mother, it seems probable that Reid was in error in naming the first man Tobohar.
58 The eagle figures importantly in ritual among all Southern California tribes. For details on the ceremonial killing of eagles among the Serrano, Cahuilla, Cupeño and Luiseño tribes see Strong (1929: 34, 83, 119, 177, 261, 307).
59 This is Hoffman's Letter VI. Hoffman's Letter IV is different and does not appear in the 1852 L.A. Star letters. It reads:
Father, mother, husband, son, daughter, face, hair, ear, tongue, mouth and friend, are words never used without a personal pronoun, as:
Father, nack, my father, ni nack, they father, mo nack, his or her father, a nack.
Husband and wife. If they have had children, instead of saying ni asum, my husband, they often say ni taliaisum, which may be translated part of my body.
All brothers older than the speaker are styled apa; ni apa, my brother; all younger, by apeitz; ni apeitz, my younger brother. They have no word to express Indian. Tahat signifies people. The whites are termed chichinabro, reasonable beings.
Face and eyes are expressed by the same word.
Ear, nanah; the leaves of a tree are called its ears.
Snow and ice are the same. Tobagnar, the whole earth; lahur, a portion of it, a piece of land. Caller, forest. No word to signify tree, all varieties have their special names. Cabatcho, good looking. Zizu, devil, an evil spirit. Ayopu-cushna, brother-in-law. Qua-o-ar, God. Held in great reverence, and the name was seldom pronounced among them. They generally used the term, y-ro-ha-riv-gnina, that which gives us life.
60 Hoffman (1885: 29-30) provides a note of information on the flat curved throwing club for killing rabbits:
Rabbits were killed with the Makana, or boomerang, the form of which is given in Fig. 7. The original measures two feet in length in a straight line, one and one-fourth inches across at the handle and one and three-fourth inches at the broadest part. The average thickness is about three-fourths of an inch. The weapon is made of hard wood (apparently dogwood, or mesquite), and ornamented with various markings which are burnt upon the surface. The end opposite the handle is finished so as to imitate the head of what appears to be a snake.
When viewing the weapon edgewise, it will be observed that considerable curve exists, but it is not known that these Indians were ever acquainted with the art of throwing the Makana so as to produce the strange and erratic motions pursued by a boomerang at the hands of a native Australian.
The weapon was thrown near the ground, so as not to pass over a rabbit while it was running. Its general form seems similar to the Zuni Kleani, and a similar weapon used by the Moqui, a notice of which was first published by the writer in the Trans. Anthrop. Inst. of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. IX. p. 464.
The curved throwing clubs are discussed by Kroeber (1925: 632), Davidson (1873) and Heizer (1942). They were noted as in use as far north as the Gabrielino by the Spanish explorers in the late eighteenth century.
61 The 1852 L.A. Star version of the Reid letters says “oblon.” Ellis (1926: 13) and Dakin (1939: 231) say “oblong.” Hoffman (1885:10) uses what is obviously the correct word, “abalone.”
62 Mollusk shells rather than whale's teeth provided the main material for shell disc beads. Hoffman (1885: 30-31) gives a rather prolix note on the manufacture of stone and shell beads in the Santa Barbara area (cf., Henshaw 1955: 148 ff.). It may be assumed that similar methods were employed by the Gabrielino. Hoffman's note reads:
The black beads referred to are made of dark, greenish black serpentine, some specimens resembling diorite, excepting as to hardness. They vary in size; the smallest one measuring about one-fourth of an inch in diameter and one-eighth in thickness, and the largest, known to the writer, measures seven-eighths of an inch in diameter by one and a half inches in length. The perforation in this specimen is one-fourth of an inch in diameter, and presents transverse striae caused by the sand used in drilling.
The shell beads were usually made of Haliotis and Tivola [i.e., Tivela]. Shell money-beads were flat, and about one third of an inch in diameter. Other beads used for necklaces were cylindrical or sub-cylindrical, larger in the middle than toward either end. Many of them, found in graves, present the same style of delicate perforations as we find in the beads from Santa Cruz Island. The writer is of the opinion that these narrow perforations were made by means of sea lions' whiskers as drills, and extremely fine silicious dust. The channels are scarcely large enough to admit a good sized thread, and in several beads which have split lengthwise it is apparent that drilling was done from both ends, as the perforations cease a short distance beyond the middle of the bead, thus passing one another, perhaps less than the tenth of an inch. It is evident, from the appearance of other unfinished specimens, that the boring was begun by using a stone drill—of which many and various forms occur—after which the bristle was applied. The channels are slightly conical toward the outer end, and at about one-fourth the length of the shell there is a constriction beyond which and near the middle of the bead, the channel again becomes wider, assuming an elliptical form. No doubt the rapid rotary motion of a flexible drill would cause sufficient divergence to produce such an effect. In addition to this, delicate transverse striae are also visible without the aid of a lens. A body was recently discovered on Santa Cruz Island, with which was obtained a bunch of these bristles carefully wrapped from end to end. Furthermore, it is well known that Chinamen on the Pacific coast purchase all the bristles of the sea lion that can be obtained, paying twenty-five cents apiece therefore, to be prepared and sold as tooth-picks.
Most of the shells required for use were obtained at the Santa Catalina Islands. These, as well as the islands opposite Santa Barbara, are fine localities for Haliotis shells even at this time. The Serpentine, used in making beads, ollas and large rings, was also obtained at the islands first named.
63 This is Hoffman's Letter VII.
64 Plural wives for chiefs was also true for the Chumash (cf., Henshaw 1955:149).
65 This is Hoffman's Letter VIII.
66 Hoffman (1885: 31) adds the following note which is of some archaeological significance:
Between Los Angeles and the coast, near San Pedro, gravestones were erected to the memory of the deceased, or, perhaps simply to identify the location of the body, so that his friends might come to offer food, and to mourn. Fig. 8 represents the etchings upon a piece of sandstone slab obtained from the above mentioned locality. On account of the fracture of the specimen, and the loss of, perhaps, important parts, only a few characters are visible, but these, resembling whales, were evidently carved there to show that the deceased had been a fisherman or whale hunter. Such a custom prevails very extensively among the Kiateamut Inuit of southern Alaska. There, the profession of a man, and even a woman, is carefully recorded upon wooden slabs.
67 This is a fairly standard practice among Shoshonean-speaking tribes in the Far West.
68 This is Hoffman's Letter IX.
69 Hoffman says “medicine men,” and appends the following note:
The term Shaman is more appropriate in this connection. The Seer was an individual whose profession was distinct from that of the Shaman. With some tribes there are Rainmakers, etc. During the performance of religious or professional ceremonies, the Shaman resorts to many and various utterances and movements not understood by the uninitiated. Rattles, small dried animals or skins, curiously shaped vegetable growths, rare sparkling minerals and wrought stones of odd forms, are employed as fetishes. Among the last named the writer found both oblong and pyriform polished stones, such as have hitherto been considered, and described, as “plummets,plumb-bobs, sinkers, and weights.” An old Tobikhar said that such stones would require too much time and labor to be used only to cast into the sea. The Indians term them “medicine stones,” and consider them as possessing medicinal properties.
That the Shaman also prepared arrow-poison, there is no doubt. Nearly all of the tribes between the Pacific ocean and the Rocky mountains had more or less knowledge of plants, insects, or other materials, which rendered it capable of producing septicemia in any person or animal wounded thereby. For more extended information by the present writer, respecting the methods of preparation, and the tribes by whom used, See Bull. Societe d' Anthropologie de Paris, Vol. VI, 3rd Series, 1883, p. 205, et seq.; Verhandl. Berliner. Gesell. fur Anthrop. Ethnol. und Urgesch., 1880, p. 91, et seq.
70 Hoffman has this word as “punk”. This is the curative practice, known also in the Old World, called moxa.
71 Datura metaloides (toloache or jimsonweed) contains a powerful alkaloid. It was widely used by aboriginal Southern California peoples as a means of inducing a state of unconsciousness during which time the person saw “visions.” Its use was almost exclusively religious, and Reid's statement that it was employed as a curative medicine is of interest. Strong (1929: 31-34, 62, 108, 116, 165,173-174, 259, 290, 296-297, 303, 306, 308-309, 321-325, 330-340, 344, 349) gives a great deal of detail on how one toloache drink was prepared, administered, and the ritual context of this practice among the Serrano, Cahuilla, Cupeño and Luiseño tribes.
72 The fullest study of the Central and Southern California Indian practice of swallowing tobacco mixed with lime (usually made by burning mussel shells) is by Voegelin(1938: 37-38).
73 Hoffman (1885: 15) says “pressure and frotation (sic) of the abdomen” instead of “pressure and rubbing of the part.”
74 Hoffman (1885: 15) gives the native words as:
“Non im mainoc, ni mainoc.
Non im mainoc, ni mainoc.
75 In the L.A. Star this word is omitted. Hoffman (1885) supplies the word given here in brackets. Chilicote is identifiable as Echinocystis macrocarpa.
76 Hoffman (1885: 13-14) adds, following this point, this paragraph:
The medicine man collected the poison used for dipping the heads of arrows. Fire was supposed to destroy its hurtful properties, consequently the flesh of animals so killed were eaten (after cooking) without any misgivings. The Seers pretended not only to know poisons which destroyed life by giving it internally, but also others which the simple touch was sufficient to produce the desired effect; and that some were instantaneous, and that others required one, two, or even twelve months before action took effect.
77 This Letter does not occur in Hoffman (1885).
78 Young men who submitted to being bitten by ants, often in conjunction with being whipped with nettles, usually did this in connection with the rites of initiation into manhood. For details on the ant ordeal among the Cahuilla and Luiseño see Strong (1929:176, 317, 339). What Reid describes here is a test of fortitude by young men already initiated, and it seems possible that he is referring to the ant ordeal of the pre-Mission period which was still remembered, but imperfectly, in 1852.
79 This ritual has been described for the neighboring Luiseño by Rust (1906) and Kroeber (1925: 673-675).
80 This paragraph gives us a hint of the ethical teachings connected with the Chinigchinich or toloache cult. We have practically no information on the cult practices among the Gabrielino, but they were probably similar to those of the Luiseño, for which see Kroeber (1925: 683-685) and Strong (1929).
81 C. H. Merriam recorded the following Gabrielino words which can be compared to those given by Reid in this and the second following paragraph: Greeting, ah-vah'-ah-hah; goodbye, yah-mon-h[e];'-ne; go, me-ah'; well, te-her'-vit; sick, tsi'-e't; I am sick, chi-n[o];k-noi.
82 Song duels occur widely among primitive peoples. They are best known among the Eskimos.
83 This Letter does not occur in Hoffman (1885).
84 An abbreviated version of this paragraph occurs in Hoffman's Letter V and is reprinted here in note 51.
85 C. H. Merriam in 1903 heard from a Gabrielino woman the following: North, pi'-e-mo; East, tah-mingar'-ro; South, ke-tah'-me; West, too'-o-me'. Merriam recorded the name of the North Star as e-u'-ko.
North, Fúmi. South, Kitámi.
East, Crúmi. West, Páymi.
They were acquainted with the North Star, which was called rómi.
86 Reid is describing here the great annual mourning ceremony held in the yoba; an unroofed brush-walled enclosure which he calls the “church.” The annual commemoration for the dead by California Indians is summarized by Kroeber (1925: 859-861), and for some Southern California tribes by Strong (1929). Merriam (1962: 77-85) gives a detailed account of the Gabrielino mourning ceremony for the dead.
87 This Letter does not occur in Hoffman (1885).
88 This description of length-value measurements of shell beads is very similar to that known for the Chumash of the Santa Barbara region. For details see Henshaw (1955: 150) where other references are cited. The Chumash term is ponco or ponti, to which compare Gabrielino ponco, ponto.
89 Davis (1961) has written a detailed study of aboriginal California trade and trade routes.
90 That is, cordage.
91 Cf. Bryan (1961).
92 This is Letter XI of Hoffman (1885).
93 C. Hart Merriam recorded the name of this game as choo-chooch'-kamacr;ch.
94 Hoffman has Charcharake. C. Hart Merriam recorded the name of this game as chah-chahn'kamacr.
95 Hoffman adds: “The ring was made of buckskin with a twig of willow inside, and four inches in diameter. This [game] is not played now.” C. Hart Merriam recorded the name of the hoop-and-pole game as ne-yah'-ka'-ech.
96 Hoffman (1885: 18) says this game was “played by children and by those swift of foot. Betting was indulged in by the spectators.”
97 This is Letter X of Hoffman (1885).
98 Hoffman (1885: 16) says “a toothache.”
99 Hoffman writes “an engine (flying concern)” rather than “a machine (impossible to describe).” A variant of this same myth is recorded by Gayton and Newman from the Michahai-Waksachi (a bilingual Yokuts-Western Mono tribe of the southern Sierra Nevadarange). Here one of the women “threw her eagle-down rope up in the sky; it caught in the center so that both ends hung down to the ground. These ends the woman tied around the ropes on the ground. Then the girls all clasped hands, called upon their talismans to help them, and began to sing. Slowly the ropes on which they were standing began to rise and swing slowly round and round like a buzzard. It swung in bigger and bigger circles.” Some such “machine” may be meant in the Gabrielino myth, and Reid did not wish to take the trouble to give the details.
100 This letter does not appear in Hoffman (1885).
101 Kroeber (1925: 624) suggests that the virgin sister and her four brothers are part of the “pantheon” connected with the Chinigchinich religion. The sister's name, Chukit, is the same as the Yokuts divinity, Tsukit, and the Fernandeño god Chuquit mentioned in a missionary record of 1811 (Kroeber 1908: 14).
102 This is Letter XII of Hoffman (1885).
103 Hoffman renders this word as Charnuca. Merriam recorded the name of the large storage basket as chah-moo'-hah.
104 Hoffman (1885: 20) gives this last incident in more detail. He writes:” ... she left and proceeded to the seashore to drown herself. She made a run twice to throw herself into the sea, but each time turned back, but the third time accomplished it.”
105 Hoffman (1885: 21) writes: “Calling together all of his people, he told them they must take his son with them on a hunting excursion and let him be killed by wild beasts.”
106 Hoffman (1885: 21) adds “(cry cu) nothing of which, save its shadow, had ever been seen.” Kroeber (1909: 251) gives acawut as the Gabrielino word for eagle.
107 Hoffman says “grandchildren”, specifying that there were two.
108 Hoffman says “her daughter's absence” and not “while their mothers were off.”
109 Hoffman says “matter.”
110 Hoffman adds, following this sentence, “The boy, at last, killed first a lizard, then a mouse, then a gopher.”
111 Hoffman's version (1885: 24) differs slightly in wording, and adds that the whirlwind “bound him to her waist with her sash, telling him to hold his breath as they went through the air.”
112 After this first phrase Hoffman's version adds “and there was great applause, when the voices cried out ayopui-cushna—our brother-in-law—is good at climbing.”
113 Hoffman says “Ursus Major.”
114 Perhaps this is an allusion to the sand-paintings known to have been made at Mission San Fernando (Kroeber 1925: 626) and by the Luiseño and Diegueño (Kroeber 1925: 665. Fig. 56). The Juaneño and Gabrielino may be assumed to have made similar ground-paintings, but no record of their form seems to have survived.
115 C. Hart Merriam gives too-koo'-par as the word for sky.
116 Hoffman (1885: 26) adds, “Whenever this legend was to be told, the hearers first bathed and washed themselves, then came to listen.”
117 Hoffman adds here, “It is said that a man was once carried away by it from the Lodge of Yan (Yangna) (Los Angeles).”
118 Kroeber (1925: 625) gives a synopsis of this myth and uses it to illustrate the quality of the mythology of the tribes of Southern California. He says:
The ethical inconsistency of this story is marked to our feelings. The heroine certainly is blameworthy, but those who rid themselves of her, even more so. Hardly is sympathy aroused for her when she dispels it by dashing out her child's brains. Then she becomes beautiful once more, and elicits interest through the disgraceful treatment accorded her by her brother. But this hardly seems sufficient cause for suicide. Her brother, too, committed the offense unwittingly; and his fatal punishment by his father comes to us as a shock. That the old chief should cruelly revenge himself by his magical powers on the foreigners who had first attempted his daughter's destruction seems natural enough; but the focus of interest is suddenly shifted from his means of vengeance to the successful escape from it of the old woman and her grandchildren. Then these, brother and sister as they are, marry. Now it is the old lady who is abused but suddenly it is her granddaughter who is persecuted and finally slain; after which follows the episode in which the loving and grieving husband is the central character.
Nothing can be imagined farther frog a plot according to the thoughts of civilized people than this one; it appears to revel in acmes of purposeless contradictions. And yet, this trait is undoubtedly the accompaniment of an effect that, however obscure to us, was sought for; since it reappears in traditions, following an entirely different thread, told by the Luiseño and Diegueño, and is marked in the long tales of the Mohave. This deliberate or artistic incoherence, both as regards personages and plot, is thus a definite quality of the mythology of the southern Californian tribes. It has some partial resemblances to the Southwest, but scarcely any in central or northern California except in the loosely composite coyote tales. In central California we have the well-defined hero and villain of the normal folk tale of the world over; and however much the oppressed endure, there is never any doubt as to who is good and who wicked, and that before the end is reached the wicked will be properly punished. That in the southern California traditions this simple and almost universal scheme is departed from, is of course not due to absence of aesthetic feeling, but rather an evidence of subtle refinement of emotion, of decorative over elaboration of some literary quality, to such a degree that the ordinary rules of satisfaction in balance and moral proportion become inconsequential. The traits that shock us ethically and artistically were the very ones, we may be sure, that gave the keenest satisfaction to the craftsmen that told these tales and the accustomed public that delighted to listen to them.
119 A direct translation of the Spanish “gente de razon.”
120 On the founding of Mission San Gabriel see Temple (1959).
121 That is, Sibagna, the village at San Gabriel. Alexander S. Taylor (in the California Farmer, Vol. 13, p. 90, May 11, 1860) says the name of the site of San Gabriel was Toviscanga.
122 On earthquakes in California during the mission period (1769-1834) see Heizer (1941).
123 An important element in Gabrielino ritual was bathing and other forms of purification. If the priests insisted upon this the shamans may have tried to take a stand against baptism precisely because it seemed to them a practice of native religion which was being preempted by the Catholics (cf. note 116).
124 Generally speaking the California Indians were peaceable peoples. They would go to war for certain reasons such as avenging a killing, capture of women, or transgression of boundaries by people in search of food. The Yuman tribes (Mojave, Yuma and Diegueño) were more warlike than other California tribes, and the destruction of the Yuma mission and the revolt at San Diego which were the two most violent Indian reactions against the missionaries in the mission period involved Yuman tribes.
125 Pimentel (1862, Vol. II, pp. 423-424) gives the Lord's Prayer in Fernandeño and Gabrielino. Bancroft (1875: 675) reprints these, but with some errors. The Fernandeño prayer is: Yyorac yona taray tucúpuma sagoucó motoanian majarmi moin mainmonó muismi miojo y iactucupar. Pan yyogin gimiamerin majarmi mi fema coyo'ogorná yio mamainap mii, yiarmá ogonug y yoná, y yo ocaynen coij armeamain y tomo mojay coiyama' huermi. Parima.
The Lord's Prayer in Gabrielino (from Pimentel 1862: 424) is: Y yonac y yogintucupugnaisá sujucoy motuanían masarmí magin tucupra'maimanó muísme mílléosar y ya tucupar jiman bxí y yonimasaxmí mítema coy aboxmi y yo mamaínatar momojaích milli yyaxma obonac y yo no y yo ocaihuc coy jaxmea main itan momosaich coy jama juexme huememesaích.
126 The “demand” (cf. Letter VII) was that of destroying the house and its contents of a person when he died.
127 That is, Sinaloa.
128 For a thorough analysis of fugitivism among mission neophytes in California see Cook (1943: 57-67). Up to 1831, about one in every 24 neophytes (3400 of a total of 81,586) had resorted successfully to fugitivism. Up to 1817, 473 fugitives were recorded at San Gabriel.
129 The “Tulares,” by which is meant the southern San Joaquin Valley, held a very large population of unconverted Indians. The people (mainly Yokuts) were numerous enough to be able to risk giving sanctuary to mission runaways, even though the soldiers attached to the missions might try to recapture them. For examples of such Spanish “military” expeditions see Cook (1962).
130 It is not clear here whether Reid means that the favorite hobby was cruel treatment to the neophytes or “railing in all of the vineyard and gardens.”
131 The numbers and condition of the California Indians in the early 1850s were the subject of a great concern by the Federal Government. The general situation is summarized by Dale (1949: Chap. III). Congress appointed on September 30, 1850 three commissioners to make treaties with California Indians. These were Redick McKee of Virginia, George W. Barbour of Kentucky and Oliver M. Wozencraft of Louisiana. In 1851 the commissioners made 18 treaties with 140 California Indian groups who were termed “tribes”, but in many cases were only villages and bands. The treaties set aside about 12,000 square miles of land for reservations. The treaties were submitted to Congress for ratification on July 1, 1852, and, largely due to the opposition of the California senators, were rejected by the Senate on July 8, 1852.
In 1852 Benjamin D. Wilson, a long-time resident of Los Angeles and a friend of Hugo Reid (Dakin 1939: 106, 122-124, 153, 196-199), was appointed as assistant to replace Wozencraft as Indian agent for the southern district of California and he continued in this capacity for a short time under the direction of Edward F. Beale, who had been named Superintendent of Indian Affairs in California (Dale 1949: 35 ff.; Beale 1854).
Wilson wrote a long official report entitled “The Indians of Southern California” in 1852, but it was not published after its receipt in Washington. In July, 1868 the Los Angeles Star published Wilson's report in 10 weekly installments (July 18 to September 19, 1868),perhaps for the reason that the Indian Appropriation Act of 1868 (Dale 1949: 43) was being considered by Congress and there was a great deal of interest in this pending legislation in California (for background see Dale 1949: Chap. III). Wilson's report has been published by Caughey (1952).
132 What purports to be the recollections recorded in 1877 of an old woman born at Loreto, Baja California, brought to California shortly after 1800, and who lived at San Gabriel Mission while José Sanchez was the presiding missionary there, is contained in a manuscript in Bancroft Library and has been published by Sanchez (1929).
133 Reference here is to natives from Kodiak and the Aleutian Islands who were brought to California by Russian sea otter hunters. Some Kodiak hunters were left on San Nicolas Island for a period to collect sea otter skins. No full study of this has been done, but some data are contained in notes attached to a published collection of accounts dealing with the marooned woman of San Nicolas Island (Heizer & Elsasser 1961).
134 This is a bit of folklore. Alexander S. Taylor (California Farmer, January 10, 1862) provided us with a lead to its source when he wrote, “Mention has been made in the first series of the Indianology, in several places (particularly in the No. of 9th March,1860), of the existence among the islanders of the Santa Barbara channel of Indians whose skulls were found about 1830-33, with double rows of teeth, among the caves and on the site of the old rancherías there away. I have been assured by old hunters and seamen (Messrs. Nidever, Hill and others of Santa Barbara, still living (January, 1861), that they were met with in abundance on the islands of San Clemente, San Nicholas and San Miguel even since 1850 to 1860. There can be little doubt of this as a well-established fact, confirmatory of Hugo Reid's statement. These skulls would bring, in San Francisco and Europe, from ten to twenty dollars apiece, as they are matters of great scientific curiosity.” It thus appears probable that Reid, who knew George Nidever and Daniel Hill, got the story from them before 1852.
135 C. Hart Merriam gives shé-soo for devil or bad spirit.
136 By “church” here is meant the unroofed brush enclosure (toba) made and used for ceremonial performances. Reid usually employs the word Church when he refers to the mission establishment. Of interest is the implication that in 1852 the Gabrielino were still practicing their ancient pre-Catholic rituals.
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