From the first Spanish sails off San Francisco to the obliteration of the Miwok Indians, as witnessed--and resisted--by Kotola, mistakenly called Chief Marin. The boy Kotola marveled at the enormous ""water-house,"" exchanged new words with fellow-fisherman Gomez, puzzled at Gomez' explanation that the Spanish king ""owned"" California. But he would learn the implications: missions, conversion and enslavement, annihilation of resisters. In opposition to his father, the Hoipus or Big Captain of the Miwok World, Kotola tried to keep peace, even accepted the ignominy of his sister's seizure and (implied) concubinage. The Hoipus and his adherents, unheeding, pitted arrows against cannon and were killed; then it was up to Kotola, as his father's heir, to plan for survival. He abandoned first the winter, then the summer village and hid his decimated people in the depths of the forest, emerging only to raid, to rescue his son, lastly to challenge the Spaniards with his superior seamanship. Defeated, captured and imprisoned, he found no trace of his people on his return, settled in a hut on the edge of the mission where, waiting to die, he vouchsafes his story to a Mexican interrogator. The device of the Mexican revolutionary amassing evidence against the white man delays the start and both anticipates and underlines the obvious. When Kotola takes over, however, irony and pride temper tragedy and the particulars of a baby diapered in moss, women gambling with acorn dice, project an immediate presence. The historic personage and his people are well-served.