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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 86.djvu/237

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THE LAST WILD TRIBE OF CALIFORNIA

THE LAST WILD TRIBE OF CALIFORNIA
By Professor T. T. Waterman

IN the fall of 1908 some attention was aroused in the press by a story to the effect that hunters had encountered in the state of California a tribe of Indians who were still in the stone age. The idea of a "wild" tribe in a thickly settled region like California was so novel that it served to awaken a very wide interest. The Indians themselves, however, had meanwhile vanished. Some three years later an individual who had all the appearance of belonging to this group was apprehended in northern California. He was put in jail, and a few days later turned over to the university. Since then he has been received everywhere as the last survivor of his tribe. The whole series of incidents deserves some explanation. I think it ought to be said at the outset that the story as given in the papers of that period is quite true. The individual captured in 1911 was a surviving member of a stone-age tribe. He is still alive and well at the university; and he has given from time to time extremely interesting accounts of the history of his people.

I should like to explain first of all the rather unusual career of this tribe, and how they happened to remain "wild." The occupation of California by the whites is usually pictured as a peaceful transaction. We hear little of Indian wars in connection with this state. The California tribes pursued, as it happened, a more or less settled mode of life. Being non-migratory, they were peculiarly open to attack and reprisal for any resistance they could have offered to the white invasion. The influx of whites moreover was on the whole so sudden and overwhelming that those Indian disturbances which did occur were soon forgotten. It is quite possible that if California had been settled one family at a time as New England was, "massacres" and "wars" would have occurred that would have rung down the ages like the wars waged by the Indians on the Colonies. If there had been a long course of conflicts, our California tribes might have developed a name for ferocity like that enjoyed by the Mohawk, or the Apache. As a matter of fact, the white occupation here was accomplished by violence and bloodshed, and through armed conflict with the natives far and wide. The U. S. Army records show almost as many movements of troops against the Indians as occurred in any other area of the same extent. The whole period of "occupation" was so short, however, that Indian troubles for the most part were soon things of the past.