HISTORICAL SOCIETY REPORT: ‘Five of the Native Americans went out to give them battle; one with a sling and the other four with bows and arrows. Many of the other Native Americans took to the water and tried to evade the army guns. The fallen persons, yet alive, as well as the survivors of the attack, were bayoneted. Not only the males were killed, women and children were murdered where they stood. The soldiers hunted down the rest in a mop-up operation and more than a hundred men, women and children died that day.’

According to other reports, as many as two hundred Natives may have perished; either by the soldiers’ guns and bayonets or by committing suicide by drowning in Clear Lake to escape the holocaust. One old woman told of hiding in the Tule reeds.

An interpreter repeated the old Native American woman’s tale of horror and death.

‘I saw White soldiers carrying Native American children around on Bayonets. Then they tossed them into the water. After the soldiers left it took us four or five days to find all the people killed by the guns and by the bayonet. Friends took the dead across Island Creek to the land cremated the bodies.’

Lyon’s slanted report of the massacre suggested the Spanish had instigated the Indians against the Americans.

LYONS: “The landing on the island was effected under strong opposition from the Indians, who took flight in every direction, plunging into the water among the heavy growth of Tule that surrounds the island. I saw no alternative but to pursue them into the Tule… with the most gratifying results. The number killed… not less than sixty, and with little doubt, extended to one hundred and upwards… The village was burned…”

A week later, when the Alta California, a San Francisco newspaper, placed the blame on ‘desperate white men’ (The true perpetrators of the crime). The Alta editor was forced to retract that account and made to use General Smith’s version blaming the ‘many murders and outrages on the Indians.

The Editor stated, “There was no massacre. The dead children had been put to death by their own mothers.”

BENSON: “The Whites took the boats to the Island where the Pomo met them in peace…Ge-Wi-Lih (one of the Indians on the Island) threw up his hands and said, ‘No harm, Me good man’. He was shot in the arm and the Pomo next to him was shot dead. Most ran and hid in the tules but four or five fought back and another was shot in the shoulder. Many women and children were killed. It took four or five days to pick up all the dead. All the children had been stabbed to death as were most women. All the dead were burned on the east side of the creek.”

HISTORICAL SOCIETY REPORT: ‘Two whaleboats and two howitzers were trailed to Lower Lake…Part of the soldiers, cannon, and whaleboats, headed up the lake. Stoneman led mounted soldiers around the west side of the lake. They met at Robinson Point. In the morning, the cannon… fired a few shots, falling short. Meanwhile, boats came up on the opposite side of the Island. At a signal, the cannon’s canister fired and sent the Indians running… to where a line of soldiers rose from the tule and fired a volley of musket fire.  Many ran into the lake…The soldiers killed women and children, even following them into the water shooting, stabbing and clubbing them with their guns and oars.’

After the Massacre, May 17-19, the army continued their killing spree. Here follow Augustine’s and Lyon’s versions of the aftermath of the massacre.

AUGUSTINE: “When finished at the Island village, the military traveled up to Potter Valley and then back through Ukiah valley, where they attacked another village. Then down the Russian River to Santa Rosa, Sonoma, and then to Benicia.”

LYONS: “Being satisfied the tribes of the Russian River had participated in the murders of Kelsey and Stone and were harboring…tribes known to be the guiltiest, I proceeded to…Potter Valley. Finding the village deserted we proceeded… to a tribe called Yohaihak. We had them…surrounded on an Island that became a perfect slaughter pen.”

Next Episode: Aftermath and a sorry peace.

Lake County History. $32. (includes. Tax & Shipping)

Pal Publishing, PO Box 6, Upper Lake, Ca 95485

e-mail: genepaleno@gmail.com

Website: genepaleno.com

Gene Paleno

Gene runs his life at a full sprint. In his ninety-three years he's dug ditches, painted signs, played semi-pro football, worked as a taxicab driver, an insurance agent, and a school teacher. He's been a technical artist, a marketing director, and a business owner. He served in World War II, raised four children, and was married to the love of his life for fifty years. He's an accomplished oil painter and skilled in ceramics. He's written fifteen books, including the definitive Lake County History, and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

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