Mariano Vallejo sent troops to the tribes to force the Indians to harvest his crops around his rancho south of Clear Lake. After a journey of five days, the expedition came to Clear Lake and, to help him know something of the tribes, Salvador brought an Indian guide, Chief Camacho. Camacho knew the area.
They met with the Koi on an Indian Island near Lower Lake (Rattlesnake Island). That small island was a place often used for parleys and meetings by the various tribes in the region.
Juan Bourges supplied a written narrative of the parley and the mayhem that followed.
‘…Vallejo commanded the Chief of the Rancheria to say they wished to speak to the Indians. The interpreter said as Vallejo ordered, ‘You must not be frightened. No one is going to harm you.’ ‘
‘No civilities were exchanged on either side. The women hid and some of the male Indians came forth, unarmed. Their chief told Vallejo, through Camacho, the interpreter, ‘There are more Indians but they are afraid, and they are hiding.’
The Chief called the rest of the Indians to come forth, and Vallejo gave them beads. In return, by way of thanks, the Indians gave Vallejo and his friends each some beaver skins.’ The parley ended that day, and the Spanish departed in ‘peace. It was not until a few days later, on Vallejo’s return to the Island, that the raid occurred.
‘They (Vallejo’s party) set out the next day at eight o’clock in the morning. They kept to the shore, going to another island (Paradise Cove across from Buckingham Island, the village of the Kamdot). That day we did not speak to anyone because there was so much water between us that our voices could not be heard by them.’
‘On the next day, we marched on from eight in the morning until five in the afternoon to find another Ranchero. On the third day, we continued to march until about ten in the morning. Here we found a tribe with many men for labor needs, but there were difficulties. Our Interpreter did not understand the dialect these Indians spoke (They were eastern Pomo and not southwestern Pomo; each had different dialects).’
‘When he saw this, Captain Vallejo ordered that we march back again to the previous island (Rattlesnake Island) where we had left a rear guard at the place we had camped the day before. On our return,Camacho went to the Island in one of the reed boats that were on the shore. He told Vallejo, ‘If I fire my pistol, you will know something has happened. If I do not fire, then you shall know all is well.’ Camacho told the Chief that Vallejo wished to talk with him.”
‘After about an hour, thirty or more, rafts (Tule reed boats), each with a man, including the Chief, in the boats, came to the expedition that waited on the shore. The Chief said he wished to take some of the party back to the village. Vallejo, instead, told the Chief that he wanted his men to help him harvest his grain. The Chief agreed to this. Then Vallejo asked that the men come now with his party to Sonoma. He offered them blankets and whatever he had as inducements. The Indians refused to go with Vallejo at that time. Vallejo told the Chief he wished to discuss the matter and invited the Chief and his braves into the large Sweat House, or Temescal for a parley to discuss the matter.’
‘Then Ramon Carrillo (Vallejo’s brother-in-law), told Vallejo, ‘Let us shut them up in a Temescal.’ At the order given, a little more than half the Indians entered the Temescal. The Chief of the Rancheria came, unarmed, to ask that the others might also enter.’
At this point the die was cast; Vallejo had decided on a firmer (and murderous) course of action.
Next Week: The Temescal Massacre.
Lake County History. $32. (includes. Tax & Shipping)
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