Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 86.djvu/240

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236
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

dialects of one language (the so-called Yana) express the most unrelenting hostility for each other. In other words, the Indians who lurked about in the Mill Creek hills for several decades after the settlement of the valley, were probably the remnant of a comparatively pure group, since there was little likelihood of intermixture.

 

The Mill Creek "War"

Between the years 1850 and 1865 this group was more or less under observation by the government. Rumors of battle, murder and sudden death came frequently from this region to the central authorities in San Francisco and Sacramento. On one or two occasions attempts were made by the War Department to apply the universal remedy for Indian troubles—removal to a reservation. Details concerning the movement of troops and some very heated correspondence relative to this tribe may be found in the government records (War Records, Volume 50). The names of some very distinguished Californians appear in this connection. I recall especially Governor Stanford, and General Albert Sydney Johnston. The only book I know of which deals exclusively with events in the Yahi region is a small but vivid volume written by R. A. Anderson, an actor in the events, and sometime sheriff of Butte County ("Fighting the Mill Creeks," Chico, Cal., 1909). This little work checks up with the records of the War Department. The "war" with this small tribe seems to be quite overlooked in the histories of California. There is no mention of it in either Bancroft or Hittell. The reason probably is that it was very much like what had happened, or was happening, on a larger scale elsewhere. The War Department correspondence is quite full for the period covered.

The end of the Mill Creek "war" was unusual and to some extent tragic. A party of armed whites, acting without other authority than resentment and an inborn savagery, surprised the tribe on the upper waters of Mill Creek in 1865. Their effort apparently was to wipe out this Indian group on the spot. On the admission of men who took part in the action, fire was opened on the defenceless Indians in the early morning, and an uncertain number of them, men, women and children, shot down. A few, not more than three or four, perhaps, escaped into the brush and got clear. The Mill Creek tribe as a tribe disappeared from history at this time. With one or two possible exceptions, nothing was seen of it again for over thirty-five years.

 

Hidden Life of the Survivors

The survivors who escaped these executive measures of 1865 were too few in number to resume their old mode of life. They were, on the other hand, so small a party that they succeeded in hiding away. Little by little they emerged from their hiding places and took up again the