Closing in on the dreaded Thanksgiving holiday, I took a book off my shelf and began to turn the pages. The book is published by Heyday Books is First Families: a Photographic History of California Indians. These are the photos reproduced from family albums. The Ohlone, Miwok, Pomo, Paiute & Modoc, to name only some. Face after beautiful face. Story after story. Captain Jack, the Modoc leader I mentioned in my last post is there. And so is one of the most famous Indians of California: Ishi. The man whose life was put on display as a living museum.
The majority of people in this book are much less well-known, but no less interesting. Take for example the story of Modesta Avila. According to First Families, Modesta Avila (Ajachmem) hung a clothesline across the railroad tracks, an act of resistance to the Santa Fe Railroad barreling, stinking and smoking through her land. Santa Fe Railroad say she put a tie across the tracks. No one was hurt by her action, but four months later Modesta was arrested and sentenced to San Quentin Prison. Young and defiant Modesta Avila died at this scenic gaol after serving two of her three years sentence. This post is in her memory!