CHAPTER VII: MRS. JACKSON'S HOME AT COLORADO SPRINGS


Up: Contents Previous: CHAPTER VI: DON ANTONIO FRANCISCO DE CORONEL Next: CHAPTER VIII: INVESTIGATING THE MISSION INDIANS


[page 63]

MRS. JACKSON'S HOME AT COLORADO SPRINGS--INDIAN ENVIRONMENTS--THE UTES AND OTHER TRIBES--A FESTIVAL IN HER HONOR

Writers without number have time and again sought for the inspiration of Ramona in a score or more of historical facts, incidents and circumstances, from the pitiful story of the eviction of the Poncas to the tearful episode at Temecula, stretching across the continent and covering half a century of time. But Helen Hunt Jackson needed none of these. She knew the whole sorrowful story by heart, and from her own windows in her modernized tepee at the corner of Kiowa and Comanche streets, in Colorado Springs, she could have drawn sufficient inspiration for a dozen stories. And it is not a little significant that her own home site should have been on a street corner named for two tribes that regarded Manitou as a shrine, and annually visited it to purify their sin-sick souls and cleanse their bodies.

From the spacious corner apartment, furnished


[page 64]

and beautified with articles from her New England home, transplanted to the banks of the Fountaine, every vestige of modern furnishings had been removed. Floor and wall coverings, originally soft rugs from Turkey and Arabia, and tapestries from the banks of the Seine, had given place to bright colored Navajo blankets and flaming Arapahoe and Cheyenne serapes from Arizona and New Mexico. Dainty specimens of the plastic art from the Sèvres works at Paris or the royal plant at Dresden had yielded to the ruder, but perhaps not less spiritual and intellectual creations of the Hopi Indians of Santa Fe. Arab curiosities from the kiosks of Cairo, and French curios from the shops of the Palais Royal had been taken away, that room might be found for Apache bows and arrows and Sioux war-clubs, for samples of those exquisitely wrought baskets of the Mission Indians of California, and unique bits of pottery from the Yaquis of Sonora.

Place had been found, space abundantly conspicuous too, for specimens of drawn work, for which the tribal women of Saboba were and yet are particularly noted. The entire apartment bore an aspect of unmistakable, if unintended, barbaric splendor.

BEAUTIFUL FALLS OF COLORADO

The crucifix was his mother's and he died with it in his hands. , , was on the arm of Father , , when the latter died.

DON ANTONIO DE CORONEL IN HIS ORATORY


[page 65]

There were in the large collection no baskets made by Ramona; because there never was a Ramona, save in the mind of the gifted author, nor did she ever pretend that there was.

Every article, however, had for its owner a particular language, and each to her told a story peculiarly its own. There was not an item visible that to her lacked deep significance. Few, if any, of the stories they told were bright or cheerful. Most of them were written in blood, and told of the anguish of a race run to earth. Each was treasured for the message it bore of gratitude, simple yet deeply sincere, for acts instinct with love and sympathy.

Long before the ice-mantled crest of Pike's Peak became a landmark for the argonaut in his cross-continent trek to the gold-lined shores of Cherry Creek it served another and broader purpose. To the native Indian tribes of all the vast stretches of mountain and plain radiating from it in all directions it indicated the location of both sanitarium and sanctuary, at the base of those titanic elevations since known to the white man as Pike's Peak, Cameron's Cone and Cheyenne Mountain.

The great Ute Iron Spring and its near neighbor, the Cheyenne Soda Spring, companioned by numerous other bubbling springs


[page 66]

without hint of mineral content, had been sought by the afflicted of all the tribes for ages, and had come to be regarded as possessing supernatural curative powers.

These really marvelous springs nestle here and there amidst the rocks and crags and scrub oaks in the sylvan nook at the base of Pike's Peak. They once constituted the red man's sanitarium, belonging to all alike, with no attempt to monopolize their virtues for this tribe or that--the gift of the gods to all who sought relief from physical ills by drinking of or bathing in their wondrous waters.

Scarce a mile away to the eastward was the red man's sanctuary, the Garden of the Gods, where they annually gathered to perform their peculiarly weird religious ceremonies. This interesting bit of nature, in its most freakish mood, embraces four square miles in the charming valley of the Fountaine Que Bouille. Its attractions are most unique, consisting of an immense and varied collection of eroded sandstone rocks, supposedly formed by the winds, into strange figures and grotesque shapes, resembling ruined temples, forts and castles, forms of birds, insects, animals and even of human beings. Conspicuous among these is a particular rock of gigantic proportions and


[page 67]

peculiar formation, pointed out to visitors as the one formerly worshiped by the Indians as the Great Manitou--God--giving appropriate name to the locality.

Stretching for miles to the southward along the Front Range is the sweeping slope of Cheyenne Mountain, its face beautified here and there by numerous waterfalls, ever dancing in the golden sunlight from grassy summit to carpeted feet. These mingle in a common outlet, which winds its way through the broad valley and loses itself in the arroyos below. This wondrously beautiful stream of purest mountain water, eternally refreshed from the spotless snow deposits of the upper altitudes, and more or less of a cataract in the rainy season, rejoices in the poetic title of Fountaine Que Bouille.

Beginning at the Garden of the Gods, and extending a distance of forty miles to the westward, is a typical mountain trail, known far and wide as Ute Pass. Winding its tortuous way over the Front Range, its greatest elevation exceeding 12,000 feet, it leads into the South Park, one of the three great natural mountain depressions into which the State of Colorado is divided, sixty miles from north to south, perhaps thirty to forty from east to


[page 68]

west, and formerly a great rendezvous for buffalo, elk, deer and antelope--the Indians' hunting ground.

Quite as interesting and remarkable as the natural features already mentioned may be added Monument Park, Glen Eyrie, Cave of the Winds and a hundred others, not less captivating to the eye or rendered less interesting by reason of Indian legend that yet retains hold upon the imagination, although the sway of the pale face has been complete for well nigh half a century.

Necessarily these are here dismissed with a passing word, the main object of their brief mention being achieved in picturing the environment selected by Helen Hunt Jackson for her home, an environment distinctively aboriginal. True, the last Indian had long been driven from his sanitarium and his sanctuary when Mrs. Jackson located at Colorado Springs and took up her life's work there; but natural objects, names, history and legends remained, as ever they will. Every influence suggested the past and its saddening story of broken treaties, of forcible evictions, of wantonly cruel, unchristian, unmerciful treatment of the red man, primary owner of it all.

From this environment Mrs. Jackson looked


[page 69]

out of windows and across bits of landscape, not so long before the sole possession of the Indian, now Indian in name only. Far back had the original possessor been driven, leaving only legendary title upon particular landmarks. In the distance was Cheyenne Mountain, but the Indian tepee was upon its wooded slopes no longer. Winding up over the giant mountain in narrow, tortuous course, was Ute Pass, marking the weary way taken by sad-faced Utes when finally driven from the great spring where they and their forefathers for generations past had gathered to seek surcease from pain in its curative waters. In the foreground was the Garden of the Gods, each sculptured monument full of the deepest significance to Indian mind and heart, surcharged, as the pale face may not begin to realize, with spiritual thoughts and inspirations.

Glen Eyrie would ever remain dear to them as the home of the eagle, perched as it was almost beyond rifle range in the rocky clefts above, and yet undisturbed. There also was the singular ‘‘Gateway’’ to the Garden of the Gods, also full of significance to the aborigines--two lofty spires pointing heavenward; one of the brightest red sandstone, the other of the purest white limestone. There were the Seven


[page 70]

Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, the pearly Fountaine Que Bouille, all differently named by the red man before white occupation, but losing nothing of significance by change in nomenclature. These and a hundred other as unique monuments have been left to mark the ‘‘happy hunting grounds’’ of the long ago.

The Indians themselves had first been forced back of the Front Range into the great South Park, and would have been content to remain there; but the white man quickly followed, uncovered gold along the banks of Chicago Creek and it no longer remained a fit place for the Indian; for the big game went out with the coming in of the whites. Farther back the original possessor must go and seek sustenance at the head waters of the Arkansas. There, too, the white man followed, again discovering fabulous auriferous wealth in the sands of California Gulch; and again the red man must go. Ever backward must he move; away from the great game preserves, away from abundant water supply, away from the gold and silver deposits.

Over the main range was he now forced, where buffalo were not, and where it then was believed nothing more could be found to excite the white man's cupidity; but the red face was


[page 71]

scarcely located there when mineral springs larger and more valuable than those at Manitou were found, where coal veins greater than the entire superficial area of Pennsylvania were uncovered, where the great silver ledge at Aspen was located.

It was not long before the Government was importuned again to force the Indian back upon a new frontier, and a wretched place was found for him amidst the wastes of Northwestern Utah. There the Uintah reservation was established, and the trek across another range of mountains directed from Washington. But before the order for removal came the greedy white man had forced himself upon the Indian's new reservation and taken possession.

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Mr. Dawes of Massachusetts, from his seat in the Senate, about this time, read to the astonished senators a ‘‘proclamation,’’ printed on cloth and tacked on the trees all over the Grand River Reservation, announcing that the Government, by proposing to give the land to the Indians, had parted with its title, and that, inasmuch as ‘‘the undersigned,’’ four audacious adventurers, of whom one of the authors of this volume was one, announced that the Indian title would not be


[page 72]

recognized, and that anybody wanting anything on the reservation must see them! These four men had located the town-site of Glenwood, the valuable springs adjacent, and about everything else in sight, assigned their ‘‘holdings’’ to an incorporated company, and begun the sale of lots and mines. All this before the Indians had so much as been consulted as to whether they would again consent to move on.

Since the death of Mrs. Jackson and her interment upon the slopes of Cheyenne Mountain, the people of Colorado Springs and Manitou have taken a deep and absorbing interest in commemorating her work, as well as perpetuating the legendary Indian history of what has come to be known as the Pike's Peak Region. In 1912 an organization was formed for the purpose of giving an annual celebration or carnival, distinctively Indian in all its features. That the fullest recognition of this might be given to the event it is called Shan Kive (Indian for fete or carnival, and pronounced ‘‘Shawn Keedie’’).

At the first Shan Kive, in the autumn of 1912, the Ute Pass was formally dedicated. Various Indian dances were indulged in, as well as Indian pony races in costume, and all of the sports and games of the several tribes of red men who originally owned and inhabited that section, constituted interesting and pleasing features of the occasion. Films were made of all the principal events, and these have been exhibited in all sections of the country.

PADRO PABLO, HIS WIFE, AND OTHER MISSION INDIANS, AT HIS HOME AT PAUMA, JULY, 1885

YUTE PASS AND RAINBOW FALLS, COLORADO MAJOR DOMO, GLEN EYRIE GATEWAY TO THE GARDEN OF THE GODS


[page 73]

Primarily intended to exploit the passing race of red men, and to commemorate the great work of ‘‘the first lady of Colorado Springs,’’ Helen Hunt Jackson, the event sprang into instant favor. It now occurs annually the first week in September, when Colorado's wonderful flora is at its best, and when the weather in the sun-kissed city is reliably climatic perfection.

The annual celebration of Shan Kive doubtless will serve for many generations, if not for all time, to keep fresh in the minds and hearts of the people the almost sublime work of Helen Hunt Jackson.

Up: Contents Previous: CHAPTER VI: DON ANTONIO FRANCISCO DE CORONEL Next: CHAPTER VIII: INVESTIGATING THE MISSION INDIANS




© Arizona Board of Regents