What is of more importance to the Tarahumare than his dwelling is his store-house, which he always builds before his domicile. In fact, his personal comfort is made secondary even to that of his domestic animals. As a survival of the time when he had no house at all may be noted the fact that husband and wife, after having been away on a journey for several days or longer, do not on the first night after their return sleep in the house or cave, but at some convenient place near the store-house.
These store-houses are always well put together, though many of them are not large enough to accommodate a medium-sized dog, the Tarahumares preferring number to size. In them he stores what little property he has beyond that in actual use, chiefly corn and beans, some spare clothing and cotton cloth, hikuli, herbs, etc. The door of the house is made from one or more short boards of pine wood, and is either provided with an ingeniously constructed wooden lock, or the boards are simply plastered up with mud along the four edges. The Tarahumare rarely locks his house on leaving it, but he is ever careful to fasten the door of his storehouse securely, and to break open a store-house sealed up in the manner described is considered the most heinous crime known to the tribe. Mexicans have committed it and have had to pay for it with their lives.
The most common kind of store-house is from four to six feet high, round, and built of stones and mud, with a roof of pine boards, weighed down with earth and stones. Other store-houses of similar size are square and built of boards with corners interlocked. They, too, are covered with boards. These diminutive buildings are often seen inside of caves; or else they are erected in places difficult of access, on tops of boulders, for instance. Sometimes they are seen in lonely places, more often, however, near the dwellings; and the little round structures make a curious effect when erected on boulders in the vicinity of some hut, looking, as they do, like so many diminutive factory chimneys. They proclaim more clearly than anything else the fact that when the people reach that stage in their development in which they begin to till the soil, they soon become careful of the little property they have, in marked distinction to the savage and nomadic tribes, who are always lavish and improvident. I have seen as many as ten store-houses of the kind described, and once even fourteen near one dwelling, but generally one or two only are found near by.
Small caves, especially when difficult to reach and hidden from view, may be utilised as store-houses, and are then sealed up in the same way as the other varieties are. Sometimes regular log-houses are used.
Arrival at Batopilas—Ascent from Batopilas to the Highlands of the Sierra—A Tarahumare who had been in Chicago—An Old-timer—Flight of Our Native Guide and its Disastrous Consequences—Indians Burn the Grass All Over the Country—Travelling Becomes too Difficult for the Animals—Mr. Taylor and I Go to Zapuri—Its Surroundings—The Pithaya in Season.