Written by btwood2 on 24 Jul, 2004
It was laundry day, and while I spent the hours in the laundromat washing and drying loads of our clothes, Bob drove around Lander. He spotted an attractive mural painted on the side of a handcrafted furniture store, and that was how he met…Read More
It was laundry day, and while I spent the hours in the laundromat washing and drying loads of our clothes, Bob drove around Lander. He spotted an attractive mural painted on the side of a handcrafted furniture store, and that was how he met the Hudson family. Patriarch Henry was busy in his shop, but granddaughter Jennifer was happy to explain how the mural, depicting an idyllic mountain scene, came to be. Henry’s wife got tired of looking at the blank cement wall, so he painted it. Bob was curious about a unique and creative breezy-looking covered structure on the lawn between the shop and the house. It’s open on one end, and its wooden slat walls incorporate circular windows and spoked wagon wheels. Jennifer explained that Henry had built this, too, and it serves as a picnic and barbecue area for the family in summer. Henry Hudson, age 89, an old-time Landerite who built the two homes and shop that stand on his property, is well known around town. When he’s not making handcrafted pine furniture or putting together interesting buildings, he paints in oils, or plays his mandolin or steel guitar. He frequently makes music and puts on line dances for the folks at a local nursing home.
When Bob came to pick me up from the laundromat, he said, "You just have to see this!" and took me back to the Hudson home, but Jennifer had already left for work. I inquired of her husband whether they were related to the small town of Hudson we’d passed through on our way to Riverton, and indeed they were from the same Hudson family who had originally homesteaded there in the 1880s and given that town its name. Emma (Hudson) Rogers, Henry’s aunt, had "proved up" on the land following her husband George’s death. I found a short article about Hudson in a tour book published by the Wind River Visitors Council. "Proving up" was the completion of a required form after living and farming your homestead for a full five years. Two neighbors had to swear in writing that you’d lived on the homestead land those five years, that you’d built a solid house on it, and that you were a citizen of the U.S. and head of your household. You then would receive your certificate allowing you to record your deed with the county. All this for an $18 filing fee!
Fifteen years after she’d "proven up", Emma and her brother Daniel Hudson sold the farm, Hudson Valley, and mineral rights to it to the Wyoming and Western Railroad. In 1907, the railroad reached Hudson, and put two coal mines, Poposia One and Two, into production. That was the beginning of a long boom for Hudson, with the mines running three shifts a day until the 1920s. The mining camp populations in the area are said to have been as high as 10,000 people, many of them immigrants from countries such as Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, Italy, and Yugoslavia. With the development of diesel and natural gas, the last coal mine in Hudson closed down in 1941.
These days, Hudson remains a picturesque little town, with two good restaurants and a variety of shops.
I was unprepared for what I ran into at the next tent, in front of which looked like red and gray fox skins drying on a rack. A small crowd had gathered, and a Rendezvouzer was introducing 90-year-old trapper Jake, a wiry old codger…Read More
I was unprepared for what I ran into at the next tent, in front of which looked like red and gray fox skins drying on a rack. A small crowd had gathered, and a Rendezvouzer was introducing 90-year-old trapper Jake, a wiry old codger in a buckskin shirt and brown pants. A local school district official was there with his family, and Jake was about to show them and the rest of us how to skin a beaver. Two of that species were lying on the ground; one had been in deep-freeze for some time, but Jake picked up a fresh kill, one who’d been making a nuisance of him or herself at a local residence lately.
Let me now reveal something of my inner nature: I’m a complete failure as a carnivore, and a pathetic excuse for an omnivore. I once tried to whack a gopher on the head with a shovel, and when its eyes met mine, its little body shivering in pure terror (it was soaking wet because I’d flooded its home underneath our vegetable garden), my killer instinct vanished as my nurse-to-be compassion flooded in. I let the raised shovel drop down to my side. "Go!" I told the eater of most of my pea plants in a choked up voice, "and don’t come back," I finished weakly in a state of emotional exhaustion. The funny thing was, it never did, and neither did any of its extended family. As time went on, I came to believe that meat-eaters really ought to be able to kill the ones they eat. Yes, I’m living in hypocrisy; I should be a vegetarian. But husband Bob has killed many gophers in his time, and I do like the taste of meat, so…life and death goes on.
Trapper Jake chatted with us for a few minutes before he got down to business. He’d had his share of confrontations with animal rights activists, and was dumbfounded by what he perceived as their hypocrisy. "I don’t enjoy killing animals; I only kill predators and nuisances." For at 90, he is still for hire and good at what he does. He first cut off the beaver’s extremities, showing us the webbing between the digits of the large hind feet that helps to make the beaver such a good swimmer. Then, with sure steady hands, he began to expertly remove the skin from the beaver. Methodically, and also using his increasingly bloody hands as he spoke to emphasize or illustrate his speech, the beaver was slowly separated from its skin. Expressions of those watching ranged from fascination to disgust. I remained for the entire skinning, taking pictures, clinically interested and more fascinated than disgusted. Jake took time to remove and show us the perineal glands, which contain castorium, the extract of which is used as a scent to attract more beaver to trap. Once done, Jake proudly held up the skin. He told us an excellent stew can be made from the meat. Without washing his hands, he went inside his tent and grabbed his old beaver coat to model it for us.
I have no argument with Jake. He started trapping when he was 7 years old, helping his immigrant Russian parents. He’s pragmatic and down to earth about what he does, a good storyteller with a mischievous glint in his eye. He’s not disrespectful of the life he killed, yet the part of me that’s read many books by and about indigenous peoples would like to see some kind of ceremonial showing of respect, some kind of giving back or thanks for the life taken and used. But who am I to know that doesn’t go on within his own soul in the privacy of his mind?
Written by btwood2 on 25 Jul, 2004
At the Lander Visitor Center, I picked up a pamphlet entitled "SACAJAWEA …and Wind River Country, Wyoming." Inside was a map pointing out Sacajawea Cemetery. On the back, I was informed that there I would find the graves of Sacajawea, her nephew Bazil,…Read More
At the Lander Visitor Center, I picked up a pamphlet entitled "SACAJAWEA …and Wind River Country, Wyoming." Inside was a map pointing out Sacajawea Cemetery. On the back, I was informed that there I would find the graves of Sacajawea, her nephew Bazil, and a memorial to her son Baptiste. The words "Many believe…" stood out like a red flag. "Many believe that she returned to her Shoshone people in Fort Washakie…" Everybody knows who Sacajawea is, right? Connected forever in history with Lewis and Clark as their pretty, young Indian guide in their exploratory journey to the Northwest… It’s too easy to omit "many believe" and accept what’s written (especially in an official brochure) as fact.
But those words are a challenge. If "many" believe something, the implication is that "some" even if only "few" believe something else. Belief in itself is an act of faith, so, in search of unadorned fact, I began to look for information about Sacajawea in the resource to which I have easiest access: the Internet. Like many Googlers, I have a sixth sense about websites. I also have my own common sense. The as yet marginally recognized Lemhi Shoshone undisputedly claim Sacajawea as their daughter. They swiftly dispel the controversy about her name; it is not Bird Woman or Boat Builder, but "Burden that is pulled or carried." Not very catchy, but who’s to know what goes into the naming of a child? The nomadic Lemhi Shoshone Agaidikas (salmon eaters) into which Sacajawea was born lived near what is now Salmon, Idaho – fishing, hunting, and gathering. By age 12, Sacajawea had most likely been taught a wealth of survival skills by her family. She was 12 years old when she was kidnapped by Hidatsas from North Dakota. She remained a captive in their farming village, where she first saw white men. At 16, she was either sold, traded, or won in a game by 45-year-old French-Canadian trader Toussaint Charbonneau. He was already married to a young Wind River Shoshone, and had a reputation for abusing younger women. Sacajawea, his second wife, was pregnant by summer. Lewis and Clark came to this Hidatsa village in search of an interpreter, and hired Charbonneau, who spoke fluent French and passable Hidatsa. When baby Jean Baptiste (named Baambi, for "hair" by his mother) was but 2 months old in April 1805, the Corps of Discovery left Fort Mandan. Lemhi Shoshone believe it’s a fallacy that she was their guide; Sacajawea was extremely industrious for the Corps, serving as cook, food gatherer, seamstress, water hauler, and setting up the tepee every night. Beyond that, she and her baby’s mere presence provided safety in passage for the Corps.
By summer 1805, the Corps reached the place that Sacajawea had been kidnapped from her people, the Agaidika. Sacajawea recognized the chief as her own brother, Cameahwait. For complex reasons that are not fully understood, she continued on with the Corps instead of rejoining her people. In 1809, Jean Baptiste went to live with William Clark, then living in St. Louis, and attended schools there, and later in Europe, where he received an excellent education. He went on to live an adventurous life as a traveler, trader and trapper in the American West. In 1812, Sacajawea gave birth to a daughter, Lizette.
The facts and dates of Sacajawea’s life up through her connections with Lewis and Clark are fairly well-documented. But in 1812, things get really muddy. A report from Fort Manuel, South Dakota, states she died of "putrid fever" not long after giving birth to Lizette, when she was only 25. This could have been smallpox, tuberculosis, or scarlet fever. More tellingly, even Clark’s accounts of members of their expedition list Sacajawea as dead. Lizette died later, still an infant. However, other accounts passed on orally by Wind River Shoshone claim that a woman in their tribe named Porivo was really Sacajawea. These accounts have Porivo/Sacajawea marrying several more times, and having more children. She wore a Jefferson peace medal of the kind given out by Lewis and Clark, spoke French, and served as a translator for Chief Washakie. Some accounts even credit this woman with being a political speaker leading to the Fort Bridger Treaty, introducing the Sun Dance Ceremony to the Shoshone, and being an advocate of agriculture as a necessary skill for the Shoshone. Porivo/Sacajawea died at age 96 and was buried in the white cemetery at Fort Washakie.
One would like to believe this second version. But her own birth people, the Lemhi Shoshone, doubt that this is true. Adding strength to their beliefs, in 2001, a group of Hunkpapas in an undisclosed location in South Dakota invited the Lemhi to conduct traditional ceremonies at what they believed to be Sacajawea’s grave, to put her spirit to rest. Many of the Lemhi taking part in that ceremony strongly felt the presence of her spirit. Which version of Sacajawea’s life after her famous participation in the Corps of Discovery is true will probably remain a mystery forever.
You will find the Lemhi version of Sacajawea’s life and the history and current situation of her people at Sacajawea. Although the Lemhi were forced to leave their beloved homelands to join other tribes in the desert reservation lands in Fort Hall, the Sacajawea Interpretive, Cultural and Education Center has recently been established in a 71-acre park in Salmon.