A small encampment of Shoshone Indians were living above the spring next to the foothills when the first Mormon settlers came and probably at times before the ranch was established. Steven Carter wrote this of their way of life as told to him by Vera Carter Reid: "They lived in tepees made of skins and burlap sacks. Their cooking was done over open campfires. They were very resourceful with the gifts of Mother Nature. The willows growing around the spring were used to make baskets of all sizes and kinds. Colorful designs were made by dyeing the willows" (and weaving the colors into characteristic patterns). "The early settlers bought them for two and a half or three dollars and used them for clothes baskets. Deerskins were tanned and made into beautiful gloves and moccasins for their own use and to sell to the white settlers.
"They depended on nature for their livelihood. The Indian squaws hunted ground hogs(prairie dogs?) with buckets of water and sticks. They poured water into the holes and as the little animals came out the squaws quickly killed them with a stick. Then they were skinned, cleaned and prepared for dinner." They also ate grasshoppers on occasion and the larvae of a fly they dried for later use. Effie Read says they called these larvae, "Spinnocks."
Pinenuts were a basic food of the Indians in this region before the white men came and in the years when the crop was good they would gather all they could to tide them over the lean years. They sometimes roasted them in pits until they were quite hard and oily and they would keep for long periods of time. Sometimes the Indians used two rocks, one hollowed like a shallow dish,the other solid and oval in shape and both worn smooth, to grind the hard-cooked pinenuts into flour. Ina Gubler Gilfillan says she used to go to the Indian camp with the other children and watch them cook pinenut patties on their campfires. Indians also used this method to grind corn but there is no evidence that the Indians in this area made any attempt to raise any part of their food before the white men came.
After the Indians left, grinding stones were sometimes found as well as great quantities of arrowheads indicating that the Indians had earlier used bows and arrows to hunt rabbits and othersmall game, and perhaps deer, as well as for battles between tribes and with the white men. There was a particularly high concentration of arrowheads in an area in the fields between Lund and Preston known as Battle Flat. This is said to be so named for the Indian battles that took place there which the quantities of arrowheads would appear to confirm.
The Indian men helped in the fields, the Indian women with the housework and men, women and children joined the potato harvesting crew in the fall. Steven's account goes on to say that after the potatoes were uncovered with a hand plow, the Indians used a tool made of a stick with the prong from a deer horn fastened on the end to unearth the potatoes that had not come to thesurface.
When the Indians were working they were always given their noon meal, sometimes their breakfast and they brought bags to carry food back to their tepees at night. In the account by Steven, Vera Reid remembered that sometimes when the job lasted more than a day they would not return to their village at night but would roll up in their blankets of rabbit skins and sleep in the fresh straw in the mangers where the animals were fed.
Although these particular Indians were willing to work once in a while they came begging. One big Indian came to our home one day when my sister, Mazie, was home alone and pointed to the loaves of freshly baked bread on the table. Although she was a little frightened she was willing to share so she cut a large loaf in two and handed him the larger piece. He objected to the cut and protested, "Not much! Not much!" "Oh, too much?" Mazie said and cut off a slice. "No, no," more vehemently, "Not much!" "Still too much?" and she cut off another slice. The Indian was defeated. He snatched the piece that was left and beat a hasty retreat. Our father laughed when he heard the story but he said, "You should have given him a whole loaf."
Another quote from Steven's story, "Many of the Indians were named for the place where they were born. One woman from Cave Valley was called Cave Valley Annie. Troy George was born in the mining town of Troy." Another theory was that Troy was a corruption of Toa, a tribal name. If true, it was one of the very few Indian names used in what had become a white man's world. Some adopted the names of white people they worked for or with, Johnny, George and Tom Adams for Governor Adams of the Adams and McGill Company or Ben Payne for White Pine County Sheriff Payne. Belle Gardner identified other members of the tribe familiar to the early settlers. She said that when they arrived Captain John and his wife, Annie, were a young couple with a young family. Older members of the tribe were Annie's mother, Maggie and Troy George and his wife, Becky. Other people remembered other members of the group, Cornelius and Jenny, Frank and Annie Strait, Mary McQueen and another Mary and Loco Joe, Julia, daughter of Captain John and Annie.
Belle Gardner told how the Indian women helped the white women, washing clothes for twenty-five cents per washing, scrubbing floors, washing windows, cleaning yards, etc. She said that one day when Maggie was out in the yard washing clothes for her, Belle suddenly heard her cry out. When she ran out she found Maggie with her long hair caught in the wringer. While she was turning the handle a strand of hair had followed the clothes. When she tried to turn the wringer back another strand went the opposite way and she was hopelessly trapped. To release her, Belle quickly got the scissors and cut her hair.
Another incident Belle Gardner related happened on the day of the rabbit hunt, December 30,1902. After her husband, George, had gone on the hunt with the other men, she went in to the bedroom and picked up her frail little premature baby. He stiffened in her arms and she could see that he was very sick. When she heard someone come into the kitchen she called out, "Whoever you are, come into the bedroom quick," and Becky and Maggie walked in. One of them said, "Baby heap sick. Mebbe so die." Then they ran to get Ella Snow, next door, and Grandma Burgess. When George and Bishop Orrin Snow returned later in the day they gave the baby a blessing but he died a short time later. He was the first to be buried in the cemetery plot donated by A. R. Whitehead which was dedicated just before the burial.
The Indians adapted to the advent of the white man in other ways, too. Some of the children went to the white school. After Amos Gardner moved to the Forest Home ranch a young Indian who was not of the Shoshone tribe and had been left in the area by his people traveling through, asked the Gardners for work and a chance to go to school. He went to school on the ranch for several years and added the name of Gardner to the Gyp by which he was known. Afterwards he moved to Lund where he lived for a time with the Alonzo Gardner family and attended the Lund school. He also lived with the Whiteheads and with the Ivins family while W.H. Ivins was on his mission. Although he was older than the others in the school, he was determined to get an education and attended as regularly as he could. When he graduated from grade school he left to continue his education else where and eventually went to the A.C. in Logan, Utah, where he received a degree in mining engineering. He went by the name of G. Gardner (he said Gyp was a dog's name) and kept in touch with his adopted family for many years. He was killed in a mine accident in Colorado.
Grace Strait was one of the Indian girls from the encampment who went to the Lund school. Two others were named Zina and Mabel which happened to be the names of two of the white girls. With the callousness often displayed by the very young, the other children made the most of this coincidence without regard for the feelings of either race. Della Gardner Scow tells that one time the teachers took the school to the Indian camp to see a mountain lion that the Indians had killed.
Then about 1913 came the epidemic that drove the Indians from the Valley. A proportionately large number of Indian children died in a matter of weeks. The graves are unmarked but Vera Reid gave the number buried in the cemetery as about eight. Doctors from Ely came to perform an autopsy on the bodies of two of the children and again from Vera Reid's report, it was diagnosed as diphtheria. Afterward the old log tithing office building where the autopsies were performed was regarded with a degree of superstitious fear by the children of the town. For the Indians the whole area was cursed.
Mary, who became known as Crazy Mary, mourned the deaths and sought to drive the evil spirits away by riding her horse through the town at a gallop, moaning and crying while the townspeople listened from behind closed doors with uneasiness and apprehension. She rode her horse up on the porch of the old adobe Cripps house where Bertha Gardner was at home with her babies, the twins, Myron and Myra, and she rode it onto Ann Reid's porch. Aunt Ann Reid,though totally deaf, could feel the vibration of the horse's hoofs on the wooden floor boards.
Afterward most of the Indians left the area without ceremony. One day they were here and the next they were gone. For many years the town rarely saw an Indian except Cornelius and Johnny, Tom and George Adams who continued to ride with the cowboys.
When the federal government purchased the Angelo Florio ranch at Duckwater for an Indian reservation, the Indians from there began coming to Lund to trade. Later the Jackson family moved to one of the White River ranches and their children came on the bus to the Lund school. Still later the Jack George family moved to Lund and put their children in school where some of them went through grade school and high school. As has been noted in the section on the church a number of missionaries worked in the Duckwater area, Neil and Emma Gardner, Milton andJoan Gardner, Joseph and Maude Stucki, Isabel Chesnut and others.
A few Duckwater students began coming to the Lund high school. Then when losing the school for lack of students became a threatening possibility a delegation from Lund went to Duckwater to recruit students. As a result a majority of the Duckwater students travel the sixty miles to attend high school. This arrangement has benefited the school and community financially and socially, and particularly in athletic activities. In fact it is the strength and depth they have contributed to the teams that have made competition possible in our small school. Their parents and backers turn out en masse to the games and are among the most enthusiasticfans.
This was certainly not the only talent the Indians brought to the school. When Rosemary Jackson came into my first grade, she was a very pretty little girl smaller than the other children and seemingly more immature. (I have since come to regard this not as immaturity but a difference in backgrounds.) When we would sing the girl who sat next to Rosemary sang loudly and off-key quite unaware of her deficiency. Instead of taking part in the singing Rosemary sat and giggled. One day when I was working in the office I heard a clear, true voice singing one of our school songs coming from the girls' restroom across the hall. In a few minutes Rosemary emerged alone. After that I gradually eased her into singing solo parts in a number of programs we gave for the public. One day when we were getting ready to give a performance that night,one of the girls said, "I'm scared." "Oh, I'm not," said Rosemary, "I just love to be on programs." --A remarkable contrast to the shy, backward Indian children who first attended the white schools. Another outstanding talent many of the Indian children had was for drawing and painting. Merle George was a notable example. All the other children would beg him to draw pictures for them.
Not the least of the benefits derived from this association is the change in attitudes and understanding between the two peoples. In the early years there was always an amicable relationship between the settlers and the Indians. Nevertheless, if there was not prejudice, there were certain barriers to mutual understanding. These were, for the most part, due to wide differences in customs, cultures and education. These barriers have largely disappeared as evidenced by several marriages and a total acceptance of the other by the young people of both races. Among the Indians here as elsewhere, there has been a resurgence of interest in and appreciation for their cultural background, including lore, handicrafts, customs and traditions. This preservation of cultures, in other ethnic groups as well as Indian, is wholly desirable in the enrichment it brings to American life. It would be unfortunate if the disappearance of ethnic barriers meant the disappearance of ethnic cultures.