In the Land of the Grasshopper Song: Two Women in the Klamath River Indian Country in 1908-09

By Mary Ellicott Arnold; Mabel Reed | Go to book overview

Foreword

This story of Indian country in 1908-1909 is a true story, with everything put down exactly as it happened.

The Karoks, with whom we lived for two years, were a small band of about seven hundred Indians of Hokan stock. They were bow-and-arrow Indians and had no knowledge of textiles or pottery.

During the gold rush, in 1852, nearly a thousand white men came into the Klamath country; but when the easy gold was gone, about two years later, these miners left for richer diggings, and only a handful of squaw men remained on the Rivers.

When we came to the Klamath country, about fifty-four years later, the superficial effect of this great influx of white men was still evident. Karok Indians wore the clothes of the white man, built their cabins with tools, rejoiced in the rather questionable advantages of tea, coffee, and sugar, and gladly used white flour instead of acorn meal. They also used white nomenclature. The miners had called the Indians they worked with by familiar white names: Tom, Henry, or Joe. When the sons of these Indians grew up, they became Jim Tom, Pete Henry, and Little Joe.

But with these obvious changes in custom, the influence of the white man came to an end. In the sixty miles between Happy Camp and Orleans, the social life of the Indian-- what he believed and the way he felt about things--was very little affected by white influence. The older Indians still had the spaced tattoo marks on their forearms, by which they could measure the length of the string of wampum required to buy a wife. And though strings of wampum were only used for ceremonial purposes, and Indians bought

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