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By Virginia Kerns
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Additional resources for Journeys West: Jane and Julian Steward and their guides
Steward thought she was Hanson’s niece, and he judged Hanson to be about ninety: “He is healthy but his sight poor. ” Hanson had reason to worry. The Death Valley region was home not only to the sidewinder but also to the Mojave rattlesnake, one of the most aggressive and dangerous rattlesnakes in North America. It did not always signal before striking, and its venom contained a potent neurotoxin. 18 32 Shoshone Territory Hanson agreed to work with him the next day, and Julian and Jane made camp in his front yard where tall cottonwood trees provided shade.
When mining declined, so did the town. By the 1930s only a few adobe houses and a saloon still stood below a deeply eroded ﬂank of the Panamint Mountains. 16 George Hanson, who lived about ﬁve miles away, qualiﬁed as the most notable resident of the area, and not only for roving anthropologists. A guidebook informed all visitors to the Death Valley region that Indian Ranch was “the home of Panamint George, a handsome, white-haired old Indian, who knew most of the white men who came here in the early days.
Not even a cloud shadow gave them respite. 1 In this ﬁrst stage of ﬁeldwork he wanted to learn about the people who had long lived in an expanse of eastern California that extended over thousands of square miles: from the slope of the Sierra Nevada to Death Valley and bordering valleys. Kroeber had published his masterwork, the Handbook of Indians of California, ten years earlier. 2 In Grapevine Canyon at the northern end of Death Valley he and Jane found only a few people at Scotty’s Camp. Others had already gone to their summer camps at higher elevations, escaping the valley’s rising heat.
Journeys West: Jane and Julian Steward and their guides by Virginia Kerns