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Chapter 19: Red Mormonism.

From Winnemucca, an Indian camp in Nevada, to Brigham, a prosperous Mormon town in Salt Lake

Valley, we race and wriggle through a mountain district, not more striking in physical aspect than in human interest. Rolling on the level of Ben Nevis, with a score of snowy peaks in front and flank, we climb through woods of stunted pine, ascending by the Pallisades to Pequop, at the height of Mont d'or, from which we slide by way of Humboldt Wells and the American Desert direct to Brigham in the land of Zion. Ten years ago, this line of country, four hundred miles by road, belonged to independent tribes of Utes and Shoshones, whose pagan ancestors had hunted buffalo, made peace and war, and carried on vendetta, from the frozen sierras to the neighbourhood of Snake River [183] and Shoshone Falls. To-day these tribes have not a single acre of their ancient hunting grounds.

Many of these Indians are Red Mormons. Every Indian tribe, among whose tents the Mormon preachers have come, are more or less inclined to favour them, but many of these Utes and Shoshones have been actually baptized into the Mormon Church. Red bishops have been consecrated for the government of these mountain tribes.

Nine years ago, while staying in Salt Lake City, studying the system introduced among men of European stock by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, I wrote these words:

“ What have ,these saints achieved? In the midst of a free people, they have founded a despotic power. In a land which repudiates State religions, they have placed their Church above human laws. Among a society of Anglo-Saxons they have introduced some of the ideas, many of the practices of Utes, Shoshones, or Snakes.”

A wider view of Indian life confirms my first belief that “some of the ideas” and “many of the practices,” found among the Mormons living at Salt Lake city, are a growth of the soil, older than the [184] advent of Brigham Young, older than the revela tion of Joseph Smith.

Apart from the devotional spirit, the sense of order, and the love of work, which are the virtues of New England and of Old England, never yet divorced from men of Anglo-Saxon breed, the Mormons seem to have derived their chief ideas, and adopted their chief practices from the Indian lodge. Glance, for a moment, at the main ideas on which Red men differ from White — from all White men except Latter-day Saints.

1. Red men have a physical god, who can be seen and heard, not only in the cloud and wind, but with the form and voice of man.

2. They have a class of seers and chiefs, endowed with a supernal faculty of seeing this god, of listening to his counsels, and of learning his will.

3. When they meet in counsel, every Red man is supposed to be possessed by the Great Spirit, and divinely guided in his choice of seer and chief.

4. A chief thus chosen by the common inspiration of his people, rules them in the name of heaven, by a divine and patriarchal right, and exercises his authority on body and on soul alike. [185]

5. They exist in orders, divine in origin, which keep them in one nation, and divide them from the outer world by barriers never to be passed excepting through adoption by the tribe.

6. The land, and everything on the land, belong to the Great Spirit, and to the tribe as his children, and the titles vest in the big chief as trustee of the Great Spirit and his tribe. No private member of the tribe has any power to hold and own the land, and what is on the land.

7. An injury to any member of the nation is regarded by the Red man an injury to all, so that this wrong must be atoned before the tribe can rest — a blood atonement being required of the offending tribe.

All these ideas, strange to White men, hardly known in London and Berlin, Paris and New York, have been adopted by the Saints, not only by Brigham Young and Daniel Wells, illiterate presidents of the Church, but by their learned bishops, compeers, and defenders, Delegate George Q. Cannon, and Professor Orson Pratt.

In the camp of Red Cloud, a chief of the Teton Sioux, you hear the same talk of divine help, and [186] of standing face to face with God, as you hear in the Lion House and Tabernacle at Salt Lake. “ I will consult the Great Spirit,” says Red Cloud, when the Indian Commissioners press a point. In speaking to the Whites, Red Cloud never drops this tone of priest and seer. “ Whatever the Great Spirit tells me to do, that I will do.”

Red Cloud can hardly count the lodges of his tribe. Six years ago he owned the plains and mountains from the Upper Missouri River to the Setting Sun. White men came into his huntinggrounds; trappers, dealers, herdsmen, whom he received with kindness and supplied with squaws. Red Cloud was glad to see men come into his country who could show his young hunters how to work! But he reserved his princely rights. When White men came to make a road, they wanted soldiers to protect their plant; but Red Cloud would not have these armed hands about his lodges. “No,” he answered the Commissioner, in the tone of a prophet; “ you shall not send a soldier across the North Platte.” Conferences were held, and Red Cloud went to Washington and New York. A pact was signed by him, giving the White men certain [187] rights; but many of his tribe were vexed by his concessions, and asserted that their chief had been made drunk. A new palaver was arranged at Laramie, when Red Cloud stood on his ancient right, not only as a prince, but priest and seer. Commissioner Brandt asked him to receive a White agent in his country. He refused. “ I have consulted the Great Spirit, and do not want a strange man for agent.”

When pressed to yield the right of garrisoning his hunting-grounds, he rose and spoke:

“I am Red Cloud. The Great Spirit made the Red man and the White. I think he made the Red man first. He raised me in this land, and it is mine. He raised the White men beyond the sea; their land is over there. Since they crossed the sea, I have given them room, and there are pale faces all about me. I have but a small spot of land left. The Great Spirit tells me to keep it.”

Brigham Young might use these words. The Lord has given Salt Lake Valley to Brigham and the Saints, just as the Great Spirit has given Nebraska to Red Cloud and the Sioux. The Lord has told Brigham to keep that valley, and Brigham will hold it so long as the Lord gives him strength to keep the [188] Gentiles out. “ Whatever I do,” says Red Cloud, in the tone so often heard at Salt Lake City, “my people will do the same.” Whether asking or refusing, Red Cloud is but carrying out the wishes of his people and the will of God.

Brigham Young has done something to appease the feuds between Utes and Shoshones; but, as some persons allege, he has done so only to turn their wrath against the Whites. Not far from the station called Pai-Ute, a fight took place between some emigrants and natives, which gives the name of Battle Mountain to a ridge with many mounds and spires; and here, as at Mountain Meadow, and in other places, the Mormons are suspected of inspiring, if not conducting the attack. The emigrants were driving stock. Stronger in numbers and in knowledge of the country, the Indians dashed into their corral, overpowered their watch, and drove away their herds. At dawn, the emigrants rallied, armed in haste, and sought the trail. At noon they caught the raiders in a glen, fell on them front and flank, broke, drove, and scattered them from rock to cave. The Indians fought like wolves at bay; but numbers and courage were of no [189] avail against White strength and discipline. Shot, brained, cut down, they fell on every rock, round every tree. Nothing less than their destruction could appease the White man's rage. The sun went down on a victorious field; a hundred braves lying dead, and all the stolen stock brought back to camp. Nobody ever learned the Indian loss that day. Indians use much care in carrying off their dead, in order to reduce the enemy's tale of scalps; but in the following summer, emigrants found the bones of many warriors who had evidently been sped by White men's bullets to the land of souls. That skirmish cleared the track, and helped to break the Shoshone power.

Smitten by this sudden loss, the tribe reeled to and fro, unable to decide on any course. One party was opposed to fighting any more; a second party was for instant war. They fought each other, and while they were fighting in their camps, the White man built his ranch and made his road. From time to time a ranch is robbed, a woman stolen, a settler scalped; but in an Indian country no one makes a fuss for trifles, and the desolated ranch gets tenanted again. A bolder crime provokes a chase, [190] and when the White man mounts, his chase is eager and his vengeance black.

We pass a homestead which has lately been the scene of one of these mountain episodes. A daring fellow brought his wife and two daughters up to the great plateau, where by thrift and labour he was making for them a prosperous home. The girls were pretty, and the wifeless miners and shepherds thought them angels. A band of Shoshones scalped the whole family. If the Whiteman's tale is true, these savages not only outraged the women, but slit their noses, broke their joints, and gouged their eyes. If so, the warriors were attended by their dusky wives; such acts of torture being reserved by Indians as a luxury for their squaws, who snatch a fearful pleasure, in their bondage, from the sight of a White woman's shame and death.

Before the Whites could rally in pursuit, the Shoshones made off, retiring to the trackless wastes where White men's feet have never trod. The trail was lost, the chase seemed vain; but frontier men are not easily turned aside, and female blood was crying from'the earth for vengeance! A Pai-Ute scout [191] came in, who offered to find the trail, and guide them to the Shoshone camp. At once they marched; armed, braced, and eager for their work. They caught the trail; they reached the camp; but only to find the braves and warriors flown, the squaws and children left. The White men sulked and swore; their prey was gone, their vengeance baffled. To pursue the flying bands seemed useless; for a Redskin, riding for his life, with nothing but his arms to carry, must leave a Pale-face with his stores and tents behind. A council was convened. What could they do?

“Do?” exclaimed the Pai-Ute scout, “why, fire on the squaws.”

Fire on the squaws! To hurt a woman is revolting to a White man's sense of honour. Fire on the squaws!

“What is the use in firing on a lot of squaws?” asked one of the number.

“ Ugh!” sneered the scout, with Indian scorn for what he calls this Pale-face craze about the value of a woman's life; “ you fire into the camp; you shoot a score of squaws and papooses; then you see the braves [192] and warriors come to their defence. They are not far away.”

A volley was discharged into the Indian camp. A wild and piercing yell rose up from wounded squaws and children. Soon the paint and feathers showed themselves among stones and trees. Each Indian rushed to the defence of his own lodge, and now the Whites poured in among them, and the hug of hate began. Arms, drill, and science fought for the Whites, and when the firing slackened, a rush was made with knife and bayonet. The camp was carried, and every man, woman, and child still left was sought and killed.

On crossing Bear River, we arrive at Brigham, a city of adobe houses, nestling in the midst of fruit trees. Here we find a body of Red Mormons, led by a Red bishop, on their road to Zion. Finding no comfort in their Gentile neighbours, the Horse Indians are turning more and more towards their pale-faced brethren of the Mormon church.

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