LOOKING BACK - Montezuma County Historical Society

Chokecherry Butter – Coyote Medicine


Then we lived on the Dolores River at Lone Dome we saw a great deal of the Indians in our first years there.  Mr. Dunham used to ride at night so as to escape their attention.

He took a steep trail to the top of a hill and was greeted at the top by some of the Indians he was trying to avoid.  Goodman, a sort of a leader among the Indians, made him tell where he was going and why.  He assured the Indians he was alone, and they let him go away unmolested.

Goodman used to visit us as a friend afterward. Later on he and two other Indians came to the place and wanted to stay the night and my husband said they could sleep in the haystack.

I got supper for them and they scrubbed and scrubbed themselves in preparation for eating.  When the main part of the supper was over, the 

Indians produced some watermelons, which they brought from McElmo Canyon to treat us. The melons were very green and the Indians were disappointed.

The Indians called a spring on our place “Bob Water” and they would ask permission to camp there before doing so.  (Mr. Dunham’s name was Robert, and is known to all as “Bob” Dunham – hence the “Bob Water”.)  Their leaders would never let them get off their horses until Mr. Dunham came.  Then they would get off and come in and sit until the food was ready.

The Indians would come to our place to buy potatoes in the fall.  We had a great many chokecherries down there, and I made chokecherry butter.  The Indians called it coyote medicine and liked it very much.  So I traded the coyote medicine for buckskin.  

I used to make buckskin gloves for the Indians with my glove pattern. Once they brought me a pair of lovely beaded moccasins. The cowboys would buy buckskin, and I would make gloves for them at a dollar a pair.  The gloves were gauntlets, and I would do the stitching with blue and red silk.

Jim Moore bought a ranch eight miles down the river that had belonged to a cat lover.  He had fifty housecats on it.  Mr. Moore had agreed to buy the ranch on condition that the man would kill all the cats.  He did so, and Mr. Moore tanned the fifty hides and brought them to me to make into a robe.  I used a government blanket to line the robe and took a great deal of pains to arrange the cat skins by size and color so that it would look as well as possible.  It really made up nicely, but it wasn’t the sort of thing I would personally want to have about.  I was afraid Mr. Moore would not care much for it but he did.  He was much pleased with his cat-robe.  Some years later a tourist purchased it for fifty dollars.

One time an Indian with his hair cut short came to the place when I happened to be curling my hair with an iron.   He asked me to curl his hair, and I fixed him a few curls and let him look at himself.  He then insisted upon having his entire head of hair curled up in style, and I complied.  He had noticed that Mr. Dunham’s hair is curly, and he wanted to know if I curled it for him as I curled his.

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02 Feb 2018

By Carrie Smith Dunham