Lewis & Salvadore

Donner Lake Pass in the Sierra Nevada Mountain...

Image via Wikipedia

Come on Lewis*
Come on Salvadore
There’s gold in the hills
But your hearts
Are worth much more
We’ll go to the place
Where survivors go

You’re Mother Nature’s only sons
And didn’t you know?

When you give this gift
The spirits lift

And it’s crazy in its way
It’s holy in its way

It’s California

So come on Lewis
Come on Salvadore

Was it the day
That made them all ignore?

Or is this the way all things must pass?
Analyze the difference and you’re warm at last

And when you give this gift
I’ll place it in a sac upon my hip

And you can lead the way
Crazy all the way

To California

*Lewis and Salvadore (actually Luis & Salvadore) were two Miwok Indians from California directed by their employer to bring food to and help guide to safety the famous Donner Party, which during the treacherous winter of 1847 was stranded attempting to cross the Sierra Nevada Mountains. A number of Donner Party members resorted to cannibalism to survive, which many did. Initially, members of the party agreed to eat human flesh only after several members of the group had died “naturally.”

Only three members of the party refused to eat human meat, including Luis and Salvadore. Within several days, however, these three also partook, realizing this last resort was their only option. After the group regained strength and surged forward for several days, they found themselves hungry once again, and several men began to discuss murdering Luis and Salvadore to provide additional sustenance. A Mr. Eddy argued against the idea and tipped off Luis & Salvadore that they would likely be killed. The Miwok heeded the warning and struck off on their own only to be found several days later by members of the party out to hunt game. Luis & Salvadore lay before Eddy and a Mr. Foster, alive but freezing to death. Eddy, despite his best efforts, was unable to prevent Foster from killing the two Indians.

This short poem was written in honor of Luis and Salvadore for their attempt to help those who would ultimately treat them as savages.


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