Narrative of the Adventures of Zenas Leonard

Narrative of the Adventures of Zenas Leonard

A Native of Clearfield County, Pa. Who Spend Five

Years Trapping for Furs, Trading with the Indians, &c., &c., of the

Rocky Mountains:

Written by Himself, 1839

This is the Walker Expedition after they crossed the Sierra from east to west

Since we left the mountain we have seen many signs of Indians, such as moccasin tracks, and smoke

rising from the prairies in different places, but as yet we had not succeeded in getting in company with

any. At this season of the year, when the grass in these plains is dry, if a fire should be started it presents

a spectacle truly grand and if the flame is assisted with a favorable wind it will advance with such

speed that the wild horses and other animals are sometimes puzzled to get out of the road, and every

thing looks overwhelmed with consternation. We continued traveling down the river until the 7th of

November, when we arrived at five Indian huts, containing 15 or 20 Indians male and female. When

they first beheld the approach of beings so mysterious as we were to them, they exhibited the most

unbounded alarm and fear. But it was not long till we succeeded in calming their terror, and convincing

them that they had no reason to apprehend any danger, by showing a willingness to smoke, (this being

the first token of friendship with all Indians,) which they at once understood and immediately became

reconciled, and we commenced gathering all the information from them that our limited means would

afford each being entirely ignorant of the others language, and the Indians being extremely awkward

both in making and understanding signs which is the principal method of conversation with the

different tribes in this region. After making many efforts to get some information from them with

reference to the Big Water, white people, beaver, &c., without receiving any further satisfaction by way

of answer to our inquiries, than a grunt similar to that of a hog, we concluded to spend the night with

them for further trial. Towards night whilst passing through their camp, some of our men found two

blankets and a knife, which convinced us at once that they had some communication with white people.

When the blankets were held up to them they pronounced in tolerable distinctness, the word Spanish,

and pointed to the west – from which circumstance we inferred that the Spanish settlement could not be

far distant. The next morning our Indian hosts bro’t some horses to the camp for the purpose of trading, which

were marked with a Spanish brand. After trading for five of the best of their horses, for which we gave

one yard of scarlet cloth and two knives, we left these Indians and continued down the river in search of

beaver, which are very scarce. These Indians are quite small, & much darker than those of the buffalo

country, as well as more indolent & slothful. They generally run naked with the exception of a few, who

wear shields made of some kind of skins. Their huts are composed of dry poles or logs set upon end, and

their bedding consists of grass. Their food is composed principally of horse meat and acorns the latter

are very large and of a good quality, which they manufacture into a kind of mush. Their method of

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