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Jack Indian Teases Mary

Jack Indian was a tall Roman nosed Indian. He had the longest hair of any of the Chiefs. He wore a suit of buckskin, fringed and beaded. There was fringe around the collar, down the seams of the sleeves, and at the bottom of the shirt or coat, and down the side seams of the pants. There was a wide band of bead embroidery around the skirt of the coat, the sleeves and the end of the pant legs. He wore his hair parted in the middle with beads strung into the braids which rattled as he walked. In his hair he wore an eagle feather that drooped over the side of his head from the rear. In the fringe of his trouser- legs he tied paper money and gold nuggets.

His tribe was a powerful tribe, and he always seem to have the final word when any question of authority came up among the different tribes which camped together in the Meadows. He was quite a tease, and when he saw Mary, he would always ask her if she didn’t want to be his papoose, just to hear her say “No”.

Then he would say, “I’m going to steal you someday.” At this time Mary’s family lived on 2nd Street in the Meadows.

The Hutchens’ house at 152 W 2nd Street as it looked in 1986; photo Ogden Reconnaissance Survey.
The Hutchens’ house at 152 W 2nd Street as it looked in 1986; photo Ogden Reconnaissance Survey.

When Mary was in her teens, her family built a fine new house at today’s 152 W. 2nd Street. Jack Indian used to come up to visit, and he would ask Mary if she would be his squaw, in the fun of course. Jack was already married by this time, but prominent Indians were allowed to have several wives. Mary once told her father that she was afraid of Jack Indian because of what he said. Her father only laughed and said that Jack was a good Indian and wouldn’t hurt anyone. [1]

At this time, all Shoshone marriages were arranged. Sometimes a Shoshone man would even go to the home of a newborn’s parents and ask permission to marry their daughter at some future date. Perhaps Jack Indian regarded young Mary as he would young girls in his own tribe. [2] Among the Mormons, in order to build bridges of peace, Mormon leaders frequently advised their men to marry young Native daughters when possible. [3]

One day Mary was hanging out clothes when young Jack came into the yard. He said hello and stop to talk to her. He said, “What are you doing?

She answered, “I have been washing the clothes and now I am going to hang them on the line to dry.”

He said, “You like to wash?

She said, “Of course, I don’t.”

At that, he came closer to her side, and as she spoke, he reached out and put his hand and touched her under the chin and tilted up her head and said, “What makes you do it if you don’t want to?”

She drew back, and said, “It must be done.”

He laughed and walked away.

Another time she was spreading cut peaches on the roof of the back part of the house to dry. It was dusk, and she had so many peaches to cut that she hadn’t gotten them all spread out. She was standing on a ladder and leaning over the roof spreading the peaches when she felt someone grab her by the feet. She looked down and there was young Jack on his horse. He was laughing up at her. She said, “Let go of my feet, Jack.”

He laughed again and said, “You were scared?”

She said, “I am not afraid of you but you startled me.”

He turned and rode back out of the gate and said, “Oh you scared anyway.” [4]


[1] - Autobiography of Mary Elizabeth Hutchens Sherner, Mary Elizabeth – Her Stories, dictated to her daughter Dorothy A. Sherner, manuscript, 1933, p 83.

[2] - Darren Parry, The Bear River Massacre, Common Consent Press, 2019, p.20.

[3] - Ibid, p. 58.

[4] - Sherner, Mary Elizabeth- Her Stories, p 84.

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