Friday, November 7, 2014

The History of the Real Indians I Write About

 (The prolific Marilyn Meredith is my guest today and she’s here to provide some background on River Spirits, the latest in her award-winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series. Welcome, Marilyn:)

The Yokut Indians were the original inhabitants of the San Joaquin Valley. About 50 dialect groups lived along the rivers and creeks flowing from the Sierra and around Tulare LakeThe discovery of gold in 1848 was the beginning of change for the natives of the Central Valley. Disease brought in by the prospectors and settlers killed many of the Indians.

In 1853, General Beale was appointed Superintendent of Indian Affairs for California and Nevada and he started a working farm next to a U.S. Army Fort called the Tejon Reservation which used Indians as slave labor. Those Indians on the reservations were mainly a Yokut tribe and some Kitanemuk Indians local to the area. Laws permitted slavery among the California Indians. The murder of Indians under any circumstance was rampant and even encouraged by the governor of California.

Later the Indians, including women and children, were forced to leave the Tejon reservation, and walk hundreds of miles to what was a stopping place along the Emigrant Trail—now Porterville. Mothers left their babies along the way, planning to escape and return for them—which didn’t happen.

Another reservation for the Indians was established near the foothills of the Southern Sierra where they continued to farm about 300 acres. But the town of Porterville grew and farmers settled in the area and demanded that the Tule River Farm and the Indians who lived and worked there be moved to a distant location.

President Ulysses S. Grant issued an executive order in 1873 to establish the Tule River Reservation to where it is now, about 15 miles east of Porterville, in a narrow valley in the foothills, surrounded by mountains. Though the new reservation comprised about 48,000 acres, only about 200 acres could be irrigated in small, isolated patches for farming.

The Indians resisted the move and the Calvary was needed to make it happen.

With the inability to farm, the Indians returned to the old ways of hunting and gathering.

Electricity wasn’t brought to the reservation until the 1960s. Being so remote, it was nearly impossible for the Indians to hold any jobs in the outside world. Most lived at a poverty level.

Things began to change when the Tule River Indians built the Eagle Mountain Casino. The only casino in the area, it brought jobs for Indians and others. As the popularity and revenues increased, services have been established on the reservation such as a new fire department, health center, pre-school and more.
Other businesses were established outside of the reservation such as the Tule River Aero Industries by the Porterville Airport, Eagle Feather Trading Post 1 and 2 (gas station/convenience store), and a steak house in the town of Porterville. Jobs were created not only for the Indians but also many of the people living in surrounding areas.

Life has definitely improved for these Indians.

Blurb for River Spirits:
While filming a movie on the Bear Creek Indian Reservation, the film crew trespasses on sacred ground, threats are made against the female stars, a missing woman is found by the Hairy Man, an actor is murdered and Deputy Tempe Crabtree has no idea who is guilty. Once again, the elusive and legendary Hairy Man plays an important role in this newest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery.

Marilyn Meredith is the author of over thirty-five published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest River Spirits from Mundania Press. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She lives in the foothills of the Sierra. Visit her at and her blog at

Contest: The winner will be the person who comments on the most blog posts during the tour.
He or she can either have a character in my next book named after them, or choose an earlier book in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series—either a paper book or e-book.

Tomorrow I’ll be visiting Dru’s Book Musing
A Day in the Life of Kate Eileen Shannon