CHAPTER XIV. TO ZUNI.
October 28. - To-day we leave the Province of Tusayan for a journey through the Navajo country. There is quite an addition to the party now, for we have a number of Indians employed as freighters. Their asses are loaded with heavy packs of the collections we have made in the various towns of Tusayan. After a while we enter a beautiful canyon coming down from the east, and by noon reach a spring, where we halt for refreshment. The poor little donkeys are thoroughly wearied, but our own animals have had a long rest and have been well fed and are all fresh and active. On the rocks of this canyon picture-writings are etched, and I try to get some account of them from the Indians, but fail.
After lunch we start once more. It is a halcyon day, and with a companion I leave the train and push on for a view of the country. Away we gallop, my Indian companion and I, over the country toward a great plateau which we can see in the distance. The Salahkai is covered with a beautiful forest. We have an exhilarating ride. When the way becomes stony and rough we must walk our horses. My Indian, who is well mounted on a beautiful bay, is a famous rider. About his brow a kerchief is tied, and his long hair rests on his back. He has keen black eyes and a beaked nose; about his neck he wears several dozen strings of beads, made of nacre shining shells, and little tablets of turkis are perforated and strung on sinew cord; in his ears he has silver rings, and his wrists are covered with silver bracelets. His leggings are black velvet, the material for which he has bought from some trader; his moccasins are tan-colored and decorated with silver ornaments, and the trappings of his horse are decorated in like manner. He carries his rifle with as much ease as if it were a cane, and rides with wonderful dexterity. We get on with jargon and sign language pretty well. At night, after a long ride, I descend to the foot of the mesa, and near a little lake I find the camp. The donkey train has not arrived, but soon one after another the Indians come in with their packs, and with white men, Oraibi Indians, Walpi Indians, and Navajos, a good party is assembled.
October 29. - We have a long ride before us to-day, for we must reach old Fort Defiance. I stay with the train in order to keep everything moving, for we expect to travel late in the night. On the way no water is found, but in mid-afternoon the trail leads to the brink of a canyon, and the Indians tell me there is water below; so the animals are unpacked and taken down the cliff in a winding way among the rocks, where they are supplied with water. Again we start; night comes on and we are still in the forest; the trail is good, yet we make slow progress, for some of the animals are weary and we have to wait from time to time for the stragglers. About ten o'clock we descend from the plateau to the canyon beneath and are at old Port Defiance, and the officers at the agency give us a hearty greeting.
We spend the 30th of October at the agency and see thousands of Indians, for they are gathered to receive rations and annuities. It is a wild spectacle; groups of Indians are gambling, there are several horse races, and everywhere there is feasting. At night the revelry is increased; great fires are lighted, and groups of Indians are seen scattered about the plains.
November 1. - After a short day's ride we camp at Rock Spring. A fountain gushes from the foot of the mesa. Then another day's ride through a land of beauty. On the left there is a line of cliffs, like the Vermilion Cliffs of Utah. In the same red sandstones and on the top of the cliff the Kaibab scenery is duplicated. A great tower on the cliff is known as "Navajo Church." Early in the afternoon we are at Fort Wingate and in civilization once more. The fort is on a beautiful site at the foot of the Zuni Plateau. And now our journey with the pack train is ended, and I bid good-by to my Indian friends. My own pack train is to go back to Utah, while from Fort Wingate I expect to go to Santa Fe in an ambulance. But the region about is of interest for its wonderful geologic structure and for the many ruins of ancient pueblos found in the neighborhood. On the 2d of November Captain Johnson, an artillery officer, takes me for a ride among the ruins. Many of these ancient structures are found, but those which are of the most interest are the round towers. Nothing remains of these but the bare walls. They average from 18 to 20 feet in diameter, and are usually two or three stories high. Probably they were built as places of worship.
Above Fort Wingate there is a great plateau; below, there stretches a vast desert plain with mesas and buttes. The ruins are at the foot of the plateau where the streams come down from the pine-clad heights.
On the 3d of November with a party of officers I visit Zuni in an ambulance. The journey is 40 miles, along the foot of the plateau half the way, and then we turn into the desert valley, in the midst of which runs the Zuni River, sometimes in canyons cut in black lava. Zuni is a town much like those already visited, except that it is a little larger. Nothing can be more repulsive than the appearance of the streets; irregular, crowded, and filthy, in which dogs, asses, and Indians are mingled in confusion. In the distance Toyalone is seen, a great butte on which an extensive ruin is found, the more ancient home of these people, though Zuni itself appears to be hundreds of years old. The people speak a language radically different from that of Tusayan, and no other tribe in the United States has a tongue related to it.