The Mariposa War
Chapter 4: Slapped By a King
Peace prevailed over his kingdom, and it seemed to Savage as if he could relax, settle down, and continue making a ton of money off the Gold Rush. But in the fall of 1850, one of the king’s wives shattered his fool’s paradise with a terrifying warning. She informed him that a great Indian uprising was being planned, led by Chief Tenaya.
Tenaya had formed an alliance with other tribes in the region, and was conspiring with them to drive the white man out of the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. They resented the encroachment of these white invaders who sought gold, and wanted to take back their territory for themselves.
Apparently, the Mariposa War had only been in a lull.
King Savage wanted to avoid any more war. It was bad for business. He also feared that his own tribe would ally itself with Chief Tenaya. So he decided to take the Tulareno’s chief, Jose Juarez, on a field trip. They traveled to the city of San Francisco, which Chief Juarez had never seen before. He wanted to impress upon him just how futile it was to wage war upon the white man.
He led the chief to military installations, and pointed out all the ships, cannons, ammunition, and soldiers that were at the white man’s disposal. He pointed out the large population in this great city. And he tried to explain that to wage war on all these people, with all their weaponry, would be an act of suicide.
But Chief Juarez was not much interested in these things. Instead, that pervasive poison that has brought down many a human being, both red and white, and all other colors, took hold of the chief. He found firewater, got drunk as a skunk, and remained so throughout most of this tour.
This left Savage seething. One day he got into a heated argument with the chief, over his drunkenness, and in his frustration he lost his temper. He slapped the chief around, to try to knock some sense into him. But this backfired. It left the proud chief feeling humiliated, and it was a humiliation he would not forget.
They stayed in Frisco long enough to celebrate California’s recent admission into the Union, and then returned to Savage’s Mariposa Creek trading post. But on the way home, news reached Savage of increasing tensions and hostilities throughout his kingdom.
Some Indians were requiring immigrants to pay them for passage through their territory. Others had apparently murdered a white man. And a rumor reached Savage of a massing of warriors. Savage knew he had to act quick, before hostilities boiled over.
This is the latest installation of my 10-part series, The Mariposa War. Come on back in a few days for the next installation, entitled, Chapter 5: War Council . Click here to read the last installation. Click here to start at the beginning.