History

The Mariposa War, Chapter 4: Slapped By a King

This is Part 4 of a 10-part series of posts entitled, The Mariposa War.
To read the previous post, CLICK THIS LINK.
To start at the beginning, CLICK THIS LINK.
To read the next post of this series, CLICK THIS LINK.
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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.

Glacier Point is a popular viewpoint that forms part of the south wall of Yosemite Valley. It rises to an elevation of 7,214 feet, and 3,200 feet above the valley. About a million years ago, glacial ice overtopped this block of granite by about 400 feet.

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.

View of Yosemite Valley and beyond, from atop Glacier Point. Yosemite Falls is at the far left, and Mt. Hoffman, North Dome, and the Royal Arches are at the far right. Yosemite National Park is located in California’s central Sierra Nevadas. It covers 1,189 square miles, and is roughly the size of Rhode Island. It ranges in elevation from 2,127 to 13,114 feet. Yosemite Village, near the highest section of Yosemite Valley, resides at 3,999 feet.

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.

Half Dome from Glacier Point. This dome is actually a narrow granite ridge, and its name results from an optical illusion. Glaciers sliced away only about 10% to 20% of its northwest-facing side, so it might be better labeled “90% Dome.”

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.

Half Dome after a Spring snowstorm. Yosemite has a few small glaciers remaining from the last Ice Age, but they’re rapidly disappearing, due to climate change.

18 replies »

    • I don’t think it’s ever wrong to hope for good outcomes. Of course we know the history of Native Americans, in general. Not many tribes fared well. We’ll see what happens in this case.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Love your first picture of Glacier Dome the most. A brilliant blue sky. .
    So the people naming the Half Dome were pretty bad at Math I take it?
    I like your picture of it even with the haze. Still a cool pic.

    I can’t imagine that anyone would feel better about themselves after being slapped around! Sounds like Savage asked for trouble!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. I hiked to the base of Glacier Point and looked straight up. It’s very imposing. I’m glad nothing fell down and conked me on the head.

      Back in the 1800s, a very famous and highly respected scientist theorized that Yosemite Valley was formed when half of Half Dome somehow became detached and rolled away, forming the U-shaped valley. John Muir contested that, and went with the glacier theory. The scientist belittled him. After all, what could he know? He was no scientist. Well, turns out that Muir was right.

      Yes, it was an unwise move on Savage’s part, to slap around the chief of his tribe. He should have just made a pun, so he’d smack his own head, himself.

      Like

      • I am glad nothing conked you on the head as well, for that may have just made you crazier than you already are!

        Ahh! Thanks for the explanation.

        “Very funnny!”

        Like

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