“….Although she was nearly blind from
cataracts and over ninety years old at the time, her storytelling
gifts remained sharp. The
humorous, poignant events she recalls here probably took place in the
1840’s, just before gold was discovered in Humboldt and Mendocino
counties. Later in her
reminiscences Mrs. Young describes her family’s terrible experience
during the told rush itself. The
gold rushers and homesteaders who flooded into California then were
responsible for murdering over 50,000 Native Americans between 1848
and 1878 alone.”
My grandpa, before white people came, had
a dream. He was so old he
was all doubled up. Knees
to chin, and eyes like indigo. Grown son carry him in great basket on
his back, every place.
grandpa say, “White Rabbit” – he mean white people –
gonta devour our grass, our seed, our living.
We won’t have nothing more, this world.
Big elk with straight horn come when white man bring it.” I
think he mean cattle. “ ‘Nother animal, bigger than deer, but round
hair on this neck.” This one, horse, I guess.
aunt say; “Oh Father, you out your head, don’t say that
way.” He say; “Now, Daughter, I not crazy. You young people gonta see this.” People come long way, listen to him dream.
He dream, then say this way, every morning.
leave li’l children play by him.
He watch good. Have big stick, wave round, scare snake away.
He had good teeth. All
old people had good teeth.
time they travel, they come to big pile of brush.
My grandpa stop, and look at it.
He say; “This, good wood.
When I die, burn my body to ashes on top of ground.
Here gonta be big canoe, run around, carry white people’s
things. Those White
Rabbit got lotsa everything.”
canoe gonta run round on dry ground all round here?” we askum.
“Don’t know,” he say.
“ Just run that way.”
He mean wagon, I guess.
never grow much. They
call me “li’l Shorty,” but I know pretty near everything that
time. My grandpa put his
head on my head, smoove my hair, and hold his hand there.
time you gonta live, my child,” he say.
“You live long time in this world.”
I live long enough. I
guess ‘bout ninety-five next summer, if I living til then.
grandpa never live to see white people, just dreaming every
night ‘bout them. People
come long way, listen (to) him dream.
grandpa move down by big spring.
One day he couldn’t get up.
He say: “I gonta leave you today.
I used to be good hunter, kill bear, elk, deer, feed my
children. Can’t feed my
children no more. Like
old root, just ready for growing now. Pretty soon dead. Speak no more.”
seem like dream to me. Long,
long ago. Night-time, he
die, and in morning, all tied up in deerskin with grass rope.
Sit up knees to chin. They
tie him up too soon. He
roll over, and come back. Scare everybody.
He ask for water, and ask for packstrap to basket always carry
him in. He ask for li’l basket he always use for cup.
He drink lots.
starve for water, and want my strap,” he say.
“That’s why I come back.”
Our people dig big hole, put stick across.
Put brush. Put body in. Put
more brush. Burn all to ashes. The
put basket and strap, too, with him, when he go where people go at