a. So the Indians wouldn’t kill them
Strange tales came out of the multifarious adventures of the Forty-Niner’s in their mad rush for gold. Few, if any, had a greater variety of experiences than William L. Manly, one of the survivors of the party whose tragic end gave the name to Death Valley.
On reaching the Green River, he and five or six others broke away from the company in which they had been traveling and embarked on the incredible plan of floating down the river to the Pacific Ocean. Their river-faring ended disastrously in what is now the Uinta Basin of eastern Utah. In an encounter with the famous Chief Walker and his hunting party, Manly’s group learned of the friendly relations between the Indians and the Mormons, and, to obtain the good will of the redskins, passed themselves off as “Mormonee.” With the aid and advice of the Indians, they made their way westward to the Mormon settlements, which they reached by what was then certainly the back door. Here they joined the California-bound company that later came to grief in the burning sands of Death Valley.
The excerpts below were taken from the reminiscent narrative written by Manly and edited by Milo M. Quaife under the title Death Valley in ’49 by William L. Manly (Chicago, 1927).
There was some little talk, but I am sure we did not understand one another’s language, and so we made motions and they made motions, and we got along better. We went with them down to the tepee, and there we heard the first word that was at all like English and that was “Mormonee,” with a sort of questioning tone. Pretty soon one said “Buffalo,” and then we concluded they were on a big hunt of some sort. They took us into their lodges and showed us blankets, knives, and guns, and then, with a suggestive motion, said all was “Mormonee,” by which we understood they had got them from the Mormons. The Indian in the back part of the lodge looked very pleasant and his countenance showed a good deal of intelligence for a man of the mountains. I now told the boys that we were in a position where we were dependent on someone, and that I had seen enough to convince me that these Indians were perfectly friendly with the Mormons, and that for our benefit we had better pass ourselves off for Mormons, also. So we put our right hands to our breasts and said “Mormonee,” with a cheerful countenance, and that act conveyed to them the belief that we were chosen disciples of the great and only Brigham and we became friends at once. The fine-looking Indian who sat as king in the lodge now, by motions and a word or two, made himself known as Chief Walker, and when I knew this I took great pains to cultivate his acquaintance. . . . I now had a description of the country ahead and believed it to be reliable. As soon after this as I conveniently could, I had a council with the boys who had looked on in silence while I was holding the silent confab with the chief. I told them where we were and what chances there were of getting to California by this route, and that for my part I had as soon be killed by Mormons as by savage Indians, and that I believed the best way for us to do was to make the best of our way to Salt Lake. “Now,” I said, “those of you who agree with me can follow—and I hope all will.”
William Mudler and A. Russell Mortensen, Among the Mormons (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1958), 237-239.