By Jeannette Holland Austin
Issue No. 6             March 2003
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Pasquale, Chief of the Yumas

Pasquale, famous veteran chief of the Yumas, died on the night of 9 June 1887, supposed to be at least 100 years of age. The surgeon-general's report of 1876 claimed that he was then over 83. An article concerning his death appeared in the newspaper, as follows:

"Pasquale was a remarkable man, particularly noted for his intelligence, courage and physical strength. In these respects he ranked far above Chochise, Nana, Geronimo, and other chiefs of Arizona tribes....General Heintzleman made him chief in 1831, when he established For Yuma. With the exceptions of some difficulties with the whites between the years 1852 and '56, Pasquale has been friendly and peaceable. He was a just and fair-minded Indian himself, and often enforced discipline and obedience upon refractory members of his tribe by snake-tailing, or the free use of the hickory. He was never known to drink or steal, and the lash was the inevitable penalty for those violating his example. For the first violation, seven lashes were applied, for the second, fourteen lashes; for the third, twenty-one, and in creating thus for each repeated violation until the Indian was either reformed or whipped to death.

For weeks, wan and emaciated, a mere living skeleton, he lay upon his rude bed, surrounded night and day by squaws, who kept up an incessant wailing, that was weird and unearthly in the extreme. The end came the night of the 9th. During the remainder of the night the older Indians completed preparations for his cremation, most of which had been made days before. The younger bucks carried the firewood and caught the horses that were to be slaughtered to accompany the chief to his future home...

The village, situated directly west of the hills upon which the fort is built, on the California shore of the Colorado, is in the midst of a flat covered with willow, mesquite and cottonwood trees, which grow abundantly. Among those the rude huts or wickiups of the Indians are scattered...During the ceremony the bucks and squaws grouped about the funeral pile kept up a solemn, heartrending cry and wailing, the anguish and sorrow of which could not hbe been more intensely expressed by the highest tye of civilization. Several young boys, holding bows and arrows, with fancicully-designed headgear of red flannel and feathers, assisted activity. Many Indians threw their most valuable possessions into the flames---a buck his watch, squaws their ornaments and calico, and children and men their weapons. The older squaws were, in most coses, nearly nude, as were many of the older men...The older Indians generally led the ceremony. Several tearful speeches were made, which, though unintelliglbe to the whites, invaribly ended with the cry, Pasquale! Pasquale.

This, with the cremations of the Yumans recently dying of the measles, has practically bankrupted the tribe."

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