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The fur hunters of the Far West ; edited with historical introduction and notes by Milo Milton Quaife.… Ross, Alexander, 1783-1856 1924

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Array       The Fur Hunters of
the Far West
J      W$t ILatogft? Classics;
The Fur Hunters of
the Far West
|The Lakeside
<&])Z %ahz$ibz |&re&$, Chicago
CHRISTMAS, MCMXXIV  publigtytttf preface
IN continuing the narratives of Alexander
Ross's Adventures, the publishers of the
Lakeside Classics have no fear that the
readers will lose interest. Other explorers and
Indian traders in this region may have had
more noteworthy or epoch-making experiences,
but none could tell their story better than
Ross. Last year's volume ended with the
abandonment of the territory by the Pacific
Fur Company and their selling out to the
North West Company. Ross accepted employment with the new company and was given
greater authority and this volume will tell
how well he measured up to his increased responsibilities.
The publishers are, perhaps, breaking the
canons of the reprinting of historical books,
in that they are not printing this volume
complete. They realize that to the collectors
of works on early American history, this will
make the reprint of much less value, but
the latter part of the narrative dealing with
Ross's return to Winnipeg and his settlement
there lacks general interest. The defense for
leaving it out is that these volumes aim to
publish matter not only of historical nature
but of interest in itself to the general reader. l&uMiiSfyerg' preface
With the hopes that they have found subject matter that accomplishes this purpose,
this volume goes forth with another season's
good wishes of
Christmas, 1924.
VI Contents
Historical Introduction	
Preface to the Original Edition   .
Introduction to the Original Edition
i. Activities of the Year 1814 .    .     .    .
2. The End of the Old Order	
3. McKenzie Returns to the Columbia    .
4. The New System of Trade Inaugurated   .
5. Affairs at She Whaps and among the Snakes
6. The Founding of Fort Nez Perces .
7. Occurrences among the Snakes and at Fort
Nez Perc6s	
8. The Great Snake Nation	
9. Manners and Customs of the Far Northwest
* 3
J    ^igtwf cal 9Introtiuct(on
A YEAR ago in the Lakeside Classics was
reprinted Alexander Ross's narrative
of trade and adventure a century ago,
entitled Adventures of the First Settlers on the
Oregon or Columbia River. That narrative
dealt with the history of the famed Astorian
enterprise, which laid the foundations of civilization on the banks of the great river of the
American Northwest in the years from 1810
to 1813. In the present volume we reprint for
the first time the same author's further narrative of the activities and adventures of the
successors of the Astorians in the same region,
the men of the famous North West Company,
in the years from 1813 to 1822.
To those who have read the Adventures of
the First Settlers on the Oregon, the present
volume calls for but little introduction. With
the circumstances which led Ross to the Columbia, the schemes and misfortunes of the
ill-fated Pacific Fur Company, and the quality
and interest of Ross's narration of the events
in which he bore an active part, they are
already familiar; and few there are, we are
persuaded, who have thus read the earlier
volume, but will greet the present offering
with pleasurable anticipation.
XI i^igtorical ^ntztfiiuttim
In one respect, however, The Fur Hunters
of the Far West differs markedly from the
Adventures of the First Settlers on the Oregon.
The story of the Astorians has been frequently
told, and Ross's account of it is but one of
three original narratives by members of the
expedition. For the'succeeding regime of the
Northwesters on the Columbia, The Fur
Hunters of the Far West supplies our only firsthand journal. This fact combines with the
character of the author's writing to give the
book a position of assured and permanent
value in the early literature of the Far Northwest. As long as civilization shall endure in
the valley of the Columbia, men of intelligence
will continue to recur to this work for the
information it presents concerning the activities of those faraway years in the history of
the great commonwealths which have since
developed in the Pacific Northwest.
The Fur Hunters of the Far West was first
published at London in two volumes in 1855.
The first volume, which alone we here reprint,
deals with the activities of the Northwesters
from their advent in 1813 until their absorption by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1822.
The second volume describes Ross's activities
as an employee of the Hudson's Bay Company
from the latter date until his withdrawal from
the fur trade and the Northwest in 1825. The
break between the two volumes is not less
great than the break between the subject
Xll Internal ^ntrotrnttion
matter of the First Settlers on the Oregon and
that of the present volume, thus rendering
the separate reprinting of the latter an entirely logical procedure. The reader who shall
wish to follow farther the adventures of our
author, therefore, must either procure a copy
of the original edition or await the labors of
some future historical editor.
It is proper to observe, in conclusion, that
in the present reprint, as in earlier volumes of
the Lakeside Classics series, no effort has
been made to reproduce the precise form of
the original edition. I believe it presents, more
closely than the original, the ideas and thought
of the author; but punctuation, typography,
chapter heads, and index, are to be ascribed
to me. In some instances I have made slight
textual emendations which seemed obviously
called for, and in many instances have shifted
the incidence of sentence construction with
the view of reproducing more clearly the evident thought of the author.
Detroit Public Library.
A narrative of
——	  ^etifcattoti
To Sir George Simpson
Governor-in-Chief of Prince Rupert's Land
IN completing the narrative of my adventures, to whom can I so appropriately
inscribe this portion of my work as to
yourself, under whose auspices I acted during
the last four years of my career, under whose
command my closing journey was performed,
whose kindness and courtesy I have experienced for many years, and to whose liberality
I am indebted for a resting place in this the
land of my adoption.
When, upwards of thirty years ago, the
imperial Parliament sanctioned a coalition of
the rival companies of the North West and
Hudson's Bay, requiring at the same time
that the natives should be evangelized and
civilized, it was under your auspices that the
former arduous undertaking was accomplished,
and the latter praiseworthy good work commenced.
And now the Red River Academy, sending
its light into the wilderness, and already furnishing students to the universities of England, Scotland, and Canada, is the monument
of your zeal for the education of our youth. 2DeiJkatton
The churches of every denomination of Christians throughout the continent bear witness
to your desire for the promotion of religious
instruction, as well as the civilization of the
native Indians.
And lastly—not to omit material interests—
200 importers from England, with capital
almost exclusively of colonial creation, evidence the rewards of agriculture, industry,
and commercial enterprise under your fostering care.
May it please you to accept the dedication
of my work,
And believe me to be, Sir,
With sincere respect,
Your most obliged and faithful servant,
Alexander Ross.
xvm ptttact to t^e (Original
t     flEDttion
THE author of the following sheets has
spent the last forty-four years of his life,
without a single day's intermission, in
the Indian territories of North America; the
first fifteen years in the regions of Columbia,
that farthest of the Far West; the remaining
years in the Red River settlement, a spot more
effectually cut off from the rest of the world
than any other colony of the empire. Under
these circumstances, if he has earned the
doubtful advantage of enacting a tale of his
own, he has enjoyed but scanty opportunities
of adorning it.
In 1849 the author published a narrative of
his adventures, ending with the overthrow of
the Pacific Fur Company,1 and the favorable
reception of his labors induces him again to
appear before the public with an account of
his services in the great companies of his own
country. His aim has been to exhibit realities:
to relate facts as they have occurred;  to
1 Alexander Ross, Adventures of the First Settlers on
the Oregon or Columbia River. References to this work,
throughout the present volume, are to the Lakeside
Classics (Chicago, 1923) edition.
xix Original preface
impart to others at their quiet firesides the
interest of a wild and adventurous life, without its toils, privations, and dangers; and to
adhere always to the simple truth. As, then,
these volumes range over a wider expanse of
Indian territory than the former, so do they
introduce new features of Indian life and
manners. Regions un visited, and now only
partially explored, are portrayed as they appeared to the first civilized intruder in the
wilderness, and the author has endeavored to
give a description of the trapper's as well as
the trader's life among the Indians, both
being replete with adventures: for while the
trader has an advantage in that he has something to give or to exchange, the very tools of
the trapper's craft produce his trouble; the
steel of his traps is precious metal to the
Indian savage, with whom to plunder a white
man is a virtue.
Neither in this nor in the preceding volume
has the author been content with a bare narration of his own personal adventures. He has
not omitted to record any facts that came to
his knowledge respecting the geography of the
countries and the history of the settlements;
and from the rapidity with which events follow each other in new countries, these memorials will soon become materials for a history
of the Oregon.
The Pacific Fur Company, the earliest
pioneer of civilization on the Columbia, sur-
XX Original $refa«
rendered to a British rival the fruits of three
years' vigorous labor. The North West Company, its rival, whose commercial greatness
was only equaled by its political importance,
has passed away, after wielding for eight
years a sovereignty from the Atlantic to the
Pacific Ocean.
The Hudson's Bay Company, after ruling
under higher authority, and for many more
years than its rivals and predecessors, is now
the taxed subject of a republic, which has
arisen, as it were, from the ashes of the first
of the three invaders of primeval barbarism.
Under so many successive changes the aboriginal tribes, once so formidable, are fast
melting away; the fur trade, the incentive to
such great enterprises and brave deeds, has
almost perished, and the plough is fast following the axe. Churches are already rising
among villages, schools are multiplying, the
hymn of peace has taken the place of the wild
song of the savage, and soon all traces of the
past will be in the memorials which the pen
has preserved.
In committing his work to the press, the
author would say in conclusion, what he has
.written is fact and not fiction: real wild life,
not romance.
Red River Settlement, Rupert's Land,
June i, 1854.
——  9Intro&ttction to t^e 0vicinal
J  Coition
IN a work published by the writer a few
years ago,2 he traced the history of the
Pacific Fur Company, the first commercial association established on the waters of
the Oregon or Columbia River, through all
the windings of its short-lived existence: an
association which promised so much, and
accomplished so little; the boldness of the
undertaking, and the unyielding energy displayed in the execution, rendered it deserving % |||l
a better fate. But the vicissitudes of fortune,
and an unbroken chain of adverse circumstances, frorfl. its commencement in 1810, continued till its premature downfall paved the way
for a more successful rival in 1813, when the
great Astor project, which had for its object the |j
monopolization of all the fur trade on the con- If
tinent, yielded to the North West Company.
In the present work, we propose taking up
the subject of Oregon and the Rocky Mountains, beginning with Astor's rival, the North
West Company, from the time that it occupied
the entire trade of the Oregon till its final overthrow by another rival, the Hudson's Bay
Company, in 1821.
2 Ross, First Settlers on the Oregon. #rigmal Storofcuction
This wide field of commercial enterprise fell
into the lap of the North West Company
almost without an effort; for misfortunes
alone, over which man had no control, sealed
the doom of unfortunate Astoria. The first
ship, called the Tonquin, employed by the
Astor Company, was cut off by the Indians on
the Northwest Coast, and every soul on
board massacred. The second, named the
Beaver, was lost in unknown seas; and the
third, called the Lark, was upset in a gale 250
miles from the Sandwich Islands, and became
a total wreck; and to complete the catalogue
of disasters, in 1812 war broke out between
England and the United States.3
Let us take a passing glance at the negotiations between the late Pacific Fur Company
and the North West Company, which were as
follows. The whole of the goods belonging to
the former were delivered over to the latter at
ten per cent on cost and charges. The furs
on hand were valued at so much per skin.
Thus, the whole sales amounted to $80,500,
and bills of exchange, negotiable in Canada,
were accepted in payment thereof. At the
same time, the name of Astoria, the great
depot of the Astor Company, situated at the
mouth of the Columbia, was changed to Fort
3 The opening pages of the present narrative constitute a resume of matters which are described in the
author's First Settlers on the Oregon.
xxiv Original ^trotiuction
The above transactions, which changed the
aspect of affairs on the Oregon, took place on
the sixteenth of October, 1813.
The earliest notice of any adventurer
traversing these regions is that of Mr. Samuel
Hearne, an officer in the service of the Hudson's Bay Company, during the years 1769
and 1772. In his third and last expedition he
started from Fort Prince of Wales in 1770 and
reached the mouth of the Copper Mine River
on the seventeenth of July in the following
year.4 The ice was then just beginning to
break up round the shores of the Frozen
Ocean. We need scarcely mention that
Mr. Hearne was here far within the Arctic
Circle, where the sun never sets at that season
of the year. The next instance we have on
record is that of Sir Alexander Mackenzie, a
partner of the North West Company, who, in
the year 1789, performed his first expedition
of discovery across the continent, from Montreal to the Hyperborean Sea, and again in
1793 t° the Pacific Ocean.5 This enterprising
adventurer did much to develop the inland
resources of the country, and was personally
known to the writer.
4 Hearne's journals of his Arctic explorations, edited
by J. B. Tyrrell, were published by the Champlain
Society at Toronto in 1911. For a good secondary
account of Hearne's expedition see Stephen Leacock,
Adventurers of the Far North (Toronto, 1914), Chap. II.
5 The expeditions of Mackenzie here alluded to were
described by the explorer in a narrative published in 1801.
xxy (©riginal Storofcuttion
In the early part of the present century
Fraser and Stuart, also two partners of the
North West Company, crossed the continent
from the Atlantic to the Pacific, still farther
south than their predecessors.6 One of the
great streams of the Far West still bears the
name of Fraser's River, as a tribute to the
memory of the first discoverer. A somewhat
curious anecdote is told of this expedition. On
reaching the Pacific, the Indians put on a bold
and threatening aspect. The party had a
small field-piece with them, and to relieve the
anxiety of the moment, by frightening the
savages, the piece was loaded and fired off into
the middle of the crowd; but it is hard to say
which party were most frightened by the discharge, for the gun burst and was blown to
atoms. Yet, strange as it may appear, no
person was either killed or wounded by the
accident. The momentary surprise, however,
gave time to the party to shift their quarters,
and make good their retreat.
Indeed, to the spirit of enterprise diffused
among the fur traders, from the earliest days
of the French down to the present time, we
owe almost all that we know of these savage
6 Simon Fraser and John Stuart of the North West
Fur Company, supposing the Fraser River to be the
Columbia, descended the former stream to the seacoast
in the spring of 1808. For an account of this and other
early explorations of the Canadian Northwest see
Agnes C. Laut, Pioneers of the Pacific Coast (Toronto,
XXVI #tigma! Stotrotmction
wilds, yet with all their zeal and enterprise in
the pursuit of game they were always tardy in
giving what they did know to the world; not
so much from selfish motives to conceal the
truth, as from the difficulty, in many instances,
of getting that truth made public.
So far, then, the North has been more
favored than the Far West, for no white man
had as yet visited the Columbia to any extent; if we except Vancouver's survey of its
entrance, in 1792, and the transitory visit of
Lewis and Clark in 1805, the writer himself
and his associates were the first explorers of
that distant quarter.
The North West Company, originally incorporated in the year 1787, had by their
accession of territory an unlimited range from
the Atlantic to the Pacific. They ruled from
sea to sea, and as it became necessary to
occupy the stations received from the Astor
Company, they offered engagements to some
of the partners, but not upon the same advantageous terms as they granted to their own
people on the east side of the mountains; nor
did they hold out the same prospects of promotion to those who joined them on the west,
and especially to those branded with the
epithet " Yankee." Being, however, disappointed by the failure of the Astor concern,
I refused to enter the service of the North
West Company on any other condition than
that which included promotion, and as I was
J <©ttffinal Stotrofcuction
the only one that acted on this principle, they
met my views and we came to terms; so I
became a Northwester. My promotion was
guaranteed to take place in 1822, by a written
document signed at headquarters; while, in
the meantime, I was appointed to the northern
district, which, being a titled charge* was, of
itself, a step towards preferment. But here we
must explain what is meant by a " titled
charge"; according to North West nomenclature, clerks have charge of posts, bourgeois of
districts, and the ambition of the clerk is,
naturally, to become a bourgeois.
The first step the Northwesters took, after
inheriting their new acquisition, was to dispatch two of their partners and twenty of
their men in two boats to convey the gratifying news to Fort William, the chief depot of
their inland trade on Lake Superior. Everything was done to dissuade Messrs. Keith and
Alexander Stuart from undertaking so perilous an adventure with so few men, but to no
purpose. They made light of the matter, giving us to understand that they were Northwesters! "We are strong enough," said they,
" to go through any part of the country." Full
of confidence in themselves, they derided the
danger, as they did our counsel.
The journey began, and all went on well
enough till they arrived at the portage of the
Cascades, the first impediment in ascending
the river, distant 180 miles from Fort George.
XXVUl Original 5Fntrotiuction
Here the Indians collected in great numbers,
as usual, but did not attempt anything until
the people had got involved and dispersed in
the portage; they then seized the opportunity,
drew their bows, brandished their lances, and
pounced upon the gun-cases, powder-kegs,
and bales of goods, at the place where Mr.
Stuart was stationed. He tried to defend his
post, but owing to the wet weather his gun
missed fire several times, and before any
assistance could reach him, he had received
three arrows. His gun had just fallen from his
hand as a half-breed, named Finlay, came up
and shot his assailant dead. By this time the
people concentrated, and the Indians fled to
their strongholds behind the rocks and trees.
To save the property in this moment of alarm
and confusion was impossible; to save themselves, and carry off Mr. Stuart, was the first
consideration. They therefore made for their
canoes with all haste, and embarked. Here it
was found that one man was missing, and
Mr. Keith, who was still on shore, urged the
party strongly to wait a little; but the people
in the canoes called on Mr. Keith, in a tone of
despair, to jump into the canoe, or else they
would push off and leave him also. Being a
resolute man, and not easily intimidated, he
immediately cocked his gun and threatened to
shoot the first man that moved. Mr. Stuart,
who was faint from loss of blood, seeing Mr.
Keith   determined   and   the   men   alarmed, (Original Storoimction
beckoned to Mr. Keith to embark. The moment he jumped into the canoe they pushed
off and shot down the current. During this
time Mr. Stuart suffered severely and was
very low, as his wounds could not then be
examined; when this was done, they discovered
that the barbs of the arrows were of iron, and
one of them had struck on a stone pipe which
he carried in his waistcoat pocket, to which
fortunate circumstance he, perhaps, owed his
The chief object of this expedition has been
noticed, but there was another which we shall
just mention. A party of six men, under a
Mr. Reed, had been fitted out by the Astor
Company for the Snake country the year
before, of which hitherto there had been no
tidings. A part of the present expedition was
to have gone in search of them. The unfortunate affair at the Cascades, however, put
an end to the matter, and taught the Northwesters that the lads of the Cascades did not
respect their feathers. Thus terminated the
first adventure of the North West Company
on the Columbia. It was afterwards discovered that Mr. Reed and his party were all
murdered by the Indians.
This disaster set the whole North West
machinery at Fort George in motion. Revenge
for the insult and a heavy retribution on the
heads of the whole Cathleyacheyach nation
was decreed in a full council, and for a whole
XXX Original ^ntroDuttion
week nothing was to be heard about the place
but the clang of arms and the din of war.
Every man worth naming was armed, and
besides the ordinary arms and accouterments,
two great guns, six swivels, cutlasses, hand-
grenades, and handcuffs, with ten days' provisions, were embarked; in short, all the
weapons and missiles that could be brought
into action were collected and put in train for
destroying the Indians of the Cascades, root
and branch.
Eighty-five picked men and two Chinook
interpreters, under six chosen leaders, were
enrolled in the expedition. The command of
it was tendered to Mr. McKenzie, who, however, very prudently declined, merely observing that, as he was on the eve of leaving the
country, he did not wish to mix himself up
with North West affairs, but that he would
cheerfully go as a volunteer. The command
then devolved on Mr. McTavish, and on the
twentieth of January, with buoyant hearts
and flags flying, a fleet of ten sail conveyed the
men to the field of action. On the third day
they arrived safely and cast anchor at Strawberry Island, near the foot of the rapids. On
their way up, the name of this formidable
armament struck such terror into the marauders along the river that they fled to the
fastnesses and hiding-places of the wilderness;
even the two Chinook interpreters could neither sleep nor eat, so grieved were they at the
j Original Stottofcutttott
thoughts of the bloody scenes that were soon
to be enacted.
On the next morning after the expedition
came to anchor, the Indians were summoned
to appear and give an account of their late
conduct, and were required, if they wished for
mercy, to deliver up at once all the property
plundered from the expedition of Messrs.
Keith and Stuart. The Cathleyacheyach
chiefs, not the least intimidated by the hostile
array before them, sent back an answer, "The
whites have killed two of our people; let them
deliver up the murderers to us, and we will
deliver to them all the property in our possession." After returning this answer, the
Indians sent off all their wives and children
into the thick woods; then, arming themselves,
they took their stand behind the trees and
rocks. McTavish then sent the interpreters
to invite them to a parley, and to smoke the
pipe of peace. The Indians returned for
answer, that when the whites had paid according to Indian law for the two men they had
killed, they would smoke the pipe of peace,
but not till then. Their wives and children
were safe, and as for themselves they were
prepared for the worst. Thus little progress
was made during the first day.
The next day the interpreters were sent to
sound them again. Towards noon a few
stragglers and slaves approached
and delivered up a small parcel of cloth and
xxxii XXXUl
(©riginai ^troliuttiott
cotton, torn into pieces and scarcely worth
picking up, with a message from the chiefs:
I We have sent you some of the property; deliver us up the murderers, and we will send the
rest." Some were for hanging up the Indians
at once, others for detaining them. At length
it was resolved to let them go. In the evening
two of the principal chiefs surrendered themselves to McTavish, bringing also a small parcel of odds and ends, little better than the last.
Being interrogated as to the stolen property,
they denied being present at the time, and
had cunning enough to make their innocence
appear, and also to convince McTavish that
they were using their utmost influence to
bring the Indians to terms and deliver up the
property. A council was then held to decide
on the fate of the prisoners. Some were, as in
the former case, for hanging them up; others jil
for taking them down to Fort George in irons.
The council was divided, and at last it was
resolved to treat the prisoners liberally and
let them go. They never returned again, and
thus ended the negotiations of the second day.
The third day the interpreters were at work
again, but instead of making any favorable
impression on the Indians, they were told that
if they returned again without delivering up
the murderers they would be fired upon.
During this day the Indians came once or
twice out to the edge of the woods. Some were
for firing the great guns where they were seen
J <©riginal ^ntrotiuction
in the largest numbers; others, more ardent,
but less calculating, were for storming their
haunts, and bringing the matter to a speedy
issue. Every movement of the whites was seen
by the Indians, but not a movement of the
Indians could be discerned by the whites, and
the day passed away without any result. Next
morning it was discovered that some of the
Indians, lurking about, had entered the camp
and carried off two guns, a kettle, and one of
the men's bonnets. The Indians were seen
occasionally flying from place to place, now
and then whooping and yelling, as if some
plan of attack were in contemplation. This
was a new symptom, and convinced the whites
that they were getting more bold and daring
in proportion as their opponents were passive
and undecided. These circumstances made
the whites reflect on their own position. The
savages, sheltered behind the trees and rocks,
might cut them all off without being seen, and
it was intimated by the interpreters that the
Indians might all this time be increasing their
numbers by foreign auxiliaries. Whether
true or false, the suggestion had its effect in
determining the whites that they stood upon
dangerous ground, and that the sooner they
left it the better. They, therefore, without
recovering the property, firing a gun, or securing a single prisoner, sounded a retreat and
returned home on the ninth day, having made
matters ten times worse than they were before.
XXXIV Original Stottofcuction
This warlike expedition was turned into
ridicule by the Cathleyacheyachs, and had a
very bad effect on the Indians generally. On
their way back, some were so ashamed that
they turned off towards the Wallamitte to
hide their disgrace, others remained for some
days at the Cowlitz, and McTavish himself
reached Fort George in the night; and thus
ended this inglorious expedition.
It ought to be observed that the nature of
the ground along the Cascades on both sides
of the river is such as to afford no position
secure from attack or surprise, and it showed
a manifest want of judgment in an Indian
trader to expose his people ill such a dangerous
situation, where the Indians might have waylaid and cut them off to a man, and that without quitting their fastnesses; whereas the whole
difficulty might have been easily obviated by
a very simple stratagem on the part of the
whites, who might have quietly secured three
or four of the principal men as hostages, which
would have soon settled the whole affair, without noise or any warlike demonstration.
The Northwesters were prone to find fault
with the acts of their predecessors; yet, with
all this fault-finding, they had not laid down
any system or plan to guide their future operations, either with respect to the coast or inland trade. This appeared inexplicable to us,
and we waited in anxious expectation to see
what time would bring forth.
m (Original Stotrotmction
One day, as I was musing over affairs,
Mr. McDonald,7 called the "Bras-croche,"
the gentleman in charge of the Columbia,
called me into his room, and after some trivial
observations, said, "Well, I suppose you have
heard that I intend to leave the country this
spring?" "No," replied I, "I have heard
nothing of it." "But," resumed he, "you will
have heard that the spring brigade is to leave
in a few days for the interior." "Oh, yes,"
said I, "I have heard of that." "Yes," continued he, "we intend to start .in a few days,
and I shall leave the country. I could have
wished to have some settled plan for carrying
on the Columbia fcrade, but there are so many
conflicting opinions on that subject, that we
have not been able to come to any decision, so
that I fear the trade must go on the best way
that it can, for this year yet." "Then," said
I, "you do not approve of the system we have
been following (meaning the Americans); it
appeared to me to work very well." He shook
his head and smiled, but said nothing. Then
suddenly turning to the subject of the voyage, he said, "Will there be any danger in
getting along? Our party will be strong."
Mr. McDonald, having come out by sea, had
never ascended or descended the waters of
the Columbia.    "A strong party, with the
7 John McDonald, the " Crooked-arm," a partner of
the North West Company, for sketch of whom see
First Settlers on the Oregon, 2 78.
xxxvi I
(Original Stotrotmction
usual precautions," said I, "will carry you
through with safety; compared with former
years the voyage is mere holiday work." At
the words "usual precautions," he smiled.
"Do you think," he asked, "that Northwesters do not know, as well as the Americans,
how to travel among Indians?" "The Northwesters," observed I, "know how to travel
among the Indians of Athabasca and the
North, but the Americans know better than
Northwesters how to travel among the Indians
of Columbia." Continuing the subject, he
remarked, "The Indians along the communication must be taught to respect the whites;
the rascals have not been well broken in. You
will soon see a specimen of our mode of traveling among Indians, and what effect it will
produce." "Well, I shall be glad to see it,"
said I; "but I hope it will not be such a specimen as was exhibited at the Cascades, nor
produce the same results." On my mentioning the word " Cascades," his cheeks reddened,
and he appeared somewhat nettled, but recollecting himself, he changed the subject, and
put the question, "Where are the worst
Indians along the route?" To this I replied
that the worst Indians were those at the Dalles,
called Wyampams or gamblers, some sixty
miles beyond the Cascades; but with a strong
party and good night-watch there would be
nothing to fear. He next inquired, how far
the Americans had penetrated to the north.
xxxvii (Original StotroUuction
"To the island of Sitka," was my reply. "And
how far to the south?" inquired he again. "To
the frontiers of California," I answered. He
then asked if we had been as far east as the
Rocky Mountains. To which I answered that
we had, and crossed them too. "The Americans," he remarked, "have been very enterprising." "We are called Americans," said I,
"but there were very few Americans among
us—we were all Scotchmen like yourselves.
I do not mean that we were the more enterprising for that."
On the subject of traveling, he next inquired
if we invariably used horses. I told him that
no horses were used along the coast, that the
natives kept none, nor would the thick forests
admit of their being used, but that throughout
the interior all journeys were performed on
horseback. "You must," continued he, "have
traveled over a great part of the country."
"Yes, we did," I replied; "it has often been
remarked that before we were a year on the
Columbia we had traveled, in various directions, more than ten thousand miles." "That
is a reproach to us," said he, "for we have
been here upwards of six months and, with
but one exception, have scarcely been six
miles from our fort gates." He then asked
me what I thought of the manner in which the
Americans carried on the trade with the
Indians. "I always admired it," answered I;
"they treated them kindly, traded honestly,
xxxviii Original ^ntrotmctton
and never introduced spirituous liquors among
them." "Ha!" he exclaimed; but was it not a
losing business?" I admitted that it was, and
added, Astor's underhand policy, and the war
breaking out at the time it did, ruined all.
"But," I remarked, "the country is rich in
valuable furs, and the North West will now
inherit those riches." "Time will tell," was
his only answer. After alluding briefly to our
trials, hardships, and experience on the Columbia, "Well," said he, "I suppose we shall have
to do the best we can, as you did, for this year
at least, and follow the system pursued by the
Americans." He then requested me to make
out an estimate of men and goods for the
different posts of the interior.  The Fur Hunters of
the Far West
£  Chapter i
ON the sixth day after my conversation
with Mr. McDonald the brigade took
its departure for the interior. It was
the first grand movement of the North West
Company on the Columbia. On this occasion
124 men started, exclusive of the people of
the late Astor Company who were on their
way to Canada by land. The whole embarked
in a squadron of fourteen boats. The papers,
bills, and other documents belonging to the
American adventurers were put in the possession of our respected friend, Donald McKenzie
Esq., in order to be delivered to Mr. Astor at
New York, and along with the party was the
Company's express for headquarters. The
whole left Fort George under a salute, with
flags flying.
On passing the friendly Cathleyacheyachs
they did not so much as come and shake hands
with us, nor welcome our arrival, but kept at
a distance; so we passed without the least
interruption, and all went on smoothly till
we reached the Dalles, that noted haunt of
Indian pillagers. There we had to put up and
encamp for the night, but the usual camp
regulations were neglected.   No importance aiejean&er Jf5o$ef
whatever was attached to the two little words,
"usual precautions," which I had so emphatically mentioned to Mr. McDonald. Such
things were now looked upon as a useless relic
of " Yankeeism," therefore no night-watch was
set, and all hands went to sleep. It was not
long before a voice called out, "To arms, to
arms! the camp is surrounded!" In the turmoil and confusion that ensued, everyone
firing off his gun at random as he got up. One
of our own men, a Creole of the South, was
shot dead, and his life purchased us a lesson
against another time. If any Indians were
actually about our camp, they must have
scampered off instantly and unperceived,
which they could easily have done, for none
were to be seen when the confusion was over,
nor was it ever known who gave the fatal
From Creole encampment we reached the
Forks, 160 miles beyond the Dalles. This is
another great rendezvous for Indians, but we
passed it quietly without interruption. Thence
we proceeded on to Fort Okanogan, 200 miles
above the Forks, without accident or hindrance; always careful, however, to remember
the "usual precautions," by setting a night
watch. On arriving at this place the different
parties separated for their respective wintering grounds, and here the Fort William
express and our friends for Canada bade us
adieu and continued their journey.   We shall fur i^unterg of t&e far Wt$t
now leave the affairs of the voyage and take
up the subject of horses and inland transportation.
On reaching Okanogan everything was at a
dead stand for w^nt of pack horses to transport the goods inland, and as no horses were
to be got nearer than the Eyakema Valley,
some 200 miles southwest, it was resolved to
proceed thither in quest of a supply. At that
place all the Indians were rich in horses. The
Cayouses, the Nez Perces, and other warlike
tribes, assemble every spring in the Eyakemas
to lay in a stock of the favorite Kamass and
Pelua, or sweet potatoes, held in high estimation as articles of food among the natives.
There, also, the Indians hold their councils,
and settle the affairs of peace or war for the
year. It is, therefore, the great national
rendezvous, where thousands meet, and on
such occasions horses can be got in almost any
number, but owing to the vast concourse of
mixed tribes there is always more or less risk
attending the undertaking.
To this place I had been once before during
the days of the Pacific Fur Company, so it
fell to my lot again, although it was well
known that the fatal disasters which more
than once took place between those tribes
and the whites would not have diminished,
but rather increased, the danger. Yet there
was no alternative, I must go. So I set off
with a small bundle of trading articles and
/I &lejcan&er *Io$gs
only three men, Mr. Thomas McKay, a young
clerk, and two French Canadians, and as no
more men could be spared the two latter took
their wives along with them to aid in driving
the horses, for women in these parts are as
expert as men on horseback.
On the fourth night after leaving Okanogan,
Sopa, a friendly neighboring chief of the
Pisscows tribe, on learning that we were on
our way to the Eyakemas, dispatched two of
his men to warn us of our clanger and bring us
back. The zealous couriers reached our camp
late in the night. My men were fast asleep,
but there was no sleep for me. I was too
anxious, and heard their approach. I watched
their motions for some time with my gun in
my hand, till they called out in their own
language, "Samah! Samah! Pedcousm, ped-
cousm—White men, white men, turn back,
turn back, you are all dead men!" It was,
however, of no use, for we must go at all
hazard. I had risked my life there for the
Americans, I could not now do less for the
North West Company. So with deep regret
the friendly couriers left us and returned, and
with no less reluctance we proceeded. The
second day after our friends left us we entered
the Eyakema Valley—"the beautiful Eyakema Valley"—so called by the whites. But on
the present occasion there was nothing either
beautiful or interesting to us, for we had
scarcely advanced three miles when a camp of fur ^unter£ of tlje far We$t
the true Mameluke style presented itself; a
camp of which we could see the beginning but
not the end! It could not have contained less
than 3,000 men, exclusive of women and
children, and treble that number of horses.
It was a grand and imposing sight in the wilderness, covering more than six miles in every
direction. Councils, root-gathering, hunting,
horse-racing, foot-racing, gambling, singing,
dancing, drumming, yelling, and a thousand
other things which I cannot mention, were
going on around us.
The din of men, the noise of women, the
screaming of children, the tramping of horses,
and howling of dogs, was more than can well
be described. Let the reader picture to himself a great city in an uproar—it will afford
some idea of our position. In an Indian camp
you see life without disguise—the feelings, the
passions, the propensities, as they ebb and
flow in the savage breast. In this field of
savage glory all was motion and commotion.
We advanced through groups of men and
bands of horses till we reached the very center
of the camp, and there the sight of the chiefs'
tents admonished us to dismount and pay
them our respects, as we depended on them
for our protection.
Our reception was cool. The chiefs were
hostile and sullen. They saluted us in no very
flattering accents. "These are the men,"
said they, "who kill our relations, the people
II Sltonber $0*$$
who have caused us to mourn." And here, for
the first time, I regretted we had not taken
advice in time and returned with the couriers,
for the general aspect of things was against
us. It was evident we stood on slippery
ground: we felt our weakness. In all sudden
and unexpected rencounter with hostile Indians the first impulse is generally a tremor or
sensation of fear, but that soon wears off. It
was so with myself at this moment, for after a
short interval I nerved myself to encounter
the worst.
The moment we dismounted we were surrounded, and the savages, giving two or three
war whoops and yells, drove the animals we
had ridden out of our sight. This of itself was
a hostile movement. We had to judge from
appearances, and be guided by circumstances.
My first care was to try and direct their attention to something new, and to get rid of the
temptation there was to dispose of my goods;
so without a moment's delay I commenced a
trade in horses, but every horse I bought
during that and the following day, as well as
those we had brought with us, were instantly
driven out of sight, in the midst of yelling and
jeering. Nevertheless, I continued to trade
while an article remained, putting the best
face on things I could and taking no notice of
their conduct, as no insult or violence had as
yet been offered to ourselves personally. Two
days and nights had now elapsed since our
8 L
fur i^unterg of tlje far Wt$t
arrival, without food or sleep; the Indians
refused us the former, our own anxiety deprived us of the latter.
During the third day I discovered that the
two women were to have been either killed or
taken from us and made slaves. So surrounded
were we for miles on every side, that we could
not stir unobserved; yet we had to devise
some means for their escape, and to get them
clear of the camp was a task of no ordinary
difficulty and danger. In this critical conjuncture, however, something had to be done,
and that without delay. One of them had
a child at the breast, which increased the
difficulty. To attempt sending them back by
the road they came would have been sacrificing
them. To attempt an unknown path through
the rugged mountains, however doubtful the
issue, appeared the only prospect that held out
a glimpse of hope; therefore, to this mode of
escape I directed their, attention. As soon as
it was dark they set out on their forlorn
adventure, without food, guide, or protection,
to make their way home under a kind Providence !
"You are to proceed," said I to them, "due
north, cross the mountains, and keep in that
direction till you fall on the Pisscows River.
Take the first canoe you find, and proceed
with all diligence down to the mouth of it,
and there await our arrival. But if we are not
there on the fourth day, you may proceed to
J &lejran&er J£o££
Okanogan, and tell your story." With these
instructions we parted, and with but little
hopes of our ever meeting again. I had no
sooner set about getting the women off, than
the husbands expressed a wish to accompany
them. The desire was natural, yet I had to
oppose it. This state of things distracted my
attention. My eyes had now to be on my own
people as well as on the Indians, as I was apprehensive they would desert. "There is no hope
for the women by going alone," said the
husbands, "no hope for us by remaining here;
we might as well be killed in the attempt to
escape, as remain to be killed here." "No,"
said I, "by remaining here we do our duty;
by going, we should be deserting our duty."
To this remonstrance they made no reply.
The Indians soon perceived that they had
been outwitted. They turned over our baggage, and searched in every hole and corner.
Disappointment creates ill-humor; it was so
with the Indians. They took the men's guns
out of their hands, fired them off at their feet,
and * then, with savage laughter, laid them
down again; took their hats off their heads,
and after strutting about with these for some
time, jeeringly gave them back to their owners.
All this time they never interfered with me,
but I felt that every insult offered to my men
was an indirect insult offered to myself.
The day after the women went off I ordered
one of the men to try and cook something for
10 fur i^unterg of ti&e far Wt$t
us, for hitherto we had eaten nothing since our
arrival except a few raw roots which we
managed to get unobserved. But the kettle
was no sooner on the fire than five or six spears
bore off, in savage triumph, the contents.
They even emptied out the water, and threw
the kettle on one side; and this was no sooner
done than thirty or forty ill-favored wretches
fired a volley in the embers before us, which
caused a cloud of smoke and ashes to ascend,
darkening the air around us—a strong hint
not to put the kettle any more on the fire, and
we took it.
At this time the man who had put the kettle
on the fire took the knife with which he had
cut the venison to lay it by, when one of the
Indians called Eyacktana, a bold and turbulent
chief, snatched it out of his hand; the man, in
an angry tone, demanded his knife, saying to
me, "I'll have my knife from the villain, life
or death." "No," said I. The chief, seeing
the man angry, threw down his robe, and
grasping the knife in his fist, with the point
downwards, raised his arm, making a motion
in advance as if he intended using it. The
crisis had now arrived! At this moment there
was a dead silence. The Indians were flocking
in from all quarters; a dense crowd surrounded
us. Not a moment was to be lost. Delay
would be fatal, and nothing now seemed to
remain for us but to sell our lives as dearly as
possible.   With this impression, grasping a
ii &lejeantia: &o££
pistol, I advanced a step towards the villain
who held the knife, with the full determination
of putting an end to his career before any of
us should fall; but while in the act of lifting
my foot and moving my arm, a second idea
flashed across my mind, admonishing me to
soothe, and not provoke, the Indians, that
Providence might yet make a way for us to
escape. This thought saved the Indian's life;
and ours too. Instead of drawing the pistol,
as I intended, I took a knife from my belt,
such as travelers generally use in this country,
and presented it to him saying, "Here, my
friend, is a chief's knife; I give it to you. That
is not a chief's knife; give it back to the man."
Fortunately, he took mine in his hand, but,
still sullen and savage, he said nothing. The
moment was a critical one; our fate hung as
by a thread. I shall never forget it! All the
bystanders had their eyes now fixed on the
chief, thoughtful and silent as he stood. We
also stood motionless, not knowing what a
moment might bring forth. At last the savage
handed the man his knife, and turning mine
round and round for some time in his hands,
turned to his people, holding up the knife in
his hand, exclaimed, "She-augh Me-yokat
Waltz—Look, my friends, at the chief's knife."
These words he repeated over and over again.
He was delighted. The Indians flocked round
him; all admired the toy, and in the excess of
his joy he harangued the multitude in our
12 fur ^unta# of tfte fat Wt$t
favor. Fickle, indeed, are savages! They were
now no longer enemies, but friends! Several
others, following Eyacktana's example, harangued in turn, all in favor of the whites. This
done, the great men squatted themselves down,
the pipe of peace was called for, and while it
was going round and round the smoking circle,
I gave each of the principal chiefs a small
paper-cased looking-glass and a little vermilion
as a present, and in return they presented me
with two horses and twelve beavers, while the
women soon brought us a variety of eatables.
This sudden change regulated my movements. Indeed, I might say the battle was
won.   I now made a speech to them in turn, 11
and, as many of them understood the language
I spoke, I asked them what I should say to the
great white chief when I got home. When he
asks me, "where are all the horses I bought
from you," what shall I say to him. At this
question it was easy to see that their pride was
touched.   "Tell him," said Eyacktana, "that II
we have but one mouth and one word. All the J |
horses you have bought from us are yours;
they shall be delivered up." This was just
what I wanted. After a little counseling
among themselves, Eyacktana was the first to
speak, and he undertook to see them collected.
By this time it was sundown. The chief
then mounted his horse and desired me to
mount mine and accompany him, telling one
of his sons to take my men and property under &lejtan&er fto££
his charge till our return. Being acquainted
with Indian habits, I knew there would be
repeated calls upon my purse, so I put some
trinkets into my pocket and we started on
our nocturnal adventure, which I considered
hazardous, but not hopeless.
Such a night we had! The chief harangued,
traveled, and harangued the whole night; the
people replied. We visited every street, alley,
hole, and corner of the camp, which we traversed lengthway, crossway, east, west, south,
and north, going from group to group, and the
call was, "Deliver up the horses." Here was
gambling, there scalp-dancing; laughter in
one place, mourning in another. Crowds were
passing to and fro, whooping, yelling, dancing,
drumming, singing. Men, women, and children
were huddled together; flags flying, horses
neighing, dogs howling, chained bears, tied
wolves, grunting and growling, all pell-mell
among the tents; and, to complete the confusion, the night was dark. At the end of each
harangue the chief would approach me and
whisper in my ear, " She-augh tamtay enim—I
have spoken well in your favor"— a hint for
me to reward his zeal by giving him something.
This was repeated constantly, and I gave him
each time a string of beads, or two buttons, or
two rings. I often thought he repeated his
harangues more frequently than was necessary, but it answered his purpose, and I had
no choice but to obey and pay.
14 15
fur ^unterg of tl>e far Wt$t
At daylight we got back. My people and
property were safe, and in two hours after, my
eighty-five horses were delivered up and in our
possession. I was now convinced of the chief's
influence, and had got so well into his good
graces with my beads, buttons, and rings that
I hoped we were out of all our troubles. Our
business being done, I ordered my men to
tie up and prepare for home, which was
glad tidings to them. With all this favorable change, we were much embarrassed and
annoyed in our preparations to start. The
savages interrupted us every moment. They
jeered the men, frightened the horses, and
kept handling, snapping, and firing off our
guns, asking for this, that, and the other thing.
The men's hats, pipes, belts, and knives were
constantly in their hands. They wished to see
everything, and everything they saw they
wished to get, even to the buttons on their
clothes. Their teasing curiosity had no
bounds, and every delay increased our difficulties. Our patience was put to the test a thousand times, but at last we got ready and my
men started. To amuse the Indians, however,
till they could get fairly off, I invited the
chiefs to a parley, which I put a stop to as
soon as I thought the men and horses had got
clear of the camp. I then prepared to follow
them, when a new difficulty arose. In the
hurry and bustle of starting, my people had
left a restive, awkward brute of a horse for me, &lejtanfcer M*$$
wild as a deer, and as full of latent tricks as he
was wild. I mounted and dismounted at least
a dozen times; in vain I tried to make him
advance. He reared, jumped, and plunged,
but refused to walk, trot, or gallop. Every
trial to make him go was a failure. A young,
conceited fop of an Indian, thinking he could
make more of him than I could, jumped on
his back. The horse reared and plunged as
before, when, instead of slackening the bridle
as he reared, he reined it tighter and tighter,
till the horse fell right over on his back, and
almost killed the fellow. Here Eyacktana,
with a frown, called out, "Kap-sheesh she-am
—the bad horse"—and gave me another; and
for the generous act I gave him my belt, the
only article I had to spare. But although the
difficulties I had with the horse were galling
enough to me, they proved a source of great
amusement to the Indians, who enjoyed them
with roars of laughter. Before taking my leave
of Eyacktana it is but justice to say that with
all his faults he had many good qualities, and
I was under great obligations to him..
I now made the best of my way out of the
camp, and to make up for lost time took a short
cut, but for many miles could see nothing of
my people, and began to be apprehensive that
they had been waylaid and cut off. Getting
to the top of a high ridge, I stopped a little to
look about me, but could see nothing of them.
I had not been many minutes there, however,
16 fur i^unterjGf of t&e far Wt$t
before I perceived three horsemen coming
down an adjacent hill at full tilt. Taking
them for enemies, I descended the height,
swam my horse across a river at the bottom of
it, and taking shelter behind a rock, dismounted to wait my pursuers. There I primed
my rifle anew and said to myself, "I am sure
of two shots, and my pistols will be more than
a match for the other." The moment they
got to the opposite bank I made signs for
them to keep back, or I would fire on them,
but my anxiety was soon removed by their
calling out, "As-nack-shee-lough, as-nack-
shee-lough—your friends, your friends." These
friendly fellows had been all the time lurking
about in anxious suspense, to see what would
become of us. Two of them were the very
couriers who had, as already stated, strongly
tried to turn us back. I was overjoyed at this
meeting, yet still anxious, as they had seen
nothing of my men, to find whom we all set
off and came up with them a little before sundown. When we first discovered them, they
were driving furiously, but all at once the
horses stood still. I suspected something, and
told the Indians to remain behind while I
alone went on to see what was the matter,
when, as I had expected, seeing four riders
following them at full gallop, they took us for
enemies, as I had done before, and left the
horses to take up a position of defense behind
the trees, where they might receive us; and
■: &lejtantier iflog£
we should have met with a warm reception,
for McKay, although young, was as brave as a
lion. But they were soon agreeably surprised,
and the matter as soon explained. I then made
signs for the Indians to come forward. The
moment we all joined together, we alighted,
changed horses, and drove on until midnight,
when we took shelter in a small thicket of
woods, and passed the night with our guns in
our hands.
At dawn of day we again set off and at
three o'clock in the afternoon reached the
banks of the Columbia, some six miles beyond
the mouth of the Pisscows River, where we
considered ourselves out of danger. I then
started on ahead, in company with the friendly
Indians, to see if the two women had arrived,
and as good luck would have it we found
them with a canoe ready to ferry us across.
They had reached the place about an hour
before us, and we will give our readers a brief
outline of their adventures.
On leaving us, instead of taking directly to
the mountains, they, in the darkness of the
night, bridled two of the Indians' horses and
rode* them for several hours till they were far
beyond the camp, but as soon as it was daylight they turned the horses adrift and entered the mountains on foot. In the hurry of
starting they had forgotten to take a fire-steel,
or anything to make fire with, and had been
three days and nights without food or fire. A
18 fur I^unterg of tfje far Wm
short time, however, before I had reached
them, they had met some friendly Indians,
who had ministered to their wants. During
the four days of their pilgrimage they rode 18
miles, traveled 54, and paddled 66, making in
all 138 miles. We now hasten to resume our
In a short time the two men arrived with
all the horses, but could give no account of
McKay. I, therefore, immediately sent them
back with an Indian in search of him, while I
and the other Indians were occupied in passing
over the horses, for during high water the
Pisscows River is very broad at its mouth.
Some time after dark the men arrived with
the news that they had found McKay, lying
some distance from the road in an almost lifeless state and unable either to ride or be
carried. In this state of things I had no alternative but to send back the two men with
two Indians, to have him brought in the
canoe. About midnight they all arrived. Poor
McKay was in a very low and dangerous state,
having by some mishap which he could not
well explain dislocated his hip joint. After
much trouble I got it replaced again, and he
gradually came round, but as he could neither
ride nor walk, I was reduced to the necessity
of hiring two of the Indians to paddle him
home in the canoe. Meanwhile, the two men,
women, and myself continued our journey
and reached Okanogan in safety,  after an
ii &lejran&er &o&S
absence of seventeen days; but the Indians
only got there with McKay four days after us,
and from the hot weather and hardness of the
canoe he suffered very much. The limb had
again got out of joint, and was so much
swollen that it resisted all my efforts to get it reduced, so that he never got the better of it, but
remained lame till the day of his death. Thus
terminated one of the most trying and hazardous trips I ever experienced in the country.
As soon as Mr. McKay was out of danger,
I left him and set off with all haste to Fort
Spokane, distant about 160 miles southeast
from Okanogan, with fifty-five of our horses.
On our way, both going and coming, we made a
short stay at a place called the Grand Coulee,
one of the most romantic, picturesque, and
marvelously formed chasms west of the
Rocky Mountains. If you glance at the map
of Columbia, you will see, some distance above
the Great Forks, a barren plain extending
from the south to the north branch of that
magnificent stream. There, in the direction of
nearly south and north, lies the Grand Coulee,
some 80 or 100 miles in length. No one traveling in these parts ought to resist paying a
visit to the wonder of the West. Without,
however, being able to account for the cause
of its formation, we shall proceed to give a
brief description of this wonderful chasm, or
channel, as it now is, and perhaps has been
since the creation.
20 1
fur ^untet£ of tjje far Wt$t
The sides, or banks, of the Grand Coulee are
for the most part formed of basalt rocks, in
some places as high as 150 feet, with shelving
steps, formed like stairs, to ascend and descend, and not infrequently vaults or excavated tombs, as if cut through the solid
rocks, like the dark and porous catacombs of
Keif. The bottom, or bed, deep and broad,
consists of a conglomerate of sand and clay,
hard and smooth where not interrupted by
rocks. The whole presents in every respect
the appearance of the deep bed of a great
river or lake, now dry, scooped out of the
level and barren plain. The sight in many
places is truly magnificent: while in one place
the solemn gloom forbids the wanderer to
advance, in another the prospect is lively and
inviting, the ground being thickly studded
with ranges of columns, pillars, battlements,
turrets, and steps above steps, in every variety
of shade and color. Here and there endless
vistas and subterraneous labyrinths add to
the beauty of the scene, and what is still more
singular in this arid and sandy region, cold
springs are frequent; yet there is never any
water in the chasm, unless after recent rains.
Thunder and lightning are known to be more
frequent here than in other parts, and a rumbling in the earth is sometimes heard. According to Indian tradition it is the abode of evil
spirits. In the neighborhood there is neither
hill nor dale, lake nor mountain, creek nor
1 &lej:an&er fto£g
rivulet to give variety to the surrounding aspect. Altogether it is a charming assemblage
of picturesque objects for the admirer of
nature.  It is the wonder of the Oregon.
We shall now digress for a short space, and
return to Fort George. In 1811 three men
belonging to the Pacific Fur Company had
been murdered by the natives, but as the
murderers could not be traced, the deed
was never avenged. We, however, had no
sooner taken our departure for the interior,
than the murderers considered it unnecessary
to conceal the deed any longer; since the
"Americans," as we were called, had left the
country, they thought all was safe, and consequently joined their relations at Fort
George. Their return to the neighborhood
had been made known to the whites, who, in
order to make an example of them, and strike
terror into evil-doers, wished to apprehend
them. For some time these natives contrived
to elude their vigilance. The whites, however,
were not to be foiled in their attempt to get
hold of them. To attain the desired end they
were obliged to have recourse to some of the
friendly Indians, who soon found out the
secret haunts of the murderers, hunted them
up, and delivered them into their hands.
Three were implicated and found guilty of the
murder on Indian evidence, and were condemned to be shot. Capital punishment was
inflicted upon two of them, but the third was
22 23
fur l^unterg of tije far Wt$t
pardoned and set at liberty. The conduct of
the murderers may serve to throw some light
on their knowledge of right and wrong, and
on the character of these Indians generally.
The three villains fled towards the south as
soon as they had committed the deed, nor did
they ever return, or make their appearance
in that quarter, until they heard that the
"Americans" had left the country.
The punishment of the offenders, however,
gave great offense to many of the surrounding
tribes, who thought that the Northwesters
had no right to kill their relations. The deed
not being committed in their day, nor on their
own people, they said, the act on their part
was mere cruelty, arising from hatred of the
Indians, and that in consequence they must
be their enemies. Jealousy had also its influence: seeing that those Indians friendly to
the whites had been so liberally rewarded for
their zeal in apprehending the criminals, others
were displeased that they had not come in for
a share of the booty. The Indians took up
arms, and threatened to expel the whites from
the country. This manifestation of hostility
on the part of the natives gathered strength
daily, and kept the whites in constant alarm,
more especially as there were but few of them
to resist so formidable a combination. It
even threatened for a time the security of the
North West Company's possessions on the
■ &lejcaniier Mn$$
In the midst of this hostile flame, as good
fortune would have it, the long-expected ship,
Isaac Todd, from London, arrived, and cast
anchor in front of Fort George, with ample
supplies both of men and means. Her seasonable appearance struck such awe into the
rebellious savages that, partly through fear
and partly in anticipation of the good things
to come, they sued for peace, which was
granted, and all became quiet and tranquil
once more. The Isaac Todd's presence shed
a momentary gleam of light over the North
West affairs: in short, gave a new impulse to
all their measures in the Far West. After a
short stay at the Columbia, smoothing down
all difficulties with the Indians and taking
on board the furs and peltries belonging to
the late American adventurers, the vessel
sailed for Canton. The joy which her timely
arrival caused was but of short duration,
and it had scarcely time to be announced
in another express to Fort William8 when
again the aspect of affairs was clouded by a
sad misfortune.
On the twenty-second of May, some time
after the arrival of the Isaac Todd, a boat
containing  Messrs.   Donald   McTavish and
8 Fort William was the principal depot of the North
West Fur Company on the east side of the Rocky-
Mountains, and is situated on the north shore of Lake
Superior, in latitude 480 24' North and longitude 890 23'
West. Author.
24 fur ^unterjer of tf>e far We$t
Alexander Henry,9 two partners of long standing and high reputation in the service, with
six men, was swamped, all hands perishing, in
crossing the river, with the exception of one
man. Although the accident took place in
broad daylight, and in front of the fort, the
circumstance was not perceived or known for
some hours after, when John Little, the man
who was saved, arrived at the fort, and communicated the intelligence. We shall give the
sad tale in his own words.
"We pushed from the wharf," said John
Little, "at five o'clock in the afternoon, the
wind blowing a gale at the time and the tide
setting in. The boat was ballasted with
stones. We were eight on board, and there
was a heavy surf about two miles out in the
stream. She filled, and sank like a stone. A
terrible shriek closed the scene. The top of
the mast was still above the surface of the
water. I got hold of it, but the first or second 1 If
swell swept me away. In a moment nothing
was to be seen or heard but the rolling waves
and whistling winds. Jack, a young sailor lad,
and I took to swimming, and with great
exertions reached a dry sand bank in the
channel, about three-quarters of a mile ahead
3 This was Alexander Henry the younger, a son of
the trader whose narrative of Travels and Adventures
was reprinted in the Lakeside Classics in 1921. The
younger Henry spent many years in the Northwest fur
trade and his journals, elaborately annotated by Elliott
Coues, were published at New York in 1897.
1 aiejeanfcer fto&er
of us, but the tide flowing at the time, and
forced by the gale, soon set us afloat. Here
we shook hands, bade each other farewell, and
took to swimming again. At the distance of a
mile we reached another flat sand bank, but
the tide got there nearly as soon as ourselves,
and we were again soon afloat. Jack was
much exhausted, and I was little better, and
the wet and cold had so benumbed us that we
had scarcely any feeling or strength. We now
shook hands again, anxiously looking for
relief towards the fort. Here poor Jack began to cry like a child, and refused for some
time to let go my hand. I told him to take
courage, and pointing to a stump ahead of us
said to him, 'If we get there we shall be safe.'
Then, bidding each other adieu, we once more
took to swimming in hopes of reaching the
stump I had pointed to, which was better
than half a mile off. I reached and grasped it
with almost my last breath, but poor Jack,
although within ten yards of it, could not do
so—it was too much for him, and I could
render him no assistance. Here he struggled
and sank, and I saw him no more. I had been
grasping the stump with the clutch of despair
for more than half an hour, when, fortunately,,
a little before dusk, an Indian canoe passing
along shore discovered my situation and
saved my life. The water had reached my
middle, and I was insensible." One of the
Indians who had brought Little to the fort
26 fur ^unterg of tfyt far Wm
remarked: "When we got to him he was
speechless, and yet his fingers were sunk in
the wood so that we could hardly get his
hands from the stump."
Perils by water were not Little's only dangers, as we learned from one of the Indians
who rescued him. He was within an ace of
being shot as well as drowned. The moment
the people in the canoe came in sight of the
stump, one of the Indians, pointing to it, said
to his comrades, "Look! what is that leaning
on the stump?" Another called out, "A sea
otter, or a seal; come let us have a shot at it."
Both at that instant taking up their guns
made signs to the person steering to make for
the stump slowly. While the canoe was thus
making for the stump, the two men held their
guns ready cocked to have a shot. "Shoot
now," said one of them to the other. The
canoe was all this time nearing the object,
and the two anxious marksmen were on their
knees with their guns pointed, when a woman
in the canoe bawled out to the men, "Alke,
Alke, TiM-kome, TiUit-kome—Stop, stop! a
man, a man!" At this timely warning the men
lowered their guns to look, and in a few minutes
the boat was at the stump; seeing Little, the
fellows put their hands to their mouths, exclaiming in the Chinook dialect, "Naw-weet-
ka, naw-weet-ka—It is true, it is true." To
the keen eye of this woman, poor Little owed
his life at last.
27 &leran&er Mq$$
Following the Isaac Todd, there arrived
from the same port a schooner called the
Columbia. This vessel was intended for the
China and coasting trades, and Angus Bethune
Esq., a North West partner, was appointed
supercargo. A voyage or two across the
Pacific, however, convinced the Northwesters
that the project would not succeed. The port
duties at Canton, connected with other unavoidable expenses, absorbed all the profits,
and this branch of their trade was relinquished
as unprofitable. Even the coast trade itself
was far from being so productive as might be
expected, owing to the great number of coasting vessels which came from all parts of the
States, especially Boston, all more or less connected with the Sandwich Islands and China
trade. Competition had, therefore, almost
ruined the coast trade, and completely spoiled
the Indians.
Having glanced at the affairs of Fort George
and the coast trade, we now resume the business of the interior. It will be in the recollection of the reader that we left the spring
brigade at Okanogan, and our friends journeying on their way to Canada. From Okanogan
I proceeded northward some three hundred
miles to my own post at the She Whaps. There
being now no rivalry there, or elsewhere, to
contend with, I put the business in train for
the season and immediately returned again,
with the view of being able to carry into effect
28 fur i^untersf of tfie far Wz$t
a project of discovery, which I and others had
contemplated for some time before. This was,
to penetrate across land from Okanogan,
due west, to the Pacific on foot, a distance
supposed not to exceed 200 miles, and for the
performance of which I had allowed two
The undertaking had often been talked of,
but as often failed to be put into execution.
This was, however, the first time the project
had been attempted by any white man, and
as the season of the year was favorable, and a
knowledge of that part of the country held out
a good prospect for extending the trade, I was
anxious to see it explored and the question set
at rest. Men, however, being scarce with us
this year, I determined on trying with Indians
alone, placing, at that time, more faith in
their zeal, fortitude, and perseverance than
ever I felt disposed to do afterwards. Having
procured a guide and two other natives, myself being the fourth person, we prepared,
with all the confidence that hope could inspire,
for the execution of my plan.
On the twenty-fifth of July we set out on our
journey, our guns in our hands, each with a
blanket on his back, a kettle, fire-steel, and
three days' provisions. We depended on our
guns for our subsistence. Indeed, the only
baggage we encumbered ourselves.with consisted of ammunition. Crossing the Okanogan,
we followed the west bank of the Columbia in
■Hi &lejeanijer &o$s
a southwest course—distance eight miles—till
we reached the mouth of the Meat-who
River,10 a considerable stream issuing at the
foot of the mountains, along the south bank
of which we ascended; but, from its rocky
sides and serpentine courses, we were unable
to follow it. We therefore struck off to the
left, and after a short distance entered a pathless desert, in a course due west. The first
mountain, on the east side, is high and abrupt.
Here our guide kept telling us that we should
follow the same road as the Red Fox chief and
his men used to go. Seeing no track, nor the
appearance of any road, I asked him where
the Red Fox road was. "This is it that we
are on," said he, pointing before us. " Where?"
said I, "I see no road here, not even so much
as a rabbit could walk on." "Oh, there is no
road," rejoined he, "but this is the place where
they used to pass." When an Indian, in his
metaphorical mode of expression, tells you
anything, you are not to suppose that you
understand him, or that he literally speaks
the truth. The impression on my mind was
that we should, at least occasionally, have
fallen upon some sort of a road or path to
conduct us along, but nothing of the kind was
to be seen.  The Red Fox here spoken of was
10 This is an interesting early variant of the river now
called Methow. In his First Settlers on the Oregon Ross
gave the Indian name of the river as " Buttle-mule-
30 fur $unto# of ttye far l&m
the head chief of the Okanogan nation, and
had formerly been in the habit of going to the
Pacific on trading excursions, carrying with
him a species of wild hemp, which the Indians
along the Pacific make fishing nets of, and in
exchange the Okanogans bring back marine
shells and other trinkets, articles of value
among the Indians. After we entered the
forest, our course was W. 2 miles, N.W. 1,
S.W. 1, W. by S. 1, W. 3—distance eight miles.
On the twenty-sixth—We made an early
start this morning, course as nearly as possible
due west. But not half an hour had passed,
before we had to steer to every point of the
compass, so many impediments crossed our
path. On entering the dense and gloomy
forest I tried my pocket compass, but to very
little purpose, as we could not in many places
travel fifty yards in any one direction, so
rocky and uneven was the surface over which
we had to pass. Using the compass made us
lose too much time, and as I placed implicit
confidence in my guide I laid it by. On seeing
me set the compass, the guide, after staring
with amazement for some time, asked me
what it was. I told him it was the white inan's
guide. "Can it speak?" he. asked.J "No,"
replied I, "it cannot speak." "Then what is
the good of it?" rejoined he. "It will show us
the right road to any quarter," answered I.
"Then what did you want with me, since you
had a guide of your own?"  This retort came
i      , &lejtan&er &o££
rather unexpectedly, but taking hold of my
double-barreled gun in one hand and a single
one in the other, I asked him which of the two
was best. "The two-barreled," said he,
"because if one barrel misses fire, you have
another." "It is the same with guides," said
I, "if one fails, we have another." Courses
today, W. 4, N.W. 1, N.N.W. 1, S.W. 2, W.
5, N. by W. 6.     I |||
On the twenty-seventh—Weather cold and
rainy; still we kept advancing, through a
rugged and broken country, in a course almost
due west, but camped early on account of the
bad weather, having traveled about ten miles.
The next day we made a long journey, general
course W. by N.; saw several deer, and killed
one. The drumrriing partridges were very
numerous, so that we had always plenty to
eat. We met with banks of snow in the course
of this day.  Distance, eighteen miles.
On the twenty-ninth—This morning we
started in a southerly direction, but soon got
to the west again. Country gloomy; forests
almost impervious, with fallen as well as
standing timber. A more difficult route to
travel never fell to man's lot. On the heights
the chief timber is a kind of spruce fir, not
very large, only two or three feet in diameter.
The valleys were filled with poplar, alder,
stunted birch, and willows. This range of
mountains, lying in the direction of nearly S.
and N. are several hundred miles in length.
32 fut ^untcrg of tf>e far Wt$t
The tracks of wild animals crossed our path
in every direction. The leaves and decayed
vegetation were uncommonly thick on the
surface of the ground, and the mice and
squirrels swarrned, and had riddled the earth
like a sieve. The fallen timber, lay in heaps,
nor did it appear that the fire ever passed in
this place. The surface of the earth appeared
in perfect confusion, and the rocks and yawning chasms gave to the whole an air of solemn
gloom and undisturbed silence. My companions began to flag during the day. Distance,
fifteen miles.
On the thirtieth—The sixth day, in the
evening, we reached a height of land, which on
the east side is steep and abrupt. Here we
found the water running in the opposite direction. My guide unfortunately fell sick at this
place, and we very reluctantly had to wait for
two days until he recovered, when we resumed
our journey; but his recovery was slow, and
on the second day he gave up altogether, and
could proceed no farther. We were still
among the rugged cliffs and deep groves of
the mountain, where we seldom experienced
the cheering sight of the sun, nor could we get
to any elevated spot clear enough to have a
view of the surrounding country. By getting to
the top of a tall tree, now and then, we got some
relief, though but little, for we could seldom
see to any distance, so covered was all around
us  with  a  thick and almost impenetrable
33 &lejtan&er j!!o#ef
forest. The weather was cold, and snow
capped many of the higher peaks. In such a
situation I found myself, and without a guide.
To go forward without him was almost impossible; to turn back was labor lost; to remain
where we were was anything but pleasant; to
abandon the sick man to his fate was not to
be thought of. The serious question then
arose, what to do? At last we settled the
matter, so that one of the Indians should
remain with the guide, and the other accompany me, I still intending to proceed. We
then separated, I taking care every now and
then as we went along to mark with a small
axe some of the larger trees to assist us on our
way back, in case our compass got deranged,
although, as I have already noticed, we but
seldom used it while our guide was with us;
but the case was different now, it was the only
guide I had. Courses today, W. 5, N. 1, N.W. 2,
N.E. 1, W. 9—distance eighteen miles.
August fourth—We were early on the road
this morning, and were favored occasionally
with open ground. We had not gone far when
we fell on a small creek running, by compass,
W.S.W., but .so meandering, that we had to
cross and. recross it upwards of forty times in
the course of the day. The water was clear
and cold and soon increase^ so much that we
had to avoid it and steer our course from point
to point on the north side. Its bottom was
muddy in some places, in others stony, its
34 fur i^unter£ of tl>e far Wtgt
banks low and lined with poplars, but so overhung with wood, that we could oftener hear
than see the stream. On this unpromising
stream, flowing, no doubt, to the Pacific, we
saw six beaver lodges, and two of the animals
themselves, one of which we shot. We shot a
very fine otter also, and notwithstanding the
season of the year, the fur was black. Tired
and hungry, we put up at a late hour. Courses,
W. 8, N.W. s, W. 7, S.W. 2—distance traveled
today, twenty-two miles.
On the fifth—I slept but little during the
night. My mind was too occupied to enjoy
repose, so we got up and started at an early
hour. Our journey today was through a delightful country of hill and dale, wood and
plains. Late in the afternoon, however, we
were disturbed and greatly agitated, by a fearful and continuous noise in the air, loud as
thunder, but with no intervals. Not a breath
of wind ruffled the air, but towards the southwest, from whence the noise came, the whole
atmosphere was darkened, black, and heavy.
Our progress was arrested; we stood and listened in anxious suspense for nearly half an
hour, the noise still increasing, and coming, as
it were, nearer and nearer to us. If I could
compare it to anything, it would be to the
rush of a heavy body of water, falling from a
height; but when it came opposite to where
we stood, in a moment we beheld the woods
before it bending down like grass before the
35 &lejcantier fto&ef
scythe! It was the wind, accompanied with a
torrent of rain—a perfect hurricane, such as I
had never witnessed before. It reminded me
at once of those terrible visitations of the kind
peculiar to tropical climates. Sometimes a
slight tornado or storm of the kind has been
experienced on the Oregon, but not often.
The crash of falling trees, and the dark, heavy
cloud, like a volume of condensed smoke, concealed from us at the time the extent of its
destructive effects. We remained motionless
until the storm was over. It lasted an hour,
and although it was scarcely a quarter of a
mile from us, all we felt of it was a few heavy
drops of rain, as cold as ice, with scarcely any
wind; but the rolling cloud passed on, carrying destruction before it, as far as the eye
could follow. In a short time we perceived
the havoc it had made by the avenue it left
behind. It had leveled everything in its way
to the dust; the very grass was beaten down
to the earth for nearly a quarter of a mile in
The Indian I had along with me was so
amazed and thunderstruck with superstition
and fear at what he had seen, that his whole
frame became paralyzed. He trembled, and
sighed to get back. He refused to accompany
me any farther, and all I could either say or
do could not turn him from his purpose. At
last, seeing all mild endeavors fail, I had
recourse to threats.   I told him I would tie
36 fur i^unterg of tfie far Wtgt
him to a tree and proceed alone. At last he
consented, and we advanced to the verge of
the storm-fallen timber, and encamped for
the night. We saw a good many beaver lodges
along the little river, and some small lakes.
Deer were grazing in herds like domestic
cattle, and so very tame that we might have
shot as many of them as we chose. Their
curiosity exceeded our own, and often proved
fatal to them. The little river at this place
seemed to take a bend nearly due north. It
was twenty-two yards wide, and so deep that
we could scarcely wade across it. I gave it the
name of "West River." Here the timber was
much larger than any we had yet seen, some
of the trees measuring five and six feet in
diameter. Courses today, W. 12, N.W. 2, S. 1,
S.W. 2, W. 9—distance, 26 miles; making from
Okanogan to Point Turn-about, 151 miles.
After we had put up for the night it was
evident my companion was brooding and unsettled in his mind, for he scarcely spoke a
word. Although he had consented to continue the journey, I could easily see his reluctance, and being apprehensive that he might
try and play me a trick, I endeavored to watch
his motions as closely as possible during the
night; yet, in spite of all my watchfulness, he
managed to give me the slip, and in the morning I found myself alone! I looked about in
all directions for him but to no purpose; the
fellow had taken to his heels and deserted.
J * ftlepanfrec Mn$$
There was no alternative but to yield to circumstances and retrace my steps, and this was
the more galling, as I was convinced in my
own mind that in a few days more I should
have reached the ocean, and accomplished my
object. I paused and reflected, but all to no
purpose. Fate had decreed against me. With
reluctant steps I turned back, and made the
best of my way to where I had left my guide.
I reached the place, after intense anxiety,
at four o'clock in the afternoon of the third
day, having scarcely eaten a mouthful of
food all the time. I arrived just in time, as
the men were in the act of tying up their
bundles, and preparing to start on their homeward journey.
The guide was still somewhat ailing, and
the fellow who had left me was little better,
for, in hurrying back, he had overheated himself, which, together with the fright, had
thrown him into a fever. Nor was I in too
good a humor; hungry, angry, fatigued, and
disappointed, I sat down, as grim and silent
as the rest, nor did a word pass between us for
a while. After some time, however, I tried to
infuse some ambition and perseverance into
the fellows, to get them to resume the journey,
but to no purpose. They were destitute of
moral courage—a characteristic defect of
their race. I had been taught a good lesson,
which I remembered ever after, not to place
too much faith in Indians.
38       i fur punter** of tfje far Wt$t
• After remaining one night at the guide's
encampment, we turned our faces towards
home. Wild animals were very numerous, far
more so than on our first passing. Whether it
was the late storm that had disturbed them
in another quarter, or some other cause, we
could not determine, but they kept rustling
through the woods, crossing our path in
every direction, as if bewildered. We shot
several red deer, three black bears, a wolf and
fisher, and arrived at Okanogan on the twenty-
fourth of August, after a fruitless and disagreeable journey of thirty days. And here
my guide told me that in four days from Point
Turn-about, had we continued, we should
have reached the ocean.
After remaining for a few days at Okanogan,
I visited the She Whaps, but soon returned
again to the former place to meet the fall
express from the east of the mountains. After 1M
a few hours' delay at Okanogan, the express
proceeded on its way to Fort George, but was
stopped at the Forks on its way down, the
Cayouse and Nez Perces, Indians of the
plains, being encamped there in great numbers. On perceiving the boat sweeping down
and keeping the middle of the stream as if .
anxious to pass the camp unnoticed, accord?-
ing to North West custom, the Indians made
signs for the whites to put on shore. The first
signal passing unheeded, a shot was next fired
ahead to bring them to, and this also passing
til /
&lerantier JJEo&S
without notice, a second shot was fired at the
boat. The gentleman in charge then ordered
the steersman to make for the land. On
arriving at the camp, the Indians plunged
into the water and taking hold of the boat,
hauled her up on the beach, high and dry,
with the crew on board; nor would they allow
the people to depart till they had smoked
themselves drunk, when pushing the craft
into the water again, they made signs for
them to depart, at the same time admonishing
them never to attempt passing their camp
again without first putting on shore and giving them a smoke.
On the departure of the express I took a
trip as far as Spokane House. This district,
with its several outposts, was under the
superintendence of John George McTavish
Esq.,11 to whom I related the result of my
trip of discovery. Returning home, I passed
the remainder of the winter at Okanogan,
that being now a part of the northern district.
The spring being somewhat early this year,
and all hands having mustered at the Forks,
the general rendezvous for mutual safety, we
took the current for headquarters, and arrived
at Fort George on the tenth of June, 1815.
11 McTavish was a partner of the North West Company who had conducted the negotiations for the purchase of Astor's Pacific Fur Company interests in 1813.
40 Chapter 2
A COUNCIL sits annually at headquarters, which regulates all the important
matters of the Company for the current year, but no person of less dignity than
a bourgeois or proprietor is admitted to a
seat except by special invitation. The council of this year was strengthened by the arrival
of three new functionaries from the east side
of the mountains, yet nothing new transpired.
The members sat for four days (nearly double
the usual time), but no new channel was
opened for extending the trade, nor was there
the least deviation from the old and contemned system of their predecessors. The
decision of the council was, that there existed
no new field that could be opened to advantage;
consequently everyone was again appointed to
his old post, and I, of course, to mine.
During the sittings there is always a strong
manifestation of anxiety out of doors, each
one being desirous to know his appointment
for the year, for it not infrequently happens
that officers are changed without much ceremony, particularly if there be any individual
who is not easily managed; and for an obnoxious person to be removed to the most
"       "■ - ■     '    -nr." aiejcantier fto££
remote corner of the country this year and to
some other equally remote next, by way of
taming him, is not at all uncommon.
But this part of their policy is not confined
to the subordinates. It reaches even to the
bourgeois, who is not infrequently admonished, by the example of others, that he stands
on the brink of a precipice, for, if too refractory in the council, he is sure to get his appointment at such a distance and under such circumstances as to exclude most effectually his
attending the meetings for some length of
time. This is the course generally adopted to
get rid of an importunate and troublesome
member, whether of high or low rank in the
service, or to remove such as the Company
are not disposed to, or cannot conveniently,
provide for.
The council being over, the business of the
year settled, and the annual ship arrived, the
different parties destined for the interior and
east side of the mountains took their departure
from Fort George on the twenty-fifth of June.
We shall leave them to prosecute their journey, for a short time, while we glance at
another subject.
No sooner had the Northwesters inherited
the Oregon, notwithstanding the unfavorable
decision of our western council, than ship after
ship doubled Cape Horn in regular succession, with bulky cargoes to the full of every
demand.   Selections of their partners, clerks,
42 fur I^unter£ of tfje far Wt$t
and Canadians constantly crossed over the
dividing ridge, but all proved abortive in
bringing about that rich harvest which they
had expected.
We may now remark on the effect produced
on affairs by the country falling into the
hands of new masters. Day after day passed
by, yet the ordinary dull routine of things
continued, and a spectator might have read
in the countenances of our great men something like disappointment. The more they
wished to deviate, the more closely they
imitated the policy of their predecessors, with
this difference, however, that in every step
they took their awkwardness pointed them
out as strangers. They found fault with
everything, yet could mend nothing. Even
the establishment at Fort George could not
please them; therefore a fort built upon a
large scale, and at a greater elevation, was
more consonant to their ideas of grandeur.
In consequence, the pinnacle of Tongue Point
was soon to exhibit a Gibraltar of the West.
An engineer was hired, great guns were ordered, men and means set to work, and rocks
leveled; yet this residence, more fit for eagles
than for men, was at last relinquished, and
the contemned old fort was again adopted.
The inland brigade, whose departure has
already been noticed, ascended the Columbia
without any interruption until it had reached
a little above the Walla Wallas, near to the
43 &lejtaniier &o&£
spot where the Cayouse Indians had, in the
preceding fall, stopped the express and hauled
the boat up high and dry on land. Here the
Indians intended to play the same game over
again, for when the whites were in the act of
poling up a small but strong rapid, alongshore,
with the intention of stopping as soon as they
got to the head of it, the Indians, who were
still encamped there, insisted on their putting
to shore at once. This invitation was, however, under existing circumstances, disregarded
by the whites, as being almost impossible at
the moment, when suddenly a party of the
Indians mounted on horseback plunged into
the stream and so barred the narrow channel
through which the boats had to pass that
great confusion ensued. Still the whites, in
their anxiety to get up the rapid, paid but
little attention to them, which forbearance
encouraged the Indians to resort to threats,
by drawing their bows and menacing the
whites. In this critical conjuncture the whites
seized their arms and made signs to the
Indians to withdraw, but this only encouraged
them the more to resist, and throwing themselves from their horses into the water, they
laid hold of the boats. The struggle and
danger now increased every moment, as the
Indians were becoming more and more numerous and daring. The whites had not a moment
to lose; they fired. Two Indians fell dead on
the spot, a third was badly wounded, and all
44 fur i^unterg of tfje far Wt$t
three floated down the current. The instant
the shots went off, the Indians made for land
and the firing ceased. The whites, in the
meantime, drifting down to the foot of the
rapid, crossed the river to the opposite side
and soon after encamped for the night on a
sandy island. Had the whites done what they
ought to have done, from the lesson of the
previous year at this place—put ashore at the
foot of the rapid—no difficulties would have
ensued and no blood would have been shed.
On the next morning the Indians assembled
in fearful numbers and kept up an occasional
firing at the whites on the island, at too great
a distance to do any harm; and as the whites
escaped without injury, they did not return
the fire. The greatest annoyance was that
the whites could not proceed on their journey
before the natives mustered in great numbers,
for it blew almost a hurricane. The cloud of
dust which the wind raised about their encampment was some punishment for the deed
they had committed. The whites, seeing it
impossible to remain any longer on the island,
adopted a bold and vigorous resolution. After
appointing fifteen resolute fellows to guard
the property they embarked, to the number
of seventy-five men well armed, made for the
shore, and, landing a little from the Indian
camp, hoisted a flag, inviting the chiefs to
a parley. But the Indians were distrustful.
Treacherous  themselves,  they expected the
!   !•■ &lejcantier *f!og£
whites to be so also; they, therefore, hesitated
to approach. At last, however, after holding a
consultation, they advanced in solemn procession, to the number of eighty-four. After
a three hours' negotiation the whites paid for
the two dead bodies, according to Indian custom, and took their leave in peace and safety,
and thus ended the disagreeable affair.
From Hostile Island our friends continued
their voyage without any other casualty until
they reached the Rocky Mountains, but there
fatal disasters awaited them. The waters
being unusually high, much time was lost in
ascending the current, so that by the time
they arrived at Portage Point their provisions
got short. Some of the hands falling sick, also,
and being unable to undertake the difficult
portage of eighty miles on foot, the gentleman
in charge had no alternative left but to fit out
and send back a boat from that place with
seven men, three of whom were unable to
undertake the portage. After being furnished
with some provisions, the returning party
took the current, but on reaching the Dalles
des Morts they disembarked, contrary to the
usual practice, to haul the craft down by a
line. Unfortunately, they quarreled among
themselves, and letting go the line, in an
instant the boat, wheeling round, was dashed
to pieces on the rocks and lost.
The sick and feeble party had now no
alternative but either to starve or walk a
46 1       I   I
fur i^unterg of tfje far Wt$t
distance of 300 miles, over a country more fit
for goats than for men. All their provisions
were lost with the boat; neither were they
provided with guns nor ammunition for such
a journey, even had they been in health. In
this forlorn state they quarreled again, and
separated. Two of the strongest and most
expert succeeded in reaching the establishments below, after suffering every hardship
that human beings could endure. The other
five remained, of whom one man alone survived, deriving his wretched subsistence from
the bodies of his fallen comrades. This man
reached Okanogan, more like a ghost than a
living creature, after a lapse of two months.
From these sad details we now turn to
record the passing events of the northern
quarter. After a short stay at Okanogan I set
out for my post at the She Whaps and reached
that place in the month of August. During
my absence a man by the name of Charette,
whom I had left in charge, had been murdered.
Charette was an honest fellow and deserved
a better fate. The murderer was a young
Indian lad, who had been brought up at the
establishment. They had gone on a trip to
Fraser's River, six days' journey due north,
and had quarreled one evening about making
the encampment. During the dispute the
Indian said nothing, but rising a short time -..m r» u
afterwards and laying hold of Charette's own I 111
gun, he suddenly turned round and shot him
47 11! &lerani»er &o&£
dead, without saying a word, and then deliberately sat down again! This was proved
by a third person then present. Several instances of this kind have happened within
my own knowledge, and it was a general
remark that all those Indians who had been
harbored among the whites were far more
malevolent and treacherous than those who
had never had the same indulgence shown to
These remarks lead me to another circumstance which gave rise to great uneasiness
among the natives along the banks of the
Columbia, for the Indians never fail to magnify and represent in a distorted light everything, however trivial.
One day, Ye-whell-come-tetsa, the principal
Okanogan chief, came to me with a serious
countenance, saying he had bad news to tell
me, adding, "I fear you will not believe me,
for the whites say that Indians have two
mouths, and often tell lies, but I never tell
lies. The whites know that I have but one
word, and that word is truth." "The whites,"
said I, "never doubt the words of a chief. But
come, let us hear; what is it?" "My son,"
said he, "has just arrived from below and has
reported (and his report is always true) that
there is a great band of strange wolves, some
hundreds in number and as big as buffaloes,
coming up along the river. They kill every
horse; none can escape them.    They have
48 B   I
fur i^unterg of t|je far Wt$t
already killed thousands, and we shall all be
ruined. They are so fierce that no men can
approach them, and so strong and hairy that
neither arrows nor balls can kill them. And
you," said he to me, "will lose all yours also,
for they travel so fast that they will be here
in two nights." I tried to console the melancholy chief, gave him some tobacco, and told
him not to be discouraged; that if the wolves
came to attack our horses we should certainly
kill them; that we had balls that would kill
anything. With this assurance he seemed
pleased, and went off to circulate the opinion
of the whites among his own people. I had
heard the report respecting the wolves some
time before the chief had told me, for these
things spread like wildfire. I was convinced
that some horses had been killed. It was a
common occurrence, for not a year passes,
when the snows are deep, and often when there
is no snow at all, without such things happening; but, as to anything else, I looked upon it
as a mere fable.
On the third day after my parley with the
chief, sure enough the wolves did come, and
killecl, during the first night, five of our horses.
On discovering in the morning the havoc the
unwelcome visitors had made, I got a dozen
steel traps set in the form of a circle round the
carcass of one of the dead horses; then, removing the others and keeping a strict guard on
the live stock, we waited with anxiety for the
MjJ &lejeanfcer JfSo&e?
morning. Taking a man with me, and our
rifles, we set out to visit the traps. On
reaching the spot we found four of them
occupied. One of them held a large white
wolf by the fore leg, a foot equally large was
gnawed off and left in another, the third held
a fox, and the fourth trap had disappeared
The prisoner held by the leg was still alive
and certainly, as the chief said, a more ferocious animal I never saw. It had marked and
cut the trap in many places; it had gnawed
and almost consumed a block of oak, which
held fast the chain, and in its fruitless efforts
had twisted several links in the chain itself.
From the moment we approached it, all its
efforts were directed towards us. For some
time we stood witnessing its maneuvers, but
it never once turned round to fly from us. On
the contrary, now and then it sprang forward
to get at us, with its mouth wide open, teeth
all broken, and its head covered with blood.
The foot which the trap held was gnawed, the
bone broken, and nothing holding it but the
sinews. Its appearance kept us at a respectful
distance, and although we stood with our guns
cocked, we did not consider ourselves too safe,
for something might have given way, and if so
we should have regretted our curiosity; so we
fired two shots, and put an end to its sufferings.
Its weight was 127 pounds, and the skin,
which I gave to the chief, was considered as a
50 fur i^unter£ of tl>e far Wt$t
valuable relic. "This," said he, holding up
the skin in one hand, "is the most valuable
thing I ever possessed." The white wolf skin
in season is esteemed an article of royalty; it
is one of the chief honors of the chieftainship,
and much used by these people in their religious ceremonies, and this kind of wolf is
not numerous. "While I have this," exclaimed he, "we have nothing to fear. Strange
wolves will kill no more of our horses. I shall
always love the whites." Leaving the chief in
a joyful humor, the man and myself followed
the faint traces of the lost trap, which occasionally appeared upon the crust of the snow.
Having proceeded for some miles, we at
length discovered the wolf with the trap at his
heels, making the best of his way over a rugged
and broken surface of rocks, ravines, hills,
and dales, sometimes going north, sometimes
south, in zigzag courses, to suit his escape and
deceive us. He scampered along at a good
trot, keeping generally about a quarter of a
mile ahead of us. We had not been long in the
pursuit, however, before the man I had with
me, in his anxiety to advance, fell and hurt
himself and had to return home. I, however,
continued the pursuit with great eagerness for
more than six hours, until I got a shot. It
proved effectual. Had anyone else done it I
should have praised him, for at the distance
of 112 yards, when nothing but the head of
the wolf appeared, my faithful and trusty rifle
i ■ it
&lejranDer Mtxgg
arrested his career and put an end to the chase,
after nearly a whole day's anxious pursuit.
Some idea of the animal's strength may be
conveyed to our readers from the fact that it
had dragged a trap and chain, weighing eight
pounds and a half, by one of its claws, a distance of twenty-five miles, without appearing
in the least fatigued. The prize lay at my
feet, when another difficulty presented itself—
I had no knife with me, and I wanted the
skin. Taking, therefore, according to Indian
habit, the flint out of my gun, I managed to
do the business, and home with the skin and
trap I hied my way, no less fatigued than
pleased with my success.
Thus we succeeded in destroying the three
ringleaders of the destructive gang, which had
caused so much anxiety and loss to the Indians; nor were there more, it would appear,
than three of the large kind in the troop, for
not another horse was killed during the season
in all that part of the country. Wherever
several of the larger wolves associate together
for mischief, there is always a numerous train
of smaller ones to follow in the rear and act
as auxiliaries in the work of destruction. Two
large wolves, such as I have mentioned, are
sufficient to destroy the most powerful horse,
and seldom more than two ever begin the assault, although there may be a score in the
gang. It is no less curious than amusing to
witness their ingenious mode of attack.
52 fur i^unterg of tf)t far Wt$t
If there is no snow, or but little, on the
ground, two wolves approach in the most
playful and caressing manner, lying, rolling,
and frisking about, until the too credulous
and unsuspecting victim is completely put off
his guard by curiosity and familiarity. During this time the gang, squatted on their hind
quarters, look on at a distance. After some
time spent in this way the two assailants
separate, when one approaches the horse's
head, the other his tail, with a slyness and
cunning peculiar to themselves. At this stage
of the attack their frolicsome approaches
become very interesting—it is in right good
earnest. The former is a mere decoy, the
latter is the real assailant, and keeps his eyes
steadily fixed on the hamstrings or flank of
the horse. The critical moment is then
watched, and the attack is simultaneous.
Both wolves spring at their victim the same
instant, one to the throat, the other to the
flank, and if successful, which they generally
are, the hind one never lets go his hold till
the horse is completely disabled. Instead of
springing forward or kicking to disengage
himself, the horse turns round and round
without attempting a defense. The wolf before, then springs behind, to assist the other.
The sinews are cut and in half the time I have
been describing it, the horse is on his side; his
struggles are fruitless; the victory is won. At
this signal, the lookers-on close in at a gallop,
53 &lejcaniier jfto$0
but the small fry of followers keep at a respectful distance until their superiors are
gorged, then they take their turn unmolested.
The wolves, however, do not always kill to
eat; like wasteful hunters, they often kill for
the pleasure of killing and leave the carcasses
untouched. The helplessness of the horse
when attacked by wolves is not more singular
than its timidity and want of action when in
danger by fire. When assailed by fire, in the
plains or elsewhere, their strength, swiftness,
and sagacity, are of no avail. They never
attempt to fly, but become bewildered in the
smoke, turn round and round, stand and
tremble, until they are burned to death, which
often happens in this country, in a conflagration of the plains.
No wild animal in this country stands less
in awe of man than the wolf, nor is there any
animal we know that is so fierce. The bear,
on most occasions, tries to fly from man, and
is only bold and ferocious when actually
attacked, wounded, or in defense of her young.
The wild buffaloes are the same; but the wolf,
on the contrary, has often been known to
attack man, and at certain seasons of the
year—the spring for instance—it is man's
wisdom to fly from him. Some time ago a
band of seventeen wolves forced two of our
men to take shelter for several hours in a tree,
and although they had shot two of the most
forward of them before they got to the tree
54 fur J^unterjBf of tfje far We$t
for protection, the others, instead of dispersing, kept close at their heels. Wolves are as
ferocious among themselves as they are voracious. I have more than once seen a large
wolf lay hold of a small one, kill it on the spot,
and feast on the smoking carcass. When the
Indians are apprehensive of an attack from
them they always contrive to light a fire.
I passed this winter between the She Whaps
and Okanogan; sometimes at the one, sometimes at the other, constantly employed in the
pursuit of furs.
It often puzzled myself, as well as others, to
know what the Northwesters had in view by
grasping at the entire trade of the Oregon, and
running down the policy of their predecessors,
since they did not take a single step to improve the trade or to change the policy which
they condemned. The most indifferent could
remark upon this apathy and want of energy,
among men whose renown for enterprise on
the east side of the mountains put to shame
all competition and carried everything before
Three years had elapsed since they were in
possession of the trade from sea to sea, and
since they enjoyed the full and undivided
commerce of the Columbia River. In this
part, however, their trade fell greatly short of
their expectations, or their known success
elsewhere, and instead of the anticipated
prize they found, after so long a trial, nothing
i	 &lejean&a: J5o#e?
else but disappointment and a uniform series
of losses and misfortunes. As the quantity of
furs, on an average, did not diminish, but
rather increased from year to year, it was
observed by the more discerning part that
the country was not barren in peltries, and
that there existed some defect in the management of their concern.
Expresses were frequently sent to the Company's headquarters at Fort William, dwelling
on the poverty of the country, the impracticability of trade, and the hostility of the natives. In this manner the Company were kept
in the dark as to the value of the country.
The round of extravagance went on. Everyone in turn made the best of not deviating
from the steps of his predecessor, but adhered
as much as possible to the old habits, while
jaunting up and down the river, in the old
beaten path.
In the meantime the Company, who had
placed implicit confidence in the assertions of
their copartners, began to waver in their
opinions of the recent acquisitions, when
they found that their coffers were drained for
the support of an empty name. They became
divided in their councils. A great majority
were inclined to throw up this cumbersome
portion of their trade, while a few, more
determined, were for giving it a further trial,
for the members of this Company were no
less noted for their tenacity of what they fut ^unter£ af t&e far Wtfr
■—»—»—-———■ ————————<
already possessed than for their eagerness to
seize every possible opportunity of increasing
their overgrown territory.
The maxims of trade followed by the Company on the east of the mountains, their mode
of voyaging, and their way of dealing with
Indians, have been sanctioned by long experience as the best calculated for them.
These maxims are, nevertheless, founded on
false principles, and when they are reduced to
practice in the western districts they are
found to fail.
An Indian from Hudson's Bay does well
where he has been brought up, in the woods
and swamps of the North, but must perish
from want on the barren plains of the Columbia, where multitudes of inhabitants are
never at a loss to find a livelihood, and the
rule holds good if reversed. The temperature
of the climate not being the same, the face of
nature alters more or less in proportion. There
the height of land is very distant from the
ocean, the rivers in their courses fall in with
level countries, which form them into immense lakes; but from the great duration of
the winter the means of subsistence are scanty,
and the natives are thereby scattered over a
wide extent of country, familiarized with the
trader, and have every dependence on him
for the supply of their real or acquired wants.
On the waters of the Pacific the case is
different.   A chain of mountains extends its
MM ft
&lejtantier JHo^
lofty ridges in the vicinity of the ocean. The
inclination of the land is precipitous, and the
course of the rivers direct. The heats are
excessive, and they continue without a cloud
or moistening shower for months together, to
replenish the source or feed the parched
streams. Droughts check the salutary progress of vegetation. The winters are short, the
waters abound with fish, the forests with
animals, the plains with various nutritious
herbs and roots, and the natives cover the
earth in swarms in their rude and unenlightened state. War is their chief occupation, and the respective nations and tribes,
in their wandering life, are no less independent of their trader than they are of one
The warlike nations of the Columbia move
about in such unexpected multitudes as surprise the unwary trader, and their barbarous
and forward appearance usually corresponds
with their unrelenting fury. A sudden rencounter with them may well appall the stoutest
heart. They are too free and indolent to
submit to the drudgery of collecting the
means of traffic, but articles of merchandise
or use will not the less tempt their cupidity,
and when such things are feebly guarded, they
will not hesitate to take them by force. They
are well or ill disposed towards their traders in
measure as they supply them with the implements of war and withhold them from their
58 fur $vmttt$ of t$>e far Wt$t
enemies. It is, therefore, a nice point to pass
from one tribe or nation to another, and make
the most of each in the way of barter. Many
are the obstacles to be overcome, nor is it
given to ordinary minds to open new roads and
secure a permanent trade.
It is not easy to change the force of habit;
and no set of men could be more wedded to
old customs than the great nabobs of the fur
trade. And I might here, by way of confirming the remark, just point out one instance
among many. The description of craft used
on the waters of Columbia by the Astor Company consisted of split or sawed cedar-boats,
strong, light, and durable, and in every possible way safer and better adapted to rough
water than the birch-rind canoes in general
use on the east side of the mountains. They
carried a cargo or burden of about 3,000 lbs.
weight, and yet, nimbly handled, were easily
carried across the portages. A great partiality
existed in favor of the good old bark canoes of
northern reputation, they being of prettier
form and, withal, the kind of vessel of customary conveyance used by Northwesters,
and that itself was no small recommendation.
Therefore, the country was ransacked for
prime birch bark more frequently than for
prime furs, and to guard against a failure in
this fanciful article, a stock of it was shipped
at Montreal for London, and from thence
conveyed round Cape Horn for their establish- &lejeanfcer &ogg
ment at Fort George, in case that none of
equal quality could be found on the waters of
the Pacific!
On the arrival of the annual express we
heard that some strenuous measures respecting the affairs of Columbia had been adopted
at Fort William; that the eyes of the Company had at last been opened to their own
interest, and that a change of system, after a
warm discussion, was resolved upon. Such
steps, of course, influenced, in a more or less
degree, the decisions of our councils here, and
gave rise to some equally warm debates, as
will appear by and by, about the practicability of carrying into effect the resolutions
passed at headquarters.
The new plan settled upon for carrying on
the trade west of the dividing ridge, so far
as it went, embraced in its outline several
important alterations. By this arrangement
the New Caledonia quarter, the most northern
district of the Company's trade, instead of
being supplied with goods, as formerly, from
the east side, was in future to derive its
annual supplies through the channel of the
Columbia. And the Columbia itself, in lieu
of being confined to the northern branch and
seacoast, as had been the case since the
North West had the trade, would be extended
on the south and east towards California and
the mountains, embracing a new and unexplored tract of country.   To obviate the
60 fur ^unterg of tlje far We$t
necessity of establishing trading posts among
so many warlike and refractory nations, formidable trapping parties were, under chosen
leaders, to range the country for furs, and the
resources thus to be collected were annually
to be conveyed to the mouth of the Columbia, there to be shipped for the Canton market. To facilitate this part of the general
plan and give a new impulse to the measure,
the Oregon was to be divided into two separate departments, designated by the coast and
inland trade, with a chief man at the head of
Another object connected with this new
arrangement was the introduction of Iroquois
from Montreal. These people, being expert
hunters and trappers, might, by their example,
teach others. To the latter part of this plan,
however, many objections might have been
It will be in the recollection of the reader
that we left the inland party preparing for
headquarters. At the accustomed time we all
met at the Forks, and from thence, following
the current of the river, with our annual
returns, we reached Fort George on the
seventh of June, 1816.
jj Chapter 3
THE Fort William express brought some
new and important resolutions, in addition to those we have noticed in the
latter part of the preceding chapter. The first
confirmed a division of the Columbia into
two separate departments, and appointed the
chief man or bourgeois to preside at the head
of each; the second altered and amended the
mode of conveying expresses; and the third
dwelt on a new system to be introduced for
the improvement of the trade generally, with
some other points of minor importance.
As soon, therefore, as all the parties had
assembled at Fort George, the council was
convened, but instead of two or three days'
sitting, as usual, a whole week was spent in
discussions without result. They had not the
power either to alter or amend, and therefore
they acquiesced in the minutes of council at
The warm debates and protracted discussions in our council here, were not, however, occasioned alone by the introduction of
the new system, nor by the division of Columbia into two departments, nor anything
that had reference to the trade, but by a mere
62 fur $unter£ of tfyt far Wt$t
point of etiquette arising out of one of the
After the sittings of council were over and
the new order of things promulgated we hailed
with no small joy the introduction of the new
system, as opening a new and extensive field
for energy and enterprise. But let me tell the
reader that the little plural pronoun "we" is
not intended to represent all hands, but merely
those of my own class, the subordinates, for
the bourgeois looked as sour as vinegar. Nor
did it require any great penetration of mind to
know the cause.
Mr. Keith, already noticed in our narrative,
had been nominated to preside at the establishment of Fort George, and had the shipping
interest, coast trade, and general outfitting
business under his sole management. The
gentleman appointed to superintend the department of the interior was none other than
the same Mr. McKenzie who had been one
of the first adventurers to this part of the
country, and who occupies so conspicuous a
part in the first division of our narrative.12
To his share fell the arduous task of putting
the whole machinery of the new system into
Mr. Keith being one of themselves, his
appointment gave no offense, but that a
stranger, a man, to use their own words, "that
was only fit to eat horseflesh and shoot at a
12 i.e., The First Settlers on the Oregon.
US        63       " ■ &lej;an&er Mts$$
mark," should have been put over their
heads, was a slur on their reputation. So
strongly had the tide of prejudice set against
Mr. McKenzie that Mr, Keith, although a
man of sound judgment and good sense,
joined in the clamor of his associates.
In connection with the new arrangement
the costly mode of conveying expresses
throughout the country hitherto in vogue was
to be abolished, and henceforth they were to
be entrusted to the natives, with the exception of the annual general express. To give
full effect to these measures, it was strongly
recommended at headquarters that the council here should enter into the new order of
things with heart and hand.
We now turn our attention to the annual
brigade. The people bound for inland, consisting of 102 persons, embarked on board of
twelve boats and left Fort George after a short
stay of only fifteen days. The waters being
but moderately high this year and the weather
very fine, no stoppage or casualty happened
to retard their progress till they had reached
the little rocky narrows below the falls, when
there an accident unavoidably happened.
While the men were engaged in hauling up one
of the craft the line broke, and the boat, instantly reeling round, filled with water close
to the rocks. The foreman, taking advantage
of his position, immediately jumped out and
saved himself, and so might the steersman had
64 he been inclined; but under some strange infatuation he kept standing in the boat, up to
the middle in water, laughing all the time,
making a jest of the accident, when suddenly
a whirlpool, bursting under the bottom, threw
the craft on her side. It instantly filled and
sank, and poor Amiotte sank along with it, to
rise no more.
From the rocky narrows the different
parties got to their respective destinations in
safety. Having done so, we propose taking
our leave of them for a little, and, in the meantime, return to Fort George, the place of my
appointment as second to Mr. Keith.
The Company's ship, Colonel Allan, direct
from London, reached the Columbia a few
days after the arrival of the spring brigade
from the interior, and soon after her a schooner
followed from the same port, both, heavily
laden with ample cargoes for the trade of the
country. It was pleasing to see the North
West as compared with Astor's vessels. The
former brought us a full supply of everything
required, whereas the latter, according to
Astor's crooked policy, brought but little, and
that little perfect trash; nor was half of what
was brought left with us, he preferring to
supply the Russians rather than his own
people. The Colonel Allan, after a short stay
at Fort George, sailed for California and
South America on a speculating trip, and
returned again with a considerable quantity
fur $unter$ of tfje far Wm |
I &lq;antier j!iog£
of specie and other valuable commodities,
consigned to some of the London merchants.
This specie and cargo were stored at the
establishment, and subjected us for some
months to the annoyance of guarding it day
and night. We often wished it in the owners'
pockets, or in the river Styx.
During this summer Capt. McLellan of the
Colonel Allan was employed in making out a
new survey of the bar and entrance of the
river, and I was appointed to accompany
him. This business occupied us upwards of
three weeks. On the bar several channels were
found out in course of the examination, but
as the sand banks frequently shift, even in
the course of a day or two, according to the
prevailing winds, no permanent reliance could
be placed on any of them. The old channel
was considered the best. In August the
Colonel Allan sailed for China with the Columbia furs and specie.
Before taking our leave of this ship and her
amiable commander, we have to record a fatal
incident which took place on board while she
was lying at anchor in front of Fort George.
It had often been a subject of remark among
Columbians how unfortunate a certain class
of professional men had been in that quarter,
physicians and surgeons. The first gentleman
of this class in our time was a Doctor White;
soon after entering the river he became suddenly deranged, jumped overboard, and was
66 fur ^unterg of tfje far Wt$t
drowned. The next, a Doctor Crowly from
Edinburgh, who came out to follow his profession on the Columbia for the North West
Company, was, soon after his arrival, charged
with having shot a man in cold blood, and,
in consequence, sent home to stand his trial.
This brings us to the circumstance we have
referred to.
While the Colonel Allan was lying in port
an American ship, commanded by a Captain
Reynolds, entered the river. It had no sooner
cast anchor than I was sent by Mr. Keith,
according to the usual custom, to ascertain
her object and to hand Captain Reynolds a
copy of the Company's regulations, for his
information and guidance, respecting the natives and the trade, so that all things might
be arranged in accordance with justice and
good feelings between all parties.
While I was on board the Boston ship,
Mr. Downie, surgeon on the Colonel Allan, in
company with some other gentlemen, came
on board on a visit of pleasure. As soon as my
little business with Captain Reynolds was
over, he invited us all down to his cabin to
taste what he called his "liquors." We went
down, and were treated to a glass of New
England whisky. On taking the bottle in his
hand Doctor Downie said, "Let us fill up our
glasses; it will, perhaps, be the last." I and
others took notice of the words, but no
remark was made at the time, except by the
.Ml &lejcantier JHo£g
captain, who smiled and said, "I hope not."
After passing but a short time in the cabin we
all left the ship, I returning to the fort, while
Doctor Downie and the others went to the
Colonel Allan. Twenty minutes had not
elapsed from the time we parted at the water's
edge when a message reached Fort George
that Doctor Downie had committed suicide.
As soon as the melancholy report reached us,
Mr. Keith requested me to go on board the
Colonel Allan, and attend the inquest. Accordingly I went, and found Mr. Downie in a
dying state. The moment he entered his
cabin he had shot himself with a pistol. Being
perfectly sensible at the time, I put a few
questions to him; his only reply was, "Oh!
my mother, my mother!" He soon breathed
his last. No cause could be assigned for the
rash act. He was a very sober man, beloved
and respected by all who knew him. Mr.
Downie was a near relation of the unfortunate
captain of that name, who fell so gallantly on
Lake Champlain.13
Leaving the Colonel Allan to pursue her
voyage, we resume the subject of the schooner
which entered the Columbia, as already noticed.   This vessel, after a cruise along the
13 George Downie, commander of the British fleet
on the lakes of Canada in the War of 1812. He was
killed in the battle of Plattsburg in September, 1814,
while engaged against the American fleet of Commodore MacDonough.
63 fur i$unttt$ of tl>e far Wm j f
coast, sailed for the United States. On board
of the schooner was a Russian renegade by
the name of Jacob, a blacksmith by trade,
whom the captain, on his arrival, handed over
to us in irons, charged with mutiny. This
daring wretch had laid a plot for putting the
captain to death and carrying the ship to a
strange port, but his designs were detected in
time to save both.
We have no great pleasure in dwelling on
crime, but will briefly sketch Jacob's career.
He was brought to Fort George in irons, and
in these irons he lay until the schooner sailed.
On the strength of fair promises, however,
and apparent deep contrition, he was released
from his chains and confinement and intro-
duced to the forge as a blacksmith. He did not
long continue there before it was discovered
that he had been trying his old pranks again,
but though he did not succeed in bringing about
a mutiny, he succeeded in causing disaffection
and desertion.
It was always customary at Fort George to
keep a watch by night as well as a guard by
day. In this respect it resembled more a
military than a trading establishment. Jacob,
from his address, had got into favor with his
bourgeois; he was one of the night watch, and
for some time gave great satisfaction. This
conduct was, however, more plausible than
real, and from some suspicious circumstances
I had noticed I warned Mr. Keith that Jacob
69 Ii il &lejrantier $o&£
was not the reformed man that he wished to
make us believe. But Mr. Keith, a good man
himself, could only see Jacob's favorable side.
The master was duped, and the blacksmith
was at his old trade of plotting mischief. He
was bribing and misleading the silly and
credulous to form a party, and had so far
succeeded that while on the watch one dark
night he and eighteen of his deluded followers,
chiefly Owhyhees, got over the palisades un-
perceived, and set off for California in a body.
He had made his dupes believe that, if once
there, their fortunes were made. But just as
the last of the deserters was getting over the
pickets I happened to get wind of the matter
and discovered their design. I immediately
awoke Mr. Keith, but it was only after muster
was called that we found out the extent of the
plot, and the number missing. "I could never
have believed the villain would have done
so," was Mr. Keith's only remark.
On the next morning the interpreter and
five Indians, all in disguise, were sent to track
them out, with instructions to join the fellows and to act according to circumstances.
If they found them determined to continue
their journey, they were not to make themselves known; but if, on the contrary, they
found them wavering and divided, they were
to use their influence and endeavor to bring
them back. The plan succeeded. Abandoning
their treacherous leader, the fugitive islanders
70 fur ^unter£ of tfje far We$t
wheeled about and, accompanying the interpreter, returned again to the establishment on
the third day. Jacob, finding himself caught
in his own trap and deserted in turn by those
whom he had led astray, abandoned himself
with the savages. Nor was he long with them
when he gave us a specimen of his capabilities
as a robber, as well as a mutineer and deserter,
for he returned to the fort in the night-time
and contrived to get over the palisades,
twenty feet high, eluded the watch, broke into
a store, carried away his booty, and got clear
off. Soon after this exploit, which in no small
degree added to his audacity, he entered the
fort in broad daylight, clothed in the garb of a
squaw, and was meditating in conjunction
with some Indian desperadoes an attack upon
the fort, as we learned after his apprehension.
We had repeatedly sent him friendly messages to return to his duty, and promised him
a free pardon for the past. In short, we had
done everything to induce his return, but to
no purpose; he thought the footing he had
obtained among the Indians was sufficient to
set all our invitations and threats at defiance.
During this time our anxiety and uneasiness
increased, and the more so as it was well
known that Jacob had become a leading man
among a disaffected tribe of Indians. Our
interest, our safety, our all, depended on our
dissolving this dangerous union before it
gathered strength.  At this critical moment I
— aiejran&er Jflo&s
proposed to Mr. Keith that if he would give
me thirty men I would deliver Jacob into his
hands. "You shall have fifty," said he; but
continuing the subject, he remarked again,
"No, it will be a hazardous undertaking, and
I have no wish to risk men's lives." "Better
to run every risk," said I, "than to live in
constant alarm." "Well then," said he, "take
the men you want, and go." So I immediately
prepared to get hold of the villain at all risks.
For this purpose forty armed men were got
ready, and having procured a guide, we left
the fort in two boats by night, but soon left
our boats and proceeded through the back
woods to prevent the Indians from either
seeing or circulating any report of our departure. On the next day we had got to the
edge of the woods about sundown. We encamped there, and remained concealed until
night encouraged us to advance to within a
short distance of the Indians. From. this
place I dispatched the guide and two men to
examine and report on the situation of the
Indian camp. On their return, a little after
midnight, we put everything in the best order
we could, both for the attack and to guard
against surprise.
We had information as to the tent Jacob
was in and, of course, we kept our eyes on it.
Our Indian guide became uneasy and much
intimidated. He said it was madness to attempt taking him as he was always armed,
72 fur ^unterg of tfte far We$t
and besides that the Indians would fire upon
us. "Look," said I to him; "do you see our
guns—are we not armed as well as they? All
the Indians in the land will not prevent us
from executing our purpose, but if you are
afraid, you can return home." This declaration touched him keenly. "I am ready,"
said he, "to follow the whites; I am not
The night being dark, we should have
waited the return of daylight, but the Indians
were too numerous; our only chance of success was to take them by surprise. I, therefore, divided the men into two companies, one
to surround the tent, the other to act as a
guard in case the Indians interfered. All
being ready, I took Wilson, the gunner, and
St. Martin, the guide, two powerful men, with
me. Arming ourselves, we made a simultaneous rush on the tent, but at the moment we
reached it, a shot was fired from within;
another instantly followed, yet we fortunately
escaped. On forcing our way into the tent,
the villain was in the act of seizing another
gun, for he had three by him, but it was
wrested out of his hands, and we laid hold of
him. Being a powerful man he managed to
draw a knife, and making a dash at St. Martin,
cut his arm severely, but he had not time
to repeat the blow; we had him down, and
tying his hands and feet, dragged him out.
By this time all our people had mustered
73 &lejtantier $o&£
together, and in the darkness and bustle we
appeared much more formidable than we
really were.
In this confusion I perceived the chief of
the rebellious tribe. Turning round to the
fellow as he was sitting with his head on his
knees, I said to him, "You are a pretty chief,
harboring an enemy to the whites—a dog like
yourself." Dog or woman are the most insulting epithets you can apply to an Indian.
"You dog," said I again to him, "who fired
the shots? You have forfeited your life; but
the whites, who are generous, forgive you.
Look, therefore, well to your ways in future."
A good impression might have been made, had
we been more formidable and able to prolong
our stay among them, but as the Indians
might have recovered from their surprise, and
seeing our weak side, been tempted to take
advantage of it, we hastened from the camp,
carrying our prize with us.
After getting clear of the camp we made a
halt, handcuffed our prisoner, and then made
the best of our way home. On arriving at the
fort, Jacob was locked up, ironed, and kept so
until the autumn, when he was shipped on
board of a vessel sailing for the Sandwich
Islands. As in irons he arrived, so in irons he
left us. From that day I never heard any
more about Jacob. It was a fortunate circumstance for us that the Indians did not
interfere with our attempt to take him. The
74 fur i^unterg of t&e far We$t
fact is they had no time to reflect, but were
taken by surprise, which added to our success as well as safety.
On Jacob's embarking in the boat to be
conveyed to the ship he took off his old
Russian cap, and waving it in the air round
his head, gave three loud cheers, uttering in a
bold voice, "Huzza, huzza! for my friends;
confusion to my enemies!"
While we were thus occupied on the west
side of the mountains, new and more deeply
interesting scenes were exerting their influence on the east side, which we shall
The North West Company were "encroaching on the chartered territories of the
Hudson's Bay Company." The Northwesters,
high in their estimation, professed to despise
all others, and threatened with lawless violence all persons who presumed, in the ordinary course of trade, to come within their
line—a line without limits, which fancy or
caprice induced them to draw between themselves and all others. Many needy adventurers from time to time sought their way
into the Indian countries from Canada, but
few, very few indeed, ever had the courage
or good fortune, if good fortune we might
call it, to pass Fort William; and if, in a
dark night or misty morning, they had passed
the forbidden barrier, vengeance soon overtook them.   Their  canoes were  destroyed,
mssm &lerantier ftog£
themselves threatened, and their progress impeded in every way, so that they had to return
ruined men.
It is well known that the North West
Company had no exclusive right of trade to
any portion of the Indian country. Their
right was in common with every other adventurer, and no more; and yet these were the
men who presumed to burst through the legal
and sacred rights of others. Many actions,
however, which carried guilt and crime along
with them, were thrown upon the shoulders
of the North West Company undeservedly.
Many lawless acts and aggressions were committed by their servants, which that highly
respectable body never sanctioned. It was
the unfortunate spirit of the times—one of
the great evils resulting from competition in
trade in a country where human folly and
individual tyranny among the subordinates
often destroys the wisest measures of their
superiors; for at the head of the company of
which we are now speaking were men of great
sterling worth, men who detested crime as
much as they loved justice.
The Northwesters had of late years penetrated through the very heart of the Hudson's
Bay Company's territories as far as the Atlantic, which washes the shores of Hudson
Bay, and set at defiance every legal or moral
restraint. Their servants pillaged their opponents,  destroyed  their forts and trading
76 fur i^unter^ of t&e far We$t
establishments as suited their views, and not
infrequently kept armed parties marauding
from post to post, menacing with destruction
and death everyone that presumed to check
their career, till at last party spirit and rivalry
in trade had changed the whole social order of
things, and brought about a state of open hostility. Such was the complexion of affairs up
to the fatal nineteenth of June of this year.
On that memorable day one of those armed
parties to which we have just alluded, consisting of forty-five men, had advanced on the
Earl of Selkirk's infant colony at Red River,
when Governor Semple of the Hudson's Bay
Company, with several other gentlemen and
attendants, went out on behalf of the fright- 1]
ened colonists to meet them, with the view,
it has been stated, of ascertaining what they
wanted. But the moment both parties met
angry words ensued, shots were fired, and in
the unfortunate rencounter the Governor and
his party, to the number of twenty-two, were
all killed on the spot. The colonists were
driven at the muzzle of the gun from their
comfortable homes to a distance of 300 miles
from the settlement, even to Norway House,
at the north end of Lake Winnipeg. And if
they had the good fortune to get off with their
lives, it was owing to the humane feelings of
Mr. Cuthbert Grant, a native of the soil, who,
placing himself, at the risk of his own life,
between the North West party and the settlers,
ini^iiMjmiwj»iejHjfhi«-^ '--•-•       ■:—.'_      _:; v—_'__' --- 1
&leraniier jflogg
kept the former at bay by his daring and
determined conduct and saved the latter; for
which meritorious and timely interference the
settlement owes him a debt of gratitude which
it can never repay.
On the words, "shots were fired," hinged
many of the decisions which took place in the
courts of law, for the advocates of either party
strenuously denied having fired the first shot.
Perhaps the knowledge of that fact will ever
remain a secret, but the general opinion is
against the North West party, and in that
opinion I concur.
The triumph, however, was but of short
duration, for the sacrifice of that day sealed
the downfall of the North West Company.
No less than twenty-three individuals out of
the forty-five which composed the North West
party fell victims, in the course of human
events, to misfortune, or came to an untimely
end.  A melancholy warning!
We might here remark in connection with
this sad event that the going out of Governor
Semple and so many men with him was an
ill-advised measure, as it carried along with it
the appearance of a determination on their
part to oppose force to force; and we cannot,
in the spirit of impartiality and fairness, close
our eyes to the fact that they were all armed.
This was, no doubt, the light in which the
North West party viewed their approach,
which led to the catastrophe that followed.
78 f fur punter*? of tfje far We$t
But we now hasten from this scene to
notice the influence that it had on their
opponents. No sooner had the news of the
fatal disaster at Red River spread abroad than
the Earl of Selkirk with an armed force seized
on Fort William, the grand depot and headquarters of the North West Company on the
east side of the Rocky Mountains. We are
not, however, prepared to assert that Lord
Selkirk was right in seizing on Fort William
by way of retaliation. No one has a right to
take the law into his own hands, nor to make
himself judge in his own cause, but according to the prevailing customs of this lawless
country power confers right. Soon after these
aggressions the eyes of Government were
opened to the facts of the case, and two
commissioners, Colonel Coltman and Major
Fletcher, were sent up from Canada with
authority to examine into the matter and
seize all guilty or suspected persons belonging
to either side, and send them down to stand
their trials. We cannot do better here than
refer our readers to a.perusal of these trials,
which took place in Canada in 1818.
Before dismissing this part of our narrative
we will advert to what we have just mentioned,
namely, the Earl of Selkirk's infant colony.
As it may afford some satisfaction to our
readers to know something more about it, we
shaU, for their information, state a few facts.
In the progress of his colonizing system Lord
= 0 ■ r
&lejtaniier fto&S
Selkirk had purchased from the Hudson's
Bay Company, in 1811, a tract of land on the
Red River, situated at the southern extremity
of Lake Winnipeg, in Hudson Bay, for the
purpose of planting a colony there; to which
place several families had, in 1812 and subsequent years, been brought out from Scotland
by his lordship. These Scotch families were
the first settlers in Red River, and Red River
was the first colony planted in Rupert's Land.14
The first settlers had to stand the brunt of
troublesome times, and weather the sweeping
storms of adversity during the early days of
the colony. They were driven several times
from their homes, and suffered every hardship, privation, and danger from the lawless
strife of the country. They were forced to
live and seek shelter among the savages, and
like them had to resort to hunting and fishing
to satisfy the pangs of hunger; and after order
had in some measure been established, they
were visited for several years by clouds of grasshoppers that ate up every green herb and left
the fields black, desolate, and fruitless.15
14 Ross himself wrote a history of the Red River
Colony, with which he was identified during the last
half of his life. For an authoritative modern account of
it see Louis A. Wood, The Red River Colony. A Chronicle of the Beginnings of Manitoba (Toronto, 1915).
15 Many of them, abandoning the settlement, sought
permanent homes in the United States, coming overland to St. Paul and thence descending the Mississippi to Galena and other points.
80 fur $unter£ of tfje far Wt$t
What his lordship's views were in planting
a colony in such a frozen and out-of-the-way
corner of the earth as Red River, few persons
knew. He must have foreseen that it must
eventually fall into the hands of the Americans, however little they might benefit by it,
for the march of improvements must, in the
nature of things, be south, and not north. Its
value, therefore, to Great Britain, excepting
so far as the Hudson's Bay Company are
concerned, will be nothing, but from its
geographical position it may on some future
occasion serve as a bone of contention between
the two governments. The founder of Red
River Colony could have had no other real
object in view than as a key to the fur trade
of the Far West, and as a resting place for
retiring fur traders clogged with Indian
families. In this point of view the object was
philanthropic, and, to the fur trade, a subject
of real interest, for retiring traders, in lieu of
transporting either themselves or their means
to the civilized world, as was the case formerly, would find it their interest to spend
their days in perhaps a more congenial and
profitable manner in Red River Colony, under
the fostering care and paternal influence of
the honorable Hudson's Bay Company.
We have already adverted to McKenzie's
appointment. In October that gentleman
reached Fort George from Montreal, to enter
on his new sphere of labors.  He was received
/ $Ue*an&er Mo$$
by the Columbia managers with a chilling and
studied politeness. It was, no doubt, mortifying to his feelings to witness the shyness of his
new associates, for if they could have driven
him back from whence he came, it was evidently their object to do so; but McKenzie,
as stubborn as themselves, knew his ground,
and defied the discouraging reception he met
with, either to damp his spirits or to cool
his steady zeal. He, therefore, lost no time,
but intimated to Mr. Keith his wish to depart for the interior as soon as convenient,
the season being far advanced and the journey
Mr. Keith, however, raised many objections. He alleged the scarcity of men, the
lateness of the season, and the want of craft.
Nor were these objections altogether groundless. "Your departure," said he, "will disarrange all our plans for the year." In answer
to which McKenzie handed him his instructions, a letter from the agents at Montreal,
with a copy of the minutes of Council at Fort
William. After perusing these documents
Mr. Keith, throwing them on the table, said,
"Your plans are wild. You never will succeed, nor do I think any gentleman here will
second your views or be so foolhardy as to
attempt an establishment on the Nez Perces
lands as a key to your future operations, and
without this you cannot move a step." "These
remarks are uncalled for; I have been there
82 fur l^unter£ of tfje far We$t
already," replied McKenzie. "Give me the
men and goods I require, according to the
resolutions of Council: I alone am answerable
for the rest."  So saying, they parted.
During all this time the Northwesters
might be seen together in close consultation,
avoiding, as much as possible, the object of
their dislike. Their shy and evasive conduct
at length roused McKenzie to insist on his
rights. "Give me the men and goods," said
he, "as settled at headquarters. I ask for no
more; those I must have." "You had better,"
replied Mr. Keith, "postpone your operations
till another year." "No," rejoined McKenzie,
"my instructions are positive, I must proceed
at once." And here the conference again
Keith and his adherents had denounced
every change as pregnant with evil, and
McKenzie's schemes as full of folly and madness. They, therefore, labored hard to counteract both. The chief of the interior stood
alone, I being the only person on the ground
who seconded his views, and that was but a
feeble support. Yet, although he thus stood
alone, he never lost sight of the main object.
The coolness between the parties increased;
they seldom met; the wordy dispute ended, a
paper war ensued. This new feature in the
affair was not likely to mend the matter, but
was what McKenzie liked; he was now in his
own element.  This went on for two or three
<J &lejran&er &ogg
days, and all anxiously awaited the result.
The characters of the men were well known;
both firm, both resolute.
At this stage of the contest McKenzie
called me into his room one day and showed
me the correspondence between them. "You
see," said he to me, after I had perused the
notes, "that in war, as in love, the parties
must meet to put an end to it." "I cannot see
it in that light yet," said I; "but I can see
that the wisest of men are not always wise.
Delay is his object; you must curtail your
demands and yield to circumstances. You do
not know Mr. Keith; he does everything by
rule, and will hazard nothing. You, on the
contrary, must hazard everything. In working against you, they are working against
themselves, and must soon see their error. It
is the result of party spirit. Mr. Keith has
been led astray by the zeal of his associates;
left to himself he is a good man, and there is
yet ample room for a friendly reconciliation."
Just as we were talking over these matters
a note from Mr. Keith was handed into the
room. This note was written in a plain
businesslike manner, and distinctly stated
what assistance McKenzie could obtain.
After reading it over and throwing it down on
the table among the other diplomatic scraps,
McKenzie observed to me, "It is far short of
what I require, far short of what I expected,
and far short of what the Company guaranteed;
84 fur l^unterg of tf)e far Wt$t
yet it is coming nearer to the point, and is,
perhaps, under all circumstances, as much as
can be expected. It is a choice of two evils,
and rather than prolong a fruitless discussion
I will attempt the task before me with such
means as are available. If a failure is the
result, it will not be difficult to trace it to the
proper source." Soon after this the parties
met and entered upon business in a friendly
McKenzie now prepared for his inland
voyage, and had the reader seen the medley
of savages, Iroquois, Abanakees, and Owhyhees, that were meted out to him, he would
at once have marked the brigade down as
doomed. But that was not all; a question
arose, according to the rules of the voyage,
who wTas to be his second? and this gave rise
to another serious difficulty. One said the
undertaking was too hazardous ever to succeed, he would not go; another, that it was
madness to attempt it, and he would not go;
and a third observed that as he had not been
appointed by the Council he would not go; so
McKenzie was left to go alone.
Never, during my day, had a person for
the interior left Fort George with such a
motley crew, nor under such discouraging
circumstances, and certainly, under all the
difficulties of the case, McKenzie would have
been justified in waiting until he had been
better fitted out,  or provided with means
..    i &lerantier &o&£
adequate to the undertaking. Disregarding
all dangers, his experience and zeal buoyed
him up and ultimately carried him through,
in spite of all the obstacles that either prejudice or opposition could throw in his way.
Although McKenzie's personal absence was
pleasing to his colleagues, yet, in another
point of view, it was extremely mortifying,
because they had failed in their object either
to discourage or stop him. Measuring, however, his capacity by their own, they still
cherished a hope that the Indians would arrest his progress. His failure was, therefore,
looked upon as certain.
Let us inquire how it happened that a man
"only fit to eat horseflesh, and shoot at a
mark," should have been put over the heads
of the Columbia managers. Incomprehensible
as it was to them, it was perfectly clear to us.
In the first place, the trade of the Columbia,
under their guidance, had not advanced one
single step beyond what it was when they
first took possession of it. Nay, it was even
worse, which a very superficial glance at affairs would demonstrate beyond a doubt.
According to the articles of copartnership
the shares of the stock in trade were divided
into two parts. The directors, or, as they were
more generally called, "agents," held a certain
proportion in their own hands, as stockholders and general managers of the business;
the bourgeois, as they were called, or the
S6 fur ^unterg of tfje far Wt$t
<—■^' '"     "■"     II'IL^^———^l^^^»l ■ liril-WWi^WBM—111,11 I        ll«.HIL  11 II      I   IIIII^^K^^IIIl    in i——■
active managers among the Indians, held the
remaining shares. By the regulations of the
Company the bourgeois were always raised,
either through favor or merit, from the ranks,
or, step by step, to the more honorable and
lucrative station of proprietors. Their patronage in turn promoted others; their votes
decided the election for or against all candidates, and this was generally the manner in
which the business of promotion was carried
on in the North West trade.
But the agents were on a somewhat different
footing, for they had not only a voice in common with the bourgeois in all cases of promotion, but they had what, perhaps, we might
call an exclusive right as agents, according to
the interest they held, of sending into the
country any person or persons they thought
proper or who possessed their confidence,
whether connected with the Company or not.
Such persons, however, entered the service on
fixed salaries, without the prospect of promotion, because to have a claim to promotion
in the regular way an apprenticeship was
To the agents, therefore, our friend was
known. His enterprise and general experience
gave them every hope, and to him, in preference to any other, they confided the difficult
task of recovering the Columbia trade, and of
carrying into effect the new system. Five
hundred pounds a year for five years secured
li &lq;antier ftog£
him to their interest, and on these conditions
he returned again to the Columbia.
As soon as the brigade started for the
interior a party of ten men were outfitted for
the purpose of trapping beaver in the Wallamitte. On their way up to the place they were
warned by the natives not to continue, for
they would not suffer them to hunt on
their lands unless they produced an instant
payment by way of tribute. This the hunters
were neither prepared for nor disposed to
grant, and they had the simplicity to imagine
that the Indians would not venture to carry
their threats into effect. The next day, however, as they were advancing on their voyage
they were astonished at seeing the banks of
the river lined on both sides by the natives,
who had stationed themselves in menacing
postures behind the trees and bushes* The
Northwesters were little acquainted with
these people, and thinking they only meant to
frighten them out of some articles of goods,
they paddled up in the middle of the stream.
A shower of arrows, however, very soon convinced them of their mistake. One of the
number was wounded, and in drifting down,
for they immediately turned about, they
fired a round upon the natives, one of whom
was killed.
After this discomfiture the hunters made
the best of their way back to the establishment,  and  the project of hunting in  the
88 fur punters? of tf>e far Wt$t
Wallamitte was relinquished for a time. Soon
afterwards, however, a party of twenty-five
men, under the management of a clerk, was
sent to pacify the natives, and to endeavor to
penetrate to the hunting ground. On reaching
the spot where the first difficulty arose they
found that the man who had been killed was a
chief, and that, therefore, the tribe would not
come to terms before a certain portion of
merchandise was delivered as a compensation
for the injury done. This being accordingly
agreed to, the matter was compromised and the
party advanced, but unfortunately soon got
involved in a second quarrel with the natives,
and having fired upon them, killed three.
On their way back, after putting up for the
night, a band of Indians got into their camp
and a scuffle ensued, when one of the hunters
was severely wounded, and the whole party
owed its safety to the darkness of the night.
By the disasters of this trip, every avenue was
for the present shut up against our hunters in
the Wallamitte.
One remark here suggests itself. When the
first party of hunters were warned by the
natives that they would not suffer them to
hunt on their lands unless they produced an
instant payment by way of tribute, what was
the amount of that tribute? Had they,- the
moment the Indians threatened tribute, instead of paddling up in the middle of the
stream, stopped and. made for shore, held out
I        I -89'
I-"—; ftteranoer ftogg
the hand of friendship, and smoked a pipe or
two of tobacco with them, there would have
been an end to all demands—the affair would
have been settled. This was the tribute the
natives expected, but the whites set the Indians at defiance by trying to pass them in
the middle of the stream.
When any difficulty of this kind occurs, a
friendly confidence on the part of the whites
seldom fails in bringing about a reconciliation;
the Indians at once come round to their views.
This was the universal practice followed by us
during our first years in traveling among the
Indians, and we always got on smoothly. But
in measuring the feelings of the rude and independent natives of Columbia by the same
standard as they measured the feelings of
their dependent slaves on the east side of the
mountains, the Northwesters were not wise.
The result of this disaster shut us out entirely from the southern quarter. The loss
was severely felt, and Mr. Keith, with his
usual sagacity and forethought, lost no time
in applying a remedy. But what remedy
could well be applied? We considered ourselves aggrieved, the natives were still more
angry. We had been wounded, but they had
been killed, and perhaps all by the bad conduct of our own people; yet, under all the
circumstances, something required to be done.
Negotiation was resolved upon as the most
prudent step to be adopted.
90 fur ^unterjef of tfie far Wt$t
In order, therefore, to bring about a reconciliation, a party sufficiently strong to guard
against miscarriage and give weight to our
measures was fitted out and put under my
charge, and I was ably assisted by my experienced friend, Mr. Ogden.16 This half-
diplomatic, half-military embassy, consisting
of forty-five armed men, left Fort George in
three boats and reached the Wallamitte Falls
on the third day. It was there the Indians
had assembled to resist any attempt of the
hunters to ascend the Wallamitte. There we
found them encamped on the left or west bank.
We took up our position, with two field-pieces
to guard our camp on the east or right-hand
side, which is low, rocky, and somewhat
uneven. Both parties were opposite to each
other, with the river between them. Early
the next morning we set the negotiation on
foot, and made several attempts, but in vain,
to bring the Indians to a parley. I went to
their camp; we offered them to smoke, and
held out the hand of friendship in every
possible way we could, but to no purpose.
16 Peter Skene Ogden, a native of Quebec, entered
the service of the North West Company as a clerk in
1811. After several years in western Canada he came
to the lower Columbia region in 1818. After a long
career of much prominence in the Northwest fur trade
he died at Oregon City in 1854. For a careful sketch of
his career, see T. C. Elliott, "Peter Skene Ogden, Fur
Trader," in Oregon Historical Quarterly, September,
91 ft
aiejtanDer jf!o$S
They refused holding any communication
with us, but continued to sing their war songs,
and danced their war dance. We, however,
were not to be discouraged by any demonstrations on their part.
Patience and forbearance do much on these
occasions. It is the best policy to be observed
with Indians; indeed, with all the natives of
Columbia. Peace being our object, peace we
were determined to obtain. We, therefore,
quietly waited to see what time would bring
The first day passed without our effecting
anything, and so did the second. Friendly
offers were constantly held out to them, but
as constantly rejected. On the third day,
however, the chiefs and warriors crossed over
to our side and stood in a group at some distance from our camp. I knew what was
meant by this, so I took a flag in my hand and
went alone to meet them. Just as I had
reached the party, the whole Indian camp
burst into a loud and clamorous scene of
mourning. That moment the chiefs and
warriors, forming a ring, squatted down, and
concealing their faces with their garments,
remained silent and motionless for about the
space of half an hour. During all this time I
had to stand patiently and await the result.
Not a word was uttered on either side, but as
soon as the lamentations ceased in the camp
the great men, uncovering their faces, stood
92 fur ^unterg of tfje far Wt$t
upon their feet. I then offered the pipe of
peace, according to Indian custom, but a significant shake of the head from the principal
chief was the only reply.
After a momentary pause the chief, turning
to me, exclaimed in his own language, "What
do the whites want?" Rather nettled at his
refusing the pipe, I answered, "Peace—peace
is what we want"; and in saying so, I presented him with my flag. "Here," said I,
"the great chief of the whites sends you that
as a token of his love." A moment or two
passed in silence; a whisper went round; the
peace-offering was accepted, and in return
the chief took a pipe, painted and ornamented
with feathers, and laid it down before me.
This was a favorable sign. On such occasions
the calumet of peace is always an emblem of
friendship. They were gratified with the toy;
it pleased them. The chief asked to smoke.
I then handed him the pipe he had but a little
before refused, and some tobacco, and they sat
down and commenced smoking, for that is the
introductory step to all important affairs, and
no business can be entered upon with these
people before the ceremony of smoking is over.
The smoking ended, each great man got up
in turn and made a speech. Before they had
all got through nearly two hours elapsed, and
all that time I had to stand and wait. These
speeches set forth in strong language a statement of their grievances, a demand for redress,
W 11 ' '^1
&lejtantier &o$S
and a determination to resist in future the
whites from proceeding up the Wallamitte.
As soon as the Indians had said all they had
to say on the subject they sat down.
After arriving at our camp and smoking
there I stated the case on behalf of the whites,
opposing the Indians' determination to prevent us from ascending the Wallamitte, and
trying to bring about, if possible, a peace. I,
therefore, endeavored to meet every objection, and proved to the chiefs that their people
were the first aggressors by shooting their
arrows at our people, but this being no part of
Indian law they either could not, or would
not, comprehend it. Notwithstanding their
people had been the aggressors in the first
instance, our people had been guilty of great
indiscretion, and to cut the matter short I
agreed to pay for their dead according to
their own laws, if they would yield the other
points; which, after a whole day's negotiation
and two or three trips to their camp, they at
last agreed to. The chiefs reasoned the matter
temperately, and formally agreed to everything. But their acknowledged authority is
very limited, their power, as chiefs, small; so
that any rascal in the camp might at any time
break through the most solemn treaty with
The conditions of this rude treaty were that
the Wallamitte should remain open, that the
whites should have at all times free ingress
94 Ill
fur l^unterg of t&e far Wt$t
and egress to that quarter unmolested, that
in the event of any misunderstanding between
the natives and the whites the Indians were
not to resort to any act of violence, but their
chiefs were to apply for redress to the white
chief at Fort George; and if the whites found
themselves aggrieved they were also not to
take the law into their own hands, nor to take
any undue advantage of the Indians. The
chiefs alone were to be accountable for the
conduct of their people. And truth compels
us to acknowledge that the Indians- faithfully
and zealously observed their part of the treaty
for many years afterwards.
The business being ended, the chief, as a
token of general consent, scraped a little dust
together and with his hand throwing it in the
air, uttered, at the same time, the expressive
word "Hilow," it is done. This was no sooner
over than the chief man presented us with a
slave, as a token of his good will, signifying
by the act that if the Indians did not keep
their promise we might treat them all as
slaves. The slave being returned again to the
chief, we prepared to leave the Indians, paid
our offering for the dead, shook hands with
the living, satisfied the chiefs, and pushed
down the current.
On our way home, however, we were stopped
about an hour at Oak Point by the ice, a
rather unusual circumstance, one that never
occurred, either before or after, all the time I
'-rm SUeranoer Mo$$
was in the country. On reaching Fort George
the articles of the treaty were read over, and
drew from Mr. Keith a smile of approbation.
That was no small credit to me, for he was
a very cautious man, and not lavish of his
praise. "Your success," said he to me,
"removes my anxiety, and is calculated not
only to restore peace in the Wallamitte, but
throughout the whole of the neighboring
We might here state that the Wallamitte
takes its rise near the northern frontier of
California in about latitude 430 30' north, not
far from the Umpqua River. The former of
these streams runs almost a northern course
and empties its waters into the Columbia by
two channels, some seventy miles above Cape
Disappointment, in north latitude 460 19',
being almost due east from the mouth of the
Columbia; the latter pursues a course almost
due west, till it reaches the ocean. The
Call-law-poh-yea-as is the name by which all
the Wallamitte tribes, sixteen in number, are
generally known. These people were always
considered by the whites as a quiet and inoffensive nation, dull and unassuming in their
behavior, but, when once roused, not deficient
in courage.
We have more than once had occasion to
notice the striking change in the natives during
the reign.of the North West Company on the
Columbia.   On his passage down, McKenzie
96 97
fur ^unterg of tije far Wt$t
was greeted at the Dalles by an unexpected
shower of stones as he took the current at the
lower end of the portage. The natives in this
instance were a few hundred strong. His
party consisted of about forty, and, judging it
expedient to resent the very first insult, he
briskly wheeled round, to their astonishment,
and ordered all arms to be presented. In this
menacing attitude he signified to his men to
rest until he showed the example by firing 11
the first shot; then, exhorting the natives to
renew their insult with stones, or resort to
their arms, a fair challenge was offered. But,
whether the movement was too sudden or
that they were doubtful of the result, they
declined and came forward with a satisfactory
submission. The affair of the rifle on a former
occasion was not, perhaps, forgotten. The
attack was owing to the scarcity of tobacco.
A very few pipes had been lighted and they,
perceiving that he had little remaining, became enraged because they could not grasp
the whole. A few days previous, McMillan
having gone down with an express with only
twenty men, they robbed one of his people of
his coat and others of various articles at the
moment of embarking, but this gentleman observed a very prudent forbearance, his party
being in no way a match for them.
McKenzie's departure from Fort George has
already been noticed. Without accident or
loss of time he reached the dangerous pass of
M aiejrrantier fto&ef
the Cascades. There, however, the rigors of
the season checked his progress, for the Columbia was bridged over with ice.
We soon learned, however, that he was at
home. His party consisted of about forty
men, such as they were. Retaining, therefore,
a certain number about himself and the
property, he adopted a new plan of distributing the remainder in the houses of the different
great men among the natives, apparently as
boarders but in reality as spies, so that every
hour he had ample intelligence of all that
passed in the respective villages or camps.
The chiefs were flattered by this mark of his
consideration. They were no less pleased with
the trifles which from time to time they received in payment, and all the natives of the
place became, in a few months, perfectly
familiarized with the whites.
A great deal of information was collected
from these people, considerable furs also, and
altogether such a footing established among
them as promised to be turned to advantage at
a future time. The chiefs were no less pleased
to see McKenzie than anxious to know the
cause of his return to their country, and he
was greeted with a hearty welcome from all
"We are rejoiced," said an old chief to him,
one day, "to see one of our first and best
friends come back again to live among us.
We were always well treated by our first
98 fur J^unterg of tlje far Wt$t
traders, and got plenty of tobacco to smoke.
They never passed our camp without taking
our children by the hand and giving us a
smoke, and we have always been sorry since
you left us. Our traders now-a-days use us
badly; they pass up and down the river without stopping. They never take our children
by the hand, nor hold out the pipe to us.
They do not like us. Their hearts are bad.
We seldom go to see them. Are you," continued the chief, "going to remain long with
us?" McKenzie consoled the friendly old man,
and told him that he would be long with them,
to smoke and take their children by the hand,
and would never pass nor repass without
giving them a smoke, as usual. At these
words, the chief exclaimed, "Haugh owe yea
ah! Haugh owe yea ah!" These exclamations
of gratitude showed that McKenzie was perfectly at home among them. Every countenance he met smiled with contentment, and
his authority was as much respected by the
Indians as by his own people, so that he considered himself as safe and secure in the
Indian camp as if he had been in his own
house. No sooner had he laid himself up in
ordinary among the great nabobs of the
Cascades, than he was invited from wigwam
to wigwam to partake of their hospitality.
On the score of cheer, we will here gratify
the curiosity of our readers with a brief description of one of their entertainments, called
=i fttanoer fto#sf
an Indian feast. The first thing that attracts
the attention of a stranger, on being invited
to a feast in these parts, is to see seven or
eight bustling squaws running to and fro with
pieces of greasy bark, skins of animals, and
old mats, to furnish the banqueting lodge, as
receptacles for the delicate viands. At the
door of the lodge is placed, on such occasions,
a sturdy savage with a club in his hand, to
keep the dogs at bay while the preparations
are going on.
The banqueting hall is always of a size
suitable to the occasion, large and roomy. A
fire occupies the center, round which, in circular order, are laid the eatables. The guests
form a close ring round the whole. Everyone
approaches with a grave and solemn step.
The party being all assembled, the reader may
picture to himself our friend seated among
the nobles of the place, his bark platter between his legs, filled top-heavy with the most
delicious melange of bear's grease, dog's
flesh, wappatoes, obellies, amutes, and a profusion of other viands, roots, and berries.
Round the festive board, placed on terra
firma, all the nabobs of the place are squatted
down in a circle, each helping himself out of
his platter with his fingers, observing every
now and then to sleek down the hair by way of
wiping the hands. Only one knife is used, and
that is handed round from one to another in
quick motion.   Behind the banqueting circle
IOO fur $unter£ of tl>e far Wt$t
sit, in anxious expectation, groups of the canine tribe, yawning, howling, and growling.
These can only be kept in the rear by a stout
cudgel, which each of the guests keeps by
him for the purpose of self-defense, yet it not
infrequently happens that some one of the
more daring curs gets out of patience, breaks
through the front rank, and carries off his
booty; but when a trespass of this kind is
committed, the unfortunate offender is well
belabored in his retreat, for the cudgels come
down upon him with a terrible vengeance.
The poor dog, however, has his revenge in
turn, for the squabble and brawl that ensues
disturbs all the dormant fleas of the domicile.
This troop of black assailants jump about in
all directions, so that a guest, by helping himself to the good things before him, keeping
the dogs at bay behind him, and defending
himself from the black squadrons that surround him, pays, perhaps, dearer for his
entertainment at the Columbian Cascades
than a foreign ambassador does in a London
On the breaking up of the ice our friends
were again on their voyage, but had again the
misfortune to break one of their boats while
towing it up the Cascades. The lading consisted of sixty packages, of ninety pounds
each, and the other craft were too much laden
to embark so great a surplus; so, strange as it
may appear, McKenzie lost not an hour in
1 &lejrantier $o&$
hastening his voyage, but delivered over the
whole of this valuable and bulky cargo into
the hands of a chief, named Shy4aw-ifs, until
the period of his return. When the brigade
returned, the faithful and trusty chief delivered the whole over, saie and untouched, to
McKenzie again after being six months in his
possession. Nor did we.ever learn that the
Indians, or even his own' relations, molested
him in the least during this seasonable act of
friendship. /
During this voyag§*the chief of the interior
visited several of the iftland posts, arranged
the plans for the ensuing year, and then
joined the people of the spring brigade, who
were assembling from all quarters. This party
we had left, as will be remembered, on reaching their winter quarters, and we now resume
the subject, in order to conduct them to their
friends at headquarters.
In the Indian countries no sooner has the
rigorous season begun to break up than the
people of each wintering ground leave their
respective stations and repair with all possible
speed to the general rendezvous at headquarters. The mode of voyaging at that
particular period varies according to the
temperature of the climate, the face of the
country, and the peculiar habits of the tribes
where the station has been fixed; whether in
the vicinity of lofty mountains or of level
plains, and whether the inhabitants live at
102 fur l^unterg of tl>e far Wtgt
peace or war with each other, or endanger
their traders by their early sallies in the spring.
From some parts, therefore, the people carry
their returns in canoes. In others, the use of
horses, or sledges drawn by dogs, is resorted
to as the most practicable for transporting
property during the early stages of the season.
The time had now come when, with lightsome hearts, the winterers, as they are generally called, perform the annual trip to the
ocean, and an augmentation of returns this
year brightened the features of our friends as
they came down the Columbia to Fort George,
where they arrived safely on the sixteenth of
June, 1817. Happy we were, likewise, that a
twelvemonth had elapsed, for the first time
throughout the interior, without casualty or
bloodshed to thin their numbers.
103 Chapter 4
A FEW  days   after   the  arrival of  the
spring brigade from the interior the
Company's annual ship reached Fort
George, and with its arrival we shall commence the transactions of another year.
On the arrival of all hands at headquarters,
their stay is generally short. Consequently,
at the head depot, all is bustle and hurry, yet
business of every description is transacted
there with a degree of order and regularity
not to be surpassed in countries more civilized.
As soon, therefore, as the arrangements at the
depot terminate and the annual appointment
is made—for it is there unalterably fixed for
the year, without any appeal—each man re-
. turns to his post. But although the authority which determines the lot of each for the
season is absolute, yet few instances of either
oppression or injustice occur.
During the sitting of Council this year an
inclination was manifested to promote by
every possible means a change of system, and,
by so doing, to give the chief of the interior
the benefit resulting from general support;
but after the Council broke up the disposition
evinced to carry such a measure into practical
104 fur $untttjst of tlje far Wt$t
operation rather operated in an opposite direction, tending to defeat any change for the
better, and this disposition was strengthened
by new and unforseen difficulties, over which
the Columbians had no control.
In the various arrangements from year to
year there is generally contentment and satisfaction among all classes. This arises as
much from that variety of scene, that love of
freedom of which man is so universally fond,
and which he here so fully enjoys, as from
anything else. There are pleasures at times in
wild and savage countries as alluring as those
in gay cities and polished circles, and on the
whole few ever leave the scenes of the wilderness without deep regret.
In consequence of the East India Company's debarring the bulk of British subjects
from sailing in the Indian Ocean, the North
West Company's commerce in that quarter of
the world became extremely circumscribed.
Therefore they resolved to divest themselves
of all their shipping, as, through the connections they possessed in New England,
the inconvenience would be compensated by
their investing their furs in China produce,
and their trade would not sustain any material injury. We shall, therefore, not trouble ourselves nor our readers about the
shipping interest, but confine our remarks
to those measures which affected us nearer
1 &lejeaniier iHo££
The spirit of rivalry and opposition in trade
east of the mountains had for some time
checked the progress of the North West
Company, and intercepted the reinforcements
of men which had been dispatched to the
Columbian quarter. On this account we
found ourselves short of our usual complement,
and therefore had, at a great expense and loss
of time, to send for a supply of Sandwich
Islanders as substitutes.
But even this difficulty and delay might
have been avoided had there been anything
like willingness among ourselves to assist each
other, for there might have been not a few
men collected from other sources to strengthen
our ranks in the emergency; but no one was
disposed to spare a man or lend a willing hand
to assist in bringing about a new order of
things. Old habits and a love of ease predominated. The chief of the interior had,
therefore, to depart with a motley and disaffected handful of men, chiefly Iroquois, to
prosecute the introductory part of his reform
Matters having been arranged, the inland
brigade, after a short stay of eight days, left
the head depot for the interior. I also accompanied the party for my own post at the
She Whaps, and the change was the more
agreeable to me, as any place was to be preferred to the wet and disagreeable climate of
Fort George.
— fur ^unterg of tfje far Wt$t
It was not my intention, originally, to have
conducted, step by step, every voyaging party
ascending or descending the Columbia; yet,
as I promised to notice every -incident that
might occur, and, moreover, to narrate the subject of my owoi trials and hairbreadth escapes
among the Indians, that duty has again devolved on me; and as it will be found that we
had more than ordinary difficulties to contend
with during the present voyage the reader
may, perhaps, take some interest in its details.
On the brigade's starting, the numbers
were only forty-five men, being little more
than half the usual complement. We felt our
own weakness, and the more so at that season
when the communication is resorted to by
strange Indians, it being the great rendezvous
for salmon fishing, but we had no alternative.
Few as our numbers were, we had to face the
difficulties that lay before us, so we hoisted
sail and turned our backs on Fort George.
At Oak Point one of our men deserted and
soon afterwards two others fell sick, diminishing our numbers and embarrassing us still
more. At the mouth of the Wallamitte we
were nearly getting into a serious quarrel.
We had made a halt to purchase some provisions from the Indians on Moltnomah
Island. While in the act of doing so some
arrows were pointed our way without any
apparent cause, when two of the Iroquois
immediately cocked their guns to fire upon
=-—^= &lejr:an&er JHogg
the Indians. They were fortunately stopped
in time or we might have had a sad tale to
tell, for one shot fired from any of our party
would have been the signal of our ruin. Notwithstanding the Iroquois were checked in
time, yet the menace was noticed by the
Indians, and it raised a spirit of discontent
which ran like wildfire among them, and our
diminished numbers, compared to those of
former years, encouraged the Indians to a
boldness scarcely ever witnessed before. At
this stage of the affair the natives were observed to collect in groups, and to become
shy towards us—a very bad sign; we, however, put the best face on things and tried to
restore confidence and content, after which
we set sail and left them.
Arriving at the Cascades, we found the
natives in great numbers and all completely
armed. The utmost care and circumspection
were needful in carrying our bulky ladings
over that rocky and dangerous portage, and
although strong guards were stationed at the
frequent resting-places, yet we could not manage to get through without repeated alarms.
However, the good understanding we kept up
with the principal men quieted all our apprehensions, and in spite of appearances it was
found that we were in reality safe during the
whole of our arduous day's labor.
Having encamped on a convenient spot at
the upper end, the chiefs and the great men
108 fur f$untet$ of tfje far Wt$t
were invited to come and smoke with us; they
accepted the invitation, and their suite of
followers might have been five hundred. As
soon as the order of the camp was finished,
and the proper precautions taken for the
night, the chiefs were admitted within the
lines and made to sit down at a convenient
place set apart for that purpose by the doors
of the'tents, while the crowd received the
same indulgence at some distance on the opposite side.
When the ceremony of smoking was over a
few words were addressed to the chiefs, expressing the favorable sense we entertained
of their character and their deportment during the day. We also bestowed on each a
head of tobacco, and to every one of the
group we gave a single leaf, which took a considerable quantity and some time to distribute.
This kind treatment was so different to anything they had met with for years past that
all with one voice called out, in the Chinook
language, "Haugh owe yea ah, haugh owe yea
ah," meaning, "our friends, our friends."
Turning then to the chiefs, we pointed out the
duties of the sentinels, signifying that they
should explain the purport to all the natives
of the place, in order that our slumbers might
not be disturbed, and that the present happy
intercourse might not be interrupted. This
done, the whole party moved off in the most
orderly  manner,  neither  did  any of  them
109 HUeranber Mo$$
approach us during the night. However, we
kept a strict watch until morning.
From the good understanding that existed
between ourselves and the natives on a former
occasion, and particularly last winter, we anticipated the continuance of a friendly intercourse, but in this we were deceived; that
friendship was but of short duration. It was
dissolved in a moment by the most frivolous
I had with me an old, favorite dog, a little
dwarf terrier of the Spanish breed. We had
missed it during the morning, but had not in
the bustle and hurry made any inquiry about
it. One of the Indians, as it afterwards appeared, had got hold of it and carried it to
his tent. The little captive, in its struggles to
get at liberty, happened to scratch one of his
children in the face, but got off and made for
us with all haste, just as were sitting down to
breakfast. Happening to turn round, I perceived my little pet running towards us in
great fright, and two fellows following it at
full speed with their guns in their hands. The
poor little thing, on reaching us, lay down,
and by its looks seemed to implore protection.
No sooner had the rascals, however, got to us,
than one of them, with an air of bold effrontery, cocked his gun to shoot the dog. I immediately jumped up, took the gun out of his
hands, and tried to pacify him. The fellow
was furious and would give no explanation,
no fur ^unter£ of t&e far We$t
■ ■■ immiinrmin iimiww—■ wwmib —ii^ — ■wwi »i■ ■■!!■ »wi—imp—■ji^biii—^w——WMMimim—m	
but again demanded his gun. I told him he
might have his gun if he made no bad use of
it. To this he made no reply, but with an air
of insolent boldness still demanded his gun.
Laying hold of my own gun with one hand,
I handed him his with the other, accompanying the delivery with this admonition, "If
you attempt to kill my dog, you are a dead
The fellow stood motionless as a statue,
but made no attempt to kill the dog. His
companion turned back to the camp the
moment I laid hold of the gun and in a few
minutes we were surrounded by a hundred
clamorous voices, uttering the words, "Ma
sats se-Pa she shy hooks, ma sats se-Pa she
shy hooks—bad white people, bad white
people." We, however, kept a watchful eye
on their maneuvers, armed ourselves, and
waited the result. In a little time their excitement began to abate and we had an opportunity of speaking in our turn, but our voices
were scarcely heard in the crowd.
Had we measured the strength of both
parties by our comparative numbers, we
might at once have yielded to our opponents,
but we formed no such comparison. We were
compelled through sheer necessity to assert
our rights and defend our property, which we
did in defiance of all their threats. It is hard
to say how the affair might have ended had
not   our  friend,   Shy-law-ifs,   run  into   the
in ^llejrantier &o£g
milee and stood up boldly for the whites, so
that after a great deal of loud clamor and
threats the Indians had to return to their
camp, and I saved my little dog.
I mention this trivial circumstance to show
how fickle and unsteady Indians are, and how
little is required to change their friendship
into enmity. In this simple incident you have
the true character of an Indian. He will purloin and conceal articles belonging to the
whites, and then make a merit of finding
them, in order to get paid for his honesty.
The hiding of a dog, the concealing of a horse,
or anything else, is a common practice of
theirs; and the fellow who took the little dog
had no other object than to make a claim on
delivering it up.
After this affair we did not consider it good
policy to depart from the place without coming to some understanding with the Indians.
Putting our camp in a posture of defense to
guard against surprise, McKenzie and myself
went to the Indians and settled the matter in
dispute. WTe gave the scratched bantling a
small present, invited the chiefs to our camp
to smoke, gave them a little tobacco, and
parted once more the best friends in the
world, and all this did not take up two hours'
time, nor cost five shillings. From this
incident it would appear that the Indian is
in some respects a mere child, irritated by and
pleased with a trifle.
112 fur i^unterg of ifyt far Wt$t
Our cautious plans did not admit of our
proceeding, notwithstanding the apparent
good feeling, without having one of the great
men to act the part of an interpreter and
to proclaim our friendly footing to others
as we advanced, particularly to the troublesome tenants of the Falls; for we were not ignorant that false rumors might get the start
of us, and poison the minds of the natives
against us.
Such conduct on the part of the Indians of
the Cascades may appear strange, after the
friendly manner in which our people had been
treated by them during the last winter, but
this can be easily accounted for, were they less
fickle than they are. In the winter season the
natives of the place only were on the spot, but
in summer the Cascades, as well as the Falls,
are a place of general resort for all the neighboring tribes, as well as those of the place, and
this was the case on the present occasion.
Hence their numbers and boldness.
The farther we advanced the more numerous were the natives, either dwelling in villages or congregated about the banks and
rocks in tumultuous crowds. We thought it
necessary to make a short halt at each band,
according to the rules of former days, and
although their gestures were most suspicious
at times, yet we never failed to jump ashore
and step into the midst of them with assumed
confidence, at the same time accosting their
113 &lejtan&a: Jlo&e?
great men and going over the same ceremonies
as already noticed. We always passed as if
we were old acquaintances on the most friendly
terms. No steps within our power were neglected that could be anywise conducive to our
safety—an object which now imperiously
claimed attention, for rumors were in circulation that the natives had collected on the
river in an unusual manner.
Whenever an occasion called us on shore a
couple of men from each craft, appointed for
the purpose, instantly took their stand with
fixed bayonets and a line of privilege was
drawn, which the chiefs alone were allowed
to pass for the purpose of reception.
Every step we thus made was full of anxiety
and apprehension, increased in a two-fold
degree during the night. Everyone of the party
was at length so worn out by incessant watching and fatigue that hope itself began to
waver, and we even despaired of getting
through; and not to our own puny arm, nor to
any further efforts we could make, but to a
kind and superintending Providence, we owed
our good fortune and safety.
Whenever the sun reached the summit of
the hills, the most commanding spot was selected for our encampment. In a few minutes the boats were carried out of the water
and placed, with the tents and baggage, in
the form of a square, or such other figure
as might correspond with the peculiar nature
114 fur i^unterg of tl>e far Wt$t
of the ground. This novel fortress had but
one opening, which was only wide enough to
admit a single person at a time. Of this the
tents took up one angle, having the doors
outward, and before which a space was left
vacant and appropriated for the chiefs.
Beyond this was the station occupied by the
guards and night watch, whose duty it was to
keep at bay the tumultuous rabble, and here
our solitary swivel was regularly pointed.
The chiefs, however, neither passed nor repassed without leave, and under the specious
veil o£ respect for their exalted rank their
influence was in this way made subservient
to our views. Their persons were pledges of
our safety. Sometimes, in doubtful cases, they
were detained over night. Each of our party
had a special occupation assigned, and the
watch at night being divided into three, we had
each of us the direction of one alternately; but
in many instances we were all on foot, and on
these occasions had to pass a sleepless night.
When on shore the duties rested entirely
on the leaders and sentinels. The farther
we advanced the more we became sensible of
the advantages of the newly-adopted though
simple system of strengthening our encampment; the natives could not have even the
enticing opportunity of seizing or pilfering
any article «to engender a quarrel, and, as far
as a breastwork could go, the people were
always sheltered from danger.
•M &fejtan&a: JHo$e?
Fifteen minutes was the time generally
taken to put the camp into a proper state of
defense. It would have required about the
same time to have jumbled everything pell-
'mell, when the natives, the property, and
ourselves would have indiscriminately occupied one and.the same ground, as had been
done by the Northwesters hitherto on the
Columbia. Indeed, that mode of proceeding
was one chief cause, among others, of disorder, and of the bold footing which the
natives had assumed and by which the Northwesters had so frequently got themselves involved in serious troubles on the Columbia.
To reduce the natives to some order, however
desirable, was no easy task, and it was rendered more difficult by the fewness of our
numbers. All we could, therefore, attempt,
on the present occasion, was gradually to introduce the system of reform, leaving it to be
followed up in future.
During our passages through the portages
we were unavoidably more or less exposed.
On these occasions the pauses, or resting-
places, were only the distance of a gunshot
apart, and guards were placed at each. First,
the craft were carried and placed in a double
row, with an area between sufficiently roomy
for the baggage, which was properly ranged
as it was brought forward, leaving a vacancy
still large enough for the purpose of defense.
The  motions  of   the  natives  were   closely
— fur ^unterg of tfie far Wt$t
scrutinized before we ventured to start again.
Half the ships were stationed at one end of the
pause, and half likewise at the other. It was
on such occasions that the influence of these
men came most into play; by their means,
therefore, we advanced with considerable
dispatch, and with all the degree of safety
which the case would admit of.
On arriving at the Dalles, the most suspicious part of the communication, we found
the natives mustered to the number of about
one thousand warriors. The war song and
yell warned us of their hostile intentions, and
the fears of our friendly Indian only served to
confirm our conjectures. We encamped at the
commencement of the portage. The object of
the natives, we were told, was to establish a
perpetual tribute, which, if granted, would
be the means of obtaining for us an undisturbed passage.
The subject of tribute had been the result
of a general plan settled among the natives.
The first appearance of it was manifested at
the Wallamitte, but it had been gathering
strength for years past, ever since the Northwesters had possession of the country. Had
the present expedition been conducted in the
ordinary way of their traveling in these parts,
no doubt it would have been enforced, but
McKenzie's sudden and unexpected return,
and the Indians' remembrance of him in
former days, were favorable to us on the
117 &lejcantier fto££
present occasion. His open, free, and easy
manner often disarmed the most daring savage, and when one expedient failed another
was always at hand. When the men stood
aloof, he caressed their children, which seldom
failed to elicit a smile of approbation from
the rudest. His knowledge of their character armed him with confidence. In the most
suspicious places he would stroll among them,
unarmed and alone, when he would allow no
other man to step over the lines. He saw at a
glance what was working within, and never
failed to upset all their designs. Such a
sagacious and prudent leader seldom fails to
impart confidence to his followers.
We tried to put on as bold a front as possible. The guards were doubled all the night;
not one of us slept. The chiefs were prevailed
upon to remain in our camp. The men were
drawn out and the arms inspected, and the
plan of proceeding for the ensuing day fixed
upon and explained to the party. We were as
desirous of reducing the turbulent natives as
they were of reducing us. The motley complement of voyagers comprised a mixture of
Iroquois, Abanakees, Owhyhees, and some
even of a worse description, and with the
exception of a few staunch Canadians the
whole were little better or more to be depended on than Indians. This made us unwilling to hazard a battle, and our intention,
therefore,  was  to  stand on  the  defensive.
118 fur ^unterg of tfje far Wt$t 11
Should, however, the necessity of things bring
on a combat, we were each of us to head a division, keeping each class unmixed and apart.
On the next morning the Indians were assembled at our camp by break of day. Our
men were at their post close to the baggage;
our swivel had likewise its station; the Indians eyed it with suspicion. The chiefs, after
a parley, received a smoke, and through the
medium of our interpreter they were given to
understand our determination: if they were
advocates for peace and conducted themselves
in an orderly manner, they should be presented with some tobacco at the farther end
of the portage, as a mark of our friendship.
While thus engaged, and the crowd thronging around us, a fellow more like a baboon
than a man, with a head full of feathers and a
countenance of brass, having a fine gun in
his hand, called out, "How long are the
whites to pass here, troubling our waters and
scaring our fish, without paying us? Look at
all these bales of goods going to our enemies,"
said he, "and look at our wives and children
naked." The fellow then made a pause, as if
waiting an answer, but as good fortune would
have it, the rest of the Indians paid but little
attention to him. No answer was made, nor
was it a time to discuss the merits or demerits
of such a question. Happening, however, to
be near the fellow when he spoke, I turned
briskly round.   "So long," said I, "as the
119 &lejtatttier fto££
Indians smoke our tobacco; just so long, and
no longer, will the whites pass here." Then I
put some questions to him in turn. "Who
gave you that fine gun in your hand?" "The
whites," answered he. "And who gives you
tobacco to smoke?" "The whites," he replied.
Continuing the subject, "Are you fond of
your gun?" "Yes." "Are you fond of
tobacco to smoke?" To this question, also,
the reply was "Yes." "Then," said I, "you
ought to be fond of the whites, who supply all
your wants." "Oh, yes!" rejoined he. The
nature of the questions and answers set the
bystanders laughing, and taking no further
notice of the rascal, he sneaked off among the
crowd and we saw him no more. The question
put by the feathered baboon amounted to nothing in itself, but it proved that the subject of
tribute had been discussed among the Indians.
By this time the chiefs, whom we were
anxious to gain over to our side, had promised
to use their influence in our favor. We, therefore, lost no time in transporting our goods
across the portage. All was suspense during
this eventful day. A constant intercourse by
pencil and paper was carried on from end to
end of the pauses. The chiefs interested themselves for us. They spoke often and vehemently, but from the well-known disposition
of the Indians, it was evident that the slightest mistake on our part would destroy the
harmony that subsisted between us.
120 fur $unter£ of tfte far Wz$t
On reaching the farther end of the carrying-
place our craft were put into the water and
laden without delay. The natives were increasing in numbers, and our party awaited
the conclusion of the scene with anxiety.
While I was distributing the promised reward
to the chiefs, sixteen men, under the direction
of McMillan, were placed as a guard to keep
back the crowd, but they pressed us so hard
that, before we had done, the guard, as well as
myself, were forced into the water between
the craft and the crowd. Never was I harder
pressed, or nearer being crushed, than on that
day. Two men were nearly losing their lives
in the water, and more than once we despaired
of getting ourselves extricated.
The bows were strung, the arrows already
out of their quivers. Signs were repeatedly
made to the multitude to fall back, and just
as the guard and all were hurrying to embark
the word was issued for the men to raise their
arms. Thrice was the order repeated before
they obeyed. The interval was critical; I
cannot describe it. Let the reader picture in
his own mind our situation. In this perilous
position a final notice was given to the natives
to depart, and as a last resource in this emergency, the swivel was pointed from one of the
boats. For a moment all was silent. The
chiefs, who had been overwhelmed by the
crowd, now getting themselves extricated, set
the example,  and the whole multitude fell
J &lejtan&er jfcogg
back a few paces. Our people, taking advantage of the favorable moment, embarked.
While a third of our party were employed in
getting the craft pushed off, the remainder,
with their arms facing the natives, kept their
position until all was clear and ready for a
fair start; then embarking, we hoisted sail,
our guns still pointed to the crowd. We were
soon beyond their reach. Not an arrow flew,
not a trigger was drawn.
Had the Indians been aware of the movement made for defense at our departure, it is a
question if they would have overlooked the
opportunities that offered while we were more
or less separated in making the portage, it
never having been usual to take such precautions. But by this determined conduct
their views were completely frustrated. No
tribute was exacted. Had a different line been
pursued, and had they once gained their
point of extorting tribute, in a few voyages
the whole lading would no doubt have had
to pass for that purpose, and to the loss
of property that of lives must inevitably
have been added. In dangerous or hostile
rencounters the Indians generally single out
the leaders as the first victims, considering
the remainder of the party easily managed
from their probable confusion. This appears
to have been the case on the present occasion, for it was remarked that three daring
fellows were seen hovering about us adjust-
^^U^^". JT~^:VtJ.fe.-.^V - fur i^unterjS of tfje far Wm
ing their weapons, and the surmise was confirmed by report.
The gentleman at the head of affairs, after
signifying the necessity of a sharp lookout,
walked up and presented these three desperadoes with a stone to sharpen their arrows;
then sternly eyeing them all three alternately,
he stamped with his foot, slapped the butt
end of his gun, and opening the pans of his
rifle and pistols, he primed anew, to show
them that his arms were likewise ready. He
then insisted on their sitting down and composing themselves. They did so with apparently great reluctance, and at the same time
laid down their arrows as a token of submission, which, taking place in the full view
of the crowd, made them look very sheepish.
The effect, as far as we could judge, did not
operate amiss. The demagogue who goes by
the name of the Red Jacket also became useful and interested himself, no doubt to reclaim
our favor and get a piece of tobacco.
During the first day after our leaving the
Dalles we saw on almost every point crowds
on their way to the rendezvous, from which
we inferred that the whole body of Indians
had not yet been assembled at the appointed
place, and perhaps to that circumstance,
more than to any other, we owed our safety.
From the Falls, our friend from the Cascades,
after being rewarded with a new suit, returned
back to his people.   During the remainder of
w—mmmam &lejcantier jHo£g
the voyage the banks of the river for a great
way were covered with the natives. We made
a short halt at each considerable camp, and
the same attentions were paid to the chiefs in
a greater or less degree, according as their
respective merits and the aspect of things
demanded. In passing by scattered bands, a
few leaves of the envied plant were thrown
upon the beach. Sometimes this offering of
friendship fell into the water, but this was
productive of an equal effect, as the natives
in a twinkling plunged into the river to secure
it. Some of the villages we passed had upwards of a thousand inhabitants, particularly
those about the Great Forks.
My craft happening to fall behind a little,
one of the natives took offense at my handing
to his companion a leaf or two of tobacco
which was intended for both. The villain lost
no time in bending his bow, and had he not
been arrested in the act by my leveling my
gun at him he would most likely have made
sure of his mark.
At length, arriving at the succession of bad
steps called the Priest's Rapid, we were happily relieved from the importunities and annoyance of our numerous and designing neighbors on the south. Henceforth we traveled
among those more friendly, as we advanced
towards the north. The innumerable bands
of Indians assembled along the communication
this year rendered an uncommon degree of
124 fur l^unterg of tf>e far We$t
watchfulness necessary, and more particularly
as our sole dependence lay on them for our
daily subsistence. I have passed and repassed
many times, but never saw so many Indians
in one season along the communication. We
had reason to be thankful at our singular good
luck throughout.
On arriving at Okanogan, 600 miles from
the ocean, I set out immediately for my winter
quarters at the She Whaps, leaving my friends,
McKenzie and McMillan, to do the same.
It may now occur to the reader that on
arriving at Okanogan our voyage was ended,
and that henceforth we had nothing else to
do. The case was, however, very different.
I had still to put 300 miles behind me ere I
reached my own destination, and the others
nearly as many; but the most singular circumstance was, that some of the party after
traveling so far north had, at this stage of the
voyage, to wheel round and proceed again
south, a most defective arrangement.
Under existing regulations, the first halt of
each brigade was at Okanogan. This was the
point of general separation although the depot
for the interior was still 140 miles farther
east, at a place called Spokane House. Now,
whatever Okanogan might have been, Spokane
House, of all the posts in the interior, was the
most unsuitable place for concentrating the
different branches of the trade. But a post
had been established at that place in the early
J &lejeantier Jf!o££
days of the trade, and after the country had
become thoroughly known people were averse
to change what long habit had made familiar
to them, so Spokane House still remained.
Hence, both men and goods were, year after
year, carried 200 miles north by water, merely
to have the pleasure of sending them 200
miles south again by land, in order to reach
their destination.
To obviate this serious difficulty it had
been contemplated to have the depot of the
interior removed from Spokane House to the
Grand Forks, or Walla Walla, making either of
these places, as being more central, the general rendezvous. But many objections to this
change were urged. The country was too dangerous, the natives too hostile; the measure
was deemed impracticable. These were the ostensible reasons, but the real cause lay deeper
beneath the surface.
Spokane House was a retired spot; no hostile natives were there to disquiet a great
man. There the bourgeois who presided over
the Company's affairs resided, and that made
Spokane House the center of attraction.
There all the wintering parties, with the exception of the northern district, met. There
they were all fitted out. It was the great
starting point, although six weeks' travel out
of the direct line of some, and more or less
inconvenient to all. But that was nothing;
these trifles never troubled the great man.
126 fur i^unterg of tfje far Wt$t
At Spokane House, too, there were handsome buildings. There was a ballroom, even,
and no females in the land so fair to look upon
as the nymphs of Spokane. No damsels could
dance so gracefully as they, none were so attractive. But Spokane House was not celebrated for fine women only, there were fine
horses also. The race-ground was admired,
and the pleasures of the chase often yielded
to the pleasures of the race. Altogether, Spokane House was a delightful place, and time
had confirmed its celebrity.
Yet with all these attractions in favor of
the far-famed Spokane House, the unsparing
McKenzie contemplated its removal. It was
marked out by him as .a useless and expensive
drawback upon the trade of the interior, and
Walla Walla pitched upon as the future general
rendezvous of the inland trade. This step
deeply wounded the feelings of his colleagues,
and raised in the breasts of all lovers of
pleasure a prodigious outcry against him.
As to the reasons assigned against Walla
Walla by those opposed to a change, we might
here remark that the plan of non-intercourse,
which we had generally observed towards the
natives was calculated rather to keep up a
state of hostility than otherwise, for if we
wished to reduce the turbulent spirit of the
natives, it was not by avoiding them that we
could do so, but by mixing with them. We
must live with them and they with us.   We
127 aierantrer Jfio££
must carry on a free intercourse with them,
and familiarize them by that intercourse. If
this plan had been followed up at first, the
result, as in other similar cases, would have,
no doubt, been favorable to both parties. At
all events a step so necessary and so essential
to our interest and theirs ought to have had a
fair trial.
Some time before our arrival at the She
Whaps one of the men I had with me, named
Brusseau, alias Aland, fell very sick and was
so feeble that he was unable to continue the
journey. It being impossible for us to remain
with him, I got a small place fixed up near
wood and water, and leaving a man to take
care of him, and a spade, in case of his death,
to bury him, we left him with but little hopes
of recovery.
On the tenth day after we had departed
the man whom I had put to take care of
Brusseau arrived at the fort with the news of
his death, and on my asking him where the
spade was, he said the Indians had stolen it.
All this, as a matter of course, passed for
truth, until some time afterwards, when who
should turn up but poor dead Brusseau,
escorted by some friendly Indians.
It would appear that the cowardly and
faithless fellow whom I had left to take care
of him got frightened at the approach of
some Indians, fled, and abandoned Brusseau
to his fate; who, being left alone, must have
iHM fur l^unterg of tf>e far Wm
perished but for the timely appearance of some
natives, who administered to his wants, and
thus enabled him not only to leave the spot
already doomed- as his grave, but also to bring
home in his own hands the very instrument
that was to have buried him.
In our original plan it was proposed to
include the transactions of every year in a
chapter by themselves, but finding, as in the
present instance, that it would be of inconvenient length, I have resolved to deviate slightly
by dividing the operations of this year into
two chapters.
J If
Chapter 5
HAVING m the preceding chapter closed
our remarks on the voyage and reached
our winter quarters, we shall now turn
our attention to the transactions of the northern district.
In this extensive field but little had yet
been done in the way of discovering the
resources of the country, the greater part of
which was unknown to its traders. I, therefore, received orders from headquarters to
examine the eastern section, lying between
the She Whaps and the Rocky Mountains, a
large tract of wild country never before
trodden by the foot of any white man; to
ascertain the resources of this hitherto unknown waste, as regards its furs and general
appearance; and to find out the shortest route
between our starting point and Canoe River,
lying at the foot of the mountains. This task
I had to perform without a guide or a single
additional man, beyond the usual complement
of the post.
Our readers will naturally suppose that an
exploring party destined for the discovery of
any new part of the country ought to be
dignified with the name expedition, but there
130 fur i^unterg of tf>e far Wt$t
is no such appellation customary here. Whatever be the extent of the undertaking, there is
no great preparation made beforehand because
the ordinary routine of every day's duty is
as full of adventure and hardship as it could
be on a voyage of discovery, even were it
to be to the North Pole. No salute is fired at
starting, no feu de joie on returning, and the
party set off with such means as are available
at the time. Sometimes these means are
more, sometimes less, according to circumstances, the rank of the leader, or the extent
of the undertaking, but they are always simple.
The traders, from the very nature of their
employment, are daily familiarized with difficulties and dangers, and not infrequently
exposed to the severest privations, so that
their ingenuity, sharpened by experience, seldom fails to overcome the greatest obstacles
that can be presented by mountains or plains,
by woods or by water, or by the still more
dreaded arm of the lawless savage.
An experienced person in the Indian countries, with only one or two men, their guns,
and a few loads of ammunition, would think
no more of crossing the desert from the Atlantic to the Pacific, in the most wild and unfrequented parts, than any other man in
ordinary life would of crossing a country parish from one side to the other, and they seldom
fail with means the most slender. We may
take the present undertaking as an example.
I w
&le£aniJer fto&s?
although a petty one; yet those upon a larger
scale in this country differ in no material
point, either as to men or means. After remaining at the She Whaps for a few days,
settling the affairs of the place, I prepared
for my journey, but had recorded experience
to teach me this time not to depend altogether on the faith of Indians, who might
leave me in the lurch, as they had done before
in my attempt to reach the Pacific.
Taking, therefore, two of my own best and
most experienced hands, together with two
Indians, myself making the fifth person, we
left Fort She Whaps on the fourteenth day of
August, intending to perform the journey on
foot. Each man was provided with half a
dozen pairs of Indian shoes, a blanket to
sleep in, ammunition, a small axe, a knife, a
fire-steel, and an awl, together with some
needles, thread, and tobacco to smoke, all of
which he had to carry on his back, and his
gun on his shoulder; and this constituted the
whole of our traveling baggage, with the
exception of a cooking kettle and a pint pot.
Each person had the same weight to carry,
and the equipment is the same in all such
cases, be the journey for a week, for a month,
or for a year. We depended all the time on
our guns for our subsistence, and for a further
supply of shoes and clothes, on the skins
of the animals we might chance to kill on
our way.
132 fur tyuntttg of t&e far Wm
At the outset we proceeded up the North,
or Sun-tea-coot-a-coot River, for three days;
then turning to the right, we took to the
woods, steering our course in the eye of the
rising sun, nearly midway between Thompson's River on the south and Fraser's River on
the north. The first day after turning our
backs on North River, we made but little
progress, but what we made was in an easterly
direction. The second day our courses per
compass were, E.S.E. 6 miles, E. 4 miles,
S.E. 2 miles, E. by N. 5 miles, E. 1 mile,
N.E. 2 miles, •N.N.E. 4 miles; we then encamped. The country through which we
passed this day was covered with heavy timber, but having clear bottom and being good
traveling, with here and there small open
plains. During the third day the face of the
country became timberless, with frequently
open clear ground, so that we made a long
day's journey. In the evening we fell upon a
small lake, on the northern margin of which
we encamped for the night. Here we found
two Indian families, living on fish, roots, and
berries, which they were all employed in procuring. They belonged to the Sun-tea-coot-a-
*coot tribe, and seemed in their wretched condition to live very comfortably and happily.
One of the men belonging to these families,
who pretended to have a perfect knowledge
of the country through which we had to pass,
volunteered to accompany us as a guide, for
II WW frit
'   '   *'L'     :fi
Stouter Ulo$e?
which services I promised to reward him with
a blanket and some ammunition when we
returned. In consequence of this new acquisition to our party, we proceeded without
having much recourse to our compass, and
without any doubt as to the difficulties of the
road being overcome. Leaving this place,
which we called Friendly Lake, we proceeded
on our journey with feelings of great confidence as to our ultimate success.
We had now resolved to follow our guide,
having every confidence in his knowledge of
the country, but instead of taking us by an
easterly direction he bent his course almost
due north for about sixty miles. We then
reached a small river, called Kelow-naskar-
am-ish, or Grizzly Bear River, which we ascended in nearly an easterly direction for six
days, until it became so narrow that we could
have jumped over it. While following this
little stream we passed several beaver lodges,
and observed many marks of the ravages of
that animal. In many places great trees had
been cut down, and the course of the water
stopped and formed into small lakes and
ponds by the sagacious and provident exertions of the beaver. In one place we counted
forty-two trees cut down at the height of
about eighteen inches from the root, within
the compass of half an acre. We now began
to think we had found the goose that lays
golden eggs; this, however, was a delusion.
■-—» fur ^unterg of tfje far Wt$t
Some low points were covered with poplars
and other soft wood and wherever that timber and water were plentiful, there were
beaver, but not in great numbers. Few fur
animals were seen after passing this place,
for from thenceforward the face of the country changed materially, being in general too
rocky, hard, and flinty for beaver. Huge
rocks at every step barred our way; it is a
country for goats. Elks and deer were frequently seen in great numbers, and all of
them appeared very tame for wild animals,
a sure indication of their being but seldom
disturbed. Never, indeed, had they been disturbed before by civilized man!
Along Grizzly Bear River we shot four elk,
twenty-two deer, two otters, two beavers,
and three black bears without stepping out of
our way. But the bears were poor, and the
only cause we could assign for it was the
scarcity of berries and fish, for these animals
generally frequent fruit and fish countries,
and we did not notice any fish in the river.
Tracks of wild animals, wherever the ground
was soft, were abundant, crossing the road in
every direction.
In one of the thickets, as we passed along,
our guide took us a little out of our way to
show us what he called a bear's haunt, or
wintering den, where that animal, according
to Indian story, remains in a dark and secluded retreat, without food or nourishment,
J Stouter fto&S
for months together, sucking its paws! There
was nothing remarkable in the place. The
entrance to the lair or den was through a long
and winding thicket of dense brushwood and
the bear's hiding-place was not in a hole under
the ground, but on the surface, deeply im^-
bedded among the fallen leaves. "Over the
den the snow is often many feet thick, and
the bear's hiding-place is discovered only by
an air-hole resembling a small funnel, sometimes not two inches in diameter, through
which the breath issues, but so concealed from
view that none but the keen eye of the savage
can find it out.
In this den the bear is said to lie in a torpid
state from December till March. They do
not lie together in families, but singly, and
when they make their exit in the spring
they are very sleek and fat. To their appearance at this season I can bear ample
testimony, having frequently seen them. But
no sooner do they leave their winter quarters
and begin to roam about than they get poor
and haggard. The bear is said never to
winter twice in the same place. In their retreats they are often found out and killed
by the Indians without making the least resistance.
A short distance from Bear Thicket is a
towering height, resembling a round tower,
which we ascended. Here we had a pretty
good view of the country around, but it was a
136 fur gutter** of tfje far We$t
dreary prospect. The rugged rocks, with their
treeless and shrubless tops, almost forbade us
to advance.
On this hill, or tower, we shot a large white-
headed eagle, which gave a name to the place.
Here we inscribed on the south side of a
dwarfy pine, "September 2nd, 1817"; and
had I at the same time had a dram to have
given my men, they would no doubt have
identified the barren spot by a maypole, or
lop-stick, on its top, to commemorate our
visit according to North West custom.17 Here
our guide told us that in five or six days more
we should reach our journey's end. He added
that the She Whap Indians formerly passed
that way on their travels to the east side of
the mountains, where they often, when numerous and strong, went to trade or make
war, but that of late they seldom ventured to
meet the Assiniboins of the woods or the Crees
of the plains in that quarter. Not far from
Eagle Hill we came to some water, where we
saw signs of beaver, but by no means so
plentiful as to entitle it to the name of a
beaver country. Our guide told us that these
parts were in no respect entitled to be called
places of beaver. From Friendly Lake to
Eagle Hill, by the road we came, on a rough
calculation is 155 miles.
17 The erection of maypoles was a common custom
among the French-Canadians, having been transferred
to the New World from France by their ancestors.
^- - -- -a^-,-^' , ,,   - ^r
aiejcautier J!iog£
After passing several hours on this rocky
pinnacle, we set out again on our journey, but
in descending the rugged cliffs one of my men
cut his foot very badly, which detained us for
nearly a whole day and so disabled the unfortunate man that we had almost made up
our minds to leave him behind until our return; but as this step would have deprived
us of another man to take care of him, we
decided to keep together, so we dragged him
along with us, and he soon recovered.
Our course after leaving Eagle Hill was
generally S.E., but in order to avoid clambering over rocks and mountains, we had to wind
in tortuous courses the best way we could
among the intricate defiles that every now
and then crossed our path. Thus we made
but little headway, so that after an arduous
day's travel we sometimes scarcely put ten
miles behind us in a direct line. As we advanced the wild animals did not seem to increase in number, although our guns always
procured us a sufficient supply of food; but
the circuitous, and in many places dangerous,
passes we had to wind through, discouraged us.
The precipitous rocks required the foot of a
dog and the eye of a hawk to guard against
accident at all times.
As we journeyed along, our guide took us
up to another height and pointing out the
country generally, said that he had passed
and  repassed  through  various  parts  of  it
138 fur I^uuterg of tfjc far Wt$t
seven different times, and in as many different
places. He seemed to know it well, and
observed that the road we had traveled, with
all its difficulties, was the very best to be
found. There were, he said, some other parts
better furnished with water, and likewise
several small lakes, but beaver was scarce
over all and as to water communication, there
was none. Therefore, we at once condemned
it, as far as we had yet seen, as both impracticable and dangerous, destitute of beaver and
everything else, so far as the purposes of
commerce were concerned.
On the tenth of September, being the ninth
day after leaving Eagle Hill, we reached what
our guide called the foot of the Rocky Mountains; but the ascent all along had been
apparently so gradual and the country so very
rugged, with a broken and uneven surface,
that we could observe no very perceptible
difference in the height of the land until we
came close under the brow of the dividing
ridge, but there the difference was certainly
striking. The guide had led us to a considerable eminence some distance out of our
way, from which, in looking back, we beheld
the country we had passed over, and certainly
a more wild and rugged land the mind of man
could not imagine. In looking before us, that
is towards the mountains, the view was completely barred; an almost perpendicular front
met the eye like a wall, and we stood and
■25 &lejrau&rr fto££
gazed at what might be called one of the
wonders of the world. One circumstance
struck us very forcibly, and that was the
increased size of the timber. Along the base
of the mountains the timber, which had been
stunted and puny, now became gigantic in
size, the pines and cedars in particular. One
of the latter measured forty-five feet four
inches in girth, four feet from the ground.
After passing some time looking around us,
we descended and encamped at the edge of the
small and insignificant stream called Canoe
River, celebrated among Northwesters for
the quality of its birch bark. So completely
were its banks overhung and concealed with
heavy timber that it was scarcely visible at
the short distance of fifty yards. It is a mere
rill among rivers, being in some places not
more than fifteen paces broad. Its course is
almost due south, and it flows over a stony
bottom, with low banks, clear, cold water,
and a strong current. Here our guide told us
that in two days' moderate travel we could
reach its mouth, where it enters the Columbia
near Portage Point. Everything here wore
the appearance and stillness of the midnight
hour. The scene was gloomy, and scarcely
the chirping of a solitary bird was to be heard;
our own voices alone disturbed the universal
silence. In all this extent of desert through
which we had passed not a human being was
to be seen, nor the traces of any.
140 fur i£uuter£ of tfte far We$t
At Canoe River we spent the greater part
of two days strolling about its banks, when,
having accomplished the object of our journey, rested ourselves, and mended our shoes,
we prepared to retrace our steps. Just as we
were tying up our bundles to start, a fine
moose deer plunged into the river before us;
it had scarcely time to reach the opposite
shore before it was shot down. This detained
us a few hours longer, as we stopped and dined
on the fresh supply, bagging the tongue and
nose. We now turned our backs on Canoe
River, and bidding farewell to the mountains,
took to the wilderness again, following as
nearly as possible the road we had come, only
at intervals deviating from it. The second
day after starting we had very heavy thunder,
with a torrent of rain, which impeded our
progress, for the thick brushwood and long
grass rendered traveling in dry weather not
over pleasant, but in wet weather intolerable.
As the thunder and rain increased, I expressed a wish to take shelter under the cliff
of a projecting rock until the storm abated,
but our guide smiled at my ignorance. "Do
not the whites know," asked he, "that there
is a bad spirit there?" and he would not go
near it, nor hear of our approaching the rock
that offered us shelter. I replied he might
stop, but I should go. "No, no!" said he,
" the thunder may not kill you, but it will kill
the Indians.   Do you wish us to die?"   So I
141 &lejcau&er fto£g
yielded the point and we remained exposed
to the fury of the storm all the time. "That
rocky height," said he, pointing to one near
us, "has fire in it, and the thunder keeps
always about it." On my inquiring into the
nature of the fire, he observed, "Snow never
remains there; it is hot, and smokes all the
winter. There is a bad spirit in it. Three
years ago, two of our people who took shelter
there were killed—the Kasht-sam-mah dwells
there." I then asked him if that was the only
rock that smoked during winter in these parts.
He answered, "No; there are several others a
little farther on that smoke, but the Indians
never go near them, and wild animals in going
past them are often killed. Plenty of bones
are there, and the thunder is always loudest
there. The bad spirit, or Kasht-sam-mah,
lives there." We, however, saw no indications of a volcanic nature near it; it was, in
my opinion, pure superstition. The weather
clearing up soon after, we continued our
On the seventh day from Canoe River we
reached Eagle Hill, but we did not stop there.
From that place our guide took us by a new
road—I ought to say in a different direction-
with the view of shortening our distance, but
we gained little by the change. Not far from
Eagle Hill we shot two grizzly bears and a
bird of the vulture tribe. Deer and elk were
very numerous.  In this direction we likewise
142 fur J^uutcrjef of tfie far 10m
passed a considerable lake in which were
several muskrat lodges. We shot a swan, and
saw two wolves prowling about, and for the
first time saw tracks of the martin. Six days
from Eagle Hill brought us back again to
Friendly Lake, where the relations of our
guide were left, but they had removed from
the place, leaving no trace, apparently. The
guide, however, after looking about for some
time noticed a small stick stuck up in the
ground, rather leaning to one side, with a small
notch in it. After examining the position of
the stick and the notch, he observed to me,
"My relations are at such a place." The inclination of the stick pointed out, he said,
the direction they had gone, and the notch
meant one day's journey off. It being in our
line of march, we came up to them at the very
place the guide had stated.
With the guide's relations we passed a night
and part of the next day, as two of my men
had the soles of their feet blistered by walking. Starting again without the Indians, our
guide still accompanied us. Here again we
took another new road and crossed the woods
in a southwest direction, thinking to shorten
our distance considerably. By this course we
avoided going to North River altogether,
until within a short distance of the fort. Here
the woods assumed a more healthy appearance, the timber became much larger, and the
rocks gave place to a rich and fertile soil.
143 Stlexrantiec Mn$$
On reaching a small, open plain, we perceived at a little distance off two large birds in
the act of fighting, much in the same way as
do our domestic fowl. We made a halt and,
unperceived, I approached them till within
gunshot, and kept watching their motions for
some time. At last I showed myself, when one
of the birds tried to fly off but was scarcely
able to keep itself up, and soon alighted again.
I still approached, when the bird tried to get
up again. As it was in the act of rising, I
fired and brought it to the ground, but the
other never stirred from its place. The bird I
had shot proved to be a whiteheaded eagle,
the other was a wild turkey-cock, or what we
call the Columbia grouse, a bold and noble
bird. The grouse was nearly blind, for during
the combat the eagle had almost torn out its
eyes; yet it disdained to yield, and might have
ultimately come off the conqueror, for the
eagle was very much exhausted and nearly
blind of an eye. The fight had been long and
well contested, for the grass all round the
spot, for some twenty yards, was beaten to
the ground, and the feathers of the combatants were strewed about in their fierce and
bloody struggles. The grouse weighed n^
lbs., the eagle only 8$4 lbs. We carried both
birds along with us.
By the road we last took we shortened our
distance nearly a day's travel, but what we
saved in shoes we lost in clothes, for almost
144 fur ^mtterje? of tlje far Wt$t
all we had were torn to pieces. We reached the
fort, after a laborious journey of forty-seven
days, on the twenty-ninth of September.
According to the most correct estimate, the
distance between the She Whaps and Canoe
River does not, by the route we traveled,
exceed 420 miles, and in a direct line not much
more than half that distance. From all I saw
or could learn, however, in reference to the
country generally, little can be said in its
favor. No road for the purpose of land transport appeared to me practicable, nor do I
conceive it possible to make one without an
expense that the prospects of the country
would by no means warrant. As to water
communication, there is none except by
Thompson's River, and that is practicable
but a very small part of the way; elsewhere
there is none but Fraser's on the north. As a
barren waste well stocked in wild animals of the
chase, and some few furs, the trade on a small
scale, apart from the She Whaps, might be
extended to some advantage in this quarter,
and the returns conveyed either to the latter
post or to the mouth of Canoe River.
Leaving the affairs of my own district, we
shall bestow a cursory glance at what was
going on in another quarter., The season was
now at hand when the Company's dispatches
were wont to arrive, and a brigade, as usual,
escorted them from the interior to Fort
George.   As soon, therefore, as they arrived,
145 SUerauUer ftogg
McKenzie made no hesitation in delivering
over these important documents into the
hands of the natives, to carry them to their
destination. This appeared a strange mark of
confidence in the fidelity of this almost hostile
race. It seemed doubtful, even to us, that a
novel experiment of the kind should succeed
in this quarter, while it was remarked that
similar instances could never be brought to
succeed with the Indians of more settled
countries. At the Falls a council of the chiefs
and wise men was solemnly held over the
dispatches, but after a very short delay they
sent them forward. At the Cascades more
serious meetings disputed their fate, but after
being detained by a variety of alternations for
three days, it seemed that good fortune again
prevailed, and they went on from hand to
hand with wonderful expedition. The answer
was also conveyed back to the interior by the
same hands, with unheard-of rapidity.
In the contemplation of this plan the Council at headquarters had suggested the propriety of one set of couriers performing the
whole journey; but McKenzie, with his usual
sagacity, saw this would cause jealousy and
eventually fail. He therefore managed so as
to have the dispatches conveyed from one
tribe to another, placing confidence in all, and
therefore all seemed equally intrusted and
equally ambitious to discharge the trust reposed in them.
146 fur punters? of tfje far Wz$t
By this means of conveyance a voyage
which employed forty or fifty men was
avoided, consequently obviating the risk of
lives, loss of time, and heavy expenses, the
charges incurred being a mere trifle. Not only
were these advantages obtained, but that
which strength and weapons could scarcely
bring about was effected by a sheet of paper
conveying our ideas to one another. It
imprinted on the superstitious minds of the
savages a religious veneration for the superior
endowments of the white man. They appreciated the confidence placed in them, and this
custom was afterwards continued. A Columbia Indian was always ready to start in
the capacity of courier for the boon of a few
strings of beads, or a few shots of ammunition.
When the different establishments were
outfitted and put in train for the season,
McKenzie, with all the residue of the people,
set out on a voyage of hunting and discovery
to the south of Lewis River, bordering on the
Snake frontiers. His party consisted chiefly
of such men as were otherwise found of little
service in the wintering ground, being almost
all composed of Iroquois and other refuse.
They were five and thirty strong, but of this
motley crew five Canadians formed the only
support he could trust to with confidence.
No sooner were they arrived in the midst
of the Nez Perces, on their way to their winter quarters,  than the Iroquois, perceiving
"SSSSSSSSSSSSM aiejeantier ftogg
their superiority in numerical strength over
the few whites, instead of acting up to their
respective duties, contrived plots against their
leader and the slender band of Canadians that
were about him. A trifling incident, which we
are about to mention, blew the whole into flame.
The Iroquois, contrary to the established
rules of the trade and the general practice
among the natives, trafficked privately with
the Indians, which conduct had once or twice
before nearly caused serious quarrels between
the natives and the party. The Iroquois had
been repeatedly warned against such practices, but without effect; they still continued
to act as before. Grand Pierre, one of the
Iroquois, bargaining with an Indian for a
horse, a misunderstanding arose between
them, and a quarrel was likely to ensue, when
the Iroquois applied to his bourgeois, at the
same time asking him for a variety of things
to satisfy the Indian from whom he had got
the horse. McKenzie, annoyed at the conduct of Pierre and the Iroquois generally, and
wishing to put a final stop to such dangerous
interference in future, paid the Indian and
then, drawing a pistol from his belt, shot the
horse dead upon the spot. This act ought to
have warned Pierre and his companions of
their misconduct; it caused a considerable
talk at the moment. The Iroquois grumbled
and retired, but from that moment they meditated the destruction of their leader.
—— fur i^uuterg of tf>e far Wt$t
Being as cowardly as perfidious, and in
order to make sure of their blow, they set to
work to gain the natives on their side, that
they might throw the guilt of the deed on
their shoulders. But this only served to draw
down upon them the contempt of the party,
and eventually divulged their schemes before
they were ripe for execution.
A short time previously the Indians had
mentioned something of the kind to our
people, who, however, discredited the whole
as a piece of deception got up to answer some
purpose of their own, and it passed unheeded.
The Iroquois learning, however, that the Indians had made their designs known to the
whites, were determined not to be foiled in
their purpose; so one of the villains immediately arming himself, and calling upon his
comrades to follow him, sallied forth for his
master's tent, just at the break of day.
Joachim, the Iroquois interpreter, a faithful
and zealous servant, having overheard what
was going on, rushed into his bourgeois' tent
not half a minute before the assassin and one
of his gang got there, and called out "Murder!
murder!" In the confusion McKenzie, who
had been asleep, could not put his hands
on his pistols, but grasping one of the tent
poles he brought his assailant to the ground
at the first blow; another who followed close
after, shared the same fate. By this time
some of the Canadians and faithful Owhyhees
m^rnm 7r~
&lerau&er Mti$$
came to their master's assistance, and the
Iroquois fled.
In this instance McKenzie's strength and
activity of body were of much service to him,
but not more than his coolness and decision
in the moment of danger.
The plan of the Iroquois was to murder
their leader while asleep and to escape with
the property out of the country in a body, but
the safety of McKenzie and the success of
his affairs resting entirely on promptness of
action, he resolutely chastised the ringleader
and others on the spot; nor had the tomahawks which the villains brandished over his
head the effect of averting the punishment
their treacherous conduct deserved. In the
face of the natives, therefore, it was his good
fortune to reduce his treacherous servants to
a sense of their duty. But he did not think it
prudent to trust them further in the prosecution of his plans, which, by this unforeseen
event, experienced a partial failure for the
He dispersed the Iroquois: one was sent
to me at Okanogan, two to Spokane House,
and the rest placed on separate hunting-
grounds in the neighborhood, under the eye
of an influential chief, where they could do no
harm. Then, with the remainder of his people
he wheeled about in another direction, intending to carry on the project of hunting and of
discovery for the season, although upon a
--- fur i^uuterg of t&e far Wt$t
more contracted scale. His primary object
was to conclude an arrangement with the Nez
Per ces. and in the Snake country to con-
ciliate the Indians, with a view to* open the
way for extending the trade as soon as existing
prejudices gave way, for he was surprised at
the unfavorable change which the Indians
had undergone during the short period the
country had been under the domination of
the North West Company. He frequently
observed to me that a change of system was
necessary to reduce the Indians to order and
to reclaim the trade, both being on the brink
of ruin.
With this view he undertook, at a late season of the year, a voyage of three months'
duration, traversing a rugged and mountainous country covered with deep snow, in
order to keep up a good understanding with
the strong and turbulent tribes inhabiting
the south branch, where some of his former
years had been spent.
These roving and hostile bands, inhabiting
the borders of the great Snake country, still
infested the communication and held a valuable key of trade, but invariably continued
hostile to the whites. At that severe season
they are generally scattered about in small
bands, and as it is much easier to gain on
a few than on a multitude, he visited them
all, and succeeded beyond expectation. In
McMillan's wintering ground everything went
J aiejeaufcer jflo&ef
on in its usual successful train. But nothing
happened in that old beaten path to elicit our
notice, so that we now turn back to the north
Soon after my arrival from Canoe River I
was invited by the chiefs of my post to accompany a party of the natives on a bear-hunting
expedition for a few days. On these occasions
they feel flattered by their trader accompanying them. The party were all mounted
on horseback, to the number of seventy-three,
and exhibited a fine display of horsemanship.
After some ten miles' travel we commenced
operations. Having reached the hunting-
ground, the party separated into several
divisions. We then perambulated the woods,
crossed rivers, surrounded thickets, and scampered over hill and dale, with yell and song,
for the greater part of two days, during which
time we killed seven bears, nine wolves, and
eleven small deer. One of the former I had
the good luck to shoot myself. In the evening
of the third day, however, our sport was
checked by an accident. One of the great
men, the chief Pasha of the hunting party,
named Tu-tack-it Is-tso-augh-an, or Short
Legs, got severely wounded by a female bear.
The only danger to be apprehended in these
savage excursions is by following the wounded
animal into a thicket, or hiding-place; but
with the Indians the more danger the more
honor, and some of them are foolhardy enough
152 fur J^uuterg of tf>e far Wt$t
to run every hazard in order to strike the last
fatal blow (in which the honor lies) sometimes with a lance, tomahawk, or knife, at
the risk of their lives. No sooner is a bear
wounded than it immediately flies for refuge
to some hiding-place, unless too closely pursued, in which case it turns round in savage
fury on its pursuers, and woe awaits whoever
is in the way.
The bear in question had been wounded
and took shelter in a small coppice. The bush
was instantly surrounded by the horsemen,
when the more bold and daring entered it on
foot, armed with gun, knife, and tomahawk.
Among the bushrangers on the present occasion was the chief, Short Legs, who, while
scrambling over some fallen timber, happened
to stumble near to where the wounded and
enraged bear was concealed, but too close to
be able to defend himself before the vicious
animal got hold of him. At that moment I
was not more than five or six paces from the
chief, but could not get a chance of shooting,
so I immediately called out for help, when
several mustered round the spot. Availing
ourselves of the doubtful alternative of killing
her—even at the risk of killing the chief—we
fired, and as good luck would have it shot the
animal and saved the man; then, carrying the
bear and wounded chief out of the bush, we
laid both on the open ground. The sight of
the chief was appalling.   The scalp was torn
153* &leraufcer t5o^
from the crown of his head, down over the
eyebrows; he was insensible, and for some
time we all thought him dead, but after a
short interval his pulse began to beat, and he
gradually showed signs of returning animation.
It was a curious and somewhat interesting
scene to see the party approach the spot where
the accident happened. Not being able to get
a chance of shooting, they threw their guns
from them and could scarcely be restrained
from rushing on the fierce animal with their
knives only. The bear all the time kept looking first at one, than at another, and casting
her fierce and flaming eyes around the whole
of us, as if ready to make a spring at each;
yet she never let go her hold of the chief, but
stood over him. Seeing herself surrounded by
so many enemies, she moved her head from
one position to another, and these movements
gave us ultimately an opportunity of killing
The misfortune produced a loud and clamorous scene of mourning among the chief's
relations. We hastened home, carrying our
dead bears along with us, and arrived at the
camp early in the morning of the fourth day.
The chief remained for three days speechless.
In cutting off the scalp and dressing the wound
we found the skull, according to our imperfect
knowledge of anatomy, fractured in two or
three places; and at the end of eight days I
extracted a bone measuring two inches long,
154 fur gutters? of tfie far Wt$t
of an oblong form, and another of about an
inch square, with several smaller pieces, all
from the crown of the head. The wound, however, gradually closed up and healed, except
a small spot about the size of an English
shilling. In fifteen days, by the aid of Indian
medicine, he was able to walk about, and at
the end of six weeks from the time he got
wounded, he was on horseback again at the
The tide of sympathy for the great man's
misfortunes did not run high, for at best he
was but an unprincipled fellow, an enemy to
the whites and hated by his own people.
Many were of the opinion that the friendly
bear had at last rid us of an unfriendly chief,
but to the disappointment of all he set the
bear and wounds at defiance, and was soon,
to our great annoyance, at his old trade of
plotting mischief.
Wolf-hunting as well as bear-hunting occasionally occupies the attention of the natives.
In these parts both species are numerous.
The former is an inhabitant of the plains, the
latter of the woods. Wolves and foxes are
often run down on horseback, hunted with
the gun, or caught in traps. With all the
cunning of the fox, however, the wolf is far
more difficult to decoy or entrap, being shy,
guarded, and suspicious.
During the winter season a good many
wolves and foxes were caught by the whites
i55 ftieranoer ifSogg
with hook and line as we catch fish; with this
difference, however, that the latter are taken
in water, the former on dry land. For this
purpose three cod-hooks are generally tied
together back to back, baited, and then fixed
with a line to the branch of a tree, so that the
hooks are suspended in the air at the distance
of four or five feet from the ground. To get
hold of the bait the wolf has to leap up, and
the moment the hooks catch their hold it
finds itself either in a standing or suspended
position, which deprives the animal of its
strength; neither can it in that posture cut
the line. It is generally caught, sometimes
dead, sometimes alive.
The catching of wolves, foxes, or other wild
animals by the whites, was, however, the
work only of leisure hours. We always preferred the gun to any other mode of destruction. In these parts, as well as in many others,
the wolves prowled about night and day.
Their favorite haunts were on hillocks or
other eminences on which they would stand
to rest or look about them for some time. We,
therefore, used to scatter bones or bits of
meat as decoys to attract them, and in the
intervals practiced ourselves in shooting at
these frequented spots, taking different elevations with the gun, until habit and experience
had enabled us to hit a small object at a very
great distance, and with as much precision as
if the object had been near to us.
156 fur i^unterg of tfje far We$t §
1      im n m        •m—~— ..._ ' "      ' " *" '       '    —"' *
A band of Indians happening to come to the
fort one day, and observing a wolf on one of
the favorite places of resort, several of them
prepared to take a circuitous turn to have a
shot at the animal. Seeing them prepare,
"Try," said I, "and kill it from where you
are." The Indians smiled at my ignorance.
"Can the whites," said the chief, "kill it at
that distance?" "The whites," said I, "do
not live by hunting or shooting as do the
Indians, or they might." "There is no gun,"
continued the chief, "that could kill at that
distance." By this time the wolf had laid
hold of a bone, or a piece of flesh, and was
scampering off with it at full speed to the
opposite woods. Taking hold of my gun, "If
we cannot kill it," said I, "we shall make it
let go its prey." "My horse against your
shot," called out the chief, "that you do not
hit the wolf." " Done," said I, but I certainly
thought within myself that the chief ran no
great risk of losing his horse, nor the wolf of
losing its life. Taking an elevation of some
fifteen or sixteen feet over it, by chance I shot
the animal in his flight, to the astonishment
of the chief, as well as all present, who, clapping their hands to their mouths in amazement, measured the distance by five arrow-
shots. Nothing but their wonder could exceed
their admiration of this effect of firearms.
When the ball struck the wolf it was in the
act of leaping, and we may judge of its speed
mmm aiejtaniier Mv$$
at the time from the fact that the distance
from whence it took the last leap to where it
was lying stretched measured twenty-four
feet! The ball struck the wolf in the left
thigh, and passing through the body, neck,
and head it lodged in the lower jaw; I cut it
out with my penknife. The chief, on delivering up his horse, which he did cheerfully,
asked me for the ball, and that ball was the
favorite ornament of his neck for years afterwards. The horse I returned to its owner.
The Indians then asked me for the skin of
the dead wolf, and to each of the guns belonging to the party was appended a piece,
the Indians fancying that the skin would enable them, in future, to kill animals at a great
The incidents, adventures, and narrow escapes which, in the course of this year, we
have had to notice, may throw some transient
light on a fur trader's life in this country—his
duties, his troubles, his amusements, and his
pleasures. And one of the greatest pleasures
here alluded to consists in doing homage to
the great. A chief arrives; the honor of waiting upon him in a servile capacity falls to
your share, if you are not above your business.
You go forth to meet him, invite him in, see
him seated, and, if need require it, you untie
his shoes and dry his socks. You next hand
him food, water, and tobacco, and you must
smoke along with him; after which, you must
158 fur I^unterg of ti>e far Wt$t
listen with grave attention to all he has got to
say on Indian topics, and show your sense of
the value of his information by giving him
some trinkets, and sometimes even articles of
value, in return. But the grand point of all
this ceremony is to know how far you should
go in these matters, and when you should
stop. Nor must you forget that Indians are
acute observers of men and things, and generally possess retentive memories. By overdoing the thing you may entail on yourself
endless troubles.
When not employed in exploring new and
unfrequented parts, involved in difficulties
with the natives, or finding opposition in
trade, the general routine of dealing with most
Indians goes on smoothly. Each trading-post
has its leader, its interpreter, and its own
complement of hands, and when things are
put in a proper train, according to the customs
of the country, the business of the year proceeds without much trouble and leaves you
sufficient time for recreation. You can take
your gun on your back; you can instruct your
family or improve yourself in reading and
reflection; you can enjoy the pleasures of
religion to better advantage, serve your God
to more perfection, and be a far better Christian than were your lot cast in the midst of
the temptations of a busy world.
Confining our remarks to the simple and
uniform duties of a trading-post, activity of
159 ^kjcaufcer fto&s?
body, prudence, and forethought are qualifications more in request than talent. In
trade, as in war, there are gains and losses,
advantages and disadvantages to be kept in
view, to guide one's conduct, and, generally
speaking, the master of a department, district,
or post, lives a busy and active life; and,
although in a manner secluded from the eye
of the world, yet he is just as interested and
ambitious to distinguish himself in his sphere
of life as if continually under the eye of a
scrutinizing superior, for if he once loses his
character through negligence or impropriety
of conduct, it is here tenfold harder for him to
regain confidence than in any employment
elsewhere. The apprehension of this alone is a
great check against misconduct.
The usual time for mustering all hands at
headquarters being now arrived, the different
parties throughout the interior, after assembling at the forts, made the best of their way
to the emporium of the Far West, and met at
Fort George on the fifth day of June, 1818.
T the sitting of the Fort George board of
management in the preceding year, an
inclination was manifested to encourage
the change of system, agreeably to the minutes
of Council at headquarters. From the feeling at
the time much was expected, but nothing was
realized; for, practically, that disposition was
rendered abortive by subsequent arrangements.
At headquarters, however, the Council of
Fort William this year took a decisive step
that set all the vacillating measures of the
managers at Fort George on one side. They
ordered 100 men to be at McKenzie's disposal for the more effectually carrying out
his measures, and that a fort, or trading station, should be erected among the Nez Perces
Indians. Being more central for the general
business of the interior than that of Spokane
House, it should be forthwith established
there, and I was appointed to take charge of
that important depot. To these resolutions
was appended a sharp reproof for the delays
during the two preceding years.
The Fort George board of management had
now no choice but to acquiesce in the decision
of the Council at headquarters. The managers
.161 aiejtantier fto&a?
bit their lips, and were silent. Men were
provided and means also, and a new feature
imparted to the order of things generally.
The Council having sat, the brigade for the
interior left Fort George and reached, without accident or hindrance, after a short and
prosperous voyage, the Walla Walla, near the
confluence of the two great branches of the
Columbia, on the eleventh of July. On that
day McKenzie, myself, and ninety-five effective men encamped on the site pitched upon
for the new establishment of Fort Nez Perces,
about half a mile from the mouth of the little
river Walla Walla.
There our friends left us as a forlorn hope,
and proceeded on their journey to their several
destinations. And, having before fully explained the customary mode of voyaging, we
shall now direct the attention of our readers
to the operations in this new quarter, occasionally glancing at other parts as circumstances may require.
Before doing so we must, in the first place,
give a brief description of the place itself, with
such other remarks as may occasionally suggest themselves; and secondly, present the
reader with an account of our reception by the
natives of the place, and the almost insurmountable difficulties we had to encounter
before we could bring about a full reconciliation with the turbulent and high-minded
Indians by whom we were surrounded.
_——* fut i^uuterg of tl>e far Wt$t
On reaching the place, instead of advancing
to meet us at the water's edge, as friends, on
making for the shore the Indians, as if with
one accord, withdrew to their camp. Not a
friendly hand was stretched out; not the least
joy, usual among Indians on such occasions,
was testified, to invite or welcome our arrival.
These ceremonies, though trifling in themselves, are a very good indication of the reception likely to be met with, and in the present
case their total absence could only be considered as very unfavorable.
Shy and silent, they sat on the mounds at
some distance from us, wrapped in their robes
of dignity, observing a studied indifference.
Even the little copper-colored bantlings were
heard to say, "What do the white people want
here? Are they going to kill more of our relations?" alluding to some former occurrences
there. Others, again, would remark, "We
must not go near them, because they will kill
us." While all this was going on we kept a
sharp lookout. The principal chief of the
camp, instead of coming to us walked round
and round the assembled crowd, urging the
Indians to the observance of a non-intercourse,
until the whites had made them presents.
Hints were given us that property would purchase a footing.
In the whole land, this spot was among the
most difficult—the most barren of materials
for building; and as it was no common scheme,
.163 &lejcautier Jflo£g
the same appeared to ordinary minds as a
thing more wild than practicable. But plans
had been formed; the country must be secured,
the natives awed and reconciled, buildings
made, furs collected, new territories added.
Objections were not to be entertained; no
obstacles were to be seen. We were to occupy
the position. So on the dreaded spot we took
up our stand, to run every hazard and brave
every danger.
The site was remarkable among the natives
as being the ground on which, some years
before, Lewis and Clark of the American exploring expedition ratified, according to Indian report, a general peace between themselves and the tribes of the adjacent country
by the celebration of feasting and dancing for
several days.18 It was rendered remarkable
as a spot on which difficulties already noticed
had taken place between the whites and the
natives; and it was rendered still more remarkable as being considered the most hostile
spot on the whole line of communication, a
place which the whites, it was said, could never
hold with safety. The Nez Perces Fort was,
however, marked out on a level upon the east
bank of the Columbia, forming something like
an island in the flood, and, by means of a tributary stream, a peninsula at low water.
18 The allusion is evidently to the dealings of Lewis
and Clark with the natives at this place on the occasion
of their outward journey, October 16-17, 1805.
164 fur $uuter£ of tlje far Wt$t
The place selected was commanding.19 On
the west is a spacious view of our noble stream
in all its grandeur, resembling a lake rather
than a river, and confined on the opposite
shore by verdant hills of moderate height. On
the north and east the sight is fatigued by the
uniformity and wide expanse of boundless
plains. On the south the prospect is romantic,
being abruptly checked by a striking contrast of wild hills and rugged bluffs on either
side of the water, and rendered more picturesque by two singular towering rocks,
similar in color, shape, and height, called by
the natives "The Twins," situated on the
east side. These are skirted in the distance
by a chain of the Blue Mountains, lying in
the direction of east and west. To effect the
intended footing on this sterile and precarious
spot was certainly a task replete with excessive
labor and anxiety.
In the charming serenity of a temperate
atmosphere, Nature here displays her manifold beauties, and, at this season, the crowds
of moving bodies diversify and enliven the
scene. Groups of Indian huts, with their
little spiral columns of smoke, and herds of
animals, give animation and beauty to the
19 On the site of modern Wallula, Washington. The
original fort was burned in 1841, whereupon a second
fort, constructed entirely of stone and adobe, was
erected by the Hudson's Bay Company. It stood until
1894, when it was destroyed by flood.
I      llil   165 &fefaniier $o&$
landscape. The natives, in social crowds, vied
with each other in coursing their gallant steeds,
in racing, swimming, and other feats of activity. Wild horses in droves sported and
grazed along the boundless plains; the wild
fowl, in flocks, filled the air; and the salmon
and sturgeon, incessantly leaping, ruffled the
smoothness of the waters. The appearance
of the country on a summer's evening was
delightful beyond description.
Yet, with all these attractions around us,
we were far from being free from anxiety.
The natives flocked about us in very suspicious numbers, often through curiosity, to
see our work; yet not at all times too well disposed. Our situation was the more irksome
as we depended for food on the success of
trade, and on our standing well or ill with the
By far the greater part of the timber had to
be collected in the bush, and conducted by
water the distance of a hundred miles; not a
tree nor shrub was on the spot. Divisions of
our party, consequently, took place more frequently than was desirable, and our situation
was ever exposed.
We had also to devise means to divert the
attention and amuse the curiosity of the
natives. Being composed of different tribes,
the seeds of dissension were artfully sown
among them to hold the balance equal and
prevent their uniting against us.   Each tribe
166 fur ^untetg of tlje far Wt$t
imagined it possessed the preeminence in our
consideration, and though they were as independent of us as we were the reverse of
them, still they were taught to fancy that
they could not do without us.
Soon after our landing the tribes began to
muster rapidly. The multitudes which surrounded us became immense and their movements alarming. They insisted on our paying |
for the timber we were collecting. They prohibited our hunting and fishing. They affixed
an exorbitant price of their own to every
article of trade, and they insulted any of the
hands whom they met alone. Thus they resolved to keep us in their power, and withhold
supplies until their conditions were granted.
Not knowing, therefore, how affairs might
terminate, all work was suspended. We stood
on our guard and an entire system of non-
intercourse between us, of necessity, took
place for five long summer days, although we
were at the time on very short allowance.
One night all hands went to rest supperless.
All this time the natives were mustering fast,
plotting and planning. Our numbers, however, being collected, they consisted of twenty-
five Canadians, thirty-two Owhyhees, and
thirty-eight Iroquois; and as a temporary in-
closure had been put together, we assumed a
posture of independence and of defense.
The natives were offered such terms as were
given in other parts of the country—that
167 &lejtautier fto£g
they should have the choice of cultivating a
peaceable understanding with us, and might
profit by a friendly intercourse, or be certain
to undergo the vengeance of all the whites,
and ever after be deprived of the benefit resulting from a trade established among them.
In the meantime, while they were deliberating
among themselves we were making every
preparation for action.
Arguments enforced at the muzzles of our
guns they could not, it seemed, withstand,
and, fortunately, the chiefs advanced to bring
matters to an accommodation. Still they insisted, as a preliminary step, that we should
bestow a liberal present on all the multitude around us to reconcile them to the measure. All the property we had would scarcely
have been a mite to each. We, therefore, peremptorily refused. Their demands grew less
and less as they saw us determined. They
were compelled at last to submit to every
condition, even the most minute, and we were
left to our own discretion. After these troubles, which occupied many anxious days and
sleepless nights, all again became calm.
A trade with the natives now went on very
briskly. Our people went to their work as
usual, and we enjoyed for a time the comforts
of peace and tranquillity. These enjoyments
were, however, of short duration. True, we
had obtained a footing on the ground, and
things in general wore an aspect of peace, but
168 fur $uuter£ of tl>e far Wt$t
something else remained to be done before we
could effect the object we had in view.
The principal cause which led to the establishing of this post was the extension of
the trade; consequently, the next step was to
pave the way for discoveries. To this end, it
was indispensable to the safety of the undertaking to have an understanding with the
chief tribes, who at all seasons infested the
most practicable passes in the contemplated
direction, which was overspread with the horrors of war; for seeing the natives extremely
formidable, we apprehended that they might
be unanimous to prevent our advancing to
trade with their enemies.
With a view to effect this important point,
the chiefs and wise men of the different
tribes were called together. They met. An
endless round of ceremony took place among
them during their discussion, yet nothing
could be finally settled, on account of the
absence of one of the principal chiefs at the
war, in the very quarter we had our eye upon.
We considered his absence a great drawback
on our proceedings, as he professed himself a
sincere friend to the whites. We, therefore,
placed our chief reliance on his influence and
good offices.
For ten days our patience was put to the
stretch by the intrigues of the many who
busied themselves in thwarting our object.
But while we were thus entangled in endless
169 aiejtaniier Ho&s?
efforts to secure a peace, who should arrive
but Tum-a-tap-um, the regretted chief. We
now hoped that the business would be speedily
and amicably settled. But new difficulties
presented themselves. Instead of Tum-a-
tap-um coming to join the assembled conclave to forward our business, all the great
men deserted us to join him with his trophies
of war, and left us mere spectators to wait
their convenience.
The arrival of the war-party left us without
either chief or slave to consult, and for three
days we had to wait, until they had exhausted
their songs of triumph, without one single
interview with the chief on whom we had
placed so much confidence. This war-party
was reported to us to consist of 480 men.
They had a very imposing appearance on
their arrival. Their hideous yells, mangled
prisoners, and bloody scalps, together with
their barbarous gestures, presented a sight
truly savage. I only saw nine slaves. On the
third day Tum-a-tap-tim, mounted on horseback, rode backwards and forwards round our
little camp several times, without expressing
either approbation or disapprobation of our
measures. Then dismounting, and drawing
near to us, with his men around him, they
smoked some hundreds of pipes of our tobacco.
The ceremony of smoking being over, we had
a long conversation with him on the subject
of a general peace; but he was so elated with
170 fur ^uuterss of tl>e far Wt$t
his own exploits, and the success of his late
war expedition, that we fancied him not so
warmly interested in our cause as formerly.
Notwithstanding reiterated professions of
friendship, it was observed that his disposition
was uncommonly selfish. He never opened
his mouth but to insist on our goods being
lavished on his numerous train of followers,
without the least compensation. The more he
received, the more his assurance increased,
and his demands had no bounds.
The natives were now to be seen clubbed
together in groups; counseling went on day
and night, and as all savage tribes delight in
war, it was no easy matter to turn their attention to peace. However, it was so managed
that they were all induced to meet again on
the subject. "If," said Tum-a-tap-um, "we
make peace, how shall I employ my young
men? They delight in nothing but war, and
besides, our enemies, the Snakes, never
observe a peace." Then turning round,
"Look," said he again, pointing to his slaves,
scalps, and arms, "am I to throw all these
trophies away? Shall Tum-a-tap-um forget
the glory of his forefathers, and become a
woman?" Quahat, the Cayouse great war
chief, next got up and observed, "Will the
whites, in opening a trade with our enemies,
promise not to give them guns or balls?"
Others spoke to the same effect. We tried to
combat these remarks by expatiating on the
171 &lejtauiier jHo^
blessings of peace and the comforts of trade,
but several meetings took place before we
could accomplish the desired object.
At length a messenger came with notice
that the chiefs were all of one mind, and
would present themselves in a short time. All
our people were placed under arms, nominally
to honor their reception, but really to guard
ourselves. By and by the solemn train of
chiefs, warriors, and other great personages
were seen to move from the camp in procession, painted, dressed in their state and
war garments, and armed. They entered our
inclosure to the number of fifty-six, where a
place had been appropriately fitted up for the
occasion. The most profound silence pervaded the whole, until the pipe of peace had
six times performed the circle of the assembly.
The scene was in the highest degree interesting. The matter was canvassed anew.
Nothing appeared to be overlooked or neglected. The opinion of each was delivered
briefly, with judgment and with candor, and
to the same end. Satisfied with the answers
and the statements we had given, at sunset
peace between themselves and the Snakes was
decreed on the spot, and a unanimous consent
given for us to pass and repass unmolested.
Then they threw down their war garments
into the midst of the circle, as if to say, "We
have no further need of these garments."
This maneuver had a double meaning.   It
172 fur ^unterg of t&r far We$t
W^—^^——^—iiiwii—i^M—■»■■■■■■ iiiii—————^——————Q
was a broad hint for a new suit, as well as a
peace-offering! The pipe of peace finally ratified the treaty. Then all shaking hands, according to the maimer of the whites, parted
friends, both parties apparently pleased with
the result.
One condition of the treaty was that we
should use our influence to bring the Snakes
to agree to the peace, for without that it
would be useless to ourselves. The only real
object we had in view, or the only result that
could in reality be expected by the peace, was,
that we might be enabled to go in and come
out of the Snake country in safety, sheltered
under the influence of its name. Nothing
beyond this was ever contemplated on our
part. All our maneuvers were governed by
the policy of gain. Peace in reality was beyond our power; it was but an empty name.
Does the reader ask, " Could the puny arm
of a few whites, were they sincere, have
brought about a peace between these two
great and warlike nations, situated as they
are?" I answer, "No." Does he ask, "Did
Lewis and Clark conclude a peace between
them?" I again answer, "No." Does he
inquire, "Can a solid peace be concluded
between them, either by themselves, or by
the influence of their traders?" I repeat,
"No." Does he again inquire, "Is such a
thing practicable as a solid peace being concluded  and  observed  between  two  savage
173 aierantier fto££
nations, brought up in war?" I say, "No!"
Such a thing is a perfect delusion. They must
either be civilized, or one of them extirpated.
Then there may be peace, but not till then.
As soon as the great conference of peace was
over our men were set to their work, for the
third time, and we now opened a trade with
the natives, which was carried on briskly,
particularly in provisions and pack horses,
for the contemplated journey across the Blue
Mountains. In a few days we procured 280
horses, a number answerable to the different
purposes of traveling, hunting, and exploring
in the new and distant countries inhabited by
the Snakes and other nations to the south.
This brings us to the first Snake expedition.
The expedition was composed of fifty-five
men of all denominations, 195 horses, and 300
beaver traps, besides a considerable stock of
merchandise; but depending on the chances
of the chase, they set out without provisions
or stores of any kind. The season was too
far advanced for the plan to be successful.
The party took their departure at the end of
September, in the full view and amid the cheers
of all the natives. Turning his back, therefore,
upon the rest of his extensive charge, with all
of its ease and fruits of comfort, McKenzie,
without any second or friend in whom he could
confide, placed himself at the head of this
medley to suffer new hardships and face new
dangers in the precarious adventure.
174 fur ^unttt$ of tfce far Wt$t
The charge of the important establishment,
Fort Nez Perces, with all its cares, now devolved upon me, with the remnant of the
people. And as we have already given a
description of the place and noticed our
reception among the natives, we shall here,
by way of variety, present the reader with a
brief list of the names of the tribes which
inhabit this part of the country.
When the first traders arrived in the country they generally distinguished all the natives along this part of the communication
indiscriminately by the appellation of "Nez
Perces," or pierced noses, from the custom
practiced by these people of having their
noses bored, to hold a certain white shell like
the fluke of an anchor. The appellation was
used until we had an opportunity of becoming
better acquainted with their respective names.
It was, therefore, from this cause that the
present establishment derived its name.
The different tribes attached to Fort Nez
Perces, and who formerly went by that
cognomen, are the Sha-moo-in-augh, Skam-
nam-in-augh, E'yack-im-ah, Is-pipe-whum-
augh, and In-as-petsum. These tribes inhabit the main north branch above the Forks.
On the south branch, are the Pallet-to-pallas,
Shaw-ha-ap-ten, or Nez Perces proper, Paw-
luch, and Co-sis-pa tribes. On the main
Columbia, beginning at the Dalles, are the
Ne-coot-hn-eigh,  Wiss-co-pam,  Wiss-whams,
175 &lejtau&er jflo££
Way-yam-pams, Low-him, Saw-paw, and You-
ma-talla-bands; and above the establishment,
the Cayouse and Walla Walla tribes. It is to
the two latter that the spot appertains on
which the fort is erected, who are consequently
resident in the immediate neighborhood. The
Shaw-ha-ap-ten and the Cayouse nations,
are, however, by far the most powerful and
warlike of all these different tribes.
The two last mentioned regulate all the
movements of the others in peace and war,
and as they stand well or ill disposed towards
their traders, so do the others. It is, therefore, the interest of the whites to keep on a
friendly footing with them, which it is not at
all times easy to do. They are, however, fast
changing, and at times their conduct would
almost encourage a belief that they are everything we could wish. Judging from these
favorable intervals, a stranger would conclude
that no part of the country could be more
tranquil or peaceable than this quarter, once
so terrible; but a little knowledge of their
history would soon convince him that although they often put on a fair outside, all is
not right within. We hoped that things were
getting gradually better, for the men of the
place occasionally moved about with property
in groups of two or three at a time, and during
my lonely strolls in the environs for the purpose of snooting I fell in with bands who were
suspicious looking, yet they never failed to
176 fur ^uuterg of ti>e far Wt$t
accost me in the most respectful and best-
natured manner. These circumstances augur
favorably for the future. It will, nevertheless,
be the work of years, perhaps of a generation,
before civilization can manifest its influence
over their actions.
The circumstance which caused our chief
uneasiness arose from the frequency of unpleasant rumors, which obtained currency
among the natives of the place, that our absent
friends had met with a total discomfiture
from the Snake nation. Indeed, so probable
did their statements seem, that they appeared
no longer doubtful. The Indians being in the
habit of viewing everything in that direction
in the worst light, it was only natural they
should place implicit belief in whatever they
heard from those of their own nation about
the frontiers.
At the time of these distracting reports a
man by the name of Oskononton, an Iroquois
belonging to the Snake expedition, suddenly
arrived at the fort. His haggard appearance
showed that he had suffered no ordinary hardships. After taking some refreshment and a
little rest, for he was reduced to a skeleton, he
related to me the story of his adventures, and
I shall give it in his own words. "After crossing the Blue Mountains," said Oskononton,
"where we had got some distance into the
Snake country, my comrades to the number
of twenty-five teased Mr. McKenzie to allow
• &lej:antar ftogg
us to hunt and trap in a small river which
appeared well stocked in beaver. At last he
reluctantly consented and we remained, well
knowing that if he had not done so the Iroquois
would have deserted. This was their plan.
After the parties had separated and Mr.
McKenzie and the main party had left us we
set to trapping and were very successful, but
had not been long there when we fell in with
a small band of Snakes. My comrades began
to exchange their horses, their guns, and their
traps to these people for women, and carried on the traffic to such an extent that they
had scarcely an article left; then, being no
longer able to hunt, they abandoned themselves with the savages, and were doing
"Unable to check their heedless conduct, I
left them and set out to follow the main party,
but I lost my way and getting bewildered,
turned back again to join my comrades. Then
I tried and tried again to persuade them to
mind their hunting, but in vain. So I left
them again and set out on my way back to
this place, but on the second day after leaving
my associates I observed, at some little distance, a war-party and hid myself. Fearing
that my horse might discover my retreat to
my enemies, I resolved to kill it, a resolution
I executed with the utmost regret. Although
game was plentiful in those parts, yet I dared
not shoot, as the report of my gun might have
178 fur ^uuterg of ti>e far Wm
led to my discovery in a place frequented only
by enemies. As soon as the war-party passed
on I cut and dried part of my dead horse for
food, and tying it up in a bundle, continued
my journey.
"One day, as I was entering the Blue
Mountains, I perceived several horsemen in
full pursuit making after me. Seeing there was
not a moment to lose, I threw my bundle, provisions and all, into a bush, ran down a steep
bank, plunged into the water (a small river
happening to be near), and hid myself beneath some driftwood, my head only out of
the water, which fortunately was not very
cold. The horsemen paraded up and down
both sides of the little stream for some time,
and then dismounting, made a fire, had something to eat, and remained for more than two
hours within fifty yards of my hiding-place.
They were Snakes. After dark I got out of the
water more dead than alive. I then went to
look for my provisions, my bag, and my little
property, which I had thrown into the bush;
but the night being dark and I afraid to
remain any longer, I set out as fast as I could
on my journey without finding anything.
Every moment I thought I heard a noise
behind me. Every branch that broke under
my feet or beast of prey that started, convinced me, in spite of my senses, that I was
still pursued. In this state of alarm I passed
the night, but made very little headway.   In
179 &le?antier &o&$
the morning I took to another hiding-place.
Tired and exhausted I laid myself down to
sleep, without covering, without fire, and
without either food or water. In this manner,
traveling in the night and hiding during the
day, I crossed the Blue Mountains, which
took me three days. For the most of that
time I had not a shoe on my feet; neither had
I gun, fire-steel, nor anything to render traveling comfortable. By this time my feet had
got swelled and blistered with walking, so
that I took three days more between this and
the mountains, making the seventh day that
I had not tasted food of any kind, with the
exception of a few raw roots." Thus ended
Oskononton's story.
I had no difficulty in believing the statement of the Iroquois. It was in accordance
with their general character. Oskononton,
as his story relates, knew nothing of the main
party, so that I was left in the dark as ta its
fate. After keeping the poor fellow upwards
of three weeks to recruit his health and recover his strength, I sent him on to Fort
George, and this brings us to notice the passing events in that quarter.
Just at the time of Oskononton's arrival at
that place, a party of his countrymen were
fitting out for a hunting and trapping expedition to the Cowlitz quarter, and he unfortunately joined it. The party, however, had
not been long  there before  they got into
180 fur ^unterg of t&e far We$t
trouble with the natives, and in an affray
poor Oskononton, in trying to rescue one of
his companions, was murdered. After this
tragical affair, in which it was stated our
trappers were the aggressors, the Iroquois had
to make a precipitate retreat, abandon their
hunting-ground, and make the best of their
way back again to Fort George.
The Iroquois had no sooner returned than
they gave Mr. Keith to understand that the
Indians had, without the least provocation,
killed one of their party and wounded two
others. A deed so atrocious, and a story so
plausible, had its effect at Fort George.
Placing, therefore, implicit faith in the report
of the Iroquois, Mr. Keith, with a view to
investigate the matter, punish the murderers,
and settle the affair, fitted out without delay
a party of between thirty and forty men,
chiefly Iroquois—the very worst men in the
world for such a business—and gave the
charge to Mr. Ogden, an experienced clerk of
the North West school. On reaching the
Cowlitz, all their inquiries were fruitless.
They could find no offenders until they got
the assistance of How-How, one of the principal chiefs of the place, who conducted them
to the very spot, little thinking that he would
have cause to regret his friendly assistance.
In their approaches to the Indians, Mr.
Ogden cautioned the Iroquois to be guarded
in their conduct, and do nothing until he first
181 &lejeautier fto££
showed them the example. Some then went
one way, some another, making their way
through the thickets and bushes. But a party
of the Iroquois happened to reach the Indian
tents before Mr. Ogden, and instead of waiting
for orders, or ascertaining whether those they
had found were or were not the guilty persons, the moment they got within gunshot of
the Indians they fired on all they saw and
before Mr. Ogden or How-How could interpose,
twelve persons, men, women, and children,
were killed. Nor is it known to this day who
were the guilty persons! Even after Mr. Ogden
had arrived and tried to stop them, one more
was shot; and to crown their guilt our people
scalped three of their victims.
The quarrel in which Oskononton lost his
life arose from our trappers interfering with
the Indian women, which brought down on
them the vengeance of the men, and ended
in bloodshed. The moment How-How saw
the outrage committed on his people, he
wheeled about in disgust and left the party.
The whites had now to make a hasty retreat,
before the neighboring Indians had time to
assemble, and got back to headquarters with
speed, carrying along with them several
scalps, which they exhibited on poles as
trophies of victory. They even danced with
those trophies in the square of Fort George
after their return! Anticipating, no doubt, a
similar result from the Cowlitz quarter to that
182 fur i^unterg of t&e far We$t
which followed the Wallamitte embassy the
year before, Mr. Keith was horror-struck at
the cruelties perpetrated on the natives.
Every stratagem that experience could devise or hope inspire was now resorted to in
order to induce How-How, the Cowlitz chief,
to pay a visit to Fort George, in order that a
secure footing might once more be obtained in
the Cowlitz quarter. The Chinooks, to be
sure, were in his way. They were his enemies,
but what of that? The whites were his friends.
He was promised ample protection, and a safe
return cordially pledged. But he would listen
to nothing.   How-How was immovable.
At last, however, it was discovered that
How-How had k daughter, both lovely and
fair, the flower of her tribe! Princess How-
How was admired. Her ocher cheeks were
delicate, her features incomparable, and her
dress surpassed in luster her person. Her
robes were the first in the land; her feathers,
her bells, her rattles, were unique; while the
tint of her skin, her nose-bob, girdle, and gait
were irresistible! A husband of high rank had
to be provided for the Princess How-How,
and Prince How-How himself was formally
acquainted with the wishes and anticipations
of the whites. This appeal the sagacious and
calculating chief could not resist. How-How,
therefore, with his fascinating daughter and
train of followers, arrived in their robes of
state at headquarters.   The bridal-dress was
183 aierauiier $o##
beyond compare! Prince How-How now became the father-in-law of a white chief, and
a fur trader became the happy son-in-law of
Prince How-How. j
We need scarcely mention here that the
happy couple were joined together in holy
matrimony on the first of April! After the
marriage ceremony, a peace was negotiated
with How-How—this was the main point—and
the chief prepared for his homeward journey,
in order to pave the way for our trappers and
hunters to return again to the Cowlitz.
But just as he and his followers were starting, a sad blunder was committed by the
whites. It would appear that measures for
their safety had either beer! overlooked or
neglected, and after all the courtesy that had
been shown the great man, he left the fort
unguarded. He had not advanced 300 yards
from the gate before he and his people were
partially intercepted by some skulking Chinooks, who waylaid and fired upon them.
How-How, instead of retreating back to the
fort for protection, boldly called out to his
men to face their enemies and stand their
ground. But the Chinooks being concealed,
How-How's men could see nobody to fire at,
so they immediately posted themselves behind trees. In the skirmish, a ball happened
to strike the fort, and whether a shot is fired
accidentally or by design, the event is equally
alarming.   The moment, therefore, the ball
184 fur i^uuterg of tf>e far Wt$t
struck, the sentinel gave the alarm by calling
out, "The fort is attacked! How-How and
his men are in ambush!" In the confusion of
the moment, and only How-How's party being
seen, the first impression, although exceedingly
improbable, was that How-How himself had
proved treacherous, and on his departure had
fired upon the fort. Orders were, therefore,
immediately issued to fire the bastion guns,
by which one of How-How's men was severely,
and another slightly, wounded. At the same
time all the people who had been at work outside the fort came rushing in, and meeting
parties in the square running to and fro in
every direction, collecting arms and ammunition, much confusion ensued.
How-How and his party now stood between
two fires, and, apprehending treachery on the
part of the whites, were preparing to make a
rush and force their way through the Chinooks, to save themselves. But by this time
the people who had entered the fort had time
to set matters right, by giving information
that the Chinooks had been lying in ambush
and first fired upon How-How, and that How-
How was only defending himself. In the
bustle and uproar of the moment, however,
some time elapsed before men taken by surprise could reflect, or understand each other.
The moment the shots were fired from the
bastion the Chinooks fled, thinking, as a matter of course, that they only had been fired at.
185 111 aiejraniier Ho££
As soon, therefore, as the whites ceased
firing, all was over, and the whole was only
the work of a few minutes. How-How was
now brought into the fort, and the misunderstanding fully explained to him. But he was
a changed man. On his part, the habits of
familiarity and friendship ceased; he was
stern and sulky. Notwithstanding the praises
that were bestowed on him, yet his pride was
wounded, and he remained sullen and thoughtful. When he ultimately took his departure,
after receiving many presents and more promises, his fidelity was evidently shaken, and his
future support problematical.
The only field that now remained open for
our trappers and hunters, as the Cowlitz
could not be depended upon, was the Wallamitte, and to that quarter the thoughts of all
were directed. Notwithstanding a sufficient
number of trappers and hunters were occupied
there already, yet all those who had been
driven from the northern quarter now bent
their course to the southern, to join those
already there. From the general conduct of
the Iroquois among the natives, it would have
been better policy to have sent them all out
of the country, distracting, as they did, the
natives, destroying the trade, and disgracing
the whites.
The party, numbering in all sixty men and
headed by two half-breed clerks from Canada,
proceeded up the Wallamitte until they had
186 fur i^uuterg of tfje far Wt$t
reached its source, and from thence, crossing
some high ridges of land, hunted on the banks
of the Umpqua, where they discovered many
branches which promised a rich harvest of
furs. Here our people fell in with numerous
bands of the natives, who were all very
peaceable, but from their shy and reserved
manners, and wishing to avoid the whites, it
was evident that they had never been much
in the habit of trading with them. Yet they
made no objection to our people's hunting on
their lands. The traders wished to traffic,
barter in furs, and to exchange horses with
them; they also wished to get wives from
them. In short, they wished to play the same
game with them as the Iroquois, according to
Oskononton's story, played with the Snakes,
but no inducement, no advances, could bring
those natives into contact or familiarity with
our people. The farther the traders advanced,
the farther the Indians receded to avoid them;
when, seeing the natives timid and distant,
our people resorted to threats.
One day while the Indians were raising
camp our people wished to detain some of their
horses, as hostages to insure their return.
The Indians resisted, and the hunters, in a
moment of rashness, fired upon them. It was
found that no less a number than fourteen of
the innocent and inoffensive Indians were
slaughtered on the spot, and that without a
single arrow being shot in self-defense.   The
187 I    . &lejrantier fto&e?
survivors fled, followed up by the hunters,
but the number that fell in the flight was not
Fear now seized the party, and a retreat
followed. They fell back on the Wallamitte
and, communicating their fears to the other
trappers, all left the hunting-ground in a
panic and drew near to headquarters. From
the Wallamitte Falls four men of their party
and an Indian were dispatched to Fort George
with accounts of what had happened, giving a
very plausible coloring of the whole affair in
their own favor. These men, while on their
way thither, had encamped at a place called
Oak Point, within twenty miles of the fort,
and were all, with the exception of the Indian,
barbarously murdered one night while asleep.
The deed was committed by five of the Class-
can-eye-ah tribe, the same band who had
murdered the three white men belonging to
the Pacific Fur Company in 1811. This
atrocious act of cruelty, taking place at the
very gates of our stronghold, proved that the
state of things was getting worse.
The whites called aloud for revenge; an
example was necessary. Three parties, composed of a mixture of whites and natives, were
sent in pursuit of the murderers. They were
found out and seized, and four out of the five,
after a trial of some length, were convicted and
punished with death. The disasters of this
year in the Fort George district alone, it was
188 fur $uuter£ of tf>e far Wt$t
supposed, had reduced our annual returns
4,000 beaver, equal to 6,000 pounds sterling,
and the dire effects produced on the natives
by the reckless conduct of our people took
years to efface.
Leaving Fort George, we now return to the
Nez Perces quarter. We shall, in the first
place, notice what effect the troubles at the
former quarter had on the latter. The disasters in the Cowlitz had not only shut us out
from that hunting-ground, but prevented our
trappers from proceeding across the ridge in
the E'yak-im-a direction, for a party I had
fitted out were frightened, as soon as they
crossed the height of land,. by the hostility
manifested towards them, and had, in consequence, to retrace their steps. They were,
nevertheless, considering the short time they
had been there, very successful.
It is, perhaps, not generally known that the
most direct line of communication from the
Grand Forks to the ocean is by the river
E'yak-im-a; and although the portage across
the dividing ridge, from that river on the east
to the Chikelis River on the west, is considerable, yet the land-carriage is no object in
a place where the road is not bad and the
means of transport abundant, horses being
everywhere plentiful. All the resources of the
interior might, therefore, with great facility
be conveyed through this channel to Puget's
Sound, independent of the main Columbia,
-     ■     ■     ^MMHI &lfcjeautier $itt$$
should the fate of war at any time offer obstacles to the free ingress and egress to the river
itself, or should the intricate and dangerous
channel across the bar at its mouth get choked
up, as it sometimes does to a very great degree, with sand-banks. By the E'yak-im-a
road, the natives reach the ocean in ten days.
At this period of our anxiety and our declining hopes as to the fate of our friends in
the Snake country, who should appear to
remove suspicion and give new vigor to our
proceedings but McKenzie, from his voyage
of discovery. He and six men reached Fort
Nez Perces on snowshoes, with their blankets
on their backs, in good health and spirits, after
a tedious journey of six months. The meeting
was one of interest, for McKenzie was no less
cheered to find everything safe and our footing
sure at this place than I was to witness his safe
return under favorable circumstances, after so
many discouraging rumors. The accounts McKenzie gave of the Snake country were flattering and the prospects encouraging, but the
character of his people was the very reverse.
We shall, however, let him speak for himself.
"After leaving this place last fall," said
McKenzie, "we directed our course across
the Blue Mountains, but had not proceeded
far into the country of the Snakes before the
Iroquois began their old trade of plotting
mischief; but being less numerous and more
cowardly than their associates, they did not
190 fur ^uuterg of tlje far We$t
avow their treacherous intentions publicly.
I was, however, fully aware of their designs,
and guarded against them, but could not
change their dispositions nor their heedless
conduct; and fearing lest they might desert or
do something worse, if in their power, I made
a virtue of necessity and acquiesced in their
wishes, thinking it better policy to do so than
drag them along discontented, to desert or
abandon themselves with the Indians whenever an opportunity offered. So I put the
best face on things I could, fitted them out
well in everything they required, and with the
rest of the party proceeded on our journey,
leaving them to work beaver in the rich little
river Skam-naugh. From this place we advanced, suffering occasionally from alarms,
for twenty-five days, and then found ourselves in a rich field of beaver in the country
lying between the great south branch and the
Spanish waters, but the natives in these parts
were not friendly. In our journey we fell in
with several bands of the Snake nation, and
to each we communicated the welcome tidings
of peace, on the part of the Nez Perces; to
which they one and all responded in the language of gratitude, for everything new attracts
their attention, and the word 'peace' served
as our letter of introduction among them. j Our
wishes,' said they, 'are now accomplished;
nothing is so desirable to us as peace.' I hope
the impression may be a lasting one.
i.i ftleranber ftogg
"After disposing of my people to the best
advantage, trading with the natives, and
securing the different chiefs to our interest, I
left my people at the end of four months.
Then taking a circuitous route along the foot
of the Rocky Mountains, a country extremely
dreary during a winter voyage, I reached the
headwaters of the great south branch, regretting every step I made that we had been so
long deprived of the riches of such a country.
Thence I steered my course for the river
Skam-naugh, where I had left my Iroquois to
hunt beaver in October last. During this
part of my journey I crossed and recrossed
many parts I had seen in 1811. Instead, however, of finding the Iroquois together, and
employed in hunting or in the pursuit of hunting, I found them by twos and by threes all
over the country, living with the savages,
without horses, without traps, without furs,
and without clothing, perfectly destitute of
everything I had given them. I left them,
therefore, as I found them. Iroquois will
never do in this country. In fact, their introduction was the signal of our disappointments.
On reaching this place we found but little
snow in the Blue Mountains. During the last
two months we have traveled upwards of six
hundred miles on snowshoes." This account
confirmed Oskononton's story.
Continuing the narrative of his journey,
our  enterprising  adventurer  next  went on
192 fur ^uuter£ of tfie far Wt$t
to describe the country, the resfources, and
animals he everywhere met with. "On our
outward journey," said McKenzie, "the surface was mountainous and rugged, and still
more so on our way back. Woods and valleys,
rocks and plains, rivers and ravines, alternately met us, but altogether it is a delightful
country. There animals of every class rove
about undisturbed. Wherever there was a
little plain, the red deer were seen grazing in
herds about the rivers. Round every other
point were clusters of poplar and elder, and
where there was a sapling, the ingenious
and industrious beaver was at work. Otters
sported in the eddies; the wolf and the fox
were seen sauntering in quest of prey; now and
then a few cypresses or stunted pines were
met with on the rocky parts, and in their
spreading tops the racoon sat secure. In the
woods, the martin and black fox were numerous; the badger sat quietly looking from his
mound; and in the numberless ravines, among
bushes laden with fruits, the black, the brown,
and the grizzly bear were seen. The mountain
sheep, and goat white as snow, browsed on the
rocks and ridges, and the big-horn species ran
among the lofty cliffs. Eagles and vulture^ of
uncommon size flew about the rivers. When
we approached, most of these animals stood
motionless; they would then move off a little
distance, but soon came anew to satisfy a
curiosity that often proved fatal to them.
193 f
&lejtaufcer JHo^
"The report of a gun did not alarm them.
They would give a frisk at each shot, and
stand again; but when the flag was unfurled,
being of a reddish hue, it was with apparent reluctance they would retire beyond the
pleasing sight. Hordes of wild horses were
likewise seen on this occasion, and of all the
animals seen on our journey they were the
wildest, for none of them could be approached.
Their scent is exceedingly keen, their hearing
also, and in their curiosity they were never
known to come at any time within gunshot.
One band of these contained more than 200.
Some of them were browsing on the face of
the hills, others were running like deer up and
down the steeps, and some were galloping
backwards and forwards on the brows of the
sloping mountains, with their flowing manes
and bushy tails streaming in the wind. Caverns without number were to be seen in the
rocks on either side of the river, many of them
of very great depth and dimensions, and the
shapes of the rocks were often picturesque.
But on our way back, the scene was changed;
it was dreary and forbidding winter. Nothing
was to be seen but leafless forests and snow-
clad hills, with scarcely an animal to attract
attention, except a wolf or a fox which now
and then crossed our path, or an eagle or vulture watching their prey about rapids, where
open water was still to be seen. The animals
had now retreated for shelter to the thick
194 fur i^uuter£ of tfje far Wt$t
woods, so that we were more than once on
short allowance. On these emergencies we had
to regale ourselves on wolf's flesh, and were
sometimes glad to get that to satisfy the
cravings of hunger. We required no stimulants to sharpen our appetites."
McKenzie had a three-fold object in view
in leaving his people and returning to this
place at such a season: first, to see some of the
principal Snake chiefs, whom he had not
spoken with about the peace between them
and the Nez Perces; secondly, to examine the
country; and lastly, to ascertain the state of
the navigation up the south branch, with a
view to future operations. The two former
of these objects were accomplished. The
peace was settled as far as possible between
parties living so remote from each other. The
result, however, must ever be doubtful.
After a short respite of only seven days at
Nez Perces, allowing, himself scarcely time to
repose and recount his adventures, this indefatigable man set out anew, through ice and
snow, to examine the state of the navigation
in the Snake country by the south branch.
For this purpose he and his handful of Canadians, six in number, embarking on board of a
barge, left Fort Nez Perces and proceeded up
Lewis River. The turbulent natives on both
sides the stream, notwithstanding his late
return from their foes, suffered him to pass
through  this  channel unmolested.    After  a
i95 I'll
&lejtau&er Jflo$G?
voyage of two months the boat, with four
of the men, returned to this place, while
McKenzie and the other two pushed forward
on the precarious adventure of reaching the
hunters, a distance of twenty days' travel
through a country where it had often been
asserted that "less than fifty men could not
set a foot with safety."
McKenzie's letter, by return of the boat,
was dated "Point Successful, Head of the
Narrows, April 15th, 1819." He stated that
"The passage by water is now proved to be
safe and practicable for loaded boats, without
one single carrying place or portage; therefore, the doubtful question is set at rest forever. Yet from the force of the current and
the frequency of rapids it may still be advisable, and perhaps preferable, to continue
the land transport while the business in this
quarter is carried on upon a small scale." He
then goes on to observe, "We had often recourse to the line," and then adds, "There are
two places with bold cut rocks on either side
the river, where the great body of water is
compressed within a narrow compass, which
may render those parts doubtful during the
floods, owing to rocks and whirlpools; but
there are only two, and neither of them is
long." He then concludes his letter with these
words, " I am now about to commence a very
doubtful and dangerous undertaking, and
shall, I fear, have to adopt the habits of the
196 fur $unter £ of tfie far We$t
owl, roam in the night and skulk in the day,
to avoid our enemies. But if my life is spared
I will be at the river Skam-naugh with my
people and return by the fifth of June. Hasten, therefore, the outfit, with some additional
hands, if possible, to that place. A strong
escort will be advisable, and caution the person you may send in charge to be at all times,
both day and night, on his guard."
After performing the annual trip to Fort
George the brigade, on its return to the interior, reached this place on the fifteenth of
May, nearly a month earlier than usual. As
soon, therefore, as the inlanders took their
departure, I set about forwarding the Snake
supplies. Accompanying the brigade was a
small party of fifteen men, intended for the
Snakes, to strengthen McKenzie's party.
Augmenting this small party to the number
of twenty-six from my own establishment, I
placed the whole under the charge of a Mr.
Kittson, an apprentice-clerk from Canada, a
novice in the country, but a smart fellow.
With all possible haste Mr. Kittson and his
men set off with the Snake outfit to meet
McKenzie and his party at the river Skam-
naugh, according to appointment. On the
departure of the party I handed Mr. Kittson
written instructions, as he was a new hand,
and cautioned him in every possible manner
against the thieving propensities of the natives along the lines.
197 &lejcauDer Jf!o£g
But Kittson, full of confidence and life,
thought all this caution unnecessary, and
swore that "all the Indians on the continent
would neither steal his horses nor anything
else." "I am glad to hear it," said I. "Oh! I
defy them," said he, and saying so, we shook
hands and parted. The task and responsibility
of venturing into a new and dangerous part of
the country, among hostile savages, with loads
of property, was a perilous undertaking for the
most experienced person; much more so was it
for a person like Kittson, a perfect stranger,
and who had never received a charge of the
kind before. Yet all went on well until the
party had got to the territories of the Snakes,
a ground which is ever exceedingly suspicious,
as lying between two contending nations. Too
much care could not be taken in keeping a
sharp lookout, none knowing when, or from
which side, the danger might first show itself.
Seeing no traces of Indians, Mr. Kittson
allowed himself to be influenced by the
opinion of his men, ever ready to despise
danger in order to avoid watching at night.
The whole party, therefore, in full confidence
and security laid themselves down one night
to enjoy the comforts of repose. In the darkness of the night, however, hearing neighing
and a noise among the horses, the party
started up, half asleep, half awake, and rushing to where they had been feeding, discovered
the thieves in the act of unhobbling them;
198 fur gutters? of tf>e far Wt$t
but in the darkness the villains got off, and in
their retreat succeeded in carrying off twelve
horses. The evil was now beyond remedy,
though not fatal to the expedition, as there
still remained enough to carry the property;
but the men, as a just punishment for their
negligence, had to trudge on foot.
From the encampment of the stolen horses,
the party advanced, taking the utmost care to
watch every night. One day, however, they
found themselves in a beautiful open valley,
skirted by mountains, and not seeing any
natives—for these sly marauders are never to
be seen—and as their horses were fagged, they
were willing to let them graze for a few hours
at large in the meadow around their little
camp. The party being fatigued, particularly
those on foot, very inconsiderately laid themselves down, and in a few minutes they were
overpowered with that heavy sleep which their
wearied traveling so much demanded. They
had not been long in this state before a noise
of "Hoo, hoo! hoo, hoo!" sounding in their
ears, awoke them, when they found their
horses were all gone.
Three of that banditti who at all seasons
of the year infest the skirts of the frontiers on
the Snake side had been, as they always are,
watching from the adjacent hills the movements of passengers. They had crawled and
concealed themselves among the long grass,
until they reached the horses, then laying hold
SSSSi &lejeauiier fto#e?
of one each they mounted, and driving the
others before them, were beyond our people's
reach before they could get their eyes well
No words can depict the anxiety of our
little band, with much property on their
hands, in an enemy's country, destitute of
provisions, and deprived of hope itself! Two
days and nights passed, and they had come to
no decision, but on the third day, about noon,
while they were pondering on the step they
were next to take, a cloud of dust was seen
approaching from afar. Concluding that the
party must be enemies, they made a hasty
breastwork with their goods, and with their
arms in their hands waited their arrival in a
state of anxious forboding. What must have
been their joy on seeing a party of our own
hunters appear, driving before them the very
horses which had been the cause of their
McKenzie, havins: arrived at the river
Skam-naugh at the time appointed and not
meeting with either men or supplies from this
place, as he expected, dispatched ten men to
ascertain the cause of the delay. Two days
after these ten men had left their bourgeois,
in passing through a defile of the mountains
they very unexpectedly met the thieves face
to face. Recognizing the horses as belonging
to the whites and seeing the Indians take to
flight to avoid them, they were confirmed in
200 fur $unta# of tfjc far Wt$t
their conjectures, and accordingly determined
on following them. The chase lasted for upwards of two hours, when the thieves, seeing
their efforts to get off were fruitless, turned
round in order to sell their lives as dearly as
possible. In such rencounters among themselves life is generally forfeited. They, therefore, boldly faced their pursuers, although
three times their number, and fought desperately while they had an arrow remaining.
One of them was shot by our people, another
was taken, and the third, although severely
wounded, made his escape among the bushes.
One of our hunters was wounded also. After
the affray the party wheeled about and made
for Kittson and his forlorn band, driving all
the horses before them. It was their approach
that caused the cloud of dust, already noticed,
first so suspicious and afterwards so pleasing.
Kittson's party, now augmented to six and
thirty men, raised camp and set out once more
with lightsome hearts. Two days had not,
however, passed over their heads, when they
had another fright. While they were encamped one night on a small river, where
everything around indicated security, two
more horse thieves were detected in the night
busy unhobbling their horses. In this instance the people on watch were more fortunate. They got hold of them, and kept the
rascals in safe custody until daylight; but the
whites had suffered no loss, and therefore
i &lejrauDer fto&£
Mr. Kittson had the clemency to let them go
unhurt. Each of the fellows had a quiver containing from fifty to sixty arrows, several pairs
of shoes, and long lines for securing horses.
The party had now reached that inauspicious spot where some of the unfortunate
men belonging to Reed's party were murdered
in 1813.20 There the cares of our people were
not diminished at beholding some bands of
banditti of the most suspicious appearance
hovering about, but the whites, being on their
guard, were allowed to pass unmolested.
Next day Mr. Kittson and party, after all
their mishaps, arrived safely and in good
spirits at the river Skam-naugh, and joined
Mr. McKenzie with his whole band, for he
had contrived to assemble and bring together
the greater part of his wayward and perverse
Iroquois. Here Kittson delivered over his
charge and receiving in return the Snake furs,
bent his course back again to this place, where
he arrived on the seventh of July, 1819. On
his way back, however, he had a very narrow
escape from a war-party, but got off with the
loss of only two men, who fell a sacrifice at the
first onset of the savages.
Had not the troubles in the Fort George
department diminished the usual quantity of
furs there, we should have had, notwithstanding the defection of the Iroquois, a handsome
20 For the story of the destruction of Reed's party
see First Settlers on the Oregon, 298-304.
— fur ^uuterg of tfje far We$t
augmentation to our returns this year. The
Snake expedition turned out well; it made
up for all deficiencies elsewhere, and gave a
handsome surplus besides.
McKenzie's party was now augmented by
the addition of Kittson and his men, who had
no sooner delivered up the Snake furs at this
place than they returned to join him. The
natives and hunting-ground being also familiar to our hunters, were circumstances, as far
as we could judge, that warranted our most
sanguine anticipations as to the future. In
his letter to me, McKenzie stated that, "Although the natives are at present in a very
unsettled state, yet if the contemplated peace
succeeds, I hope that our success in this
quarter next year will come up to the expectations of every reasonable man." With these
remarks, we shall close the narrative for the
present year.
SB Chapter 7
THE result of the Snake expedition put
an end to the sharp contest which had
for some years past divided the Councils
of Fort George. No sooner was McKenzie's
success in the Snake country known than his
opponents were loud in his praises. It Was
pleasing to see the Council of Fort George this
year enter so warmly and approve so strongly
of our measures in having established Fort
Nez Perces and gained so promising a footing
in the Snake country.
We have noticed Kittson's return to join
the Snake expedition, but before taking up
the thread of our future narrative we propose
to give the reader a description and view of
Fort Nez Perces, and we shall then conduct
him to McKenzie's camp and give him an
account of Indian life in these parts.
For the purpose of protection as well as of
trade among Indians, the custom is to have
each establishment surrounded with an in-
closure of pickets some twelve or fifteen feet
high. This inclosure is dignified with the
name of fort. The natives have free ingress
and egress at all times, and within its walls
204 fur ^uttterg of tf>e far Wt$t
all the business of traffic is transacted. A little
more precaution was, however, necessary at
the Nez Perces station, on account of the
many warlike tribes that infest the country.
Instead of round pickets, the palisades of
Fort Nez Perces were all made of sawn timber. For this purpose wood of large size and
cut twenty feet long was sawed into pieces of
two and a half feet broad by six inches thick.
With these ponderous planks the establishment was surrounded, having on the top a
range of balustrades four feet high, which
served the double purpose of ramparts and
loopholes, and was smooth to prevent the
natives scaling the walls. A strong gallery,
five feet broad, extended all around. At each
angle was placed a large reservoir sufficient to
hold 200 gallons of water, as a security against
fire, the element we most dreaded in the
designs of the natives. Inside of this wall
were built ranges of storehouses and dwelling
houses for the hands, and in the front of these
buildings was another wall, twelve feet high,
of sawn timber also, with portholes and slip
doors, which divided the buildings from the
open square inside. Thus, should the Indians
at any time get in, they would see nothing but
a wall before them on all sides. They could
have no intercourse with the people in the
fort, unless by their consent, and would therefore find themselves in a prison, and infinitely
more exposed to danger than if they had been
205 ftleranoer i£o&gs
on the outside. Besides the ingenious construction of the outer gate, which opened and
shut by a pulley, two double doors secured
the entrance, and the natives were never
admitted within the walls, except when specially invited on important occasions. All
trade with them was carried on by means of
an aperture in the wall, eighteen inches
square, secured by an iron door and communicating with the trading shop, we standing
on the inside and the Indians on the outside.
On all other occasions, excepting trade, we
mixed with them outside, differing in this, as
in every other respect, from all the other
trading posts in the Indian country.
Among other difficulties, it was not the
least, after the fort was built, to succeed in
bringing the Indians to trade in the manner
we had fixed upon for the security of the
place. Although they had every convenience
allowed them, such as a house at the gate,
fire, tobacco, and a man to attend them at all
hours, it was a long time before they got reconciled to our plan. "Are the whites afraid of
us? If so," said they, "we will leave our arms
outside." "No," said I, "if we had been
afraid of you we should not have come among
you." "Are the whites afraid we will steal
anything?" "No," said I, "but your young
men are foolish." "That's true," said they.
We persisted in the plan, and they of necessity had to submit.    Excluding the Indians,
206 fur ^uuterjS of tf>e far Wt$t
although contrary to Mr. McKenzie's opinion,
ultimately answered so well that it ought to
be adopted wherever the natives are either
hostile or troublesome.
Our weapons of defense were composed of
four pieces of ordnance, from one to three
pounds, besides ten wall-pieces or swivels,
sixty stand of muskets and bayonets, twenty
boarding pikes, and a box of hand grenades.
The fort was defended by four strong wooden
towers or bastions, and a cohorn, or small
mortar, above the gate. It was, therefore, at
once the strongest and most complete fort
west of the Rocky Mountains, and might be
called the Gibraltar of Columbia. To construct and finish, in so short a time, an establishment so strong and compact in all its
parts was no ordinary undertaking; by industry and perseverance, however, the task was
accomplished. Thus, in the short period of a
few months, as if by enchantment the savage
disposition of the Indians was either soothed
or awed. A stronghold had arisen in the
desert and the British banner floating over it
proudly proclaimed it the mistress of a vast
territory. It was a triumph of British energy
and enterprise, of civilization over barbarism.
During the course of our proceedings a constant tide of visitors from quarters the most
remote flowed in to satisfy their curiosity concerning our establishment. Among others
were the turbulent lords of the Falls. Whether
. &lejtau&er fto&e?
their barbarity was soothed by the compliment of a resource of this kind among them,
whether they felt gratified by our embassy to
conciliate their enemies and do away with the
evils of war, it is difficult to say, but a visible
reform was now very obvious in their deportment to the whites. They invariably went
and came in the most exemplary manner.
Having given the reader a brief description
of Fort Nez Perces and noticed the salutary
effect our establishment had on the conduct
of the natives, I now, according to promise,
resume the narrative of operations in the
Snake country. As soon as the annual supply
of goods conveyed by Kittson had reached
McKenzie's camp, the latter, knowing the
character of his people, and that the moment
they had their supplies in their own possession
they would be bartering and trafficking every
article away with the natives, in order to
guard against this difficulty not only deferred
the distribution among the party until the return of Kittson and the men who had to convey
the furs to this place, but resolved on keeping
the supplies entire until they reached their winter quarters, when every man would have his
equipment and winter supplies at the time required. The conduct of the Iroquois last year
had taught McKenzie this lesson, and this measure was also a check against desertion; their
supplies being before them, encouraged and
stimulated all to a perseverance in well-doing.
208 fur J^unterg of tlje far Wt$t
It was a plan, however, that subjected the
person in charge to the risk of life as well as of
property. Had the Snakes been of a character
to respect property when once in their own
hands, he might have distributed the whole
and left every man to take care of his own;
but the very reverse being the case, he was
compelled to adopt the plan of taking care
of it for them until they reached their winter
quarters. Therefore, as soon as Kittson and
the men required to escort the furs to this
place set off, McKenzie was left with only
three men in charge of all the property; for
although the Iroquois had returned to their
duty, they were absent at the time, collecting their horses and traps which they had left
and squandered away among the Indians,
but they were expected back hourly. Thus
situated, and the Iroquois not arriving at the
appointed time, McKenzie and his three men
erected a small breastwork, secured their
property, and guarding it, waited with anxiety
the arrival of succor.
Two days after this unavoidable division
of our people a very suspicious party of the
mountain Snakes appeared at their little
camp. They were very importunate, and with
the view of turning their barbarity into friendship, McKenzie had given them some trifles
to get rid of them, but the kind treatment
of our friends was construed into fear and
only stimulated the Indians to demand more.
209 &lerauiier fto&£
Soon after, other parties equally audacious
arrived, but no Iroquois! The hostile attitude
and threats of the natives were now beyond
endurance. They attempted to get over the
breastwork, to push our people back, and to
steal all that they could lay hands upon. Up
to this period our people had stood on the
outside of their property, but at this critical
moment McKenzie and his men, grasping
their guns, sprang over the breastwork, lighted
a match, and placing a keg full of gunpowder
between them and their enemies boldly determined to defend their property or die. At this
critical movement the Indians, taken by surprise, fell back a little, when McKenzie, with
perhaps more courage than prudence, dared
them to renew their threats.
While the fate of our little band hung as by
a thread, the savages who menaced them took
to flight, without a word. The first impression
was that they were panic struck, from the
dread of powder; it was then apprehended
that they meditated some stratagem. The
respite, however, gave our friends time to
As soon as they considered it safe to look
about them, they perceived on the opposite
side of the river a war-party of the Shaw-ha-
ap-tens, consisting of 200 men, all having
firearms and mounted on horseback. On their
arrival they assembled in a tumultuous group
on the beach.   It was the Red Feather and
210 fur ^tmterg of tf>e far Wm
his band, who had been ill disposed at the
peace. Our friends were at no loss to account
for the sudden and mysterious departure of
the Snakes. But still their situation was not
the more secure, for they had as much to fear
from the one party as from the other. Although the Shaw-ha-ap-tens would have respected the whites on their own lands, yet
they had no mercy to expect in an enemy's
The appearance of this warlike cavalcade
might have chilled the boldest heart. Their
gestures, their yelling and whooping were
truly horrible. The Indians called to our people
to cross over and give them a smoke. At the
same time it was evident that they were
making every preparation to take advantage of
them while on the water. This invitation,
however, not being complied with, they held
a council, with a view, it was supposed, of
crossing over themselves. Our people on perceiving this strengthened their little fortification, and having four guns to each man, they
were determined at least on selling their lives
dearly. The natives in the meantime plunged
into the river with their steeds, but were
forced back again. They plunged again and
again, but as often were compelled to return
from the strength of the current. Their consultations were frequent and the brandishing
of their arms indicated their bloody intentions.
After   capering   along   the   beach   on   their
211 &lejtantier &o$S
chargers for some time they at length disappeared, and our party saw them no more.
On their way back towards the Blue Mountains, however, the Indians unfortunately fell
upon the trail of Kittson and his party, and
before he had time to get to a stronghold or
concentrate his people, the savages overtook
his rear and shot and scalped two of his men.
After the first onset they wheeled about and
got off clear.
No sooner had the war-party disappeared
than McKenzie and his men withdrew with
their property to a hiding-place. Crossing
over a channel of the river, they got upon an
island and took up their abode in the thick
woods. From this retreat they could, unper-
ceived, distinguish the savages passing and
repassing in bands. They had, however, to
avoid making a fire during the daytime, as the
smoke would have discovered their retreat.
On this island our friends remained twenty-
two days before Kittson and his party got
back to them. The very next day after, fifteen
of the twenty-five prodigal Iroquois joined
them. One had been killed in a scuffle with
the natives, two had deserted, and the other
seven had joined the Snakes. The meeting
with our friends was a joyful one, though each
party had its troubles and its adventures to
recount, but such is the life of an Indian
trader that the most trying scenes are no
sooner passed away than they are forgotten.
_ fur J^uttter£ of tf>e far Wt$t
Our friends now set about leaving the
island to proceed on their journey. Our
trappers and hunters being all mustered,
amounted to seventy-five men. This was the
number that composed the second adventure
into the Snake country; still it was twenty-
five less than the number that had been
promised Mr. McKenzie. Advancing on their
journey, during the first few days they saw
several parties of the banditti, and, among
others, some of those very villains who had
threatened to rob McKenzie and his three
men were recognized. Mr. McKenzie, therefore, singled one out and, after addressing
him at some length, took hold of him and
asked him if he was as brave a man that day
as he was upon the former occasion. The
fellow was mute. McKenzie then, shaking
him rather roughly, gave him a slap in the
face and left him, an object of derision to the
bystanders. The Indians now had changed
their tone.
In their progress McKenzie and his party
came to a very formidable camp of about 800
huts and tents. The Indians were engaged
chiefly in fishing for salmon, and being but
indifferently disposed towards the whites, our
friends passed the night without sleep and at
dawn of day left the suspicious ground to look
out for a more defensible spot. They were
anxious to have a parley with the chiefs, and
therefore they took up their position on an
213 &lejrantier Jllo&sf
island where they would be secure. It was
thought imprudent to proceed without having
an interview with the chiefs of the different
tribes as they advanced.
After this interview, in which it was explained that the present visit of the whites
among the Indians was with the double object
of making peace between themselves and the
Nez Perces and of supplying their wants, the
chiefs were informed that as the Nez Perces
had made overtures of peace, they, on their
part, it was hoped, would not withhold their
consent. When the word peace was mentioned
one of the chiefs smiled. "Peace with the
Shaw-ha-ap-tens!" said he; then, looking
McKenzie steadfastly in the face, and pointing to the current of the river, "Do you see
that current? Stop it then!" exclaimed the
great man. "That's impossible," rejoined
McKenzie. " So is peace with the Shaw-ha-ap-
tens; they are at this moment on our lands,
and perhaps before night my wives and
children will be scalped by them." McKenzie
soothed the old chief and assured him that
the whites would do their utmost to promote
peace. He told him that the whites were
willing, if encouraged, to open a trade with
the great Snake nation, a people whose lands,
by lying so remote, must at all times be ill
provided with every necessary, as well as the
more essential part of their warlike implements.   He added to these professions a few
214 fur $uuter£ of tf>e far Wt$t
trifling presents, which left a favorable impression. This done, our friends prepared to
change their quarters.
It was not McKenzie's intention, on setting
out, to have visited these Indians or to have
entered on the peace question at all. He
wished to defer these points until he had first
conveyed and placed his men on the field of
their labors; but having thus unexpectedly met
with them and apprehending that he might not
find them so conveniently at any other time,
he resolved on taking them, tribe by tribe,
on his way, and settling the business at once.
As our people advanced several bands were
met, and the same routine of peace-making
gone through. One day as they journeyed
they fell in with a friendly band of the Snakes,
who gave them intelligence that a grand war-
party of the Indians inhabiting the east side
of the mountains were a short distance before
them. While these Indians and our people
were in communication a courier from behind
overtook them with the news that two war-
parties of the Nez Perces were also at their
heels, and had killed several of the Snakes on
the preceding day, thus verifying the words
of the chief. Indian report is always to be
received with great caution, yet our people
thought it well to make a halt. Crowds of the
banditti were emerging from all quarters and
fleeing towards their strongholds in the mountains, a sure sign that some commotion was
215 Illi
&lejeauDer ftogg
apprehended. These maneuvers convinced
our people that there must be some truth in
the reports. Under these circumstances they
took up their stand in a small wooded point,
partly surrounded by the river, resolving to
wait there for the present.
The friendly little band that had communicated the information to our people, notwithstanding the most urgent entreaties, would
not remain with them, but hastened off, preferring the security of the forests to the slender
protection of the whites. Several other parties
of the Snakes, however, came and encamped
along with our people, depending on them for
support. Other parties passed and repassed,
without stopping. The Nez Perces behind, the
Black Feet before, and the hostile Snakes
everywhere about, our people were completely surrounded. It was, therefore, beyond
human foresight to see a way to avoid such a
combination of evils as threatened them on all
The Nez Perces, finding that their enemies,
the Black Feet, intervened between them and
the Snakes, wheeled about in another direction
and our people heard nothing more of them.
But the Snakes and Black Feet had a severe
battle, which ended in favor of the former.
Thirty Black Feet, and more Snakes, strewed
the well-contested field. As soon as the vanquished retreated the Snakes paraded about,
exhibiting their trophies within sight of our
HUM fur ^uuterg of t&e far Wt$t
friends. Victory stimulates to revenge. The
Snakes, therefore, assumed a high tone. They
came in crowds from their hiding-places, and
joining the victorious party in their scalp-
dancing and scalp-singing, formed a host of at
least five or six thousand. Their huts, their
tents, altogether resembled a city in an uproar, and their scattered fires and illuminations during the nights exhibited an awful
spectacle to our encircled friends. Their
shouts and yelling, their gestures and frantic
movements, were very terrifying.
After eighteen days' delay at Woody Point,
the natives moved off almost in a body, and
from the spies which we kept hovering about
these Indians, we obtained seasonable advice
that the hostile tribes had retired. Consequently, our party might pass on in safety.
Thus by a combination of fortunate circumstances they were again relieved from
Having left their recent abode, accompanied by a friendly chief and his band, our
people proceeded through an open and delightful country. During this part of their
journey they crossed the spot where the great
battle had been recently fought, and saw
in many places putrid carcasses and human
bones scattered about. And here the chief
that accompanied our party pointed out the
skulls of their enemies—"Look at these,"
said he to McKenzie, "the heads of the Black
217 c   w
aierantier J!lo£g
Feet are much smaller than those of the
Snakes, and not so round." They also crossed
innumerable trails, on which the tracks were
still quite fresh, but at that period all appeared
to be quiet. After thirty-three days' hazardous
traveling, reckoning from the time Kittson
joined the party on the island, they arrived
at their hunting-ground. Here the men were
equipped for the winter, and commenced
McKenzie intended, should the natives
prove peaceably inclined and the trapping get
on smoothly among them, to spend part of
the winter in examining the country farther
to the south. He was likewise anxious to have
an interview with the principal chiefs of the
Snake nation, not having hitherto seen them.
In his letter to me, dated Black Bears Lake,
Sept. 10, 1819, he remarked: "We have
passed a very anxious and troublesome summer. War-parties frequent; in dangers often;
but still we do not despair. Time and perseverance will do much. You will make no
arrangements for forwarding our supplies; we
have had enough of that already. I will
accompany the spring returns and try to be at
Fort Nez Perces by the twentieth of next
June." This letter was brought me by an
Indian of the Falls at the latter end of October.
We have now given the reader some idea of
an Indian trader's life in these parts, and by
way of following up the subject a little further
218 fur ^uuterjef of tf>e far We$t
we shall describe how trapping with a large
party is generally carried on among Indians.
A safe and secure spot, near wood and
water, is first selected for the camp. Here the
chief of the party resides with the property.
It is often exposed to danger or sudden attack,
in the absence of the trappers, and requires
a vigilant eye to guard against the lurking
savages. The camp is called headquarters.
From hence all the trappers, some on foot,
some on horseback, according to the distance
they have to go, start every morning in small
parties in all directions ranging the distance
of some twenty miles around. Six traps is
the allowance for each hunter, but to guard
against wear and tear, the complement is more
frequently ten. These he sets every night
and visits again in the morning, sometimes of-
tener, according to the distance or other circumstances. The beaver taken in the traps
are always conveyed to the camp, skinned,
stretched, dried, folded up with the hair in
the inside, laid by, and the flesh used for food.
No sooner, therefore, has a hunter visited his
traps, set them again, and looked out for
some other place, than he returns to the camp
to feast and enjoy the pleasures of an idle day.
There is, however, much anxiety and danger in going through the ordinary routine of a
trapper's duty. For as the enemy is generally
lurking jbout among the rocks and hiding-
places, watching an opportunity, the hunter
219 .
^tlejcauUer &o£g
has to keep a constant lookout, and the gun is
often in one hand while the trap is in the
other. But when several are together, which
is often the case in suspicious places, one-half
set the traps and the other half keep guard
over them. Yet notwithstanding all their precautions some of them fall victims to Indian
The camp remains stationary while two-
thirds of the trappers find beaver in the
vicinity, but whenever the beaver become
scarce the camp is removed to some more
favorable spot. In this manner the party
keeps moving from place to place during the
whole season of hunting. Whenever serious
danger is apprehended, all the trappers make
for the camp. Were we, however, to calculate
according to numbers, the prospects from
such an expedition would be truly dazzling:
say seventy-five men with each six traps, to
be successfully employed during five months;
that is, two in the spring, and three in the fall,
equal to 131 working days, the result would
be 58,950 beaver! Practically, however, the
case is very different. The apprehension of
danger at all times is so great that three-
fourths of their time is lost in the necessary
steps taken for their own safety. There is also
another serious drawback unavoidably accompanying every large party. The beaver is a
timid animal. The least noise, therefore,
made about its haunt will keep it from coming
220 fur ^unterjf of tfje far Wt$t
out for nights together, and noise is unavoidable when the party is large. But when the
party is small the hunter has a chance of
being more or less successful. Indeed, were
the nature of the ground such as to admit of
the trappers moving about in safety at all
times, and alone, six men with six traps each
would in the same space of time and at the
same rate kill as many beaver—say 4,716—
as the whole seventy-five could be expected
to do! And yet the evil is without a remedy, for no small party can exist in these
parts. Hence the reason why beaver are so
Having conducted McKenzie and his party
to their hunting-ground we shall take our
leave of them while we notice the occurrences
at Fort Nez Perces; and then, in due time, we
will take up the subject of the Snake expedition again. Our last notice of this place was
the effect our establishment had on the conduct of the Indians. Yet, with all their submission, it was more apparent than real, for
I have never experienced more anxiety and
vexation than among these people. Not an
hour of the day passed but some insolent
fellow, and frequently fifty at a time, interrupted us, and made us feel our unavoidable
dependence upon their caprice. "Give me a
gun," said one. "I want ammunition," said
another. A third wanted a knife, a flint, or
something else.   Give to one, you must give
221 &lejcatttier ftog£
to all. Refuse them, they immediately got
angry, told us to leave their lands, and threatened to prevent our people from going about
their duties. Their constant theme was, "Why
are the whites so stingy with their goods?
They hate us, or they would be more liberal."
A fellow raps at the gate, calling out, "I want
to trade!" When you attend his call he laughs
in your face, and has nothing to sell. In short,
they talk of nothing but war, think of nothing
but scalp-dancing, horse-racing, and gambling,
and when tired of these, idleness is their
delight. On every little hill they are to be
seen all day in groups, with a paper looking-
glass in one hand and a paint brush in the
other. Half their time is spent at the toilet,
or sauntering about our establishment. In
their own estimation they are the greatest
men in the world. The whites who labor they
look upon as slaves, and call them by no other
name. I had, therefore, to lay down a rule in
all my dealings with them. However sudden
the call might be I never obeyed it until I
had walked backwards and forwards across
the fort twice. Nothing then surprised me
or ruffled my temper, and I often found the
benefit of the plan.
These Indians, with all their independence,
are far from being a happy people. They live
in a constant state of anxiety. Every hostile
movement about the frontiers excites alarm
and sets the whole country on the qui vive.
tmm fur i^uuterjsf of tfte far 3#egt
We have already noticed that a band of
the Shaw-ha-ap-tens, on its return from a war
expedition against the Snakes, killed Delorme
and Jeanvene, two of Kittson's men, on their
way to this place with the Snake returns.
They also killed several of the Snakes. One
evil often leads to another, for the Shaw-ha-ap-
tens had no sooner got back than a Snake party
were at their heels; but happening to fall in
with a few stragglers frolicking among the
bushes and gathering berries, who belonged
to the Walla Walla camp, not three miles from
our fort, they killed one man, four women,
and two children, then recrossed the mountains and got off clear, carrying along with
them the scalps of their victims and two young
women and a man as slaves.
The two captive women, as well as the man,
being of some rank, it caused a tremendous
commotion at this place. The first intimation
we had of this sanguinary affair was the next
morning, after the deed had been committed.
Going on the gallery as soon as I got up,
according to usual custom, I perceived at no
great distance a dense crowd of people, some
on foot, some on horseback, making for the
fort in the most frantic and disorderly manner, and filling the air with shrieks and lamentations. It struck me the instant I saw
them that it was a war-party; calling, therefore, all hands together, every man was placed
at his post, and we accordingly waited their
223 aieran&er $a#0
approach.   We had only ten men about the
fort at the time.
As they drew near, the more frantic and
tumultuous they became; so I inspected the
men's arms and finding one fellow, named
Quinze-sous, pale and agitated, with his gun
still unloaded, and fearing his cowardly conduct might influence others—for they were
all more or less panic-struck—I drew the iron
ramrod out of his gun and giving him a rap or
two over the head with it drove him off the
gallery and locked him up in one of the stores;
then returning, I promised a reward to every
one of the others that would behave well. By
this time the crowd had reached the fort gate,
and I saw, for the first time, that it was no
war-party, but our own Indians! Yet seeing
them carry a number of dead bodies, the
affair appeared still more mysterious, and as
Indians often carry false colors to decoy the
unwary, we were determined to be on our
guard. Friends or foes, we were prepared to
receive them. The number might have been
400 in all, but they were a mixture of men
and women. It may be asked, where were all
our guns, our bastions, and strong fort, if a
rabble of Indians gave us so much anxiety?
Our object, we answer, was not merely defense, but peace and friendship. We could
have easily dispersed the crowd, few as we
were; but one shot from our guns would have
sealed our ruin and that of our friends in the
"■ fur ^uuterg of tfie far Wt$t j
Snake country. The whites never oppose force
to force but in the last extremity.
When the crowd reached the fort gate the
seven bodies were laid on the ground. The
weather being sultry, the bodies were much
swollen and extremely offensive. This was no
sooner done than the savage habit of cutting
themselves, mingled with howling and shrieks
of despair, commenced. The scene was horrible. Under such circumstances sympathy for
the living as well as the dead was excited,
because their pain and sufferings must have
been acute, and this, as a matter of course,
increased their inclination to violent mourning. To have seen those savages streaming
all over with blood, one would suppose they
could never have survived such acts of cruelty
inflicted on themselves, but such wounds,
although bad, are not dangerous. To inflict
these wounds on himself, the savage takes
hold of any part of his skin, between his forefinger and thumb, draws it out to the stretch,
and then runs a knife through it between the
hand and the flesh, which leaves, when the
skin resumes its former place, two unsightly
gashes resembling ball holes, out of which the
blood issues freely. With such wounds, and
sometimes others of a more serious nature, the
near relations of the deceased completely disfigure themselves.
As soon as the bodies were laid on the
ground,  with their crimson-dyed garments,
225 ^lerauDer ftogg
one of the chiefs, called by the Canadians
"Gueule plat,"21 called out to me with an
air of effrontery, "Come out here." The moment this call reached me I felt a conflict
between duty and inclination. Refuse the
call I could not, yet I obeyed it with reluctance, and almost wished myself with
Quinze-sous in the store rather than where I
was. Turning round to the sentinel at the
door, I told him to lock the gate after me and
keep a sharp lookout. The moment I appeared
outside the gate so horrible was the uproar
that it baffles all description. Intoxicated
with wrath and savage rage, they resembled
furies more than human beings, and their
ghastly, wild, and forbidding looks were all
directed towards me, as if I had been the
cause of their calamity. Tum-a-tap-am, the
chief, then coming up to me and pointing to
one of the dead bodies, said, "You see my
sister there"; then, uncovering the body to
show the wounds, added, " that is a ball hole."
"The whites," said he again, "have murdered
our wives and our children. They have given
guns and balls to our enemies. Those very
guns and balls have killed our relations."
These words were no sooner uttered than
they were repeated over and over again by
the whole frantic crowd, who, hearing the
chief, believed them to be true. Excitement
was now at its height. Their gestures, their
21 Flat-mouth. ** #
mM fur ^untcrg of tfje far Wt$t
passionate exclamations, showed what was
working within, and I expected every moment
to receive a ball or an arrow. One word of
interruption spoken by me at the critical
moment in favor of the whites, might have
proved fatal to myself. I, therefore, remained
silent, watching a favorable opportunity, and
also examining the holes in the garments of
the dead bodies. The holes I was convinced
were made by arrows, and not by balls as the
chief had asserted, but it remained for me to
convince others when an opportunity offered.
Every violent fit of mourning was succeeded,
as is generally the case among savages, by a
momentary calm. As soon, therefore, as I
perceived the rage of the crowd beginning to
subside and Nature itself beginning to flag, I
availed myself of the interval to speak in
turn, for silence then would have been a tacit
acknowledgment of our guilt. I, therefore,
advanced and taking the chief by the hand
said in a low tone of voice, as if overcome by
grief, "My friend, what is all this? Give me
an explanation. You do not love the whites,
you have told me nothing yet." Tam-a-tap-
um then turning to his people, beckoned to
them with the hand to be silent; entire silence
was not to be expected. He then went over
the whole affair from beginning to end. When
the chief ended, and the people were in a
listening mood, I sympathized with their misfortunes and observed that the whites had
227 &leranfcer fto&s
been undeservedly blamed. "They are innocent," said I, "and that I can prove. Look at
that," said I, pointing to an arrow wound
which no one could mistake; "the wounds are
those of arrows, not balls. Nor were the
Snakes themselves so much to blame, as we
shall be able to show."
At these assertions the chief looked angry,
and there was a buzz of disapprobation among
the crowd, but I told the chief to listen patiently until I had done. The chief then composed himself, and I proceeded. "After your
solemn acquiescence in a peace between yourselves and the Snakes, through the influence
of the whites, the Shaw-ha-ap-tens violated the
second pledge by going again to war across the
Blue Mountains, and not content with having
killed their enemies, they killed their friends
also. They killed two of the whites. The
Snakes in the act of retaliation have, therefore, made you all to mourn this day. They
have made the whites to mourn also; but
your loss is less than ours. Your relations have
been killed, but still you have their bodies.
That consolation is denied us. Our friends
have been killed, but we know not where their
bodies lie." These facts neither the chief nor
the crowd could gainsay. The chief, with a
loud voice, explained what I had said to the
listening multitude, when they with one voice
exclaimed, "It is true, it is true!" Leaving
the chief, I then entered the fort, and taking
	 fur ^uuterje? of tlje far Wt$t
some red cloth, laid six inches of it on each
body, as a token of sympathy; then I told
them to go and bury their dead. A loud fit of
lamentation closed the scene. The bodies
were then taken up and the crowd moved off
in a quiet and orderly manner.
But the satisfaction we enjoyed at the
departure of the savages was of short duration, for they were scarcely out of sight, and I
scarcely inside the door, when another band,
related to those who had been killed, arrived
at the fort gate, and the loud and clamorous
scene of mourning was again renewed.
Among this second crowd of visitors was a
fellow dignified by the name of Prince, and
brother to one of the young women who had
been carried off by the Snakes. Prince encamped within fifty yards of the fort, and his
tent was no sooner pitched than he began to
chant the song of death. When an Indian
resorts to this mode of mourning it is a sure
sign that he has "thrown his body away,"
as the Indians term it, and meditates self-
destruction. Being told of Prince's resolution,
I went to his tent to see him, and found him
standing, with his breast leaning upon the
muzzle of his gun. His hair was disheveled,
and he was singing with great vehemence. He
never raised his head to see who I was. I knew
all was not right, and spoke to him, but receiving no answer, I went away on my return
to the fort.   I had scarcely advanced twenty
229 &lejeautjer fto£g
yards from his tent before I heard the report
of a gun behind me, and turning back again
I found the unfortunate fellow lying on the
ground weltering in his blood, his gun partly
under him. He was still breathing. The ball
had entered his left breast below the nipple
and come out near the backbone. The wound
was bleeding freely and he disgorged great
quantities of blood. I went to the fort for some
assistance, but on our return I expected that
every moment would have been his last.
However, we dressed his wound and did what
we could to allay his suffering.
The Indians now assembled in great numbers, and were noisy and violent. In the first instance they threw all the blame of the unfortunate affair on the whites, but in their rage and
violence they quarreled among themselves,
and this new direction in their excitement
removed the odium in some degree from the
whites and diverted the tide of popular fury
into another channel. During the affair, one
of those unfortunate wretches called medicine
men happened to be sitting at the fort gate,
when a brother of the man who had just shot
himself went up to him, saying, "You dog!
You have thrown your bad medicine on my
brother and he is dead, but you shall not live,"
and in saying so, he shot him dead on the spot.
The ball, after passing through the man's
body, went more than three inches into one
of the fort palisades.    I was standing on the
M fur l^uuterg of tlje far Wt$t
gallery at the moment he was shot, and had it
been on any other occasion but in the midst of
a quarrel between the Indians, we certainly
should have avenged his death on the spot,
for the murdered man was an excellent Indian,
and a sincere friend of the whites.
The scene now assumed a threatening aspect. Guns, bows, arrows, and every missile
that could be laid hold of came into requisition,
and robes, feathers, bells, belts, and trinkets
of every description were rattling about in
true savage style. The fellow who had just
shot the medicine man was shot in his turn,
and before the chiefs arrived, or could get a
hearing, three others were shot. The place
appeared more like a field of battle than anything else, for besides the five bodies that lay
lifeless on the ground, twice that number
were desperately wounded.
As soon as the deadly quarrel began, not
knowing the intent of the Indians nor how it
might end, I shut the gates and kept as clear
of the quarrel as possible. In the midst of the
confusion the Indians poured in from all
quarters, adding fuel to the flame; and some
of them in approaching the place, thinking it
was a quarrel between the whites and themselves, fired a shot or two at the fort before they were aware of the mistake. This
made us take to our bastions; our matches
were lighted, guns pointed, and we ourselves
watched the maneuvers of the savages around
231 &lejrautier ttoftet
us. One unguarded shot would have involved
us in the quarrel, which it was our interest to
avoid, as it would have put an end to all our
prospects in the Snake as well as the Nez
Perces quarter.
As soon as the chiefs could get a hearing
peace was gradually restored, and the five
dead bodies were removed to the Indian camp,
at a distance from the fort. Such a scene I
should never wish to witness again. This
affray, happening at our very door, gave us
much uneasiness, as to keep the balance of
good will at all times in our favor was a task
of more than ordinary difficulty.
The day after, the different tribes assembled at Fort Nez Perces, and I had my hands
full. The Shaw-ha-ap-tens arrived, the Cay-
ouses, the Walla Wallas, and many others.
The affairs of the preceding day were discussed, as well as the subject of our adventures in the Snake country, and the peace. A
thousand questions were put and answered.
Each chief betrayed impatience; one and all
had to be satisfied. The whites were indirectly
taxed with all the late troubles. The chiefs
threatened to disregard the peace, and the late
disasters furnished them with a pretext. They
were bent on going to war with the Snakes
again. As this step might have proved fatal
to our intercourse in that quarter, I tried
every plan to divert them from it. I invited
them into the fort to smoke.   There matters fur i^uuterg of tf>e far Wt$t
were talked over again, and they smoked
and talked during several meetings. A whole
week was spent in this business. At last,
however, we came to terms, and we all smoked
the calumet of peace once more. The chiefs
solemnly promised not to renew hostilities
until at least our friends had left the Snake
country.  So we parted once more as friends.
When our troubles were over and matters
had settled down to their ordinary level, I
took Prince, the man who in cool despair had
shot himself, under my care. As he not only
survived, but showed symptoms of returning
strength, I kept him, and nursed him from
July until December following, when he was
so far recovered as to be able to ride on horseback. At this stage he accompanied his relations to their wintering ground, but as he was
still unable to undergo the fatigues of hunting
or endure much exercise I fitted him out with
the means of passing the winter comfortably,
and we parted.
In the spring, on the return of the Indians
to the fort, I was much pleased to see Prince
among them as strong and hearty as ever.
"I am sure," said he to me when we met, "you
are glad to see me well." I told him I was very
happy to see him recovered, and hoped he
would be a good man and love the whites. He
appeared thankful, and promised he would.
" But," said he to me again, " you must give me
a new gun; you know my relations destroyed
^33 &lejrau&er fto££
my gun when I got wounded." "I know
they did," said I, "but I have no gun to
spare." "I have been long sick," said he,
"and am poor. I have nothing to buy one
myself, and I cannot hunt without a gun."
"You have plenty of horses," said I, "why
don't you buy one?" On my saying so, he
hung down his head. I saw, however, that
my refusal did not please him, and that my
telling him to sell his horses and buy a gun
pleased him less. But I thought that I had
done enough for him, and the more I gave
him the less he would hunt. So I told him
again I had no gun to spare; that I had nursed
him for half a year and saved his life, and
that now, as he was well, he must try and provide for himself.
"What!" said he, sharply, "do you love a
gun more than you love me?" "No," said I,
"but I have no gun to spare." On my saying
so, he got rather sulky and held down his
head, the first indication of an Indian's displeasure, for he had been telling his friends, as
I learned afterwards, that I would refuse him
nothing. All this, however, passed between us
without remark, and as I thought in good will
on both sides. I took no further notice of
what he said, but turned round to another
Indian to settle some little business I had
with him. While doing so, Prince suddenly
started up, saying, "Since you are so stingy,
and love your gun so well, keep it, and give
riH 11, fur ^unterg of tfje far Wt$t
me an axe. Perhaps you will refuse me that,
too." I was rather nettled at the fellow's
impertinence, so I reproved him. "What, my
friend," said I, "are you really angry with
me?" "Yes," said he abruptly. "The white
people have two mouths, and two words. You
said you liked me, and yet you refuse me a
gun; but give me an axe, and keep your gun,
since you prefer to see me like a squaw with
an axe, rather than like a man with a gun."
"What, my friend," said I again to him,
"have I not done enough for you? Have I not
done more for you than all your own people
put together? Have I not saved your life?
Have I not supported you all the winter?
Yes, my friend, I have done so. And now
that you are well you must do for yourself. I
cannot let you have an axe or anything else unless you pay for it as others do, nor does your
present conduct merit any more favors at my
hand." And saying so, I turned round to the
Indian I had been speaking to a little before.
The moment I turned round from .him,
Prince caught hold of a gun and made an
attempt to shoot me in the back, but it
fortunately missed fire, and before I had time
to turn round the gun was taken out of his
hands by one of the chiefs, who, holding it up
in the air, fired off the shot. It was fortunate
that it missed fire the first time.
After this, Prince stood sullen and motionless.  "Is it," said I, "because I saved your life
235 1 '
&leraufcer ftogg
that you wish to deprive me of mine?" To
this he made no reply. Taking, therefore, a
ball out of one of his comrade's pouches, close
by, I offered it to him, saying, "Let me see
now if you really wish to kill me. There is a
ball, load your gun again," and I then stood
before him. But he would neither take the
ball nor reload the gun. This scene took place
in the presence of more than fifty Indians,
who remained silent spectators. I then entered
the fort, leaving Prince still standing, but in a
few minutes afterwards he sneaked off and
left the place. Even the savages could not forbear reproving him for his conduct.
The reader has here a specimen of the
gratitude which a trader meets with among
these barbarous people. But we must follow
Prince a little farther. After leaving the
place he happened to meet, at a little distance
from the fort, one of my men, a Canadian by
the name of Meloche, coming home from a
hunting trip. Prince, therefore, went up to
him .with a smiling countenance, and after
shaking hands and talking a little with
Meloche he said to him, "Let me see your
gun." Meloche made no hesitation, but
handed it to him, for he looked upon Prince as
one of ourselves, from his having been so long
about the place, and he had often helped to
take care of him during his sickness. No sooner, however, had Prince got the gun into his
own hands than he, as Indians generally do.
236 fur ^unterg of tfje far Wt$t
examined whether or not it was loaded. Finding it was, he leaped on his horse, drew on one
side, and began to quarrel with Meloche and
reproach the whites, alluding to my having
refused him a gun and an axe. But Meloche
was not a man to be frightened by mere words,
and Prince, to prevent his getting hold of him,
turned round, shot Meloche's horse, kept the
gun, and scampered off.
Meloche arrived at the fort enraged, got a
horse and gun, and would have pursued after
Prince at all hazard had I not prevented him.
I intended to adopt some milder plan for the
recovery of his gun and the loss of his horse,
but time was not allowed us to put this plan
into execution. Not many days afterwards
Prince exchanged the gun with another
Indian for a horse. The Indians going out to
hunt, Prince, in approaching an elk, was
accidentally shot dead by a ball out of the
very gun he took from Meloche. The fellow
who had it happened unluckily to be approaching the same animal as Prince, but in an
opposite direction, when on firing, the ball
missed the elk, glanced from a tree, and
proved fatal to Prince.
With this incident we hasten to close the
present chapter, reserving for the next our
further proceedings in the Snake country.
537 Chapter 8
THE business of the year being ended, we
resume the subject of the Snake expedition. McKenzie, in following up his
first intention, disposed of his trappers to the
best advantage, and taking with him three
men and an Indian chief, left his people and
set out on a trip of discovery towards the
south. He had not proceeded far before he
fell in with the main body of the great Snake
nation, headed by the two principal chiefs,
Pee-eye-em and Ama-qui-em. An interview
with these two great men, in reference to the
peace, was McKenzie's chief object in the
trip he had undertaken. He, therefore, lost no
time, but returned back to where he had left
his people, the Indians accompanying him.
The regularity and order of these Indians
convinced the whites that they were under a
very different government to any other they
had yet seen in the country—even preferable
to the arrangements of the whites, the influence of the two great chiefs being, at all
times, sufficient to restrain and keep the
whole in subordination, and our friends free
from annoyance. Not so was it among our
own trappers, for, although McKenzie had
238 fur ^uuterg of t§t far Wm
only been absent from them ten days, on his
return he found that the Iroquois had commenced their old tricks of trafficking away their
hunting implements with the natives, and
their familiar and criminal intercourse had
already drawn down on them the contempt
of the Indians.
To prevent the evils arising from the
animosities which had been engendered between both parties by the conduct of the
thoughtless Iroquois was difficult; they well
nigh brought the whites into a disagreeable
scrape, but the good sense and conduct of the
chiefs on this occasion was, in the highest
degree, praiseworthy, so that matters were
soon amicably adjusted. This done, McKenzie
turned his attention to the Indians and the
peace. But before we enter upon the latter
subject we shall give some account of . the
Snake Indians as a nation.
The great Snake nation may be divided into
three divisions, namely, the Shirry-dikas, or
dog-eaters; the War-are-ree-kas, or fish-eaters;
and the Ban-at-tees, or robbers; but as a nation they all go by the general appellation of
Sho-sho-nes, or Snakes. The word Sho-sho-nes
means, in the Snake language, "inland."
The Snakes, on the west side of the Rocky
Mountains, are what the Sioux are on the
east side—the most numerous and the most
powerful in the country. The Shirry-dikas
are the real Sho-sho-nes, and live in the plains,
239 &le#mtier &o£g
hunting the buffalo. They are generally
slender, but tall, well-made, rich in horses,
good warriors, well-dressed, clean in their
camps, and in their personal appearance bold
and independent.
The War-are-ree-kas are very numerous,
but neither united nor formidable. They live
chiefly by fishing, and are to be found along
all the rivers, lakes, and water-pools throughout the country. They are more corpulent,
slovenly, and indolent than the Shirry-dikas.
Badly armed and badly clothed, they seldom
go to war. Dirty in their camps, in their
dress, and in their persons, they differed so
far in their general habits from the Shirry-
dikas that they appeared as if they had been
people belonging to another country. These
are the defenseless wretches whom the Black
Feet and Piegans from beyond the mountains
generally make war upon. These foreign mercenaries carry off the scalps and women of
the defenseless War-are-ree-kas and the horses
of the Shirry-dikas, but are never formidable
nor bold enough to attack the latter in fair
and open combat.
The Ban-at-tees, or mountain Snakes, live
a predatory and wandering life in the recesses
of the mountains, and are to be found in small
bands or single wigwams among the caverns and rocks. They are looked upon by
the real Sho-sho-nes themselves as outlaws,
their hand against every man,  and   every
240 fur i^unterjet of tfie far We$t
man's hand against them. They live chiefly by
plunder. Friends and foes are alike to them.
They generally frequent the northern frontiers, and other mountainous parts of the
country. In summer they go almost naked,
but during winter they clothe themselves with
the skins of rabbits, wolves, and other animals.
They are complete masters of what is called
the cabalistical language of birds and beasts,
and can imitate to the utmost perfection the
singing of birds, the howling of wolves, and
the neighing of horses, by which means they
can approach, by day or by night, all travelers,
rifle them, and then fly to their hiding-places
among the rocks. They are not numerous,
and are on the decline. Bows and arrows are
their only weapons of defense.
The country that these and the other Snake
tribes claim as their own and over which they
roam is very extensive. It is bounded on the
east by the Rocky Mountains; on the south
by the Spanish waters; on the Pacific, or west
side, by an imaginary line beginning at the
west end, or spur, of the Blue Mountains,
behind Fort Nez Perces and running parallel
with the ocean to the height of land beyond
the Umpqua River, in about north latitude
410 (this line never approaches within 150
miles of the Pacific); and on the north, by
another line running due east from the said
spur of the Blue Mountains and crossing the
great south branch, or Lewis River, at the
241 aierautier ftogg
Dalles, till it strikes the Rocky Mountains 200
miles north of the three pilot knobs, or the
place hereafter named the "Valley of Troubles." The Snake country, therefore, contains an area, on a rough calculation, of about
150,000 square miles. For an Indian country
it may be called thickly inhabited, and may
contain 36,000 souls, or nearly one person to
every four square miles.
With all their experience our friends possessed but a very confused idea of the Snakes,
both as to their names or numbers. One would
call them Bannacks, and another Wurracks,
while a third would have them named Dogs!
Nor was it till I had subsequently gone to their
country, traveled, traded, and conversed with
them, that I could learn anything like facts
to be depended upon; and even after all I can
state it cannot be relied upon as entirely
It was from the chiefs, who, it would appear,
were very intelligent men, that McKenzie
and his people by indirect questions came to
the conclusion that the Snake nation numbered as I have stated; which, of course, is
only an approximation to the truth. He could
get no satisfactory answer to direct questions,
and that is the case with almost all savages.
Ask an Indian his name and he will hesitate
to tell you; ask him his age, and you will
receive an evasive answer. When McKenzie
put the direct question to the great chief,
242 fur I^unterg of tfje far Wt$t
Pee-eye-em, "How many Indians are there in
the Snake nation?" he said, "What makes you
ask that question?" "I should like to know,"
said he, "in order to tell our Father, the great
white chief." "Oh! oh! tell him, then," said
Pee-eye-em, "that we are as numerous as the
In the part of the country where our
friends had taken up their winter quarters
the buffaloes were very numerous. Thousands
covered the plains. In this land of profusion
the Indians likewise pitched their camp. The
novelty of the presence of the whites and the
news of peace soon collected an immense
crowd together—Shirry-dikas, War-are-ree-
kas, and Ban-at-tees—so that before the end
of a month there were, according to their
statements, more than 10,000 souls in the
camp. This immense body covered a space of
ground of more than seven miles in length, on
both sides of the river, and it was somewhat
curious, as well as interesting, to see such an
assemblage of rude savages observe such order.
The Shirry-dikas were the center of this
city, the War-are-ree-kas at one end, the
Ban-at-tees at the other, forming, as it were,
the suburbs. But in this immense camp our
people were a little surprised to see on each
side of the Shirry-dikas, or main camp, nearly
a mile of vacant ground between them and
their neighbors the War-are-ree-kas and Ban-
at-tees.    This   mysterious  point  was   soon
243 &lejeatt&er fto&s
cleared up, for as the other Indians came in
they encamped by the side of the Shirry-dikas,
till at last the whole vacant space was filled
up. The same took place among the War-
are-ree-kas and Ban-at-tees. Each clan swelled
its own camp, so that every great division was,
in a manner, separate. The whole of this
assemblage of camps was governed by the
voice of two great chiefs, Pee-eye-em and
Ama-qui-em, who were brothers, and both
fine-looking middle-aged men. The former
was six feet two inches high, the latter above
six feet, and both stout in proportion. McKenzie himself, the stoutest of the whites, was a
corpulent, heavy man, weighing 312 pounds;
yet he was nothing to be compared, either in
size or weight, to one of the Indian chiefs.
His waistcoat was too narrow by fourteen
inches to button round Pee-eye-em.
Having now presented our readers with a
brief outline of the Snake Indians, we next
remark on that all-absorbing topic, the peace.
As soon as all the natives were assembled together, McKenzie made known to the chiefs
his views as to the establishing of a general
and permanent peace between them and their
enemies on the northern frontier. Besides
Pee-eye-em and Ama-qui-em, there were
fifty-four other dignitaries at the council-
board, six of whom were War-are-ree-kas, but
not one Ban-at-tee. The rest were all Shirry-
dikas, and others belonging to the same class.
244 fur ^uuter£ of tfje far Wt$t
After stating that the Nez Perces had agreed
to the peace, and that it now depended solely
upon them to have it finally ratified, McKenzie
also signified to them that if the peace met
with their cordial approbation and was once
established throughout the country, the whites
would then open a profitable trade with the
Snake nation, and that henceforth they might
be supplied with all their wants.
On hearing the concluding part of the proposition the approbation was universal. All
seemed to hail peace with their enemies as
a most desirable object. Here the great sachem, Pee-eye-em, rose up, and was the first
to speak. "What have we to do with it?" said
he. "We never go to war on the Nez Perces
or any other tribe in that quarter, nor do
they ever make war on us. These," said he,
pointing to the War-are-ree-ka and Ban-at-
tee camps, "these are the people who disturb
and wage war with the Nez Perces, and plunder the whites when in their power; but we
have no hand in it, and for us to run after
and punish the Ban-at-tees every time they
do evil would be endless. It would be just as
easy for us to hunt out and kill all the foxes in
the country, as to hunt out and punish every
Ban-at-tee that does mischief. They are like
the mosquitoes—not strong, but they can
torment; and by their misdeeds and robberies
the War-are-ree-kas often suffer from the inroads of the northern tribes."
245 1  I
aiejtauUer fto&e?
"The Black Feet and Piegans," continued
Pee-eye-em, "are our only enemies; a peace
with them would be more desirable to us than
a peace with the Nez Perces. But still, as it
is the wish of the whites, the interest of the
War-are-ree-kas, and ours, to get our wants
supplied, we cordially agree to it." Ama-
qui-em spoke next, and gave his consent. And
then Ama-ketsa, one of the War-are-ree-kas,
a bold and intelligent chief, spoke at great
length in favor of the peace. He denounced
the Ban-at-tees as a predatory race, and the
chief cause of all the Snake troubles with the
Nez Perces.
A whole week was spent in adjusting this
important business, and our people were
heartily tired of it. At last, when all the chiefs
had given their consent, four of the Ban-at-
tees were invited, and they approached in
evident fear. The peace was fully explained
to thern and they were distinctly told by
Pee-eye-em and Ama-qui-em that if they did
not regard the peace and live like the other
Snake tribes they would be punished with
In uttering these words Ama-qui-em got
quite enthusiastic. "Yes," said he, to the
trembling Ban-at-tees, "you are robbers and
murderers too! You have robbed the whites;
you have killed the whites." After this declaration he made a pause, as if regretting
what he had said, and went on.   "But why
246 fur ^uuterjS of tije far Wt$t
should I repeat a grievance? It is now past.
Let us utter it no more. Go, then, home to
your wives and to your children. Rob no
more, and we shall all be friends. You see the
whites before you. They are our friends. You
must be their friends. We must enforce the
observance of peace; tell your people so, and
forget it not."
The poor Ban-at-tees stood trembling and
silent before the council like criminals, but
the moment Ama-qui-em sat down they all
called out in the Snake language, "Hackana
tabehoo, Hackana tabehoo. We are friends to
the whites, we are friends to the whites."
The business over, McKenzie presented
Pee-eye-em and Ama-qui-em with a flag each,
as an emblem of peace, and at their request
one was given to Ama-ketsa and one to the
Ban-at-tees. As soon as the council broke up,
our friends were anxious to know the truth
of Ama-qui-em's assertion that they (the
Ban-at-tees) had already killed the whites,
and therefore sent for that chief and inquired
into the matter. Ama-qui-em, after some little
hesitation, explained it by telling McKenzie
that it was the Ban-at-tees that plundered
and murdered Mr. Reed and his party in the
autumn of 1813.
Our readers will no doubt have observed
that we have omitted the customary ceremony
of smoking during the present treaty of peace.
Our reasons for so doing arose from the fact
247 &lejeau&er &og£
that the Snakes prefer their own tobacco to
ours. They are, perhaps, the only Indian
nation on the continent who manufacture and
smoke their own tobacco. Several of them
were, however, seen with bits of our tobacco
in their medicine bags, but scarcely any were
seen to smoke it. As to the ceremony of smoking at their councils, no Indians indulge in it
more freely than the Snakes do.
The peace was no sooner concluded than a
brisk trade in furs commenced. In their
traffic the most indifferent spectator could not
but stare to see the Indians, chiefly War-are-
ree-kas and4 Ban-at-tees, bringing large garments of four or five large beaver skins each,
such as they use during winter for warmth, and
selling them for a knife or an awl, and other
articles of the fur kind in proportion. It was
so with the Columbia Indians in our first
years, but they soon learned the mystery of
trade, and their own interest. So will the
Snakes, for they are not deficient in acuteness.
Horses were purchased for an axe each, and
country provisions, such as dried buffalo, were
cheap. Our people might have loaded a
seventy-four-gun ship with provisions, bought
with buttons and rings.
It was truly characteristic of Indian trading
to see these people dispose of articles of real
value so cheaply, while other articles of comparatively no value at all, at least in the estimation of the whites, were esteemed highly
248 fur l^uuterg of tfje f ar Wt$t
by them. When any of our people through
mere curiosity wished to purchase an Indian
head-dress composed of feathers, or a necklace of bears' claws, or a little red earth or
ocher out of any of their mystical medicine
bags, the price was enormous; but a beaver
skin, worth twenty-five shillings in the English market, might have been purchased for a
brass finger-ring scarcely worth a farthing;
while a dozen of the same rings was refused for
a necklace of birds' claws, not worth half a
farthing. Beaver, or any kind of fur, was of
little or no value among these Indians, they
never having any traders for such articles
among them. Nor could they conceive what
our people wanted with their old garments.
"Have not the whites," asked a chief one day,
smiling, "much better garments than ours?"
Such garments, however, were not numerous,
and were only used by the poorer sort. The
Shirry-dikas were all clothed in buffalo robes
and dressed deer skin, but no sooner had one
and all of them seen European articles than
they promised to turn beaver hunters. This
disposition was, of course, encouraged by our
people. Axes, knives, ammunition, beads,
buttons, and rings were the articles most in
demand. Clothing was of no value. A knife
sold for as much as a blanket, and an ounce
of vermilion was of more value than a yard of
fine cloth. With the exception of guns, which
they might have got from other Indians, they
249 aiejtanDer jflogg
had scarcely an article among them to show
that they had ever mixed with civilized man,
although it is well known that they had of late
years occasionally seen the whites.
Trade was no sooner over than Ama-qui-em
mounted one of his horses and rode round and
round the camp—which of itself was almost
the work of a day—now and then making a
halt to harangue the Indians respecting the
peace, and their behavior towards the whites,
and telling them to prepare for raising camp.
Three days successively this duty was performed by the chief, and on the morning of
the fourth all the Shirry-dikas decamped in a
body and returned in the direction whence
they had come. Although these people were
very peaceable and orderly, yet our friends
got heartily tired of the crowd, and were no
less anxious than pleased to see them move
off. The War-are-ree-kas and Ban-at-tees
remained behind, and were very annoying.
They soon assumed a haughty tone, and even
the Ban-at-tees began to hold up their heads
and speak after the Shirry-dikas had left. In
short, our friends often wished the Shirry-
dikas back again. At the end of a couple of
weeks more, however, all the rest went off, but
not without stealing three of the hunters' best
horses and some beaver traps. So much for
the peace! But the loss was less felt than the
annoyance of the thieves who had stolen them,
of whom our people were glad to get clear.
m fur i^uuterg of tf>e far Wt$t
When the Indians had left the ground, our
hunters were divided into parties throughout
the neighborhood, and went with the other
three of the Owhyhees along a small river to
trap, where no danger was apprehended. Our
people were now left to pursue their business of
hunting, and they trapped with great success
for some time; but as soon as the winter set in,
some of the banditti hovered about their camp
with the intention of carrying off their horses,
which subjected them to constant watching
day and night. Our people, therefore, took
advantage of a snowstorm and removed to
some distance, in order to be out of their
reach. During the bad weather, which lasted
ten days, their want of a guide and their
ignorance of the best passes through the
mountains brought them into imminent peril
of losing all their horses. At length, however,
they were fortunate enough to get to a place
of shelter, where their animals could feed, and
they encamp in safety. Everyone felt that
their horses were secure, themselves relieved
from watching, and that they had outwitted
the Indians; but the very next morning after
they had arrived, six of their horses were
stolen and a gun and two steel traps, which had
been left at the door of a hunter's tent, were
carried off. The Indians had dogged them all
the way and played them this trick at last,
so that they had to adopt the same plan as
before and watch all the winter.
	 &lef autier $o&$
To those who have never traveled in these
wilds it may be interesting to know how the
trappers' horses are fed and stabled during
the winter. No fodder is provided for them;
there is no stable nor shelter, only the canopy
of heaven above them. Up to their bellies in
snow, which has often a crust on the top as
hard as ice, the horses beat down the crust,
scrape away the snow with their forefeet, and
feed on the dry and withered grass at the
bottom. They often pass the winter without
a drop of water, except from the icicles and
snow which they happen to eat with their dry
and tasteless food. After passing the night in
this manner they are bridled, saddled, and
ridden about by the hunters all day; and when
they arrive at night covered with sweat, tired,
and hungry, they are turned out again to dig
their supper in the face of the deep snows, and
in a cold ranging from 200 to 300 below zero of
Fahrenheit's thermometer. The exercise may
keep them in some degree warm, but the
labor necessary to procure their food during
the night is fully as fatiguing and laborious as
the labor by day, and yet these hardy and
vigorous animals are always in good condition.
But to return to our subject. During the
storm, while our people were on their journey,
one of the hunters, named Hodgens, getting
separated from the party in the drift and snow,
lost his way. In his wanderings he lost his
horse, and from cold and hunger almost lost
_=_■» fur J^uuterjS of t&e far Wm
his life; for the lock of his gun got broken, so
that he could not make a fire, and during two
days and two nights he had to weather the
storm without any. On the fourteenth day,
however, while scarcely able to crawl, he had
the good luck to fall on the main camp of the
War-are-ree-kas, where, recognizing the chief's
tent from the manner in which it was painted,
he advanced towards it, looking more like a
ghost than a living being. On his entering,
Ama-ketsa, surprised at his unexpected arrival
and still more surprised at his emaciated
appearance, stared him in the face for some
time, and could scarcely believe that it was a
white man; but as soon as he was convinced
of the reality, and made acquainted with the
wanderer's forlorn state, he ordered one of his
wives to put a new pair of shoes on his feet,
gave him something to eat, and was extremely
kind to him. Here Hodgens remained for
eleven days in the chief's tent, nursed with all
the care and attention of a child of the family,
until his strength was recovered; and as soon
as he was on his legs again, Ama-ketsa furnished him with a horse, some provisions, and
sent one of his own sons to conduct him to the
whites. Although Hodgens could give the
Indians no clue as to where the hunters were
encamped, yet on the eighth day they arrived
safe and sound at their friends, and as straight
as if they had been led by a line to them,
which convinced our people that the Indians
253 \ I
&lejcantier ftogg
knew well the place of their retreat. Indeed,
in those parts to avoid the Indians would be
to avoid their own party.
A party of our people had been out a whole
week in search of Hodgens, and found his
dead horse, but despairing of finding him they
returned to their camp and all hopes of ever
finding Hodgens alive vanished. When he
did come, their astonishment was equal to their
delight. The friendly conduct of Ama-ketsa
towards him was a strong proof of that chief's
good will towards our people. During our
friends' stay in this place they had several
surprises from the Indians, but they managed
matters so well that no more of their horses
were stolen.
Here our friends passed a winter of five
months before the fine weather broke in upon
them. Then, removing to some distance, they
commenced their spring hunt in a part of the
country rich in beaver. While here they were
visited by several bands of Snakes, chiefly
Shirry-dikas, and among others by Pee-eye-em
and Ama-qui-em, with a large squad of followers. The astonishment of these people was
great on the day of their arrival at seeing 240
beaver caught by the hunters and brought into
camp at the same time.
These two great men were very anxious to
know from McKenzie whether any of his
people had been killed by the Indians during
the winter, and being answered in the negative
254 fur ^uuterg of tfje far Wt$t
they appeared much pleased. They were,
however, told that one had been lost, but was
found. Little did our friends then think what
had really happened, or what had incited the
Indians to be so inquisitive. It will be remembered that three of the Owhyhees, as
well as others, had been fitted out on a little
river to hunt beaver, and our people had not
heard any tidings of them. These three unfortunate men had all been murdered. This
was what the chiefs had heard, and were so
anxious about.
As our people were about to start on their
homeward journey, the two friendly chiefs expressed an ardent wish to accompany them.
"We wish," said they, "to see the Shy-to-gas."
Besides seeing the Nez Perces, they thought
by accompanying our people to insure a safe
return to their lands. Our people, however,
did not encourage them to undertake so
tedious and hazardous a journey, and so
embarrassing to themselves, but McKenzie
assured them of his speedy return; so after
staying about ten days the chiefs set out to
return homeward. Both parties took leave of
each other with feelings of respect. As soon
as the chiefs went off our people prepared to
start, and in the meantime a party with an
Indian guide was sent off to pick up and bring
to the camp the three Owhyhees already
mentioned. They found the place where they
had been hunting, and where they had been
255 &lejeantier Mo$$
murdered; the skeleton of one of them was
found, but nothing else. The fact that one of
their horses had been seen in the possession of
the banditti left no doubt in the minds of our
people that they were the murderers.
The season being now well advanced, they
had no time to lose. Loading, therefore, 154
horses with beaver and turning their faces
towards Fort Nez Perces, the whole party
commenced its homeward journey over hills,
dales, rocks, and rivers for twenty-two days'
travel, until they reached the long-wished-for
Blue Mountains again. Here they spent a
couple of days to rest and refresh their fatigued animals.
Various had been the reports brought to us
by the Indians as to the fate of our friends in
the Snake country, and as the time of their
expected arrival drew near the more anxious,
of course, we became, when one day a cloud
of dust arose in the direction in which they
were expected, and by the aid of a spyglass we
perceived from four to five hundred horses,
escorted by as many riders, advancing at a
slow pace in a line of more than two miles in
length, resembling rather a caravan of pilgrims than a trapping party. It was our
friends, accompanied by a band of the Cayouse Indians, who had joined them as they
emerged from the defiles of the Blue Mountains; and soon after, McKenzie, in his leather jacket and accompanied by two of their
256 fur gutters? of tfje far Wt$t
chiefs, arrived at the fort. Nothing could exceed the joy manifested by all parties, and the
success attending the expedition surpassed our
most sanguine expectations.
This brings our subject up to the twenty-
second of June, 1820.
After a year's absence and laborious toil our
friends required some rest, and while they
are enjoying an interval of repose we propose
to employ ourselves in collecting from their
conflicting and imperfect details some further
notes and remarks on the Snake country—a
country which had become the center of attraction to all parties connected with the trade.
The general features of the Snake country
present a scene incomparably grateful to a
mind that delights in varied beauties of landscape and in the manifold works of Nature.
Lofty mountains, whose summits are in the
clouds, rise above wide-extending plains, while
majestic waters in endless sinuosities fertilize
with their tributary streams a spacious land of
green meadows, relieved by towering hills and
deep valleys, broken by endless creeks with
smiling banks. The union of grandeur and
richness, of vastness and fertility in the scenery, fills the mind with emotions that baffle
The Rocky Mountains, skirting this country on the east, dwindle from stupendous
heights into sloping ridges which divide the
country   into   a   thousand   luxurious   vales,
257 ^tlejcautier Mo$$
watered by streams which abound with fish.
The most remarkable heights in any part of
the great backbone of America are three elevated insular mountains, or peaks, which are
keen at the distance of 150 miles. The hunters
very aptly designate them the Pilot Knobs.22
In these parts are likewise found many
springs of salt water and large quantities of
genuine salt, said to be as strong as any rock
salt. South of Lewis River, at the Black Feet
Lake, this article is very abundant, and some
of it is six inches thick, with a strong crust on
the surface. Near the same lake our people
found a small rivulet of sulphurous water,
bubbling out from the base of a perpendicular
rock more than 300 feet in height. It was dark
blue and tasted like gunpowder.
Boiling fountains, having different degrees
of temperature, were very numerous; one or
two were so very hot as to boil meat. In other
parts, among the rocks, hot and cold springs
might alternately be seen within a hundred
yards of each other, differing in their temperature.
In passing many considerable rivers the
Indian path, or footway, instead of leading to
a ford would lead to a natural bridge. Instances of this kind were very frequently met
with. One of those bridges was arched over in
22 They are now generally known as the Three Paps,
or "Tetons," and the source of the great Snake River,
is in their neighborhood. Author.
258 fur ^unter£ of tl)e far We$t
a most extraordinary manner from one precipice to another, as if executed by the hand of
man. It was no uncommon thing to find rivers
issuing suddenly out of the earth in the midst
of a level plain, continuing a serpentine course
for several miles, and then as suddenly entering the earth again. In one of these openings our people set their traps and at the first
lift caught thirty beaver and one or two
Some considerable streams were likewise
observed to gush from the faces of precipices,
some twenty or thirty feet from their summits,
while on the top no water was to be seen. In
two or three instances our people heard the
noise of water under their feet, as of rapids,
yet, for several miles, could not get a drop to
drink. That this country contains minerals
there can be but little doubt; many indications
of copper, iron, and coal were seen by our
In many parts the soil is composed of a rich
black loam, with indications of marl. This is
the case in all the valleys, but in the higher
parts the eye is wearied with the sight of
barren plains and leafless rocks.
It has been noticed how abundantly the
natives of this quarter of the world are supplied with various kinds of food. The many
nutritious roots, berries, and all kinds of
uncultivated vegetables which the country
produces,  suited  to the Indian palate,  set
259 &lrjcautier J5o$s?
starvation at defiance at all seasons of the
year, unless through the negligence of the natives themselves.
The War-are-ree-kas are expert and successful fishermen and use many ingenious
contrivances in catching the salmon, but the
principal one is that of spearing. For this
purpose the fisherman generally wades into
the water, often up to his waist, and then
cautiously watches the ascending fish, the
water being clear. He poises and balances his
fourteen-foot spear so well, and throws it so
adroitly, that he seldom misses his aim.
Others, again, erect scaffolds, while many
stand on projecting rocks with scoop-nets,
and in narrow channels they make wires and
form barriers.
With all these methods and many more in
full operation, and on almost every point, the
fish, except in deep water, seldom escape these
cunning and dexterous men. From fifty to
one hundred persons may be seen within a
short distance of each other, all busily employed in their own particular way. At the
same time the youngsters are not idle, but
employed in carrying home the fish to the
camp; while the women, old and young, are
each at their post, cleaning and preparing
them for future use, and particularly to meet
the urgent demands of a long winter.
It seems that the salmon is not terrified by
noise, for in all these occupations the fisher-
260 fur ^uuterg of tfje far Wt$t
men call out loudly to each other. The immense quantities of this delicious and nutritive
fish caught at even one of these great fish
camps might furnish all London with a breakfast, and, although many hundred miles from
the ocean, our people affirmed that it still
retains its richness and flavor. From the skill
of the natives in curing salmon the fish continue at all seasons of the year sweet and in
good condition. They are dried slowly in
sheds, covered above to exclude the rays of
the sun.
Yet with all this quantity of salmon, and
buffalo in equal profusion, and of vegetables
before them, so depraved is the appetite of
the savage that he has often recourse, by way
of change or variety, to the most nauseous and
disgusting articles of food. The latter are,
perhaps, not more pernicious to health than
many of the highly-seasoned and deleterious
dishes used among ourselves; and are, no
doubt, as delicate and palatable to the taste
of the rude savage as the others are to the taste
and palate of the polished member of civilized
society. The Snakes feast on the most loathe-
some reptiles, such as serpents, mice, and lice.
The curiosity of our people was often attracted
by their singular mode of diet. Beneath the
shade of the bushes is found an enormous
kind of cricket, skipping in the sun are good-
sized grasshoppers, and gigantic mounds of
pismires of enormous growth are likewise very
261 &lejtautrer ftogg
frequent.   All these insects are made subservient to the palate of the Snake Indian.
These delicacies are easily collected in
quantity, and when brought to the camp they
are thrown into a spacious dish along with a
heap of burning cinders, then tossed to and
fro for some time until they are roasted to
death, under which operation they make a
crackling noise like grains of gunpowder
dropped into a hot frying pan. They are then
either eaten dry or kept for future use, as
circumstances may require. In the latter case
a few handfuls are frequently thrown into a
boiling kettle to thicken the soup; one of our
men had the curiosity to taste this mixture,
and said that he found it most delicious. Every
reptile or insect that the country produces is,
after the same manner, turned economically
to account to meet the palate of the Snake
Indian. But there is no accounting for tastes.
I have seen the whites, in a camp teeming with
buffalo, fowl, fish, and venison, longing for
horseflesh, and even purchasing a horse in
order to feast upon it. Nor is it uncommon in
these parts to see the voyagers leave their
rations of good venison and eat dogs' flesh.
But the reader will cease to be surprised at
these things when we mention the fact that
the people in this country, habituated as they
are to such things, live almost as the Indians,
eating everything at times that can be eaten,
some from choice, others from necessity.
262 fur l$\mtet$ of tl>e far wm
Various herbs, shrubs, and plants are to be
found, some of them highly esteemed by the
natives for their healing qualities. Having
stated that the Snakes prefer their own tobacco to ours, we now proceed to .speak of that
plant. The Snake tobacco plant grows low, is
of a brownish color, and thrives in most parts
of the country, but flourishes best in sandy or
barren soil. It grows spontaneously, and is a
good substitute for other tobacco, having the
same aromatic flavor and narcotic effect as
ours. It is weaker than our tobacco, but the
difference in strength may be owing to the
mode of manufacturing it for use. For this
purpose, their only process is to dry it, and
then rub it between the hands or pound it with
stones until it is tolerably fine. In this state it
almost resembles green tea. In smoking, it
leaves a gummy taste or flavor in the mouth.
Our people, however, seemed to like it very
well, and often observed that with it they
would never ask for any other; yet with all
their fondness for the-Snake tobacco, I observed that the moment they reached the fort
the Snake importation was either bartered
away or laid aside. One and all applied to me
for the good old twist. The Snakes would often
bring their tobacco to our people for sale, but
generally in small parcels, sometimes an ounce
or two, sometimes a quart, and sometimes as
much as a gallon. In their bartering propensities, however, they would often make our
263 &lejcantttr fto&ef
friends smile to see them with a beaver skin
in one hand and a small bag containing perhaps a pint of the native tobacco in the other.
The former they would offer for a paper
looking-glass,, worth twopence, while for the
latter they would often demand an axe, worth
four or five shillings.
There is a fabulous story current among
these people, and universally believed, that
they were the first smokers of tobacco on the
earth and that they have been in the habit of
using it from one generation to another since
the world began; that all other Indians learned
to smoke, and had their tobacco first from
them; that the white people's tobacco is only
good for the whites, and that if they should
give the preference to the white people's
tobacco and give up smoking their own it
would then cease to grow on their lands, and a
deleterious weed would grow up in its place
and poison them all.
Although these people display an absurd
degree of ignorance in trade, they are, nevertheless, very ingenious. Their ingenuity in
many instances shows them to be in advance
of their Columbia neighbors; as, for example,
their skill in pottery. The clays to be found
all over their native soil are of excellent
quality, and have not been overlooked by
them. They, of all the tribes west of the mountains, exhibit the best, if not the only, specimens of skill as potters, in making various
264 fur ^uuterg of tf>e far We$t
kinds of vessels for their use and convenience.
Our people saw kettles of cylindrical form, a
kind of jug, and our old-fashioned jars of good
size, and not altogether badly turned about
the neck, having stoppers. These jars serve
to carry water when on long journeys over
parched plains. They are likewise used for
holding fish, oil, and grease, and constitute a
very great accommodation for domestic purposes. These vessels, although rude and without gloss, are nevertheless strong, and reflect
much credit on Indian ingenuity.
While traveling in the Snake country our
friends were often at a loss how to get across
the different rivers that barred their way, even
about the Indian camps, from the singular
fact that the Snakes never make use of canoes.
They are the only Indians we know of who
derive their living chiefly from the waters and
are without them. Nor could our people
assign any reason or learn the cause. Among
all other fishing tribes, the canoe is considered
indispensable. When the Snakes had occasion
to cross any river, a machine constructed of
willows and bulrushes was hastily put together in the form of a raft. This clumsy practice
is always resorted to, although it is a dangerous mode of conveyance. Our people had frequently narrow escapes. At one time in crossing the main river on a raft of this description
they happened to get entangled and were in
the utmost danger of perishing, when some
!WW &lerautier $o&£
Snakes plunged in to their relief, and after
disentangling them swam the raft to shore.
They were for more than an hour beyond
their depth, notwithstanding it was at a period
of the year when the river was partly frozen
It was amusing to listen to the miraculous
tales of our people of the manner in which the
Snakes eluded their grasp. When passing
through the meadows and flats of long grass
they would often perceive at a distance a person walking, and on these occasions, if they
ran to see who it was, after reaching the place
and looking for some time around they would
perceive to their astonishment the object of
their search as far from them in an opposite
direction; not satisfied they would start again,
but to no purpose. The person would again
and again appear in another direction, as if
playing at hide and seek.
The moment a Snake perceives any one
pursue him, he squats down in the grass;
then, instead of running forward to avoid his
pursuer, he runs backward as if to meet him,
taking care, however, to avoid him, so that by
the time his pursuer gets to where he first
saw the Snake, the Snake is back at the place
from whence his pursuer started! In the art
of instantaneous concealment, and of changing
places, they are very remarkable. They are
very appropriately called Snakes. These remarks, however, apply to the Ban-at-tees also.
266 fur i^uuterg of ifyt far Wtgt
Return we now to the trappers, whom we
left enjoying themselves for a few days after
their return from the Snake country. After
delivering up their furs to me it was found
that they had increased our annual returns to
nearly double what they were a few years
before, with but little additional expense, thus
exemplifying the wise policy of extending the
trade into the Snake country.
The trappers, consisting of seventy men,
being fitted out anew, McKenzie and his party
were again at their post, and turning their
faces once more round to the Snake country
they left Nez Perces on the fourth day of
July, after a short stay of only twelve days.
We now introduce another portion of our
narrative, and in doing so we must, in order to
render our subject as intelligible as possible,
take a retrospective view of the scenes that
took place between the two rival companies
in 1816.
The courts of justice in Canada have jurisdiction over all criminal offenders in this
country. Consequently, all the parties guilty,
or suspected of being guilty, belonging either
to the North West or to the Hudson's Bay
companies during the hostile feuds were sent
thither for trial. We now lay before our readers
the result of these trials.
As soon as it was rumored abroad that an
investigation into the rights of parties, or the
safety of individuals, was about to take place,
267 glicranticr $o&$
many of the North West managers were much
perplexed. Expedients were resorted to, and
every artifice that could be devised was put in
requisition to defeat the ends of justice, or
rather to screen themselves from guilt. The
chief outrages that had been perpetrated were
committed, not by the ruling powers, but by
their subordinates, many of whom were, in
consequence, hastily got out of the way. The
remote posts of the North, as well as of the
Columbia, had the benefit of their company.
Those who could not be conveniently disposed
of in this way were sent off among the Indians for a time, so that when the various
indictments were exhibited in the courts of
law against individuals no evidence could be
found to convict or prove any of them guilty.
This has been, and always will be, the case in
a country so remote from civilization and the
seat of justice.
When all was done in Canada that could be
done the main features of the case remained
just as they were, without being advanced or
bettered by a protracted investigation of four
years. The Hudson's Bay Company still
maintained their right of exclusive trade in
and sovereignty over Rupert's Land; the
North West Company on the other hand, disputed that right and continued to trade in
Rupert's Land, carrying off the largest portion of its productions in furs and peltries.
Eminent  lawyers  were  employed  on  both
268 fur ^unterjaf of tt>e far We$t
sides to solve the disputed points, and gave
opinions favorable to their respective clients;
but those opinions produced no other effect
than to convince the rival companies of the
folly of carrying on a contest which threatened
bankruptcy to both. The costs of the North
West Company alone amounted to the enormous sum of 55,000 pounds sterling.
From litigation the parties had recourse to
mediation, and the result of the negotiation
was a union of the two companies into one by
a "deed-poll," bearing date the twenty-sixth
day of March, 1821. The deed-poll provides,
among other things, that the trade heretofore
carried on by both parties separately shall in
future be carried on "exclusively, for twenty-
one years, in the name of the Governor and
Company of Adventurers of England trading
into Hudson's Bay"; or in other words, the
Hudson's Bay Company. By this arrangement the North West Company merged into the
Hudson's Bay Company. The deed-poll may
be very good, and so may the charter, but we
should have liked it much better, after all the
evils we have witnessed arising from doubts
and disputes, had the charter itself been
stamped with the authority of the three
estates, King, Lords, and Commons. This
would have most effectually set the question
at rest forever, and put all doubt as to the
legality or illegality of the charter out of
question. The junction of the two companies
269 &lerauter jfiogg
saved Rupert's Land from anarchy in the
day of troubles.
The downfall of the North West Company
cast a gloom over its numerous train of retainers and Canadian dependents, also over
the whole savage race from Montreal to the
Rocky Mountains, and from the Rocky Mountains to the Frozen Ocean—a range of country greater in extent than the distance from
Canada to England. The Company of which
we are now speaking was, during its prosperity, the life and soul of the French Canadians,
and the French Canadians were always great
favorites with the Indians. No wonder, then,
that a deep sympathy should be manifested
on its ruin!
All those persons connected with the late
North West Company whose promotion was
prior to the date of the "deed-poll," were
therein provided for, whereas all those expectants whose time of promotion ran beyond
that period were excluded; but some of the
latter party were provided for by a pecuniary
remuneration, and among this last class it was
my lot to fall, for my promotion did not come
on till 1822. On this occasion a letter from the
Honorable William McGillivray put me in
the possession of the fact that 500 pounds
sterling had been placed to my credit in their
books, but I never received a penny of it.
Being thus released from the North West
Company, I had to begin the world anew,
270 fur ^uuterg of tlje far Wt$t
this being the third time in the course of my
adventures. Still following, however, the irresistible propensity of my inclination to see
more of the Indian country, I immediately
entered the service of the Honorable Hudson's
Bay Company, but for two years only.
My prospects in the Pacific Fur Company
were but short-lived, and my hopes vanished
like a dream. In the North West Company
seven more years of my life had gone by, and
with them my prospects. There is a singular
coincidence between both disappointments,
for had not the American Company failed in
1813 my promotion would have taken place in
1814; so, in like manner, had not the North
West Company become extinct in 18211 should
have realized my expectations in 1822.
The high standing of the late North West
Company induced all those in any way connected therewith to deposit their savings in
the house of McGillivray, Thain and Company, the then head of the concern, and everyone having money there considered it just as
safe as if it had been in the Bank of England.
But the wild and profuse expenditure consequent on keeping a horde of retainers during
the law contest of four years sank the house in
debt and it became insolvent, which unfortunate circumstance deprived many individuals
of all their hard earnings. My loss amounted
to 1,400 pounds, which left me almost penniless.
271 &lerautier fto&$
While these changes were going on who
should arrive in health and high spirits at
Nez Perces, after another year's absence, but
McKenzie from the Snake country, on the
tenth of July, 1821, with an increase of returns, and the good fortune of not having
lost a man. At this period his contract of
five years had expired, and the object of his
mission was fully accomplished, but being too
late in the season to get out of the country, he
passed the winter with me at Fort Nez Perces,
and crossed the Rocky Mountains in the autumn of 1822.
Although somewhat foreign to our subject,
we may be permitted to follow this enterprising and indefatigable adventurer a little
farther. The man who but a few years before
had been thought fit only to eat horseflesh and
shoot at a mark was now, from his perseverance and success in recovering a losing trade,
become so popular among all parties in the
fur trade that we find him snugly placed in
the new "deed-poll" as a sachem of the higher
class. Consequently, instead of wending his
way to Canada, after crossing the mountains,
he shaped his course to the Council at York
Factory. Nor had he been long there before
he was raised a step higher by being appointed
governor of Red River Colony, the highest
post in the country next to the Governor-in-
Chief, which honorable station he held with
great credit to himself and satisfaction to the
272 fur J^uuterjS of tf>e far Wt$t
public for a period of nearly ten years. Availing himself of his rotation at the end of that
period, he made a tour through the United
States, and during that tour purchased a small
estate delightfully situated near Lake Erie,
called May ville; then, returning to Red River
for his family, he retired from the service and
left the country altogether, going to spend the
remainder of his days at his rural seat of
Mayville, in the state of New York.
Mr. McKenzie was eminently fitted, both
in corporeal and mental qualities, for the
arduous and very often dangerous labor of
conducting the business of his employers in
regions hitherto but rarely trodden by the
foot of the civilized man, and among tribes as
fickle and capricious in their disposition as
they were fierce and barbarous in their manners. Capable of enduring fatigue and privations, no labor appeared too great, no hardships too severe. Bold and decided in the
presence of danger, he was peculiarly adapted
to strike awe into the breast of the savage, who
has an instinctive reverence for manly daring.
Nor was he destitute of those less striking
qualities which win, but do not awe mankind.
Intimately acquainted with the disposition of
the savages he had to deal with, he could
adopt measures amongst them which to others
appeared the extreme of folly, and whose successful issue alone could evince that they had
been prompted by the deepest sagacity and
273 aicjcauJJer Mn$$
knowledge of human nature. The instance,
already recorded, of his distributing his property among the Indian chiefs and finding it
untouched on his return, after a considerable
interval of time, is a sufficient proof of this.
But Mr. McKenzie, notwithstanding his liberal endowments and education, for he had
been designed for the ministry, had a great
aversion to writing, preferring to leave the
details of his adventures to the pen of others.
To travel a day's journey on snowshoes was
his delight, but he detested spending five
minutes scribbling in a journal. His traveling
notes were often kept on a beaver skin, written
hieroglyphically with a pencil or piece of coal,
and he would often complain of the drudgery
of keeping accounts. When asked why he did
not like to write, his answer was, "We must
leave something for others to do." Few men
could fathom his mind, yet his inquisitiveness
to know the minds and opinions of others had
no bounds. Every man he met was his companion, and when not asleep he was always
upon foot, strolling backwards and forwards,
full of plans and projects. So peculiar was
this pedestrian habit that he went by the
name of "Perpetual Motion."
1 Chapter 9
THE last chapter closed the career of the
North West Company with McKenzie's
adventures in the Snake quarter, and
placed the trade of the country in possession
of the Hudson's Bay Company. But before
we take our leave finally of the Northwesters
there are yet a few fragments left which we
propose collecting together, to enable the
reader thoroughly to comprehend this subject; and we propose devoting the present
chapter to these details.
The branch of mercantile pursuit which
confines the trader to a residence for a series
of years among savages in the far-distant wilds
of North America may appear to some as
banishment rather than an appointment of
choice in search of competency, which in a
variety of ways fortune places more or less
within our reach; yet of the persons who have
spent any portion of their years in those
countries, few or none are known who do
not look back with a mixture of fond remembrance and regret on the scenes through which
they have passed, preferring the difficulties
and dangers of their former precarious but
1 W1
^Ue^antier ftogg
independent habits to all the boasted luxuries
and restraints of polished society. In the
wilderness they spend a long, active, and
healthful life. The table groans with venison,
wild fowl, and fish, together with a variety of
wild fruits, while the simple element in its
purest state is their harmless beverage.
In the frequency of their voyages, the diversity of landscape brings ample food for
contemplation and delight. The indispensable
discharge of duties in the thronged fort or in
the bustling camp,\domestic endearments, the
making provision for the passing day, the
sport of the gun, together with the current
events among the tribes, furnish unbounded
variety to banish unhappiness and ennui.
At the very commencement of the fur trade,
however, such advantages were never within
the reach of the adventurer whose hazardous
strides first traced out the fertile paths of the
Far West. Their strength often proved unequal to their task, yet they had to push on,
ignorant of dangers before them, or of obstructions that barred their retreat. They had no
settled habitations or fortified holds to shelter
them from the tempest, or from the frenzy
of the natives. They were ignorant of the
languages, customs, and manners of the tribes,
whether they were well or ill disposed to them,
or lived at peace or war with their neighbors.
Without experience it was not possible always
to avert the storms ready to burst over their
276 fur l^uuterg of tlie far We$t
heads. Neither was it possible to enjoy tranquillity of mind, and as for comforts, they were
unknown. They had, in fact, everything to
dread and guard against.
But it must be admitted that in proportion
to the increase in the more essential points of
gain, the secondary objects of security, convenience, and comforts have had due attention
paid them. And now establishments of any
standing (such as Spokane House was in its
day) are by no means wanting in the principal
requisites of comfort. It may be said that the
trader of this period has only to reap in each
successive year, at ease, the harvest planted
for him by those who went before him. It is so
now on the Columbia, and with all that range
of country lying between the Rocky Mountains
and the Pacific. The roads are pointed out to
all newcomers, the paths known, the Indians
more or less civilized, so that the traders of
this day have little left them to do.
From a terror of the hardships endured in
the Indian countries, it was seldom that the
first adventurers could persuade any persons
to follow them who were able to live decently
at home. Their associates were, consequently,
taken from the common men, who could not
either read or write. But the number of
independent fortunes amassed in the Indian
fur trade at length attracted the attention of
creditable mercantile houses. Companies were
formed, and inducements held out to young
277 v" 7
^lejcaufcer &og£
men of respectable families, many of whom,
instead of embarking for the West or East
Indies, as had been customary, preferred the
road to Canada, in order to join the association which had by this time assumed the title
of the North West Company. These young
men did not hesitate to sign indentures as
clerks for a period of seven years, and to these
were generally attached twice seven more before such situations became vacant as were
to crown their ambition. Hence ordinary men
were weeded out of the country, and it is not
now strange to find the common Canadian, the
half-breed, the civilized Indian, the native of
the land, and the man of gentle birth and
education, at their respective duties in the
same establishment along the immense chain
of communications which extends as far as the
Frozen Ocean, and from the Atlantic to the
Pacific Ocean.
The fur trade' has a mixture of mercantile
and military duties. The clerks have charge of
trading posts according to their merits and
abilities, some upon a very considerable scale.
They are first taught to obey, afterwards they
learn to command, and at all times much is
expected of them. It sometimes happens to
be long before they receive the charge of a
first-rate establishment, but when the general posture of affairs is propitious to their employers it is not very of ten that their laudable desires are disappointed.   They at length
278 fur ^unterg of tf>e far We$t
arrive at the long-wished-for goal of partners,
and are entitled to a vote in all weighty decisions of the Council. They are thenceforth
styled esquires.
The bourgeois lives in comfort, if jiot luxury.
He rambles at pleasure, enjoys the merry
dance, or the pastime of some pleasing game;
his morning ride, his fishing rod, his gun, and
his dog, or a jaunt of pleasure to the environs
in his gay canoe, occupy his time. In short,
no desires remain unfulfilled. He is the greatest man in the land. The buildings belonging
to the Company are both neat and commodious, each class being provided with separate
abodes. The apartments are appropriately
divided into bedrooms, antechambers, and
closets. There are also the counting-room,
the mess-room, the kitchen and pantry, the
cellars, and Indian hall, together with handsome galleries. Nor can we pass over in silence one chief object of attraction. Even
in this barbarous country woman claims
and enjoys her due share of attention and regard. Her presence brightens the gloom of
the solitary post; her smiles add a new charm
to the pleasures of the wilderness. Nor are
the ladies deficient in those accomplishments
which procure admiration. Although descended from aboriginal mothers, many of
the females at the different establishments
throughout the Indian countries are as fair as
the generality of European ladies, the mixture
279 Sileraufcer |tio££
of blood being so many degrees removed
from the savage as hardly to leave any trace,
while at the same time their delicacy of form,
their light and nimble movements, and the
penetrating expression of the "bright black
eye" combine to render them objects of no
ordinary interest. They have also made considerable progress in refinement, and with
their natural acuteness and singular talent
for imitation they soon acquire all the ease
and gracefulness of polished life. On holidays the dresses are as gay as in longer-settled
countries, and on these occasions the gentleman puts on the beaver hat, the ladies make a
fine show of silks and satins, and even jewelry
is not wanting. It is not surprising, therefore,
that the roving Northwester, after so many
rural enjoyments and a residence of twenty
years, should feel more real happiness in these
scenes than he can hope for in any other
Fur traders, from their constant intercourse
with Indians, make a free use of tobacco,
mixing it, as the Indians do, with a certain
herb indigenous to the Indian country. This,
with their favorite beverage, strong tea, constitutes their chief luxury and agrees well
with their mode of life. But, whether it be
the food, mode of living, or climate, it certainly happens that great longevity is seldom
known among them on returning to civilized
280 fur J^unterg of tf>e far Wt$t
Indeed, there appears to be some fatality
attending wealth acquired in the fur trade.
Few, very few, indeed, of the hundreds who
have retired from that trade during the last
quarter of a century—some with competencies
and some with moderate fortunes—have lived
to enjoy their hard earnings. Shut out for so
many years from civilized society and all the
endearments of social life, the fur trader is
wholly unprepared for the wiles practiced by
designing persons, to whose devices he easily
falls a prey; or perhaps he squanders his means
so profusely as to be soon reduced to penury.
On the other hand, should he know the value
of money and be of economical habits, yet
having spent the best part of his days in a
country where money is little used, and where
he lived and roamed for so many years without it, he becomes disgusted with a country
where nothing can be procured without it,
and where its influence is all powerful. Consequently, the usages of civilized society have
no charms for him, and he begins to pine and
sigh for days gone by, never to return. He
foresees that his wealth must be left to persons
who had no trouble in acquiring it, and who
will consequently be less scrupulous in spending it. In fine, whether we look to the kind
of life led by the fur trader or the prospects
which such a life holds out to him, we shall
find, from his own experience, that the advantages to be derived from it are by no means an
2 aiejeanter &o$S
adequate compensation for the hardships and
privations he has to encounter, and for the
sacrifice he had made in renouncing so early
in life the comforts and privileges to be enjoyed
in his native land.
Canadians, it is admitted, are best calculated for the endurance of hardships and
expedition in the business of light canoe-men.
It is seldom that other men are employed in
such arduous labor. Indeed, the Canadians,
considered as voyagers, merit the highest
Another class, however, remain who merit
less praise. They are in this country styled
Freemen, because they are no longer the hired
servants of the Company. These are generally
Canadians, or others, who have spent their
better days in the quality of canoe-men in the
Company's service, but who have not been
provident enough to save part of their earnings for the contingencies of old age, and who,
sooner than return to their own country to
live by hard labor, resolve on passing the
remainder of their days in comparative idleness among the natives. It often happens,
however, that young men of vicious and indolent habits join them, lost, like the others,
to all the ties of kindred, blood, country, and
Christianity. These freemen may be considered a kind of enlightened Indians, with all
their faults but none of their good qualities;
and this similarity to the Indians in their
282 fur JSHmterg of tfjc far Wt$t
vagrant mode of life brings on them the contempt of both whites and natives. Indeed,
they become more depraved, more designing,
and more subtle than the worst of Indians,
and they instruct the simple natives in every
evil, to the great detriment of traders, with
whom, in consequence, they are never on a
friendly footing. They live in tents or in huts
like the natives, and wander from place to
place in search of game, roots, and herbs.
Sometimes they live in the utmost abundance,
but as they are not always expert hunters, nor
industrious, they have at times to undergo
the extremities of want. In this case they are
objects of commiseration, and the traders not
infrequently administer to their wants, but
such is their ingratitude that they are seldom
known to make them a grateful return.
On account of their rapacity they do not
always maintain a perfect understanding with
the tribe to which they are attached; but
Indians are so friendly to whites of every
description when they throw themselves upon
their mercy, that an instance of cruelty to a
freeman is seldom or never heard of. They
fall victims sometimes to the fury of an opposite or adverse nation at war, but otherwise they are by no means an unhappy race,
and they commonly live to an advanced age.
There cannot be a better test for knowing a
worthless and bad character in this country
than his wishing to become a freeman—it is the
Wsm 1
aiejcaufcer jESo£g
true sign of depravity, either in a wayward
youth or backsliding old man. They seldom
agree with one another, and are generally scattered amongst the natives by ones and twos
only. Collectively, there may be at present
about fifty or sixty on the Columbia, but in
all other parts of the Company's territories
they are far more numerous.
The next class we have to notice are natives
of the Sandwich Islands. It was from this
people that captains, in their coasting trade,
augmented their crews in steering among the
dangerous natives from Columbia River to
Behring's Strait, and from this precedent
the inland traders adopted them when their
complement of Canadians happened to fall
short of their demands. They are submissive
to their masters, honest, trustworthy, and
willingly perform as much duty as lies in their
power, but they are exceedingly awkward in
everything they attempt. Although they are
somewhat industrious, they are not made to
lead, but to follow, and are useful only to stand
as sentinels, to eye the natives, or go through
the drudgery of an establishment.
It has often been found, however, that they
are not wanting in courage, particularly
against the Indians, for whom they entertain
a very cordial contempt; and if they were let
loose against them they would rush upon
them like tigers. The principal purpose for
which they were useful on the Columbia was
284 fur ^unter£ of tfje far Wt$t
—M— I  ~m7     ■■■ ■<    i i »i    . ii"»i w'iifi   h«im»i»»hh.wwmii'i   .■ii).n.T|-rM--TJ),   Miminw ilMmi  ii ■mm n.inn..n»Mr.ii,v.i—l—M—
as an array of numbers in the view of the
natives, especially in the frequent voyages up *
and down the communication; and, doubtless,
they might have been found more serviceable
had not a dullness on their part and an impression of their insufficiency on ours prevented
both sides from any great degree of intercourse. Being obtained, however, for almost
their bare victuals and clothing, the difference
in the expense between them and Canadians
forms a sufficient consideration to keep up
the custom of employing more or less of this
description of men.
The contrast is great between them here
and in their own country, where they are all
life and activity, for when I saw them there I
thought them the most active people I had
ever seen. This difference in their habits I
am inclined to attribute to the difference of
climate, their own being favorable to them in
a high degree. When we consider the salubrity of the Sandwich Islands, it is hardly to
be wondered that the unhappy native, when
transplanted to the snows and cold of the
Rocky Mountains, should experience a decay
of energies. From exposure to the wet and
damp prevalent at the mouth of the Columbia,
many of them become consumptive, and find
their grave in the stranger's land.
The Owhyhees, however, are such expert
swimmers that few of our effects were lost
beyond recovery when accident now and then
SB aiejeautier ftog£
consigned them to the bottom of the water in
our perilous navigations; and it is next to
impossible for a person to get drowned if one
or more of them are near at hand, for in that
element they are as active and expert as they
are the reverse on dry land. They habitually
testify a fidelity and zeal for their master's
welfare and service, highly creditable to them.
There are at this time only about a score of
these men in the country.
Among the people employed are a set of
civilized Indians from the neighborhood of
Montreal, chiefly of the Iroquois nation. At
this period they form nearly a third of the
number of men employed by the Company on
the Columbia. They are expert voyagers,
and especially so in the rapids and dangerous
runs in the inland waters, which they either
stem or shoot with the utmost skill. The object of introducing them into the service of
the traders was to make them act in the double
capacity of canoe-njen and trappers. They
are not esteemed equal to the ablest trappers,
nor the best calculated for the voyage. They
are 'not so inoffensive as the Owhyhees, nor
to be trusted as the Canadians. They are
brought up to religion, it is true, and sing
hymns oftener than paddling songs; but those
who came here (and we are of course speaking of none else) retain none of its precepts.
They are sullen, indolent, fickle, cowardly,
and treacherous; and an Iroquois arrived at
286 fur i^unterjf of tfje far Wt$t
manhood is still as wayward and extravagant
as a lad of other nations at the age of fifteen.
We shall now draw the attention of our
readers to another class, the last we propose
to notice—Indian women and the half-breeds
of the country. About the different establishments there are some of the natives employed
in the capacity of servants, some as outdoor
drudges, some as cooks, some as fishermen,
and some as couriers. They are often found
useful among their own tribe or those in the
In the establishments belonging to the
whites in the Columbia are many Indian
women, as wives to the different classes of
people in the employ of the Company. These
may be in all about fifty. Some of them have
large families, and the tenderness existing
between them and their husbands presents
one great reason for that attachment which
the respective classes of whites cherish for
the Indian countries. The vigilance of these
women has often been instrumental to the
safety of the forts when the most diabolical
combinations were set on foot by the natives.
As it frequently happens that their husbands go home to Canada, with the means of
living at their ease, these women must of
necessity rejoin their respective tribes, where
they generally remain in a state of widowhood
during a year or two, in expectation of their
return.   If the husband does not return, the
287 aierantier fto&s
woman then bestows her hand on one of his
comrades who has the good fortune to please
her fancy the best.
Habituated to the manners of the whites,
they prefer living with them for the rest of
their lives, and generally prove faithful to
their husbands. They are likewise much attached to their families—a disposition inherent in all Indians. Nor are they wanting in
many other qualities necessary to form the
good housekeeper. They are tidy, saving, and
industrious. When they rejoin their tribe,
the whites find them very friendly, and they
never fail to influence their connections to the
same end. By these means a close alliance is
formed between the traders and the aborigines
of the country, which might, by means of their
offspring, be instrumental in bringing civilization among the Indians were there some wise
policy adopted for the government and care of
half-breeds, whose destiny it is to be left in
indigence by poor parents in this far-distant
region of the earth.
Some benevolent society would, no doubt,
if set on foot, meet with all due encouragement. Ways might be devised, by appointing
an agent or guardian to each district of the
country, for the due superintendence, maintenance, clothing, and education of all such
poor children as are left in the Indian countries. I am convinced, from my own experience
in these parts, that nothing of the kind could
288 fur i^uttterg of tf>e far Wt$t
ever work well unless the Hudson's Bay Company were to take the management of it; that
alone would insure its success. For the promotion of this benevolent design an appeal is here
made to the philanthropic disposition of the
Honorable Company, who now preside over
that great family of mankind inhabiting a tract
of Indian country from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the Pacific to the Frozen Ocean.
Half-breeds, or, as they are more generally
styled, brules, from the peculiar color of their
skin, being of a swarthy hue as if sunburnt,
as they grow up resemble almost in every
respect the pure Indian*, with this difference,
that they are more designing, more daring,
and more dissolute. They are indolent, thoughtless, and improvident, licentious in their habits, unrestrained in their desires, sullen in
their disposition, proud, restless, clannish, and
fond of flattery. They alternately associate
with the whites and the Indians, and thereby
become falsely enlightened, acquiring all the
bad qualities of both.
But the more unfortunate part of them are
those born of wealthy parents, or men holding the rank of gentlemen in the service, such
as bourgeois and clerks. These men have
often been remarkable for indulging their children; and instead, therefore, of teaching their
offspring industry and frugality, they allow
them to run about the establishment, learning, among Indians, freemen, voyagers, and
in &lerantier &og£
others, every vice that can degrade human
nature. The father, however, is a gentleman;
the son, forsooth, must be a gentleman too.
None so great as he, for he can race horses,
run dogs, smoke tobacco, and shoot arrows,
but he must not degrade himself with labor.
While in the service, all this does very well,
but when the father leaves the service, so does
the son. They are no longer in the service,
but in civilized life. The son looks about, and
is disgusted with the drudgery of labor; still
hangs about his father; knows nothing, can do
nothing; bows and arrows are more congenial
than the spade or the hoe, and he longs to get
back to the scenes of his boyhood. To get rid
of the gentleman's son, therefore, the father
sets him up in business, and gives him a portion of his goods. But business he does not
understand, his thoughts are still upon bows
and arrows. He fails, and falls back again
upon his more than half-ruined father. The
father dies, the son lays his hands on the root
of all evil, and indulges for a time in wasteful
extravagance. The father is scarcely yet cold
in his grave when the last shilling is gone, and
the son an outcast.
It sometimes happens that a promising
youth is sent home. Five hundred pounds are
spent on his education, and the accomplishments of drawing, music and dancing are
added. He returns to the country again, for
they must all get back to the land of their
290 fur ^unterg of t|>e far Wt$t
nativity. He tries his fortune one way, tries
it another, but the qualifications and the restraints necessary to succeed in business are
disagreeable to him. He gets tired, and descends from respectable society. His learning becomes useless; he tries his bows and
arrows again, but has forgotten even that aboriginal accomplishment, and is lost in the crowd.
Many bad consequences arise from the customary mode of abandoning half-breed children. It degrades white men in the eyes of
the natives. By far the greater part of those
who are employed in this quarter, from Montreal, are in reality nothing else but half-breeds;
with this difference, however, that they are
more knowing in mischief, but less skilled
than the others in the requisite occupations of
the land.
We shall now bring to view their better
qualities. Half-breed children, instructed in
the principles of religion and morality, and
taught at an early age some useful trade,
would doubtless prove an ornament to society.
They are frequently endued with the most
lively apprehension, and are naturally ingenious, hardy, and enterprising. They are
by far the fittest persons for the Indian countries, and the best calculated by nature for
going among Indians. They are insinuating,
and not unfit instruments to mollify their
countrymen and teach them the great end of
civilization.   They are naturally of an acute
291 &leranfcer fto$S
understanding, are expert horsemen, active
woodsmen, noted marksmen, able hunters.
They surpass all Indians at the chase; they
are vigorous, brave; and, while they possess the
shrewdness and sagacity of the whites, they
inherit the agility and expertness of the savage.
It is a misfortune that those who might otherwise be calculated to shine in various spheres
of civilized life should thus be lost to their
country, and the more deplorable since it is in
our power to make them useful. And for aught
we know there may be Nelsons, there may be
Wellingtons, whose talents lie buried in the
listlessness and obscurity of the dreary waste.
Of this class the first child, a male, was born
at Columbia on the twenty-fourth day of
January, 1812. I notice the circumstance
now as it may in a new country like this
become, on some future day, matter of history.
Children from the Indian countries do not
generally turn out well in civilized society.
Those, however, brought up among the lower
classes seem to thrive the best. Their genius,
their habits, and their ideas, it would appear,
correspond best with that sphere of life.
We now come to notice the last relic of the
North West Company—the universal idol of
its day—the light canoe, the chief gratification to a North West proprietor, the person
of highest rank in the Indian countries. The
Canadians, or voyagers, dignify their master
by the name of bourgeois,—a term handed
292 fur i^unterg of t|je far Wt$t
down from the days of the French in the
province of Canada.
The bourgeois is carried on board his canoe
upon the back of some sturdy fellow generally
appointed for this purpose. He seats himself
on a convenient mattress, somewhat low in the
center of his canoe, his gun by his side, his
little cherubs fondling around him, and his
faithful spaniel lying at his feet. No sooner is
he at his ease than his pipe is presented by his
attendant, and he then begins smoking, while
his silken banner undulates over the stern of
his painted vessel. Then the bending paddles
are plied, and the fragile craft speeds through
the currents with a degree of fleetness not to
be surpassed, yell upon yell from the hearty
crew proclaiming their prowess and skill.
A hundred miles performed, night arrives;
the hands jump out quickly into the water,
and their nabob and his companions are
supported to terra firma. A roaring fire is
kindled and supper is served. His Honor then
retires to enjoy his repose. At dawn of day
they set out again. The men now and then
relax their arms, and light their pipes, but no
sooner does the headway of the canoe die away
than they renew their labors and their chorus,
a particular voice being ever selected to lead
the song.   The guide conducts the march.
At the hour of breakfast they put ashore on
some green plot. The teakettle is boiling, a
variegated mat is spread, and a cold collation
aw w
&lejtau&er Jflo#es
set out. Twenty minutes—and they start
anew. The dinner hour arrives. They put
aground again. The liquor-can accompanies
the provision-basket. The contents are quickly
set forth in simple style, and after a refreshment of twenty minutes more off they set again,
until the twilight checks their progress.
When it is practicable to make way in the
dark, four hours is the voyagers' allowance
of rest; and at times, on boisterous lakes and
bold snores, they keep for days and nights together on the water, without intermission and
without repose. They sing to keep time to
their paddles; they sing to keep off drowsiness,
caused by their fatigue; and they sing because
the bourgeois likes it.
Through hardships and dangers, wherever
he leads, they are sure to follow with alacrity
and cheerfulness—over mountains and hills,
along valleys and dales, through woods and
creeks, across lakes and rivers. They look not
to the right nor to the left, they make no halt
in foul or fair weather. Such is their skill that
they venture to sail in the midst of waters like
oceans, and with amazing aptitude they shoot
down the most frightful rapids, and they
generally come off safely.
When about to arrive at the place of their
destination they dress with neatness, put on
their plumes, and a chosen song is raised.
They push up against the beach as if they
meant to dash the canoe into splinters, but
294 fur J^unterjS of t&e far We$t
most adroitly back their paddles at the right
moment, whilst the foreman springs on shore
and, seizing the prow, arrests the vessel in its
course. On this joyful occasion every person
advances to the waterside, and great guns are
fired to announce the bourgeois' arrival. A
general shaking of hands takes place, as it often
happens that the people have not met for
years. Even the bourgeois goes through this
mode of salutation with the meanest. There
is, perhaps, no country where the ties of
affection are more binding than here. Each
addresses his comrades as his brothers, and
all address themselves to the bourgeois with
reverence as if he were their father.
From every distant department of the
Company, a special light canoe is fitted out
annually to report their transactions. The
one from the Columbia sets out from the
Pacific Ocean the first of April, and with the
regularity and rapidity of a steamboat it
reaches Fort William on Lake Superior the
first of July, remaining there till the twentieth
of that month, when it takes its departure
back, and with an equal degree of precision
arrives at Fort George at the mouth of the
Columbia River on the twentieth of October.
A light canoe, likewise, leaving the Pacific,
reaches Montreal in a hundred days, and one
from Montreal to the Pacific in the same space
of time, thus performing a journey of many
thousand miles without delay, stoppage, or
295 gUerantier fto&a?
scarcely any repose, in the short period of little
more than six months.
Having now concluded our remarks on the different classes of whites, of half-breeds, and others
connected with the trade of this country, we
resume the subject of Fort Nez Perces quarter.
The different Indian tribes inhabiting the
country about Fort Nez Perces often go to
war on their southern neighbors, the Snakes,
but do not follow war as a profession. They,
likewise, frequently go to the buffalo-hunt, as
the Flatheads and others west of the mountains do. They are inhabitants of the plains,
live by the chase, and are generally known
and distinguished by the name of "black
robes," in contradistinction to those who live
on fish. They are easily known from their
roving propensities, their dress, cleanliness,
and independence. Being rich in horses, they
seldom walk on foot. They are expert hunters,
good warriors, and are governed by far more
powerful and influential chiefs than any of the
other tribes on the Columbia.
We do not intend to follow them through
all the varied scenes of their warlike exploits,
for that has already been more or less done in
our remarks on the Snake country; yet that
the reader may have a more correct idea of
their habits and general appearance on such
occasions we shall first present him with a
short description of a warrior and his horse,
ready accoutered for a war expedition, point-
296 fur i^unterg of tfje far Wt$t
ing out to him their general treatment of
slaves taken in war, and conclude the subject
of our remarks in this chapter with a brief
vocabulary23 of their language.
The tribes of Fort Nez Perces we have
enumerated already; on the present occasion,
we shall more particularly direct the reader's
attention to the Walla Walla, the Cayouse, and
the Shaw-ha-ap-ten tribes. The last mentioned
is the Choppunish of Lewis and Clark. First,
then, as to the war chief's headdress, a matter
of great importance. It consists of the entire
skin of a wolf's head, with the ears standing
erect, fantastically adorned with bears' claws,
birds' feathers, trinkets, and bells. The next
item is a wreath of curiously studded feathers,
resembling a ruff or peacock's tail, which is
entwined round the cranium and hangs down
the back to the ground like a banner. When
the chief is on horseback, it floats six or seven
feet in the air. The loss of this is the loss of
honor. The price of a first-rate war head-dress
is two horses. The body is clothed with a
shirt or garment of thin-dressed leather, cut
and chequered into small holes and painted or
tattooed with a variety of devices. A black
leathern girdle strapped tightly round the
waist confines the garment and holds the
mystical medicine bag and decorated calumet
—articles, in the chief's estimation, of no
ordinary value. His weapons are the gun, the
23 Omitted from the present reprint.
297 &lejeau&er jlo£g
lance, the scalping-knife, and a bulky quiver
of arrows. Although thus accoutered, he appears nowise embarrassed. Indeed, one must
actually see a warrior to believe with what
dexterity and ease he can use each weapon,
and how nimbly he can change one for another as occasion may require.
Next comes the favorite war-horse, a description of which will convey but a faint idea
of the reality. Although horses are generally
cheap and easily purchased by the natives,
yet no price will induce an Indian chief to
part with his war-horse. Those entirely white
are preferred. Next to white, the speckled, or
white and black, are most in demand. Generally, all horses of these fancy colors are
claimed by the chiefs in preference to any
other, and are, therefore, double or treble the
value of others. As much pains is bestowed to
adorn, paint, and caparison a war-horse as a
warrior himself. On the occasion I am now
describing, the horse was a pure white. After
painting the animal's body all over and drawing a variety of hieroglyphic devices, the head
and neck were dappled with streaks of red
and yellow, the mane dyed black, the tail red,
clubbed up in a knot, and tied short. To this
knot was appended two long streamers of
feathers, sewed to a leather thong by means
of sinews; the feathers, which reached the
ground, forming as it were two artificial tails,
which, in addition to ornament, served the
298 fur i^unterg of t&e far Wt$t
rider to lay hold of while in the act of crossing
rivers. A bunch of feathers as big as a broom,
standing some twenty inches above the ears,
ornamented the horse's head, and the rider as
well as the horse was so besmeared with red,
blue, and yellow ocher that no one could tell
what the natural color of either was.
Five or six hundred men thus mounted and
armed present a somewhat grand and imposing appearance, when, a few days before setting out on these expeditions, the whole
cavalcade parade and maneuver about their
camp. But the most interesting part of the
scene is not yet told. On one occasion I went
purposely to see them. One of the principal
chiefs, at the commencement, mounted on
horseback and took up his stand on an eminence near the camp, while at the same time
the whole troop, mounted in fighting order,
assembled in a group around him. After this
chief had harangued them for some time they
all started off at a slow trot, but soon increased
their pace to a gallop, and from a gallop to
a full race, the cleverest fellow taking the
lead. In this manner they went round the
tents. During all the time silence prevailed
within the camp, while the horsemen continued shouting or yelling, and went through all
the attitudes peculiar to savages.
At one moment they threw themselves to the
right, the next to the left side of the horse, twisting and bending their bodies in a thousand
Bsmos &lejtautier USafttf.
different ways, now in the saddle, then out
of the saddle, and nothing frequently to be
seen but the horses, as if without riders, parrying or evading, according to their ideas, the
onset of their assailants. I could very easily
conceive that the real merit of the maneuvers
was not who could kill most of his enemies, but
who could save himself best in battle. So
dexterous and nimble were they in changing
positions and slipping from side to side that it
was done in the twinkling of an eye. As soon
as the maneuvering was over they were again
harangued and dismissed.
The subject next to be considered is the
treatment of the slaves taken in war. On their
return from an expedition, the war-party keep
in a body and observe the same order as at
starting, until they reach home, when, if
successful, their shouting, yelling, and chanting the war-song fill the air. The sound no
sooner reaches the camp than the whole savage horde, young and old, male and female,
sally forth; not, however, to welcome the
arrival of their friends, but to glut their desire
of implacable revenge by the most barbarous
cruelties on the unfortunate captives, who
are considered as slaves and treated as such.
The slaves, as is customary on such occasions, are tied on horseback, each behind a
warrior. But the squaws no sooner meet them
than they tear them down from the horses
without mercy, and then begin trampling on
300 fur i^imterg of tf>e far Wt$t
them, tearing their heads and flesh, cutting
their ears, and maiming their bodies with
knives, stones, sticks, or other instruments of
torture. After thus glutting their revenge
they drive the slaves to the camp.
It is then settled unalterably what the
slaves are doomed to suffer. Every afternoon, some hours before sunset, the camp
makes a grand turn-out for dancing the scalps.
For this dance two rows of men, a hundred
yards long or more, arrange themselves face
to face and about fifteen feet apart. Inside
these are likewise two rows of women facing
each other, leaving a space of about five feet
broad in the middle for the slaves, who, arranged in a line, occupy the center in a row by
themselves. Here the unfortunate victims,
male and female, are stationed with long poles
in their hands and naked above the waist,
while on the ends of these poles are exhibited
the scalps of their murdered relations. The
dancing and chorus then commence, the whole
assemblage keeping time to the beat of a loud
and discordant sort of drum. The parties all
move sideways, to the right and left alternately, according to the Indian fashion, the
slaves at the same time moving and keeping
time with the others. Every now and then a
general halt takes place, when the air resounds
with loud shouts of joy, and yell upon yell
proclaim afar their triumph.
All this is but a prelude to the scenes that
301 aiejtautier jllogg
follow. The women, placed in the order we
have stated on each side of the slaves and
armed with the instruments of torture, continue jeering them with the most distorted
grimaces, cutting them with knives, piercing
them with awls, pulling them by the hair, and
thumping them with fist, stick, or stone in every
possible way that can torment without killing
them. The loss of an ear, a tooth, the joint of
a finger, or part of a scalp torn off during these
frantic fits, are nightly occurrences; and if the
wretches thus doomed to suffer happen not to
laugh and huzza (which in their situation would
almost be beyond the efforts of human nature)
or if they fail to raise or lower, according to
caprice, the scalps in regular order, they are
doubly tormented and unmercifully handled.
On these occasions some termagant often
pounces upon her victim, who not infrequently falls senseless to the ground under the
infliction of wounds; and if any slave happens,
from a sudden blow, to start back a little out
of line, a woman in the rear instantly inflicts
another wound, which never fails to urge the
same victim as far forward; so that they are
often pushed backwards and forwards till at
last they become insensible.
The men, however, take no part in these
cruelties, but are mere silent spectators. They
never interfere, nor does one of them during
the dancing menace or touch a slave. All the
barbarities are perpetrated by the women.
302 ,   , fur 1$unttt$ of t|>e far Wt$t
These are the only examples I have ever
witnessed among savages of women outdoing
the men in acts of inhumanity, or where
sympathy is not regarded as a virtue by the
sex. But then we must take into consideration
that it is a part of the law of the tribes; it is
a duty which the females, according to the
customs of war, are bound to perform.
When these acts of savage life happen near
the establishments curiosity occasionally induces the whites to attend and on one occasion I stood for some time looking on, but as I
could do nothing but pity, I soon withdrew
from the heart-rending scene. At dusk the
dancing ceases and the slaves are thenceforth
conveyed to the camp, washed, dressed, fed,
comfortably lodged, and kindly treated until
the usual hour of dancing the following day
arrives, when the same routine of cruelties is
gone through. This course is generally persisted in for five or six days without intermission, and then discontinued altogether. From
that time, the slaves are no longer considered
in the camp as common property, but are
placed under the care of their respective masters, and subject only to them. Their treatment ever after is generally as good as could
be expected, and is often according to their
own merit. They are, nevertheless, at all
times subject to be bought, sold, and bartered
away in the same manner as any other article
of property belonging to the owner.
303 If Ind
ex  3!tttieit
Abnakee (Abanakee) Indians, join McKenzie's expedition, 85; unreliability in fur trade, 118.
Agents, status in North West Company, 86-87.
Amaketsa, Snake chief, succors lost trapper, 253-54.
Amaquiem, Snake chief, meets McKenzie, 238; physique, 244; part in peace negotiations, 245-47; breaks
camp, 250; visits trappers, 254-55.
Amiotte, , drowned, 64-65.
Astor, John Jacob, trading activities, xxiii-xxiv.
Astoria, surrendered to North West Company, xxiv.
Astorians, narratives concerning, xii, xix-xx, xxiii.
Banattee Indians, branch of Snake tribe, described,
240-41; in peace negotiations, 244-47; misdeeds,
245-47; conduct toward traders, 250; skill at concealment, 266.
Bannack Indians, name applied to Snake, 242.
Bears, on Grizzly Bear River, 135; wintering dens, 135-
36; Indian hunt described, 152-54. See also grizzly
Bear Thicket, explorers visit, 136.
Beaver, vessel, lost, xxiv.
Beaver, on Grizzly Bear River, 134-35; near Eagle
Hill, 137; returns decrease, 189; mode of trapping,
219-21; timidity, 220-21; catch, 254, 259.
Bethune, Angus, North West Company partner, 28.
Black Bears Lake, McKenzie visits, 218.
Black Feet Indians, defeated by Snake, 216-17; PreY
upon Wararereeka, 240; peace with, desired, 247.
Black Feet Lake,.salt deposits, 258.
Blue Mountains, McKenzie traverses, 190, 192; route
via, 212, 228; trappers reach, 256.
Boats, Snake tribe, 265-66. See also canoes.
3°7 3"n&#
Boston, vessels from, in Northwest trade, 28.
Bridges, natural, 258-59.
Brusseau (Aland), narrative of illness, 128-29.
Buffalo, numbers in Snake country, 243.
Burgeois, significance of title, xxviii; status, in North
West Company, 86-87; mode of life, 279, 292-95.
Canadians, endurance of hardships, 282. See also
Cannibalism, traders resort to, 47.
Canoes, fondness of Northwesters for, 59-60; Snake
tribe ignorant of, 265; use in fur trade, 292-95.
Canoe River, explorers visit, 140-41.
Cascades, of Columbia, hostility of natives, xxviii-
xxxv, 110-12.
Cathleyacheyach Indians, embroiled with Northwesters, xxx-xxxv.
Cayouse Indians, assemble in Eyakema Valley, 5;
halt traders, 39-40, 43-44; hostilities, 44-46; peace
with Snake, 169-74; influence, 176; warriors described, 297-300.
Charette, murdered, 47-48.
China, trade unprofitable, 28.
Chinook Indians, attack How How's followers, 184-86.
Choppunish Indians, see Nez Perce* Indians.
Clerks, characterized, 278-79.
Coal, in Snake country, 259.
Colonel Allan, trading vessel, visits Fort George, 65-
68; sails for China, 66.
Coltman, Colonel, investigates trading companies'
warfare, 79.
Columbia, trading vessel, visits Fort George, 28.
Columbia grouse, killed, 144.
Copper, in Snake country, 259.
Copper Mine River, Hearne discovers, xxv.
Cosispa Indians, location, 175.
Cowlitz River, hostilities with Indians, 181-86.
Crowly, Doctor, accused of shooting, 67.
Dalles, of Columbia, character of Indians, xxxvii;
traders encamp, 3-4; meet disaster, 46-47; natives
attack, 97; passage, by traders, 117-22.
308 Stofl;
-, killed by Indians, 212, 223.
Dogs, at Indian feasts, 101; quarrel with natives over,
110-12; as diet, 262.
Dog Indians, name applied to Snake, 242.
Downie, Captain George, in battle of Plattsburg, 68.
Downie, Doctor, kills self, 67-68.
Eagle, killed, 144.
Eagle Hill, explorers visit, 136, 142.
East India Company, prohibits navigation of Indian
Ocean, 105.
Eyacktana, rencounter of Ross with, n-12; befriends
Ross, 13-16.
Eyakema River, rendezvous of natives, 5, 7; expedition
of Ross to, 5-20; hostility of natives, 189; route via,
Falls, of Columbia, trader drowned, 64-65; natives
visit Fort Nez Perc6, 207-208.
Falls, of Willamette, peace negotiations at, 91-95.
Finlay, , shoots Indian, xxix.
Fleas, in Indian dwellings, 101.
Fletcher, Major, investigates trading companies' warfare, 79.
Forests, between Fort Okanogan and Pacific described,
32-37; in Rockies, 140; absence at Fort Nez Perc6,
Forks, of Columbia, traders stopped by natives, 39-40;
as rendezvous, 40.
Fort George, new name for Astoria, xxiv; activities at,
22-28, 180-86; Isaac Todd visits, 24; traders
drowned, 25-27; Columbia visits, 28; arrival of
traders, 40, 61, 103, 160; departure, 42, 64, 91, 106-
107, 162; council of North West Company, 41-42,
62-63, 104, 161; proposal to abandon, 43; career of
Jacob, 69-75; climate, IQ6; disasters to trade, 188-89.
Fort Nez Perc6, erection decreed, 161; site, 162, 165;
obstacles to building, 163; arrival of McKenzie,
190, 256-57; activities, 204-208, 221-37; described,
205; defenses, 207; conduct of trade, 205-207;
Indians characterized, 296-302. See also Nez Perc6
309 ^titie*
Fort Spokane (Spokane House), Ross visits, 20, 40; disadvantages as headquarters, 125-27; attractions,
126-27, 277; headquarters removed, 161.
Fort William, North West Company headquarters,
xxvhi, 24; express for, 4; council, 41, 60-61, 82,161;
Selkirk captures, 79.
Fraser, Simon, explorations, xxvi.
Fraser's River, discoverer of, xxvi; route via, 145.
Friendly Lake, explorers visit, 134, 143.
Freemen, of Northwest, characterized, 282-84.
Fur trade, conduct of in Northwest described, 275-96.
Fur traders, difficulties of adjustment to civilization,
Galena, Red River colonists remove to, 80.
Grand Coulee, described, 20-22.
Grand Pierre, Iroquois trapper, misconduct of, 148-50.
Grant, Cuthbert, protects Red River colonists, 77-78.
Grasshoppers, plague Red River Colony, 80.
Grizzly bears, explorers kill, 142.
Grizzly Bear River, see Kelownaskaramish River.
Gueule Plat, Nez Perce* chief, denounces traders, 226.
Half-breeds, of Northwest, characterized, 289-92.
Hawaiians, see Sandwich Islanders.
Hearne, Samuel, explorations of, xxv.
Henry, Alexander, drowned, 24-27.
Hodgens, , trapper, adventures, 252-54.
Horses, in Northwest trade, xxviii; supply procured,
5-20, 174; wolves attack, 48-49, 52-54; in Snake
country, 194; stolen, 199, 201, 236-37, 251; care of,
252; as food, 262; of Nez PerceV warrior, described,
Hostile Island, scene of attack on traders, 43-46.
How How, Cowlitz River chief, aids traders, 181;
followers slain, 182; alliance with traders concluded,
Hudson's Bay Company, union with North West Company, xvii, xxiii, 269-70; rivalry with, 75-79, 267-
70; establishes Red River Colony, 78-81; Ross
enters employ, 271.
Hurricane, described, 35-36.
i ^ttiltZ
Inaspettjm Indians, location, 175.
Indians, hostilities with traders, xxviii-xxxv, 8-13, 22-
24, 44-46, 88-97, 110-12, 117-22, 163-64, 167-68,
180-189, 209-212; murder traders, 22, 47-48, 246-
47, 254-56; at Dalles, characterized, xxxvii; of Willamette, 96; at Fort Nez Perce, 175-76, 222, 296-
303; Eyakema River, 5, 7-20; succor traders, 26-
27, 252-54; metaphorical speech, 30; lack of moral
courage, 37-38; conduct of trade, 31, 205-207;
halt traders, 39-40; peace negotiations, 40, 91-95,
169-74, 244-48; mode of life on Columbia, 57-59;
of Snake, 238-67; friendship for McKenzie, 98-99,
146-47; feasts, 99-101; fickleness, 112, 132; superstition, 141-42; traders entertain, 158-59; steal
horses, 201, 251; precautions against at Fort Nez
Perc6, 205-207; ingratitude; 233-36; taciturnity,
242-43; medicinal plants, 263; women as wives
of traders,   287-89;  cruelty toward slaves, 300-
Insects, as food, 261-62.
Iroquois Indians, in Northwest trade, 61, 85, 286-87;
quarrels with natives, 107-108; misconduct, 118,
147-50, 178-82, 186, 190-91, 212, 239; plot to kill
McKenzie, 148-50; McKenzie's measures for controlling, 208-209.
Iron, in Snake country, 259.
Isaac Todd, trading vessel, at Fort George, 24.
Ispipewhumaugh Indians, location, 175.
Jack, sailor, drowned, 25-27.
Jacob, story of misdeeds, 69-75.
Jeanvene, , killed by Indians, 212, 223.
Joachim, Iroquois interpreter, saves McKenzie, 149.
Kamass, article of diet, 5.
Kashtsammah, evil spirit, native belief concerning,
Keith, James, expeditions attacked, xxviii-xxix; commander at Fort George, 63-64, 70-72, 91-96;
opposes McKenzie, 82-86.
Kelownaskaramish (Grizzly Bear) River, traders explore, 134.
311 Sto&tt
Kittson, , leads expedition into Snake country,
198^203, 208-209, 212; followers slain, 212, 223.
Lark, destroyed, xxiv.
Lewis, Meriwether, and William Clark, exploration of,
xxvii, 164.
Lewis River, McKenzie explores, 195-96.
Little, John, narrative of drowning of traders, 25-27.
Lowhim Indians, location, 176.
McDonald, John, North West partner, xxxvi-xxxix.
MacDonough, Captain, in battle of Plattsburg, 68.
McGillivray, William, communicates reward to Ross,
McGillivray, Thain and Co., failure, 271.
McKay, Thomas, on expedition to Eyakema Valley,
5-20; wounded, 19-20.
Mackenzie, Alexander, explorations of, xxv.
McKenzie, expeditions, xxxi, 85, 97-103, 106-25, 147-
51, 174, 190-95, 208-21, 238-57, 267; departure for
New York, 3; appointed superintendent of inland
trade, 63-64; contest with North West partners, 81-
85; reasons for promotion, 86; method of encamping, 114-16; knowledge of native character, 117-
18, 146-47; plot against life, 148-50; challenges native to combat, 123, 213; explores Lewis River,
195-96; physique, 244; career characterized, 272-74.
McLeUan, Captain, surveys entrance to Columbia, 66.
McMillan,  , attacked by natives, 97; guards
boats, 121; trading operations, j51-52.
McTavish, Donald, drowned, 24-27.
McTavish, John George, leads expedition against
Cathleyacheyachs, xxxi-xxxv; superintendent at
Fort Spokane, 40.
Maypoles, erection of, 137.
May ville, residence of Donald McKenzie, 273.
Medicine, use of plants, 263.
Meloche, , robbed by Prince, 236-37.
Methow (Meat-who) River, route via, 30.
Moltnomah Island, quarrel between traders and natives, 107-108.
Moose, killed by explorers, 141.
312 ^ntiejc
Neecootimeigh Indians, location, 175.
Nez Perce* (Shawhaapten, Cayouse, Walla Walla),
Indians, assemble in Eyakema Valley, 5; halt
traders, 39-40; McKenzie plans fort among, 82;
leads expedition among, 147; fort erected, 161;
location, 175; influence, 176; peace with Snake, 191,
244-48; hostilities, 214-16, 223; lamentations over
losses, 223-32; threaten McKenzie, 210-12; characterized, 222, 296-303; warriors described, 297-300.
North (Sunteacootacoot) River, traders explore, 133.
Northwest, manners and customs described, 275-303;
conduct of fur trade, 275-96.
North West Company, early activities on Columbia,
xii-xiii, xx-xxi, xxiv, xxvii-xxxix, 3-4; union with
Hudson's Bay Company, xvii, xxi, xxiii, 269-70;
councils at Fort George, 41-42, 62-63, 104, 161;
Indians hostile, 23-24; futility of early measures, 42-
43; trading policies discussed, 55-61; scheme of reorganization, 86-87; rivalry with Hudson's Bay
Company, 75-79, 267-70; trade restricted, 105.
Norway House, Red River colonists driven to, 77.
Oak Point, traders detained by ice, 95; trader deserts,
107; traders murdered, 188.
Ogden, Peter Skene, on embassy to Willamette Indians,
91; to Cowlitz, 181.
Okanogan, expedition to Eyakema Valley, 5-2°; route
to Pacific explored, 29-39; trade of natives with
seaboard, 30-31; arrival of traders, 125.
Oskononton, Iroquois trapper, narrative of, 177-80;
murdered, 180-81; narrative confirmed, 192.
Owhyhee, see Sandwich Islanders.
Pacific Fur Company, narrative concerning, xix,
xxiii; overthrow, xx-xxi, xxiv; employees murdered,
xxx, 22, 202, 246-47.
Pellettopallas Indians, location, 175.
.Pawhich Indians, location, 175.
Peeeyeem, Snake chief, meets McKenzie, 238; numbers of followers, 243; physique, 244; peace negotiations, 245-47; visits trappers, 254-55.
Physicians, misfortunes in Columbia region, 66.
3*3 Piegan Indians, prey upon Wararereeka, 240; Snake
desire peace, 247.
Pilot Knobs (Three Paps, Three Tetons), 258.
Pischous (Pisscows) Indians, chief befriends Ross, 6.
Pischous (Pisscows) River, route via, 9.
Plattsburg, battle of, 68.
Point Turnabout, as terminus of exploration, 37, 39.
Portage Point, mouth of Canoe River near, 140.
Pottery, skill of Snake tribe, 264-65.
Priest's Rapid, traders pass, 124.
Prince, befriended by Ross, 229-30; ingratitude, 233-
36; robs Meloche, 236-37.
Prisoners, treatment, 300-303.   See also slaves.
Quahat, Cayouse chief, in peace negotiations, at Fort
Nez Perc6, 171.
Quinze-sous, , fears Indians, 224.
Red Feather, Nez Perc6 chief, threatens McKenzie,
210-11; attacks Kittson, 212.
Red Fox, Indian chief, route of, 30-31.
Red Jacket, Indian demagogue, 123.
Red River Academy, established, xvii.
Red River Colony, founding of, 77-81; rendezvous of
retired traders, 81; McKenzie appointed governor,
272. See also Hudson's Bay Company and Earl of
Reed, , party murdered, xxx, 202, 246-47.
Reynolds, Captain, visits Fort George, 67-68.
Rocky Mountains, eastern boundary of Snake country, 257.
Ross, Alexander, narrative of Astorians, xi-xii, xix-xx,
xxiii; of North West Company, xix-xx; enters employ of, xxvii-xxviii; terminates service, 270; gives
trade data, xxxvi-xxxix; expedition to Eyakema
Valley, 5-20; visits Fort Spokane, 20, 40; describes
Grand Coulee, 20-22; visits She Whaps, 28-29, 39,
47, 48, 106, 125; explores route to sea coast, 29-
39; to Rocky Mountains, 130-45; hunts wolves, 49-
52; marksmanship, 51-52, 157-58; assistant to
Keith, 65; surveys mouth of Columbia, 66; captures Jacob, 70-74; history of Red River Colony,
3i4 Sfo&eje
80; pacifies Indians, 90-96, 226-29; ascends Columbia, 106-25; defends dog, 110-12; describes bear
hunt, 152-55; commands Fort Nez Perc6, 175,
204-208, 221-37; befriends Prince, 229-30, 233-36;
enters employ of Hudson's Bay Company, 271.
Rupert's Land, first colony planted, 80; rivalry in fur
trade, 268.
St. Martin, , aids in capture of Jacob, 73.
Salmon fishing, 213, 260-71.
Salt, occurrence of Springs, 258.
Sandwich Islanders (Owhyhees, Hawaiians), in Northwest fur trade, 85,106; unreliability, 118; murdered,
254-56; characterized, 284-86; as swimmers, 285-
Sawpaw Indians, location, 176.
Selkirk, Earl of, founds Red River Colony, 77-81.
Semple. Governor, massacre of, and party, 77-78.
Shamooinaugh Indians, location, 175.
Shawhaapten Indians, see Nez Perce* Indians.
She Whaps, Ross visits, 28, 39, 47-49,106,125; murder
of Charette, 47-48; trading activities, 130-45; exploration to Rockies, 132-45.
Shirrydika (Shoshone), branch of Snake tribe, described,
239-40; peace negotiations, 244; break camp, 250;
visit trappers, 254-55.
Short Legs (Tutackit Istsoaughan), She Whaps chief,
wounded by bear, 152-55.
Shoshone Indians, see Snake Indians.
Skamnaminaugh Indians, location, 175.
Skamnaugh River, as rendezvous, 197, 200, 202.
Simpson, Sir George, unites fur companies, xvii.
Slaves, as peace token, 95; taken in war, 170-71; treatment by squaws, 300-303.
Snake (Shoshone) Indians, McKenzie leads expedition
among, 147-51,174,238-57,267; explores country of,
190-97; pursue Oskononton, 179; peace with Nez
Perce, 191, 244-48; hostilities with, 214-16, 223-
32; Kittson leads expedition to, 198-203, 208-209,
212; trading operations, 208-21, 248-49; profits of,
202-203,  267;  threaten McKenzie,  209-10; hos-
3i5 Stotiejc
tilities with Black Feet, 216-17; tobacco of, 247-48,
263-64; orderly government, 238; sub-divisions,
239-40; boundaries, 241-42; numbers, 242; camp
described, 243-44; primitive condition, 249-50;
manners and customs, 257-67; food supply, 259-
62; depraved taste, 261-62; skill as potters, 264-
65; as boatmen, 265-66. See also Banattee, Shirry-
dika, and Wararereeka.
Sopa, befriends Ross, 6.
Spokane House, see Fort Spokane.
Springs, hot, 258; salt, 258.
Strawberry Island, Northwesters anchor at, xxxi.
Stuart, Alexander, expedition attacked, xxviii-xxix;
shot, xxix-xxx.
Stuart, John, explorations, xxvi.
Sunteacootacoot Indians, friendliness to traders, 133-
34, 143-
Tea, use by traders, 280.
The Twins, bluffs near Fort Nez Perc6, 165.
Thompson's River, as route of travel, 45.
Three Paps, see Pilot Knobs.
Three Tetons, see Pilot Knobs.
Timber, see forests.
Tobacco, as peace offering, 123-24; among Snake tribe,
247-48, 263-64; story of origin, 264; use by traders,
Tongue Point, erection of fort undertaken, 43.
Tonquin, destroyed, xxiv.
Traders, equipment for travel, 131-32; mode of life,
Trappers, methods described, 219-21.
Tumatapam, Indian chief, peace negotiations with,
170-74; denounces traders, 226-28.
Umpqua River, trading activities, 187-88.
Vancouver, George, surveys mouth of Columbia, xxvii.
Voyagers, success of Canadians, 282; mode of life, 292-
Wallamitte River, see Willamette River.
Walla Walla Indians, location, 176; warriors described,
ill I ^titie*
Walla Walla River, traders attacked near mouth, 43-
46; inland headquarters removed to,  127; Fort
Nez Perce* established on, 162.
Wallula, site of Fort Nez Perce\ 165.
Wararereeka Indians, branch of Snake tribe, described,
240; peace negotiations, 244; conduct toward traders,
250; as fishermen, 260-71.
Wayyampam Indians, location, 176.
West River, stream named by Ross, 37.
White, Doctor, drowned, 66-67.
Willamette   (Wallamitte)   River, expedition   to,   88;
embroiled with natives, 88-96, 107-108; course of
river, 96; trading activities, 186-89.
Wilson, , aids in capture of Jacob, 73.
Winterers, movements of, 102-103.
Wisscopam Indians, location, 175.
Wisswham Indians, location, 175.
Wolves, depredations, 48-49, 52-54;  ferocity, 54-55;
hunting methods, 155-56; feat of marksmanship,
157-58; as food, 195.
Women, of Northwest fur trade, characterized, 279-80;
cruelty of squaws to slaves, 300-303.
Woody Point, traders seek refuge at, 216-17.
Wurrack Indians, name applied to Snake, 242.
Wyampam Indians, at Dalles of Columbia, xxxvii.
Yewhellcometetsa, Okanogan chief, reports depredations by wolves, 48-49; gratitude for Ross, 50-51.
Youmatalla Indians, location, 176.
3i7 11 m     


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