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Public Library 

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Photograph taken in 1908. 

I am telling you true ! I will die, you will die I This story will he for the people who 
come after us. For them to see and know what was done here. 


Yellow Wolf: 

His Own Story 






Caldwell, Idaho 
I 1940 




I 0.5 


Printed, lithographed, and bound in the United States of America by 

Caldwell, Idaho 


His Own Story 


TpO THE shades of patriotic warriors, 
JL heroic women, feeble age, and helpless 
infancy sacrificed on the gold-weighted 
altars of Mammon and political chicanery, 
1863-77, are these pages most fervently 

His Own Story 


I WISH to express my appreciation to the following 
Nez Perce interpreters, named in the order of service. 
Their willingness and perseverance have helped to clear 
many a thorn from the path of interpretation: 








To many other persons I am much indebted for encouragement 
and assistance. In particular I wish to express my gratitude to 
Alonzo V. Lewis and Emil Kopac for photographs; to W. P. Bonney, 
secretary, Washington State Historical Society; O. G. Libby, secre- 
tary, North Dakota State Historical Society; Mrs. Anna Connell, 
assistant librarian, Historical Society of Montana; and the staffs of 
the State Historical societies of Idaho and Washington for invaluable 
aid. My appreciation is also extended to the following for services 
of varied nature: Major General R. H. Fletcher, military attache", 
Spanish Embassy; H. Dean Guie; J. H. Horner; O. H. Lipps, super- 
intendent, Nez Perce Indian Reservation; Joseph G. Masters; J. P. 
MacLean; Harvey K. Myer, superintendent, Colville Indian Reserva- 
tion; John Robke; Carl Schurra; and J. L. Sharon; to Nipo Strong- 
heart, for research in the War Department archives, Washington, 
D. C; and to my brother, Judge J. C. McWhorter; my sons, O. T. 
and V. O. McWhorter; and my granddaughter, Miss Judy Mc- 
Whorter, for innumerable favors. 

His Own Story 



Part One: The War and the Warrior 





















FIELD 210 


Part Two: The Fugitive 

19. FLIGHT TO THE Sioux 229 





24. EEIKISHPAH: THE HOT PLACE . . . . 283 









His Own Story 


Yellow Wolf in 1908 frontispiece 

Following Page 

Yellow Wolf and the author 14 

Nez Perce camp 14 

Ayatootonmi and Jasper 14 

"Here they are! Do you not see them?" 18 

Wetyetmas Wahyakt (Swan Necklace) 44 

Chief Ollokot 44 

Chief Joseph , 44 

Lepeet Hessemdooks (Two Moons) 44 

Chellooyeen (Bow and Arrow Case) 54 

Northernmost Cemetery Butte 54 

Panoramic view of White Bird battlefield 54 

South end of White Bird battlefield 54 

Close view of highest point of battlefield 54 

Butte where volunteers met defeat 54 

Chuslum Moxmox (Yellow Bull) 72 

Last stand of Lieutenant Rains 72 

Yellow Wolf 's rifle 86 

Looking toward the Clearwater battlefield 86 

Northwest slope of Clearwater battlefield 86 

Wottolen and his son 86 

The Smoking Lodge 86 

Down the Clearwater from the battlefield 86 


Diagraming the Big Hole battlefield 122 

Slope where the surprise attack began 122 

Hunting bow and arrows 122 

Timbered slope above the Big Hole River 122 

Yellow Wolf re-enacting a battle scene 122 

A strange death 122 

Re-enacting the death of Wahlitits 132 

Wahlitits' Enfield rifle 132 

Locating a Big Hole battle site 132 

Looking north on Big Hole battlefield 132 

Eloosykasit (John Pinkham) 136 

Wetatonmi, wife of Ollokot 136 

White Feather 136 

Penahwenonmi (Helping Another) 136 

Yellow Wolf's mother, Yiyik Wasumwah 136 

Colonel Gibbon's ill-fated howitzer 152 

Bear's Paw battlefield, looking south 210 

Where Ollokot fell 210 

Nez Perce rifle pits on Bear's Paw battlefield 210 

Yellow Wolf at Chief Joseph's grave 290 

Indian Agent John B. Monteith 290 

Medal presented to Yellow Wolf, 1909 290 

Yellow Wolf 's war whistle and war club 300 

Relics of the Nez Perce warriors 300 


The War and the Warrior 

His Own Story 


IN THE mellow glow of an October sunset in the year 
1907, a strange Indian, of strikingly strong physique, 
rode into the lane leading from the highway to the 
author's residence, driving before him a saddle horse 
limping from a severe wire cut. After a formal greet- 
ing, he pointed to the ragged wound and, in a soft, 
modulated tone of broken English, asked inquiringly: 
"Sick! Hoss stay here?" 

Receiving an affirmative response, the Indian turned 

v and rode away, revealing neither name nor tribal affilia- 

v tion. It was ten months later that he appeared with four 

X^ other tribesmen, and asked for his horse. I released it, in 

accordance with tribal ethics, free of charge. 
^ Such was my introduction to Heinmot Hihhih, 
JV' White Thunder" or "White Lightning," better known 
^as Hemene Moxmox, "Yellow Wolf," Nez Perce war- 
rior of 1877. It was the beginning of a friendship which 
proved inductive of this volume. With his wife, small 
son, and other members of the Chief Joseph band of 
exiles, he was at this time on the annual "trek" to the 
Yakima Valley hop fields. ^ 

At the close of hop picking of this second year (1908 ) 
the band encamped on the riverbank at my place for 
several days. It was during this time that I obtained the 
first portions of Yellow Wolf's war narrative, which 
were added to annually for the ensuing twenty-four 




years, or until the aging warrior was no longer physi- 
cally able to appear at the hopyards. His last contribu- 
tion was in May, 193 5, at his home on the Colville Indian 
Reservation, Washington, at which time he contributed 
many more details to the narrative. 

If Yellow Wolf was resentful of ill treatment, he was 
equally reciprocal to kindness and just dealing. It was in 
the evening gloaming preceding the breaking of the 
Nez Perce camp at my place in October, 1909, that, 
standing on the riverbank, he spoke through interpreter 

"This is the last night I will be with you, and I 
would like you to understand. I have been here with 
you for a few suns. I am glad we get along so well. 
It is the way I have been with everybody who treats 
me right. Hike good people! I will never forget you 
and your family. I will remember while I live. How 
is your heart? What do you think about it?" 

On that occasion, in accordance with tribal rites, 
I named Yellow Wolf to take the place of a brother of 
earlier years, thus sealing a sacred friendship for all time. 

At the time that I first became acquainted with Yellow 
Wolf (October, 1908) , he stood 5 feet 10 1 / 2 inches in his 
moccasins, and his weight was 187^ pounds. Well built, 
he had been very athletic, and was quick and accurate in 
movement. Tragedy was written in every lineament of 
his face; his laughter was infrequent, and was never more 
than a soft, scarcely audible chuckle. 

As his land allotment was not provided with irriga- 
tion, his rifle and fish spear were long the principal 
means of supplying the home larder with meat, until old 
age and failing vitality precluded such activity. It is 


4 *H 


< t 


o so 


On L. V. McWhorter's ranch, Yakima, Washington, October, 1908. 




Yellow Wolf's wife and younger son, 1908. 


gratifying to know that under the later regime of the 
Indian Department, the old warrior was the recipient 
of marked aid during his declining years. 

Of his war record, Yellow Wolf was justly proud. 
His war name, as he explains in Chapter 1, was Heinmot 
Hihhih White Thunder, or White Lightning (Hein- 
mot meaning either) . As a combatant, he could boast 
possession not only of the irresistible force of thunder, 
but also of the adroit circumspection and fierce fighting 
qualities of the timber wolf. 

As the wolf is the greatest hunter among all the wilder- 
ness denizens, so Yellow Wolf excelled as a hunter. 

As the wolf is unsurpassed in the sense of smell, so 
Yellow Wolf, like the famed "Deaf Smith, of Texas, 
and the renowned Jesse Hughes, of the Monongahela 
border, could detect the presence of an enemy at a 
considerable distance by the olfactory sense alone. 

As the wolf is the only forest dweller of which the 
mighty grizzly bear stands in dread, so Yellow Wolf 
reveled in combating the grizzly. 

Yellow Wolf, in his younger days, was renowned for 
his wonderful horsemanship. Even when past middle 
age, he once tamed a vicious range horse of man-killing 
propensities. After corralling and roping the animal, 
and meeting with no success at friendly overtures, Yellow 
Wolf sprang to its back, where he stuck and hung until 
it was brought into submission. If the enraged animal 
resorted to rolling in order to dislodge its tormentor, it 
regained its feet only to find Yellow Wolf again on its 
back and all the time the Indian had no hold but a rope 
looped about the animal's head. 

Yellow Wolf later received a lasting injury when a 
fractious horse, rearing, fell backwards, and the rider 


failed to get clear. The impact was on his right breast, 
which was ever afterwards "sick/ 3 as he termed it. The 
injury caused a slight droop to his shoulders. 

To obviate a possible misconception because of a name, 
it is well to mention that the following item which ap- 
peared in the Yakima press in September, 1910, does not 
refer to the Yellow Wolf of war fame: 

Yellow Wolf, an Indian arrested here by Deputy Monroe of Lewis- 
ton, Idaho, was returned to Lewiston to face a charge of murder. 
Yellow Wolf was described by Monroe as a horsethief , gambler and 
bad character. 

At the time of this arrest, Yellow Wolf and his wife, 
with their small son, were all picking hops in the Yakima 
field and at the end of the season camped for a few days 
at the writer's place, adding to his narrative, as was our 
wont each year. He returned to his home the latter part 
of October. The man arrested was also known among his 
tribesmen as Wolf Shirt-on. 

In the winter of 1916-17, Yellow Wolf headed a tribal 
petition praying for state legislative protection from the 
blighting inroads of the bootleggers. This "Macedonian 
cry" was read at a morning session of the state senate 
preliminary to its being referred to the Committee of 
Public Morals never to be further heard from. 

Of a sensitive nature, Yellow Wolf felt his isolation 
keenly during his latter years, when the last of his war 
mates was gone. The younger generation held no par- 
ticular interest in the lonely old hero of a "lost cause." 
But there was an occasional cheery flash athwart his 
gloomy horizon, and such was his meeting with the late 
Major General Hugh Lenox Scott, of which he never 
tired of speaking. Major General Scott was at the Colville 
Indian Agency in the earlier twenties, and hearing of 



Yellow Wolf as a warrior, had the superintendent send 
for him. There was no interpreter, the conversation 
being wholly in the Indian sign language, at which they 
both excelled. Of their meeting, Yellow Wolf related 
the following: 

We met. General Scott threw me the words, "I come from away 
off. I am glad to meet you. We will talk a few words before I ask 
you about some very important business." 

I answered him, "All right. We will talk. You came a long dis- 
tance. My heart and your heart are like shaking hands." 

"You ever been in war?" 

"You see I am nearly old man." 

"How old are you?" 

"Come near seventy. Over sixty. Will be seventy very soon." 

"You remember the war?" 


"I am glad you tell me you were in war. Tell me why you people 
travel rough lands, through timber." 

"Yes. I know all about this mountain traveling. That was de- 
cided by the chiefs. They decided for this purpose. If they went 
over rough mountains, the big cannon could not follow. It was 
safest way." 

"That was why General Howard failed to overtake you." 


Then General Scott spoke to the agent in English. "Are there 
other warriors around here in Nespelem?" 

The agent pointed to Red Star [Willie Andrews] and answered, 
"Ask him. He is chief and knows." 

I had never reported to the agent that I was higher [referring to 
his warrior record] than Red Star. The General and agent talked. 
He asked the agent if Andrews fought in war and was told no. The 
General then said, "I won't make conversation with him. Only one 
I talk to is warrior when I have chance. I do not care for others 
not in the fight." 

This was the first time the agent looked at me. From that moment 
he respected me. General Scott now threw me the words, "It is 
nearly noon. We will eat dinner together because you are alive and 
I am alive. If I had been in the fight where you were fighting, I 
think you would have killed me with war club and not the gun. As 
result of that war was bloody water, bloody eating. It was like 



drinking blood. Bloody hands, suffering. For that reason we are 
going to eat together. In fact, we are good friends. I realize we are 

General Scott and I were of same mind, same feeling. I answered, 
"I am glad to hear you speak of eating dinner. That food gives us 
strength and life. Gives strength that hostile feelings are past." 

"We are like brothers. If I had got to the surrender in lead, I 
could have done something for you. I was not there." 

That was General Scott's last word of the war. That was all we 
talked about the war. We parted, and I never saw him again. 

During one of our interviews in 1931, Yellow Wolf 
made the following remarks, which may be taken as 
a just summary of his feelings about the long-suppressed 
truths of the Nez Perce War: 

"The story I gave you long ago if people do not like 
it, I would tell it anyway. I am not strong, and do not 
expect to be better any time. I would like finishing it as 
truth, not as lie. 

"We have worked together a long time. You always 
helped me from first time we met. I am aging where 
I can not do much more. 

"White people, aided by Government, are smothering 
my Indian rights. The young generation behind me, for 
them I tell the story. It is for them! I want next genera- 
tion of whites to know and treat the Indian as themselves. 

"We came from no country, as have the whites. We 
were always here. Nature placed us in this land of ours 
land that has been taken from us. I am telling my story 
that all may know why the war we did not want. War 
is made to take something not your own." 

Yellow Wolf, patriot of a lost cause, died at his home 
on the Colville Indian Reservation, August 21, 1935, 
aged seventy-nine years. His son, Homas inherited 
name of his maternal grandsire cared for his father 



during his last illness. Of the closing scene this son, who 
is better known as Billy, gave the following brief 

"My father grew very weak and thin. Not weighing 
over sixty-five pounds, I could easily carry him about. 
The evening before his death he said to me: 

" 'I am going in the morning when the sun eetetolokt 
[pauses on the horizon's edge]. It is then that I will 
leave you and all others. You, my only son, and my 
daughters gone, were only loaned to me. Loaned by 
Ahkunkenekoo [God, Deity]. You are my brother, they, 
my sister. I will go with the new sun/ 

"Next morning just as the sun rested on the edge of 
the horizon, although he could not see it, he said to all 
of us: 

" *I am now going! My old friends have come for me! 
They are here! Do you not see them? There stands 
Eshawis [Crow Blanket], and there Peopeo Howistho- 
wit [Curlew], and Diskoskow [Sun Faded]. They 
have come to take me to Ahkunkenekoo [Land Above; 
Happy Hereafter].' 

"Those were my father's last words." 

Yellow Wolf was buried at Nespelem (Wash.) . His 
grave is near that of his renowned chief and leader, 
Joseph, Heinmot Tooyalakekt (Thunder Traveling to 
Loftier [Mountain] Heights), whom he loved so well. 

It seems ironical that these two, and others of their 
comrade warriors votaries of an ancestral Dreamer 
faith never understood by the whites should sleep in 
the very shadows of a Christian church, beneath the 
echoes of its chiming bell, when it was to the institutional 
tenets of the religion that they attributed their down- 
fall, through the bogus "treaty" of 1863. 



The multiplicity of names borne by certain warriors 
proved most confusing in hearing Yellow Wolf's nar- 
rative, as in the capture of the howitzer at the battle of 
the Big Hole, and in the leadership of the night raid on 
General Howard's night camp at Camas Meadows, and 
the seizing of Lieutenant Jerome at the last battle. Prac- 
tically every warrior was known by two names, and 
many by a half dozen although some of them were 
"pet," or "fun," nicknames. 

Names were sometimes pronounced variantly by dif- 
ferent interpreters. For instance, Spowyeyas, Sepowyes, 
Espawyas, and Powyes all allude to one person, and all 
are interpreted as "Light in the Mountain." 

Therefore, throughout Yellow Wolf's narrative all In- 
dians will be designated by the names by which they 
were known during the war, so far as can be ascertained. 
Their surplus names will be found, with definitions, 
when known, in the Glossary at the end of this volume. 

Painstaking care was taken to obtain these of ttimes in- 
tricate definitions, in spite of the disconcerting diversity 
of interpreters. In the midst of one such ordeal inter- 
preter Hart explained: 

"There is a lot in our language that bothers me, the same as in 
yours. When Yellow "Wolf was ready to pull out from camp at your 
place the other day, he said that you had told him you wanted his 
story. He did not know how he could do this, since he speaks only 
a few English words. He tried one boy for interpreter who told him 
to find somebody who better understands. Yellow Wolf learned 
where I was and came to me and said, *I need you!* 

"I answered him, and he said to me again, 1 am going to say 
things, and I need you! I need you!' 

" 'Yes, I will come with you/ I told him. 

" *I will tell of my war story; of facts that I have seen/ he said. 

" 'Any hard words I can not pronounce in our language/ I an- 
swered him, e l will make them nearest that I can.' 



"This warrior says tell you, 'It is hard work for me this talking. 
Like the heaviest lifting, it buzzes in my head! Too heavy lifting 
every day!' " 

On one occasion an interpreter wrote out for me the 
following definition of a name which I had requested: 
"Teeweeyownah: Over the Point it means liJke I send 
you over point of hill somewhere, or like you sit down 
and then scoot over something in that way; so you can 
make that out you self/ 3 

Such were some of the difficulties encountered. 
Thomas Hart, ex-private of the Fourth U. S. Cavalry, 
who saw service in the Philippines, was conscientious in 
his endeavor to give honest renditions. The more satis- 
factory interpreters were, like him, those who had but 
a fair English education, for such Indians retained to a 
greater degree the native ideas, assuring a clearer rendi- 
tion of the narrator's speech and thought. In this respect 
a Carlisle graduate proved the least satisfactory, for his 
manifest proneness to modifications tended to suppress 
the native point of view and make it conform with the 
general white (and Christian Indian) contention that the 
war upon the Nez Perces was, in its essence, a just and 
righteous cause. 

This point is well illustrated in the attitude shown by 
members of Chief Lawyer's family. When approached 
on the topic of the proposed chronicling, one of them 
vehemently protested: 

"We want no such history written of that war! The 
blame was all with Chief Joseph! He was the cause of 
the trouble, and he got a lot of people killed. His land 
was not being taken from him. The Government would 
not do such a thing! We owe all that we are to the 



Church, and we want to hear nothing more about any 
such history writing." 

When the Chief Joseph Memorial Association proposed 
a colossus to the memory of the Nez Perce patriots, one 
of the Lawyer faction again remonstrated: 

"If you want to honor anybody, why don't you put up 
a monument of that kind for my grandfather, Chief 
Lawyer? He did more for this country and for the white 
man than any other Indian!" 

It is scarcely strange that whites were found equally 
bitter, and displaying about the same degree of logic; but 
it is doubly strange that this brand of invidious opposi- 
tion should rear its baleful visage amidst the younger 
members of the fast-diminishing Chief Joseph band it- 
self. One of them, whose paternal grandparents were 
both killed in the Big Hole shambles, openly declared to 
the writer: "Yellow Wolf has made a blanked fool of 
himself working with you. There will be a history writ- 
ten of that war, and it will be done right! The Indian 
boys will do it themselves." 

None of the "Indian boys" has as yet come forward 
with a study of the causes and course of the Nez Perce 
conflict. In the meantime,, it has been my high privilege 
to be the instrument for recording and bringing to pub- 
lication the verified and corroborated narrative of 
Yellow Wolf as set forth in the following chapters. 


Throughout this volume except in quoting written authorities 
the absurdly useless accent on the final e of Perce, as still used by 
most writers and as still given in Webster's New International 
Dictionary, will be omitted. This tribe of Indians call themselves 
Nez Per-ces (singular, Nez Pers), and have so pronounced it 



probably ever since the vast influx of American citizens in the gold 
rushes to Washington and Idaho in 18 59-60. This tribe was originally 
given its French appellation by the French trappers who came with 
the Hudson's Bay Company brigades in the decades from 1810 to 
1850, but even during this early period the French pronunciation of 
the tribal name was corrupted in usage among the equally omni- 
present British and American fur traders. There is therefore not the 
slightest reason for retaining a totally obsolete accent mark and a 
misleading spelling in this word. In thirty years' experience I have 
never heard the Indians call themselves Na Per-sa. 

In Idaho there is a county named Nez Perce, also a town called 
Nezperce (written as one word). Both are locally pronounced in 
the American fashion to rhyme with "verse." It is an interesting 
fact that the U. S. Geographic Board, the final arbiter in all geo- 
graphical spellings, approves this usage, and ignores the accent mark. 
It is to be hoped that our leading dictionaries will eventually adopt 
this common-sense decision in regard to the name of that tribe 
which occupies so important a place in our Western history. 

L. V. McW. 



His Own Story 


Youth of the Warrior 

Hoping to incorporate something of Yellow Wolf's earlier life as a 
prelude to his war career, I broached the subject to him at our last 
interview at his home in May, 1935. The effort was futile,. His 
native pride and modesty proved aversive to the measure. "I am 
now getting old," he protested. "I had seen twenty-one snows when 
the war was fought. It is not right for me to tell of my own 
growing-up life. That does not belong to history. Would not look 
well in this history we are writing. I do not want to hurt, to spoil 
what I did in the war. Only that should go in my story of the war. 
The other would not be well placed." 

Insistence was not to be thought of. It was only by an assemblage 
of items gleaned from our previous interviews, covering more than 
a quarter of a century, that the meager glimpse of his early career as 
set forth in this chapter could be constructed. 

I WAS born in the Wallowa Valley, Oregon, 1 long the 
home of Nez Perces. Our name for that river is 
Kahmuenem, named for a trailing vine growing at places 
along its banks and sands. There is where I grew up. 

My father, Seekumses Kunnin [Horse Blanket] 2 , was 
rich in horses and cattle. A true horseman himself, he 
raised me among horses. Lived part of time east of 
Lapwai, 3 Idaho, but mostly in the Wallowa Valley. 

I was with my father until well grown. Hunting, 

1 Legend places Yellow "Wolf's birthplace in Idaho. This is an error, arising: from 
the fact that the family lived there at one time which, however, was subsequent to 
the date of his birth (1855). 

2 He was also known as Seekomgets Kanee (Using His Horse for Blanket) . 

* In 1926, Many Wounds said to me : "I will show you the true name of Lapwai." 
Leading the way to a partially dried-up quagmire lying between the Sp aiding 
Mission site and the mouth of Lapwai Creek, he pointed to the myriads of butter- 
flies settled on the black mud, and demonstrating with his hands the slow fanning 
of their wings, explained: "That winging is laplap. The Indians knew this spot 
by that name. The whites changed it to 'Lapwai,* and so called the entire creek." 



sporting of all kinds known to Indians. We would go to 
Wallowa in spring for salmon. Stay there all summer 
and until late fall. Plenty of game. It was easy to get our 
winter's food. 

We often wintered in the Imnaha Valley, and most 
Indians wintered there always. The Imnaha was warmer 
than the Wallowa. 

I was told that in early days my father was in battle 
near Walla Walla, fighting for the soldiers. With an- 
other man whose wife was with him, they were chased 
for their lives by Chief Kamiakun's warriors. They 
saw, and fled to a bunch of soldiers who received them 
kindly. The two joined the soldiers in a fight against 
the enemies. 

Kamiakun's warriors rode swift circles about the 
camp, shooting arrows and bullets from horseback. But 
they were stood off and night drew on. In the darkness 
my father and companion guided the soldiers out from 
there. All escaped. It may have been other Indians than 
those of Chief Kamiakun, the Yakima. I do not know. 

My name as a boy can not be translated. Too deep! 
You can not write it down. One inherited name was 
Inneecheekoostin. 4 

My mother Yiyik Wasumwah [Swan Woman; Swans 
Lighting on Water] was a sister [first cousin] to 
Chief Joseph. It was this way. The mother of "Old" 
Chief Joseph, and my grandfather on my mother's side 
were full brother and sister. This was why I belonged to 
Young Joseph's band. Joseph's people held strong to 
blood kinship. 

* As common among Indians, especially warriors, Yellow Wolf had a multiplicity 
of names. No interpretation for Inneecheekoostin was found. Another of his early 
names was Pahkar Tamkikeechet (Five Times Looking Through, or Fifteen 



My great grandfather [maternal], Seeloo Wahyakt 
[Eye Necklace], was a great war chief. He was killed in 
battle with the Pokatellas, fighting for possession of 
Wallowa Valley. Became separated from his band and 
outnumbered. His arrows exhausted, he was captured. 
His arms and legs were cut off before he was killed. 

My grandfather [maternal], Homas, son of Seeloo 
Wahyakt, died on a buffalo hunt in Yellowstone Park. 
I am not mistaken! It was at Sokolinim [Antelope] 
where he was buried. This is north of some hot springs. 
Not over or beyond any big mountain, but is above 
where two rivers meet. Names of larger river Pahniah 
Koos [Tongue Water]. A smaller river above there is 
Wiyukea Koos [Elk Water]. There were Indians living 
around there somewhere. We hunted there, for the 
Sioux [Assiniboins] attacked us if we went on south side 
of the big mountain. 

We knew that Park country, no difference what white 
people say! And when retreating from soldiers we went 
up the river and crossed where are two big rocks. The 
trail there is called Pitou Kisnit, meaning Narrow Solid 
Rock Pass. This is on south side of Pahniah Koos. We 
did not enter the Park by our old trail when on war 

I grew up among warriors, and since old enough to 
take notice, I made defending myself a study. The 
whites call me Yellow Wolf, but I take that as a nick- 
name. My true name is different, and is after the Spirit 
which gave me promise of its power as a warrior. 

I am Heinmot Hihhih, which means White Thunder. 
Yellow Wolf is not my own chosen name. 



Upon being asked how he came by the designation of Yellow Wolf, 
the warrior discoursed earnestly for some moments with interpreter 
Hart, and then gave this explanation: 

I was a boy of about thirteen snows when my parents 
sent me away into the hills. It was to find my Wyakin* 
I saw something not on the ground, but about four feet 
up in the air. 

I took ray bow and shot an arrow. 

It was in moon you call May when my parents again 
sent me out. This time it was to the wildest part of the 
mountains. To a place beyond Kemei Koois. Gave me 
one blanket, but no food. I might go fifteen, maybe 
twenty, suns with nothing to eat. But could drink water 
aplenty. Only trees for shelter, and fir brush to sleep on. 
I might stay in one place three nights, maybe five nights, 
then go somewhere else. Nobody around, just myself. 
No weapons, for nothing would hurt me. No children 
ever get hurt when out on such business. 

After going so many suns without food I was sleeping. 
It was just like dreaming, what I saw. A form stood in 
the air fronting me. It talked to me in plain language, 
telling me: 

"My boy, look at me! You do as I am telling you, and 
you will be as I am. Take a good look at me! I will give 
you my power; what I have got. You may think I am 
nothing! You may think I am only bones! But I am 
alive! You can see me! I am talking to you! I am 
Hemene Moxmox [Yellow Wolf]." 

It was a Spirit of a wolf that appeared to me. Yellow- 
like in color, it sort of floated in the air. Like a human 
being it talked to me, and gave me its power. 

5 Yellow Wolf had a strong belief in Wyakvn, as will appear throughout. For 
an explanation of this supernatural force, see Appendix A, end of volume. 



I did not say anything back to the Spirit talking to 
me. I was asleep [in a trance]! I was not scared. Was 
just as I am now. Nothing was there to hurt me. 

After I saw this wolf -thing, after I heard the Spirit- 
voice, I awoke and started for home. When near to 
maybe quarter mile of home, I dropped down, supposed 
dead. Someone, man or woman, came and brought me 
to the tepee. They had seen me, had watched for me. 
It was good for the one finding me. 

That was how I got named Yellow Wolf. Named for 
that vision- wolf appearing to me. It was yellow-colored, 
and gave me the power of the wolf. 

The name of thunder is to kill as it strikes and rolls 
along. My kopluts [war club] I made when a boy, by 
directions of the Spirit that gave me promise of warrior 
power. It has the same killing strength as thunder. 6 

I have had different spirit guidance. I was not full- 
grown when we were hunting, moving into Montana, 
near falls in the river. It was dark night and freezing 
cold. The chiefs told me to watch the horses. So cold 
I did not know all the time what I was doing. Horseback, 
I was doubled over, eyes closed. I went sound asleep. Did 
not know anything. I must have been near death. I felt 
something lightly touch and shake my thigh. Felt it 
about three times. Then I heard a voice speaking, "What 
are you doing? Wake up! You are dead! Go home!" 

I awoke, numb with cold. I could see no one. But the 
way that Spirit directed, I drove the horses. I moved 
them the direction that Spirit guided. I was afraid enemy 
Indians would take the herd. I was scared. About two 
miles I must have gone when I heard a voice calling, 
"Where are you going? Come this way!" 

6 See Appendix B, "Yellow Wolf's War Club," end of volume. 



I awoke again, came to myself. I turned that way 
where my people were calling. I was freezing! A wild 
northeast wind was blowing. Coldest of all winds, it kills 

I would have died had not that Spirit guided me where 
I could hear my people calling. They heard the horses 

Always after that night I could smell an enemy any- 
where for a long distance away. This Spirit at that time 
gave me such power. I could then tell if enemies were 
around watching to take our horses or attack our camp. 

This Spirit told me never to be mean. Never hurt a 
dog without cause. To do nothing violent only as had to 
be done. When in war, this Spirit wanted me to be alone. 
For this reason did I scout mostly alone on our retreat. 
Sometimes I never ate for three or four days. Only drank 
water. Water is medicine for everything. 

What I am giving you is from my heart. I could have 
been dead many times only for this Spirit protection. 
For all this I am thankful. Happy for it all. 

Another way I feel now. All my people are dead. I 
am alone. My heart is heavy because of way I am treated 
by whites. In early days my parents were to the whites 
as brothers. Why should I be badly treated by whites? 
Why is it they do not want to pay me for my land? 
They robbed us of all our country, our homes. We got 
nothing but bullets. I am now old. I feel worried about 
my grandchildren, what may become of them. It can 
not be for them as with me, when growing up hunting 

In Montana my uncle traded a yearling horse to some 
miners for a magazine rifle. It was like one I carried 
through the war [1866 repeating Winchester]. With it 



I hunted buffaloes until somebody stole it. I killed year- 
lings mostly. It was robes we were after more than meat. 

You had to be a good horseman when running buffa- 
loes. Sometimes they chased you, horned your horse. 
If a man was thrown to the ground, best that he lie still. 
The buffalo would then lick his face raw, but he could 
thereby escape. 7 

At times the Nez Perces hunted goats, bighorns, deer, 
and elk. All kinds of game in that country. We knew 
that country well before passing through there in 1877. 
The hot smoking springs and the high-shooting water 
were nothing new to us. 

Once I returned from hunting in the Yellowstone 
country, to Idaho. From there I went to Wallowa by 
stage. One snow from that time war broke out. 

My age was then twenty-one snows. A strong young 
man, I was never sickly. 

One time I was out hunting with other Indians. We 
separated. Snow was about ankle-deep. I came onto a 
bear's trail, and tracked him to his home in a rock cliff. I 
jumped off my horse, went to the door, and looked in. 
I saw two eyes just like fire. If you see animal eyes in 
darkness, they always shine as coals of fire. I leveled my 
gun and fired, aiming at center between those eyes. 

I stood in the doorway, listening. I heard him knock- 
ing against the walls of his house. Soon the knocks 
stopped. Then I knew that bear was dead. 

I got the lariat from my saddle and crawled in where 
the bear lay. Slipped the loop over his head, drawing it 
tight. Then I backed out and tried to pull him from his 
house. Only got him part way. I brought my horse, and 

7 It is reported that on occasion a buffalo would be attracted by the saliferoue 
moisture on the perspiring face of a fallen hunter. 



fastening the rope to saddlehorn, soon had that bear 

I now went to top of a ridge and gave the signal yell. 
The other hunters not too far away understood. They 
came and helped skin and get the meat to camp. I always 
had good luck hunting bears. 

One other time I met a bear at his home. There were 
three of us horseback. I dismounted and went to the 
opening in the rocks. I peeked in. Yes, that bear was 
there, all right. I called in to the bear, "Come out! I 
want you!** 

My partners were afraid, and stayed off a distance. I 
told them to come closer, but they would not mind me 
at all. One was afraid the bear might get hold of him. 
He stayed on his horse about thirty stpps away. The other 
man was maybe forty steps from the bear's ground lodge. 
He dismounted and stood behind a big pine tree. His 
name was Jesse. I told them again to come closer, but they 
said "No!" 

Those two Indians were scared at nothing. 

I now put my head in at the bear's doorway and told 
him, "I want you! I have come for you. You must come 

But that bear would not come. He only growled and 
talked to himself. I now yelled a sharp command and 
struck him with a stone. That bear made a bad noise 
with his mouth, and started out. I took three steps back. 
That bear came out of his doorway, mad. Just as he made 
to jump, I shot him through the head. I now called to my 
partners, "Come over!" They said, "No!" Told me to 
examine if the bear was dead. 

I laughed at them. I put my rifle down and gripped 
the bear's head. They now said, "We were afraid to 



come close. We thought that bear might put up a bad 

They laughed, seeing the bear dead. I told them, "The 
bear is nothing to me. He is just like a dog to me. I can 
kill him with a club." 

I was hunting deer in the mountains. I was alone. I 
heard a voice coming from the east. From some place 
among the big rocks. I thought it was a true voice of a 
person. I listened good! Yes, it was there all right. 

I ran, and came near where the voice had sounded. No 
human voice whatever. Only the voice of itsiyiyi [coy- 
ote]. That itsiyiyi was crying, "Quit that! Quit that!" 
A bear was trying to catch that itsiyiyi, and I thought to 
shoot him. I shot just as he reared up, and the bullet 
struck his right paw. 

I ran to get closer to that bear, but he saw and came 
at me. Getting close, I shot him in the head. 

After killing that bear, I discovered a dead deer. A 
fresh-killed deer. That bear had been fighting itsiyiyi 
from eating the deer. 

It is a strange story I am now telling you. I had hunted 
two suns and seen nothing. In camp all morning, I went 
out in the afternoon. There was a good snow. I found 
no tracks. I wondered what was wrong. I have never 
felt as I did that time. I sat down to think. Sun shining, 
nice day. The way I was looking, I saw a deer about fifty 
steps away. It was reaching up, eating the long moss 
from lower limbs of a tree. It was the kind of moss we 
cook in the ground ovens for food. The same kind you 
liked at our camp dinner. Yes, it was a deer standing 
broadside to me. I raised my rifle and fired. 

That deer continued to eat the hanging moss. I 
thought, "What is wrong?" I fired again, aiming good. 



Eehl That deer did not move. Just kept eating moss. 
I did not hurry as I fired a third time. 

That deer remained in same place, still filling on moss. 
Paid no attention to what was being done to it. I 
thought, "Maybe gun sight not good?" I put my eye to 
rifle sight and back again quickly. Eehl That deer was 
gone. My rifle sight was nothing wrong. 

I went over where that deer had stood. No tracks 
whatever. I looked up. A long lodgepole could not reach 
that moss that high it was above the ground! I must 
have been shooting atemis [dead deer]. A spirit deer, 
maybe from out the ground. I never saw such any other 
time. I thought about it for many long snows. I have 
never forgotten it. I returned to camp, hunting no more 
that sun. 


His Own Story 


General Howard "Shows the Rifle" 

The primal facts contained in this chapter were secured during my 
first interviews with Yellow Wolf; but it is well to bear in mind 
that a few additional facts were added from various interviews until 
as late as the narrator's death in 1935, 

The first interviews were to be at my house, and on the morning 
of the appointment I was surprised to see Yellow "Wolf and inter- 
preter Hart walking up from the river, accompanied by Two Moons, 
Roaring Eagle, and Chief David Williams, all of the Joseph band. 
These men came and sat through each day's session, mostly in 
silence, but there was an occasional short conference held in their 
own language. It was not until afterwards that I learned it was 
customary to have witnesses to what was said. The listeners, should 
they detect error, intentional or otherwise, in statements, were privi- 
leged to make corrections. These three witnesses had been through 
the great retreat, the first two as warriors, the last named as a boy 
large enough to carry water to the warriors during the Clearwater 

In this chapter Yellow Wolf gives a short review of a contented 
and prosperous tribal life destroyed by armed enforcement of a 
treaty to which the Nez Perces had not given assent. He tells how 
they were "shown the rifle." He depicts the excitement throughout 
the Indian encampment as they learn of the outbreak of hostilities; 
Looking Glass's hurried retreat with his followers to their old home 
in a futile effort to avoid war; the retreat of the remaining bands 
to White Bird Canyon; the night warning of the approach of Captain 
Perry's troops, and the silent massing of the warriors to meet the 
soldiers in battle. 

IT WAS our custom for the old people to instruct the 
children. That was not like the learning of today, but 
was what we needed for living in this world. 



I paid attention to what the old people said. I have 
always told the truth. I am telling the truth now. 

We had a good country until the white people came 
and crowded us. Now they have us to the brush. My 
fathers had property in lands, horses, and goods. Just as 
you have what belongs to you in town or in country. 
My ancestors were glad to see the white strangers come. 
My people made no trouble. Never thought about mak- 
ing trouble. Never held anything against the white race. 
I am telling you, my people made no trouble, although 
the whites killed many of them! Only when they 
wanted to put us in one small place, taking from us our 
home country, trouble started. 

We were raising horses and cattle fast race horses and 
many cattle. We had fine lodges, good clothes, plenty to 
eat, enough of everything. We were living well. Then 
General Howard and Agent Monteith came to bother us. 

I had seen twenty-one snows when they came. They 
told us we had to give up our homes and move to another 
part of the reservation. That we had to give up our part 
of the reservation to the white people. Told us we must 
move in with the Nez Perces turned Christians, called 
Upper Nez Perces by the whites. All of same tribe, but 
it would be hard to live together. Our religions different, 
it would be hard. To leave our homes would be hard. It 
was these Christian Nez Perces who made with the 
Government a thief treaty [1863]. Sold to the Govern- 
ment all this land. Sold what did not belong to them. 
We got nothing for our country. None of our chiefs 
signed that land-stealing treaty. None was at that lie- 
talk council. Only Christian Indians and Government 
men. 1 

i Contrary to Yellow Wolf's assertion, the name of at least one Lower Nez Perce, 
Waptastamana, appears as the twenty-seventh signer to the treaty of 1863. (Charles 



Trouble began in the councils. First was a council at 
Umatilla. Ollokot 2 and others went there to meet Gen- 
eral Howard. But General Howard was not there. He 
sent a boy [Lieutenant Boyle] in his place. Ollokot did 
not like this. He, a chief, could not talk to a boy. Noth- 
ing was done. No agreement made. 

Next council was at Walla Walla. All chiefs were 
instructed to be there. A call went out for Heinmot 
Tooyalakekt [Thunder Traveling to Loftier (Mountain) 
Heights], known as Joseph; also for Ollokot; for 
Eeopeo Hihhih [White Bird] ; for Toohoolhoolzote 3 ; for 
Looking Glass; and for Hahtalekin. 4 

Joseph was my uncle [first cousin to Yellow Wolf's 
mother]. He did not go to Walla Walla. Ollokot said 
to him, "You stay here. I will go see what is wanted." 

J Kappler, Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties. Government Printing Office Wash- 
intrton D C , 1904. Vol. II, p. 848.) "Wahtasstummannee" is also the fifty-fifth 
signer' to the 1855 treaty. (Idem, p. 706.) These two names represent one and the 
same party: "Black Feather," a medicine man. 

Waptastamana was "weU off, rich, and never signed anything m 1868. Never 
knew how his name was put to that 'steal treaty.' He knew it was bad and 

^Another Lower Nez Perce, Eahhahstoortee, more correctly Wahwahsteestee (Bear 
on Ton) appears as the twentieth signer to the 1855 treaty. (Idem, p. 705.) He 
is reputed to have signed the 1863 treaty also. This he did, it is said, "'about 
ten o'clock at night, and he was given a good saddle for his name." If such was 
the case, an unidentified alias was used, for no name similar to that of 1855 is in 
evidence. Bear on Top is said to have been "not very well off" financially, and 
"did not understand just what he was signing." 

awhile spellings and pronunciations vary, preference is given, from the best 
interpretations obtained, to the form Ollokot, which will be adhered to throughout 
this volume- It is seemingly a Cayuse word, and probably means "frog." Tewetafcis, 
an old, unidentified word, was Ollokot's earlier name. 

8 Toohoolhoolzote variously spelled signifies "noise," or "sound," such as is 
produced by striking any vibrant timber or metal with a hard substance. A 
scarcely discernible legato in the last syllable fcsote will not be used in these pages. 

This noted chieftain, sadly maligned by partisan writers, was dubbed by a white 
pioneer, a veritable "fighter from hell." As a Dreamer prophet and medicine man, 
he had a pronounced influence over the patriot bands, but reliable evidence is 
lacking that from the first he counseled war. Every warrior interviewed on the 
subject testified to his advocacy for peace; but after the irretrievable step had 
been taken, he promptly took up the rifle. 

*The first syllable of this name was variously pronounced: Ah, Nah , or 
Hah > preference being given to the latter. No English rendition has been found. 
He was reckoned a buffalo hunter and a warrior of ability. He was killed at the 
Big Hole, his first engagement of the war. He was one of the six nontreaty chiefs 
(i.e., a Lower Nez Perce) , but has been accorded no place in the annals. His band, 
the Waiwaiwai Paloos, the smallest of the war bands, joined the war party at 
Weippe, after the Clearwater battle. It was to this band that the Dreamer priest, 
Husishusis Kute (Naked Head), belonged. Because of his oratorical ability, 
Husis was chosen by the Nez Perces as a speaker at the councils called by General 
Howard, who, mistaking him for the head of his band, dubbed him "a wily chieftain, 
about the age of Young Joseph." (Howard, Nez Perce Joseph, p. 19.) He thus 
unconsciously usurped the chieftainly renown that rightfully belonged to Hahtalekin. 
It is doubtful if either of them ever realized the mistake. 



"All right! You go," Joseph told him. 

I was surprised, my uncle saying that. But he was not 
feeling well, was why Ollokot spoke to go. 5 

Ollokot was gone nearly one week. When it was 
morning, we heard a horse running, and soon Ollokot 
came into the tepee. After eating and smoking, he said 
to Joseph: 

"Government wants all Indians put in one place. If 
you say, 'Yes,' I will bring in the stock and we will go 
there. If the white officers ask what you will do, you 
answer, 'Nothing to talk about. Ollokot has settled 
everything/ " 

Soon after this came report that General Howard and 
soldiers had come to Lapwai. Our camp-village was on 
Asotain [Eel Creek] about where Asotin now stands. 
Not many miles from Lapwai. We wondered why they 
were at the fort. Then followed word for all the chiefs to 
meet General Howard and Agent Monteith there in 
council. The chiefs who could go went with their fol- 
lowers, and I, Yellow "Wolf, went with Chief Joseph's 
band. But Peopeo Hihhih and Toohoolhoolzote of Salmon 
River country were not there. Slippery trails and moun- 
tain snowbanks held them back. They arrived later. 

The soldier guardhouse was close to the council place. 
Indians stood all around a lot of Indians. A soldier was 
there with only one good arm. Right arm mostly gone. 
Left arm sound. This soldier was General Howard. 
After they had a prayer-talk, he asked, "Where is Chief 

"There he is," the interpreter said, pointing to my 

c "OIlicut put in an appearance about six P. M. (April 19).... These Indians 
came to the western gate- and Ollicut gave in an excuse in the most gentlemanly 
manner for not having been at the fort sooner, and stated that the chief, his 
brother Joseph, was not at that time well; otherwise he would have been there 
himself to meet me " (Howard, Nez Perce Joseph, p. 42.) 



uncle. General Howard asked Joseph if he had any- 
thing to say. Joseph answered, "I will hear what you 
have to tell the chiefs. My brother and I came to listen. 
You must not hurry. White Bird and Toohoolhoolzote 
will be here tomorrow/* 

But General Howard would not wait. He talked short. 
Said the Indians would have to do as ordered. Agent 
Monteith read a paper and said we had to go on a small 

Ollokot made a short talk. He wanted to wait for the 
Salmon River chiefs before anything was done. 

General Howard now said, "If you do not come on 
the reservation, my soldiers will put you there!" 

This hurt the Indians. They said no more in that sun's 
council. But there was talk in camp that night. Many 
wondered what would happen. 

With morning came Chiefs White Bird and Toohool- 
hoolzote. The council met. General Howard had one 
Christian Nez Perce speak a prayer. Agent Monteith 
made his same talk, telling us we had to move to the small 
reservation. General Howard told us again if we re- 
fused orders, soldiers would drive us on that reservation. 
He asked for Toohoolhoolzote and was told, "He is here." 
This chief was our speaker. General Howard shook 
hands with him, but would let him talk only a little. 
They quarreled some, then agreed to rest, to finish the 
talk three suns later. 

During this delay, more Indians came in and more 
soldiers were seen to arrive. It was Sapalwit [Sunday] 
evening when this announcement was made all through 
the camp, "Tomorrow morning everybody be at the 
soldier council camp." 

All went. I, Yellow Wolf, went. I wanted to hear 



what was talked. I did hear what was said. I saw what 
was done. In after snows I listened to my boy read in 
white people's history things not true about that coun- 
cil. The Indians were not armed! General Howard broke 
friendship. The council was held in front of the guard- 
house, maybe 150 steps away. 

Agent Monteith made his same talk again. How we 
must obey orders or soldiers would be sent against us. 
General Howard got up and shook hands with the chiefs. 
He told them they could talk, but they had to come on 
the reservation. 

Chief Toohoolhoolzote stood up to talk for the In- 
dians. He told how the land always belonged to the 
Indians, how it came down to us from our fathers. How 
the earth was a great law, how everything must remain 
as fixed by the Earth-Chief. How the land must not be 
sold! That we came from the earth, and our bodies must 
go back to earth, our mother. General Howard stopped 
the chief. 

He ordered, "I do not want to hear you say anything 
more like that. I am telling you! Thirty days you have 
to get on the reservation." 

"You ask me to talk, then tell me to say no more,** 
Toohoolhoolzote replied. "I am chief! I ask no man to 
come and tell me anything what I must do. I am chief 

General Howard answered sharp. "Yes, you are chief. 
I am telling you! Thirty days you have to move in!" 

"Yes, picking your own count!' 5 our chief said. "Go 
back to your own country! Tell them you are chief 
there. I am chief here." 

General Howard was showing mad. He spoke sharply, 



"If you do not mind me, if you say, 'No,' soldiers will 
come to your place. You will be tied up and your stock 
taken from you." 

Toohoolhoolzote answered, "I am telling you! I am 
a chief! Who can tell me what I must do in my own 

General Howard was now strong mad. He spoke in 
loud voice, "I am the man to tell you what you must do! 
You will come on the reservation within time I tell you. 
If not, soldiers will put you there or shoot you down!" 

Chief Toohoolhoolzote did not become afraid. His 
words were strong as he replied, "I hear you! I have 
simiaftia, that which belongs to a man! I am a man, and 
will not go! I will not leave my home, the land where 
I grew up!" 

General Howard now called a soldier to come forward. 
He pointed to Toohoolhoolzote and ordered, "Take him 
to the guardhouse." 

The chief turned around, and the soldier thought he 
was coming with him, but he was not. The soldier then 
shoved him over some Indians sitting on the ground close 
together. They called out, "Come get him!" 

The soldier did not come, and the other chiefs advised 
Toohoolhoolzote, "Go! We do not think they will do 
much to you." 

The chief then stepped forward to the soldier. General 
Howard went with them to the jail, and there he again 
asked Toohoolhoolzote, "Have you decided to go on the 

The chief, a prisoner, made quick reply. "Have you no 
ears? I said NO! I am a chief! Raised here by my father! 
No one tells me anything what I am to do!" 



"No more talk here now/ 5 General Howard said. "You 
study and decide if you come in or not." 

To all of us General Howard now spoke, "If you do 
not mind me, I will take my soldiers and drive you on the 

Again, Agent Monteith told us, "You must understand 
from this day you are going on the reservation. If you 
do not do as told, soldiers will put you there." 

All that hurt us. In peace councils, force must not be 
talked. It was the same as showing us the rifle. General 
Howard was just pricking with needles. That was not 
suited for the Indians. 

Toohoolhoolzote was kept in the guardhouse several 
suns, like a thief. 

That was what brought war, the arrest of this chief 
and showing us the rifle! 

Some young men talked secretly among themselves. To 
one another they said, "General Howard has shown us 
the rifle. We answer 'Yes.* We will stir up a fight for 
him. We will start his war!" 

The chiefs were not talking war. After the Lapwai 
council they gave orders, "Everyone get ready to move to 
our new home. Round up horses and cattle, as many as 
can be found." 

That was done. Cattle were rounded up and herded 
south of Salmon River. Water was too high and swift for 
their crossing. All the young calves there were many 
would be drowned. So would the old cows. While this 
was being done the people assembled at Tepahlewam, our 
old camping grounds at Tolo Lake. 6 There were about 
six hundred people in camp. Many old men, many 

See Appendix I, this chapter, 



women and children The women dug camas which grew 
thick on the prairie, while men and boys had good times 
gambling and racing horses. I was with Chief Joseph. 
I slept in his lodge. 

None of the chiefs wanted war. They held many 
councils to hear what the older warriors had to say. Some 
of these said, "We will wait for those returning from 
buffalo hunting in Montana. Then will be decided what 
to do if war breaks." 

There were six leading chiefs. Joseph, Ollokot, White 
Bird, Toohoolhoolzote, Looking Glass, and Hahtalekin. 
This last chief had the smallest band, the Paloos. He did 
not want war. No chief talked or wanted war. Looking 
Glass was strong against fighting. I am telling you about 
three times, 7 no chief wanted war. 

When informed that the Nez Perces are accused in history of 
having cavalry drills, and of training for the war before fighting 
broke out, Yellow Wolf replied earnestly: 

Not true! There was no training with horses, no 
practicing with rifles for that war. True, we rode con- 
cealed on side of horses as did all buffalo-hunting Indians. 
There was always likely to be fighting with enemy tribes. 
We had learned, had done that riding from child days. 
We did it in Wallowa Valley for sport. Some of us would 
ride by where friends were standing or sitting and fire at 
them under our horse's neck, but not hit them. I have 
done that myself in play. 

We were not expecting war with the whites. But 
when we did get into war, we used those tactics in battle. 

7 According to Nez Perce custom, two equivocations could be indulged in without 
reflecting upon the narrator's veracity, but to repeat the same equivocation a third 
time was to forfeit self-respect and the respect of fellow tribesmen. Allusions to 
thrice-told statements will come to the reader's notice throughout the course of this 



We did this at White Bird Canyon, Cottonwood, and 
Clearwater fights. It was our privilege, our right to do so. 

Of men to fight should war come, there were less than 
120. This was counting full-aged men not too old and 
young men of war age. No boys under seventeen snows 
did fighting. And those who proved actual fighters num- 
bered less than fifty. I can give you names of all. 8 

To Chief Joseph's wife a baby was to come. It was 
because of this that Joseph, Ollokot, and a few men and 
two women crossed Mahsamyetteen [Buzzard Moun- 
tain] to the White Bird for beef. As I have said, all our 
cattle were south of Salmon River, which Joseph and 
party boated. 

It was then, while they were gone, that war started. 

Many of our people had been killed by white men on 
our reservation. But at no time was anything done to 
punish them. The discovery of gold on our reservation 
[1860] brought thousands of white men. That was the 
beginning of our trouble. Those white killers were never 
bothered from living on our lands. They were still there. 
Still robbing and shooting or hanging Indians. 

One of those who had been killed was Chief Tipyahla- 
nah Siskon [Eagle Robe]. His home had been at the 
same place on Salmon River for many snows. A white 
man came to him who wanted land. The chief gave him 
some land. The man built a house and raised crops. Then 
he took more land, a part of Eagle Robe's garden. When 

8 It is a source of regret that a compilation of the Nez Perce warriors was not 
made with Yellow Wolf's assistance. The bands assembled in camp at Tolo Lake 
contained between six and seven hundred men, women, and children. Many of the 
families were polygamous, resulting in a preponderance of women. From this 
largely feminine aggregation, General Howard miraculously conjured "over three 
hundred warriors," including "a substantial reserve" composed of women. (Howard, 
Nez Perce Joseph, p. 166 ; also Report of Secretary of War, 1877-88, VoL I, p. 124.) 

G. O. Shields, Battle of the Big Hole, p. 16, visioned them at "about 400 warriors 
and 150 women and children." 



the chief tried to stop him from plowing, he drew his 
six-shooter and shot Tipyahlanah, who was unarmed. He 
lived only a short time. When dying, he spoke to his son, 
Wahlitits, 9 a boy, but almost grown. 

He said, "Do not bother the white man for what he 
has done to me. Let him live his life!" 

That was about two snows before the war. Now 
[1877] Wahlitits was grown strong of body, sound and 
quick of mind. He had two near-brothers [first cousins], 
Sarpsis Ilppilp [Red Moccasin Tops], and Wetyetmas 
Wahyakt [Swan Necklace]. Wetyetmas was youngest 
of the three. 10 The two older men made their minds to 
kill that white man. They talked this way, "General 
Howard spoke the rifle in a peace council. He made 
prisoner our speaker, Chief Toohoolhoolzote. We will 
stir up a fight for him. We will kill the white man who 
killed Tipyahlanah Siskon!" 

The three went to the Salmon, but could not find the 
killer of Tipyahlanah. Becoming scared, he had run 
away to Florence mines. He put on Chinamen clothes 
and worked with the Chinamen, washing gold. 

The young men now killed another man who had 
badly treated the Indians. They took a good horse be- 

Wahlitits is spelled variously. One interpreter, an intelligent, educated young 
man, explained: "Wahlitits is Nez Perce for 'Springtime ice along the river banks 
which permits one to walk on it while the water is flowing down the open center 
of the stream.' " Another rendition is "Crossing," with no particular connotation. 

10 The youngest of the avenging trio, Wetyetmas Wahyakt (Swan Necklace), was 
also known as Young Swan Necklace, the prefix distinguishing him from his father, 
who bore the same name. Silas Whitman, a recognized authority, explained : "The 
first three syllables mean Tictitious Bird.' The last two syllables, 'Neckwear.' " 

The only one of the three to survive the war, his identity was never known to 
the whites. It was kept concealed by those who knew him until after his death, 
which occurred in the late twenties. At the time of the Salmon River killing, in 
which he had no actual part, he was but seventeen years old. His name then was 
Heyoom Tililpkaun (Red Sun-rayed Grizzly), which, as Yellow Wolf expressed it, 
was "put away" not used thereafter. To the whites he became known only as 
John Minthon, no one suspecting his connection with the starting of the war. It 
was by that name that Yellow Wolf and other of the veterans referred to him 
during his life, not wanting him to "get into any trouble." 



Although he was implicated in precipitating the Nez Perce War his identity was 

neVe f r or v V e e a aled by ^ h V ell r wa ors ' Under the name of John MSthon he livtd 
for years on the Nez Perce Reservation, where he died in the early thirties. 


Eight: Wetyetmas Likleinen, relative of Ollokot Photograph taken in Walla 
Walla, Washington, 1876, the year before the outbreak of war. 


From an old photograph in the collection of Joseph Sherburne, ST., made during 
the exile in Indian Territory. 



The warrior who rode out to meet Joseph and Ollokot to inform them of the 
hostilities that had broken out in their absence. 


longing to him and returned home. 11 They arrived at 
camp late at night. 12 

With Joseph and Ollokot away killing beef, four 
chiefs were at Tolo Lake. These four and some old men 
were holding council in one tepee. Not wanting war, 
they talked what to do about General Howard's orders. 

Someone called to them from a near-by tepee, "You 
poor people are talking for nothing! Three boys have 
already started war! They killed a white man on Salmon 
and brought his horse here to this camp. It is already 

That stopped the council. There was lots of excite- 

Next morning Lepeet Hessemdooks [Two Moons] 
rode out to meet Chief Joseph and Ollokot. He told them 
what had been done. Leaving the women to bring the 
pack horses loaded with meat, the men rode fast to camp. 
They found most tepees already down, the people moving 
from there. They tried to stop them, but no use. All left 
but Joseph and his band and about thirty-five other men. 
These stayed to guard against any enemy surprise, but 
some were afraid Joseph and Ollokot might desert the 
other Indians. The bands that moved away went to 
Sapachesap [Drive In], a cave on Cottonwood Creek. 

u The first white man killed on June 13, 1877 as narrated by Yellow Wolf, was 
Richard Devine, an old man, who lived alone on Salmon River, eight miles above 
Slate Creek. The man primarily sought by the three avengers was Larry Ott, who 
had murdered the father of Wahlitits on the first day of March, 1875. Ott, taking 
alarm fled to the Florence mines, where he was seen disguised as a Celestial 
engaged in placer mining, by Many Wounds. The latter described Ott as having 
red hair reaching to his shoulders. Balked of their prey, the trio turned their 
attention to Devine, who, according to reputable Indians and early settlers, had 
won for himself an unsavory reputation with the tribesmen. An interloper on 
the Nez Perce domain, he would curse the Indians and set his vicious dogs on them 
when they passed his place, and he imposed on them in other ways. 

General Howard (Nez Perce Joseph, p. 103) mentions a 'Moxmox as a party 
to the killing, but there was no Indian of that name mixed in it. There is evidence, 
however, that Chuslum Moxmox (Yellow Bull) figured in the Salmon River forays 
during the next two days, June 14 and 15. 

12 Be it said to the credit of the three avengers that no charge of mistreatment 



This same sun the three young men "Wahlitits and his 
near-brothers returned to the Salmon. With them went 
several warriors. They killed a few more whites, all bad 
men. One of these, a mean man, liked by nobody, had 
killed Dakoopin, who was lame. Hungry, he had gone to 
this white man's house to ask for food. The man had 
shot him. Now this sun, the two sons of Dakoopin went 
to the white man and asked, "What you mean, killing 
our father?" 

The man drew his six-shooter and fired at them, but 
missed. Then the older boy jumped off his horse and with 
one rifleshot killed the man. 13 

The war now came on fast. 

That night I was in Chief Joseph's tepee. We had no 
timepieces in those days, but it must have been about two 
hours before midnight when I heard the sound of horses 
approaching and a white man's voice. Then a gun 
sounded. A bullet came through the tepee, but hit no- 

I grabbed a magazine rifle and stepped through the 
doorway. Out a way I could see shadow forms of 
mounted men. 

Chuslum Lapitkif Hotswal [Bull Second Boy] called 
in our tongue, "Shoot him!" 

The men must have seen as I drew up my rifle. They 
whirled and galloped swiftly away. I fired, but missed. 

From that time, the Nez Perces had no more rest. 'No 
more soft pillows for the head. 

As the sun was dawning, I heard a gun report. Its 
sound was like a two-mile distance. Shortly, full sun- 

is Owing to Yellow Wolf's inability to give the offending settler's name, it was 
not possible to determine the identity of the murderer of Dakoopin. He was 
described as a trader who never returned to an Indian any change due him or her 
in a transaction. 



light came, and Chief Joseph said, "We must pack and 
go to Sapachesap, where the other chiefs are." 

We packed quickly and started. We had gone about a 
mile and a half when I heard someone say, "They have 
killed one white man. They have taken two wagons 
from some white men." I learned later there was whisky 
in those wagons. 14 

Before the capture of these wagons, General Howard 
said, "I do not want war. If the chiefs will give up the 
three Indians who did the killing, I will hang them and 
let the others go." 

But Ad Chapman, a white man living on White Bird 
Creek with a Umatilla wife, declared, "I can whip the 
Injuns alone. They are cowardly." 

That was what we were told. 

Yellow Wolf paused and, as if addressing General Howard and 
Indian Agent Monteith, said, "You can see now for yourselves. 
General Howard and Agent Monteith, why the killing of those white 
men. It was your own fault!" 

Then, steadily regarding the recorder of this narrative, he earnestly 
continued, "You and I are best of friends. We have been good to 
each other. There will be no trouble about this business?" Assured 
that he need entertain no fear of trouble because of his statements 
of where the blame of the war should be placed assurance sealed 
with a handclasp he resumed: 

It was during these first suns of trouble that an Indian 
and a white man were killed near Mount Idaho* Three 
Indians traveled from White Bird Canyon. They were 
Pahka Alyanakt [Five Winters], Henawit [Going 
Fast], and Jyeloo, also named Pykat. 

14 The late Elias Darr, a blacksmith in Grangeville, who saw local service as a 
volunteer, informed the writer that the whisky three or four barrels of it was, 
with other freight, being hauled by Lue (or Lew) Wilmot and a man named 
"Ready" (possibly Pete Redds-), from Lewiston to Mount Idaho. Each wagon, with 
a trailer, was drawn by a four-horse team. The Indians came upon them while 
th e y were crossing Camas Meadows at night. The teamsters escaped on their 
fastest horses, the Indians making no marked effort to capture them. 



They came to three buildings, the home of a white 
man. These buildings must have been a dwelling and 
outhouses. It was early morning, about breakfast time, 
when they arrived. Nobody was there. I understood the 
three were drinking, or had been drinking. Tired, they 
rested in the house. They slept a short while. When ready 
to leave, Henawit took a swift chestnut-colored racer 
belonging to Jyeloo and went to bring the other two 
horses. Pretty quick he came running the horses and 
called, "We are attacked!" 

Pahka Alyanakt jumped on his horse. The white men, 
a bunch of them, were coming fast. The two mounted 
Indians could not wait for Jyeloo. He had a lame leg, and 
his back was weak from an old wound. He moved slowly. 
Maybe was part drunk. The horse left by Henawit 
walked away, and he had to run after it. Because they 
left him, the two Indians gave him the only gun among 
them, an old 45-70 with but one cartridge. They forgot 
to give him the belt of ammunition. 

Jyeloo finally got on the horse, a poor runner. His 
partners were now some distance away, the white men 
fast gaining on him. Coming to a fence, Jyeloo had to 
dismount. He was no longer young, and had gone 
through many hardships. Slow moving, he was soon 
cornered and killed. 15 

The whites did not try to catch Pahka Alyanakt and 
Henawit. The two came to our camp at Sapachesap and 
told what had happened. 

Thirty of us quickly mounted and hurried with them 
to where the attack was made, where Jyeloo had been 

15 Jyeloo had the usual multiplicity of names. Red Wolf, warrior, states in his 
brief narrative: "One man named Piah was killed near Grangeville during the 
early trouble. He was drunk at the time." Pykat and Piah may be different pro- 
nunciations of the same name. The killing of this Indian is verified by both 
Volunteers Darr and Rowton, participants in that affair. 



killed. We spread out, searching the tall grass for Jyeloo. 
We found him. I saw his body myself, all covered with 
blood. He had many gunshot wounds on his body and 
legs eleven in all. His head, crushed, was all over blood. 
Blood on the ground. I saw he had drawn his sheath 
knife. It was in the grass not far from him must have 
been shot from his hand. We did not find the rifle. 

With only one cartridge and side knife in a running 
fight, Jyeloo could do nothing against so many enemies. 
But he was hard to kill. 

His body was taken back over the trail while fifteen 
of us went to the house where the three had been at- 
tacked. We wanted to see, and remained there for a 
time. Then one of us saw a white man approaching. 
He seemed coming to the house, so we lay concealed. We 
wondered why he was coming, but he had no chance to 
explain. When he got close, we made for him. We 
chased him toward a steep hill. 

Pahkatos Watyekit [Five Times Looking Up] had a 
bow and arrows. He rode close to the man's side and 
drew an arrow on the bow. The man grabbed the arrow 
and nearly jerked Pahkatos from his horse. Six of us 
overtook him. Kosooyeen [Going Alone] was ahead. 
He shot the man from his horse while fast running; but 
he got up. He was then shot and brought down for good. 

Nothing more happened, and we went no farther. The 
man killed was young* He had a six-shooter, but did not 
fire it. We thought maybe he owned the house and was 
returning for something left there. 16 

We now rode back to camp where was great excite- 
ment. All knew trouble was ahead. The chiefs held 

18 The white man killed by the Nez Perces was Charley Horton, a young single 
man, who was returning to the Salmon River. His body was found four to six 
days later by John Adkinson. 



council what to do. It was a short council Soon^hey 
made announcement: "We will move to Lahmotta !" 17 

Chief Looking Glass and his band, the Asotains, felt 
differently. They left for their old home on Clearwater 
River. The women had gardens planted there. The 
Asotains wanted no war. Looking Glass, strong against 
war, went with his people. 

This left five chiefs, five bands, if fighting broke. 

We packed up and started. Going about three miles, 
we saw a troop of soldiers [probably citizen scouts]. 
They stopped when they saw us, and we crossed Buzzard 
Mountain to Lahmotta. 

After supper three men went back on the trail to 
watch if soldiers followed. One went to the top of the 
mountain, two stopped on the side of the canyon. One 
of these two had been a bad Indian, a thief. He was not 
a Nez Perce. Before coming to us, he was a slave. For 
stealing, his master put steel traps on his wrists and 
ankles, then placed him outside the tepee in a winter 
night. He must have been left out too long. Both feet 
and one hand died and came oflf. We called him Sees- 
koomkee [No Feet]. 18 

In after part of night I heard Seeskoomkee shouting, 
"Soldiers coming this way! Soldiers coming this way!" 

The people heard and ran out of the tepees. When I 
got out I saw Seeskoomkee sitting on his horse still calling, 
"Soldiers coming this way! Soldiers coming this way! " 

No more sleep that night. All five chiefs gave orders 

'IT The Nez Perce designation for the White Bird Canyon is Lahmotta. How the 
name originated and why applied to the district, no one knows. There are two 
distinct interpretations of the name ; the first is "Wishing for More/' ' Wanting 
More"; the second, "Bothered," "Tired/' "Weary," or "Restless/* The vast reaches 
of fine range in the Canyon, its milder winters, its natural products, and its 
fisheries, might well induct the first interpretation ; while the long, tedious trail 
leading into and out of the Canyon on the north could as readily engender the 

MSee Appendix II, this chapter. 



to bring horses in close. When that was done, we caught 
and tied best ones up. The others were herded. 

Sunlight breaking, the other two scouts galloped in 
and reported, "Soldiers coming close! Big bunch of 

At this announcement, warriors quickly stripped and 
armed for war. I saw them going out, one by one, to 
meet the soldiers. Most of them kept to the left [west], 
back of buttes near base of the mountain. 

Four of us went up the creek, along edge of brush and 
timber. We wanted to get on other side of the soldiers. 
I had only hunting bow and arrows. 19 My rifle was with 
my mother in Chief Looking Glass's camp at their gar- 
dens. We stopped at nearest of the two Cemetery Buttes, 
where some great Nez Perce chiefs are buried. 20 We sat 
down on a low swell on south side of the butte. A young 
fellow took our horses back of the upper butte to hold 
for us, there hidden from our enemies. 

Soon came lighter sun. I raised up and looked north. 
Something seemed moving away up country. I watched 
closely. Yes, there came the soldiers a good distance off. 
We all lay flat and watched. 

18 A near-replica of his bow that Yellow Wolf made for the author measures 
three feet, four and a half inches in length. Of yew wood and strung with a splen- 
did sinew cord, it is slightly decorated with red and dark-green paint. The four 
arrows accompanying the bow measure slightly over two feet in length, all 
winged with hawk and other wild bird feathers. Two are tipped with short hoop- 
iron points, the other two are barbless, the shafts merely trimmed to blunt cone 
points. All in all it appears a pitifully inadequate weapon when compared with 
the Springfield rifles with which the soldiers were armed. 

20 These two notable buttes, on the summits of which are to be seen the dese- 
crated graves of some of the most renowned chiefs and warriors of the earlier Nez 
Perces, are just to the right (traveling south) of TJ. S. Highway 95 from White 
Bird, Idaho. They are those designated by Captain Perry as "two round knowls of 
considerable height" flanking the left of his advance. (C. T. Brady, Northwestern 
Fights and Fighters, p. 114.) Perry's force, however, never reached a point so 
far south, never arrived anywhere near opposite them. These buttes are landmarks 
of historic importance and should be designated by a monumental marker. See 
photographs in next chapter. 



Tolo Lake, made historic through local events in 1877, originally 
had no special Nez Perce name. Ewatam, meaning a small body of 
water, either lake or pond, was all the name it could boast. 

Tepahlewam, variously defined as "Deep Cuts," "Cracked Rocks," 
and "Split Rocks," an impressive, cavernous gorge about a mile west 
of the lake, imposed its name on the immediate surroundings, in- 
cluding the lake. The great annual campgrounds of the Nez Perces 
not only covered the area between the gorge and the lake, but also 
extended across the ravine at the head of the gorge. 

The lake was named "Tolo" by the whites to honor a Nez Perce 
woman who carried the news of the Nez Perce outbreak to the 
Florence mines. A noted poker player, acknowledged champion of 
the Nez Perce bands, she was called by her associates Tulekats 
Chikchamit. The name, interpreted, means: Tulekats: "Placing 
Money on Betting Cards"; Chikchamit: "Dealing Cards." Her name 
was shortened to "Tule," and corrupted to "Tolo" by the whites. 

For a sketch of the Indian woman for whom the whites named 
Tolo Lake, see C. J. Brosnan, History of the State of Idaho, pp. 
207-08. For a poetic description of the Lake, see R. Ross Arnold, 
Indian Wars of Idaho, pp. 107-08, 114. 


Seeskoomkee, sometimes pronounced Eskoomskee or Askoomskee, 
has also been defined as "Cut Off." His tribal origin was uncertain. 
All that is known of his prewar life was given to the author by the 
late Chief Tomio Kamiakun, son of the famous Yakima war chief, 
Kamiakun. Chief Tomio spoke in Nez Perce. 

"My father," said Chief Tomio, "often traded with the tribes to 
the southwest, sometimes going as far as California. On one of 
these distant trips he purchased No Feet, who was a slave captive. I 
do not know his tribe. His true name was Attween; I do not know 
the English meaning. Maybe it has none. Many Indian names, as 
with white names, have no real meaning. A still earlier name was 
Kepgavants Wewowwow. 

"Askoomskee would steal. One winter while we were living at 
Tekam ["Falls," at Spokane, Wash.], my father, to punish him 
after he had been warned repeatedly to reform one night put steel 
traps, not heavy ones, on his ankles and wrists, and put him outside 
the lodge. My father left him there too long in the freezing cold, 



and that caused the loss of both feet and one hand. It cured him 
of theft. 

"A law among the tribes was that after a purchased slave had 
served his owner sufficiently to repay the cost of his purchase he was 
given his freedom. So when three visiting Nez Perces were to return 
home, my father gave them some cattle and sent Askoomskee along 
to drive them. My father told him that he need not return unless 
he chose to, that he was now free to go wherever he wished. 
Askoomskee remained with the Lower Nez Perces. Though crippled, 
he was a splendid horseman, and made his living breaking wild 

No Feet was treated well during his stay with the Nez Perces, the 
interpreter explained, and added, "He was furnished blankets for 
bedding, but could not take them away. He was required to leave 
them where used." 

When the Nez Perce camp was attacked at the Big Hole, No Feet 
escaped from the thick of the confusion by alternately hobbling 
on his one hand and knees, and rolling, until he gained a shallow 
depression on the eastern boundary of the camp. 

No Feet is the Indian spoken of by J. B. M. Genin, missionary 
apostolic, in picturing the pitiful plight of the Nez Perce refugees 
from the last battlefield, as they fled toward Chief Sitting Bull's 
camp in Canada. The missionary saw them as they passed through 
the villages of the Milk River half-breeds, and says: "So great was 
the fear of the Indians of being hanged that I saw one pass on 
horseback with only one hand. He himself had cut off the other 
and -both his feet to free himself from his chains.** (Collections of 
the State Historical Society of North Dakota, 1906, Vol. I, p. 276.) 

Reaching Sitting Bull's village, No Feet remained ever afterward 
with the Sioux. He was "given a good horse, blankets and clothing," 
and eventually married into the tribe. 

The Nez Perces later understood that No Feet, in an altercation 
with the son of a Sioux chief, fatally stabbed the young man. The 
latter, before dying, exonerated No Feet from blame, and success- 
fully importuned his father not to hold the deed against him. 

It has been averred without verification, however that No Feet 
was never at any time a slave, and that he came from the Lower 
Snake River country. The account given by Chief Tomio presum- 
ably is correct, as Tomio was a most reliable informant, and his 
statement is corroborated by Black Eagle, son of Wottolen. 


His Own Story 


Battle of the White Bird Canyon 

In this chapter Yellow Wolf chiefly narrates the engagement in 
White Bird Canyon, June 17, 1877. After this battle the Indians 
withdrew to the other side of the Salmon River, and we see the 
arrival of General Howard with more soldiers on June 25-26. 

In July and August, 1930, the writer, accompanied by Yellow 
Wolf, Peopeo Tholekt, and interpreter Many Wounds, made a tour 
of the White Bird battlefield and of the sites of the ensuing skirm- 
ishes. Yellow Wolf's story of events is largely a transcription of 
observations made on this tour. 

We walked to the more southern of the two Cemetery Buttes, 
where, in the preceding chapter, we saw the Indians gathered. The 
climb to its summit so taxed the old warrior's strength that he 
was compelled to take a short rest. Then for several minutes he 
stood silently gazing over the broken country to the west. Pointing 
across to the southern base of the highest ridgelike butte, he took 
up the trend of his narrative as follows: 

IT WAS there under that rock-ridge that I saw the 
first enemies. Five warriors, led by Wettiwetti Houlis 
[Mean Person, known to the whites as John Boyd] had 
been sent out from the other [west] side of the valley as 
a peace party to meet the soldiers. These warriors had 
instructions from the chiefs not to fire unless fired upon. 
Of course they carried a white flag. Peace might be made 
without fighting. 

Yellow Wolf paused, scanning the west buttes which hid the 
canyon paralleling White Bird Creek. It was up this west-side canyon 
that the Nez Perce peace embassy was dispatched. Not satisfied with 
the outlook, Yellow Wolf signified that we should go to the other, 
the more northern, Cemetery Butte, only a few rods away. The 



Chellooyeen, later known as Phillip Evans, was wounded on the White Bird battle- 
field while grappling with a soldier. Photograph taken in 193-2. 



From the two Cemetery Buttes an excellent view of the White Bird battlefield is to 
be had. Note solitary tree at left of picture and compare with panoramic view 

on next page. 

' - *.&$ 

**** , 

v ', ' ' 'u 4 '** 

%a ., . ' 

,.,..> A' V ,%,J 

4 * - .. ^ . # ^y $ ,JWg 


Still closer view of highest point of battlefield (G in panoramic views) . Legend 

declares the Nez Perces manned this ridge. The soldiers, however, failed to advance 

so far south, and the Nez Perces had no occasion to use this ridge for 

strategic purposes. 

^''/ i ' r ""-' V,'- / 1 ; - ; , ** r ''^ : ^^, '*'^^T !>! ' JvV*!;^ 


On the low rock -crowned hutte in the foreground (F in preceding views), the 

volunteers tried to stem the flanking movement of the Nez Perces. Their attempt 

failed and from here the retreat became a rout of panic. 


transfer was not accomplished without difficulty. The smooth, 
rounded knoll, coated with dead midsummer range grass, rendered 
the climb most laborious for the once strong warrior, now weakened 
by a life of hardships and penury and by old age. After a few 
moments of rest on the summit, Yellow "Wolf called attention to the 
largest, loaf -shaped butte in the distance. The fires of other days 
lit his restless eyes, as with outstretched arm he resumed his story: 

Back of that largest butte, near fifty warriors were 
waiting. From around its southern point I saw a tall 
warrior, wearing a commander's sash, ride out on a fine, 
cream-colored horse. All knew that easy rider, Chief 
Ollokot. Slowly not hurriedly as if reconnoitering, 
he loped northward to midway the butte. Just then, at 
that time, that moment, broke the Qoh! Qob! of a 
raven. Ollokot turned back and disappeared where we 
first saw him. The warning came from an Indian lying 
close on top of the butte. It reached across to where we 
were watching. It told, "Soldiers close approaching!" 

From the north echoed a rifle report, and right away a 
white man on a white horse came riding swiftly south. 
He crossed that bench-flat along the foot of the rock- 
line crowning the ridge. He did not look like a soldier. 
A big white hat, he was dressed more like a citizen. When 
he came closer, we knew him. Yes, he had the big-four 
hat [sombrero]. A big hat! It was Chapman, called by 
the whites a squaw man! Having an Indian wife was 
why we had been friends. He and my uncle, Old Yellow 
Wolf, had lived in the same house, just as brothers. Now 
he was first enemy we see. Changed, and trying to kill 
each other. It was he who fired the first shot we had just 
heard. Fired on our peace party. 

The chief's peace offer was not respected. 

About twenty soldiers 1 charging after Chapman were 

^^The "soldiers" consisted both of regulars under Captain Perry and of an 
uncertain number of volunteers. Yellow Wolf and other warriors interviewed 



not firing. When Chapman got closer, he fired across at 
us. Then the soldiers began shooting. That was how the 
battle started. Chapman made first two shots. 

The three men with me now began shooting. A long 
distance! I, with only bow and arrows, could do noth- 
ing. 2 The soldier bugler rode close to the brink of that 
rounded cliff, north edge of the gorge. 

Twelve other warriors joined us. One, an old man, 
Otstotpoo [Fire Body], made a good shot and killed the 
bugler, 3 When the bugler fell from his horse, Chapman 
rode swiftly out from there. His soldiers went with him. 
We did not try to stop them. 

We ran to our horses. Mounting, we rode at swift gal- 
lop up that draw you see, leading north. The low, broad 
ridge on our left hid us from the soldiers. We came out 
on higher, more level ground which we cannot see from 
here. It was there the real battle was fought. 

Three days later we motored to where Yellow Wolf and his war 
mates had rushed to join in the defeat of Captain Perry's numerically 
superior and far better armed force. Selecting his spot of observa- 
tion, Yellow Wolf cast a rapid glance south to the rock-crowned 
ridge already mentioned, at the northern foot of which the Nez 
Perce peace embassy of six had been fired upon by "Ad" I. Chapman, 
captain of the volunteers. It has been shown that it was along the 
eastern base of the rocks topping this ridge that Captain Chapman, 

seldom made any distinction between the two. Captain Perry reported that there 
were eight volunteers at this skirmish. (Brady, op cit., p. 114.) General Howard 
in his official report specified that Perry was "assisted "by eleven volunteers from 
Mount Idaho." ("Report of the General of the Army," in Report of the Secretary 
of War: Messages and Documents, Vol. I, 1877. N. B.: Subsequent citations from 
Howard's annual report will be given under abridged caption, "Report of the 
General of the Army," with date thereof. Field dispatches, however, will be from 
a different edition of the same report, with different pagination.) A recent 
historian gives the number of volunteers with Perry as fifty. (G. W. Fuller, 
History of the Pacific Northwest, p. 226.) 

a The hitherto undisputed claim that the Nez Perces were well armed at the 
outbreak of the war must now give way to actual facts. Several warriors, among 
them Yellow Wolf, went into the White Bird Canyon fight armed only with bows 
and arrows, while many others carried muzzle-loaders, mostly of the musket type. 
Tipyahlanah Elassanin (Roaring or Thundering Eagle) had such a gun, but in 
the hurry and excitement he left the ramrod behind in camp. 

* Trumpeter John Jones, First Cavalry "Johnnie Jonesy," as fondly dubbed by 
his comrades. 



leading his company and some regulars, had disappeared, and it was 
there that Trumpeter John Jones, First Cavalry, was the first man 
to fall. Seemingly content with his survey in that direction, Yellow 
Wolf turned to the northwest and stood for some minutes in silent 
reverie. It was easy to imagine that he visioned the stirring scene 
there enacted half a century before. His story was now resumed. 

When our party rushed to where we now stand, every- 
thing could be seen. We were on the soldiers' left flank. 
Their right flank was in that low saddle ground over 
there, where our peace party had been fired upon by 

The warriors charging up the west canyon struck that 
flank hard. Hanging on the side of their horses where not 
seen, they gave the soldiers a storm of bullets. Warriors 
dismounted, and from hiding dropped soldiers from their 
saddles. 4 

No wild horses were in this battle, as you say claimed in 
white man's history. Every horse carried a rider. In all 
there were not as many as seventy Indians in that fight. 

In the meantime, our smaller party, sixteen in number, 
attacked the enemy's left flank. It was just like two 
bulldogs meeting. Those soldiers did not hold their posi- 
tion ten minutes. Some soldiers [citizen volunteers] on 
that low, rock-topped butte you see ahead there, were 
quickly on the run. Then the entire enemy force 5 gave 

* Among the daring horsemen were three who wore coats of the same pattern 
made of red woolen blankets owned by Chief Yellow Bull. Of this trio, known as 
the "Three Red Coats,*' Wahlitits and Sarpsis Ilppilp win be remembered as two of 
the young men who started hostilities on the Salmon by the murder of Devine. 
They, together with Strong Eagle, the third Red Coat, have been praised by Two 
Moons and other warriors for their danger-challenging ability to fight as a unit 
in the thick of the fray. 

5 In regard to the number of participants in this battle, the numerical superiority 
attributed to the Nez Perces is fictional. For instance, a recent historian gives their 
strength as "over 300 Indian warriors." (Brosnan, History of Idaho, 1935, p. 206.) 
In actuality they were outnumbered two to one. For against Captain Perry's com- 
mand, consisting of troops F and H, First Cavalry, totaling ninety-one enlisted 
men with their accompaniment of commissioned officers and civilian auxiliaries, 
the Indians threw fewer than seventy warriors, according to Yellow Wolf. This 
is corroborated by Chief Joseph, who in his Own Story says: "We numbered in 
that battle sixty men/* These figures have further been substantiated by surviving 



We nearly headed them off. We mixed them up. I 
did some bow shooting. Two of my arrows struck sol- 
diers only five steps away one in the shoulder, the other 
in the breast. We did not stop to fight the wounded. 
We chased hard after the others. 

Wanting to bring out some latent phases of this first battle of 
the war, I asked Yellow Wolf, while he was relating the quick defeat 
of the soldiers, if either side had occupied the rock-crowned ridge 
where Captain Chapman was first seen, to which he replied: 

When Chapman and soldiers ran away, no more sol- 
diers got that far south. No Indians were on that butte. 

Asked if he thought the soldiers might have won had they 
gained possession of that butte since it commanded the entire field 
he explained: 

Had the soldiers gained that far south and divided 
their army at north end of the butte, one division fight- 
ing on west side, the other division taking that small, 
rocky butte off northeast there, they could have put up 
a stronger fight. But the soldiers could not do that. They 
were stopped too quick. Had they gone on that high 
butte, we could have starved them for water. Fighting 
makes bad thirst. The wounded die of thirst. 

About a mile from the main battleground, five soldiers 
dismounted and took shelter among rocks. I did not 
know. I had not seen them go in there. 'As I drew near 
and dismounted, I heard a voice somebody calling, 
"Heinmot Hihhih! Get to the rock! You will be shot!" 

I saw and became mad. I ran to strike one soldier with 

warriors who participated in the battle. Incidentally, the Nez Perce forces were 
reduced by the fact that many of them lay in camp at the time, drunk on whisky 
that had been brought in by a small band of raiders. 

Lieutenant Paraell speaks of "White Bird with about seventy warriors" being 
frustrated in a "flanking" movement by a "few well directed vollies" from Captain 
Perry's men. (Brady, op. cit., p. 107.) Chief White Bird, however, was not even 
on the battlefield, let alone leading such a force as described. 

For the Army's description of this defeat, see Appendix I, this chapter. 



my bow. I leaped and struck him as he put a cartridge 
to his gun. I grabbed the gun and shoved hard. The sol- 
dier went over backward, but he was not hurt. I 
wrenched the gun from him, and at same time a war- 
rior back of me killed him. That was the Nez Perce way 
of war. 

I now jumped down a bank where was another soldier. 
About a seven-foot jump. My feet slipped, and I slid 
in front of him. He was on one knee, pointing his rifle. 
The bullet passed over my shoulder. I grabbed the barrel 
of his gun. "While we wrestled, a Nez Perce fired from 
the bank, and the soldier fell dead. I had the gun, and 
I took the belt of ammunition. 

I was partly winded. I glanced around. A soldier was 
pointing his rifle at me. In that I saw danger. I jumped 
and ran, springing from side to side. I did not look back. 
Before the soldier got sights on me, a warrior threw a 
rock. It struck the soldier above the ear and killed him. 

Farther on, we came upon two white men, dismount- 
ed. They hardly slowed us. They did not last any time. 

Keeping after the runaway soldiers, we made a stop 
to fight seven or eight who had dismounted. Their horses 
were played out. They were in a ravine where grew 
thornbushes. Those soldiers put up a fight. 

I saw Moositsa [Salish for Four Blankets], about my 
age, riding on opposite side of the soldiers. He had no 
gun. Was not fighting. He rode too close. Someone 
called, "Moositsa! Dangerous there!" 

Just then a soldier fired. Moositsa fell off his horse, but 
was only slightly hurt. The bullet cut across his thigh, 
a light wound. It did not lay him up. He went through 
the war, to the last battle, and was among those exiled 


to Eeikish Pah [Hot Place; i.e., Indian Territory], where 
he died. 

Those seven or eight soldiers in the ravine were wiped 
out. 6 

We chased the remaining soldiers. Fought them run- 
ning for several miles. "We drove them back across the 
mountain, down to near the town they came from 
[Mount Idaho]. Then some of the chiefs commanded, 
"Let the soldiers go! We have done them enough! No 
Indian killed! " 

The warriors have to mind what the chiefs say, so all 
stopped. Not one Indian killed! But three wounded. 7 
Moositsa's hurt was small. Chellooyeen [Bow and Arrow 
Case; afterwards known as Phillip Evans] was shot 
through the right side while wresting a gun from a sol- 
dier. Auskehwush was shot in the belly when he reached 
for a gun held by a wounded soldier. That soldier played 
as dead. Auskehwush's mother sang medicine songs over 
him, and he recovered. 

About eleven soldiers escaped from where I last saw 
them retreating. 

8 In describing the retreat from the White Bird, W. B. Parnell, who was a 
lieutenant in Captain Perry's command, says, in part: "The Indians dared not 
approach too closely, yet at one time they were near enough for my last pistol 
cartridge to hit one of them in the thigh." (Brady, op. cit., p. 105.) It would be 
easy to imagine that onlooker Moositsa was the recipient of Lieutenant Paraell's 
last shot, except that Parnell could hardly have been among the seven or eight 
doomed troopers hemmed within the thorn-thicket ravine, none of whom escaped. 
The incident of which Parnell speaks must have been farther towards the mountain 
summit; but his "last pistol cartridge" was wasted. No thigh or other part of 
Indian anatomy was touched by it. 

T In Indian accounts there is a slight discrepancy as to the number of their 
wounded in the White Bird fight. Yellow Wolf and Raven Spy say there were 
three, while Phillip Evans and Phillip Williams (Lahpeealoot) make the number 
but two. The difference hinges on Moositsa. Williams says: 

"I heard announcement made by a warrior after the fight, as he rode about our 
camp, 'Auskehwush and Chellooyeen are wounded P Moositsa, two others, and myself, 
none of us having guns, rode to where the seven soldiers were ambushed. We were 
warned by the warriors not to go to a certain spot, as dangerous. Make a good 
target for soldier bullets. But Moositsa, whose horse did not keep even with ours, 
disregarded the warning. When he was a few rods from us, he was shot at by the 
soldiers. The bullet must have passed close to his head, for he fell backwards and 
struck his wrist on a sharp rock. Blood flowed, and the cut was thought to be 
a gun wound. But when close examined, it showed differently. I saw not any 
wound on his thigh. Besides the two I have mentioned, I do not know any one 
else being gun-wounded in that battle." 

(Phillip Williams died at his home near Kamiah, Idaho, December 2, 1938.) 



"We returned to the main battlefield. There we counted 
thirty-three dead soldiers. We did no scalping. "We did 
not strip them naked. This may be in white man's his- 
tory, but it is not true. We did not hurt the dead. Only 
let them lie, 8 

I heard that one hundred soldiers and twelve of Gen- 
eral Howard's Christian Indians fought in the battle. 
Those Nez Perces were fighting against their own people. 
Three of them were captured. They begged not to be 
killed. They cried, holding up both hands. One man 
said, "Do not kill them. We will take them before the 
chiefs. Whatever they say will be done to them." 

The chiefs held council just below our village. 9 They 
took pity on the three Indian prisoners and said, "These 
three Christian Indians! Poor fellows! They are crying 
about what they are doing to us. Let them go home." 

The three were told, "If you help the soldiers again, if 
we catch you again, we will whip you! We will take hazel 
switches and beat you good!" 10 

Then the chiefs said, "Bring all guns you take from 
the soldiers." 

The guns were brought, and one man appointed to 
count them. He counted and reported, "Sixty-three 

* The charge, so often made, that the Nez Perces scalped and mutilated the dead 
on the White Bird field has no foundation in truth. A typical example of this 
accusation is the following : 

"On arrival at the White Bird Canyon it was found that although more than 
a week had elapsed, the dead was still unburied and that disagreeable task was 
performed by the volunteers. The squaws had badly mutilated the bodies, as were 
their custom, making the duty a most gruesome one to perform.** ("The Nez 
Perce Campaign," MS. by Eugene T. Wilson, first lieutenant with Captain Edward 
McConville's volunteers. The MS. is on file with Washington State Historical 

In e re*ply to an inquiry on the subject, Colonel C. E. S. Wood, who, as a lieutenant 
in the Twenty-first Infantry and a member of General Howard's staff, helped bury 
the dead, states that he saw no evidence of either mutilation or scalping. The 
fact that often the hair loosens and slips on an unburied corpse, leaving the 
cranium smooth and bare, might have suggested, he adds, the scalping story. 
Colonel Wood also states that the dead were not stripped. 

8 This council site, as located by Yellow Wolf when on the grounds in 1930, was 
just within the corporate limits of the village of White Bird, on the side toward 
the battlefield along U. S. Highway 95. 

10 See Appendix n, this chapter. 



There were not so many pistols, and not much account 
taken of them. They were picked up mostly by women. 
I took one, a six-shot, off a dead soldier. 

We stayed two suns at Lahmotta camp near the battle- 
field. It was at Lahmotta that Pahkatos Owyeen [Five 
Wounds], Wahchumyus [Rainbow], and a few other 
buffalo hunters joined us. They were just from Mon- 
tana. Buffalo hunters were the best warriors, bravest 

Then we moved to south side of Salmon River, crossing 
at Horseshoe Bend. You have asked me how we crossed 
the Salmon and other deep, swift streams with our fami- 
lies and goods. I will tell you all, how done. Owning that 
country, the Nez Perces knew all such streams. Crossed 
them often without difficulty. They understood to 

At this crossing was only one canoe. But we had 
plenty of buffalo robes. With them we made hide boats. 
In making such boat, the hide, hair side up, was spread 
flat on the ground. Across the hide were laid green 
willow or other limber poles about the thickness 
of your thumb. The hide and poles were bent up and 
lashed to other bent poles forming a long circled rim. 
This rim was on outside. That was all. 11 Such boats car- 
ried big loads, and children and old people rode on top of 
the packs. Everything tepee covers, cooking pots, pans, 
blankets all were ferried in these boats. No paddles 
used. Boats were hauled by ponies guided by men. Two, 
maybe three or four, ponies to a boat. Two men swam 
at the sides to steady it. 

Yellow Wolf was not questioned on the subject, subsequent inquiry of 
several of the warriors, and of the older women who did all the tanning, disclosed 
that the regular dressed buffalo robes were used for these boats. Rawhide and 
hides tanned as domestic buckskin, being permeable by water, could not have been 



In a strange country Indians might have trouble cross- 
ing bad streams. We knew, and we had no trouble with 
water during the war. 

You asked if we were trying to go to Imnaha and 
Wallowa country. When we crossed the Salmon we had 
no intention of going to either of those places. The chiefs 
planned to cross the Salmon only. If soldiers followed, 
we would cross back and go to the Clearwater. Just to 
get soldiers out of way, did we cross the Salmon. 

All the people, old people, children, everybody, crossed 
the Salmon, except thirty warriors. I was one of the 
thirty. We turned back to Tepahlewam to scout the 
country, to watch for soldiers. 

One evening we were riding along in the dark. Our 
leader, Teeweawea, stopped suddenly. He pointed to- 
wards the White Bird trail. There we saw lights moving, 
as if carried by men. Must be soldiers! 

Kosooyeen [Going Alone] 12 and I were sent to spy. 
Whatever we learned we must carry to the chiefs across 
the Salmon. We rode away in the darkness, in the direc- 
tion where the lights had been seen. We could see noth- 
ing. But soon we heard a gun report up the mountain 
trail. We went that way to see who made the shot. 

Sure enough! Soldiers traveling the trail to Lahmotta. 

We crossed the mountain by another way, and hurried 
toward the Salmon. It was morning when we reached the 
river about two miles below mouth of White Bird Creek. 

13 This intrepid young man's prewar name was Wewass Pahkalatkeikt (Five 
Sun-rayed Bile). It is contended by some Nez Perces that the proper spelling is 
Kosooyoom, but since Yellow Wolf and other contemporaries pronounced the name 
as first spelled, that form will be adhered to. Kosooyeen was reputed by his 
compatriots a brave warrior and adroit scout. A fine-looking young man, he 
resembled in many respects Chief Ollokot; both were general favorites with the 
people. He belonged to Chief Hahtalekin's Paloos, but was more often with Chief 
Joseph's band, because of his sister's marriage to one of its members. At the 
last battle Kosooyeen escaped to join Sitting Bull, but, returning with other 
refugees, he was arrested at Pendleton, Oregon, and banished to Indian Territory. 
He died on the Nez Perce Reservation in the early thirties. The writer knew him 
only as Luke Andrews. 



On the opposite side of the river was a boat belonging to a 
Chinaman. Kosooyeen had a good swimming horse, so 
he crossed and brought the boat. I got in with Kosooyeen 
and towed my horse with a rope. Landing, we went up 
the river a few miles to a butte overlooking the Nez 
Perce camp, pitched near Deer Creek. 

From the butte we waved a blanket, "Soldiers com- 

Of course, guards were out on the hills, and the camp 
was not much excited. The next sun, scouts brought 
word, "Soldiers on both sides of the White Bird and 
Skookum Chuck." 13 

This was true. But it was another sun before they 
came in sight of our camp. They came over the moun- 
tain, opposite side of the river a great string of soldiers. 
Some thought there must be a thousand cavalry, walk- 
ing soldiers, and big guns on wheels. 14 With them were 
a few Indians, General Howard's Christians. Chief Law- 
yer, Chief Timothy, Chief Jason, Chief Levi, and other 
headmen of the Upper Nez Perces had sold our homes. 
Sold our country which they did not own. This stayed 
in our minds, and now their followers were helping 
soldiers take all from us. 

18 General Howard in "Report of the General of the Army/' 1877, p. 120, describes 
the approach of the military: 

"The 25th [June] I moved my command by two routes to Jackson's ranch, some 
4 miles from the head of White Bird Canon. The 26th with my whole force I made 
a reconnaissance into the canon and beyond Captain Ferry's battle-field. 

"Captain Page, with some twenty volunteers from "Walla Walla, that had joined 
me at Lapwai, moved along the crest of the mountain-ridge on the right of White 
Bird Canon, till he came in sight of the country beyond the Salmon/* 

u General Howard reports that at this stage he had "in all an effective force of 
400 men." ("Keport of the General of the Army," 1877, p. 120.) This force, at 
a liberal accounting, outnumbered by more than three to one the Nez Perce fighting 
strength. According to Eugene T. Wilson, there were "about 400 regulars and 
100 volunteers," the latter taking the advance after crossing the Salmon. (MS., 
"The Nez Perce Campaign.") 


General Howard in his official report says, "The Indians turn the 
left flank of the command, and with more than double Perry's num- 
bers force him to retire from his position and return fighting all 
the way to Grangeville [Mount Idaho]. His losses are 33 enlisted 
men and one commissioned officer, Lieutenant Theller, killed." ("Re- 
port of the General of the Army," 1877, p. 120.) 

The same author, later: "Perry and Trimble seemed to be to- 
gether for the moment. Their left flank was suddenly turned. Two 
of the citizens at the Butte were wounded; then their companions 
gave way and began to fly. Some of the cavalrymen, too, had already 
taken the trail to the rear, at a run." (Howard, Nez Perce Joseph, 
p. 116.) 

Still later, the same authority says: "At this decisive juncture of a 
fierce battle Perry saw that the Indians had at least three to one 
against him, and that both his flanks were turned." (Howard, My 
Life and Experiences among Our Hostile Indians, p. 285.) 


Two of the captured "Christian Indians," Joe Albert and Robinson 
Minthon, subsequently joined Chief Joseph's band. At the battle of 
the Clearwater, hearing of the death of his father, the only warrior 
killed in the Cottonwood fighting, Albert, who had accompanied the 
troops to this point, deserted to the Nez Perces. In his mounted dash 
across the field, his uniform drew the fire of the warriors and he was 
wounded, A bullet passed through his thigh, which obliged him "to 
ride on one leg" in the retreat over the Lolo Trail. Another version 
has it that he was wounded by the soldiers, who, divining his inten- 
tion, fired upon him. 

Minthon did not remain long with the war party. He left it at 
Nahush [Fishtrap] the Clearwater crossing at Kamiah, and re- 
turned to Lapwai. Later he took an allotment on the Umatilla Reser- 
vation, Oregon, where he died in 1926. The warriors regarded him as 
a deserter from both sides. 

The third scout captured, Yuwishakaikt, states in his testimony 
establishing his services as a scout, that he was at the White Bird 
fight, was captured by Joseph and held two days, was freed, and in 
returning to Fort Lapwai, "rode a horse to death." ("Claims of the 
Nez Perce Indians," House Document No. 552, pp. 93-100; found 
also in Report of the Secretary of the Interior, 1900.) 



Of the Nez Perce scouts -who accompanied Captain Perry's com- 
mand into White Bird Canyon, General Howard says: "The Indian 
scouts were for the most part unarmed, and fortunately were not 
taken down into the dangerous part of the White Bird Canyon." 
(Nez Perce Joseph, p. 122.) 


His Own Story 


Annihilation of Rains' s Scouting Party 

For the narration of the events of July 3, our party took up a position 
one mile from the mouth of White Bird Canyon, Having thoroughly 
scanned the mountain slope, Yellow Wolf waved his hand toward 
the heights to the north, and spoke with grave earnestness: 

T TP THERE the soldiers appeared on top of the 
LJ mountain. The families, the entire camp, had 
crossed the Salmon at Horseshoe Bend. They were 
camped on Deer Creek. This stream joins the Salmon 
about two miles above here. Our scouts had kept close 
watch on movements of the soldiers. From our hiding 
place across the river we were watching. The cavalry 
came first, strung from top of mountain to more than 
halfway to the river. As they came closer, we rode out 
from buttes and ridges, out from canyons and gulches. 
Forming, we galloped down the slopes toward the 
Salmon, yelling as we charged. Some enemies were so 
near we heard orders given. 

James Reuben, 1 one of General Howard's Christian 
Nez Perce scouts, called to us, "You cowardly people! 
come over here. We will have it a war!" 

Lakochets Kunnin [Rattle on Blanket] shook his rifle 
at him and yelled, C You call us cowards when we fight 
for our homes, our women, our children! You are the 
coward! You sit on side of Government, strong with 
soldiers! Come over. We will scalp you!" 

1 James Reuben, Jr., was the son of the James Reuben who later succeeded Chief 



Reuben made no answer. Another man called to him, 
"Cross the Salmon yourself! You are the fellows starting 
this war! Come on if you want to! You are ready 
mounted for riding the water! Do not be scared like a 
woman! You are growing fat, eating Government food!" 

Chapman was there to interpret to soldiers what was 
said. When the warriors made that answer, the cavalry 
showed mad. 2 They fired at us across the river. Then we 
saw one ridge behind the cavalry covered with walking 
soldiers. We saw big guns on wagons, hurrying down. 
We dashed about on horses, playing war, doing a little 
shooting. We wasted only a few cartridges, and let the 
soldiers do most of the shooting. Their bullets did not 
hurt us. The chiefs now ordered, "We will give them this 
road. Do not bother them. Let them come across the 
Salmon. We do not have to cross to them. We are not 
after them. They are after us. If they come to our side, 
we can fight them if we want." 

The women could not sleep when soldiers were so near, 
so we moved camp high into the mountains. Up to the 
country of the pottoosway, the medicine tree. Its 
branches are good for perfuming tepee homes. It keeps 
bugs [moths] from furs and robes. 

But the warriors remained behind, hiding among 
ridges, waiting for soldiers to cross. Waited until the 

2 Of this scene, General Howard says, in part: "They were shouting back and 
forth. We could hear the voices of Indians giving their orders. While we were 
preparing a ferry, by collecting boats and crossing a cable, the Indians suddenly 
started from the hill-tops and ravines, and rushed towards our position. Paige 
[Captain of the Walla Walla volunteers] and I were sitting near the right of our 
line, on the bluff overlooking the White Bird. . . . Paige became more and more 
resolute, shouting loudly to the approaching foe, firing his rifle rapidly, while 
other rifles were coming. Some shots appeared to whistle among them as they 
drew nigh the river. Away they turned, and down the river they ran, like wild 
cattle just loose from the corral; and in fifteen minutes they had disappeared. 
Surely all was ready for them had they swam the swift river. It was partly a 
ruse, and intended to make me think that they designed to turn my flank at Kocky 
Canyon crossing, and partly the usual bravado of Indians, who, by their wildness 
of movement and defiant yelling, hope to inspire surprise and terror." (Howard, 
Nez Perce Joseph, pp. 147-48.) 



sun went down, and the darkness came. Then we all 
went home, to the camp. 

Came the morning, and when some of us scouted back 
we saw the soldiers still on north side of the Salmon. They 
were making to cross. A white man had a boat there 
not a regular ferry. We had not bothered that boat. 
General Howard could use it if he wanted to. We waited 
half a sun for the soldiers, but none crossed. Then the 
chiefs said, "We will move out of their way." 

Scouts remained to watch, and the families packed up 
and moved about twenty miles down the Salmon and 
camped. 3 In the afternoon we had seen two boats drift- 
ing down the Salmon. They may have broken loose, or 
maybe set adrift by General Howard after using them 
for crossing. 

Next morning scouts brought word the soldiers were 
on our side of the Salmon. This was good. We imme- 
diately crossed back to the north side. We used the skin 
boats to carry our packs, the old people, and the children, 
as when we crossed before. 

To the inquiry as to why this hasty return, came the reply: 

It was from first so fixed. We intended turning back 
if soldiers followed us south. That was how the war was 
planned to be carried out. The chiefs wanted the 
soldiers out of the way. The two great warriors, Pahka- 
tos Owyeen and Wahchumyus, counseled that trick. 
Counseled it while in Lahtnotta camp. 

Leaving the Salmon, we moved to Aipadass, a flat 

8 The wonderful mobility of the Nez Perces is attested in this march of twenty 
miles through a mountainous, broken country, encumbered as they were with 
their families and their herd of between 2,500 and 3,500 horses; they later re- 
crossed the raging, flood-swollen Salmon all this within thirty-eight hours, and 
before the enemy had discovered the direction of their flight. 



where the women dig kous [an edible root]. All desert 
land. The ridge there is called Tepahlewam. It is not far 
from Split Rocks, and that is why the same name. We 
camped there that night. 4 

"When morning came, I heard a gun report and the 
echo of a song. 5 I saw a warrior on a horse and Indians 
all about him. I took my gun and hurried there to see 
what enemy had been killed, Seeyakoon Ilppilp [Red Spy 
or Red Scout], the mounted warrior, 6 said, "Some white 
men almost kill me. I suppose scouts two white men 
coming this way. They didn't look like soldiers/' 

The white men had seen him, Seeyakoon told us, as he 
was watching on guard away off from camp. They made 
for him. Seeyakoon jumped from his horse and dodged 
behind rocks. They fired at him. When they did that, 
he ran toward them, keeping hid by rock' protection. He 
was not afraid! He killed one of them, shot him through 
the head. The other man got away. 7 

That was what I heard Seeyakoon telling, and he 

4 The camp was at Craigs Ferry, known to the Indians as "Luke's Place." It was 
here that General Howard, lacking a boat to pursue the Nez Perces, constructed 
"from the timbers of a cabin near the ferry" a raft which was lost when 
launched upon the torrential current. ("Report of the General of the Army," 1877, 
p. 121.) The cabin was doubtless that of Pahka Yatwekm, called Luke Billy, as in 
his claim for pay as scout for General Howard he testified that his house, "a. lot 
of apples," and about four hundred head of horses and cattle were lost, and that 
white men took his place and kept it, all an entire loss. ("Claims of the Nez Perce 
Indians,*' p. 109.) 

6 The "echo of a song," as it is described by Yellow Wolf, was a peculiarly 
intoned chant, signifying that the enemy had been met and one of them ' killed. 
This chant was the "scalp halloo" characteristically used among Eastern tribes 
by victorious returning war parties. 

6 Seeyakoon is reputed to have killed single-handed two of General Howard's 
scouts on the breaks of Salmon River, and later, one of the General's Indian scouts 
(John Levi) near Weippe, at the Lolo ambuscade. Seeyakoon was killed during 
the last battle of the war, but not ^n the battle. With others he had sought refuge 
in a near-by Assiniboin village, but was treacherously killed by them after sur- 
rendering his rifle. Other refugee Nez Perces were also killed at the same time, 
the Assiniboins acting under orders from Colonel Nelson A. Miles. 

7 This pair was Charles Blewett and William Foster, the latter a half blood. 
Blewett was the one killed by Red Scout, while Foster escaped, carrying the news 
to Captain Whipple. There has been considerable romancing about Blewett, to 
the effect that his body was never found, and even that he was not killed. However, 
Colonel McConville of the volunteers gave the following report to Governor Mason 
Brayman, of Idaho Territory: 

"Aug. 22. Went on Scout with Capt. Winters Company 'E' 1st Cav. found the 



added, "I tell you, furthermore, soldiers are now close 
upon us." 

"Yes," answered the chiefs. "What are the soldiers 
doing? Moving or camping?" 

"Camping," said Seeyakoon. "Soldiers are ready for 
the battle. They have embankments and dugout hol- 
lows fixed up. All ready for war." 8 

Some said, "Let us go see," and they went. 

After they had gone, I followed alone. In a draw I 
saw my friends gathered together. When I got where 
I could see them better, they made a left swerve. I looked 
in this new direction, and saw a blanket waving, a signal 
of war. I ran my horse that way and, reaching a small 
hump, I saw about twelve soldiers. 9 When they saw the 
warriors they became scared and tried to escape. 

My friends went after those soldiers, and I overtook 
them. There was shooting, and one soldier fell from his 
horse. Then another went down a little way from us. 
Soon a third fell; and another and another, not far apart, 
went to the ground. Some distance on, a man maybe 
wounded got down from his horse and was killed. I 
will not hide anything. That part of the fight was not 
long. Those six soldiers did not get up. 

The remaining six soldiers ran their horses up a hill, 
maybe one half mile. Then they jumped off and lay 
among some rocks, and began shooting. 

body of Bluett, returned to Camp and buried the body at Cottonwood House dose 
to the grave of the Gallant Lieut Raines who lost his life while going to rescue 
Bluett, Distance traveled twenty (20) miles." (Fifteenth, Biennial Report of the 
State Historical Society of Idaho, 1936, p. 72.) 

8 Captain Whipple hastily constructed rifle pits on an eminence near the Norton 
Tavern "Cottonwood House" on the old stage road. (Howard, Nez Perce Joseph, 
pp. 152-53.) 

8 This was Second Lieutenant S. M. Kains's iH-f ated scouting party, sent out 
by Captain Whipple on July 5 in an endeavor to locate the Indians. Foster acted 
as guide for the lieutenant and his "ten picked men," riding blithely to swift 
destruction. For a more detailed description of this tragedy, see Brady, North- 
western Fights and Fighters, pp. 123-24. 



We proceeded to an impressive group of large isolated boulders 
(on land now owned by Vincent Duman) which has become recog- 
nized locally as the scene of the wiping out of Rains's detachment. 
John L. Rooke, postmaster of Cottonwood, informed the writer that 
as a boy he played about this boulder formation, and that he saw 
bullet marks in many places. It would seem that such scars should 
still be discernible, yet the most searching examination by our party 
failed to reveal the slightest trace whatever. Yellow Wolf animatedly 
resumed his narrative: 

Not true that this place is where the soldiers stopped. 
They did not pass by here, but struck more to the right. 10 
We were not crowding them very close, and had they 
kept on they might have gained the timber, although 
Indian scouts were ahead, watching to catch mail carriers 
[Army couriers] going either way. The soldiers may 
have seen those scouts. It was Tipyahlanah Kapskaps 
[Strong Eagle] they began shooting at. He was what 
you call a decoy, guarding the road. He let the soldiers 
see him behind a small dead pine. 

Those soldiers were trapped. They had no show. When 
they began shooting, it was just like their calling, "Come 
on! Come on! Come on!" A calling to death. 

Our leader, Pahkatos, threw up his hand, and we 
stopped. The soldiers were shooting at Tipyahlanah in 
the canyon on their left. We dropped back out of sight, 
then circled the hill to the right. A little beyond the 
soldiers we dismounted. Some men stayed with the 
horses, and the others crawled toward the soldiers. I was 
one of the crawlers. The soldiers were still firing, but 
not at us. They did not see us, and we got close to them. 
I will not hide it. Those soldiers were killed! 

10 But bullet scars were plainly visible on a group of rocks about 160 rods farther 
north, on land owned by Carl Schurra, where Yellow Wolf declared the last stand 
actually was made. The alignment of the bullet scars substantiated Yellow Wolf's 
designation of the direction from which the attack was launched. As this group 
of rocks was obviously inadequate for protection, the mounts of the troopers must 
have been exhausted, else they would not have halted here. 




One of the outstanding Nez Perce warriors. He was prominent in the White Bird 
engagement and participated in subsequent engagements. 


Above : the group of boulders which legend declares was the site of the doomed 

troopers' last stand. 

Below: another rock formation near by, identified by Yellow Wolf as the true 
spot where Lieutenant Eains and his companions were killed. 


I was soon there with the others. One soldier was 
sitting up, leaning against a rock. He was shot in the 
forehead, almost level with the eyes. He had two other 
shots, through the breast, and he still lived. He washed 
his face with his own blood, and looked around. He made 
a clucking noise, a sound like that of a chicken. The 
Indians, hearing, wondered! They asked one another, 
"What about him? He must be more like us!" 

From that day the warriors who are left remember 
what they saw and heard. All stood around that soldier, 
many of them saying, "He can not live. His body is too 
bad hurt." 

But one man thought differently and he said, "He can 
live if he wants to!" 11 

"He is too many times shot," answered one, "Head 
too bad shot!" 

Then one oldlike man named Dookiyoon [Smoker], 
who had a gun with flint to set the powder afire, spoke, 
"We shall not leave him like that. He will be too long 

With those words, Smoker raised his gun and shot 
the soldier in the breast. The bullet knocked him over, 
but he raised up again. He sat there, still calling to his 
Power. Calling with that same clucking. He washed his 
face again with his running blood, and still looked 

The warriors, all silent, said nothing. Then some of 
them taunted Smoker about his gun, that it was not 
strong. Smoker reloaded and shot once more, but it did 
no good! The soldier still sat against the rock, still 
making the clucking of the hen. 

11 Deeply impressed by the wounded trooper's vitality, the warriors applied their 
own philosophical deductions, and attributed to him a "Power" corresponding to 
their own belief and practice. 



While the warriors stood silent and wondering, one 
man stepped forward and knocked the soldier over with 
his kopluts [war club]. Others spoke to save him, but 
our leader said to us, "We have no doctor. Poor fellow! 
He is suffering. We better put him out of trouble." 

When our leader made this talk, we all became one- 
minded. I then helped with my kopluts. 

We started for where the other soldiers were camped, 
the camp that Seeyakoon had told us about. But the 
chiefs commanded the warriors to stop. "Let's not go 
farther," they said. "This sun we have killed thirteen 
enemies, and none of us hurt. It is good to quit now." 

The warriors stopped, for they had to listen to the 
chief's orders. We all went back to camp. We wanted 
to see where Seeyakoon killed the white man that morn- 
ing, so we went that way. I saw him lying where he fell 
some hours before, shot in the head. He was killed in a 
draw west of where we killed the last six soldiers in the 
rocks. I do not know the distance, but it was not far. 
There was timber scattered in and about the draw. 

I heard, too, that Pahkatos Owyeen [Five Wounds] 
killed a white man, thought to be a scout, that same 
morning. 12 All white people were spies for the soldiers. 
Five Wounds was with us in that running fight with the 
soldiers. He was our leader. 

12 While it is not known that Pahkatos did kill a white man the morning of that 
momentous day, the reputed finding of a human skeleton in that region long after- 
wards indicates that such may have been the case. 


His Own Story 


Fight with Captain Randall's Volunteers and Its Sequel 

At the outbreak of hostilities all the white women and children from 
the surrounding countryside had gathered at the little town of 
Mount Idaho for protection. Only twenty miles away, at Cotton- 
wood, General Howard had left a few soldiers to maintain a supply 
base, but these troops were practically under a state of siege, for the 
Nez Perces had scouts or raiding parties watching all the roads. 
Thinking it advisable to join forces with the troops, D, B. Randall 
organized a company of sixteen armed volunteers, and on the morn- 
ing of July 5 they rode out of Mount Idaho toward Cottonwood. 
When about two miles from their destination the volunteers unex- 
pectedly encountered the Indians. 

In this skirmish Yellow Wolf had his first experience of actual 
sharpshooting. Grim exultation may be sensed in his later depiction 
of the besieging of the volunteers on "Mount Misery," and of the 
recapture of the Indian ponies stolen some days previously from Chief 
Looking Glass's village when it was ruthlessly destroyed and plun- 
dered by the whites. 

\ "X 7E HELD our old camp, going nowhere. But 
VV next sun the families moved to a spring, Piswah 
Ilppilp Pah [Place of Red Rock]* While this was doing, 
a small bunch of young warriors went separately. No old 
men among us. Coming to the wagon road, we looked 
in direction of the ferry [Craigs Ferry]. We saw them 
about twenty armed horsemen. Not uniformed soldiers, 
but more like citizens. 1 Not riding a close company, but 
strung out along the road. When they saw us, they 
bunched and came a little faster. Came straight towards 
us! Seemed to me they cared not for us. Drawing closer, 

1 Captain D. B. Randall's volunteers, numbering seventeen men in aH. 



they appeared mail carriers [couriers]. We now knew 
there was to be a fight. 

Then those men made for us. We were lined across 
their path. As they charged we gave way let them go 
through. We then struck after them, racing to flank 
both sides. The shooting became faster, and soon those 
whites stopped and dismounted. The fighting was from 
about half -past ten o'clock to middle of afternoon. We 
did not know why the soldiers in their dugout rifle pits 
did not come to the fighting. We could see them where 
they were on higher ground. They seemed a little afraid. 

One young white man among those fighting us was 
brave. I did not recognize him, but some said he had been 
raised right among the Indians that his father was 
Cooks, or Crooks; 2 I do not know. But his father was a 
friend to us. Had always been our friend. 

When we were mixing close, this boy killed the horse 
of Weesculatat. Then this same young man shot 
Weesculatat in the leg below the knee. He then shot him 
through the breast and again a little lower down. But the 
bullets did not go through his body. 

Scattered, the warriors were on every side of the ene- 
mies. Plenty of shooting. We gradually crowded in on 
them. Some of those whites must have been killed. 8 The 
sun was halfway down the afternoon sky when, looking 
back, we saw soldiers coming, their big gun in the lead. 

The chiefs now called out, "Let us quit for a while!" 

Hearing that order, we left the fighting, taking 

3 The writer was told by an old-timer that in one of the earlier fights a son of one 
Crooks, a noted friend of the Nez Perces, was recognized by them, and one of the 
warriors was heard to call out, "You, Charley Crooks! Take your father's horses 
and go home!" It is not certain that the elder Crooks referred to is the J. M. 
Crooks, of Grangeville, spoken of by General Howard as riding to Joseph's camp 
at Rocky Canyon and asking the Indians if they intended to fight: "They told 
Crooks that they would not fight the settlers provided they would not help the 
soldiers." (Howard, Nez Perce Joseph, p. 103.) 

Those killed were Captain D. B. Randall and Volunteer Ben F. Evans; two 
others were wounded. See Appendix I, this chapter, for full eyewitness account. 



Weesculatat with us. Three times wounded at beginning 
of fight, he lived until about dark. "With two bad 
wounds, he could not hold his life. Not old, about middle- 
aged, he was first warrior killed. We lost a good fighter. 4 

Next morning, a funeral was held for Weesculatat. It 
was not what you call a Christian funeral. He was 
wrapped in blankets with some weapons and a few 
objects sacred to him. He was buried as Piswah Uppilp, 
and his grave was hidden from finding. 

After we buried Weesculatat, we packed up and 
moved to the Clearwater River bottom, a place called 
Peeta Auiiwa. An Indian, an old man named Peeta, 
lived there. That was how the place was named. It is 
not far from present Kooskia, on the same river. We 
camped above where town of Stites has been built. 

That same sun we got in camp nearly one hundred of 
us went down to Kamiah. We made James Lawyer, son 
of old Chief Lawyer, who was leader in helping steal our 
lands and homes, ferry us across the Clearwater. Had he 
refused, we would have cut his boat loose. We were going 
to a Dreamer religious meeting at the camp of some 
Lapwai Indians just returned from Montana. Those 
people who wanted to join us went up to our camp 

Chief Looking Glass joined us here. All his band came 
at same time. My mother was with them. She was with 
Looking Glass's family when soldiers attacked his village. 
His tepee was burned, but my mother escaped with the 
others. She remembered to save my rifle. Took it apart 

* Weesculatat was the first Nez Perce to fall in actual conflict, in contrast to 
the forty-six men already lost, up to July 5, on the opposite side. And, ironically, 
he fell at the hands of one whom, as the son of a well-proved friend, the warriors 
had refrained from shooting:. 

Sewattis Hihhih (White Cloud), a half brother of Two Moons and a man of 
small stature hut a brave warrior, was wounded in the right thigh during the 
Cottonwood fighting, presumably in the Randall skirmish. After the Big Hole 
battle he took tne name, Husis Owyeen (Wounded Head) . 



and hid it in her pack f rom being seen by whites. I was 
glad to see my rifle. My parents had bought it for me 
with one good horse. I now had my own sixteen-shot rifle 
for rest of the war. 

My mother could use the gun against soldiers if they 
bothered her. She could ride any wild horse and shoot 
straight. She could shoot the buffalo and was not afraid 
of the grizzly bear. 

My stepfather, Tommimo, three-quarters French, was 
not at Chief Looking Glass's camp at time of attack. 
Herding horses near Lewiston, he was arrested and jailed 
to keep him from joining in the war. He belonged to 
Chief Joseph's band. 

Wanting to obtain the Nez Perce version of the status of Chief 
Looking Glass at the outbreak of hostilities, I interposed, "General 
Howard states that some of Looking Glass's men had joined Chief 
Joseph's band before this time, either before you crossed the Salmon 
or while you were south of that river." To this came the quick 

Not true! None of Chief Looking Glass's people joined 
us until coming to our camp on Clearwaten Looking 
Glass refused joining with the other five chiefs. He 
moved to his own camp to get away from war. The 
soldiers drove him to us when they attacked his village. 
Those Indians then had gardens planted on the Clear- 
water. 5 

At this time we heard of soldiers on the hill called 

5 General Howard in his official report wrote that Looking Glass had "furnished 
at least twenty warriors" to the hostiles before the attack by Captain Whipple. 
("Report of the General of the Army/' 1877, p. 121.) Four years later he wrote in 
his Nez Perce Joseph (pp. 148-49) that "forty bucks" had left Looking Glass to 
join Joseph. All this while both Joseph and Howard were south of the Salmon! 
There can be no doubt but that the peaceably inclined Chief Looking Glass was 
driven to war. He possessed a place of long standing at the forks of the Clearwater. 
Peopeo Tholekt, warrior of Looking Glass's band, declared to the writer: "Gardens 
had been plowed, planted, and everything growing when we were attacked. We had 
plenty for our living. One man had ten milk cows, and others had cows and beef 
cattle. All, everything, was lost. Only about twenty men and boys some boys 
small had guns ; part of them shotguns and light rifles. None of us wanted war ; 
nobody expected war." 



Possossona [Water Passing], near Kamiah. We went 
back over the Ml to where they were. It was to be a 
battle about the middle of afternoon. We surrounded 
those soldiers. There was fighting until sundown. Near 
dusk we quit and returned home to camp. 

It must have been about nine o'clock that same night 
when somebody said, "Let us go where the soldiers herd 
their horses!" A small bunch of us went. When the 
soldier-herders heard us coming, they ran away. Left 
their horses. We took them all, except a few we did not 
want. They were no good for us. 

We had those soldiers surrounded, and they kept 
firing. 6 We skirmished awhile. It was just like fireworks 
cutting the darkness. It was about middle of night when 
our leader called out, "Let's quit! We have got horses." 

We then went home, taking the horses with us. T They 
were horses stolen by soldiers. Good horses taken from 
Looking Glass when soldiers came and attacked his vil- 
lage. We returned them to warriors who claimed them. 

Next morning some of us I do not know how many 
went back to where the soldiers were. We would make 
another war. We found no officers, nobody there. We 
thought we must have killed or wounded some of them. 

e T>g hill on which the soldiers were encamped was that which was afterwards 
designated as Mount Misery. Eugene T. Wilson, participant, gives the following 
account of the events of that night in his MS., "The Nez Perce Campaign" : 

"In the meantime, Joseph discovered the proximity of the volunteers and, 
as a fight was imminent, Colonel McConville ordered his men to take a position 
upon the summit of a hill, afterwards designated as ^Mount Misery/ and to 
begin digging rifle pits at once, using their knives and tin cups for the purpose. 
"With such implements, it was slow work, but by nightfall the hill top was 
fairly well fortified. The men did not have to wait long for an attack. By 
ten o'clock the fight was on and the bullets flying thick and fast. Time after 
time the Indians charged the hill, only to be met with a fire so deadly as to 
compell them to fall back. The night was so dark that it was only by the 
flashes from the guns that the savages could be seen, and firing on both sides 
was mostly at random. Just before dawn, the enemy withdrew, and a sigh of 
relief went up from within the rifle pits. None of the volunteers received serious 
injury, the location of the improvised forts being such that the fire of the 
Indians was too high to do much damage. Empty cartridge shells were found 
next morning within fifteen feet of some of the rifle pits, and when an account 
of stock was taken, it was discovered that forty-five head of horses were 
7 See Appendix IT, this chapter. 



They had lain close in dugout trenches, but we had crept 
within a few steps of them. No time did we see any of 
them. We had fired at close range, and they knew where 
to find us. But they would not raise up to shoot. No- 
body there now to fight. We returned to camp. We 
stayed here three days. 

# * # 


The following description was written by Second Lieutenant 
Luther Wilmot, participant, for the late W. D. Vincent, of Spokane, 
Washington, through whose courtesy it is here published for the 
first time. 


When Randall returned from Salmon River, the volunteers elected 
him captain, Jim Curley, first lieutenant, Lew Wilmot, second lieu- 
tenant, Frank Fenn, sergeant. There had been rumors of the Indians 
having recrossed the Salmon River and that they were making their 
way to join Looking Glass at the mouth of the South Fork of the 

It was early in the morning Capt. Randall said to me, "Lew, will 
you take ten men and go over toward Lawyer's Canyon on the old 
plowed trail and see if you can locate the Indians on their trail?" 
I called for the men and it took us probably one hour to get every- 
thing ready and we started. We had gone not one quarter of a mile 
when we met Dan Crooks. He said, "Lew, where are you boys 
going?" I told him my orders. 

Will said, "The Indians are camped on Craig's Mountain, and day 
before yesterday they killed Lieutenant Brains, Billy Foster, Blewett, 
and ten soldiers at the foot of the mountain above Cottonwood, and 
yesterday they came down and fired a good many shots at the 

I turned around and with Dan and the boys we rode back to the 
hotel and reported to Capt. Randall, to whom Dan told what he had 
told us. Capt. Randall then called for twenty-five volunteers to go 
to the assistance of the soldiers at Cottonwood. Seventeen was all 
that could go. 

We got ready as quick as we could. One young man, Ben Evans, 



came to me and said, "I would like to go, but I have no horse." I 
had been told by a friend who owned one of the best horses on the 
prairie that when I wanted to go out for a scouting I could 
have his horse. I told Ben he could have my horse, and I would 
go get the horse. 

We started. Quite a number of the boys regarded the trip more 
as a picnic than the serious job it really was. I know I felt very 
serious about it. I was leaving my wife and a two-day-old baby, 
three other girls, and an aged father. I had been in a number of 
Indian skirmishes, and I was afraid we would meet the Indians in 
full force, and I thought there was quite a number of our boys 
who I knew were not good shots and as they had never been under 
fire, the chances were decidedly in favor of the Indians, who up to 
this time had cleaned up every command that had been sent against 

It was ten miles to the Cottonwood House. We traveled as fast 
as we dared to not to exhaust our horses. When we had got about two 
thirds of the distance we could see large bodies of horsemen and many 
thousands of stock being driven down the mountain, and they were 
Indians, I was certain. Some one had a small field glass. This I took 
and got down from my horse and I could plainly see the Indians. 
I could see the soldiers around their rifle pits. I rode up to the Com- 
pany and told Randall and asked him to call a halt, which was done 
for a few minutes. I tried all of my persuasive powers to get the 
Company to retreat. This we could have done without any loss. 
But they said no. "Well, then," said I, "let's go on to the little 
mound near by and let the Indians attack us." This mound we could 
have held, as it commanded the prairie. 

This they refused to do. Randall said, "Lew, if you want to go 
back, you can go. I and the rest of the boys have started to Cotton- 
wood and we are going." I said, "Randall, you know I am not going 
back unless the rest go. You know we have nearly all the arms of the 
settlers and you can see we have the Indians between us and Cotton- 
wood to fight, and they outnumber us ten to one." "Well," said he, 
"if you are afraid, you can get behind me." I said, "Randall, this is 
too serious a situation to be made a joke of and I can stand it if the 
rest can. But the best thing we can do is to go back before it is too 
late." For a short distance we rode in silence. The Indians had run 
their stock, women, and children off toward Rocky Canyon. All of 
the warriors were drawn up in a line extending one half mile long, 
directly across our road. 

I then broke the silence by asking Randall what he proposed to do. 



He said, "We are going to charge the Indians." "Well," said I, "you 
want to have some understanding what we are to do in case of some- 
one's being shot or some horse being killed from under one of the 
boys." So we agreed that if anyone was killed or his horse killed, 
someone must stop and pick him up. 

The Indians quietly awaited us. Some were horseback, some were 
standing by their horses. I saw a few without guns. Soon as they 
saw we intended to charge them they broke and ran. When we passed 
through their lines they fell in behind and chased us. Frank Vansise's 
horse was killed. Henry Johnson (who lives at Opportunity) stopped 
and took him up behind him. Randall, Jim Curley, Abe Bartlett, 
Frank Fenn, Charlie Johnson, and Ben Evans were a little to my left. 
I had stopped a couple of times to shoot and was a short distance from 
Randall. When his horse was shot he hollered, "Boys, don't run, 
let's fight 'em." I kept on, as Randall and the other boys mentioned 
were all down in a small depression. I stopped on a little mound 
which commanded a view of the surrounding country. I jumped 
from my horse and began shooting at every Indian in sight. 

When the boys came up I asked them to get off. Soon D. H. 
Houser rode up and said he was wounded. I told Geo. Riggins to go 
with Houser to a fence not very far away. Eph. Brunker asked if he 
could not go on to the Cottonwood House for assistance and Jim 
Buchanan wanted to go with him. "Cash" Day I sent down to cover 
our left flank. That left on the little mound Charley Case, Peter 
Bemen, Henry Johnson, and myself. From the time Randall's horse 
was shot there was but six of us to defend our position. We held 
the position unaided from eleven A. M. to nearly three P. M., not- 
withstanding that our two men had gone to the soldiers at the rifle 
pits, who had been eyewitnesses to the fight. Perry, the commander, 
said a number of times we were all killed and he did not want to 
expose his men. Finally he gave permission for Captain Winters to 
take his company of cavalry and go to our assistance. It was after 
they had got about halfway to us that Geo. Shearer came on ahead, 
and at that time there was no possible danger, except from a long- 
range shot. 

The Indians had drawn off about one and one-half miles and occa- 
sionally fired a shot. Shearer rode up and I told him to get off. He 
said, "There is no danger now. Get the boys and let's go to the 
Cottonwood House." Just then I saw smoke from an Indian rifle 
and soon a bullet passed through the withers of the horse and 
Shearer dismounted. Capt. Winters sent his bugler down and asked 
me to get our boys and we would ^return to the Cottonwood House. 



I got up and called to the boy laying in the depression. When 
Curley said, "Ben Evans is killed and Randall is wounded," I ran 
down to where Randall was lying by his dead horse. He said, "Lew, 
I am mortally wounded. I want some water." I hollered to the 
soldiers and one brought his canteen. I lifted Randall's head and he 
said, "Tell my wife " I gave him a drink. This he threw up, and 
died without finishing what he wanted to say. 

Soon several civilians came down, and Capt. Winters became im- 
patient and wanted us to go. I told Pete Ready to take my horse and 
with his go to Cottonwood House and get a wagon and come and 
we would take our dead and wounded. Capt. Winters said we could 
carry the wounded on horseback and the dead could be removed 
later. I told him I would wait until Ready returned, so Capt. Winters 
waited. It was after four P. M. when we got to the Cottonwood 
House. Hunter and the volunteers came in after dark, where he met 
a hearty welcome from the officers, and we were glad he came. It 
was arranged for him to accompany us across the prairie. Perry was 
court-martialed but was exonerated on the ground that to have come 
to our assistance would have endangered his base of supplies. After 
the charge by Capt. Randall we were between Perry's supplies and 
the Indians. 

Lieutenant Wilmot is reputed to have fired seventy-six shots in 
this battle. The volunteers "estimated the number of killed and 
wounded at 25 to 30 of the Indians." (Fifteenth Biennial Report, 
State Historical Society of Idaho, p. 57.) 

Consult Howard, Nez Perce Joseph, pp. 152-54, for an exculpa- 
tory resume" of this affair; .also Brady, Northwestern Fights and 
lighters, p. 125, where Colonel Perry in seven sentences disposes of 
the charges for which he was court-martialed with a memory so de- 
fective that the "casualties" suffered by the "home guards," as he 
dubbed the volunteers, could not be recalled. 


Colonel McConville in his report to Governor Brayman claims 
that during the siege of "Fort Misery" a body of Indians, in attempt- 
ing to flank a company of volunteer re-enforcements, was frustrated 
by Lieutenant Wilmot's "firing and killing the leading Indian and 
shooting the horse of the second." (Fifteenth Biennial Report, State 
Historical Society of Idaho, pp. 66-67,) The truth is that the only 
Indian hurt during the entire attack was Paktilek (an uninterpreted 
Salish name) , whose right-hand forefinger was shot off while he was 



leading away two of the horses captured from the beleaguered vol- 
unteers. A heavy ring saved his index finger and possibly others. 
Paktilek was an uncle of Camille Williams. The latter writes: 

"My uncle has often told me about his adventure. He did not 
know that his finger was gone until several minutes afterwards. He 
was told by others of his hurt, but he answered, 'No.' Finally he 
felt his horse's mane all wet with blood, and then knew. 

"This was after the skirmish with McConville. The killing of an 
Indian, and killing the horse of another, a day after the fight, is all 
fake, as there is no known Indian that was killed near Fort Misery. 
McConville also says that the Indians kept on firing at them all day. 
This is also fake. They had been ordered not to waste ammunition; 
as the soldiers [volunteers] were in their dugouts, and only occa- 
sionally their heads sticking out. Those soldiers fired at innocent 
Indians that were looking on from a distance. My uncle, who was 
married to a niece of Chief Joseph, did not follow the warring party 
over the Lolo Trail. 

"My uncle told me also that the warriors were led in the Fort 
Misery fight by Pahkatos, Wahchumyus, and Ollokot." 


His Own Story 


Battle of the Clearwater 

The Clearwater River, flowing almost due north, lies some fifteen 
miles east of where we saw the Nez Perces on July 5 , in the preceding 
chapter. Here the Indians had gathered to await developments. 
General Howard had meanwhile lost track of his extremely mobile 
opponents. As we see in this chapter, it was only more or less by 
accident that he stumbled upon their camp. 

Our party, in revisiting the sites of the war, climbed to the 
summit of the formidable high tableland known as Battle Ridge, 
where on July 11 and 12, 1877, the battle of the Clearwater was 
fought. Yellow Wolf led the way directly to the most narrow point 
of the ridge. Here, from the brow of the canyon skirting the north 
side of the battlefield proper, we had an unobstructed view of the 
country for miles to the north, where General Howard's army first 
came in sight. With another unhurried look around, the old warrior 
resumed his story. 

IT WAS about ten o'clock in the morning, a sun or so 
after we took horses from soldiers on Possossona. 
Some boys and men were racing horses on the narrow 
strip of level land along the Clearwater below our camp. 
I was sitting on my horse watching them, when Wemas- 
tahtus called to me, "Yesterday a soldier was killed below 
here. I saw him.** 

I rode down to see the dead soldier. I found him lying 
by the trail. He had a mustache, but nothing else ap- 
peared about him to note. It was afterwards thought he 
had run away from the army. Alone, he could not de- 
fend himself. 

Just then I heard a noise at the races. I moved away a 


short distance, dismounted and sat' down on a boulder. 
I could still hear an excitement at the races. I sat there 
some time, thinking. Then I heard the boom of a gun 
report. Sounded like the shot of a big gun a distance 
away. I listened hard! It was a strange sound passing 
through the air that I now heard. 

Then came a loud explosion near the racers. That 
shell-shot was from the high mountain bluflf beyond the 
river north side of this canyon. Immediately a scout 
came riding hard down the slope from that direction. 
Waving his blanket, he called across the river, "Soldiers 
surrounding us! Soldiers surrounding us!" 

It was sure enough! I saw soldiers strung out a long 
way off; far up along the mountain's brow. 1 

I jumped on my horse and galloped to camp. I 
stripped for the battle. I got my rifle and cartridge belts, 
two of them. One I wore around my waist; the other, 
across my left shoulder and under the right arm. I always 
carried them that way. 

The chiefs called an order, "Split up! Make three 

About twenty of us young warriors joined together. 
Chief Toohoolhoolzote was our leader. The other two 
companies must stay at camp. We hastened upriver a 
short ways. We crossed and rode into the timber. We 

1 Harry Lee Bailey was in the battle of the Clearwater as second lieutenant, 
Company B, Twenty-first Infantry, and was breveted for bravery. In regard to 
the opening of the fight, Bailey wrote me under date of Jan. 29, 1934: 

"The Indian camp was passed by General Howard with only a vague idea of the 
Indians* location, and we were one or two miles beyond the camp location before 
we might say the Indians discovered us. Possibly someone at the end of our long 
column might have seen the Indian camp, or some Indian coming from it, and 
passed up the alarm. I do not know which. The gatling guns and howitzer were 
rushed to the rim of the high cliff to our left and we fired some volleys which may 
have been the real awakening of the enemy. . . . Apparently they were without any 
good outposts and were really ignorant of our so near approach.*' 

General Howard in his oflBcial report states that the Indians were discovered by 
his aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Fletcher, about twelve o'clock, and it was judged from 
their motions that they "had oust discovered our approach." It was one o'clock 
when a "howitzer and two gatling guns were firing towards the masses of Indians 
below." ("Report of the General of the Army," 1877, p. 122.) 


Not until shortly before the Clearwater battle did Yellow Wolf secure his own rifle, 
at which time his mother brought it to him secreted in her pack. 



Along the river flats the Nez Perces held their horse races. The arm of the river 

flowing at the left indicates the beginning of the canyon up which the 

Indians retreated. 



Seated: Wottolen, the famous warrior, in his old age. Standing: Many Wounds, 
his son, who served as interpreter for much of Yellow Wolf's narrative. 



Behind this rampart of rocks the aged men and other noncombatant Nez Perces 
were safe from flying bullets. 


Showing mouth of canyon up which the Nez Perces withdrew and proceeded to 

Kamiah, Idaho. 


hurried up the wooded slope of a canyon, leading to south 
side of this battlefield. 

I was ahead as scout* and reached the ridge-brow first. 
Looking north, I saw many soldiers. They were getting 
ready for the war. I saw a big bunch of them heading 
down toward our camp across the river. Pointing, I 
called to the others, "Can you not see the soldiers? What 
they are doing? Let us go closer and do shooting!" 

We ran our horses across the flat, down into this can- 
yon and up the other side a ways. We tied them in some 
small, scattered timber, and hurried afoot up to the flats. 

We had to stop those soldiers going to our camp! 

A few other warriors joined us, making about twenty- 
four to fight General Howard's army. 

You see a white house far away to the left yonder? It 
is in foreground of trees. That black spot to its right is a 
thornbush clump. We were left of that thicket only a 
few steps. 

I heard our chief call, ''Come, boys! We will make 
a rifle pit." 

At that place we worked fast. Piling up stones, we 
soon had a good shelter. 

Chief Toohoolhoolzote then said, "Stay here. I am 
going up a short way." 

Holding close to earth, the chief crawled up the hill. 
He did not pass from our sight. Soon we heard a rifleshot. 
Our chief had 'killed a soldier. 

His rifle a muzzle-loader, it was a little time before 
we heard a second shot. Another soldier had been killed. 

Smoke of that last shot drew a storm of bullets. But 
they did no harm. Chief Toohoolhoolzote's Wyakin 2 was 

2 Wvakin is discussed in Appendix A, end of volume. 



We were firing whenever soldiers could be seen. Bullets 
were striking our stone fort. Chief Toohoolhoolzote 
crawled back to us. The firing was making our horses 
uneasy. They might break loose. Toohoolhoolzote gave 
command that four go hold them, the rest to stay and 
beat back the soldiers. None of us were hit, but we 
saw some of our bullets found marks. 

Soldiers were strung out a long ways and advancing. 
Some were close to us. Indians and soldiers fighting 
almost together. We could not count the soldiers. There 
must have been hundreds. Bullets came thicker and 

Our chief looked around. It was early afternoon. A 
long while before dark would come. He saw we were 
hemmed in on three sides and gave orders that we go. 
He was last to leave. We crawled a ways, then ran. We 
hurried, for bullets were singing like bees. My heart beat 
fast. Thinking only for escape, I ran away from my 
waiting horse. Nobody stopped for horses. All were 
running to cross the ridge about where we are now 
standing. I, too, kept on for a little ways. 

Then I came to myself. I missed my horse, and I grew 
hot with mad! I made myself brave! I turned and ran 
for my horse many soldiers shooting at me. 3 Why, I 
did not care what I ran into! I got my horse and led him 
away. The boys caring for the horses had escaped on 
their own. The enemies got all the others. 

With soldiers still shooting, I jumped on my horse and 
galloped down the hill. Crossing the canyon, I came to 
left of here. As I drew up to higher ground, bullets fell 
about me. I could see dust spurt up where they struck 

8 The panic of the young warrior was dispelled by his sudden realization of the 
disgrace that would he his were he to lose his horse under such circumstances. The 
record he had established on the White Bird field had to he maintained. Death 
would be preferable to the loss of those laurels. 



the earth. I whipped my horse for all in him. A swift 
horse, light black [brown] in color. He began slowing 
down, breathing hard. I whipped the more, and finally 
we passed over the saddle ridge just west of here. Out of 
sight of the soldiers, my horse could take a good rest. 

While making that ride, I thought it my last day. My 
feelings were that I was not much excited. Before that 
time, my uncle, Old Yellow Wolf, had said to me, "If 
you go to war and get shot, do not cry!" 

I remembered that instruction. It helped me to be 
brave. If we die in battle, it is good. It is good, dying for 
your rights, for your country. 

When I reached timber south of this saddle ridge, I 
dismounted and tied my horse. I came where some older 
men had built the big "Smoking Pit." Sheltered from 
all danger, I saw lots of people there smoking. Most of 
them old, they were not fighting. I passed them. I did 
not like tobacco or any kind of smoking. I was afraid to 
smell it. I ran eastward to where I heard shooting. 

I came where four men were fighting. They were my 
uncle, Old Yellow Wolf, Otstotpoo, Howwallits [Mean 
Man], and Tomyunmene. The three older men's faces 
were bleeding. Rock chips from flying bullets were 
doing the work. 

These warriors had rifle pits among some boulders. 
Not too big, the rocks, but about right size for conceal- 
ment. I dropped down behind one of them. 4 We were 

* A few rods north of a boulder barricade in the head of a small "draw" at the 
uttermost southeastern angle of the Nez Perce defense where fought the Three 
Red Coats and others comprising the flower of White Bird's and Toohoolhoolzote*s 
bands was located the rifle pit of Yellow Wolf and his fighting mates named in 
his narrative. These two pits, according to Colonel Bailey, were in the most 
exposed section of patriot defense. Yellow Wolf pointed out the site of his 
barricade, but not a boulder of its construction remained. All had been removed 
to make place for the plow. The pit had been formed of a single row of boulders 
placed in elliptical fashion, with no excavation whatever. The stones were of a 
size that one man could readily carry from the lower ground some rods to the 
south. The occupants fought lying prone. 



now five, all fighting in thick smoke. Like smoke rolling 
up from burning woods. My uncle was shot in the head 
and lay dead for a while. But returning to life, 5 he helped 
on with the fight. 

This fighting was with the cavalry only. Later, foot 
soldiers came. I did not know which officer was in charge, 
unless General Howard. I watched for him, but, did not 
see him. 6 

Most shooting was now from the whites. I heard the 
cannon guns and was scared. I lay close to the ground. 
I did not know to shoot or not. I heard my uncle say, "I 
am thirsty! I will crawl to the koos [water] and drink." 

He did so, and came only part way back. I saw him 
crawling slowly, rolling a boulder ahead. Hidden behind 
that not large boulder, he advanced for closer shooting 
at the soldiers. He passed from my sight. I heard him 
shoot a few times. 

Wishing to check statements from other warriors, I interrupted 
here and asked if it were true that the soldiers were unable to de- 
termine from what point the Indian bullets came, even in open 
ground. Yellow Wolf replied, "The little boulder is good for hiding 
behind. Our rifle pit was already made." I could see he meant that 
the outcropping rocks served the same purpose as a dugout rifle pit. 

I lay flat, seeing nothing, hearing only the battle. I did 
not know all had left when the soldiers' firing was the 
hottest. Other warriors all gone, and still I lay there. 

One of the brave men, looking back, saw me and 
thought, "Why is he lying there? Must be wounded! 9> 

Sounds came to my left ear. A voice speaking, "Who 
are you, lying flat? Soldiers are close coming!" 

6 An unconscious state is always spoken of by the Indians as "death," "being 
dead." The recovery from such a state they commonly describe as "returning 
to life," "getting: life again." 

"Yellow "Wolf's watching was in vain. General Howard and his staff were 
in a barricade composed of pack saddles, baggage packs, provision cases, and 
general camp dunnage. It was situated on the east side of the battlefield, where 
all were well beyond the reach of Nez Perce bullets. 



I looked to my left. I saw nobody. I did not get up. I 
heard the same voice again, and a whip struck me. What 
I heard was, "Heinmot Hihhih! Are you wounded? Why 
you not shooting? Kill some soldiers. They will kill 
you if you do not defend yourself!" 

When I heard that voice, I was convinced what to do. 
I raised up. It was Wottolen [Hair Combed Over Eyes] 
who had called me, who had struck me. He was one of 
the commanders. Soldiers, armed, were about thirty 
steps from me. I grew mad to see them so close. Struck 
with the whip, I showed myself brave. I now was not 
afraid of death. From between the boulder rocks, I 
pushed my rifle. I fought like a man, firing five or six 
shots. Just then I heard heavy breathing. Otstotpoo had 
come back to me. Hearing the firing, he knew I had been 
left alone. 

He said to me, "Dear son, we are going to die right 
here! Do not shoot the common soldier. Shoot the 
commander ! 5> 

I understood. I looked for an officer. He was just back 
of his men. All were crouching. I fired, and that officer 
went down. Another one seemed taking his place, I 
dropped him. Those officers did not get up. 7 No one 
now to drive the common soldiers, they fell back in re- 
treat. Those two officers killed, common soldiers retreat- 
ing, the warriors returned to their rifle pits. 

The soldiers were being whipped in another part of the 
field. 8 A supply train coming from the south was nearly 

7 General Howard's official report shows no wounds nor fatalities among Ms 
commissioned officers, but Sergeant James A. Workman and Corporal Charles 
Marquard, both of Company A, Fourth Artillery, are listed as killed; and 
Corporal Charles Carlin and Musician John G. Hineman, of Company I, 
Twenty-first Infantry, are listed as "died enroute from the field to the hospital." 
("Report of the General of the Army," 1877, pp. 132-33.) It was not unusual 
for artillerymen to take the place of infantrymen where battery guns were not 

8 Toohoolhoolzote's valorous twenty-four alone stood the brunt of the first 
hour and a halfs battle. Their only loss was the twenty head of horses which 



captured by warriors of the other two bodies who came 
up from the camp. They almost took that train. 9 Of 
course I was not in the fighting there. Not all three 
companies of warriors could leave camp until they saw 
the soldiers being held on the mountain. 

Came complete sundown. The firing almost quit. 
With darkness was heard only occasional shots. The five 
chiefs gave order, "Warriors, do no more fighting to- 

Half the warriors went down to camp. Women, chil- 
dren, and old people to be guarded. Horses must not be 
lost. The others of us, we did not run from the soldiers. 
Only did what the chiefs commanded. 

I had only moccasins and breechcloth. But with the 
darkness, I did not leave. About midnight came stronger 
cold. It was then I left my pit. The big Smoking Lodge 
where no-fighters stayed, smoking and counseling, safe 
from bullets, was many rods southwest. I found several 
men lying there. I did not stop. I saw one man lying 
where horses were tied. I asked to sleep with him on 
account of the cold. He answered "Yes." Then I knew 
my own brother [cousin], my aunt's son, Teminisiki 
[No Heart]. As I lay down with him, I heard a woman 
speaking, "May I stay with you? I have no blanket. I 
get cold!" 

My brother replied, "Come on! Get here between us! 
You will keep warm." 

The woman did as invited. I remembered instructions 
from old people. In wartime man cannot sleep with 
woman. Might get killed if he does. Because of this, I 

they had been obliged to leave behind. After it seemed demonstrated that 
General Howard could be held to the region where he was first discovered, the 
other two bodies of warriors, no longer needed to guard the families, went 
out upon the field and engaged in the battle as here described by Yellow Wolf. 
ft See Appendix I, this chapter. 



got up and went back to my rifle pit. No shirt. No 
leggings. Only breechcloth and moccasins. Just as 
stripped for war. I stayed there until daylight. Stayed 
until the fighting began again. 

My brother Teminisiki was killed in our next hard 
battle, the Big Hole! 10 

* * * 


Of this attack on his supply train, General Howard says: 

"... four hundred men held a line of two miles and a half 
in extent. My main pack train had passed by this position. A 
small train with a few supplies was on the road nearer us. 

"The Indian flankers, by their rapid movement struck the 
rear of the small train, killed two of the packers and disabled a 
couple of mules loaded with howitzer ammunition. The prompt 
fire from Perry's and Whipple's cavalry saved the ammunition 
from capture. I had previously sent an orderly to conduct the 
train within my lines; the fierce onset of the Indians requiring 
greater haste, Lieutenant Wilkinson, aide-de-camp, being sent, 
brought in the trains under cover of Rodney's [artillery] and 
Trimble's [cavalry] companies." ("Report of the General of the 
Army," 1877, p. 122. See also Howard, Nez Perce Joseph, 
p. 159.) 

That General Howard's supply train was more nearly captured 
than is revealed by his official report, is disclosed by the following 
from interpreter Williams. 

"Some years ago I was told by one of General Howard's Nez 
Perce scouts named Mathews, that the soldiers were driven back 
onto the General's lines or headquarters in a swarm, and that he 
heard an Indian calling at the top of his voice that he had the 
cannon in his possession, but was alone. Of course he lost it 
when General Howard charged his men back again. 

"This Indian was supposed to have been one of the four that 
were killed in that battle; for no warrior was ever heard to speak 

10 One other fatality during the course of the Nez Perces* flight was attributed 
to the violation of the taboo referred to by Yellow Wolf. See Appendix A, 
"Wyakin Powers," end of volume, for further discussion of this subject. 



about taking the big gun. Red Thunder was the only Indian 
killed near that part of the field. 

"A man who said that his name was Adkinson, and that he 
had served in General Howard's army, told me it was a single 
Indian who killed the head packer and captured two mules 
loaded with ammunition, but could not hold them lone-handed. 
The Indians were scattered not many at any one place at that 


His Own Story 


Indian Withdrawal from- the Clearwater 

In the battle of the Clearwater, General Howard, for the only time, 
came within striking distance of the Nez Perce force. With the 
General, it was a great achievement, and he prefaces his description 
of that event with a grandiose elaboration, where he says: 

"Joseph, in consequence of his success at "White Bird, his eluding 
me at the Salmon, his massacre of Rains, and his escape from Whip- 
pie, and his skirmishes with the volunteers, as well as his aiding 
Looking Glass in avoiding arrest, had come to boast of his prowess, 
so that he was rather inclined to try his hand with me." (Nez Perce 
Joseph, p. 155.) 

Again, General Howard in his summary of this battle, states: 

"We had, on our side, put into the engagement, for these two 
days, four hundred fighting men. The Indians, under Chief Joseph, 
over three hundred warriors; also a great number of women, who 
assisted in providing spare horses and ammunition as did our 
'packers' and horse holders, thus forming for them a substantial 
reserve." (Nez Perce Joseph, p. 166.) 

These Army accounts seem pretentious when compared with the 
Indian version of this battle, which some of them denominated as a 

"N TEXT morning began the fighting again. In first 
JLN| skirmishing it seemed soldiers had drawn a little 
nearer. Had made barricades during the night. Four of 
us were fighting from behind our boulder shelter. The 
same warriors, same barricade as the night before. Shots 
from the soldiers were not scattering. Their volleys be- 
came one continued roar. I paid attention to myself 
only, what I was doing. I thought nothing about the 
warriors with me. 



I got a bullet here in my left arm, near the wrist. 1 
When it struck me, I rolled on the ground, it hurt so. 
But I said nothing! Then I was hit just under my left 
eye. It was a piece of bullet or a chip from the boulder. 
Blood ran down my face. That eye was dimmed for the 
rest of my life. 

The battle continued some hours. It must have been 
about ten o'clock, and soldier bullets still rained. Of 
course there was some cannon shooting. The soldiers be- 
gan leaving their shelters, coming towards us. 

Suddenly I heard my partner, Wottolen, call to me: 
"Nobody here! We will quit!" 

I raised partly up. No Indians could be seen fighting. 
All had left the battle! 2 Wottolen and myself were hold- 
ing back the troops. 

I now understood why soldiers crowded so. No war- 
riors opposing them! 

All yesterday fighting; all this morning they did not 
crowd us. But now, meeting no Indian bullets, they 
came charging bravely. 

Then I ran, again forgetting my horse. I ran back 
where he was tied in the timber edge. Mounting, I 
started down the mountainside. It was through woods, 
open places, over rocks and steep bluffs. But my horse 
never missed footing. Crossing the river and reaching 
where the now empty camp stood, I heard a woman's 
voice. That voice was one of crying. I saw her on a 

3-A bullet could easily be felt under the skin inside the left forearm, where 
it had entered without bone injury. 

2 The withdrawal of the Indians was not occasioned by fear of the soldiers, 
but rather by dissension among themselves, as Yellow Wolf later in the chapter 
intimates. In 1926, Wottolen thus described to me the situation: "The fight was 
for two half days, and then the warriors quit. They quit for a reason. There 
was a quarrel among the Nez Perces. Some kept riding back and forth from 
the fighting to the camp. That was not good. The leaders then decided to leave 
the fighting, the cowards following after. I did not know this and was left 
behind. I could hear shots from but one gun, and I hurried to see what was 
wrong. I found only Yello-w Wolf. All others gone. It was his rifle I heard. 
I called him, then thought to save myself." 



horse she could not well manage. The animal was leaping, 
pawing, wanting to go. Everybody else had gone. 

I hurried toward her, and she called, "Heinmot! I 
am troubled about my baby!" 

I saw the baby wrapped in its tekasb [cradleboard] 
lying on the ground. I reached down, picked up the 
tekash, and handed it to the woman. That mother 
laughed as she took her baby. It was the cannon shots 
bursting near that scared her horse. She could not mount 
with the little one. She could not leave it there. Riding 
fast, we soon overtook some rear Indians entering the 
canyon. We were then out of reach of cannon shots fired 
from the high mountain bluff. 

This woman with the little baby was Toma Alwawin- 
mi [possibly meaning Spring of Year, or Springtime], 
wife of Chief Joseph. Her baby girl was born at Tepahle- 
wam camp a few days before the White Bird Canyon 
battle, but it died in the hot country [Indian Territory] 
after the war. 

I did not ask why she was as I found her. Chief Joseph 
left the battlefield ahead of the retreat. Seeing it coming, 
he hurried to warn the families. He could not leave his 
wife had he known. The women were all supposed to be 
ahead. A bad time everybody busy getting away. 

Here, taking advantage of a pause in the narrative, I informed 
Yellow Wolf of General Howard's claim that in their abandoned 
camp many dead and wounded horses were found as a result of the 
cannon fire, 3 to which he replied: 

8 In his official report General Howard states: "The wounded and dead horses 
showed that our artillery had reached their camp. . . . *' (''Report of the General 
of the Army," 1877, p. 124; also Howard, Nez Perce Joseph, p. 166.) But 

Major J. C. Trimble says of the appearance of the abandoned camp : " the 

only living objects that were abandoned by them were about half a dozen 
crippled horses and one poor, aged squaw." (Brady, Northwestern Fights and 
Fighters, p. 147.) 



I am telling you all I know about the cannon fighting. 
During the battle one shell exploded west of the barri- 
caded Smoking Lodge. When I came down from the 
mountain, only two Indian men were in sight. They 
were a good distance away, riding hard to escape. 
Joseph's wife and baby only were left in camp. No dead 
horses killed by cannon shots were there. Usually at all 
camps a few lame or sick horses were left. 

This fact being amply verified by different warriors questioned, I 
continued, "General Howard states that fifteen Indians were killed 
in this battle, and eight others were found dead on your trail as a 
result of wounds received in fighting, making twenty-three in all, 
and that about forty were wounded and forty taken prisoners." 4 
There came the quick retort: 

Not true! Only four warriors killed. First was 
Wayakat [Going Across], killed instantly. Second man, 
his partner in the fight, was Yoomtis Kunnin [Grizzly 
Bear Blanket], who lived a few hours after shot. How- 
wallits, also fighting there, was slightly wounded. He 
died years later on lower Snake River. The three were 
fighting near where we are now sitting. A few trees, 
three, maybe five, stood there. 5 

* Again quoting from General Howard's official report : "I reported at the time 
15 Indians killed and a large number wounded. 

"After that 8 dead were found on their trail, of those who died from mortal 
wounds, making for this battle 23 warriors killed; and there were at least twice 
as many wounded. Twenty-three prisoners, warriors, and 17 women and children 
were subsequently secured in the pursuit. Our loss was 2 officers and 22 enlisted 
men wounded and 13 killed.'* ("Report of the General of the Army," 1877. D. 

So much for an "official report." Surviving warriors and women all declared 
that no Indian died on the retreat from the Glearwater field, and even though they 
had, their bodies would not have been left "on their trail." Chief Peopeo Tholekt, 
a warrior of the Chief Looking Glass band vehemently protested: "If General 
Howard claims dead Indian warriors were found along our trail from Clearwater, 
he tells big mistake. No one died between Clearwater .battle and Big Hole in 
Montana. General Howard himself seemed not wanting close up with live Indians 
having guns." 

On this score the late Colonel J. W. Redington wrote, alluding to the last battie: 

"Such adroit concealers of their dead were the Nez Perces, that despite the fact 
that the Indians were compelled to bury their dead within the confines of their 
beseiged camp, not one grave could be found." 

S'ee Appendix I, Chapter 8, for more about General Howard's "catch" of 
prisoners in his Clearwater campaign. 

'These trees, pine or fir, one of them rather large, formed a scattering group 
on the north slope of the canyon several rods to the east of where Yellow Wolf 



Third man killed was Heinmot Ilppilp [Red Thun- 
der]. Killed in timber edge at break of canyon, south 
side of battlefield. Many small bushes there were nearly 
cut down by soldier bullets. These three men killed and 
one wounded in earliest fighting. 

Lelooskin [Whittling] was fourth man killed. Killed 
in his rifle pit after dark. 6 His partners, Kosooyeen and 
one other [name unknown], escaped to safer rifle pits. 
Wayakat and Lelooskin were so close to the enemy lines 
when they were killed that both bodies were left. 

No Indians died on the trail from wounds. Just one 
man was bad wounded, Kipkip Owyeen [Shot in Breast] . 
Bullet went in back of shoulder and came out through 
his breast. 7 That is how he got his name. Had no good 
name before that time. Pahkatos was wounded in right 
hand. Three others were lightly wounded, two of them 
warriors. One was my uncle, Old Yellow Wolf, in the 

crossed the saddle ridge in his flight from their abandoned rifle pit. The trees 
have been felled, the stumps alone remaining. The ground here, so Yellow Wolf 
stated, was bare at the time of the battle. It is now overgrown with a tangle of 
useless brush, which necessitated quite a search before the stumps could be 
located. We added a few additional boulders to the grave of Wayakat, who was 
buried by his mother two or three days after the battle, at the foot of the tree 
where he was killed. 

8 Lelooskin was the dead warrior that Lieutenant Harry L. Bailey speaks of 
noticing when the final charge by the troops was made: 

"Warrior White Thunder or Yellow Wolf, certainly is right about the positions 
of some of the Indians' boulder rifle pits being close to our skirmish line, for the 
one which I had bombed by our Mountain Howitzer (in the night) was not more 
than thirty or forty yards from my own position during most of my fighting, 
and in it, as we made our final charge, I saw the Indian with the triangular hole 
in the forehead of whom I have written you before. 

"And it was from that pit that a shot was fired at me as I was starting back 
to join the* line, after asking my Captain by calling out in the darkness, and 
finding myself alone far in the front. That was a 'close call 1 as the soldiers would 

7 Kipkip Owyeen was wounded while "making himself a brave man/* He rode 
from the so*th towards the soldiers* battle line. Coming within easy rifle range, 
he circled widely and was returning in a slow gallop to his own lines when a 
bullet entered his back and came out through his breast. As the shot did not 
cause him to accelerate his speed, this display of fearlessness made hi a "great 

Kipkip Owyeen had been given the "power" of the buffalo bull, and immediately 
upon receiving the bullet he resorted to the Indians' greatest of wound remedies, 
cold water. Descending the mountain with a companion, he submerged TiimgAlf in 
the Clearwater for a time, bathing his wound. Then, leaving the stream on all 
fours with hands closed in imitation of hoofs, he walked about emitting the low, 
deep rumbling bellow of a challenging buffalo bull. Soon clotted blood gushed 
from the gunshot, and after his companion applied bandages, he remounted his 
horse and returned to the fight. He went through the entire retreat, recovered 
completely, and died about 1906. 



rifle pit as I have told; the other one was Elaskolatat, 
known to whites as Joe Albert. 

The oldlike man, Hawaliss [Mean Man], was hurt 
by cannon firing on camp. No other person was wound- 
ed at camp that I ever heard. 

Not one prisoner taken by soldiers in Clearwater 

One other phase of General Howard's summary of the Clearwater 
fight was in my mind, and I said, "General Howard claims that you 
were badly whipped at the Clearwater, and that to get away from 
him, you hurried across the Lolo Trail into Montana." 

The old warrior's rebuttal was fraught with fire: 

We were not whipped! We do not acknowledge being 
whipped! When counted, we had many young fellows 
who should have been in that fight. They held lots of 
counsels, while some not many were in rifle pits. 
There were big smokes in the Smoking Lodge. That is 
good, if old people alone! 

Our commanders were not scared of bullets, riot 
afraid of death. The Three Red Coats 8 wanted all the 
young men to go on horses to fight the left wing 
[cavalry] of General Howard's soldiers. Make it the last 
fight. Whichever side whipped, to be the last fight.. But 
it was not to be. Many fewer than one hundred warriors 
met the hard fighting here, as throughout the war. The 
families were camped across the river from the soldiers. 
Many of the Indians talked, "Why all this war up here? 
Our camp is not attacked! All can escape without fight- 
ing. Why die without cause?" 

We were not whipped! We held all soldiers off the 
first day and, having better rifle pits, we could still have 
held them back. Not until the last of us leaped away 

8 The Three Red Coats are described in Note 4, Chapter 3. 



did soldiers make their charge. Some tepees, robes, cloth- 
ing, and food were left. The women, not knowing the 
warriors were disagreeing, quitting the fight, had no 
time to pack the camp. Chief Joseph did not reach them 
soon enough. 

But we were not whipped! Had we been whipped, 
we could not have escaped from there with our lives. 

"We could not have stopped General Howard at 
Kamiah crossing. We were not scared at that crossing. 
We did not cross the Clearwater until next morning. 
We then waited into the third sun for General Howard 
to cross and give us war. 

He would not cross. It was then we started over the 
Lolo Trail. 

Had we been whipped we could not have passed the 
Lolo barricade. 

We could not have beaten General [Colonel] Gibbon 
at Big Hole. 

We could not have captured 2 JO good horses at Horse 

We could not have captured General Howard's pack 
mules at Camas Meadows. 

We could not have held off the new army [Colonel 
Stiirgis] at Canyon Creek. 

We could not have captured the big supplies at Mis- 
souri River Crossing. 

We could not have stood against General [Colonel] 
Miles during four days. 

No, it would not have been best to fight to the death 
at Clearwater. Standing before General Howard's sol- 
diers was not too dangerous. Nothing hard! Wottolen 
and myself alone held them back after all Indians had 
quit the fight, left the ridge! 


His Own Story 


Across the Lolo Trail and into Montana 

Following their retreat from the Clearwater battle, the Nez Perces 
on July 13 crossed over to the east bank of the Clearwater River at 
Kamiah, Idaho. For a people so badly "whipped," they showed but 
slight concern because of the close proximity of their numerically 
stronger enemy. By General Howard the opposite is conveyed: 

"They [the Nez Perces] are then immediately pursued, and 
faintly attempt to make a stand at Kamiah, on our side of the 
river, but again are driven, with loss of provisions and morale. 
. . . They are then pressed beyond the river along the Lo Lo trail, 
their fighting force having been reduced at least one third." 
("Report of the General of the Army," 1877, p. 125. See also 
Howard, Nez Perce Joseph, p. 168.) 

The stay of the Nez Perces at the crossing for the greater part of 
two days is history. That they loitered for the purpose of giving 
battle, should Howard attempt to cross to their side of the Clear- 
water, is obviously true. And it appears equally true that General 
Howard courted no such honor, even after the Nez Perce fighting 
force, as he claimed, had "been reduced at least one third." 

In this chapter Yellow "Wolf covers the period of eleven days 
(July 17-28) which were spent in following the Lolo Trail to the 
pass into Montana. He then relates how, after making the Lolo 
treaty an act unprecedented in Indian warfare with Montana 
settlers, the band passed peacefully up the Bitterroot Valley and 
finally camped at the Big Hole River, 

T TURRYING from the Clearwater battle, we left 
JL JLmany things in camp. We traveled to Kamiah, 
named for some useful plant growing there. 1 "We did 
not cross the river, but camped on its bank. 

iThe spelling of this name and its definition vary. Interpreter Many Wounds 
writes it "Kamlahpee," with the comment, "That is my spelling. It sounds like 

to mean 'Plenty Camas Roots. 1 



With coming light next morning, skin boats were 
made for the crossing. While this was doing, scouts back 
on the trail from a distant butte waved the blanket sig- 
nal: "Danger!" 

Soon a scout came running his horse and called from 
the bluff: 

"Soldiers following us! Soldiers coming fast!" 

Crossing the families to north side of the river was 
easy. While this was doing, we saw soldiers riding down 
the distant hill toward us. We found hiding and waited 
for soldiers. When they reached the riverbank, we fired 
across at them. Many soldiers jumped from their horses 
and ran to any shelter they saw. Others galloped fast 
back toward the hills. We laughed at those soldiers. We 
thought we killed one. 2 

No more fighting, a few stayed to watch. The others 
went home to camp. We remained there all day and all 
night. But the "soldiers were afraid to cross and have a 
battle. Next morning we saw General Howard dividing 
his soldiers. Some left, riding down the river. 

There was another trail. 3 

The chiefs called the command, "We will move camp! 

2 On this episode at the Kamiah crossing of the Clearwater, General Howard 
enlarges: "As Perry's and Whipple's cavalry neared the enemies* crossing and 
were passing the flank of a high bluff, which was situated just beyond the river, 
a brisk fire from Indian rifles was suddenly opened upon them. It created a great 
panic and disorder; our men jumped from their horses and ran to the fences. 
Little damage resulted, except the shame to us and a fierce delight to the foe." 
(Howard, Nez Perce Joseph, p. 167.) 

Colonel Harry L. Bailey writes (January 30, 1934) : "The soldier wounded as 
we sat about on the river bank was of the Artillery, and I was at his side almost 
at once. The wound proved a red ridge where the hair parts on top, only superficial, 
but it shocked the man considerably and caused him a lot of vomiting for a few 
minutes, and I believe he soon recovered. I had been remarking that we should seek 
some cover, when the shot made us realize that without further lessons." 

3 Of this incident, General Howard says : "There was a junction of trails beyond 
him [Joseph], fifteen or twenty miles off. Could I but get there! Perhaps I couH 
by going back a little, then down the river and across ; quick, indeed if at all, and 
secret ! . . . But their eyes were too sharp for the success of this maneuver, for I 
had not proceeded more than six miles before the Indians began to break camp, and 
to retreat, in good earnest, along the L*o Lo trail, toward Montana and the east.** 
Howard, o#. cit., pp. 168-69; also "Report of the General of the Army," 1877, 
p. 124.) 



No use staying here. They do not want to cross and fight 

Then we packed up and went. We left the soldiers 
on their side of the river and fixed camp at place called 
Weippe. 4 Here we found Indians who had not been in 
the war. They were Chief Temme Ilppilp's [Red Heart] 
band. Friendly to both sides. Next morning, coming 
daylight, one of General Howard's Nez Perce scouts 
came riding in. Before he came, some of our friends 
advised him, "You better not go over where those war- 
riors are.'* 

But he came and said to these Indians, "It will be best 
to come on your own reservation. There you will be 

"We will go/* answered most of those Indians. There 
were about twenty of them, men, women, and a few 
children. They had not joined us. Never had been in 
any of the war. Coming from Montana, they had only 
met us there. 5 Those Indians not joining with us in the 
war now bade us all good-by a farewell, that we would 
never return to our homes again! 

An old medicine man, Hatya Takonnin 6 had come to 
see his son, Heinmot Tootsikon [Speaking Thunder], 
who had joined our band to go fight the soldiers. He was 
a strong young man, and his father said to him, "I want 
you home with me. Death awaits you on the trail you 

* Pronounced by some, "Oyipee." An ancient appellation for which no definition 
could be determined. One aged tribeswoman denned it as "Unstrung Beads," the 
cord broken through accident. An ancient Nez Perce stamping ground, because of 
the plentiful camas, it was described by interpreter Hart as a "swampland with 
fir and pine growing in diamond shape where the creek comes in, must be six or 
seven miles, the diamond." It was about ten miles northeast of Kamiah, where 
the Clearwater was crossed. 

5 Chief Red Heart and his band had been absent in the buffalo country during 
the acute brewing of the war. When they learned of it upon their homeward way, 
they stopped at Weippe for the very purpose of avoiding any connection with the 
conflict. This claim has been amply verified by every warrior interviewed. 

*The English translation of this name may be termed dual in its essence: i.e., 
either "Accompanying Cyclone (or Wind),** or "Accompanied by Cyclone." It is 
a compound of Hatya, "Cyclone" or "Wind," and Takonnin, which means either 
** Accompanying*' or "Accompanied." 



are taking. I see the future. It is dark with blood! I do 
not want to know you are killed. All going will die or 
see bondage." 

Heinmot Tootsikon answered, "No! I do not care to 
return home! I want to go with my brothers and sisters. 
If I am killed, it will be all right/* 

Tears visited the old man's eyes. Then, clearing his 
eyes, he spoke again to his son, "I am willing that you go. 
It is all right for you to go help fight. But soldiers are too 

Heinmot Tootsikon went with us, and his father re- 
turned home. A good warrior, Heinmot went through 
all fights holding to his life. Captured at the last battle, 
he was sent to the Indian Territory with others. He 
died in that Eeikish Pah [Hot Place], 

We did not hurt the scout from the soldiers. He came 
friendly, as a friend to the Indians. It was all right for 
Chief Red Heart not to join with us. It was all wrong 
for General Howard to send them as prisoners to Van- 
couver. 7 They were peaceable Indians. They wanted 
no war. 

After Chief Red Heart's people were gone, we packed 
up and moved. We traveled to Siwishnimi [Mussel 
Creek], high in the mountains. We found some mus- 
sels there. When we were unpacked, one scout, Wetyet- 
tamaweyun [I Give No Orders] came and gave an- 
nouncement, "Soldiers coming! I am wounded!" 

He was shot through the upper arm. They had nearly 
killed him! Only short miss from fatal shooting. 

One of the chiefs then rode about calling orders, 

7 Unmistakably noncoxnbatants, these peaceful campers as "prisoners* served to 
augment the glories of General Howard's Clear-water victory, for they were the 
"prisoners" previously cited (Note 4, Chapter 7) in the General's official report: 
"Twenty-three prisoners, warriors, and 17 women and children were subsequently 
secured in the pursuit." ("Report of the General of the Army," 1877, p. 124.) 
For their later experiences, see Appendix E, end of volume. 



"Soldiers coming! We must move from this place! We 
will give them this road!" 

We moved camp about half mile from the road. When 
unpacked, the warriors went back to our first stop. 
Watched for soldiers all night. One of them said, "Half 
of you go back to camp." This was done. The rest of 
us stayed there. 

The seventeen scouts went back on the trail. I was 
one of them. It was a small creek we came to where we 
stopped. We heard a voice, and we heard a second voice. 
It was our language, talking about horse tracks. We 
heard, "There are fresh tracks! Tracks made this 

We watched through the brush. Just a few of them, 
and we got ready to shoot. We fired and killed one. 
They were General Howard's scouts, some of his "good 
men." They ran from us. One of the warriors lifted 
up the one we shot and saw he was not quite dead. No- 
body spoke to him, and the warrior shot him through 
the heart. 8 We recognized those Christian scouts, their 
white man's names. The one killed was John Levi. 
Abraham Brooks and Jim Reuben were wounded, but 
they escaped with others. 

For about six days, coming through the mountains 
we saw no more fighting. Scouting on our back trail, I, 
with others, saw no enemies. Seventh day one man from 
scouts ahead came riding hard to our evening camp and 
reported, "Soldiers in front of us! Building fort! They 

8 General Howard had sent Major Mason with the cavalry, some Nez Perce scouts, 
and McConville's volunteers "to pursue the hostiles for two marches," and when 
"within three miles of Oro Fino Creek, his scouts ran into the enemy's rear guard. 
Three of them were disarmed, and one wounded, and one killed. One of the enemy 
was killed and two pack-animals captured." ("Eeport of the General of the Army/' 
1877, p. 124.) 

None of the Nez Perces was either killed or wounded; nor did they lose any 
pack animals. Had they withheld their fire, this amhuscade of seventeen could 
have sadly worsted Major Mason's entire command, but as it was, neither his 
cavalry nor his volunteers ventured a forward movement after the first gunfire. 



are heading us off. In a little while we will see the 
soldiers. They know our camp!" 

There are high mountains and a narrow pass where 
the soldiers were camped. They had built a long log 
barricade across the trail. 9 That was the trail we had 
thought to travel. I saw Salish Indians at the soldiers* 
fort. They seemed quite a bunch. All had white cloths 
tied on arm and head. This, so as not to shoot each 
other. So the soldiers would know they were not Nez 
Perces. They were helping the soldiers. Always friends 
before, we now got no help from them, the Flatheads. 
No help any time. 

We camped a ways above the soldiers, at Nasook 
Nema [Salmon Creek], There was no fight. The chiefs 
met the soldiers. It was a council, a peace talk. Whatever 
was said, whatever was done, each party returned to its 
own camp. The chiefs returned, declaring, "We must 
move our camp!" 10 

Early next morning the families packed to move. We 
found a different way to go by those soldiers. While a 
few warriors climbed among rocks and fired down on 
the soldier fort, the rest of the Indians with our horse 
herds struck to the left of main trail. I could see the 
soldiers from the mountainside where we traveled. It was 
no trouble, not dangerous, to pass those soldiers. 

Later two or more Indians, while moving, took the 

6 This barricade was at "Fort Fizzle," renowned in the history of the Nez Perce 
campaign. The site is now marked with a timber monument. It was here that 
Captain Charles C. Rawn, of the Seventh Infantry, commanding: Post Missoula, 
with a force of five commissioned officers and thirty enlisted men ("Report of the 
General of the Army," 1877, p. 500), and from one to five hundred volunteers, took 
up his place like Horatius at the bridge, heroically sworn to an oath of "They 
shall not pass." 

10 The peace t*ilr referred to by Yellow Wolf was a truce or armistice proposed 
by Looking Glass. Captain Rawn felt that his official duty compelled tuna to 
reject any peace proposal; but the Montana settlers, who had ever been on the 
best of terms with the Nez Perces, saw no reason why they should not accept the 
Indians' guarantee of a peaceful passage through Montana. The settlers, therefore, 
without the knowledge or at least without the consent of Captain Rawn ratified 
the armistice. By the Nez Perces, this "treaty'* was regarded as an actual cessation 
of war. They expected no further trouble or hostilities. 



wrong trail, the main trail. Reaching the soldiers' camp, 
they were captured. 11 

Of course, during that day we rode around the soldiers, 
some of us young fellows stayed back as scouts. One 
white man, maybe a scout, bothered us. Two of us 
chased him. He got away, and we did not see him any 

We traveled through the Bitterroot Valley slowly. 12 
The white people were friendly. We did much buying 
and trading with them. 

No more fighting! We had left General Howard and 
his war in Idaho. 

But there was something a feeling some of us could 
not understand. One morning a young man who had 
medicine power rode about camp, calling loudly to the 
people, "My brothers, my sisters, I am telling you! In 
a dream last night I saw myself killed. I will be killed 
soon! I do not care. I am willing to die. But first, I will 
kill some soldiers. I shall not turn back from the death. 
We are all going to die!" 

This young man was Wahlitits, one of the Red Coat 
warriors. He was killed only a few days later in our next 
battle, the Big Hole. He killed one soldier, maybe more, 
before he died. 

11 The four captured Nez Perces were the following unarmed noncombatants : 
John Hill, half-blood Delaware-Nez Perce, on his way to join his family in the 
Bitterroot Valley ; Thunder Eyes, known to the whites as George Amos ; Hopan, 
an old man ; and last, a "squawman" (in the Indian sense of a person half man and 
half woman.) None of these were warriors; but whether or not they were peace 
emissaries from the Nez Perce camp is a matter of speculation. 

13 Following the Lolo treaty, the Indian procession had a clear front through the 
Bitterroot Valley, conceded openly by the volunteers and perhaps tacitly by Captain 
Rawn, of the Army* But it is said that Lieutenant Andrews, of the citizen con- 
tingent, with a few comrades their courage braced by liberal libations from a 
goodly-sized demijohn brought in by a Misspula saloonkeeper swore to stop the 
Indians. Hurrying ahead, they formed their line of battle directly across the 
enemy's line of march. When the Nez Perce vanguard came in sight, and their 
challenging war whoop woke the morning echoes, the guardians of the Bitterroot 
Valley fled without firing a shot. Sam Scott, one of the contingent, said when 
later narrating the incident, "I don't know what I did with my gun. Somehow I 
lost it. I remember using my hat to whip my horse to a swifter pace. Although 
he was a fast runner, I thought that I never was on a slower mount. The Indians 
did not fire on us, nor did they appear to hasten their gait. Perhaps they thought 
we were staging a free riding exhibition for their amusement." 



Lone Bird, a brave fighter, also rode about one camp 
wanting more hurry. His voice reached all the people as 
he warned, "My shaking heart tells me trouble and death 
will overtake us if we make no hurry through this land! 
I can not smother, I can not hide that which I see. I 
must speak what is revealed to me. Let us begone to the 
buffalo country!" 13 

reached the Big Hole, our old camp when going 
to and from buffalo hunting. Good feed for horses. We 
would stay several days. The women would cut tepee 
poles to take with us. Those poles must be peeled and 
dried for the dragging. 

It was next morning, after our first night at Big Hole, 
that it happened. Two young warriors said to an old 
man, "Loan us your horses." 

"No," said old man Burning Coals. 14 "I will not loan 
you my horses." 

Not getting the horses, nothing could be done. It 
proved bad. 

Puzzled by this attempt at horse-borrowing, I asked, "What was 
bad in the old man's refusing to loan his horses?" Yellow Wolf 

One man, Wottolen, had strong powers. That first 
night he dreamed of soldiers. Ten, maybe twelve, of us 
wanted to scout back over the trail. If no enemies were 
found crossing the mountain, we would go on to the 
Bitterroot Valley. Had the scout been made, many 

13 See Appendix I, this chapter. 

M Burning Coals was better known as Waptastamana (Blacktail Eagle explained 
as "two or three black eagles coming down from the sky slowly and together"). 
With horses and cattle running into four figures, he was reputed the wealthiest 
member of the Nez Perce tribe. His fortune in gold, said to be cached in a bluff 
of the Salmon River, has never been unearthed. Old and broken, he was one of 
those whose names swell Colonel Miles's list of "100 warriors" surrendered to him 
at the last battle. ("Report of the General of the Army/* 1877, p. 631.) He died 
in exile in the Indian Territory. 



Indian lives would have been saved. The soldiers, trapped 
before reaching our camp, none of them could have es- 
caped. All would have been killed. Sarpsis Uppilp and 
Seeyakoon Ilppilp had no good horses. Best race horses 
must be for the scouting. Old man Burning Coals had 
such horses. But he liked his horses and refused to let 
them go. 

Chiefs Looking Glass and White Bull also opposed our 
going. Looking Glass was against everything not first 
thought of by himself. White Bull always sided with 
him. They said, "No more fighting! War is quit." 

They would not mind Wottolen. The scout was not 

That night the warriors paraded about camp, singing, 
all making a good time. It was first since war started. 
Everybody with good feeling. Going to the buffalo 
country! No more fighting after Lolo Pass. War was 
quit. All Montana citizens our friends. This land had 
belonged to the Flatheads, our old-time friends. They 
called it Iskumtselalik Pah; meaning "Place of Ground 
Squirrels/* the kind you call "picket pins." Lots of 
them hatched here. 

It was past midnight when we went to bed. 

* * * 

Various writers have set forth the picturesque theory that impend- 
ing disaster for the Nez Perce camp in its loitering passage through 
the Bitterroot Valley was foretold by their Dreamer medicine men. 
For example, Lieutenant C. A. Woodruff, Colonel Gibbon's adjutant 
in his Nez Perce campaign, reports: 

"The Indians seemed in no great haste. White Bird is said to have 
scented danger and urged a more rapid movement. One of their 
medicine men had cautioned the chiefs that death was on their trail. 

" 'What are we doing here?* he asked. 'While I slept my medicine 
told me to move on that death was approaching. If you take my 



advice, you can avoid death, and that advice is to speed on through 
this country. If we do not, there will be tears in your eyes.' 

"But Looking Glass replied, *We are in no hurry, the little bunch 
of "walking soldiers'* at Missoula are not fools enough to attack us/ " 
(Contributions to the Historical Society of Montana, Vol. VII, p. 

Undoubtedly Lieutenant Woodruff got the foregoing from 
Duncan McDonald's "Nez Perce War of 1877; Indian History from 
Indian Sources," published in the New Northwest, Deer Lodge, Mon- 
tana, 1878-79. McDonald, an intelligent half-blood Nez Perce, 
visited Chief White Bird in his camp with Sitting Bull in Canada. He 
relates that White bird told him of urging more haste on the part of 
Chief Looking Glass, who seems to have dominated the movements of 
the camp; but to no purpose. 

"Why do you allow the camp to drag lodgepoles?" White Bird 
is quoted as chiding, insisting that the poles be discarded. 

McDonald quotes another medicine man as exhorting the leader, 
only one day before the Big Hole battle the Nez Perces were 
camped there two nights before the attack "What are we doing 
here?" After singing his song, he continued, "While I slept, my 
medicine told me to move on; that death is approaching us. Chief, 
I only tell this because it may be some good to this camp. If you take 
my advice, we can avoid death, and that advice is to speed through 
this country. If not, there will be tears in our eyes in a short time." 

When Yellow Wolf was informed of the foregoing versions, he 
commented briefly, "I think those reports came from what I just 
told you. They could not come any other way. Had there been 
such prophecies as you speak of, I would have known them." 

It is history that all lodgepoles were abandoned at the Clearwater 
camp, and that none were brought over the Lolo Trail, nor through 
the Bitterroot Valley. In his official report, Colonel Gibbon says in 
part of his pursuit of the Nez Perces through the region in question: 

"No accurate estimate of their strength could be made, as many 
of them occupied simple brush shelters. It was observed, also, that 
... no signs of tepee poles nor travois for wounded were seen on the 
trail." ("Report of the General of the Army," 1877, p. 69.) 

The first night on the Big Hole prairie was spent without tepees. 
The next day the women cut and peeled the poles and set up their 
lodges in regular order. They expected to remain there until the 
poles were seasoned and dry for dragging to the land of the Crows 
and of the buffalo. This fact has been sustained by every member of 
the band questioned, both men and women. 


His Own Story 


At the Big Hole: Surprise Attack 

Having ascertained that the Nez Perces were on their way to Mon- 
tana, General Howard telegraphed the Adjutant General, Division 
of Pacific, San Francisco, on July 27 as follows: 

"Can not troops at Missoula or vicinity detain Joseph till I 
can strike his rear? . . . My troops will push through rapidly." 

Thus, while the Nez Perces were camped unsuspectingly on the Big 
Hole prairie, Colonel Gibbon had approached with a considerable 
force. The Colonel gives this account of the surprise attack on the 
Indian encampment: 

"The command was now halted, and all lay down to wait for 
daylight. Here we waited two hours in plain hearing of the 
barking dogs, crying babies, and other noises of the camp. . . . 
All pushed forward in perfect silence, while now scarcely a 
sound issued from the camp. Suddenly a single shot on the 
extreme left rang out on the clear morning air, followed quickly 
by several others, and the whole line pushed rapidly forward 
through the brush." ("Report of the General of the Army," 
1877, pp. 69-70.) 

In revisiting the site of this battle, Yellow Wolf stood some 
moments silently surveying his surroundings; then he commented: 
"It all comes back like a picture, what I saw, what I did, so many 
snows ago." 

T3EFORE leaving Idaho one of the chiefs I do not 
JD remember which one had ridden all about our 
camp announcing, "We may first go to the buffalo 
country, and then afterwards join Sitting Bull in Canada. 
Crossing this mountain, leaving Idaho, we will travel 
peaceably. No white man must be bothered! Only 
enemies here we fight. Trouble no white people after 



passing the Lolo into Montana. Montana people are not 
our enemies. Enemies only here in Idaho. 1 

"When we reach Sitting Bull, we will hold council. 
Whatever is there decided will be done. Delegates will be 
sent to talk with officers of the Government. If agreed 
we return to our homes, all right. We will return. If 
agreed to take land in Montana near the Sioux, that will 
be done for us by the Government. 

"Across the mountains kill no cattle-beeves, while the 
food we take with us lasts. At Clearwater fight, we 
lost plenty food for reaching the buffalo country. Only 
if our women and children grow hungry will we take 
cattle or whatever food we find as taken from us. 

"On that side of the mountain, we will shoot no citi- 
zens, no uniformed soldiers who do not shoot against us. 
The war we leave here in Idaho." 

These were instructions from the chiefs. Strong laws, 
nor were they broken. The chiefs thought the war 
ended. To be no fighting in Montana. But not so, the 
Montana people. 

They did not regard the peace made with us there at 
Lolo Pass. 

Because of that lie-treaty we were trapped. 

Trapped sleeping, unarmed. 

Through the Bitterroot Valley they spied on us while 
selling us vegetables, groceries, anything we wanted. 

Sold whisky to some, almost making trouble. 

*In Indian warfare leadership devolved upon seniority and experience. Chiefs 
White Bird and Toohoolhoolzote, being both incapacitated by age, Chief Looking 
Glass was next in line. As he not only was of chieftainly descent, but also knew the 
buffalo country and had met enemy tribes in battle, he was accorded the leadership. 
His self-centered arrogance, however, unfitted him for such a. trust. Ignoring 
prophecies of impending danger (as related in the preceding chapter), Looking 
Glass permitted time-killing loitering during the passage of the Bitterroot Valley. 
His worst lack of judgment was shown when he decried the proposed precau- 
tionary back-scouting of their own trail Had he not been bloated with self- 
exaltation, he would not thus have opposed the wishes of a dozen tried warriors, 
some of whom were renowned for wisdom and achievements in tribal warfare. 
Upon Looking Glass must fall much of the blame for the disaster at the Big Hole. 



They spied on us crossing the mountains when we 
thought not of foes. 2 

The next morning on our way to the lower river bottom where 
the Nez Perce village had stood, interpreter Many Wounds stopped at 
a bank of drifted sand and, under Yellow Wolf's direction, drew a 
diagram of the ill-fated camp. (Yellow Wolf had no ability as a 
draftsman, although he was fairly good at word-picturing.) The 
tepees were shown in rather irregular, compact form with a partly 
open court in the center, corresponding in general with a pen 
drawing by Chief Peopeo Tholekt, made at a later day. Both de- 
lineations negated the methodic, straight -line V-shaped village so 
generally described. 

The sand-picturing completed, we crossed the stream on the old 
pole-floored bridge to which Yellow Wolf refers in his narrative, and 
found ourselves upon the Nez Perce camp site and the battlefield 
proper. Under Yellow Wolf's guidance we walked north to within 
a few paces of the apex or tip of the old camp or village. 

He designated a spot near the riverbank where the tepee in which 
he was sleeping had stood when the first gunfire of the attack broke 
upon them. For a full five minutes he stood, his keen eyes sweeping 
all points of the field. Then facing west, whence the enemy descent 
had come, he began in his usual evenly modulated tone: 

Before the soldiers charged from the hillside, I heard 
a horse cross the river slowly. Heard it pass down the 
camp, out of hearing. Minthon was with me, and we 
afterwards agreed that it must have been a spy. 3 

a There can be little doubt that the Nez Perce camp at the Big Hole was spied on. 
Chief Joseph, in his Chief Joseph's Own Story, laments that the realization 
dawned on them too late that three passing horsemen supposedly stockmen or 
miners were, in reality, spies. 

Yellow Wolf, early in the evening of our arrival on the battlefield, had pointed 
out where, the morning following the pitching of their camp, two white men had 
been seen riding out from the open timber to the north. They had passed eastward 
along the barren hillside. Mounted Indians hurried across the river bottom where 
they expected to intercept the strangers and learn their business. But the horsemen 
had disappeared. Not suspecting major danger, the Indians made no effort to 
apprehend them. They could have overtaken them easily and killed them had they 
been so inclined. After the battle it was decided that the white riders had been spies. 

Yellow Wolf recalled how the small Indian boys afterward reported seeing two 
men wrapped to their eyes in grayish blankets (unlike those the Indians wore), 
with pulled-down hats, loitering near where the lads were at their games on the 
eve of the battle. The boys said one of the faces showed white in the firelight. 
(See statements of Red Elk and White Bird the younger, Appendix I, Chapter 10.) 
The warriors at the time were parading and singing about the camp and indulging 
in a round of general rejoicing the first since the opening of hostilities. They 
firmly believed that the war had been ended by the Lolo treaty. 

8 About the espionage of the Nez Perce camp, Mr. Andrew Garcia, venerable 
Montana pioneer, writes me: 



But we did not think of enemies at the time. This 
tepee here was not my home, and I was without my rifle. 
Chief Joseph's tepee, my home, was near upper end of 
camp. My gun was there. Only very few warriors had 
guns ready when the attack came. 

It must have been about three o'clock in morning, just 
before daylight, when I heard it a gun two guns! I 
knew not what was the trouble! The sound was like a 
small gun, not close. I was half sleeping. I lay with eyes 
closed. Maybe I was dreaming? I did not think what 
to do! Then I was awake* I heard rapidly about four 
gunshots across there to the west. We did not know then, 
but it was those first shots that killed Natalekin, who 
was going early to look for horses. 4 This gunfire made 
me wide awake. Then came three volleys from many 
rifles, followed by shouting of soldiers. 

I grabbed my moccasins and with others ran out of 
the tepee. I had only my war club. 5 We stopped where 
we are now standing. Men and women were lying flat 
on the ground, listening. I saw one woman so over 
there only a few feet away. I heard her call out, "Why 
not all men get ready and fight? Not run away!" 

I did not know her. When I heard this, it convinced 
me she was right. Minthon, a younger boy than I, was 
also convinced. He gave me his gun. It had but one shell. 
I walked to here [four paces]. I saw a man running this 

"I well knew H. L. Bostwick, scout and post guide at Fort Shaw, where Colonel 
Gibbon held command. A half -blood Scotchman of determined mind, he ill-brooked 
military restraint. He is reputed as having rebelled against going afoot in a night 
reconnoitering of the Nez Perce camp, but rode his iron-grey saddler through the 
willow thickets with no particular attempt at concealment of movement. Doubtless 
he reasoned that the tramp of a horse would be less likely to attract the un- 
favorable attention of the enemy than would the sly movements of a footman. The 
animal could well be a rambler from their own herds, while the idea of a mounted 
spy passing noisily through the brush would be too rash to be entertained. ** 

It was doubtless this daring Fort Shaw scout that Yellow Wolf heard crossing 
the river. Bostwick fell in the ensuing battle. 

* See Appendix I, this chapter. 

5 A description of this weapon, which until recently retained the ghastly stains 
of conflict, is given in Appendix B, end of this volume, 



way. It was now nearly daylight. He came close and 
said, "Wahchumyus [Rainbow] is killed!" 

I thought that must be a mistake. But he was killed 
early, before the sunrise. 

A man was standing here near the water. He was 
wearing a black blanket. It was Pahkatos Owyeen [Five 
Wounds]. He seemed thinking to himself. Stepping 
one way, then another. Restless and not easy in mind. I 
knew his feelings. Thinking, but not talking. After a 
moment, he said, "Any you brothers have two guns? 
Let me have one/* 

Pahkatos had been wounded at the Clearwater. Fin- 
gers of right hand, but no bones broken. Had his fingers 
wrapped together. I was standing back there. One man, 
a little ways off, came stepping. Holding out a rifle, 
he spoke in quick words, "Take this gun. It has five 
shells in magazine and one in barrel." 

Pahkatos took the rifle with the remark, "They are 
enough." He dropped his blanket. I do not know if he 
crossed the creek here or up there near the willows [forty 
feet]. He entered the willows on the opposite side of 
the stream. The last I ever saw of him. He was killed 
later in the fight. A powerful warrior, he had fought in 
the buffalo country to the east. Was known to all the 

Watyo Chekoon [Passing Overhead], also strong in 
war, crossed the creek from the main body of Indians. 
Later, going where bullets flew like hail, he escaped a 
great danger. Came through it all. 

The soldiers had not reached our part of camp. Never 
did cross the river at this point. The hard fighting was 
at upper half of the village. 

I ran up that way towards the fighting. I saw a 


warrior hurrying along the line of tepees, and I went 
with him. Going only a short ways, another man joined 
us. We ran, maybe half a quarter mile, when we saw 
soldiers along the creek, upper part of the village, we 
were about midway the camp when I saw a man coming 
toward us. I stopped, the other two men going on. He 
was walking stooped, blood running from his head. His 
name was Jeekunkun [Dog], mostly called John Dog. 6 
I said to him, "Trade me your gun! You have plenty of 
cartridges and I have none. Trade, and then get away 
from danger! 55 

The wounded man answered me, "No! I must have 
the gun. I do not want to die without resisting!" 

I met another young man wounded in the right arm. 
He was carrying his gun in his left hand. He, too, re- 
fused to trade guns. His name was Temme Ilppilp [Red 
Heart], and he was wounded worse than I saw [stomach 
wound]. He died at the second camp from the battle. 

I hurried on to about here [past midcamp] and saw 
a soldier crawling like a drunken man. He had a gun and 
belt full of cartridges. I struck him with my war club 
and took his Government rifle and ammunition belt. 

I saw teeth loose in his mouth, and easily took them 
out. I had never seen such teeth. 7 They must be around 
here somewhere yet. 

I now had a gun and plenty of shells. As I have shown 

6 Chellooyeen (Phillip Evans) said that as he was leaving the battlefield, he met 
Jeekunkun with a dark streak of blood between his eyes. He appeared to have a 
skin wound on the forehead, which dazed him and made "him Tenable to answer 
questions. It later developed that he was momentarily rendered unconscious by 
the shot. Jeekunkun was of the Asotain or Looking Glass band. Maintaining his 
reputation as a warrior, he escaped from the last battle to Sitting Bull's village 
in Canada, thus avoiding the ignominy of surrender. After several years he 
returned to Idaho and settled on the Lapwai reservation. 

7 In response to an inquiry, Sergeant C. N. Loynes writes (January 18, 1928) : 
"It is possible that the soldier who had false teeth might have been Captain 

Logan, for he was in the service prior to the Civil War and rose from the ranks 
for valor during that war. I never knew of any soldier having false teeth. They 
of course, would not be accepted at enlistment with them. Among the enlisted men, 
a man with false teeth would have been known.*' 



you, I was in lower part of camp when the attack came. 
I hurried to join in the battle, which had grown hot. At 
first the warriors had no guns, but now a few a very 
few had found rifles. I came near a small willow 
thicket. I heard yelling, screaming. I recognized Iskat- 
poo Tismooktismook [Black Trail], He came stooping 
and said to me, "My nephew, I got shot. I am wounded! 
Shot through the shoulder." 

Iskatpoo was a good warrior, a brave warrior. But he 
was overcome by the too-numerous enemies. 8 

From here where we stand I saw soldiers come stepping 
forward. Nothing could stop them! As I said, but few 
warriors had rifles in their hands. Sleeping when soldiers 
fired on our camp there must have been two hundred 
of them we knew not at once what to do. Of course, 
not well awake, it was hard to get arms quickly. 

These soldiers came on rapidly. They mixed up part 
of our village. I now saw tepees on fire. I grew hot with 
anger. Women, children, and old men who could not 
fight were in those tepees. Up there above that old pole 
bridge crossing the creek about one hundred steps from 
the blazing tepees I heard an Indian voice loudly 

"My brothers! Our tepees are on fire! Get ready 
your arms! Make resistance! You are here for that 

It was Kowtoliks 9 talking, a brave warrior. He was 
answered with war whoops by those who had guns. 
There must have been one hundred soldiers in that part 
of the camp. 

8 Black Trail was a. man of middle age, respected and well liked. He was among 
the surrendered at the last battle and was exiled to Indian Territory. His wound 
a broken left collarbone never properly healed, and when he was working in a 
sawmill, it was reopened from too heavy lifting. Black Trail died as a result. 

9 Kowtoliks, as explained by the interpreter, is descriptive of the hair and bones 
of human dead scattered about by wild animals. 



An Indian with a white King George blanket about 
him was standing farthest up the river, alone. O the 
Paloos Waiwaiwai band, his name was Pahka Pahtahank 
[Five Fogs]. 10 Aged about thirty snows, he was of an 
old-time mind. He did not understand the gun. He was 
good with the bow, but had only a hunting bow. I 
thought, "If he had good rifle, he could bring death to 
the soldiers." 

He was just in front of his own tepee. 11 Soldiers were 
this side, not far from him. He stood there shooting 
arrows at the enemies. The soldiers saw, and fired at him. 
That Indian stepped about a little, but continued sending 
his arrows. Three times those soldiers fired and missed 
him. The fourth round killed him. 12 

Looks wonderful to me, three volleys not exactly 
volleys together should miss him not more than ten 
steps away. I do not know if he hit any soldiers. 

At Kowtoliks' voice, about ten warriors not more 

10 Pahka Pahtahank signifies "Five Fogs/' or "Dark Cloudy Days Five Times 
Repeated." Popular and well liked, Five Fogs was the son of the Paloos chief. 

The bow used by Pahka Pahtahank with its quiver and ten remaining arrows 
was picked up on the battlefield and came into the possession of S. G. Fisher, 
leader of a band of Bannack scouts who later joined General Howard at Camp 
Benson. Chief Fisher in after years turned this relic of a pathetically lost cause 
over to Colonel Frank Parker, an associate scout, at whose death it was passed 
on to the author by Mrs. Parker. 

The sinew-backed bow with its original sinew cord measures thirty-two inches 
The quiver, of light half-tanned deerskin and red flannel with a short fringe along 
the under edge, is twenty-six inches in length. The arrows vary from twenty-four 
to thirty-three and one-half inches, the five shortest being tipped with points 
fashioned from hoop iron of Indian workmanship. Three of the shafts are lightly 
grooved, supposedly to permit a freer flow of blood. Perhaps, too, these grooves 
may hold some occult significance, such as the lightning's streak in its speed from 
the bow. The remaining five are heavier in shaft, worked to long, tapering points 
flattened on one side, evidently for splicing thereon a piercing point fashioned from 
the semipoisonous greasewood, or a kindred shrub known as mahogany. These 
latter shafts are in some respects lacking in finish and were apparently fashioned 
while on the retreat. AH are winged with hawk and eagle feathers, one of them 
sharply spiral or rotary, and all are badly frayed and worn. They bear traces 
of war paint. 

31 In September, 1937, under the auspices of the "Big Hole Good Roads Associa- 
tion," the writer staked Big Hole battlefield historically from the Nez Perce 
depiction. Stakes consecutively numbered were driven at various tragedy and 
tepee sites, and each recorded. The stakes were then surveyed and this additional 
boundary included in the "Gibbon Battlefield National Park." With this ex- 
planation, subsequent notes of this nature will be understood. Stake No. 50 marks 
the site of Five Fogs's tepee. 

12 Stake No. 49 is where he fell 



started for those soldiers. I hurried to get a closer posi- 
tion, closer and hidden. 

Proceeding another sixty paces, Yellow Wolf halted where had 
been the southern extremity or base of the village, and about twenty 
steps from the riverbank. He stood silent, though keenly alert, for 
several minutes before resuming his narrative: 

What I show you from here was just a few men who 
drove the soldiers back at this point. Only about ten 
brave warriors made here a desperate stand after Kow- 
toliks called that the tepees were afire. Some had already 
mounted horses and were fighting, scattered. Others 
were in the willows fighting. I joined to save the tepees. 

I came against the soldiers on side opposite the other 
warriors. Those warriors not more than ten were 
scattered, shooting from sheltered places. 

From all sides we mixed them up. I made an advance 
against some soldiers. Got close enough to take good 
aimed shots. Three of those same enemies went down. 
I only know I shot fast and saw each time a soldier fall, 
I rushed in. Took guns and cartridge belts from those 
three soldiers. That is the custom of war. Those guns 
afterwards were used by other Indians. 

We now mixed those soldiers badly. We could hit each 
other with our guns. It was for the lives of women and 
children we were fighting. If whipped, better to die than 
go in bondage with freedom gone. 

Those soldiers did not last long. Only about thirty at 
that place were left standing. Scared, they ran back 
across the river. We could not well count how many 
dead soldiers, but we killed a good few. They acted as if 
drinking. We thought some got killed by being drunk. 
I saw four killed before getting this far up. I had not 
time to see what others were doing at this place. 



I am telling you true! Those soldiers hurried back 
across the river. Too many of them falling, and they ran. 

We followed the soldiers across the stream. I waded 
it just below that old pole bridge. Of course there was 
no bridge then. Reaching that open space among the 
willows, I saw a soldier only a few steps ahead of me. 
Stepping cautiously, stooping, looking among the wil- 
lows with gun ready [Yellow "Wolf was pantomiming 
his story], he did not see me approach. I got within four 
steps of him. I would touch him while he lived. He must 
have felt me back of him. Whirling, he brought his gun 
around. But I was too quick. My bullet went through 
his breast. He fell and did not move. 

A young man, this soldier wore a uniform. I took his 
gun, cartridge belt, and trench-digging knife. I quickly 
gave the gun and ammunition to a warrior who had none. 

The soldiers were now running to the hill. Desperate 
fighting in the brush, among the willows, and in open 
places. Close pressed, the soldiers hurried up the bluff. 
On the flat they stopped to barricade themselves. Had 
all the warriors had guns, not many soldiers would have 
reached the bluff. 

Up to this time not twenty Indians had rifles. Every 
gun taken was quickly used. When they could, soldiers 
spoiled those of partners who were killed. They broke 
a few Indian guns as well. 

Casually passing along the river where it turns suddenly in a great 
sweep towards the western mountain, Yellow Wolf paused. Studying 
its eroded bank, he spoke half musingly: "Looks some change in this 
bank." And then: 

It is a wonderful story I am telling you. When I 
reached here, desperate fighting was being done. I saw 
a soldier standing like this: 



Yellow Wolf, stepping down the bank, stood motionless at the 
water's edge, facing east, with his head turned north toward where 
Wahlitits and his wife were killed more of which later . 

Like this that soldier stood, the lower part of his body 
hidden by the bank. Some kind of marks or stripes were 
on his upper arms or shoulders, as if an officer. I thought 
he was alive, and brought my gun to shoot. He could see 
me, but did not move. Then I understood. 

That soldier was dead! 13 

When I saw him so facing where Wahlitits and his 
wife lay, I was convinced one of them had shot him. 
There seemed no other way he was killed. He was the 
only dead man I ever saw standing. 

The narrator paused meditatively. As if comprehending that his 
story would be discredited, he added earnestly: 

While I am talking, I am convinced of this. My chiefs 
were here then. Now I am alone, succeeding them. No 
witnesses, this is why I feel to tell only truth of what I 
saw in battle, of what I myself did. You must know I am 
speaking true. What I, Yellow Wolf, saw and did, only. 

A tepee stood above that of Wahlitits. It belonged to 
Wetyetmas Likleinen [Circling Swan], a large man. 
He died here, fighting at his tepee home. 14 Never went 
anywhere. He did not run. His wife was killed here. 
Their tepee stood close to White Bird's, to Toohoolhool- 
zote's, and to that of Chuslum Moxmox [Yellow 
Bull]. 15 

Now I speak of another of the best warriors. He was 
killed there at the next tepee downstream. 16 Only a few 

13 Stake No. 13, Big Hole battlefield. Such cases of rigidity in death are not 
wholly unusual. 

M Stake No. 22, Big Hole battlefield. 

16 The warrior Chuslum Moxmox (Yellow Bull) also had another name, probably 
a prewar cognomen: Weyatanatoo Wahyakt (Sun Necklace). 

" Stake No. 23, Big Hole battlefield. 




Yellow Wolf (in light-colored hat) studying a sand diagram, of the battlefield as 
traced by Many Wounds. 

' ' ' " 



In foreground, pole bridge (comparatively recent). At extreme right, ford where 

old trail crossed the Big Hole River. The soldiers retreated up the timbered slopes 

seen back of the riverbank willows. 



"I got within four steps of the soldier. ... He must have felt me back of him. 

Whirling, he brought his gun around. But I was too quick. My bullet went 

through his breast." 



Above : Brush along the river outlines the sweeping curve of the Big Hole. 
Among the willows in the distance Yellow Wolf saw a soldier standing rigid in death. 
Below: Yellow Wolf demonstrates the position in which he saw the soldier. 


steps from Wetyetmas Likleinen. His name was Tewit 

Here by his tepee 17 sat smoking, Wahnistas Aswetesk, 
a very old man. He was shot many times! As he sat on 
his buffalo robe, one soldier shot him. He did not get 
up. Others shot him. Still he sat there. Others shot him. 
He did not move. Just sat there smoking as if only rain- 
drops struck him! Must have been twenty bullets en- 
tered his body. He did not feel the shots! After the 
battle, he rode horseback out from there. He grew well, 
but died of sickness in the Eeikish Pah where he was sent 
after the surrender. The wounds did not seem to grow. 
It was just as you see mist, see fog coming out from rain. 
We saw it like smoke from boiling water [steam], com- 
ing out of his wounded body. He was not shot in the 

Several dead soldiers lay scattered around here. More 
were killed farther up the village. 

Proceeding thirty-two steps upstream, Yellow Wolf continued: 

I saw here a dead Indian lying under the riverbank, his 
leg in the water. His name was Lazzykoon, as pronounced 
by the whites, but we called him Allezyahkon an old- 
time name with meaning known only to the oldest 
Indians. His age about sixty snows, he was not classed 
as a fighter. His son was Lahpeealoot [Two Flocks on 
Water; later known as Phillip Williams] . Lazzykoon had 
often said to his son: "If the Nez Perces go to war with 
the whites, we will not go. Our family will not join 

Fifty steps farther upstream, he went on: 

17 Stake No. 24, Bis Hole battlefield. 



I saw another Indian lying here dead under the bank. 
He was about thirty years old and died fighting. His 
name was Wookawkaw [Woodpecker]. 

Besides the three soldiers I saw fall as I shot, I saw four 
others killed a little below here. I do not know how many 
were killed all counted, but more were killed above here. 

In meantime there was hard fighting among the brush. 
I will show you where some bad struggles took place. 

Yellow Wolf now piloted us to the west side of the stream and, 
passing directly by the place where he had been victor in the rifle 
duel with the young soldier, he headed across the open bottom land 
over which Colonel Gibbon's most unobstructed charge had been 
launched. Yellow Wolf pointed out, near the west bank of the 
river, where it bends towards the mountain in a great sweeping 
curve, a well-preserved buffalo wallow which the troops passed in 
their morning onslaught against the sleeping village. Without a 
hesitating step, our guide proceeded some hundreds of yards and 
stopped near a large circular clump of willows flanked by a much 
smaller clump. After his usual moments of reverie before speech, he 
told the following: 

I have told you that Wahchumyus [Rainbow] was 
killed early in the fight, before sunrise. What happened 
here I did not see. But it is true as told me by witnesses. 
They have also told it to you. I was here after the fight. 
I saw the dead in the same positions as when they fell. 

At this place a tall soldier must have been near 
seven feet and a short Indian met. The Indian, Wah- 
chumyus, stepped from behind that small bunch of 
willows. The soldier came from back of this big cluster. 
About four steps apart, both raised guns at same time. 
The Indian was the quickest, but his gun snapped. The 
tall soldier shot him through the heart. He fell back- 
wards, dead. 

Wahchumyus was a great warrior, brave in all fight- 



ing. He had whipped in many battles in the buffalo 
country. All the tribes knew and feared him. His name 
was strong over all the land. That big soldier had killed 
one of our best warriors. 

When Wahchumyus fell, the tall soldier turned and 
ran south. He passed Wahchumyus on his left. He 
sprang behind those bushes [about fifty feet to the 
south]. Other soldiers were passing close, hurrying to the 
hill. Hohots Elotoht [Bad Boy Grizzly Bear] was back 
of those willows. Both their guns were empty. They 
clubbed with their guns, then grabbed each other. They 
wrestled. The big soldier was too much for the short 
Indian and threw him. Both struggled for their lives. 
The big soldier was on top. The Indian called twice to 
his Wyaftin for help. He was heard and was given 
strength to break from his enemy. 

The two stood up. Not equally matched, again Elo- 
toht was thrown. His arm doubled under the tall soldier 
who was now choking him. Elotoht could no longer free 

A brave warrior, Lakochets Kunnin, came running. 
He shot the tall soldier and killed him. The bullet broke 
one bone in Elotoht's arm above his wrist. 

A few Indians hiding from the fighting witnessed the 
killing of Wahchumyus. Saw the fight between Elotoht 
and the big soldier. But none offered help. Towassis 
[Bowstring] was there. He did nothing was not a 
fighting man. Owhi, standing away back like a looker- 
on, saw it all. 18 From the Yakimas, he was not a Nez 

18 Owhi, the only alien among the Nez Perces (except for the footless ex-slave 
Seeskoomkee), was a Yakima who fell in with the band as they were passing 
through the Bitterroot Valley, shortly before the Big Hole battle. At the CoMHe 
Indian Agency, Owhi dictated a manuscript concerning these events, particularly 
the death of W^rfra 111 ^ 123 - His account is so remote, however, from all other 
narratives obtained that its authenticity must, unfortunately, remain clouded in 



Perce. He did no real fighting, always keeping out of it. 

Pahkatos, killed a few hours later than Wahchumyus, 
approached the closest of any of the warriors to the 
soldier trenches. He got killed purposely. Wahchumyus 
and Pahkatos had been partners fighting the Sioux 
[Assiniboins] in the buffalo country. These two war 
mates had agreed that both should die the same day. In 
the same battle, as had their fathers. The death of these 
two mighty warriors was a great loss to our fighting 
strength. They were strong in planning battle. 

Lakochets Kunnin was a fine young man, a brave war- 
rior. He knew not fear. Scared at nothing! While 
driving the soldiers to the timbered flat, it was at foot of 
bluff, right by the trail, it happened. 19 Lakochets there, 
where I showed you, mixed a soldier in a hand to hand 
fight. The soldier had a gun and was getting the best of 
Lakochets. Peopeo Tholekt rushed in and wrenched the 
gun from the soldier, and Lakochets then killed him. It 
was hard struggling and the soldier would have come out 
best had Peo not been quick. 

Under Yellow Wolf's leadership we now turned back to the old 
village site. 


J. B. Catlin, commanding thirty-four volunteers, says of this 
episode, in part: 

"Our skirmishe[r]s were advanced a short distance where we re- 
mained for signs of coming daylight when a solitary Indian came 
out from the lodges riding directly toward us, evidently going to 
their herd of horses. . . . My men had been instructed and the poor 
devil paid the penalty. Some four or five of the boys helped him 
on his way." ("The Battle of the Big Hole," Historian's Annual 
Report, Society of Montana Pioneers, 1927, p. 11.) 

** Stake No. 107. 



T. C. Sherrill, a volunteer in Colonel Catlin's company, seems to 
have this Indian afoot: 

"While we were lying in wait, hardly breathing, one Indian herder, 
who could not see a group of us crouched down in a hollow, came 
straight toward us, not knowing of our location, and walked up 
within six yards of us. We knew he would be right on us in a few 
seconds and thus give his tribe the signal, so the only thing for us 
to do was to shoot him down at once, and three of us fired on him 
at once. This of course was a signal for our men to attack." (E. C. 
Hathaway, Battle of the Big Hole, as told by T. C. Sherrill, pp. 7-8.) 

Amos Buck, a merchant of Stevensville, Montana, who had traded 
with the Nez Perces as they passed through the Bitterroot Valley, 
and who also fought in this battle as a volunteer in Catlin's com- 
pany, says of this first Indian killed: 

"At three- thirty o'clock, just as morning commenced to show, 
Dave Morrow asked Captain Catlin, 'Shall we wait for orders to 
shoot?' Captain Catlin replied, 'Shoot the first Indian you see.* We 
had not long to wait. The first Indian to make his appearance was 
a large, well-built fellow who proved to be Cul-Cul-Se-Ne-Na, their 
great medicine man, who was coming directly toward us, mounted 
on a large-iron-gray horse. The Indian did not notice our men until 
he was within a few yards of us; he then put spurs to his horse and 
attempted to ride through our lines. Four shots were fired almost 
simultaneously, and the great Nez Perce medicine man was no more. 
. . . Strange to say, when the Nez Perces buried their dead, they 
would not touch their medicine man. He was left on the battle field 
unburied. When Howard's scouts were taken to him, they jumped 
off their horses and each gave a kick, saying, 'No good medicine 
man.* " (Contributions to the Historical Society of Montana, Vol. 
VH, pp. 124-25, 127.) 

When Yellow Wolf was made acquainted with this story, he stated 
tersely, "Natalekin, killed when going to look after his horses in 
early morning first Indian killed was not a medicine man. Was 
just a common man, too old to engage in fighting. He could not 
see very well. He was not buried, because there was no time to 
bury those killed outside the main battlefield." 

That this early-morning victim had defective eyesight, as stated 
by Yellow Wolf, is suggested also by Lieutenant C. A. Woodruff's 
remark: "He leans forward on his horse to try and make out, in the 
dim light, what is before him." (Contributions to the Historical 
Society of Montana, Vol. VH, p. 109.) 


His Own Story 


At the Big Hole: Savagery of the Whites 

As Yellow Wolf has related in the preceding chapter, Colonel Gib- 
bon's surprise attack on the early morning of August 9, 1877, did 
not turn out as well as expected. The soldiers were repulsed but 
not until after they had descended upon the defenseless tepees of the 
women, children, and Indian men too old to fight. They then retired 
to barricade themselves on the flat, wooded bluff overlooking the 
river. Yellow Wolf, standing midway between the wooded flat and 
the battlefield proper, resumed his narrative. 

AFTER the morning battle, after the soldiers ran to 
the woods, I started back with others to our camp. 
I wanted to see what had been done. At this place I came 
to a dead soldier [feigning death]. A knife was in his 
hand. He lay as he had fixed his position rifle at right 
side. When I stooped to get the gun the soldier almost 
stabbed me. His knife grazed my nose. I jumped five, 
maybe seven, feet getting away from that knife. Ap- 
proaching, I struck him with my kopluts. He did not 
raise up. 1 I took his gun and cartridge belt. 

Taking those guns made me a chief. 2 I killed a few 
soldiers. I took some guns and became a chief. It is the 
custom of the tribe. 

We saw another soldier. Wounded, he was afraid or 
knew not what he was about. One warrior took his gun 

1 Stake No. 106, Big Hole battlefield. 

2 Notwithstanding this well-merited promotion which was in accordance with an 
age-old law of his own and kindred tribes, Yellow Wolf did not aspire to such 
lofty recognition. Early in our acquaintance he made it known that he. preferred 
not to be addressed as "Chief.'* His spirit crushed by the ruins of his every hope, 
he went through life with an empty heart, brooding over the deep wrongs 
suffered by his people at the hands of a stronger, alien race. 



from him, and afterwards, I went back and got his 
cartridge belt. Something was tied to the belt. I opened 
it. There was hardtack and a little bacon. Later I ate 
that lunch. I did not bother the soldier. He could not 

From then until now, all the tribes know that I have 
full right to take food from anybody, no difference 
who. When an act is done at the risk of a warrior's life, 
it is thereafter known that he is entitled to take food 
wherever he happens to be. 

Here, we recrossed the creek to our camp. It was not 
good to see women and children lying dead and wounded. 
A few soldiers and warriors lay as they had fallen some 
almost together. Wounded children screaming with 
pain. Women and men crying, wailing for their scat- 
tered dead! The air was heavy with sorrow. I would not 
want to hear, I would not want to see, again. About ten 
warriors had been killed when the tepees were fired on 
before anyone was armed. All this was seen. 3 The chiefs 
now called to the warriors to renew the fighting where 
the soldiers had hidden themselves. 

In the meantime after the soldiers had been driven 
back, a citizen soldier was captured. It was over among 
those biggest willows. He threw his gun away, but some- 
one who helped capture him found it. I heard a voice 
call out, "Kill him!" 

"No! He will tell us some news!" 

3 The army commander's concept of this scene is given here : 

"Few of us will soon forget the wail of mingled grief, rage, and horror which 
came from the camp four or five hundred yards from us when the Indians returned 
to it and recognized their slaughtered warriors, women, and children. Above this 
wail of horror, we could hear the passionate appeal of the leaders urging their 
followers to fight, and the warwhoop in answer which boded us no good." ("Battle 
of the Big Hole," by John Gibbon, in Harper's Weekly ; December 28, 1895.) 

Evidently the piercing war cry of justly enraged fighting men was not heard 
by the chivalrous colonel with the same complacency with which he had listened to 
the plaintive intone of "crying babies" at their mothers' breasts, while impatiently 
awaiting a rosy dawn to pilot his leaden onslaught on the sleeping village. 



That was what I heard one man reply. They brought 
him close to a tepee. Lakochets Kunnin, a young warrior, 
was leading the prisoner. I did not see from which side 
of the tepee one man came stepping and joined the group. 
The man who came from back of the tepee said com- 
mandingly, "Do not waste time! Ball him!" 

While Lakochets Kunnin stood holding the prisoner, 
the new man with gun ready without more words shot 
him. Killed him dead. 4 He then spoke, "No use! The 
difference is, had he been a woman, we would have saved 
him. Sent him home unhurt! Are not warriors to be 
fought? Look around! These babies, these children 
killed! Were they warriors? These young girls, these 
young women you see dead! Were they warriors? These 
young boys, these old men! Were they warriors? 

"We are the warriors! Coming on us while we slept, 
no arms ready, the soldiers were brave. Then, when we 
have only a few rifles in our hands, like cowardly coyotes 
they run away. 

"These citizen soldiers! Good friends in Bitterroot 

*As far as can be ascertained, the man referred to was Campbell Mitchell, of 
Corvallis, Montana: 

"When the troops retired to the mouth of the gulch on the morning of the 9th, 
the warriors were examining the dead. Among them they found a white man, a 
citizen who was breathing; his eyes were closed and he pretended to be dead, but 
they saw that he was not though he was severely wounded. They took hold of 
him and raised him up. Finding that his 'possuming' would not work, he sprang 
to his feet. Looking Glass was at hand and ordered the Indians not to kill him, 
reminding them that he was a citizen and that they might obtain valuable in- 
formation from him. ... He told them that Howard would be there in a few hours 
and that volunteers were coming from Virginia City to head the Indians off. While 
he was talking with them a squaw who had lost a brother and some of her children 
in the fight, came up and slapped him in the face. He gave her a vigorous kick in 
return, and one of the warriors, enraged at this, killed him." (Shields, Battle of 
the Biff Hole, pp. 79-80.) 

The foregoing is unquestionably plagiarized from Duncan McDonald's articles, 
"Nez Perce War of 1877," published in the New Northwest. McDonald, however, 
states that the volunteer was "not even wounded" at the time of his capture. 

Will Cave, enlarging upon Shields, gives the name of the "severely wounded" 
man caught feigning death, as Campbell Mitchell, and adds : "Unfortunately there 
is reason for the belief that he died a more fearful death than would have been 
produced from a gunshot wound." (Cave, Nez Perce War of 1877, p. 20.) 

A request for information on this implication of torture of a wounded prisoner 
by the Nez Perces elicited no reply from Mr. Cave. No mention of torture by the 
Nez Perces is to be found in any of the chronicles or official reports of the battle. 
Torture would have left its marks on the victim's body, but nothing of the kind 
seemed in evidence. That a citizen prisoner was taken is conceded, and the reader 
can judge between Yellow Wolf's depiction and the hearsay version as to his fate. 



Valley! Traded with us for our gold! Their Lolo peace 
treaty was a lie! Our words were good. They had two 
tongues* "Why should we waste time saving his life?" 

This warrior, Otskai, was my brother [first cousin]. 
No reply was made to his talk. All were convinced to 
his side. He had spoken right. A brave warrior, a good 
fighter, but at times his head did not act right. Would 
do things at a wrong time. 5 But nobody could say Otskai 
was afraid, that he ever hid from the fighting! 

The citizen soldier was a young man. We afterwards 
learned he was prominent in the Bitterroot country. He 
was wearing poor clothes. At the surrender the Nez 
Perces were asked, "Who killed the young man prisoner 
at the Big Hole?" 

When asked this by those United States soldiers, no- 
body answered. Otskai and I were not there. We had 
escaped, going to the Sioux in Canada. Lakochets Kun- 
nin had also escaped, but he was killed by enemy Indians. 
Chapman, interpreter in the Indian Territory, asked who 
killed the citizen soldier, a prominent man. Nobody 
knew. Nobody would tell. Up to this day, this time, 
nobody has ever told who killed that citizen soldier. 

During the foregoing depiction, we had traversed the entire length 
of the original camp, and now, guided by Yellow Wolf, we doubled 
back some distance to learn of other tragic happenings. He desig- 
nated a spot fifteen paces out from the west line of tepees, and 
towards the river in the direction from where the charge was made 
on the camp. After a few moments of silent meditation, the old 
warrior told the following ghastly story: 

Here, alone, stood a small tepee 6 , what you call a hos- 

5 As evidence that Otskai' s head "did not act right," see Chapter 11, for his 
participation in the capture of General Howard's pack train. Otskai had a power- 
ful, athletic build, and it is said that once, in escaping the civil authorities, who 
wanted hrm for some petty offense, he swam the Columbia River, carrying his 
wife on his hack. Otskai was ever averse to talking about his personal exploits. 
His name, reputedly Salish, has been denned as "Wild Oats" or "WiH Oat Moss," 
Two Moons, whose father was of that tribe, gave the definition as "Going Out.** 

e Stake No. 5, Big Hole battlefield. 



pital, erected for a purpose. In this tepee during the 
night before the attack, the wife of Weyatanatoo Latpat 
[Sun Tied] gave birth to a baby. Wetahlatpat's sister, 
Tissaikpee [Granite (Crystal) ], an oldlike woman, was 
with her as nurse. What I am telling you are facts; as I, 
Yellow Wolf, saw with my own eyes. 

As I have already told, we came back from driving the 
soldiers to the hill to find part of our village in ruins. 
This tepee here was standing and silent. Inside we found 
the two women lying in their blankets dead. Both had 
been shot. The mother had her newborn baby in her 
arms. Its head was smashed, as by a gun breech or boot 
heel. The mother had two other children, both killed, in 
another tepee. Some soldiers acted with crazy minds. 

Wetahlatpat was a brave warrior. But we saw him 
no more in that fight. After helping drive the soldiers 
to the hill, he came back here. Finding all his family 
killed, he spent the rest of the day burying them. His 
sister, a widow woman, he also buried. 7 

I did not see the burying of our dead. The fighting, 
the scouting, had to be done. In each family, the nearest 
relations did the burying. If a warrior lost a child or his 
wife, he quit the fight to bury his dead. If any of his 
family were bad wounded, he quit fighting to take care 
of them. Because of this, some of our bravest warriors 
were not in the fighting after driving the soldiers to 
the timbered flat. But Ollokot, whose wife was wounded, 
did not go with the camp. Relations took care of her. 

7 Interpreter Many Wounds interposed here and said, "The two older small chil- 
dren of Mrs. Wetahlatpat [Weyatanatoo Latpat] mentioned by Yellow Wolf were 
in my mother's tepee, where both were killed. My sister, Ipnasa Payutsami, was 
there also killed. Shot -through the head where she lay in her blankets. Sheared 
Wolf [John Levi], scout for the whites, who was killed in the Lolo ambuscade, 
was her uncle. Her own two children died at Lapwai after being returned from 
bondage. During all their captivity, and until their deaths, they were cared for by 
my mother, Wetsetsel She and the children were returned to Lapwai with other 
widows and orphans about two years before the main band was permitted to 



Wolf (with back to camera) shows where Hohots Elotoht, fighting in a 
smuggle with a big soldier, was saved by the timely arrival of 
Lakochets Kunnin. 



Stake in foreground (No. 106 in historic field tabulation) shows spot where Yellow 
Wolf narrowly escaped being killed by soldier feigning death. 


Yellow Wolf proceeded south to a very slight depression in the 
ground a few feet in diameter. Designating the scarcely noticeable 
"sink," he said: 

Here 8 Wahlitits was killed early in the fight. It hap- 
pened immediately after I passed on my way to where the 
soldiers were mixing the Indians up. His tepee stood just 
south of here, in the main village line. Like all the war- 
riors, he was bothered to get moccasins and rifle. He 
sprang out and ran to this place. He dropped flat in the 
sink behind a log thick as a man's leg. Across this log, 
his rifle pointed at the willows over there where the 
soldiers would be first seen. He killed a soldier who 
stepped from the willows. I do not know how, but 
Wahlitits was then killed by another soldier. When hit, 
he must have raised up, for he was found lying on his 

Wahlitits* wife, a brave woman, was with him. When 
he fell, she grabbed his gun and fired at a near soldier. 
I do not know if more shots than one. Some said she 
killed the soldier who had killed Wahlitits, and then was 
quickly killed herself. 

We found her lying across her husband's body as if 
protecting him. I heard she had been wounded before 
Wahlitits was killed. She was the only woman who did 
fighting in that battle that I knew about. 

Wahlitits lay with face to the sky, A brave warrior, 
he did not turn back from death. 9 

return. Many such cases were to be found among the patriot Nez Perces. Wetahlat- 
pat escaped from the last battle and with other refugees had an encounter with 
the Assiniboins. Never captured, he eventually died at Lapwai." 

s Stake No. 10, Big Hole battlefield. 

6 For an unreliable account of Wahlitits' death, apparently plagiarized from 
Duncan McDonald, see Shields, The Battle of tfce Big Hole, p. 52. While Shields did 
not hesitate to quote McDonald (without credit) when it did not interfere with his 
partisan, truth-perverting purpose, he adroitly omitted all evidence which tended 
to show the troopers* horrible brutality in the wanton slaughter of women and 
children. Indeed, Shields lauds Sergeant MUdon H. Wilson, charged by McDonald 
with such savagery, as a patriotic hero. (Shields, pp. 76-77.) Because of his 
supreme arrogancy and niggardly nature, he was dubbed < *Nigger Wilson** by the 
enlisted men in general, so wrote Sergeant Loynes, retired, of Captain B&wn's 




Not all facts find a place in the annals of history. Wars are waged 
by two opposing forces, and when the chronicling is left to but one 
of these as has ever been the case with our Indian conquests a 
clouded and one-sided picture is the inevitable result. Nowhere is 
this more evident than in the usual treatment by historians of the 
wanton massacre of August 9, 1877, when Colonel Gibbon's nu- 
merically stronger fighting force swept down at early dawn in a 
veritable avalanche of annihilation upon the sleeping Nez Perce camp 
beside the Big Hole River. 

The following accounts by Indian eyewitnesses throw new light 
upon that barbarous shambling of women, children, and defenseless 
old men an episode hitherto vindicated as "unavoidable" by the 
laudatory pens of calloused Army officials and other writers. 
Gathered for the purpose of verifying Yellow Wolf's startling dis- 
closures, these testimonies may be challenged but not refuted. 


Among the outstanding incidents of the Big Hole Battle is the 
death of Wahlitits and his 'wife. This account is told by Eloosykasit 
(Standing on a "Point) , known in later years as John Pinkham. Of 
Chief Timothy's band of Alpowa, he, as a lad of about seventeen 
years with a younger companion, had gone with horses to participate 
in the races at Tola Lake, the great Nez Perce gathering place. 
Hostilities breaking out, the boys were advised by the chiefs against 
returning home because of the bad temper of the whites m general. 
Thus they found themselves unwilling members of the noncom- 
batant contingent of the patriot cause. As a relation of Wahlitits, 
Pinkham became an attache of that warrior's family circle, and 
at the Big Hole camp was domiciled in an adjoining tepee when 
Colonel Gibbon launched his morning attack. Of the scene which 
ensued in their part of the camp, 'Pinkham gives the following 

At the Big Hole camp the Indians had a great time the night 
before the attack. They paraded and sang all through the camp. 
Some were gambling at a stick, or bone, game near some brush. 

Company I, Seventh Infantry. In contrast to Shields's account, see Eloosykasit's 
narrative, Appendix I, Chapter 10. Eloosykasit is the present owner of the 
warrior's needle gun. 



When the attack came, just before daylight, Wahlitits and his 
wife ran to a shallow depression fronting their tepee. Wahlitits 
placed a very slim and short piece of log on the edge of the depres- 
sion, facing the river brush. Very poor fort protection. A small 
bunch of willows was there. This was about fifteen, maybe twenty, 
steps from the heavy willow thickets through which the soldiers 
were charging. Wahlitits said to his wife: "Go with people to 

She started; Wahlitits did not know she immediately returned. 
He did not see her drop down back of him. Shooting was now going 
on, and he heard his wife speaking, "I am shot!" 

Wahlitits turned and saw her lying there. He called out before 
the people, before the warriors, "My wife is shot to die! I will not 
leave her! I will go nowhere! I am staying here until killed!" 

Those were the last words spoken by Wahlitits. All near 
witnessed what he said. 

Right away a soldier broke through the willows fronting 
Wahlitits, who dropped him with a single shot. Then Wahlitits was 
killed by a soldier, the bullet entering at his chin. I did not see what 
I now tell, but others told me this about his wife. Though bad 
wounded, she reached her husband's rifle and killed the soldier who 
had shot him. She was then quickly killed by other soldiers. One 
bullet went in here [base of throat] and came out here [lumbar 
region]. A good-looking woman, she was soon to be a mother. 

The great warrior, Rainbow, was only about four steps to left 
[south] of Wahlitits in this fighting. Lying flat on the ground, he 
was shooting into the willows. He left when his partner was killed. 
The gun I have, Wahlitits had in his hands when killed. He took 
it from a soldier in the White Bird Canyon fight. Some of his close 
friends or relations picked it up at the Big Hole, and it was smug- 
gled through to the Indian Territory after the surrender. Of course 
it went to Swan Necklace, nephew of Wahlitits, then to lesser 
kinf oiks, cousins, and last to me. It was damaged near the muzzle, 
causing it to be shortened as you now see it. 

Sometimes when I think of my relations gone, I take up this gun 
and look at it. Then they come to me again and I feel better. I can 
never give up this gun. I knew Wahlitits, a tall, fine-looking man. 
After the soldiers were driven to the flat, on the bluff, I, with five 
other young fellows, escaped from there. The oldest of the bunch, 
I alone had a gun. We were scattered, but came together somehow. 
Dodging, keeping away from where might be whites, our traveling 
was slow. Most of the time we had nothing to eat. We suffered 



terribly from hunger. For days we did not know where we were. 
We were always afraid for our lives. After long wandering we 
crossed the Rockies and other wild ranges, and reached the Nez Perce 

With thirteen others of a returned buffalo hunting party who 
were not in the war, I was sent to the Territory. After three years 
John Monteith, Indian Agent, helped me back home again. He knew 
me when I was younger and was good to me. I then worked for 
the Agency several years, fanning. 

( 2 ) PENAH WENONMI ( died March 1 5 , 1 9 3 8 , aged 9 8 ) 

~Penahwenonmi (Helping Another), the aged -wife of Husis 
Qwyeen (Wounded Head) , says of the Big Hole battle: 

Only one woman I knew to engage in the fighting the wife of 
Wahlitits. Wahlitits did not give back when soldiers charged our 
camp. His wife was first bad wounded where both lay in a low 
place fronting their tepee. Their fort was one very small log. 
Wahlitits shot one soldier who came from the willows, and was 
then killed by another soldier. He fell back by his wife's side. She 
grabbed up his gun and shot this soldier, killing him. She changed 
positions a little and when several soldiers fired at her, she dropped 
dead. She was soon to become a mother. 

There was no fighting in the brush by women as you tell me. 
[See Shields, op. cit,, pp. 60-61, and Brady, op. cit. t p. 181.] No 
women had guns. Only few men got hold of their rifles in the camp 
fighting. Not until soldiers were driven out did they become armed. 
The running soldiers reached the woods and flat before guns could 
be found. 

I hid under some willow brush, lying like this [flat on side]. A 
little girl lay close, my arm over her. Bullets cut twigs down on us 
like rain. The little girl was killed. Killed under my arm. 

At the water's edge lying on river rocks, was a half -grown boy, 
shot to death. Nice looking, his name was Illatsats. His father, 
Espowyes [Light in the Mountain], a warrior, was full brother to 
Yellow Wolf's mother. 

Many little children were killed. ^ Out in the open a baby lay on its 
dead mother's breast, crying. Was swinging one arm shattered by 
a bullet. The hand, all bloody, hanging by a string of flesh and skin, 
dropped back and forth with the moving arm.* 

* Charles N. Loynes, Sergeant, Company K, Seventh Infantry, in a letter to 
the author tells of witnessing this sight, the most pitiful of all during his army 



A relative of the daring warrior, Wahlitits. Escaping from the Big Hole battle, 
Eloosykasit, then but seventeen years old, returned with five companions to the 
Nez Perce Eeservation, but was sent to the Indian Territory with other prisoners. 



Wife of Wounded Head. Photo taken at Spaldmg, Idaho, 1928. 


This photograph of Yiylk Wasumwah was taken subsequent to her exile in 
Indian Territory. 


I saw two women lying in a small tepee, dead. Both had been 
shot there in their blankets. A newborn baby was in its mother's 
arms. The baby's head had been crushed. 


Owyeen (Wounded), a -woman of venerable age (1926), reluc- 
tant to call up harrowing memories, stated briefly: 

Everybody was sleeping when the soldiers charged. They set fire 
to a few tepees. Little children were in some of those tepees. Sleep- 
ing in blankets, they were burned to death. We heard them scream- 
ing. We found the bodies all burned and naked. Lying where they 
had slept or fallen before reaching the doorway. 

Two small children crossed the creek alone and hid in the brush. 
Some women and the old medicine man, Kahpots, were there. One 
woman requested of him, "Why not do something against soldiers' 
killing? You must have some strong Power?*' 

Kahpots replied, "I can do nothing. I have tried, but my Power 
is not effective. I feel helpless. So, my niece, you better look out for 
yourself, how you can save your life. Go farther down the creek!"- 

The woman did as directed and was saved. Kahpots, unable to 
travel farther, had to be left on the trail a few days later, and was 
killed and scalped by General Howard's Bannacks, and maybe white 

(4) WETATONMI (died May, 1934) 

In October, 1926, Wetatonmi, Chief Ollokofs wife, almost 
blind from tracoma, gave the author the following brief depiction of 
the Eig Hole battle as she saw it: 

After the Clearwater fight of part of two days, we moved across 
the Kamiah River on towards Weippe. There was some fighting at 
the crossing, but not hard or serious. We kept going, and crossed 
the Lolo Pass into the Bitterroot Valley. Soldiers tried to stop us in 
Lolo Pass, but the chiefs paid little attention to them. 

At Iskumtselalik Pah [Pkce of Ground Squirrels] we camped two 
suns. This was the Big Hole. We saw good tepee poles, and cut 
them to take to buffalo country. We did not expect more war. 

"The Indian woman of whom I told you I saw lying dead with the baby on 
her breast, crying as it swung its little arm back and forth the lifeless hand 
flapping at the wrist broken by a bullet was outside the tepee. When I think of 
those terrible scenes, wrongs waged against human beings, I say shame! shame! 
This great Christian government had power to do differently by those truly 
patriotic people. It is such rememberances which touch my emotions, and I am led 
to marvel at the term 'civilization.' " 



Ollokot's tepee was on lower [west] side of the camp, down- 
creek. Chief Joseph's tepee stood a little way above. More people 
were killed about Joseph's tepee. 

Wahlitits was killed. He had helped start the war. His wife was 
killed immediately after. She shot the soldier who had killed her 
husband. She was only woman to do fighting. They all ran to hide 
in the creek or brush. I ran to lower side of the camp. 

It was not yet full daylight. I saw a young boy lying dead under 
the riverbank, near the water. Nearly half -grown, a fine-looking 
boy. I thought maybe he had been dreaming and, hearing shots, ran 
out and was killed. I was hardly awake myself when I ran from 
the tepee. I have never forgotten seeing that boy dead on the rocks 
by the clear water. Everybody liked that boy. 

I ran off far below the fighting. Soldiers saw me in poor hiding 
and shot at me. I heard many bullets, but they did not hit me. I 
did not see Ollokot where he was fighting. 

Soldiers were driven from camp after they had destroyed many 
tepees. They ran to the hill. They entrenched, and the fight after- 
wards continued. The soldiers driven away, people all came back to 
the camp. They had to see what had been done. The women and 
children cried loudly. The chiefs and warriors wept to see their 
bravest dead. Pahkatos, a great warrior, was well known among^the 
Sioux. A man of strong feeling, strong in battle. Never was known 
to cry and show tears. Rainbow lay dead where the fighting had 
been hard. He and Pahkatos had grown up together. Always went 
together when hunting buffaloes or on warpath. Had never been 
separated for long. He cried over his friend. Cried long. He said, 
"This sun, this time, I am going to die. My brother is killed, and I 
shall go with him." 

Pahkatos went with his gun towards the soldier trenches. Draw- 
ing near them, the first shots missed him. The next shots he fell dead. 
We buried the dead, and in the afternoon moved camp. Some 
warriors stayed to continue the fight, Ollokot with them. Of course, 
most of the fighting men went with the camp to protect it, if other 
soldiers were met. 

Some wounded died on the trail and were buried. Two women 
died of wounds. We had travois for worst wounded, but no stretch- 
ers. I do not know how many suns we traveled when we had to 
leave one old man who could go no farther. A medicine man, his 
name was Kahpots. General Howard's scouts killed him. He has 
two sons now living. 


(5) CHIEF WHITE BIRD THE YOUNGER (died Jan. 27, 1927) 

A sidelight on the question of spies in the Indian camp, and the 
terrible straits to which the -women and children were driven in an 
effort to escape the holocaust of death, is given in this narrative of 
the late Chief White "Bird the younger, then a 1 0-year-old lad. 

I was born about 1868, and was with my parents through the 
war of 1877. My mother was sister to Chief White Bird, and, 
according to an old tribal custom, I inherited his title, took his 
name after reaching manhood. 

I could not understand why the fighting. I saw bad happenings 
at different places, and I remember too well the one battle in which 
I was caught. I now know it was fought at the Big Hole. 

We came to that place in the afternoon, toward evening. We 
stayed that night and next day. Evening came on again. It was 
after sundown not too late lots of us children were playing. It 
was below the camp, towards the creek, that we boys were playing 
the stick, or bone, game. Having lots of fun, we were noisy. We 
were young, and I do not want to be understood we were gamblers. 
Only having a good time. Finally dark came, and we had fire for 
light and warmth. 

Two men came there wrapped in gray blankets. They stood close, 
and we saw they were white men. Foolishly we said nothing to the 
older people about it. We ran away, and then came back to our 
playing. The strangers were gone. We resumed our game, having 
great sport. 

Just about this time I became tired, so I went to our tepee. 
Though I noticed the men in gray blankets had gone, I said nothing. 
I went to bed and slept till morning. Of course I was in the same 
tepee with my father and mother. 

My father got up early to go look after horses. Another man 
was perhaps forty steps ahead of him, going for his horses. The 
soldiers shot him down. They did not try to capture him, but 
killed him first thing. My father saw the gun flash, heard the report, 
and turned back to camp. 

Right away the troops began shooting. Bullets fell like hail on 
camp, on tepees. The noise was that of Gatling guns as I have since 
heard them. The sound awoke me. I heard bullets ripping the 
tepee walls, pattering as raindrops. 

My mother jumped up. She caught my Land, pulling me from the 
blankets. She took me out the doorway with her. My mother said 
to me, "Go that way! Get away as fast as you can!" 



I was ten years old in 1877. My father, Red Elk, was a brother 
to Chief Yellow Bull, and we were with him. We were native to the 
White Bird River. My brother, who did fighting, told me con- 
siderable about the battles, but I saw something of two of them. 

The first was at the Big Hole. Sun was going down. I heard 
someone say he had seen a sboyahpee [white man] cross the canyon, 
riding down horseback. A second time they saw him, this time going 
back. Some thought he must have been a spy. It was now nearly 
dark. I heard some of the older people talking that the white man 
must be working a mine somewhere. He might have quarreled with 
the others. He might have been a spy locating our camp. 

After dark we small boys had a bone game near the end of the 
camp. After playing awhile, I was ready to go home and sleep. I 
heard someone say that a shoyabpee was approaching. I saw a man 
standing wrapped in a blanket. Standing in the firelight, I saw white 
on his forehead under his hat. I went home and ail were sleeping. 
I did not wake them but went to bed and fell asleep. 

About early morning I was awakened. My father and Chief 
Yellow Bull were standing, talking low. They thought they saw 
soldiers across the creek. Next instant we heard shots from above 
the creek across the .canyon, maybe a quarter mile away. I heard the 
loud call, "We are attacked!" 

Then I heard two shots, and another loud shout, "We are at- 
tacked! We are attacked!" 

After these two or three shots there broke a heavy fighting. Soldiers 
soon came rushing among the tepees. Bullets flying everywhere. Of 
course I jumped up and ran outside, down below. It was like spurts 
of fire, lightning all around. 

When I ran away, Sarpsis Ilppilp and Tipyahlanah Kapskaps were 
still sound asleep. They woke up, and these two brave men ran across 
to meet the enemies. I crossed the creek. It was becoming more 
light. I gained a point where I could see the soldiers plainly. We 
watched from there, myself and other boys. 

We saw the camp deserted by Indians. Soldiers still crossing the 
creek. Seemed to be surrounding the camp. One man, Wahlitits, 
remained there fighting, and was killed. He was fighting from behind 
a small, decayed log. His wife was a few feet back of him. When he 
was killed, she snatched his gun and shot the soldier who had done 
the deed. She was then killed by shots from several soldiers. A fine- 
looking woman, the only woman known to do fighting. After sol- 
diers were driven to the hill, there lay Wahlitits and wife dead. 
Several mothers and their children were killed. 



Nobody to hold the soldiers back, they set fire to some tepees. I 
saw desperate fighting among the tepees. Only a few Indians with 
guns. Sarpsis and Tipyahlanah seemed to drive the enemies back 

It was about sunrise when the soldiers gathered on the flat and 
dug hiding places. The fighting then stopped for a while, and the 
Indians returned to the partly ruined camp. They all cried when 
they saw what had been done. Boys, girls, women, and children, and 
men who had no guns, no arms, lay scattered among dead soldiers, 
burned tepees, and bedding. 

(7) EELAHWEEMAH (died Nov. 2, 1920) 

The late David 'Williams, successor to Joseph as chief of the Nez 
Perces on the Colville Indian Reservation, whose native name was 
Eelahweemah (About Asleep), was a lad of twelve or so at the time 
of the war. He gave me the following reminiscences of the Big Hole: 

It was just breaking day and everybody was in bed. I heard gun 
reports, about twice. Then followed rapid firing into our tepees. A 
warrior yelled: 

"Wake up, people! Soldiers right up against us, shooting at us!" 

Before the sun was up, Indians and soldiers came together in a 
close war. My father, Likimna [Last in a Row], showed us where 
to go and told us not to go anywhere else. He then made some shots 
at the soldiers. 

Seven of us five women, my little brother, and myself : were 
in the shallow gully where my father had directed us. It was not 
deep, and when the soldiers saw us they began shooting at us. 

I saw one woman killed my mother, Tumokult [I Block Up]. 
She was the first to be killed. I saw my father shoot and drop a 
soldier. I 'do not know if it was the one who killed my mother. 

Then I looked around. All the other four women lay dead or bad 
wounded! I said to my little brother,* "We must get out of* this 

The bank of our shelter was on the wrong side and did not hide 
us from the soldiers. 

We jumped from there, and soldiers fired at us. I do not know 
how many shots. As many as they could while we were in sight. 
There was a creek, and we got under its bank. I saw one Indian 

* EelahweemaVs smaller brother was one of the many who succumbed to malarial 
fever in the swamplands of Fort Leavenworth district, Kansas, whither the war 
prisoners were exiled before being sent to the Indian Territory. 



lying there dead. He did not have a gun. Very quickly I heard 
someone call: 

"Soldiers now running from the warriors!" 

It was true! Looking, I saw soldiers running and Indians after 
them, shooting. Not many Indians in the chase. 

The soldiers ran toward some timber on a bluff where was a 
sloping flat. There they dug trenches for hiding. There the warriors 
kept them all that day and all night. Some were killed in their 

The camp soon moved and I went with it. 


Pahit Palikt, still living (1940), is the son of Uwhee Tommoset 
(Heyoom Pishkish) (died 1926), a warrior later known as Lame John, 
from a sprained foot received in a sawmill accident while a prisoner in 
the Indian Territory. The son, a fine specimen of his tribe, gave 
the author these war recollections: 

I remember only one time in that war. I was so small. It was early 
morning the soldiers came. I did not hear the first shooting. My 
father and mother ran from the tepee, leaving me, my brother 
twelve years old, and a cousin thirteen, sleeping under blankets. 
We would be safer there. Bullets would go over us. 

Soldiers came and shot my dog in the tepee. I did not hear. They 
must not have seen us, all covered feet and head. When the soldiers 
left, my brother shook -me and said, "Wake up! Bring that blanket 
and come!" 

I grabbed my blanket, and we all three ran from the tepee. Guns 
were going fast, popping loud! We ran maybe thirty steps, when 
my brother leaped over the creekbank and called to me, "Jump 
down here!" 

I jumped to where he was. We stayed there maybe half hour, 
maybe one hour; I do not know. I heard terrible gun noise. Lois of 
smoke. Plenty of powder smell. Indians yelling, soldiers shouting, 
cursing. I was scared! Bad scared! Soldiers seemed shooting at me. 
I heard bullets going past my head. My brother was killed there 
under the bank. I missed my blanket. I thought, "Where is my 

I had dropped it while running for the bank. I ran back and got 
my blanket. I saw Indians going up the hill. I saw my father, horse- 
back, coming down the hill to where the Indians were. In the 
wrecked camp I saw and heard lots of Indian men and women crying. 



Oh, lots of them crying! Crying loud, mournful. I could not 
understand. I did not know. I saw many soldiers, many Indian men, 
and oh, so many women and children lying on the ground. I won- , 
dered if they were sleeping so. Afterward I understood. 

This is all I remember of that war my parents carried me through 
the only things I can recall. It must have been the Big Hole battle, 
from what I now know. There is nothing more I can tell. 


Kowtoltks (Charley Kowtoliks) , a lad of fifteen at the time of the 
Big Hole battle y gives the following recollections: 

When I first heard the firing of guns, I jumped from my blankets 
and ran about thirty feet and threw myself on hands and knees, 
and kept going. An old woman, Patsikonmi, came from the tepee 
and did the same thing bent down on knees and hands. She was to 
my left and was shot in the breast. I heard the bullet strike. She 
said to me, "You better not stay here. Be going, I'm shot." ^Then 
she died. Of course I ran for my life and hid in the bushes. 

The soldiers seemed shooting everywhere. Through tepees and 
wherever they saw Indians. I saw little children killed and men fall 
before bullets coming like rain. 

One young man, Kahwitkahwit [Dry-land Crane], had two wives. 
When the attack came, all three hurried to the river and sprang in. 
They swam downstream, side by side, the man in the middle. Coming 
to some willows, they landed, the man lying flat, the women sitting 
on either side. They stayed hidden until the fighting quit the village. 

At the last battle Kahwitkahwit cried when Chief Joheph returned 
from the soldier camp and ordered fighting renewed. Said he would 
go surrender himself. 

Later, Joseph was forced to surrender. Many Nez Perces were 
scattered in the hills and canyons. Women and children as well as 
men without blankets or food. Joseph wanted to save them. 

Kahwitkahwit, the cowardly, was taken to the Territory with 
others. He was returned and placed on the Colville Reservation, 
where he died. He was not a warrior. 


Black Eagle, Wottolen's son, aged sixteen at the time, gives the 
following graphic account of what he saw and experienced at the 
Big Hole struggle: 



Our tepee stood at the very lower end of the village. "When. I was ' 
awakened that morning by guns, I sprang up and ran out the door- 
way into the river. It was cold I Remembering a horsehair rope, I 
ran back to get it. While doing this, bullets passed through the tepee. 
Guns were barking, and I heard someone yell, "We are attacked!" 
Must have been somebody just aroused from slumber. 

But the soldiers did not get through the brush to our part of camp. 
Only a very few warriors with guns, maybe three, held them from 
crossing the river. 

With others I ran for the horses. They were bunched farther down 
the river, badly scared. We had trouble getting around them. A dis- 
tance from camp I heard the cry go up, "Soldiers are defeated!" The 
soldiers, driven from camp, were running for the woods. 

Chief Joseph's horses with many others were on the open hillside 
to the west. The herd was back of and above the soldiers when they 
first charged the camp. I saw Chief Joseph and No Heart, a young 
man, up the hillside going afoot after the horses. Both were bare- 
footed, and Joseph had no leggings. Only shirt and blanket. Reach- 
ing their own horses, they mounted and drove the herd farther up 
the hill. Out of sight of soldiers and the fighting. 

Up there No Heart was killed. Shot through mistake by a friend. 
Word had gone out that Flathead Indians were driving the horses 
away. This was not true, and cost the life of a good young man. 
Afterward the Indian who shot No Heart went back to bury his 
body, but it could not be found. Nor could No Heart's horse be 
seen anywhere. Maybe No Heart came back to life soon after he was 
shot, and went away and died.* 

The horses were brought to camp by Joseph and others after the 
soldiers were driven to the timber flat, where they dug holes for 
hiding. That night the warriors heard soldiers crying like babies. 

I did not see all the dead buried. When I got back with horses, 
many bodies had been taken away. Some carried on horses were 
buried secretly. I saw dead soldiers lying about, but did not count 
them. They killed forty-four Indians before being driven from the 

I knew two little boys who were sleeping in a tepee that was 
burned. Their mothers covered them with blankets and a buffalo 
robe, and they escaped unhurt. Peopeo Tholekt was the father of one, 
and the other was Peo's wife's brother. Another brother sleeping in 
the same tepee was Jackson Sundown [late champion horseman of 

* Mr. Andrew Garcia, who was over the Big Hole battlefield in 1879, told the 
writer that he had found an Indian grave on the hfll where No Heart was last 
wen with the horse herd. 


the Northwest]. Peo's wife and child escaped when the attack was 
first made at the last battle, but the family was never again united. 
I do not know what became of her. Her child and Sundown were 
of the same age. 

Camp was packed. All us young boys with women and children 
and old men left with horse herd on the trail Warriors were along 
to protect the families against enemy attacks. Tepee poles were 
used for travois for bad wounded. Chief Joseph and Chief White 
Bird went with the families. 

All along that trail was crying. Mourning for many left where 
we thought no war would come. Old people, half-grown boys and 
girls, mothers, and little babies. Many only half -buried left for 
wolves and coyotes. I can never forget that day. 


Samuel Tilden, Nez Perce of high standing, 'writes briefly of his 
experiences in the Big Hole horror: 

At the Big Hole I was sleeping with my grandmother, Martha 
Joseph, a close relation to Chief Joseph. She was shot through the 
left shoulder as she lay there, and she told me to skip for my life. I 
ran for the brush with other boys. I heard the bullets as they cut 
leaves and twigs down about us. I saw tepees on fire, where warriors 
mixed with soldiers in dreadful fight, and drove them to the hill. 
About ten years old at the time, I remember all very well. Sometime 
when I see you I can tell you more. 


During the Big Hole battle White Feather, a comely Nez Perce 
maid of seventeen or eighteen snows, was struck in the left shoulder 
by a bullet and knocked to the ground. Dazed and half blinded by 
the shock, she mechanically caught at the boot of a soldier or volun- 
teer in an attempt to draw herself up. That gallant defender of his 
flag and country's honor dealt her a blow on her right shoulder with 
the breech of his gun, followed by a vicious jab on the mouth with 
the metal-plated butt of the piece, bruising and cutting her lip, 
and breaking out an upper front tooth. 

Gray Hawk, White Feather's father, mortally wounded, died at 
the second night's camp from the Big Hole, leaving her with no 
blood kin. With no care and nursing throughout the long retreat, 
her misery and sufFering were increased by the cold winter spent 
in the camp of the unfriendly "Walk-around" Sioux, where she was 



left because of her inability to continue the flight to the haven of 
Sitting Bull's camp. 

The story of the unfortunate White Feather as written and held 
in manuscript by Andrew Garcia, to whom she was later married, 
is short but fraught with pathos; it ends with her death in 1879, at 
the hands of the implacable Blackfeet in the wilds of the cheerless 
Marias Mountains. 


More fortunate, perhaps, than the Nemesis-pursued White Feather 
was Halpawinmi (Dawn) . Eighteen or twenty years of age, strong 
and handsome in form and physique, and endowed with a beautiful 
personality, she was the recognized belle and favorite of her tribe. 

Though her brother was killed in her presence, she did not give way 
to unavailing grief and lamentation. Disdaining to flee the awful 
holocaust about her, she fell while ministering to the wounded and 
dying about her. 



His Own Story 


Closing Scenes at the Big Hole 

An outstanding occurrence of the Big Hole battle was the capture 
by the Nez Perce warriors of Colonel Gibbon's only piece of 
artillery. When Gibbon started moving toward the Nez Perce camp 
before daybreak, he discovered that his howitzer could not be 
brought along, on account of the noise it would make in negotiating 
the fallen timber in the trail. He therefore ordered that it should 
be brought on by six men shortly after daylight, accompanied by 
a pack mule loaded with two thousand rounds of ammunition. But 
the howitzer, Colonel Gibbon writes, did not reach its destination: 
"Just as we took up our position in the timber two shots from 
our howitzer on the trail above us were heard, and we afterwards 
learned that the gun and pack-mule with ammunition were, on 
the road to us, intercepted by Indians. The non-commissioned 
officers in charge, Sergeants Daly and Fredrics and Corporal Sales, 
made the best resistance they could, whilst the two privates 
cowardly fled at the first appearance of danger and never stopped 
till they had put a hundred miles between themselves and the 
battlefield, spreading, of course, as such cowards always do, the 
most exaggerated reports of the dire calamity which had over- 
taken the entire command. The piece was fired twice, and as 
the Indians closed around it the men used their rifles. Corporal 
Sales was killed, the two sergeants wounded, the animal was shot 
down, and Private John O. Bennett, the driver, entangled in 
their fall, cutting himself loose, succeeded in reaching the brush 
and escaped to the train, which the two sergeants, Blodgett, the 
guide, and William, a colored servant of Lieutenant Jacobs, also 
reached. In the meantime, our fight in the timber continued with 

more or less activity all day " ("Report of the General of 

the Army, 1877," pp. 69-70.) 

After giving the Indian version of the taking of the gun, Yellow 
Wolf describes how the Indians packed camp and silently moved 
away from the battlefield after hastily burying the dead. 



T "WILL tell how we got this gun. Six of us were mount- 
JL ed and this side [southwest] of the entrenched soldiers. 
They were my uncle, Old Yellow Wolf, brother to my 
mother, Tenahtahkah Weyun [Dropping from a Cliff], 
Weyatanatoo Latpat [Sun Tied], Pitpillooheen [Calf of 
Leg], Ketalkpoosmin [Stripes Turned Down], and I, 
Yellow Wolf. 

We were scouts on the lookout. Scouts everywhere 
that enemies might be coming. From across the valley 
south of us, I heard a voice a Nez Perce voice call a 
warning, "Look this way!" 

Looking, we saw three scouts riding fast toward us. 
Drawing near, one of them yelled, "Two white men rid- 
ing on trail towards you!" 

We ran our horses in that direction. Soon we saw 
them! We chased those two white men back the way 
they came. We fired at them. Up there we found the 
cannon. We saw the big gun on a wagon with men. 
Four, maybe six, mules hitched to that gun wagon. 
While we charged this cannon, the men having it in 
keeping fired it twice. But some distance away, we 
scattered, and nobody hurt. I saw a warrior off his horse 
running afoot towards this cannon from the opposite 
side. This was Seeyakoon Ilppilp [Red Spy], a brave 
man, a good fighter. He came running, dodging, getting 
closer and closer to the main cannonman. 1 That soldier 

*Qf the killing of the cannoneer "Wattes Knnnin (Earth Blanket), known as 
"Big Joe," a half-Umatilla who was born on White Bird Creek and belonged to 
Chief Joseph's band, in an interview said: 

"Hiding up the hill I came to a kind of small canyon forks. Prom there I saw 
the big gun and soldiers running away from it* Two Indians afoot came down the 
hill towards the cannon. I galloped up the hill a short way, and when I came 
again where I could see, just one white man was there. Only one left. He was 
shooting back ; sort of back of himself and not ahead. 

"The two Indians were getting closer. I saw the white man sinking down. I 
thought he was going to shoot at me. No ! he was dying. 

"When I saw him go down, I galloped faster. When I reached the cannon, 
there stood not far away a bay horse with packs on his back. Those packs were 
gun cartridges. "Lots of them." 

Without a gun, Earth Blanket made no claims of having taken part in the 
Big Hole fighting. 



did not see him. Then Seeyakoon, still at good distance, 
shot him in the back, killing him. At the same time 
Tenahtahkah dropped the right-hand lead mule. The 
cannon was completely stopped. Some other soldiers 
with it skipped to the brush, escaping with their lives. 
But the main warrior in its capture was Ketalkpoosmin, 
a young man afraid of nothing. 

This little fight over, we again heard one scout across 
the creek calling, "Coming down this way leading one 
pack horse, about ten soldiers!" 

We mounted in a hurry and went to meet these new 
enemies. As far as to our camp [600 yards] one of the 
soldiers was leading the pack horse. My uncle, Espowyes 
[Light in the Mountain] 2 , was some distance ahead of 
us. I saw him head this soldier off and take the pack 
horse. That soldier put up no fight. He skipped for his 
life. We fired at him, but did not stop him. Espowyes 
was brother [relation] to Chief Joseph. Those ten or 
eleven soldiers ran their horses fast back up the trail. 
When we got to that pack horse, we cut the rope holding 
the packs, dropping them to the ground. With rocks the 
boxes were broken open. It was ammunition, more than 
two thousand cartridges. 3 

I paid no attention, but about thirty Indians were 
there by this time. We all piled after that ammunition. 
Some got only few cartridges, some got more. Later it 

* Espowyes, according: to some of the interpreters, is a name apparently foreign 
to Nez Perce proper. He was the full brother of Yellow Wolf's mother, and was 
a warrior of note, having engaged in previous tribal wars in the buffalo country 
Shot in the hip by an Assiniboin Sioux, he walked with a slight limp ever 

*** f fi eM dispatch dated August 14, 1877, sent from Camp William Logan and 
directed to the Adjutant General, Military Division Pacific, San Francisco, General 
Howard stated: 

"They [the Indians! captured on last battle field not less +^*n thirty-five hundred 
(S.6WJ) rounds and fifteen (16) muskets, caliber forty-five (45>/> ("Report of 
the General of the Army," 1877, m Report of tfie Secretary of War, 1877, VoL L) 



was divided evenly by the chiefs. Just one kind of rifles 
it fit those we took from the soldiers. 

Most of the warriors now went back to fight the 
soldiers in their trenches, while several scouted the woods 
above us, the mountainside. Might be soldiers coming 
through that way. 

Only my uncle and I rode up the trail where the ten 
soldiers had fled. We went quite a way and decided those 
soldiers had left for the Bitterroot Valley. We turned 
back. Had we found them, one would have watched 
them, while the other returned to bring warriors for the 


"While we chased those soldiers and captured the am- 
munition, other Indians knocked out whatever was used 
in firing the cannon. Took off the wheels and rolled 
them down a steep place to the swamp or creek brush. 
We could have fought the soldiers with that gun had 
we known how to use it. I understood Peopeo Tholekt 
shallow-buried it, digging with his hunting knife. He 
came there as the fight ended. Poker Joe afterwards 
rolled it down the bluff to thick brush. I knew Poker 
Joe very well. He was a great leader a brave warrior. 4 

I am telling the facts. What I saw, and what was told 

* Poker Joe derived his name from his supposed addicition to that card game. 
His Nez Perce cognomen was Wahwookya Wasaaw (Lean Elk), often abridged to 
Wasaaw, "Weak" or "Poor." Slightly undersized, he had a wonderfully strong 
voice. This served him well in his role as chosen commander of the retreat from 
the Big Hole disaster. This he successfully conducted until after the Missouri River 
crossing, as will be seen in Chapter 16. How Poker Joe happened to be with the 
retreating Nez Perces is explained in the following letter from interpreter 
Williams, dated March 21, 1938: 

"Mrs. Phillip Williams who knew Poker Joe well, says that his surname was 
something like 'Alexs/ and that the true name should be found recorded at the 
Catholic Mission, Flat Head Indian Reservation. Joe was a half-blood French. 

**Returning from the buffalo country, Poker Joe and his little band went on to 
Idaho, When within six miles of Kamiah, he heard of the war ; so he started back 
to Montana from Lolo Creek. In some way he cut his leg with a knife on the way, 
and reached home quite lame. White people thought he had been wounded by 
soldiers in Idaho, and would not beKeve Poker's explanation. Not liking to be 
accused of something he had not done, he joined up with the war party," 

Poker Joe's little band consisted of six tepees; but these were transformed, in 
General Howard's dispatch of August 14, previously quoted in part, into "twenty 
lodges": 'Indians have had reinforcements of about twenty (20) lodges from 
buffalo country." 


me about the big gun hiding. I am telling to hurt no- 
body. The true history must be given. 5 

With my uncle I now rode up the open mountainside 
to timber where other scouts were watching. They were 
guarding against any new enemies who might come. 
Hiding up there, we would be ready to head off any 
soldiers coming along the trail below. The fighting at the 
soldiers' trenches was going on. The gun reports did not 
grow less. 

From the scene of the capture of the howitzer, Yellow Wolf led 
us northwest up the open hillside to the timber. He passed over the 
shoulder of the ridge point with unerring accuracy, and proceeded 
to a small parklike opening on a slightly sloping flat facing the 

This place was headquarters on this side of the creek 
for the scouts and guards who were watching for any 
new enemies who might be approaching over the trail. 
A good bunch of men were standing here, I, Yellow 

s This manifest digression by the narrator was made in anxiety lest he be 
construed as antagonistic to Peopeo Tholekt's claim of burying the howitzer, which 
was questioned by some of the warriors. Peopeo, in his unpublished war narrative, 
states that he was mounted and in another part of the field when attracted by the 
cannon shots, and that by hard riding he arrived on the scene before the unhurt 
mules were yet detached from the carriage. In vain he urged_ moving the gun 
to position and using it against the soldiers. The warriors, claiming the animals 
by right of capture, unhooked and took them away. Peopeo then proceeded with 
an attempt to conceal the gun by burying it. 

Duncan McDonald in his "Nez Perce War of 1877" says of this occurrence: 

"After capturing the howitzer they damaged it so that, as they believed, it could 
not be used. A few minutes later an Indian reached the gun and expressed great 
regret that it was rendered useless. He said: 'It is a great pity. I know how to 
use this kind of gun. I learned when I was with CoL Wright fighting Cayuses 
and Yakimas/ " 

Perhaps no unalloyed version of the Indian disposal of the howitzer can ever be 
obtained. An unsupported claim among the younger members of the war party 
has it that a certain **Tababo/* a half blood, was the one who consigned it to the 
swamp thicket. The name is obviously a corruption of 'Tabador," a French half 
blood who figures prominently in later parts of Yellow Wolf's narrative but who 
had no part in the capture of the howitzer or its disposal. Poker Joe was the 
only half blood who was connected with the incident. 

Of the recovery of this gun Colonel Gibbon says : 

'Tarties were sent out on the lltli to bury the dead, all of whom were found, 
recognized, and decently interred, and to recover the howitzer, which was found 
concealed in the brush, the carriage-wheels being carried off." (Idem,., p. 71.) 

Colonel Gibbon clearly indicates that the wheels were completely missing, which 
is erroneous. The wheels (at least one of them minus a few spokes) were re- 
covered, and the howitzer was remounted on its carriage and taken to Deer Lodge. 
The entire outfit, with two unexploded shells found in the proximity of the capture, 
now rests under cover within the small National Park in proximity to the still 
well-preserved rifle pits where the remnant of the harassed troops found 
precarious refuge. 


Wolf , among them. Our horses were tied just back of us. 

Word came that Sarpsis Ilppilp [Red Moccasin 
Tops] 6 had been killed. He was lying dead near the sol- 
dier trenches. Chuslum Moxmox [Yellow Bull], his 
father, made announcement, "We do not want to leave 
him there. We do not want to leave him for crazy white 
people who might cut him in pieces to make fun of 
brave warrior. Who will go bring his body away, bring 
him to this place?" 

Then the word went around, "We are bringing Sarpsis 
Ilppilp away from there!" 

Seven or eight of us started down that way [north- 
east]. We had to keep away from the soldiers' aim, stay 
hidden in the timber. Tipyahlanah Kapskaps [Strong 
Eagle], cousin of Sarpsis, was our leader. I can not recog- 
nize every place as then. Young trees have grown up, 
changing looks of woods and land. But I will explain 
best I can. 

When we came down above where the ranger station 
now stands, we tried avoiding shots from the soldier 
trenches. Weweetsa [Log], who had been wounded in 
the right side earlier in the fight, was the rear man. He 
became exposed and was killed [wounded] by a bullet 
from the trenches. It struck at the collarbone and came 
out at left shoulder. Weweetsa soon regained life and 
remained with us two weeks. Then, with three other 
wounded men, he went to the Flathead Reservation. He 
got well of the shot but was killed soon afterwards by 
Flatheads in a quarrel. 

Hardly three minutes after Weweetsa was shot, 

6 Sarpsis is the upper, or ankle-wrapping, part of the moccasin. Ilppilp is '*red/* 
and from his decorating thus the tops of his moccasins was derived the name of 
the meteoric though short-lived warrior, Sarpsis Eppilp. For a sadly confused 
description of his death apparently plagiarized from Duncan McDonald see 
Shields, Battle of the Biff Hole, p. 52, and Brady, Northwestern Fights and 
Fighters, p. 176. 



Quiloi'shkish had his right elbow shattered. His name is 
Flathead language. At Bearpaw Mountain fight he es- 
caped to the Sioux. Never did surrender. Finally re- 
turned to Lapwai where he died. At the wounding of 
Quiloi'shkish, we all returned to this place. 

We thought to try again. Six or seven of us went this 
time. A shallow draw led down where Sarpsis lay. We 
worked down it quite a ways, within about twenty steps 
of where he lay. Then Tipyahlanah sprang forward and 
caught up Sarpsis, who was still breathing. Only ran 
with him a few steps when he was shot through right 
side just below short rib. Wounded, he carried his brother 
[cousin] part way to safety, then fell. Sarpsis there died. 
Tipyahlanah crawled back up to the benchland. We 
came back up here, our hearts feeling bad. After another 
council, we said we would try again. 

A third time we were ready to go. My uncle Yellow 
Wolf told me he would go in my place. As I have told 
you, he was my mother's full brother and first cousin to 
Chief Joseph. This is why I stayed in Joseph's tepee, by 
his campfire. Relations always stay together. 

They went down. The dead man had a white wolf- 
skin over his shoulders. His father, Yellow Bull, kept 
shouting from the wooded bench, "Who saves the body 
can have the wolfskin!" That wolfskin was strong 

I do not know only as they told when they came 
back. While the other warriors kept firing at the trenches 
from hiding places, Tahwis Tokaitat [Bighorn Bow], a 
strong man, crawled down to the body and pulled it 
away. The soldiers did not see him. As he brought the 
body behind a tree, Yellow Bull called to him, "You 
have done what you wanted! Come away! " 



They brought the body of Sarpsis Ilppilp up here and 
buried it secretly. I saw the bullet mark. He was shot 
in the throat. The bullet cut one strand of his wampum 
beads. 7 

Yellow Bull did not keep his promise to give the white 
wolfskin for bringing away the body of Sarpsis. The 
mother, a magician, got the skin. It was taken from her 
by Tahomchits Humkon, a medicine man. At the last 
battle, wearing this wolfskin, Tahomchits was shot across 
the back of neck. He always shook afterwards hands 

Not many warriors stayed at the fighting. A very few 
could hold the soldiers, while if any new enemies came, 
warriors must be to hold them back. Where the soldiers 
buried themselves, one warrior, going from tree to tree 
while shooting, could be as three, maybe as five or seven, 

That same afternoon of the attack on our camp, all 
women, children, old men, and wounded left, going for- 
ward on the trail. Chief Joseph, "White Bird, and fighting 
men also went. Many had wounded friends and relations 
to care for. The families must be protected if new 
enemies appeared. 

It was the women and children we must fight for. So, 
in the evening all warriors, all but thirty, left to join the 
camp, to be there before darkness came, to watch for 
soldiers through the night. We remaining would fight 
as we could, and bring news if other soldiers came* 

Night drew on. We then went after the fighting 
strong. Scattered among trees, lying close to the ground. 
In low places hard to see, we crawled close to those 

7 See Appendix I, this chapter. 



trenches. We heard the soldiers talking, swearing, 
crying. 8 

Late in the fore part of the night, we heard noise in 
the willows under the bluff below the trenches. We 
heard one talking loud in the trenches. Then we heard 
him crying! When we heard this, we understood. Must 
be some young man [a volunteer] escaped us to the 
willows, and the old man [his father] could not go. 
Probably he was wounded. Then the escaping soldiers 
seemed all returned to the trenches. That was what we 
thought, hearing such noises. 9 

The night grew old, and the firing faded away. 
Soldiers would not shoot. Would not lift head nor hand 
above their hiding. We believed they had but little am- 
munition. 10 Of course, they must have some few cart- 
ridges, but shots slowed. Then they stopped entirely. 
We knew then they were holding cartridges for maybe a 
charge by us. We did not charge. If we killed one soldier, 
a thousand would take his place. If we lost one warrior, 
there was none to take his place. 

We then held council to know what best to do. The 
older warriors always decided. They talked this way: 

s The plight of the wounded soldiers was indeed pitiful. Their clothing was still 
damp from twice splashing through the cold mountain stream. The pangs of hunger 
and thirst as they cowered in their inadequate shelter trenches were nerve- 
wracking, and some of the boys became half delirious. Peopeo Tholel one of the 
more adSve young warriors, crawled within a few feet of * trench and heard 
the following remark. "Charley! Charley! Hold on there a Hold on 1 G~ d 
you. wait!" From some of the trenches came raving, from others weeping. 
Sergeant Loynes speaks of this condition in one of his letters. 

9 This was evidently the party sent out from the trenches for water, of which 

"Not *until nightfall did the commanding officer deem it prudent to send out 
a fatigue party for water. Then three men volunteered to go, and under cover of 
darkness and a firing party, they made the trip safely, filling and bringing in as 
many canteens as they could carry." (Shields, op. cit., p. 72,) Colonel Gibbon 
makes no mention of this occurrence in his official report. 

10 In regard to the supposed dearth of ammunition, Sergeant Loynes states in 
a letter (January 7, 1935): 

"The claim is absolutely correct. We certainly were getting down to our last 
cartridges. We were cautioned by the officers to waste no ammunition. But, as to 
us receiving a supply of ammunition just imagine someone leading a horse or mule 
to our relief with a pack of cardtridges when you could not lift your head above 
our small protection of dirtwork without getting a bullet somewhere in your bodj 
if not head surrounded as we were at all times by Indians." 



"Those soldiers can no longer be dangerous to the fami- 
lies. They are afoot, all badly scared. Our best warriors 
are gone. No use that more of us get killed fighting so 
far from families. A few young men will stay and watch 
these soldiers. See if others come. They will follow the 
camp later. Must now be near middle of night/ 5 

The camp then packed and left. 11 Only eight or nine 
of us young men who had swift horses remained behind. 
Only a few of us, we did not try rushing the soldiers. 
Why get killed? The soldiers were safely corralled. 
Families good distance away. 

We just settled down to watch those soldiers. 

Late in after part of night we heard a white man's 
voice. He shouted up on the mountain. Might be some 
soldier lost! Maybe guiding in other soldiers? We did not 
know what might be doing up there. 12 

It was almost dawn when we heard the sound of a 
running horse. Soon a white man came loping through 
the timber. He was heading for the trenches. 13 We did 

11 Various -writers have stated that the Indians* camp was packed under 
fire from the soldiers (e.g., Gibhon in Harper's Weekly, Dec. 28, 1895; "Woodruff 
in Contributions to the Historical Society of Montana, VoL VH, p. 110). Shields 
(op. cit. f p. 64) states that the Indians **had hot work breaking camp, and several 
of them and their horses were killed while thus engaged. Two of Joseph's wives and 
a daughter of Looking Glass were among the slain." This is denied by sur- 
vivors. Black Eagle declared: "No! The horses were packed without enemy 
firing. Soldiers were then in the woods entrenching. They could no longer see 
our camp, what we were doing." This is confirmed by Sergeant Noyes, of Captain 
Rawn's company, who writes me, "You are right in your surmise that this is a 
mistake, for, from where we were entrenched, the camp could not be seen, con- 
sequently, there was nothing visible to shoot at. But it was near enough for us 
to hear the cries of our wounded when the Indians finished them." 

13 It was claimed by a surviving citizen volunteer who participated in the Big 
Hole battle that just when the besieged force had exhausted their ammunition, 
holding in reserve only one or two rounds each, the Nez Perces suddenly ceased 
activities and decamped within five minutes. He said this mystified the soldiers 
until they subsequently learned that the Indians thought the halloo of a straggler 
on a distant ridge signaled the approach of enemy troops. However, according to 
both Yellow Wolf and Peopeo Tholket, it was not the voice of this unknown 
straggler in the night that caused them to "decamp**; rather it was their 
knowledge that the Nez Perce families were by now so far ahead that they were 
out of danger of immediate pursuit. This was the primary reason for the sudden 
cessation of firing. 

18 This was Sergeant O. Sutherland, Company B, First Cavalry, courier from 
General Howard to Colonel Gibbon. (Howard, Nez Perce Joseph, pp. 185-89). 
For an interesting, though overdrawn, picture of this courier's achievement, see 
"Sergeant Sutherland's Ride," by Garrett B. Hunt in the Mississippi Valley His- 
torical Review, VoL XIV, No. 1, June, 1927, pp. 39-46. 



not try to kill him. Had they wished, some warriors 
where he passed could have shot him. They said, "Let 
him go in! We will then know what news he brings the 

When that rider reached the trenches, the soldiers 
made loud cheering. We understood! Ammunition had 
arrived or more soldiers were coming. Maybe pack horse 
of cartridges left in the woods with soldiers guarding? 
Some of us went back over the trail looking for any 
horse there. We found none. Had we gone two hundred 
steps farther, we would have captured their cavalry 
horses. All their supply train! We did not look in a 
gulch where concealed. 14 This we learned after the war 
was quit. 

I was watching from south side of hill. When all re- 
turned from hunting for pack horses, we assembled south 
of trenches. There was a short council. Chief Ollokot 
was our leader. It was thought to quit the watching, and 
follow after the families. Soldiers must be coming. They 
might overtake the camp. Might capture or kill the rest 
of the old people, women, and children. Our camp was 
only a half -sun's travel ahead. Our business was now to 
warn them. If fighting was to be done, we would all be 

We gave those trenched soldiers two volleys as a 
*'Good-by!" Then we mounted and rode swiftly away. 
No use staying. Those soldiers buried, hiding from 
further war. We quit the fight. They were brave when 
attacking our sleeping village, firing into our tepees! 
Eight women had been killed, eight more wounded. One 

14 At least one chronicler contends that Colonel Gibbon's supply train was found 
and attacked. (Fuller, History cf the Poetic Northwest, p. 269.) Other warriors 
agree -with Yellow Wolf that the train was not found; and Colonel Gibbon in his 
official report says nothing of any attack, but tells of its arrival intact, "just 
before sundown" of the day following: the battle. 



of these died next morning. Another died still later. 
That was ten women to lose their life at the Big Hole. 
Many children and old men were killed. Killed in their 
tepees or when running for shelter places. A few bad 
wounded were buried on the trail. 

Only twelve real fighting men were lost in that battle. 
But our best were left there. 15 

Traveling was hard on the wounded. So bad that when 
we reached more safe places, several of them stopped. 
Remained scattered and hidden away. A few of these 
were never afterwards heard of. 

'When Yellow Wolf was informed that Colonel Gibbon states that 
the Nez Perces were seen throughout the day following the first day's 
battle, and that the parting shots from the warriors came about 
eleven o'clock that night ("Report of the General of the Army," 
1877, p. 71) the usually impassive narrator smiled, but earnestly 

Not true! Badly scared, that commander and his sol- 
diers maybe saw ghost Indians in the woods. They were 
brave when killing women and children, crushing new- 
born babies* heads while in the mothers* arms. Shooting 
men who had no guns! Afraid of armed warriors, they 
lay too close in dirtholes to know when we left! 

15 Of the casualties suffered by the Nez Perces, Colonel Gibbon in his official 
report states: "Captain Comba, who had charge of our burial party, reports 
eighty-three dead Indians found on the field, and six more dead warriors were 
found in a ravine some distance from the battle-field after the command left there." 
("Report of the General of the Army," 1877.) 

Wounded Head, a participating warrior, tallied on his buffalo drinking: horn the 
number of his tribesmen killed ; his figures were : ten women, twenty-one children, 
and thirty-two men, a total of sixty-4kree in alL Yellow Wolf remarked, 'There 
were not as many killed as reported by the whites, and Wounded Head could make 
correct number, knowing the Indians so well as he did." 

Duncan McDonald informed the writer that during his visit to Sitting BulFa camp 
in the summer of 1878, Chief White Bird with stick tally made the number killed 
at the Big Hole eighty-seven. Doubtless the correct count would fall somewhere 
between the foregoing enumerations. 

Shields (op. <ri., p. 101) states that Joseph "is said to have admitted that 208 
of his people were killed in the Big Hole fight.*' Likewise, Colonel J. B. Catiin, 
commander of the volunteers, specifies unqualifiedly: "Chief Joseph admitted the 
loss of two hundred and eight warriors [sic] killed in the battle, so there were a 
larger number of Indians killed than of white men engaged.'* (Society of Montana 
Pioneers. Historian's Annual Report, p. 14.} It need only be pointed out that the 
Nez Perces did not muster one half of 208 "warriors'" or fighting men. 



No Nez Perces were there after those good-by morn- 
ing shots. We were not there to see the new soldiers you 
say came. They must have arrived after we followed 
the camp. In all the war, General Howard never came 
where we could see him. 


Chief Peopeo Tholekt says of the death of Sarpsis Ilppilp, his 
partner in arms on that day: 

"My partner and I were about eighteen steps apart. A soldier shot 
him after I had left him at the little barricade we called our fort. 
I thought we had got the last soldier in a certain trench, but we 
must have left one. Sarpsis wore a close-fitting wampum necklace 
of five strands. The upper strand was cut by the bullet that killed 
him. He spoke after being struck, 'I am done! I will not live! 5 " 

Red Elk adds the following confirmation: 

"Sarpsis was killed near the enemy trench. Killed the forenoon 
this brave young man. His brother [first cousin], Tipyahlanah, 
tried to bring his body away. But he was shot in the side of the hip, 
and had to drop him." 

Penahwenonmi (Helping Another), an elderly woman who passed 
through the rigors of the war, speaking on the subject of warrior 
immunity to bullets, declared: 

"There were seven Nez Perces whose bodies from shoulders down 
were bulletproof. All were killed by shots in the neck. One of these 
warriors was Sarpsis Ilppilp, son of Chief Yellow Bull, killed in the 
battle of the Big Hole. A strand of the wampum necklace he wore 
was cut by the bullet that killed him. One of these men who received 
bullets on his body showed black spots the size of a dime." 

Two Moons also held faith in this immunity against enemy bullets. 
He tells how he saw Sarpsis Ilppilp and two companions, Wahlitits 
and Strong Eagle, ride the battle line at White Bird Canyon without 
incurring any injury from the shots rained upon them by the 
soldiers. On another occasion, he said, Sarpsis loosened his belt and 
permitted several bullets, some of them misshapen as if they had hit 
an impenetrable surface, to fall to the ground. His red flannel shirt 
showed perforations, but no bullet had broken the skin. 


His Own Story 


From the Big Hole to Camas Meadows 

Yellow Wolf has told how, before starting over the Lolo Trail, rules 
regulating a peaceable and law-abiding passage through all the 
country beyond the mountains were proclaimed by the chiefs. 

Prior to the Big Hole battle, there was but a solitary violation of 
these rules, wherein a negligible amount of foodstuff mostly flour 
and dairy products was taken from a vacated ranch house. But 
horses of greater value, first branded by the rancher's own iron, were 
left in the corral as pay. 

It was not until after the shambles ordered by Gibbon that the 
warriors indulged in retaliatory raids of killings and plunder. But in 
none of these can it be said that there were victims other than adult 
men who might well be regarded as enemies. By the code of war the 
destruction of property, as depicted in this chapter, was legitimate, 
as was also the purloining by the playful warriors of General 
Howard's pack mules. Yellow Wolf concludes the chapter with his 
account of the battle of Camas Meadows (Idaho) , on August 20, 
1877, after which the Nez Perces moved on to Yellowstone Park, 
followed at a considerable distance by the outmaneuvered soldiers. 

'""PHAT ended the Big Hole battle a hard, desperate 
JL fight. Had some of the chiefs not thought all war 
ended for sure at Lolo peace treaty, we would not have 
been caught as we were. Looking Glass made us believe 
we were safe. 

After bidding those soldiers a rifle "Good-by," we left, 
following on the trail of the families. Riding hard, we 
overtook them that same morning at their first camp 
from the battle. But some had already left, and others 
were packed to start. 

The name of this camp place is Takseen [Willows]. 



The people had been a long half -sun reaching there. 
Could not travel too fast with some bad wounded on 
travois. They had gone scattering from the Big Hole. 

At this camp died Aihits Palojami [Fair Land], wife 
of Ollokot. Died of wounds, leaving a boy baby. 1 Of 
course she was buried secretly. 

We now kept moving for three suns, watching always 
for horses. While we had many horses, it was good to 
have fresh ones. Best, too, that none be left for soldiers. 
It was aimed that no horses could be found by soldiers 
anywhere we passed. 

We took many horses at places I do not know by white 
names. Some fighting and a few white people killed 
where horses were captured. 2 Of course citizens did not 
like to lose their horses, many of them good horses. 

It was during this time, the second sun from the Big 
Hole, that what I now tell you took place. Came morn- 
ing, and the families moved, a guard of warriors follow- 
ing at a distance in the rear. I held far back of the guard, 
to be a scout, a lookout, for pursuing enemies. It was a 

1 This was the older of Ollokot's two wives. The orphaned infant was cared for 
by relatives throughout the remaining retreat, and through the long, sickening 
years of exile. The lad appears to have been the solitary infant to survive the 
deadly malarial plague. He later died on the Colville Indian Reservation at the 
age of about sixteen. He took his father's earlier name, Tewetakis, an old name 
of uncertain meaning. 

z The principal killing was at the Montague-Winter ranch, now owned by the 
Brenner Live Stock Company, some twenty-five miles from Bannock City. The 
Brenner dwelling is built on the identical spot where the Montague-Winter house 
stood, in which W. L. Montague and William Flynn were killed. William Smith 
and William Farnsworth were shot to death while fleeing with three others on a 
wagon they were loading with hay in a near-by field. The bodies were found next 
day unscalped and unpilferedj Montague's purse, containing two hundred dollars, 
was still in his pocket. The dead were covered with blankets. (See Progressive 
Men of Montana, p. 1609.) 

It is claimed that the Nez Perces were only seeking bandage material for their 
wounded, and had this request been complied with, probably no fight would have 
occurred. Mr. Charles Brenner writes me that M. S. Herr, one of the hay haulers 
who escaped, was authority for the report that Flynn was an impetuous, hot- 
tempered man, who loaded a double-barreled shotgun with buckshot, and declared 

that he would "settle the d d Injuns" if they put in an appearance. Whether 

the first shot was fired by Flynn is conjectural, but the gun lay on the floor with 
its owner's lifeless body, both barrels showing that they had been but recently 
discharged. The table and chairs were overturned, and the bloody imprint of a 
hand showed clear around the room walls. AH fabrics that could be used for 
bandages had been carried away. 



sure fact that in those times I was as a watching eye, miss- 
ing nothing that was danger. 

All the people knew what I could do. That I could 
smell white people, the soldiers, a long distance away. I 
would then tell the boys: "Get ready your arms!" My 
guardian Spirit instructed that I scout mostly alone. 

As I now look back, I was lucky to come through that 
great war. I thought that I might die in a war somehow, 
but not by the bullet. I knew from the promise given, 
no gun would ever kill me. I am now getting old, and 
I think that I will die from sickness sometime. But I am 
still well and in good condition. 

It was just mid-sun when I mounted my horse and 
followed after the camp. None of the enemies had ap- 
peared coming on our last sun's trail. Alone, I loped 
along, not too fast! I watched everywhere. If antelope 
acted curious, it might be danger. If prairie birds flew 
up in distance, it might be buffaloes stampeding, getting 
away from something maybe soldiers! 

I looked ahead about a quarter mile. Something must 
be there? I checked my horse to a trot, then to a walk. 
I took a good look. The sun pictured something against a 
big rock. I thought it must be the shadow of a man. I 
did not stop my horse, but I made a strong look. 

Yes a white man! 

I did not act differently did not show surprise. I 
looked another way and turned my horse slightly. 
Watching me, that shadow-man saw and raised up from 
his hiding. Eeb! Eight of them! They began firing at 
me. I was on good ground, and ran my horse at his 
fastest. I did not return their fire. Too far to shoot with 
horse running. Quartering away, I thought to save my 
cartridges. I did not look back what they were doing, 



I laughed at those men. Eight white men maybe citizen 
scouts waiting for one Indian to ride close and be killed. 
That shadow was not a lie. 3 

Those white men did not follow me. They were 
afoot. The warriors had gathered up all their horses. 

It was dark when I reached camp. I reported to the 
chiefs what I had seen, what I knew. If soldiers follow- 
ing, they were far behind. 

I walked through part of the camp. Some people had 
lain down, others were fixing blankets for sleeping. One 
woman lay on a buffalo robe, moaning, with many 
around her. Badly shot through the stomach at the last 
battle. They told me she could not live. Next morning 
the woman on the robe was dead. 

We continued traveling. During this time a train of 
eight wagons was captured. I was back as a scout but 
came up as camp was being made. Those wagons formed 
three teams, drawn by mules and horses. Loaded with 
different kinds of goods, and lots of whisky. That 
whisky was mostly in barrels. That whisky was soon 
opened up. Some Indians got bottles and rode away; but 
many began getting drunk there at the wagons. In the 
meantime three of the white men were killed in a fight. 4 

3 This exploit Yellow Wolf described with stolid satisfaction. The safety of the 
moving camp depended greatly on the ability and alertness of the rear guard. 
That the keen-eyed warrior at such a distance could, by the mere contour of a 
shadow cast by the sun against a cliff or rock, determine the lurker to be a white 
man and thus escape the ambush has, perhaps, no parallel in Indian annals. 

His would-be interceptors were doubtless citizen volunteers, a community guard, 
for the settlers and mountain rovers were armed and aggressive wherever the 
patriots passed. They could not have been General Howard's advance scouts, for 
never during the entire pursuit was he within forty-eight hours of the Nez Perce 
rear save once, and that proved most disastrous to him, as will be seen. 

4 This was the destruction of a freight wagon train on Birch Creek, Idaho, which 
can well be regarded as an aftermath of the Big Hole. Mr. Phillip Rand, of Salmon, 
Idaho, writes me in part: 

**The outfit was in charge of its owners, Albert Green with one wagon and a 
trailer drawn by eight horses; Jim Hayden and Dan Combes with two wagons and 
a trailer each, drawn by sixteen mule team each, all handled by 'jerk line/ The 
train was loaded with merchandise, clothing, groceries, general merchandise and 
whiskey; consigned to George L. Shoup & Company, Salmon, Idaho. Two China- 
men, 'Old Dr. Charley* and companion, and two, possibly three outside whites. 
One of thes-e, a Mr. Loynes escaped, and the Chinamen turned loose, carried news 



Two Chinamen with the wagons were not hurt. They 
cried, and were left to go see their grandmother [Yellow 
Wolf here evinced unusual amusement] ! 

The Indians were getting bad. Ketalkpoosmin called 

"If soldiers come they will kill us all!" 

He and all the sober warriors were then appointed by 
the chiefs to spill the whisky on the ground. Peopeo 
Tholekt was one who helped, and I, Yellow Wolf, helped. 

Two drunk Indians shot at each other, one getting 
head grazed by bullet. Itsiyiyi Opseen [Coyote with 
Flints] stabbed Heyoom Pishkish, an oversized man later 
known by whites as Lame John, under right arm. 
Heyoom did not grunt, did not lie down. He had a 
strong Power and became well. 

Ketalkpoosmin was shot by Pahka Alyanakt [Five 
Snows (Years) ], who was mad drunk. Of course, 
drinking Indians did not want the whisky spilled. 
Ketalkpoosmin after two, maybe three, suns* travel, was 
left at camp to die. He asked to be left. He could not 
hold to life. A good warrior, he had much in capturing 
the cannon-gun at Big Hole fight. Pahka Alyanakt was 
killed at last battle. 

It was about the tenth sun from Big Hole that a report 
came. Perhaps ten o'clock in the morning, and camp 
had not broken. We heard the shouting, "Soldiers close! 
Soldiers right upon us!" 

Then came call from the chiefs, "Come, all you war- 

When the warriors gathered, the chiefs gave order, 
"Get horses!" 

of the disaster to the Lemhi settlement. The wagons, harness and what goods 
that were not carried away, were burned. All of the team animals were added 
to the Indian herd." 



Horses ready, the chiefs said, "We are going to meet 
the soldiers! All warriors will go!" 

A scout came riding and reported, "Soldiers making 

The chiefs now made arrangements to arrive at the 
soldier camp in darkness of after part of night. War- 
riors now staked their horses to graze, while scouts closely 
watched the soldiers. 

After sundown, and darkness growing, we started, 
riding slow. The chiefs said, "If we get to where the 
soldiers have stopped, and it is af terpart of night, we will 
take their horses." 

We traveled slowly. No talking loud, no smoking. 
The match must not be seen. We went a good distance 
and then divided into two parties one on each side the 
creek. I was on right side of this creek, called Wewaltol- 
klit Pah. Its name is because it flows some distance, and 
then drysinks disappears. I do not know the white 
men's name for this creek. It is not large. 

Chiefs Ollokot and Toohoolhoolzote were the out- 
standing leaders of my company. These men were al- 
ways in lead of every fight. Teeweeyownah and Espowyes 
led the other company. Brave men with swiftest horses 
were always at the front in war movements. 

We rode on through the night darkness. Before reach- 
ing the soldier camp, all stopped, and the leaders held 
council. How make attack? The older men did this 
planning. Some wanted to leave the horses and enter the 
soldier camp afoot. Chief Looking Glass and others 
thought the horses must not be left out. This last plan 
was chosen to go mounted. 

Chief Joseph was not along. 

Then we went. It was not yet daylight when we ran 



into soldiers. They must have been the guard soldiers. 
I heard a white man's voice call, "Who are you there?" 
Then a gun sounded back of us. 5 It was one of the 
guards who called, and after that first gun, we fired at 
where the voice came from. Then we heard guard- 
soldiers speaking, calling to their headman. Some were 
crying. They ran, and one voice called loudly for them 
to come back to their guns. But those guard-soldiers did 
not mind him. 

"Where were the guns of those soldiers who were standing on 
guard?" I interposed. 

Their guns were stacked. 

"You did not really hear the soldiers crying, did you?" I asked. 

I heard them cry like babies. They were bad scared. 

The soldier camp was alarmed. The bugle sounded 
quickly. The warriors were yelling and shooting fast. 
They had circled the soldiers' horses, stampeding them. 
The soldiers were now also firing in every direction. 
Some young men had gone in to cut loose the horses tied, 
and I, Yellow Wolf, was one of them. I found three 
horses staked on long ropes. I cut them loose. At this 
time the Indians were driving the horse herd rapidly 
away. I could see no Indians. Mounting, I followed 
silently as I could with my three captured horses. "When 
I got out from the soldier camp, I turned the horses free. 
Lashing them, I fired my six-shooter, yelling loud. 
Frightened, those horses soon ran into the herd the In- 
dians were driving. We kept going, did not stop. 

5 This shot was fired hy the irascible Otsfcai, whose incentive is best defined by 
Yellow Wolf's explanation in Chapter 10 that "at times his head did not act 
right." Chief Peopeo Tholekt, who was in the raid, declared, in reference to the 
incident, "Otskai was always doing something like that." The only comment which 
this premature gun report elicited from the silently moving cavalcade was the 
low spoken protest: "Ie tanin kenek kun nawaz kunya tim onina padkuta? (Who 
in hell fire that gun ?) " Interpreter Williams is doubtful about such language being 
used by any Indian in that band. While Yellow Wolf did not state the strength of 
the raiding party, other reliable Indian informants placed the number at twenty- 
eight warriors. 


After traveling a little way, driving our captured 
horses, sun broke. We could begin to see our prize. 
Getting more light, we looked. Eehl Nothing but mules 
all mules! Only my three horses among them. I did 
not know, did not understand why the Indians could not 
know the mules, Why they did not get the cavalry horses. 
That was the object the chiefs had in mind why the 
raid was made. The place where we took General How- 
ard's mules is called Kamisnim Takin [Camas Meadows]. 

We looked back. Soldiers were coming! Some foot- 
running, others mounted. Then we divided our com- 
pany. Some went ahead with the mules; others of us 
waited for the soldiers. Then we fought, shooting from 
anywhere we found hiding. A few warriors made a 
flank move, and from a low hill did good shooting. 
Peopeo Tholekt was one of those flankers. Soon those 
soldiers ran for a bunch of small timber not far away. 
They went fast. It was then we crept close and shot 
whenever we saw a soldier. What I saw of soldiers fall- 
ing, I do not know. Earlier in the fight, a soldier with a 
bugle was shot from his horse at foot of a small bluff and 
killed. 6 Indians were on that bluff, protected behind 
rocks. It was a sharp fight for some time. After a while 
I heard the warriors calling to each other, "Chiefs say do 
no more fighting!" 

Then we quit the fight. Of dead soldiers I saw I know 
not how many. 7 No Indian was bad hurt, only one or 

The soldier with the bugle was Bernard A. Brooks, of Jackson's company, 
First Cavalry, Major George B. Sanford, battalion commander. Brooks was buried 
amid the sagebrush near the rocky butte where h& felL For a touching tribute to 
him, see Colonel J. W. Redington's "Story of Bugler Brooks," in Brady, op. cit. 
pp. 198-202. 

7 General Howard gives the casualties suffered by his troops engaged in this 
fight at Camas Meadows as one killed and one wounded of the enlisted men of the 
First Cavalry. ("Report of the General of the Army/' 1877, p. 130.) Captain 
R. Norwood, commanding officer of a troop of the Second Cavalry in Colonel 
Gibbon's military zone which practically bore the brunt of the engagement gives 
his loss as seven wounded, two of them mortally. (Idem, p. 578.) Sergeant "FT. J. 



two just grazed by bullets. We followed after the mule 
herd to camp. When we all reached there, the Indians 
made for those mules. Some took two or three, others 
took three or five. 8 I did not know how many mules we 
got. All were kept for packing and riding, but the war- 
riors did not ride them. 

General Howard could not take those mules from us. 

We stayed the rest of that sun and all night at the 
same camp. Not until next morning did we move to 
another place. Scouts watching General Howard, we 
kept moving every day. The soldiers did not hurry to 
follow us. They slowed after losing their pack mules. 

Davis, of Norwood's company, In his graphic description, "The Battle of Camas 
Meadows," names eight men who were wounded, two of them fatally. (Brady, 
op. cit. t pp. 196-97.) 

8 Owhi, the Yakima, in his manuscript war story, speaks of the distribution of 
the captured mules according to the needs of the various families. Of his own 
case, he says: 

"I didn't have any family and didn't have very much to pack, so they gave me 
two mules. They thought much of me in those days because I was a good fighter." 


His Own Story 


Into Yellowstone National Park 

Perhaps no phase of the Nez Perce retreat drew such wide attention 
as did their passage through the Yellowstone National Park during 
the last week of August, 1877. Their contact with the tourists was 
unprecedented, as was also the scare thrown into Army circles be- 
cause of the fears that General Sherman, who was "doing" the Park, 
stood in grave danger of receiving a chance call from the warrior 

It is an egregious error to contend, as some historians have done, 
that the Nez Perces became badly bewildered in the Park. They had 
entered it over a trail with which they were not too familiar, know- 
ing only that it was a shorter route to the region for which they 
were heading. Scouts could have determined the correct trail ? but 
at a cost of valued time. The capture of a qualified and willing pros- 
pector solved their problem. During this period General Howard's 
forces were lagging far in the rear. 

TT WAS, I think, twelve suns from the Big Hole that 
JLwe camped on the southwest side of a fine lake [Henrys 
Lake], Camped for about one sun. Then we went 
through a gap [Targhee Pass] into the Yellowstone Park. 
We did not follow the usual Nez Perce trail. We traveled 
over a hunting trail instead. 

We were troubled about direction for a short half- 
sun, but soon found the right way. No help from Crow 
Indians! 1 No help from anybody but one white man. 
He acted as guide once. It was like this: 

One noon camp while the families were getting ready 
to go, I took my horse and went ahead quite a way five, 

1 In regard to alleged aid given by the Crows to the Nez Perces, see Note 9 of 
following chapter. 



maybe six, miles. The sun was about there [four to five 
p. M.]. I heard someone coming behind me. I looked 
back. It was my brother [cousin] Otskai. I told him, "I 
am glad you have come." 

"We traveled on. We heard chopping. Maybe it was 
soldiers? We went there where we heard the chopping. 
It was a white man doing cooking. We went up to him, 
one on each side, in back of him. We grabbed him! He 
was armed but did not offer fight. Otskai understood a 
little English and talked with him. We stayed there quite 
a while, and then a lot of Indians came just to be 
friendly with him. 

We did not want to do him harm. Only i he had 
horses or things needed, we might take them for our- 
selves. One warrior, supposed to be bad, came up. He 
was Teeweeyownah [Over Point of Hill]. He asked, 
"Can any one talk to him?" 

They found Heinmot "Tosinlik t. Henry Tabador was 
another name he had. 2 A half blood, he was bad, but 
could interpret. This white man was asked if he knew 
the way to the head of Yellowstone Park, toward the 
Crow Indian lands about Elk Water* as the Crows call 
it. He said he did and would go with us. Said his horses 
were lost, and he was on hunt for them. The warrior told 
him he would give him a horse to ride, and that it would 
be a gift for him to return on. 

Then I said to my brother, Otskai, "Take him down 
to the chiefs. They will make him tell about this trail, 
where this trail will take us." Then I left. 

The Indians were partly lost for a short time. Not sure 
of their way. This man who was oldlike, this white 
prisoner, was all the guiding they had. Showed them for 

2 For sketch of Henry Tabador, see Appendix C, end of volmne, 



half of one sun. He was kept for a few suns, but we did 
not try holding him longer. 

In meantime I kept going. I did not tell anyone where 
I was going. It was to watch ahead, and this half blood, 
Henry Tabador, overtook me. He asked where I was 
going. I told him I was watching for more white men, 
and he said, "I will go with you." 

We did not go far until a horse was heard coming 
behind us. Another fellow came up. He was Tiskusia 
Kowiakowia. He asked where we were going, and Taba- 
dor said, "Heinmot Hihhih is out looking for white men. 
I am going with him." 

Tiskusia Kowiakowia said he would go, and he came 
with us. Soon another young fellow, Towassis [Bow- 
string] overtook us. He was followed by Nosnakuhet 
Moxmox [Yellow Long Nose], We now were five, and 
the four said to me, "You are supposed to be our leader." 

We rode on, always watching for enemies. We went 
up a meadow, and our scouting took us to a swampy 
place about three miles long. The sun had gone down, 
and darkness was coming on. I told the men we were 
going to stay there all night. They already were staking 
their horses. I was going to stake mine when one of 
them said, "Let me stake your horse. I will do that for 

He took my horse, and as I turned back, I saw a light 
at some distance, a small light. I called the others to 
come. Pointing, I said, "Look that way!" 

Nosnakuhet Moxmox said, "That is fire burning!" 

te Yes," I answered. "It may be soldiers or other white 
people. We will go see why it is." 

But one boy thought different. He warned, "We bet- 



ter not go there. It is a swampy place. Our horses might 
mire down, for we cannot see good." 

I replied, "We will lie right here till morning. Then 
we are going to have a fight with them." 

All agreeing, we took our blankets, but built no fire. 
No fire when scouting. I did not know if they meant 
true when they answered, "All right," to what I said 
about fighting. Some of them were afraid, I was sure. 
Only two, Tabador and Towassis, were brave. The 
others were not fighters. I knew not why they had come 
with me. 

Early, at breaking light, I awoke the boys. All got 
ready. We saddled horses and rode on a swift gallop along 
a draw. It was quite a ways to where we had seen the 

When we got there, we saw four persons lying close to 
the fire. Then we saw two more not so close, and a little 
apart was a small tent. 3 These people were not soldiers, 
but all white people seemed our enemies. We talked what 
to do with them. I said we would kill them. But the half 
blood, Heinmot Tosinlikt, said, "No! We will capture 
them. Take them to the chiefs. Whatever they say will 

Then some of us, not all, went close to the fire. Two 
boys stayed back. The white men were getting up. 
Henry, our interpreter, told them we would not hurt 
them. The leader was a fine looking man. He shook 
hands with us. He asked, "Who is the leader of this 
bunch? I see five of you." 

Heinmot Tosinlikt pointed to me. He said, "There is 
our leader!" 

3 This was the Carpenter-Cowan tourist party. For a vivid description of the 
whole affair by one of the captives see Guie and McWhorter, Adventures in Geyser 
Land a reprint, with annotations, of Frank Carpenter's Wonders of Geyser Land, 
published in 1878. 



Because I shook hands with him put me in mind not to 
kill him. He looked at me and said, te l am going to ask 
you. "Why you come here? I hear a little about you/' 

I answered by the interpreter, "Yes, I am one of the 


Then these white men got afraid. The leader asked, 
"Would you kiH us?" 

"They are double-minded," I told him. 

It was hard work, this talking to the white man. Not 
understanding many words of his language made hard 
work. At the end he asked, "Can we see the Chief 
Joseph? Will you take us to him?" 

"Yes, but some boys are very bad," I told him. "They 
might kill you." That is what I told the good-looking 
white man. I wanted to be a friend to him. 4 

Then he said, "Will the chiefs do anything to us?" 

I answered, "I guess not." 

"All right," said the white man. "We want to see 
Chief Joseph. We will go." That was the white man's 

I stepped to the tent doorway. I threw back the flap. 
A white man was standing there. He spoke. What he 
said, I did not understand. Two women had been in the 
tent, but they had run away. 5 The white man called 

* Yellow Wolf was reluctant to conduct this "good-looking" white man to the 
Nez Perce forces. '"They are double-minded" was an allusion to the marked 
diversity of temperament found among his compatriots, and the uncertainty of 
the safety of the white people in their power. His own fidelity of friendship had 
been pledged in the earlier handclasp. Although his intention of shielding them 
was endangered by the insistence of the white man that they be conducted to the 
chiefs, racial courtesy demanded that this request be granted. 

At this point in the recital the small group of contemporary warriors present 
conversed together earnestly, lamenting the tragic sequel of the occurrence. They 
attributed it all to the ill-timed insistence of the white leader that he meet Chief 
Joseph in person. The interpreter explained, "These warriors all know how it 
was. Those white men wanted to see the chiefs. Should they see Joseph, he was 
a good man. If they should see White Bird, his band might kill them/* 

s Yellow Wolf later related that the presence of the women, Mrs. George F. 
Cowan and Miss Ida Carpenter, sisters was not discovered by the Indians until a 
few minutes before the camp was ready to move. Mrs. Cowan, the last survivor 
of the historic tourist party, died at her home in Spokane, Washington, December 
20, 1938. 



them, but they did not answer. Six times he called, then 
the two women, one smaller than the other, came from 
the brush. 

While we were there, the leading white man gave us 
sugar, flour, and two good pieces of bacon. The food 
made our hearts friendly. Heinmot Tosinlikt said, "Take 
it. I will put it on my horse and pack it for us/* 

But the white man from the tent showed mad. He 
said something to the leader, who then stopped giving 
the food. 

The white men harnessed their team and saddled their 
horses. They had eight head, and I saw one good roan 
among them. Two men and the women rode on the 
wagon, the other men rode horseback. When they were 
ready, we mounted our horses. We took the lead, white 
people following. 

Whatever now happened to their lives, I could not 
help. I did not tell them go see the chiefs. It was their 
own mind their own work that they were going. 
They heard me say the Indians were double-minded in 
what they can do. 6 

At last, after we traveled part of that sun, I heard a 
great noise ahead of us. The other Indians- had seen us. 
Not the chiefs, only the warriors. Quickly they made for 
us. The warriors mixed us up. They did not listen to 
anybody. Mad, those warriors took the white people 
from us. Going on, I saw them no more for a time. But 
I saw their wagon where left by the trail. When we 
camped for noon, I saw those prisoners. They were all 
alive. Wattes Kunnin [Earth Blanket] was first to grab 
the good roan horse. 

e Yellow "Wolfs version of this episode, up to this point, has already been pub- 
lished in Gnie and McWhorter, oj>. eit. f pp. 275-80. 



After dinner the dhiefs called, "We will move! All 
get ready!" 

Those nine [there were ten] prisoners the warriors 
bothered. The chiefs took the two women away from 
them. One was full grown, the other young and small. 
Both good looking. I saw everybody making to travel. 
Soon all were ready, some already gone. I did not see the 
white people at this time, but heard they were being 
treated right. Then, soon, I heard some gun reports. 

It was the bad boys killing some of the white men. 

But one they did not kill, and two escaped into the 

When asked why they were shot, Yellow Wolf replied: 

Some ran into the brush. It was for trying to escape. 7 

The man Otskai and I captured the day before was 
on ahead as guide. He knew the trail. The other man 
and two women came on with the families. 

That night camp was made late. There was some rain, 
but not hard. Next morning we traveled on, and at noon 
the chiefs said, "We will camp." Place of this camp was 
Koos Kapwelwen [Swift Water], which joins the Yel- 
lowstone River. At this camp I saw the chiefs turn loose 
the young man and the two women, the three together. 
The chiefs had agreed and said, "We free these white 
people to go home." 

The women were given horses, the man was made to 
go afoot. They must not travel too fast. Food was given 

7 This sudden attempt to escape meant to the Indian mind that, if it were suc- 
cessful, news of the location of their camp would immediately be relayed to 
General Howard's forces. This was an evil particularly to be guarded against, 
inasmuch as they were uncertain of their bearings at this time. None of the 
tourists were killed, as Yellow Wolf thought, and Cowan alone was seriously 
wounded. It was he who had incurred the displeasure of the warriors not only 
by his marked animosity towards them, but also by his refusal to let further food 
be distributed to them. 



for their living while going to some town or wherever 
they lived. 

We did not want to kill those women. Ten of our 
women had been killed at the Big Hole, and many others 
wounded. But the Indians did not think of that at all. 
We let them go without hurt to find their own people. 
The man captured by Otskai and me, the one who had 
guided the families, went later. None of them were hurt. 
Only those who tried to escape. 

There were two other small scouting bands in the 
Yellowstone Park country besides mine. One was headed 
by Kosooyeen, the other by Lakochets Kunnin. I do not 
know which of these made attack on some hunters or 
visitors, but I have heard they killed one man. Each 
party did scouting every sun. 

It was a few suns after the chiefs turned the white man 
and women loose that what I am telling you happened. 
It was coming towards sundown when we saw a white 
man standing in the doorway of a house. We stopped 
not far from him but did not dismount. We sat on our 
horses, six or seven of us, thinking. Chuslum Hahlap 
Kanoot [Naked-footed Bull] said to me, "My two young 
brothers and next younger brother were not warriors. 
They and a sister were killed at Big Hole. It was just like 
this man did that killing of my brothers and sister. He 
is nothing but a killer to become a soldier sometime. We 
are going to kill him now. I am a man! I am going to 
shoot him! When I fire, you shoot after me." 

Chuslum Hahlap Kanoot then fired and clipped his 
arm. As he made to run, another warrior, Yettahtapnat 
Alwum [Shooting Thunder] shot him through the 
belly. 8 

8 This occurrence was at McCartney's cabin, and the man killed was Richard 
Dietrich, a German music teacher from Helena, Montana. He was a member of a 



At this point I interposed, "You know General Scott? He was a 
lieutenant in the Seventh Cavalry at that time, and says that with 
ten men he chased eighteen of you Nez Perces so closely that he 
recovered nineteen head of horses abandoned by you, which you had 
stolen. In that chasing he found the man you killed at the house 
while the body was yet warm." 

Yellow Wolf smiled gimly as he replied: 

Those soldiers did not let us know they were chasing 
us. We would have been glad to see them! Only six, 
maybe seven in our band. We had no captured horses. 

We rode into the woods looking for anybody getting 
away. Finding no one, we decided to remain concealed 
there until after dark. When came the dusk, we went 
back to the house, all going inside but two men. With 
matches we looked around, taking arms or anything 
wanted. Soon somebody outside called, "Soldiers attack- 
ing us!" 

All ran out as crazy. I was last to get out the door. 
My horse near by was rearing on the rope. I could not get 
him loose, I jerked up my gun and fired twice toward the 
soldiers. I heard horsef eet to my left. Hemene Moxmox, 
my uncle, called to me, "My son, do not lose your head. 
Have clear mind. Do not miss any of them. Shoot 

I heard another noise coming. I glanced that way, and 
saw Watyahtsakon. The three of us made for those sol- 
diers. I went around the house where lots of willows 
grew. The soldiers went through those willows. One 
was wounded on a white horse. He and Watyahtsakon 
both drew up their guns. The Indian beat him, and he 
fell from his horse. This warrior was a great hero with a 

tonrist party which met with rough handling by one of the other two groups of Nez 
Perce outriders scouring the Park. Second Lieutenant Hugh Lenox Steott found 
a white man lying dead at McCartney's door, "not yet cold." He had apparently 
"been shot & second time after falling on his face . . . the bullet going the length 
of bis body." (Scott, Sonte Memories of a Soldier, p. 62.) 



strong Power. Nobody could get him. I do not know 
if the soldier was killed. We found his gun and ammuni- 
tion. The horse we did not get. 9 

We chased the soldiers, or whoever they were, into 
the brush. My uncle said we would not go in after them. 
They might be too many for the few of us. 

We now started for home. But I thought to get horses 
from white men where I knew. The others did not agree 
to this. A little council was held, and they said, "No! 
We are all alive after the fight. We better go home. Not 
try taking any horses." 

I did not listen. I went back toward where some white 
men were staying. I did not hurry. Just breaking day, I 
started the horses, bunched together, the way I wanted 
to go. I saw about five or six white men in the house 
watching me from the windows. When they saw the 
horses going, they fired two or three times. The guns 
scared the four horses I was driving, and they ran away. 
There were two bays, one buckskin, and a roan. The gun 
reports helped me get away with their own horses. 

I was glad to take four horses from six men. I looked 
back and saw there were no more horses. They could not 
follow me. 

Driving my captured horses, I started over a hill to- 

Chroniclers in general do not speak of any clash i between the military and the 
Nez Perces at this time, but evidence is not lacking that such a skirmish took place. 

^MTicoufe e brSSkfcme iirtSSenee of depredations, burning, and murdering 
done by foraging parties of the enemy, one of which, probably not more than ten 
in nTnnberrhad recrossed the Yellowstone at Barronetfs bridge^ descended the 
river on the left bank for twenty mSes to the vicinity of Mammotti Sprmgs here 
they burned a store, killed a citizen, had a slight skirmish with Lieutenant Boan, 
and then returned, murdering another citizen en route, and, after rarossHig the 
bridge, burned the stringers sufficiently to render it impassable. They had re- 
crossed this bridge just before our arrival." ("Report of the General of the Army, 

owo throughout vehemently declared that there was no bridge across 
the Yellowstone that he ever saw, much less crossed. Nor did he know anything 
about various other chronicled episodes, such as the attack on Goff Leonard, and 
a young Warm Springs Indian, scouts for Colonel Sturgis, m which they aj lost 
their horses. Goflf and the Indian boy were wounded. The boy disappeared joid 
was never found. Later both Goff and Leonard were kiBed. (Scott, op* ctt., p. 64.) 



ward the river. In time I overtook my friends. They had 
camped where I left them and were riding slowly, 
holding back for me. About one-fourth mile off we saw 
a bunch of Indians breaking camp. They were Crows 
and Bannacks, packing up to leave. Scared of us, they 
were hurrying fast to get away. We did not try catching 
up with those coward Indians. 

In the distance were several horsemen approaching, 
bringing many horses. We had no glass. Some boys 
thought they were soldiers. But I knew differently. The 
wind was from them, and I could smell. I said, "No! I 
know our people. No soldiers there." 

It was true. Our camp was on the move. No enemy 
in sight, but in wartime we are like children afraid of 
the whip! 

We halted and when the camp came up, the others of 
our party fell in. All soon passed over a small hill. 

I remained behind. Obeying my Spirit Power, I 
watched for any pursuing enemies. I saw none, and 
reached camp soon after dark. 


His Own Story 


The Canyon Creek Fight 

Having proceeded about one hundred miles after leaving Yellowstone 
Park, the Nez Perces again crossed the Yellowstone River. There, 
on September 13, 1877, occurred the "battle" of Canyon Creek 
derided by the Nez Perces as no more than a skirmish, for Colonel 
Samuel D. Sturgis with six companies of the Seventh Cavalry, 
numbering "about three hundred and sixty men," reinforced by 
Lieutenant Otis "with two mountain howitzers on pack mules," and 
by "about fifty of Sanford's cavalry" under command of Captain 
Bandire, of the First Cavalry, signally failed in an attempt to stay 
the flight of the Nez Perce cavalcade. ("Report of the General of 
the Army," 1877, pp. 507-11.) 

The usual assertions that topographic hindrances excuse Colonel 
Sturgis' failure to halt the Nez Perces is decidedly open to question. 
Certainly no just conception of Canyon Creek can be formed from 
the military accounts. The canyon itself is far from being a narrow, 
rock-walled gorge. On the contrary, its lower reaches comprise a 
broad, open country of no mean extent, and the trail leading to its 
very head, though among rolling hills, is nowhere cramped and 
winding among cliffs or disjoined boulders. 

In the latter part of the chapter Yellow Wolf shows how be- 
wildered and resentful the Nez Perces were to discover that then- 
supposed friends, the Crow Indians, were aligned with General 

MORNING came, and soon the families were on tie 
move. After starting, one of the chiefs told some 
of us to go ahead about one sun to see if soldiers were in 
the way. All knew General Howard was good distance 
behind. No danger there, so a few of us went ahead as the 
chief ordered. We traveled, keeping a strong lookout for 



enemies. None were seen. No signs discovered, and night 
drawing on, camp was made. 

Next morning early, we were riding. More must be 
seen of what was in that wild country. Our party was 
slightly scattered. Soon we saw it a fire! Just a short 
distance, and we started to go there. Then he was seen 
a man leading a buckskin horse. He saw us, and sprang 
to his saddle. A tall fellow, wearing a buckskin suit. 
He went! After him came another man, leading a gray 
horse. He, too, jumped on his horse and went; but he 
proved a fearless man. 

The fellow on the buckskin was shot and fell to the 
ground. The man on the gray ran swiftly ahead. Otskai 
and I went after him. I had a fast horse, and soon Otskai 
said to me, "My horse is giving out. Go on, brother! 
Grab that fellow's neck! Jerk him off his horse!" 

I kept running my horse to his best. But just beyond 
my reach, this fellow jumped to the ground. His horse 
knocked him over, and I, going fast, passed him a few 
steps. I was off my horse as the man regained his feet. 
We both drew up rifles and fired. I did not know if I 
hit him. His bullet glanced my head, shaving through 
my hair. I was brought to my knees, blinded. Nearly 
knocked out, but did not know I was hit. I was partly 
out of sense* The enemy was trying to work his gun 
when Otskai killed him. 1 Then was seen why his gun 
would not work. The hammer had been knocked off by 
a bullet my bullet, for the other warriors were a good 
distance away. Had this not been done, he must have 
killed some of us. He was a brave man. 

I know not why the big rifleshot did not go through 

1 These two scouts were prospectors hired by Colonel Sturgis, because of their 
intimate knowledge of that -wild, mountainous region. 



my head. It only put me out of sense a short time. It 
must have been some help saved me from death. But no 
bullet was to kill me. 

When I came back to sense, I heard Heinmot Tosin- 
likt say, "That other white fellow is not dead!** 

We both went down to him, and Heinmot said, "I am 
going to finish him!" 

I told him, ec Do not do that! His wound is bad. He 
will soon die. It is not good to waste ammunition." 

There was no more fighting that sun. 

I guess maybe the soldiers heard our shots. They came 
afterward not that sun but missed us. We had gone 
down the creek while they came along the hillside. That 
is why they found that wounded fellow. He had not died. 

In the meantime, we had gone up the hill. Looking 
around, we saw their camp. We saw them taking that 
wounded fellow back, traveling along the hillside. We 
could see the Crows and the Bannacks together. All 
bunches going back to camp. We did not make ourselves 
seen to the enemy. 

That night we stayed close to the main f amilies* camp, 
guarding during all the darkness. 

Next morning all soldiers went north over the hill, not 
seeing us. We saw five citizen men start back with the 
wounded fellow toward the Crow Indian Agency. We 
watched and followed them. It was about noon, when 
they stopped for food, that we charged them. But they 
saw us coming, and the five men mounted and skipped 
for their lives. They might have escaped from us, for 
they had good start in the race. But other Indians were 
crossing below. They were the ones to head them off. 
Siyikowkown [Lying in Water] shot one fellow from 



his horse; the bullet cracking his head. It was Otskai 
again to do the finishing. 

The other four men got away. Of course, that first 
wounded fellow on the travois was killed after the four 
men escaped. It was Peetomyanon Teemenah [Hawk 
Heart] who killed him. Every white man in those moun- 
tains could be counted our enemy. 

We had no more fighting that sun. 

Three suns after I was scalp-wounded, there came a 
close call for my life. I went for my horses and while 
letting them drink, I sat down on the creek bank. Scout- 
ing and night guarding, I must have gone a little asleep. 
I must not have been full awake when I heard, as dream- 
ing, "Look out for hohots! Look out for bobots!" 

Still I was sleeping. I did not understand with good 
sense. I heard again, away off like dreaming. "Look out 
for bohotsl Hohots coming close to you!" 

I was partly awake now. I turned my head where was 
a noise. Eeh! I saw it a big hohots [grizzly bear]. My 
rifle was in my hand. I sprang up as I threw back the 
hammer. That bobots made for me, a bad sound coming 
from his mouth. As he stood up, I held my rifle ready. 
That bear came stepping to the muzzle of my gun. Just 
touched it when I pulled the trigger. He fell, and I 
finished him with my war club. Struck him on the ear. 

You ask if I was afraid? No, I was not scared. The 
bear had no gun. Did my heart travel fast after it was 
all over? [Laughing] No! I could not save myself by 
running. I must hold my ground. Must stand face to 
face with that bobots. After I had killed him, why, I 
thought about it. I had been close to death. 

From fighting the grizzly, I drove my horses and that 
night camped with the families. Next morning every- 



body got their horses ready. They packed up. I saddled 
my horse. I was to go one way, alone. I traveled only a 
little distance when I saw a blanket signal. 

I understood that warning. It meant, "Soldiers coming 

I ran my horse to where the blanket was calling. When 
I reached that warrior who was riding in short circles, I 
saw soldiers near, and across the valley from us. 

The traveling camp had nearly been surprised. Sol- 
diers afoot hundreds of them. 2 I whipped my horse to 
his best, getting away from that danger. No more war- 
riors to signal, the blanket waver also left. His signal had 
been mostly for me. 

But we did not go together from there. We had our 
warrior ways. We did not line up like soldiers. We went 
by ones, just here and there, entering the canyon. 

I came to one place at the mouth of the canyon. Only 
one warrior there doing the fighting. His horse hidden, 
he was behind rocks, holding a line of dismounted soldiers 
back. 3 He was shooting regularly, not too fast. As I 
approached, he called to me, "My boy, run back from 
here! Soldiers too close. They might kill you. Do not 
stay here with your horse!" 

When I heard those words spoken, I knew the voice. I 
was convinced that this brave warrior, Teeto Hoonnod, 

3 The soldiers Yellow Wolf saw afoot were dismounted troopers on deploy. 
Doubtless it was visions of the White Bird Canyon and of the Big Hole fiascos 
that prompted Colonel Sturgis to order the dismounting and the formation of foot 
troops in a battle line in the rear of the fleeing Nez Perce families and their 
galloping horse herds. 

3 Corroboration of Teeto Hoonnod's singlehanded exploit is found in J. W. Reding- 
ton's manuscript, "Scouting in Montana" : 

"One Indian behind a point of rocks held them [the troops] back for ten 
minutes, and when the point was taken, I counted forty empty shells on the ground 
where he had crouched. And they were all government cartridges he had been 
firing at us." 

Teeto Hoonnod, a forty-year-old warrior of Chief Joseph's band, was noted for 
his courage and strategic ability. He was conspicuous for his fleet-footed bobtailed 
charger. Immediately after Yellow Wolfs departure, he was joined by Swan 
Necklace (John Minthon), whose name is already familiar. These two held their 
position until the families and the horse herd were safely within the sheltering 
walls of Canyon Creek. Teeto Hoonnod was later killed by the Assiniboins. 



was right. I was drawing the soldiers' fire, I made no 
answer, but turned my horse from there. -Only a few 
jumps, when I noticed my saddle cinch dangerously 
loose. Saddle slipping back on my horse. I stopped and 
got off. There was a big noise in my head. I did not hear 
anything separate. It was the sound of many guns all 
roaring at once. 

I did not turn, I did not look around anywhere! I was 
fixing tight my cinch. I knew not how close the soldiers 
were approaching. When I had fixed my saddle, I 
mounted. I turned my horse and went. Then I looked 
back. Soldiers still lined up moving forward slowly. 
Must be fifty of them I could still see. I was not scared 
because of their shots. I remembered the promise that 
bullets would never kill me. I made escape from those 
soldiers and came to where the warriors were protecting 
the families as they drove the horse herd into the canyon. 

Other soldiers horseback, like cavalry, were off to one 
side. Away ahead of the walking soldiers. They tried to 
get the women and children. But some warriors, not 
many, were too quick. Firing from a bluff, they killed 
and crippled a few of them, turning them back. 4 

In the fighting here a little later, some soldiers got on 
higher ground. Firing down, they killed two horses and 
wounded Silooyelam in the left ankle, 5 Two other men 
were wounded but not at this time. They were Eeahlo- 
koon, shot through the right leg below the knee, flesh 
wound. The other warrior, Elaskolatat [Animal Entering 

* Yellow Wolfs reference is to Captain Benteen's unsuccessful battalion charge, 
which, In attempting a flanking movement, fell into an ambuscade. Benteen's men 
suffered most of the casualties, for Colonel Sturgis' battle line was retained well 
beyond the range of the Nez Perce rifles. 

5 According to Yellow Wolf and other warriors, these were the only losses sus- 
tained. It would appear from Brady, however, that casualties among the Indians at 
this point amounted to a veritable shambles considering numbers engaged (op. 
ciJ* p. 218). Elsewhere (p. 34) Brady gives the number of Indians killed as 
twenty-one, with nine hundred ponies captured I 


a Hole], was hit from the rear. Bullet entered left hip 
and came out front left thigh. 6 

We stayed hidden among the rocks and timber. 
Watching the soldiers who soon went into camp. Then 
we left for home, barricading the upper canyon as we 
went. 7 It was after dark when we reached camp. Staking 
our horses, we had supper, then lay down to sleep. 

Next morning the families moved early. We were on 
Elk River, and some of us stayed back to watch the 
enemies. I looked one way and saw strange Indians. I 
looked good! Then I thought, "They must be either 
Walk-round Sioux or Snakes. I will go see." 

I rode closer. Eehl Crows! A new tribe fighting Chief 
Joseph. Many snows the Crows had been our friends. 
But now, like the Bitterroot Salish, turned enemies. 

My heart was just like fire. 

Chief Ollokot, my uncle, was not far away. He dis- 
mounted and I, too, got down from my horse. We both 
fought from the ground. In short time, Ollokot sprang 
up, leaped on his horse and galloped away. He hurried 
with others to drive back Crows now fixing to flank 
the moving families. 

Left alone, Crow Indians tried to surround me. To 
cut me off from all my people. I was not afraid. I 
brought myself to be brave. I mounted my horse and 
went. I did not hurry. Just loped along. I paid no atten- 
tion to the enemies. Distant soldiers and nearer Crows 
were firing at me. 

I looked back. Two Indians were overtaking me. One 

Elaskolatat was sent to the Indian Territory after the surrender, hut escaped 
afoot with two other men and two women. ''Borrowing" horses at night, they 
reached Idaho mounted. Elaskolatat died in Idaho about 1933. 

7 "Did the Indians ten you how completely blocked Ifcey left the trail Tip the 
canyon? It was so choked with rocks, trees and brash that any attempt on crar 
part to have followed them by a night march would have resulted in disaster, 
wrote Theodore W. GoJdin, of Captain Benteen's company, Seventh Cavalry, in 
a letter to the author. 



came as close as that [twelve feet], riding hard. We 
both fired at same time. It was just like one gun. He 
missed me, and I did not know if I hit him. As I whirled 
my horse the better to fight, both Indians rode swiftly 
away. I thought I must have wounded him. 

I now brought my horse facing another way. Other 
Crows were firing at me as they raced past at a distance. 
They could not hit me from horseback. 

I dismounted to do better shooting. Then came both 
Crow and Snake Indians. There must have been a hun- 
dred. 8 They rode, hanging low on side of horses, doing 
underneck shooting. They got my right thigh a hide- 

Then I took shots lying flat on the ground, but it was 
hard to hit fast running horses at distance. A bullet 
struck my saddle. One went through top of my horse's 
neck, just within his mane. He went sort of wild. I was 
holding him with rope around his jaw. 

Then I thought: "If my horse is killed, they will get me 
sure!" I was up! Springing to the saddle, I went rapidly 
away. Those Crows and Snakes did not follow me. 

In order to bring out the Nez Perce reply to the charge that the 
Crows double-crossed the Government forces by giving secret aid 
to the enemy, I interposed, "General Howard claimed that the Crows 
helped you to get out of that country by directing you which way 
to go." 9 Yellow Wolf's reply was emphatic: 

Not true! The Crows fought us. They killed one 
warrior and two old, unarmed men. They did not act as 

8 The number of Crow Indians has been estimated at from fifty to two hundred. 
The Indians that Yellow Wolf saw were of General Howard's Bannack and Sho- 
shoni scouts. 

9 General Howard, chagrined that the Nez Perces had so adroitly eluded him and 
Colonel Stargls in the Canyon Creek region when the two commanders thought 
they had been trapped, sought halm for his wounded pride by attributing "the 
enemy's escape to the aid of some "treacherous" and "wily" Crow Indians. This 
claim does not hold under candid scrutiny. The Nez Perces received no assistance 
from any part of the Crow nation. For General Howard's contention see his 
Nez Perce Joseph, p. 255, and his My Life and Experiences Among Our Hostile 
Indians, p. 295. 



guides for us. We had men who knew the country, who 
scouted far ahead all the time. They found each day the 
way to go. 

"History states," I added, "that the Crows only wanted your 
horses, and that they cut out about three hundred from your herd 
and drove them back to their reservation." To this, Yellow Wolf 

I never heard that story before. If they took horses, 
it was those we left along the trail. Too lame with sick 
[tender] feet to travel fast as we were going. We lost 
maybe thirty or forty horses not too lame. I know not 
if anybody got them, or if just lost. 

Some Crows told Chief Looking Glass not to travel 
too fast. Said they would join and help us. But Looking 
Glass paid no attention. He now knew they were against 
us. He knew the Crows were lying, that they wanted the 
soldiers to catch up with us. Although they had been 
helped in battle, 10 we all knew not to trust the Crows. 

Leaving those Indians, I overtook some Nez Perce 
warriors far back of the moving families. They then 
knew I was alive. Not killed as they had thought. I 
joined with these warriors who were acting as guards. 
They must fight off enemy Indians, also pursuing sol- 
diers, should they overtake us. But when I rode among 
them, my horse would not be still. Kept stepping about, 
pawing and plunging. He made a great dust. Chuslum 
Hihhih [White Bull] got mad and began whipping my 

10 Yellow Wolf was alluding to the battle at the mouth of Prior Creek, Montana, 
a tributary of the Yellowstone. It was fought in July, 1874, between the Crows and 
the Sioux, and Chief Looking Glass and his followers took an effective part with 
the Crows. The Sioux were badly worsted- See Thomas B. Marquis, Memoirs of 
a White Crow Indian, pp. 84-94. Tributes of respect to the Nez Perces, espe- 
cially to Chief Looking Glass, in token of their aid, are found on pp. 97, 98, 128, 
and 129. Thomas H. Leforge, the "White Crow/* did himself honor when he 
refused to serve as scout against the Nez Perces, his tribe's most faithful allies. 

The supposition that the Crow warriors were not earnestly arrayed against the 
Nez Perces is belied by the frenzied war dance which tibey staged upon entering 
Colonel Sturgis* camp the night following the Canyon Creek fight, as pictured by 
Trooper T. W. Goldin, of the Seventh Cavalry, in a letter to the author. Doubtless 
the incentive for their treachery was chiefly the hope of loot. 


horse. A brother of Charley Moses ordered Chuslum to 
stop with the whip. He said: "You see the horse has 
been shot?" My uncle, then noticing the wound, said to 
me, "Do not stay here. You better go to camp." 

I believed him and went. I tried to catch the moving 
families, but it grew dark before I got halfway. I became 
lost! My wounded horse made poor travel at night. 

After two days without eating, I thought to camp. 
Nobody to be seen anywhere, I looked for a good camp- 
ing place. There was a great row of rocks what you call 
a "slide." You could see farthest from its top. I went 
there, lay down watching. I could hear could see all 
around everywhere. No blanket, but must not build 

I had left my saddle with my uncle. My wounded 
horse might go down on me, and I did not want to lose 
my saddle. With saddle and its blanket, camping not 
bad, but I was just as I had stripped for the fighting. 

Came about sunrise. I was looking away off. Watch- 
ing what might be seen as light grew wider. I happened 
to drop my eyes. Eeh! It was there a takialakin! What 
you call antelope. I shot that takialakin, killed it! 

I sat down and turned towards the west. As far as I 
could see to a rising ground, was an Indian. Of course 
that Indian had heard the gun report and was coming 
straight to me. I did not know the kind of Indian. 
Maybe a Flathead, Snake, Crow, or Sioux. That would be 
good. I would kill that Indian! He was coming fast, 
about as far away as that tepee [600 yards]. Then I 
recognized him. He was of our tribe, my cousin Hekkik 
Takkawkaakon [Charging Hawk]. He came up and 
said: "I was little afraid to come to you. What you 



**I killed takialakin!" I answered. 

"That is good! Come my friend, we will now start fire 
and have roast meat breakfast/' was what he told me. 

We soon had a fire and roasted all the meat we wanted. 
When done eating, I said to him, "Where is the camp? I 
was lost last night." 

"You are off from the place," he told me. "Off about 
half -hour ride away. West of here. What made you go 
this way?" 

"I have wounded horse. It got dark. I could not see 
direction I was traveling," I told him. 

"We will go now," he said, and I got on my horse. We 
went, carrying the rest of meat with us. My cousin now 
asked me, "Were you cold last night?" 

"No!" That was my answer. "I had company. I had 
blanket over me. Of course I was not freezing last 

When I said that, the warrior laughed. He replied, 
"You are telling the truth!" 

Mystified, I inquired of interpreter Hart what Yellow Wolf meant 
by saying he tad a blanket over him, when he was really practically 
naked and had no covering. Evincing amusement, Hart replied: 
"Why, Yellow Wolf was mad! His heart was big and sweatin* with 
mad! That kept him warm." 

"Could he sleep under such conditions?" I asked. 

"Yes, he says he slept. Night is for the sleeping." 

Hekkik Takkawkaakon, now my partner, knew where 
the people were, and we went there. We came first 
among the women who had the camp packed ready to 
move. The Crows were watching to attack the horse 
herd and my partner hurried away to help the warriors 
on guard. 

I saw the women were scared at the Crows and the 
Snakes, with all the best warriors off guarding the horse 



herd. It came to me strong, how General Howard took 
many different tribes to help him in the war. I thought 
this wrong! But of those Indians on his side I was not 
afraid. When we met them they ran from us. General 
Howard's warriors were afraid. Only when we were 
moving would they come after us. I was told later that 
two hundred Indians helped the soldiers at that time. 

A bunch of Bannack Indians, and maybe some Crows, 
came closer to the women. This bothered them. I had 
not time to change my wounded horse. That horse could 
run strong though shot in top his neck. Teeweeyownah 
[Over the Point] joined me and we rode for those Ban- 
nacks. But his horse, a racer and not trained for battle, 
ran away with him. We were both then alone. When I 
drew near those Bannacks, they jumped from their 
slower horses and ran to hiding. I got from my horse 
and took one of theirs. Then I took another horse. They 
did not fire at me from the bushes. I did not follow after 
them. I had horses and rode back to camp. Left the ene- 
mies afoot. These Bannacks, I understood later, were 
of General Howard's scouts. 

We were two, but I have told you how my partner's 
horse ran away with him. After I took those horses, I 
heard a shot several shots of about half a mile, in the 
direction he went. Then my partner's horse came run- 
ning by me. I thought, "They have killed him!" 

It was true! I do not know which killed him, Bannacks 
or Crows. He was the only Nez Perce warrior killed in 
all the Canyon Creek and trail fighting. I do not know 
if he killed any of the enemies. He was brave and strong, 
but the Crows were too many. With a trained horse he 
would not have been killed. 11 

11 Chief White Hawk verified Yellow Wolf's story with the following remark : 
"Teeweeyownah was my brother-in-law. A fine-looking man about middle age, he 



I do not think any Crows or Bannacks were killed. 
They were many and we only a few. Our warriors could 
not chase far to fight them. The moving families must 
be guarded. 

No soldiers were seen in this running fight. They 
must have been back where the yesterday's fight was, 
burying one another. 12 I could not tell how many Ban- 
nacks. They kept too far away. No more came close to 
trouble the women after we chased them. 

At this point I asked the narrator if he thought General Howard 
wanted his Indians to attack women and children. He answered 
vehemently in the affirmative. 

I am telling you, my friend! It is so, what I have seen, 
what I have done. They are facts, my words! I do not 
want anything not true. 

I do not like the lie. If I lie, I will know it when I 
come to my death. I am telling you what I tell all the 
people at our celebrations/' 13 General Howard had those 
Bannacks, those Crows, to come against us. 

Two old men not warriors were killed by the 

was sort of commander in the war. He rode a high-spirited horse which ra_n away 
with him was how he got killed." Doubtless Teeweeyownah was the warrior that 
Trooper T. W. Goldin writes (December 4, 19E4) of seeing lifeless on the barren 
mesa, as Colonel Sturgis* command limped in hopeless pursuit of the main 

Nez Perce 

" some time after working our way through the blockaded canyon, and 
reaching the rolling mesa leading off towards the Missouri River many miles 
away, I, with a bunch of flankers riding to the right of our advance, came upon 
the body of a dead Indian, a Nez Perce, we decided. He was not stripped, and 
I do not frfaTr he had been scalped, although I am not quite clear on this point. He 
was a warrior I should say something over five feet six talL All arms had been 
taken by the Crows, we supposed, and the body lying thre on the open mesa, was 
already stiffening when we found it. The weather was cold." 

"Notwithstanding the fact that Colonel Sturgis* hunger-famished troops and 
their footsore mounts were hopelessly in the rear at the time that the Nez Perces 
were having these encounters with the Crows and other Government Indian scouts, 
the Colonel is credited by General Howard with having participated in a '^running 
fight with them for over 20 miles." ("Report of the General of the Army," 1877, 
p. 024.) 

18 In tribal gatherings where deeds of personal prowess are recited, it is the 
custom for anyone who may be acquainted with the facts to correct innocent 
mistakes or false statements on the part of the narrator. In this way the < 'Iagos w 
are discouraged, and oral histories are kept nearer the facts. As a race, the 
Indians are strong for witnesses, and the writer has known aged warriors of 
creditable reputations for veracity to be deterred from recounting their early 
exploits simply beecause of a dearth of corroborative testimony. In my various 
interviews, BO Nez Perce ever talked alone if it were possible to have one or more 
of his companions in arms present. 



Crows. Tookleiks [Fish Trap], and Wetyetmas Hapima 
[Surrounded Goose] became separated from the families 
and were caught by the once friendly Crows. Tookleiks 
turned back looking for a missing horse, and was seen 
no more. Maybe Wetyetmas Hapima was on like busi- 
ness. I do not know. Both were too old to do fighting. 
General Howard's Indians killed all our old people they 
found. The two were not killed by soldiers. No soldiers 
caught up with us from where we left them at Canyon 

None of the three were buried. We had no time, no 
chance to do the burying. The killed were too far 

I do not understand how the Crows could think to 
help the soldiers. They were fighting against their best 
friends! Some Nez Perces in our band had helped them 
whip the Sioux who came against them only a few snows 
before. This was why Chief Looking Glass had advised 
going to the Crows, to the buffalo country. He thought 
Crows would help us, if there was more fighting. 


His Own Story 


Northward Across the Missouri 

The troops under Colonel Sturgis having been left hors de combat 
following the Canyon Creek engagement, the Nez Perce cavalcade 
proceeded almost unmolested in a general northerly direction up 
through Montana, heading toward the Canadian border. On Sep- 
tember 23 the Indians reached the south bank of the Missouri River 
at Cow Island Landing, 120 miles east of Fort Benton. This was 
the head of navigation during low water in the fall, where all steam- 
boat freight was landed, thence to be bull-trained to the, Montana 
settlements and the frontier posts of Canada. On the north bank 
Major Guido Ilges had half a dozen soldiers, and perhaps a cannon, 
from the Seventh Infantry from Fort Shaw. 

As Yellow Wolf relates in this chapter, the soldiers tried to stand 
off the Indians but were forced to retire quickly in the face of such 
a large force. In this region, where straggling whites might be ex- 
pected, Yellow Wolf was changed from his previous position as rear 
guard to that of advance guard. That his warrior companions had 
great confidence in his ability to deal, singlehanded, with the enemy 
is brought out in a subsequent episode. 

MXT morning after this last fight with General 
[oward's Bannack Indian scouts, we moved camp 
early. For five suns- we moved, meeting only little 
trouble. The Crow tribe was left far behind. It came 
morning of that fifth night, and the families made packs 
for moving. 

There is a little story. I have said that I was scout to 
keep watch on the back trail. But this sun I was sent 
early ahead of the families. I took the lead. I brought 
myself to be a scout. In the fore part of the morning I 
ran onto a band of heyets, the mountain sheep, the big- 


horn. I thought to kill one of them. My rifle was swung 
in case alongside my saddle. I drew the gun, but before 
I got it clear, it went off. My horse was shot through 
hind leg. Not broken, but bad flesh wound. 

I was half a sun ahead of other Indians. I threw my 
saddle down for them to pick up, and went on afoot. It 
was toward evening. I came to a small creek. I heard a 
horse nicker. It was not too far to a small, open place. 
I saw four white men. I thought, "I will go to them!" 

I started, and one said not to come. I did not under- 
stand very well, but I knew he wanted me to stop. I did 
not mind him. I kept on, and those four men grabbed 
their guns. I jerked my rifle up, but not fast enough. 
They all fired. I was shot right across the left arm. 1 I 
nearly dropped my gun! I yelled, and went after them. 
One made toward me, and I shot him. I know not which 
fired first, but he missed me. I was too mad to know 
where the bullet struck him. The three of them ran. 
They ran fast, and about sixty steps away I downed one. 
The two went into the brush, and I hurried to the four 
staked horses. 2 

I led those horses to where they had a tent. It was 
about five o'clock. I said to myself, "Where will I find 
my food?" Then I found it. 

I thought of my horses. These white men had a saddle, 
and I put a packsaddle on one horse. There was a sack 
and a half of flour. I packed up and went on. I did not 
know where the other Indians were. I was just going 
any way. 

1 This was another skin-graze, a **bullet "burn/* painful but not of a serious 
nature. It was his fifth and last wound of the war. 

* Before relating the foregoing episode, Yellow Wolf paused and conferred 
earnestly for a few minutes with the interpreter. Later it was explained that he 
hesitated to tell of his difficulty with the white men, thinking it unimportant to the 
main story. Also he feared that even at this late date it might get frfrn into 
trouble* despite the fact that the white men, so he reasoned, were the aggressors, 
since the first hostile demonstration came from them. 


It grew dark. I was taking all the horses and traveling 
was slow. About nine o'clock I heard Indians shouting. 
I said to myself, "Now I am getting to my friends alive !" 

I answered them and when I got to camp, my mother 
gave me some food. They then asked me, "Where have 
you been?" 

"On ahead!" 

When I answered that, they told me, "You lie down 
and rest." 

I lay down with my blanket on a buffalo robe and 
slept until morning. We ate breakfast, and my uncle 
asked me, "Where you get your horses?" 

"Four white men made war on me," I answered. 

"Were you afraid?" 

"No! The whites are just like those little flies. Some- 
times they light on your hand. You can kill them!" 

"The gun is danger?" 

"No! I think they have those play guns. Just like 

"Not soldiers? Not scouts?" 

When he asked me that I answered, "No, just citizen 
dress. All was easy for me." 

Yellow Wolf laughed softly at the recollection, and when asked 
why he wanted to go to the white men when they told him not to do 
so, he answered quickly: 

All white men were spies. Enemies to be killed. Those 
four white men with horses would quickly have brought 
soldiers. Furthermore, I will tell you. Those men spoke 
war when they drew their guns. I understood that 

We moved on. It was the sixth sun from fighting the 
Crows and Bannacks when we came to a large river. Its 



name at the crossing we struck is Seloselo Wejanwais, a 
kind of colored paint. There were a few buildings there. 
The chiefs said, "We will cross this river!" 

We were just waiting for one another, for all the 
families to come up. I heard the voice of a man talking. 
I understood soldiers were camped across the river. It 
was the only place to ford. The water was deep elsewhere. 

Each of the five chiefs called to his own men. When 
through with this, they all came together. There were 
not as many as a hundred warriors. We thought those 
soldiers might shoot at us crossing, so about twenty war- 
riors went first. The others remained close to the river 
shore, where we would have more chance to return their 
fire. But there were no shots, so the rest of the warriors 
started across to the soldiers' side. Of course I did not 
remain behind. I heard some Indians say, "If the soldiers 
do not fire on us, we will do no shooting." 

We reached an island. 3 We could not see the soldiers. 
We went a good way and got on shore. The pack outfit 
came across, the whole train and the horse herd. To let 
all this and the families pass, the warriors stopped a short 
distance from the soldiers. One chief instructed me to 
take the families about two miles and make camp. It was 
near one hour from sunset. No tepee poles, camp making 
was not hard for the women. While this was doing, I 
heard one man say, "Some warriors now riding towards 
the soldiers." 

I hurried to join in the fight. I heard the guns popping. 
The fighting had started. I soon reached there. The 
soldiers had a bank protection. We could not get to them 
and, darkness falling, we slowed up firing. 4 

'This was Cow Island Landing, about halfway between Fort Benton and Fort 
Peck, Montana. 

*The war records contain only a casual reference to the occurrences attending 



No warrior was killed. Only one, Husis Owyeen 
[Wounded Head], had his scalp cut by bullet-splintered 
wood. In Big Hole battle his head was bullet-glanced, 
which gave him his good name. He was a brave warrior. 5 

The soldiers had everything fixed up. I saw food piled 
high as this house [one story] where the steamboats 
landed. Lots of other goods as well. 

Before night came, we took food as wanted. Each 
family took maybe two sacks flour, one sack rice, one 
sack beans, plenty coffee, sugar, hardtack. Some took 
bacon. Everything to eat. 

All this we captured from the soldiers. We did not 
starve that sun, that night. Whoever wanted them, 
took pans, cooking pots, cups, buckets. Women all 
helped themselves. When everybody had what they 
wanted, some bad boys set fire to the remaining. It was a 
big fire! 

We warriors stayed there all night, watching and ex- 
changing shots with the soldiers. The chiefs who made 
rulings were at camp. They said, "Let's quit! Soldiers 
are under bank. We can do nothing. Nobody killed and 
we have plenty of food." 

A man was sent who told us what the chiefs said. The 
older warriors got together and minded the order. We 
turned from those soldiers, ending the shooting. It had 
been nearly like play. 6 

the Nez Perce crossing at Cow Island. They give no adequate description of 
buildings or quarters for the small guard detailed from the Seventh Infantry, 
which, at the time, states Major Guldo Hges, consisted of twelve enlisted men from 
Company B, and four citizens; two of the latter and "several Indians" being 
wounded in tie engagement lasting "18 hoars.** ("Keport of the General of the 
Army," 1877, p. 557.) 

5 A tribal warrior and buffalo hunter, Wounded Head was reckoned a fierce 
though cautious fighter. When relating his story of the war to me in 1908, lie 
made no mention of his wounding in the Cow Island crossing: episode, but his 
companions in arms speak of it. Possibly he deemed it of no moment. Of the 
White Bird contingent, he never surrendered. Escaping from the Bear's Paw 
Mountain battlefield, he fled to Sitting Bull's camp in Canada, In time he drifted 
back to the Nez Peree Beservation in Idaho, where he died on the dearwater River 
below Spalding, in 1912. 

Brady, Northwestern Fights and Fiffhter*, pp. 34-35, speaks of a wagon train 



When I reached camp, my pack was already done up. 
The families and warriors were leaving, and I changed 
horses. I was staying behind. One hour passed, but those 
soldiers did not go anywhere. 

My horse was loose-saddled. I waited about another 
hour, keeping good lookout. Then tightening the saddle 
cinch, I mounted and followed after the camp. It must 
have been three miles I went. Coming to a narrow can- 
yon, I looked ahead and saw that the wagon road crossed 
a creek. Then I thought I saw signs of a man. I pretend- 
ed not to see anything. I got down to fix my stirrup. It 
needed no fixing. I only played working at it. But all the 
time I watched the spot where the man-sign had moved. 

Then I saw a white face peering out of the brush. In 
maybe five minutes another face came in sight. Then 
two more. Yes, they were looking toward me. After 
taking a good look, I knew. They were white men wait- 
ing. Four white men waiting to shoot one Indian riding 

There was but that one way. I could not go around 
them. I took my heart and said, "I must take this road!" 
Approaching the enemies, I still kept as if I had seen 
nothing. My stirrup fixed, I made my mind what to do. 
I thought how to get by those men. 

Mounting, I walked my horse in a circle. I bent over 
as if looking for lost horse tracks. In the meantime I 
rolled one blanket-cloth legging below the knee. I tied 

destroyed by Chief Joseph at Cow Island Landing, and of a freight depot of good 
size, and a small "fort" which the whites defended with the loss of three of its 
garrison of twelve men and a sergeant. He also says that a troop of the Seventh 
"Cavalry," conveyed by a river steamer, collided with Joseph, but retreated after 
sustaining light casualties. When Colonel Hedington's attention was called to the 
foregoing from Brady, he wro$e (February 7, 1935) : 

"As stated, we arrived at the landing after that great stack of freight had been 
looted and destroyed. If there had been any sheds or building there, they were all 
burned up. If there had been a wagon or bull train there, it was all burned up. 
And, there was certainly no fort in sight, 

"Major nges could not have had a Seventh Cavalry troop. He belonged to 
Gibbon's Seventh Infantry, at Fort Shaw." 



it strong and fast. Then I turned my horse to circle a 
different way while I rolled and tied the other legging. 
Of course, the enemies did not see what I was doing, 
working from blind side of horse. 

Rolling the leggings was a custom I always followed 
when going into battle. I will not have clothing on my 
body. No leggings, no shirt, only the breechcloth, moc- 
casins, and feathers, or whatever I happen to have with 
me for obtaining power in battle. For this reason did I 
strip down for the enemies. 

I kept my rifle ready but still pretended I knew not of 
danger. Heading my horse the right way, I kicked him 
with my heel. Trained, he sprang to a swift gallop down 
toward the brush-hidden enemies. I passed from their 
sight a short moment. Eehl There was another way a 
small trail. I sent my horse up a sandy place where this 
trail led. I reached the top not far and looked down. 
I saw those men holding ready to shoot. Waiting for 
me! I was not coming their way. Had some of them 
been at the gulch, they would have caught me sure. They 
must not have known the leading-off trail. Maybe they 
were just scouts watching the wagon road? 

I laughed while circling away. 

When I got abreast of them, one looked up and saw 
me. He pointed and all began firing. But I was now 
about a quarter mile away. They could not hit me, I did 
not return their fire. I did not stop. I waved my rifle a 
"Good-by," and just kept loping along. They did not 
try following me. 

I now hurried along to report what I had seen. I came 
up with rear warrior guards about noon. They told me, 
"We thought you would be killed! We left some white 
men horseless back there." 



"No! I am alive," I told them. "It was not dangerous 
passing those men. Had they not looked around when I 
was so far away, had they lain low, they would have got 
me. They showed themselves hiding to shoot me/' 

The warriors laughed. I did not know until then those 
white men had been placed afoot by our warriors taking 
their horses. It stopped them carrying to the soldiers 
news where to find us. 

It was early afternoon when we came to a wagon 
train hauled by many ox teams. The Indians charged. 
Three white men were killed, and several got away. Then 
the warriors went for those wagons. They were loaded 
with supplies must have been for stores somewhere. 
There was lots of whisky. But before Indians got at it, 
soldiers appeared. Not too close, but approaching, and 
wagons were set afire. There was some shooting, but no 
Indian was hurt. "We thought we killed one or two sol- 
diers. Those soldiers stopped before getting very near us. 7 
No oxen were killed. We traveled on a ways, and made 
early night camp. 

7 Major Eges, of the Seventh Infantry, in his official report of this occurrence, 
stated that two of the teamsters were killed, while the remainder (seven) escaped 
to the hills. Major Hges* force consisted of hut thirty-six mounted volunteers, 
and he wisely refrained from attacking the raiders of the wagon train. In the 
ensuing long-distance skirmish he lost one man and one horse killed. "The Indians 
lost two in wounded/* Major Hges stated. ("Report of the General of the Army,'* 
1877, p. 557.) 


His Own Story 


Forty-eight Hours from Freedom 

After Colonel Sturgis' failure to hold the Nez Perces at Canyon Creek 
on September 13, General Howard had sent to Colonel Nelson A. 
Miles, Commander of the District of the Yellowstone, then at 
Tongue River Cantonment in eastern Montana, a courier dispatch, 
which the latter received on September 17, in part as follows: 

"The Indians are reported going . . . straight toward the Mus- 
selshell. ... I earnestly request you to make every effort in your 
power to prevent the escape of this hostile band, and at least 
hold them in check until I can overtake them." ("Report of the 
General of the Army," 1877, p. 73.) 

Thus, while the Nez Perce cavalcade, burdened with women and 
children, was forging slowly ahead to the Canadian border, Miles 
hastened by forced marches diagonaEy northwestward crossing the 
Missouri on a steamboat and arrived in the Bearpaw Mountains at 
the same time as the fleeing Indians. 

Miles's force consisted of a medley of the Second and Seventh 
Cavalry, the Fifth Infantry, mounted, and some thirty Sioux and 
Cheyenne warriors the aggregate number being revealed in Miles's 
vivid depiction of the charge of the Indian camp, where he says: 
"The tramp of at least six hundred horses over the prairie fairly 
shook the ground." 

When, therefore, the Nez Perce patriots pitched camp on Sep- 
tember 29 by Snake Creek near the Bearpaw Mountains, it marked the 
end of the trail for them. The leaders, and many others of the Nez 
Perces, well knew their location, knew that two suns* travel should 
place them in safety. But Lean Elk (Poker Joe), who counseled 
haste, had been deprived of leadership. Upon Chief Looking Glass's 
dilatory policy, as at the Big Hole disaster, must be laid the blame 
for the events which Yellow Wolf narrates in this chapter. It is 
noticeable, however, that Yellow Wolf exhibits no animus in his bare 
statement of facts. 



IT WAS early dawn next morning when two men left 
camp to scout ahead. Started long before the families 
had packs ready to go. It was cold, and a storm looked 
gathering. I remained after all had gone after the rear 
guards had gone to watch back on the trail. During 
that day I saw no white man. 

But those two warriors scouting ahead, after crossing 
the mountain, found Walk-around Sioux Indians camp- 
ing. The scouts took our camp below them a short way. 

There was friendly visiting that night. 

Next morning [Sept. 29], not early, the camp moved. 
No white men were seen by scouts ahead. We guarded the 
back trail, but saw no signs of soldiers. We knew dis- 
tance to Canadian line. Knew how long it would take 
to travel there. But there was no hurrying by Chief 
Looking Glass, leader since crossing the big river 

About noon the families came to where camp was to 
be made. The scouts knew and had several buffalo killed 
on the campground. The name of this place is Tsanim 
Alikos Pah [Place of Manure Fire]. Only scarce brush- 
wood, but buffalo chips in plenty. There are other places 
in Montana of same name. With horses' feet mostly sick 
[tender] and lots of grass, the chiefs ordered, "We camp 
here until tomorrow forenoon/* 1 

It was afternoon when I reached camp. Of course 
some young warriors were out on buttes and ridges 
watching if enemies might be near. But we expected 
none. We knew General Howard was more than two 
suns back on our trail. It was nothing hard to keep 
ahead of him. 

lf The camp chosen by the Nez Perces was about fifty miles north of the Cow 
Island crossing of the Missouri River, and about forty miles southeast of the 
present city of Havre, Montana. 



Next morning [Sept. 30], not too early, while some 
were still eating breakfast, two scouts came galloping 
from the south, from the direction we had come. As they 
drew near, they called loudly. "Stampeding buffaloes! 
Soldiers! Soldiers!" 

Some families had packs partly ready and horses 
caught. But Chief Looking Glass, now head of camp, 
mounted his horse and rode around ordering, "Do not 
hurry! Go slow! Plenty, plenty time. Let children eat 
all wanted!" 

This slowed the people down. 

The two Indians who brought the alarm had been 
visiting at the Walk-around camp. Did not follow the 
families until next morning. Coming, they saw a herd 
off buffalo stampeding and knew soldiers must be near. 
One of these men was Tom Hill. 

Because of Chief Looking Glass, we were caught. 

It was about one hour later when a scout was seen 
coming from the same direction. He was running his 
horse to its best. On the highest bluff he circled about, 
and waved the blanket signal: "Enemies right on us! 
Soon the attack!" 2 

A wild stir hit the people. Great hurrying everywhere. 
I was still in my uncle's camp, my home. I saw this uncle, 
Chief Joseph, leap to the open. His voice was above all 
the noise as he called, "Horses! Horses! Save the horses!" 

I grabbed my rifle and cartridge belts and ran with 
others for our horses. Warriors were hurrying to the 
bluffs to meet the soldiers. Soon, from the south came a 
noise a rumble like stampeding buffaloes. Reaching the 

2 The scant who 'waved the blanket signal was one of a party of tea or twelve 
buffalo runners. They were all seen by Louis Shambow, scout for Colonel Miles. 
(Noyes, In the Land of Chmook, p. 75.) Viewing: them from a distance, Shambow, 
alert though he was, failed to detect that the best mounted of the hunters slipped 
away and sped to a hilltop to give the hlanket signaL This bluff has since become 
the site of memorial monuments. 



higher ground north of our camp I looked back. Hun- 
dreds of soldiers charging in two wide, circling wings. 
They were surrounding our camp. I saw Sioux or Chey- 
enne Indians taking lead ahead of soldiers. I ran a short 
distance, then heard the rifle reports. I stopped. Turn- 
ing, I saw soldiers firing at everybody. I could get none 
of the horses. All running from guns. 

I grew tired, could run no more. But continuing, I 
walked where bullets were flying. Then I came nearer 
the camp. An Indian called to me he had caught one 
horse. Indians were not shooting much. Soldiers were 
firing, hurrying to corral us, to hold us in camp. 

Other Indians were out among the horses, not trapped 
by the circling soldiers. I mounted the horse the man 
gave me and raced to where those Nez Perces were. 
Maybe we could still catch a few horses. 

I saw an Indian riding a swift horse out where some 
women were helping catch horses. He looked to be one 
of General Howard's Lemhi [Bannack] scouts. 3 He was 
bothering those women, trying to kill them. I grew mad 
and went after that Indian. I could not catch him, but 
drove him back among the soldiers. 

I well knew the Indian sign language. I can talk to all 
the tribes. I saw, one hundred steps away, a brave Nez 
Perce warrior, Heyoom Iklakit [Grizzly Bear Lying 
Down], He was talking signs with the chief of General 
Howard's [Miles's] Cheyenne-Sioux scouts. At head of 
his warriors, that Cheyenne chief rode toward Heyoom 
Iklakit, who threw him the command, "Stop right there! 

* YeHow "Wolf did not at first realize that it was a new army under Colonel 
Miles that had struck them. But he soon discovered it, not only by the vigor of the 
troops, but also in the character of the strange Indians opposing them. The 
Lemhis are not listed as a tribe in the Handbook of American Indians (Bureau of 
American. Ethnology, Washington, D. C., 1907). The Lemhis are linguistically the 
same as the Bannack Shoshoni; their name is purely a local one, derived from 
the Lemhi Valley, Idaho. The Lemhis, now practically absorbed by intermarriage, 
today reside on Fort Hall Besereation (Idaho). 



You are helping the soldiers. You have a red skin, red 
blood. You must be crazy! You are fighting your friends. 
We are Indians. We are humans. Do not help the 

The Cheyenne chief stopped as told. He answered by 
signs: "Do not talk more. Stop right there! I will never 
shoot you. I will shoot in the air. There are twenty 
more of us down below here." 

Ending the sign talking, Heyoom Iklakit called to the 
Nez Perces, "He is our friend and will not shoot us. He 
will shoot in the air!" 

All the Nez Perces knew about this. None of us be- 
lieved the Cheyennes or Sioux would shoot at us. 

Heyoom Iklakit left his horse and came up the canyon 
towards the camp to help fight the soldiers. He knew he 
was sure to die! The soldiers killed him about fifty steps 
from where he dismounted. I saw him killed. 

The Cheyenne chief lied to Heyoom. He rode south 
about forty steps from where he had talked, and met a 
Nez Perce woman mounted. He caught her bridle and 
with his six-shooter shot and killed the woman. I saw 
her fall to the ground. We shot at that Cheyenne from 
where we were. But he was a wise Indian, and we could 
not hit him. 4 

We now went up toward the butte, past the soldiers 
who were right below us. There were about twenty of 
us who took position on a small ridge. We were only a 
little way from the soldiers. We had a fight. We stood 
strong in the battle. We met those soldiers bullet for 
bullet. We held those soldiers from advancing. 

*By "wise Indian," Yellow Wolf alhided to the occult "Power" of which every 
Indian warrior, hunter, and medicine man is possessed the Wyakin of the Nez 
Perces, the Tdh. of the Yakimas, etc. See "WyaJdn. Powers," end of this volume. 



We drove them back. 5 One Indian was killed here and 
a short distance away another Nez Perce was killed. 

Then we went out from that hole! We saw that same 
Cheyenne chief going toward our camp. He had about 
thirty Indians with him, and we thought he would be 
killing more women. "We held a short council: "We will 
go back and save our women." 

Three of us rode and headed them off. There were 
several soldiers back of the Cheyennes and Sioux. I was 
on a bad horse. One I could not manage. He ran away 
with me, going towards the soldiers. The Cheyennes and 
soldiers all ran back. The Cheyenne chief who killed 
the lone woman turned and ran his horse from me. This 
was the last time I saw him. 

Here the narrator paused for a moment, and with a tinge of bitter- 
ness, remarked: 

In one way I can not see why the calling of the many 
different tribes to help fight us. 6 We did not call help! 
We did not ask others to lead us in fight! The way I look 
at it, we did not make war with any of those tribes. Our 
war was with the whites. Started by General Howard at 
our Lapwai council. As I see it, my story can not tell 

5 James Snell, scout for Colonel Miles, who was in this battle, confirms Yellow 
Wolf's description of the "invincible twenty" when he says: 

"In all my Indian career, I never was in a standing fight until I struck the 
Nez Perce tribe. General Miles gave me eight head of ponies and a span of mules 
for carrying water for the wounded soldiers when nobody else would go. Captain 
Snider was ordered by Miles to take a certain position and about thirty Nez Perces 
held this position and fought the company of soldiers from a little ridge, they 
being about seventy-five yards apart and forcing the soldiers back. If the Indians 
only knew, they had Miles defeated. ... I never went up against anything like the 
Nez Perces in all my life and I have been in lots of scraps.'* (Noyes, op. cit., 
pp. 114-15.) 

Colonel Miles lauds Captain Snider in this exploit in a misleading manner when 
he says : 

"At the same time the battalion of the Fifth Infantry (mounted) under 
Captain Snider charged forward up to the very edge of the valley in which the 
Indian camp was located, threw themselves upon the ground, holding the lariats 
of their ponies in their left hands, and opened a deadly fire with their long ranged 
rifles upon the enemy with telling effect. The tactics were somewhat in Indian 
fashion, and most effective as they presented a small target when lying or kneeling 
on the ground." (Miles, Personal Recollection*, p. 271.) 

ft Ten different tribes were drawn on for scout service. 



why those Indians were in the battles, why helping the 
soldiers. Their joining, it became not like war with whites 
alone. It can not seem right to me. 

This battle continued all that sun, mostly around the 
camp. I did what I could on the outside with other 
warriors. But we could not charge close on the soldiers. 
They were too many for us. The big guns, also, the 
soldiers had. 

A bad mistake was made by Husishusis Kute during 
this sun's fighting. Three brave warriors, Koyehkown, 
Kowwaspo, and Peopeo Ipsewahk [Lone Bird] were in 
a washout southeast of camp. They were too far toward 
the enemy line. Husishusis thought them enemy In- 
dians and killed them all. He had a magazine rifle and 
was a good shot. With every shot he would say, W I got 
one!" or "I got him!" 

Lean Elk [Poker Joe] was also killed by mistake. A 
Nez Perce saw him across a small canyon, mistook him 
for one of the enemies, and shot him. 

Four good warriors killed by friends through mistake. 
Four brave men lost the first day. 


His Own Story 


The Last Stand: Bear's Paw Battlefield 

If Colonel Miles blundered in his first and unsuccessful Balaklava-like 
charge of his "gallant six hundred," he did not repeat his mistake in 
the following days, but "wisely refrained from a further attempt to 
storm the Indians' stronghold. He threw a cordon of soldiers around 
the field, however, which prevented the Indians from escaping and 
obliged them to entrench themselves for a siege. The extent of the 
defensive line of shelter pits dug by the Indians during the first night 
probably enlarged and augmented in succeeding nights is as- 
tounding and almost beyond comprehension. 

In August, 1935, the writer, aided by Chief White Hawk and 
interpreter Many Wounds, made a historical staking of the battle- 
field. Even after more than fifty-five years, the traces of the forti- 
fications were so extensive that it required several days to complete 
the work of staking. 

Yellow Wolf in this chapter briefly sketches the preparations that 
were made on the night of September 30, 1877, for an indefinitely 
prolonged siege. He then describes the principal events of the second, 
third, and fourth days of the fighting. He reveals that no white flag 
was raised by the Nez Perces, but that three times a white flag ap- 
peared over the soldiers* encampment. 

T7VENING came, and the battle grew less. Darkness 
I j settled and mostly the guns died away. Only occa- 
sional shots. I went up toward our camp. I did not 
hurry. Soldiers guarding, sitting down, two and two. 
Soldiers all about the camp, so that none could escape 
from there. A long time I watched. It was snowing. 
The wind was cold! Stripped for battle, I had no blanket. 
I lay close to the ground, crawling nearer the guard line. 
It was past middle of night when I went between 



View taken looking northeast. In background note Chief Joseph memorial shaft 
and boulder pit marked D in preceding photograph. 



Boulder-constructed rifle pit for Indian defense Stake No. 131 in survey by 

McWhorter and Nez Perces, August, 1935. 


those guards. I was now back within the camp circle. 
I went first and drank some water. I did not look for 

On the bluffs Indians with knives were digging rifle 
pits. Some had those broad-bladed knives [trowel bay- 
onets] taken from soldiers at the Big Hole. Down in the 
main camp women with camas hooks were digging 
shelter pits. All this for tomorrow's coming. 

Shelter pits for the old, the women, the children. 

Rifle pits for the warriors, the fighters. 

You have seen hail, sometimes, leveling the grass. 
Indians were so leveled by the bullet hail. Most of our 
few warriors left from the Big Hole had been swept as 
leaves before the storm. Chief Ollokot, Lone Bird, and 
Lean Elk were gone. * 

Outside the camp I had seen men killed. Soldiers ten, 
Indians ten. That was not so bad. But now, when I saw 
our remaining warriors gone, my heart grew choked and 
heavy. Yet the warriors and no-fighting men killed were 
not all. I looked around. 

Some were burying their dead. 

A young warrior, wounded, lay on a buffalo robe dying 
without complaint. Children crying with cold. No fire. 
There could be no light. Everywhere the crying, the 
death wail. 

My heart became fire. I joined the warriors digging 
rifle pits. All the rest of night we worked. Just before 
dawn, I went down among the shelter pits. I looked 
around. Children no longer crying. In deep shelter pits 
they were sleeping. "Wrapped in a blanket, a still form lay 
on the buff alo robe. The young warrior was dead. I went 
back to my rifle pit, my blood hot for war. I felt not 
the cold. 



Morning came, bringing the battle anew. Bullets from 
everywhere! A big gun throwing bursting shells. From 
rifle pits, warriors returned shot for shot. Wild and 
stormy, the cold wind was thick with snow. Air filled 
with smoke of powder. Flash of guns through it all. 
As the hidden sun traveled upward, the war did not 

I felt the coming end. All for which we had suffered 

Frequent pauses had marked Yellow Wolf's description of the 
battle thus far, and at this point came a break of several minutes. 
With no visible emotion, warrior and interpreter sat sdent, gazing 
toward the desert hills beyond the Nez Perce camp at the river's side. 
When at last Yellow Wolf resumed his story, it was in the same low, 
evenly modulated tone generally tinged with sadness, but with an 
unusual degree of rhetoric. 

Thoughts came of the Wallowa where I grew up. Of 
my own country when only Indians were there. Of 
tepees along the bending river. Of the blue, clear lake, 
wide meadows with horse and cattle herds. From the 
mountain forests, voices seemed calling. I felt as dream- 
ing. Not my living self . 

The war deepened. Grew louder with gun reports. I 
raised up and looked around. Everything was against us. 
No hope! Only bondage or death! Something screamed 
in my ear. A blaze flashed before me. I felt as burning! 
Then with rifle I stood forth, saying to my heart, "Here 
I will die, fighting for my people and our homes!" 

Soldiers could see me. Bullets hummed by me, but I 
was untouched. The warriors called, "Heinmot! Come 
back to this pit. You will be killed!" 

I did not listen. I did not know if I killed any soldiers. 
To do well in battle you must see what you want to 



shoot. You glimpse an enemy in hiding and shoot. If no 
more shots from there, you know you have succeeded. 

I felt not afraid. Soldier rifles from shelters kept 
popping fast. Their big gun boomed often but not 
dangerous. The warriors lying close in dugout pits could 
not be hit. I know not why the shells never struck our 
rifle pits on the bluffs. 

The sun drew on, and about noon the soldiers put up 
the white flag. The Indians said, "That is good! That 
means, 'Quit the war/ " 

But in short minutes we could see no soldiers. Then 
we understood. 

Soldiers quit the fight to eat dinner! 

No Indian warrior thought to eat that noon. He never 
thinks to eat when in battle or dangerous places. But not 
so the soldier. Those soldiers could not stand the hunger 
pain. After dinner they pulled down their white flag. 

That flag did not count for peace. 

The fight was started again by the soldiers after stop- 
ping their hunger. There was shooting all the rest of that 
second sun's battle. Stronger cold, thicker snow came 
with darkness. No sleeping in warm tepees. No eating 
warm food. 1 Only at times was there shooting during 
the night. 

It came morning, third sun of battle. The rifle shoot- 
ing went on just like play. Nobody being hurt. But soon 

1 Cooking facilities in the beseiged camp were piteously meager. The dead brash 
along the creek a species of undersized -willow afforded scant kindling. Buffalo 
chips, though abundant, became buried the first night of the siege beneath a blanket 
of snow and were available only under cover of darkness. The women and children, 
saDying forth would locate the chips by feel of foot and dig them from the freezing 
snow. Surely their hardy racial training stood them in good stead. Any preparation 
of warm food, under such conditions and under the enemy guns, was necessarily 
negligible. One warrior was heard to say that he had had nothing to eat in five days. 
Nor is it to be supposed that he was alone in the voluntary fasting. Stake No. 71, 
Bearpaw battlefield, carried the notation, 'Three shallow depressions forming a 
crude triangle, and a large superficial depression near-adjoining on the southeast, 
comprising the cooking place." This "kitchen" was located in the dry golch 
dividing the campsite into two irregular parts. 



Chief Looking Glass was killed. Some warriors in same 
pit with him saw at a distance a horseback Indian. 
Thinking he must be a Sioux from Sitting Bull, one 
pointed and called to Looking Glass: "Look! A Sioux!" 

Looking Glass stepped quickly from the pit. Stood on 
the bluff unprotected. It must have been a sharpshooter 
killed him. A bullet struck his left forehead, and he fell 
back dead. 2 

That horseback Indian was a Nez Perce. 

In the afternoon of this sun we saw the white flag 
again go up in the soldier camp. Then was heard a voice 
calling in a strange language, "General [Colonel] Miles 
would like to see Chief Joseph!" 3 

The chiefs held council and Chief Joseph said, "Yes, 
I would like to see General Miles." 

Tom Hill, interpreter, went to see what General Miles 
wanted, to tell General Miles, "Yes, Joseph would like 
to see you!" After some time, we saw Tom Hill with 
General Miles and a few men come halfway. They 
stopped and Tom Hill called to Chief Joseph. Chief 
Joseph with two or three warriors went to meet them. 

I did not go where they met. I looked around. There 
was a hollow place off a distance in the ground. I went 
there and lay down. I could see General Miles where 
Chief Joseph met him. I could see all plainly where they 

2 Mr Charles A. Smith, who drove a six-mole team in Colonel Miles's supply 
train, writes in reply to an inquiry that Milan Tripp, scout, was undisputedly 
credited with the shot that killed Chief Looking Glass a single bullet, directly in 
the left forehead. An unidentified newspaper clipping advances the theory that the 
chief was recognized by the reflection of a small mirror he was wearing on his 
forehead, and that the twelve-pound Napoleon gun was turned on him "success- 
fully." At the rifle pit where he fell a small shrapnel was picked up by the 
transit man while the stake survey of the Bear's Paw field was being made in 
August, 1935. This find might support this latter claim, but if Looking Glass wore 
such an ornament, it was on gala days only. Besides, the glass could not have 
cast any reflection, for, from all accounts, the sun was completely obscured during 
the entire battle, so dense were the clouds and falling snow. 

This call was in Chinook jargon. (Miles, Personal Recollections, p. 274.) 
Yellow "Wolf did not understand this form of speech. It was not prevalent among 
the Nez Perces, and only an occasional member of the war party understood it. 



stood. I was saying to myself, "Whenever they shoot 
Chief Joseph, I will shoot from here!" 4 

There was talk for a while, and Chief Joseph and 
General Miles made peace. Some guns were given up. 
Then there was a trick. I saw Chief Joseph taken to 
the soldier camp a prisoner! 5 

The white flag was pulled down! 

That white flag was a lie! 

The warriors came back, and right away a soldier 
officer [Lieutenant Lovell H. Jerome] rode into our 
camp. Chief Yellow Bull yelled a warning and grabbed 
him. I could see them take the officer to the main shelter 
pit. "When I saw all this Chief Joseph taken away I 
ran to where the captured soldier was being held. Held 
that Chief Joseph might not be hurt. He had on a yellow- 
colored outside coat to keep off the wet. A strong- 
looking young man, he did not say much. Looked 
around, but seemed not much afraid. I do not think he 
was bad scared. 

The chiefs instructed the warriors to guard him. 
Ordered: "Treat him right! He is one of the com- 

One man, Chuslum Hihhih [White Bull] got mad 
at this officer and tried to get the best of him. He said, 
<e l want to kill this soldier!" 

The Indians told him, **No, we do not want you to 
kill him!" 

Chuslum Hihhih was mean-minded, had a bad heart. 
He did no great fighting. Stayed behind where bullets 

* This new position chosen by Yellow Wolf was in closer proximity to the peace 
conference and far more exposed than the strategically located rifle pit. Ikrabtless 
the peace conference was covered by other rifles, 

5 This detention of Chief Joseph by a United States Army commander was in 
flagrant violation of the hallowed pledge of a flag of trace. It is a! the more 
repugnant because there is no honest statement of the occurrence in Colonel 
Miles's official report, dated December 27, 1877, at Fort Keogh, Montana. ("Eeport 
of the General of the Army/' 1877, pp. 527-29. ) 



could not reach him. Espowyes, my relation, kept telling 
him, "Do not hurt the prisoner/' Scolding, he said, 
"Don't you know Chief Joseph is prisoner on other 
side? We have this officer prisoner here on our side. 
When they turn Chief Joseph loose, we will turn our 
prisoner loose at the same time. For this we are holding 
him, to make the trade. We do not want to kill him. He 
might be headman of the soldiers. Don't you see soldiers 
on other side with guns? Why do you not shoot them? 
Not shoot one who is caught! You see all the warriors 
who do fighting are not mad at him. Why do you, who 
do little fighting, want to kill him?" 

Chuslum Hihhih made no reply. He walked away. 

We all thought Chief Joseph was not killed on the 
other side, so we let this officer soldier keep his own life. 
You know we were resting a little. Not after the sol- 
diers, nor soldiers after us. We wanted to remain quiet 
a few moments. 

Two men you already have names of, Wottolen and 
Yellow Bull, took good care of the prisoner officer. Night 
drew on> and he was given food. We gave him water and 
a safe place to sleep in. He was given plenty of blankets. 

A buffalo robe for a bed to keep him warm. Nothing 
was taken from him. Guards watched his shelter pit 
all night. This, that he might not escape nor be hurt by 
mad Indians. 

But we did not know how our Chief Joseph was being 
treated over there. He might be alive, or he might be 

When morning broke, we did not wake that officer. 
We let him sleep if he wanted. When he woke, he was 
brought water to wash hands and face. He was given 
breakfast and water to drink. As far as that [indicating 



two hundred feet], that officer could go If he liked. 
Walk there and back often as he pleased. The chiefs gave 
strong words that he must not be harmed. 

It was about noon of the fourth sun when the officer 
took paper from his pocket and wrote. I know what he 
wrote. One Nez Perce understood English very well, and 
the officer said to him, ^You must take my letter to the 
soldier chief!" 

The officer read what he wrote on the paper, and when 
the Indian interpreted it to the chiefs, they said, "All 

This is what the interpreter said the paper told: "I had 
good supper, good bed. I had plenty of blankets. This 
morning I had good breakfast. I am treated like I was 
at home. I hope you officers are treating Chief Joseph 
as I am treated. I would like to see him treated as I am 

But Chief Joseph was not treated right. Chief Joseph 
was hobbled hands and feet. They took a double blanket. 
Soldiers rolled him in it like you roll papoose on cradle 
board. Chief Joseph could not use arms, could not walk 
about. He was put where there were mules, and not in 
soldier tent. That was how Chief Joseph was treated all 
night. 6 

When soldier officers received that letter, they took 
hobbles off Chief Joseph. He could then walk around a 
little where they let him. Those officers wrote a letter to 
our prisoner officer. When he read it, he said, tc l have 
not been treated like Chief Joseph!" 

The officer then read from the letter, "You come 

6 While Yellow Wolf grave no further account of the treatment of his chief than 
this, Wotbolen said that Joseph's hands were cuffed behind him, and his feet drawn 
tip and tied to the cnffs. The charge that he was rolled in a blanket and quartered 
with the mules appears to have gone undisputed. 



across to us. When you get here, then Chief Joseph can 

The chiefs and warriors replied to the officer, "No! If 
General Miles is speaking true, he will bring Chief Joseph 
halfway. To same ground we did that other time. It 
will be that, if he is speaking true words." 

This letter was carried to the soldiers by the same in- 
terpreter. The soldier officers must have read it, for soon 
a white flag went up. Then those officers sent a letter to 
the Indian chiefs. It said, "Yes, we will bring Chief 
Joseph halfway. You bring the officer to that same 

The chiefs said, "That is fair enough! 5 ' 

Then we looked across and saw officers and Chief 
Joseph. They were coming to halfway ground. A buffalo 
robe was spread there. The chiefs and a few older war- 
riors took our prisoner to meet them. He shook hands 
with Joseph and those officers. Then each party returned 
to its own side, Chief Joseph coming back to our camp. 

The soldiers now pulled down their white flag. When 
the warriors saw that flag come down, they laughed. 
They said to each other, "Three times those soldiers lie 
with the white flag. We can not believe them." We 
younger warriors had not gone to the meeting place 
marked by buffalo robe. 

Chief Joseph now spoke to all headmen: "I was hob- 
bled in the soldier camp. We mu^st fight more. The war 
is not quit!" 

Then the fighting began again. Shot for shot when- 
ever a soldier was seen. All that day we had the war. 
Those soldiers stayed at long distance. They did not try 
mixing us up. They did not charge against our rifle pits. 

Some warriors talked to charge the soldiers and fight 



it out. If we whipped them, we would be free. If we 
could not whip, we would all be killed, and no more 
trouble. But others said, "No! The soldiers are too 
strong. There are the big guns, the cannon guns. If we 
are killed, we leave women and children, old people, and 
many wounded. We can not charge the soldiers." 

It was slowed-up fighting. Cloudy, snowy, we did not 
see the sun set. Full darkness coming, the fighting mostly 
stopped. Some shooting in darkness by soldiers, but less 
by Indians. The gun sounds died down as night went on. 

All night we remained in those pits. The cold grew 
stronger. The wind was filled with snow. Only a little 
sleep. There might be a charge by the soldiers. The war- 
riors watched by turns. A long night. 



His Own Story 


The Last Day: The Surrender 

It would be impossible to portray trie pathos in Yellow Wolf's voice 
as he related the events of that cold, blustery day of October 5, 1877, 
when Chief Joseph, on behalf of his own band, laid down his arms. 

Yellow Wolf did not attend the peace negotiations and had no 
part in them. His status as a warrior was not, according to tribal 
practices, of sufficiently long standing. The end of the trail had 
been reached. What could there be, he asked himself, in the promises 
of a commander who, under cover of a white flag of truce, had seized 
and held Chief Joseph prisoner? Yellow Wolf was free, by the 
ancient laws of his nation, to hold aloof from the surrender pact. 

This was his decision, then not to surrender! 

"T7INALLY the fifth morning of the battle drew on, 
JL but no sun could be seen. "With first light, the battle 
began again. It was bad that cannon guns should be 
turned on the shelter pits where were no fighters. Only 
women and children, old and wounded men in those pits. 
General Miles and his men handling the big gun surely 
knew no warriors were in that part of camp. The officer 
we had held prisoner well knew no fighting warriors were 
where he sheltered. Of course his business was to carry 
back all news he could spy out in our camp. 

It was towards noon that a bursting shell struck and 
broke in a shelter pit, burying four women, a little boy, 
and a girl of about twelve snows. This girl, Atsipeeten, 
and her grandmother, Intetah, were both killed. The 
other three women and the boy were rescued. The two 
dead were left in the caved-in pit. 1 

T This pit, Stake No. 53, is located in the bank of the dry gulch near the 
northern extremity of the lower-level shelter-pit section. Its contour is badly 



When a few Indians, mad and wild on white man's 
whisky, killed mean settlers on Indian lands on the 
Salmon River, along with one or two women and maybe 
one child, that was very bad. 

Soldiers did not need whisky to kill a great many 
women and children throughout this war. 

This woman and child, and Chief Looking Glass, were 
only ones killed in this battle after the first sun's fighting. 
None even wounded. All those not fighting were in the 
shelter pits. The warriors in rifle pits could not be seen 
by the soldiers. Indians are not seen in the fighting. They 
are hid. 2 

The fight went on, but we did not fire continually. 
We thought the soldiers would get tired, maybe freeze 
out and charge us. We wanted plenty of ammunition for 
them if they did. 

Darkness again settled down, and only occasional 
shots were heard. These came mostly from soldiers, as if 
afraid we might slip up on them in their dugout forts. 

That night, General Howard arrived with two of his 
scouts, men of our tribe. He did not see much fighting 
of this battle, and I think maybe he put it wrong in 
history. Towards noon next day we saw those two 
Indians coming with a white flag. Heard them calling 
and I understood. One of them said, "All my brothers, 
I am glad to see you alive this sun!" 

Then the same bad man, Chuslum Hihhih, came and 

defaced from the shell explosion. Owing to the loamy nature of the soil, these 
pits are not nearly so well preserved as those on the stony bluffs. Wetatonmi, wife 
of Chief OHokot, stated that two women and a girl were kiBed in the pit by the 
shelL Perhaps a careful excavation wociH verify one or the other of the ctefrm 
as to the number of victims, and also bring to light some fragments of the sheH 
and other relics of the tragedy. 

* James Smith, known as "Blockhouse" Smith, member of Captain Henniss" 
company of volunteers during the Yakima War, 1855-56, informed the writer of 
a fight near the present site of La Grande, Oregon, which lasted the greater part 
of a day without an Indian being seen. The volunteers were in the open, while the 
Indians occupied a skirt of timber. 



wanted to shoot this Indian messenger from General 
Howard, Chuslum Hahlap Kanoot [Naked-footed Bull] 
took his gun from him. Another fellow said, "Let him 
alone! Let him kill him!" 

Hahlap Kanoot asked Chuslum Hihhih, "Why are you 
mad? "While we were warring, fighting, you lay on the 
ground, afraid! You are mean! I will take a whip after 

Chuslum. Hihhih was again ordered to leave. He 
walked away. 

The two Indians he was trying to kill, now speaking 
again, said, "We have traveled a long ways trying to 
catch you folks. We are glad to hear you want no more 
war, do not want to fight. We are all glad. I am glad 
because all my sons are glad to be alive. Not to go in 
battle any more." This speaker's name was Chojykies 
[Lazy]. He had a daughter with Chief Joseph's war- 
riors, was why he followed us. 

The other man 3 said, "We have come far from home. 
You now see many soldiers lying down side by side. We 
see Indians too, lying dead. I am glad today we are shak- 
ing hands. We are all not mad. We all think of Chief 
Joseph and these others as brothers. We see your sons and 
relations lying dead, but we are glad to shake hands with 
you today. I am glad to catch up with you and find my 
daughter, too, alive. 

"You, my brothers, have your ears open to me. Gen- 
eral Miles and Chief Joseph will make friends and not let 
each other go today. General Miles is honest-looking 

8 The first of these peace emissaries sent into the beseiged camp by General 
Howard was Captain John, whose tribal cognomen, Jokais (Block, or Worthless), 
....,. ,- . . . ... . kk name 

, Laws and 

*.iwiuvc*f t w. J.A, jj. uti.j juuus tj^iij.jtijuiuii, vjayunn vjreurge, center Known as Old 
George, was Meopkowit (Baby, or Know Nothing), Both of these "captains" had 
daughters with the war party, and their reason for accompanying General Howard*s 
expedition had been the hope that they might persuade their daughters to return. 



man. I have been with General Howard. I was afraid 
myself. I have been in wars and am no longer a warrior. 

"Listen well what I say. I heard General Howard 
telling, 'When I catch Chief Joseph, I will bring him 
back to his own home.' 

"Do not be afraid! General Miles said, 'Tell Joseph 
we do not have any more war! 5 *' 

Chief Joseph sent those two Indians back where they 
belonged. Then there was a council. Some of us said 
to Chief Joseph, "We are afraid if you go with General 
Howard he will hang you. You know how he destroyed 
our property, our homes.** 

Then Espowyes spoke, "I understand every word. 
If General Howard tries to take us, we will not go with 
him. All you farmers who had property destroyed feel 
bad over it. Feel bad because the whites may talk to 
General Howard, and he will hang us. We should get 
something out of our destroyed property. Get pay for 
our homes and lands taken from us." 

We heard and believed the words of Espowyes to be 
true. It must be that we get some pay for our property 
lost and destroyed. 

All feared to trust General Howard and his soldiers. 

General Howard we now saw standing, calling loud 
to know why the Indians were not coming. 

All Indians said, "General Howard does not look good. 
He is mean acting!" 

Then came again those two Indians from the soldier 
camp. They carried a white flag, and General Miles had 
told them to say to us: "I want to speak to Chief Joseph/* 

I heard this message, and I heard Chief Joseph make 
reply, "We will have council over this. We will decide 
what to do! 5 * 



There was a council, and the main messenger talked 
this way: "Those generals said tell you: 'We will have 
no more fighting. Your chiefs and some of you warriors 
are not seeing the truth. We sent our officer to appear 
before your Indians sent all our messengers to say to 
them, "We will have no more war!" ' " 

Then our man. Chief Joseph, spoke, "You see, it is 
true. I did not say 'Let's quit!' 

"General Miles said, 'Let's quit/ 

"And now General Howard says, 'Let's quit.' 

"You see, it is true enough! I did not say 'Let's quit!' " 

When the warriors heard those words from Chief 
Joseph, they answered, "Yes, we believe you now." 

So when General Miles's messengers reported back to 
him, the answer was, "Yes." 

Then Chief Joseph and other chiefs met General 
Miles on halfway ground. Chief Joseph and General 
Miles were talking good and friendly when General 
Howard came speaking loud, commanding words. When 
General Miles saw this, he held the Indians back from 
him a little. He said, "I think soon General Howard will 
forget all this. I will take you to a place for this winter; 
then you can go to your old home/' 

Chief Joseph said, "Now we all understand these 
words, and we will go with General Miles. He is a head- 
man, and we will go with him/* 

General Miles spoke to Chief Joseph, "No more battles 
and blood! From this sun, we will have good time on 
both sides, your band and mine. We will have plenty 
time for sleep, for good rest. We will drink good water 
from this time on where the war is stopped/' 

"Same is here," General Howard said. *'I will have 
time from now on, like you, to rest. The war is all quit/' 



He was in a better humor. General Howard spoke to 
Chief Joseph, "You have your life. I am living, I have 
lost my brothers. Many of you have lost brothers, maybe 
more than on our side. I do not know. Do not worry any 
more. While you see this many soldiers living from the 
war, you think of them as your brothers. Many brothers 
of yours they are my brothers living from the war. 

"Do not worry about starving. It is plenty of food 
we have left from this war* Any one who needs a sack 
of flour, anything the people want, come get it. All is 

The chiefs and officers crossed among themselves and 
shook hands all around. The Indians lifted their hands 
towards the sky, where the sun was then standing. This 
said: tc No more battles! No more war!" 

That was all I saw and heard of chiefs* and generals* 
ending the war. 

General Miles was good to the surrendered Indians 
with food. The little boys and girls loved him for that. 
They could now have hot food and fires to warm by. 

What I heard those generals and chiefs say, I have 
always remembered. But those generals soon forgot 
their promises. Chief Joseph and his people were not 
permitted to return to their own homes. 

We were not captured. It was a draw battle. We did 
not expect being sent to Eeikish Pah [Hot Place]. 
Had we known this we never would have surrendered. 
We expected to be returned to our own homes. This was 
promised us by General Miles. That was how he got our 
rifles from us. It was the only way he could get them. 

The fighting was done. All who wanted to surrender 
took their guns to General Miles and gave them up. 
Those who did not want to surrender, kept their guns. 



The surrender was just for those who did not longer want 
to fight. Joseph spoke only for his own band, what they 
wanted to do. 4 Of the other bands, they surrendered 
who wanted to. 

Chief White Bird did not surrender. 5 

When Chief Joseph surrendered, war was quit, every- 
thing was quit, for those who surrendered their guns. 

One side of war story is that told by the white man. 

The story I have given you is the Indian side. You 
now have it all, as concerned the war. 

I did not surrender my rifle. 

4 It is & well-established fact that in Indian governments, no chief could speak 
for other than his own individual following, whatever the emergency. Different 
bands, whether composing one tribe or a confederation, might join against a 
common foe and choose a commander, or war chief. He, however, was governed 
by council deliberations only, and any band was privileged to sever connections at 
wilL Joseph surrendered 87 men, 184 women, and 147 children. 

5 It is known that fewer than six of Chief White Bird's warriors surrendered at 
the capitulation of Joseph. Aside from Yellow Bull and his two brothers there 
were possibly two or three others. 


The Fugitive 

His Own Story 


Flight to the Sioux 

Yellow "Wolf considered that in his narrative embracing the actuali- 
ties of the war, from its inception to its tragic ending, was contained 
all that could be of historic moment, and that the postwar experi- 
ences of the Nez Perces who did not surrender would be of little 
moment to anyone. 

But his reluctance to speak of the aftermath of the war was 
overcome, and the reader may judge of the worth of this and succeed- 
ing chapters. 

"\7"OU ask me to tell what I know after the war, the 
JL things that I have done. It is nothing but the facts 
what I have seen, what I have done that I will tell 
you. It is of my own hands, my own eyes, that I will tell 

After Chief Joseph surrendered, all warriors who 
wanted to go with him gave up their guns, or cached 
them. Soldiers issued rations. When deep darkness came, 
Chief White Bird and his people walked out from that 
camp. They made for Chief Sitting Bull's Camp. 1 

Chief White Bird and his band did not surrender! 

Near morning came, and Chief Joseph said to me: 
"You better go find your mother and my daughter. 
Bring them here!" 

That would be good, I thought, seeing my mother. 
The first sun of the fighting, my mother and my uncle's 

iAs for General Howard's accusation that Chief Joseph broke the terms of the 
peace covenant by permitting Chief White Bird and his followers to "treacherously** 
escape subsequent to the surrender (Brady, Northwestern Fights and Fighters, 
p. 89), the most charitable explanation is that the General, despite his years of 
Indian experience, was still deficient in his knowledge of even foe primary elements 
of Indian government. 



[Chief Joseph's] daughter made escape. Yes, I would go 
find them. 

I stood with blanket about me, with rifle inside my 
legging. Not a long rifle, this that I fought with. I had 
both cartridge belts under my shirt. I would not stay! 
I would not go with the people, wherever the soldiers 
took them. Nor would I hide myself about that battle- 

During the night soldier guards were all about us. 
Only the guards; all other soldiers sleeping. I waited 
until just breaking morning. My mind was made up 
what to do. I would not hide myself. I would walk out 
past those guards. They would see me, and if they tried 
stopping me, that would be good. I would kill them 

I watched but pretended not seeing them. They did 
not bother me. Maybe just thought, t? Damn Injun going 
after something. He will be back!" But I went out from 
everybody. Away from everybody! 

There was some inches snow. With my moccasins bad 
worn, I thought, "This will kill me!" I kept going. 
Headed for a canyon where one horse was hid. A lot of 
Nez Perces were somewhere ahead of me. I must find 
them! I got the horse and went on. 

Came full morning, but I saw no one anywhere. 
Later, I noticed signs of people. I came to the half 
bloods on Milk River. They treated me fine. Boys 
watched my horse while he grazed. Knowing I was 
hungry, they gave me food aplenty. They gave me new 
moccasins, for my feet were part naked. They directed 
me how to find my people. 

I traveled on, but saw no trace of my friends. If they 
had passed that way their trail was buried in the bliz- 



zard's snow. Came the sunset, but that sun had not been 
shining. I thought to find some sheltered place to camp. 
I went on. But my tired horse was slow. Soon I saw 
Indians in the distance. They were camping! I could 
not tell if Walk-around Sioux. But those Indians, they 
knew what kind they were. I got scared! I hid from 

Then I looked at my magazine rifle. It was loaded. I 
knew I had two belts well filled with cartridges. One 
around my waist, one across my shoulder, just as in war. 
Those cartridges about me, I thought, "I am the same as 
ten men!" I found myself and came out from hiding. 
In good view of those Indians I rode towards them. They 
did nothing. Only watched me, about a quarter mile 
distant. Then I saw plainly. 

.They were Nez Perces, my friends! I drew closer and 
saw women and children among them. I saw my brother 
[cousin], Lahpeealoot [Two Flocks on Water]. There 
must have been forty, maybe fifty, Nez Perces there. 

My mother came to me and said, "Somebody told me 
you were dead!" 

Then I saw my mother, that she had been crying. I 
answered her, "It is not true! I will sometime get sick 
and die. The rifle will never kill me. I am saying to you 
three times, I will not die of the gun." 

My mother answered me, "When I heard that you lay 
killed, I had painf ul feelings about you. My heart grew 
heavy, but you are alive and with me." 

Then my mother laughed. I was happy. Chief 
Joseph's daugher was also there. 2 

These Nez Perces with horses they could get were 

*Tbe case of Chief Joseph's daughter Kapkap Ponmi (Noise of Running Feet) 
21 be traced later in YeBow Wolf*s narrative. 



headed for Chief Sitting Bull in Canada. Gathered where 
they were just a few at a time. While catching horses at 
beginning of battle they had been trapped by soldiers. 
Cut out from the camp. Many had no blankets. Bare- 
footed, half naked. The Milk River half bloods had 
helped them out. Gave them moccasins and clothes. 

Next morning my mother said to me, "Your horse is 
here/' That raised my feelings. My mother said my 
horse was tied to a tree, and I went. There was my horse 
that I took from the soldiers. Chestnut-sorrel horse. I 
laughed over my horse! I put the bridle on him. I felt 
just as if flying! My mother told me, "Here is your 
blanket!" That blanket the half bloods had given her. 

We all then went. I would not take my mother and 
Chief Joseph's daughter back to the soldiers. I said 
nothing. Traveling that day, we kept scouts back on 
trail guarding against pursuing soldiers. Night drawing 
on, we stopped to camp. We hobbled our horses. We 
built a fire, for it was cold and snowy. We were not 
through supper, when the horses suddenly stampeded. 

All the people jumped and ran from the firelight. I 
leaped out and lay down in the darkness. I threw a 
cartridge into the firing chamber of my rifle. I held 
ready. Whoever showed at that fire would be killed. I 
heard nothing. Lying still for a while, I called to the 
people, "Come on! Nothing here!" 

Of course it was dark where they were hidden, and 
after a little while they returned to the fire. When they 
reached the light and could see, they laughed at each 
other. One of the boys said, "This kid is hungry!" 

When we ran from the fire, the little supper we had 
was left there. A boy, maybe of twelve snows, did not 
leave the fire. Nobody had had anything to eat for 



about three suns, and that child ate everything up. That 
was why the people laughed when they saw what he had 
done. That boy was hungry. 3 

From this place we moved each sun for two suns. 
Stormy dark, we could not tell direction to go. Often 
traveled wrong way. It was the second sun, a little past 
noon, we crossed the border into Canada. In the evening 
we camped, and next morning, the third sun, we had 
not gone far when we saw Indians coming. At quite 
a distance one of those Indians threw a sign: 

"What Indians are you?" 

"Nez Perce," one of our men answered. Then he 
signed, "Who are you?" 

"Sioux/* was the reply. 

"Come on," one of our men signed. "We will have 
smoke ready!" 

We knew that some time ago we had trouble with the 
Sioux, so we must smoke. The Sioux rode up to where 
we sat on the ground. They got off their horses and 
sat around as we did. When they sat down, I noticed one 
to be a woman. Her hair was parted in the center. 4 

All smoked but me. In sign language we asked, "How 
far to your camp?" 

"Must be about one quarter sun ride," was answered. 

We got on our horses and followed the Sioux. They 
rode fast, horses loping all the way. One Sioux rode 
ahead, fast as his horse would go. He was taking news 

Both Yellow Wolf and interpreter evinced amusement at the recital of this 
incident and regarded it as a huge joke on the hungry crowd, frightened from its 
meal by a false alarm. That the starving lad was able to "clean the Blatter" 
during the few moments that tbe diners absented themselves from the fireside was 
owing chiefly, of course, to the woeful scanteess of the "supper.** 

* Among certain tribes, perhaps very generally, it was not uncommon for women 
to accompany warlike expeditions, thus earning the right to sit in councils and 
participate in the war dance along with the most renowned warriors. One or more 
Nez Perce women took part in at kast two of the battles of the Nez Perce retreat. 
For other historic instances, see P. J. Be Smet, Oregon Missions and Travis over 
1kc Rocky Mountains; also McWhorter, Border Settlers of Nortfttoater 



to the other Sioux, The Sioux came to meet us, maybe 
halfway. We could see them coming, and we made a 
mount [line of defense]. 

But the Sioux mixed us up. They took us one by one. 5 
The women and children were separated from the men. 
I knew we never were friends to the Sioux Indians, and 
it must be they meant to kill us. This I well understood, 
and I had my rifle ready. 

When we came only a little ways from the camp, we 
saw smoke from many tepees of the Sioux. For eight or 
ten miles they seemed strung. I thought to myself, 
"There is quite a number of Sioux Indians!" Going 
closer, I could see down the canyon. Nothing but Sioux 

It was yet early morning when they took us scattering, 
in different tepees. When I was brought to one tepee, I 
saw Lahpeealoot was there. We sat down. Nice place 
fixed up! Then I looked at one Sioux. He was making 
a smoke. He got up with pipe in hand, and I said in sign, 

He threw a sign at me, "What is the reason you do 
not want to smoke?" 

I answered back, "When I was little, I did not smoke." 

"You must have something in you, you do not smoke?" 

I answered him, "No! It is bad habit!" 

He said to me again, "You must smoke!" 

"No!" I answered him. 

"What you want, you do not smoke? Maybe you want 

I threw the sign, "Sioux Indian, I will tell you what!" 

5 This band of Nez Perces to -which Yellow Wolf was the last accession was per- 
haps the largest to reach the Sioux camp. Chief White Bird's party, on foot and 
encumbered with children and wounded, was the last to reach that haven. 



He answered, "Yes, I know what you going tell me! 
It is good!" 

I signed, "When I was little my mother used to say to 
me, 'Your father is dead/ Then I would go out in night 
time, about middle of night, and cry. I would cry until 
morning! When it grew light, sun was up, I did not 
know how I came so. I would think to myself, 'Grizzly 
bear or wolf might kill me.' 

"One of the men came to me and said: "Do not be 
afraid. 56 

"I looked at him. A very fine man. He told me, c lt 
is nothing here dangerous.* 

"I felt very good. He instructed me: "Look at me! I 
whipped all the tribes around! With what I am giving 
you, you can do the same things I have done/ 

"I do as he instructed me. Everything as directed, I 
am afraid of nothing in war. One of the things he told 
me: 'Do not smoke! If you smoke, you will find yourself 
dead! 3 

"You are a Sioux. I am a Nez Perce. You do not 
know me. Take a good look at me. I am telling you, 
Sioux, three times, I will not smoke!" 7 

The Sioux Indian answered me, "I know now the rea- 
son you do not smoke. There are many Sioux Indians 
same way as you." 

Quite a number of Sioux were present, and they 
laughed at him. After a few minutes he again spoke to 
me, "Nez Perce Indian, you are now my friend. From 
this time on. What have you, mother or father? You 

8 .Yellow Wolf was alluding to his Wyakin. The "very fine man" was a guardian 
spirit, a "shadow" warrior of other snows, returned to guide the fearful lad to a 
trail of safety, even through the most deadly dangers. Any disregard of rules laid 
down was sure to be attended with dire results. 

7 It will be seen that Yellow Wolf ran the risk of losing his life at the hands 
of the hot-tempered Sioux for his refusal to smoke; but he preferred death to a 
violation of the principles of his Wyakin. 


can go hunt them up. Wherever they are, you can stay 
with them." 

Then my heart felt good. I hunted for my mother 
and found her in one Sioux tepee. They gave me every- 
thing I asked, just as if I were one of their children. 

In spring, one Sioux made himself as a brother to me. 
Of course it was the sign language we talked. He said 
to me, "We will go to the Flatheads!" 

"I have no moccasins to go there!" 

When I spoke that, he replied, "My brother, I have 
lots of moccasins. You must go with me!" 

My Sioux brother was Yakaussioo [Hawk]. After 
six days, one hundred and thirty-two Sioux, myself, and 
a smaller cousin of mine, making one hundred and 
thirty-four, were ready to start. You know the Indians, 
that they always sing when leaving to go somewhere. 
We were going through the village camp singing, when 
I heard someone shouting, "One of our chiefs right now 
is going to head us off!" 

Then I heard the chief calling, "Boys, you better not 
go! You are not enough!" 

He told us many times not to go. Finally one of our 
leaders agreed, "Well, we better not go!" 

We were all afoot. There were two of us always be- 
hind, my cousin and L We saw where they camped, and 
one of my friends said, "That is good, we are now getting 
to camp!" 

I was dry for water. We came to a draw with a little 
water showing, I drank from that water. Not long until 
I felt that I had swallowed something. I could hardly 
speak. I thought to myself, "I have swallowed an immel 
[black waterbug] in the water!" 

Then I said to my cousin, "I think I am going to die." 



He answered me, "What is wrong with you? You are 
not going to die with that little thing !" 

"I am going to die!" 

"When I answered him that, my cousin said, "No, you 
are not going to die. You have something inside you 
stronger than that!" 

I felt my heart was in my throat. I said to him, "I am 
going to die, I tell you!" 

That was three times I answered him that way. 

"No! You will not die!" That was three times he 
told me "No!" 

I was on the ground. I could not lie still. I heard, off 
towards the right, something calling, "You know I have 
told you, nothing will kill you!" 

I said to my cousin, "Throw me in the pond!" 

He threw me in the pond. I lay there a short while, 
when the water I had swallowed poured out. About the 
size of my little finger came some blood. I felt like it 
was lead or something in my mouth, and blood ran just 
like bleeding lungs. 

Then I felt better. My cousin broke open the roll of 
blood. The immel was inside. 

My cousin made fun of me. He said, "You were going 
to die with that little bug?" 

"You were saying true! This little bug, you die with 


I soon felt very fine and went on to camp. When we 
got there, my cousin told the Sioux Indians, "A brave 
man like him dying with a little bug! Very short time 
ago he was being dead, and now he is alive." 

The Sioux laughed. 


His Own Story 


Turning Back to the Old Home 

After spending from October, 1877, to June, 1878, among Sitting 
Bull's Sioux in Canada, Yellow "Wolf and a number of the other Nez 
Perce refugees were mistakenly informed, or mistakenly believed, 
that it would be safe for them to return to their ancestral camping 

Because of the somber colorings given by partisan pens to the 
events attending their return, Yellow Wolf was induced to give, 
from the Indian angle, an account of happenings on the way. While 
it is true that there were instances of lawlessness (which Yellow 
Wolf makes no attempt to conceal) , there is also revealed an honest 
effort on the part of these outlawed patriots to live up to a council- 
formed agreement made before leaving Canada: "Trouble will not 
be sought," to which was added a proviso for self-defense, "but 
trouble will be found for any who may seek it." 

Foraging on the trail for necessary food was regarded by them as 
legitimate, particularly in view of all that had been taken from them 
when they were driven out of the Wallowa and Salmon River valleys. 

WE GOT along fine with the Sioux, who remained 
camped in the same place all the time we were 
there. 1 We stayed with them until the first part of June 
[1878], It was then that one Nez Perce made announce- 
ment, "Now is about time we go back to our homeland." 
Chief Joseph had sent word from bondage for all of his 
escaped followers to surrender and come to him. We 
would obey our leader. It was about thirteen men, some 
nine women and few children that got ready to travel. 2 

1 Sitting Bull's camp "was said to be about five hundred miles within the Canadian 
border. See Appendix D, "Eeport of Captain Palck/* end of this volume. 

2 The following count of those who returned, compiled by Black Eagle, one of 
their younger members, lists 28 persons. Chief Joseph's daughter is not listed by 
name, but she is one of the "nieces" of Yahyow (Geese) another name of 



We were informed that we would be safe because be- 
longing to Joseph's band. But not all of us were of 
Joseph's band. 

We left the Sioux camp all mounted, and the warriors 
had guns. A few old men and one or two not quite man 
age, so only five or six could be counted on to fight. Un- 
armed, we would soon be killed. Our ammunition was 
about ten cartridges to each rifle. 

We came about three camps when we had first trouble 
with another tribe of Indians. They were the Walk- 
arounds. There must have been twenty of them. The 
women got afraid, but one of the men told them not to 
be scared. He took my arm and said to them, "Look at 
this boy! He will be in front of us. I am not afraid!" 

We then all dismounted and sat down, ready for a 
peace smoke. One of the enemy rode toward us a little 
way. My friends said to me, "That Indian will not 
bother us!" 

I said nothing. Soon I got up and went forward. 
That Walk-around was armed, and I took my rifle. I 
came closer to him, and he threw me the sign, "You see 
that sun? This is your last day!" 

I answered him, "I am not a woman. I am a man. I 
am a warrior!" 

He made reply, "Take a good look at the sun!" 

I threw him the sign, "You are nothing!" Then one of 
the Walk-arounds got mad. He threw me the sign, "You 
are nothing but a woman!" 

Yellow Wolf's mother, Yiyik Wasumwah. It "will be remembered that she and Chief 
Joseph were first cousins in tribal parlance, brother and sister. Men : Wottolen ; 
Black Eagle, son of Wottolen; Peopeo Tholekt; Wewass Pahkalatkeikt ; Iske- 
loom ; Kootskoots Tsomyowhet ; Ipnamatwekin ; Wahseenwes ?awhohtsoht 
(Tabador) ; Seeloo Wahyakt; Pauh Wahyakt; Weyooseeka Tsakown; Kowtoliks ; 
Hemene Moxmox (Yellow Wolf) . Women and children : Niktseewhy, with two 
children; Ipnatsubah Loolussonmi ; Yahyow, with two nieces; Heyoom Telelbinmi; 
Tommiyohonmi ; Heyoom Yoyikt; Whepwheponmi ; Bellutsoo, with two children; 



I answered him, "This is good! I will show you what 
a woman can do with you. Come on!" 

All the Walk-arounds got off their horses. They aimed 
at me, and I yelled. I was a little afraid, and yelled. I 
came to myself and made my heart as a brave man. I 
said, "There is nothing here dangerous !" 

They then fired. One brave Indian ran at me. I met 
him, and we fired at each other. Both missed, and I said 
to myself, "I will not kill him with the gun. I will kill 
him with the war club!" 

I ran up against his gun muzzle. He missed me and 
jumped back. I struck and missed him. He was so far 
from his friends, he turned and ran back to them, leaving 
his horse. 

I took his horse and led it away. I threw the sign at 
him, "A little while ago you said I was a woman. See 
what a woman can do! Woman can take horse away 
from you! Come on now! We will have a little war of 
our own. You have bothered me a long time!" 

He answered me the sign, "No! You have your life. 
You better go ahead, the way you are traveling!" 

I answered, "Yes, you go on toward your home. You 
are still alive!" 

I thought they would get mad, the way I spoke. They 
rode on the top of a small butte, and we went on. Those 
Walk-arounds were afraid. They bothered us no more. 
My friend took my arm again, saying to the people, 
"Now look what he has done. I told you we have one 
boy who can do a little fighting. He is the same as a 
thousand soldiers!" 3 

We moved for two suns, camping nights. Another 

3 In war or other desperate undertakings, it was conceded that the warrior 
boasting: the strongest Wyakin should he honored with the leadership. 



tribe of Indians saw us. We saw them coming, where 
they stopped about a quarter mile away. One man threw 
the sign, "What tribe are you?" 

We answered, "Nez Perce." 

He signed, "Come on!" 

I went to him, where he came to meet me. When I 
got there, he signed, "You better come on! We have 
seven tepees only short ways. You can eat anything you 

I told my people, "Let's follow them!" 

We followed the direction they went. When we 
reached the camp, the Nez Perces unpacked and unsad- 
dled. I did not dismount. One of our Indians came and 
said to me, "Come down to the chief's tepee." 

"No," I answered, "go on down!" 

The Nez Perce went, and I stayed in the saddle. In a 
little while my mother came running. She spoke, "One 
old man told me how one of his people is taking the news 
to the soldiers!" 

"Do not tell me. Go tell them where they are eating 
bread!" was my reply. 

My mother ran. Several Nez Perces came out of the 
tepees. They said, "We will go see the old man who told 
your mother." It was true enough, the words of the 
old man. We packed our things and moved from that 

They were Lemhi Indians who trapped us. 

It was about middle afternoon, and we traveled fast. 
We all understood signs. We knew what it meant when 
we saw the buffaloes running, stampeding. One man 
called out, "Soldiers meeting us!" 

We had come to a washout, a gully. We all dropped in 



there, and I stood down a ways to one side. One man 
called to me, "We will die this sun!" 

I never answered him. He was a little mad, and called 
again, "We will now die! Just this sun!*' 

Then I told him, "Shut up! Do not say a word to me! 
I am a man, a warrior. I will die. That is good! I will 
make no council!" 

That man said no more to me. I thought that was 
good. I now cleaned my rifle. Soon an old man, Pauh 
Wahyakt, spoke, "Now I can see!" 

That Nez Perce took his pipe and smoked. A little 
while and came a fog. All over, just like he was wide 
smoking. You could not see any distance. Then we 
went. It was not many steps from the soldiers, where we 
passed each other. 4 We traveled all night. 

We got to a place called Mehtottipmachim [Three 
Double Mountains] in that country. Coming daylight, 
sun was up when we reached there. We did not stay 
long. We went a little ways and saw a buffalo. One man 
remarked, "We are out of meat. We ought to have 

"Yes, we ought to have meat," I answered him. 

He was standing on a little bench of the hillside, that 
buffalo. Three of us went after him. When we got near 
him, it was not a buffalo. It was a hobots [grizzly bear]. 

* Commenting on the suddenly arisen fog which enabled the Nez Perces to escape, 
interpreter Hart explained, "In a dense fog sounds are deadened. A horse may 
pass within a few feet of you and not he heard. I have often observed this myself 
when in the mountains. Yes, it was the prayer-smoking that brought the fog to 
save those people from death or capture. In days gone by there were strong- 
minded men who could do such things." 

Another remarkable instance of apparent Indian occultism, very similar to that 
given by Yellow Wolf, is related of the battle of Lava Beds, Oregon, fought January 
17, 1873. The medicine man assured the fifty-three Modoc warriors he had the 
promise that they in their stronghold would be effectively hidden from the enemy 
by a cloud of fog on the coming morning. The cloud appeared only after the 
sun was shooting its rays across the dreary waste and the beseiging army of four 
hundred men was moving to the attack from every quarter. Its appearance was 
so sudden and so adverse to the movements of the troops that it is mentioned by 
Colonel Wheaton in his official report. While the loss among the attacking force 
was heavy, not one Indian was hurt in the fight. (Meacham, Wi-ne-ma and Her 
People, Chapter 19.) 



When that hohots saw us, he made for us. He ran us 
down the hill a ways. He must have been four feet high 
standing on all his feet. I did not want to tackle with 

"We split up when running our horses. One man ran 
straight ahead. The hohots took after the other hunter. 
This man turned his horse and circled towards me. That 
hohots was close after him. He called to me, "Get off 
your horse! We will fight the hohots!" 

I jumped off my horse and the man came up to me. 
He sprang from his horse, for the hohots was coming 
fast. He drew his rifle, and I thought, "He will shoot, 
but we will never kill him with the gun. I will kill him 
with my war club." 

I drew my club and stepped to meet that hohots. 
When close, he raised up. The man fired, but the aim was 
not to the right place. The bullet struck that hohofs 
nose. As he dropped down to his front feet, I jumped 
and struck him behind the ear. That hohots dropped. 
He did not get up. I thought, "We have killed him, but 
we have no use for him. He is one of the brave men 
we have killed." 5 

We moved two suns, and then the same tribe of Lemhi 
Indians surrounded us. It was early morning while we 
were yet in camp. We were not many. There must have 
been a hundred of them. They threw the usual sign, 
"What tribe are you?" 

"Nez Perce," we answered. 

They did not believe us. We knew they wanted to 
kill us. Then the Lemhi spoke the sign, "Follow us! Let 
us go to camp!" 

* Interpreter Hart: "That grizzly had eaten a dead Person maybe one he had 
killed They will eat dead bodies that have laid for days, and when killed they have 
SS same odor That is why the Nez Perces though hungry would not use the 
t The grizzly is a brave man, a hard fighter, and it is good for an Indmn to 
l him in battle." 



That was another lie the Lemhi told us. We answered, 
"Go ahead. We will follow you! 55 

The Lemhi then went, riding fast. The Nez Perce who 
saved us the other time said, "I will do the same thing! I 
will smoke!" 

Then came after the smoking in the the same way, 
a heavy fog. The Lemhi Indians went one way, we took 
another direction. Maybe the Lemhis looked for us, 
I do not know, but they never found us. We left our 
little food right there where we saw the Lemhi Indians. 
We packed from that camp in a big hurry. 

We now moved three suns without anything to eat. 
We hunted and hunted. Nothing could we find. No 
birds to kill! No deer, no rabbits! Nothing anywhere! 

The fourth sun came, and no food. Two men went 
ahead looking for game. I was lying down quite a ways 
from camp. A man came to me as I lay there. He had a 
whip, and struck me with it. He said, "You, a brave 
man! You are going to starve to death? Stand up! Look 
for something to eat! 55 

I stood up and threw my blanket down. I took my 
rifle and went up the hill. I went about three miles. There 
was nothing over that way. No game, no white man's 

Changing direction, I came to the top of a ridge. Down 
below must have been fifty cattle. When I saw those 
cattle, just as fast as I could, I went for camp. I was 
not the size I am now. I was a slim fellow. I could go 
swiftly could go for a long time. When a little way 
from camp, I heard one man telling the women, "We 
are going to starve to death! 55 

He was not one of two men who had hunted for game. 
I went on where my blanket was and sat down. The 



same man who whipped me came and asked, "Did you 
find anything to eat?" 

"Yes," I answered him. 

"He has found food," this man told the women. 

We got our horses, saddled, and went, all of us. We 
passed the two men who were looking for game. They 
told the women, "He is lying! There is nothing around 

The same man who struck me with the whip then 
asked me, "Did you find anything to eat?" 

"Yes," I answered him. 

Then we went fast. When we came to where we 
could see, I said, "Look! What is that? I never tell the lie 
to anyone. You know yourself we are starving! " 

When they saw the cattle they were ashamed. But 
they were glad for those cattle. We went down near the 
herd and unpacked. I had found them, so I shot the first 
steer. Then another man shot one. 

That was the time we had meat. 

Next morning we left that place. White people do 
not know the ways of our tribe. We can dry meat in one 
night. A whole steer, or two. Whatever it is, we can dry 
it all. Everything was packed up and ready. The camp 
went on ahead, but I stayed behind as most always. After 
about one hour I got on my horse and went. I rode fast. 
When I could see the Nez Perces, they threw a blanket 

That told me, "Hurry!" 

I ran my horse fast. When I reached them they told 
me some white men were coming, but quite a little 
distance away. We agreed that we would meet them, 
but not fight or kill them. They might have a sack of 



flour to give us. After a council we said, "We will go see 

We then went to their camp. Nobody around. Those 
white men had not arrived. One man said, "Let us wait 
for them." 

That would be good, so we dismounted. While we sat 
around, our horses were eating. In a short while, I saw 
three white men coming. When they saw us, they called 
in rough voice, "Get out from there!'* 

They brought down their guns, working the levers, 
ready to shoot. I thought to myself, "Well, I guess they 
want a little trouble!" 

They were calling us all names they could think. 6 One 
of them came close as that [indicating twenty feet]. He 
might shoot, and one Nez Perce said to me, "Grab your 

I took my gun and set it off to one side. I had my war 
club all the time with me. I stepped to meet the white 
man, and he yelled something I did not understand at 
me. I dodged under his gun and knocked him over. He 
was getting up when I struck him on the head. He fell 
back and did not move. 

One white man cried when he saw his friend not living. 
He raised his hands, and I told him, speaking Nez Perce, 
"Yes, my friend, you are alive. When calling me, it was 
just giving yourself to death. I did not want to kill this 
man. I do not want to kill you." 

I went up to him and took his gun. One Nez Perce 
boy spoke some English. I said to him, "Tell this white 
man to give us flour, what he has got." 

Yellow Wolf evinced amusement when recalling the rage of the three white 
men on this occasion, and showed regret that the Indians' own friendly intentions 
were misconstrued with such tragic result. intentions 



When this was interpreted to him, the man replied, 
" Yes, lots of flour. Come on!" 

He opened the door and asked how much flour we 
wanted. The sacks weighed one hundred pounds. We 
told him we would take one sack. 

Those men had two soldier saddles, and I thought, 
"They are soldiers!" When they yelled at me, I noticed 
the saddles. Then I knew they were soldiers. That was 
why I struck the man. I asked them, "You soldiers, or 
just white men?" 

They did not answer what they were. After short 
time I said again, "I am asking you, what? You soldiers? 
Where is your army?" When I spoke that, one of them 
replied, "Yes, I have been in the army. I just quit lately. 
That is the reason for those saddles." 

We left the two white men there. It was eight of us 
came to see them about flour. 



His Own Story 


A Sanguinary Trail 

The majority of the incidents in this chapter are of historic record, 
but they have never been related from the Indian viewpoint. To 
hear Yellow Wolf was to be impressed by the unquestionable candor 
of his conviction that he and his associates were fully justified in all 
their actions. The returning Nez Perces approached in friendship the 
various groups of whites encountered on their way, only to meet with 
rebuffs and threatenings. Inasmuch as this attitude on the part of 
the whites left no other avenue open to them, they invoked the 
imperative laws of self-preservation in their own accustomed way. 

FROM where we got flour, we kept moving for three 
suns. About middle of afternoon, we came to a town. 
We could not go around; only one road. No way to go 
round. Mountains and woods. When we came to the 
edge of town, a white man called to us, "Hold on! What 
tribe are you?" 

"We belong to this place!" the interpreter replied. 

"No, you are Nez Perces!" he answered, showing a 
little mad. 

"No, we belong to this country!" 

I now told the interpreter, "Come on! Do not wait 
for him!" 

We rode on. Some people on the streets, on sidewalks. 
They ran in the houses. Then I saw one man with a gun 
coming out of the house. We went, turning off the road. 
The same old man, Pauh Wahyakt, took his pipe and 
smoked. It was the same way! A thick fog came and 
covered everything around us. We, ourselves, could not 



see. We went up the mountain, over a ridge, to a small 
creek and camped. I thought to go down the creek a 
way, afoot. Going, I came to the same town where we 
had the trouble. In blind fog, we had turned back when 
above the town. I returned to camp. When I told the 
people we were again near the town, they got scared. 
But we stayed at that place all night. 

Next morning we got ready, and again traveled the 
trail we had doubled on. Then we got down from that 
mountain back where we had turned off, blinded by the 
deep fog. Passing over a hill, we stopped at one place. 
We could not get by there. White men were on the road. 
We stayed hidden. 

At dusk we got ready to move. As we crossed the 
prairie, one man, listening, said to me, "Soldiers coming 
after us now." We two were the rear guard. 

"We will get off our horses right here," I told him. 
We did this, and it was not long till the horses we heard 
came running by. I felt very good that it was not 
soldiers. It was nothing but a band of wild horses run- 
ning. My horse got loose, and there I was afoot. 

It was dark by now, and my partner helped hunt for 
my horse. We shouted, calling to the other Indians. 
They answered from away off. Told us, "Here is your 

When we got to them, we made camp for the night. 
Morning coming, we packed up and moved. Just after 
noon, we came to a house. We knocked on the door. 
The door was locked! I said to the Indians, "I guess they 
are prospecting around here somewhere." 

Everybody went on but myself and one other man. 
We looked about. We found white men mining, a place 



dug out. I An oldlike man down there digging. He did 
not see us. I stooped over the hole and called, "Hello!" 

That white man jumped! He dropped his shovel, 
threw his hands up, and yelled, "We-ou-u-u-u!" 1 He 
was surely scared. He looked up and saw us. He reached 
his hand to me, but I could not touch it. Too far down. 
Then he went a little ways, and came up where we were. 
We shook hands and he asked, "You fellers hungry?" 

"Yes!" answered my partner, who could speak a little 
English. The white man took us in the house and cooked 
anything he could see to cook. When he got it ready, he 
fixed the table, and we ate. When through that eating, 
the old man said, "I am going to tell you what I believe." 

"That is right. Tell us," I answered by interpreter. 

"You are Nez Perces?" 

"Yes, we are Nez Perces." 

When I told him that, the old man said to me, "I am a 
very good feller! Some white men are mean, if they see 
you. You must travel in nighttime." 

"Yes, we will do that," I answered him. 

Just then we saw a white man coming, passing by the 
house. We called him, and he shook his head, (C Weta! 

"That feller is mad," said the old man. 

I ran to him, caught him on the arm, and jerked him 
around. He would not let me keep hold of him. I 
grabbed him again, and he reached for his belt. About 
the same time I drew my war club. He pulled his gun, 
and I knocked him on the head. I did not like to do this, 
only he had the gun. 

1 This drama at the prospector's pit was enacted by Yellow Wolf in pantomime 
with manifest enjoyment. The celerity with which the startled miner hastened to 
evince his friendship for his callers was not at all misunderstood by them, but was 
accepted as born of duress. 



The old man got scared. I called him to come. When 
he came, I said, by interpreter, "Now watch!" 

I put my hand in the dead man's pocket, and pulled 
out a long purse. I said to the old man, "Did you see 

"Yes/ 3 the old man answered. 

"Get hold of him! Drag him down somewhere you 
can bury him/* I told the old man, and he did so. I now 
said to the Nez Perce, "We will leave him," 

I asked the old man for a handshake. I said to him, 
"Look at the sun!" 

After that I took the purse. There was lots of money 
in it. I handed the purse to the white man, but he re- 
fused. I said to him, "We did not want to kill that man. 
You can say it was Indians that killed him." 

The white man took the purse and put it in his pocket. 
We then left him. That white man stood there, looking 
around. We do not know what he did after we rode 
away. He might have run away from the house with that 
amount of money. 

At this point in the story, I said to Yellow Wolf, "Were you 
afraid after you had killed the white man?" He replied: 

I was not afraid of anything. Nothing there danger- 
ous. I was mad because he would not stop when I called 
him. I wanted to be friends. He might be going with 

We rode for about one sun. It was a big creek we 
came to, and we crossed and camped. Next morning we 
left the camp, and while moving, looked down a ways. 
There was a barn, and good horses. Some of our horses 
were lame with sick feet. I said to my friend, Putim 



Soklahtomah [Ten Owl], 2 a young man who always 
stayed with me, "We can get those horses!" 

"Yes, we will take those horses/' Soklahtomah replied. 

We tore down the board fence. It was a large barn. 
We got around above the horses. We saw no white man 
anywhere. It might have been forty steps we drove those 
horses, when they ran, playing. Could do nothing with 
them. All ran back to the barn, racing around the barn. 

I saw one white man looking at me. Then they came 
out with rifles and shot at us. The horses ran away from 
the barn, scared of guns. We took the horses. We looked 
back. The men had one saddle horse and came after the 
horses. When we got t 4 o the top of the hill in the woods, 
the white men did not follow us. 

We caught up with the other Indians, and waited for 
any white men coming. No, they never came! We 
moved on, going over mountains. We camped, and 
moved again. Next morning we came to a house, a 
small one. When the people there saw us, they motioned 
to us, just like calling, "Come on, friends! Come on!" 

So we went, just like friends. They said, "Get off! Tie 
your horses!" 

They asked us to go in the house. They were laughing, 
having lots of fun. One white man asked, "You got 
flour? We will give you one sack of flour." 

Half side of bacon anything they could think of 
they gave us. Then we thanked them. I said by the inter- 
preter, "Will you show me the trail?" 

2 The name Putim Soklahtomah should he rendered Fifteen Owl, rather than 
Ten Owl, it is contended by some Nez Perces. The name has reference to the 
following well-known legend : There were once five owls who had war clubs, while 
the other ten owls of the hand were unarmed. The five wanted to go to war, but 
the ten were for peace. The five grew clamorous, and the dispute waxed warm. 
Black Eagle, soaring aloft in the sky, observed the growing trouble. Swooping 
down, he compelled the warlike five to agree to peace, on the score that the 
majority should rule. To honor the moral involved in this legend, the numbers five 
and ten are often incorporated in Indian cognomens. 



"Yes, I know the trail," the white man told me. "It is 
the creek. Then go right over the hill, over the 


Name of creek is Eeslummineema [Many Trout] 3 
saw nobody over the way traveled. The trail was as 
the white man told us. We got to the top of the moun- 
tain and camped. 

Next morning the people all got ready and went. I 
thought to stay a time and watch on our back trail. We 
had passed several white people coming up the creek of 
Many Trout. Soldiers might be following us. 

But no soldiers appeared. It was near noon when I 
mounted and followed after the camp. I came to a house. 
The door was open and I went inside. The floor was all 
blood! I looked around. Nobody there. I saw no one 
dead. I thought, "Must have been somebody killing one 
another here!" 

I went outside, around the house. Could find nothing! 
I saw it was a mining place, and maybe they killed each 
other for the gold? 

I went back inside and took the best gun of some lying 
on the floor. Took one six-shooter hanging on the wall. 
Then I left, and after a time overtook the camp. Just 
then we saw white men, four of them. Seeing us, they 
ran into a near house. When they did that it came to my 
mind, "Maybe they killed the men in that other house?" 

Those men came out with guns and hung around as 
if to shoot. I said to the man who talked English, "What 
is wrong with them? They are mad?" 

He interpreted, asking them. They made no answer. 
Only held their rifles closer. This was just telling us, 
"Come on! We want trouble!" 

8 This is a creek near present Missoula, Montana. 



We did not like that. Everybody against us, we seemed 
to find no real friends. We would make no first trouble. 

I now set my rifle against a tree. I said to one of my 
friends, "I am going to take one of those guns! Just 
stand and watch what they do with me." 

I walked fast towards those white men. They yelled, 
"Do not come near!" 

But I ran at one of them. He drew his rifle to his face. 
I was too quick, and struck him on the arm with my war 
club. He dropped his gun and grabbed his arm. The 
other three white men did not come to help t^eir friend. 
They ran away. I did not strike him again. It was just 
taking his gun I was doing. 4 

The Indians watching me laughed. Laughed at the 
way the white man yelled, "Do not come near!" at the 
noise he made. I picked up the white man's rifle and said 
to my friends, "We will go off and leave them. Let them 
go where they want. I see no horses, none they can ride 
to bring soldiers." 

Traveling on, we came to a small open place and 
camped, for it was getting dark. After we had eaten 
something, I told the men what I saw at the house back 
on the trail. Where miners had killed one another. They 
laughed and said it was Heinmot Tosinlikt [Tabador] 
who had made the floor bloody. They had stopped there, 
thinking to get something to eat. One white man had 
got mad, and Heinmot struck his head and killed him. 
They carried him out in the brush. 

Before this man was killed in the house, there had been 
shooting outside. One white man had started to run 

*When asked why Yellow Wolf displayed such reckless impetuosity, interpreter 
Hart gravely explained: "Why, he was making himself a brave man in presence 
of his brother warriors. Anybody could kill at a distance with the gun, but only 
the bravest would dare lay aside his rifle to rush an armed enemy. Such deeds 
made a warrior looked up to by his own and other tribes. He was reckoned most 
powerful, and feared by enemy tribes. His bravery traveled before him." 



away. Then the man doing the cooking went out of 
the door. He ran fast for the brush, somewhere to tell 
the soldiers. So Peopeo Tholekt, Tabador, and Tipyah- 
lahnakikt [Alighting Eagle] chased after him. Geh- 
wahaikt watched below and kept calling which way the 
man was running up the mountain. They shot at him 
but he escaped. They did not spend much time hunting 
for him. Afoot, and long ways from anywhere, he could 
not hurry to bring soldiers. 5 

Next morning we packed and got ready to go early. 
This time two other boys thought to stay as scouts to 
watch the back trail. They would follow when the sun 
reached about ten o'clock. The camp started, Ten Owl 
and I going maybe a half mile ahead. We came down 
where we could see houses must be six or seven. We 
stopped and held a little council. We decided what to do. 
Waiting until the other people came up, I said to them, 
"Some of you men go on with the women and children. 
A few of us will go see the white people, what about their 

We thought to be friendly with those people at the 
houses, and five of us went. They were Tabador, Peopeo 
Tholekt, Ooyekun [Sliding from Cliff], Putim Soklah- 
tomah, and I, Yellow Wolf. When the white men saw us 
coming, they made for the brush. We did not want any 
fight, only to be friends. I said to the others, "We better 
not go there." 

The camp was now gone quite a way ahead. We 
started to follow, when we saw eight white men with 

5 This episode occurred at a mining camp on Kock Creek, a score or more miles 
from Philipsburg, Montana. The man whom the Indians chased so unsuccessfully 
was J. H. Jones, who was ever afterwards known as "Nez Perce" Jones. As 
Yellow Wolf relates, the Indians stopped at the cabin primarily for food, but it 
was also their intention to take whatever horses or mules could be found, in order 
to set the miners afoot and thus delay the spreading of a report of their presence 
in the vicinity. 



many horses. We spoke among ourselves and decided 
best not to let them think we were bad, afraid to come 
to them. Peopeo and Ooyekun both said, "We will talk 
to the whites. Maybe we can find out what is going on." 

But when those white men saw us coming, they all ran 
for the brush. We came up where they had stood and 
saw an aparejo [Mexican packsaddle]. I told the other 
Indians, "We will go. We will not take anything from 
that pack- outfit. We do not want such things as that." 

"We will take all the horses," Soklahtomah said. 

"Yes, leave those white men afoot, so they cannot tell 
the soldiers." 

Fifty-two horses we took. 

Passing over a little ridge, we came to a big creek. 
I was dry, and got off to drink. The others had gone 
some distance when I got in the saddle to go. I followed, 
not hurrying. I heard shouting on ahead. I did not 
know what was wrong. I did not know if the calling 
was to come, or to go away. I did not hear that voice 
very good. Then I heard plainly. "Get out of here!" 

Some white people were mad at the Indians. I heard 
Soklahtomah calling, "Come on! Come on!" 

I ran my horse. They heard me, for I came fast. 
When I passed a curve, I saw three white men, rifles 
pointing at Skoloom. One other white man had no gun. 
Skoloom called to me: "My brother-in-law, come quick! 
They are going to kill me!" 

I jumped to the ground. The white men were just 
inside from the road, and I sprang over the fence. Soklah- 
tomah said, "Get the guns from them!" 

I set my rifle to the fence, when Putim Soklahtomah 
warned, "You hold on your gun!" 

I walked fast towards the white men, only a few steps 



away. First man gave back told me not to come near. 
Then I made for him. I nearly knocked him over in get- 
ting his gun. I think he was a little nervous. He called 
his companions to do something as I scuffled the gun 
from him. I pitched this gun to the fence, and went 
after nearest white man. I took his gun the same way. 
One white fellow was a good-looking man. Tall, and had 
a Springfield rifle. Skoloom called, "Brother-in-law, 
get that gun!" 

I ran quickly to this man, grabbing his gunstock near 
the barrel. He was a strong man. We both held to the 
gun, but I did not get it from him. He walked away 
with that gun. My gun lay quite a distance from me. 
Soklahtomah yelled to Ooyekun, "Shoot him! Shoot 

Ooyekun was about fifteen steps away. He shot and 
missed. He did not hit that white man. His body was 
good. A bullet might not enter his flesh. That white man 
jumped over the fence. I was looking on. I did not go 
for my gun. Soklahtomah ordered, "Shoot again!" 

Ooyekun again shot, but missed. When he missed the 
second time, the white man turned and fired, but missed. 
That man with the Springfield rifle then ran like a white- 
tailed deer. Jumped brush and logs, going fast. 

We saw him no more. 

We did not get mad at those white men. Only robbed 
them of their guns. I did not want to kill any of them. 
That good-looking man must have run and told the 
soldiers on the Missouri River. 

One other white man held his gun under his arm. I 
did not try to take it, for one of the whites put up his 
hands. I called for the interpreter, and this white man 
spoke, "You people hungry?" 



I turned to my people, and they answered, "Yes, we 
are hungry." 

A house was there, and that man went inside and 
began cooking fast as he could. Some of us went and 
watched the man cook. He might put poison in the food. 

The white man with gun stayed off outside. Soon there 
was a rifle shot. It was the old Indian's gun, and I ran 
out from the house. He had shot at the white man, but 
missed him. The white man ran about twenty steps, 
when the Indian shot and missed again. That white 
man jumped fast to the brush, got away. We told the 
other white men, "That white man is bad, reason we tried 
to kill him. We do not want to kill you. You are good!" 

Then we sat and ate. It must have been middle of 
afternoon, we got ready and went. The guns and little 
ammunition the white men had, we took with us. Going 
up the gulch, we crossed and went about three miles. 
Came the dusk. Then dark was on us, and we could not 
see to go farther. We did not know where camp was. 
Then I heard a woman laugh. I said to the others, "They 
are close." 

We went to them, and I told the other boys, "We will 
camp right here," and we went to bed. 

Next morning we were saddling horses and packing 
ready to go. Soklahtomah said to me, "Brother-in-law, 
I am hungry. We will go back where the white men are, 
and butcher a steer. We two will go, but if one man goes 
with us, we will pack the meat. The others can keep 

I was willing for this. I spoke to Putim Soklahtomah, 
"We will go back to the white man's place, and kill one 
yearling calf. We have a long ways yet to go. We must 
have meat." 



"Yes, you are telling true," Soklahtomah answered. 

"You will go with us and kill one beef?" I asked the 
other men. 

They were willing, and eight of us went. I told the 
camp, "Just keep going! We may come quick, maybe a 
long time/' 

The camp went on, leaving the fifty-two horses we 
had captured. We did not want them. 6 

6 Yellow Wolf later explained that before turning: the captured horses loose to 
wander back to their accustomed range, they first took out fresh mounts for them- 
selves, leaving behind, however, an equal number of their own worn and lamed 
horses in substitution. 


His Own Story 


Soldiers Against Indians 

For the first time during the course of their return from Canada, the 
little band of refugees found themselves pursued by soldiers. News 
of their passage through Montana had reached several army posts, 
and though various detachments had been sent in pursuit of them 
("Report of the Secretary of War," 1878, p. 68), none had yet 
caught up. If the Indians, after the capture and release of the fifty- 
two horses, as related in the preceding chapter, had not delayed, they 
might have reached their destination unhindered. 

I DO NOT know if that good-looking man who ran 
like a deer took word to the soldiers. Maybe the 
soldiers just followed us. 1 This very morning when we 
were going after beef, they were where we had taken 
guns from the two men the evening before. Only about 
two and one-half miles from us. 

But we did not know this. We went back on the trail. 
Tomamo [not Tabador, but another Indian of the same 
name] was about fifteen steps in the lead. We ran our 
horses to the creek. We crossed and followed Tomamo 
through the brush. We could hear his horse running. 
Then I heard a gun report. I thought someone was kill- 
ing the beef. Tomamo called, "Where are you boys?" 

1 One writer, who places the number of the Indians at "about twenty,'* gives 
the following explanation of the presence of the soldiers: "When passing through 
the upper valley they [the Nez Perce refugees] came across Jerry Fahey and his 
pack train, which they appropriated to their own use. Word was sent to Fort 
Missoula and & small squad of soldiers, accompanied by a number of settlers, 
started out in pursuit, with the intention of regaining Jerry's pack train for him 
and administering some chastisement to the marauding Indians. The Indians . . . 
got careless, supposing that all their pursuers had returned. . . . [The] soldiers 
overtook them and surprising them, recovered Jerry's pack train without the loss 
of a man." (Amos Buck, in Contributions to the Historical Society of Montana, 
Vol. VII, pp. 128-29.) Needless to say, the only animals "recovered" by these 
soldiers were those which the Nez Perces had turned loose, as Yellow Wolf has 
related in the preceding chapter. 



He came back to us and said, "I just ran my horse 
through the brush and saw dust. I thought cattle were 
running. When dust settled, it was a bunch of soldiers. 
They are close enough to shoot us." 

All of us rode through the brush where we could see 
the house. We watched the soldiers, a troop of cavalry. 
Tabador said, "Let's have a war right now!" 

We missed Tomamo. He had gone aside a way, making 
a little war of his own. When the soldiers saw us, they 
fired. I did not dodge, as, putting my rifle by a tree, I 
fired. Rifles from the soldiers were popping fast. Short 
of ammunition, we made only a few replies. We did not 
fight much. It was only a short time of shooting. 

One soldier drew near us ran his horse toward us. 
He must have gone crazy or something. I stepped to ' 
meet him. When only a little ways from me, he jumped 
from his horse. Afoot, he turned and ran back to the 
other soldiers. Left his horse there standing. Maybe he 
was hit by one of our bullets. I took his horse. 

What I am telling you are facts. What happened in 
those days of trouble. I am telling no other than facts, 
what I saw and did. I think now that soldier could not 
manage his horse. 

Four of us went to have Indian fight. Soldiers began 
digging the ground, burying themselves. We held coun- 
cil. I said, "If soldiers bury themselves, we can do noth- 
ing. We better let them alone." 

"No use troubling them! They have trenches. We 
will get killed," Tabador told us. 

We quit. We left the soldiers to finish burying them- 

A little farther than a rifle shot, we went up a hill. 
Cattle there feeding in open place. I directed the boys, 



"Drive the cattle out from that ground. No protection 
from danger there." 

They brought the cattle where it was not quite so 
open. Those cattle were about two years old. We picked 
a fat one and killed it. The soldiers were watching us, 
and we watching them. 

Earlier, a soldier who shot at Tabador but missed him, 
was thrown by his horse, which ran away. Ooyekun now 
saw this horse on the hillside below us, its foot on the 
bridle rein. Soldiers were watching the horse and, seeing 
us looking, one came afoot towards it. He did not get 
far. A shot sent him running for his dugout shelter. 

Tomamo now said, "I am going to get that horse!" 

He walked towards the horse. It was just the same. 
Soldiers fired at him, and he got not near that horse. 
He ran back from the bullets. Left the horse with foot 
still on its bridle rein. Tabador now said to everybody, 
"Whoever wants that horse, go get him!" 

Nobody wanted to go. No one cared for that horse. 
I, too, was scared. Skoloom said, "Brother-in-law, you 
better get that horse!" 

I got ashamed to refuse. I had to go! I stripped my 
clothes, getting ready. I ran a little, then trotted down 
the hill slowly. No use hurrying into danger. The sol- 
diers shot at me. I kept going; they kept shooting. I did 
not get small heart. I became as not afraid. My heart 
now believed, and I did not get scared. I found my 
Wyakin just the air. Soldiers could hit nothing of the 
air. 2 I came to the horse, raised his foot and got the hoof 
off the bridle. Soldiers did not fire at me after I got there. 
Maybe they did not like to shoot the horse. I led my 

2 Yellow Wolf's Wyakin, because imbued with the properties of the air, was able, 
he believed, to render his body invulnerable to bullets. 



prize up where Indians were butchering. Skoloom said to 
me, "Thank you, my brother-in-law. "We are going to 
pack that soldier horse with meat." 

We did pack that soldier horse, and we led him away. 3 
Soldiers still in their trenches, we left them. Only eight 
of us, but the soldiers did not try stopping us. They did 
not leave their shelter to take their horse or fight us. We 
did not think much of those soldiers. 

We went on the trail and came up with the others 
in about six or seven miles. Before joining them, I told 
them, "Do not tell the women about seeing soldiers. 
They will be scared and eat no dinner. After eating, we 
can tell them our story." 

We stopped for dinner. One man not with us for the 
beef talked to me. I told him, "We did not come till we 
have a little trouble." 

The women got excited. I said to them, "Let us eat 
first. Then we will talk!" 

They did as I said. The women laughed as they cooked 
the meat. After dinner the order was called, "Pack up!" 

Everything was soon packed, ready to ride. The 
women told me, "We are all ready." 

"Soldiers just back of us. We had a little war." 

When I told them that, my mother laughed. She said, 
"I do not get excited if you tell it before dinner. When 
they claim to get best of you men, and I am alone, then 
I get scared!" 

We moved camp, coming to the summit of a mountain 
as the sun went down. We could look back on the trail 
where we had come. We saw one soldier's horse stand- 
ing on the trail. Only one trail, and he could go nowhere 

8 In thus degrading the trained charger of a uniformed trooper, by imposing 
on it the burdens of B. menial pack animal and this in full sight of a numerically 
stronger foe the Indians expressed their contemptuous defiance. 



else. We said, "We will wait for him here. If he comes, 
we will fire on him." 

We stayed there, waiting for the soldiers. We listened, 
if we could hear them coming in the night. I think they 
were scared. They never came near us. 

Morning came, and after breakfast we traveled till 
noon. We stopped and after eating something, went on. 
We found a white man who showed us a trail. A very 
little trail, over a kind of mountain. It was middle of 
afternoon when we dropped down into a big canyon. 
Wottolen, the leader, said, "We will camp here. We will 
stay all afternoon and watch if soldiers come/' 

The sun went down. No soldiers had come. That 
night we watched again for soldiers. Next morning, we 
wanted sleep, so we stayed another night. We waited on 
the trail for soldiers, if they showed up. 

Came another morning, and we went. It was a zigzag 
trail, and steep for the horses. Tomamo called: "Look 

Looking, we saw dust about one mile away. Every- 
body said, "Soldiers coming!" 

Women and men laughed. Nobody got excited. We 
finished climbing the trail to the top of the mountain. 
We went down a small creek, heading up on the moun- 
tain. From where we saw the dust, we went about two 
miles and camped at a spring. It was nine or ten o'clock 
when we stopped there. At noon one old man told us, * 
"Lots of salmon here. We will look for salmon. We will 

Every man, and some women, went looking for 
salmon. Only six women and seven children left in 
camp. We did not think well. We forgot that soldiers 
might be following behind. We acted as not knowing 



anything. Those women and children in camp! It was 
just like giving them to the soldiers. All this came to me, 
and I thought, "No use that I go looking for salmon. Not 
good that I go fishing. Soldiers may now be in our camp. 
I will go back to our camp!" 

I returned quickly to camp. I found the women in the 
shade, patching worn moccasins. A good shade, and I 
lay down to rest. I was not scared at all. I went to 
sleep. I do not know what the white man calls that 
sight which came to me. I went into that sleep we call 
kabaufo weyakakaun [short life]. I slept sound. I was 
sleeping a good rest! Then something pushed on my 
shoulder, and I heard a voice calling: 

"Wake up! You are dead! Look!" 

Then after that voice I saw it! Like a cloudy sun I 
saw it: full clouds all over! No open places! Nothing 
clear anywhere! 

But it was not clouds. It was smoke from guns in 
battle, as when soldiers try to kill. I could see it smoke 
rolling and curling around. The voice said, "Look back 
to your own country. Your own Wallowa." 

I looked that way. A small opening formed in that 
smoke. Through that break I saw my Wallowa. The 
prairies, the mountains, the streams, the lake. The voice 
now told me, "Your life has escaped through where you 
are looking. You will not die!" 

I awoke, found I was on my feet. I sat down. My 
mother said to me, "You were dreaming?" 

I replied to my mother, "Make your heart strong. 
Do not get excited. We are now surrounded. Maybe in 
a few minutes you will hear the guns. While we have 
been coming slow, soldiers have been crowding us close." 

Some way off, I saw strange Indian boys driving our 



horses. Six good horses good horses gone. The Salish 
had picked our best horses. Those Salish Indians were 
helping the soldiers. 

I now painted my hair with white earth, preparing 
for war. That smoke-cloud was still over me. I did not 
try to move from it. Nothing could now go through my 
body. No bullets from the enemy could hurt me. For 
this purpose did I paint. I understood the voice. 4 

Mounting a horse, I hurried back over the trail. It 
was to try finding the six horses the Salish took. Riding 
a quarter mile, maybe half mile, I ran into a bunch of 
soldiers. Those soldiers had seen me coming. They had 
fixed a trap. 

Some small fir trees growing there stood thick. I rode 
through them and, passing on a short ways, I saw a sol- 
dier sitting on a fallen tree. What was he doing there? I 
knew not, and did not bother him. 

There were scattered pine trees, and I went around 
one of the biggest. I passed one soldier close. He was 
aiming his gun at me. It was leveled at my ear, as I could 
well see. That soldier was not four steps from me. That 
soldier was not alone. I did not see all, but four or five 
guns were leveled. They fired, and it was just as thunder 
in my ears. So close, smoke fogged all through my 
clothes. I could see nothing! I grew excited. Knew not 
anything, because of the noise. I did not know I was 
yelling as a drunk man. All like fire, I was out of sense. 
I had thought my heart right, but I lost myself. 

It was just like dreaming! Twice I yelled. Thkd 

* The foregoing episode was related to me by Yellow Wolf in 1909. An instance 
of his remarkable memory is found in the fact that seventeen years later I 
happened to ask, without reference to this particular incident, the significance of 
hair painting. Yellow Wolf immediately replied, "You must understand that this 
was after the war, when we were on our way back to our old home. I was so 
directed to paint by a Spirit voice." From this it may be inferred that Yellow 
Wolf painted his hair but this one time in his entire war career. 



time I yelled I found myself. My Wyakin had come to 
aid me. It was as waking from sleep, from dreaming. I 
felt fine. I am telling you true. I was no longer afraid. 
I did not care how many soldiers there were. Understand- 
ing, I now knew they could not hurt me. 

They could be nothing to me. 

I gave the war whoop. Whirling my horse, down the 
steep hill, over logs I went. Soldiers were ahead of me. 
Blocking the way! They fired from all around. I did 
not stop for anything. Only changed to a little different 

Again I was close to the enemy. It was more of the 
soldiers waiting for me, and I heard shooting at the camp. 
I did not know which way was best to go, but I still 
aimed for camp. Soldiers saw me and must have thought, 
"Another Injun crazy." 

They were not soldiers with cannon. Wearing white 
shirts, some soldiers [citizens] ran toward me. They 
thought to kill me first. But I was not stopping for 
them. I did not try shooting. Only I must get away. 

A soldier was ahead of me, just to one side. He was 
waiting to shoot as soon as I came up. As I passed that 
soldier, he nearly poked me with his gun. He shot my 
horse through the withers. I did not fall with my horse. 
I lit on my feet and went out from there. That soldier 
got no other shot at me. They were all calling, but I 
knew not their words. 

I could see down to camp, surrounded on my side by 
soldiers. I did not run, could not run. Too much fallen 
timber. I passed other soldiers who fired at me. I dodged 
on down the way. Among tangled logs I thought only of 
getting to camp. Escaping through the fallen trees, I 



reached camp. Nobody there! 5 Tabador called from 
where he was sheltered, then came out and said, "Brother- 
in-law, we are going to die. We will not run away!" 

I knew Tabador a brave man, and I answered him, "All 
right. We can die right here. The soldiers shall not drive 
us from our last blankets!" 

Tabador did not give a small heart. It was like he was 
giving me a big heart, for I was going to die with him. 

But those soldiers made no more attack. 

It was sunset. I sat down just as I am now. No blanket, 
no saddle, no horse. We were afoot. A little way from 
me just across the canyon, soldiers had all our horses, 
I was thinking hard. Soldiers still over there, fixing to 

Came the dusk. We heard the soldiers chopping wood. 
We did not know if cutting firewood, or for trench- 
protection from our bullets. 

Full dark settled. The other Indians all came from 
safe hiding. We still heard the chopping. Henry Taba- 
dor, the half-blood Indian, called, "Why are you making 
trenches? Come over! We will have a war!" 

They never answered. We were not mad at them. 
We only wanted to get back to Lapwai. But we acted 
right with them. We could not turn them down if they 
wanted to be friendly. It was near the end. We only had 
a little way more to travel, but all our horses were gone. 
Skoloom said to me, "Let us get back our horses!" 

"I can hardly walk," I answered him. 

"What is wrong with your leg?" he asked me. 

8 Black Eagle, then sixteen years old, gave this explanation of the emptiness of 
the camp : "A few minutes before Yellow Wolf came breaking through the timber, 
only my father [Wottolen], Peopeo Tholekt, and myself had returned from looking 
for salmon, and were with the women. The whites fired on us, and all broke for 
the brush. In crossing the creek which was thigh deep, I saw Peo stagger and 
nearly faJL I called to him, 'Brother, are you hit?' 'No ! I stumbled on a rock !* he 
replied. We reached the brush and there was firing from both sides. But the 
Indians -were saving of cartridges. I could not tell if any enemies were killed or 
wounded. None of us were touched." 



"I dragged my leg/' I told him. "Knee bone stiff."- 

I did not think I could go with anybody. But there 
were only us two, and Tabador spoke again: "I can not 
go alone. You must go with me." 

"If you say that, I will go with you," I told him. 

Skoloom told the plan to the other men, and said: "I 
do not want to force any of you, my friends, but if you 
want to go I will be glad. When there we will see how 
to recover our horses.'* 

Peopeo Tholekt, Ooyekun, Tabador, and Soklahtomah, 
five of us would go. It must have been near middle of 
night, and we could hear soldiers still chopping. They 
had a fire, and I told the men, "We must go there and 

We crossed the creek and came opposite the soldiers* 
fire. It was a big fire and soldiers were standing around 
in the light. Skoloom told his plans to Peopeo Tholekt, 
"My brother-in-law will go with me up above the sol- 
diers* camp. You men circle the other way. If you liear 
us shoot, you do the same. We will try getting our horses 
some way.'* 

Skoloom and I went up the hill, circling to far side of 
soldiers. They were moving about the fire. We crawled 
closer, but it was still long shooting through brush. We 
fired and heard the guns of the other three Indians. We 
all gave loud war whoops. We shot only one time. Too 
much woods and no soldiers now seen. They dodged 
down among the logs. 

After we went away, the soldiers commenced shooting. 
We could not tell direction of their shots. We took 
everything they had, food and packsaddles. Their horses 
were tied up. We drove our own horses towards our 
camp, and got them all. 



Next morning Tabador called across to the soldiers, 
"What you doing over there? You followed us a long 
ways. Come over if you want to have a talk!** 

The soldiers never answered. We thought they were 
afraid. We asked the interpreter to tell them again, so 
he called, "Do you want trouble?" 

There came no answer. Maybe they had left during 
the darkness. We did not go see if they were still there. 
We now had our horses, and nobody hurt. That was 
all we wanted. 

Those soldiers and citizens we could not count. They 
appeared more than of us. They got first advantage, but 
they killed no Indians, got no horses. We recovered all 
our horses. 6 

We saw no more of those soldiers, so we packed and 
left. We came to a small stream [Clear Creek] where we 
camped/ While in this camp some Nez Perces came to 
us, three of General Howard's "good" men Lawyer 
and two policemen. One used the bad language to us. 
Soklahtomah got up and said, "I will get my whip and 
whip that man." 

"Its mendacity matched by its absurdity, the following is the "official" version 
of this clash between the military and the Nez Perce refugees, as given by 
Colonel Gibbon : " . . . Lieut. Thomas S. Wallace, Third Infantry, from Fort 
Missoula, made a rapid pursuit after a party which was making its way from the 
valley of the Bitter Root toward the Clearwater in Idaho, after committing 
additional murders on Bear Gulch and Rock Creek. After a very rapid pursuit, 
Lieutenant WaHace overtook the party at 1:30 p. m. on the 21st of July, on the 
middle work of the Clearwater, I.T. [Idaho Territory], and with his small party 
of 13 soldiers and 3 citizens immediately opened fire on the Indians, completely 
surprising them. He killed 6 of their number and wounded 3, besides killing in 
the fight 23 mules and ponies and capturing 31 which he successfully brought off. 
For the energy and pluck displayed in this handsome affair, Lieutenant Wallace 
and his party deserve the highest commendation, and whilst he reports his whole 
party as behaving within the greatest gallantry, he especially mentions First Sert. 
Edwin Phoenix, Company H, Third Infantry, as particularly conspicuous for his 
brave conduct. This successful punishment of this band of murderers and maraud- 
ers produced a most salutary effect upon the Indians, and constitutes another 
brilliant example for the imitation of our other troops." ("Report of the Secretary 
of War," 1878, p. 68.) Notwithstanding the "official" assertion that six of the 
Indians were killed in *'this handsome affair, . . . this brilliant example/' every 
member of the group was still alive at their disbanding;, some days later, within 
the bounds of the Nez Perce Reservation. 

7 The refugees' camp on Clear Creek was brought to the notice of the Agency 
officials when Peopeo Tholekt and Tabador, while acting as sentinels at a con- 
siderable distance from the main rendezvous, were seen by two Christian Nez 
Perce women, who immediately relayed the news to the Agency. 



He then took his quirt and whipped him. One of our 
men stopped him from striking more. Soklahtomah said 
to this whipped man, "You are the religious man! Why 
do you use the bad language? You are one of Christian 
men helping Agent Monteith and General Howard! All 
you Christian people joined to make the war! You caused 
the trouble! You made a thief treaty! Chiefs have been 
killed! Good men have been killed! Good women and 
little children have been killed! Babies too small to walk, 
crippled and killed! All this because of you Christians! 
Many of our people taken prisoners will never see this 
country again. 

"Many good white people did not want war, but 
could not help themselves. They got killed because you 
Christian people helped Agent Monteith and old General 
Howard. I could kill you right now!" 

"Do not kill us! Do not kill us!" begged General 
Howard's good men. 

Soklahtomah was mad. All the Indians were mad. 
During this time one of Lawyer's policemen, Kipkip 
Elwhekin said to Wottolen, "You come with me to the 

"No! I will not go with you to the Agency!" replied 

Kip again said, "Yes, you are coming to the Agency. 
You will not be hurt." 

Wottolen, more mad, answered: "No! Kip, you are 
not headman! You do not know what they can do to me. 
Not headman, you could not help me. You would not 
help me if you could. I am doing no harm. I do not 
steal anything. Only traveling around to find some of 
my own property, my own cache." 

Kip was silent for short moments. Then he said, "You 



are going with me and have a talk with the Agent! You 
hear me?" 

Wottolen was now full mad. He was standing, his rifle 
on the ground. Partly lifting it, he told Kip, "I hear 
what you say. Kip, you better go! I am telling you three 
times, I am not going with you! Kip, you better go now. 
Go before you get in trouble! If any women want to go 
with you, take them. Any not wanting to go will stay 
with me. Go, Kip! Be quick with your going!" 

Kip answered, "Yes, I will go right now!" 

I, Yellow Wolf, made no council with those Christian 
Nez Perces. I did not want any talk with them. My 
heart felt poor. Everything was against us. I considered, 
and then said to my mother: 

"You and the other women better go with these, 
General Howard's men. For me, I will stay in the prairie 
like a coyote. I have no home!" 

My mother did not cry. She spoke to some women, 
then made answer to me: "Yes, we will go with General 
Howard's men." A few of the women and my mother 
then went with Kip and his Christian policemen. 8 

Our party now separated. Wottolen, leader of those 
from White Bird's band, had talked strong to the men 

s None of the five women who surrendered at this time belonged to Chief White 
Bird's band, as asserted in the following military dispatch ("Report of the Secre- 
tary of War," 1878, p. 184) : 

August 6, 1878 

San Francisco, Cal. 

Commanding officer Lapwai is informed through Agent Monteith that on 28th 
ultimo small band of Indians appeared at Scott's place on South Fork Clear- 
water. Indians recognized them as White Bird's band and some Sioux. Com- 
manding: officer Camp Howard confirms report. Agent Monteith had head chief 
Lawyer send some of his warriors to induce or force them to surrender. Five 
squaws of White Bird's band surrendered and say remainder of party con- 
sisted of thirteen bucks and some squaws, who have gone to Salmon River to 
open some caches and then join Snakes, and that White Bird himself is still 
with Sitting Bull. Lapwai dispatch dated August first. 

Assistant Adutant General 

It is needless to say that there were no Sioux among the refugees, notwith- 
standing that the "commanding officer Camp Howard confirms report" 1 



from the Agency who came to us. His heart was heavy, 
but he would not surrender. Wottolen and most of the 
others headed for old camping grounds in the White 
Bird country. Going over a mountain, there was no 
timber, no way to hide themselves from being seen. Police 
from the Agency were watching everywhere. 

Wottolen, an inatsinpun [propliet], said, "Do not be 
afraid! Something will help us!" Soon the sun was 
covered over. It grew dark. Wottolen declared, "This 
is what I was telling you would happen for us! No 
enemy can now see us passing through the open land! 
I asked for this!" 

They all reached the Salmon River without being 
seen. The women with Wottolen afterwards surrender- 
ed. 9 Some of the men also surrendered. 10 

9 Homeless, outlawed, beggared, and disheartened, with every hand raised 
against them, the women and children had but one alternative surrender. But they 
surrendered wholly voluntarily ; it can not be shown that there was a forcible cap- 
ture of a solitary individual among the band. 

10 The charge that the remnant of this band joined the hostile Indians in Idaho 
and Oregon to participate in the Bannock Indian War (see, for example, Hawley, 
History of Idaho, p. 547) contains no element of truth. However, the known 
presence of roaming Nez Perces had by this time sufficed to throw the settlers of 
the vicinity into a hysteria of fear. The following dispatch (''Report of the 
Secretary of War," 1878, pp. 181-82) shows how little there was in the actual 
conduct of the Nez Perces to excite alarm: 

Camp Howard, Idaho, August 2, 1878 
[Assistant Inspector General 
Department of the Columbia 
Vancouver, Wn.] 

Considerable excitement prevailed during the month in vicinity of the post, 
the citizens anticipating a raid of hostiles to Camas Prairie. These fears so far 
have been found groundless, none of my scouts, which I have employed to scour 
the country and watch the trails, having seen any signs of Indians, with the 
exception of 34 warriors, supposed to be members of White Bird's band of 
Nez Perces, returning from Sitting Bull's camp, who were encamped several 
days on the Clearwater and vicinity. 

These Indians abstained from open hostilities and I sent a dispatch to the 
commanding officer of Fort Lapwai, requesting him to consult with the Indian 
agent and to send some influential men to the camp of the Indians to induce 
them to surrender to the agent. As yet I have not heard from the commanding 
officer of Fort Lapwai. The Indians left their former camp and have, as far 
as I can learn, crossed Craig's Mountains. I do not apprehend any trouble 
here and the people are gradually calming down, unless there are more 

I am respectfully, your obedient servant, 

D. P. Hancock, 
Major Second Infantry, Commanding 


His Own Story 


A Voluntary Surrender 

Yellow Wolf in this chapter shows that he realized the sunset to his 
free roving had fallen. As a warrior he had rendered a good account, 
but now he had no place to spread his blanket, no place to go that 
was not encircled by enemies. It was while riding through scenes 
of other and happy times that he resolved to turn back to the Nez 
Perce Indian Agency and surrender himself. 

HpABADOR, Putim Soklahtomah, two others, and I, 
_L Yellow Wolf, stayed together. We hid around for 
about three suns, until we came to Lahmotta. When we 
reached there, when I saw that place, it broke my heart. 1 
I thought to myself, "These white people they did not 
start the trouble. It was only General Howard and the 
Indian Agent. In council, our Chief Toohoolhoolzote, 
talking for us, was mistreated. We did not try stopping 
them, what they wanted to say. We did not try stopping 
their Christian prayer at council openings. We were 
not given such privilege with our religion." 

All this came before me and I made myself that I was 
a good-hearted man. I would make no trouble. But if 
any white man got mad about me if he troubled me 
I would kill him with my war club. 

There had been a cache where we buried some buck- 
skins and other things before going to war. We went 
to open it, but dusk drawing on, missed it. Not finding 

1 It will be recalled that Lahmotta was the ancient tribal gathering place of 
the Nez Perces. It was there the patriots had been camped when they were 
aroused from slumber to meet, for the first time, the white man in battle. 
Immediately afterwards the tepees were folded, never again to be erected there. 



it, we went on. Soon we came to a house where white 
men were milking cows. We tied our horses and went 
there. Could see nothing of them! They had run away! 

I told Tabador, who spoke English, to call them, that 
we were friends. He did so. Called several times. No- 
where was there an answer. Nobody showed up. 

We had tied our horses at the house. The other In- 
dians got their horses and were leaving. I was still afoot 
when the white men must have seen me alone. Below 
the house, corn was planted. It was through this corn 
patch they came. It was growing dusk, almost dark. 
Only a few steps away a white man took a shot at me. I 
knew only by the flash of the gun the direction of shoot- 
ing. He was so close, I saw smoke all over myself, cov- 
ering my shirt. My partner, a short distance away, shot 
at the man as he sprang to the brush. I heard the noise 
of his running. He must have been scared, missing me. 

I now heard a voice quite a little ways from me. Putim 
Soklahtomah was making a roar. He came running his 
horse through the corn patch fast as he could. But the 
white man was then well gone. His name was Charley 

About forty steps down from the house a horse was 
tied at the edge of a willow thicket. That horse was 
already saddled. A buckskin horse, fine looking. I 
pointed and said to my partners, "Look, a good horse! 
These white men do not come from hiding, only one to 
take a shot at me. They do not want to be friends. They 
must want trouble! We will take that horse!" 

When dark, the five of us went. Two stopped halfway 
to watch. Horse was not tied short. The long rope lay 
across the brush, leading back among thick bushes. 
Noting all, I thought to myself, "Those white men, 



hiding, may be holding that rope. Waiting for me to 
grab the horse, they will shoot me down. If the rope is 
moved they will know." 

I told Soklahtomah what was on my mind. With six- 
shooter ready, I took hold of the rope but did not pull or 
jerk. I then said to Soklahtomah, "Cut the rope and let 
it stay on the brush!" Of course we talked only by 

When he did that I led the horse away. Reaching a 
short distance I took the bridle hanging on the saddle- 
horn and bridled the horse. I then gave the reins to 
Soklahtomah, and told him to mount. He did so, and 
that buckskin got to dancing. He was lively! But Sok- 
lahtomah knew how to ride all hidden from the enemy, 
hanging to the side of his horse. We rode away, not 
bothering there any more. Those white men milking 
we would never have taken their horse had they come 
out and been friends. 

We camped that night, and early next morning got 
to Tahmonmah [Salmon River] just above Lahmotta. 
We looked across. One of the Chinamen 2 came with a 
boat from the other side. Soklahtomah and I crossed over 
with him. 

One man stayed with our horses. Two men stood back 
on a butte as scouts, watching for danger. After we 
landed, one scout called to us, "White man coming up 
the river trail I" 

We waited for the man on the narrow trail. When his 
horse got wind of us, it did not want to go. When he 
drew near to pass, I caught his bridle rein. I stopped the 
horse. That man's eyes were turned up. We could see 
nothing of his eyes. Then Soklahtomah spoke, "Do not 

2 The ferry at this point was operated by some Chinese. 



be afraid! We are just asking you a question? We heard 
Bannacks and soldiers are in trouble. Having a war!" 

That man's eyes came back down, but he looked 
scared. He answered, "Yes, Bannacks and soldiers are 
fighting. Now I want to know. What tribe are you? 
Not my business, but I like to know? 5 

Then I talked to him, through Soklahtomah. I told 
him, "We are from Lapwai, hunting our cattle. Out 
three weeks, we hear no straight news. We could not 
know. We turn home now. We have no trouble with 

That man shook hands with us, and rode on. When a 
little ways from us, he whipped his horse and rode fast 
out of sight. We laughed to see him go. 

We recrossed to our partners, and traveled on down 
the Tahmonmah. We were now in Chief Toohoolhool- 
zote's country, where he lived below Lahmotta when war 
was brought to us. Two white men came meeting us. 
When the foremost one was a little distance away, I got 
off my horse and sat down. 3 I spoke friendly: "Hello I" 

When he would not speak, I stepped ahead of him. 
I grabbed his bridle and told him by interpreter, "Get 
off!" He answered, "No!" 

I held his horse and he yelled at me. I said to him, "Get 

When Soklahtomah interpreted my words, the man 
replied quickly, "This is my horse. I am not getting off!" 

I drew my war club, and cracked him on the ankle, 
and told him, "Get off!" He made a cry and got off. He 
just crawled on hands and knees, and cried with pain. I 
did not strike hard. Just a light tap on the bone. I said 

*To dismount was preliminary to declaring friendly intentions when meeting 
members of an alien tribe. 



to Soklahtomah, "Take the other fellow. Let him get 
off too." 

He told the man to get down, who did so. It was 
nearly a black horse. Bridle of hair, a brand-new saddle. 

It was soon I parted from my four friends of many 
hardships. I gave Soklahtomah 4 my six-shooter. The 
horses I left with them all. I kept only the buckskin 
captured from the man who shot and covered my clothes 
with powder smoke. 

There is nothing more to tell of my tricks, of my 
danger deeds. All these are now behind me. It is not as 
a warrior that I now talk. 

I was riding alone, knowing what was ahead of me. 
Then the places through which I was riding came to my 
heart. It drew memories of old times, of my friends, 
when they were living on this river. My friends, my 
brothers, my sisters! All were gone! No tepees anywhere 
along the river. I was alone. No difference if I was 
hanged. I did not think I would die by the gun. The 
only way I could be killed was by hanging. That church 
Agent! That brave General Howard! They would see 
how I could die! I, a warrior, who knew the fighting! 
Keeping the religion of my ancestors, I knew not to fear. 5 

I was heading for the Reservation. That Indian Agent 
who helped General Howard make trouble was there. I 
would see him, he would see me. I had told Soklahtomah 

*Putim Soklahtomah was of Chief White Bird's band. With his wife and two 
other Hez Perces, he went to the UmatiUa Reservation (northwestern Oregon.). 
After some difficulty with the Agent there he left and went to the Palouse country. 
His wife died about 1925 between Lapwai and Spaldinsr. 

Yellow Wolfs procedure against the two horsemen may strike the reader as 
inexcusable outlawry. But it should be remembered that through ignorance or 
otherwise his overture of peace and friendliness had been ignored, proclaiming, 
in the only parlance that he knew, an enemy. Mounted, the strangers would soon 
have the military or citizen guardians hot on their trail. Self -protection demanded 
that they be set afoot. 

5 Yellow Wolf's surrender was prompted by a dual purpose. First, he wished to 
be loyal to Joseph's call that all of his band should come in to him, in accordance 
with the terms of capitulation at the Bearpaw field. But secondly, Yellow Wolf 
considered that, if condemned to be hanged, he would take a fierce joy in showing 
his contempt for death in the presence of Monteith, the hated Agency head. 



and others nothing of what I was to do. I thought to let 
no one know what I was going to do. I traveled all day. 
I did not stop to camp overnight. I came first to Amos 
Chely's place. It must have been middle of night when 
I got there. When I told him my mind, he said, "You 
have done no wrong coming here. Tomorrow I will take 
you to the Agency." 

He gave me some food and showed me where I could 
sleep. Next morning he called, "You awake in there, 
brother? A good stream runs here. Take a swim and you 
will feel better!" 

I went out and took a good swim. When I returned 
to the house, Amos said to me, "I think best to put your 
gun upstairs. Soldiers might take it!" 

I told him all right. We ate breakfast, and I said to 
Amos, "I am going to rest up for a while. I will lie here 
on the floor." 

The kitchen door was open and Atpahlatkikt came in. 
He stepped straight to me and spoke friendly, "I am 
glad, brother, you are alive and safe from war. I am 
going to shake hands with you!" Then he asked, "You 
will be down there to the Agency?" 

"Yes, that is who I want to see," I answered. "Who is 
the Agent? Is it the same man who made the war?" 

"Yes, that is the one!" 

When they told me that, I knew him to be a bad man, 
that Agent. 

Next man came was James Reuben. He did not offer 
to shake hands. He said, "You warriors so proud! Too 
proud to listen! Lots of you killed on the trail. Lots of 
you rotted on the trail!" 

That was all the talk for me. He went out. I was 
feeling mad. Would have killed him had I my gun. He 



did not stay. I heard his horse gallop away. That was 
James Reuben, Christian! 

In a little while a boy brought horses for the riding. 
Amos told me, "Leave the horse you got at Lahmotta. 
Leave the saddle. Boys have saddles, and horse is saddled 
for you." 

We started and reached Lapwai, which is now Spald- 
ing, about noon. We stopped at the store. An Indian 
policeman took me to the Agency. The Agent instructed 
this policeman, "Sit around until one o'clock, I will see 
him and talk to him then." 

While waiting, three men came and shook hands with 
me. One was Charles Monteith, brother to the Agent. 
Many Indians gathered around me. They were saying 
to me, "If you make any mistake, they will hang you. 
Tell nothing but the truth, the facts." 

They kept telling that to me. Told it many times. I 
got mad when they talked that so much, and I spoke the 
order, "Shut up! Say no more! If the old Agent makes 
his mind to hang me, I will take it. It is all right. He 
will get fat off me when he hangs me.- That is reason I 
come to this Reservation!" 

They said no more. They did not want me to get 
hanged or killed. The Indian policeman came and told 
me, "About noon, about half an hour, the Agent will see 
you and talk to you." 

I never answered. Then the policeman asked me, "Do 
you hear?" 

That policeman was one of the Christian Indians. 

I replied, "I do not want to listen to anyone. If I 
belonged here, you could talk. If I was raising anything, 
whatever stock I might raise, then I would come and see 
the Agent, who might help me. When the Agent comes 



will be time if I want to talk. I am one of the warriors! 
I never belonged here. I am a stranger! You will all know 
if the Agent hangs me, without saying anything. If he 
hangs me, that will be good. I no longer have a home! " 

That Indian policeman said no more to me. 

I stayed a long time in the office, waiting. Finally the 
policeman came to me again and said, e *I am just letting 
you know that the Agent will see you in short minutes." 

"Mr. Monteith is still the Agent?" I asked him. 

"Yes, he is the Agent," he told me. 

"Do not tell me anything about him. If some of the 
good men come to me, I will listen/' 

That is all the reply I made the Indian policeman. I 
did not want to know when the Agent was coming. Then 
I heard his steps in the other room. I knew those steps! 
He opened the door and came in. I did not look around, 
but I knew who it was. The same man! I felt him as 
with a needle he pierced the hearts of our chiefs our 
chiefs killed! He stood looking at me. I did not look at 
him. I did not want to see his face. I just turned to one 
side. 6 Then the Agent spoke, through an interpreter. 

"Look at me!" 

No, I did not look at him at all! He spoke again, "I 
know you. You are a very good boy. I would not bother 

Yellow Wolf's hatred for Indian Agent John B. Monteith is easily understood. 
Because there had been so much strife among the various church "isms" in their 
efforts to carry the soul-saving Gospel to the benighted heathen, President Grant 
under an 1869 Act of Congress which violated the Constitutional assurance of 
religious liberty had in 1870 parceled out the Indian reservations to the different 
Christian denominations. Exclusive authority over each reservation was given 
to a single sect. The Indians, of course, had no voice in the choosing of their 
overseers. The Nez Perce Reservation was awarded to the Presbyterians. 

As each denominational diocese was empowered to select subject to easy 
Government confirmation its own Agent, the Presbyterians chose Monteith, son of 
a Presbyterian minister, "for his piety and Christian ideals." According to 
missionary Spalding, however, Monteith was far from being a model Christian, 
and some of his employees were profane and intemperate. (Whitman College 
Quarterly, Vol. Ill, No. 3, pp. 10-11.) A sectarian zealot, Monteith wielded the 
Gospel lash as a part of his official duty, and found an ardent supporter in 
General Howard. Yellow Wolf and other Nez Perces, brought up in the Dreamer 
credence, saw the cosmic faith of their ancestral heritage scorned, reviled, and 
suppressed as a thing of evil by both missionary and Government official. 



He walked up to me and shook hands with me. I 
thought not to touch his hand, but I did. He said, com- 
mandingly, "You must tell what you know. You were 
fighting General Howard. Four days ago you had a 
battle with the soldiers. They killed six Indians of you, 
and captured two women." 

That was what the Agent said to me. I answered, 
"Nor'. I thought, "Why is the old Agent asking me?" 

"You are a pretty good boy." 

"When the Agent said that, I replied, "No! I do not 
want to speak about such things as that. Everything is 
over! The war is quit! I do not want it brought back 
as new. I do not want to talk, for everything is quit. 
Look at me [standing in demonstration, both arms 
lifted] ! I have no weapons about me! I do not want 
to speak about war any more. It is gone! It is like you 
taking the gun and shooting me again, the way you are 


His Own Story 


EeikishVah: The Hot Place 

It appears evident that Yellow Wolf's notoriety as an outstanding 
warrior, and especially his connection with the recent sanguinary 
happenings on Rock Creek and Bear Gulch, had reached the ears of 
the Nez Perce Agency. This, because of the vindictive antipathy of 
Agent Monteith towards the "heathen hostiles," would have boded 
ill for the self -surrendered Yellow Wolf. 

But his investigation by that worthy was not to be. Captain Falck, 
by authority of his office as Post Commander at Fort Lapwai, took 
the friendless young warrior under his own charge, and his handling 
of the case, as told by Yellow Wolf, reveals a regard for justice too 
often lacking in the breast back of a gold-embroidered uniform 
during the Indian wars. 

Agent showed some mad* He walked around a 
little. But before he could make answer, whatever 
was his mind, a noise outside came fast. The door opened, 
and there came in an officer, a sergeant, and a few sol- 
diers. The officer made request, "Where is that Indian 
who came and wanted interpreter?" 

"There he is," and they pointed to me. 

Those soldiers shook hands with me. They told me to 
stand up and come with them. I went as they said. They 
put me in the jail [guard house] . They did not stay there 
fifteen or twenty minutes, but went right away. 

In a short while I heard steps outside. Then the door 
opened, and quickly entered Lieutenant or Captain, 
named, I think, Fellis. 1 He shook hands with me, and 
asked, "Who is your chief?" 

i Yellow Wolf's pronunciation of Falck. Captain William Falck, Second In- 
fantry, was Post Commander at Fort Lapwai, Idaho Territory, at the time. 



"My chief was Joseph," I told him. 

Of course we talked through an army interpreter. 
"When I said, "Chief Joseph/' that officer replied, "Yes, 
I understand. That is why I sent the lieutenant and ser- 
geant. I sent them because I know the Agent. He will 
never help you. The white men are mad about you 
Indians, and if they found you on the Reservation, they 
would kill you. The Agent can do nothing. He would 
do nothing. The white men will not bother you, so long 
as you are in here. Our soldiers will protect you. But do 
not think you are prisoner. We put you here just to be 
away from the whites." 

That was what the captain told me all the way 
through. Then he began asking questions. He said, "I 
am glad you came to your home country. You tell us 
the story true what you did as you came. Swear to it. 
If you lie, the Government will punish you." 

I gave him the answer, "Yes, I thought you a good 
man. I came over to see you, if all right. I can not swear 
anything [i.e., the Christian oath]!" 

That captain looked strong at me. Then he spoke, "I 
am going to ask you. Did you take a horse, kill a cow, 
or something? I want you to tell all." 

"Yes," I replied. "I am glad you asked me that. War 

The following dispatch ("Report of the Secretary of War," 1878, p. 182) sent by 
Falck undoubtedly refers to Yellow Wolf, though he is mistakenly classed as 
a member of Chief White Bird's band : 

Fort Lapwai, Idaho 
August 4, 1878 
Assistant Adjutant General 
Headquarters Department of the Columbia 
Fort Vancouver, Washington Territory. 

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that yesterday one of the hostile Nez 
Perces, belonging to White Bird's band, surrendered to the Indian agent and 
is now in confinement at the post guard-house ; the remainder of the band, 13 
in all, crossed the Snake River on the night of the 2nd near Craig's, and are 
doubtless making for the Umatilla Reservation. The agent there has been 
notified, also the commanding officer at Camp Howard, in case this band should 
go to the Salmon River country. 

Very respectfully, your 

obedient servant, 
Win. Falck, 
Captain Second Infantry, Commanding Post. 



was quit. Chiefs on both sides shook hands. Since I was 
in a strange country, and all had been settled, I thought 
to come back to my own country. We made no trouble 
as we came along. But some took shots at us. Would 
that make you mad? What would you think? Would 
you shoot, or just say, "I am going to die? 3 " 

"I want you to tell only truth so the Government will 
protect you," the officer made reply. "Anybody will 
shoot in self -protection. I would do that." 

"Yes," I told him, "I am telling truth. When anybody 
takes the gun to me, I will take his horse. Will shoot him, 
or he may get away. They bring the gun on themselves." 

The officer said, "That is so." He then took a rolled 
paper, and looking at it, continued speaking, "This is 
White Bird's country. Why were you there?" 

"I did not go there for trouble. We went to get cached 
stuff. Charley Wood took a shot at us, and of course we 
took his horse." 

"Report is you took Charley Wood's horse?" 

"Yes. He took a shot at me. I made my mind to take 
his horse and did so. Not for nothing did we take that 
horse. We saw another man's brand on the buckskin. 
Wood did not own him. Must have stolen him." 

"You are telling truth?" 


"You had no right taking that horse. You should have 
witness. You might get in prison three or four years." 

That would be all right if they wanted to send me 
there. The officer looked at more papers, then spoke 
again, "You tell the truth. In the mountains you found 
a horse with saddle on?" 


"Good horse? Did you take it?" 



"I do not deny it." 

"You had a fight with soldiers. Those soldiers killed six 
men and captured two women from you." 

"Yes," I said, "it was about two suns before the real 
fight. The soldiers fired on some of us when we went to 
get beef. That made us mad, and we had a little fight. 
I took one soldier's horse which got away from us. We 
found one horse saddled and took it. Afterwards came 
the fight, but nobody was killed, nobody wounded. No 
women captured." 

"Is horse you got with saddle here?" the officer asked. 

"No, I gave that horse to Skoloom," I answered. 

"Yes, you are the party soldiers took women, children, 
and horses from." 

"No! We got all our horses back. No women, no 
children captured." 

"You are telling lies?" 

"No! They killed none of us." 

"You are telling truth?" 

It was three times this officer asked that question. I 
answered him, "Yes, I am telling true. If that had hap- 
pened, any killed, any captured, I would not deny it." 

The officer made no more questions. He now said, "I 
am glad you tell the truth. If Skoloom will bring in that 
horse, and the man [owner] comes along within a year, 
we will give it to him. 2 Since you left Canada, and 
killed some people on the trail, somebody will trail you 
here. For this reason you must stay with soldiers for pro- 
tection. You were making a new war, but other parties, 
whites, started it first. I am glad you told everything. 
If they trail you here and make complaint, we will have 

2 This was the cavalry horse captured by Yellow "Wolf as told in Chapter 22. It 
is evident that Captain Falck was not aware it was a Government-owned animal. 



this, your story, as evidence for you. We will also take 
good care of other Indians coming from Canada/' 

Then he asked, "Who is this with you?" 

"My cousin. I slept in his house last night. He brought 
me to the Agent this noon," I told him. 

When I answered him that, he wrote on a paper that 
I was from Canada and turned me over to the sergeant 
of the soldier guards, with instructions to keep me from 
trouble. He then shook hands with me, and told me I 
was to go to that place [Indian Territory]. Said he was 
glad I was now back from Canada, and advised, "Do no 
wrong, and all will be well for you." 

That was what the captain told me all the way 
through. After that I was treated right while prisoner 
there. I had no more trouble with anyone. From that 
time, I have come through safe to this night [May, 

I went with the sergeant. When the soldiers saw us 
coming, they waited for us. They took me to a building, 
their room. Then we went to the next room. They 
asked, "You starving?" They divided crackers with all. 

After four or five suns, Tabador came of his own will. 
A few nights after, we heard a calling to soldiers, want- 
ing to "leave somebody in jail." Then soon I heard 
horses running up the rad. Whoever did that calling to 
leave somebody in jail, escaped from the soldier guards. 
Whites had come to kill us but they did not fool the 
soldiers. After that we were watched carefully. No 
white men could pass who did not look good. 

A band of eleven men and one woman of White Bird's 
band had come through from the Sioux camp to the 
Salmon River about fifteen days ahead of us. The leader, 



Tahmiteahkun, was a brave warrior. The woman with 
them was his wife. This band never was captured. 

A few days after Tabador came, five more came and 
surrendered of their own mind. The Agent was glad to 
see them, but he must take them to the soldiers. He told 
the soldier captain how they had escaped from Canada. 
That they must be protected from whites mad at them. 
Must stay close around and sleep in jail nights. The In- 
dians were told not to go too far away in daytime. 
Whites might kill them. They were kept around there, 
but were not made to work. Never were sent to the 
Territory, but remained on the Nez Perce Reservation. 3 

Tahmiteahkun, his wife, and the other four men stayed 
in the mountains for some time. Never were captured. 

There were four others at this jail, all running loose. 
Four women, among them my mother. They came in 
with the Kamiah Indians, Lawyer, and the policemen 
after we parted. Chief Joseph's daughter was among 
them. But she was not brought to the jail, was not sent 
to the Indian Territory. 4 

I was not permitted liberty, but kept locked inside. 
Another man in the Spokane jail was under lock all the 
time he was there. We were never fed heavy, but did not 
go hungry. 

I was sent to the Territory ^fith these people nine 
others of Chief Joseph's band. There we united with 
our old friends and relations those left of them. 

The horse and saddle I rode to the Agency, I took 

8 See Appendix I, this chapter. 

* The reason why Joseph's daughter was separated from her parents and not 
permitted to join them in exile is palpably manifest: Joseph was to be made to 
feel to the last degree the bitter sting of isolation. Kapkap Ponmi was turned 
over to her aunt and placed in the Lapwai Agency school. In 1879 she was 
married to George Moses, a full-blood Nez Perce, at Spalding, on the Nez Perce 
Reservation. She died at Lapwai some years later. Her mother, Heyoom Yoyikt, 
Chief Joseph's "old" wife, was permitted, upon her return from exile, to take 
residence on the Reservation. 



from an unfriendly white man [Charley Wood]. The 
Government got them. Government kept all horses and 
saddles that General Miles got from us at the last battle. 
We lost everything. Many horses, many cattle on Snake 
and Salmon rivers. Only the few clothes I had on and 
my blanket were left me. 

My war club which I had carried all through the war, 
I held onto. Keeping it concealed in my legging, I had 
it while in prison. I carried it when being taken to 
bondage. Kept it all the snows, the same club I gave 

We were not badly treated in captivity. We were free 
so long as we did not come this way, towards Idaho and 
Wallowa. We had schools. Only the climate killed many 
of us. All the newborn babies died, and many of the old 
people too. It was the climate. Everything so different 
from our old homes. No mountains, no springs, no clear 
running rivers. We called where we were held Eeikish 
Pah [Hot Place]. All the time, night and day, we suf- 
fered from the climate. For the first year, they kept us 
all where many got shaking sickness, chills, hot fever. 

We were always lonely for our old-time homes. 5 

Chapman was there during entire years of our cap- 
tivity as interpreter. He lived with a Modoc woman as 
his wife, but left her there when he came back with us 
in 1885. Of course Chapman was Government em- 
ployed. Andy Davenport was also interpreter, but 
Chapman was the main one. James Reuben sometimes 
did interpreting. 

When finally released from bondage [1885], brought 
back to this country, religion had to do with where they 

6 For a description of the inexcusable maltreatment accorded the Nez Perce 
patriots in exile, with a complete enumeration of Indians received, and a. statement 
of the appalling mortality suffered because of climatic conditions, see Report of 
the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1878 (E. A. Hayt, Commissioner), pp. 32-35. 



placed us. We believed in our own Hunyewat [God, or 
Deity], We had our own Ahkunkenekoo [Land Above]. 
Hunyewat gives us food, clothing, everything. Because 
we respected our religion, we were not allowed to go on 
the Nez Perce Reservation. When we reached Wallula, 
the interpreter asked us, "Where you want to go? Lap- 
wai and be Christian, or Colville and just be yourself?" 6 

No other question was asked us. That same had been 
said to us in our bondage after knowing we were to be 
returned from there. We answered to go to Colville 

Chief Joseph was not given choice where to go. But 
he had the promise that as soon as the Government got 
Wallowa straightened out, he could go there with his 
band. That was never to be. 

On the Colville we found wild game aplenty. Fish, 
berries, and all kinds of roots. Everything so fine many 
wanted to remain there, after learning that Wallowa 
was not to be returned to us. Chief Moses advised 
Joseph to stay. The Indians were good to us. 7 Gave us 
horses, and other useful property and goods. Deer every- 
where, and good salmon at Keller. It was better than 
Idaho, where all Christian Nez Perces and whites were 
against us. 

I have two sons, 8 but have never told them of my war- 
day fighting. I want them to see this story, all that I have 
given you. It is a true story, all as I have told you. It is 
a true history, what I have seen and done. 

fl This was a continuance of the same religious persecution that was a large 
factor in the inception of the Nez Perce War. As Yellow Wolf shows, a home on 
the Nez Perce Reservation at Lapwai was to be had only at the price of abrogation 
of the Dreamer faith in favor of that of "Spalding's God." 

7 Chief Moses was the leader of the band of Sinkiuse Indians resident on the 
Colville Reservation. 

8 Yellow Wolfs younger son, Jasper, was of delicate constitution and died 
several years before his father. The older son, Billy, is still living on the Colville 
Reservation (1940). 



Taken at Nespelem, Washington (Colville In<Jian Eeservation), July, 1926. 










This is all for me to tell of the war, and of our after 
hardships. The story will be for people who come after 
us. For them to see, to know what was done here. Reasons 
for the war, never before told. Nobody to help us tell 
our side the whites told only one side. Told it to please 
themselves. Told much that is not true. Only his own 
best deeds, only the worst deeds of the Indians, has the 
white man told. 


It is difficult to believe that Agent John B. Monteith, with his 
diocesan antipathy for the Dreamer war party, could have shown 
such benign favor to the "White Bird refugees as attributed to him 
by Yellow Wolf. It is far more likely that there was some other 
humanely inclined Agency official who smuggled the unfortunates 
into the Reservation, unknown to the Agent proper, of which Yellow 
Wolf would not have been cognizant. Apropos is the following 
material obtained in a personal interview with Mr. G. D. Fleming, 
who said in part: 

"I was head clerk at the Nez Perce Indian Agency in the early 
eighties, when Charles D. Warner was agent. He was supposed to 
handle cases touching Reservation governmental affairs, but prac- 
tically all the petty offences, real or fancied, came before me for 
settlement. We held regular court, ofttimes empaneling a jury of 
six to twelve men. At such times I have heard pleadings by blanketed 
Indians, long-haired and uneducated acting in the capacity of 
attorney truly remarkable for logic, deep thought, and eloquence of 
oratorical deliverance. 

"During my incumbency, many of the Nez Perce war band who 
escaped from General Miles at the last battle and made their homes 
with the Sioux, Blackf eet, and other tribes, drifted back to the Nez 
Perce Reservation. These 'hostiles,' as so termed, were all known 
to the Indian police, who arrested and brought them into the Agency 
as soon as discovered. Coining before me, I was supposed to turn 
them over to the Agent, whose duty was to deliver them to the 
military post commander, to be transported to the Indian Territory. 

"I have always been glad that in no instance did I ever do this. 
I would talk to the prisoner, who never failed to show anxiety to be 



accorded a chance to prove a sincerity of intentions to be law- 
abiding and peaceable. I would then turn to the Indian police, 
pointing to the fact that the refugee had suffered enough; that there 
was nothing to be gained by holding him (or her) prisoner, to be 
sent so far from their old home and people; that they were full 
willing to abide by the laws of the Reservation as prescribed by the 
Government; and I requested that the brother or sister be turned 
loose, which was invariably done. 

"Not once did any of these forlorn outcasts prove recreant to the 
trust placed in their promises. They had fought and lost! Returning 
broken in spirit and in purse, they stoically accepted the inevitable, 
burying the dead past. 

"I had gone to the Agency holding an adverse opinion of the 
Indian in general. But I soon changed my notion as to his worth and 
possibilities under proper treatment and environment. That he has 
been woefully wronged goes unchallenged, to the lasting shame of 
the Caucasian race. 

"You ask concerning the disposal of Chief Joseph. He was not 
permitted to reside on the Nez Perce Reservation.* All influences 
possible were bent to that end. Not only the citizens in general, 
but the missionaries and the Christian Nez Perces united against all 
thought of such measure." 

* Maj. C. T. Stranahan, former Superintendent of the Nez Perce Indian Agency, 
responding to an inquiry, confirms Yellow Wolf's testimony that residence on the 
Nez Perce Reservation by the returned exiles could be had only by a declared 
abrogation of their Dreamer religion tenets. 



A. Wyakin Powers 

B. Yellow Wolfs War Club and War Whistle 

C. Henry Tabador 

D. Report of Captain William Falck 

E. Chief Red Heart's Band 

His Own Story 


Wyakin Powers 

A STUDY of anthropology reveals that the mind of 
JL\ man has advanced along the same channel the 
world over. The idea of a personal deity has been a com- 
paratively late growth, for in primitive cultures, par- 
ticularly those in primeval surroundings, the first and 
dominant form of theism has been belief in a multiplicity 
of gods. 

The majestic and awe-inspiring environment of the 
North American Indian made him peculiarly prone to 
deify the manifold forces, or intelligences, of which 
Nature in the wild state is redolent. That he came to 
believe in a living consciousness residing not only in 
the animal kingdom but also in all components of the 
mineral and vegetable kingdoms is amply attested by 
his legendary lore. 

This pervasive spirituality forbade the wanton destruc- 
tion of game and plant life: the Indian exacted only so 
much as was necessary for his actual sustenance. Even 
the nonedible remains were guarded from debasement. 
The hunter never left offal (scant as it was) exposed for 
others of its kind to "see and feel bad," nor would he 
place a green fir bough on his campfire. This sentiment 
likewise impelled him to pick up, for instance, frag- 
ments of deer antler and drop them into a rosebush, 
safe from tramping feet. He believed in the immortality 
of all life. 



With the earth thus infinitely peopled with spirits, 
the Indian believed that he could invoke them to be 
peculiarly his own, in the role of guide or protector. 
This relationship is that which is known as Wyakin. 
Wyakin is a generic term; it may be a single ^force, 
or it may embrace a combination of mystic forces acting 
in unison. It is a grave error to confuse this medium of 
the supernatural with God or Deity outright, as some 
writers have done. On this score, Many Wounds, who 
had a profound knowledge of his native religion, and who 
had, moreover, once taught a Methodist Bible class, 
wrote in reply to an inquiry: "It is this way. You have 
faith, and ask maybe some saint to help with something 
where you probably are stalled. It is the same way 
climbing a mountain. You ask Wyakin to help you." 
Thus, metaphorically, Wyakin is placed in the category 
of mediator. 

Although Yellow Wolf was reticent about his own 
sources of occult aid, he thus explained in a general sense 
the acquisition of such powers: 

"I will tell you! Beginning with the forefathers of all 
Indians, they had such a Power given them. Different 
spirits coming out of once living animals. Also from the 
thunder, the wind, the sun, the earth, rocks, or what- 
ever it might be. This Power descends from one person 
to another, and I inherited it to live through all engage- 
ments of the war. All the dangers and hardships of that 
war. It came to me from my father, and perhaps he 
inherited it from his father, and perhaps that grand- 
father from his father. The Wolf -Power I was given 
made me a great hunter, a sure scout." 

The secrecy with which these occult rites are sur- 



rounded may be inferred from Yellow Wolfs remarks 
on one occasion: 

"No one has ever told I will not tell just how this 
Power is received. Only when approaching the enemy 
ready to fight life for life can you hear and learn from 
fellow warriors. Only then are these things told what 
Power has been given the warrior, what Power he must 
use. It is at such time the guardian Spirit enters into 
the warrior's head. Enters that he may defend himself, 
escaping bullets, arrows, spears, clubs, or knives. To 
escape with life through the battle. 

"Therefore no one must ever tell anywhere outside of 
the war, only when the war happens. I will not tell just 
how I obtained that Power. I should not express it. I 
can not, I must not tell." 

However, it may be said that, in general, relationship 
with these elemental powers was chiefly contingent upon 
the observance in early childhood of certain practices, 
learned either through rigorous parental training, or, 
more often, through the tutelage of some renowned war- 
rior, hunter, or medicine man, whose word from that 
hour became law. If the votary was a girl, an elderly 
woman of reputed power would be selected as tutor. 

At the proper age in general, from nine to fif teen 
years the child candidate was sent, unarmed and with- 
out food, to spend a given time perhaps only one night, 
or possibly a week in fasting and silent contemplation 
in the solitude of mountain or desert. The more fearful 
and awe-inspiring the surroundings, the more readily 
would the child mind become spiritually endowed. How- 
ever long the votive period, the fasting could not be 
broken, nor could a fire at night be built. Water in 
strictly limited amount was permissible in case of in- 



tolerable thirst. Night and day the mind must be kept 
steadily fixed on the object of the quest. 

In time the candidate would fall into a comatose state 
of mind. It was then that the Wyakin revealed itself, 
sometimes merely as a voice, or at other times as a rec- 
ognizable apparition. If it was the air the wind sough- 
ing among the trees or over the desert waste such Power 
was understood to render the body invulnerable to the 
passage of bullets or arrows. If the Wyakin came as 
thunder or as lightning, it conferred a terrible potency 
in battle. 

Among the apparitions that might be seen, the deer 
bestowed fleetness of foot upon the suppliant; the grizzly 
bear or buffalo bull, strength in battle; the coyote, cun- 
ning in approaching enemies; the wolf, excellence both 
in war and in the hunt; the prairie chicken, ability to 
hide from danger. 

The eagle, the hawk, the raven, and many other deni- 
zens of the air have a place in the Wyakin category. A 
rare Power given by the rock wren that relentless 
enemy and hunter of the rattlesnake enabled the recip- 
ient to handle the deadly serpent with impunity. 

In my last interview with him, Yellow Wolf gave the 
following explanations: 

Wyakin is your faith in some strength to help you in dangers, in 
battle. A man may have any of three different Powers. First, you see 
a warrior in front of you in battle. You fire at him only a few 
steps away. You miss him! You fire again, maybe often. You miss 
him every shot! He can not be hit. 

Second, you shoot a warrior. You wound him two or three places. 
But bullets will not go through him. He does not feel them. He is 
not hurt. 

Third, you shoot a warrior and the bullets do not penetrate. 
They will not enter his flesh. 

This is the way I understand. I know by my religion. Suppose 



you are to fight tomorrow. You are told by your Wyakin not to 
do certain things. You have a wife. You tell her of the rules to be 
observed by her. If she does this, then when the battle comes the 
enemy bullets will miss, or will not enter your body. If she disobeys, 
then such bullets will surely enter your body. It is this way: 

If your Power is in feathers which you place at a certain height, 
and your wife throws them down, or they fall down, then the 
Power you had in those feathers is destroyed for all time. Your 
prayer has been killed. But if everything is handled right and you 
are true, your Wyakin will surely help you when there is danger. 

You know our schooling. Young people sent out into wild, night 
places without anything, their hands empty. I did that! Often 
stayed from home three, maybe five, suns and nights. Because my 
father died when I was young, no living man had sympathy for me. 
Your father's spirit outside somewhere might recognize you and 
come to you. 

My father had a Power, but a soft body. Bullets entered his body 
but he did not die. Scars, many scars, on different parts of his body. 
All these showed his bravery in war. 

The life in trees, in grass, might compose your Power. It is im- 
possible to explain. It is against orders of your Wyakin to explain, 
if you could. This is all impossible to be understood by whites. I 
believe if I now went to war I would be killed by gas. My Power 
is not against that, only against arrows and bullets. 

But I have no more chances to fight. No more wars; and I am 
growing old. When I come to dissolve, then I will tell my children 
and grandchildren how I was when young. But they have a different 
schooling, different beliefs. They have learned the white man's 

In war, Wyakin was generally embodied in material 
objects, such as amulets, charms, or feathers. The war 
whistle in particular was most conducive of safety and 
was always blown when in the rage of battle. (See 
Appendix B, "Yellow Wolfs War Club and War 
Whistle.") But most exacting were the stipulations of 
such protection. The slightest infringement of the rigid 
rules laid down by the guardian Spirit was sure to be 
followed by dire results. 



As a final example of Wyakin, the following episode 
was related by Many Wounds: 

It was far up in the wild mountains of the Little Salmon River, 
Idaho. A small boy, I was camping with my grandparents. Early 
in the morning I went up the mountain to look after our horses. I 
looked ahead a short distance to a small hill against the mountain. 
There, sitting with his back against a stump of a fallen tree, I saw 
a man. A fine-looking Indian wearing a blanket. Long hair falling 
about his shoulders. It was splendid hair, yellow or golden. He 
looked at me but spoke no words. 

I saw him sitting there, a light like a rainbow circling above his 
head. I saw the sun rise off to one side of him. I saw its rays shooting 
down the mountain slope, saw its rays passing over and by the man, 
but never striking him. Soon the vision faded, nothing remained 
to be seen of it. 

I think the meaning of this vision was this: the sun rays passing 
without striking the blanketed person in plain view meant arrows and 
bullets of battle passing without hurt to me. Should I ever be in war 
I would be willing to try the danger. That vision man had been some 
great warrior with that kind of Wyakin. 

Yellow Wolfs War Club and War Whistle 

AT THE close of our 1908 interviews, I asked Yellow 
Wolf what had become of his war club and was in- 
formed that he still had it. I expressed a desire to own it, 
should he ever care to part with it. After some moments 
he said simply, "I understand/' 

Returning to the hop fields the following year, he 
brought both his war club and war whistle and presented 
them to me. I well knew that there was interesting 
mysticism connected with the club's production, but of 


Left, his magic war whistle. Eight, his kopluts, or war club. 


Left to right: Husis Qwyeen's drinking cup, made from a buffalo horn ; on this he 
tallied the number of dead in the Big Hole fight, Peopeo Tholekt's magic war 
whistle. Chief Joseph's elkhorn quirt ; this passed to his successor, David Williams, 
at the great chieftain's funeral feast. Joseph's pipe, carried throughout the war. 


the occult Yellow Wolf seldom spoke unless the subject 
was broached, so I requested that he give me whatever 
details he cared to concerning it. Through interpreter 
Whitman he gave me the following account, graphically 
demonstrating with the weapon itself the various phases 
of his story: 

The regular war club is generally short handled, about five or six 
inches aside from the stone at its end. It must be only five or six 
inches in length for this reason: because in the battles and fights with 
another tribe, the warriors do not meet face to face and strike at 
each other. They grab and scuffle. This kopluts hangs on the wrist 
with a buckskin thong. When the enemy grabs hold of you to throw 
you down and kill you, if you have a long-handled club to your 
wrist, he can easily seize it and hold on to it. But if a short handle, 
you have it well covered with your own hand. You can then club 
your enemy and you are privileged to break his arm. 

I, Yellow Wolf, raised among warriors, made it a study how I 
should go to war against different tribes and fight from horseback. 
How I should have the enemy to meet and match when mounted. 
I would have to strike across from horse to horse, fighting for my 
life. Trying for the death of my enemy. From all this, I judged 
I would need a long handle on this club, which you now see as I 
fashioned it. 

At the time I made this kopluts, preparing for war, I put this war 
paint on it which has been there ever since. Not that I did this of 
myself. It was the belief that I have within me, obtained from the 
fowls that fly, from the creatures that creep or leap through the 
wilds, that gave me a Power to be strong in battle, in war, where 
life is against life. This Power told me to make such a weapon for 
protecting myself. 

It was in this way, by the instructions of this Spirit, that this 
kopluts was made and painted. When I give this weapon to my 
friend, it is as much as giving my Hf e to him. For this man is near 
my heart. When I see him, always a friend to me, I, Yellow Wolf, 
give him this club to keep it always. 

I was small, quite young, when I fashioned this koplvts. I did not 
select the stone. Searching around to select, I was given instructions 
directions about the rock to pick from when and how to make it. 
This stone I rounded myself. You can select a rock from the river 
and try breaking this one: Tock! tockl tockl [Striking imaginary 



blows.] The other rock will break. This one is a selected stone for 
war business. 

I was instructed to cover the kopluts with elk rawhide, then wrap 
the handle with the fur of the otter. 

I am Heinmot Hihhih [White Thunder]. That thunder, when 
it rolls and strikes anything, it kills. That thunder gave me its 
Power to be with this kopluts, striking as the lightning strikes. This 
Spirit guided rne in making this weapon. 

I have a boy. If these Spirits should know him, that he is my 
boy, like me a warrior, someday he shall have that Power. It will be 
taken from me when I am old when I die and everything be given 
him. If he is given the same Power, then he shall have a kopluts 
like this. 

Not that I will ever promise my boy to make such for him. I will 
not. He must have instructions direct from that Power then make 
it himself. Nobody will know why he made it. Nobody knew when 
I made mine or why I made it. If he has Power, he will construct 
it alone. If he has not the Power, then he has no use for the club. 

The war whistle carried by Yellow Wolf through the 
1877 conflict, although having but one shrill note, was 
more often referred to as a flute. When requested to 
blow it, he refused, stating that only in battle or deadly 
danger was it to sound. Of its use and potency, he 

This war whistle which helped me in dangerous places is made 
from the wingbone of the crane. Spirits guided me in its making. 
Guided me from what bird the bone must be taken. It is not to be 
used in sport and amusement. For war only, I always sounded it 
in battle. The soldiers then could not hit me. Only in battle or 
other dangerous places did I sound this whistle. Not at any other 
time was it to be sounded. 

I wore it by the buckskin thong still fast to it. This loop was 
about my neck and left shoulder. The flute hung under my left 
arm. There it was away from handling the rifle. These two small 
eagle-down feathers at the end of the, thongs were plucked from over 
the bird's heart. Their fluttering up in the wind was good. Always 
moving, you could not see that which does it. There was good 
prayer in the feather movements. 

You must not let my flute be wrongly used. 



When in April, 1910, a painting of Yellow Wolf in 
full tribal regalia was being executed from a series of 
photographs, he was written to for a description of his 
garb during the war, also for the loan of the streaming 
feather plumage he sometimes wore on his right arm 
during gala days.. This was sent, together with this 

You ask what I wore during the war. My shirt was white, with 
green stripes running both ways [plaid pattern]. My leggings were 
dark, striped with green, red, and white. Breechcloth a shawl 
without apron straps; such would be in the way of fighting. 

The medicine that gave me strength during the war was in my 
feathers. These were wrapped in red flannel cloth. This bundle I 
carried on my back. I do not think I will get along well without my 
feathers. You must care well for my feathers. 

When Yellow Wolf was shown the finished painting, 
he studied it a few minutes and then commented: "Not 
good fighting picture. Looks nice on wall." 

Henry Tabador 

T TENRY TABADOR'S real name was Henry Rivers. 
JTiHe was a half blood. He is the Indian who figures as 
"Charley" in the account of the Carpenter-Cowan 
tourist party in Yellowstone National Park as related by 
Frank Carpenter. (See the reprint edition, Guie and Mc- 
Whorter, Adventures in Geyser Land, pp. 92 flf.) His 
Nez Perce name, Heinmot Tosinlikt, is apparently sub- 
ject to a dual interpretation, "Lightning Tied in a 
Bunch," or "All Pulling Together." Concerning him 
Mr. Camille Williams writes: 



The Indian called "Charley" in Frank Carpenter's story was a half 
blood, supposedly of the Snake tribe. This belief came about in 
the following manner. When small, his parents lost him on a trip to 
the Coast, and the Bannacks found him, and he grew up among them. 
Then he came to the Nez Perces, where he married. We think 
Carpenter's story half invented. 

The name given him by the Bannacks was Ta-ba-bood-ze: 
e White Man." Pronunciation of this name in Nez Perce is Tom- 
memo [Tomamo], as he was known ever after. But the name at 
the Agency appears as Tababo. 

Tabador left an unsavory reputation because of some 
of his deeds, but his courage in the face of danger could 
not be gainsaid. He was the warmate of Yellow Wolf 
in divers nerve-testing occasions, particularly as related 
in Chapter 21. Of the last days of his old-time com- 
panion, Yellow Wolf, in our final interview in May, 
1935, gave the following account: 

In Eeikish Pah [Hot Place] where we were sent prisoners, 
there was lots of sickness. Heinmot was goodhearted to his friends. 
A boy had pneumonia, and Heinmot told me one morning he was 
going after alcohol for him. Alcohol was good for a fever which 
walked there. Many were cured with it. 

Heinmot got ready his horse, but could not go. A Government 
inspector came, and Heinmot was the only one to do the interpreting. 
The Agency interpreter was not there. Heinmot took his horse a 
ways over the hill to pasture, thinking to get back for the meeting. 
He tried to be fast, but the inspector was ready, and Heinmot 
returned too late. 

Because of a strong wind, the meeting was held inside. They called 
for Heinmot to interpret. I told them he was gone with his horse 
to the pasture. No interpreter found, someone said, "Get Reuben, 
the teacher." A policeman brought James Reuben. The same man 
who had helped the soldiers against us in the war. 

Soon as he entered he called out, "What are you people thinking? 
You fought the Government! You can not do anything!" That 
was the way of James Reuben. Always against us, but he was allowed 
to interpret. 

The inspector then said, "I came here to learn if all are doing 



right. Tell me whatever is on your mind. I will put it on paper 
and send it to Washington." 

Those were the inspector's words. But James Reuben interpreted 
differently. He made as if the inspector had said: "Joseph, if you 
or people do anything wrong, I will send it to Washington. Then 
you will be punished." 

Heinmot had returned, and stood at the door. He interpreted 
correctly, not as had Reuben. Reuben spoke loud: "You can not 
interpret anything! Where is policeman? Put that man out!" 

Heinmot stepped outside. An Indian policeman shot him. There 
were five Nez Perce policemen among us. All had taken Christian 
religion. Right away the Agent was sent word of the shooting. He 
came quick. Heinmot was shot in the hip. The bullet ran down 
towards his knee. 

The Agent asked him, "Why were you shot?" 

"I do not know!" was Heinmot's reply. 

"Well, you are shot! Don't you know why?" The Agent spoke 

"No, I do not know why! Why don't you ask the one who shot 
me?" was Heinmot's reply. When he said that, the Agent called 
loudly: "Who shot this man?" 

"Tom Hill!" several people answered. 

"Did you shoot him?" the Agent asked Tom Hill, standing by. 

"Yes!" was Tom Hill's answer. 

"Why did you shoot him?" 

When the Agent asked that question, Tom Hill answered: "Look 
at me! I am dressed in Government clothes. I was advised by you 
to shoot any one bothering me!" Tom Hill pointed to his police star 
and added: "This was what shot him the Law!" 

"That was not what I appointed you for, to shoot your brother! 
I appointed you to arrest murderers, and bad men only. This man is 
wounded. We must care for him. If he dies, there will be trouble 
for some of us. No use talking any other way!" The Agent showed 

Heinmot went off fishing. He did not get sick, did not go to 
bed. He came out of that wounding all right. 

About one week, maybe ten suns later, he went uptown and 
bought liquor. Returning, he came to one man's house and stopped. 
Drinking, but not drunk, he sat in a chair, rocking back and forth. 
He had a cap and ball six-shooter on his belt. Someway the gun 
fell from its holster. Two shots went off, knocking away all the 
top of Heinmot's head, 



This happened some time in the morning, and he lived until five 
o'clock that evening. His head must have been bent forward, to be 
struck in such manner. 

That was how Heinmot Tosinlikt died. All this happened soon 
after we reached Eeikish Pah. It is the last story about him. A brave 
warrior, a good fighter. Dangerous when mad, he always stood by 
his friends. 

At time of the war Heinmot had seen twenty-six or twenty- 
seven snows. 

Report of Captain William Falck 

little-known report of Captain William Falck 
-L (Second Infantry) , post commander of Fort Lapwai, 
Idaho, gives interesting sidelights upon Yellow Wolf's 
narrative of the Nez Perce refugees' return from Canada, 
June- August, 1878. While the discrepancies in the two 
accounts in regard to the number of guns and horses 
are of moment, the testimony of other members of the 
band tend to confirm Yellow Wolf's computation. 

Although it was and is still contended by Black 
Eagle, the only surviving member of the band, that there 
was not a "Lucy" among their number, and that, aside 
from Henry Tabador, there were no English names 
among them, doubtless Captain Falck did interview a 
"Lucy." As "Charley" was a common appelation for 
any Indian man accosted by a white stranger, so was 
"Lucy" among Indian women. 

Many of "Lucy's" statements exhibit a desire to please 
her interlocutor, as she shrewdly read his mind by the 



intonation of his queries. This complaisance was char- 
acteristic of primitive-minded Indians. They never 
argued or contradicted a point where no tangible gain 
was apparent. 

Captain Falck's report is found in "Report of the 
Secretary of War," 1878, pp. 180-81: 

Fort Lapwai, Idaho 
August 1, 1878 

[Assistant Inspector General 
Department of the Columbia 
Fort Vancouver, Washington Ter.] 

Sir: I have already informed you by telegraph of the return of a 
part of White Bird's band, and the measures taken by me to arrest 
these Indians. James Lawyer, who went out with a large force of 
his Indians, found the party had disappeared; he followed the trail 
to near Mr. Chapman's place, where he was stopped by a party 
of white men from Camas Prairie, who advised him to return to the 
reservation, else he might meet with disastrous consequences. He 
therefore gave up the chase, and it is probable if the whites come 
across the party they will kill them all. Five squaws with two 
children left the hostile party and were brought in by Lawyer last 
night, and during a long and close examination this morning, I 
elicited some interesting facts regarding White Bird's band and 
Sitting Bull. 

The squaw who gave me the information is named Lucy; was 
married to one of Joseph's men killed last year; she says, when White 
Bird saw that Joseph intended to surrender he told him to go in first 
with his band, and he would follow, but instead of following Joseph, 
he took all the young men of his band and some women and escaped 
during the night. They have been living with Sitting Bull ever 
since, who treated them all very badly, except White Bird; owing 
to this treatment great discontent had arisen among them, and es- 
pecially among those who were not members of White Bird's band 
proper; for that reason many of them had made up their minds to 
escape and return to their native homes. The first to leave was a 
party of seven, who are now in confinement at the post; then a 
party of four more and one squaw left who went to the Pend O'dreille 
[d'Oreille] country; and lastly, the party to which they belonged, 
hearing that the Umatillas were about to fight the whites, made up 



their minds to join them. The entire party consisted of 11 men, 2 
boys, 8 women and 3 children. They left Sitting Bull's camp about 
the 20th of June; in ten days they struck Milk River in a south- 
westerly direction from the camp; and in five days thereafter the 
Rocky Mountains. They came through the Blackfeet country and 
saw no whites until they reached the Bitter Root Mountains; thence 
they came in by the Elk City trail. The women all had horses when 
leaving Sitting Bull's camp; some of the men were dismounted till 
near Helena; north of there they stole two good American horses. 
When near the Hellgate River in the Flathead country three men of 
the party left, and the following morning drove in a large band of 
good horses; after selecting the best and gentlest, the balance were 
set adrift. The men and women of the party separated every morning 
and met in camp at night, when the men would bring in blankets, 
clothing, coffee, sugar and plunder generally. 

When in the Bitter Root Valley the women were left in charge 
of the two men, with directions to take the Elk City trail, while the 
men were to take the Lo Lo trail, but on the following day the 
women overtook the men and found the latter in possession of a large 
and fine band of mules and horses. They went in camp about 90 miles 
from Elk City, and while resting there the following day were over- 
taken in the afternoon by a party of thirty white men, who attacked 
them and fought them at long range till evening. The white men 
were successful in capturing all the horses and mules, including the 
horses and saddles of the entire party, excepting six on which they 
mounted the squaws, the men marching till they reached the reser- 
vation, where they again provided themselves with mounts by steal- 
ing from the Kamia [sic] Indians. In this fight the squaw says one 
white man was killed and no Indians. The entire party camped near 
Clear Creek; when James Lawyer's party first found them they all 
refused to surrender, and declared their determination to join the 
Snakes. During the night the five squaws escaped and surrendered 
to Lawyer. Three women and children are still left with the party, 
who are probably gone to the Salmon River, there to open some 
caches left by their people last year, containing money, blankets, 
provisions, etc., thence they will endeavor to join the hostiles, unless 
intercepted by the whites, which is probably the case. The Indians 
are but poorly armed; the whole party had only four guns and one 
revolver and belts partially filled with ammunition. For one of the 
guns they had no ammunition; this was a Henry rifle;* the other 

* This was Yellow Wolf's gun, but not a Martini Henry rifle, which was a 
single-ahot arm developed in England. Yellow Wolf's gun was a repeating Win- 



guns were Springfield rifles. Lucy tells me that as the party leaving 
Sitting Bull's camp were not all mounted, they only marched about 
50 miles a day (marching day and night); it took them ten days 
before they struck Milk River; consequently Sitting Bull at that 
time was about 500 miles from the border. 

She tells me Sitting Bull has no permanent camp but keeps con- 
stantly moving; they always camp on the prairie. During all the time 
she was here she saw no towns or settlements, only the Canadian 
police, who have to go a long way north, as she expresses it, 
to find the camp. Last winter Sitting Bull had plenty of buffalo 
meat, but nothing else except such articles as he can get from 
the traders. Sitting Bull has plenty of arms and gets all the ammu- 
nition he wants from the traders who bring goods and provisions for 
sale. There seems to be no restriction placed on the sale of ammu- 
nition; it is sold openly to whoever wants to buy it. White Bird 
is determined to remain with Sitting Bull and help him fight the 
white men; only a few of his own band are left; one of the young 
chiefs with him, Huts-e-cut-la-trat, however, says he is coming in 
shortly to surrender. One of the five squaws is a young daughter of 
Chief Joseph; she showed me a photograph which had been sent to 
her by her father from Leavenworth. 

I have informed the commanding officer at Mount Idaho of all 
the facts in my possession regarding this band, his command being 
in close proximity to Salmon River. 

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

Captain Second Infantry, Commanding. 

Chester. An inquiry to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company elicited the reply: 
"Dear Mr. WcWhorter: 

"Our records show that the gun you mention, No. 126589, is a Model 66 [1866] 
carbine and it was shipped on April 24, 1876. 

**It is regrettable that a record of those early guns was not kept more com- 
pletely than it was, but at that time we did not record to whom these guns were 

(Signed) "En WIN PTJGSLEY." 

There seems reason to believe that these early model Winchesters were sometimes 
called Martini rifles. In the autumn of 1909 Yellow Wolf presented to the writer 
his war-battered weapon. See illustration in Chapter 6. 




Chief Red Hearfs Band 

treatment accorded Chief Red Heart's band of 
JL noncombatant Indians makes this one of the most 
unjust episodes of the Nez Perce War. That this group 
of peaceful Indians surrendered voluntarily is acknowl- 
edged by General Howard in the following field dispatch, 
sent to Division Headquarters, San Francisco, July 19, 

Majority of hostile Indians have fled on Lolo Trail to buffalo 
country; forced to go. Thirty-five men, women, and children, in 
my hands voluntary surrender. 

These prisoners, as attested by every contemporary 
Nez Perce interviewed, were taken to Kamiah, where 
their horses and equipment were confiscated. They were 
forced to march afoot through the blistering July heat 
and dust, under guard of mounted Government Nez 
Perce scouts and soldiers, to Fort Lapwai, to be sent to 
the Vancouver Barracks as prisoners of war. 

In a letter from the late Colonel J. W. Redington, who 
was an active scout for General Howard during the later 
days of the Nez Perce campaign, he speaks of seeing these 
prisoners at the barracks, under guard of members of the 
military band, the regular soldiers being on duty afield* 

The following compilation of Chief Red Heart's band 
is that of Black Eagle, son of warrior Wottolen, as inter- 
preted to me in May, 1930 by his brother, the late Many 




"Old" Chief Red Heart 
Ne-ne-tsu-kus-ten (son of Red 

Te-me-nah Ilp-pilp (youngest 

son of Chief Red Heart) 
"Old-man" Half Moon 

John Reuben 
Little Bear 

Alex Hayes (still living, 1930) 

Ha-ha-tsi He-ke-lan-tsa 
"Old" Chief Jacob (signer of 

treaty of 1855) 
Pile of Clouds 

James Hines (still living, 1930) 

Jim Powers 
George Raymond 



He-ma-kio Aut-way 
Pe-tol-we Ta-looth 
We-tah- wee-non-mi 


He-yum-ki Yum-mi 
Tal-we Nom-mi 


Il-soo-pop (three years old) 
Unnamed son of Little Bear. This 
child died at Vancouver. 

Total: 33 

No record of prison commitment of Chief Red 
Heart's band has yet been found, but after long and 
diligent search through the Vancouver Barracks Post 
Headquarters vault, Mr. J. L. Sharon unearthed an order 
for their transfer, and the reply thereto. These papers he 
was granted permission by the Adjutant to copy especial- 
ly for this work. The two documents follow: 


APRIL 20, 1878 







Fort Vancouver, W. T. April 22, 1878 

I have the honor to report, in obedience to instructions from Post 
Headquarters; I have this day transferred to Captain William H. 
Boyle, 21st U. S. Infantry, all Nez Perce Indian Prisoners of War. 

23 Twenty-three Adult Males ) 
9 Nine Adult Squaws ) (33) 

1 One Boy ) 

All of which have been borne on general report as Prisoners of 


Captain Robert Pollock, 
21st Infantry 
Officer of the day 
Order officially stamped and 
filed, April 22, 1878 

It is noticeable that there is a difference of but one 
in these two listings in regard to men, but a difference of 
two in regard to women. The latter can be accounted 
for by the absence of the two girls from the releasement 
tally, Captain Pollock evidently classing them as adults. 

These figures attest the astounding memory of Black 
Eagle, fifty-three years after the transaction. That the 
individual name of each should be retained, even down 
to that of a three-year-old child, is truly marvelous. 


His Own Story 


Publications and Manuscripts 

Arnold,'R. Ross. Indian Wars of Idaho. Caldwell, Caxton, 1932. 

Brady, Cyrus Townsend. Northwestern fights and Fighters. Garden 
City, Doubleday, Page, 1923. 

Brosnan, Cornelius J. History of the State of Idaho. New York, 
Scribner's Sons, rev. ed., 1935. 

Buck, Amos. "Review of the Battle of the Big Hole/* in Contribu- 
tions to the Historical Society of Montana, Vol. VII, 1910. 

Cave, Will. Nez Perce Indian War of 1877 and Battle of the Big 
Hole. Missoula, Montana, n.d. 

Catlin, J. B. "Battle o the Big Hole," in Historian's Annual Report, 
Society of Montana Pioneers, 1927. 

De Smet, P. J. Oregon Missions and Travels over the Rocky Moun- 
tains. ("Early Western Travels," Vol. XXIX.) Cleveland, Clark, 

Fuller, George W. History of the Pacific Northwest. New York, 
Knopf, 1931. 

Gibbon, John. "Battle of the Big Hole," in Harper's Weekly, De- 
cember 28, 1895. 

Guie, H. D., and McWhorter, L. V. Adventures in Geyser Land. 
Caldwell, Caxton, 1935. 

Hathaway, Ella C. Battle of the Big Hole (as told by T. C. Sherrill). 
No pub., 1919. 

Hawley, J. H. History of Idaho, Vol. I. Chicago, S. J. Clark Pub. 
Co., 1920. 

Hayt, E. A. Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Wash- 
ington, D. C., 1878. 

Hodge, Frederick W., ed. Handbook of American Indians. Washing- 
ton, D. C., Government Printing Office, 1907. 

Howard, O. O. My Life and Experiences Among our Hostile Indians. 
Hartford, Worthington, 1907. 

Nez Perce Joseph. Boston, Lee and Shepard, 1881. 

Hunt, Garrett B. "Sergeant Sutherland's Ride," in the Mississippi 
Valley Historical Review, Vol. XTV, No. 1, June, 1927. 



Kappler, Charles J. Indian Affairs, Laws, and Treaties. Washington, 
D. C., Government Printing Office, 1904-09. 2 vols. 

McBeth, Kate C. The Nez Perces Since Lewis and Clark. New 
York, Revell, 1908. 

McDonald, Duncan. "Nez Perce War of 1877: Indian History from 
Indian Sources." (A series of eighteen articles in the New North- 
west, Deer Lodge, Montana, 1878-79.) 

McWhorter, L. V. Border Settlers of Northwestern Virginia. Ham- 
ilton, Ohio, 1915. 

Marquis, Thomas B., ed. Memoirs of a White Crow Indian. N. Y., 
Century, 1928. 

Meacham, A. B. Wi-ne-ma and Her People. Hartford, American 
Pub. Co., 1876. 

Miles, Nelson A. Personal Recollections. Chicago, Riverside Pub. 
Co., 1897. 

Mourning Dove. Cogewea. Boston, Four Seas Pub. Co., 1927. 

Noyes, Al J. ("Ajax"). In the Land of Chinook. Helena, Montana, 
State Pub. Co., 1917. 

Progressive Men of Montana. Chicago, A. W. Bowen, [1901?] 

Redington, J. W. "Scouting in Montana" (MS). In Historical 
Society of Montana. 

Report of the General of the Army. Washington, D. C., 1877; 1878. 

Scott, Hugh Lenox. Some Memories of a Soldier. N. Y., Century, 

Shields, G. O. ("Quoquina"). Battle of the Big Hole. Chicago, 
Rand, McNally, 1889. 

U. S. House Doc. No. 552, 56th Congress, 1st Session, 1900. "Claims 
of the Nez Perce Indians." 

Wilmot, Luther. "Nez Perce Campaign" (MS). 

Wilson, Eugene T. "The Nez Perce Campaign" (MS) . (A paper 
read before the Tacoma Research Society.) 


Army War College, Fort Humphries, D. C. 

Bailey, Colonel Harry L., second lieutenant, Twenty-first Infantry. 

Bond, Fred G. (He flatboated Nez Perce prisoners to Bismark.) 

Brainard, General D. L., Second Cavalry. 

Brininstool, E. A., author. 



Brown, General C, W., retired. 

Bruce, Robert, author. 

Day, Cassius, volunteer, Nez Perce campaign. 

Freeman, Dan, courier for Colonel Gibbon. 

Goldin, Theodore W., Seventh Cavalry. 

Homes, H. E., of Page's Volunteers, Nez Perce campaign. 

Jerome, Lovell H., second lieutenant, Second Cavalry. 

Loynes, Charles N., corporal, Company I, Seventh Infantry. 

Painter, Rev. Harry M., late lieutenant, Washington National Guard. 

Rand, Phillip, Montana pioneer. 

Redington, Colonel J. W., Army scout, Nez Perce campaign. 

Smedberg, Colonel, W. R. J., Eighth Cavalry. 

Wood, Colonel C. E. S., second lieutenant, Twenty-first Infantry. 


AJlen, Frank, volunteer, Nez Perce campaign. 

Beall, Thomas, Jr., Nez Perce authority. 

Brenner, Mr. and Mrs. Charles, Nez Perce residents of Horse Prairie. 

Cowan, Mrs. George F., Nez Perce captive. 

Cullen, John W., Captain of volunteers, Nez Perce campaign. 

Darr, Elias, volunteer, Nez Perce campaign. 

Fleming, G. D., chief clerk (circa 1878), Nez Perce Indian Agency. 

Gallaway, Lieuellyn, justice of Supreme Court, Montana. 

Garcia, Andrew, packer for Colonel Sturgis. 

Humble, J. L., captain of volunteers, Lolo Trail fiasco. 

Lynch, John, First Cavalry. 

McDonald, Duncan, pioneer and Indian trader. 

Morris, Sam, Nez Perce scout for Army, Nez Perce campaign. 

Osterhaut, David B., volunteer, Nez Perce campaign. 

Rawton, J. G., volunteer, Nez Perce campaign. 

Schorr, John P., sergeant, Troop F, First Cavalry. 

Slaper, C. W., Seventh Cavalry. 

Slickpoo, Nez Perce scout for Army, Nez Perce campaign. 

Stranahan, C. T., former Agent, Nez Perce Reservation. 

Wilkinson, Barnett, volunteer, Nez Perce campaign. 


His Own Story 


' I WIS Glossary is not intended to be exhaustive. Its 
JL aim, rather, is to include names interesting from an 
etymological standpoint, and names particularly subject 
to controversial interpretations. The syllabication is, 
in numerous instances, uncertain; but it will serve as a 
guide for pronunciation. Perfect accuracy can not be 
attained, inasmuch as the Nez Perce tongue has never 
had a rigid standard of pronunciation. 

Ah-kun-ke-ne-koo: Land Above; figuratively, the Hereafter. 

Aih-its Pal-o-ja-mi: Fair Land; Of Fair Land. 

Al-lez-yab-kon: old-time name of uncertain meaning. Known to 

whites as Lazzykoon. Father of Phillip Williams. 
at-e-mis: dead deer; spirit deer. 
At-si-pee-ten; Itsi-pee-ten: Girl Chasing Animal. 
A.-so-tain; Eel Creek, from. a-so f , eel. 
Chel-loo-yeen: Bow and Arrow Case; Wearing Quiver. Later known 

as Phillip Evans. 
Cho-jy-fties: Lazy. 

Chus-lum Hah-lap Ka-noot: Barefooted Bull. 
Chus-lum Hih-hih: White Bull. 
Chus-lum La-pit-ksf Hots-wal: Bull Second Boy. 
Chus-lum Mox-mox: Yellow Bull. Also called Weyatanatoo Wahy- 

akt (Sun Necklace) . 
Da-koo-pm; Koop-nin: Broken. 
Dis-kos-kow: Sun Faded. 
Doo-kj-yo&n; Doo-ko-yoon: Smoker. 

Ee-ah-lo-koon; signifies a flock (of geese) turning to light on water. 
Ee-i-kJsh Pah: Hot Place the term applied to Indian Territory. 
E-Us-ko-la-tat: Animal Entering a Hole (?) Later known as Joe 




E-loo-sy-ka-sit: Standing on a Point. Later known as John Pinkham. 

Es-pow-yes: Light in the Mountain. 

Hein-mot Hih-hih: White Thunder, or White Lightning. The Nez 

Perces do not have separate words for thunder and lightning. 

Heinmot Hihhih's more common name was Hemene Moxmox 
( Yellow Wolf) . 

Hem-mot Ilp-pilp: Red Thunder. 
Hem-mot Too-ya-la-kekt: Thunder Traveling to Loftier (Mountain) 

Heights. Known to the whites as Chief Joseph. 
Hein-mot To-sin-likt: Bunched Lightning. Usually called Henry 

(Charley) Tabador. 

Hein-mot Too-tsi-kon: Speaking Thunder. 
Hek-Jdk Tak-kaw-ka-dkon: Charging Hawk. 
He-mene Mox-mox: Yellow Wolf. 
He-na-witi Going Fast. 
he-yets: bighorn, or mountain sheep. 
He-yoom Yo-yikt: Bear crossing. 
ho-hots: grizzly bear. 
Hu-STs-hu-sis Kute: Naked Head. 
Hu-sis Ow-yeen: Wounded Head. 

In-nee-chee-koos-tin; Nm-nee-cbee-koos-tin: Yellow Wolf's boy- 
hood name; definition unknown. 
it-st-yi-yi: coyote. 

It-si-yi-yi Op-seen: Coyote with Flints. 

Jee-kun-kun; Jee-kam-kun: Dog. Called by whites John Dog. 
Kab-mu-e-nem: Nez Perce name for Snake River as far up as the 

junction with the forks of Salmon River. Probably named after 

a "twining vine." 
Ka-mi-a-kun; Ka-mi-ah-kin: Human Skeleton. Head chief of 

Yakimas and other tribes west of the Palouse. 
Kam-is-nim Tak-in; Camas Meadows a place name. 
Ke-talk-poos-min: Stripes Turned Down. 
Kip-kip El-whe-kin: not a Nez Perce name. One interpreter writes 

that it may be intended for Kipkip Pahlekin, a Cayuse name. 
Kip-kip Q-w-yeen: Shot in Breast. 
koos: water. 
Koos Kap-wel-wen; Kap-is-wel-lah Pah: Swift Water (Yellowstone 

River) . 

Koots-koots Tsom-yo-ivhet (Tsom-yo-kat) : Little Man Chief. 
kop-luts: a war club, consisting of a rock attached to a stick handle. 
kous; kouse: an edible root. 



Kow-tol-iks: this name implies the "remains of a human body scat- 
tered by wild animals.** 
Lah-pee-a-loot: Two Flocks on Water; Twice Lighting on Water. 

This man was later known as Phillip Williams. 
La-koch-ets Kun-nin: Rattle on Blanket* 
Le-loos-kin: said to be a Flathead name meaning Whittling. 
Le-peet Hes-sem-dooks: Two Moons. 
Me-op-kow-tt: Baby. 

Moo-sit-sa: Four Blankets; apparently a Salish name. 
Nik-tsee-why: definition unknown. Also called Heneenee. She was 

the mother of Kowtoliks. 
Nos-na-ku-het Mox-mox: Yellow Long Nose (literally, Nose Long 


Ol-lo-kot: supposedly a Cayuse or Umatilla name meaning Frog. 
Ots-kai: probably a Flathead name, of undetermined meaning. It 

has been translated "Wild Oat Moss," but this is uncertain. 
Pah-ka Al-ya-nakt: Five Snows; i.e., Five Years. 
Pab-ka Pah-fa-bank; Pah-hat Ip-ta-hank: Five Fogs. 
Pah-ka-tos Qw-yeen: Five Wounds. Derived his name from an 

ancestor, not from an actual instance in war. 
Pah-ka-tos Wat-ye-kit: Five Times Looking Up. 
Pa-uh Wa-by-akt: Hoof Necklace. 
Pe-nah-we-non-mi: Helping Another; also defined as Travel in a 


Pee-ta Au-il-wa: Nez Perce name for Cottonwood Creek. 
Pee-tom-ya-non Tee-me-nah: Hawk Heart; Bullet Hawk Heart. 
Peo-peo Hih-bib: White Bird. 
Peo-peo How-ist-how-it: Curlew. 
Peo-peo Ip-se-wahk: Lone Bird. 
Peo-peo Thol-ekt: Band of Geese. 

Pis-wah llp-pilp Pah: Place of Red Rock name of a spring. 
Pit-pil-loo-heen: Calf of Leg; Large Calf of Leg. 
Pu-tim $ok-lah-to-mah: Ten Owl. 
Sa-pach-es-ap: Drive In a place name. 
Sarp-sis llp-pilp: Red Moccasin Tops. 
See-kum-ses Kun-nin: Horse Blanket. 
See-loo Wa-hy-akt: Eye Necklace. 
See-skoom-kee; Es-koom-kee: No Feet. 
See~ya-koon llp-pilp: Red Spy; Red Scout. 
Se-wat-th Hih-hih: White Cloud; early name of Husis Owyeen 

(Wounded Head) . 
$i-wish-ni-mi; San-wis-ni-ma: Mussel Creek a place name. 



i-yi-kou>-kou>n: Lying in Water. 

So-ko-li-nim; ]o-ko-li-mm: Antelope a place name. 

Tah-mon-mah: Salmon "Waters; i.e., Salmon River. 

Tah-iuis To-kai-tat: Bighorn Bow; or possibly, Throwing Bighorn. 

ta-kJa-lak-in: antelope. 

Tak-seen: Willows a place name. 

Tee-to Hoon-nod; Te-to Mom-nood: Bare Legs; or possibly, No 

Tee-wee-yow-nak: Over Point of Hill. 

te-kash: cradleboard. 

Te-nab-tah-kah We-yun: Dropping from a Cliff. 

Te-pah-le-wam: Split Rocks. 

Te-wit Toi-toi: definition unknown; probably a Flathead name. 

Tip-yab-lah-nah E-las-sa-nin: Roaring (Thundering) Eagle. 

Tip-yab-lah-nah Kaps-kaps: Strong Eagle. 

Tip-yah-lah-nah Sis-kon: Eagle Robe. 

Tip-yab-lah-nah-kikt; Alighting Eagle. 

Tis-ku-sia Kowia-kowia: Whittled Buckskin. It has also been de- 
fined as Blond Skunk. 

Tis-saik-pee: Granite. A name probably derived from Tissaik Pah 
(Granite) , a district southeast of Kamiah Valley. 

To-ma Al-wct-win-mi: Springtime (?). This definition is questioned 
by a Nez Perce interpreter of considerable ability. 

Tom-yun-mene; Tom-yan-nin: Struck (by lightning?) 

Too-hool-hool-zote: Sound; probably a Flathead name. 

Took-leiks: Fish Trap. 

To-was~sis; Tee-tve-was: Bowstring. 

Tsa-ya Tee-me-nab; Te-mi~ni-si-ki: No Heart. 

Wab-chum-yus? Rainbow. 

Wab-kaw-kaw: Woodpecker. 

Wab-li-tits: Shore Ice (?) This name can not be clearly defined; 
it refers, according to one interpreter, to "ice along the shore, 
with open channel in center of a river. "Crossing" by another 

Wah-seen-wes Saw-hoht-sobt: Mountain. A Flathead name. One 
interpreter says this is one of Tabador's names. 

Wat-tes Kun-nin: Earth Blanket. 

Weippe: English corruption of some unidentified Nez Perce word. It 
is said by some, and denied by others, that the original was 
O-yi-pee (Unstrung Beads) (?) One interpreter suggests it may 
come from O-ya-yap, a meaningless name bestowed on the 
locality by Grizzly Bear (legendary animal-person) . 



We-mas-tak-tus; We-ne-mas-tab-kis: Elder Deer. 

Wetti-wetti H ou-lis: Mean Person (?) 

Wet-yet-mas Hap-i-ma: Surrounded Goose. 

Wet-yet-mas Lik-lei-nen: Circling Goose (Swan). 

Wet-yet-mas Wa-hy-akt: Swan Necklace. Later took the name 
John Minthon. 

We-ya-ta-na-too Lat-pat: Sun Tied. 

We-ya-ta-na-too Wa-hy-akt: Sun Necklace. Known to whites 
chiefly as Yellow Bull. 

We-yoo-see-ka Tsa-kown: Geese Flying Above (?) 

Wi-yu-kea Koos: Elk Water (River) a place name. 

Wot-tol-en: Hair Combed Over Eyes. 

Wy-a-kin: an occult force. See Appendix A. 

Yi-yik Wa-sum-wah: Swan Woman. According to one interpreta- 
tion the name conveys the idea of swans lighting (on water) . 

Yoom-tis Kunnin; He-yoom-tsi Kunnin: Grizzly Bear Blanket. 


His Own Story 


Albert, Joe, 65, 100, 186, 187n 
Andrews, Luke, 63n ; see Kosooyeen 
Asotain, 37, 50 

Bailey, Harry Lee, quoted, 86, 89, 99, 


Big Hole, 36n, 53, 109, 119 
Black Eagle, 53, 144 ff., 157, 268 
Blewett, Charles, 70n, 80 
Boyd, John, 54 
Brayman, Gov. Mason, 70, 83 
Buck, Amos, 260 
Buzzard Mountain, 43, 50 

Camas Meadows, 47, 101, 161, 168 

Carpenter-Cowan party, 173 ff. 

Cave, Will, 130n 

Cemetery Buttes, 51, 54 

Chapman, "Ad" I., 47, 55 ff., 68, 131, 


Chuslum Hahlap Kanoot, 177, 222 
Chuslum Hihhih, 189, 190, 215, 216, 221, 

Chuslum Moxmox, 45n, 122, 153, 154, 

160, 215, 226 

Colville Indian Reservation, 16, 18, 290 
Cottonwood House, 71n, 81, 82 
Cow Island Landing, 198 ff. 
Crow Indians, 170, 181 ff., 188n, 189n 

Darr, Elias, 47, 48 
Devine, Richard, 45 

Eagle Robe, see Tipyahlanah Siskon 
Elaskolatat, see Albert, Joe 
Eloosykasit, 133, 134 ff. 
Espowyes, 20, 136, 150, 166, 216, 223 
Evans, Phillip, 60, 117 

Falck, Capt William, 283 ff., 306 ff. 
"Fort Fizzle," 107 

Garcia, Andrew, 114 ., 145, 147 
Gibbon, CoL John, 112 ff., 148 ff 
Goldin, Theodore W., quoted, 187n 

Hahtalekin, 36, 42, 63, 119n 

Hart, Thomas, 20, 21, 34, 191, 254 

Heinmot Tootsikon, 104 f. 

Heinmot Tooyalakekt, see Joseph, Chief 

Heinmot Tosinlikt, see Tabador 

Hefckik Takkawkaakon, 190 f. 

Henawit, 47 f . 

Heyoom Tklakit, 206 f. 

Homas, 18 f., 290 

Howard, Gen. O. O., 35, 36, 37 ff., 44, 

47, 54, 65, 69, 86, 90n, 93 f., 95, 101, 

221 ff. 

Husis Owyeen, 77, 136, 199 
Hnsishusis Knte, 36, 209 
Uses, Maj. Gnido, 195, 199n, 200n, 202n 

Imnaha Valley, Ore., 25, 63 

Jerome, Lovell H., 29, 215 ff. 

Jones, John, 56, 57 

Joseph, Chief, 19, 21, 25, 36, 45 ff.,,97, 

145? 146; 154," 155; 166; 20S, 214 ff., 

220, 292 
Jyeloo, 47 ff. 

Kamiakun, 25, 52 
Kipkip Owyeen, 99 
Kosooyeen, 49, 63 f., 99, 177 
Kowtoliks, 118, 119, 144 

Lahmotta, 34, 42, 47, 50, 54, 62, 63, 67, 

69, 274, 277 

Lakochets Kunnin, 67, 125 f., 130 f., 177 
Lapwai, Ida., 24, 37, 41, 77, 269, 280, 


Lawyer, Chief, 22, 64, 77, 270 
Lean Elk, see Poker Joe 
Lolo Trail, 65, 101 ff., Ill 
Lolo Treaty, 107 f. 
Looking Glass, Chief, 34, 36, 42, 50, 51, 

75, 77 ff., 107, 110, 111, 112 f., 166, 

203, 205, 213 f. 
Lower Nez Perces, 35, 53 
Loynes, Sgt C. N., quoted, 117, 133, 

136, 156 
Luke Andrews, see Kosooyeen 

McConvffle, Col., 70, 79n, 83, 106 
McDonald, Duncan, 11, 130n, 133, 152n, 

159, 315 

Many Wounds, 54, 102n, 132n, 210, 310 
Miles, Col. Nelson A., 203, 310, 214 ff. 
Minthon, John, 44, 114, IIS 
Minthon, Robinson, 65 
Mitchell, Campbell, 130n 
Monteith, John B., 35, 37, 39, 47, 136, 

271, 278n, 281, 291 
Moositsa, 59, 60 
Mount Misery, 75, 77, 79n, 83 

Natalekin, 127 
"Nez Perce," 22 f. 

Old Yellow Wolf, 89, 149, 178 

OUokot 36 ff., 42, 45, 55, 84, 132, 137 f., 

162, 166, 187, 221 
Ooyekun, 255 ff., 269 
Otskai, 131, 167, 171 ff., 182 
Otstotpoo, 56, 89, 91 

Pahit Palikt, 143 

Pahka Alyanakt, 47, 48, 165 

Pahkatos Owyeen, 62, 69, 74, 84, 99, 

116, 125 

Paige, Capt., 64, 68 
Penahwenonmi, 136 f., 160 
Peopeo Hihhih, 36, 87, 38, 42 



Peopeo Tholekt, 54, 67, 98n, 114, 126, 

145, 161, 152n, 156, 160, 167 f., 239, 

255 ff., 269 
Perry, Capt., 34, 51n, 55n, 56, 58n, 65, 

83, 93, 103 

Pinkham, John, see Eloosykasit 
Poker Joe, 151, 152n, 203, 209 
Putim Soklahtomah, 252, 255 ff., 269, 

274 ff., 276 

Rainbow, see Wahchumyus 

Rains, Lt. S. M., 71 

Rand, Phillip, quoted, 164 f. 

Randall, Capt. D. B., 75, 76, 80 ff. 

Rawn, Capt. Charles C., 107n, 108n 

Red Elk, 141 ff. 

Red Heart, Chief, 104 f., 310 ff. 

Red Moccasin Tops, see Sarpsis Ilppilp 

Redington, Col. J. W., 168n, 185n, 200n 

Reuben, James, 67, 68, 106, 279, 289 

Sapachesap, 45, 47, 48 

Sarpsis Ilppilp, 44, 110, 141, 142, 153 f., 


Scott, Maj. Gen. Hugh Lenox, 16, 178 
Scott, Sam, quoted, 108 
Seeskoomkee, 50, 52 f., 126 
Seeyakoon Uppilp, 70 f., 110, 149 f. 
Sitting Bull, 232, 238, 309 
Smith, Charles A., quoted, 214 
Soklahtomah, see Putim Soklahtomah 
Sturgis, Col. Samuel D., 179n, 181 ff., 

185n, 186n, 193n, 195, 203 
Swan Necklace, see Minthon, John 
Swan Woman, see Yiyik Wasumwah 

Tabador, 171, 173, 175, 183, 239n, 254 
ff., 260 ff., 303 ff. 

Teeweeyownah, 171, 192 

Temimsiki, 92 f., 145 

Tepahlewam, 41, 52, 63 

Three Red Coats, 57, 100, 109 

Thunder Traveling to Loftier (Moun- 
tain) Heights, see Joseph, Chief 

Tilden, Samuel, 146 

Tipyahlanah Kapskaps, 72, 141, 142, 
153, 164, 160 

Tipyahlanah Siskon, 43, 44 

Tolo Lake, 41, 43n, 45, 52 

Toohoolhoolzote, 36 ff., 42, 44, 86 ff., 
166, 277 

Towassis, 125, 172 

Two Moons, 34, 45, 77, 160 

Upper Nez Perces, 35, 64 

Wahchumyus, 62, 69, 74, 84, 99, 116, 

124 ff., 135 

Wahlitits, 44 ff., 108, 122, 133, 135 
Walla Walla, 25, 36, 64, 68 
Wallace, Lt. T. A., 270n 
Wallowa Valley, Ore., 24, 26, 42, 63 
Waptastamana, 35 f., 109 
Wattes Kunnin, 149, 175 
Wayakat, 98, 99 
Weesculatat, 76 f. 
Weippe, 104 
Wetatonmi, 137 f. 
Wetyetmas Liklemen, 122, 123 
Wetyetmas Wahyakt, see Minthon, John 
Whipple, Capt., 70, 71, 78, 93, 103 
White Bird, Chief, 42, 58n, 111, 226, 

229n, 234n 

White Bird Canyon, see Lahmotta 
White Feather, 146 
White Lightning, see Yellow Wolf 
White Thunder, see Yellow Wolf 
Williams, Camille, quoted, 84, 304 
Williams, Chief David, 34, 142 f. 
Williams, Phillip, 60, 123 
Wilmot, Luther, quoted, 80 ff. 
Wilson, Eugene T., quoted, 61n, 64n, 


Wood, C. E. S., quoted, 61 
Wottolen, 91, 96, 101, 109, 217, 239n, 

268, 271 ff. 
WyaJtin, 27-29, 87, 207, 235, 240n, 262, 

267, 295 ff. 

Yellowstone country, 26, 30, 161, 170 ff. 

Yellow Wolf, character, 13-19; youth, 
24-33; at White Bird Canyon, 55 ff.; 
at the Clearwater, 85 ff . ; on Lolo 
Trail, 102 ff. ; at Big Hole battle, 114 
ff. ; at Camas Meadows, 166-69; in 
Yellowstone National Park, 170 ff . ; 
at Canyon Creek, 181 ff. ; in Montana, 
195 ff. ; as a fugitive, 229 ff. ; among 
the Sioux, 233 ff. ; returning to Idaho, 
248 ff.; at Clear Creek, 270 ff . ; at 
Lahmotta, 274 ff. ; surrender at Lap- 
wai Agency, 280 ff.; questioned by 
Capt. Falck, 283 ff . ; sent to Indian 
Territory, 288 ff.; returned to Col- 
ville Indian Reservation, 289 f.; 
death, 18-19. 

Yiyik Wasumwah, 25, 77 f., 231 ff., 239