Manataka American Indian Council

 

 

STORY OF A GREAT CAVE

Compiled by Robert Shrewsbury

 

 

I first got this from a young buck and just enough to cause me to want to hear all there was to it, and I told the young man so. He said there were some old men that knew all about it, and he would tell me who they were as soon as he could.

 

Sometime  later I was at the Indian camp that was near the station taking  lessons in their dialect. When the young man came in and I said there was an old man over there in another wig-wham, that I could tell me about the big cave. I was soon over there and  after a friendly smoke. This is what he said as near as I can I remember:

 

“There was camped at the very south end of the Schell Creek range of mountains a large band of Indians, and a little ways from the camp was a large knoll. In the side of it was a cave that no one had ever been to the end of, and in fact none would try to explore it, on account of It being said that the bad spirit lived there, and killed all who entered very far inside.

 

The chief of this band of Indians had two squaws, one was quite old and cross, the other was very young and gentle and good looking, but the two squaws were most always quarreling, and the chief had frequently given the old one a good thrashing, thinking she was to be blamed for being so cross but the time came when he thought he would try whipping the young one, but first asked her why she could not get along with out quarreling with the old lady. She said the other woman was always scolding her for not working harder and thereby making it lighter work for her and if he didn't make her stop her growling, she would run away as she was tired of living this way.

 

That kind of talk made the Chief very mad so he gave the young squaw a very hard whipping, using his horse whip and holding her by the hair of her head while he laid the whip on till the blood had started out most all over her, then throwing her to one side said now let us have peace or there will be something worse coming.

 

That night the sore little Squaw took some dried meat and a few pine nuts and went to the cave determined to go as far in as the bad spirit would allow her to go, and, if she did not see him, to go as far as she had strength to crawl as she never wanted to go back or have the Indians find her body if they tried to do so.

 

For some distance the floor of the cave was covered with sand that laid in small wave like ridges and on the whole nearly level, but further on took a steep grade down for a long way. then a nearly level stretch, then again down grade, this kept   on she did not know how long, for when she got tired she would lie down and sleep, and when she woke up would continue feeling her way down.

 

She had no idea how far she was from the mouth of the cave when she stepped into a pool of water that came nearly up to her knees and was cold as ice. She felt around and found there was quite a stream that was running out of the spring on the opposite side and she could hear a small waterfall a little farther down. She soon made her way to this fall and over it and down the creek.

 

This went on for a long time, her food had all been eaten and she expected to soon have to give up and die, but what was this under her feet so soft? It was grass. She tried to eat some of it but it did not taste good, so went on and when tired out laid down beside the creek to sleep, and lying on her back opened her eyes and saw that there was stars above her and in watching these discovered there were clouds up there too and this kept her awake for a long time, but she did sleep again and then was awakened by some thing running by her.

 

She found it was daylight and the sun was coming up over the hills and she could now hear birds singing, and she saw numerous wild animals the like of which she had never seen before. Everywhere she looked the ground was covered all over with grass, bushes, and trees. Any where else in her life,  she had not seen such a beautiful country not even in small  patches, having lived in the desert country.

 

Hunger caused her to look around to see if she could find any berries or roots that she could eat. Going on down the creek she found there was plenty of berries and many kinds that she had never seen before, some very large, and others very small. She ate of them such as tasted good until satisfied. Then went on still following the winding brook.

 

She had not traveled over a half a sun when she saw a large herd of very white animals feeding on a large open space where there was nothing but fine grass. She had never seen any animals like these. They were not as tall as an antelope, nor as little as a coyote. They were covered all over with long curly hair, and as she drew near to them they raised their heads and looked at her, then went on with their feeding, and seemed to know that she was not dangerous. While watching these animals. she saw something else that gave her quite a scare. It was a man and, as he had seen her and was coming towards her there was no use in running away, so she stood still but watching to see if he was friendly or not. He came up pretty close and stopped then spoke to her in a language she had never heard and could not understand.

 

After some time he seemed to know that she was of some other people, and was lost, and was probably hungry, so putting one hand on his stomach and the other pointing to his mouth then pointing down the brook motioned for her to follow him, which she did as he seemed very friendly.

 

After going some distance they came to where a broad trail led to the door of a big house that had four or five other houses inside of it, and in the sides of all of them were big holes that had something over them that kept the wind and rain out, but you could see outside through them. In every house the ground was covered with wood and the whole houses seemed to be made of wood with different kinds and colors of paint. There were places to sit on, places to eat on, and places to sleep on, all very beautiful to look at.

 

The man went to one of the walls and opened a door that did not open clear through the wall and brought out some meat that was cooked and some very white bread and some yellow grease, and a pan of berries, a cup of sugar and put these on the place to eat on, then got some water in a cup you could see through. Then motioned for her to sit there, and he sat opposite, all the time talking in a kind voice.

 

He would point to some thing and say one word, and keep saying it till she would repeat it, when he would laugh and seemed much pleased. She knew that he was trying to teach her to talk his language and she was anxious to learn, and it was not long before she was able to ask questions and understand the answers. She slept in one of the inside houses and the man in another. The man done all the cooking for a long time, or until she had learned to talk well, and also how the cooking was done. Then she took hold of that part, which left the man more time to attend to his flocks and herds of which he had a good many. Soma days he would take her out with him to get the fresh air and view the country, and at such times she could see scattered around at quite a distance numerous houses like the one where she lived and could also see many herds of different kinds of animals. When she asked the man if friendly people lived there he said yes. It is a very big country and all over it just like it is as far as you can see.

 

One day the man dressed himself in finer clothes and told the girl he was going away, but would come back by sun- down. He was back by the time, called the girl to come and see what he had brought for her. It proved to be a dress that would reach from neck to ankles, and cover the arms too. It was covered most allover with different colored beads which were put on so as to show trees, birds, etc. and was very beautiful to look at. There were some leggings and shoes all finished off with beads like the dress. She was much pleased with the pre sent as her own clothes were badly worn. The man told her to put them on and wear them every day, and after a while would get her another and better outfit.

 

One day he called her to set down, and as she could talk good enough to make him understand, to tell him her story of where she came from and how and all about her people, as he was satisfied she was not of his country. So she commenced her story from the time she could first remember, up to the time her husband had whipped her, which seemed to make the man very mad.

 

He frequently asked her questions as she was telling her story. Then when she was telling of her running away and entering the cave to die he was all excited as there was an old story in his country that the cave had another opening far in the mountains that led to a bad country.

 

Well, she ended her story, after telling all that happened to her up to the time she met him. He knew the rest. One day he took her out to the side of the great trees, where he sat down  and said three years ago I had a wife, she died and is laying  there pointing to a small mound near him and two years more must pass, before I can marry again, as that is our custom here. Then maybe I will talk to you about it.

 

One day some time later he found the girl sitting out in  the shade she was crying and sobbing like her heart would break. After a good deal of coaxing she told him she was thinking about her husband and her boy, and wanted to see them again at least her boy that was one year old when she left them. The man seemed very much depressed but said, your husband is no good I wouldn't cry for him, but I do not blame you for wanting to see your boy, and if there was any way to help you get him I would, but there is no way, so try and forget them. And soon she was crying most of the time, till at last she told the man if he would let her go she would try and go back the way she had come, and get her boy.

 

The man tried to make her understand that it would be impossible for her to find her way back. But she was determined to make the attempt. So seeing that he could not persuade her to his views, he told her that if she was bound to take the chance of getting back through that awful hole, he would help her all he could but would not go one step inside of the cave to save his own life or hers either. So as she wanted to start at once they both began getting together such articles as they thought would help her to make the journey through the cave.

 

The man got a small bundle of grease torches anyone of which would burn a whole day, and advised the girl to use as few as possible while she had the creek to follow, and after leaving the spring at the head of the creek might be able to trace her steps back if she had light enough. Well, one day when they could think of nothing that would help her, the man went with her to where the creek came out of the mountains tried again to have her give up such an awful undertaking, but as she would go, made her promise that if she could not find her way out at the other end, or did get through and found her boy she would come back to 'him and he would wait two years for her.

 

So they parted, the man to his peaceful home, the girl to the dismal cave, where, after a very long time, and her provisions were about all used up, and the torches all burned out, she came to the light of day, and about noon. She climbed a small hill where she could view the country around her at least some distance away discovered a smoke that showed her where there was a camp of Indians.

 

She went to it and found it to be her husband's band who was all very much surprised to see her again and alive, and dressed so fine and looking as pretty as ever, only tired out, and whiter than when she left them. The old woman had died while she was gone. Her husband said he would never whip her again and she must come and live with him and the boy, which she did.”

 

There is another Indian story about that same cave, of how a small band of Indian lived near it, and was attacked by a large band of strange and hostile Indians, that was determined to kill all of the men and children and keep the squaws for servants. They had a running fight and all that were not killed took refuge in this cave. Their enemy placed a guard near the entrance to prevent any from escaping and they were determined to kill or capture the whole band. But after keeping their guards there for a whole moon, and not seeing or hearing of anyone that had went in they came to the conclusion that all had starved to death.

 

So they went in to investigate, and could plainly see the tracks of the fleeing party all pointing further in, not one had turned back. This was enough, all had gone [somewhere]. 

 

A White Man Story About The Great Cave

 

We had a number of men hired for haying season, and among them were some that had lived in the settlements south of Utah Lake. I had been telling a bunch of them some of what the Indians had told me about this cave, when one of the men said there must be something in it, for I heard a man down south say he was acquainted with some of the party that done some exploring there.

 

The party were returning from California and making a cut off across the desert, when they camped near and discovered the cave. Some of the party went in quite a long ways, but had to retreat as their light gave out. Then they made a number of torches and with what lighting material they had, attempted to again reach the far end of the cave. There were many leads off to the sides but only one led down, kept one general direction. By following this, and just as they were about to back out going any further, they came to a spring of nice clear and pure water. The stream from which ran on' down into the cave. There seemed to be plenty of room to follow it but they could not at that time.

 

All said they would go to the settlements and provide themselves with the means of finding the end of that cave if it took them six months to do it. I know that a good many men have been willing at any time to go and explore it. But there was always lacking a leader that would go ahead and organize a party for that purpose.

 


 

Compiled by Robert Shrewsbury from the personal journal owned by Mont Stocking and written by his ancestor, a Mormon pioneer in Idaho in the 1800's.  Published with permission.

 

Graphic:  http://indiancave.com/history.html

 


 

 

EMAIL          HOME          INDEX          TRADING POST