#17 Battle over Cattle


Story Shivwits-Hualapai Battle over cattle. Chief Queetuse being shot at while bringing back cattle from across the Colorado River.


This panel appears to relate a conflict between the Shivwits and the Hualapai’s. The Hualapai’s are identified by symbol B and C in figure 1. The buttocks of these figures are sitting upon a slight ridge to say “Rim Dwellers”, a name used by the Hualapai’s dwelling on the rim to the south. These figures are also painted in an orange color which may indicate the color of the rising sun hence “East People”, another name for the Hualapai’s of the area. Symbol A appears to be somewhat round like a shield figure but this is hard to distinguish.

The red squares in the center of the three figures are in the area of the belly to indicate food in the belly. The red color probably indicates red meat as will be shown later. The legs of the symbols B and C are coming down off the little ridge they dwell upon to indicate that they have come down near the bottom of the canyon. The bottom of the rock indicates “bottom” and the feet of symbol B and C don’t quite touch the bottom. The feet of symbol A does appear to touch the bottom to indicate “reaching the bottom.”

The sign for Shivwits is indicated by the three rows of white dots on the head of symbol A. They are painted white to indicate Shivwits. The name Shivwits comes from the Paiute word Seveen’ Tooweep which is a type of white earth existing somewhere on the Shivwits Plateau. The rows of dots are slightly elongated to indicate “flat earth”. They form footprints to say “travel” and consist of three rows to say “within” Three of anything always means within, two walls and something in the middle. They are placed on top of the head to say “top” and basically say “Shivwits coming down within the canyon from the top.”

The red triangular lines within the heads of all three figures are shaped like arrowheads with tips not showing to indicate they are imbedded in what they hit. They are positioned coming down from the tops of the heads to show the “Hualapai’s shooting down from above and hitting.” The lines passing through the ear positions indicate opening the ears and “causing someone to listen, teaching a lesson,” and “opening the ears.” The white lines through one ear implies white or Shivwits.


Panel 2 must be read next, in order to understand the context of this story.



Symbol A is a symbol one would not expect to find in the bottom of the Grand Canyon, the head of a cow. If the reader would like to make it into a buffalo, then that is still as unusual. It is the curving horns that indicate that it is a cow and not a buffalo. This symbol is placed under the roof of an overhang and the horns touch the edge to indicate “cow coming out from under,” meaning the canyon. The center line down the face of the cow is bent at the top to indicate “down” and tells us the cow was separated and brought down into the canyon and then out from under.

Symbol B is a wading bird which is apparent from its long leg. A wading bird indicates both wading and swimming. However, with one leg, a “difficult” swim is indicated as it would be with any one-legged person. Note that the leg is touching the bottom of the rock and is also in a depression to indicate the river. The place where the head should be is also touching a crack. This crack represents the canyon. This bird represents a person and driving a cow in front of him. A wading bird is used to represent a swimming person which is easier to draw and understand than an attempt at drawing a swimming figure. This wading bird concept has been documented in many areas including an Indian informant. Another example will be shown later. Symbol C is the symbol for back and forth to indicate that the swimmer is going back and forth as he drives the cow or dodges the arrows. The cow is single but single symbols often imply more than one.


This is an historical account to document this very story. It is about a Shivwits chief named Queetuse. The following is an excerpt from the 1957 Washington County News, newspaper clipping obituary of Foster Charles the Shivwits grandson of Queetuse. (The exact date of newspaper wasn’t on the clipping but Foster Charles died in 1957.)


In Face of Arrows

He remembers seeing his grandfather (Quetuse), an unusually large Indian, tread-swimming in the swift Colorado River, a feat for which he was noted. And he recalled the day when his grandfather braved the flying arrows of the…enemy across the river, and tread-swam the stream to turn back the cattle which were being stolen by the enemy.

It is well known that the Hualapai’s had cows in Prospect Canyon, especially Young Beecher. I haven’t found any account of the Shivwits having cows. However, many white cattle ranchers did have cows on the Shivwits Plateau at the Mount Trumbull area. Queetuse could have been retrieving the cows for them. If cows could have been herded across the river there are only a couple of possible places, one being near Whitmore Canyon. Earl Paya a Havasupai Indian, says there is a trail near Tommy Mountain that the Paiutes used as they crossed over.


Copyright © 1995 Martineau Archives

Written by Lavan Martineau for the Hualapai Tribe. April 10-17 1995.

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