The Legend of Squaw Butte

Squaw Butte is a sorrowing mother,
Or so the story is told;
‘Twas out in the times of the trappers
And those who came for gold,
That a handful of braves were camping
And they went to hunt some game
Leaving their infants and their squaws
By the creek which bears that name.

No war was on with the neighboring tribes;
No trouble they feared from the white;
So the braves slept peacefully under the stars
Though they couldn’t get back that night.
The squaws had swung their infants
In baskets among the trees.
And they fished enjoying the peace of the place
and the smell of the spring-filled breeze;
When they suddenly heard men’s voices
So they stole with stealthy care
To where their babe were sleeping and crouched in silence there.

“I see there are signs of the red men.”
One of the trappers said –
“Curse the fools for they too take furs
I wish they all were dead!”
Then each of them stopped and took a drink
And swore, “We will kill on sight
The hapless brave who shall cross our path:
They are our game tonight.”

The sun was still tinging the mountains
And the moon was beginning to rise
When they burst through the sheltering bushes
And stopped in hushed surprise;
For there in the gloom before them
The Indian mothers stood
Clasping their infants closely,
Lest their visitors meant no good.

The trappers raised a loud guffaw;
They raised a murderous hand,
and slew with ruthless cruelty
The last of that little band.
They met with shouts of laughter
The grief of the suffering squaws,
For they knew there were none to detect them,
So they do not fear the law.

But a cry ascended to heaven
From a mother by sorrow crazed,
And the Great Spirit gave the order
That a monument be raised.
Then a terrible quaking rent the ground
That was drenched with innocent blood
And a great Butte stood in its majesty
‘Ere the creek was out of flood.

The day that the ruthless trappers
Went fearfully on their way
With the wrath of heaven upon them.
And could rest neither night nor day,
Till two committed suicide
And the other at last became
A cringing, gibbering maniac
Because of remorse and shame;
For wherever he went he could see the face,
Outlined against the blue,
Of the helpless, innocent mother
His cruel bullet slew.

Squaw butte is a sorrowing mother
And her silent visage stands
A monument to her people
Who were robbed of their lives and their lands.

(This poem, written by Mrs. Bert Wright, is based on a true story of an incident that happened years ago but which is still remembered, and told by old time residents on the Squaw Creek country.)

---Ruth B.Lyon in "Valley of Plenty." Capitol Lithograph and Printing Co., 1968.

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