A friend of mine was out with a Washoe Indian whose boy was along on his first hunting expedition. They hunted a deer for nearly three days, but as soon as they found tracks the father, after studying them awhile, said: “This a little fellow. No good. He not big enough”—thus signifying to his son that his horns were not large enough to allow him to crawl through, hence it was no use following the animal further.
The Indian is quite sure that deer can smell him and know when he is on the hunt. He becomes skillful in detecting and following their tracks, and knows just how to circle around their hiding-place and suddenly walk in upon them. My friend, referred to above, who is a great hunter, was once out with a Washoe. They had had three “bad” days, when suddenly they found a deer’s track. It was fresh, but when they came to the hole where he had lain down to rest, though the place was quite warm, the deer had gone. The Indian at once exclaimed: “That deer smell me. I must get rid of the Indian smell.” Accordingly he scooped out a hole in the ground, heated a number of rocks in it, then, spreading fir boughs over them, lay down over the rocks and took a “fir-sweat” for fully ten to fifteen minutes. As he arose he exclaimed: “Deer no smell me to-morrow,” and my friend said he did no longer smell like an Indian, but like burnt fir wood.
Turning to the Indian, however, he said: “You’re all right, but how about me?” to which the reply instantly came: “You all right. Deer only smell Indian. He not smell white man.”
Chief among the women’s work is the making of baskets. The best Washoe basket makers are not surpassed by any weavers in the world. At Tallac, Fallen Leaf, Glen Alpine and several other resorts basket-makers may be found, preparing their splints, weaving or trying to sell their baskets.
Not far from Tahoe Tavern, about a quarter a mile away in the direction of Tahoe City, is the little curio store of A. Cohn, whose headquarters are in Carson City, the capital of the State of Nevada. Mr. and Mrs. Cohn hold a unique position in their particular field. Some twenty-five years ago they purchased a beautiful basket from a Washoe Indian woman, named Dat-so-la-le in Washoe, or Luisa Keyser in American, for she was the wife of Charley Keyser, a general roustabout Indian, well known to the citizens of Carson. Luisa was a large, heavy, more than buxom—literally a fat,—ungainly squaw. But her fingers were under the perfect control of a remarkably artistic brain. She was not merely an artist but a genius. She saw exquisite baskets in her dreams, and had the patience, persistence and determination to keep on weaving until she was able to reproduce them in actuality. She also was possessed by an indomitable resolution to be the maker of the finest baskets of the Washoe tribe. While she was still a young woman she gained the goal of her ambition, and it was just about this time that