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Camp Meeker Beat - Tom Austin - October 2015


Camp Meeker Beat - October 2015

by Tom Austin

Last month I told Part One of an Indian legend kindly bestowed upon me by Katie Everbeck of St. Dorothy’s. Grab a cup of coffee and settle in for the exciting conclusion!

Last month on Game of Acorns, we learned that Newana, the beautiful and strong-willed daughter of Pomotan, didn’t take kindly to her father arranging a marriage between her and Blue Feather, scion of a prominent Pomo family.   She ran off from the Pomo band’s Coleman Valley Road encampment with the help of her childhood buddy Little Owl, taking shelter with the local Miwok band, clustered in what is now Westminster Woods.   I don’t know the name of the Miwok chief and made a very bad pun on his name. This month we’ll more respectfully call him Chief Miwok.   I will elide the complex history of these two tribes and just say that Chief Miwok and Pomotan had a history of disagreement over the prime hunting and fishing grounds between the two tribes.   Remember also that our Dutch Bill forest was very different back then, being a lush old growth forest with stately redwoods hither and yon, a different proposition than today’s second-growth agglomeration of Doug Firs, Tan Oaks, and blackberry bushes. 

This history of enmity was probably a crucial factor in Chief Miwok’s decision to take in the two Pomo stragglers. The other major factor would have been that lifting a Pomo princess would be a real feather in the headdress for any chief.   As one would do, he assigned his son Nohetowa to be the princess’ protector.  As young folk will do, Nohetowa and Newana fell in love and decided to marry.  

Happy ending?  Not yet. Pomotan did not take lightly to his daughter running off and leaving Blue Feather jilted at the altar. He formed a war party and made plans to re-acquire his wayward daughter for a bow and arrow wedding.   Word travels fast in the forest (no doubt by nimble-footed scouts), and word reached Chief Miwok of the impending attack. Newana, firm in her allegiance to her new tribe, volunteered to lead the counter-attack. The Miwok war party crept forward, gaining the initiative and the ability to choose the ground of battle.      The two forces made contact…probably right by your house. The battle was joined across Baumert Creek, running downhill through “downtown” Camp Meeker between Redwood and Tower roads. Arrows flew through the air, silent missiles through the redwoods, drowned out by fierce war cries.   One of the first salvo of arrows (we imagine it flew from Newana’s bow0 pierced the heart of her would-be swain Blue Feather. We can be certain that Blue Feather assayed a dying monologue worthy of Will Shakespeare as he pondered the ironic twist Cupid had imparted to the fatal arrow. The battle raged on.  Pomotan’s band was getting the worst of it and found themselves cornered by the remains of the old Meeker sawmill. Rather than preview Custer’s Last Stand, Pomotan pulled the surviving braves and retreated down Tower Road toward Dutch Bill Creek, making a last stand among the boulders and redwoods around the old Arcadia School grounds (who can tell me exactly where that was? Little help over here.) At length the tattered remains of the Pomo war party straggled back to their encampments along Salmon Creek and Coleman Valley Road. 

Okay, NOW cue the happy ending. Flush with victory, the Miwok band celebrated at the wedding of Newana and Nohetowa amid their Westminster Woods campfires. Perhaps black bears and raccoons played the part of the Ewok at the feast and revelry that followed. We know at least that they scarfed on the leftovers. 

Did it really happen? I can happily tell you that it most likely did. Eager-eye young diggers have found a plethora of arrowheads in and around the old Meeker sawmill and on down Baumert Creek. I don’t know if they left any behind, but if any of you Webelos, Campfire Girls, Blue Birds or Cub Scouts manage to dig up any, let me know! I’ll put your name in the column and personally sign your Junior Archaeologist merit badges. I’ll return to the here and now next month. What’s going on in your neck of the woods?  Let me know.