Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Paiute Murder--the lingering sickness of witchcraft

By Truman L. Buff
Fort Independence Indian Reservation
as told to B.C. Dawson

The murder of several members of the Paiute Indian tribe allegedly involved the belief that those murdered were actually involved in witchcraft. The first was Two-Stick Sally, an old lady who, according to Dawson, was harmless and not deserving of her untimely death.
"Somebody insisted she was a witch and among us Paiutes of that time that was the same as a sentence of death. When she disappeared, all our family hunted for her for days but we never found her," said Dawson.
Although Paiute tribesmen treated the matter in a casual manner, the whites of that time were the opposite.
The Author, Truman Buff
"The whites made an awful fuss about it. Mr. English, Indian agent at Fort Independence, Ray Parrett, Indian superintendent at Bishop, Sheriff Logan, and District Attorney Hession held a big investigation. They grabbed a couple dozen of us. Questioned everybody," says Dawson.
According to the author, Truman Buff (see Buff's sketch), Dawson refused to give the names of the individuals that were suspected of killing several Paiutes during that time period. Dawson said, "I am not going to use the names of them guys except when they are in the newspapers and public records as they all got families and relatives and I don't want too many guys getting mad at me at the same time." 
After several more Paiute tribesmen, all suspected of practicing witchcraft, were murdered, the authorities caught two of the culprits involved in the killings as they were part of a gang, all from Black Rock, Nevada.
Belief in witchcraft continued for sometime, but over time it began to subside after the US government began sending young Paiutes to school in Riverside.  

To read the entire story, refer to page 17 in the September 1980 issue of Frontier Times magazine, partner in True West, available from Western Magazine Classifieds at http://bit.ly/2Nh2qYF.

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