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~T" 



The Fur Hunters of 
the Far West 



The Fur Hunters of 
the Far West 



EDITED WITH 
HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION AND NOTES 

BY 

MILO MILTON QUAIFE 



WITH FRONTISPIECE 




R. R. DONNELLEY & SONS COMPANY 

CHRISTMAS, MCMXXIV 



preface 



IN continuing the narratives of Alexander 
Ross's Adventures, the publishers of the 
Lakeside Classics have no fear that the 
readers will lose interest. Other explorers and 
Indian traders in this region may have had 
more noteworthy or epoch-making experiences, 
but none could tell their story better than 
Ross. Last year's volume ended with the 
abandonment of the territory by the Pacific 
Fur Company and their selling out to the 
North West Company. Ross accepted employ 
ment with the new company and was given 
greater authority and this volume will tell 
how well he measured up to his increased re 
sponsibilities. 

The publishers are, perhaps, breaking the 
canons of the reprinting of historical books, 
in that they are not printing this volume 
complete. They realize that to the collectors 
of works on early American history, this will 
make the reprint of much less value, but 
the latter part of the narrative dealing with 
Ross's return to Winnipeg and his settlement 
there lacks general interest. The defense for 
leaving it out is that these volumes aim to 
publish matter not only of historical nature 
but of interest in itself to the general reader. 



With the hopes that they have found sub 
ject matter that accomplishes this purpose, 
this volume goes forth with another season's 
good wishes of 

THE PUBLISHERS. 

Christmas, 1924. 



VI 



Contents 



CHAPTER PAGE 

HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION xi 

PREFACE TO THE ORIGINAL EDITION . . . . xix 

INTRODUCTION TO THE ORIGINAL EDITION . , xxiii 

1. Activities of the Year 1814 3 

2. The End of the Old Order 41 

3. McKenzie Returns to the Columbia ... 62 

4. The New System of Trade Inaugurated . .104 

5. Affairs at She Whaps and among the Snakes . 130 

6. The Founding of Fort Nez Perc6s . . . . 161 

7. Occurrences among the Snakes and at Fort 
NezPerc6s , . . 204 

8. The Great Snake Nation 238 

9. Manners and Customs of the Far Northwest 275 



vu 



Historical Introduction 



A YEAR ago in the Lakeside Classics was 
reprinted Alexander Ross's narrative 
of trade and adventure a century ago, 
entitled Adventures of the First Settlers on the 
Oregon or Columbia River. That narrative 
dealt with the history of the famed Astorian 
enterprise, which laid the foundations of civili 
zation on the banks of the great river of the 
American Northwest in the years from 1810 
to 1813. In the present volume we reprint for 
the first time the same author's further narra 
tive of the activities and adventures of the 
successors of the Astorians in the same region, 
the men of the famous North West Company, 
in the years from 1813 to 1822. 

To those who have read the Adventures of 
the First Settlers on the Oregon, the present 
volume calls for but little introduction. With 
the circumstances which led Ross to the Co 
lumbia, the schemes and misfortunes of the 
ill-fated Pacific Fur Company, and the quality 
and interest of Ross's narration of the events 
in which he bore an active part, they are 
already familiar; and few there are, we are 
persuaded, who have thus read the earlier 
volume, but will greet the present offering 
with pleasurable anticipation, 
xi 



In one respect, however, The Fur Hunters 
of the Far West differs markedly from the 
Adventures of the First Settlers on the Oregon, 
The story of the Astorians has been frequently 
told, and Ross's account of it is but one of 
three original narratives by members of the 
expedition. For the succeeding regime of the 
Northwesters on the Columbia, The Fur 
Hunters of the Far West supplies our only first 
hand journal This fact combines with the 
character of the author's writing to give the 
book a position of assured and permanent 
value in the early literature of the Far North 
west. As long as civilization shall endure in 
the valley of the Columbia, men of intelligence 
will continue to recur to this work for the 
information it presents concerning the activi 
ties of those faraway years in the history of 
the great commonwealths which have since 
developed in the Pacific Northwest, 

The Fur Hunters of the Far West was first 
published at London in two volumes in 185$. 
The first volume, which alone we here reprint, 
deals with the activities of the Northwesters 
from their advent in 1813 until their absorp 
tion by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1822. 
The second volume describes Ross's activities 
as an employee of the Hudson's Bay Company 
from the latter date until his withdrawal from 
the fur trade and the Northwest in 1825. The 
break between the two volumes is not less 
great than the break between the subject 



matter of the First Settlers on the Oregon and 
that of the present volume, thus rendering 
the separate reprinting of the latter an en 
tirely logical procedure. The reader who shall 
wish to follow farther the adventures of our 
author, therefore, must either procure a copy 
of the original edition or await the labors of 
some future historical editor. 

It is proper to observe, in conclusion, that 
in the present reprint, as in earlier volumes of 
the Lakeside Classics series, no effort has 
been made to reproduce the precise form of 
the original edition. I believe it presents, more 
closely than the original, the ideas and thought 
of the author; but punctuation, typography, 
chapter heads, and index, are to be ascribed 
to me. In some instances I have made slight 
textual emendations which seemed obviously 
called for, and in many instances have shifted 
the incidence of sentence construction with 
the view of reproducing more clearly the evi 
dent thought of the author.* 

MILO M. QUAIPE. 

Detroit Public Library. 



THE FUR HUNTERS 

OF THE EAE WEST; 

A NARRATIVE OF 

ADYENIUKES IN THE OBEaON AND 
KOOKY MOUNTAINS. 

BY ALEXANDEB BOSS, 

AUTHOR OP "ADVENTURES OF THE FIRST SETTLERS ON THE OREaOK OR 
COLUMBIA RIVER." 



IK TWO VOLUMES. 



VOL, L 



LONDON; 
SMITH, ELDER AND CO., 65, CORNHILL. 

1855, 



To SIR GEORGE SIMPSON 
Governor-in-Chief of Prince Rupert's Land 



IN completing the narrative of my adven 
tures, to whom can I so appropriately 
inscribe this portion of my work as to 
yourself, under whose auspices I acted during 
the last four years of my career, under whose 
command my closing journey was performed, 
whose kindness and courtesy I have experi 
enced for many years, and to whose liberality 
I am indebted for a resting place in this the 
land of my adoption. 

When, upwards of thirty years ago, the 
imperial Parliament sanctioned a coalition of 
the rival companies of the North West and 
Hudson's Bay, requiring at the same time 
that the natives should be evangelized and 
civilized, it was under your auspices that the 
former arduous undertaking was accomplished, 
and the latter praiseworthy good work com 
menced. 

And now the Red River Academy, sending 
its light into the wilderness, and already fur 
nishing students to the universities of Eng 
land, Scotland, and Canada, is the monument 
of your zeal for the education of our youth. 



XVll 



SDebicatiott 



The churches of every denomination of Chris 
tians throughout the continent bear witness 
to your desire for the promotion of religious 
instruction, as well as the civilization of the 
native Indians. 

And lastly not to omit material interests 
200 importers from England, with capital 
almost exclusively of colonial creation, evi 
dence the rewards of agriculture, industry, 
and commercial enterprise under your foster 
ing care. 

May it please you to accept the dedication 
of my work, 

And believe me to be, Sir, 
With sincere respect, 

Your most obliged and faithful servant, 
ALEXANDER Ross. 



3CV1U 



preface to ttye 
tuition 



F |^HE author of the following sheets has 
I spent the last forty-four years of his life, 
without a single day's intermission, in 
the Indian territories of North America; the 
first fifteen years in the regions of Columbia, 
that farthest of the Far West; the remaining 
years in the Red River settlement, a spot more 
effectually cut off from the rest of the world 
than any other colony of the empire. Under 
these circumstances, if he has earned the 
doubtful advantage of enacting a tale of his 
own, he has enjoyed but scanty opportunities 
of adorning it. 

In 1849 the author published a narrative of 
his adventures, ending with the overthrow of 
the Pacific Fur Company, 1 and the favorable 
reception of his labors induces him again to 
appear before the public with an account of 
his services in the great companies of his own 
country. His aim has been to exhibit realities: 
to relate facts as they have occurred; to 

1 Alexander Ross, Adventures of the First Settlers on 
the Oregon or Columbia River, References to this work, 
throughout the present volume, are to the Lakeside 
Classics (Chicago, 1923) edition. 



xix 



preface 



impart to others at their quiet firesides jhe 
interest of a wild and adventurous life, with 
out its toils, privations, and dangers; and to 
adhere always to the simple truth. As, then, 
these volumes range over a wider expanse of 
Indian territory than the former, so do they 
introduce new features of Indian life and 
manners. Regions unvisited, and now only 
partially explored, are portrayed as they ap 
peared to the first civilized intruder in the 
wilderness, and the author has endeavored to 
give a description of the trapper's as well as 
the trader's life among the Indians^ both 
being replete with adventures: for while the 
trader has an advantage in that he has some 
thing to give or to exchange, the very tools of 
the trapper's craft produce his trouble; the 
steel of his traps is precious metal to the 
Indian savage, with whom to plunder a white 
man is a virtue. 

Neither in this nor in the preceding volume 
has the author been content with a bare narra 
tion of his own personal adventures. He has 
not omitted to record any facts that came to 
his knowledge respecting the geography of the 
countries and the history of the settlements; 
and from the rapidity with which events fol 
low each other in new countries, these memo 
rials will soon become materials for a history 
of the Oregon. 

The Pacific Fur Company, the earliest 
pioneer of civilization on the Columbia, sur- 

XX 



rendered to a British, rival the fruits of three 
years' vigorous labor. The North West Com 
pany, its rival, whose commercial greatness 
was only equaled by its political importance, 
has passed away, after wielding for eight 
years a sovereignty from the Atlantic to the 
Pacific Ocean. 

The Hudson's Bay Company, after ruling 
under higher authority, and for many more 
years than its rivals and predecessors, is now 
the taxed subject of a republic, which, has 
arisen, as it were, from the ashes of the first 
of the three invaders of primeval barbarism. 

Under so many successive changes the ab 
original tribes, once so formidable, are fast 
melting away; the fur trade, the incentive to 
such great enterprises and brave deeds, has 
almost perished, and the plough is fast follow 
ing the axe. Churches are already rising 
among villages, schools are multiplying, the 
hymn of peace has taken the place of the wild 
song of the savage, and soon all traces of the 
past will be in the memorials which the pen 
has preserved. 

In committing his work to the press, the 
author would say in conclusion, what he has 
written is fact and not fiction: real wild life, 
not romance. 

Red River Settlement, Rupert's Land, 
June i, 1854. 



31nftoDttctfon to tje 



IN\ a work published by the writer a few 
years ago, 2 he traced the history of the 
Pacific Fur Company, the first commer 
cial association established on the 'waters of 
the Oregon or Columbia River, through all 
the windings of its short-lived existence: an 
association which promised so much, and 
accomplished so little; the boldness of the 
undertaking, and the unyielding energy dis 
played in the execution, rendered it deserving 
a better fate. But the vicissitudes of fortune, 
and an unbroken chain of adverse circum 
stances, from its commencement in 1810, con 
tinued till its premature downfall paved the way 
for a more successful rival in 1813, when the 
great Astor project, which had for its object the 
monopolization of all the fur trade on the con 
tinent, yielded to the North West Company. 

In the present work, we propose taking up 
the subject of Oregon and the Rocky Moun 
tains, beginning with Astor's rival, the North 
West Company, from the time that it occupied 
the entire trade of the Oregon till its final over 
throw by another rival, the Hudson's Bay 
Company, in 1821, 

2 Ross, First Settlers on the Oregon. 
xxiii 



Original 



This wide field of commercial enterprise fell 
into the lap of the North West Company 
almost without an effort; for misfortunes 
alone, over which man had no control, sealed 
the doom of unfortunate Astoria. The first 
ship, called the Tonquin, employed by the 
Astor Company, was cut of by the Indians on 
the Northwest Coast, and every soul on 
board massacred. The second, named the 
Beaver, was lost in unknown seas; and the 
third, called the Lark, was upset in a gale 250 
miles from the Sandwich Islands, and became 
a total wreck; and to complete the catalogue 
of disasters, in 1812 war broke out between 
England and the United States. 3 

Let us take a passing glance at the negotia 
tions between the late Pacific Fur Company 
and the North West Company, which were as 
follows. The whole of the goods belonging to 
the former were delivered over to the latter at 
ten per cent on cost and charges. The furs 
on hand were valued at so much per skin. 
Thus, the whole sales amounted to $80,500, 
and bills of exchange, negotiable in Canada, 
were accepted in payment thereof. At the 
same time, the name of Astoria, the great 
depot of the Astor Company, situated at the 
mouth of the Columbia, was changed to Fort 
George. 

3 The opening pages of the present narrative con 
stitute a resume" of matters which are described in the 
author's First Settlers on th'e Oregon. 



xxiv 



The above transactions, which changed the 
aspect of affairs on the Oregon, took place on 
the sixteenth of October, 1813. 

The earliest notice of any adventurer 
traversing these regions is that of Mr. Samuel 
Hearne, an officer in the service of the Hud 
son's Bay Company, during the years 1769 
and 1772. In his third and last expedition he 
started from Fort Prince of Wales in 1770 and 
reached the mouth of the Copper Mine River 
on the seventeenth of July in the following 
year. 4 The ice was then just beginning to 
break up round the shores of the Frozen 
Ocean. We need scarcely mention that 
Mr. Hearne was here far within the Arctic 
Circle, where the sun never sets at that season 
of the year. The next instance we have on 
record is that of Sir Alexander Mackenzie, a 
partner of the North West Company, who, in 
the year 1789, performed his first expedition 
of discovery across the continent, from Mont 
real to the Hyperborean Sea, and again in 
1793 to the Pacific Ocean. 5 This enterprising 
adventurer did much to develop the inland 
resources of the country, and was personally 
known to the writer. 

4 Hearne's journals of his Arctic explorations, edited 
by J. B. Tyrrell, were published by the Champlain 
Society at Toronto in 1911. For a good secondary 
account of Hearne's expedition see Stephen Leacock, 
Adventurers of the Far North (Toronto, 1914), Chap. II. 

5 The expeditions of Mackenzie here alluded to were 
described by the explorer in a narrative published in 1801. 



<rifftnal ^nteofcurtitm 



In the early part of the present century 
Fraser and Stuart, also two partners of the 
North West Company, crossed the continent 
from the Atlantic to the Pacific, Still farther 
south than their predecessors. 6 One of the 
great streams of the Far West still bears the 
name of Fraser's River, as a tribute to the 
memory of the first discoverer, A somewhat 
curious anecdote is told of this expedition. On 
reaching the Pacific, the Indians put on a bold 
and threatening aspect. The party had a 
small field-piece with them, and to relieve the 
anxiety of the moment, by frightening the 
savages, the piece was loaded and fired off into 
the middle of the crowd; but it is hard to say 
which party were most frightened by the dis 
charge, for the gun burst and was blown to 
atoms. Yet, strange as it may appear, no 
person was either killed or wounded by the 
accident. The momentary surprise, however, 
gave time to the party to shift their quarters, 
and make good their retreat. 

Indeed, to the spirit of enterprise diffused 
among the fur traders, from the earliest days 
of, the French down to the present time, we 
owe almost all that we know of these savage 

6 Simon Fraser and John Stuart of the North West 
Fur Company, supposing the Fraser River to be the 
Columbia, descended the former stream to the seacoast 
in the spring of 1808, For an account of this and other 
early explorations of the Canadian Northwest see 
Agnes C. Laut, Pioneers of the Pacific Coast (Toronto, 



30CV1 



^ntto&uction 



wilds, yet with all their zeal and enterprise in 
the pursuit of game they were always tardy in 
giving what they did know to the world; not 
so much from selfish motives to conceal the 
truth, as from the difficulty, in many instances, 
of getting that truth made public. 

So far, then, the North has been more 
favored than the Far West, for no white man 
had as yet visited the Columbia to any ex 
tent; if we except Vancouver's survey of its 
entrance, in 1792, and the transitory visit of 
Lewis and Clark in 1805, the writer himself 
and his associates were the first explorers of 
that distant quarter. 

The North West Company, originally in 
corporated in the year 1787, had by their 
accession of territory an unlimited range from 
the Atlantic to the Pacific. They ruled from 
sea to sea, and as it became necessary to 
occupy the stations received from the Astor 
Company, they offered engagements to some 
of the partners, but not upon the same advan 
tageous terms as they granted to their own 
people on the east side of the mountains; nor 
did they hold out the same prospects of pro 
motion to those who joined them on the west, 
and especially to those branded with the 
epithet " Yankee/' Being, however, dis 
appointed by the failure of the Astor concern, 
I refused to enter the service of the North 
West Company on any other condition than 
that which included promotion, and as I was 

xxvii 



Original 



the only one that acted on tjiis principle, they 
met my views and we came to terms; so I 
became a Northwester. My promotion was 
guaranteed to take place in 1822, by a written 
document signed at headquarters; while, in 
the meantime, I was appointed to the northern 
district, which, being a titled charge, was, of 
itself, a step towards preferment. But here we 
must explain what is meant by a " titled 
charge"; according to North West nomencla 
ture, clerks have charge of posts, bourgeois of 
districts, and the ambition of the clerk is, 
naturally, to become a bourgeois. 

The first step the Northwesters took, after 
inheriting their new acquisition, was to dis 
patch two of their partners and twenty of 
their men in two boats to convey the gratify 
ing news to Fort William, the chief depot of 
their inland trade on Lake Superior. Every 
thing was done to dissuade Messrs. Keith and 
Alexander Stuart from undertaking so peril 
ous an adventure with so few men, but to no 
purpose. They made light of the matter, giv 
ing us to understand that they were North 
westers! "We are strong enough," said they, 
" to go through any part of the country." Full 
of confidence in themselves, they derided the 
danger, as they did our counsel. 

The journey began, and all went on well 
enough till they arrived at the portage of the 
Cascades, the first impediment in ascending 
the river, distant 180 miles from Fort George, 



Here the Indians collected in great numbers, 
as usual, but did not attempt anything until 
the people had got involved and dispersed in 
the portage; they then seized the opportunity, 
drew their bows, brandished their lances, and 
pounced upon the gun-cases, powder-kegs, 
and bales of goods, at the place where Mr. 
Stuart was stationed. He tried to defend his 
post, but owing to the wet weather his gun 
missed fire several times, and before any 
assistance could reach him, he had received 
three arrows. His gun had just fallen from his 
hand as a half-breed, named Finlay, came up 
and shot his assailant dead. By this time the 
people concentrated, and the Indians fled to 
their strongholds behind the rocks and trees. 
To save the property in this moment of alarm 
and confusion was impossible; to save them 
selves, and carry off Mr. Stuart, was the first 
consideration. They therefore made for their 
canoes with all haste, and embarked. Here it 
was found that one man was missing, and 
Mr. Keith, who was still on shore, urged the 
party strongly to wait a little; but the people 
in the canoes called on Mr. Keith, in a tone of 
despair, to jump into the canoe, or else ^ they 
would push off and leave him also. Being a 
resolute man, and not easily intimidated, he 
immediately cocked his gun and threatened to 
shoot the first man that moved. Mr. Stuart, 
who was faint from loss of blood, seeing Mr. 
Keith determined and the men alarmed, 



Original ^nttoburtiott 



beckoned to Mr. Keith to embark. The mo 
ment he jumped into the canoe they pushed 
off and shot down the current. During this 
time Mr. Stuart suffered severely and was 
very low, as his wounds could not then be 
examined; when this was done, they discovered 
that the barbs of the arrows were of iron, and 
one of them had struck on a stone pipe which 
he carried in his waistcoat pocket, to which 
fortunate circumstance he, perhaps, owed his 
life. 

The chief object of this expedition has been 
noticed, but there was another which we shall 
just mention. A party of six men, under a 
Mr. Reed, had been fitted out by the Astor 
Company for the Snake country the year 
before, of which hitherto there had been no 
tidings. A part of the present expedition was 
to have gone in search of them. The unfor 
tunate affair at the Cascades, however, put 
an end to the matter, and taught the North 
westers that the lads of the Cascades did not 
respect their feathers. Thus terminated the 
first adventure of the North West Company 
on the Columbia. It was afterwards dis 
covered that Mr. Reed and his party were all 
murdered by the Indians. 

This disaster set the whole North West 
machinery at Fort George in motion. Revenge 
for the insult and a heavy retribution on the 
heads of the whole Cathleyacheyach nation 
was decreed in a full council, and for a whole 



week nothing was to be heard about the place 
but the clang of arms and the din of war. 
Every man worth naming was armed, and 
besides the ordinary arms and accouterments, 
two great guns, six swivels, cutlasses, hand- 
grenades, and handcuffs, with ten days' pro 
visions, were embarked; in short, all the 
weapons and missiles that could be brought 
into action were collected and put in train for 
destroying the Indians of the Cascades, root 
and branch. 

Eighty-five picked men and two Chinook 
interpreters, under six chosen leaders, were 
enrolled in the expedition. The command of 
it was tendered to Mr. McKenzie, who, how 
ever, very prudently declined, merely observ 
ing that, as he was on the eve of leaving the 
country, he did not wish to mix himself up 
with North West affairs, but that he would 
cheerfully go as a volunteer. The command 
then devolved on Mr. McTavish, and on the 
twentieth of January, with buoyant hearts 
and flags flying, a fleet of ten sail conveyed the 
men to the field of action. On the third day 
they arrived safely and cast anchor at Straw 
berry Island, near the foot of the rapids. On 
their way up, the name of this formidable 
armament struck such terror into the ma 
rauders along the river that they fle'd to the 
fastnesses and hiding-places of the wilderness; 
even the two Chinook interpreters could nei 
ther sleep nor eat, so grieved were they at the 



thoughts of the bloody scenes that were soon 
to be enacted. 

On the next morning after the expedition 
came to anchor, the Indians were summoned 
to appear and give an account of their late 
conduct, and were required, if they wished for 
mercy, to deliver up at once all the property 
plundered from the expedition of Messrs, 
Keith and Stuart. The Cathleyacheyach 
chiefs, not the least intimidated by the hostile 
array before them, sent back an answer, "The 
whites have killed two of our people; let them 
deliver up the murderers to us, and we will 
deliver to them all the property in our pos 
session," After returning this answer, the 
Indians sent off all their wives and children 
into the. thick woods; then, arming themselves, 
they took their stand behind the trees and 
rocks. McTavish then sent the interpreters 
to invite them to a parley, and to smoke the 
pipe of peace. The Indians returned for 
answer, that when the whites had paid accord 
ing to Indian law for the two men they had 
killed, they would smoke the pipe of peace, 
but not till then. Their wives and children 
were safe, and as for themselves they were 
prepared for the worst. Thus little progress 
was made during the first day. 

The next day the interpreters were sent to 
sound them again. Towards noon a few 
stragglers and slaves approached the camp 
and delivered up a small parcel of cloth and 



cotton, torn into pieces and scarcely worth 
picking up, with a message from the chiefs: 
" We have sent you some of the property; deliv 
er us up the murderers, and we will send the 
rest." Some were for hanging up the Indians 
at once, others for detaining them. At length 
it was resolved to let them go. In the evening 
two of the principal chiefs surrendered them 
selves to McTavish, bringing also a small par 
cel of odds and ends, little better than the last. 
Being interrogated as to the stolen property, 
they denied being present at the time, and 
had cunning enough to make their innocence 
appear, and also to convince McTavish that 
they were using their utmost influence to 
bring the Indians to terms and deliver up the 
property. A council was then held to decide 
on the fate of the prisoners. Some were, as in 
the former case, for, hanging them up; others 
for taking them down to Fort George in irons. 
The council was divided, and at last it was 
resolved to treat the prisoners liberally and 
let them go. They never returned again, and 
thus ended the negotiations of the second day. 
The third day the interpreters were at work 
again, but instead of making any favorable 
impression on the Indians, they were told that 
if they returned again without delivering up 
the murderers they would be fired upon. 
During this day the Indians came once or 
twice out to the edge of the woods. Some were 
for firing the great guns where they were seen 
xxxiii 



in the largest numbers; others, more ardent, 
but less calculating, were for storming their 
haunts, and bringing the matter to a speedy 
issue. Every movement of the whites was seen 
by the Indians, but not a movement of the 
Indians could be discerned by the whites, and 
the day passed away without any result. Next, 
morning it was discovered that some of the 
Indians, lurking about, had entered the camp 
and carried off two guns, a kettle, and one of 
the men's bonnets. The Indians were seen 
occasionally flying from place to place, now 
and then whooping and yelling, as if some 
plan of attack were in contemplation. This 
was a new symptom, and convinced the whites 
that they were getting more bold and daring 
in proportion as their opponents were passive 
and undecided. These circumstances made 
the whites reflect on their own position. The 
savages, sheltered behind the trees and rocks, 
might cut them all off without being seen, and 
it was intimated by the interpreters that the 
Indians might all this time be increasing their 
numbers by foreign auxiliaries. Whether 
true or false, the suggestion had its effect in 
determining the whites that they stood upon 
dangerous ground, and that the sooner they 
left it the better. They, therefore, without 
recovering the property, firing a gun, or se 
curing a single prisoner, sounded a retreat and 
returned home on the ninth day, having made 
matters ten times worse than they were before. 

xxxiv 



^ntrofcuction 



This warlike expedition was turned into 
ridicule by the Cathleyacheyachs, and had a 
very bad effect on the Indians generally. On 
their way back, some were so ashamed that 
they turned off towards the Wallamitte to 
hide their disgrace, others remained for some 
days at the Cowlitz, and McTavish himself 
reached Fort George in the night; and thus 
ended this inglorious expedition. 

It ought to be observed that the nature of 
the ground along the Cascades on both sides 
of the river is such as to afford no position 
secure from attack or surprise, and it showed 
a manifest want of judgment in an Indian 
trader to expose his people in such a dangerous 
situation, where the Indians might have way 
laid and cut them off to a man, and that with 
out quitting their fastnesses; whereas the whole 
difficulty might have been easily obviated by 
a very simple stratagem on the part of the 
whites, who might have quietly secured three 
or four of the principal men as hostages, which 
would have soon settled the whole affair, with 
out noise or any warlike demonstration. 

The Northwesters were prone to find fault 
with the acts of their predecessors; yet, with 
all this fault-finding, they had not laid down 
any system or plan to guide their future opera 
tions, either with respect to the coast or in 
land trade. This appeared inexplicable to us, 
and we waited in anxious expectation to see 
what time would bring forth. 



One day, as I was musing over affairs, 
Mr. McDonald, 7 called the "Bras-croche," 
the gentleman in charge of the Columbia, 
called me into his room, and after some trivial 
observations, said, "Wdl, I suppose you have 
heard that I intend to leave the country this 
spring?" "No," replied I, "I have heard 
nothing of it." "But," resumed he, "you will 
have heard that the spring brigade is to leave 
in a few days for the interior." "Oh, yes," 
said I, "I have heard of that." "Yes," con 
tinued he, "we intend to start in a few days, 
and I shall leave the country. I could have 
wished to have some settled plan for carrying 
on the Columbia trade, but there are so many 
conflicting opinions on that subject, that we 
have not been able to come to any decision, so 
that I fear the trade must go on the best way 
that it can, for this year yet," "Then," said 
I, "you do not approve of the system we have 
been following (meaning the Americans); it 
appeared to me to work very well." He shook 
his head and smiled, but said nothing. Then 
suddenly turning to the subject of the voy 
age, he said, "Will there be any danger in 
getting along? Our party will be strong." 
Mr. McDonald, having come out by sea, had 
never ascended or descended the waters of 
the Columbia. "A strong party, with the 

7 John McDonald, the " Crooked-arm," a partner of 
the North. West Company, for sketch of whom see 
First Settlers on the Oregon, 278. 



usual precautions," said I, "will carry you 
through with safety; compared with former 
years the voyage is mere holiday work.' 7 At 
the words " usual precautions," he smiled. 
"Do you think," he asked, "that North 
westers do not know, as well as the Americans, 
how to travel among Indians?" "The North 
westers," observed I, "know how to travel 
among the Indians of Athabasca and the 
North, but the Americans know better than 
Northwesters how to travel among the Indians 
of Columbia." Continuing the subject, he 
remarked, "The Indians along the communi 
cation must be taught to respect the whites; 
the rascals have not been well broken in. You 
will soon see a specimen of our mode of travel 
ing among Indians, and what effect it will 
produce." "Well, I shall be glad to see it," 
said I; "but I hope it will not be such a speci 
men as was exhibited at the Cascades, nor 
produce the same reslilts." On my mention 
ing the word "Cascades," his cheeks reddened, 
and he appeared somewhat nettled, but recol 
lecting himself, he changed the subject, and 
put the question, "Where are the worst 
Indians along the route?" To this I replied 
that the worst Indians were those at the Dalles, 
called Wyampams or gamblers, some sixty 
miles beyond the Cascades; but with a strong 
party and good night-watch there would be 
nothing to fear. He next inquired, how far 
the Americans had penetrated to the north. 



" To the island of Sitka, " was my reply. And 
how far to the south? 37 inquired he again. 1 o 
the frontiers of California," I answered. He 
then asked if we had been as far east as the 
Rocky Mountains. To which I answered that 
we had, and crossed them too. "The Ameri 
cans," he remarked, "have been very enter 
prising." "We are called Americans," said I, 
"but there were very few Americans among 
us _ we were all Scotchmen like yourselves. 
I do not mean that we were the more enter 
prising for that." 

On the subject of traveling, he next inquired 
if we invariably used horses. I told him that 
no horses were used along the coast, that the 
natives kept none, nor would the thick forests 
admit of their being used, but that throughout 
the interior all journeys were performed on 
horseback. "You must," continued he, "have 
traveled over a great part of the country." 
"Yes, we did/' I replied; "it has often been 
remarked that before we were a year on the 
Columbia we had traveled, in various direc 
tions, more than ten thousand miles." "That 
is a reproach to us," said he, "for we have 
been here upwards of six months and, with 
but one exception, have scarcely been six 
miles from our fort gates." He then asked 
me what I thought of the manner in which the 
Americans carried on the trade with the 
Indians. "I always admired it," answered I; 
"they treated them kindly, traded honestly, 



xxxvni 



and never introduced spirituous liquors among 
them." " Ha I" he exclaimed; but was it not a 
losing business?" I admitted that it was, and 
added, Astor's underhand policy, and the war 
breaking out at the time it did, ruined all. 
"But/ 7 I remarked, "the country is rich in 
valuable furs, and the North West will now 
inherit those riches." "Time will tell," was 
his only answer. After alluding briefly to our 
trials, hardships, and experience on the Colum 
bia, "Well," said he, "I suppose we shall have 
to do the best we can, as you did, for this year 
at least, and follow the system pursued by the 
Americans." He then requested me to make 
out an estimate of men and goods for the 
different posts of the interior. 



The Fur Hunters of 
the Far West 



ACTIVITIES OF THE YEAR 1814 

ON the sixth day after my conversation 
with Mr. McDonald the brigade took 
its departure for the interior. It was 
the first grand movement of the North West 
Company on the Columbia. On this occasion 
124 men started, exclusive of the people of 
the late Astor Company who were on their 
way to Canada by land. The whole embarked 
in a squadron of fourteen boats. The papers, 
bills, and other documents belonging to the 
American adventurers were put in the posses 
sion of our respected friend, Donald McKenzie 
Esq., in order to be delivered to Mr. Astor at 
New York, and along with the party was the 
Company's express for headquarters. The 
whole left Fort George under a salute, with 
flags flying. 

On passing the friendly Cathleyacheyachs 
they did not so much as come and shake hands 
with us, nor welcome our arrival, but kept at 
a distance; so we passed without the least 
interruption, and all went on smoothly till 
we reached the Dalles, that noted haunt of 
Indian pillagers. There we had to put up and 
encamp for the night, but the usual camp 
regulations were neglected. No importance 



whatever was attached to the two little words, 
"usual precautions," which I had so emphati 
cally mentioned to Mr. McDonald. Such 
things were now looked upon as a useless relic 
of " Yankeeism," therefore no night-watch was 
set, and all hands went to sleep. It was not 
long before a voice called out, "To arms, to 
arms! the camp is surrounded!" In the tur 
moil and confusion that ensued, everyone 
firing off his gun at random as he got up. One 
of our own men, a Creole of the South, was 
shot dead, and his life purchased us a lesson 
against another time. If any Indians were 
actually about our camp, they must have 
scampered off instantly and unperceived, 
which they could easily have done, for none 
were to be seen when the confusion was over, 
nor was it ever known who gave the fatal 
alarm. 

From Creole encampment we reached the 
Forks, 1 60 miles beyond the Dalles. This is 
another great rendezvous for Indians, but we 
passed it quietly without interruption. Thence 
we proceeded on to Fort Okanogan, 200 miles 
above the Forks, without accident or hin 
drance; always careful, however, to remember 
the "usual precautions," by setting a night 
watch. On arriving at this place the different 
parties separated for their respective winter 
ing grounds, and here the Fort William 
express and our friends for, Canada bade us 
adieu and continued their journey. We shall 



fm J^unter^ of ti)e far 



now leave the affairs of the voyage and take 
up the subject of horses and inland trans 
portation. 

On reaching Okanogan everything was at a 
dead stand for want of pack horses to trans 
port the goods inland, and as no horses were 
to be got nearer than the Eyakema Valley, 
some 200 miles southwest, it was resolved to 
proceed thither in quest of a supply. At that 
place all the Indians were rich in horses. The 
Cayouses, the Nez Perces, and other warlike 
tribes, assemble every spring in the Eyakemas 
to lay in a stock of the favorite Kamass and 
Pelua, or sweet potatoes, held in high estima 
tion as articles of food among the natives, 
There, also, the Indians hold their councils, 
and settle the affairs of peace or war for the 
year. It is, therefore, the great national 
rendezvous, where thousands meet, and on 
such occasions horses can be got in almost any 
number, but owing to the vast concourse of 
mixed tribes there is always more or less risk 
attending the undertaking. 

To this place I had been once before during 
the days of the Pacific Fur Company, so it 
fell to my lot again, although it was well 
known that the fatal disasters which more 
than once took place between those tribes 
and the whites would not have diminished, 
but rather increased, the danger. Yet there 
was no alternative, I must go. So I set off 
with a small bundle of trading articles and 



gpfecattfter 



only three men, Mr. Thomas McKay, a young 
clerk, and two French Canadians, and as no 
more men could be spared the two latter ^took 
their wives along with them to aid in driving 
'the horses, for women in these parts are as 
expert as men on horseback. 

On the fourth night after leaving Okanogan, 
Sopa, a friendly neighboring chief of the 
Pisscows tribe, on learning that we were on 
our way to the Eyakemas, dispatched two of 
his men to warn us of our danger and bring us 
back. The zealous couriers reached our camp 
late in the night. My men were fast asleep, 
but there was no sleep for me. I was too 
anxious, and heard their approach. I watched 
their motions for some time with my gun in 
my hand, till they called out in their own 
language, "Samah! Samah! Pedcousm, ped- 
cousm White men, white men, turn back, 
turn back, you are all dead men!" It was, 
however, of no use, for we must go at all 
hazard. I had risked my life there for the 
Americans, I could not now do less for the 
North West Company. So with deep regret 
the friendly couriers left us and returned, and 
with no less reluctance we proceeded. The 
second day after our friends left us we entered 
the Eyakema Valley " the beautiful Eyake- 
ma Valley" so called by the whites. But on 
the present occasion there was nothing either 
beautiful or interesting to us, for we had 
scarcely advanced three miles when a camp of 



fur J^imter of tf>e fat 



the true Mameluke style presented itself; a 
camp of which we could see the beginning but 
not the end! It could not have contained less 
than 3,000 men, exclusive of women and 
children, and treble that number of horses. 
It was a grand and imposing sight in the wilder 
ness, covering more than six miles in every 
direction. Councils, root-gathering, hunting, 
horse-racing, foot-racing, gambling, singing, 
dancing, drumming, yelling, and a thousand 
other things which I cannot mention, were 
going on around us. 

The din of men, the noise of women, the 
screaming of children, the tramping of horses, 
and howling of dogs, was more than can well 
be described. Let the reader picture to him 
self a great city in an uproar it will afford 
some idea of our position. In an Indian camp 
you see life without disguise the feelings, the 
passions, the propensities, as they ebb and 
flow in the savage breast. In this field of 
savage glory all was motion and commotion. 
We advanced through groups of men and 
bands of horses till we reached the very center 
of the camp, and there the sight of the chiefs' 
tents admonished us to dismount and pay 
them our respects, as we depended on them 
for our protection. 

Our reception was cool. The chiefs were 
hostile and sullen. They saluted us in no very 
flattering accents. "These are the men," 
said they, "who kill our relations, the people 



who have caused us to mourn." And here, for 
the first time, I regretted we had not taken 
advice in time and returned with the couriers, 
for the general aspect of things was against 
us. It was evident we stood on slippery 
ground: we felt our weakness. In all sudden 
and unexpected rencounter with hostile In 
dians the first impulse is generally a tremor or 
sensation of fear, but that soon wears off. It 
was so with myself at this moment, for after a 
short interval I nerved myself to encounter 
the worst. 

The moment we dismounted we were sur 
rounded, and the savages, giving two or three 
war whoops and yells, drove the animals we 
had ridden out of our sight. This of itself was 
a hostile movement. We had to judge from 
appearances, and be guided by circumstances. 
My first care was to try and direct their atten 
tion to something new, and to get rid of the 
temptation there was to dispose of my goods; 
so without a moment's delay I commenced a 
trade in horses, but every horse I bought 
during that and the following day, as well as 
those we had brought with us, were instantly 
driven out of sight, in the midst of yelling and 
jeering. Nevertheless, I continued to trade 
while an article remained, putting the best 
face on things I could and taking no notice of 
their conduct, as no insult or violence had as 
yet been offered to ourselves personally. Two 
days and nights had now elapsed since our 



f ut ^untei# of tfje far 



arrival, without food or sleep; the Indians 
refused us the former, our own anxiety de 
prived us of the latter. 

During the third day I discovered that the 
two women were to have been either killed or 
taken from us and made slaves. So surrounded 
were we for miles on every side, that we could 
not stir unobserved; yet we had to devise 
some means for their escape, and to get them 
clear of the camp was a task of no ordinary 
difficulty and danger. In this critical con 
juncture, however, something had to be done, 
and that without delay. One of them had 
a child at the breast, which increased the 
difficulty. To attempt sending them back by 
the road they came would have been sacrificing 
them. To attempt an unknown path through 
the rugged mountains, however doubtful the 
issue, appeared the only prospect that held out 
a glimpse of hope; therefore, to this mode of 
escape I directed their attention. As soon as 
it was dark they set out on their forlorn 
adventure, without food, guide, or protection, 
to make their way home under a kind Provi 
dence! 

"You are to proceed," said I to' them, "due 
north, cross the mountains, and keep in that 
direction till you fall on the Pisscows River. 
Take the first canoe you find, .and proceed 
with all diligence down to the mouth of it, 
and there await our arrival. But if we are not 
there on the fourth day, you may proceed to 



Okanogan, and tell your story." With these 
instructions we parted, and with but little 
hopes of our ever meeting again. I had no 
sooner set about getting the women off, than 
the husbands expressed a wish to accompany 
them. The desire was natural, yet I had to 
oppose it. This state of things distracted my 
attention. My eyes had now to be on my own 
people as well as on the Indians, as I was appre 
hensive they would desert. "There is no hope 
for the women by going alone," said the 
husbands, cc no hope for us by remaining here; 
we might as well be killed in the attempt to 
escape, as remain to be killed here." "No," 
said I, "by remaining here we do our duty; 
by going, we should be deserting our duty." 
To this remonstrance they made no reply. 
The Indians soon perceived that they had 
been outwitted. They turned over our bag 
gage, and searched in every hole and corner. 
Disappointment creates ill-humor; it was so 
with the Indians. They took the men's guns 
out of their hands, fired them off at their feet, 
and then, with savage laughter, laid them 
down again; took their hats off their heads, 
and after strutting about with these for some 
time, jeeringly gave them back to their owners. 
All this time they never interfered with me, 
but I felt that every insult offered to my men 
was an indirect insult offered to myself. 

The day after the women went off I ordered 
one of the men to try and cook something for 



10 



fur J^unterg of tf>e far 



us, for hitherto we had eaten nothing since our 
arrival except a few raw roots which we 
managed to get unobserved. But the kettle 
was no sooner on the fire than five or six spears 
bore off, in savage triumph, the contents. 
They even emptied out the water, and threw 
the kettle on one side; and this was no sooner 
done than thirty or forty ill-favored wretches 
fired a volley in the embers before us, which 
caused a clouctof smoke and ashes to ascend, 
darkening the air around us a strong hint 
not to put the kettle any more on the fire, and 
we took it. 

At this time the man who had put the kettle 
on the fire took the knife with which he had 
cut the venison to lay it by, when one of the 
Indians called Eyacktana, a bold and turbulent 
chief, snatched it out of his hand; the man, in 
an angry tone, demanded his knife, saying to 
me, "I'll have my knife from the villain, life 
or death." "No," said I. The chief, seeing 
the man angry, threw down his robe, and 
grasping the knife in his fist, with the point 
downwards, raised his arm, making a motion 
in advance as if he intended using it. The 
crisis had now arrived! At this moment there 
was a dead silence. The Indians were flocking 
in from all quarters; a dense crowd surrounded 
us. Not a moment was to be lost. Delay 
would be fatal, and nothing now seemed to 
remain for us but to sell our lives as dearly as 
possible. With this impression, grasping a 
ii 



pistol, I advanced a step towards the villain 
who held the knife, with the full determination 
of putting an end to his career before any of 
us should fall; but while in the act of lifting 
my foot and moving my arm, a second idea 
flashed across my mind, admonishing me to 
soothe, and not provoke, the Indians, that 
Providence might yet make a way for us to 
escape. This thought saved the Indian's life, 
and ours too. Instead of drawing the pistol, 
as I intended, I took a knife from my belt, 
such as travelers generally use in this country, 
and presented it to him saying, "Here, my 
friend, is a chief's knife; I give it to you. That 
is not a chief's knife; give it back to the man." 
Fortunately, he took mine in his hand, but, 
still sullen and savage, he said nothing. The 
moment was a critical one; our fate hung as 
by a thread. I shall never forget it! All the 
bystanders had their eyes now fixed on the 
chief, thoughtful and silent as he stood. We 
also stood motionless, not knowing what a 
moment might bring forth. At last the savage 
Manded the man his knife, and turning mine 
und and round for some time in his hands, 
ed to his people, holding up the knife in 
hand, exclaimed, "She-augh Me-yokat 
Look, my friends, at the chief's knife." 
_,___ words he repeated over and over again. 
lie; Ws delighted. The Indians flocked round 
piftiaj all admired the toy, and in the excess of 
Mfs^joy he harangued the multitude in our 




f ut ^imterg of tf>c far 



favor. Fickle, indeed, are savages ! They were 
now no longer enemies, but friends! Several 
others, following Eyacktana's example, ha 
rangued in turn, all in favor of the whites. This 
done, the great men squatted themselves down, 
the pipe of peace was called for, and while it 
was going round and round the smoking circle, 
I gave each of the principal chiefs a small 
paper-cased looking-glass and a little vermilion 
as a present, and in return they presented me 
with two horses and twelve beavers, while the 
women soon brought us a variety of eatables. 

This sudden change regulated my move 
ments. Indeed, I might say the battle was 
won. I now made a speech to them in turn, 
and, as many of them understood the language 
I spoke, I asked them what I should say to the 
great white chief when I got home. When he 
asks me, "where are all the horses I bought 
from you," what shall I say to him. At this 
question it was easy to see that their pride was 
touched. "Tell him/' said Eyacktana, "that 
we have but one mouth and one word. All the 
horses you have bought from us are yours; 
they shall be delivered up." This was just 
what I wanted. After a little counseling 
among themselves, Eyacktana was the first to 
speak, and he undertook to see them collected. 

By this time it was sundown. The chief 
then mounted his horse and desired me to 
mount mine and accompany him, telling one 
of his sons to take my men and property under 

13 



his charge till our return. Being acquainted 
with Indian habits, I knew there would be 
repeated calls upon my purse, so I put some 
trinkets into my pocket and we started on 
our nocturnal adventure, which I considered 
hazardous, but not hopeless. 

Such a night we had! The chief harangued, 
traveled, and harangued the whole night; the 
people replied. We visited every street, alley, 
hole, and corner of the camp, which we trav 
ersed lengthway, crossway, east, west, south, 
and north, going from group to group, and the 
call was, "Deliver up the horses/' Here was 
gambling, there scalp-dancing; laughter in 
one place, mourning in another. Crowds were 
passing to and fro, whooping, yelling, dancing, 
drumming, singing. Men, women, and children 
were huddled together; flags flying, horses 
neighing, dogs howling, chained bears, tied 
wolves, grunting and growling, all pell-mell 
among the tents; and, to complete the con 
fusion, the night was dark. At the end of each 
harangue the chief would approach me and 
whisper in my ear, " She-augh tamtay enim I 
have spoken well in your favor " a hint for 
me to reward his zeal by giving him something. 
This was repeated constantly, and I gave him 
each time a string of beads, or two buttons, or 
two rings. I often thought he repeated his 
harangues more frequently than was neces 
sary, but it answered his purpose, and I had 
no choice but to obey and pay. 

14 



fur ^imter of tfyt far 



At daylight we got back. My people and 
property were safe, and in two hours after, my 
eighty-five horses were delivered up and in our 
possession. I was now convinced of the chief's 
influence, and had got so well into his good 
graces with my beads, buttons, and rings that 
I hoped we were out of all our troubles. Our 
business being done, I ordered my men to 
tie up and prepare for home, which was 
glad tidings to them. With all this favor 
able change, we were much embarrassed and 
annoyed in our preparations to start. The 
savages interrupted us every moment. They 
jeered the men, frightened the horses, and 
kept handling, snapping, and firing off our 
guns, asking for this, that, and the other thing. 
The men's hats, pipes, belts, and knives were 
constantly in their hands. They wished to see 
everything, and everything they saw they 
wished to get, even to the buttons on their 
clothes. Their teasing curiosity had no 
bounds, and every delay increased our difficul 
ties. Our patience was put to the test a thou 
sand times, but at last we got ready and my 
men started. To amuse the Indians, however, 
till they could get fairly off, I invited the 
chiefs to a parley, which I put a stop to as 
soon as I thought the men and horses had got 
clear of the camp. I then prepared to follow 
them, when a new difficulty arose. In the 
hurry and bustle of starting, my people had 
left a restive, awkward brute of a hoarse for me, 

15 



wild as a deer, and as full of latent tricks as he 
was wild. I mounted and dismounted at least 
a dozen times; in vain I tried to make him 
advance. He reared, jumped, and plunged, 
but refused to walk, trot, or gallop. Every 
trial to make him go was a failure. A young, 
conceited fop of an Indian, thinking he could 
make more of him than I could, jumped on 
his back. The horse reared and plunged as 
before, when, instead of slackening the bridle 
as he reared, he reined it tighter and tighter, 
till the horse fell right over on his back, and 
almost killed the fellow. Here Eyacktana, 
with a frown, called out, "Kap-sheesh she-am 
the bad horse" and gave me another; and 
for the generous act I gave him my belt, the 
only article I had to spare. But although the 
difficulties I had with the horse were galling 
enough to me, they proved a source of great 
amusement to the Indians, who enjoyed them 
with roars of laughter. Before taking my leave 
of Eyacktana it is but justice to say that with 
all his faults he had many good qualities, and 
I was under great obligations to him, 

I now made the best of my way out of the 
camp, and to make up for lost time took a short 
cut, but for many miles could see nothing of 
my people, and began to be apprehensive that 
they had been waylaid and cut off. Getting 
to the top of a high ridge, I stopped a little to 
look about me, but could see nothing of them. 
I had not been many minutes there, however, 
16 



fur ^unters? of tfje far 



before I perceived three horsemen coming 
down an adjacent hill at full tilt. Taking 
them for enemies, I descended the height, 
swam my horse across a river at the bottom of 
it, and taking shelter behind a rock, dis 
mounted to wait my pursuers. There I primed 
my rifle anew and said to myself, "I am sure 
of two shots, and my pistols will be more than 
a match for the other." The moment they 
got to the opposite bank I made signs for 
them to keep back, or I would fire on them, 
but my anxiety was soon removed by their 
calling out, " As-nack-shee-lough, as-nack- 
shee^lough your friends, your friends." These 
friendly fellows had been all the time lurking 
about in anxious suspense, to see what would 
become of us. Two of them were the very 
couriers who had, as already stated, strongly 
tried to turn us back. I was overjoyed at this 
meeting, yet still anxious, as they had seen 
nothing of my men, to find whom we all set 
off and came up with them a little before sun 
down. When we first discovered them, they 
were driving furiously, but all at once the 
horses stood still. I suspected something, and 
told the Indians to remain behind while I 
alone went on to see what was the matter, 
when, as I had expected, seeing four riders 
following them at full gallop, they took us for 
enemies, as I had done before, and left the 
horses to take up a position of defense behind 
the trees, where they might receive us; and 
17 



we should have met with a warm reception, 
for McKay, although young, was as brave^as a 
lion. But they were soon agreeably surprised, 
and the matter as soon explained. I then made 
signs for the Indians to come forward. The 
moment we all joined together, we alighted, 
changed horses, and drove on until midnight, 
when we took shelter in a small thicket of 
woods, and passed the night with our guns in 
our hands. 

At dawn of day we again set off and at 
three o'clock in the afternoon reached the 
banks of the Columbia, some six miles beyond 
the mouth of the Pisscows River, where we 
considered ourselves out of danger. I then 
started on ahead, in company with the friendly 
Indians, to see if the two women had arrived, 
and as good luck would have it we found 
them with a canoe ready to ferry us across. 
They had reached the place about an hour 
before us, and we will give our readers a brief 
outline of their adventures. 

On leaving us, instead of taking directly to 
the mountains, they, in the darkness of the 
night, bridled two of the Indians' horses and 
rode them for several hours till they were far 
beyond the camp, but as soon as it was day 
light they turned the horses adrift and en 
tered the mountains on foot. In the hurry of 
starting they had forgotten to take a fire-steel, 
or anything to make fire with, and had been 
three days and nights without food or fire. A 

18 



fur ^untetjg of tfte far 



short time, however, before I had reached 
them, they had met some friendly Indians, 
who had ministered to their wants. During 
the four days of their pilgrimage they rode 18 
miles, traveled 54, and paddled 66, making in 
all 138 miles. We now hasten to resume our 
narrative. 

In a short time the two men arrived with 
all the horses, but could give no account of 
McKay. I, therefore, immediately sent them 
back with an Indian in search of him, while I 
and the other Indians were occupied in passing 
over the horses, for during high water the 
Pisscows River is very broad at its mouth. 
Some time after dark the men arrived with 
the news that they had found McKay, lying 
some distance from the road in an almost life 
less state and unable either to ride or be 
carried. In this state of things I had no al 
ternative but to send back the two men with 
two Indians, to have him brought in the 
canoe. About midnight they all arrived. Poor 
McKay was in a very low and dangerous state, 
having by some mishap which he could not 
well explain dislocated his hip joint. After 
much trouble I got it replaced again, and he 
gradually came round, but as he could neither 
ride nor walk, I was reduced to the necessity 
of hiring two of the Indians to paddle him 
home in the canoe. Meanwhile, the two men, 
women, and myself continued our journey 
and reached Okanogan in safety, after an 

19 



absence of seventeen days; but the Indians 
only got there with McKay four days after us, 
and from the hot weather and hardness of the 
canoe he suffered very much. The limb had 
again got out of joint, and was so much 
swollen that it resisted all my efforts to get it re 
duced, so that he never got the better of it, but 
remained lame till the day of his death. Thus 
terminated one of the most trying and hazard 
ous trips I ever experienced in the country. 

As soon as Mr. McKay was out of danger, 
I left him and set off with all haste to Fort 
Spokane, distant about r6o miles southeast 
from Okanogan, with fifty-five of our horses. 
On our way, both going and coming, we made a 
short stay at a place called the Grand Coulee, 
one of the most romantic, picturesque, and 
marvelously formed chasms west of the 
Rocky Mountains. If you glance at the map 
of Columbia, you will see, some distance above 
the Great Forks, a barren plain extending 
from the south to the north branch of that 
magnificent stream. There, in the direction of 
nearly south and north, lies the Grand Coulee, 
some 80 or 100 miles in length. No one travel 
ing in these parts ought to resist paying a 
visit to the wonder of the West. Without, 
however, being able to account for the cause ' 
of its formation, we shall proceed to give a 
brief description of this wonderful chasm, or 
channel, as it now is, and perhaps has been 
since the creation. 



jfut ^imterg of tfrc far 



The sides, or banks, of the Grand Coulee are 
for the most part formed of basalt rocks, in 
some places as high as 150 feet, with shelving 
steps, formed like stairs, to ascend and de 
scend, and not infrequently vaults or ex 
cavated tombs, as if cut through the solid 
rocks, like the dark and porous catacombs of 
Keif. The bottom, or bed, deep and broad, 
consists of a conglomerate of sand and clay, 
hard and smooth where not interrupted by 
rocks. The whole presents in every respect 
the appearance of the deep bed of a great 
river or lake, now dry, scooped out of the 
level and barren plain. The sight in many 
places is truly magnificent: while in one place 
the solemn gloom forbids the wanderer to 
advance, in another the prospect is lively and 
inviting, the ground being thickly studded 
with ranges of columns, pillars, battlements, 
turrets, and steps above steps, in every variety 
of shade and color. Here and there endless 
vistas and subterraneous labyrinths add to 
the beauty of the scene, and what is still more 
singular in this arid and sandy region, cold 
springs are frequent; yet there is never any 
water in the chasm, unless after recent rains. 
Thunder and lightning are known to be more 
frequent here than in other parts, and a rum 
bling in the earth is sometimes heard. Accord 
ing to Indian tradition it is the abode of evil 
spirits. In the neighborhood there is neither 
hill nor dale, lake nor mountain, creek nor 



rivulet to give variety to the surrounding as 
pect. Altogether it is a charming assemblage 
of picturesque objects for the admirer of 
nature. It is the wonder of the Oregon. 

We shall now digress for a short space, and 
return to Fort George. In 1811 three men 
belonging to the Pacific Fur Company had 
been murdered by the natives, but as the 
murderers could not be traced, the deed 
was never avenged. We, however, had ^ no 
sooner taken our departure for the interior, 
than the murderers considered it unnecessary 
to conceal the deed any longer; since the 
"Americans/' as we were called, had left the 
country, they thought all was safe, and con 
sequently joined their relations at Fort 
George. Their return to the neighborhood 
had been made known to the whites, who^ in 
order to make an example of them, and strike 
terror into evil-doers, wished to apprehend 
them. For some time these natives contrived 
to elude their vigilance. The whites, however, 
were not to be foiled in their attempt to get 
hold of them. To attain the desired end they 
were obliged to have recourse to some of the 
friendly Indians, who soon found out the 
secret haunts of the murderers, hunted them 
up, and delivered them into their hands. 
Three were implicated and found guilty of the 
murder on Indian evidence, and were con 
demned to be shot. Capital punishment was 
inflicted upon two of them, but the third was 



fur I^imterg of tlyt fax 



pardoned and set at liberty. The conduct of 
the murderers may serve to throw some light 
on their knowledge of right and wrong, and 
on the character of these Indians generally. 
The three villains fled towards the south as 
soon as they had committed the deed, nor did 
they ever return, or make their appearance 
in that quarter, until they heard that the 
"Americans 77 had left the country. 

The punishment of the offenders, however, 
gave great offense to many of the surrounding 
tribes, who thought that the Northwesters 
had no right to kill their relations. The deed 
not being committed in their day, nor on their 
own people, they said, the act on their part 
was mere cruelty, arising from hatred of the 
Indians, and that in consequence they must 
be their enemies. Jealousy had also its in 
fluence: seeing that those Indians friendly to 
the whites had been so liberally rewarded for 
their zeal in apprehending the criminals, others 
were displeased that they had not come in for 
a share of the booty. The Indians took up 
arms, and threatened to expel the whites from 
the country. This manifestation of hostility 
on the part of the natives gathered strength 
daily, and kept the whites in constant alarm, 
more especially as there were but few of them 
to resist so formidable a combination. It 
even threatened for a time the security of the 
North West Company 7 s possessions on the 
Columbia. 

23 



In the midst of this hostile flame, as good 
fortune would have it, the long-expected ship, 
Isaac Todd, from London, arrived, and cast 
anchor in, front of Fort George, with ample 
supplies both of men and means. Her season 
able appearance struck such awe into the 
rebellious savages that, partly through fear 
and partly in anticipation of the good things 
to come, they sued for peace, which was 
granted, and all became quiet and tranquil 
once more. The Isaac Tpdd's presence shed 
a momentary gleam of light over the North 
West affairs: in short, gave a new impulse to 
all their measures in the Far West. After a 
short stay at the Columbia, smoothing down 
all difficulties with the Indians and taking 
on board the furs and peltries belonging to 
the late American adventurers, the vessel 
sailed for Canton. The joy which her timely 
arrival caused was but of short duration, 
and it had scarcely time to be announced 
in another express to Fort William 8 when 
again the aspect of affairs was clouded by a 
sad misfortune. 

On the twenty-second of May, some time 
after the arrival of the Isaac Todd, a boat 
containing Messrs. Donald McTavish and 

8 Fort William was the principal depot of the North 
West Fur Company on the east side of the Rocky 
Mountains, and is situated on the north shore of Lake 
Superior, in latitude 48 24' North and longitude 89 23' 
West. Author. 



fur ^imterg of tfyt far 

Alexander Henry, 9 two partners of long stand 
ing and high reputation in the service, with 
six men, was swamped, all hands perishing, in 
crossing the river, with the exception of one 
man. Although the accident took place in 
broad daylight, and in front of the fort, the 
circumstance was not perceived or known for 
some hours after, when John Little, the man 
who was saved, arrived at the fort, and com 
municated the intelligence. We shall give the 
sad tale in his own words. 

"We pushed from the wharf," said John 
Little, "at five o'clock in the afternoon, the 
wind blowing a gale at the time and the tide 
setting in. The boat was ballasted with 
stones. We were eight on board, and there 
was a heavy surf about two miles out in the 
stream. She filled, and sank like a stone. A 
terrible shriek closed the scene. The top of 
the mast was still above the surface of the 
water. I got hold of it, but the first or second 
swell swept me away. In a moment nothing 
was to be seen or heard but the rolling waves 
and whistling winds. Jack, a young sailor lad, 
and I took to swimming, and with great 
exertions reached a dry sand bank in the 
channel, about three-quarters of a mile ahead 
9 This was Alexander Henry the younger, a son of 
the trader whose narrative of Travels and Adventures 
was reprinted in the Lakeside Classics in 1921. The 
younger Henry spent many years in the Northwest fur 
trade and his journals, elaborately annotated by Elliott 
Coues, were published at New York in 1897. 

25 



of us, but the tide flowing at the time, and 
forced by the gale, soon set us afloat. Here 
we shook hands, bade each other farewell, and 
took to swimming again. At the distance of a 
mile we reached another flat sand bank, but 
the tide got there nearly as soon as ourselves, 
and we were again soon afloat. Jack was 
much exhausted, and I was little better, and 
the wet and cold had so benumbed us that we 
had scarcely any feeling or strength. We now 
shook hands again, anxiously looking for 
relief towards the fort. Here poor Jack be 
gan to cry like a child, and refused for some 
time to let go my hand. I told him to take 
courage, and pointing to a stump ahead of us 
said to him, 'If we get there we shall be safe.' 
Then, bidding each other adieu, we once more 
took to swimming in hopes of reaching the 
stump I had pointed to, which was better 
than half a mile off. I reached and grasped it 
with almost my last breath, but poor Jack, 
although within ten yards of it, could not do 
so it was too much for him, and I could 
render him no assistance. Here he struggled 
and sank, and I saw him no more. I had been 
grasping the stump with the clutch of despair 
for^more than half an hour, when, fortunately, 
a little before dusk, an Indian canoe passing 
along shore discovered my situation and 
saved my life. The water had reached my 
middle, and I was insensible." One of the 
Indians who had brought Little to the fort 
26 



fur ^untcr of tfrc far 



remarked: "When we got to him he was 
speechless, and yet his ringers were sunk in 
the wood so that we could hardly get his 
hands from the stump." 

Perils by water were not Little's only dan 
gers, as we learned from one of the Indians 
who rescued him. He was within an ace of 
being shot as well as drowned. The moment 
the people in the canoe came in sight of the 
stump, one of the Indians, pointing to it, said 
to his comrades, "Look! what is that leaning 
on the stump?" Another called out, "A sea 
otter, or a seal; come let us have a shot at it." 
Both at that instant taking up their guns 
made signs to the person steering to make for 
the stump slowly. While the canoe was thus 
making for the stump, the two men held their 
guns ready cocked to have a shot. "Shoot 
now," said one of them to the other. The 
canoe was all this time nearing the object, 
and the two anxious marksmen were on their 
knees with their guns pointed, when a woman 
in the canoe bawled out to the men, "Alke, 
Alke, TiM-kome, Tilla-kome Stop, stop! a 
man, a man!" At this timely warning the men 
lowered their guns to look, and in a few minutes 
the boat was at the stump; seeing Little, the 
fellows put their hands to their mouths, ex 
claiming in the Chinook dialect, "Naw-weet- 
ka, naw-weet-ka It is true, it is true." To 
the keen eye of this woman, poor Little owed 
his life at last. 

27 



Following the Isaac Todd, there arrived 
from the same port a schooner called the 
Columbia. This vessel was intended for the 
China and coasting trades, and Angus Bethune 
Esq., a North West partner, was appointed 
supercargo. A voyage or two across the 
Pacific, however, convinced the Northwesters 
that the project would not succeed. The port 
duties at Canton, connected with other un 
avoidable expenses, absorbed all the profits, 
and this branch of their trade was relinquished 
as unprofitable. Even the coast trade itself 
was far from being so productive as might be 
expected, owing to the great number of coast 
ing vessels which came from all parts of the 
States, especially Boston, all more or less con 
nected with the Sandwich Islands and China 
trade. Competition had, therefore, almost 
ruined the coast trade, and completely spoiled 
the Indians. 

Having glanced at the affairs of Fort George 
and the coast trade, we now resume the busi 
ness of the interior. It will be in the recollec 
tion of the reader that we left the spring 
brigade at Okanogan, and our friends journey 
ing on their way to Canada, From Okanogan 
I proceeded northward some three hundred 
miles to my own post at the She Whaps. There 
being now no rivalry there, or elsewhere, to 
contend with, I put the business in train for 
the season and immediately returned again, 
with the view of being able to carry into effect 
28 



futr ^unterg of tfje far 



a project of discovery, which I and others had 
contemplated for some time before. This was, 
to penetrate across land from Okanogan, 
due west, to the Pacific on foot, a distance 
supposed not to exceed 200 miles, and for the 
performance of which I had allowed two 
months. 

The undertaking had often been talked of, 
but as often failed to be put into execution. 
This was, however, the first time the project 
had been attempted by any white man, and 
as the season of the year was favorable, and a 
knowledge of that part of the country held out 
a good prospect for extending the trade, I was 
anxious to see it explored and the question set 
at rest. Men, however, being scarce with us 
this year, I determined on trying with Indians 
alone, placing, at that time, more faith in 
their zeal, fortitude, and perseverance than 
ever I felt disposed to do afterwards. Having 
procured a guide and two other natives, my 
self being the fourth person, we prepared, 
with all the confidence that hope could inspire, 
for the execution of my plan. 

On the twenty-fifth of July we set out on our 
journey, our guns in our hands, each with a 
blanket on his back, a kettle, fire-steel, and 
three days' provisions. We depended on our 
guns for our subsistence. Indeed, the only 
baggage we encumbered ourselves with con 
sisted of ammunition. Crossing the Okanogan, 
we followed the west bank of the Columbia in 
29 



a southwest course distance eight miles till 
we reached the mouth of the Meat-who 
River, 10 a considerable stream issuing at the 
foot of the mountains, along the south bank 
of which we ascended; but, from its rocky 
sides and serpentine courses, we were unable 
to follow it. We therefore struck off to the 
left, and after a short distance entered a path 
less desert, in a course due west. The first 
mountain, on the east side, is high and abrupt. 
Here our guide kept telling us that we should 
follow the same road as the Red Fox chief and 
his men used to go. Seeing no track, nor the 
appearance of any road, I asked him where 
the Red Fox road was. "This is it that we 
are on," said he, pointing before us. " Where? 7 ' 
said I, "I see no road here, not even so much 
as a rabbit could walk on." "Oh, there is no 
road/ 7 rejoined he, "but this is the place where 
they used to pass." When an Indian, in his 
metaphorical mode of expression, tells you 
anything, you are not to suppose that you 
understand him, or that he literally speaks 
the truth. The impression on my mind was 
that we should, at least occasionally, have 
fallen upon some sort of a road or path to 
conduct us along, but nothing of the kind was 
to be seen. The Red Fox here spoken of was 

10 This is an interesting early variant of the river now 
called Methow. In his First Settlers on the Oregon Ross 
gave the Indian name of the river as "Buttle-mule- 
emauch." 

30 



fur ^uttterg of tfe far 



the head chief of the Okanogan nation, and 
had formerly been in the habit of going to the 
Pacific on trading excursions, carrying with 
him a species of wild hemp, which the Indians 
along the Pacific make fishing nets of, and in 
exchange the Okanogans bring back marine 
shells and other trinkets, articles of value 
among the Indians. After we entered the 
forest, our course was W. 2 miles, N.W. i, 
S.W. i, W. by S. i, W. 3 distance eight miles. 
On the twenty-sixth We made an early 
start this morning, course as nearly as possible 
due west. But not half an hour had passed, 
before we had to steer to every point of the 
compass, so many impediments crossed our 
path. On entering the dense and gloomy 
forest I tried my pocket compass, but to very 
little purpose, as we could not in many places 
travel fifty yards in any one direction, so 
rocky and uneven was the surface over which 
we had to pass. Using the compass made us 
lose too much time, and as I placed implicit 
confidence in my guide I laid it by. On seeing 
me set the compass, the guide, after staring 
with amazement for some time, asked me 
what it was. I told him it was the white man's 
guide. "Can it speak?" he asked. "No/' 
replied I, "it cannot speak." "Then what is 
the good of it?" rejoined he. "It will show us 
the right road to any quarter," answered I. 
"Then what did you want with me, since you 
had a guide of your own?" This retort came 

31 



rather unexpectedly, but taking hold of my 
double-barreled gun in one hand and a single 
one in the other, I asked him which of the two 
was best. "The two-barreled/ 7 said he, 
"because if one barrel misses fire, you have 
another.' ' "It is the same with guides," said 
I, "if one fails, we have another." Courses 
today, W. 4, N.W. i, N.N.W. i, S.W. 2, W. 
5, N. by W. 6. 

On the twenty-seventh Weather cold and 
rainy; still we kept advancing, through a 
rugged and broken country, in a course almost 
due west, but camped early on account of the 
bad weather, having traveled about ten miles. 
The next day we made a long journey, general 
course W. by N.; saw several deer, and killed 
one. The drumming partridges were very 
numerous, so that we had always plenty to 
eat. We met with banks of snow in the course 
of this day. Distance, eighteen miles. 

On the twenty-ninth This morning we 
started in a southerly direction, but soon got 
to the west again. Country gloomy; forests 
almost impervious, with fallen as well as 
standing timber. A more difficult route to 
travel never fell to man's l6t. On the heights 
the chief timber is a kind of spruce fir, not 
very large, only two or three feet in diameter. 
The valleys were filled with poplar, alder, 
stunted birch, and willows. This range of 
mountains, lying in the direction of nearly S. 
and N*. are several hundred miles in length. 

32 



f ut ^untcrg of tfre fat 

The tracks of wild animals crossed our path 
in every direction. The leaves and decayed 
vegetation were uncommonly thick on the 
surface of the ground, and the mice and 
squirrels swarmed, and had riddled the earth 
like a sieve. The fallen timber lay in heaps, 
nor did it appear that the fire ever passed in 
this place. The surface of the earth appeared 
in perfect confusion, and the rocks and yawn 
ing chasms gave to the whole an air of solemn 
gloom and undisturbed silence. My compan 
ions began to flag during the day. Distance, 
fifteen miles. 

On the thirtieth The sixth day, in the 
evening, we reached a height of land, which on 
the east side is steep and abrupt. Here we 
found the water running in the opposite direc 
tion. My guide unfortunately fell sick at this 
place, and we very reluctantly had to wait for 
two days until he recovered, when we resumed 
our journey; but his recovery was slow, and 
on the second day he gave up altogether, and 
could proceed no farther. We were still 
among the rugged cliffs and deep groves of 
the mountain, where we seldom experienced 
the cheering sight of the sun, nor could we get 
to any elevated spot clear enough to have a 
view of the surrounding country. By getting to 
the top of a tall tree, now and then, we got some 
relief, though but little, for we could seldom 
see to any distance, so covered was all around 
us with a thick and almost impenetrable 

33 



forest. The weather was cold, and snow 
capped many of the higher peaks. In such a 
situation I found myself, and without a guide. 
To go forward without him was almost impos 
sible; to turn back was labor lost; to remain 
where we were was anything but pleasant; to 
abandon the sick man to his fate was not to 
be thought of. The serious question then 
arose, what to do? At last we settled the 
matter, so that one of the Indians should 
remain with the guide, and the other accom 
pany me, I still intending to proceed. We 
then separated, I taking care every now and 
then as we went along to mark with a small 
axe some of the larger trees to assist us on our 
way back, in case our compass got deranged, 
although, as I have already noticed, we but 
seldom used it while our guide was with us; 
but the case was different now, it was the only 
guide I had. Courses today, W. 5, N. i, N. W. 2, 
N.E. i, W. 9 distance eighteen miles. 

August fourth We were early on the road 
this morning, and were favored occasionally 
with open ground. We had not gone far when 
we fell on a small creek running, by, compass, 
W.S.W., but so meandering,. that w.e had tp 
cross and recross it upwards. of forty, times in 
the course of the day. The wa.ter was clear 
and cold and soon increased so much that we 
had to avoid it and steer our course from point 
to point on the north side. Its bottom was 
muddy in some places, in others stony, its 

34 



fur ^untoff of tfre far 



banks low and lined with poplars, but so over 
hung with wood, that we could oftener hear 
than see the stream. On this unpromising 
stream, flowing, no doubt, to the Pacific, we 
saw six beaver lodges, and two of the animals 
themselves, one of which we shot. We shot a 
very fine otter also, and notwithstanding the 
season of the year, the fur was black. Tired 
and hungry, we put up at a late hour. Courses, 
W. 8, N.W. 5, W. 7, S.W. 2 distance traveled 
today, twenty-two miles. 

On the fifth I slept but little during the 
night. My mind was too occupied to enjoy 
repose, so we got up and started at an early 
hour. Our journey today was through a de 
lightful country of hill and dale, wood and 
plains. Late in the afternoon, however, we 
were disturbed and greatly agitated, by a fear 
ful and continuous noise in the air, loud as 
thunder, but with no intervals. Not a breath 
of wind ruffled the air, but towards the south 
west, from whence the noise came, the whole 
atmosphere was darkened, black, and heavy. 
Our progress was arrested; we stood and lis 
tened in anxious suspense for nearly half an 
hour, the noise still increasing, and coming, as 
it were, nearer and nearer to us. If I could 
compare it to anything, it would be to the 
rush of a heavy body of water, falling from a 
height; but when it came opposite to where 
we stood, in a moment we beheld the woods 
before it bending down like grass before the 

35 



scythe! It was the wind, accompanied with a 
torrent of rain a perfect hurricane, such as I 
had never witnessed before. It reminded me 
at once of those terrible visitations of the kind 
peculiar to tropical climates. Sometimes a 
slight tornado or storm of the kind has been 
experienced on the Oregon, but not often. 
The crash of falling trees, and the dark, heavy 
cloud, like a volume of condensed smoke, con 
cealed from us -at the time the extent of its 
destructive effects. We remained motionless 
until the storm was over. It lasted an hour, 
and although it was scarcely a quarter of a 
mile from us, all we felt of it was a few heavy 
drops of rain, as cold as ice, with scarcely any 
wind; but the rolling cloud passed on, carry 
ing destruction before it, as far as the eye 
could follow. In a short time we perceived 
the havoc it had made by the avenue it left 
behind. It had leveled everything in its way 
to the dust; the very grass was beaten down 
to the earth for<aearly a quarter of a mile in 
breadth. 

The Indian I had along with me was so 
amazed and thunderstruck with superstition 
and fear at what he had seen, that his whole 
frame became paralyzed. He trembled, and 
sighed to get back. He refused to accompany 
me any farther, and all I could either say or 
do could not turn him from his purpose. At 
last, seeing all mild endeavors fail, I had 
recourse to threats. I told him I would tie 

36 



jFut ^unterff of tfte fat 



him to a tree and proceed alone. At last he 
consented, and we advanced to the verge of 
the storm-fallen timber, and encamped for 
the night. We saw a good many beaver lodges 
along the little river, and some small lakes. 
Deer were grazing in herds like domestic 
cattle, and so very tame that we might have 
shot as many of them as we chose. Their 
curiosity exceeded our own, and often proved 
fatal to them. The little river at this place 
seemed to take a bend nearly due north. It 
was twenty-two yards wide, and so deep that 
we could scarcely wade across it. I gave it the 
name of "West River." Here the timber was 
much larger than any we had yet seen, some 
of the trees measuring five and six feet in 
diameter. Courses today, W. 12, N.W. 2, S. i, 
S.W. 2, W. 9 distance, 26 miles; making from 
Okanogan to Point Turn-about, 151 miles. 

After we had put up for the night it was 
evident my companion was brooding and un 
settled in his mind, for he scarcely spoke a 
word. Although he had consented to con 
tinue the journey, I could easily see his reluc 
tance, and being apprehensive that he might 
try and play me a trick, I endeavored to watch 
his motions as closely as possible during the 
night; yet, in spite of all my watchfulness, he 
managed to give me the slip, and in the morn 
ing I found myself alone 1 I looked about in 
all directions for him but to no purpose; the 
fellow had taken to his heels and deserted. 

37 



There was no alternative but to yield to cir 
cumstances and retrace my steps, and this was 
the more galling, as I was convinced in my 
own mind that in a few days more I should 
have reached the ocean, and accomplished my 
object. I paused and reflected, but all to no 
purpose. Fate had decreed against me. With 
reluctant steps I turned back, and made the 
best of my way to where I had left my guide. 
I reached the place, after intense anxiety, 
at four o'clock in the afternoon of the third 
day, having scarcely eaten a mouthful of 
food all the time. I arrived just in time, as 
the men were in the act of tying up their 
bundles, and preparing to start on their home 
ward journey. 

The guide was still somewhat ailing, and 
the fellow who had left me was little better, 
for, in hurrying back, he had overheated him 
self, which, together with the fright, had 
thrown him into a fever. Nor was I in too 
good a humor; hungry, angry, fatigued, and 
disappointed, I sat down, as grim and silent 
as the rest, nor did a word pass between us for 
a while. After some time, however, I tried to 
infuse some ambition and perseverance into 
the fellows, to get them to resume the journey, 
but to no purpose. They were destitute of 
moral courage a characteristic defect of 
their race. I had been taught a good lesson, 
which I remembered ever after, not to place 
too much faith in Indians. 

38 



fur l^unterg of tfje far 



After remaining one night at the guide's 
encampment, we turned our faces towards 
home. Wild animals were very numerous, far 
more so than on our first passing. Whether it 
was the late storm that had disturbed them 
in another quarter, or some other cause, we 
could not determine, but they kept rustling 
through the woods, crossing our path in 
every direction, as if bewildered. We shot 
several red deer, three black bears, a wolf and 
fisher, and arrived at Okanogan on the twenty- 
fourth of August, after a fruitless and dis 
agreeable journey of thirty days. And here 
my guide told me that in four days from Point ' 
Turn-about, had we continued, we should 
have reached the ocean. 

After remaining for a few days at Okanogan, 
I visited the She Whaps, but soon returned 
again to the former place to meet the fall 
express from the east of the mountains. After 
a few hours' delay at Okanogan, the express 
proceeded on its way to Fort George, but was 
stopped at the Forks on its way down, the 
Cayouse and Nez Perces, Indians of the 
plains, being encamped there in great num 
bers. On perceiving the boat sweeping down 
and keeping the middle of the stream as if 
anxious to pass the camp unnoticed, accord 
ing to North West custom, the Indians made 
signs for the whites to put on shore. The first 
signal passing unheeded, a shot was next fired 
ahead to bring them to, and this also passing 

39 



without notice, a second shot was fired at the 
boat. The gentleman in charge then ordered 
the steersman to make for the land. On 
arriving at the camp, the Indians plunged 
into the water and taking hold of the boat, 
hauled her up on the beach, high and dry, 
with the crew on board; nor would they allow 
the people to depart till they had smoked 
themselves drunk, when pushing the craft 
into the water again, they made signs for 
them to depart, at the same time admonishing 
them never to attempt passing their camp 
again without first putting on shore and giv 
ing them a smoke. 

On the departure of the express I took a 
trip as far as Spokane House. This district, 
with its several outposts, was under the 
superintendence of John George McTavish 
Esq., 11 to whom I related the result of my 
trip of discovery. Returning home, I passed 
the remainder of the winter at Okanogan, 
that being now a part of the northern district. 

The spring being somewhat early this year, 
and all hands having mustered at the Forks, 
the general rendezvous for mutual safety, we 
took the current for headquarters, and arrived 
at Fort George on the tenth of June, 1815. 

11 McTavish. was a partner of the North West Com 
pany who had conducted the negotiations for the pur 
chase of Astor's Pacific Fur Company interests hi 1813. 



40 



Chapter 2 

THE END OF THE OLD ORDER 

A COUNCIL sits annually at headquar 
ters, which regulates all the important 
matters of the Company for the cur 
rent year, but no person of less dignity than 
a bourgeois or proprietor is admitted to a 
seat except by special invitation. The coun 
cil of this year was strengthened by the arrival 
of three new functionaries from the east side 
of the mountains, yet nothing new transpired. 
The members sat for four days (nearly double 
the usual time), but no new channel was 
opened for extending the trade, nor was there 
the least deviation from the old and con 
temned system of their predecessors. The 
decision of the council was, that there existed 
no new field that could be opened to advantage; 
consequently everyone was again appointed to 
his old post, and I, of course, to mine. 

. During the sittings there is always a strong 
manifestation of anxiety out of doors, each 
one being desirous to know his appointment 
for the year, for it not infrequently happens 
that officers are changed without much cere 
mony, particularly if there be any individual 
who is not easily managed; and for an ob 
noxious person to be removed to the most 

41 



remote corner of the country this year and to 
some other equally remote next, by way of 
taming him, is not at all uncommon. 

But this part of their policy is not confined 
to the subordinates. It reaches even to the 
bourgeois, who is not infrequently admon 
ished, by the example of others, that he stands 
on the brink of a precipice, for, if too refrac 
tory hi the council, he is sure to get his appoint 
ment at such a distance and under such cir 
cumstances as to exclude most effectually his 
attending the meetings for some length of 
time. This is the course generally adopted to 
get rid of an importunate and troublesome 
member, whether of high or low rank in the 
service, or to remove such as the Company 
are not disposed to, or cannot conveniently, 
provide for. 

The council being over, the business of the 
year settled, and the annual ship arrived, the 
different parties destined for the interior and 
east side of the mountains took their departure 
from Fort George on the twenty-fifth of June. 
We shall leave them to prosecute their jour 
ney, for a short time, while we glance at 
another subject. 

No sooner had the Northwesters inherited 
the Oregon, notwithstanding the unfavorable 
decision of our western council, than -ship after 
ship doubled Cape Horn in regular succes 
sion, with bulky cargoes to the full of every 
demand. Selections of their partners, clerks, 
42 



f ut ^unters* of tf>e far 



and Canadians constantly crossed over the 
dividing ridge, but all proved abortive in 
bringing about that rich harvest which they 
had expected. 

We may now remark on the effect produced 
on affairs by the country falling into the 
hands of new masters. Day after day passed 
by, yet the ordinary dull routine of things 
continued, and a spectator might have read 
in the countenances of our great men some 
thing like disappointment. The more they 
wished to deviate, the more closely they 
imitated the policy of their predecessors, with 
this difference, however, that in every step 
they took their awkwardness pointed them 
out as strangers. They found fault with 
everything, yet could mend nothing. Even 
the establishment at Fort George could not 
please them; therefore a fort built upon a 
large scale, and at a greater 'elevation, was 
more consonant to their ideas of grandeur. 
In consequence, the pinnacle of Tongue Point 
was soon to exhibit a Gibraltar of the West. 
An engineer was hired, great guns were or 
dered, men and means set to work, and rocks 
leveled; yet this residence, more fit for eagles 
than for men, was at last relinquished, and 
the contemned old fort was again adopted. 

The inland brigade, whose departure has 
already been noticed, ascended the Columbia 
without any interruption until it had reached 
a little above the Walla Wallas, near to the 

43 



spot where the Cayouse Indians had, in the 
preceding fall, stopped the express and hauled 
the boat up high and dry on land. Here the 
Indians intended to play the same game over 
again, for when the whites were in the act of 
poling up a small but strong rapid, alongshore, 
with the intention of stopping as soon as they 
got to the head of it, the Indians, who were 
still encamped there, insisted on their putting 
to shore at once. This invitation was, how 
ever, under existing circumstances, disregarded 
by the whites, as being almost impossible at 
the moment, when suddenly a party of the 
Indians mounted on horseback plunged into 
the stream and so barred the narrow channel 
through which the boats had to pass that 
great confusion ensued. Still the whites, in 
their anxiety to get up the rapid, paid but 
little attention to them, which forbearance 
encouraged the Indians to resort to threats, 
by drawing their bows and menacing the 
whites. In this critical conjuncture the whites 
seized their arms and made signs to the 
Indians to withdraw, but this only encouraged 
them the more to resist, and throwing them 
selves from their horses into the water, they 
laid hold of the boats. The struggle and 
danger now increased every moment, as the 
Indians were becoming more and more numer 
ous and daring. The whites had not a moment 
to lose; they fired. Two Indians fell dead on 
the spot, a third was badly wounded, and all 

44 



fur ^uttt*r of tfje far 



three floated down the current. The instant 
the shots went off, the Indians made for land 
and the firing ceased. The whites, in the 
meantime, drifting down to the foot of the 
rapid, crossed the river to the opposite side 
and soon after encamped for the night on a 
sandy island. Had the whites done what they 
ought to have done, from the lesson of the 
previous year at this place put ashore at the 
foot of the rapid no difficulties would have 
ensued and no blood would have been shed. 

On the next morning the Indians assembled 
in fearful numbers and kept up an occasional 
firing at the whites on the island, at too great 
a distance to do any harm; and as the whites 
escaped without injury, they did not return 
the fire. The greatest annoyance was that 
the whites could not proceed on their journey 
before the natives mustered in great numbers, 
for it blew almost a hurricane. The cloud of 
dust which the wind raised about their en 
campment was some punishment for the deed 
they had committed. The whites, seeing it 
impossible to remain any longer on the island, 
adopted a bold and vigorous resolution. After 
appointing fifteen resolute fellows to guard 
the property they embarked, to the number 
of seventy-five men well armed, made for the 
shore, and, landing a little from the Indian 
camp, hoisted a flag, inviting the chiefs to 
a parley. But the Indians were distrustful. 
Treacherous themselves, they expected the 

45 



whites to be so also; they, therefore, hesitated 
to approach. At last, however, after holding a 
consultation, they advanced in solemn pro 
cession, to the number of eighty-four. After 
a three hours' negotiation the whites paid for 
the two dead bodies, according to Indian cus 
tom, and took their leave in peace and safety, 
and thus ended the disagreeable affair. 

From Hostile Island our friends continued 
their voyage without any other casualty until 
they reached the Rocky Mountains, but there 
fatal disasters awaited them. The waters 
being unusually high, much time was lost in 
ascending the current, so that by the time 
they arrived at Portage Point their provisions 
got short. Some of the hands falling sick, also, 
and being unable to undertake the difficult 
portage of eighty miles on foot, the gentleman 
in charge had no alternative left but to fit out 
and send back a boat from that place with 
seven men, three of whom were unable to 
undertake the portage. After being furnished 
with some provisions, the returning party 
took the current, but on reaching the Dalles 
des Morts they disembarked, contrary to the 
usual practice, to haul the craft down by a 
line. Unfortunately, they quarreled among 
themselves, and letting go the line, in an 
instant the boat, wheeling round, was dashed 
to pieces on the rocks and lost. 

The sick and feeble party had now no 
alternative but either to starve or walk a 

46 



fm ^unterjf of tfie far 



distance of 300 miles, over a country more fit 
for goats than for men. All their provisions 
were lost with the boat; neither were they 
provided with guns nor ammunition for such 
a journey, even had they been in health. In 
this forlorn state they quarreled again, and 
separated. Two of the strongest and most 
expert succeeded in reaching the establish 
ments below, after suffering every hardship 
that human beings could endure. The other 
five remained, of whom one man alone sur 
vived, deriving his wretched subsistence from 
the bodies of his fallen comrades. This man 
reached Okanogan, more like a ghost than a 
living -creature, after a lapse of two months. 
From these sad details we now turn to 
record the passing events of the northern 
quarter. After a short stay at Okanogan I set 
out for my post at the She Whaps and reached 
that place in the month of August. During 
my absence a man by the name of Charette, 
whom I had left in charge, had been murdered. 
Charette was an honest fellow and deserved 
a better fate. The murderer was a young 
Indian lad, who had been brought up at the 
establishment. They had gone on a trip to- 
Fraser's River, six days', journey due north, 
and had quarreled one evening about making 
the encampment. During the dispute the 
Indian said nothing, but rising a short tirfre 
afterwards and laying hold of Charette's own 
gun, he suddenly turned round and shot him 

47 



dead, without saying a word, ^and then de 
liberately sat down again! This was proved 
by a third person then present. Several in 
stances of this kind have happened within 
my own knowledge, and it was a general 
remark that all those Indians who had been 
harbored among the whites were far more 
malevolent and treacherous than those who 
had never had the same indulgence shown to 
them. 

These remarks lead me to another ^ cir 
cumstance which gave rise to great uneasiness 
among the natives along the banks of the 
Columbia, for the Indians never fail to mag 
nify and represent in a distorted light every 
thing, however trivial. 

One day, Ye-whell-come-tetsa, the principal 
Okanogan chief, came to me with a serious 
countenance, saying he had bad news to tell 
me, adding, "I fear you will not believe me, 
for the whites say that Indians have two 
mouths, and often tell lies, but I never tell 
lies. The whites know that I have but one 
word, and that word is truth." "The whites/ 3 
said I, "never doubt the words of a chief. But 
come, let us hear; what is it?" "My son/' 
.said he, "has just arrived from below and has 
reported (and his report is always true) that 
there is a great band of strange wolves, some 
hundreds in number and as big as buffaloes, 
coming up along the river. They kill every 
horse; none can escape them. They have 
48 



fur ^untorg of tfyt far 



already killed thousands, and we shall all be 
ruined. They are so fierce that no men can 
approach them, and so strong and hairy that 
neither arrows nor balls can kill them. And 
you," said he to me, "will lose all yours also, 
for they travel so fast that they will be here 
in two nights." I tried to console the melan 
choly chief, gave him some tobacco, and told 
him not to be discouraged; that if the wolves 
came to attack our horses we should certainly 
kill them; that we had balls that would kill 
anything. With this assurance he seemed 
pleased, and went off to circulate the opinion 
of the whites among his own people. I had 
heard the report respecting the wolves some 
time before the chief had told me, for these 
things spread like wildfire. I was convinced 
that some horses had been killed. It was a 
common occurrence, for not a year passes, 
when the snows are deep, and often when there 
is no snow at all, without such things happen 
ing; but, as to anything else, I looked upon it 
as a mere fable. 

On the third day after my parley with the 
chief, sure enough the wolves did come, and 
killed, during the first night, five of our horses. 
On discovering in the morning the havoc the 
unwelcome visitors had made, I got a dozen 
steel traps set in the form of a circle round the 
carcass of one of the dead horses; then, remov 
ing the others and keeping a strict guard on 
the live stock, we waited with anxiety for the 

49 



s 

morning. Taking a man with me, and our 
rifles we set out to visit the traps. On 
reaching the spot we found four of them 
occupied. One of them held a large white 
wolf by the fore leg, a foot equally large was 
gnawed off and left in another, the third held 
a fox, and the fourth trap had disappeared 
altogether. 

' The prisoner held by the leg was still alive 
and certainly, as the chief said, a more fero 
cious animal I never saw. It had marked and 
cut the trap in many places; it had gnawed 
and almost consumed a block of oak, which 
held fast the chain, and in its fruitless efforts 
had twisted several links in the chain itself. 
From the moment we approached it, all its 
efforts were directed towards us. For some 
time we stood witnessing its maneuvers, but 
it never once turned round to fly from us. On 
the contrary, now and then it sprang forward 
to get at us, with its mouth wide open, teeth 
all broken, and its head covered with blood. 
The foot which the trap held was gnawed, the 
bone broken, and nothing holding it 1 but the 
sinews.. Its appearance kept us at a respectful 
distance, 'and although we stood with our guns 
cocked, we did not consider ourselves too safe, 
for something" might have given way, and if so 
we should have regretted our curiosity; so we 
fired two shots, and put an end to its sufferings. 
Its weight was 127 pounds, and the skin, 
which I gave to the chief, was considered as a 



f ut ^uttter of tfce far 



valuable relic. "This/' said he, holding up 
the skin in one hand, "is the most valuable 
thing I ever possessed/' The white wolf skin 
in season is esteemed an article of royalty; it 
is one of the chief honors of the chieftainship, 
and much used by these people in their re 
ligious ceremonies, and this kind of wolf is 
not numerous. "While I have this," ex 
claimed he, "we have nothing to fear. Strange 
wolves will kill no more of our horses. I shall 
always love the whites." Leaving the chief in 
a joyful humor, the man and myself followed 
the faint traces of the lost trap, which occa 
sionally appeared upon the crust of the snow. 
Having proceeded for some miles, we at 
length discovered the wolf with the trap at his 
heels, making the best of his way over a rugged 
and broken surface of rocks, ravines, hills, 
and dales, sometimes going north, sometimes 
south, in zigzag courses, to suit his escape and 
deceive us. He scampered along at a good 
trot, keeping generally about a quarter of a 
mile ahead of us. We had not been long in the 
pursuit, however, before the man I had with 
me, in his anxiety to advance, fell and hurt 
himself and had to return home. I, however, 
continued the pursuit with great eagerness for 
more than six hours, until I got a shot. It 
proved effectual. Had anyone else done it I 
should have praised him, for at the distance 
of 112 yards, when nothing but the head of 
the wolf appeared, my faithful and trusty rifle . 
5* 



arrested his career and put an end to the chase, 
after nearly a whole day's anxious pursuit. 

Some idea of the animal's strength may be 
conveyed to our readers from the fact that it 
had dragged a trap and chain^ weighing eight 
pounds and a half, by one of its claws, a dis 
tance of twenty-five miles, without appearing 
in the least fatigued. The prize lay at my 
feet, when another difficulty presented itself 
I had no knife with me, and I wanted the 
skin. Taking, therefore, according to Indian 
habit, the flint out of my gun, I managed to 
do the business, and home with the skin and 
trap I hied my way, no less fatigued than 
pleased with my success. 

Thus we succeeded in destroying the three 
ringleaders of the destructive gang, which had 
caused so much anxiety and loss to the In 
dians; nor were there more, it would appear, 
than three of the large kind in the troop, for 
not another horse was killed during the season 
in all that part of the country. Wherever 
several of the larger wolves associate together 
for mischief , there is always a numerous train 
of smaller ones to follow in the rear and act 
as auxiliaries in the work of destruction. Two 
large wolves, such as I have mentioned, are 
sufficient to destroy the most powerful horse, 
and seldom more than two ever begin the as 
sault, although there may be a score in the 
gang. It is no less curious than amusing to 
witness their ingenious mode of attack. 

52 



fur J^uttterg of fyt far 



If there is no snow, or but little, on the 
ground, two wolves approach in the most 
playful and caressing manner, lying, rolling, 
and frisking about, until the too credulous 
and unsuspecting victim is completely put off 
his guard by curiosity and familiarity. Dur 
ing this time the gang, squatted on their hind 
quarters, look on at a distance. After some 
time spent in this way the two assailants 
separate, when one approaches the horse's 
head, the other his tail, with a slyness and 
cunning peculiar to themselves. At this stage 
of the attack their frolicsome approaches 
become very interesting it is in right good 
earnest. The former is a mere decoy, the 
latter is the real assailant, and keeps his eyes 
steadily fixed on the hamstrings or flank of 
the horse. The critical moment is then 
watched^ and the attack is simultaneous. 
Both wolves spring at their victim the same 
instant, one to the throat, the other to the 
flank, and if successful, which they generally 
are, the hind one never lets go his hold till 
the horse is completely disabled. Instead of 
springing forward or kicking to disengage 
himself, the horse turns round and round 
without attempting a defense. The wolf be 
fore, then springs behind, to assist the other. 
The sinews are cut and in half the time I have 
been describing it, the'horse is on his side; his 
struggles are fruitless; the victory is won. At 
this signal, the lookers-on close in at a gallop, 

53 



but the small fry of followers keep at a re 
spectful distance until their superiors are 
gorged, then they take their turn unmolested. 
The wolves, however, do not always kill to 
eat; like wasteful hunters, they often kill for 
the pleasure of killing and leave the carcasses 
untouched. The helplessness of the horse 
when attacked by wolves is not more singular 
than its timidity and want of action when in 
danger by fire. When assailed by fire, in the 
plains or elsewhere, their strength, swiftness, 
and sagacity, are of no avail. They never 
attempt to fly, but become bewildered in the 
smoke, turn round and round, stand and 
tremble, until they are burned to death, which 
often happens in this country, in a conflagra 
tion of the plains. 

No wild animal in this country stands less 
in awe of man than the wolf, nor is there any 
animal we know that is so fierce. The bear, 
on most occasions, tries to fly from man, and 
is only bold and ferocious when actually 
attacked, wounded, or in defense of her young. 
The wild buffaloes are the same; but the wolf, 
on the contrary, has often been known to 
attack man, and at certain seasons of the 
y ear the spring for instance it is man's 
wisdom to fly from him. Some time ago a 
band of seventeen wolves forced two of our 
men to take shelter forseveral hours in a tree, 
and although they had shot two of the most 
forward of them before they got to the tree 



54 



fur ^unterg of tfte far Wt$t 

for protection, the others, instead of dispers 
ing, kept close at their heels. Wolves are as 
ferocious among themselves as they are vo 
racious. I have more than once seen a large 
wolf lay hold of a small one, kill it on the spot, 
and feast on the smoking carcass. When the 
Indians are apprehensive of an attack from 
them they always contrive to light a fire. 

I passed this winter between the She Whaps 
and Okanogan; sometimes at the one, some 
times at the other, constantly employed in the 
pursuit of furs. 

It often puzzled myself, as well as others, to 
know what the Northwesters had in view by 
grasping at the entire trade of the Oregon, and 
running down the policy of their predecessors, 
since they did not take a single step to im 
prove the trade or to change the policy which 
they condemned. The most indifferent could 
remark upon this apathy and want of energy, 
among men whose renown for enterprise on 
the east side of the mountains put to shame 
all competition and carried everything before 
it. 

Three years had elapsed since they were in 
possession of the trade from sea to sea, and 
since they enjoyed the full and undivided 
commerce of the Columbia River. In this 
part, however, their trade fell greatly short of 
their expectations, or their known success 
elsewhere, and instead of the anticipated 
prize they found, after so long a trial, nothing 

55 



else but disappointment and a uniform series 
of losses and misfortunes. As the quantity of 
furs, on an average, did not diminish, but 
rather increased from year to year, it was 
observed by the more discerning part that 
the country was not barren in peltries, and 
that there existed some defect in the manage 
ment of their concern. 

Expresses were frequently sent to the Com 
pany's headquarters at Fort William, dwelling 
on the poverty of the country, the impractica 
bility of trade, and the hostility of the na 
tives. In this manner the Company were kept 
in the dark as to the value of the country. 
The round of extravagance went on. Every 
one in turn made the best of not deviating 
from the steps of his predecessor, but adhered 
as much as possible to the old habits, while 
jaunting up and down the river in the old 
beaten path. 

In the meantime the Company, who had 
placed implicit confidence in the assertions of 
their copartners, began to waver in their 
opinions of the recent acquisitions, when 
they found that their coffers were drained for 
the support of an empty name. They became 
divided in their councils. A great majority 
were inclined to throw up this cumbersome 
portion of their trade, while a few, more 
determined, were for giving it a further trial, 
for the members of this Company were no 
less noted for their tenacity of what they 

56 



f ut ^unters* of tfyt far 



already possessed than for their eagerness to 
seize every possible opportunity of increasing 
their overgrown territory. 

The maxims of trade followed by the Com 
pany on the east of the mountains, their mode 
of voyaging, and their way of dealing with 
Indians, have been sanctioned by long ex 
perience as the best calculated for them. 
These maxims are, nevertheless, founded on 
false principles, and when they are reduced to 
practice in the western districts they are 
found to fail. 

An Indian from Hudson's Bay does well 
where he has been brought up, in the woods 
and swamps of the North, but must perish 
from want on the barren plains of the Co 
lumbia, where multitudes of inhabitants are 
never at a loss to find a livelihood, and the 
rule holds good if reversed. The temperature 
of the climate not being the same, the face of 
nature alters more or less in proportion. There 
the height of land is very distant from the 
ocean, the rivers in their courses fall in with 
level countries, which form them into im 
mense lakes; but from the great duration of 
the winter the means of subsistence are scanty, 
and the natives are thereby scattered over a 
wide extent of country, familiarized with the 
trader, and have every dependence on him 
for the supply of their real or acquired wants. 

On the waters of the Pacific the case is 
different. A chain of mountains extends its 

57 



lofty ridges in the vicinity of the ocean. The 
inclination of the land is precipitous, and the 
course of the rivers direct. The heats are 
excessive, and they continue without a cloud 
or moistening shower for months together, to 
replenish the source or feed the parched 
streams. Droughts check the salutary prog 
ress of vegetation. The winters are short, the 
waters abound with fish, the forests ^ with 
animals, the plains with various nutritious 
herbs and roots, and the natives cover the 
earth in swarms in their rude and unen 
lightened state. War is their chief occupa 
tion, and the respective nations and tribes, 
in their wandering life, are no less inde 
pendent of their trader than they are of one 
another. 

The warlike nations of the Columbia move 
about in such unexpected multitudes as sur 
prise the unwary trader, and their barbarous 
and forward appearance usually corresponds 
with their unrelenting fury. A sudden ren 
counter with them may well appall the stoutest 
heart. They are too free and indolent to 
submit to the drudgery of collecting the 
means of traffic, but articles of merchandise 
or use will not the less tempt their cupidity, 
and when such things are feebly guarded, they 
will not hesitate to take them by force. They 
are well or ill disposed towards their traders in 
measure as they supply them with the imple 
ments of war and withhold them from their 

53 



fur ^unter of tfyt far 



enemies. It is, therefore, a nice point to pass 
from one tribe or nation to another, and make 
the most of each in the way of barter. Many 
are the obstacles to be overcome, nor is it 
given to ordinary minds to open new roads and 
secure a permanent trade. 

It is not easy to change the force of habit; 
and no set of men could be more wedded to 
old customs than the great nabobs of the fur 
trade. And I might here, by way of confirm 
ing the remark, just point put one instance 
among many. The description of craft used 
on the waters of Columbia by the Astor Com 
pany consisted of split or sawed cedar-boats, 
strong, light, and durable, and in every possi 
ble way safer and better adapted to rough 
water than the birch-rind canoes in general 
use on the east side of the mountains. They 
carried a cargo or burden of about 3,000 Ibs. 
weight, and yet, nimbly handled, were easily 
carried across the portages. A great partiality 
existed in favor of the good old bark canoes of 
northern reputation, they being of prettier 
form and, withal, the kind of vessel of cus 
tomary conveyance used by Northwesters, 
and that itself was no small recommendation. 
Therefore, the country was ransacked for 
prime birch bark more frequently than for 
prime furs, and to guard against a failure in 
this fanciful article, a stock of it was shipped 
at Montreal for London, and from thence 
conveyed round Cape Horn for their establish- 

59 



ment at Fort George, in case that. none of 
equal quality could be found on the waters of 
the Pacific! 

On the arrival of the annual express we 
heard that some strenuous measures respect 
ing the affairs of Columbia had been adopted 
at Fort William; that the eyes of the Com 
pany had at last been opened to their own 
interest, and that a change of system, after a 
warm discussion, was resolved upon. Such 
steps, of course, influenced, in a more or less 
degree, the decisions of our councils here, and 
gave rise to some equally warm debates, as 
will appear by and by, about the practica 
bility of carrying into effect the resolutions 
passed at headquarters. 

The new plan settled upon for carrying on 
the trade west of the dividing ridge, so far 
as it went, embraced in its outline several 
important alterations. By this arrangement 
the New Caledonia quarter, the most northern 
district of the Company's trade, instead of 
being supplied with goods, as formerly, from 
the east side, was in future to derive its 
annual supplies through the channel of the 
Columbia. And the Columbia itself, in lieu 
of being confined to the northern branch and 
seacoast, as had been the case since the 
North West had the trade, would be extended 
on the south and east towards California and 
the mountains, embracing a new and un 
explored tract of country. To obviate the 

60 



fur J^tmter of tfyt far 



necessity of establishing trading posts among 
so many warlike and refractory nations, for 
midable trapping parties were, under chosen 
leaders, to range the country for furs, and the 
resources thus to be collected were annually 
to be conveyed to the mouth of the Colum 
bia, there to be shipped for the Canton mar 
ket. To facilitate this part of the general 
plan and give a new impulse to the measure, 
the Oregon was to be divided into two sepa 
rate departments, designated by the coast and 
inland trade, with a chief man at the head of 
each. 

Another object connected with this new 
arrangement was the introduction of Iroquois 
from Montreal. These people, being expert 
hunters and trappers, might, by their example, 
teach others. To the latter part of this plan, 
however, many objections might have been 
urged. 

It will be in the recollection of the reader 
that we left the inland party preparing for 
headquarters. At the accustomed time we all 
met at the Forks, and from thence, following 
the current of the river, with our annual 
returns, we reached Fort George on the 
seventh of June, 1816. 



61 



MCKENZIE RETURNS TO THE COLUMBIA 

/TT^HE Fort William express brought some 
I new and important resolutions, in addi- 
tion to those we have noticed in the 
latter part of the preceding chapter. The first 
confirmed a division of the Columbia into 
two separate departments, and appointed the 
chief man or bourgeois to preside at the head 
of each; the second altered and amended the 
mode of conveying expresses; and the third 
dwelt on a new system to be introduced for 
the improvement of the trade generally, with 
some other points of minor importance. 

As soon, therefore, as all the parties had 
assembled at Fort George, the council was 
convened, but instead of two or three days' 
sitting, as usual, a whole week was spent in 
discussions without result. They had not the 
power either to alter or amend, and therefore 
they acquiesced in the minutes of council at 
headquarters. 

The warm debates and protracted dis 
cussions in our council here, were not, how 
ever, occasioned alone by the introduction of 
the new system, nor by the division of Co 
lumbia into two departments, nor anything 
that had reference to the trade, but by a mere 
62 



fur ^imtetff of tftc jfar 

point of etiquette arising out of one of the 
appointments. 

After the sittings of council were over and 
the new order of things promulgated we hailed 
with no small joy the introduction of the new 
system, as opening a new and- extensive field 
for energy and enterprise. But let me tell the 
reader that the little plural pronoun "we" is 
not intended to represent all hands, but merely 
those of my own class, the subordinates, for 
the bourgeois looked as sour as vinegar. Nor 
did it require any great penetration of mind to 
know the cause. 

Mr. Keith, already noticed hi our narrative, 
had been nominated to preside at the estab 
lishment of Fort George, and had the shipping 
interest, coast trade, and general outfitting 
business under his sole management. The 
gentleman appointed to superintend the de 
partment of the interior was none other than 
the same Mr. McKenzie who had been one 
of the first adventurers to this part of the 
country, and who occupies so conspicuous a 
part in the first division of our narrative. 12 
To his share fell the arduous task of putting 
the whole machinery of the new system into 
operation. 

Mr. Keith being one of themselves, his 
appointment gave no offense, but that a 
stranger, a man, to use their own words, " that 
was only fit to eat horseflesh and shoot at a 

12 i.e., The First Settlers on the Oregon. 

63 



mark/' should have been put over their 
heads, was a slur on their reputation. So 
strongly had the tide of prejudice set against 
Mr. McKenzie that Mr. Keith, although a 
man of sound judgment and good sense, 
joined in the clamor of his associates. 

In connection with the new arrangement 
the costly mode of conveying expresses 
throughout the country hitherto in vogue was 
to be abolished, and henceforth they were to 
be entrusted to the natives, with the excep 
tion of the annual general express. To give 
full effect to these measures, it was strongly 
recommended at headquarters that the coun 
cil here should enter into the new order of 
things with heart and hand. 

We now turn our attention to the annual 
brigade. The people bound for inland, con 
sisting of 102 persons, embarked on board of 
twelve boats and left Fort George after a short 
stay of only fifteen days. The waters being 
but moderately high this year and the weather 
very fine, no stoppage or casualty happened 
to retard their progress till they had reached 
the little rocky narrows below the falls, when 
there an accident unavoidably happened. 
While the men were engaged in hauling up one 
of the craft the line broke, and the boat, in 
stantly reeling round, filled with water close 
to the rocks. The foreman, taking advantage 
of his position, immediately jumped out and 
saved himself, and so might the steersman had 

64 



fut ^unterj? of tfre far 



he been inclined; but under some strange in 
fatuation he kept standing in the boat, up to 
the middle in water, laughing all the time, 
making a jest of the accident, when suddenly 
a whirlpool, bursting under the bottom, threw 
the craft on her side. It instantly filled and 
sank, and poor Amiotte sank along with it, to 
rise no more. 

From the rocky narrows the different 
parties got to their respective destinations in 
safety. Having done so, we propose taking 
our leave of them for a little, and, in the mean 
time, return to Fort George, the place of my 
appointment as second to Mr. Keith. 

The Company's ship, Colonel Allan, direct 
from London, reached the Columbia a few 
days after the arrival of the spring brigade 
from the interior, and soon after her a schooner 
followed from the same port, both heavily 
laden with ample cargoes for the trade of the 
country. It was pleasing to see the North 
West as compared with Astor's vessels. The 
former brought us a full supply of everything 
required, whereas the latter, according to 
Astor's crooked policy, brought but little, and 
that little perfect trash; nor was half of what 
was brought left with us, he preferring to 
supply the Russians rather than his own 
people. The Colonel Allan, after a short stay 
at Fort George, sailed for California and 
South America on a speculating trip, and 
returned again with a considerable quantity 

65 



of specie and other valuable commodities, 
consigned to some of the London merchants. 
This specie and cargo were stored at the 
establishment, and subjected us for some 
months to the annoyance of guarding it day 
and night. We often wished it in the owners' 
pockets, or in the river Styx. 

During this summer Capt. McLellan of the 
Colonel Allan was employed in making out a 
new survey of the bar and entrance of the 
river, and I was appointed to accompany 
him. This business occupied us upwards of 
three weeks. On the bar several channels were 
found out in course of the examination, but 
as the sand banks frequently shift, even in 
the course of a day or two, according to the 
prevailing winds, no permanent reliance could 
be placed on any of them. The old channel 
was considered the best. In August the 
Colonel Allan sailed for China with the Co 
lumbia furs and specie. 

Before taking our leave of this ship and her 
amiable commander, we have to record a fatal 
incident which took place on board while she 
was lying at anchor in front of Fort George. 
It had often been a subject of remark among 
Columbians how unfortunate a certain class 
of professional men had been in that quarter, 
physicians and surgeons. The first gentleman 
of this class in our time was a Doctor White; 
soon after entering the river he became sud 
denly deranged, jumped overboard, and was 
66 



fur ^untcrg of tfre far 

drowned. The next, a Doctor Crowly from 
Edinburgh, who came out to follow his pro 
fession on the Columbia for the North West 
Company, was, soon after his arrival, charged 
with having shot a man in cold blood, and, 
in consequence, sent home to stand his trial. 
This brings us to the circumstance we have 
referred to. 

While the Colonel Allan was lying in port 
an American ship, commanded by a Captain 
Reynolds, entered the river. It had no sooner 
cast anchor than I was sent by Mr. Keith, 
according to the usual custom, to ascertain 
her object and to hand Captain Reynolds a 
copy of the Company's regulations, for his 
information and guidance, respecting the na 
tives and the trade, so that all things might 
be arranged hi accordance with justice and 
good feelings between all parties. 

While I was on board the Boston ship, 
Mr. Downie, surgeon on the Colonel Allan, in 
company with some other gentlemen, came 
on board on a visit of pleasure. As soon as my 
little business with Captain Reynolds was 
over, he invited us all down to his cabin to 
taste what he called his "liquors." We went 
down, and were treated to a glass of New 
England whisky. On taking the bottle in his 
hand Doctor Downie said, "Let us fill up our 
glasses; it will, perhaps, be the last." I and 
others took notice of the words, but no 
remark was made at the time, except by the 

67 



captain, who smiled and said, "I hope not." 
After passing but a short time in the cabin we 
all left the ship, I returning to the fort, while 
Doctor Downie and the others went to the 
Colonel Allan. Twenty minutes had not 
elapsed from the time we parted at the water's 
edge when a message reached Fort George 
that Doctor Downie had committed suicide. 
As soon as the melancholy report reached us, 
Mr. Keith requested me to go on board the 
Colonel Allan, and attend the inquest. Ac 
cordingly I went, and found Mr. Downie in a 
dying state. The moment he entered his 
cabin he had shot himself with a pistol. Being 
perfectly sensible at the time, I put a few 
questions to him; his only reply was, "Oh! 
my mother, my mother! 7 ' He soon breathed 
his last. No cause could be assigned for the 
rash act. He was a very sober man, beloved 
and respected by all who knew him. Mr. 
Downie was a near relation of the unfortunate 
captain of that name, who fell so gallantly on 
Lake Champlain. 13 

Leaving the Colonel Allan to pursue her 
voyage, we resume the subject of the schooner 
which entered the Columbia, as already no 
ticed. This vessel, after a cruise along the 

13 George Downie, commander of the British fleet 
on the lakes of Canada in the War of tc8i2. He was 
killed in the battle of Plattsburg in September, 1814, 
while engaged against the American fleet of Com 
modore MacDonough. 

68 



fur Burner** of tyt far 



coast, sailed for the United States. On board 
of the schooner was a Russian renegade by 
the name of Jacob, a blacksmith by trade, 
whom the captain, on his arrival, handed over 
to us in irons, charged with mutiny. This 
daring wretch had laid a plot for putting the 
captain to death and carrying the ship to a 
strange port, but his designs were detected in 
time to save both. 

We have no great pleasure 'in dwelling on 
crime, but will briefly sketch Jacob's career. 
He was brought to Fort George in irons, and 
in these irons he lay until the schooner sailed. 
On the strength of fair promises, however, 
and apparent deep contrition, he was released 
from his chains and confinement and intro 
duced to the forge as a blacksmith. He did not 
long continue there before it was discovered 
that he had been trying his old pranks again, 
but though he did not succeed in bringing about 
a mutiny, he succeeded in causing disaffection 
and desertion. 

It was always customary at Fort George to 
keep a watch by night as well as a guard by 
day. In this respect it resembled more a 
military than a trading establishment. Jacob, 
from his address, had got into favor with his 
bourgeois; he was one of the night watch, and 
for some time gave great satisfaction. This 
conduct was, however, more plausible than 
real, and from some suspicious circumstances 
I had noticed I warned Mr. Keith that Jacob 

69 



was not the reformed man that he wished to 
make us believe. But Mr. Keith, a good man 
himself, could only see Jacob's favorable side. 
The master was duped, and the blacksmith 
was at his old trade of plotting mischief. He 
was bribing and misleading the silly and 
credulous to form a party, and had so far 
succeeded that while on the watch one dark 
night he and eighteen of his deluded followers, 
chiefly Owhyhees, got over the palisades un- 
perceived, and set off for California in a body. 
He had made his dupes believe that, if once 
there, their fortunes were made. But just as 
the last of the deserters was getting over the 
pickets I happened to get wind of the matter 
and discovered their design. I immediately 
awoke Mr. Keith, but it was only after muster 
was called that we found out the extent of the 
plot, and the number missing. "I could never 
have believed the villain would have done 
so," was Mr. Keith's only remark. 

On the next morning the interpreter and 
five Indians, all in disguise, were sent to track 
them out, with instructions to join the fel 
lows and to act according to circumstances. 
If they found them determined to continue 
their journey, they were not to make them 
selves known; but if, on the contrary, they 
found them wavering and divided, they were 
to use their influence and endeavor to bring 
them back. The plan succeeded. Abandoning 
their treacherous leader, the fugitive islanders 
70 



fut ^untccg of tfre far 



wheeled about and, accompanying the inter 
preter, returned again to the establishment on 
the third day. Jacob, finding himself caught 
in his own trap and deserted in turn by those 
whom he had led astray, abandoned himself 
with the savages. Nor was he long with them 
when he gave us a specimen of his capabilities 
as a robber, as well as a mutineer and deserter, 
for he returned to the fort in the night-time 
and contrived to get over the palisades, 
twenty feet high, eluded the watch, broke into 
a store, carried away his booty, and got clear 
off. Soon after this exploit, which in no small 
degree added to his audacity, he entered the 
fort in broad daylight, clothed in the garb of a 
squaw, and was meditating in conjunction 
with some Indian desperadoes an attack upon 
the fort, as we learned after his apprehension. 

We had repeatedly sent him friendly mes 
sages to return to his duty, and promised him 
a free pardon for the past. In short, we had 
done everything to induce his return, but to 
no purpose; he thought the footing he had 
obtained among the Indians was sufficient to 
set all our invitations and threats at defiance. 

During this time our anxiety and uneasiness 
increased, and the more so as it was well 
known that Jacob had become a leading man 
among a disaffected tribe of Indians. Our 
interest, our safety, our all, depended on our 
dissolving this dangerous union before it 
gathered strength. At this critical moment I 



proposed to Mr. Keith that if he would give 
me thirty men I would deliver Jacob into his 
hands. "You shall have fifty," said he; but 
continuing the subject, he remarked again, 
"No, it will be a hazardous undertaking, and 
I have no wish to risk men's lives." "Better 
to run every risk," said I, "than to live in 
constant alarm." "Well then," said he, " take 
the men you want, and go." So I immediately 
prepared to get hold of the villain at ail risks. 

For this purpose forty armed men were got 
ready, and having procured a guide, we left 
the fort in two boats by night, but soon left 
our boats and proceeded through the back 
woods to prevent the Indians from either 
seeing or circulating any report of our de 
parture. On the next day we had got to the 
edge of the woods about sundown. We en 
camped there, and remained concealed until 
night encouraged us to advance to within a 
short distance of the Indians. From this 
place I dispatched the guide and two men to 
examine and report on the situation of the 
Indian camp. On their return, a little after 
midnight, we put everything in the best order 
we could, both for the attack and to guard 
against surprise. 

We had information as to the tent Jacob 
was in and, of course, we kept our eyes on it. 
Our Indian guide became uneasy and much 
intimidated. He said it was madness to at 
tempt taking him as he was always armed, 
72 



fur %utttqg of tfrc far 



and besides that the Indians would fire upon 
us. "Look," said I to him; "do you see our 
guns are we not armed as well as they? All 
the Indians in the land will not prevent us 
from executing our purpose, but if you are 
afraid, you can. return home.' 7 This decla 
ration touched him keenly. "I am ready," 
said he, "to follow the whites; I am not 
afraid." 

The night being dark, we should have 
waited the return of daylight, but the Indians 
were too numerous; our only chance of suc 
cess was to take them by surprise. I, there 
fore, divided the men into two companies, one 
to surround the tent, the other to act as a 
guard in case the Indians interfered. All 
being ready, I took Wilson, the gunner, and 
St. Martin, the guide, two powerful men, with 
me. Arming ourselves, we made a simultane 
ous rush on the tent, but at the moment we 
reached it, a shot was fired from within; 
another instantly followed, yet we fortunately 
escaped. On forcing our way into the tent, 
the villain was in the act of seizing another 
gun, for he had three by him, but it was 
wrested out of his hands, and we laid hold of 
him. Being a powerful man he managed to 
draw a knife, and making a dash at St. Martin, 
cut his arm severely, but he had not time 
to repeat the blow; we had him down, and 
tying his hands and feet, dragged him out. 
By this time all our people had mustered 

73 



together, and in the darkness and bustle we 
appeared much more formidable than we 
really were. 

In this confusion I perceived the chief of 
the rebellious tribe. Turning Around to the 
fellow as he was sitting with his head on his 
knees, I said to him, "You are a pretty chief, 
harboring an enemy to the whites a dog like 
yourself." Dog or woman are the most in 
sulting epithets you can apply to an Indian. 
"You dog," said I again to him, "who fired 
the shots? You have forfeited your life; but 
the whites, who are generous, forgive you. 
Look, therefore, well to your ways in future/' 
A good impression might have been made, had 
we been more formidable and able to prolong 
our stay among them, but as the Indians 
might have recovered from their surprise, and 
seeing our weak side, been tempted to take 
advantage of it, we hastened from the camp, 
carrying our prize with us. 

After getting clear of the camp we made a 
halt, handcuffed our prisoner, and then made 
the best of our way home. On arriving at the 
fort, Jacob was locked up, ironed, and kept so 
until the autumn, when he was shipped on 
board of a vessel sailing for the Sandwich 
Islands. As in irons he arrived, so in irons he 
left us. From that day I never heard any 
more about Jacob. It was a fortunate cir 
cumstance for us that the Indians did not 
interfere with our attempt to take him. The 

74 



punters? trf tfje far 



fact is they had no time to reflect, but were 
taken by surprise, which added to our suc 
cess as well as safety. 

On Jacob's embarking in the boat to be 
conveyed to the ship he took off his old 
Russian cap, and waving it in the air round 
his head, gave three loud cheers, uttering in a 
bold voice, "Huzza, huzza! for my friends; 
confusion to my enemies!" 

While we were thus occupied on the west 
side of the mountains, new and more deeply 
interesting scenes were exerting their in 
fluence on the east side, which we shall 
notice. 

The North West Company were "en 
croaching on the chartered territories of the 
Hudson's Bay Company." The Northwesters, 
high in their estimation, professed to despise 
all others, and threatened with lawless vio 
lence all persons who presumed, in the or 
dinary course of trade, to come within their 
line a line without limits, which fancy or 
caprice induced them to draw between them 
selves and all others. Many needy adven 
turers from time to time sought their way 
into the Indian countries from Canada, but 
few, very few indeed, ever had the courage 
or good fortune, if good fortune we might 
call it, to pass Fort William; and if, in a 
dark night or misty morning, they had passed 
the forbidden barrier, vengeance soon over 
took them. Their canoes were destroyed, 

75 



themselves threatened, and their progress im 
peded in every way, so that they had to return 
ruined men. 

It is. well known that the North West 
Company had no exclusive right of trade to 
any portion of the Indian country. Their 
right was in common with every other adven 
turer, and no more; and yet these were the 
men who presumed to burst through the legal 
and sacred rights of others. Many actions, 
however, which carried guilt and crime along 
with them, were thrown upon the shoulders 
of the North West Company undeservedly. 
Many lawless acts and aggressions were com 
mitted by their servants, which that highly 
respectable body never sanctioned. It was 
the unfortunate spirit of the times one of 
the great evils resulting from competition in 
trade in a country where human folly and 
individual tyranny among the subordinates 
often destroys the wisest measures of their 
superiors; for at the head of the company of 
which we are now speaking were men of great 
sterling worth, men who detested crime as 
much as they loved justice. 

The Northwesters had of late years pene 
trated through the very heart of the Hudson's 
Bay Company's territories as far as the At 
lantic, which washes the shores of Hudson 
Bay, and set at defiance every legal or moral 
restraint. Their servants pillaged their op 
ponents, destroyed their forts and trading 

76 



fur ^unter of tftc far 



establishments as suited their views, and not 
infrequently .kept armed parties marauding 
from post to post, menacing with destruction 
and death everyone that presumed to check 
their career, till at last party spirit and rivalry 
in trade had changed the whole social order of 
things, and brought about a state of open hos 
tility. Such was the complexion of affairs up 
to the fatal nineteenth of June of this year. 

On that memorable day one of those armed 
parties to which we have just alluded, con 
sisting of forty-five men, had advanced on the 
Earl of Selkirk's infant colony at Red River, 
when Governor Semple of the Hudson's Bay 
Company, with several other gentlemen and 
attendants, went out on behalf of the fright 
ened colonists to meet them, with the view, 
it has been stated, of ascertaining what they 
wanted. But the moment both parties met 
angry words ensued, shots were fired, and in 
the unfortunate rencounter the Governor and 
his party, to the number of twenty-two, were 
all killed on the spot. The colonists were 
driven at the muzzle of the gun from their 
comfortable homes to a distance of 300 miles 
from the settlement, even to Norway House, 
at the north end of Lake Winnipeg. ^ And if 
they had the good fortune to get off with their 
lives, it was owing to the humane feelings of 
Mr. Cuthbert Grant, a native of the soil, who, 
placing himself, at the risk of his own life, 
between the North West party and the settlers, 

77 



kept the former at bay by his daring and 
determined conduct and saved the latter; for 
which meritorious and timely interference the 
settlement owes him a debt of gratitude which 
it can never repay. 

On the words, "shots were fired/' hinged 
many of the decisions which took place in the 
courts of law, for the advocates of either party 
strenuously denied having fired the first shot. 
Perhaps the knowledge of that fact will ever 
remain a secret, but the general opinion is 
against the North West party, and in that 
opinion I concur. 

The triumph, however, was but of short 
duration, for the sacrifice of that day sealed 
the downfall of the North West Company. 
No less than twenty-three individuals out of 
the forty-five which composed the North West 
party fell victims, in the course of human 
events, to misfortune, or came to an untimely 
end. A melancholy warning! 

We might here remark in connection with 
this sad event that the going put of Governor 
Semple and so many men with him was an 
ill-advised measure, as it carried along with it 
the appearance of a determination on their 
part to oppose force to force; and we cannot, 
in the spirit of impartiality and fairness, close 
our eyes to the fact that they were all armed. 
This was, no doubt, the light in which the 
North West party viewed their approach, 
which led to the catastrophe that followed. 

78 



fur ^untttff of tftc jpar 



But we now hasten from this scene to 
notice the influence that it had on their 
opponents. No sooner had the news of the 
fatal disaster at Red River spread abroad than 
the Earl of Selkirk with an armed force seized 
on Fort William, the grand depot and head 
quarters of the North West Company on the 
east side of the Rocky Mountains. We are 
not, however, prepared to assert that Lord 
Selkirk was right in seizing on Fort William 
by way of retaliation. No one has a right to 
take the law into his own hands, nor to make 
himself judge in his own cause, but accord 
ing to the prevailing customs of this lawless 
country power confers right. Soon after these 
aggressions the eyes of Government were 
opened to the facts of the case, and two 
commissioners, Colonel Coltman and Major 
Fletcher, were sent up from Canada with 
authority to examine into the matter and 
seize all guilty or suspected persons belonging 
to either side, and send them down to stand 
their trials. We cannot do better here than 
refer our readers to a perusal of these trials, 
which took place in Canada in 1818. 

Before dismissing this part of our narrative 
we will advert to what we have just mentioned, 
namely, the Earl of Selkirk's infant colony. 
As it may afford some satisfaction to our 
readers to know something more about it, we 
shall, for their information, state a few facts. 
In the progress of his colonizing system Lord 

79 



Selkirk had purchased from the Hudson's 
Bay Company, in i8ir ; a tract of land on the 
Red River, situated at the southern extremity 
of Lake Winnipeg, in Hudson Bay, for the 
purpose of planting a colony there; to which 
place several families had, in 1812 and sub 
sequent years, been brought out from Scotland 
by his lordship. These Scotch families were 
the first settlers in Red River, and Red River 
was the first colony planted in Rupert's Land. 14 
The first settlers had to stand the brunt of 
troublesome times, and weather the sweeping 
storms of adversity during the early days of 
the colony. They were driven several times 
from their 'homes, and suffered every hard 
ship, privation, and danger from the lawless 
strife of the country. They were forced to 
live and seek shelter among the savages, and 
like them had to resort to hunting and fishing 
to satisfy the pangs of hunger; and after order 
had in some measure been established, they 
were visited for several years by clouds of grass 
hoppers that ate up every green herb and left 
the fields black, desolate, and fruitless. 16 

14 Ross himself wrote a history of the Red River 
Colony, with, which he was identified during the last 
half of his life. For an authoritative modern account of 
it see Louis A. Wood, The Red River Colony. A Chroni 
cle of the Beginnings of Manitoba (Toronto, 1915). 

15 Many of them, abandoning the settlement, sought 
permanent homes in the United States, coming over 
land to St. Paul and thence descending the Missis 
sippi to Galena and other points. 

80 



fur ^itntetjg of tfte far 9ff egt 

What his lordship's views were in planting 
a colony in such a frozen and out-of-the-way 
corner of the earth as Red River, few persons 
knew. He must have foreseen that it must 
eventually fall into the hands of the Ameri 
cans, however little they might benefit by it, 
for the march of improvements must, in the 
nature of things, be south, and not north. Its 
value, therefore, to Great Britain, excepting 
so far as the Hudson's Bay Company are 
concerned, will be nothing, but from its 
geographical position it may on some future 
occasion serve as a bone of contention between 
the two governments. The founder of Red 
River Colony could have had no other real 
object in view than as a key to the fur trade 
of the Far West, and as a resting place for 
retiring fur traders clogged with Indian 
families. In this point of view the object was 
philanthropic, and, to the fur trade, a subject 
of real interest, for retiring traders, in lieu of 
transporting either themselves or their means 
to the civilized world, as was the case for 
merly, would find it their interest to spend 
their days in perhaps a more congenial and 
profitable manner in Red River Colony, under 
the fostering care and paternal influence of 
the honorable Hudson's Bay Company. 

We have already adverted to McKenzie's 
appointment. In October *that gentleman 
reached Fort George from Montreal, to enter 
on his new sphere of labors. He was received 

81 



by the Columbia managers with a chilling and 
studied politeness. It was, no doubt, mortify 
ing to his feelings to witness the shyness of his 
new associates, for if they could have driven 
him back from whence he came, it was evi 
dently their object to do so; but McKenzie, 
as stubborn as themselves, knew his ground, 
and defied the discouraging reception he met 
with, either to damp his spirits or to cool 
his steady zeal. He, therefore, lost no time, 
but intimated to Mr. Keith his wish to de 
part for the interior as soon as convenient, 
the season being far advanced and the journey 
long. 

Mr. Keith, however, raised many objec 
tions. He alleged the scarcity of men, the 
lateness of the season, and the want of craft. 
Nor were these objections altogether ground 
less. "Your departure/' said he, "will dis 
arrange all our plans for the year." In answer 
to which McKenzie handed him his instruc 
tions, a letter from the agents at Montreal, 
with a copy of the minutes of Council at Fort 
William. After perusing these documents 
Mr. Keith, throwing them on the table, said, 
"Your plans are wild. You never will suc 
ceed, nor do I think any gentleman here will 
second your views or be so foolhardy as to 
attempt an establishment on the Nez Perces 
lands as a key to your future operations, and 
without this you cannot move a step." " These 
remarks are uncalled for; I have been there 

82 



fur ^unteiff of tfre fat 



already," replied McKenzie. "Give me the 
men and goods I require, according to the 
resolutions of Council: I alone am answerable 
for the rest." So saying, they parted. 

During all this time the Northwesters 
might be seen together in close consultation, 
avoiding, as much as possible, the object of 
their dislike. Their shy and evasive conduct 
at length roused McKenzie to insist on his 
rights. "Give me the men and goods," said 
he, "as settled at headquarters. I ask for no 
more; those I must have." "You had better," 
replied Mr. Keith, "postpone your operations 
till another year." "No," rejoined McKenzie, 
"my instructions are positive, I must proceed 
at once." And here the conference again 
ended. 

Keith and his adherents had denounced 
every change as pregnant with evil, and 
McKenzie's schemes as full of folly and mad 
ness. They, therefore, labored hard to counter 
act both. The chief of the interior stood 
alone, I being the only person on the ground 
who seconded his views, and that was but a 
feeble support. Yet, although he thus stood 
alone, he never lost sight of the main object. 
The coolness between the parties increased; 
they seldom met; the wordy dispute ended, a 
paper war ensued. This new feature in the 
affair was not likely to mend the matter, but 
was what McKenzie liked; he was now in his 
own element. This went on for two or three 

83 



days, and all anxiously awaited the result. 
The characters of the men were well known; 
both firm, both resolute. 

At this stage of the contest McKenzie 
called me into his room one day and showed 
me the correspondence between them. "You 
see/' said he to me, after I had perused the 
notes, "that in war, as in love, the parties 
must meet to put an end to it." " I cannot see 
it in that light yet," said I; "but I can see 
that the wisest of men are not always wise. 
Delay is his object; you must curtail your 
demands and yield to circumstances. You do 
not know Mr. Keith; he does everything by 
rule, and will hazard nothing. You, on the 
contrary, must hazard everything. In work 
ing against you, they are working against 
themselves, and must soon see their error. It 
is the result of party spirit. Mr. Keith has 
been led astray by the zeal of his associates; 
left to himself he is a good man, and there is 
yet ample room for a friendly reconciliation." 

Just as we were talking over these matters 
a note from Mr. Keith was handed into the 
room. This note was written in a plain 
businesslike manner, and distinctly stated 
what assistance McKenzie could obtain. 
After reading it over and throwing it down on 
the table among the other diplomatic scraps, 
McKenzie observed to me, "It is far short of 
what I require, far short of what I expected, 
and far short of what the Company guaranteed; 

84 



fur J^unter^ of tlje far 

yet it is coining nearer to the point, and is, 
perhaps, under all circumstances, as much as 
can be expected. It is a choice of two evils, 
and rather than prolong a fruitless discussion 
I will attempt the task before me with such 
means as are available. If a failure is the 
result, it will not be difficult to trace it to the 
proper source. 3 ' Soon after this the parties 
met and entered upon business in a friendly 
manner. 

McKenzie now prepared for his inland 
voyage, and had the reader seen the medley 
of savages, Iroquois, Abanakees, and Owhy- 
hees, that were meted out to him, he would 
at once have marked the brigade down as 
doomed. But that was not all; a question 
arose, according to the rules of the voyage, 
who was to be his second? and this gave rise 
to another serious difficulty. One said the 
undertaking was too hazardous ever to suc 
ceed, he would not go; another, that it was 
madness to attempt it, and he would not go; 
and a third observed that as he had not been 
appointed by the Council he would not go; so 
McKenzie was left to go alone. 

Never, during my day, had a person for 
the interior left Fort George with such a 
motley crew, nor under such discouraging 
circumstances, and certainly, under all the 
difficulties of the case, McKenzie would have 
been justified in waiting until he had been 
better fitted out, or provided with means 

85 



adequate to the undertaking. Disregarding 
all dangers, his experience and zeal buoyed 
him up and ultimately carried him through, 
in spite of all the obstacles that either preju 
dice or opposition could throw in his way. 

Although McKenzie's personal absence was 
pleasing to his colleagues, yet, in another 
point of view, it was extremely mortifying, 
because they had failed in their object either 
to discourage or stop him. Measuring, how 
ever, his capacity by their own, they still 
cherished a hope that the Indians would ar 
rest his progress. His failure was, therefore, 
looked upon as certain. 

Let us inquire how it happened that a man 
"only fit to eat horseflesh, and shoot at a 
mark/' should have been put over the heads 
of the Columbia managers. Incomprehensible 
as it was to them, it was perfectly clear to us, 
In the first place, the trade of the Columbia, 
under their guidance, had not advanced one 
single step beyond what it was when they 
first took possession of it. Nay, it was even 
worse, which a very superficial glance at af 
fairs would demonstrate beyond a doubt. 

According to the articles of copartnership 
the shares of the stock in trade were divided 
into two parts. The directors, or, as they were 
more generally called, "agents," held a certain 
proportion in their own hands, as stock 
holders and general managers of the business; 
the bourgeois, as they were called, or the 
86 



of tfrc fat 



active managers among the Indians, held the 
remaining shares. By the regulations of the 
Company the bourgeois were always raised, 
either through favor or merit, from the ranks, 
or, step by step, to the more honorable and 
lucrative station of proprietors. Their pa 
tronage in turn promoted^ others; their votes 
decided the election for or against all candi 
dates, and this was generally the manner in 
which the business of promotion was carried 
on in the North West trade. 

But the agents were on a somewhat different 
footing, for they had not only a voice in com 
mon with the bourgeois in all cases of promo 
tion, but they had what, perhaps, we might 
call an exclusive right as agents, according to 
the interest they held, of sending into the 
country any person or persons they thought 
proper or who possessed their confidence, 
whether connected with the Company or not. 
Such persons, however, entered the service on 
fixed salaries, without the prospect of pro 
motion, because to have a claim to promotion 
in the regular way an apprenticeship was 
indispensable. 

To the agents, therefore, our friend was 
known. His enterprise and general experience 
gave them every hope, and to him, in prefer 
ence to any other, they confided the difficult 
task of recovering the Columbia trade, and of 
carrying into effect the new* system. Five 
hundred pounds a year for five years secured 



him to their interest, and on these conditions 
he returned again to the Columbia. 

As soon as the brigade started for the 
interior a party of ten men were outfitted for 
the purpose of trapping beaver in the Walla- 
mitte. On their way up to the place they were 
warned by the natives not to continue, for 
they would not suffer them to hunt on 
their lands unless they produced an instant 
payment by way of tribute. This the hunters 
were neither prepared for nor disposed ^ to 
grant, and they had the simplicity to imagine 
that the Indians would not venture to carry 
their threats into effect. The next day, how 
ever, as they were advancing on their voyage 
they were astonished at seeing the banks of 
the river lined on both sides by the natives, 
who had stationed themselves in menacing 
postures behind the trees and bushes. The 
Northwesters were little acquainted with 
these people, and thinking they only meant to 
frighten them out of some articles of goods, 
they paddled up in the middle of the stream. 
A shower of arrows, however, very soon con 
vinced them of their mistake. One of the 
number was wounded, and in drifting down, 
for they immediately turned about, they 
fired a round upon the natives, one of whom 
was killed. 

After this discomfiture the hunters made 
the best of their way back to the establish 
ment, and the project of hunting in the 
SB 



fur ^tmterg of tfte far 

Wallamitte was relinquished for a time. Soon 
afterwards, however, a party of twenty-five 
men, under the management of a clerk, was 
sent to pacify the natives, and to endeavor to 
penetrate to the hunting ground. On reaching 
the spot where the first difficulty arose they 
found that the man who had been killed was a 
chief, and that, therefore, the tribe would not 
come to terms before a certain portion of 
merchandise was delivered as a compensation 
for the injury done. This being accordingly 
agreed to, the matter was compromised and the 
party advanced, but unfortunately soon got 
involved in a second quarrel with the natives, 
and having fired upon them, killed three. 

On their way back, after putting up for the 
night, a band of Indians got into their camp 
and a scufHe ensued, when one of the hunters 
was severely wounded, and the whole party 
owed its safety to the darkness of the night. 
By the disasters of this trip, every avenue was 
for the present shut up against our hunters in 
the Wallamitte. 

One remark here suggests itself. When the 
first party of hunters were warned by the 
natives that they would not suffer them to 
hunt on their lands unless they produced an 
instant payment by way of tribute, what was 
the amount of that tribute? Had they, the 
moment the Indians threatened tribute, in 
stead of paddling up in the middle of the 
stream, stopped and made for shore, held out 



the hand of friendship, and smoked a pipe or 
two of tobacco with them, there would have 
been an end to all demands the affair would 
have been settled. This was the tribute the 
natives expected, but the whites set the In 
dians at defiance by trying to pass them in 
the middle of the stream. 

When any difficulty of this kind occurs, a 
friendly confidence on the part of the whites 
seldom fails in bringing about a reconciliation; 
the Indians at once come round to their views. 
This was the universal practice followed by us 
during our first years in traveling among the 
Indians, and we always got on smoothly. But 
in measuring the feelings of the rude and in 
dependent natives of Columbia by the same 
standard as they measured the feelings of 
their dependent slaves on the east side of the 
mountains, the Northwesters were not wise. 

The result of this disaster shut us out en 
tirely from the southern quarter. The loss 
was severely felt, and Mr. Keith, with his 
usual sagacity and forethought, lost no time 
in applying a remedy. But what remedy 
could well be applied? We considered our 
selves aggrieved, the natives were still more 
angry. We had been wounded, but they had 
been killed, and perhaps all by the bad con 
duct of our own people; yet, under all the 
circumstances, something required to be done. 
Negotiation was resolved upon as the most 
prudent step to be adopted. 
90 



fut ^wtter of tfje fat 



In order, therefore, to bring about a recon 
ciliation, a party sufficiently strong to guard 
against miscarriage and give weight to our 
measures was fitted out and put under my 
charge, and I was ably assisted by my ex 
perienced friend, Mr. Ogden. 16 This half- 
diplomatic, half-military embassy, consisting 
of forty-five armed men, left Fort George in 
three boats and reached the Wallamitte Falls 
on the third day. It was there the Indians 
had assembled to resist any attempt of the 
hunters to ascend the Wallamitte. There we 
found them encamped on the left or west bank. 
We took up our position, with two field-pieces 
to guard our camp on the east or right-hand 
side, which is low, rocky, and somewhat 
uneven. Both parties were opposite to each 
other, with the river between them. Early 
the next morning we set the negotiation on 
foot, and made several attempts, but in vain, 
to bring the Indians to a parley. I went to 
their camp; we offered them to smoke, and 
held out the hand of friendship in every 
possible way we could, but to no purpose. 

16 Peter Skene Ogden, a native of Quebec, entered 
the service of the North West Company as a clerk in 
1811. After several years in western Canada he came 
to the lower Columbia region in 1818. After a long 
career of much prominence in the Northwest fur trade 
he died at Oregon City in 1854. For a careful sketch of 
his career, see T. C. Elliott, "Peter Skene Ogden, Fur 
Trader," in Oregon Historical Quarterly, September, 
1910. 

91 



They refused holding any communication 
with us, but continued to sing their war songs, 
and danced their war dance. We, however, 
were not to be discouraged by any demonstra 
tions on their part. 

Patience and forbearance do much on these 
occasions. It is the best policy to be observed 
with Indians; indeed, with all the natives of 
Columbia. Peace being our object, peace we 
were determined to obtain. We, therefore, 
quietly waited to see what time would bring 
about, 

The first day passed without our effecting 
anything, and so did the second. Friendly 
offers were constantly held out to them, but 
as constantly rejected. On the third day, 
however, the chiefs and warriors crossed over 
to our side and stood in a group at some dis 
tance from our camp. I knew what was 
meant by this, so I took a flag in my hand and 
went alone to meet them. Just as I had 
reached the party, the whole Indian camp 
burst into a loud and clamorous scene of 
mourning. That moment the chiefs and 
warriors, forming a ring, squatted down, and 
concealing their faces with their garments, 
remained silent and motionless for about the 
space of half an hour. During all this time I 
had to stand patiently and await the result. 
Not a word was uttered on either side, but as 
soon as the lamentations ceased in the camp 
the great men, uncovering their faces, stood 
92 



fur ^untetg of tfrc jpar 



upon their feet. I then offered the pipe of 
peace, according to Indian custom, but a sig 
nificant shake of the head from the principal 
chief was the only reply. 

After a momentary pause the chief, turning 
to me, exclaimed in his own language, "What 
do the whites want?" Rather nettled at his 
refusing the pipe, I answered, " Peace peace 
is what we want"; and in saying so, I pre 
sented him with my flag. "Here/' said I, 
"the great chief of the whites sends you that 
as a token of his love." A moment or two 
passed in silence; a whisper went round; the 
peace-offering was accepted, and in return 
the chief took a pipe, painted and ornamented 
with feathers, and laid it down before me. 
This was a favorable sign. On such occasions 
the calumet of peace is always an emblem of 
friendship. They were gratified with the toy; 
'it pleased them. The chief asked to smoke. 
I then handed him the pipe he had but a little 
before refused, and some tobacco, and they sat 
down and commenced smoking, for that is the 
introductory step to all important affairs, and 
no business can be entered upon with these 
people before the ceremony of smoking is over. 

The smoking ended, each great man got up 
in turn and made a speech. Before they had 
all got through nearly two hours elapsed, and 
all that time I had to stand and wait. These 
speeches set forth in strong language a state 
ment of their grievances, a demand for redress, 

93 



and a determination to resist in future the 
whites from proceeding up the Wallamitte. 
As soon as the Indians had said all they had 
to say on the subject they sat down. 

After arriving at our camp and smoking 
there I stated the case on behalf of ^ the whites, 
opposing the Indians' determination to pre 
vent us from ascending the Wallamitte, and 
trying to bring about, if possible, a peace.^ I, 
therefore, endeavored to meet every objec 
tion, and proved to the chiefs that their people 
were the first aggressors by shooting their 
arrows at our people, but this being no part of 
Indian law they either could not, or would 
not, comprehend it. Notwithstanding their 
people had been the aggressors in the first 
instance, our people had been guilty of great 
indiscretion, and to cut the matter short I 
agreed to pay for their dead according to 
their own laws, if they would yield the Bother 
points; which, after a whole day's negotiation 
and two or three trips to their camp, they at 
last agreed to. The chiefs reasoned the matter 
temperately, and formally agreed to every 
thing. Eut their acknowledged authority is 
very limited, their power, as chiefs, small; so 
that any rascal in the camp might at any time 
break through the most solemn treaty with 
impunity. 

The conditions of this rude treaty were that 
the Wallamitte should remain open, that the 
whites should have at all times free ingress 



94 



fur ^untgrjg of tfre far 



and egress to that quarter unmolested, that 
in the event of any misunderstanding between 
the natives and the whites the Indians were 
not to resort to any act of violence, but their 
chiefs were to apply for redress to the white 
chief at Fort George; and if the whites found 
themselves aggrieved they were also not to 
take the law into their own hands, nor to take 
any undue advantage of the Indians. The 
chiefs alone were to be accountable for the 
conduct of their people. And truth compels 
us to acknowledge that the Indians faithfully 
and zealously observed their part of the treaty 
for many years afterwards. 

The business being ended, the chief, as a 
token of general consent, scraped a little dust 
together and with his hand throwing it in the 
air, uttered, at the same time, the expressive 
word "Hilow," it is done. This was no sooner 
over than the chief man presented us with a 
slave, as a token of his good will, signifying 
by the act that if the Indians did not keep 
their promise we might treat them all as 
slaves. The slave being returned again to the 
chief, we prepared to leave the Indians, paid 
our offering for the dead, shook hands with 
the living, satisfied the chiefs, and pushed 
down the current. 

On our way home, however, we were stopped 
about an hour at Oak Point by the ice, a 
rather unusual circumstance, one that never 
occurred, either before or after, all the time I 

95 



was in the country. On reaching Fort George 
the articles of the treaty were read over, and 
drew from Mr. Keith a smile of approbation. 
That was no small credit to me, for he was 
a very cautious man, and not lavish of his 
praise. "Your success," said he to me, 
" removes my anxiety, and is calculated not 
only to restore peace in the Wallamitte, but 
throughout the whole of the neighboring 
tribes." 

We might here state that the Wallamitte 
takes its rise near the northern frontier of 
California in about latitude 43 30' north, not 
far from the Umpqua River. The former of 
these streams runs almost a northern course 
and empties its waters into the Columbia by 
two channels, some seventy miles above Cape 
Disappointment, in north latitude 46 19', 
being almost due east from the mouth of the 
Columbia; the latter pursues a course almost 
due west, till it reaches the ocean. The 
Call-law-poh-yea-as is the name by which all 
the Wallamitte tribes, sixteen in number, are 
generally known. These people were always 
considered by the whites as a quiet and in 
offensive nation, dull and unassuming in their 
behavior, but, when once roused, not deficient 
in courage. 

We have more than once had occasion to 

notice the striking change in the natives during 

the reign of the North West Company on the 

Columbia. On his passage down, McKenzie 

96 



fut J^unter of t$t fat 



was greeted at the Dalles by an unexpected 
shower of stones as he took the current at the 
lower end of the portage. The natives in this 
instance were a few hundred strong. His 
party consisted of about forty, and, judging it 
expedient to resent the very first insult, he 
briskly wheeled round, to their astonishment, 
and ordered all arms to be presented. In this 
menacing attitude he signified to his men to 
rest until he showed the example by firing 
the first shot; then, exhorting the natives to 
renew their insult with stones, or resort to 
their arms, a fair challenge was offered. But, 
whether the movement was too sudden or 
that they were doubtful of the result, they 
declined and came forward with a satisfactory 
submission. The affair of the rifle on a former 
occasion was not, perhaps, forgotten. The 
attack was owing to the scarcity of tobacco. 
A very few pipes had been lighted and they, 
perceiving that he had little remaining, be 
came enraged because they could not grasp 
the whole. A few days previous, McMillan 
having gone down with an express with only 
twenty men, they robbed one of his people of 
his coat and others of various articles at the 
moment of embarking, but this gentleman ob 
served a very prudent forbearance, his party 
being in no way a match for them. 

McKenzie's departure from Fort George has 
already been noticed. Without accident or 
loss of time he reached the dangerous pass of 

97 



the Cascades. There, however, the rigors of 
the season checked his progress, for the Co 
lumbia was bridged over with ice. 

We soon learned, however, that he was at 
home. His party consisted of about forty 
men, such as they were. Retaining, therefore, 
a certain number about himself and^ the 
property, he adopted a new plan of distribut 
ing the remainder in the houses of the different 
great men among the natives, apparently as 
boarders but in reality as spies, so that every 
hour he had ample intelligence of all that 
passed in the respective villages or camps. 
The chiefs were flattered by this mark of his 
consideration. They were no less pleased with 
the trifles which from time to time they re 
ceived in payment, and all the natives of the 
place became, in a few months, perfectly 
familiarized with the whites. 

A great deal of information was collected 
from these people, considerable furs also, and 
altogether such a footing established among 
them as promised to be turned to advantage at 
a future time. The chiefs were no less pleased 
to see McKenzie than anxious to know the 
cause of his return to their country, and he 
was greeted with a hearty welcome from all 
classes. 

"We are rejoiced," said an old chief to him, 

one day, "to see one of our first and best 

friends come back again to live among us. 

We were always well treated by our first 

98 



fur ^untgrg of tfre far 



traders, and got plenty of tobacco to smoke. 
They never passed our camp without taking 
our children by the hand and giving us a 
smoke, and we have always been sorry since 
you left us. Our traders now-a-days use us 
badly; they pass up and down the river with 
out stopping. They never take our children 
by the hand, nor hold out the pipe to us. 
They do not like us. Their hearts are bad. 
We seldom go to see them. Are you," con 
tinued the chief, "going to remain long with 
us?" McKenzie consoled the friendly old man, 
and told him that he would be long with them, 
to smoke and take their children by the hand, 
and would never pass nor repass without 
giving them a smoke, as usual. At these 
words, the chief exclaimed, "Haugh owe yea 
ah! Haugh owe yea ah!" These exclamations 
of gratitude showed that McKenzie was per 
fectly at home among them. Every coun 
tenance he met smiled with contentment, and 
his authority was as much respected by the 
Indians as by his own people, so that he con 
sidered himself as safe and secure in the 
Indian camp as if he had been in his own 
house. No sooner had he laid himself up in 
ordinary among the great nabobs of the 
Cascades, than he was invited from wigwam 
to wigwam to partake of their hospitality. 

On the score of cheer, we will here -gratify 
the curiosity of our readers with a brief de 
scription of one of their entertainments, called 

99 



an Indian feast. The first thing that attracts 
the attention of a stranger, on being invited 
to a feast in these parts, is to see se vendor 
eight bustling squaws running to and fro with 
pieces of greasy bark, skins of animals, and 
old mats, to furnish the banqueting lodge, as 
receptacles for the delicate viands. At^ the 
door of the lodge is placed, on such occasions, 
a sturdy savage with a club in his hand, to 
keep the dogs at bay while the preparations 
are going on. 

The banqueting hall is always of a size 
suitable to the occasion, large and^roomy. A 
fire occupies the center, round which, in cir 
cular order, are laid the eatables. The guests 
form a close ring round the whole. Everyone 
approaches with a grave and solemn step. 
The party being all assembled, the reader may 
picture to himself our friend seated among 
the nobles of the place, his bark platter be 
tween his legs, filled top-heavy with the most 
delicious melange of bear's grease, dog's 
flesh, wappatoes, obellies, amutes, and a pro 
fusion of other viands, roots, and berries. 
Round the festive board, placed on terra 
firma, all the nabobs of the place are squatted 
down in a circle, each helping himself out of 
his platter with his fingers, observing every 
now and then to sleek down the hair by way of 
wiping, the hands. Only one knife is used, and 
that is handed round from one to another in 
quick motion. Behind the banqueting circle 



of tf>e fat 



sit, in anxious expectation, groups of the ca 
nine tribe, yawning, howling, and growling. 
These can only be kept In the rear by a stout 
cudgel, which each of the guests keeps by 
him for the purpose of self-defense, yet it not 
infrequently happens that some one of the 
more daring curs gets out of patience, breaks 
through the front rank, and carries off his 
booty; but when a trespass of this kind is 
committed, the unfortunate offender is well 
belabored in his retreat, for the cudgels come 
down upon him with a terrible vengeance. 
The poor dog, however, has his revenge. in 
turn, for the squabble and brawl that ensues 
disturbs all the dormant fleas of the domicile. 
This troop of black assailants jump about in 
all directions, so that a guest, by helping him 
self to the good things before him, keeping 
the dogs at bay behind him, and defending 
himself from the black squadrons that sur 
round him, pays, perhaps, dearer for his 
entertainment at the Columbian Cascades 
than a foreign ambassador does in a London 
hotel. 

On the breaking up of the ice our friends 
were again on their voyage, but had again the 
misfortune to break one of their boats while 
towing it up the Cascades. The lading con 
sisted of sixty packages, of ninety pounds 
each, and the other craft were too much laden 
to embark so great a surplus; so, strange as it 
may appear, McKenzie lost not an hour in 



hastening his voyage, but delivered over ^ the 
whole of this valuable and bulky cargo into 
the hands of a chief, named Shy-law-ifs, until 
the period of his return. When the brigade 
returned, the faithful and trusty chief deliv 
ered the whole over, safe and untouched, to 
McKenzie again after being six months in his 
possession. Nor did we ever learn that the 
Indians, or even his own relations, molested 
him in the least during this seasonable act of 
friendship. 

During this voyage the chief of the interior 
visited several of the inland posts, arranged 
the plans for the ensuing year, and then 
joined the people of the spring brigade, who 
were assembling from all quarters. This party 
we had left, as will be remembered, on reach 
ing their winter quarters, and we now resume 
the subject, in order to conduct them to their 
friends at headquarters. 

In the Indian countries no sooner has the 
rigorous season begun to break up than the 
people of each wintering ground leave their 
respective stations and repair with all possible 
speed to the general rendezvous at head 
quarters. The mode of voyaging at that 
particular period varies according to the 
temperature of the climate, the face of the 
country, and the peculiar habits of the tribes 
where the station has been fixed; whether in 
the vicinity of lofty mountains or of level 
plains, and whether the inhabitants live at 



102 



gf tfyt far 



peace or war with each other, or endanger 
their traders by their early sallies in the spring. 
From some parts, therefore, the people carry 
their returns in canoes. In others, the use of 
horses, or sledges drawn by dogs, is resorted 
to as the most practicable for transporting 
property during the early stages of the season. 
The time had now come when, with light 
some hearts, the winterers, as they are gen 
erally called, perform the annual trip to the 
ocean, and an augmentation of returns this 
year brightened the features of our friends as 
they came down the Columbia to Fort George, 
where they arrived safely on the sixteenth of 
June, 1817. Happy we were, likewise, that a 
twelvemonth had elapsed, for the first time 
throughout the ulterior, without casualty or 
bloodshed to thin their numbers. 



103 



THE NEW SYSTEM OF TRADE INAUGURATED 

A FEW days after the arrival of the 
spring brigade from the interior the 
Company's annual ship reached Fort 
George, and with its arrival we shall com 
mence the transactions of another year. 

On the arrival of all hands at headquarters, 
their stay is generally short. Consequently, 
at the head depot, all is bustle and hurry, yet 
business of every description is transacted 
there with a degree of order and regularity 
not to be surpassed in countries more civilized. 
As soon, therefore, as the arrangements at the 
depot terminate and the annual appointment 
is made for it is there unalterably fixed for 
the year, without any appeal each man re 
turns to his post. But although the author 
ity which determines the lot of each for the 
season is absolute, yet few instances of either 
oppression or injustice occur. 

During the sitting of Council this year an 
inclination was manifested to promote by 
every possible means a change of system, and, 
by so doing, to give the chief of the interior 
the benefit resulting from general support; 
but after the Council broke up the disposition 
evinced to carry such a measure into practical 
104 



fur ^imter of tfje far 



operation rather operated in an opposite di 
rection, tending to defeat any change for the 
better, and this disposition was strengthened 
by new and unforseen difficulties, over which 
the Columbians had no control. 

In the various arrangements from year to 
year there is generally contentment and sat 
isfaction among all classes. This arises as 
much from that variety of scene, that love of 
freedom of which man is so universally fond, 
and which he here so fully enjoys, as from 
anything else. There are pleasures at times in 
wild and savage countries as alluring as those 
in gay cities and polished circles, and on the 
whole few ever leave the scenes of the wilder 
ness without deep regret. 

In consequence of the East India Com 
pany's debarring the bulk of British subjects 
from sailing in the Indian Ocean, the North 
West Company's commerce in that quarter of 
the world became extremely circumscribed. 
Therefore they resolved to divest themselves 
of all their shipping, as, through the con 
nections they possessed in New England, 
the inconvenience would be compensated by 
their investing their furs in China produce, 
and their trade would not sustain any ma 
terial injury. We shall, therefore, not trou 
ble ourselves nor our readers about the 
shipping interest, but confine our remarks 
to those measures which affected us nearer 
home. 

105 



The spirit of rivalry and opposition in trade 
east of the mountains had for some time 
checked the progress of the North West 
Company, and intercepted the reinforcements 
of men which had been dispatched to the 
Columbian quarter. On this account we 
found ourselves short of our usual complement, 
and therefore had, at a great expense and loss 
of time, to send for a supply of Sandwich 
Islanders as substitutes, 

But even this difficulty and delay might 
have been avoided had there been anything 
like willingness among ourselves to assist each 
other, for there might have been not a few 
men collected from other sources to strengthen 
our ranks in the emergency; but no one was 
disposed to spare a man or lend a willing hand 
to assist in bringing about a new order of 
things. Old habits and a love of ease pre 
dominated. The chief of the interior had, 
therefore, to depart with a motley and dis 
affected handful of men, chiefly Iroquois, to 
prosecute the introductory part of his reform 
plan. 

Matters having been arranged, the inland 
brigade, after 'a short stay of eight days, left 
the head depot for the interior. I also accom 
panied the party for my own post at the 
She Whaps, and the change was the more 
agreeable to me, as any place was to be pre 
ferred to the wet and disagreeable climate of 
Fort George. 

106 



of tf)e Jpar 



It was not my intention, originally, to have 
conducted, step by step, every voyaging party 
ascending or descending the Columbia; yet, 
as I promised to notice every incident that 
might occur, and, moreover, to narrate the sub 
ject of my own trials and hairbreadth escapes 
among the Indians, that duty has again de 
volved on me; and as it will be found that we 
had more than ordinary difficulties to contend 
with during the present voyage the reader 
may, perhaps, take some interest in its details. 

On the brigade's starting, the numbers 
were only forty-five men, being little more 
than half the usual complement. We felt our 
own weakness, and the more so at that season 
when the communication is resorted to by 
strange Indians, it being the great rendezvous 
for salmon fishing, but we had no alternative. 
Few as our numbers were, we had to face the 
difficulties that lay .before us, so we hoisted 
sail and turned our backs on Fort George. 

At Oak Point one of our men deserted and 
soon afterwards two others fell sick, diminish 
ing our numbers and embarrassing us still 
more. At the mouth of the Wallamitte we 
were nearly getting into a serious quarrel. 
We had made a halt to purchase some pro 
visions from the Indians on Moltnomah 
Island. While in the act of doing so some 
arrows were pointed our way without any 
apparent cause, when two of the Iroquois 
immediately cocked their guns to fire upon 
107 



the Indians. They were fortunately stopped 
in time or we might have had a sad tale to 
tell, for one shot fired from any of our party 
would have been the signal of our ruin. Not 
withstanding the Iroquois were checked in 
time, yet the menace was noticed by the 
Indians, and it raised a spirit of discontent 
which ran like wildfire among them, and our 
diminished numbers, compared to those of 
former years, encouraged the Indians to a 
boldness scarcely ever witnessed before. At 
this stage of the affair the natives were ob 
served to collect in groups, and to become 
shy towards us a very bad sign; we, how 
ever, put the best face on things and tried to 
restore confidence and content, after which 
we set sail and left them. 

Arriving at the Cascades, we found, the 
natives in great numbers and all completely 
armed. The utmost care, and circumspection 
were needful in carrying our bulky ladings 
over that rocky and dangerous portage, and 
although strong guards were stationed at the 
frequent resting-places, yet we could not man 
age to 'get through without repeated alarms. 
However, the good understanding we kept up 
with the principal men quieted all our appre 
hensions, and in spite of appearances it was 
found that we were in reality safe during the 
whole of our arduous day's labor. 

Having encamped on a convenient spot at 
the upper end, the chiefs and the great men 

108 



fur juntos* of tfyt far 



were invited to come and smoke with us; they 
accepted the invitation, and their suite of 
followers might have been five hundred. As 
soon as the order of the camp was finished, 
and the proper precautions taken for the 
night, the chiefs were admitted within the 
lines and made to sit down at a convenient 
place set apart for that purpose by the doors 
of the tents, while the crowd received the 
same indulgence at some distance on the op 
posite side. 

When the ceremony of smoking was over a 
few words were addressed to the chiefs, ex 
pressing the favorable sense we entertained 
of their character and their deportment dur 
ing the day. We also bestowed on each a 
head of tobacco, and to every one of the 
group we gave a single leaf, which took a con 
siderable quantity and some time to distribute. 
This kind treatment was so different to any 
thing they had met with for years past that 
all with one voice called out, in the Chinook 
language, "Haugh owe yea ah, haugh owe yea 
ah,' 3 meaning, "our friends, our friends." 
Turning then to the chiefs, we pointed out the 
duties of the sentinels, signifying that they 
should explain the purport to all the natives 
of the place, in order that our slumbers might 
not be disturbed, and that the present happy 
intercourse might not be interrupted. This 
done, the whole party moved off in the most 
orderly manner, neither did any of them 
109 



approach us during the night. However, we 
kept a strict watch until morning. 

From the good understanding that existed 
between ourselves and the natives on a former 
occasion, and particularly last winter, we an 
ticipated the continuance of a friendly inter 
course, but in this we were deceived; that 
friendship was but of short duration. It was 
dissolved in a moment by the most frivolous 
trifle. 

I had with me an old, favorite dog, a little 
dwarf terrier of the Spanish breed. We had 
missed it during the morning, but had not in 
the bustle and hurry made any inquiry about 
it. One of the Indians, as it afterwards ap 
peared, had got hold of it and carried it to 
his tent. The little captive, in its struggles to 
get at liberty, happened to scratch one of his 
children hi the face, but got off and made for 
us with all haste, just as were sitting down to 
breakfast. Happening to turn round, I per 
ceived my little pet running towards us in 
great fright, and two fellows following it at 
full speed with their guns in their hands. The 
poor little thing, on reaching us, lay down, 
and by its looks seemed to implore protection. 
No sooner had the rascals, however, got to us, 
than one of them, with an air of bold effront 
ery, cocked his gun to shoot the dog. I im 
mediately jumped up, took the gun out of his 
hands, and tried to pacify him. The fellow 
was furious and would give no explanation, 



of tftg far 



but again demanded his gun. I told him he 
might have his gun if he made no bad use of 
it. To this he made no reply, but with an air 
of insolent boldness still demanded his gun. 
Laying hold of my own gun with one hand, 
I handed him his with the other, accompany 
ing the delivery with this admonition, "If 
you attempt to kill my dog, you are a dead 
man." 

The fellow stood motionless as a statue, 
but made no attempt to kill the dog. His 
companion turned back to the camp the 
moment I laid hold of the gun and in a few 
minutes we were surrounded by a hundred 
clamorous voices, uttering the words, "Ma 
sats se-Pa she shy hooks, ma sats se-Pa she 
shy hooks bad white people, bad white 
people." We, however, kept a watchful eye 
on their maneuvers, armed ourselves, and 
waited the result. In a little time their excite 
ment began to abate and we had an oppor 
tunity of speaking in our turn, but our voices 
were scarcely heard in the crowd. 

Had we measured the strength of both 
parties by our comparative numbers, we 
might at once have yielded to our opponents, 
but we formed no such comparison. We were 
compelled through sheer necessity to assert 
our rights and defend our property, which we 
did in defiance of all their threats. It is hard 
to say how the affair might have ended had 
not our friend, Shy-law-ifs, run into the 



mel&e and stood up boldly for the whites, so 
that after a great deal of loud clamor and 
threats the Indians had to return to their 
camp, and I saved my little dog. 

I mention this trivial circumstance to show 
how fickle and unsteady Indians are, and how 
little is required to change their friendship 
into enmity. In this simple incident you have 
the true character of an Indian. He will pur 
loin and conceal articles belonging to the 
whites, and then make a merit of finding 
them, in order to get paid for his honesty. 
The hiding of a dog, the concealing of a horse, 
or anything else, is a common practice of 
theirs; and the fellow who took the little dog 
had no other object than to make a claim on 
delivering it up. 

After this affair we did not consider it good 
policy to depart from the place without com 
ing to some understanding with' the Indians. 
Putting our camp in a posture of defense to 
guard against surprise, McKenzie and myself 
went to the Indians and settled the matter in 
dispute. We gave the scratched bantling a 
small present, invited the chiefs to our camp 
to smoke, gave them a little tobacco, and 
parted once .more the best friends in the 
world, and all this did not take up two hours' 
time, nor cost five shillings. From this 
incident it would appear that the Indian is 
in some respects a mere child, irritated by and 
pleased with a trifle. 



112 



fur J^unter^ of tfje far 



Our cautious plans did not admit of our 
proceeding, notwithstanding the apparent 
good feeling, without having one of the great 
men to act the part of an interpreter and 
to proclaim our friendly footing to others 
as we advanced, particularly to the trouble 
some tenants of the Falls; for we were not ig 
norant that false rumors might get the start 
of us, and poison the minds of the natives 
against us. 

Such conduct on the part of the Indians of 
the Cascades may appear strange, after the 
friendly manner in which our people had been 
treated by them during the last winter, but 
this can be easily accounted for, were they less 
fickle than they are. In the winter season the 
natives of the place only were on the spot, but 
in summer the Cascades, as well as the Falls, 
are a place of general resort for all the neigh 
boring tribes, as well as those of the place, and 
this was the case on the present occasion. 
Hence their numbers and boldness. 

The farther we advanced the more numer 
ous were the natives, either dwelling in vil 
lages or congregated about the banks and 
rocks in tumultuous crowds. We thought it 
necessary to make a short halt at each band, 
according to the rules of former days, and 
although their gestures were most suspicious 
at times, yet we never failed to jump ashore 
and step into the midst of them with assumed 
confidence, at the same time accosting their 

113 



great men and going over the same ceremonies 
as already noticed. We always passed as if 
we were old acquaintances on the most friendly 
terms. No steps within our power were neg 
lected that could be anywise conducive to our 
safety an object which now imperiously 
claimed attention, for rumors were in circu 
lation that the natives had collected on the 
river hi an unusual manner. 

Whenever an occasion called us on shore a 
couple of men from each craft, appointed for 
the purpose, instantly took their stand with 
fixed bayonets and a line of privilege was 
drawn, which the chiefs alone were allowed 
to pass for the purpose of reception. 

Every step we thus made was full of anxiety 
and apprehension, increased in a two-fold 
degree during the night. Everyone of the party 
was at length so worn out by incessant watch 
ing and fatigue that hope itself began to 
waver, and we even despaired of getting 
through; and not to our own puny arm, nor to 
any further efforts we could make, but to a 
kind and superintending Providence, we owed 
our good fortune and safety. 

Whenever the sun reached the summit of 
the hills, the most commanding spot was se 
lected for our encampment. In a few min 
utes the boats were carried out of the water 
and placed, with the tents and baggage, hi 
the form of a square, or such other figure 
as might correspond with the peculiar nature 

114 



fur ^unterg of tf>e far 



of the ground. This novel fortress had but 
one opening, which was only wide enough to 
admit a single person at a time. Of this the 
tents took up one angle, having the doors 
outward, and before which a space was left 
vacant and appropriated for the chiefs. 
Beyond this was the station occupied by the 
guards and night watch, whose duty it was to 
keep at bay the tumultuous rabble, and here 
our solitary swivel was regularly pointed. 

The chiefs, however, neither passed nor re- 
passed without leave, and under the specious 
veil of respect for their exalted rank their 
influence was in this way made subservient 
to our views. Their persons were pledges of 
our safety. Sometimes, in doubtful cases, they 
were detained over night. Each of our party 
had a special occupation assigned, and the 
watch at night being divided into three, we had 
each of us the direction of one alternately; but 
in many instances we were all on foot, and on 
these occasions had to pass a sleepless night. 

When on shore the duties rested entirely 
on the leaders and sentinels. The farther 
we advanced the more we became sensible of 
the advantages of the newly-adopted though 
simple system of strengthening our encamp 
ment; the natives could not have even the 
enticing opportunity of seizing or pilfering 
any article to engender a quarrel, and, as far 
as a breastwork could go, the people were 
always sheltered from danger. 

115 



Fifteen minutes was the time generally 
taken to put the camp into a proper state of 
defense. It would have required about the 
same time to have jumbled everything pell- 
mell, when the natives, the property, and 
ourselves would have indiscriminately occu 
pied one and the same ground, as had been 
done by the Northwesters hitherto on the 
Columbia. Indeed, that mode of proceeding 
was one chief cause, among others, of dis 
order, and of the bold footing which the 
natives had assumed and by which the North 
westers had so frequently got themselves in 
volved in serious troubles on the Columbia, 
To reduce the natives to some order, however 
desirable, was no easy task, and it was ren 
dered more difficult by the fewness of our 
numbers. All we could, therefore, attempt, 
on the present occasion, was gradually to In 
troduce the system of reform, leaving it to be 
followed up in future. 

During our passages through the portages 
we were unavoidably more or less exposed. 
On these occasions the pauses, or resting- 
places, were only the distance of a gunshot 
apart, and guards were placed at each. First, 
the craft were carried and placed in a double 
row, with an area between sufficiently roomy 
for the baggage, which was properly ranged 
as it was brought forward, leaving a vacancy 
still large enough for the purpose of defense. 
The motions of the natives were closely 
116 



fur ^imtcrg of t&e far 



scrutinized before we ventured to start again. 
Half the ships were stationed at one end of the 
pause, and half likewise, at the other. It was 
on such occasions that the influence of these 
men came most into play; by their means, 
therefore, we advanced with considerable 
dispatch, and with all the degree of safety 
which the case would admit of. 

On arriving at the Dalles, the most sus 
picious part of the communication, we found 
the natives mustered to the number of about 
one thousand warriors. The war song and 
yell warned us of their hostile intentions, and 
the fears of our friendly Indian only served to 
confirm our conjectures. We encamped at the 
commencement of the portage. The object of 
the natives, we were told, was to establish a 
perpetual tribute, which, if granted, would 
be the means of obtaining for us an undis 
turbed passage. 

The subject of tribute had been the result 
of a general plan settled among the natives. 
The first appearance of it was manifested at 
the Wallamitte, but it had been gathering 
strength for years past, ever since the North 
westers had possession of the country. Had 
the present expedition been conducted in the 
ordinary way of their traveling in these parts, 
no doubt it would have been enforced, but 
McKenzie's sudden and unexpected return, 
and the Indians' remembrance of him in 
former days, were favorable to us on the 

117 



present occasion. His open, free, and easy 
manner often disarmed the most daring sav 
age, and when one expedient failed another 
was always at hand. When the men stood 
aloof, he caressed their children, which seldom 
failed to elicit a smile of approbation from 
the rudest. His knowledge of their charac 
ter armed him with confidence. In the most 
suspicious places he would stroll among them, 
unarmed and alone, when he would allow no 
other man to step over the lines. He saw at a 
glance what was working within, and never 
failed to upset all their designs. Such a 
sagacious and prudent leader seldom fails to 
impart confidence to his followers. 

We tried to put on as bold a front as possi 
ble. The guards were doubled all the night; 
not one of us slept. The chiefs were prevailed 
upon to remain in our camp. The men were 
drawn out and the arms inspected, and the 
plan of proceeding for the ensuing day fixed 
upon and explained to the party. We were as 
desirous of reducing the turbulent natives as 
they were of reducing us. The motley com 
plement of voyagers comprised a mixture of 
Iroquois, Abanakees, Owhyhees, and some 
even of a worse description, and with the 
exception of a few staunch Canadians the 
whole were little better or more to be de 
pended on than Indians. This made us un 
willing to hazard a battle, and our intention, 
therefore, was to stand on the defensive. 
1x8 



fur ^unterg of tfje fat 



Should, however, the necessity of things bring 
on a combat, we were each of us to head a divi 
sion, keeping each class unmixed and apart. 

On the next morning the Indians were as 
sembled at our camp by break of day. Our 
men were at their post close to the baggage; 
our swivel had likewise its station; the In 
dians eyed it with suspicion. The chiefs, after 
a parley, received a smoke, and through the 
medium of our interpreter they were given to 
understand our determination: if they were 
advocates for peace and conducted themselves 
in an orderly manner, they should be pre 
sented with some tobacco at the farther end 
of the portage, as a mark of our friendship. 

While thus engaged, and the crowd throng 
ing around us, a fellow more like a baboon 
than a man, with a head full of feathers and a 
countenance of brass, having a fine gun in 
his hand, called out, "How long are the 
whites to pass here, troubling our waters and 
scaring our fish, without paying us? Look at 
all these bales of goods going to our enemies," 
said he, "and look at our wives and children 
naked." The fellow then made a pause, as if 
waiting an answer, but as good fortune would 
have it, the rest of the Indians paid but little 
attention to him. No answer was made, nor 
was it a time to discuss the merits or demerits 
of such a question. Happening, however, to 
be near the fellow when he spoke, I turned 
briskly round. "So long," said I, "as the 
119 



Indians smoke our tobacco; just so long, and 
no longer, will the whites pass here." Then I 
put some questions to him in turn. "Who 
gave you that fine gun in your hand?" "The 
whites," answered he. "And who gives you 
tobacco to smoke?" " The whites," he replied. 
Continuing the subject, "Are you fond of 
your gun?" "Yes." "Are you fond of 
tobacco to smoke?" To this question, also, 
the reply was "Yes." "Then," said I, "you 
ought to be fond of the whites, who supply all 
your wants." "Oh, yes!" rejoined he. The 
nature of the questions and answers set the 
bystanders laughing, and taking no further 
notice of the rascal, he sneaked off among the 
crowd and we saw him no more. The question 
put by the feathered baboon amounted to noth 
ing in itself, but it proved that the subject of 
tribute had been discussed among the Indians. 
By this time the chiefs, whom we were 
anxious to gain over to our side, had promised 
to use their influence in our favor. We, there 
fore, lost no time in transporting our goods 
across the portage. All was suspense during 
this eventful day. A constant intercourse by 
pencil and paper was carried on from end to 
end of the pauses. The chiefs interested them 
selves for us. They spoke often and vehe 
mently, but from the well-known disposition 
of the Indians, it was evident that the slight 
est mistake on our part would destroy the 
harmony that subsisted between us. 



fur ^unterg of tfrc far 

On reaching the farther end of the carrying- 
place our craft were put into the water and 
laden without delay. The natives were in 
creasing in numbers, and our party awaited 
the ^ conclusion of the scene with anxiety. 
While I was distributing the promised reward 
to the chiefs, sixteen men, under the direction 
of McMillan, were placed as a guard to keep 
back the crowd, but they pressed us so hard 
that, before we had done, the guard, as well as 
myself, were forced into the water between 
the craft and the crowd. Never was I harder 
pressed, or nearer being crushed, than on that 
day. Two men were nearly losing their lives 
in the water, and more than once we despaired 
of getting ourselves extricated. 

The bows were strung, the arrows already 
out of their quivers. Signs were repeatedly 
made to the multitude to fall back, and just 
as the guard and all were hurrying to embark 
the word was issued for the men to raise their 
arms. Thrice was the order repeated before 
they obeyed. The interval was critical; I 
cannot describe it. Let the reader picture in 
his own mind our situation. In this perilous 
position a final notice was given to the natives 
to depart, and as a last resource in this emer 
gency, the swivel was pointed from one of the 
boats. For a moment all was silent. The 
chiefs, who had been overwhelmed by the 
crowd, now getting themselves extricated, set 
the example, and the whole multitude fell 



back a few paces. Our people, taking advan 
tage of the favorable moment, embarked. 
While a third of our party were employed in 
getting the craft pushed off, the remainder, 
with their arms facing the natives, kept their 
position until all was clear and ready for a 
fair start; then embarking, we hoisted sail, 
our guns still pointed to the crowd. We were 
soon beyond their reach. Not an arrow flew, 
not a trigger was drawn. 

Had the Indians been aware of the move 
ment made for defense at our departure, it is a 
question if they would have overlooked the 
opportunities that offered while we were more 
or less separated in making the portage, it 
never having been usual to take such pre 
cautions. But by this determined conduct 
their views were completely frustrated. No 
tribute was exacted. Had a different line been 
pursued, and had they once gained their 
point of extorting tribute, in a few voyages 
the whole lading would no doubt have had 
to pass for that purpose, and to the loss 
of property that of lives must inevitably 
have been added. In dangerous or hostile 
rencounters the Indians generally single out 
the leaders as the first victims, considering 
the remainder of the party easily managed 
from their probable confusion. This appears 
to have been the case on the present oc 
casion, for it was remarked that three daring 
fellows were seen hovering about us adjust- 



f ut ^unter of tfje fat 



ing their weapons, and the surmise was con 
firmed by report. 

The gentleman at the head of affairs, after 
signifying the necessity of a sharp lookout, 
walked up and presented these three des 
peradoes with a stone to sharpen their arrows; 
then sternly eyeing them all three alternately, 
he stamped with his foot, slapped the butt 
end of his gun, and opening the pans of his 
rifle and pistols, he primed anew, to show 
them that his arms were likewise ready. He 
then insisted on their sitting down ^ and com 
posing themselves. They did so with appar 
ently great reluctance, and at the same time 
laid down their arrows as a token of sub 
mission, which, taking place in the full view 
of the crowd, made them look very sheepish. 
The effect, as far as we could judge, did not 
operate amiss. The demagogue who goes by 
the name of the Red Jacket also became use 
ful and interested himself, no doubt to reclaim 
our favor and get a piece of tobacco. 

During the first day after our leaving the 
Dalles we saw on almost every point crowds 
on their way to the rendezvous, from which 
we inferred that the whole body of Indians 
had not yet been assembled at the appointed 
place, and perhaps to that circumstance, 
more than to any other, we owed our safety. 
From the Falls, our friend from the Cascades, 
after being rewarded with a new suit, returned 
back to his people. During the remainder of 
123 



the voyage the banks of the river for a great 
way were covered with the natives. We made 
a short halt at each considerable camp, and 
the same attentions were paid to the chiefs in 
a greater or less degree, according as their 
respective merits and the aspect of things 
demanded. In passing by scattered bands, a 
few leaves of the envied plant were thrown 
upon the beach. Sometimes this offering of 
friendship fell into the water, but this was 
productive of an equal effect, as the natives 
in a twinkling plunged into the river to secure 
it. Some of the villages we passed had up 
wards of a thousand inhabitants, particularly 
those about the Great Forks. 

My craft happening to fall behind a little, 
one of the natives took offense at my handing 
to his companion a leaf or two of tobacco 
which was intended for both. The villain lost 
no time in bending his bow, and had he not 
been arrested in the act by my leveling my 
gun at him he would most likely have made 
sure of his mark. 

At length, arriving at the succession of bad 
steps called the Priest's Rapid, we were hap 
pily relieved from the importunities and an 
noyance of our numerous and designing neigh 
bors on the south. Henceforth we traveled 
among those more friendly, as we advanced 
towards the north. The innumerable bands 
of Indians assembled along the communication 
this year rendered an uncommon degree of 
124 



fur ^unta# of tftc far 



watchfulness necessary, and more particularly 
as our sole dependence lay on them for our 
daily subsistence. I have passed and repassed 
many times, but never saw so many Indians 
in one season along the communication. We 
had reason to be thankful at our singular good 
luck throughout. 

On arriving at Okanogan, 600 miles from 
the ocean, I set out immediately for my winter 
quarters at the She Whaps, leaving my friends, 
McKenzie and McMillan, to do the same. 

It may now occur to the reader that on 
arriving at Okanogan our voyage was ended, 
and that henceforth we had nothing else to 
do. The case was, however, very different. 
I had still to put 300 miles behind me ere I 
reached my own destination, and the others 
nearly as many; but the most singular cir 
cumstance was, that some of the party after 
traveling so far north had, at this stage of the 
voyage, to wheel round and proceed again 
south, a most defective arrangement. 

Under existing regulations, the first halt of 
each brigade was at Okanogan. This was 'the 
point of general separation although the depot 
for the interior was still 140 miles farther 
east, at a place called Spokane House. Now, 
whatever Okanogan might have been, Spokane 
House, of all the posts in the interior, was the 
most unsuitable place for. concentrating the 
different branches of the trade. But a post 
had been established at that place in the early 

125 



days of the trade, and after the country had 
become thoroughly known people were averse 
to change what long habit had made familiar 
to them, so Spokane House still remained. 
Hence, both men and goods were, year after 
year, carried 200 miles north by water, merely 
to have the pleasure of sending them 200 
miles south again by land, in order to reach 
their destination. 

To obviate this serious difficulty it had 
been contemplated to have the depot of the 
interior removed from Spokane House to the 
Grand Forks, or Walla Walla, making either of 
these places, as being more central, the gen 
eral rendezvous. But many objections to this 
change were urged. The country was too dan 
gerous, the natives too hostile; the measure 
was deemed impracticable. These were the os 
tensible reasons, but the real cause lay deeper 
beneath the surface. 

^ Spokane House was a retired spot; no hos 
tile natives were there to disquiet a great 
man. There the bourgeois who presided over 
the Company's affairs resided, and that made 
Spokane House the center of attraction. 
There all the wintering parties, with the ex 
ception of the northern district, met. There 
they ^ were all fitted out. It was the great 
starting point, although six weeks' travel out 
of the direct line of some, and more or less 
inconvenient to all. But that was nothing; 
these trifles never troubled the great man. 
126 



fur ^unterg of tftg fat 



At Spokane House, too, there were hand 
some buildings. There was a ballroom, even, 
and no females in the land so fair to look upon 
as the nymphs of Spokane. No damsels could 
dance so gracefully as they, none were so at 
tractive. But Spokane House was not cele 
brated for fine women only, there were fine 
horses also. The race-ground was admired, 
and the pleasures of the chase often yielded 
to the pleasures of the race. Altogether, Spo 
kane House was a delightful place, and time 
had confirmed its celebrity. 

Yet with all these attractions in favor of 
the far-famed Spokane House, the unsparing 
McKenzie contemplated its removal. It was 
marked out by him as a useless and expensive 
drawback upon the trade of the interior, and 
Walla Walla pitched upon as the future general 
rendezvous of the inland trade. This step 
deeply wounded the feelings of his colleagues, 
and raised in the breasts of all lovers of 
pleasure a prodigious outcry against him. 

As to the reasons assigned against Walla 
Walla by those opposed to a change, we might 
here remark that the plan of non-intercourse, 
which we had generally observed towards the 
natives was calculated rather to keep up a 
state of hostility than otherwise, for if we 
wished to reduce the turbulent spirit of the 
natives, it was not by avoiding them that we 
could do so, but by mixing with them. We 
must live with them and they with us. We 
127 



must carry on a free intercourse with them, 
and familiarize them by that intercourse. If 
this plan had been followed up at first, the 
result, as in other similar cases, would have, 
no doubt, been favorable to both parties. At 
all events a step so necessary and so essential 
to our interest and theirs ought to have had a 
fair trial. 

Some time before our arrival at the She 
Whaps one of the men I had with me, named 
Brusseau, alias Aland, fell very sick and was 
so feeble that he was unable to continue the 
journey. It being impossible for us to remain 
with him, I got a small place fixed up near 
wood and water, and leaving a man to take 
care of him, and a spade, in case of his death, 
to bury him, we left him with but little hopes 
of recovery. 

On the tenth day after we had departed 
the man whom I had put to take care of 
Brusseau arrived at the fort with the news of 
his death, and on my asking him where the 
spade was, he said the Indians had stolen it. 
All this, as a matter of course, passed for 
truth, until some time afterwards, when who 
should turn up but poor dead Brusseau, 
escorted by some friendly Indians. 

It would appear that the cowardly and 
faithless fellow whom I had left to take care 
of him got frightened at the approach of 
some Indians, fled, and abandoned Brusseau 
to his fate; who, being left alone, must have 

128 



5Fur ^untcrjg of tfrc far 



perished but for the timely appearance of some 
natives, who administered to his wants, and 
thus enabled him not only to leave the spot 
already doomed as his grave, but also to bring 
home in his own hands the very instrument 
that was to have buried him. 

In our original plan it was proposed to 
include the transactions of every year in a 
chapter by themselves, but finding, as in the 
present instance, that it would be of inconven 
ient length, I have resolved to deviate slightly 
by dividing the operations of this year into 
two chapters. 



129 



AFFAIRS AT SHE WHAPS AND AMONG THE SNAKES 

HAVING in the preceding chapter closed 
our remarks on the voyage and reached 
our winter quarters, we shall now turn 
our attention to the transactions of the north 
ern district. 

In this extensive field but little had yet 
been done in the way of discovering the 
resources of the country, the greater part of 
which was unknown to its traders. I, there 
fore, received orders from headquarters to 
examine the eastern section, lying between 
the She Whaps and the Rocky Mountains, a 
large tract of wild country never before 
trodden by the foot of any white man; to 
ascertain the resources of this hitherto un 
known waste, as regards its furs and general 
appearance; and to find out the shortest route 
between our starting point and Canoe River, 
lying at the foot of the mountains. This task 
I had to perform without a guide or a single 
additional man, beyond the usual complement 
of the post. 

Our readers will naturally suppose that an 

exploring party destined for the discovery of 

any new part of the country ought to be 

dignified with the name expedition, but there 

130 



far 



is no such appellation customary here* What 
ever be the extent of the undertaking, there is 
no great preparation made beforehand because 
the ordinary routine of every day's duty is 
as full of adventure and hardship as it could 
be on a voyage of discovery, even were it 
to be to the North Pole. No salute is fired at 
starting, no feu de joie on returning, and the 
party set off with such means as are available 
at the time. Sometimes these means are 
more, sometimes less, according to circum 
stances, the rank of the leader, or the extent 
of the undertaking, but they are always simple. 
The traders, from the very nature of their 
employment, are daily familiarized with dif 
ficulties and dangers, and not infrequently 
exposed to the severest privations, so that 
their ingenuity, sharpened by experience, sel 
dom fails to overcome the greatest obstacles 
that can be presented by mountains or plains, 
by woods or by water, or by the still more 
dreaded arm of the lawless savage. 

An experienced person in the Indian coun 
tries, with only one or two men, their guns, 
and a few loads of ammunition, would think 
no more of crossing the desert from the Atlan 
tic to the Pacific, in the most wild and un 
frequented parts, than any other man in 
ordinary life would of crossing a country par 
ish from one side to the other, and they seldom 
fail with means the most slender. We may 
take the present undertaking as an example, 



although a petty one; yet those upon a larger 
scale in this country differ in no material 
point, either as to men or means. After re 
maining at the She Whaps for a few days, 
settling the affairs of the place, I prepared 
for my journey, but had recorded experience 
to teach me this time not to depend alto 
gether on the faith of Indians, who might 
leave me in the lurch, as they had done before 
in my attempt to reach the Pacific. 

Taking, therefore, two of my own best and 
most experienced hands, together with two 
Indians, myself making the fifth person, we 
left Fort She Whaps on the fourteenth day of 
August, intending to perform the journey on 
foot. Each man was provided with half a 
dozen pairs of Indian shoes, a blanket to 
sleep in, ammunition, a small axe, a knife, a 
fire-steel, and an awl, together with some 
needles, thread, and tobacco to smoke, all of 
which he had to carry on his back, and his 
gun on his shoulder; and this constituted the 
whole of our traveling baggage, with the 
exception of a cooking kettle and a pint pot. 
Each person had the same weight to carry, 
and the equipment is the same in all such 
cases, be the journey for a week, for a month, 
or for a year. We depended all the time on 
our guns for our subsistence, and for a further 
supply of shoes and clothes, on the skins 
of the animals we might chance to kill on 
our way. 

132 



fur ^unterg of tfje far 



At the outset we proceeded up the North, 
or Sun-tea-coot-a-coot River, for three days; 
then turning to the right, we took to the 
woods, steering our course in the eye of the 
rising sun, nearly midway between Thomp 
son's River on the south and Eraser's River on 
the north. The first day after turning our 
backs on North River, we made but little 
progress, but what we made was in an easterly 
direction. The second day our courses per 
compass were, E.S.E. 6 miles, E. 4 miles, 
S.E. 2 miles, E. by N. 5 miles, E. i mile, 
N.E. 2 miles, N.N.E. 4 miles; we then en 
camped. The country through which we 
passed this day was covered with heavy tim 
ber, but having clear bottom and being good 
traveling, with here and there small open 
plains. During the third day the face of the 
country became timberless, with frequently 
open clear ground, so that we made a long 
day's journey. In the evening we fell upon a 
small lake, on the northern margin of which 
we encamped for the night. Here we found 
two Indian families, living on fish, roots, and 
berries, which they were all employed in pro 
curing. They belonged to the Sun-tea-coot-a- 
coot tribe, and seemed in their wretched condi 
tion to live very comfortably and happily. 
One of the men belonging to these families, 
who pretended to have a perfect knowledge 
of the country through which we had to pass, 
volunteered to accompany us as a guide, for 

133 



which services I promised to reward him with 
a blanket and some ammunition when we 
returned. In consequence of this new acqui 
sition to our party, we proceeded without 
having much recourse to our compass, and 
without any doubt as to the difficulties of the 
road being overcome. Leaving this place, 
which we called Friendly Lake, we proceeded 
on our journey with feelings of great confi 
dence as to our ultimate success. 

We had now resolved to follow our guide, 
having every confidence in his knowledge of 
the country, but instead of taking us by an 
easterly direction he bent his course almost 
due north for about sixty miles. We then 
reached a small river, called Kelow-naskar- 
am-ish, or Grizzly Bear River, which we as 
cended in nearly an easterly direction for six 
days, until it became so narrow that we could 
have jumped over it. While following this 
little stream we passed several beaver lodges, 
and observed many marks of the ravages of 
that animal. In many places great trees had 
been cut down, and the course of the water 
stopped and formed into small lakes and 
ponds by the sagacious and provident exer 
tions of the beaver. In one place we counted 
forty-two trees cut down at the height of 
about eighteen inches from the root, within 
the compass of half an acre. We now began 
to think we had found the goose that lays 
golden eggs; this, however, was a delusion. 

134 



fur ^unterg of tfte far 



Some low points were covered with poplars 
and other soft wood and wherever that tim 
ber and water were plentiful, there were 
beaver, but not in great numbers. Few fur 
animals were seen after passing this place, 
for from thenceforward the face of the coun 
try changed materially, being in general too 
rocky, hard, and flinty for beaver. Huge 
rocks at every step barred our way; it is a 
country for goats. Elks and deer were fre 
quently seen in great numbers, and all of 
them appeared very tame for wild animals, 
a sure indication of their being but seldom 
disturbed. Never, indeed, had they been dis 
turbed before by civilized man I 

Along Grizzly Bear River we shot four elk, 
twenty-two deer, two otters, two beavers, 
and three black bears without stepping out of 
our way. But the bears were poor, and the 
only cause we could assign for it was the 
scarcity of berries and fish, for these animals 
generally frequent fruit and fish countries, 
and we did not notice any fish in the river. 
Tracks of wild animals, wherever the ground 
was soft, were abundant, crossing the road in 
every direction. 

In one of the thickets, as we passed along, 
our guide took us a little out of our way to 
show us what he called a bear's haunt, or 
wintering den, where that animal, according 
to Indian story, remains in a dark and se 
cluded retreat, without food or nourishment, 



135 



for months together, sucking its paws! There 
was nothing remarkable in the place. The 
entrance to the lair or den was through a long 
and winding thicket of dense brushwood and 
the bear's hiding-place was not in a hole under 
the ground, but on the surface, deeply im 
bedded among the fallen leaves. Over the 
den the snow is often many feet thick, and 
the bear's hiding-place is discovered only by 
an air-hole resembling a small funnel, some 
times not two inches in diameter, through 
which the breath issues, but so concealed from 
view that none but the keen eye of the savage 
can find it out. 

In this den the bear is said to lie in a torpid 
state from December till March. They do 
not lie together in families, but singly, and 
when they make their exit in the spring 
they are very sleek and fat. To their ap 
pearance at this season I can bear ample 
testimony, having frequently seen them. But 
no sooner do they leave their winter quarters 
and begin to roam about than they get poor 
and haggard. The bear is said never to 
winter twice in the same place. In their re 
treats they are often found out and killed 
by the Indians without making the least re 
sistance. 

A short distance from Bear Thicket is a 

towering height, resembling a round tower, 

which we ascended* Here we had a pretty 

good view of the country around, but it was a 

136 



fur ^unttt# of tfre fat 



dreary prospect. The rugged rocks, with their 
treeless and shrubless tops, almost forbade us 
to advance. 

On this hill, or tower, we shot a large white- 
headed eagle, which gave a name to the place. 
Here we inscribed on the south side of a 
dwarfy pine, ''September 2nd, 1817"; and 
had I at the same time had a dram to have 
given my men, they would no doubt have 
identified the barren spot by a maypole, or 
lop-stick, on its top, to commemorate our 
visit according to North West custom. 17 Here 
our guide told us that in five or six days more 
we should reach our journey's end. He added 
that the She Whap Indians formerly passed 
that way on their travels to the east side of 
the mountains, where they often, when nu 
merous' and strong, went to trade or make 
war, but that of late they seldom ventured to 
meet the Assiniboins of the woods or the Crees 
of the plains in that quarter. Not far from 
Eagle Hill we came to some water, where we 
saw signs of beaver, but by no means so 
plentiful as to entitle it to the name of a 
beaver country. Our guide told us that these 
parts were in no respect entitled to be called 
places of beaver. From Friendly Lake to 
Eagle Hill, by the road we came, on a rough 
calculation is 155 miles. 

17 The erection of maypoles was a common custom 
among the French-Canadians, having been transferred 
to the New World from France by their ancestors. 

137 



After passing several hours on this rocky 
pinnacle, we set out again on our journey, but 
in descending the rugged cliffs one of my men 
cut his foot very badly, which detained us for 
nearly a whole day and so disabled the un 
fortunate man that we had almost made up 
our minds to leave him behind until our re 
turn; but as this step would have deprived 
us of another man to take care of him, we 
decided to keep together, so we dragged him 
along with us, and he soon recovered. 

Our course after leaving Eagle Hill was 
generally S.E., but in order to avoid clamber 
ing over rocks and mountains, we had to wind 
in tortuous courses the best way we could 
among the intricate defiles that every now 
and then crossed our path. Thus we made 
but little headway, so that after an arduous 
day's travel we sometimes scarcely put ten 
miles behind us in a direct line. As we ad 
vanced the wild animals did not seem to in 
crease in number, although our guns always 
procured us a sufficient supply of food; but 
the circuitous, and in many places dangerous, 
passes we had to wind through, discouraged us. 
The precipitous rocks required the foot of a 
dog and the eye of a hawk to guard against 
accident at all tunes. 

As we journeyed along, our guide took us 
up to another height and pointing out the 
country generally, said that he had passed 
and repassed through various parts of it 

138 



fur ^unterg af tfte jfat 



seven different times, and in as many different 
places. He seemed to know it well, and 
observed that the road we had traveled, with 
all its difficulties, was the very best to be 
found. There were, he said, some other parts 
better furnished with water, and likewise 
several small lakes, but beaver was scarce 
over all and as to water communication, there 
was none. Therefore, we at once condemned 
it, as far as we had yet seen, as both impracti 
cable and dangerous, destitute of beaver and 
everything else, so far as the purposes of 
commerce were concerned. 

On the tenth of September, being the ninth 
day after leaving Eagle Hill, we reached what 
our guide called the foot of the Rocky Moun 
tains; but the ascent all along had been 
apparently so gradual and the country so very 
rugged, with a broken and uneven surface, 
that we could observe no very perceptible 
difference in the height of the land until we 
came close under the brow of the dividing 
ridge, but there the difference was certainly 
striking. The guide had led us to a con 
siderable eminence some distance out of our 
way, from which, in looking back, we beheld 
the country we had passed over, and certainly 
a more wild and rugged land the mind of man 
could not imagine. In looking before us, that 
is towards the mountains, the view was com 
pletely barred; an almost perpendicular front 
met the eye like a wall, and we stood and 

139 



gazed at what might be called one of the 
wonders of the world. One circumstance 
struck us very forcibly, and that was the 
increased size of the timber. Along the base 
of the mountains the timber, which had been 
stunted and puny, now became gigantic in 
size, the pines and cedars in particular. One 
of the latter measured forty-five feet four 
inches in girth, four feet from the ground. 

After passing some time looking around us, 
we descended and encamped at the edge of the 
small and insignificant stream called Canoe 
River, celebrated among Northwesters for 
the quality of its birch bark. So completely 
were its banks overhung and concealed with 
heavy timber that it was scarcely visible at 
the short distance of fifty yards. It is a mere 
rill among rivers, being in some places not 
more than fifteen paces broad. Its course is 
almost due south, and it flows over a stony 
bottom, with low banks, clear, cold water, 
and a strong current. Here our guide told us 
that in two days' moderate travel we could 
reach its mouth, where it enters the Columbia 
near Portage Point. Everything here wore 
the appearance and stillness of the midnight 
hour. The scene was gloomy, and scarcely 
the chirping of a solitary bird was to be heard; 
our own voices alone disturbed the universal 
silence. In all this extent of desert through 
which we had passed not a human being was 
to be seen, nor the traces of any. 

140 



of tfrc jpat 



At Canoe River we spent the greater part 
of two days strolling about its banks, when, 
having accomplished the object of our jour 
ney, rested ourselves, and mended our shoes, 
we prepared to retrace our steps. Just as we 
were tying up our bundles to start, a fine 
moose deer plunged into the river before us; 
it had scarcely time to reach the opposite 
shore before it was shot down. This detained 
us a few hours longer, as we stopped and dined 
on the fresh supply, bagging the tongue and 
nose. We now turned our backs on Canoe 
River, and bidding farewell to the mountains, 
took to the wilderness again, following as 
nearly as possible the road we had come, only 
at intervals deviating from it. The second 
day after starting we had very heavy thunder, 
with a torrent of rain, which impeded our 
progress, for the thick brushwood and long 
grass rendered traveling in dry weather not 
over pleasant, but in wet weather intolerable. 

As the thunder and rain increased, I ex 
pressed a wish to take shelter under the cliff 
of a projecting rock until the storm abated, 
but our guide smiled at my ignorance. "Do 
not the whites know," asked he, "that there 
is a bad spirit there?" and he would not go 
near it, nor hear of our approaching the rock 
that offered us shelter. I replied he might 
stop, but I should go. "No, no!" said he, 
"the thunder may not kill you, but it will kill 
the Indians. Do you wish us to die?" So I 
141 



yielded the point and we remained exposed 
to the fury of the storm all the time. "That 
rocky height/' said he, pointing to one near 
us, "has fire in it, and the thunder keeps 
always about it." On my inquiring into the 
nature of the fire, he observed, "Snow never 
remains there; it is hot, and smokes all the 
winter. There is a bad spirit in it. Three 
years ago, two of our people who took shelter 
there were killed the Kasht-sam-mah dwells 
there." I then asked him if that was the only 
rock that smoked during winter in these parts. 
He answered, "No; there are several others a 
little farther on that smoke, but the Indians 
never go near them, and wild animals in going 
past them are often killed. Plenty of bones 
are there, and the thunder is always loudest 
there. The bad spirit, or Kasht-sam-mah, 
lives there." We, however, saw no indica 
tions of a volcanic nature near it; it was, in 
my opinion, pure superstition. The weather 
clearing up soon after, we continued our 
journey, 

On the seventh day from Canoe River we 
reached Eagle Hill, but we did not stop there. 
From that place our guide took us by a new 
road I ought to say in a different direction 
with the view of shortening our distance, but 
we gained little by the change. Not far from 
Eagle Hill we shot two grizzly bears and a 
bird of the vulture tribe. Deer and elk were 
very numerous. In this direction we likewise 
142 



fur ^untetjs of tyt far 

passed a considerable lake in which were 
several muskrat lodges. We shot a swan, and 
saw two wolves prowling about, and for the 
first time saw tracks of the martin. Six days 
from Eagle Hill brought us back again to 
Friendly Lake, where the relations of our 
guide were left, but they had removed from 
the place, leaving no trace, apparently. The 
guide, however, after looking about for some 
time noticed a small stick stuck up in the 
ground, rather leaning to one side, with a small 
notch in it. After examining the position of 
the stick and the notch, he observed to me, 
"My relations are at such a place." The in 
clination of the stick pointed out, he said, 
the direction they had gone, and the notch 
meant one day's journey ofL It being in our 
line of march, we came up to them at the very 
place the guide had stated. 

With the guide's relations we passed a night 
and part of the next day, as two of my men 
had the soles of their feet blistered by walk 
ing. Starting again without the Indians, our 
guide still accompanied us. Here again we 
took another new road and crossed the woods 
in a southwest direction, thinking to shorten 
our distance considerably. By this course we 
avoided going to North Raver altogether, 
until within a short distance of the fort. Here 
the woods assumed a more healthy appear 
ance, the timber became much larger, and the 
rocks gave place to a rich and fertile soil. 

143 



On reaching a small, open plain, we per 
ceived at a little distance off two large birds in 
the act of fighting, much in the same way as 
do our domestic fowl. We made a halt and, 
unperceived, I approached them till^ within 
gunshot, and kept watching their motions for 
some time. At last I showed myself, when one 
of the birds tried to fly off but was scarcely 
able to keep itself up, and soon alighted again. 
I still approached, when the bird tried to get 
up again. As it was in the act of rising, I 
fired and brought it to the ground, but the 
other never stirred from its place. The bird I 
had shot proved to be a whiteheaded eagle, 
the other was a wild turkey-cock, or what we 
call the Columbia grouse, a bold and noble 
bird. The grouse was nearly blind, for during 
the combat the eagle had almost torn out its 
eyes; yet it disdained to yield, and might have 
ultimately come off the conqueror, for the 
eagle was very much exhausted and nearly 
blind of an eye. The fight had been long and 
well contested, for the grass all round the 
spot, for some twenty yards, was beaten to 
the ground, and the feathers of the com 
batants were strewed about in their fierce and 
bloody struggles. The grouse weighed n}4 
Ibs., the eagle only S$4 Ibs. We carried both 
birds along with us. 

By the road we last took we shortened our 
distance nearly a day's travel, but what we 
saved in shoes we lost hi clothes, for almost 

144 



fm ^unter# of tfyt fat 



all we had were torn to pieces. We reached the 
fort, after a laborious journey of forty-seven 
days, on the twenty-ninth of September. 

According to the most correct estimate, the 
distance between the She Whaps and Canoe 
River does not, by the route we traveled, 
exceed 420 miles, and in a direct line not much 
more than half that distance. From all I saw 
or could learn, however, in reference to the 
country generally, little can be said in its 
favor. No road for the purpose of land trans 
port appeared to me practicable, nor do I 
conceive it possible to make one without an 
expense that the prospects of the country 
would by no means warrant. As to water 
communication, there is none except by 
Thompson's River, and that is practicable 
but a very small part of the way; elsewhere 
there is none but Eraser's on the north. As a 
barren waste well stocked in wild animals of the 
chase, and some few furs, the trade on a small 
scale, apart from the She Whaps, might be 
extended to some advantage in this quarter, 
and the returns conveyed either to the latter 
post or to the mouth of Canoe River. 

Leaving the affairs of my own district, we 
shall bestow a cursory glance at what was 
going on in another quarter. The season was 
now at hand when the Company's dispatches 
were wont to arrive, and a brigade, as usual, 
escorted them from the interior to Fort 
George. As soon, therefore, as they arrived, 

145 



McKenzie made no hesitation in delivering 
over these important documents into the 
hands of the natives, to carry them to their 
destination. This appeared a strange mark of 
confidence in the fidelity of this almost hostile 
race. It seemed doubtful, even to us, that a 
novel experiment of the kind should succeed 
in this quarter, while it was remarked that 
similar instances could never be brought to 
succeed with the Indians of more settled 
countries. At the Falls a council of the chiefs 
and wise men was solemnly held over the 
dispatches, but after a very short delay they 
sent them forward. At the Cascades more 
serious meetings disputed their fate, but after 
being detained by a variety of alternations for 
three days, it seemed that good fortune again 
prevailed, and they went on from hand to 
hand with wonderful expedition. The answer 
was also conveyed back to the interior by the 
same hands, with unheard-of rapidity. 

In the contemplation of this plan the Coun 
cil at headquarters had suggested the pro 
priety of one set of couriers performing the 
whole journey; but McKenzie, with his usual 
sagacity, saw this would cause jealousy and 
eventually fail. He therefore managed so as 
to have the dispatches conveyed from one 
tribe to another, placing confidence in all, and 
therefore all seemed equally intrusted and 
equally ambitious to discharge the trust re 
posed in them. 

146 



fur ^uttterg of tfyt far 



By this means of conveyance a voyage 
which employed forty or fifty men was 
avoided, consequently obviating the risk of 
lives, loss of time, and heavy expenses, the 
charges incurred being a mere trifle. Not only 
were these advantages obtained, but that 
which strength and weapons could scarcely 
bring about was effected by a sheet of paper 
conveying our ideas to one another. It 
imprinted on the superstitious minds of the 
savages a religious veneration for the superior 
endowments of the white man. They appre 
ciated the confidence placed in them, and this 
custom was afterwards continued. A Co 
lumbia Indian was always ready to start in 
the capacity of courier for the boon of a few 
strings of beads, or a few shots of ammunition. 

When the different establishments were 
outfitted and put in train for the season, 
McKenzie, with all the residue of the people, 
set out on a voyage of hunting and discovery 
to the south of Lewis River, bordering on the 
Snake frontiers. His party consisted chiefly 
of such men as were otherwise found of little 
service in the wintering ground, being almost 
all composed of Iroquois and other refuse. 
They were five and thirty strong, but of this 
motley crew five Canadians formed the only 
support he could trust to with confidence. 

No sooner were they arrived in the midst 
of the Nez Perces, on their way to their win 
ter quarters, than the Iroquois, perceiving 

147 



their superiority in numerical strength over 
the few whites, instead of acting up to their 
respective duties, contrived plots against their 
leader and the slender band of Canadians that 
were about him. A trifling incident, which we 
are about to mention, blew the whole into flame. 
The Iroquois, contrary to the established 
rules of the trade and the general practice 
among the natives, trafficked privately with 
the Indians, which conduct had once or twice 
before nearly caused serious quarrels between 
the natives and the party. The Iroquois had 
been repeatedly warned against such prac 
tices, but without effect; they still continued 
to act as before. Grand Pierre, one of the 
Iroquois, bargaining with an Indian for a 
horse, a misunderstanding arose between 
them, and a quarrel was likely to ensue, when 
the Iroquois applied to his bourgeois, at the 
same time asking him for a variety of things 
to satisfy the Indian from whom he had got 
the horse. McKenzie, annoyed at the con 
duct of Pierre and the Iroquois generally, and 
wishing to put a final stop to such dangerous 
interference in future, paid the Indian and 
then, drawing a pistol from his belt, shot the 
horse dead upon the spot. This act ought to 
have warned Pierre and his companions of 
their misconduct; it caused a considerable 
talk at the moment. The Iroquois grumbled 
and retired, but from that moment they med 
itated the destruction of their leader. 
148 



fur ^untorg of tfje fat 



Being as cowardly as perfidious, and in 
order to make sure of their blow, they set to 
work to gain the natives on their side, that 
they might throw the guilt of the deed on 
their shoulders. But this only served to draw 
down upon them the contempt of the party, 
and eventually divulged their schemes before 
they were ripe for execution. 

A short time previously the Indians had 
mentioned something of the kind to our 
people, who, however, discredited the whole 
as a piece of deception got up to answer some 
purpose of their own, and it passed unheeded. 
The Iroquois learning, however, that the In 
dians had made their designs known to the 
whites, were determined not to be foiled in 
their purpose; so one of the villains imme 
diately arming himself, and calling upon his 
comrades to follow him, sallied forth for his 
master's tent, just at the break of day. 
Joachim, the Iroquois interpreter, a faithful 
and zealous servant, having overheard what 
was going on, rushed into his bourgeois' tent 
not half a minute before the assassin and one 
of his gang got there, and called out " Murder 1 
murder! 7 ' In the confusion McKenzie, who 
had been asleep, could not put his hands 
on his pistols, but grasping one of the tent 
poles he brought his assailant to the ground 
at the first blow; another who followed close 
after, shared the same fate. By this time 
some of the Canadians and faithful Owhyhees 
149 



came to their master's assistance, and the 
Iroquois fled. 

In this instance McKenzie's strength and 
activity of body were of much service to him, 
but not more than his coolness and decision 
in the moment of danger. 

The plan of the Iroquois was to murder 
their leader while asleep and to escape with 
the property out of the country in a body, but 
the safety of McKenzie and the success of 
his affairs resting entirely on promptness of 
action, he resolutely chastised the ringleader 
and others on the spot; nor had the toma 
hawks which the villains brandished over his 
head the effect of averting the punishment 
their treacherous conduct deserved. In the 
face of the natives, therefore, it was his good 
fortune to reduce his treacherous servants to 
a sense of their duty. But he did not think it 
prudent to trust them further in the prosecu 
tion of his plans, which, by this unforeseen 
event, experienced a partial failure for the 
year. 

He dispersed the Iroquois: one was sent 
to me at Okanogan, two to Spokane House, 
and the rest placed on separate hunting- 
grounds in the neighborhood, under the eye 
of an influential chief, where they could do no 
harm. Then, with the remainder of his people 
he wheeled about in another direction, intend 
ing to carry on the project of hunting and of 
discovery for the season, although upon a 

150 



f ut tunterg of tfte fat 



more contracted scale. His primary object 
was to conclude an arrangement with the Nez 
Perces, and in the Snake country to con 
ciliate the Indians, with a view to open the 
way for extending the trade as soon as existing 
prejudices gave way, for he was surprised at 
the unfavorable change which the Indians 
had undergone during the short period the 
country had been under the domination of 
the North West Company. He frequently 
observed to me that a* change of system was 
necessary to reduce the Indians to order and 
to reclaim the trade, both being on the brink 
of ruin. 

With this view he undertook, at a late sea 
son of the year, a voyage of three months' 
duration, traversing a rugged and moun 
tainous country covered with deep snow, in 
order to keep up a good understanding with. 
the strong and turbulent tribes inhabiting 
the south branch, where some of his former 
years had been spent. 

These roving and hostile bands, inhabiting 
the borders of the great Snake country, still 
infested the communication and held a valu 
able key of trade, but invariably continued 
hostile to the whites. At that severe season 
they are generally scattered about in small 
bands, and as it is much easier to gain on 
a few than on a multitude, he visited them 
all, and succeeded beyond expectation. In 
McMillan's wintering ground everything went 



on in its usual successful train. But nothing 
happened in that old beaten path to elicit our 
notice, so that we now turn back to the north 
again. 

Soon after my arrival from Canoe River I 
was invited by the chiefs of my post to accom 
pany a party of the natives on a bear-hunting 
expedition for a few days. On these occasions 
they feel flattered by their trader accom 
panying them. The party were all mounted 
on horseback, to the number of seventy- three, 
and exhibited a fine display of horsemanship. 
After some ten miles' travel we commenced 
operations. Having reached the hunting- 
ground, the party separated into several 
divisions. We then perambulated the woods, 
crossed rivers, surrounded thickets, and scam 
pered over hill and dale, with yell and song, 
for the greater part of two days, during which 
time we killed seven bears, nine wolves, and 
eleven small deer. One of the former I had 
the good luck to shoot myself. In the evening 
of the third day, however, our sport was 
checked by an accident. One of the great 
men, the chief Pasha of the hunting party, 
named Tu- tack-it Is-tso-augh-an, or Short 
Legs, got severely wounded by a female bear. 

The only danger to be apprehended in these 
savage excursions is by following the wounded 
animal into a thicket, or hiding-place; but 
with the Indians the more danger the more 
honor, and some of them are foolhardy enough 

152 



^unterg ot tfrc fat 



to run every hazard in order to strike the last 
fatal blow (in which the honor lies) some 
times with a lance, tomahawk, or knife, at 
the risk of their lives. No sooner is a bear 
wounded than it immediately flies for refuge 
to some hiding-place, unless too closely pur 
sued, in which case it turns round in savage 
fury on its pursuers, and woe awaits whoever 
is in the way. 

The bear in question had been wounded 
and took shelter in a small coppice. The bush 
was instantly surrounded by the horsemen, 
when the more bold and daring entered it on 
foot, armed with gun, knife, and tomahawk. 
Among the bushrangers on the present occa 
sion was the chief, Short Legs, who, while 
scrambling over some fallen timber, happened 
to stumble near to where the wounded and 
enraged bear was concealed, but too close to 
be able to defend himself before the vicious 
animal got hold of him. At that moment I 
was not more than five or six paces from the 
chief, but could not get a chance of shooting, 
so I immediately called out for help, when 
several mustered round the spot. Availing 
ourselves of the doubtful alternative of killing 
her even at the risk of killing the chief we 
fired, and as good luck would have it shot the 
animal and saved the man; then, carrying the 
bear and wounded chief out of the bush, we 
laid both on the open ground. The sight of 
the chief was appalling. The scalp was torn 



from the crown of his head, down over the 
eyebrows; he was insensible, and for some 
time we all thought him dead, but after a 
short interval his pulse began to beat, and he 
gradually showed signs of returning animation. 

It was a curious and somewhat interesting 
scene to see the party approach the spot where 
the accident happened. Not being able to get 
a chance of shooting, they threw their guns 
from them and could scarcely be restrained 
from rushing on the fierce animal with their 
knives only. The bear all the time kept look 
ing first at one, than at another, and casting 
her fierce and flaming eyes around the whole 
of us, as if ready to make a spring at each; 
yet she never let go her hold of the chief, but 
stood over him. Seeing herself surrounded by 
so many enemies, she moved her head from 
one position to another, and these movements 
gave us ultimately an opportunity of killing 
her. 

The misfortune produced a loud and clam 
orous scene of mourning among the chief's 
relations. We hastened home, carrying our 
dead bears along with us, and arrived at the 
camp early in the morning of the fourth day. 
The chief remained for three days speechless. 
In cutting off the scalp and dressing the wound 
we found the skull, according to our imperfect 
knowledge of anatomy, fractured in two or 
three places; and at the end of eight days I 
extracted a bone measuring two inches long, 

154 



fur ^unterg of tfje far Wt$t 

of an oblong form, and another of^about an 
inch square, with several smaller pieces, all 
from the crown of the head. The wound, how 
ever, gradually closed up and healed, except 
a small spot about the size of an English 
shilling. In fifteen days, by the aid of Indian 
medicine, he was able to walk about, and at 
the end of six weeks from the time he got 
wounded, he was on horseback again at the 
chase. 

The tide of sympathy for the great man's 
misfortunes did not run high, for at best he 
was but an unprincipled fellow, an enemy to 
the whites and hated by his own people. 
Many were of the opinion that the friendly 
bear had at last rid us of an unfriendly chief, 
but to the disappointment of all he set the 
bear and wounds at defiance, and was soon, 
to our great annoyance, at his old trade of 
plotting mischief. 

Wolf -hunting as well as bear-hunting occa 
sionally occupies the attention of the natives. 
In these parts both species are numerous. 
The former is an inhabitant of the plains, the 
latter of the woods. Wolves and foxes are 
often run down on horseback, hunted with 
the gun, or caught in traps. With all the 
cunning of the fox, however, the wolf is far 
more difficult to decoy or entrap, being shy, 
guarded, and suspicious. 

During the winter season a good many 
wolves and foxes were caught by the whites 



with hook and line as we catch fish; with this 
difference, however, that the latter are taken 
in water, the former on dry land. For this 
purpose three cod-hooks are generally tied 
together back to back, baited, and then fixed 
with a line to the branch of a tree, so that the 
hooks are suspended in the air at the distance 
of four or five feet from the ground. To get 
hold of the bait the wolf has to leap up, and 
the moment the hooks catch their hold it 
finds itself either in a standing or suspended 
position, which deprives the animal of its 
strength; neither can it in that posture cut 
the line. It is generally caught, sometimes 
dead, sometimes alive. 

The catching of wolves, foxes, or other wild 
animals by the whites, was, however, the 
work only of leisure hours. We always pre 
ferred the gun to any other mode of destruc 
tion. In these parts, as well as in many others, 
the wolves prowled about night and day. 
Their favorite haunts were 011 hillocks or 
other eminences on which they would stand 
to rest or look about them for some time. We, 
therefore, used to scatter bones or bits of 
meat as decoys to attract them, and in the 
intervals practiced ourselves in shooting at 
these frequented spots, taking different eleva 
tions with the gun, until habit, and experience 
had enabled us to hit a small object at a very 
great distance, and with as much precision as 
if the object had been near to us. 

156 



fur ^untctg of tSe far Wt$t 

A band of Indians happening to come to the 
fort one day, and observing a wolf on one of 
the favorite places of resort, several of them 
prepared to take a circuitous turn to have a 
shot at the animal. Seeing them prepare, 
"Try," said I, "and kill it from where you 
are." The Indians smiled at my ignorance. 
"Can the whites," said the chief, "kill it at 
that distance?" "The whites," said I, "do 
not live by hunting or shooting as do the 
Indians, or they might." "There is no gun," 
continued the chief, " that could kill at that 
distance." By this time the wolf had laid 
hold of a bone, or a piece of flesh, and was 
scampering off with it at full speed to the 
opposite woods. Taking hold of my gun, "If 
we cannot kill it," said I, "we shall make it 
let go its prey." "My horse against your 
shot," called out the chief, "that you do not 
hit the wolf." "Done," said I, but I certainly 
thought within myself that the chief ran no 
great risk of losing his horse, nor the wolf of 
losing its life. Taking an elevation of some 
fifteen or sixteen feet over it, by chance I shot 
the animal in his flight, to the astonishment 
of the chief, as well as all present, who, clap 
ping their hands to their mouths in amaze 
ment, measured the distance by five arrow- 
shots. Nothing but their wonder could exceed 
their admiration of this effect of firearms. 

When the ball struck the wolf it was in the 
act of leaping, and we may judge of its speed 

157 



at the time from the fact that the distance 
from whence it took the last leap to where it 
was lying stretched measured twenty-four 
feet! The ball struck the wolf in the left 
thigh, and passing through the body, neck, 
and head it lodged in the lower jaw; I cut it 
out with my penknife, The chief, on deliver 
ing up his horse, which he did cheerfully, 
asked me for the ball, and that ball was the 
favorite ornament of his neck for years after 
wards. The horse I returned to its owner. 
The Indians then asked me for the skin of 
the dead wolf, and to each of the guns be 
longing to the party was appended a piece, 
the Indians fancying that the skin would en 
able them, in future, to kill animals at a great 
distance. 

The incidents, adventures, and narrow es 
capes which, in the course of this year, we 
have had to notice, may throw some transient 
light on a fur trader's life in this country his 
duties, his troubles, his amusements, and his 
pleasures. And one of the greatest pleasures 
here alluded to consists in doing homage to 
the great. A chief arrives; the honor of wait 
ing upon him in a servile capacity falls to 
your share, if you are not above your business. 
You go forth to meet him, invite him in, see 
him seated, and, if need require it, you untie 
his shoes and dry his socks. You next hand 
him food, water, and tobacco, and you must 
smoke along with him; after which, you must 

158 



fur J^imterg of t&e far 



listen with grave attention to all he has got to 
say on Indian topics, and show your sense of 
the value of his information by giving him 
some trinkets, and sometimes even articles of 
value, in return. But the grand point of all 
this ceremony is to know how far you should 
go in these matters, and when you should 
stop. Nor must you forget that Indians are 
acute observers of men and things, and gen 
erally possess retentive memories. By over 
doing the thing you may entail on yourself 
endless troubles. 

When not employed in exploring new and 
unfrequented parts, involved in difficulties 
with the natives, or finding opposition in 
trade, the general routine of dealing with most 
Indians goes on smoothly. Each trading-post 
has its leader, its interpreter, and its own 
complement of hands, and when things are 
put in a proper train, according to the customs 
of the country, the business of the year pro 
ceeds without much trouble and leaves you 
sufficient time for recreation. You can take 
your gun on your back; you can instruct your 
family or improve yourself in reading and 
reflection; you can enjoy the pleasures of 
religion to better advantage, serve your God 
to more perfection, and be a far better Chris 
tian than were your lot cast in the midst of 
the temptations of a busy world. 

Confining our remarks to the simple and 
uniform duties of a trading-post, activity of 

159 



body, prudence, and forethought are quali 
fications more in request than talent. In 
trade, as in war, there are ains and losses, 
advantages and disadvantages to be kept in 
view, to guide one's conduct, and, generally 
speaking, the master of a department, district, 
or post, lives a busy and active life; and, 
although in a manner secluded from the eye 
of the world, yet he is just as interested and 
ambitious to distinguish himself in his sphere 
of life as if continually under the eye of a 
scrutinizing superior, for if he once loses his 
character through negligence or impropriety 
of conduct, it is here tenfold harder for him to 
regain confidence than in any employment 
elsewhere. The apprehension of this alone is a 
great check against misconduct. 

The usual time for mustering all hands at 
headquarters being now arrived, the different 
parties throughout the interior, after assem 
bling at the forts, made the best of their way 
to the emporium of the Far West, and met at 
Fort George oh the fifth day of June, 1818. 



160 



6 



THE FOUNDING Or FORT NEZ PERCES 

A" the sitting of the Fort George board of 
management in the preceding year, an 
inclination was manifested to encourage 
the change of system, agreeably to the minutes 
of Council at headquarters. From the feeling at 
the time much was expected, but nothing was 
realized; for, practically, that disposition was 
rendered abortive by subsequent arrangements. 

At headquarters, however, the Council of 
Fort William this year took a decisive step 
that set all the vacillating measures of the 
managers at Fort George on one side. They 
ordered 100 men to be at McKenzie's dis 
posal for the more 'effectually carrying out 
his measures, and that a fort, or trading sta 
tion, should be erected among the Nez Perces 
Indians. Being more central for the general 
business of the interior than that of Spokane 
House, it should be forthwith established 
there, and I was appointed to take charge of 
that important depot. To these resolutions 
was appended a sharp reproof for the delays 
during the two preceding years. 

The Fort George board of management had 
now no choice but to acquiesce in the decision 
of the Council at headquarters. The managers 
161 



bit their lips, and were silent. Men were 
provided and means also, and a new feature 
imparted to the order of things generally. 

The Council having sat, the brigade for the 
interior left Fort George and reached, with 
out accident or hindrance, after a short and 
prosperous voyage, the Walla Walla, near the 
confluence of the two great branches of the 
Columbia, on the eleventh of July. On that 
day McKenzie, myself, and ninety-five effec 
tive men encamped on the site pitched upon 
for the new establishment of Fort Nez Perces, 
about half a mile from the mouth of the little 
river Walla Walla. 

There our friends left us as a forlorn hope, 
and proceeded on their journey to their several 
destinations. And, having before fully ex 
plained the customary mode of voyaging, we 
shall now direct the attention of our readers 
to the operations in this new quarter, occa 
sionally glancing at other parts as circum 
stances may require. 

Before doing so we must, in the first place, 
give a brief description of the place itself, with 
such other remarks as may occasionally sug 
gest themselves; and secondly, present the 
reader with an account of our reception by the 
natives of the place, and the almost insur 
mountable difficulties we had to encounter 
before we could bring about a full reconcil 
iation with the turbulent and high-minded 
Indians by whom we were surrounded. 
162 



fur $unto# of tf>e fat 



On reaching the place, instead of advancing 
to meet us at the water's edge, as friends, on 
making for the shore the Indians, as if with 
one accord, withdrew to their camp. Not a 
friendly hand was stretched out; not the least 
joy, usual among Indians on such occasions, 
was testified, to invite or welcome our arrival. 
These ceremonies, though trifling in them 
selves, are a very good indication of the recep 
tion likely to be met with, and in the present 
case their total absence could only be con 
sidered as very unfavorable. 

Shy and silent, they sat on the mounds at 
some distance from us, wrapped in their robes 
of dignity, observing a studied indifference. 
Even the little copper-colored bantlings were 
heard to say, "What do the white people want 
here? Are they going to kill more of our rela 
tions?" alluding to some former occurrences 
there. Others, again, would remark, "We 
must not go near them, because they will kill 
us." While all this was going on we kept a 
sharp lookout. The principal chief of the 
camp, instead of coming to us walked round 
and round the assembled crowd, urging the 
Indians to the observance of a non-intercourse, 
until the whites had made them presents. 
Hints were given us that property would pur 
chase a footing. 

In the Whole land, this spot was among the 
most difficult the most barren of materials 
for building; and as it was no common scheme, 
163 



the same appeared to ordinary minds as a 
thing more wild than practicable. But plans 
had been formed; the country must be secured, 
the natives awed and reconciled, buildings 
made, furs collected, new territories added. 
Objections were not to be entertained; no 
obstacles were to be seen. We were to occupy 
the position. So on the dreaded spot we took 
up our stand, to run every hazard and brave 
every danger. 

The site was remarkable among the natives 
as being the ground on which, some years 
before, Lewis and Clark of the American ex 
ploring expedition ratified, according to In 
dian report, a general peace between them 
selves and the tribes of the adjacent country 
by the celebration of feasting and dancing for 
several days. 18 It was rendered remarkable 
as a spot on which difficulties already noticed 
had taken place between the whites and the 
natives; and it was rendered still more re 
markable as being considered the most hostile 
spot on the whole line of communication, a 
place which the whites, it was said, could never 
hold with safety. The Nez Perces Fort was, 
however, marked out on a level upon the east 
bank of the Columbia, forming something like 
an island in the flood, and, by means of a trib 
utary stream, a peninsula at low water. 

18 The allusion is evidently to the dealings of Lewis 
and Clark with the natives at this place on the occasion 
of their outward journey, October 16-17, 1805. 

164 



fur ^imterg of tfje fat 



The place selected was commanding. 19 On 
the west is a spacious view of our noble stream 
in all its grandeur, resembling a lake rather 
than a river, and confined on the opposite 
shore by verdant hills of moderate height. On 
the north and east the sight is fatigued by the 
uniformity and wide expanse of boundless 
plains. On the south the prospect is romantic, 
being abruptly checked by a striking con 
trast of wild hills and rugged bluffs on either 
side of the water, and rendered more pic 
turesque by two singular towering rocks, 
similar in color, shape, and height, called by 
the natives "The Twins," situated on the 
east side. These are skirted in the distance 
by a chain of the Blue Mountains, lying in 
the direction of east and west. To effect the 
intended footing on this sterile and precarious 
spot was certainly a task replete with excessive 
labor and anxiety. 

In the charming serenity of a temperate 
atmosphere, Nature here displays her mani 
fold beauties, and, at this season, the crowds 
of moving bodies diversify and enliven the 
scene. Groups of Indian huts, with their 
little spiral columns of smoke, and herds of 
animals, give animation and beauty to the 



19 i 



19 On the site of modern Wallula, Washington. The 
original fort was burned in 1841, whereupon a second 
fort, constructed entirely of stone and adobe, was 
erected by the Hudson's Bay Company. It stood until 
1894, when it was destroyed by flood. 

165 



landscape. The natives, in social crowds, vied 
with each other in coursing their gallant steeds, 
in racing, swimming, and other feats of ac 
tivity. Wild horses in droves sported and 
grazed along the boundless plains; the wild 
fowl, in flocks, filled the air; and the salmon 
and sturgeon, incessantly leaping, ruffled the 
smoothness of the waters. The appearance 
of the country on a summer's evening was 
delightful beyond description. 

Yet, with all these attractions around us, 
we were far from being free from anxiety. 
The natives flocked about us in very sus 
picious numbers, often through curiosity, to 
see our work; yet not at all times too well dis 
posed. Our situation was the more irksome 
as we depended for food on the success of 
trade, and on our standing well or ill with the 
Indians. 

By far the greater part of the timber had to 
be collected in the bush, and conducted by 
water the distance of a hundred miles; not a 
tree nor shrub was on the spot. Divisions of 
our party, consequently, took place more fre 
quently than was desirable, and our situation 
was ever exposed. 

We had also to devise paeans to divert the 

attention and amuse the curiosity of the 

. natives. Being composed of different tribes, 

the seeds of dissension were artfully sown 

among them to hold the balance equal and 

prevent their uniting against us. Each tribe 

166 



if ur ^imterg of tj>e far 



imagined it possessed the preeminence in our 
consideration, and though they were as in 
dependent of us as we were the reverse of 
them, still they were taught to fancy that 
they could not do without us. 

Soon after our landing the tribes began to 
muster rapidly. The multitudes which sur 
rounded us became immense and their move 
ments alarming. They insisted on our paying 
for the timber we were collecting. They pro 
hibited our hunting and fishing. They affixed 
an exorbitant price of their own to every 
article of trade, and they insulted any of the 
hands whom they met alone. Thus they re 
solved to keep us in their power, and withhold 
supplies until their conditions were granted. 

Not knowing, therefore, how aSairs might 
terminate, all work was suspended. We stood 
on our guard and an entire system of non- 
intercourse between us, of necessity, took 
place for five long summer days, although we 
were at the time on very short allowance. 
One night all hands went to rest supperless. 
All this tune the natives were mustering fast, 
plotting and planning. Our numbers, how 
ever, being collected, they consisted of twenty- 
five Canadians, thirty-two Owhyhees, and 
thirty-eight Iroquois; and as a temporary in- 
closure had been put together, we assumed a 
posture of independence and of defense. 

The natives were offered such terms as were 
given in other parts of the country that 

167 



they should have the choice of cultivating a 
peaceable understanding with us, and might 
profit by a friendly intercourse, or be certain 
to undergo the vengeance of all the whites, 
and ever after be deprived of the benefit re 
sulting from a trade established among them. 
In the meantime, while they were deliberating 
among themselves we were making every 
preparation for action. 

Arguments enforced at the muzzles of our 
guns they could not, it seemed, withstand, 
and, fortunately, the chiefs advanced to bring 
matters to an accommodation. Still they in 
sisted, as a preliminary step, that we should 
bestow a liberal present on all the multi 
tude around us to reconcile them to the meas 
ure, All the property we had would scarcely 
have been a mite to each. We, therefore, per 
emptorily refused. Their demands grew less 
and less as they saw us determined. They 
were compelled at last to submit to every 
condition, even the most minute, and we were 
left to our own discretion. After these trou 
bles, which occupied many anxious days and 
sleepless nights, all again became calm. 

A trade with the natives now went on very 
briskly. Our people went to their work as 
usual, and we enjoyed for a time the comforts 
of peace and tranquillity. These enjoyments 
were, however, of short duration. True, we 
had obtained a footing on the ground, and 
things in general wore an aspect of peace, but 
168 



of tftc far 



something else remained to be done before we 
could effect the object we had in view. 

The principal cause which led to the es 
tablishing of this post was the extension of 
the trade; consequently, the next step was to 
pave the way for discoveries. To this end, it 
was indispensable to the safety of the under 
taking to have an understanding with the 
chief tribes, who at all seasons infested the 
most practicable passes in the contemplated 
direction, which was overspread with the hor 
rors of war; for seeing the natives extremely 
formidable, we apprehended that they might 
be unanimous to prevent our advancing to 
trade with their enemies. 

With a view to effect this important point, 
the chiefs and wise men of the different 
tribes were called together. They met. An 
endless round of ceremony took place among 
them during their discussion, yet nothing 
could be finally settled, on account of the 
absence of one of the principal chiefs at the 
war, in the very quarter we had our eye upon. 
We considered his absence a great drawback 
on our proceedings, as he professed himself a 
sincere friend to the whites. We, therefore, 
placed our chief reliance on his influence and 
good offices. 

For ten days our patience was put to the 

stretch by the intrigues of the many who 

busied themselves in thwarting our object. 

But while we were thus entangled in endless 

169 



efforts to secure a peace, who should arrive 
but Tum-a-tap-um, the regretted chief. We 
now hoped that the business would be speedily 
and amicably settled. But new difficulties 
presented themselves. Instead of Tum-a- 
tap-um coming to join the assembled con 
clave to forward our business, all the great 
men deserted us to join him with his trophies 
of war, and left us mere spectators to wait 
their convenience. 

The arrival of the war-party left us without 
either chief or slave to consult, and for three 
days we had to wait, until they had exhausted 
their songs of triumph, without one single 
interview with the chief on whom we had 
placed so much confidence. This war-party 
was reported to us to consist of 480 men. 
They had a very imposing appearance on 
their arrival. Their hideous yells, mangled 
prisoners, and bloody scalps, together with 
their barbarous gestures, presented a sight 
truly savage. I only saw nine slaves. On the 
third day Tum-a-tap-um, mounted on horse 
back, rode backwards and forwards round our 
little camp several times, without expressing 
either approbation or disapprobation of our 
measures. Then dismounting, and drawing 
near to us, with his men around him, they 
smoked some hundreds of pipes of our tobacco. 
The ceremony of smoking being over, we had 
a long conversation with him on the subject 
of a general peace; but he was so elated with 
170 



fur ^untttff of tftc far 



his own exploits, and the success of his late 
war expedition, that we fancied him not so 
warmly interested in our cause as formerly. 

Notwithstanding reiterated professions of 
friendship, it was observed that his disposition 
was uncommonly selfish. He never opened 
his mouth but to insist on our goods being 
lavished on his numerous train of followers, 
without the least compensation. The more he 
received, the more his assurance increased, 
and his demands had no bounds. 

The natives were now to be seen clubbed 
together in groups; counseling went on day 
and night, and as all savage tribes delight in 
war, it was no easy matter to turn their atten 
tion to peace. However, it was so managed 
that they were all induced to meet again on 
the subject. "If," said Tum-a-tap-um, "we 
make peace, how shall I employ my young 
men? They delight in nothing but war, and 
besides, our enemies, the Snakes, never 
observe a peace." Then turning round, 
"Look," said he again, pointing to his slaves, 
scalps, and arms, "am I to throw all these 
trophies away? Shall Tum-a-tap-um forget 
the glory of his forefathers, and become a 
woman?" Quahat, the Cayouse great war 
chief, next got up and observed, "Will the 
whites, in opening a trade with our enemies, 
promise not to give them guns or balls?" 
Others spoke to the same effect. We tried to 
combat these remarks by expatiating on the 
171 



blessings of peace and the comforts of trade, 
but several meetings took place before we 
could accomplish the desired object. 

At length a messenger came with notice 
that the chiefs were all of one mind, and 
would present themselves in a short time. All 
our people were placed under arms, nominally 
to honor their reception, but really to guard 
ourselves. By and by the solemn train of 
chiefs, warriors, and other great personages 
were seen to move from the camp in pro 
cession, painted, dressed in their state and 
war garments, and armed. They entered our 
inclosure to the number of fifty-six, where a 
place had been appropriately fitted up for the 
occasion. The most profound silence per 
vaded the whole, until the pipe of peace had 
six times performed the circle of the assembly. 

The scene was in the highest degree inter 
esting. The matter was canvassed anew. 
Nothing appeared to be overlooked or neg 
lected. The opinion of each was delivered 
briefly, with judgment and with candor, and 
to the same end. Satisfied with the answers 
and the statements we had given, at sunset 
peace between themselves and the Snakes was 
decreed on the spot, and a unanimous consent 
given for us to pass and repass unmolested. 
Then they threw down their war garments 
into the midst of the circle, as if to say, "We 
have no further need of these garments." 
This maneuver had a double meaning. It 
172 



fur ^untetg of tfre jpat 



was a broad hint for a new suit, as well as a 
peace-offering! The pipe of peace finally rat 
ified the treaty. Then all shaking hands, ac 
cording to the manner of the whites, parted 
friends, both parties apparently pleased with 
the result. 

One condition of the treaty was that we 
should use our influence to bring the Snakes 
to agree to the peace, for without that it 
would be useless to ourselves. The only real 
object we had in view, or the only result that 
could in reality be expected by the peace, was, 
that we might be enabled to go in and come 
out of the Snake country in safety, sheltered 
under the influence of its name. Nothing 
beyond this was ever contemplated on our 
part. All our maneuvers were governed by 
the policy of gain. Peace in reality was be 
yond our power; it was but an empty name. 

Does the reader ask, " Could the puny arm 
of a few whites, were they sincere, have 
brought about a peace between these two 
great and warlike nations, situated as they 
are?" I answer, "No." Does he ask, "Did 
Lewis and Clark conclude a peace between 
them?" I again answer, "No." Does he 
inquire, "Can a solid peace be concluded 
between them, either by themselves, or by 
the influence of their traders?" I repeat, 
"No." Does he again inquire, "Is such a 
thing practicable as a solid peace being con 
cluded and observed between two savage 

173 



nations, brought up in war?" I say, "No!" 
Such a thing is a perfect delusion. They must 
either be civilized, or one of them extirpated. 
Then there may be peace, but not till then. 

As soon as the great conference of peace was 
over our men were set to their work, for the 
third time, and we now opened a trade with 
the natives, which was carried on briskly, 
particularly in provisions and pack horses, 
for the contemplated journey across the Blue 
Mountains. In a few days we procured 280 
horses, a number answerable to the different 
purposes of traveling, hunting, and exploring 
in the new and distant countries inhabited by 
the Snakes and other nations to the south. 
This brings us to the first Snake expedition. 

The expedition was composed of fifty-five 
men of all denominations, 195 horses, and 300 
beaver traps, besides a considerable stock of 
merchandise; but depending on the chances 
of the chase, they set out without provisions 
or stores of any kind. The season was too 
far advanced for the plan to be successful. 

The party took their departure at the end of 
September, in the full view and amid the cheers 
of all the natives. Turning his back, therefore, 
upon the rest of his extensive charge, with all 
of its ease and fruits of comfort, McKenzie, 
without any second or friend in whom he could 
confide, placed himself at the head of this 
medley to suffer new; hardships and face new 
dangers in the precarious adventure. 
174 



fur ^untetg of tfre jfar 

The charge of the important establishment. 
Fort Nez Perces, with all its cares, now de 
volved upon me, with the remnant of the 
people. And as we have already given a 
description of the place and noticed our 
reception among the natives, we shall here, 
by way of variety, present the reader with a 
brief list of the names of the tribes which 
inhabit this part of the country. 

When the first traders arrived in the coun 
try they generally distinguished all the na 
tives along this part of the communication 
indiscriminately by the appellation of "Nez 
Perces," or pierced noses, from the custom 
practiced by these people of having their 
noses bored, to hold a certain white shell like 
the fluke of an anchor. The appellation was 
used until we had an opportunity of becoming 
better acquainted with their respective names. 
It was, therefore, from this cause that the 
present establishment derived its name. 

The different tribes attached to Fort Nez 
Perces, and who formerly went by that 
cognomen, are the Sha-moo-in-augh, Skam- 
nam-in-augh, E'yack-im-ah, Is-pipe-whum- 
augh, and In-as-petsum. These tribes in 
habit the main north branch above the Forks. 
On the south branch, are the Pallet-to-pallas, 
Shaw-ha-ap-ten, or Nez Perces proper, Paw- 
luch, and Co-sis-pa tribes. On the main 
Columbia, beginning at the Dalles, are the 
Ne-coot-im-eigh, Wiss-co-pam, Wiss-whams, 



Way-yam-pams, Low-him, Saw-paw, and You- 
ma-talla-bands; and above the establishment, 
the Cayouse and Walla Walla tribes. It is to 
the two latter that the spot appertains on 
which the fort is erected, who are consequently 
resident in the immediate neighborhood. The 
Shaw-ha-ap-ten and the Cayouse nations, 
are, however, by far the most powerful and 
warlike of all these different tribes. 

The two last mentioned regulate all the 
movements of the others in peace and war, 
and as they stand well or ill disposed towards 
their traders, so do the others. It is, there 
fore, the interest of the whites to keep on a 
friendly footing with them, which it is not at 
all times easy to do. They are, however, fast 
changing, and at times their conduct would 
almost encourage a belief that they are every 
thing we could wish. Judging from these 
favorable intervals, a stranger would conclude 
that no part of the country could be more 
tranquil or peaceable than this quarter, once 
so terrible; but a little knowledge of their 
history would soon convince him that al 
though they often put on a fair outside, all is 
not right within. We hoped that things were 
getting gradually better, for the men of the 
place occasionally moved about with property 
in groups of two or three at a time, and during 
my lonely strolls in the environs for the pur 
pose of shooting I fell in with bands who were 
suspicious looking, yet they never failed to 
176 



fur ^untcrg of tfre far 

accost me in the most respectful and best- 
natured manner. These circumstances augur 
favorably for the future. It will, nevertheless, 
be the work of years, perhaps of a generation, 
before civilization can manifest its influence 
over their actions. 

The circumstance which caused our chief 
uneasiness arose from the frequency of un 
pleasant rumors, which obtained currency 
among the natives of the place, that our absent 
friends had met with a total discomfiture 
from the Snake nation. Indeed, so probable 
did their statements seem, that they appeared 
no longer doubtful. The Indians being in the 
habit of viewing everything hi that direction 
hi the worst light, it was only natural they 
should place implicit belief in whatever they 
heard from those of their own nation about 
the frontiers. 

At the time of these distracting reports a 
man by the name of Oskononton, an Iroquois 
belonging to the Snake expedition, suddenly 
arrived at the fort. His haggard appearance 
showed that he had suffered no ordinary hard 
ships. After taking some refreshment and a 
little rest, for he was reduced to a skeleton, he 
related to me the story of his adventures, and 
I shall give it in his own words. "After cross 
ing the Blue Mountains/ 3 said Oskononton, 
"where we had got some distance into the 
Snake country, my comrades to the number 
of twenty-five teased Mr. McKenzie to allow 
177 



us to hunt and trap in a small river which 
appeared well stocked in beaver. At last he 
reluctantly consented and we remained, well 
knowing that if he had not done so the Iroquois 
would have deserted. This was their plan. 
After the parties had separated and Mr. 
McKenzie and the main party had left us we 
set to trapping and were very successful, but 
had not been long there when we fell in with 
a small band of Snakes. My comrades began 
to exchange their horses, their guns, and their 
traps to these people for women, and car 
ried on the traffic to such an extent that they 
had scarcely an article left; then, being no 
longer able to hunt, they abandoned them 
selves with the savages, and were doing 
nothing. 

"Unable to check their heedless conduct, I 
left them and set out to follow the main party, 
but I lost my way and getting bewildered, 
turned back again to join my comrades. Then 
I tried and tried again to persuade them to 
mind their hunting, but in vain. So I left 
them again and set out on my way back to 
this place, but, on the second day after leaving 
my associates I observed, at some little dis 
tance, a war-party and hid myself. Fearing 
that my horse might discover my retreat to 
my enemies, I resolved to kill it, a resolution 
I executed with the utmost regret. Although 
game was plentiful in those parts, yet I dared 
not shoot, as the report of my gun might have 
178 



fur ^untcrg of tfrc far 



led to my discovery in a place frequented only 
by enemies. As soon as the war-party passed 
on I cut and dried part of my dead horse for 
food, and tying it up in a bundle, continued 
my journey. 

"One^ day, as I was entering the Blue 
Mountains, I perceived several horsemen in 
full pursuit making after me. Seeing there was 
not a moment to lose, I threw my bundle, pro 
visions and all, into a bush, ran down a steep 
bank, plunged into the water (a small river 
happening to be near), and hid myself be 
neath some driftwood, my head only out of 
the water, which fortunately was not very 
cold. The horsemen paraded up and down 
both sides of the little stream for some time, 
and then dismounting, made a fire, had some 
thing to eat, and remained for more than two 
hours within fifty yards of my hiding-place. 
They were Snakes. After dark I got out of the 
water more dead than alive. I then went to 
look for my provisions, my bag, and my little 
property, which I had thrown into the bush; 
but the night being dark and I afraid to 
remain any longer, I set out as fast as I could 
on my journey without finding anything. 
Every moment I thought I heard a noise 
behind me. Every branch that broke under 
my feet or beast of prey that started, con 
vinced me, in spite of my senses, that I was 
still pursued. In this state of alarm I passed 
the night, but made very little headway. In 

179 



the morning I took to another hiding-place. 
Tired and exhausted I laid myself down to 
sleep, without covering, without fire, and 
without either food or water. In this manner, 
traveling in the night and hiding during the 
day, I crossed the Blue Mountains, which 
took me three days. For the most of that 
time I had not a shoe on my feet; neither had 
I gun, fire-steel, nor anything to render travel 
ing comfortable. By this time my feet had 
got swelled and blistered with walking, so 
that I took three days more between this and 
the mountains, making the seventh day that 
I had not tasted food of any kind, with the 
exception of a few raw roots." Thus ended 
Oskonon ton's story. 

I had no difficulty in believing the state 
ment of the Iroquois. It was in accordance 
with their general character. Oskononton, 
as his story relates, knew nothing of the main 
party, so that I was left in the dark as to its 
fate. After keeping the poor fellow upwards 
of three weeks to recruit his health and re 
cover his strength, I sent him on to Fort 
George, and this brings us to notice the pass 
ing events in that quarter. 

Just at the time of Oskononton's arrival at 
that place, a party of his countrymen were 
fitting out for a hunting and trapping expedi 
tion to the Cowlitz quarter, and he unfor 
tunately joined it. The party, however, had 
not been long there before they got into 
180 



f ut ^unterg of tfc far 



trouble with the natives, and in an affray 
poor Oskononton, in trying to rescue one of 
his companions, was murdered. After this 
tragical affair, in which it was stated our 
trappers were the aggressors, the Iroquois had 
to make a precipitate retreat, abandon their 
hunting-ground, and make the best of their 
way back again to Fort George. 

The Iroquois had no sooner returned than 
they gave Mr. Keith to understand that the 
Indians had, without the least provocation, 
killed one 'of their party and wounded two 
others. A deed so atrocious, and a story so 
plausible, had its effect at Fort George. 
Placing, therefore, implicit faith in the report 
of the Iroquois, Mr. Keith, with a view to 
investigate the matter, punish the murderers, 
and settle the affair, fitted out without delay 
a party of between thirty and forty men, 
chiefly Iroquois the very worst men in the 
world for such a business and gave the 
charge to Mr. Ogden, an experienced clerk of 
the North West school. On reaching the 
Cowlitz, all their inquiries were fruitless. 
They could find no offenders until they got 
the assistance of How-How, one of the prin 
cipal chiefs of the place, who conducted them 
to the very spot, little thinking that he would 
have cause to regret his friendly assistance. 

In their approaches to the Indians, Mr. 
Ogden cautioned the Iroquois to be guarded 
in their conduct, and do nothing until he first 

181 



showed them the example. Some then went 
one way, some another, making their way 
through the thickets and bushes. But a party 
of the Iroquois happened to reach the Indian 
tents before Mr. Ogden, and instead of waiting 
for orders, or ascertaining whether those they 
had found were or were not the guilty per 
sons, the moment they got within gunshot of 
the Indians they fired on all they saw and 
before Mr. Ogden or How-How could interpose, 
twelve persons, men, women, and children, 
were killed. Nor is it known to this day who 
were the guilty persons! Even after Mr. Ogden 
had arrived and tried to stop them, one more 
was shot; and to crown their guilt our people 
scalped three of their victims. 

The quarrel in which Oskononton lost his 
life arose from our trappers interfering with 
the Indian women, which brought down on 
them the vengeance of the men, and ended 
in bloodshed. The moment How-How saw 
the outrage committed on his people, he 
wheeled about in disgust and left the party. 
The whites had now to make a hasty retreat, 
before the neighboring Indians had time to 
assemble, and got back to headquarters with ' 
speed, carrying along with them several 
scalps, which they exhibited on poles as 
trophies of victory. They even danced with 
those trophies in the square of Fort George 
after their return! Anticipating, no doubt, a 
similar result from the Cowlitz quarter to that 
182 



fur ^imta# of 



which followed the Wallamitte embassy the 
year before, Mr. Keith was horror-struck at 
the cruelties perpetrated on the natives. 

Every stratagem that experience could de 
vise or hope inspire was now resorted to in 
order to induce How-How, the Cowlitz chief, 
to pay a visit to Fort George, in order that a 
secure footing might once more be obtained in 
the Cowlitz quarter. The Chinooks, to be 
sure, were in his way. They were his enemies, 
but what of that? The whites were his friends. 
He was promised ample protection, and a safe 
return cordially pledged. But he would listen 
to nothing. How-How was immovable. 

At last, however, it was discovered that 
How-How had a daughter, both lovely and 
fair, the flower of her tribe! Princess How- 
How was admired. Her ocher cheeks were 
delicate, her features incomparable, and her 
dress surpassed in luster her person. Her 
robes were the first in the land; her feathers, 
her bells, her rattles, were unique; while the 
tint of her skin, her nose-bob, girdle, and gait 
were irresistible 1 A husband of high rank had 
to be provided for the Princess How-How, 
and Prince How-How himself was formally 
acquainted with the wishes and anticipations 
of the whites. This appeal the sagacious and 
calculating chief could not resist. How-How, 
therefore, with his fascinating daughter and 
train of followers, arrived in their robes of 
state at headquarters. The bridal-dress was 

183 



beyond compare! Prince How-How now be 
came the father-in-law of a white chief, and 
a fur trader became the happy son-in-law of 
Prince How-How. 

We need scarcely mention here that the 
happy couple were joined together in holy 
matrimony on the first of April! After the 
marriage ceremony, a peace was negotiated 
with How-How this was the main point and 
the chief prepared for his homeward journey, 
in order to pave the way for our trappers and 
hunters to return again to the Cowlitz. 

But just as he and his followers were start 
ing, a sad blunder was committed by the 
whites. It would appear that measures for 
their safety had either been overlooked or 
neglected, and after all the courtesy that had 
been shown the great man, he left the fort 
unguarded. He had not advanced 300 yards 
from the gate before he and his people were 
partially intercepted by some skulking ChJ- 
nooks, who waylaid and fired upon them. 
How-How, instead of retreating back to the 
fort for protection, boldly called out to his 
men to face 'their enemies and stand their 
ground. But the Chinooks being concealed, 
How-How's men could see nobody to fire at ? 
so they immediately posted themselves be 
hind trees. In the skirmish, a ball happened 
to strike the fort, and whether a shot is fired 
accidentally or by design, the event is equally 
alarming. The moment, therefore, the ball 
184 



fur ^untcrff of tfte far 



struck, the sentinel gave the alarm by calling 
out, "The fort is attacked! How-How and 
his men are in ambush!" In the confusion of 
the moment, and only How-How's party being 
seen, the first impression, although exceedingly 
improbable, was that How-How himself had 
proved treacherous, and on his departure had 
fired upon the fort. Orders were, therefore, 
immediately issued to fire the bastion guns, 
by which one of How-How's men was severely, 
and another slightly, wounded. At the same 
time all the people who had been at work out 
side the fort came rushing in, and meeting 
parties in the square running to and fro in 
every direction, collecting arms and ammuni 
tion, much confusion ensued. 

How-How and his party now stood between 
two fires, and, apprehending treachery on the 
part of the whites, were preparing to make a 
rush and force their way through the Chi- 
nooks, to save themselves. But by this time 
the people who had entered the fort had time 
to set matters right, by giving information 
that the Chinooks had been lying in ambush 
and first fired upon How-How, and that How- 
How was only defending himself. In the 
bustle and uproar of the moment, however, 
some time elapsed before men taken by sur 
prise could reflect, or understand each other. 
The moment the shots were fired from the 
bastion the Chinooks fled, thinking, as a mat 
ter of course, that they only had been fired at. 

185 



A soon, therefore, as the whites ceased 
firing, all was over, and the whole was only 
the work of a few minutes. How-How was 
now brought into the fort, and the misunder 
standing fully explained to him. But he was 
a changed man. On his part, the habits of 
familiarity and friendship ceased; he was 
stern and sulky. Notwithstanding the praises 
that were bestowed on him, yet his pride was 
wounded, and he remained sullen and thought 
ful. When he ultimately took his departure, 
after receiving many presents and more prom 
ises, his fidelity was evidently shaken, and his 
future support problematical. 

The only field that now remained open for 
our trappers and hunters, as the Cowlitz 
could not be depended upon, was the Walla- 
mitte, and to that quarter the thoughts of all 
were directed. Notwithstanding a sufficient 
number of trappers and hunters were -occupied 
there already, yet all those who had been 
driven from the northern quarter now bent 
their course to the southern, to join those 
already there. From the general conduct of 
the Iroquois among the natives, it would have 
been better policy to have sent them all out 
of the country, distracting, as they did, the 
natives, destroying the trade, and disgracing 
the whites. 

The party, numbering in all sixty men and 
headed by two half-breed clerks from Canada, 
proceeded up the Wallamitte until they had 
186 



fur I^wtter of tf>e far 



reached its source, and from thence, crossing 
some high ridges of land, hunted on the banks 
of the Umpqua, where they discovered many 
branches which promised a rich harvest of 
furs. Here our people fell in with numerous 
bands of the natives, who were all very 
peaceable, but from their shy and reserved 
manners, and wishing to avoid the whites, it 
was evident that they had never been much 
in the habit of trading with them. Yet they 
made no objection to our people's hunting on 
their lands. The traders wished to traffic, 
barter in furs, and to exchange horses with 
them; they also wished to get wives from 
them. In short, they wished to play the same 
game with them as the Iroquois, according to 
Qskononton's story, played with the Snakes, 
but no inducement, no advances, could bring 
those natives into contact or familiarity with 
our people. The farther the traders advanced, 
the farther the Indians receded to avoid them; 
when, seeing the natives timid and distant, 
our people resorted to* threats. 

One day while the Indians were raising 
camp our people wished to detain some of their 
horses, as hostages to insure their return. 
The Indians resisted, and the hunters, in a 
moment of rashness, fired upon them. It was 
found that no less a number than fourteen of 
the innocent and inoffensive Indians were 
slaughtered on the spot, and that without a 
single arrow being shot in self-defense. The 

187 



survivors fled, followed up by the hunters, 
but the number that fell in the flight was not 
ascertained. 

Fear now seized the party, and a retreat 
followed. They fell back on the Wallamitte 
and, communicating their fears to the other 
trappers, all left the hunting-ground in a 
panic and drew near to headquarters. From 
the Wallamitte Falls four men of their party 
and an Indian were dispatched to Fort George 
with accounts of what had happened, giving a 
very plausible coloring of the whole affair in 
their own favor. These men, while on thejr 
way thither, had encamped at a place called 
Oak Point, within twenty miles of the fort, 
and were all, with the exception of the Indian, 
barbarously murdered one night while asleep. 
The deed was committed by five of the Class- 
can-eye-ah tribe, the same band who had 
murdered the three white men belonging to 
the Pacific Fur Company in 1811. This 
atrocious act of cruelty, taking place at the 
very gates of our stronghold, proved that the 
state of things was getting worse. 

The whites called aloud for revenge; an 
example was necessary. Three parties, com 
posed of a mixture of whites and natives, were 
sent in pursuit of the murderers. They were 
found out and seized, and four out of the five, 
after a trial of some length, were convicted and 
punished with death. The disasters of this 
year hi the Fort George district alone, it was 
188 



jfut ^imter of i#e far 



supposed, had reduced our annual returns 
4,000 beaver, equal to 6,000 pounds sterling, 
and the dire effects produced on the natives 
by the reckless conduct of our people took 
years to efface. 

Leaving Fort George, we now return to the 
Nez Perces quarter. We shall, in the first 
place, notice what effect the troubles at the 
former quarter had on the latter. The dis 
asters in the Cowlitz had not only shut us out 
from that hunting-ground, but prevented our 
trappers from proceeding across the ridge in 
the E'yak-im-a direction, for a party I had 
fitted out were frightened, as soon as they 
crossed the height of land, by the hostility 
manifested towards them, and had, in con 
sequence, to retrace their steps. They were, 
nevertheless, considering the short time they 
had been there, very successful. 

It is, perhaps, not generally known that the 
most direct line of communication from the 
Grand Forks to the ocean is by the river 
E'yak-im-a; and although the portage across 
the dividing ridge, from that river on the east 
to the Chikelis River on the west, is con 
siderable, yet the land-carriage is no object in 
a place where the road is not bad and the 
means of transport abundant, horses -being 
everywhere plentiful. All the resources of the 
interior might, therefore, with great facility 
be conveyed through this channel to Puget's 
Sound, independent of the main Columbia, 
189 



should the fate of war at any time offer obsta 
cles to the free Ingress and egress to the river 
itself, or should the intricate and dangerous 
channel across the bar at its mouth get choked 
up, as it sometimes does to a very great de 
gree, with sand-banks. By the E'yak-im-a 
road, the natives reach the ocean in ten days. 

At this period of our anxiety and our de 
clining hopes as to the fate of our friends in 
the Snake country, who should appear to 
remove suspicion and give new vigor to our 
proceedings but McKenzie, from his voyage 
of discovery. He and six men reached Fort 
Nez Perces on snowshoes, with their blankets 
on their backs, in good health and spirits, after 
a tedious journey of six months. The meeting 
was one of interest, for McKenzie was no less 
cheered to find everything safe and our footing 
sure at this place than I was to witness his safe 
return under favorable circumstances, after so 
many discouraging rumors. The accounts Mc 
Kenzie gave of the Snake country were flat 
tering and the prospects encouraging, but the 
character of his people was the very reverse. 
We shall, however, let him speak for himself. 

"After leaving this place last fall/' said 
McKenzie, "we directed our course across 
the Blue Mountains, but had not proceeded 
far into the country of the Snakes before the 
Iroquois began their old trade of plotting 
mischief; but being less numerous and more 
cowardly than their associates, they did not 
190 



fur ^untgrg of tfte far 



avow their treacherous intentions publicly. 
I was, however, fully aware of their designs, 
and guarded against them, but could not 
change their dispositions nor their heedless 
conduct; and fearing lest they might desert or 
do something worse, if in their power, I made 
a virtue of necessity and acquiesced in their 
.wishes, thinking it better policy to do so than 
drag them along discontented, to desert or 
abandon themselves with the Indians when 
ever an opportunity offered. So I put the 
best face on things I could, fitted them out 
well in everything they required, and with the 
rest of the party proceeded on our journey, 
leaving them to work beaver in the rich little 
river Skam-naugh. From this place we ad 
vanced, suffering occasionally from alarms, 
for twenty-five days, and then found our 
selves in a rich field of beaver in the country 
lying between the great south branch and the 
Spanish waters, but the natives in these parts 
were not friendly. In our journey we fell in 
with several bands of the Snake nation, and 
to each we communicated the welcome tidings 
of peace, on the part of the Nez Perces; to 
which they one and all responded in the lan 
guage of gratitude, for everything new attracts 
their attention, and the word 'peace' served 
as our letter of introduction among them. c Our 
wishes,' said they, 'are now accomplished; 
nothing is so desirable to us as peace.' I hope 
the impression may be a lasting one. 
191 



"After disposing of my people to the best 
advantage, trading with the natives, and 
securing the different chiefs to our interest, I 
left my people at the end of four months. 
Then taking a circuitous route along the foot 
of the Rocky Mountains, a country extremely 
dreary during a winter voyage, I reached the 
headwaters of the great south branch, regret 
ting every step I made that we had been so 
long deprived of the riches of such a country. 
Thence I steered my course for the river 
Skam-naugh, where I had left my Iroquois to 
hunt beaver in October last. During this 
part of my journey I crossed and recrossed 
many parts I had seen in 1811. Instead, how 
ever, of finding the Iroquois together, and 
employed in hunting or in the pursuit of hunt 
ing, I found them by twos and by threes all 
over the country, living with the savages, 
without horses, without traps, without furs, 
and without clothing, perfectly destitute of 
everything I had given them. I left them, 
therefore, as I found them. Iroquois will 
never do in this country. In fact, their intro 
duction was the signal of our disappointments. 
On reaching this place we found but little 
snow in the Blue Mountains. During the last 
two months we have traveled upwards of six 
hundred miles on snowshoes." This account 
confirmed Oskononton's story. 

Continuing the narrative of his journey, 
our enterprising adventurer next went on 
192 



fur ^wtterg of tflc far 



to describe the country, the resources, and 
animals he everywhere met with. "On our 
outward journey/' said McKenzie, "the sur 
face was mountainous and rugged, and still 
more so on our way back. Woods and valleys, 
rocks and plains, rivers and ravin.es, alter 
nately met us, but altogether it is a delightful 
country. There animals of every class rove 
about undisturbed. Wherever there was a 
little plain, the red deer were seen grazing in 
herds about the rivers. Round every other 
point were clusters of poplar and elder, and 
where there was a sapling, the ingenious 
and industrious beaver was at work. Otters 
sported in the eddies; the wolf and the fox 
were seen sauntering in quest of prey; now and 
then a few cypresses or stunted pines were 
met with on the rocky parts, and in their 
spreading tops the racoon sat secure. In the 
woods, the martin and black fox were numer 
ous; the badger sat quietly looking from his 
mound; and in the numberless ravines, among 
bushes laden with fruits, the black, the brown, 
and the grizzly bear were seen. The mountain 
sheep, and goat white as snow, browsed on the 
rocks and ridges, and the big-horn species ran 
among the lofty cliffs. Eagles and vultures of 
uncommon size flew about the rivers. When 
we approached, most of these animals stood 
motionless; they would then move off a little 
distance, but soon came anew to satisfy a 
curiosity that often proved fatal to them. 

193 



"The report of a gun did not alarm them. 
They would give a frisk at each shot, and 
stand again; but when the flag was unfurled, 
being of a reddish hue, it was with appar 
ent reluctance they would retire beyond the 
pleasing sight. Hordes of wild horses were 
likewise seen on this occasion, and of all the 
animals seen on our journey they were the 
wildest, for none of them could be approached. 
Their scent is exceedingly keen, their hearing 
also, and in their curiosity they were never 
known to come at any time within gunshot. 
One band of these contained more than 200. 
Some of them were browsing on the face of 
the hills, others were running like deer up and 
down the steeps, and some were galloping 
backwards and forwards on the brows of the 
sloping mountains, with their flowing manes 
and bushy tails streaming in the wind. Cav 
erns without number were to be seen in the 
rocks on either side of the river, many of them 
of very great depth and dimensions, and the 
shapes of the rocks were often picturesque. 
But on our way back, the scene was changed; 
it was dreary and forbidding winter. Nothing 
was to be seen but leafless forests and snow- 
clad hills, with scarcely an animal to attract 
attention, except a wolf or a fox which now 
and then crossed our path, or an eagle or vul 
ture watching their prey about rapids, where 
open water was still to be seen. The animals 
had now retreated for shelter to the thick 
194 



fur J^uttterg of tf>e far 



woods, so that we were more than once on 
short allowance. On these emergencies we had 
to regale ourselves on wolf's flesh, and were 
sometimes glad to get that to satisfy the 
cravings of hunger. We required no stimu 
lants to sharpen our appetites." 

McKenzie had a three-fold object in view 
in leaving his people and returning to this 
place at such a season: first, to see some of the 
principal Snake chiefs, whom he had not 
spoken with about the peace between them 
and the Nez Perces; secondly, to examine the 
country; and lastly, to ascertain the state of 
the navigation up the south branch, with a 
view to future operations. The two former 
of these objects were accomplished. The 
peace was settled as far as possible between 
parties living so remote from each other. The 
result, however, must ever be doubtful. 

After a short respite of only seven days at 
Nez Perces, allowing himself scarcely time to 
repose and recount his adventures, this in 
defatigable man set out anew, through ice and 
snow, to examine the state of the navigation 
in the Snake country by the south branch. 
For this purpose he and his handful of Cana 
dians, six in number, embarking on board of a 
barge, left Fort Nez Perces and proceeded up 
Lewis River. The turbulent natives on both 
sides the stream, notwithstanding his late 
return from their foes, suffered him to pass 
through this channel unmolested. After a 



voyage of two months the boat, with four 
of the men, returned to this place, while 
McKenzie and the other two pushed forward 
on the precarious adventure of reaching the 
hunters, a distance of twenty days' travel 
through a country where it had often been 
asserted that "less than fifty men could not 
set a foot with safety." 

McKenzie's letter, by return of the boat, 
was dated " Point Successful, Head of the 
Narrows, April i5th, 1819." He stated that 
"The passage by water is now proved to be 
safe and practicable for loaded boats, without 
one single carrying place or portage; there 
fore, the doubtful question is set at rest for 
ever. Yet from the force of the current and 
the frequency of rapids it may still be ad 
visable, and perhaps preferable, to continue 
the land transport while the business in this 
quarter is carried on upon a small scale." He 
then goes on to observe, "We had often re 
course to the line," and then adds, " There are 
two places with bold cut rocks on either side 
the river, where the great body of water is 
compressed within a narrow compass, which 
may render those parts doubtful during the 
floods, owing to rocks and whirlpools; but 
there are only two, and neither of them is 
long," He then concludes his letter with these 
words, "I am now about to commence a very 
doubtful and dangerous undertaking, and 
shall, I fear, have to adopt the habits of the 
196 



of tfje far 



owl, roam in the night and skulk in the day, 
to avoid our enemies. But if my life is spared 
I will be at the river Skam-naugh with my 
people and return by the fifth of June. Has 
ten, therefore, the outfit, with some additional 
hands, if possible, to that place. A strong 
escort will be advisable, and caution the per 
son you may send in charge to be at all times, 
both day and night, on his guard." 

After performing the annual trip to Fort 
George the brigade, on its return to the in 
terior, reached this place on the fifteenth of 
May, nearly a month earlier than usual. As 
soon, therefore, as the inlanders took their 
departure, I set about forwarding the Snake 
supplies. Accompanying the brigade was a 
small party of fifteen men, intended for the 
Snakes, to strengthen McKenzie's party- 
Augmenting this small party to the number 
of twenty-six from my own establishment, I 
placed the whole under the charge of a Mr. 
Kittson, an apprentice-clerk from Canada, a 
novice in the country, but a smart fellow. 
With all possible haste Mr. Kittson and his 
men set off with the Snake outfit to meet 
McKenzie and his party at the river Skam- 
naugh, according to appointment. On the 
departure of the party I handed Mr. Kittson 
written instructions, as he was a new hand, 
and cautioned him in every possible manner 
against the thieving propensities of the na 
tives along the lines. 

197 



But Kittson, full of confidence and life, 
thought all this caution unnecessary, and 
swore that "all the Indians on the continent 
would neither steal his horses nor anything 
else." " I am glad to hear it," said I. "Oh! I 
defy them/' said he, and saying so, we shook 
hands and parted. The task and responsibility 
of venturing into a new and dangerous part of 
the country, among hostile savages, with loads 
of property, was a perilous undertaking for the 
most experienced person; much more so was it 
for a person like Kittson, a perfect stranger, 
and who had never received a charge of the 
kind before. Yet all went on well until the 
party had got to the territories of the Snakes,, 
a ground which, is ever exceedingly suspicious, 
as lying between two contending nations. Too 
much care could not be taken in keeping a 
sharp lookout, none knowing when, or from 
which side, the danger might first show itself. 

Seeing no traces of Indians, Mr. Kittson 
allowed himself to be influenced by the 
opinion of his men, ever ready to despise 
danger in order to avoid watching at night. 
The whole party, therefore, in full confidence 
and security laid themselves down one night 
to enjoy the comforts of repose. In the dark 
ness of the night, however, hearing neighing 
and a noise among the horses, the party 
started up, half asleep, half awake, and rush 
ing to where they had been feeding, discovered 
the thieves in the act of unhobbling them; 
198 



fur %unter of tftc far 



but in the darkness the villains got off, and in 
their retreat succeeded in carrying off twelve 
horses. The evil was now beyond remedy, 
though not fatal to the expedition, as there 
still remained enough to carry the property; 
but the men, as a just punishment for their 
negligence, had to trudge on foot. 

From the encampment of the stolen horses, 
the party advanced, taking the utmost care to 
watch every night. One day, however, they 
found themselves in a beautiful open valley, 
skirted by mountains, and not seeing any 
natives for these sly marauders are never to 
be seen and as their horses were fagged, they 
were willing to let them graze for a few hours 
at large in the meadow around their little 
camp. The party being fatigued, particularly 
those on foot, very inconsiderately laid them 
selves down, and in a few minutes they were 
overpowered with that heavy sleep which their 
wearied traveling so much demanded. They 
had not been long in this state before a noise 
of "Hoo, hoo! hoo, hoo!" sounding in their 
ears, awoke them, when they found their 
horses were all gone. 

Three of that banditti who at all seasons 
of the year infest the skirts of the frontiers on 
the Snake side had been, as they always are, 
watching from the adjacent hills the move 
ments of passengers. They had crawled and 
concealed themselves among the long grass, 
until they reached the horses, then laying hold 
199 



of one each they mounted, and driving the 
others before them, were beyond our people's 
reach before they could get their eyes well 
open! 

No words can depict the anxiety of our 
little band, with much property on their 
hands, in an enemy's country, destitute of 
provisions, and deprived of hope itself! Two 
days and nights passed, and they had come to 
no decision, but on the third day, about noon, 
while they were pondering on the step they 
were next to take, a cloud of dust was seen 
approaching from afar. Concluding that the 
party must be enemies, they made a hasty 
breastwork with their goods, and with their 
arms in their hands waited their arrival in a 
state of anxious forboding. What must have 
been their joy on seeing a party of our own 
hunters appear, driving before them the very 
horses which had been the cause of their 
unhappiness. 

McKenzie, having arrived at the river 
Skam-naugh at the time appointed and not 
meeting with either men or supplies from this 
place, as he expected, dispatched ten men to 
ascertain the cause of the delay. Two days 
after these ten men had left their bourgeois, 
in passing through a defile of the mountains 
they very unexpectedly met the thieves face 
to face. Recognizing the horses as belonging 
tp the whites and seeing the Indians take to 
flight to avoid them, they were confirmed in 



f ut ^untetjg gf tfre jpar 



their conjectures, and accordingly determined 
on following them. The chase lasted for up 
wards of two hours, when the thieves, seeing 
their efforts to get off were fruitless, turned 
round in order to sell their lives as dearly as 
possible. In such rencounters among them 
selves life is generally forfeited. They, there 
fore, boldly faced their pursuers, although 
three times their number, and fought des 
perately while they had an arrow remaining. 
One of them was shot by our people, another 
was taken, and the third, although severely 
wounded, made his escape among the bushes. 
One of our hunters was wounded also. After 
the affray the party wheeled about and made 
for Kittson and his forlorn band, driving all 
the horses before them. It was their approach 
that caused the cloud of dust, already noticed, 
first so suspicious and afterwards so pleasing. 
Kittson's party, now augmented to six and 
thirty men, raised camp and set out once more 
with lightsome hearts. Two days had not, 
however, passed over their heads, when they 
had another fright. While they were en 
camped one night on a small river, where 
everything around indicated security, two 
more horse thieves were detected in the night 
busy unhobbling their horses. In this in 
stance the people on watch were more for 
tunate. They got hold of them, and kept the 
rascals in safe custody until daylight; but the 
whites had suffered no loss, and therefore 



Mr. Kittson had the clemency to let them go 
unhurt. Each of the fellows had a quiver con 
taining from fifty to sixty arrows, several pairs 
of shoes, and long lines for securing horses. 

The party had now reached that inaus 
picious spot where some of the unfortunate 
men belonging to Reed's party were murdered 
in i8i3. 20 There the cares of our people were 
not diminished at beholding some bands of 
banditti of the most suspicious appearance 
hovering about, but the whites, being on their 
guard, were allowed to pass unmolested. 

Next day Mr. Kittson and party, after all 
their mishaps, arrived safely and in good 
spirits at the river Skam-naugh, and joined 
Mr. McKenzie with his whole band, for he 
had contrived to assemble and bring together 
the greater part of his wayward and perverse 
Iroquois. Here Kittson delivered over his 
charge and receiving in return the Snake furs, 
bent his course back again to this place, where 
he arrived on the seventh of July, 1819. On 
his way back, however, he had a very narrow 
escape from a war-party, but got off with the 
loss of only two men, who fell a sacrifice at the 
first onset of the savages. 

Had not the troubles in the Fort George 
department diminished the usual quantity of 
furs there, we should have had, notwithstand 
ing the defection of the Iroquois, a handsome 

20 For the story of the destruction of Reed's party 
see First Settlers on the Oregon, 298-304. 



jpur ^untetjg of tfoe fat 



augmentation to our returns this year. The 
Snake expedition turned out well; it made 
up for all deficiencies elsewhere, and gave a 
handsome surplus besides. 

McKenzie's party was now augmented by 
the addition of Kittson and his men, who had 
no sooner delivered up the Snake furs at this 
place than they returned to join him. The 
natives and hunting-ground being also fami 
liar to our hunters, were circumstances, as far 
as we could judge, that warranted our most 
sanguine anticipations as to the future. In 
his letter to me, McKenzie stated that, "Al 
though the natives are at present in a very 
unsettled state, yet if the contemplated peace 
succeeds, I hope that our success in ' this 
quarter next year will come up to the expecta 
tions of every reasonable man." With these 
remarks, we shall close the narrative for the 
present year. 



203 



OCCURRENCES AMONG THE SNAKES AND AT 
FORT NEZ PERCES 

THE result of the Snake expedition put 
an end to the sharp contest which had 
for some years past divided the Councils 
of Fort George. No sooner was McKenzie's 
success in the Snake country known than his 
opponents were loud in his praises. It was 
pleasing to see the Council of Fort George this 
year enter so warmly and approve so strongly 
of our measures in having established Fort 
Nez Perces and gained so promising a footing 
in the Snake country. 

We have noticed Kittson's return to join 
the Snake expedition, but before taking up 
the thread of our future narrative we propose 
to give the reader a description and view of 
Fort Nez Perces, and we shall then conduct 
him to McKenzie's camp and give him an 
account of Indian life in these parts. 

For the purpose of protection as well as of 
trade among Indians, the custom is to have 
each establishment surrounded with an in- 
closure of pickets some twelve or fifteen feet 
high. This inclosure is dignified with the 
name of fort. The natives have free ingress 
and egress at all times, and within its walls 
204 



fur ^unterg of tfte far 



all the business of traffic is transacted. A little 
more precaution was, however, necessary at 
the Nez Perces station, on account of the 
many warlike tribes that infest the country. 

Instead of round pickets, the palisades of 
Fort Nez Perces were all made of sawn tim 
ber. For this purpose wood of large size and 
cut twenty feet long was sawed into pieces of 
two and a half feet broad by six inches thick. 
With these ponderous planks the establish 
ment was surrounded, having on the top a 
range of balustrades four feet high, which 
served the double purpose of ramparts and 
loopholes, and was smooth to prevent the 
natives scaling the walls. A strong gallery, 
five feet broad, extended all around. At each 
angle was placed a large reservoir sufficient to 
hold 200 gallons of water, as a security against 
fire, the element we most dreaded in the 
designs of the natives. Inside of this wall 
were built ranges of storehouses and dwelling 
houses for the hands, and in the front of these 
buildings was another wall, twelve feet high, 
of sawn timber also, with portholes and slip 
doors, which divided the buildings from the 
open square inside. Thus, should the Indians 
at any time get in, they would see nothing but 
a wall before them on all sides. They could 
have no intercourse with the people in the 
fort, unless by their consent, and would there 
fore find themselves in a prison, and infinitely 
more exposed to danger than if they had been 
205 



on the outside. Besides the ingenious con 
struction of the outer gate, which opened and 
shut by a pulley, two double doors secured 
the entrance, and the natives were never 
admitted within the walls, except when spe 
cially invited on important occasions. All 
trade with them was carried on by means of 
an aperture in the wall, eighteen inches 
square, secured by an iron door and com 
municating with the trading shop, we standing 
on the inside and the Indians on the outside. 
On all other occasions, excepting trade, we 
mixed with them outside, differing in this, as 
in every other respect, from all the other 
trading posts in the Indian country. 

Among other difficulties, it was not the 
least, after the fort was built, to succeed in 
bringing the Indians to trade in the manner 
we had fixed upon for the security of the 
place. Although they had every convenience 
allowed them, such as a house at the gate, 
fire, tobacco, and, a man to attend them at all 
hours, it was a long time before they got recon 
ciled to our plan. "Are the whites afraid of 
us? If so/' said they, "we will leave our arms 
outside." "No," said I, "if we had been 
afraid of you we should not have come among 
you." "Are the whites afraid we will steal 
anything?" "No," said I, "but your young 
men are foolish." "That's true," said they. 
We persisted in the plan, and they of neces 
sity had to submit. Excluding the Indians, 
206 



fnt ^untetg of tfte far 



although contrary to Mr. McKenzie's opinion, 
ultimately answered so well that it ought to 
be adopted wherever the natives are either 
hostile or troublesome. 

Our weapons of defense were composed of 
four pieces of ordnance, from one to three 
pounds, besides ten wall-pieces or swivels, 
sixty stand of muskets and bayonets, twenty 
boarding pikes, and a box of hand grenades. 
The fort was defended by four strong wooden 
towers or bastions, and a cohorn, or small 
mortar, above the gate. It was, therefore, at 
once the strongest and most complete fort 
west of the Rocky Mountains, and might be 
called the Gibraltar of Columbia. To con 
struct and finish, in so short a time, an es 
tablishment so strong and compact in all its 
parts was no ordinary undertaking; by indus 
try and perseverance, however, the task was 
accomplished. Thus, in the short period of a 
few months, as if by enchantment the savage 
disposition of the Indians was either soothed 
or awed. A stronghold had arisen in the 
desert and the British banner floating over it 
proudly proclaimed it the mistress of a vast 
territory. It was a triumph of British energy 
and enterprise, of civilization over barbarism. 

During the course of our proceedings a con 
stant tide of visitors from quarters the most 
remote flowed iii to satisfy their curiosity con 
cerning our establishment. Among others 
were the turbulent lords of the Falls. Whether 
207 



their barbarity was soothed by the compli 
ment of a resource of this kind among them, 
whether they felt gratified by our embassy to 
conciliate their enemies and do away with the 
evils of war, it is difficult to say, but a visible 
reform was now very obvious in their deport 
ment to the whites. They invariably went 
and came in the most exemplary manner. 

Having given the reader a brief description 
of Fort Nez Perces and noticed the salutary 
effect our establishment had on the conduct 
of the natives, I now, according to promise, 
resume the narrative of operations in the 
Snake country. As soon as the annual supply 
of goods conveyed by Kittson had reached 
McKenzie's camp, the latter, knowing the 
character of his people, and that the moment 
they had their supplies in their own possession 
they would be bartering and trafficking every 
article away with the natives, in order to 
guard against this difficulty not only deferred 
the distribution among the party until the re 
turn of Kittson and the men who had to convey 
the furs to this place, but resolved on keeping 
the supplies entire until they reached their win 
ter quarters, when every man would have his 
equipment and winter supplies at the time re 
quired. The conduct of the Iroquois last year 
had taught McKenzie this lesson, and this meas 
ure was also a check against desertion; their 
supplies being before them, encouraged and 
stimulated all to a perseverance in well-doing. 

208 



fur ^uttter of tfyt far 



It was a plan, however, that subjected the 
person in charge to the risk of life as well as of 
property. Had the Snakes been of a character 
to respect property when once in their own 
hands, he might have distributed the whole 
and left every man to take care of his own; 
but the very reverse being the case, he was 
compelled to adopt the plan of taking care 
of it for them until they reached their winter 
quarters. Therefore, as soon as Kittson and 
the men required to escort the furs to this 
place set off, McKenzie was left with only 
three men in charge of all the property; for 
although the Iroquois had returned to their 
duty, they were absent at the time, collect 
ing their horses and traps which they had left 
and squandered away among the Indians, 
but they were expected back hourly. Thus 
situated, and the Iroquois not arriving at the 
appointed time, McKenzie and his three men 
erected a small breastwork, secured their 
property, and guarding it, waited with anxiety 
the arrival of succor. 

Two days after this unavoidable division 
of our people a very suspicious party of the 
mountain Snakes appeared at their little 
camp. They were very importunate, and with 
the view of turning their barbarity into friend 
ship, McKenzie had given them some trifles 
to get rid of them, but the kind treatment 
of our friends was construed into fear and 
only stimulated the Indians to demand more. 
209 



Soon after, other parties equally audacious 
arrived, but no Iroquois! The hostile attitude 
and threats of the natives were now beyond 
endurance. They attempted to get over the 
breastwork, to push our people back, and to 
steal all that they could lay hands upon. Up 
to this period our people had stood on the 
outside of their property, but at this critical 
moment McKenzie . and his men, grasping 
their guns, sprang over the breastwork, lighted 
a match, and placing a keg full of gunpowder 
between 'them and their enemies boldly deter 
mined to defend their property or die. At this 
critical movement the Indians, taken by sur 
prise, fell back a little, when McKenzie, with 
perhaps more courage than prudence, dared 
them to renew their threats. 

While the fate of our little band hung as by 
a thread, the savages who menaced them took 
to flight, without a word. The first impression 
was that they were panic struck, from the 
dread of powder; it was then apprehended 
that they meditated some stratagem. The 
respite, however, gave our friends time to 
reflect. 

As soon as they considered it safe to look 
about them, they perceived on the opposite 
side of the river a war-party of the Shaw-ha- 
ap-tens, consisting of 200 men, all having 
firearms and mounted on horseback. On their 
arrival they assembled in a tumultuous group 
on the beach. It was the Red Feather and 

2IO 



f ut ^imtetjS of tfre far 



his band, who had been ill disposed at the 
peace. Our friends were at no loss to account 
for the sudden and mysterious departure of 
the Snakes. But still their situation was not 
the more secure, for they had as much to fear 
from the one party as from the other. Al 
though the Shaw-ha-ap-tens would have re 
spected the whites on their own lands, yet 
they had no mercy to expect in an enemy's 
country. 

The appearance of this warlike cavalcade 
might have chilled the boldest heart. Their 
gestures, their yelling and whooping were 
truly horrible. The Indians called to our people 
to cross over and give them a smoke. At the 
same time it was evident that they were 
making every preparation to take advantage of 
them while on the water. This invitation, 
however, not being complied with, they held 
a council, with a view, it was supposed, of 
crossing over themselves. Our people on per 
ceiving this strengthened their little fortifica 
tion, and having four guns to each man, they 
were determined at least on selling their lives 
dearly. The natives in the meantime plunged 
into the river with their steeds, but were 
forced back again. They plunged again and 
again, but as often were compelled to return 
from the strength of the current. Their con 
sultations were frequent and the brandishing 
of their arms indicated their bloody intentions. 
After capering along the beach on their 



chargers for some time they at length dis 
appeared, and our party saw them no more. 
On their way back towards the Blue Moun 
tains, however, the Indians unfortunately fell 
upon the trail of Kittson and his party, and 
before he had time to get to a stronghold or 
concentrate his people, the savages overtook 
his rear and shot and scalped two of his men. 
After the first onset they wheeled about and 
got off clear. 

No sooner had the war-party disappeared 
than McKenzie and his men withdrew with 
their property to a hiding-place. Crossing 
over a channel of the river, they got upon an 
island and took up their abode in the thick 
woods. From this retreat they could, unper- 
ceived, distinguish the savages passing and 
repassing in bands. They had, however, to 
avoid making a fire during the daytime, as the 
smoke would have discovered their retreat. 

On this island our friends remained twenty- 
two days before Kittson and his party got 
back to them. The very next day after, fifteen 
of the twenty-five prodigal Iroquois joined 
them. One had been killed in a scuffle with 
the natives, two had deserted, and the other 
seven had joined the Snakes. The meeting 
with our friends was a joyful one, though each 
party had its troubles and its adventures to 
recount, but such is the life of an Indian 
trader that the most trying scenes are no 
sooner passed away than they are forgotten. 



fur ^uttterjs of tfyt far 



Our friends now set about leaving the 
island to proceed on their journey. Our 
trappers and hunters being all mustered, 
amounted to seventy-five men. This was the 
number that composed the second adventure 
into the Snake country; still it was twenty- 
five less than the number that had been 
promised Mr. McKenzie. Advancing on their 
journey, during the first few days they saw 
several parties of the banditti, and, among 
others, some of those very villains who had 
threatened to rob McKenzie and his three 
men were recognized. Mr. McKenzie, there 
fore, singled one out and, after addressing 
him at some length, took hold of him and 
asked him if he was as brave a man that day 
as he was upon the former occasion. The 
fellow was mute. McKenzie then, shaking 
him rather roughly, gave him a slap in the 
face and left him, an object of derision to the 
bystanders. The Indians now had changed 
their tone. 

In their progress McKenzie and his party 
came to a very formidable camp of about 800 
huts and tents. The Indians were engaged 
chiefly in fishing for salmon, and being but 
indifferently disposed towards the whites, our 
friends passed the night without sleep and at 
dawn of day left the suspicious ground to look 
out for a more defensible spot. They were 
anxious to have a parley with the chiefs, and 
therefore they took up their position on an 

213 



island where they would be secure. It was 
thought imprudent to proceed without having 
an interview with the chiefs of the different 
tribes as they advanced. 

After this interview, in which it was ex 
plained that the present visit of the whites 
among the Indians was with the double object 
of making peace between themselves and the 
Nez Perces and of supplying their wants, the 
chiefs were informed that as the Nez Perces 
had made overtures of peace, they, on their 
part, it was hoped, would not withhold their 
consent. When the word peace was mentioned 
one of the chiefs smiled. "Peace with the 
Shaw-ha-ap-tens !" said he; then, looking 
McKenzie steadfastly in the face, and point 
ing to the current of the river, "Do you see 
that current? Stop it then!" exclaimed the 
great man. "That's impossible," rejoined 
McKenzie.- "So is peace with the Shaw-ha-ap- 
tens; they are at this moment on our lands, 
and perhaps before night my wives and 
children will be scalped by them." McKenzie 
soothed the old chief and assured him that 
the whites would do their utmost to promote 
peace. He told him that the whites were 
willing, if encouraged, to open a trade with 
the great Snake nation, a people whose lands, 
by lying so remote, must at all times be ill 
provided with every necessary, as well as the 
more essential part of their warlike imple 
ments. He added to these professions a few 
214 



of tfje far 



trifling presents, which left a favorable impres 
sion. This done, our friends prepared to 
change their quarters. 

It was not McKenzie's intention, on setting 
out, to have visited these Indians or to have 
entered on the peace question at all. He 
wished to defer these points until he had first 
conveyed and placed his men on the field of 
their labors; but having thus unexpectedly met 
with them and apprehending that he might not 
find them so conveniently at any other time, 
he resolved on taking them, tribe by tribe, 
on his way, and settling the business at once. 

As our people advanced several bands were 
met, and the same routine of peace-making 
gone through. One day as they journeyed 
they fell in with a friendly band of the Snakes, 
who gave them intelligence that a grand war- 
party of the Indians inhabiting the east side 
of the mountains were a short distance before 
them.* While these Indians and our people 
were in communication a courier from behind 
overtook them with the news that two war- 
parties of the Nez Perces were also at their 
heels, and had killed several of the Snakes on 
the preceding day, thus verifying the words 
of the chief. Indian report is always to be 
received with great caution, yet our people 
thought it well to make a halt. Crowds of the 
banditti, were emerging from all quarters and 
fleeing towards their strongholds in the moun 
tains, a sure sign that some commotion was 

215 



apprehended. These maneuvers convinced 
our people that there must be some truth in 
the reports. Under these circumstances they 
took up their stand in a small wooded point, 
partly surrounded by the river, resolving to 
wait there for the present. 

The friendly little band that had communi 
cated the information to our people, notwith 
standing the most urgent entreaties, would 
not remain with them, but hastened off, pre 
ferring the security of the forests to the slender 
protection of the whites. Several other parties 
of the Snakes, however, came and encamped 
along with our people, depending on them for 
support. Other parties passed and repassed, 
without stopping. The Nez Perces behind, the 
Black Feet before, and the hostile Snakes 
everywhere about, our people were com 
pletely surrounded. It was, therefore, beyond 
human foresight to see a way to avoid such a 
combination of evils as threatened therrwon all 
sides. 

The Nez Perces, finding that their enemies, 
the Black Feet, intervened between them and 
the Snakes, wheeled about in another direction 
and our people heard nothing more of them. 
But the Snakes and Black Feet had a severe 
battle, which ended in favor of the former. 
Thirty Black Feet, and more Snakes, strewed 
the well-contested field. As soon as the van 
quished retreated the Snakes paraded about, 
exhibiting their trophies within sight of our 
216 



fur Ifomterg of tfte far 



friends. Victory stimulates to revenge. The 
Snakes, therefore, assumed a high tone. They 
came in crowds from their hiding-places, and 
joining the victorious party in their scalp- 
dancing and scalp-singing, formed a host of at 
least five or six thousand. Their huts, their 
tents, altogether resembled a city in an up 
roar, and their scattered fires and illumina 
tions during the nights exhibited an awful 
spectacle to our encircled friends. Their 
shouts and yelling, their gestures and frantic 
movements, were very terrifying. 

After eighteen days' delay at Woody Point, 
the natives moved off almost in a body, and 
from the spies which we kept hovering about 
these Indians, we obtained seasonable advice 
that the hostile tribes had retired. Con 
sequently, our party might pass on in safety. 
Thus by a combination of fortunate cir 
cumstances they were again relieved from 
danger. 

Having left their recent abode, accom 
panied by a friendly chief and his band, our 
people proceeded through an open and de 
lightful country. During this part of their 
journey they crossed the spot where the great 
battle had been recently fought, and saw 
in many places putrid carcasses and human 
bones scattered about. And here the chief 
that accompanied our party pointed out the 
skulls of their enemies "Look at thesb," 
said he to McKenzie, "the heads of the Black 
217 



Feet are much smaller than those of the 
Snakes, and not so round." They also crossed 
innumerable trails, on which the tracks were 
still quite fresh, but at that period all appeared 
to be quiet. After thirty-three days' hazardous 
traveling, reckoning from the time Kittson 
joined the party on the island, they arrived 
at their hunting-ground. Here the men were 
equipped for the winter, and commenced 
hunting. 

McKenzie intended, should the natives 
prove peaceably inclined and the trapping get 
on smoothly among them, to spend part of 
the winter in examining the country farther 
to the south. He was likewise anxious to have 
an interview with the principal chiefs of the 
Snake nation, not having hitherto seen them. 
In his letter to me, dated Black Bears Lake, 
Sept. 10, 1819, he remarked: "We have 
passed a very anxious and troublesome sum 
mer. War-parties frequent; in dangers often; 
but still we do not despair. Time and per 
severance will do much. You will make no 
arrangements for forwarding our supplies; we 
have had enough of that already. I will 
accompany the spring returns and try to be at 
Fort Nez Perces by the twentieth of next 
June." This letter was brought me by an 
Indian of the Falls at the latter end of October, 

We have now given the reader some idea of 
an Indian trader's life in these parts, and by 
way of following up the subject a little further 

218 



fut 



we shall describe how trapping with a large 
party is generally carried on among Indians. 

A safe and secure spot, near wood and 
water, is first selected for the camp. Here the 
chief of the party resides with the property. 
It is often exposed to danger or sudden attack, 
in the absence of the trappers, and requires 
a vigilant eye to guard against the lurking 
savages. The camp is called headquarters. 
From hence all the trappers, some on foot, 
some on horseback, according to the distance 
they have to go, start every morning in small 
parties in all directions ranging the distance 
of some twenty miles around. Six traps is 
the allowance for each hunter, but to guard 
against wear and tear, the complement is more 
frequently ten. These he sets every night 
and visits again in the morning, sometimes of- 
tener, according to the distance or other cir 
cumstances. The beaver taken in the traps 
are always conveyed to the camp, skinned, 
stretched, dried, folded up with the hair in 
the inside, laid by, and the flesh used for food. 
No sooner, therefore, has a hunter visited his 
traps, set them again, and looked out for 
some other place, than he returns to the camp 
to feast and enjoy the pleasures of an idle day. 

There is, however, much anxiety and dan 
ger in going through the ordinary routine of a 
trapper's duty. For as the enemy is generally 
lurking about among the rocks and hiding- 
places, watching an opportunity, the hunter 
219 



has to keep a constant lookout, and the gun is 
often in one hand while the trap is in the 
other. But when several are together, which 
is often the case in suspicious places, one-half 
set the traps and the other half keep guard 
over them. Yet notwithstanding all their pre 
cautions some of them fall victims to Indian 
treachery. 

The camp remains stationary while two- 
thirds of the trappers find beaver in the 
vicinity, but whenever the beaver become 
scarce the camp is removed to some more 
favorable spot. In this -manner the party 
keeps moving from place to place during the 
whole season of hunting. Whenever serious 
danger is apprehended, all the trappers make 
for the camp. Were we, however, to calculate 
according to numbers, the prospects from 
such an expedition would be truly dazzling: 
say seventy-five men with each six traps, to 
be successfully employed during five months; 
that is, two in the spring, and three in the fall, 
equal to 131 working days, the result would 
be 58,950 beaver I Practically, however, the 
case is very different. The apprehension of 
danger at all times is so great that three- 
fourths of their time is lost in the necessary 
steps taken for their own safety. There is also 
another serious drawback unavoidably accom 
panying every large party. The beaver is a 
timid animal. The least noise, therefore, 
made about its haunt will keep it from coming 



fur ^unterg of t&e far &t$t 

out for nights together, and noise is unavoid 
able when the party is large. But when the 
party is small the hunter has a chance of 
being more or less successful. Indeed, were 
the nature of the ground such as to admit of 
the trappers moving about in safety at all 
times, and alone, six men with six traps each 
would in the same space of time and at the 
same rate kill as many beaver say 4,716 
as the whole seventy-five could be expected 
to do! And yet the evil is without a rem 
edy, for no small party can exist in these 
parts. Hence the reason why beaver are so 
numerous. 

Having conducted McKenzie and his party 
to their hunting-ground we shall take our 
leave of them while we notice the occurrences 
at Fort Nez Perces; and then, in due time, we 
will take up the subject of the Snake expedi 
tion again. Our last notice of this place was 
the effect our establishment had on the con 
duct of the Indians. Yet, with all their sub 
mission, it was more apparent than real, for 
I jhave never experienced more anxiety and 
vexation than among these people. Not an 
hour of the day passed but some insolent 
fellow, and frequently fifty at a time, inter 
rupted us, and made us feel our unavoidable 
dependence upon their caprice. "Give me a 
gun," said one. "I want ammunition," said 
another. A third wanted a knife, a flint, or 
something else. Give to one, you must give 



to all. Refuse them, they immediately got 
angry, told us to leave their lands, and threat 
ened' to prevent our people from going about 
their duties. Their constant theme was, "Why 
are the whites so stingy with their goods? 
They hate us, or they would be more liberal." 
A fellow raps at the gate, calling out, "I want 
to trade!" When you attend his call he laughs 
in your face, and has nothing to sell. In short, 
they talk of nothing but war, think of nothing 
but scalp-dancing, horse-racing, and gambling, 
and when tired of these, idleness is their 
delight. On every little hill they are to be 
seen all day in groups, with a paper looking- 
glass in one hand and a paint brush in the 
other. Half their time is spent at the toilet, 
or sauntering about our establishment. In 
their own estimation they are the greatest 
men in the world. The whites who labor they 
look upon as slaves, and call them by no other 
name. I had, therefore, to lay down a rule in 
all my dealings with them. However sudden 
the call might be I never obeyed it until I 
had walked backwards and forwards across 
the fort twice. Nothing then surprised me 
or ruffled my temper, and I often found the 
benefit of the plan. 

These Indians, with all their independence, 
are far from being a happy people. They live 
in a constant state of anxiety. Every hostile 
movement about the frontiers excites alarm 
and sets the whole country on the qui vive. 



fur ^imter of tfy far 



We have already noticed that a band of 
the Shaw-ha-ap-tens, on its return from a war 
expedition against the Snakes, killed Delorme 
and Jeanvene, two of Kittson's men, on their 
way to this place with the Snake returns. 
They also killed several of the Snakes. One 
evil often leads to another, for the Shaw-ha-ap- 
tens had no sooner got back than a Snake party 
were at their heels; but happening to fall in 
with a few stragglers frolicking among the 
bushes and gathering berries, who belonged 
to the Walla Walla camp, not three miles from 
our fort, they killed one man, four women, 
and two children, then recrossed the moun 
tains and got off clear, carrying along with 
them the scalps of their victims and two young 
women and a man as slaves. 

The two captive women, as well as the man, 
being of some rank, it caused a tremendous 
commotion at this place. The first intimation 
we had of this sanguinary affair was the next 
morning, after the deed had been committed. 
Going on the gallery as soon as I got up, 
according to usual custom, I perceived at no 
great distance a dense crowd of people, some 
on foot, some on horseback, making for the 
fort in the most frantic and disorderly man 
ner, and filling the air with shrieks and lam 
entations. It struck me the instant I saw 
them that it was a war-party; calling, there 
fore, all hands together, every man was placed 
at his post, and we accordingly waited their 

223 



approach. We had only ten men about the 
fort at the time. 

As they drew near, the more frantic and 
tumultuous they became; so I inspected the 
men's arms and finding one fellow, named 
Quinze-sous, pale and agitated, with his gun 
still unloaded, and fearing his cowardly con 
duct might influence others for they were 
all more or less panic-struck I drew the iron 
ramrod out of his gun and giving him a rap or 
two over the head with it drove him off the 
gallery and locked him up in one of the stores; 
then returning, I promised a reward to every 
one of the others that would behave well. By 
this time the crowd had reached the fort gate, 
and I saw, for the first time, that it was no 
war-party, but our own Indians! Yet seeing 
them carry a number of dead bodies, the 
affair appeared still more mysterious, and as 
Indians often carry false colors to decoy the 
unwary, we were determined to be on our 
guard. Friends or foes, we were prepared to 
receive them. The number might have been 
400 in all, but they were a mixture of men 
and women. It may be asked, where were all 
our guns, our bastions, and strong fort, if a 
rabble of Indians gave us so much anxiety? 
Our object, we answer, was not merely de 
fense, but peace and friendship. We could 
have easily dispersed the crowd, few as we 
were; but one shot from our guns would have 
sealed our ruin and that of our friends in the 

224 



fur %untcrg of tfrc fat 



Snake country. The whites never oppose force 
to force but in the last extremity. 

When the crowd reached the fort gate the 
seven bodies were laid on the ground. The 
weather being sultry, the bodies were much 
swollen and extremely offensive. This was no 
sooner done than the savage habit of cutting 
themselves, mingled with howling and shrieks 
of despair, commenced. The scene was horri 
ble. Under such circumstances sympathy for 
the living as well as the dead was excited, 
because their pain and sufferings must have 
been acute, and this, as a matter of course, 
increased their inclination to violent mourn 
ing. To have seen those savages streaming 
all over with blood, one would suppose they 
could never have survived such acts of cruelty 
inflicted on themselves, but such wounds, 
although bad, are not dangerous. To inflict 
these wounds on himself, the savage takes 
hold of any part of his skin, between his fore 
finger and thumb, draws it out to the stretch, 
and then runs a knife through it between the 
hand and the flesh, which leaves, when the 
skin resumes its former place, two unsightly 
gashes resembling ball holes, out of which the 
blood issues freely. With such wounds, and 
sometimes others of a more serious nature, the 
near relations of the deceased completely dis 
figure themselves. 

As soon as the bodies were laid on the 
ground, with their crimson-dyed garments, 
225 



one of the chiefs, called by the Canadians 
"Gueule plat," 21 called out to me with an 
air of effrontery, "Come out here." The mo 
ment this call reached me I felt a conflict 
between duty and inclination. Refuse the 
call I could not, yet I obeyed it with re 
luctance, and almost wished myself with 
Quinze-sous in the store rather than where I 
was. Turning round to the sentinel at the 
door, I told him to lock the gate after me and 
keep a sharp lookout. The moment I appeared 
outside the gate so horrible was the uproar 
that it baffles all description. Intoxicated 
with wrath and savage rage, they resembled 
furies more than human beings, and their 
ghastly, wild, and forbidding looks were all 
directed towards me, as if I had been the 
cause of their calamity. Tum-a-tap-am, the 
chief, then coming up to me and pointing to 
one of the dead bodies, said, "You see my 
sister there"; then, uncovering the body to 
show the wounds, added, "that is a ball hole." 
"The whites," said he again, "have murdered 
our wives and our children. They have given 
guns and balls to our enemies. Those very 
guns and balls have killed our relations," 
These words were no sooner uttered than 
they were repeated over and over again by 
the whole frantic crowd, who, hearing the 
chief, believed them to be true. Excitement 
was now at its height. Their gestures, their 
21 Flat-mouth. 

226 



fur ^unter of fyt far 



passionate exclamations, showed what was 
working within, and I expected every moment 
to receive a ball or an arrow. One word of 
interruption spoken by me at the critical 
moment in favor of the whites, might have 
proved fatal to myself. I, therefore, remained 
silent, watching a favorable opportunity, and 
also examining the holes in the garments of 
the dead bodies. The holes I was convinced 
were made by arrows, and not by balls as the 
chief had asserted, but it remained for me to 
convince others when an opportunity offered. 
Every violent fit of mourning was succeeded, 
as is generally the case among savages, by a 
momentary calm. As soon, therefore, as I 
perceived the rage of the crowd beginning to 
subside and Nature itself beginning to flag, I 
availed myself of the interval to speak in 
turn, for silence then would have been a tacit 
acknowledgment of our guilt. I, therefore, 
advanced and taking the chief by the hand 
said in a low tone of voice, as if overcome by 
grief, "My friend, what is all this? Give me 
an explanation. You do not love the whites, 
you have told me nothing yet." Tam-a-tap- 
um then turning to his people, beckoned to 
them with the hand to be silent; entire silence 
was not to be expected. He then went over 
the whole affair from beginning to end. Wh en 
the chief ended, and the people were in a 
listening mood, I sympathized with their mis 
fortunes and observed that the whites had 
227 



been undeservedly blamed. "They are inno 
cent/' said I, "and that I can prove. Look at 
that," said I, pointing to an arrow wound 
which no one could mistake; "the wounds are 
those of arrows, not balls. Nor were the 
Snakes themselves so much to blame, as we 
shall be able to show. 7 ' 

At these assertions the chief looked angry, 
and there was a buzz of disapprobation among 
the crowd, but I told the chief to listen pa 
tiently until I had done. The chief then com 
posed himself, and I proceeded. "After your 
solemn acquiescence in a peace between your 
selves and the Snakes, through the influence 
of the whites, the Shaw-ha-ap-tens violated the 
second pledge by going again to war across the 
Blue Mountains, and not content with having 
killed their enemies, they killed their friends 
also. They killed two of the whites. The 
Snakes in the act of retaliation have, there 
fore, made you all to mourn this day. They 
have made the whites to mourn also; but 
your loss is less than ours. Your relations have 
been killed, but still you 'have their bodies. 
That consolation is denied us. Our friends 
have been killed, but we know not where their 
bodies lie." These facts neither the chief nor 
the crowd could gainsay. The chief, with a 
loud voice, explained what I had said to the 
listening multitude, when they with one voice 
exclaimed, "It is true, it is true!" Leaving 
the chief, I then entered the fort, and taking 

228 



fur ^untarg of tfrc far &t$t 

some red cloth, laid six inches of it on each 
body, as a token of sympathy; then I told 
them to go and bury their dead. A loud fit of 
lamentation closed the scene. The bodies 
were then taken up and the crowd moved ofi 
in a quiet and orderly manner. 

But the satisfaction we enjoyed at the 
departure of the savages was of short dura 
tion, for they were scarcely out of sight, and I 
scarcely inside the door, when another band, 
related to those who had been killed, arrived 
at the fort gate, and the loud and clamorous 
scene of mourning was again renewed. 

Among this second crowd of visitors was a 
fellow dignified by the name of Prince, and 
brother to one of the young women who had 
been carried off by the Snakes. Prince en 
camped within fifty yards of the fort, and his 
tent was no sooner pitched than he began to 
chant the song of death. When an Indian 
resorts to this mode of mourning it is a sure 
sign that he has "thrown his body away/ 3 
as the Indians term it, and meditates self- 
destruction. Being told of Prince's resolution, 
I went to his tent to see him, and found him 
standing, with his breast leaning upon the 
muzzle of his gun. His hair was disheveled, 
and he was singing with great vehemence. He 
never raised his head to see who I was. I knew 
all was not right, and spoke to him, but re 
ceiving no answer, I went away on my return 
to the fort. I had scarcely advanced twenty 
229 



yards from his tent before I heard the report 
of a gun behind me, and turning back again 
I found the unfortunate fellow lying on the 
ground weltering in his blood, his gun partly 
under him. He was still breathing. The ball 
had entered his left breast below the nipple 
and come out near the backbone. The wound 
was bleeding freely and he disgorged great 
quantities of blood. I went to the fort for some 
assistance, but on our return I expected that 
every moment would have been his last. 
However, we dressed his wound and did what 
we could to allay his suffering. 

The Indians now assembled in great num 
bers, and were noisy and violent. In the first in 
stance they threw all the blame of the unfortu 
nate affair on the whites, but in their rage and 
violence they quarreled among themselves, 
and this new direction in their excitement 
removed the odium in some degree from the 
whites and diverted the tide of popular fury 
into another channel. During the affair, one 
of those unfortunate wretches called medicine 
men happened to be sitting at the fort gate, 
when a brother of the man who had just shot 
himself went up to him, saying, "You dog! 
You have thrown your bad medicine on my 
brother and he is dead, but you shall not live," 
and in saying so, he shot him dead on the spot. 
The ball, after passing through the man's 
body, went more than three inches into one 
of the fort palisades. I was standing on the 

230 



fur $unta# of tfre far 



gallery at the moment he was shot, and had it 
been on any other occasion but in the midst of 
a quarrel between the Indians, we certainly 
should have avenged his death on the spot, 
for the murdered man was an excellent Indian, 
and a sincere friend of the whites. 

The scene now assumed a threatening as 
pect. Guns, bows, arrows, and every missile 
that could be laid hold of came into requisition, 
and robes, feathers, bells, belts, and trinkets 
of every description were rattling about in 
true savage style. The fellow who had just 
shot the medicine man was shot in his turn, 
and before the chiefs arrived, or could get a 
hearing, three others were shot. The place 
appeared more like a field of battle than any 
thing else, for besides the five bodies that lay 
lifeless on the ground, twice that number 
were desperately wounded. 

As soon as the deadly quarrel began, not 
knowing the intent of the Indians nor how it 
might end, I shut the gates and kept as clear 
of the quarrel as possible. In the midst of the 
confusion the Indians poured in from all 
quarters, adding fuel to the flame; and some 
of them in approaching the place, thinking it 
was a quarrel between the whites and them 
selves, fired a shot or two at the fort be 
fore they were aware of the mistake. This 
made us take to our bastions; our matches 
were lighted, guns pointed, and we ourselves 
watched the maneuvers of the savages around 

231 



us. One unguarded shot would have involved 
us in the quarrel, which it was our interest to 
avoid, as it would have put an end to all our 
prospects in the Snake as well as the Nez 
Perces quarter. 

As soon as the chiefs could get a hearing 
peace was gradually restored, and the five 
dead bodies were removed to the Indian camp, 
at a distance from the fort. Such a scene I 
should never wish to witness again. This 
affray, happening at our very door, gave us 
much uneasiness, as to keep the balance of 
good will at all times in our favor was a task 
of more than ordinary difficulty. 

The day after, the different tribes assem 
bled at Fort Nez Perces, and I had my hands 
full. The Shaw-ha-ap-tens arrived, the Cay- 
ouses, the Walla Wallas, and many others. 
The affairs of the preceding day were dis 
cussed, as well as the subject of our adven 
tures in the Snake country, and the peace. A 
thousand questions were put and answered. 
Each chief betrayed impatience; one and all 
had to be satisfied. The whites were indirectly 
taxed with all the late troubles. The chiefs 
threatened to disregard the peace, and the late 
disasters furnished them with a pretext. They 
were bent on going to war with the Snakes 
again. As this step might have proved fatal 
to our intercourse in that quarter, I tried 
every plan to divert them from it. I invited 
them' into the fort to smoke. There matters 

232 



fur ^untorg of tfe far 



were talked over again, and they smoked 
and talked during several meetings. A whole 
week was spent in this business. At last, 
however, we came to terms, and we all smoked 
the calumet of peace once more. The chiefs 
solemnly promised not to renew hostilities 
until at least our friends had left the Snake 
country. So we parted once more as friends. 

When our troubles were over and matters 
had settled down to their ordinary level, I 
took Prince, the man who in cool despair had 
shot himself, under my care. As he not only 
survived, but showed symptoms of returning 
strength, I kept him, and nursed him from 
July until December following, when he was 
so far recovered as to be able to ride on horse 
back. At this stage he accompanied his rela 
tions to their wintering ground, but as he was 
still unable to undergo the fatigues of hunting 
or endure much exercise I fitted him out with 
the means of passing the winter comfortably, 
and we parted. 

In the spring, on the return of the Indians 
to the fort, I was much pleased to see Prince 
among them as strong and hearty as ever. 
" I am sure," said he to me when we met, " you 
are glad to see me well." I told him I was very 
happy to see him recovered, and hoped he 
would be a good man and love the whites. He 
appeared thankful, and promised he would. 
" But," said he to me again, " you must give me 
a new gun; you know my relations destroyed 
233 



my gun when I got wounded." "I know 
they did," said I, "but I have no gun to 
spare." "I have been long sick," said he, 
"and am poor. I have nothing to buy one 
myself, and I cannot hunt without a gun." 
"You have plenty of horses," said I, "why 
don't you buy one?" On my saying so, he 
hung down his head. I saw, however, that 
my refusal did not please him, and that my 
telling him to sell his horses and buy a gun 
pleased him less. But I thought that I had 
done enough for him, and the more I gave 
him the less he would hunt. So I told him 
again I had no gun to spare; that I had nursed 
him for half a year and saved his life, and 
that now, as he was well, he must try and pro 
vide for himself. 

"What!" said he, sharply, "do you love a 
gun more than you love me?" "No," said I, 
"but I have no gun to spare." On my saying 
so, he got rather sulky and held down his 
head, the first indication of an Indian's dis 
pleasure, for he had been telling his friends, ^as 
I learned afterwards, that I would refuse him 
nothing. All this, however, passed between us 
without remark, and as I thought in good will 
on both sides. I took no further notice of 
what he said, but turned round to another 
Indian to settle some little business I had 
with him. While doing so, Prince suddenly 
started up, saying, "Since you are so stingy, 
and love your gun so well, keep it, and give 

234 



fur ^imtcrg of tftg fat 



me an axe. Perhaps you will refuse me that, 
too." I was rather nettled at the fellow's 
impertinence, so I reproved him. "What, my 
friend," said I, "are you really angry with 
me?" "Yes," said he abruptly. "The white 
people have two mouths, and two words. You 
said you liked me, and yet you refuse me a 
gun; but give me an axe, and keep your gun, 
since you prefer to see me like a squaw with 
an axe, rather than like a man with a gun." 
"What, my friend," said I again to him, 
"have I not done enough for you? Have I not 
done more for you than all your own people 
put together? Have I not saved your life? 
Have I not supported you all the winter? 
Yes, my friend, I have done so. And now 
that you are well you must do for yourself. I 
cannot let you have an axe or anything else un 
less you pay for it as others do, nor does your 
present conduct merit any more favors at my 
hand." And saying so, I turned round to the 
Indian I had been speaking to a little before. 

The moment I turned round from him, 
Prince caught hold of a gun and made an 
attempt to shoot me in the back, but it 
fortunately missed fire, and before I had time 
to turn round the gun was taken out of his 
hands by one of the chiefs, who, holding it up 
in the air, fired off the shot. It was fortunate 
that it missed fire the first time. 

After this, Prince stood sullen and motion 
less. "Is it," said I, "because I saved your life 

235 



that you wish to deprive me of mine?" To 
this he made no reply. Taking, therefore, a 
ball out of one of his comrade's pouches, close 
by, I offered it to him, saying, "Let me see 
now if you really wish to kill me. There is a 
ball, load your gun again/ 3 and I then stood 
before him. But he would neither take the 
ball nor reload the gun. This scene took place 
in the presence of more than fifty Indians, 
who remained silent spectators. I then entered 
the fort, leaving Prince still standing, but in a 
few minutes afterwards he sneaked off and 
left the place. Even the savages could not for 
bear reproving him for his conduct. 

The reader has here a specimen of the 
gratitude which a trader meets with among 
these barbarous people. But we must follow 
Prince a little farther. After leaving the 
place he happened to meet, at a little distance 
from the fort, one of my men, a Canadian by 
the name of Meloche, coming home from a 
hunting trip. Prince, therefore, went up to 
him with a smiling countenance, and after 
shaking hands and talking a little with 
Meloche he said to him, "Let me see your 
gun." Meloche made no hesitation, but 
handed it to him, for he looked upon Prince as 
one of ourselves, from his having been so long 
about the place, and he had often helped to 
take care of him during his sickness. No soon 
er, however, had Prince got the gun into his 
own hands than he, as Indians generally do. 

236' 



fur ^miters? of tfje far 



examined whether or not it was loaded. Find 
ing it was, he leaped on his horse, drew on one 
side, and began to quarrel with Meloche and 
reproach the whites, alluding to my having 
refused him a gun and an axe. But Meloche 
was not a man to be frightened by mere words, 
and Prince, to prevent his getting hold of him, 
turned round, shot Meloche's horse, kept the 
gun, and scampered off. 

Meloche arrived at the fort enraged, got a 
horse and gun, and would have pursued after 
Prince at all hazard had I not prevented him. 
I intended to adopt some milder plan for the 
recovery of his gun and the loss of his horse, 
but time was not allowed us to put this plan 
into execution. Not many days afterwards 
Prince exchanged the gun with another 
Indian for a horse. The Indians going out to 
hunt, Prince, in approaching an elk, was 
accidentalfy shot dead by a ball out of the 
very gun he took from Meloche. The fellow 
who had it happened unluckily to be approach 
ing the same animal as Prince, but in an 
opposite direction, when on firing, the ball 
missed the elk, glanced from a tree, and 
proved fatal to Prince. 

With this incident we hasten to close the 
present chapter, reserving for the next our 
further proceedings in the Snake country. 



237 



Chapter 8 

THE GREAT SNAKE NATION 

THE business of the year being ended, we 
resume the subject of the Snake expedi 
tion. McKenzie, in following up his 
first intention, disposed of his trappers to the 
best advantage, and taking with him three 
men and an Indian chief, left his people and 
set out on a trip of discovery towards the 
south. He had not proceeded far before he 
fell in with the main body of the great Snake 
nation, headed by the two principal chiefs, 
Pee-eye-em and Ama-qui-em. An interview 
with these two great men, in reference to the 
peace, was McKenzie's chief object in the 
trip he had undertaken. He, therefore, lost no 
time, but returned back to where he had left 
his people, the Indians accompanying him. 

The regularity and order of these Indians 
convinced the whites that they were under a 
very different government to any other they 
had yet seen in the country even preferable 
to the arrangements of the whites, the in 
fluence of the two great chiefs being, at all 
times, sufficient to restrain and keep the 
whole in subordination, and our friends free 
from annoyance. Not so was it among our 
own trappers, for, although McKenzie had 

238 



fut ^untetg of tfrc jpar 

only been absent from them ten days, on his 
return he found that the Iroquois had com 
menced their old tricks of trafficking away their 
hunting implements with the natives, and 
their familiar and criminal intercourse had 
already drawn down on them the contempt 
of the Indians. 

To prevent the evils arising from the 
animosities which had been engendered be 
tween both parties by the conduct of the 
thoughtless Iroquois was difficult; they well 
nigh brought the whites into a disagreeable 
scrape, but the good sense and conduct of the 
chiefs on this occasion was, in the highest 
degree, praiseworthy, so that matters were 
soon amicably adjusted. This done, McKenzie 
turned his attention to the Indians and the 
peace. But before we enter upon the latter 
subject we shall give some account of the 
Snake Indians as a nation. 

The great Snake nation may be divided into 
three divisions, namely, the Shirry-dikas, or 
dog-eaters; the War-are-ree-kas, or fish-eaters; 
and the Ban-at-tees, or robbers; but as a na 
tion they all go by the general appellation of 
Sho-sho-nes, or Snakes. The word Sho-sho-nes 
means, in the Snake language, "inland." 
The Snakes, on the west side of the Rocky 
Mountains, are what the Sioux are on the 
east side the most numerous and the most 
powerful in the country. The Shirry-dikas 
are the real Sho-sho-nes, and live in the plains, 

239 



hunting the buffalo. They are generally 
slender, but tall, well-made, rich in horses, 
good warriors, well-dressed, clean in their 
camps, and in their personal appearance bold 
and independent. 

The War-are-ree-kas are very numerous, 
but neither united nor formidable. They live 
chiefly by fishing, and are to be found along 
all the rivers, lakes, and water-pools through 
out the country. They are more corpulent, 
slovenly, and indolent than the Shirry-dikas. 
Badly armed and badly clothed, they seldom 
go to war. Dirty in their camps, in their 
dress, and in their persons, they differed so 
far in their general habits from the Shirry- 
dikas that they appeared as if they had been 
people belonging to another country. These 
are the defenseless wretches whom the Black 
Feet and Piegans from beyond the mountains 
generally make war upon. These foreign mer 
cenaries carry off the scalps and women of 
the defenseless War-are-ree-kas and the horses 
of the Shirry-dikas, but are never formidable 
nor bold enough to attack the latter in fair 
and open combat. 

The Ban-at-tees, or mountain Snakes, live 
a predatory and wandering life in the recesses 
of the mountains, and are to be found in small 
bands or single wigwams among the cav 
erns and rocks. They are looked upon by 
the real Sho-sho-nes themselves as outlaws, 
their hand against every man, and every 

240 



fur ^imterjj of tfie far 



man's hand against them. They live chiefly by 
plunder. Friends and foes are alike to them. 
They generally frequent the northern fron 
tiers, and other mountainous parts of the 
country. In summer they go almost naked, 
but during winter they clothe themselves with 
the skins of rabbits, wolves, and other animals. 

They are complete masters of what is called 
the cabalistical language of birds and beasts, 
and can imitate to the utmost perfection the 
singing of birds, the howling of wolves, and 
the neighing of horses, by which means they 
can approach, by day or by night, all travelers, 
rifle them, and then fly to their hiding-places 
among the rocks. They are not numerous, 
and are on the decline. Bows and arrows are 
their only weapons of defense. 

The country that these and the other Snake 
tribes claim as their own and over which they 
roam is very extensive. It is bounded on the 
east by the Rocky Mountains; on the south 
by the Spanish waters; on the Pacific, or west 
side, by an imaginary line beginning at the 
west end, or spur, of the Blue Mountains, 
behind Fort Nez Perces and running parallel 
with the ocean to the height of land beyond 
the Umpqua River, in about north latitude 
41 (this line never approaches within 150 
miles of the Pacific); and on the north, by 
another line running due east from the said 
spur of the Blue Mountains and crossing the 
great south branch, or Lewis River, at the 
241 



Dalles, till it strikes the Rocky Mountains 200 
miles ndrth of the three pilot knobs, or the 
place hereafter named the "Valley of Trou 
bles." The Snake country, therefore, con 
tains an area, on a rough calculation, of about 
150,000 square miles. For an Indian country 
it may be called thickly inhabited, and may 
contain 36,000 souls, or nearly one person to 
every four square miles. 

With all their experience our friends pos 
sessed but a very confused idea of the Snakes, 
both as to their names or numbers. One would 
call them Bannacks, and another Wurracks, 
while a third would have them named Dogs! 
Nor was it till I had subsequently gone to their 
country, traveled, traded, and conversed with 
them, that I could learn anything like facts 
to be depended upon; and even after all I can 
state it cannot be relied upon as entirely 
correct. 

It was from the chiefs, who, it would appear, 
were very intelligent men, that McKenzie 
and his people by indirect questions came to 
the conclusion that the Snake nation num 
bered as I have stated; which, of course, is 
only an approximation to the truth. He could 
get no satisfactory answer to direct questions, 
and that is the case with almost all savages. 
Ask an Indian his name and he will hesitate 
to tell you; ask him his age, and you will 
receive an evasive answer. When McKenzie 
put the direct question to the great chief, 
242 



fur ^unterg of tfyt far 



Pee-eye-em, "How many Indians are there in 
the Snake nation?" he said, "What makes you 
ask that question?" "I should like to know," 
said he, " in order to tell our Father, the great 
white chief." "Oh! oh! tell him, then," said 
Pee-eye-em, " that we are as numerous as the 
stars!" 

In the part of the country where our 
friends had taken up their winter quarters 
the buffaloes were very numerous. Thousands 
covered the plains. In this land of profusion 
the Indians likewise pitched their camp. The 
novelty of the presence of the whites and the 
news of peace soon collected an immense 
crowd together Shirry-dikas, War-are-ree- 
kas, and Ban-at-tees so that before the end 
of a month there were, according to their 
statements, more than 10,000 souls in the 
camp. This immense body covered a space of 
ground of more than seven miles in length, on 
both sides of the river, and it was somewhat 
curious, as well as interesting, to see such an 
assemblage of rude savages observe such order. 

The Shirry-dikas were the center of this 
city, the War-are-ree-kas at one end, the 
Ban-at-tees at the other, forming, as it were, 
the suburbs. But in this immense camp our 
people were a little surprised to see on each 
side of the Shirry-dikas, or main camp, nearly 
a mile of vacant ground between them and 
their neighbors the War-are-ree-kas and Ban- 
at-tees. This mysterious point was soon 

243 



cleared up, for as the other Indians came in 
they encamped by the side of the Shirry-dikas, 
till at last the whole vacant space was filled 
up. The same took place among the War- 
are-ree-kas and Ban-at-tees. Each clan swelled 
its own camp, so that every great division was, 
in a manner, separate. The whole of this 
assemblage of camps was governed by the 
voice of two great chiefs, Pee-eye-em and 
Ama-qui-em, who were brothers, and both 
fine-looking middle-aged men. The former 
was six feet two inches high, the latter above 
six feet, and both stout in proportion. McKen- 
zie himself, the stoutest of the whites, was a 
corpulent, heavy man, weighing 312 pounds; 
yet he was nothing to be compared, either in 
size or weight, to one of the Indian chiefs. 
His waistcoat was too narrow by fourteen 
inches to button round Pee-eye-em. 

Having now presented our readers with a 
brief outline of the Snake Indians, we next 
remark on that all-absorbing topic, the peace. 
As soon as all the natives were assembled to 
gether, McKenzie made known to the chiefs 
his views as to the establishing of a general 
and permanent peace between them and their 
enemies on the northern frontier. Besides 
Pee-eye-em and Ama-qui-em, there were 
fifty-four other dignitaries at the council- 
board, six of whom were War-are-ree-kas, but 
not one Ban-at-tee. The rest were all Shirry- 
dikas, and others belonging to the same class. 

244 



fur ^uttterjS of tfjc f&c 



After stating that the Nez Perces had agreed 
to the peace, and that it now depended solely 
upon them to have it finally ratified, McKenzie 
also signified to them that if the peace met 
with then: cordial approbation and was once 
established throughout the country, the whites 
would then open a profitable trade with the 
Snake nation, and that henceforth they might 
be supplied with all their wants. 

On hearing the concluding part of the prop 
osition the approbation was universal All 
seemed to hail peace with their enemies as 
a most desirable object. Here the great sa 
chem, Pee-eye-em, rose up, and was the first 
to speak. "What have we to do with it?" said 
he. "We never go to war on the Nez Perces 
or any other tribe in that quarter, nor do 
they ever make war on us. These," said he, 
pointing to the War-are-ree-ka and Ban-at- 
tee camps, "these are the people who disturb 
and wage war with the Nez Perces, and plun 
der the whites when in their power; but we 
have no hand in it, and for us to run after 
and punish the Ban-at-tees every time they 
do evil would be endless. It would be just as 
easy for us to hunt out and kill all the foxes in 
the country, as to hunt out and punish every 
Ban-at-tee that does mischief. They are like 
the mosquitoes not strong, but they can 
torment; and by their misdeeds and robberies 
the War-are-ree-kas often suffer from the in 
roads of the northern tribes." 

245 



"The Black Feet and Piegans," continued 
Pee-eye-em, "are our only enemies; a peace 
with them would be more desirable to us than 
a peace with the Nez Perces. But still, as it 
is the wish of the whites, the interest of the 
War-are-ree-kas, and ours, to get our wants 
supplied, we cordially agree to it." Ama- 
qui-em spoke next, and gave his consent. And 
then Ama-ketsa, one of the War-are-ree-kas, 
a bold and intelligent chief, spoke at great 
length in favor of the peace. He denounced 
the Ban-at-tees as a predatory race, and the 
chief cause of all the Snake troubles with the 
Nez Perces. 

A whole week was spent in adjusting this 
important business, and our people were 
heartily tired of it. At last, when all the chiefs 
had given their consent, four of the Ban-at- 
tees were invited, and they approached in 
evident fear. The peace was fully explained 
to them and they were distinctly told by 
Pee-eye-em and Ama-qui-em that if they did 
not regard the peace and live like the other 
Snake tribes they would be punished with 
death. 

In uttering these words Ama-qui-em got 
quite enthusiastic. "Yes," said he, to the 
trembling Ban-at-tees, "you are robbers and 
murderers tool You have robbed the whites; 
you have killed the whites." After this dec 
laration he made a pause, as if regretting 
what he had said, and went on. "But why 

2A.6 



of tf>e fat 



should I repeat a grievance? It is now past. 
Let us utter it no more. Go, then, home to 
your wives and to your children. Rob no 
more, and we shall all be friends. You see the 
whites before you. They are our friends. You 
must be their friends. We must enforce the 
observance of peace; tell your people so, and 
forget it not." 

The poor Ban-at-tees stood trembling and 
silent before the council like criminals, but 
the moment Ama-qui-em sat down they all 
called out in the Snake language, "Hackana 
tabehoo, Hackana tabehoo. We are friends to 
the whites, we are friends to the whites." 

The business over, McKenzie presented 
Pee-eye-em and Ama-qui-em with a flag each, 
as an emblem of peace, and at their request 
one was given to Ama-ketsa and one to the 
Ban-at-tees. As soon as tne council broke up, 
our friends were anxious to know the truth 
of Ama-qui-em j s assertion that they (the 
Ban-at-tees) had already killed the whites, 
and therefore sent for that chief and inquired 
into the matter. Ama-qui-em, after some little 
hesitation, explained it by telling McKenzie 
that it was the Ban-at-tees that plundered 
and murdered Mr. Reed and his party in the 
autumn of 1813. 

Our readers will no doubt have observed 
that we have omitted the customary ceremony 
of smoking during the present treaty of peace. 
Our reasons for so doing arose from the fact 

247 



that the Snakes prefer their own tobacco to 
ours. They are, perhaps, the only Indian 
nation on the continent who manufacture and 
smoke their own tobacco. Several of them 
were, however, seen with bits of our tobacco 
in their medicine bags, but scarcely any were 
seen to smoke it. As to the ceremony of smok 
ing at their councils, no Indians indulge in it 
more freely than the Snakes do. 

The peace was no sooner concluded than a 
brisk trade in furs commenced. In their 
traffic the most indifferent spectator could not 
but stare to see the Indians, chiefly War-are- 
ree-kas and Ban-at-tees, bringing large gar 
ments of four or five large beaver skins each, 
such as they use during winter for warmth, and 
selling them for a knife or an awl, and other 
articles of the fur kind in proportion. It was 
so with the Columbia Indians in our first 
years, but they soon learned the mystery of 
trade, and their own interest. So will the 
Snakes, for they are not deficient in acuteness. 
Horses were purchased for an axe each, and 
country provisions, such as dried buffalo, were 
cheap. Our people might have loaded a 
seventy-four-gun ship with provisions, bought 
with buttons and rings. 

It was truly characteristic of Indian trading 
to see these ' people dispose of articles of real 
value so cheaply, while other articles of com 
paratively no value at all, at least in the esti 
mation of the whites, were esteemed highly 

248 



fur ^untetg of tftc far 

by them. When any of our people through 
mere curiosity wished to purchase an Indian 
head-dress composed of feathers, or a neck 
lace of bears' claws, or a little red earth or 
ocher out of any of their mystical medicine 
bags, the price was enormous; but a beaver 
skin, worth twenty-five shillings in the Eng 
lish market, might have been purchased for a 
brass finger-ring scarcely worth a farthing; 
while a dozen of the same rings was refused for 
a necklace of birds' claws, not worth half a 
farthing. Beaver, or any kind of fur, was of 
little or no value among these Indians, they 
never having any traders for such articles 
among them. Nor could they conceive what 
our people wanted with their old garments. 
"Have not the whites/' asked a chief one day, 
smiling, "much better garments than ours?" 
Such garments, however, were not numerous, 
and were only used by the poorer sort. The 
Shirry-dikas were all clothed in buffalo robes 
and dressed deer skin, but no sooner had one 
and all of them seen European articles than 
they promised to turn beaver hunters. This 
disposition was, of course, encouraged by our 
people. Axes, knives, ammunition, beads, 
buttons, and rings were the articles most in 
demand. Clothing was of no value. A knife 
sold for as much as a blanket, and an ounce 
of vermilion was of more value than a yard of 
fine cloth. With the exception of guns, which 
they might have got from other Indians, they 
249 



had scarcely an article among them to show 
that they had ever mixed with civilized man, 
although it is well known that they had of late 
years occasionally seen the whites. 

Trade was no sooner over than Ama-qui-em 
mounted one of his horses and rode round and 
round the camp which of itself was almost 
the work of a day now and then making a 
halt to harangue the Indians respecting the 
peace, and their behavior towards the whites, 
and telling them to prepare for raising camp. 
Three days successively this duty was per 
formed by the chief, and on the morning of 
the fourth all the Shirry-dikas decamped in a 
body and returned in the direction whence 
they had come. Although these people were 
very peaceable and orderly, yet our friends 
got heartily tired of the crowd, and were no 
less anxious than pleased to see them move 
off. The War-are-ree-kas and Ban-at-tees 
remained behind, and were very annoying. 
They soon assumed a haughty tone, and even 
the Ban-at-tees began to hold up their heads 
and speak after the Shirry-dikas had left. In 
short, our friends often wished the Shirry- 
dikas back again. At the end of a couple of 
weeks more, however, all the rest went off, but 
not without stealing three of the hunters' best 
horses and some beaver traps. So much for 
the peace! But the loss was less felt than the 
annoyance of the thieves who had stolen them, 
of whom our people were glad to get clear. 
250 



fur ^untet# of tfte jFar 



When the Indians had left the ground, our 
hunters were divided into parties throughout 
the neighborhood, and went with the other 
three of the Owhyhees along a small river to 
trap, where no danger was apprehended. Our 
people were now left to pursue their business of 
hunting, and they trapped with great success 
for some time; but as soon as the winter set in, 
some of the banditti hovered about their camp 
with the intention of carrying off their horses, 
which subjected them to constant watching 
day and night. Our people, therefore, took 
advantage of a snowstorm and removed to 
some distance, in order to be out of their 
reach. During the bad weather, which lasted 
ten days, their want of a guide and their 
ignorance of the best passes through the 
mountains brought them into imminent peril 
of losing all their horses. At length, however, 
they were fortunate enough to get to a place 
of shelter, where their animals could feed, and 
they encamp in safety. Everyone felt that 
their horses were secure, themselves relieved 
from watching, and that they had outwitted 
the Indians; but the very next morning after 
they had arrived, six of their horses were 
stolen and a gun and two steel traps, which had 
been left at the door of a hunter's tent, were 
carried off. The Indians had dogged them all 
the way and played them this trick at last, 
so that they had to adopt the samje plan as 
before and watch all the winter. 

251 



To those who have never traveled in these 
wilds it may be interesting to know how the 
trappers' horses are fed and stabled during 
the winter. No fodder is provided for them; 
there is no stable nor shelter, only the canopy 
of heaven above them. Up to their bellies in 
snow, which has often a crust on the top as 
hard as ice, the horses beat down the crust, 
scrape away the snow with their forefeet, and 
feed on the dry and withered grass at the 
bottom. They often pass the winter without 
a drop of water, except from the icicles and 
snow which they happen to eat with their dry 
and tasteless food. After passing the night in 
this manner they are bridled, saddled, and 
ridden about by the hunters all day; and when 
they arrive at night covered with sweat, tired, 
and hungry, they are turned out again to dig 
their supper in the face of the deep snows, and 
in a cold ranging from 20 to 30 below zero of 
Fahrenheit's thermometer. The exercise may 
keep them in some degree warm, but the 
labor necessary to procure their food during 
the night is fully as fatiguing and laborious as 
the labor by day, and yet these hardy and 
vigorous animals are always in good condition. 

But to return to our subject. During the 
storm, while our people were on their journey, 
one of the hunters, named Hodgens, getting 
separated from the party in the drift and snow, 
lost his way. In his wanderings he lost his 
horse, and from cold and hunger almost lost 
252 



fur J^unterg of tfie far 



his life; for the lock of his gun got broken, so 
that he could not make a fire, and during two 
days and two nights he had to weather the 
storm without any. On the fourteenth day, 
however, while scarcely able to crawl, he had 
the good luck to fall on the main camp of the 
War-are-ree-kas, where, recognizing the chief's 
tent from the manner in which it was painted, 
he advanced towards it, looking more like a 
ghost than a living being. On his entering, 
Ama-ketsa, surprised at his unexpected arrival 
and still more surprised at his emaciated 
appearance, stared him in the face for some 
time, and could scarcely believe that it was a 
white man; but as soon as he was convinced 
of the reality, and made acquainted with the 
wanderer's forlorn state, he ordered one of his 
wives to put a new pair of shoes on his feet, 
gave him something to eat, and was extremely 
kind to him. Here Hodgens remained for 
eleven days in the chief's tent, nursed with all 
the care and attention of a child of the family, 
until his strength was recovered; and as soon 
as he was on his legs again, Ama-ketsa fur 
nished him with a horse, some provisions, and 
sent one of his own sons to conduct him to the 
whites. Although Hodgens could give the 
Indians no clue as to where the hunters were 
encamped, yet on the eighth day they arrived 
safe and sound at their friends, and as straight 
as if they had been led by a line to them, 
which convinced our people that the Indians 

253 



knew well the place of their retreat. Indeed, 
in those parts to avoid the Indians would be 
to avoid their own party. 

A party of our people had been out a whole 
week in search of Hodgens, and found his 
dead horse, but despairing of finding him they 
returned to their camp and all hopes of ever 
finding Hodgens alive vanished. When he 
did come, their astonishment was equal to their 
delight. The friendly conduct of Ama-ketsa 
towards him. was a strong proof of that chief's 
good will towards our people. During our 
friends' stay in this place they had several 
surprises from the Indians, but they managed 
matters so well that no more of their horses 
were stolen. 

Here our friends passed a winter of five 
months before the fine weather broke in upon 
them. Then, removing to some distance, they 
commenced their spring hunt in a part of the 
country rich in beaver. While here they were 
visited by several bands of Snakes, chiefly 
Shirry-dikas, and among others by Pee-eye-em 
and Ama-qui-em, with a large squad of follow 
ers. The astonishment of these people was 
great on the day of their arrival at seeing 240 
beaver caught by the hunters and brought into 
camp at the same time. 

These two great men were very anxious to 
know from McKenzie whether any of his 
people had been killed by the Indians during 
the winter, and being answered in the negative 

254 



fur ^untetg of tf>e far 



they appeared much pleased. They were, 
however, told that one had been lost, but was 
found. Little did our friends then think what 
had really happened, or what had incited the 
Indians to be so inquisitive. It will be re 
membered that three of the Owhyhees, as 
well as others, had been fitted out on a little 
river to hunt beaver, and our people had not 
heard any tidings of them. These three un 
fortunate men had all been murdered. This 
was what the chiefs had heard, and were so 
anxious about. 

As our people were about to start on their 
homeward journey, the two friendly chiefs ex 
pressed an ardent wish to accompany them. 
" We wish/' said they, "to see the Shy-to-gas." 
Besides seeing the Nez Perces, they thought 
by accompanying our people to insure a safe 
return to their lands. Our people, however, 
did not encourage them to undertake so 
tedious and hazardous a journey, and so 
embarrassing to themselves, but McKenzie 
assured them of his speedy return; so after 
staying about ten days the chiefs set out to 
return homeward. Both parties took leave of 
each other with feelings of respect. As soon 
as the chiefs went off our people prepared to 
start, 'and in the meantime a party with an 
Indian guide was sent off to pick up and bring 
to the camp the three Owhyhees already 
mentioned. They found the place where they 
had been hunting, and -where they had been 

255 



murdered; the skeleton of one of them was 
found, but nothing else. The fact that one of 
their horses had been seen in the possession of 
the banditti left no doubt in the minds of our 
people that they were the murderers. 

The season being now well advanced, they 
had no time to lose. Loading, therefore, 154 
horses with beaver and turning their faces 
towards Fort Nez Perces, the whole party 
commenced its homeward journey over hills, 
dales, rocks, and rivers for twenty-two days' 
travel, until they reached the long-wished-for 
Blue Mountains again. Here they spent a 
couple of days to rest and refresh their fa 
tigued animals. 

Various had been the reports brought to us 
by the Indians as to the fate of our friends in 
the Snake country, and as the time of their 
expected arrival drew near the more anxious, 
of course, we became, when one day a cloud 
of dust arose in the direction in which they 
were expected, and by the aid of a spyglass we 
perceived from four to five hundred horses, 
escorted by as many riders, advancing at a 
slow pace in a line of more than two miles in 
length, resembling rather a caravan of pil 
grims than a trapping party. It was our 
friends, accompanied by a band of the Cay- 
ouse Indians, who had joined them as they 
emerged from the defiles of the Blue Moun 
tains; and soon after, McKenzie, in his leath 
er jacket and accompanied by two of their 

256 



fur ^unterg of tfte jf at 

chiefs, arrived at the fort. Nothing could ex 
ceed the joy manifested by all parties, and the 
success attending the expedition surpassed our 
most sanguine expectations. 

This brings our subject up to the twenty- 
second of June, 1820. 

After a year's absence and laborious toil our 
friends required some rest, and while they 
are enjoying an interval of repose we propose 
to employ ourselves in collecting from their 
conflicting and imperfect details some further 
notes and remarks on the Snake country a 
country which had become the center of attrac 
tion to all parties connected with the trade. 

The general features of the Snake country 
present a scene incomparably grateful to a 
mind that delights in varied beauties of land 
scape and in the manifold works of Nature. 
Lofty mountains, whose summits are in the 
clouds, rise above wide-extending plains, while 
majestic waters in endless sinuosities fertilize 
with their tributary streams a spacious land of 
green meadows, relieved by towering hills and 
deep valleys, broken by endless creeks with 
smiling banks. The union of grandeur and 
richness, of vastness and fertility in the scen 
ery, fills the mind with emotions that baffle 
description. 

The Rocky Mountains, skirting this coun 
try on the east, dwindle from stupendous 
heights into sloping ridges which divide the 
country into a thousand luxurious vales, 

257 



watered by streams which abound with fish. 
The most remarkable heights in any part of 
the great backbone of America are three ele 
vated insular mountains, or peaks, which are 
seen at the distance of 150 miles. The hunters 
very aptly designate them the Pilot Knobs. 22 

In these parts are likewise found many 
springs of salt water and large quantities of 
genuine salt, said to be as strong as any rock 
salt. South of Lewis River, at the Black Feet 
Lake, this article is very abundant, and some 
of it is six inches thick, with a strong crust on 
the surface. Near the same lake our people 
found a small rivulet of sulphurous water, 
bubbling out from the base of a perpendicular 
rock more than 300 feet in height. It was dark 
blue and tasted like gunpowder. 

Boiling fountains, having different degrees 
of temperature, were very numerous; one or 
two were so very hot as to boil meat. In other 
parts, among the rocks, hot and cold springs 
might alternately be seen within a hundred 
yards of each other, differing in their tem 
perature. 

In passing many considerable rivers the 
Indian path, or footway, instead of leading to 
a ford would lead to a natural bridge. In 
stances of this kind were very frequently met 
with. One of those bridges was arched over in 

22 They are now generally known as the Three Paps, 
pr^Tetpns," and the source of the great Snake River, 
is in their neighborhood. Author. 

258 



fur ^imterg of tf>e fat &t$t 

a most extraordinary manner from one preci 
pice to another, as if executed by the hand of 
man. It was no uncommon thing to find rivers 
issuing suddenly out of the earth in the midst 
of a level plain, continuing a serpentine course 
for several miles, and then as suddenly enter 
ing the earth again. In one of these open 
ings our people set their traps and at the first 
lift caught thirty beaver and one or two 
otters. 

Some considerable streams were likewise 
observed to gush from the faces of precipices, 
some twenty or thirty feet from their summits, 
while on the top no water was to be seen. In 
two or three instances our people heard the 
noise of water under their feet, as of rapids, 
yet, for several miles, could not get a drop to 
drink. That this country contains minerals 
there can be but little doubt; many indications 
of copper, iron, and coal were seen by our 
hunters. 

In many parts the soil is composed of a rich 
black loam, with indications of marL This is 
the case in all the valleys, but in the higher 
parts the eye is wearied with the sight of 
barren plains and leafless rocks. 

It has been noticed how abundantly the 
natives of this quarter of the world are sup 
plied with various kinds of food. The many 
nutritious roots, berries, and all kinds of 
uncultivated vegetables which the country 
produces, suited to the Indian palate, set 

259 



starvation at defiance at all seasons of the 
year, unless through the negligence of the na 
tives themselves. 

The War-are-ree-kas are expert and suc 
cessful fishermen and use many ingenious 
contrivances in catching the salmon, but the 
principal one is that of spearing. For this 
purpose the fisherman generally wades into 
the water, often up to his waist, and then 
cautiously watches the ascending fish, the 
water being clear. He poises and balances his 
fourteen-foot spear so well, and throws it so 
adroitly, that he seldom misses his aim. 
Others, again, erect scaffolds, while many 
stand on projecting rocks with scoop-nets, 
and in narrow channels they make wires and 
form barriers. 

With all these methods and many more in 
full operation, and on almost every point, the 
fish, except in deep water, seldom escape these 
cunning and dexterous men. From fifty to 
one hundred persons may be seen within a 
short distance of each other, all busily em 
ployed in their own particular way. At the 
same time the youngsters are not idle, but 
employed in carrying home the fish to the 
camp; while the women, old and young, are 
each at their post, cleaning and preparing 
them for future use, and particularly to meet 
the urgent demands of a long winter. 

It seems that the salmon is not terrified by 
noise, for in all these occupations the fisher- 
260 



fur !^unter of tf>e far 



men call out loudly to each other. The im 
mense quantities of this delicious and nutritive 
fish caught at even one of these great fish 
camps might furnish all London with a break 
fast, and, although many hundred miles from 
the ocean, our people affirmed that it still 
retains its richness and flavor. From the skill 
of the natives in curing salmon the fish con 
tinue at all seasons of the year sweet and in 
good condition. They are dried slowly in 
sheds, covered above to exclude the rays of 
the sun. 

Yet with all this quantity of salmon, and 
buffalo in equal profusion, and of vegetables 
before them, so depraved is the appetite of 
the savage that he has often recourse, by way 
of change or variety, to the most nauseous and 
disgusting articles of food. The latter are, 
perhaps, not more pernicious to health than 
many of the highly-seasoned and deleterious 
dishes used among ourselves; and are, no 
doubt, as delicate and palatable to the taste 
of the rude savage as the others are to the taste 
and palate of the polished member of civilized 
society. The Snakes feast on the most loathe- 
some reptiles, such as serpents, mice, and lice. 
The curiosity of our people was often attracted 
by their singular mode of diet. Beneath the 
shade of the bushes is found an enormous 
kind of cricket, skipping in the sun are good- 
sized grasshoppers, and gigantic mounds of 
pismires of enormous growth are likewise very 
261 



frequent. All these insects are made subser 
vient to the palate of the Snake Indian. 

These delicacies are easily collected in 
quantity, and when brought to the camp they 
are thrown into a spacious dish along with a 
heap of burning cinders, then tossed to and 
fro for some time until they are roasted to 
death, under which operation they make a 
crackling noise like grains of gunpowder 
dropped into a hot frying pan. They are then 
either eaten dry or kept for future use, as 
circumstances may require. In the latter case 
a few handfuls are frequently thrown into a 
boiling kettle to thicken the soup; one of our 
men had the curiosity to taste this mixture, 
and said that he found it most delicious. Every 
reptile or insect that the country produces is, 
after the same manner, turned economically 
to account to meet the palate of the Snake 
Indian. But there is no accounting for tastes. 
I have seen the whites, in a camp teeming with 
buffalo, fowl, fish, and venison, longing for 
horseflesh, and even purchasing a horse in 
order to feast upon it. Nor is it uncommon in 
these parts to see the voyagers leave their 
rations of^ good venison and eat dogs' flesh. 
But the reader will cease to be surprised at 
these things when we mention the fact that 
the people in this country, habituated as they 
are to such things, live almost as the Indians, 
eating everything at times that can be eaten, 
some from choice, others from necessity. 
262 



^imterg of tfyt far 



Various herbs, shrubs, and plants are to be 
found, some of them highly esteemed by the 
natives for their healing qualities. Having 
stated that the Snakes prefer their own to 
bacco to ours, we now proceed to speak of that 
plant. The Snake tobacco plant grows low, is 
of a brownish color, and thrives in most parts 
of the country, but flourishes best in sandy or 
barren soil. It grows spontaneously, and is a 
good substitute for other tobacco, having the 
same aromatic flavor and narcotic effect as 
ours. It is weaker than our tobacco, but the 
difference in strength may be owing to the 
mode of manufacturing it for use. For this 
purpose, their only process is to dry it, and 
then rub it between the hands or pound it with 
stones until it is tolerably fine. In this state it 
almost resembles green tea. In smoking, it 
leaves a gummy taste or flavor in the mouth. 

Our people, however, seemed to like it very 
well, and often observed that with it they 
would never ask for any other; yet with all 
their fondness for the Snake tobacco, I ob 
served that the moment they reached the fort 
the Snake importation was either bartered 
away or laid aside. One and all applied to me 
for the good old twist. The Snakes would often 
bring their tobacco to our people for sale, but 
generally in small parcels, sometimes an ounce 
or two, sometimes a quart, and sometimes as 
much as a gallon. In their bartering pro 
pensities, however, they would often make our 
263 



friends smile to see them with a beaver skin 
in one hand and a small bag containing per 
haps a pint of the native tobacco in the other. 
The former they would of er for a paper 
looking-glass, worth twopence, while for the 
latter they would often demand an axe, worth 
four or five shillings. 

There is a fabulous story current among 
these people, and universally believed, that 
they were the first smokers of tobacco on the 
earth and that they have been in the habit of 
using it from one generation to another since 
the world began; that all other Indians learned 
to smoke, and had their tobacco first from 
them; that the white people's tobacco is only 
good for the whites, and that if they should 
give the preference to the white people's 
tobacco and give up smoking their own it 
would then cease to grow on their lands, and a 
deleterious weed would grow up in its place 
and poison them all. 

Although these people, display an absurd 
degree of ignorance in trade, they are, never 
theless, very ingenious. Their ingenuity in 
many instances shows them to be in advance 
of their Columbia neighbors; as, for example, 
their skill in pottery. The clays to be found 
all over their native soil are of excellent 
quality, and have not been overlooked by 
them. They, of all the tribes west of the moun 
tains, exhibit the best, if not the only, speci 
mens of skill as potters, in making various 
264 



of tftc far 



kinds of vessels for their use and convenience. 
Our people saw kettles of cylindrical form, a 
kind of jug,^and our old-fashioned jars of good 
size, and not altogether badly turned about 
the neck, having stoppers. These jars serve 
to carry water when on long journeys over 
parched plains. They are likewise used for 
holding fish, oil, and grease, and constitute a 
very great accommodation for domestic pur 
poses. These vessels, although rude and with 
out gloss, are nevertheless strong, and reflect 
much credit on Indian ingenuity. 

While traveling in the Snake country our 
friends wer^e often at a loss how to get across 
the different rivers that barred their way, even 
about the Indian camps, from the singular 
fact that the Snakes never make use of canoes. 
They are the only Indians we know of who 
derive then: living chiefly from the waters and 
are without them. Nor could our people 
assign any reason or learn the cause. Among 
all other fishing tribes, the canoe is considered 
indispensable. When the Snakes had occasion 
to cross any river, a machine constructed of 
willows and bulrushes was hastily put togeth 
er in the form of a raft. This clumsy practice 
is always resorted to, although it is a danger 
ous mode of conveyance. Our people had fre 
quently narrow escapes. At one time in cross 
ing the main river on a raft of this description 
they happened to get entangled and were in 
the utmost danger of perishing, when some 

265 



Snakes plunged in to their relief, and after 
disentangling them swam the raft to shore. 
They were for more than an hour beyond 
their depth, notwithstanding it was at a period 
of the year when the river was partly frozen 
over. 

It was amusing to listen to the miraculous 
tales of our people of the manner in which the 
Snakes eluded their grasp. When passing 
through the meadows and flats of long grass 
they would often perceive at a distance a per 
son walking, and on these occasions, if they 
ran to see who it was, after reaching the place 
and looking for some time around they would 
perceive to their astonishment the object of 
their search as far from them in an opposite 
direction; not satisfied they would start again, 
but to no purpose. The person would again 
and again appear in another direction, as if 
playing at hide and seek. 

The moment a Snake perceives any one 
pursue him, he squats down in the grass; 
then, instead of running forward to avoid his 
pursuer, he runs backward as if to meet him, 
taking care, however, to avoid him, so that by 
the time his pursuer gets to where he first 
saw the Snake, the Snake is back at the place 
from whence his pursuer started 1 , In the art 
of instantaneous concealment, and of changing 
places, they are very remarkable. They are 
very appropriately called Snakes. These re 
marks, however, apply to the Ban-at-tees also. 

266 



flit J^imtog of tfte fat 



Return we now to the trappers, whom we 
left enjoying themselves for a few days after 
their return from the Snake country. After 
delivering up their furs to me it was found 
that they had increased our annual returns to 
nearly double what they were a few years 
before, with but little additional expense, thus 
exemplifying the wise policy of extending the 
trade into the Snake country. 

The trappers, consisting of seventy men, 
being fitted out anew, McKenzie and his party 
were again at their post, and turning their 
faces once more round to the Snake country 
they left Nez Perces on the fourth day of 
July, after a short stay of only twelve days. 

We now introduce another portion of our 
narrative, and in doing so we must, in order to 
render our subject as intelligible as possible, 
take a retrospective view of the scenes that 
took place between the two rival companies 
in 1816. 

The courts of justice in Canada have juris 
diction over all criminal offenders in this 
country. Consequently, all the parties guilty, 
or suspected of being guilty, belonging either 
to the North West or to the Hudson's Bay 
companies during the hostile feuds were sent 
thither for trial. We now lay before our readers 
the result of these trials. 

As soon as it was rumored abroad that an 
investigation into the rights of parties, or the 
safety of individuals, was about to take place, 
267 



many of the North West managers were much 
perplexed. Expedients were resorted to, and 
every artifice that could be devised was put in 
requisition to defeat the ends of justice, or 
rather to screen themselves from guilt. The 
chief outrages that had been perpetrated were 
committed, not by the ruling powers, but by 
their subordinates, many of whom were, in 
consequence, hastily got out of the way. The 
remote posts of the North, as well as of the 
Columbia, had the benefit of their company. 
Those who could not be conveniently disposed 
of in this way were sent off among the In 
dians for a time, so that when the various 
indictments were exhibited in the courts of 
law against individuals no evidence could be 
found to convict or prove any of them guilty. 
This has been, and always will be, the case in 
a country so remote from civilization and the 
seat of justice. 

When all was done in Canada that could be 
done the main features of the case remained 
just as they were, without being advanced or 
bettered by a protracted investigation of four 
years. The Hudson's Bay Company still 
maintained their right of exclusive trade in 
and sovereignty over Rupert's Land; the 
North West Company on the other hand, dis 
puted that right, and continued to trade in 
Rupert's Land, carrying off the largest por 
tion of its productions in furs and peltries. 
Eminent lawyers were employed on both 
268 



fur ^unterg of tfre jpar 

sides to solve the disputed points, and gave 
opinions favorable to their respective clients; 
but those opinions produced no other effect 
than to convince the rival companies of the 
folly of carrying on a contest which threatened 
bankruptcy to both. The costs of the North 
West Company alone amounted to the enor 
mous sum of 55,000 pounds sterling. 

From litigation the parties had recourse to 
mediation, and the result of the negotiation 
was a union of the two companies into one by 
a "deed-poll," bearing date the twenty-sixth 
day of March, 1821. The deed-poll provides, 
among other tilings, that the trade heretofore 
carried on by both parties separately shall in 
future be carried on "exclusively, for twenty- 
one years, in the name of the Governor and 
Company of Adventurers of England trading 
into Hudson's Bay"; or in other words, the 
Hudson's Bay Company. By this arrange 
ment the North West Company merged into the 
Hudson's Bay Company. The deed-poll may 
be very good, and so may the charter, but we 
should have liked it much better, after all the 
evils we have witnessed arising from doubts 
and disputes, had the charter itself been 
stamped with the authority of the three 
estates, King, Lords, and Commons. This 
would have most effectually set the question 
at rest forever, and put all doubt as to the 
legality or illegality of the charter out of 
question. The junction of the two companies 
269 



saved Rupert's Land from anarchy in the 
day of troubles. 

The downfall of the North West Company 
cast a gloom over its numerous train of re 
tainers and Canadian dependents, also over 
the whole savage race from Montreal to the 
Rocky Mountains, and from the Rocky Moun 
tains to the Frozen Ocean a range of coun 
try greater in extent than the distance from 
Canada to England. The Company of which 
we are now speaking was, during its prosperi 
ty, the life and soul of the French Canadians, 
and the French Canadians were always great 
favorites with the Indians. No wonder, then, 
that a deep sympathy should be manifested 
on its ruin! 

All those persons connected with the late 
North West Company whose promotion was 
prior to the date of the "deed-poll," were 
therein provided for, whereas all those expect 
ants whose time of promotion ran beyond 
that period were excluded; but some of the 
latter party were provided for by a pecuniary 
remuneration, and among this last class it was ' 
my lot to fall, for my promotion did not come 
on till 1822. On this occasion a letter from the 
Honorable William McGillivray put me in 
the possession of the fact that 500 pounds 
sterling had been placed to my credit in their 
books, but I never received a penny of it. 

Being thus released from the North West 
Company, I had to begin the world anew, 
270 



fur J^uttterg of tfje far 



this being the third time in the course of my 
adventures. Still following, however, the ir 
resistible propensity of my inclination to see 
more of the Indian country, I immediately 
entered the service of the Honorable Hudson's 
Bay Company, but for two years only, 

My prospects hi the Pacific Fur Company 
were but short-lived, and my hopes vanished 
like a dream. In the North West Company 
seven more years of my life had gone by, and 
with them my prospects. There is a singular 
coincidence between both disappointments, 
for had not the American Company failed in 
1813 my promotion would have taken place in 
1814; so, in like manner, had not the North 
West Company become extinct in 1821 1 should 
have realized my expectations in 1822. 

The high standing of the late North West 
Company induced all those in any way con 
nected therewith to deposit their savings in 
the house of McGillivray, Thain and Com 
pany, the then head of the concern, and every 
one having money there considered it just as 
safe as if it had been in the Bank of England. 
But the wild and profuse expenditure conse 
quent on keeping a horde of retainers during 
the law contest of four years sank the house in 
debt and it became insolvent, which unfortu 
nate circumstance deprived many individuals 
of all their hard earnings. My loss amounted 
to 1,400 pounds, which left me almost penni 
less. 

271 



While these changes were going on who 
should arrive in health and high spirits at 
Nez Perces, after another year's absence, but 
McKLenzie from the Snake country, on the 
tenth of July, 1821, with an increase of re 
turns, and the good fortune of not having 
lost a man. At this period his contract of 
five years had expired, and the object of his 
mission was fully accomplished, but being too 
late in the season to get out of the country, he 
passed the winter with me at Fort Nez Perces, 
and crossed the Rocky Mountains in the au 
tumn of 1822. 

Although somewhat foreign to our subject, 
we may be permitted to follow this enter 
prising and indefatigable adventurer a little 
farther. The man who but a few years before 
had been thought fit only to eat horseflesh and 
shoot at a mark was now, from his persever 
ance and success in recovering a losing trade, 
become so popular among all parties in the 
fur trade that we find him snugly placed in 
the new " deed-poll" as a sachem of the higher 
class. Consequently, instead of wending his 
way to Canada, after crossing the mountains, 
he shaped his course to the Council at York 
Factory. Nor had he been long there before 
he was raised a step higher by being appointed 
governor of Red River Colony, the highest 
post in the country next to the Governor-in- 
Chief, which honorable station he held with 
great credit to himself and satisfaction to the 
272 



fur ^untgiff of tfre far 



public for a period of nearly ten years. Avail 
ing himself of his rotation at the end of that 
period, he made a tour through the United 
States, and during that tour purchased a small 
estate delightfully situated near Lake Erie, 
called Mayville; then, returning to Red River 
for his family, he retired from the service and 
left the country altogether, going to spend the 
remainder of his days at his rural seat of 
Mayville, in the state of New York. 

Mr. McKenzie was eminently fitted, both 
in corporeal and mental qualities, for the 
arduous and very often dangerous labor of 
conducting the business of his employers in 
regions hitherto but rarely trodden by the 
foot of the civilized man, and among tribes as 
fickle and capricious in their disposition as 
they were fierce and barbarous in then* man 
ners. Capable of enduring fatigue and priva 
tions, no labor appeared too great, no hard 
ships too severe. Bold and decided in the 
presence of danger, he was peculiarly adapted 
to strike awe into the breast of the savage, who 
has an instinctive reverence for manly daring. 
Nor was he destitute of those less striking 
qualities which win, but do not awe mankind. 
Intimately acquainted with the disposition of 
the savages he had to deal with, he could 
adopt measures amongst them which to others 
appeared the extreme of folly, and whose suc 
cessful issue alone could evince that they had 
been prompted by the deepest sagacity and 

273 



knowledge of human nature. The instance, 
already recorded, of his distributing his prop 
erty among the Indian chiefs and rinding it 
untouched on his return, after a considerable 
interval of time, is a sufficient proof of this. 
But Mr. McKenzie, notwithstanding his lib 
eral endowments and education, for he had 
been designed for the ministry, had a great 
aversion to writing, preferring to leave the 
details of his adventures to the pen of others. 

To travel a day's journey on snowshoes was 
his delight, but he detested spending five 
minutes scribbling in a journal. His traveling 
notes were often kept on a beaver skin, written 
hieroglyphically with a pencil or piece of coal, 
and he would often complain of the drudgery 
of keeping accounts. When asked why he did 
not like to write, his answer was, "We must 
leave something for others to do." Few men 
could fathom his mind, yet his inquisitiveness 
to know the minds and opinions of others had 
no bounds. Every man he met was his com 
panion, and when not asleep he was always 
upon foot, strolling backwards and forwards, 
full of plans and projects. So peculiar was 
this pedestrian habit that he went by the 
name of "Perpetual Motion." 



274 



9 



MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE FAR 
NORTHWEST 



F I AHE last chapter closed the career of the 
I North West Company with McKenzie's 
adventures in the Snake quarter, and 
placed the trade of the country in possession 
of the Hudson's Bay Company. But before 
we take our leave finally of the Northwesters 
there are yet a few fragments left which we 
propose collecting together, to enable the 
reader thoroughly to comprehend this sub 
ject; and we propose devoting the present 
chapter to these details. 

The branch of mercantile pursuit which 
confines the trader to a residence for a series 
of years among savages in the far-distant wilds 
of North America may appear to some as 
banishment rather than an appointment of 
choice in search of competency, which in a 
variety of ways fortune places more or less 
within our reach; yet of the persons who have 
spent any portion of their years in those 
countries, few or none are known who do 
not look back with a mixture of fond remem 
brance and regret on the scenes through which 
they have passed, preferring the difficulties 
and dangers of their former precarious but 

275 



independent habits to all the boasted luxuries 
and restraints of polished society. In the 
wilderness they spend a long, active, and 
healthful life. The table groans with venison, 
wild fowl, and fish, together with a variety of 
wild fruits, while the simple element in its 
purest state is their harmless beverage. 

In the frequency of their voyages, the di 
versity of landscape brings ample food for 
contemplation and delight. The indispensable 
discharge of duties in the thronged fort or in 
the bustling camp, domestic endearments, the 
making provision for the passing day, the 
sport of the gun, together with the current 
events among the tribes, furnish unbounded 
variety to banish unhappiness and ennui. 

At the very commencement of the fur trade, 
however, such advantages were never within 
the reach of the adventurer whose hazardous 
strides first traced out the fertile paths of the 
Far West. Their strength often proved un 
equal to their task, yet they had to push on, 
ignorant of dangers before them, or of obstruc 
tions that barred their retreat. They had no 
settled habitations or fortified holds to shelter 
them from the tempest, or from the frenzy 
of the natives. They were ignorant of the 
languages, customs, and manners of the tribes, 
whether they were well or ill disposed to them, 
or lived at peace or war with their neighbors. 
Without experience it was not possible always 
to avert the storms ready to burst over their 
276 



fur ^imterg of t$e fat 



heads. Neither was it possible to enjoy tran 
quillity of mind, and as for comforts, they were 
unknown. They had, in fact, everything to 
dread and guard against. 

But it must be admitted that in proportion 
to the increase in the more essential points of 
gain, the secondary objects of security, con 
venience, and comforts have had due attention 
paid them. And now establishments of any 
standing (such as Spokane House was in its 
day) are by no means wanting in the principal 
requisites of comfort. It may be said that the 
trader of this period has only to reap in each 
successive year, at ease, the harvest planted 
for him by those who went before him. It is so 
now on the Columbia, and with all that range 
of country lying between the Rocky Mountains 
and the Pacific. The roads are pointed out to 
all newcomers, the paths known, the Indians 
more or less civilized, so that the traders of 
this day have little left them to do. 

From a terror of the hardships endured in 
the Indian countries, it was seldom that the 
first adventurers could persuade any persons 
to follow them who were able to live decently 
at home. Their associates were, consequently, 
taken from the common men, who could not 
either read or write. But the number of 
independent fortunes amassed in the Indian 
fur trade at length attracted the attention of 
creditable mercantile houses. Companies were 
formed, and inducements held out to young 
277 



men of respectable families, many of whom, 
instead of embarking for the West or East 
Indies, as had been customary, preferred the 
road to Canada, in order to join the associa 
tion which had by this time assumed the title 
of the North West Company. These young 
men did not hesitate to sign indentures as 
clerks for a period of seven years, and to these 
were generally attached twice seven more be 
fore such situations became vacant as were 
to crown their ambition. Hence ordinary men 
were weeded out of the country, and it is not 
now strange to find the common Canadian, the 
half-breed, the civilized Indian, the native of 
the land, and the man of gentle birth and 
education, at their respective duties in the 
same establishment along the immense chain 
of communications which extends as far as the 
Frozen Ocean, and from the Atlantic to the 
Pacific Ocean. 

The fur trade has a mixture of mercantile 
and military duties. The clerks have charge of 
trading posts according to their merits and 
abilities, some upon a very considerable scale. 
They are first taught to obey, afterwards they 
learn to command, and at all times much is 
expected of them. It sometimes happens to 
be long before they receive the charge of a 
first-rate establishment, but when the gener 
al posture of affairs is propitious to their em 
ployers it is not very often that their lauda 
ble desires are disappointed. They at length 
278 



fur ^untgrjg of tfte far 



arrive at the long-wished-for goal of partners, 
and are entitled to a vote in all weighty de 
cisions of the Council. They are thenceforth 
styled esquires. 

The bourgeois lives in comfort, if not luxury. 
He rambles at pleasure, enjoys the merry 
dance, or the pastime of some pleasing game; 
his morning ride, his fishing rod, his gun, and 
his dog, or a jaunt of pleasure to the environs 
in his gay canoe, occupy his time. In short, 
no desires remain unfulfilled. He is the great 
est man in the land. The buildings belonging 
to the Company are both neat and commo 
dious, each class being provided with separate 
abodes. The apartments are appropriately 
divided into bedrooms, antechambers, and 
closets. There are also the counting-room, 
the mess-room, the kitchen and pantry, the 
cellars, and Indian hall, together with hand 
some galleries. Nor can we pass over in si 
lence one chief object of attraction. Even 
in this barbarous country woman claims 
and enjoys her due share of attention and re 
gard. Her presence brightens the gloom of 
the solitary post; her smiles add a new charm 
to the pleasures of the wilderness. Nor are 
the ladies deficient in those accomplishments 
which procure admiration. Although de 
scended from aboriginal mothers, many of 
the females at the different establishments 
throughout the Indian countries are as fair as 
the generality of European ladies, the mixture 

279 



of blood being so many degrees removed 
from the savage as hardly to leave any trace, 
while at the same time their delicacy of form, 
their light and nimble movements, and the 
penetrating expression of the "bright black 
eye" combine to render them objects of no 
ordinary interest. They have also made con 
siderable progress in refinement, and with 
their natural acuteness and singular talent 
for imitation they soon acquire all the ease 
and gracefulness of polished life. On holi 
days the dresses are as gay as in longer-settled 
countries, and on these occasions the gentle 
man puts on the beaver hat, the ladies make a 
fine show of silks and satins, and even jewelry 
is not wanting. It is not surprising, therefore, 
that the roving Northwester, after so many 
rural enjoyments and a residence of twenty 
years, should feel more real happiness in these 
scenes than he can hope for in any other 
country. 

Fur traders, from their constant intercourse 
with Indians, make a free use of tobacco, 
mixing it, as the Indians do, with a certain 
herb indigenous to the Indian country. This, 
with their favorite beverage, strong tea, con 
stitutes their chief luxury and agrees well 
with their mode of life. But, whether it be 
the food, mode of living, or climate, it cer 
tainly happens* that great longevity is seldom 
known among them on returning to civilized 
society. 

280 



jput ^untctjg of tfte jpat 



Indeed, there appears to be some fatality 
attending wealth acquired in the fur trade. 
Few, very few, indeed, of the hundreds who 
have retired from that trade during the last 
quarter of a century some with competencies 
and some with moderate fortunes have lived 
to enjoy their hard earnings. Shut out for sq 
many years from civilized society and all the 
endearments of social life, the fur trader is 
wholly unprepared for the wiles practiced by 
designing persons, to whose devices he easily 
falls a prey; or perhaps he squanders his means 
so profusely as to be soon reduced to penury. 
On the other hand, should he know the value 
of money and be of economical habits, yet 
having spent the best part of his days in a 
country where money is little used, and where 
he lived and roamed for so many years with 
out it, he becomes disgusted with a country 
where nothing can be procured without it, 
and where its influence is all powerful. Con 
sequently, the usages of civilized society have 
no charms for him, and he begins to pine and 
sigh for days gone by, never to return. He 
foresees that his wealth must be left to persons 
who had no trouble in acquiring it, and who 
will consequently be less scrupulous in spend 
ing it. In fine, whether we look to the kind 
of life led by the fur trader or the prospects 
which such a life holds out to him, we shall 
find, from his own experience, that the advan 
tages to be derived from it are by no means an 
281 



adequate compensation for the hardships and 
privations he has to encounter, and for the 
sacrifice he had made in renouncing so early 
in life the comforts and privileges to be enjoyed 
in his native land. 

Canadians, it is admitted, are best cal 
culated for the endurance of hardships and 
expedition in the business of light canoe-men. 
It is seldom that other men are employed in 
such arduous labor. Indeed, the Canadians, 
considered as voyagers, merit the highest 
praise. 

Another class, however, remain who merit 
less praise. They are in this country styled 
Freemen, because they are no longer the hired 
servants of the Company. These are generally 
Canadians, or others, who have spent their 
better days in the quality of canoe-men in the 
Company's service, but who have not been 
provident enough to save part of their earn 
ings for the contingencies of old age, and who, 
sooner than return to their own country to 
live by hard labor, resolve on passing the 
remainder of their days in comparative idle 
ness among the natives. It often happens, 
however, that young men of vicious and in 
dolent habits join them, lost, like the others, 
to all the ties of kindred, bloodj country, and 
Christianity. These freemen may be con 
sidered a kind of enlightened Indians, with all 
their faults but none of their good qualities; 
and this similarity to the Indians in their 

282 



fur J^unterjJ of fyt far &t$t 

vagrant mode of life brings on them the con 
tempt of both whites and natives. Indeed, 
they become more depraved, more designing, 
and more subtle than the worst of Indians, 
and they instruct the simple natives in every 
evil, to the great detriment of traders, with 
whom, in consequence, they are never on a 
friendly footing. They live in tents or in huts 
like the natives, and wander from place to 
place in search of game, roots, and herbs. 
Sometimes they live in the utmost abundance, 
but as they are not always expert hunters, nor 
industrious, they have at times to undergo 
the extremities of want. In this case they are 
objects of commiseration, and the traders not 
infrequently administer to their wants, but 
such is their ingratitude that they are seldom 
known to make them a grateful return. 

On account of their rapacity they do not 
always maintain a perfect understanding with 
the tribe to which they are attached; but 
Indians are so friendly to whites of every 
description when they throw themselves upon 
their mercy, that an instance of cruelty to a 
freeman is seldom or never heard of. They 
fall victims sometimes to the fury of an op 
posite or adverse nation at war, but other 
wise they are by no means an unhappy race, 
and they commonly live to an advanced age. 
There cannot be a better test for knowing a 
worthless and bad character in this country 
than his wishing to become a freeman it is the 
283 



true sign of depravity, either in a wayward 
youth or backsliding old man. They seldom 
agree with one another, and are generally scat 
tered amongst the natives by ones and twos 
only. Collectively, there may be at present 
about fifty or sixty on the Columbia, but in 
all other parts of the Company's territories 
they are far more numerous. 

The next class we have to notice are natives 
of the Sandwich Islands. It was from this 
people that captains, in their coasting trade, 
augmented their crews in steering among the 
dangerous natives from Columbia River to 
Behring's Strait, and from this precedent 
the inland traders adopted them when their 
complement of Canadians happened to fall 
short of their demands. They are submissive 
to their masters, honest, trustworthy, and 
willingly perform as much duty as lies in their 
power, but they are exceedingly awkward in 
everything they attempt. Although they are 
somewhat industrious, they are not made to 
lead, but to follow, and are useful only to stand 
as sentinels, to eye the natives, or go through 
the drudgery of an establishment. 

It has often been found, however, that they 
are not wanting in courage-, particularly 
against the Indians, for whom they entertain 
a very cordial contempt; and if they were let 
loose against them they would rush upon 
them like tigers. The principal purpose for 
which they were useful on the Columbia was 
284 



ot tfre far 



as an array of numbers in the view of the 
natives, especially in the frequent voyages up 
and down the communication; and, doubtless, 
they might have been found more serviceable 
had not a dullness on their part and an impres 
sion of their insufficiency on ours prevented 
both sides from any great degree of inter 
course. Being obtained, however, for almost 
their bare victuals and clothing, the difference 
in the expense between them and Canadians 
forms a sufficient consideration to keep up 
the custom of employing more or less of this 
description of men. 

The contrast is great between them here 
and in their own country, where they are all 
life and activity, for when I saw them there I 
thought them the most active people I had 
ever seen. This difference in their habits I 
am inclined to attribute to the difference of 
climate, their own being favorable to them in 
a high degree. When we consider the salu 
brity of the Sandwich Islands, it is hardly to 
be wondered that the unhappy native, when 
transplanted to the snows and cold of. the 
Rocky Mountains, should experience a decay 
of energies. From exposure to the wet and 
damp prevalent at the mouth of the Columbia, 
many of them become consumptive, and find 
their grave in the stranger's land. 

The Owhyhees, however, are such expert 
swimmers that few of our effects were lost 
beyond recovery when accident now and then 

285 



SUeranber 



consigned them to the bottom of the water in 
our perilous navigations; and it is next to 
impossible for a person to get drowned if one 
or more of them are near at hand, for in that 
element they are as active and expert as they 
are the reverse on dry land. They habitually 
testify a fidelity and zeal for their master's 
welfare and service, highly creditable to them. 
There are at this time only about a score of 
these men in the country. 

Among the people employed are a set of 
civilized Indians from the neighborhood of 
Montreal, chiefly of the Iroquois nation. At 
this period they form nearly a third of the 
number of men employed by the Company on 
the Columbia. They are expert voyagers, 
and especially so in the rapids and dangerous 
runs in the inland waters, which they either 
stem or shoot with the utmost skill. The ob 
ject of introducing them into the service of 
the traders was to make them act in the double 
capacity of canoe-men and trappers. They 
are not esteemed equal to the ablest trappers, 
nor the best calculated for the voyage. They 
are not so inoffensive as the Owhyhees, nor 
to be trusted as the Canadians. They are 
brought up to religion, it is true, and sing 
hymns oftener than paddling songs; but those 
who came here (and we are of course speak 
ing of none else) retain none of its precepts. 
They are sullen, indolent, fickle, cowardly, 
and treacherous; and an Iroquois arrived at 
286 



fur ^unterg of tfre far 



manhood is still as wayward and extravagant 
as a lad of other nations at the age of fifteen. 

We shall now draw the attention of our 
readers to another class, the last we propose 
to notice Indian women and the half-breeds 
of the country. About the different establish 
ments there are some of the natives employed 
in the capacity of servants, some as outdoor 
drudges, some as cooks, some as fishermen, 
and some as couriers. They are often found 
useful among their own tribe or those in the 
neighborhood. 

In the establishments belonging to trie 
whites in the Columbia are many Indian 
women, as wives to the different classes of 
people in the employ of the Company. These 
may be in all about fifty. Some of them have 
large families, and the tenderness existing 
between them and their husbands presents 
one great reason for that attachment which 
the respective classes of whites cherish for 
the Indian countries. The vigilance of these 
women has often been instrumental to the 
safety of the forts when the most diabolical 
combinations were set on foot by the natives. 

As it frequently happens that their hus 
bands go home to Canada, with the means of 
living at their ease, these women must of 
necessity rejoin their respective tribes, where 
they generally remain in a state of widowhood 
during a year or two, in expectation of their 
return. If the husband does not return, the 
287 



woman then bestows her hand on one of his 
comrades who has the good fortune to please 
her fancy the best. 

Habituated to the manners of the whites, 
they prefer living with them for the rest of 
their lives, and generally prove faithful to 
their husbands. They are likewise much at 
tached to their families a disposition inher 
ent in all Indians. Nor are they wanting in 
many other qualities necessary to form the 
good housekeeper. They are tidy, saving, and 
industrious. When they rejoin their tribe, 
the whites find them very friendly, and they 
never fail to influence their connections to the 
same end. By these means a close alliance is 
formed between the traders and the aborigines 
of the country, which might, by means of their 
offspring, be instrumental in bringing civiliza 
tion among the Indians were there some wise 
policy adopted for the government and care of 
half-breeds, whose destiny it is to be left in 
indigence by poor parents in this far-distant 
region of the earth. 

Some benevolent society would, no doubt, 
if set on foot, meet with all due encourage 
ment. Ways might be devised, by appointing 
an agent or guardian to each district of the 
country, for the due superintendence, main 
tenance, clothing, and education of all such 
poor children as are left in the Indian coun 
tries. I am convinced, from my own experience 
in these parts, that nothing of the kind could 

288 



fur ^unterg of tfre fat 



ever work well unless the Hudson's Bay Com 
pany were to take the management of it; that 
alone would insure its success. For the promo 
tion of this benevolent design an appeal is here 
made to the philanthropic disposition of the 
Honorable Company, who now preside over 
that great family of mankind inhabiting a tract 
of Indian country from the Atlantic to the Pa 
cific, and from the Pacific to the Frozen Ocean. 

Half-breeds, or, as they are more generally 
styled, bruleSj from the peculiar color of their 
skin, being of a swarthy hue as if sunburnt, 
as they grow up resemble almost in every 
respect the pure Indian, with this difference, 
that they are more designing, more daring, 
and more dissolute. They are indolent, thought 
less, and improvident, licentious in their hab 
its, unrestrained in their desires, sullen in 
their disposition, proud, restless, clannish, and 
'fond of flattery. They alternately associate 
with the whites and the Indians, and thereby 
become falsely enlightened, acquiring all the 
bad qualities of both. 

But the more unfortunate part of them are 
those born of wealthy parents, or men hold 
ing the rank of gentlemen in the service, such 
as bourgeois and clerks. These men have 
often been remarkable for indulging their chil 
dren; and instead, therefore, of teaching their 
offspring industry and frugality, they allow 
them to run about the establishment, learn 
ing, among Indians, freemen, voyagers, and 
289 



others, every vice that can degrade human 
nature. The father, however, is a gentleman; 
the son, forsooth, must be a gentleman too. 
None so great as he, for he can race horses, 
run dogs, smoke tobacco, and shoot arrows, 
but he must not degrade himself with labor. 
While in the service, all this does very well, 
but when the father leaves the service, so does 
the son. They are no longer in the service, 
but in civilized life. The son looks about, and 
is disgusted with the drudgery of labor; still 
hangs about his father; knows nothing, can do 
nothing; bows and arrows are more congenial 
than the spade or the hoe, and he longs to get 
back to the scenes of his boyhood. To get rid 
of the gentleman's son, therefore, the father 
sets him up in business, and gives him a por 
tion of his goods. But business he does not 
understand, his thoughts are still upon bows 
and arrows. He fails, and falls back again 
upon his more than half-ruined father. The 
father dies, the son lays his hands on the root 
of all evil, and indulges for a time in wasteful 
extravagance. The father is scarcely yet cold 
in his grave when the last shilling is gone, and 
the son an outcast. 

It sometimes happens that a promising 
youth is sent home. Five hundred pounds are 
spent on his education, and the accomplish 
ments of drawing, music and dancing are 
added. He returns to the country again, for 
they must all get back to the land of their 

290 



fur ^untcrg of tfre far 



nativity. He tries his fortune one way, tries 
it another, but the qualifications and the re 
straints necessary to succeed in business are 
disagreeable to him. He gets tired, and de 
scends from respectable society. His learn 
ing becomes useless; he tries his bows and 
arrows again, but has forgotten even that abo 
riginal accomplishment, and is lost in the crowd. 

Many bad consequences arise from the cus 
tomary mode of abandoning half-breed , chil 
dren. It degrades white men in the eyes of 
the natives. By far the greater part of those 
who are employed hi this quarter, from Mont 
real, are in reality nothing else but half-breeds; 
with this difference, however, that they are 
more knowing in mischief, but less skilled 
than the others in the requisite occupations of 
the land. 

We shall now bring to view their better 
qualities. Half-breed children, instructed in 
the principles of religion and morality, and 
taught at an early age some useful trade, 
would doubtless prove an ornament to society. 
They are frequently endued with the most 
lively apprehension, and are naturally in 
genious, hardy, and enterprising. They are 
by far the fittest persons for the Indian coun 
tries, and the best calculated by nature for 
going among Indians. They are insinuating, 
and not unfit instruments to mollify their 
countrymen and teach them the great end of 
civilization. They are naturally of an acute 
291 



understanding, are expert horsemen, active 
woodsmen, noted marksmen, able hunters. 
They surpass all Indians at the chase; they 
are vigorous, brave; and, while they possess the 
shrewdness and sagacity of the whites, they 
inherit the agility and expertness of the savage. 

It is a misfortune that those who might other 
wise be calculated to shine in various spheres 
of civilized life should thus be lost to their 
country, and the more deplorable since it is in 
our power to make them useful. And for aught 
we know there may be Nelsons, there may be 
Wellingtons, whose talents lie buried in the 
listlessness and obscurity of the dreary waste. 

Of this class the first child z a male, was born 
at Columbia on the twenty-fourth day of 
January, 1812. I notice the circumstance 
now as it may in a new country like this 
become, on some future day, matter of history. 

Children from the Indian countries do not 
generally turn out well in civilized society. 
Those, however, brought up among the lower 
classes seem to thrive the best. Their genius, 
their habits, and their ideas, it would appear, 
correspond best with that sphere of life. 

We now come to notice the last relic of the 
North West Company the universal idol of 
its day the light canoe, the chief gratifica 
tion to a North West proprietor, the person 
of highest rank in the Indian countries. The 
Canadians, or voyagers, dignify their master 
by the name of bourgeois, a term handed 
292 



of t$e fat 



down from the days of the French in the 
province of Canada. 

The bourgeois is carried on board his canoe 
upon the back of some sturdy fellow generally 
appointed for this purpose. He seats himself 
on a convenient mattress, somewhat low in the 
center of his canoe, his gun by his side, his 
little cherubs fondling around him, and his 
faithful spaniel lying at his feet. No sooner is 
he at his ease than his pipe is presented by his 
attendant, and he then begins smoking, while 
his silken banner undulates over the stern of 
his painted vessel. Then the bending paddles 
are plied, and the fragile craft speeds through 
the currents with a degree of fLeetness not to 
be surpassed, yell upon yell from the hearty 
crew proclaiming their prowess and still. 

A hundred miles performed, night arrives; 
the hands jump out quickly into the water, 
and their nabob and his companions are 
supported to terra firma. A roaring fire is 
kindled and supper is served. His Honor then 
retires to enjoy his repose. At dawn of day 
they set out again. The men now and then 
relax their arms, and light their pipes, but no 
sooner does the headway of the canoe die away 
than they renew their labors and their chorus, 
a particular voice being ever selected to lead 
the song. The guide conducts the march. 

At the hour of breakfast they put ashore on 
some green plot. The teakettle is boiling, a 
variegated mat is spread, and a cold collation 

293 



flttejcanber 



set out. Twenty minutes and they start 
anew. The dinner hour arrives. They put 
aground again. The liquor-can accompanies 
the provision-basket. The contents are quickly 
set forth in simple style, and after a refresh 
ment of twenty minutes more off they set again, 
until the twilight checks their progress. 

When it is practicable to make way in the 
dark, four hours is the voyagers' allowance 
of rest; and at times, on boisterous lakes and 
bold shores, they keep for days and nights to 
gether on the water, without intermission, and 
without repose. They sing to keep time to 
their paddles; they sing to keep off drowsiness, 
caused by their fatigue; and they sing because 
the bourgeois likes it. 

Through hardships and dangers, wherever 
he leads, they are sure to follow with alacrity 
and cheerfulness over mountains and hills, 
along valleys and dales, through woods and 
creeks, across lakes and rivers. They look not 
to the right nor to the left, they make no halt 
in foul or fair weather. Such is their skill that 
they venture to sail in the midst of waters like 
oceans, and with amazing aptitude they shoot 
down the most frightful rapids, and they 
generally come off safely. 

When about to arrive at the place of their 
destination they dress with neatness, put on 
their plumes, and a chosen song is raised. 
They push up against the beach as if they 
meant to dash the canoe into splinters, but 
294 



^unterjst of tfie iFar 



most adroitly back their paddles at the right 
moment, whilst the foreman springs on shore 
and, seizing the prow, arrests the vessel in its 
course. On this joyful occasion every person 
advances to the waterside, and great guns are 
fired to announce the bourgeois' arrival. A 
general shaking of hands takes place, as it often 
happens that the people have not met for 
years. Even the bourgeois goes through this 
mode of salutation with the meanest. There 
is, perhaps, no country where the ties of 
affection are more binding than here. Each 
addresses his comrades as his brothers, and 
all address themselves to the bourgeois with 
reverence as if he were their father. 

From every distant department of the 
Company, a special light canoe is fitted out 
annually to report their transactions. The 
one from the Columbia sets out from the 
Pacific Ocean the first of April, and with the 
regularity and rapidity of a steamboat it 
reaches Fort William on Lake Superior the 
first of July, remaining there till the twentieth 
of that month, when it takes its departure 
back, and with an equal degree of precision 
arrives at Fort George at the mouth of the 
Columbia River on the twentieth of October, 

A light canoe, likewise, leaving the Pacific, 
reaches Montreal in a hundred days, and one 
from Montreal to the Pacific in the same space 
of time, thus performing a journey of many 
thousand miles without delay, stoppage, or 

295 



scarcely any repose, in the short period of little 
more than six months. 

Having now concluded our remarks on the dif 
ferent classes of whites, of half -breeds, and others 
connected with the trade of this country, we 
resume the subject of Fort Nez Perces quarter. 

The different Indian tribes inhabiting the 
country about Fort Nez Perces often go to 
war on their southern neighbors, the Snakes, 
but do not follow war as a profession. They, 
likewise, frequently go to the buffalo-hunt, as 
the Flatheads and others west of the moun 
tains do. They are inhabitants of the plains, 
live by the chase, and are generally known 
and distinguished by the name of " black 
robes/' in contradistinction to those who live 
on fish. They are easily known from their 
roving propensities, their dress, cleanliness, 
and independence. Being rich in horses, they 
seldom walk on foot. They are expert hunters, 
good warriors, and are governed by far more 
powerful and influential chiefs than any of the 
other tribes on the Columbia. 

We do not intend to follow them through 
all the varied scenes of their warlike exploits, 
for that has already been more or less done in 
our remarks on the Snake country; yet that 
the reader may have a more correct idea of 
their habits and general appearance on such 
occasions we shall first present him with a 
short description of a warrior and his horse, 
ready accoutered for a war expedition, point- 
296 



fur ^untcEg of tftc far 



ing out to him their general treatment of 
slaves taken in war, and conclude the subject 
of our remarks in this chapter with a brief 
vocabulary 23 of their language. 

The tribes of Fort Nez Perces we have 
enumerated already; on the present occasion, 
we shall more particularly direct the reader's 
attention to the Walla Walla, the Cayouse, and 
the Shaw-ha-ap-ten tribes. The last mentioned 
is the Choppunish of Lewis and Clark. First, 
then, as to the war chief's headdress, a matter 
of ^great importance. It consists of the entire 
skin of a wolf's head, with the ears standing 
erect, fantastically adorned with bears' claws, 
birds' feathers, trinkets, and bells. The next 
item is a wreath of curiously studded feathers, 
resembling a ruff or peacock's tail, which is 
entwined round the cranium and hangs down 
the back to the ground like a banner. When 
the chief is on horseback, it floats sbc or seven 
feet in the air. The loss of this is the loss of 
honor. The price of a first-rate war head-dress 
is two horses. The body is clothed with a 
shirt or garment of thin-dressed leather, cut 
and chequered into small holes and painted or 
tattooed with a variety of devices. A black 
leathern girdle strapped tightly round the 
waist confines the garment and holds the 
mystical medicine bag and decorated calumet 
articles, in the chief's estimation, of no 
ordinary value. His weapons are the gun, the 

23 Omitted from the present reprint. 



2Q7 



lance, the scalping-knife, and a bulky quiver 
of arrows. Although thus accoutered, he ap 
pears nowise embarrassed. Indeed, one must 
actually see a warrior to believe with what 
dexterity and ease he can use each weapon, 
and how nimbly he can change one for an 
other as occasion may require. 

Next comes the favorite war-horse, a de 
scription of which will convey but a faint idea 
of the reality. Although horses are generally 
cheap and easily purchased by the natives, 
yet no price will induce an Indian chief to 
part with his war-horse. Those entirely white 
are preferred. Next to white, the speckled, or 
white and black, are most in demand. Gen 
erally, all horses of these fancy colors are 
claimed by the chiefs in preference to any 
other, and are, therefore, double or treble the 
value of others. As much pains is bestowed to 
adorn, paint, and caparison a war-horse as a 
warrior himself. On the occasion I am now 
describing, the horse was a pure white. After 
painting the animal's body all over and draw 
ing a variety of hieroglyphic devices, the head 
and neck were dappled with streaks of red 
and yellow, the mane dyed black, the tail red, 
clubbed up in a knot, and tied short. To this 
knot was appended two long streamers of 
feathers, sewed to a leather thong by means 
of sinews; the feathers, which reached the 
ground^forming as it were two artificial tails, 
which, in addition to ornament, served the 
298 



far 



rider to lay hold of while in the act of crossing 
rivers. A bunch of feathers as big as a broom, 
standing some twenty inches above t*he ears, 
ornamented the horse's head, and the rider as 
well as the horse was so besmeared with red, 
blue, and yellow ocher that no one could tell 
what the natural color of either was. 

Five or six hundred men thus mounted and 
armed present a somewhat grand and impos 
ing appearance, when, a few days before set 
ting out on these expeditions, the whole 
cavalcade parade and maneuver about their 
camp. But the most interesting part of the 
scene is not yet told. On one occasion I went 
purposely to see them. One of the principal 
chiefs, at the commencement, mounted on 
horseback and took up his stand on an emi 
nence near the camp, while at the same time 
the whole troop, mounted in fighting order, 
assembled in a group around him. After this 
chief had harangued them for some time they 
all started off at a slow trot, but soon increased 
their pace to a gallop, and from a gallop to 
a full race, the cleverest fellow taking the 
lead. In this manner they went round the 
tents. During all the time silence prevailed 
within the camp, while the horsemen contin 
ued shouting or yelling, and went through all 
the attitudes peculiar to savages. 

At one moment they threw themselves to the 
right, the next to the left side of the horse, twist 
ing and bending their bodies in a thousand 
299 



different ways, now in the saddle, then out 
of the saddle, and nothing frequently to be 
seen but the horses, as if without riders, parry 
ing or evading, according to their ideas, the 
onset of their assailants. I could very easily 
conceive that the real merit of the maneuvers 
was not who could kill most of his enemies, but 
who could save himself best in battle. So 
dexterous and nimble were they in changing 
positions and slipping from side to side that it 
was done in the twinkling of an eye. As soon 
as the maneuvering was over they were again 
harangued and dismissed. 

The subject next to be considered is the 
treatment of the slaves taken in war. On their 
return from an expedition, the war-party keep 
in a body and observe the same order as at 
starting, until they reach home, when, if 
successful, their shouting, yelling, and chant 
ing the war-song fill the air. The sound no 
sooner reaches the camp than the whole sav 
age horde, young and old, male and female, 
sally forth; not, however, to welcome the 
arrival of their friends, but to glut their desire 
of implacable revenge by the most barbarous 
cruelties on the unfortunate captives, who 
are considered as slaves and treated as such. 

The slaves, as is customary on such occa 
sions, are tied on horseback, each behind a 
warrior. But the squaws no sooner meet them 
than they tear them down from the horses 
without mercy, and then begin trampling on 
300 



fur ^imter of te far 



them, tearing their heads and flesh, cutting 
their ears, and maiming their bodies with 
knives, stones, sticks, or other instruments of 
torture. After thus glutting their revenge 
they drive the slaves to the camp. 

It is then settled unalterably what the 
slaves are doomed to suffer. Every after 
noon, some hours before sunset, the camp 
makes a grand turn-out for dancing the scalps. 
For this dance two rows of men, a hundred 
yards long or more, arrange themselves face 
to face and about fifteen feet apart. Inside 
these are likewise two rows of women facing 
each other, leaving a space of about five feet 
broad in the middle for the slaves, who, ar 
ranged in a line, occupy the center in a row by 
themselves. Here the unfortunate victims, 
male and female, are stationed with long poles 
in their hands and naked above the waist, 
while on the ends of these poles are exhibited 
the scalps of their murdered relations. The 
dancing and chorus then commence, the whole 
assemblage keeping time to the beat of a loud 
and discordant sort of drum. * The parties all 
move sideways, to the right and left alter 
nately, according to the Indian fashion, the 
slaves at the same time moving and keeping 
time with the others. Every now and then a 
general halt takes place, when the air resounds 
with loud shouts of joy, and yell upon yell 
proclaim afar their triumph. 

All this is but a prelude to the scenes that 
301 



follow. The women,, placed in the order we 
have stated on each side of the slaves and 
armed with the instruments of torture, con 
tinue jeering them with the most distorted 
grimaces, cutting them with knives, piercing 
them with awls, pulling them by the hair, and 
thumping them with fist, stick, or stone in every 
possible way that can torment without killing 
them. The loss of an ear, a tooth, the joint of 
a finger, or part of a scalp torn off during these 
frantic -fits, are nightly occurrences; and if the 
wretches thus doomed to suffer happen not to 
laugh and huzza (which in their situation would 
almost be beyond the efforts of human nature) 
or if they fail to raise or lower, according to 
caprice, the scalps in regular order, they are 
doubly tormented and unmercifully handled. 

On these occasions some termagant often 
pounces upon her victim, who not infre 
quently falls senseless to the ground under the 
infliction of wounds; and if any slave happens, 
from a sudden blow, to start back a little out 
of line, a woman in the rear instantly inflicts 
another wound, 'which never fails to urge the 
same victim as far forward; so that they are 
often pushed backwards and forwards till at 
last they become insensible. 

The men, however, take no part in these 
cruelties, but are mere silent spectators. They 
never interfere, nor does one of them during 
the dancing menace or touch a slave. All the 
barbarities are perpetrated by the women. 
302 



fur ^untcrg of tfte jfar 



These are the only examples I have ever 
witnessed among savages of women outdoing 
the men in acts of inhumanity, or where 
sympathy is not regarded as a virtue by the 
sex. But then we must take into consideration 
that it is a part of the law of the tribes; it is 
a duty which the females, according to the 
customs of war, are bound to perform. 

When these acts of savage life happen near 
the establishments curiosity occasionally in 
duces the whites to attend and on one occa 
sion I stood for some time looking on, but as I 
could do nothing but pity, I soon withdrew 
from the heart-rending scene. At dusk the 
dancing ceases and the slaves are thenceforth 
conveyed to the camp, washed, dressed, fed, 
comfortably lodged, and kindly treated until 
the usual hour of dancing the following day 
arrives, when the same routine of cruelties is 
gone through. This course is generally per 
sisted in for five or six days without intermis 
sion, and then discontinued altogether. From 
that time, the slaves are no longer considered 
in the camp as common property, but are 
placed under the care of their respective mas 
ters, and subject only to them. Their treat 
ment ever after is generally as good as could 
be expected, and is often according to their 
own merit. They are, nevertheless, at all 
times subject to be bought, sold, and bartered 
away in the same manner as any other article 
of property belonging to the owner. 

303 



Index 



ABNAKEE (Abanakee) Indians, join McKenzie's ex 
pedition, 85; unreliability in fur trade, 118. 

Agents, status in North West Company, 86-87. 

Amaketsa, Snake chief, succors lost trapper, 253-54. 

Amaquiem, Snake chief, meets McKenzie, 238; phy 
sique, 244; part in peace negotiations, 245-47; breaks 
camp, 250; visits trappers, 254-55. 

Amiotte, , drowned, 64-65. 

Astor, John Jacob, trading activities, xxui-xxiv. 

Astoria, surrendered to North West Company, xxiv. 

Astorians, narratives concerning, xii, xix-xx, xxiii. 

BANATTEE Indians, branch of Snake tribe, described, 
240-41; in peace negotiations, 244-47; misdeeds, 
245-47; conduct toward traders, 250; skill at con 
cealment, 266. 

Bannack Indians, name applied to Snake, 242. 

Bears, on Grizzly Bear River, 135; wintering dens, 135- 
36; Indian hunt described, 152-54. See also grizzly 
bear. 

Bear Thicket, explorers visit, 136. 

Beaver, vessel, lost, xxiv. 

Beaver, on Grizzly Bear River, 134-35; near Eagle 
Hill, 137; returns decrease, 189-, mode of trapping, 
219-21; timidity, 220-21; catch, 254, 259. 

Bethune, Angus, North West Company partner, 28. 

Black Bears Lake, McKenzie visits, 218. 

Black Feet Indians, defeated by Snake, 216-17; prey 
upon Wararereeka, 240; peace with, desired, 247. 

Black Feet Lake, salt deposits, 258. 

Blue Mountains, McKenzie traverses, 190, 192; route 
via, 212, 228; trappers reach, 256. 

Boats, Snake tribe, 265-66. See also canoes. 

307 



Boston, vessels from, in Northwest trade, 28. 

Bridges, natural, 258-59. 

Brusseau (Aland), narrative of illness, 128-29. 

Buffalo, numbers in Snake country, 243, 

Burgeois, significance of title, xxviii; status, in North 
West Company, 86-87; mode of life, 279, 292-95. 

CANADIANS, endurance of hardships, 282, See also 
voyagers. 

Cannibalism, traders resort to, 47. 

Canoes, fondness of Northwesters for, 59-60; Snake 
tribe ignorant of, 265; use in fur trade, 292-95. 

Canoe River, explorers visit, 140-41. 

Cascades, of Columbia, hostility of natives, xxviii- 
xxxv, iio-i2. 

Cathleyacheyach Indians, embroiled with North 
westers, xxx-xxxv. 

Cayouse Indians, assemble in Eyakema Valley, 5; 
halt traders, 39-40, 43-44; hostilities, 44-46; peace 
with Snake, 169-74; influence, 176; warriors de 
scribed, 297-300, 

Charette, murdered, 47-48. 

China, trade unprofitable, 28. 

Chinook Indians, attack How How's followers, 184-86. 

Choppunish Indians, see Nez Perce* Indians. 

Clerks, characterized, 278-79. 

Coal, in Snake country, 259. 

Colonel Allan, trading vessel, visits Fort George, 65- 
68; sails for China, 66. 

Coltman, Colonel, investigates trading companies' 
warfare, 79. 

Columbia, trading vessel, visits Fort George, 28. 

Columbia grouse, killed, 144. 

Copper, in Snake country, 259. 

Copper Mine River, Hearne discovers, xxv. 

Cosispa Indians, location, 175. 

Co wlitz- River, hostilities with Indians, 181-86. 

Crowly, Doctor, accused of shooting, 67. 

DALLES, of Columbia, character of Indians, xxxvii; 
traders encamp, 3-4; meet disaster, 46-47; natives 
attack, 97; passage, by traders, 117-22. 

308 



Delorme, , killed by Indians, 212, 223. 

Dogs, at Indian feasts, 101; quarrel with natives over, 
110-12; as diet, 262. 

Dog Indians, name applied to Snake, 242, 

Downie, Captain George, in battle of Plattsburg, 68. 

Downie, Doctor, kills self, 67-68. 

EAGLE, killed, 144. 

Eagle Hill, explorers visit, 136, 142. 

East India Company, prohibits navigation of Indian 
Ocean, 105. 

Eyacktana, rencounter of Ross with, 11-12; befriends 
Ross, 13-16. 

Eyakema River, rendezvous of natives, 5, 7; expedition 
of Ross to, 5-20; hostility of natives, 189; route via, 
189-90. 

FALLS, of Columbia, trader drowned, 64-65; natives 
visit Fort Nez Perce*, 207-208. 

Falls, of Willamette, peace negotiations at, 91-95. 

Finlay, , shoots Indian, xxix. 

Fleas, in Indian dwellings, 101. 

Fletcher, Major, investigates trading companies' -war 
fare, 79. 

Forests, between Fort Okanogan and Pacific .described, 
32-37; in Rockies, 140; absence at Fort Nez Perce", 
166. 

Forks, of Columbia, traders stopped by natives, 39-40; 
as rendezvous, 40. 

Fort George, new name for Astoria, xxiv; activities at, 
22-28, 180-86; Isaac Todd visits, 24; traders 
drowned, 25-27; Columbia visits, 28; arrival of 
traders, 40, 61, 103, 160; departure, 42, 64, 91, 106- 
107, 162; council of North West Company, 41-42, 
62-63, 104, 161; proposal to abandon, 43; career of 
Jacob, 69-75 ; climate, 106; disasters to trade, 188-89. 

Fort Nez Perce", erection decreed, 161; site, 162, 165; 
obstacles to building, 163; arrival of McKenzie, 
190, 256-57; activities, 204-208, 221-37; described, 
205; defenses, 207; conduct of trade, 205-207; 
Indians characterized, 296-302. See also Nez Perc6 
Indians. 

309 



Fort Spokane (Spokane House), Ross visits, 20, 40; dis 
advantages as headquarters, 125-27; attractions, 
126-27, 277; headquarters removed, 161. 

Fort William, North West Company headquarters, 
xxviii, 24; express for, 4; council, 41, 60-61, 82, 161; 
Selkirk captures, 79, 

Fraser, Simon, explorations, xxvi. 

Fraser's River, discoverer of, xxvi; route via, 145. 

Friendly Lake, explorers visit, 134, 143. 

Freemen, of Northwest, characterized, 282-84. 

Fur trade, conduct of in Northwest described, 275-96. 

Fur traders, difficulties of adjustment to civilization, 
281-82. 

GALENA, Red River colonists remove to, 80. 

Grand Coulee, described, 20-22. 

Grand Pierre, Iroquois trapper, misconduct of, 148-50. 

Grant, Cuthbert, protects Red River colonists, 77-78. 

Grasshoppers, plague Red River Colony, So. 

Grizzly bears, explorers kill, 142. 

Grizzly Bear River, see Kelownaskaramish River. 

Gueule Plat, Nez Perce" chief, denounces traders, 226. 

HALF-BREEDS, of Northwest, characterized, 289-92. 

Hawaiians, see Sandwich Islanders. 

Hearne, Samuel, explorations of, xxv. 

Henry, Alexander, drowned, 24-27. 

Hodgens, , trapper, adventures, 252-54. 

Horses, in Northwest trade, xxviii; supply procured, 
5-20, 174; wolves attack, 48-49, 52-54; in Snake 
country, 194; stolen, 199, 201, 236-37, 251; care of, 
252; as food, 262; of Nez Perc6 warrior, described, 
298-99. 

Hostile Island, scene of attack on traders, 43-46. 

How How, Cowlitz River chief, aids traders, 181; 
followers slain, 182; alliance with traders concluded, 
183-86. 

Hudson's Bay Company, union with North West Com 
pany, xvii, xxui, 269-70; rivalry with, 75-79, 267- 
70; establishes Red River Colony, 78-81; Ross 
enters employ, 271. 

Hurricane, described, 35-36. 

310 



IN ASPETUM Indians, location, 175. 

Indians, hostilities with traders, xxviii-xxxv, 8-13, 22- 
24, 44-46, 88-97, i 10-12, 117-22, 163-64, 167-68, 
180-189, 209-212; murder traders, 22, 47-48, 246- 
47, 254-56; at Dalles, characterized, xxxvii; of Wil 
lamette, 96; at Fort Nez Perc6, 175-76, 222, 296- 
303; Eyakema River, 5, 7-20; succor traders, 26- 
27, 252-54; metaphorical speech, 30; lack of moral 
courage, 37-38; conduct of trade, 31, 205-207; 
halt traders, 39-40; peace negotiations, 40, 91-95, 
169-74, 244-48; mode of life on Columbia, 57-59; 
of Snake, 238-67; friendship for McKenzie, 98-99, 
146-47; feasts, 99-101; fickleness, 112, 132; super 
stition, 141-42; traders entertain, 158-59; steal 
horses, 201, 251; precautions against at Fort Nez 
Perc6, 205-207; ingratitude; 233-36; taciturnity, 
242-43; medicinal plants, 263; women as wives 
of traders, 287-89; cruelty toward slaves, 300- 

303- 

Insects, as food, 261-62. 

Iroquois Indians, in Northwest trade, 61, 85, 286-87; 
quarrels with natives, 107-108; misconduct, 118, 
147-50, 178-82, 1 86, 190-91? 2 * 2 > 2 39; plot to kil1 
McKenzie, 148-50; McKenzie's measures for con 
trolling, 208-209. 

Iron, in Snake country, 259. 

Isaac Todd, trading vessel, at Fort George, 24. 

Ispipewhumaugh Indians, location, 175. 

JACK, sailor, drowned, 25-27. 

Jacob, story of misdeeds, 69-75. 

Jeanvene, } killed by Indians, 212, 223. 

Joachim, Iroquois interpreter, saves McKenzie, 149. 

KAMASS, article of diet, 5. 

Kashtsammah, evil spirit, native belief concerning, 
141-42. 

Keith, James, expeditions attacked, xxviii-xxix; com 
mander at Fort George, 63-64, 7~7 2 > 9 I ~9 6 ; 
opposes McKenzie, 82-86. 

Kelownaskaramish (Grizzly Bear) River, traders ex- 
1 plore, 134- 

3" 



Kittson, , leads expedition into Snake country, 

198-203, 208-209, 212; followers slain, 212, 223. 

Lark,, destroyed, xxiv. 

Lewis, Meriwethcr, and William Clark, exploration of, 
xxvii, 164. 

Lewis River, McKenzie explores, 195-96. 

Little, John, narrative of drowning of traders, 2527. 

Lowhim Indians, location, 176. 

MCDONALD, John, North West partner, xxxvi-xxxix. 

MacDonough, Captain, in battle of Plattsburg, 68. 

McGillivray, William, communicates reward to Ross, 
270. 

McGillivray, Thain and Co., failure, 271. 

McKay, Thomas, on expedition to Eyakema Valley, 
5-20; wounded, 19-20. 

Mackenzie, Alexander, explorations of, xxv. 

McKenzie, expeditions, xxxi, 85, 97-103, 106-25, 147- 
51, 174, 190-95, 208-21, 238-57, 267; departure for 
New York, 3; appointed superintendent of inland 
trade, 63-64; contest with North West partners, 81- 
85; reasons for promotion, 86; method of encamp 
ing, 114-16; knowledge of native character, 117- 
18, 146-47; plot against life, 148-50; challenges na 
tive to combat, 123, 213; explores Lewis River, 
195-96; physique, 244; career characterized, 272-74. 

McLellan, Captain, surveys entrance to Columbia, 66. 

McMillan, , attacked by natives, 97; guards 

boats, 121; trading operations, 151-52, 

McTavish, Donald, drowned, 24-27. 

McTavish, John George, leads expedition against 
Cathleyacheyachs, xxxi-xxxv; superintendent at 
Fort Spokane, 40. 

Maypoles, erection of, 137. 

Mayyille, residence of Donald McKenzie, 273. 

Medicine, use of plants, 263, 

Meloche, , robbed by Prince, 236-37. 

Methow (Meat-who) River, route via, 30. 

Moltnomah Island, quarrel between traders and na 
tives, 107-168. 

Moose, killed by explorers, 141. 

312 



NEECQOTIMEIGH Indians, location, 175. 

Nez Perc6 (Shawhaapten, Cayouse, WaUa Walla), 
Indians, assemble in Eyakema Valley, 5; halt 
traders, 39-40; McKenzie plans fort among, 82; 
leads expedition among, 147; fort erected, 161; 
location, 175; influence, 176; peace with Snake, 191, 
244-48; hostilities, 214-16, 223; lamentations over 
losses, 223-32; threaten McKenzie, 210-12; char 
acterized, 222, 296-303; warriors described, 297-300. 

North (Sunteacootacoot) River, traders explore, 133. 

Northwest, manners and customs described, 275-303; 
conduct of fur trade, 275-96. 

North West Company, early activities on Columbia, 
xii-xiii, xx-xxi, xxiv, xxvii-xxxix, 3-4; union with 
Hudson's Bay Company, xvii, xxi, xxiii, 269-70; 
councils at Fort George, 41-42, 62-63, 104, 161; 
Indians hostile, 23-24; futility of early measures, 42- 
43; trading policies discussed, 55-61; scheme of re 
organization, 86-87; rivalry with Hudson's Bay 
Company, 75-79, 267-70; trade restricted, 105. 

Norway House, Red River colonists driven to, 77. 

OAK Point, traders detained by ice, 95 ; trader deserts, 
107; traders murdered, 188. 

Ogden, Peter Skene, on embassy to Willamette Indians, 
91; to Cowlitz, 181. 

Okanogan, expedition to Eyakema Valley, 5-2; route 
to Pacific explored, 29-39; trade of natives with 
seaboard, 30-31; arrival of traders, 125. 

Oskononton, Iroquois trapper, narrative of, 177-80; 
murdered, 180-81; narrative confirmed, 192. 

Owhyhee, see Sandwich Islanders. 

PACIFIC Fur Company, narrative concerning, xix, 
xxiii; overthrow, xx-xxi, xxiv; employees murdered, 
xxx, 22, 202, 246-47. 

Pellettopallas Indians, location, 175. 

Pawluch Indians, location, 175. 

Peeeyeem, Snake chief, meets McKenzie, 238; num 
bers of followers, 243; physique, 244; peace nego 
tiations, 245-47; visits trappers, 254-55. 

Physicians, misfortunes in Columbia region, 06. 

313 



Piegan Indians, prey upon Wararereeka, 240; Snake 
desire peace, 247. 

Pilot Knobs (Three Paps, Three Tetons), 258. 

Pischous (Pisscows) Indians, chief befriends Ross, 6. 

Pischous (Pisscows) River, route via, 9. 

Plattsburg, battle of, 68. 

Point Turnabout, as terminus of exploration, 37, 39. 

Portage Point, mouth of Canoe River near, 140, 

Pottery, skill of Snake tribe, 264-65, 

Priest's Rapid, traders pass, 124. 

Prince, befriended by Ross, 229-30; ingratitude, 233- 
36; robs Meloche, 236-37. 

Prisoners, treatment, 300-303. See also slaves. 

QXTAHAT, Cayouse chief, in peace negotiations, at Fort 
Nez Perce", 171. 

Quinze-sous, , fears Indians, 224. 

RED Feather, Nez Perc6 chief, threatens McKenzie, 
210-11; attacks Kittson, 212. 

Red Fox, Indian chief, route of, 30-31. 

Red Jacket, Indian demagogue, 123. 

Red River Academy, established, xvii. 

Red River Colony, founding of, 77-81; rendezvous of 
retired traders, 81; McKenzie appointed governor, 
272. See also Hudson's Bay Company and Earl of 
Selkirk. 

Reed, -, party murdered, xxx, 202, 246-47. 

Reynolds, Captain, visits Fort George, 67-68. 

Rocky Mountains, eastern boundary of Snake coun 
try, 257. 

Ross, Alexander, narrative of Astorians, xi-xii, xix-xx, 
xxiii; of North West Company, xix-xx; enters em 
ploy of, xxvii-xxviii; terminates service, 270; gives 
trade data, xxxyi-xxxix; expedition to Eyakema 
Valley, 5-20; visits Fort Spokane, 20, 40; describes 
Grand Coulee, 20-22; visits She Whaps, 28-29, 39, 
47, 48, 106, 125; explores route to sea coast, 29- 
39; to Rocky Mountains, 130-45; hunts wolves, 49- 
52; marksmanship, 51-52, 157-58; assistant to 
Keith, 65; surveys mouth of Columbia, 66; cap 
tures Jacob, 70-74; history of Red River Colony, 



So; pacifies Indians, 90-96, 226-29; ascends Colum 
bia, 106-25; defends dog, 110-12; describes bear 
hunt, 152-55; commands Fort Nez Perce", 175, 
204-208, 221-37; befriends Prince, 229-30, 233-36; 
enters employ of Hudson's Bay Company, 271. 
Rupert's Land, first colony planted, 80; rivalry in fur 
trade, 268. 

ST. Martin, , aids in capture of Jacob, 73. 

Salmon fishing, 213, 260-71. 
Salt, occurrence of Springs, 258. ^ f 

Sandwich Islanders (Owhyhees, Hawaiians), in North 
west fur trade, 85, 106; unreliability, 118; murdered, 
254-56; characterized, 284-86; as swimmers, 285- 
86. 

Sawpaw Indians, location, 176. 
Selkirk, Earl of, founds Red River Colony, 77-81. 
Semple. Governor, massacre of, and party, 77-78- 
Shamooinaugh Indians, location, 175. 
Shawhaapten Indians, see Nez Perc6 Indians. 
She Whaps, Ross visits, 28, 39, 47-49, 106, 125; murder 
of Charette, 47-48; trading activities, 130-45; ex 
ploration to Rockies, 132-45- M , ., , 
Shirrydika (Shoshone), branch of Snake tribe, described, 
239-40; peace negotiations, 244; break camp, 250; 
visit trappers, 254-55. 
Short Legs (Tutackit Istsoaughan), She Whaps chief, 

wounded by bear, 152-55- 
Shoshone Indians, see Snake Indians. 
Skamnaminaugh Indians, location, 175. 
Skamnaugh River, as rendezvous, 197, 200, 202. 
Simpson, Sir George, unites fur companies, xvii 
Slaves, as peace token, 95; taken in war, 170-71, trea1> 

ie leads 



Perc6, 191, 244-48; hostilities with, 214- 
32; Kittson leads expedition to, 198-203, 20 ?7 20 ^ 
212; trading operations, 208-21, 248-49; profits of , 
202-203, 267; threaten McKenzie, 209-10; hos- 



tilities with Black Feet, 216-17; tobacco of, 247-48, 
263-64; orderly government, 2385 sub-divisions, 
239-40; boundaries, 241-42; numbers, 242; camp 
described, 243-44; primitive condition, 249-50; 
manners and customs, 257-67; food supply, 259- 
62; depraved taste, 261-62; skill as potters, 264- 
65; as boatmen, 265-66. See also Banattee, Shirry- 
dika, and Wararereeka. 

Sopa, befriends Ross, 6. 

Spokane House, see Fort Spokane. 

Springs, hot, 258; salt, 258. 

Strawberry Island, Northwesters anchor at, xxxi. 

Stuart, Alexander, expedition attacked, xxviii-xxix; 
shot, xxix-xxx. 

Stuart, John, explorations, xxvi. 

Sunteacootacoot Indians, friendliness to traders, 133- 

34, 143- 

TEA, use by traders, 280. 
The Twins, bluffs near Fort Nez Perc6, 165. 
Thompson's River, as route of travel, 45. 
Three Paps, see Pilot Knobs. 
Three Tetons, see Pilot Knobs. 
Timber, see forests. 
Tobacco, as peace offering, 123-24; among Snake tribe, 

247-48, 263-64; story of origin, 264; use by traders, 

280. 

Tongue Point, erection of fort undertaken, 43. 
Tonquin, destroyed, xxiv. 
Traders, equipment for travel, 131-32; mode of life, 

158-60. 

Trappers, methods described, 219-21. 
Tumatapam, Indian chief, peace negotiations with, 

170-74; denounces traders, 226-28. 
UMPQUA River, trading activities, 187-88. 
VANCOUVER, George, surveys mouth of Columbia, xxvii. 
Voyagers, success of Canadians, 282; mode of life, 292- 

95- 

WALLAMITTE River, see Willamette River. 
Walla Walla Indians, location, 176; warriors described, 

297-300. 

316 



Walla Walla River, traders attacked near mouth, 43- 

46; inland headquarters removed to, 127; Fort 

Nez Perc6 established on, 162. 
Wallula, site of Fort Nez Perce, 165. 
Wararereeka Indians, branch of Snake tribe, described, 

240; peace negotiations, 244; conduct toward traders, 

250; as fishermen, 260-71. 
Wayyampam Indians, location, 176. 
West River, stream named by Ross, 37. 
White, Doctor, drowned, 66-67. 
Willamette (Wallamitte) River, expedition to, 88; 

embroiled with natives, 88-96, 107-108; course of 

river, 96; trading Activities, 186-89. 

Wilson, , aids in capture of Jacob, 73. 

Winterers, movements of, 102-103. 

Wisscopam Indians, location, 175. 

Wisswham Indians, location, 175. 

Wolves, depredations, 48-49? 52-54; ferocity, 54-55; 

hunting methods, 155-56; feat of marksmanship, 

157-58; as food, 195. 
Women, of Northwest fur trade, characterized, 279-80; 

cruelty of squaws to slaves, 300-303. 
Woody Point, traders seek refuge at, 216-17. 
Wurrack Indians, name applied to Snake, 242. 
Wyampam Indians, at -Dalles of Columbia, xxxvii. 
YEWHELLCOMETETSA, Okanogan chief, reports depreda 
tions by wolves, 48-49; gratitude for Ross, 50-51. 
Youmatalla Indians, location, 176. 




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