Sunday, June 12, 2016

Native American Biographies: Estanislao and Yoscolo: California Yokut: Battle of San Joaquin Valley

In a very real sense, Estanislao may have been the inspiration for Zoro.  He would carve the letter "S" with his sword authenticating his work.   Estanislao was born Cucunuchi on the banks of the river which would later take his name, Stanislaus River in 1798.  He would eventually drift with his brother to Mission San Jose (in Fremont) where he would participate in religious education and be baptized and christened Estanislao after a Saint.  He even became alcalde of the community there for a time.  However he became disaffected with mission life, and lead a group of Native Americans from various tribes to San Joaquin Valley.  At one point he lead almost 4000 Native Americans. They preyed upon local ranchers, with as little loss of blood shed as possible.  Often they would use strategy to capture their victims without loss of life.  They also prayed on the missions, San Jose, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz.  The friars asked the Mexican government for help.  At first a small force from Presidio San Francisco attempted to resolve the matter, and came back limping, Sergeant Antonio Soto would later die from his wounds.  A larger group was sent, with the same results.  Finally Lieutenant Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo (later general but now only 20 years old) would be sent with a larger force and three cannon.  For the first time cannon would be used in battle against native Americans in California.  They found the Indian force in about the same area, and were able to overcome their defensive works with the cannon.  When they attacked the next day, they discovered the Native Americans had scattered.  Vallejo returned claiming victory.  Estanislao would eventually return to Mission San Jose and receive a pardon from the governor.  He returned to his area of birth with Yoscolo and they continued raids against Mexicans.  Yoscolo did not mind killing them, and wore a mask.
Two reports indicate he either died shortly thereafter of small pox, or lived some time and lived by Knights Ferry as late as 1840.  I have also seen two battle sites, either by the confluence of the Stanislaus and San Joaquin Rivers.  Or just below Riverbank along the Stanislaus River.
Yoscolo was also Yokut.  His history parallels that of Estanislao, except that he was educated at Mission Santa Clara.  He too was appointed alcalde, or chief of the Native Americans there.  He lead a force of 200-300 Indians away form the mission as he became disaffected.  He joined with Estanislao and they continued raiding ranches in the San Joaquin Valley for a time.  Yoscolo lead an attack on the Mission Santa Clara for plunder.  As a result a larger force of volunteers came against them in the Santa Cruz Mountains in an area known as La Cuesta de Los Gatos because of the mountain lions that one dominated the area.  They had a battle that lasted all day.  It was only after the Indians had expended their arrows that the surrendered.  Yoscolo was found wounded.  He was beheaded, and his head displayed at Mission Santa Clara for a few days as a warning to others.

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