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September 19, 1862: Bass’s Ranch

September 19, 2012

Camp 102

[Today] we made a long heavy drive of twenty-three or twenty-four miles, and camped that night at Bass’s Ranch, near Pit River. We saw many Indians again that day. I had got far ahead of the party and stopped to let my mule drink at a stream. A party of Indians were gathering acorns near. A man was up a tree cutting off the limbs with a hatchet; the rest below, gathering or eating the acorns. They ate them raw, like hogs, although they are very bitter and astringent.

One young squaw especially attracted my attention from her costume which was the neatest Indian costume I have seen—a fillet of many colors around her forehead, pretty buckskin moccasins neatly embroidered in colors, and around her hips a girdle perhaps a foot wide, with fringe around its lower edge perhaps six inches long, neatly woven or braided, of several bright colors. Her body above the hips, and legs below the short skirt (which was perhaps but eighteen or twenty inches wide) were bare. Her limbs were better formed than those of any other squaw I have seen, and, in fact, her appearance was rather pleasing….

These Indians gather large quantities of acorns for winter food. We saw them also catching and drying salmon. The squaws carry enormously heavy loads in a conical basket, which is wide above and comes to a point below, held by a band across the forehead, the point of the basket resting against the rump. One of the Indians came up to me and talked some time, but the only words I could understand were “Klamath,” “Shasta” (he pronounced it Tschasta), and “tobacco.” I gave him some, and he looked very unthankful and sour because there was not more of it.

We stopped for an hour at noon. An Indian came along whose only dress was a piece of deerskin hung by a string over one shoulder so that it covered one hip, coming partly around in front and behind, reaching from the hip nearly to the knee. It was rather too scant for civilized eyes.

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