Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 86.djvu/243

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THE LAST WILD TRIBE OF CALIFORNIA

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PSM V86 D243 Ishi at the present time 1915.jpg
Ishi at the Present Time.

covery in visiting a cabin, took as much food as they possibly could, to lessen the chances of having to make another trip, and ran away. They usually made a systematic collection of everything eatable, down to the last scrap, and carried it off. While the mountaineer has liberal notions of hospitality, they do not extend to this. The visits of the Indians were bitterly resented. They left their unwilling host in most cases, on his return, no resource but to walk back to civilization, empty within and without.

Such food-gathering expeditions were conducted with true Indian slyness. In spite of the fact that such "robberies" were fairly frequent, and extended over a period of thirty years, the Indians were never seen. Not only that, but no one ever found so much as a track or footprint. Often the only trace the Indians left of their presence was a total disappearance of everything edible. On one occasion a white mother returned to her homestead from berry-picking with two small children, to find nothing in her larder but two cold boiled potatoes. On another occasion, two mountaineers, who left in their camp two months' provisions, found on their return only part of a sack of barley. On other occasions the Indians took from camps even the barley that was intended for horse feed. Many of these robberies might have been blamed to white men, except for the fact that stuff was taken which a white man would not bother with; for example, the barley just mentioned. While useless to a white, it was readily usable by starving Indians who were accustomed to making food out of acorns and grass