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The fur hunters of the Far West; a narrative of adventures in the Oregon and Rocky mountains in two volumes.… Ross, Alexander, 1783-1856 1855

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Preliminary observations—Scenes in the Indian country—Reflections—Canadians—Freemen—Habits—Character—Owhyhees on
the Columbia-—Iroquois in the Indian country—Indian women-
Half-breeds—Bourgeois, and his children—Remarks—The last
relic—The Bourgeois in his light canoe—Hard travelling—Fort
Nez Percés—The war chief—The war horse—Cavalcade—Treatment of slaves—Scalp dancing.—Appendix : Vocabulary of the
language—Table of the weather—Direction of the winds—De-
rees of heat and cold
. Page 284  DEDICATION.
Governor-in-Chiee op Pbince Rupert's Land.
J& 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 evangelised and civilised, it was under your
auspices that the former arduous undertaking was
accomplished, and the latter praiseworthy good
work commenced,
a 2 IV
And now the Red Eiver Academy, sending its
light into the wilderness, and already famishing
students to the Universities of England, Scotland,
and Canada, is the monument of your zeal for the
education of our youth. 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 civilisation
of the native Indians.
And lastly—not to omit material interests—two
hundred importers from England, with capital almost
exclusively of colonial creation, evidence the rewards
of agriculture, industry, and commercial enterprise
under ^our fostering care.
May it please you to accept the dedication of my
And believe me to be, Sib,
With sincere respect,
Your most obliged and faithful servant,
:-Jij-,. I mmmmm
PJJJJ   M..     >= L,U -
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;* and the favourable reception of hi
* "Adventures of the First Settlers on the Oregon or Columbia
River," by Alexander Ross. VI
labours 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 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 introduœ new
features of Indian life and manners. Regions un-
visited, and now only partially explored, are pour-
trayed as they appeared to the first civilised intruder in the wilderness. And the Author has
endeavoured 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
Jbistory of the settlements ; and from the rapidity
with which events follow each other in new countries these memorials will soon become materials for
& History of the Oregon.
The Pacific Fur Company, the earliest pioneer
of civilisation on the Columbia, surrendered to a
British rival the fruits of three years' vigorous
labour. The North-West Company, its rival, whose
commercial greatness was only equalled 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
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  mmm
The first grand movement—The voyage—Usual precautions neglected
—A man shot—Oakanagan—Parting of friends—Horse trading
adventure—Troubles and trials—The knife: Life or death—A
night-scene with Eyacktana-r-Beads, buttons, and rings—The
restive horse—Scene at parting—Adventure of the two women—
Grand Coulé, the wonder of the Oregon—Scenes at Fort George
—Two Indians shot—Commotion among the natives—The g Isaac
Todd'—Sunshine and cloud—Seven men drowned—The sagacious
squaw—Miraculous escape—John Little's narrative—Remarks—
China trade—My project of discovery—The Indian and the compass—Disappointments—Too much confidence in Indians—
Smoking banquet—Arrive at Fort George       .       .   Page 17
Council—Result—Anxiety of the subordinates—Departure of the-
Brigade—Sanguine expectations—Bulky cargoes—Men and
means—Airy projects—Tongue point—Gloomy prospects—Ca-
youse Indians—Disastrous conflict—Two Indians shot—The
sandy island—Perilous situation of the whites—A bold step—
Indians distrustful—Negotiation—Rocky Mountains—A boat X CONTENTS.
lost—Forlorn party—Four men starved to death—Charette murdered—Remarks—Parley with Ye-whell-come-tetsa, the chief—
Story of the wolves—Horses killed—Wolves destroyed—The lost
trap—The pursuit—Ravenous wolves—Their mode of attacking
horses—Conflicting points—Perplexities at head quarters—
Councils divided—Comparison between Indians on the east and
west side of the mountains—A brief review of the characteristics
of each section—Natives—Climates—Resources—Hostilities of
the Columbia Indians—The cause—General remarks—Cedar
boats—Birch-rind canoes—Head quarters—Change of system—
Iroquois trappers        .......   Page 54)
Debates—New system—Indignity of the manager—Interior brigade—A man drowned—Singular fatality—American ship—
Captain Reynolds—Doctor Downie — Suicide — The schooner
— Jacob, the Russian mutineer — Deserters — A party in
disguise—Jacob among the Indians — His designs — He is
dressed in a squaw's garment — Warehouse robbery—Jacob
and his Indian associates—Alarms at Fort George—Plan for
seizing Jacob by force—Armed party—Indian guide—A rogue
surprised—St. Martin wounded—Jacob's banishment—North-
. West Company—Outrages—Red River affray—The 19th of June
—Criminal proceedings—General remarks—M'Kenzie's return
to Columbia—M'Kenzie's reception—Growing difficulties—Two
chiefs at issue—Reconciliation—The managing system—Bourgeois—Agents—Exclusive privilege—The bone of contention—
Trapping expedition to the Wallamitte—Brush with the natives
—Policy of the trappers—Failure of the expedition— Second trapping expedition—Three Indians shot—The expedition fails—
Retreat of the whites—Remarks—Negotiation—Embassy to the
"Wallamitte—Armed party—Indian habits—Flag—Ceremony of
smoking—Peace concluded—River Wallamitte—M'Kenzie at
the Dalles—Indian mistake—Partiality for tobacco—Brigade CONTENTS.
stopped by ice — Policy of the whites — Indian hospitality
— The banquet — Second disaster — A boat broken — Confidence not misplaced—Fidelity of Shy-law-ifis, an Indian chief
—Spring operations—Increase of returns—Prospects brightening.
Page 75
Ship from England—Head quarters—Council—Reform counteracted —Shipping — 0 whyhees — Difficulties — Brigade leave
Fort George—Remarks—Wallamitte—Whites menaced—Arrows
pointed—Guns presented—Iroquois —Cascades—Indians numerous—Difficulties—Act of friendship—Tobacco treat—Little dog
—Affray—Hostile appearances—An Indian and his gun—Indian
trickery—Peace offering—Cautious measures—Fatigue of the
party—Mode of encamping—Measures of defence—Portage
regulations—Long narrows—Hostile appearances—Expedients
—Tribute—The feathered herald rebuked—Portage—Indians
muster strong—Confusion—Critical situation of the whites—
Conjectures — The three desperadoes — McKenzie — Departure
from the narrows—Tobacco offering—Old system—Old habits
—Spokane House—Pleasures of the wilderness—Spokane House
versus Wallawalla—General remarks — A dead man alive —
Anecdote 116
New quarter—Irip of discovery—General remarks—The object—
Departure—Courses—New guide—Friendly Lake—Confidence in
our guide—New direction—Grisly-bear River—Beaver ravages
—Wild animals—Bear's den — The lair—Dreary prospect—
Eagle Hill—A man wounded—The guide's remarks—Arrival Xll
at the Rocky Mountains—Grand view—Size of the timber
—Canoe Rivei?—The Elk—Prepare for our return—Thunderstorm—Indian superstitions—Pass Eagle Hill—Game abundant
—Change our road—The fight—Eagle and Grouse—Conclusion
of our journey—Result—General aspect of the country—
Prospects—The new Express—Council at the Falls—At the
Cascades—Fidelity of the natives—The point gained—Commercial views—Difficulties disregarded—Troubles—A horse
shot—Conduct of the Iroquois—The affray—Plots and plans—
"Views for extending the trade—Failure—Second attempt—Success among the tribes—Bear-hunting—Chief wounded—Conduct
of the natives—Sympathy—The disappointment—Wolf-hunting
—The whites—The lucky shot—Indian surprise—Chief and his
horse — Fur trader's life—His  recreations—Arrive at Fort
Page 141
Vacillating conduct at Fort George—Decision at head quarters—
Fort Nez Percés—My own appointment—Fort George board of
management—Departure of brigade—Wallawalla—Departure
of our friends—Forlorn hope—Conduct of the Indians—Chilling
reception—The natives' conduct towards the whites—Description of the place — Difficulties — Manoeuvring of the whites
—Resolutions of the Indians—Non-intercourse—Reconciliation—
Tum-a-tap-um and his warriors—The chief's views—The great
council — The ceremony of smoking — Natives yield—Whites
gain their views—The selfish chief—Negotiation concluded
—Favourable aspect—First Snake expedition—My own situa
tion—Neighbouring tribes—Favourable change-
rumours — Oskonoton's story and fate — Conduct of the Iroquois—Natives murdered—Cowlitz expedition fails—The effect
—The offended chief—Cruelties—How-how's conduct—Princess
How-how—The marriage—The skirmish—Alarm—Confusion— —m^m*
How-how's departure—Wallamitte quarter—Conduct of the trappers—Cruelties—Wallamitte expedition—The effect—M'Kenzie's
arrival—His adventures—Prospects in the Snake country—
Animals—Lewis River explored—McKenzie and his two men—
Kitson's adventures—Horses stolen—The clean sweep—The pursuit—The affray—A Snake shot—An Iroquois wounded—Horses
recovered—Thieves caught—Arrival at M'Kenzie's camp—Snake
returns—Two whites murdered—Result of Snake expedition—
Favourable prospects—Conclusion       .... Page 171
Perseverance rewarded—Change of policy—Kittson's return—Mode
of building—Trading fort in the Indian countries—Fort Nez
Percés—View of Fort Nez- Percés—Change in the conduct of
the natives—Our Snake friends—Precautions—M'Kenzie and his
three men—Troublesome visitors—Perilous situation—A bold
step—The powder-keg—Situation of the whites—Mysterious
movement—The war-party—Manoeuvres—Hopeless situation of
the whites—Indian attempts fail—Departure of the war-party—
Two white men murdered—The hiding-place—Joyful meeting of
friends—Leave Friendly Island—A savage rebuked—New
dangers—The fishing camp—Distracted state of the country—
The second retreat for safety—The peace—Woody Point—Chief's
remarks on the peace—The whites leave their hiding-place
a second time—M'Kenzie's views—A courier—Discouraging
rumours—War-parties—The great battle—Snakes and Blackfeet
—Abandon Woody Point—Whites at their destination—Operations of a trapping party—Watchfulness—The camp—A trapper's
life—Fort Nez Percés' troubles—The seven dead bodies—Alarming crowd—All hands at their post—Quinze'-sous—Phrenzy of
the savages—Savage habits—Lamentation—Tum-a-tap-um the
chief—Harangues—Peace-offering— Bodies removed—Second
party—A savage in despair—The tumultuous mêlée—Medicine XIV
man shot—Murderer shot—Three men shot—Great concourse—
Whites take to their bastions—Guns pointed—Forbearance of
the whites—Council—Smoking—Loud talking—Order restored
—Prince, the wounded Indian—The gun—The axe—Indian
perfidy—Prince and Meloche—The outrage—Prince shot.
Page 213
Snake country—Preliminary remarks—Interview with the two
great chiefs—The Iroquois again—Influence of the chiefs—Good
order—The three great sections of the Snake nation—Dog-eaters
—Fish-eaters—Robbers—The mammoth camp—Men of size—
Pee-eye-em—The Snake Council—Peace-making—Result—The
. chief's remark on the war—The trembling Ban-at-tees—The land
of profusion—Trading peculiarities of the Snakes—Importance
of trifles—Chiefs views—Indians decamp—Whites change places
—The great snow-storm—Whites outwitted—Indians at home
—Cheap mode of wintering horses — Hodgen's adventures—
Ama-ketsa's conduct—Natural instinct—Pyramids of beaver—
Chief's friendly conduct — Three Owhyhees murdered — Spring
arrangements — Journey homeward I— Anxieties at Fort Nez
Percés — M'Kenzie's arrival — General remarks—Face of the
country—Varied scenery—Mountains and valleys—The pilot
knobs—Novelties—Sulphur streams—Hot and cold springs—
Natural bridges—Subterraneous rivers—Great fish camp—Provident habits — Delicate appetites — Economy of the Snakes —
Horse-flesh a dainty—Native tobacco—Legend—Pottery—Snake
ingenuity—A clumsy substitute for canoes—Manoeuvres of the
Snakes to elude their pursuers—M'Kenzie's departure—North-
Westers west of the mountains—Lawsuits—Result of the trials—
New deed-poll—Dissolution of the North-West Company—The
effect—Begin the world again—Fate of dependants—M'Kenzie's
return—Leaves the country—Sketch of his character .       . 247
ir mmmmmmSS!
In a work published by the writer a few years ago
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 asso*
ciation which promised so much, and accomplished
so little ; the boldness of the undertaking, and the
unyielding energy displayed in the execution, rendered it deserving a better fete. But the vicissi-
tudes of fortune, and an unbroken chain of adverse
circumstances, from 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-
monopolisation of all the fur trade, on the Continent, yielded to the North-West Company.
* Adventures of the First Settlers on the Oregon or Columbia:
River, by Alexander Ross.
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.
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 north-west 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
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 10 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 dollars, and bills of exchange, negotiable in
Canada, were accepted in payment thereof ; at the
same time, the name of Astoria, the great depot of INTRODUCTION,
the Astor Company, situated at the mouth of the
Columbia, was changed to Fort George.
The above transactions, which changed the aspect
of affairs on the Oregon, took place on the 16th of
October, 1813.
The earliest notice of anv 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
Ms third and last expedition, he started from
Fort Prince of Wales, in 1770, and reached the
mouth of the Copper Mine River on the 17th of
July in the following year* 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
M'Kenzie, 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 to the
Pacific Ocean. This enterprising adventurer did
much to develope the inland resources of the country,
and was personally known to the writer.
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
ta the Pacific, still further south than their predecessors.    One of the great streams of the far west
b 2 n
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 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 diflSculty, in many
instances, of getting that truth made public.
So far, then, the north has been more favoured
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 Clarke in 180 5,
the writer himself and his associates were the first
explorers of that distant quarter. INTRODUCTION,
The North-West Company, originally incorporated in the year 17 8 7, 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 then*
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 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
head quarters ; while, in the meantime, I was ap-»
pointed to the northern district, which, being a
titled charge, was, of itself, a step towards prer
ferment, 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 na^
turally to become a bourgeois.
The first step the north-wester s 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 u»
to understand that they were north-westers ! " We
are strong enough," said thev, "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 was in ascending the river, distant
180 miles from Fort George. Here the Indians col-
lected 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 thefe1
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-bred, named Finiay,
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 cos- INTRODUCTION. 7
fusion 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, 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
life-        |: ? Ih
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. Reid,
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 ;
■as 8
the unfortunate affair at the Cascades, however, put
an end to the matter, and taught the north-westers
that the lads of the Cascades did not respect their
feathers. Thus terminated the first adventure of
the North-West Company on the Columbia. It
was afterwards discovered that Mr. Reid 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 Cath-le-yach-é-yach nation was decreed in a full council ; and for a whole week
nothing was to be heard about the place but the
clang of arms and the din of war. Every man
worth naming was armed, and besides the ordinary
arms and accoutrements, 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. M'Kenzie, 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. M'Tavish, and on  the 20 th INTRODUCTION,
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 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 Cath-le-yach-é-
yach 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. MTavish 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, u
they Would smoke the pipe of peace, but not till
then. Their wives and children were safe, and as
for themselves they were prepared for the worst.'
Thus little progress was made during the first day.
The next day the interpreters were sent to sound
them again. Towards noon a few stragglers and
slaves approached the camp and delivered up a small
parcel of cloth and cotton, torn into pieces and
scarcely worth picking up, with a message from the
chiefs :—" We have sent you some of the property ;
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 M'Tavish, 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
M'Tavish that they were using their utmost influence to bring the Indians to terms, and deliver
up the property. A council was then held to decide
on the fate of the prisoners. Some were, as in the
former case, for hanging them up ; others for taking
them down to Fort George in irons. The council
was divided, and at last it was resolved to treat the
prisoners liberally and let them go ; they never returned again ; and thus ended the negotiations of
the second day. INTRODUCTION,
The third day the interpreters were at work
again ; but instead of making any favourable 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 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, 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 12
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.
This warlike expedition was turned into ridicule
by the Cath-le-yach-é-yachs, 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 M'Tavish
himself reached Fort George in the night ; and thus
ended this inglorious expedition.
It ought to be observed, that the nature of the
ground along the Cascades, on both sides of the
river, is such as to afford no position secure from
attack or surprise ; and it showed a manifest want
of judgment in an Indian trader to expose his
people in such a dangerous situation, where the Indians might have way-laid and cut them off to a
man, and that 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 north-westers were prone to find fault with
the acts  of their predecessors ; yet, with all this INTRODUCTION*
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.
One day, as I was musing over affairs, Mr.
M'Donald, 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 trade : but there are
so many conflicting opinions on that subject, that
we have not been able to come to any decision ; so
that I fear the trade must go on the best way that
it can, for this year yet." " Then," said I, " you do
not approve of the system we have been following
(meaning the Americans') : it appeared to me to work
very well." He shook his head and smiled, but said
nothing. Then suddenly turning to the subject of
the voyage, he said, " Will there be any danger in
getting along ? our party will be strong." Mr.
M'Donald, having come out by sea, had never
ascended or descended the waters of the Columbia. 14
"A strong party, with the 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 north-westers/'
observed I, "know how to travel among the Indians
of Athafeasea and the north ; but the Americans
know better than north-westers how to travel
among the Indians of Columbia." Continuing the
subject, he remarked, " The Indians along the com-
munication 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 travelling 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 are those at the Dalles, called Wy-am-
pams or gamblers, some sixty miles beyond the
Cascades ; but with a strong party and good night-
watch there would be nothing to fear. He next
inquired, how far the Americans had penetrated to
the north.   "To the island of Sitka," was my reply. INTRODUCTION.
" 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,
I have been very enterprising." " We are called
Americans," said I, ".but there were very few Americans among us—we were all Scotchmen like your-
selves : I do not mean that we were the more
enterprising for that."
On the subject of travelling, 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 travelled 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 travelled, 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 wThich the Americans carried on the
trade with the Indians. " I always admired it,"
answered I ; | they treated them kindly, traded
honestly, and never introduced spirituous liquors
' among them."    " Ha ! §  he exclaimed :   " but was SZ^SSi liBMIHf.fJfl
it not a losing business ?" I admitted that it was ;
and added, Astor's under-hand 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. CHAPTER  I
The first grand movement—The voyage—Usual precautions neglected
—A man shot—Oakanagan—Parting of friends—Horse trading
adventure—Troubles and trials—The knife: Life or death—A
■night-scene with Eyacktana—Beads, buttons, and rings—The
restive horse—Scene at parting—Adventure of the two women-
Grand Coulé, the wonder of the Oregon—Scenes at Fort George
—Two Indians shot—Commotion among the natives—The 'Isaac
Todd'—Sunshine and cloud—Seven men drowned—The sagacious
squaw—Miraculous escape—John Little's narrative—Remarks—■
China trade—My project of discovery—The Indian and the compass—Disappointments—Too   much   confidence   in   Indians-^
Smoking banquet-
Arrive at Fort George.
On the sixth day after my conversation with Mr.
M'Donald, 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, one hundred and twenty-four 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 tjie possession of our respected friend, Donald M'Kenzie, Esq.,
in order to be delivered to Mr. Astor at New York,
C 18
and along with the party was the Company's
express for head quarters. The whole left Fort
George under a salute, with flags flying.
On passing the .Cascades the friendly Cath-le-yach-
ë-yachs did not so much as come and shake hands
with us, nor welcome our arrival,  but kept at a
distance ; so we passed without the least interruption, and all went on smoothly till we reached the
Dalles,   that   noted   haunt  of   Indian   pillagers.
There we had to put up and encamp for the night ;
but the usual camp regulations were neglected : no
importance whatever was attached to the two little
words, " usual precautions/* which I had so emphatically mentioned   to  Mr.  M'Donald :  such thsags
were now looked upon as a useless relic of " Yan-
keeism," 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, every one firing off Ms gun at random as
he got up, one of our own men, a créole of the
south, was shot dead : and his life purchased us a
lesson against another time.    If any Indians were
actually about our camp, they must have scampered
off instantly and unperceived ;  which they could
easily have done, for none were to be seen when
the confusion was over, nor was it ever known
who gave the fatal alarm.
From Creole campment we reached the Forks,
160 miles beyond the Dalles.   This is another great PARTING WITH  THE   EXPRESS.
rendezvous for Indians, but we passed it quietly
without interruption. Thence we proceeded on to
Fort Oakanagan, 200 miles above the Forks, without accident or hindrance ; always careful, however,
to remember the " usual precautions*" by setting a
aaight-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 now leave the affairs oi the
voyage, and take up the subject of horses and inland
On reaching Oakanagan everything was at a
dead stand for want of pack-horses to transport
the goods inland, and as no horses were to be got
nearer than the Eyakema Valley, some 200 miles
south-west, 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 favourite 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
tiibes, there is always more or less risk attending
the undertaking.
c 2 20
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 only three
men, Mr. Thomas M'Kay, 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 Oakanagan,
Sopa, a friendly neighbouring chief of the Pisscows
tribe, on learning that we were on our way to the
Eyakemas, despatched two of his men to warn us
of our danger, and bring us back. The zealous
couriers reached our camp late in the night. My
men were fast asleep ; but there was no sleep for
one : 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, pedcousm "
—White men, white men, turn back, turn baek, 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 INDIAN   CAMP   IN   EYAKEMA  VALLEY*
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 in the true Mameluke style presented itself;
a eamp, of which we could see the beginning but
not the end ! It could not have contained less
than 3000 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 wTell 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 centre of the camp,
and there the sight of the chiefs' tents admonished 22   HOSTILE  GREETINGS  AND  HORSE  DEALING.
us to dismount and  pay them our respecfe, as we
depended on them for our protection.
Our reception was cool, the chiefs were hostile
and sullen, they saluted _us in no very flattering
accents. " These are the men," said they, " who
kill our relations, the people who have caused us to
mourn." And here, for the first time, I regretted
we had not taken advice in time, and returned with
the couriers ; for the general aspect of things was
against us. It was evident we stood on slippery
ground : we felt our weakness. In all sudden and
unexpected rencontres 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
«lays and nights had now elapsed since our arrival,
without food or sleep ; the Indians refused us the
former, our own anxieiy 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 w^e 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 nigged 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 nortl^
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 24
■the mouth of it, and there await our arrival.    But
if we are not there on the fourth day, you may
proceed to Oakanagan, and tell jour 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-humour : 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 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-favoured
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 '11 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 pos 26
sible. With this impression, grasping a 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 travel-
lei's generally use in this eduntry, and presented it
to him, saying, " Here, my friend, is a chief's knifej
I give it to you ; that is not a chief's knife, give
it back to the man." Fortunately, he took mine in
Ms 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 ! AH
the bystanders had their eyes now fixed on the
chieÇ 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 lus 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 EYACKTANA  THE  CHIEF.
in our favour. Fickle, indeed, are savages ! They
were now no longer enemies, but friends ! Several
others, following Eyacktana's example, harangued in
turn, all in favour 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
six 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, 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 Eyack-
tana, "that we have but one mouth, and one word
all the horses you have bought from us are yours ;
they shall be delivered up." This was just what I
wanted. After a little counselling among them-
selves, Eyacktana was the first to speak, and he
undertook to see them collected.
By this time it was sun-down. The chief then
mounted his horse, and desired me to mount mine
and   accompany him, telling one of  his sons to 28
ti'  1
take my men and property under 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,
travelled 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 favour—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.
^iii    — n 11 imi\\m --- "-'—*   -'-1 READS  AND  BUTTONS :   HORSES   SAFE.
At daylight we got back ; my people and property were safe ; and in two hours after my 8 5
horses were delivered up, and in our possession.    I
was now convinced of  the chiefs influence,  and
had got  so well into  his good graces with  my
beads, buttons, and rings, that I hoped we were
out of alb our troubles.     Our business being done,
1 ordered my men to tie up and prepare for home,
which was glad tidings to them.    With all this
favourable 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   handlings
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, wild as a deer, and as full of latent 30       THE  RESTIVE  HORSE,—-MY DEPARTURE.
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, whe®, 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-earn "■—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 it with roars of laughter.
Before taking my leave of Eyacktana, it is but justice to say that, wTith 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, howrever, before I perceived three
horsemen coming down an adjacent hill at full tilt.
Taking them fer 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 wTere the very couriers who had, as
already stated, strongly tried to turn us back. I
was overjoyed at this meeting ; yet still anxious,
as they had seen nothing of my men, to find whom
we all set off, and came up with them a little before
sun-down. When we first discovered them, they
were driving furiously ; but all at once the horses
stood still. I suspected something, and told the
Indians to remain behind, while I alone went on
to see what was the matter ; when, as I had expected, seeing four riders following them at full
gallop, they took us for enemies, as I had done
before, and left the horses to take up a position of defence behind the trees, where they might receive us ;
and we should have met with a warm reception, for
M*Kay, although young, was as brave as a lion.
But they were soon agreeably surprised, and the A  FORTUNATE MEETING.
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 a-head, 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 bej^ond 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 forgot to take
a fire, steel, or anything to make fire with, and
had been three days and nights without food or
fire. A short time, however, before I had reached
them, they had met some friendly Indians who had
ministered to their wants. During the four days
©f their pilgrimage they rode  18 miles, travelled
54, and paddled 66, making in all 138 miles.   We
now hasten to resume our narrative.
In a short time the two men arrived with all the
horses ; but could give no account of M'Kay. 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
M'Kay, 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 M'Kay 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 Oakanagan in safety, after an
absence of seventeen days ; but the Indians only
got there with M'Kay 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
D W1(
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
As soon as Mr. M'Kay was out of danger, I
left him, and set off with all haste to Fort Spokane,
distant about 160 miles south-east from Oakanagan, with 55 of our horses. On. our way, both
going and coming, we made a short stay at a place
called the Grand Coulé, one of the most romantic,
picturesque, and marvellously-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 Coulé, some 80 or 100 miles
in length. No one travelling 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.
The sides, or banks, of the Grand Coulé 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
unfrequently vaults, or excavated tombs, as if cut THE   WONDER   OF   THE   OREGON.
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
colour.    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 neighbourhood there is neither hill nor dale,
lake nor mountain, creek nor 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
D 2 36
murdered by the natives ; but as the murderers
could not be traced out, 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 neighbourhood 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 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 offence to many of the surrounding tribes,
who thought that the north-westers 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  dis-
pleased 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 possession^
on the Columbia.
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 38
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 William,* when again the aspect of
affairs was clouded by a sad misfortune.
On the 22nd of May, some time after the arrival of the Isaac Todd, a boat containing Messrs.
Donald M'Tavish and Alexander Henry, 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
" We pushed from the wharf," said John Little,
* Fort William was the principal depot of the North-West Company, on the east side of the Rocky Mountains, and is situated on
the north shore of Lake Superior, in lat. 48° 24' N., and long. 89° 23'
? at five o'clock in the afternoon, the wind blowing a
gale at the time, and the tide setting in. The boat
was ballasted with stones ; we were eight on board,
and there was a heavy surf about two miles out in
the stream ; she filled, and sank like a stone. A
terrible shriek closed the scene. The top of the
mast was still above the surface of the water ; I
got hold of it, but the first or second swell swept
me away. In a moment nothing was to be seen or
heard but the rolling waves and whistling winds.
Jack, a young sailor lad, and I took to swimming,
and with great exertions reached a dry sand-bank
in the channel, about three-quarters of a mile a-head
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
o       o
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 a-head 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 40
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 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 near- TRADE  IN  THE  PACIFIC.
ing the obiect, and the two anxious marksmen were
on their knees with their guns pointed—when a
woman in the canoe, bawled out to the men, " Alkè,
Alkè, Tillâ-kome, Tillâ-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.
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
north-westers 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 42
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 Oakanagan, and our friends journeying on their way to
Canada. From Oakanagan I proceeded northward,
some 300 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 a project of
discovery, which I and others had contemplated for
some time before : this was, to penetrate across
land from Oakanagan, due west, to the Pacific, on
foot, a distance supposed not to exceed 200 miles ;
and for the performance of which I had allowed
two months.
The undertaking had often been talked of, but
as often failed to be put into execution. This
was, however, the first time the project had been
attempted by any white man ; and as the season
of the year was favourable, 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 THE  RED  FOX'S  RIVER.
confidence that hope could inspire, for the execution
of my plan.
On the 25th 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 Oakanagan,
we followed the west bank of the Columbia in a
south-west course—distance eight miles—till we
reached the mouth of the Meat-who River, 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. Set
ing 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," tefis 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 44
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 the head chief of the
Oakanagan 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 Oakanagans 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 26 th.—We made an early start this
morning ; course as nearly as possible due west.
But not half an hour had passed, before we had to
steer to every point of the compass, so many impediments crossed our path. On entering the dense
and gloomy forest, I tried my pocket compass, but
to very little purpose, as we could not in many
places travel fifty yards in any one direction, so
rocky and uneven was the surface over which we
had to pass : using the compass made us lose too
much time, and as I placed implicit confidence in
my guide I laid it by. On seeing me set the compass, the guide, after staring with amazement for
some time, asked me what it was. I told him it was
the white man's guide. "Can it speak?" he asked,
i No," replied I, it cannot speak. " Then what is
the good of it?" rejoined he.     " It will show us the A   GLOOMY  COUNTRY.
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 rather unexpectedly, but
taking hold of my double-barrelled gun in one hand
and a single one in the other, I asked him which of
the two were best. " The two barrelled," said he ;
p because, if one barrel miss fire, you have another."
"It is the same with guides," said I; "if one fails, we
have another." Courses to-day, W. 4, N.W. 1,
N.N.W. 1, S.W. 2, W. 5, N. by W. 6.
On the 27th.—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 travelled about ten miles. The next day we made a
long journey ; general course W. by N. ; saw several deer, and killed one. The drumming partridges
were very numerous, so that we had always plenty
to eat. We met with banks of snow in the course
of this day.    Distance, eighteen miles.
On the 29th.—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 seve-
mhÊÈL 46
ral hundred miles in length. The tracks of wild
animals crossed our path in every direction. The
leaves and decayed vegetation were uncommonly
thick on the surface of the ground, and the mice
and squirrels swarmed, and had riddled the earth
like a sieve. The fallen timber lay in heaps, nor
did it appear that the fire ever passed in this place.
The surface of the earth appeared in perfect confusion ; and the rocks and 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 30th.—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 further. 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, and but little, for we could
seldom see to any distance, so covered was all
around us with a thick and almost impenetrable LOST  LABOUR.
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 labour lost ; to remain where we
were was anything but pleasant ; to abandon the
sick man to his fate was not to be thought of. The
serious question then arose, what to do ? At last,
we settled the matter, so that one of the Indians
should remain with the guide, and the other accom-
pany me : I still intending to proceed. We then
separated, I taking care every now and then, as we
went along, to mark with a small axe some of the
larger trees, to assist us in 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 to-day,
W. 5, N. 1, N.W. 2, N.E. 1, W. 9—distance
eighteen miles.
August 4th.-—We were early on the road this
morning, and were favoured 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 increased so
much, that we had to avoid it, and steer our course
from point to point on the north side* Its bottom
was muddy in some places, in others stony ; ifs 48
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. 5, W. 7, S.W. 2—distance travelled to-day,
twenty-two miles.
On the 5 th.—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
to-day 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 south-west,
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 scythe !   It was
the wind, accompanied with a torrent of rain—a EFFECTS  OF  THE  HURRICANE.
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 levelled everything in its way to the
dust : the very grass was beaten down to the
earth for nearly a quarter of a mile in breadth.
The Indian I had along with me was so amazed
and thunderstruck with superstition and fear at
what he had seen, that his whole frame became
paralysed : he trembled, and sighed to get back.
He refused to accompany me any further ; and all
I could either say or do could not turn him from
his purpose. At last, seeing all mild endeavours
fail, I had recourse to threats ; I told him I
would tie 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,
E 50
i '
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 yery 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 to-day,
W. 12, N.W. 2, S. 1, S.W. 2, W. 9—distance,
2 6 miies ; making from Oakanagan, to point Turnabout, 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
endeavoured 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 j I looked about
in all directions for him, but to no purpose :
the fellow had taken to his heels and deserted.
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, ANOTHER  TRIAI,,   AND  A  DISAPPOINTMENT.     51
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 oJclock in the afternoon of the
third day, having scarcely eaten a mouthful of food
«/    / O mt
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 humour : 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.
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
E 2 52
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 Oakanagan on the 24th 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 Oakanagan,
I visited the She-whaps, but soon returned again to
the former place, to meet the fall express from the
east of the mountains. After a few hours delay at
Oakanagan, the express proceeded on its way to
Fort George, but was stopped at the Forks on its
way down ; the Cayouse and Nez-Percés, 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, according 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 a-head to bring them to ; and this
also passing 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 still on board ;
nor would they allow the people to depart till they OAKANAGAN  AND   FORT   GEORGE.
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
On the departure of the express, I took a trip as
fer as Spokane House. This district, with its
several outposts, was under the superintendence of
John George MTavish, Esq., to whom I related the
result of my trip of discovery. Returning home, I
passed the remainder of the winter at Oakanagan,
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 head quarters, and arrived at Fort George on
the 10th of June, 1815.
Council—Result—Anxiety of the subordinates.—Departure of the
Brigade—Sanguine expectations—Bulky cargoes—Men and
means—Airy projects—Tongue point—Gloomy prospects—Ca-
youse Indians—Disastrous conflict—Two Indians shot—The
sandy island—Perilous situation of the whites—A bold step—
Indians distrustful—Negotiation—Rocky Mountains—A boat
lost—Forlorn party—Four men starved to death—Charette murdered—Remarks—Parley with Ye-whell-eome-tetsa, the chief—
Story of the wolves—Horses killed—Wolves destroyed—The lost
trap—The pursuit—Ravenous wolves—Their mode of attacking
horses—Conflicting points—Perplexities at head quarters—
Councils divided—Comparison between Indians on the east and
west side of the mountains—A brief review of the characteristics
of each section—Natives—Climates— Resources—Hostilities of
the Columbia Indians—The cause—General remarks—Cedar
boats—Birch-rind canoes—Head quarters—Change of system—
Iroquois trappers.
A council sits annually at head quarters, 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 PLANS   OF  THE   COUNCIL*
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 every one 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 unfrequently 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 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 unfrequently 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 56
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 25th of June. We shall leave
them to prosecute their journey, for a short time,
while we glance at another subject.
No sooner had the north-westers inherited the
Oregon, notwithstanding the unfavourable 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, 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 INDIANS  STOP  THE  BOATS. 5?
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 levelled ; yet this residence,
more fit for eagles than for men, was at last
relinquished, and the contemned old fort was again
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 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, along
shore, 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 58
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 feE dead on the spot, a third was
badly wounded, and all 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
On the next morning the Indians assembled in
fearful numbers, and kept 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 num- PERILS  OF  THE WHITES.
bers ; 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 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,
ass 60
three of whom were unable to undertake thé
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 quarrelled
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 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 quarrelled
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 ûve remained,
of whom one man alone survived, deriving his
wretched subsistence from the bodies of his fallen
comrades. This man reached Oakanagan, 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 Oakanagan, 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 CHARETTE  MURDERED.
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 quarrelled one evening about making the encampment.
During the dispute, the Indian said nothing ;
but rising a short time afterwards, and laying hold
of Charette's own gun, he suddenly turned round
and shot him 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 harboured 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
Oakanagan 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
-~=~*^- 62
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 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, WOLVES TRAPPED.
sure enough the wolves did come, and killed, during
the first night, five of our horses. On discovering
in the morning the havoc the unwelcome visitors
had made, I got a dozen steel traps set in the form
of a circle round the carcase 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 morning. Taking a man with me,
and our rifles, we set out to visit the traps ; on
reaching the spot, we found four of them occupied. One of them held a large white wolf by the
fore leg, a foot equally large was gnawed off and
left in another, the third held a fox, and the fourth
trap had disappeared altogether. The prisoner held
by the leg was still alive, and certainly, as the chief
said, a more 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 manoeuvres, 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. Hie 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 64
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 a hundred and twenty-seven pounds ; and the
skin, which I gave to the chief, was considered as a
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
honours 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 humour, 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 zig-zag courses, to suit his escape
and deceive us ; he scampered along at a good trot,
keeping generally about a quarter of a mile a-head
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 mmzmespsmm
great eagerness for more than six hours, until I got
a shot. It proved effectual. Had any one else done
it I should have praised him ; for at the distance of
one hundred and twelve yards, when nothing but
the head of the wolf appeared, my faithful and trusty
rifle 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
F 66
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.
If there is no snow, or but little, on the ground,
two   wolves   approach   in  the   most   playful   and
caressing manner, lying, roBing, 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 ham-strings 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
defence.    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 FEROCITY  OF  WOLVES.
his side ; his struggles are fruitless : the victory is
won. At this signal, the lookers-on close in at a
gallop, 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 carcases 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 burnt to death : which often
happens in this country, in a conflagration of the
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 defence 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
F 2
— 68
two of the most forward of them before they got to
the tree 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 carcase. 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
Oakanagan; sometimes at the one, sometimes at
the other, constantly employed in the pursuit of
It often puzzled myself, as well as others, to
know what the north-westers 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 it.
Three years had elapsed since they were in possession of the trade from sea to sea, and since they
enjoyed the full and undivided commerce of the
Columbia River. In this part, however, their trade
fell greatly short of their expectations, or their
known  success elsewhere ;   and,   instead   of   the DIVISIONS  IN  THE  COUNCIL.
anticipated prize, they found, after so long a trial,
nothing 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
head quarters 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 ; every one in turn made the best of not
deviating from the steps of his predecessor, but
adhered as much as possible to the old habits, while
Taunting up and down the river in the old beaten
v OX
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 already possessed, than  for  their 70
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, has
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 course 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, familiarised
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 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 their 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 another.
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 rencontre with them may well
appal 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
withheld them from their 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, 72
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 3000 lbs.
weight, and yet, nimbly handled, were easily
carried across the portages. A great partiality
existed in favour 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 north-westers : 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 establishment 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 PLANS  AT  FORT WILLIAM.
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-bye, about the practicability of carrying
into effect the resolutions passed at head quarters.
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 sea coast 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 necessity of establishing trading posts, or permanent dwellings, 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
If Ftf
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 urged.
It will be in the recollection of the reader that
we left the inland party preparing for head quarters.
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 7th of June, 1816.
Debates—New system—Indignity of the manager—Interior brigade—A man drowned—Singular fatality—American ship—
Captain Reynolds—Doctor Downie — Suicide — The schooner
— Jacob, the Russian mutineer — Deserters — A party in
disguise — Jacob among the Indians — His designs — He is
dressed in a squaw's garment — Warehouse robbery — Jacob
and his Indian associates—Alarms at Fort George—Plan for
seizing Jacob by force—Armed party—Indian guide—A rogue
surprised—St. Martin wounded—Jacob's banishment—North-
West Company—Outrages—Red River affray—The 19th of June
—Criminal proceedings—General remarks—M'Kenzie's return
to Columbia—M'Kenzie's reception—Growing difficulties—Two
chiefs at issue—Reconciliation—The managing system—Bourgeois—Agents—Exclusive privilege—The bone of contention—
Trapping expedition to the Wallamitte—Brush with the natives
—Policy of the trappers—Failure of the expedition—Second trapping expedition—Three Indians shot—The expedition fails—
Retreat of the whites—Remarks—Negotiation—Embassy to the
Wallamitte—Armed party—Indian habits—Flag—Ceremony of
smoking—Peace concluded—River Wallamitte—M'Kenzie at
the Dalles—Indian ' mistake—Partiality for tobaeoo—Brigade
stopped by ice — Policy of the whites — Indian hospitality
— The banquet — Second disaster — A^boat broken — Confidence not misplaced—Fidelity of Shy-law-iffs, an Indian chief
—Spring operations—Increase of returns—Prospects brightening.
The  Fort  William   express  brought   some  new
and important resolutions, in addition to those we 76
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 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 head quarters.
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 point of etiquette, arising out of one of
the appointments.
After the sittings of council were over, and the
new order of things promulgated, we hailed with
no small joy the introduction of the new system,
as opening a new and extensive field for energy
and enterprise. But let me tell the reader that
the little pronoun plural "we'* is not intended
to represent all hands, but merely those of my own THE TWO  SUPERINTENDENTS.
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. M'Kenzie 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. To his share fell
the arduous task of putting the whole machinery of
the new system into operation.
Mr. Keith being one of themselves, his appointment gave no offence ; but that a stranger, a man,
to use their own words, " that was only fit to eat
horse-flesh, and shoot at a mark," should have been
put over their heads, was a slur on their reputation.
So strongly had the tide of prejudice set against
Mr. M'Kenzie, that Mr. Keith, although a man of
sound judgment and good sense, joined in the
clamour 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 78
express. To give full effect to these measures, it
was strongly recommended at head quarters 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 one hundred and two 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
reefing 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 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 sunk, and poor Amiotte sunk 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 of specie and other valuable commodities,
consigned to some of the London merchants.    This
speeie 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
During this summer Capt. M'Lellan, 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 80
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
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 «w
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 of 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 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
mm 82
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 Te-
spected by all who knew him. Mr. Downie was
a near relation of the unfortunate captain of
that name, who fell so gallantly on Lake Champ-
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 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
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 introduced to the forge as a blacksmith.
He did not long continue there before it was dis-
covered that he had been trying his old pranks PLOT.
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 favour 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 was not
the reformed man that he wished to make us believe.
But Mr. Keith, a good man himself, could only see
Jacob's favourable 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, ehiefly Owhy-
hees, got over the palisades unperceived, and set off
for California in a body I 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.    j I  could never have
G 2 ,
believed the villain would have done so," was Mr.
Keith's only remark.
On the next morning the interpreter and ûve
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 endeavour to
bring them back. The plan succeeded. Abandoning their treacherous leader, the fugitive islanders
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. A PROPOSAL TO SEIZE JACOB.
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 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 86
there, and remained concealed until night encouraged
us to advance to within a short distance of the
Indians. From this place I despatched 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
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, 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 afraid."
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 ST.   MARTIN  WOUNDED.
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 together, and in the darkness and bustle
we appeared much more formidable than we really
In this confusion I perceived the chief of the
rebellious tribe. Turning round to the fellow as
he was sitting with his head on has knees, I said to
him, "You are a pretty chief; harbouring 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 futura" 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 reco-
vered from their surprise, and seeing our weak side,
been tempted to take advantage of it, we hastened
from the camp, carrying our prize along with us.
After getting clear of the camp, we made a halt,
I 88
Jacob's farewell.
hand-cuffed 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 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 notice.
The North-West Company were | encroaching on
the chartered territories of the Hudson's Bay
Company." The north-westers, high in their own
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, 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 north-westers had of late years penetrated 90 ATTACK   ON   RED   RIVER  SETTLEMENT.
through the very heart of the Hudson's Bay Company's territories as far as the Atlantic, which washes
the shores of Hudson's Bay, and set at defiance
every legal restraint or moral obligation. Their
servants pillaged their opponents, destroyed their
forts and trading establishments as suited their
views, and not unfrequently kept armed parties
marauding from post to post, menacing with destruction and death every one 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 19th
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 frightened 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 rencontre 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 LakeWinipeg* )
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, 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 23
individuals out of the 45 which composed the
noréh-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, ?.H
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
But we now hasten from this scene to notice the
influence that it had on their opponents. No
sooner had the news of the fatal disaster at Red
River spread abroad, than the Earl of Selkirk,
with an armed force, seized on Fort William, the
grand depot and head quarters of the North-West
Company, on the east side of the Rocky Mountains. We are not, however, prepared to assert
that Lord Selkirk was right in seizing on Fort
William by way of retaliation. No one has a
right to take the law into his own hands, nor to
make himself judge in his own cause ; but 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 RED  RIVER   SETTLEMENT.
it may afford some satisfaction to our readers to
know something more about it, we shall, for their
information, state a few facts. In the progress of
his colonising system, Lord 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 Winipeg, in Hudson's 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.
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 wrere
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.
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 94
fall into the hands of the Americans, however little
they might benefit by it ; for the march of improvement 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 geo>
graphical 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
civilised 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 Honourable Hudson's Bay Company.
We have already adverted to M'Kenzie's appointment. In October, that gentleman reached Fort
George from Montreal, to enter on his new sphere
of labours. He was received 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 M'Kenzie, 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 long.
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, M'Kenzie 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 Percés
lands as a key to your future operations ; and without this you cannot move a step." f These remarks are uncalled for : I have been there already,"
replied M'Kenzie. " 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 north-westers might
be seen together in close consultation, avoiding,
as much as possible, the object of their dislike. sy
Their shy and evasive conduct at length roused
M'Kenzie to insist on his right. " Give me the
men and goods," said he, "as settled at head
quarters. I ask for no more ; those I must have."
I You had better," replied Mr. Keith, " postpone
your operations till another year." " No," rejoined
M'Kenzie, " 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 M'Kenzie's
schemes as full of folly and madness ; they therefore laboured 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
M'Kenzie liked ; he was now in his own element.
This went on for two or three 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, M'Kenzie 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 A  COMPROMISE.
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, business-like
manner, and distinctly stated what assistance
M'Kenzie could obtain. After reading it over,
and throwing it down on the table among the other
diplomatic scraps, M'Kenzie 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 ; 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 manner. 98
M'Kenzie 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 alh
a question arose, according to the rules of the
voyage, who was to be his second ? and this gave
rise to another serious difficulty. One said the
Undertaking was too hazardous ever to 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 M'Kenzie 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,
M'Kenzie would have been justified in waiting unt3
he had been better fitted out, or provided witit
means 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 wav.
Although M'Kenzie'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 —i
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 horse flesh, 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 co-partnership, the
shares of the stock in trade were divided into two
parts. The directors, or, as they were more generally called, " agents," held a certain proportion in
their own hands, as stock-holders and general
managers of the business ; the bourgeois, as they
were called, or the active managers among the
Indians, held the remaining shares. By the regulations of the Company, the bourgeois were always
raised, either through favour or merit, from the
ranks, or, step by step, to the more honourable
and lucrative station of proprietors. Their patronage in turn promoted others j their votes
decided the election, for or against all candidates ;
and this was generally the manner in which the
H 2 100
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 indispensable.
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 ûve years, secured
him to their interest, and on these conditions he returned again to the Columbia.
As soon as the brigade started for the interior, a
party of ten men were outfitted for the purpose of
trapping beaver in the Wallamitte. On their way
up to the place, they were warned by the natives
not to continue, for that they would not suffer them
to hunt on their lands, unless they produced an
instant  payment by way of  tribute.     This  the TRAPPING IN  THE  WALLAMITTE.
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 north-westers 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 Wallamitte was relinquished for a time. Soon afterwards, however, a
party of 25 men, under the management of a clerk,
was sent to pacify the natives, and to endeavour 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 com-
mw  l : J*
promised, and the party advanced ; but unfortunately soon got involved in a second quarrel
with the natives, and having fired upon them, killed
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 Walla
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
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 : th&
Indians at once come round to their views.    This NEGOTIATIONS.
was the universal practice followed by us during
our first years in travelling 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 north-westers were not
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 I 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
In order, therefore, to bring about a reconciliation, a party sufficiently strong to guard against
miscarriage and give weight to our measures, was
O O O 7
fitted out and put under my charge ; and I was
ably assisted by my experienced friend Mr. Ogden.
This half-diplomatic, half-military embassy, consisting of 45 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 iff
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. 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 about.
The first day passed without our effecting anything, and so did the second ; friendly offers were
constantly held out to them, but as constantly
rejected. On the third day, however, the chiefs
and warriors crossed over to our side, and stood, in
a group at some 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 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 favourable 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 106
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
7 O O O     7
grievances, a demand for redress, 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
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, endeavoured 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
O A A 7 o
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 m
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 impunity.
The conditions of this rude treaty were, that the
Wallamitte should remain open ; that the whites
should have at all times free ingress 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 con-
duet 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
vjiiïÉ'ï ■ y 108
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,
O 7 Q,
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 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 neighbouring tribes."
We might here state that the Wallamitte takes
its rise near the northern frontiers of California
in about lat. 4*3° 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 lat.
46° 19', being almost due east from the mouth of
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 M'KENZIE ATTACKED.
whites as a quiet and inoffensive nation, dull and
unassuming in their behaviour, but, when once
roused, not deficient in courage.
We  have   more   than   once  had   occasion   to
notice the striking change in the natives during
o o o
the reign   of   the  north-west   company  on   the
Columbia.      On   his   passage   down,   M'Kenzie
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 hundreds strong ;   his party
consisted of about forty, and, judging it expedient
to resent the very first insult, he briskly wheeled
round, to their astonishment, and ordered all arms
to be presented.     In this menacing attitude he
signified to his men to rest, until he showed the
example by firing the first shot ;  then, exhorting
the natives to renew their insult with stones, or
resort to their arms, a fair challenge was offered.
But, whether the movement was too sudden, or
that  they were  doubtful of the result, they declined, and came forward with a satisfactory submission :  the affair of the rifle, on a former occasion, was not, perhaps, forgotten.    The attack was
owing to the scarcity of tobacco.     A very few
pipes   had   been   lighted,    and   they   perceiving
that  he  had   little   remaining,   became   enraged
because they could not grasp the whole.    A few
days previous,  M'Millan having gone down with
an express, with only twenty men, they robbed 110
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.
M'Kenzie's departure from Fort George has
already been noticed. Without accident or loss
of time he reached the dangerous pass of the
Cascades. There, however, the rigours 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 familiarised 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 M'Kenzie than
anxious to know the cause of his- return to their THE   OLD   CHIEFS WELCOME.
country. And he was greeted with a hearty welcome from all classes.
" We are rejoiced," said an old. chief to him, one
day, " to see one of our first and best friends come
back again to live among us. We were always
well treated by our first 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 chieÇ " going
to remain long with us ?" M'Kenzie consoled the
friendly old man, and told hdm 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 M'Kenzie 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
No sooner had he laid himself up in ordinary ¥â
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 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 centre, round which, in circular order, are laid
the eatables. The guests form a close ring round
the whole. Every one 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, wap-
patoes, 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 AN  INDIAN  FEAST.
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 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-
defence ; yet it not unfrequently 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 belaboured 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
hotel! I
On the breaking up of the ice our friends were
again on their voyage ; but had again the mis*
fortune to break one of their boats while to win & it 114
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, M'Kenzie lost not
an hour in hastening his voyage, but delivered over
the whole of this valuable and bulky cargo into
the hands of a chief, named Sby4aw-ifs, until the
period of his return. When the brigade returned,
the faithful and trusty chief delivered the whole
over, safe and untouched, to M'Kenzie again, after
being six months in his possession ! Nor did we
ever learn that the Indians, or even his own relations, molested him in the least, during this seasonable act of friendship.
During this voyage the chief of the interior
visited several of the inland posts, arranged the
plans for the ensuing year, and then joined the
people of the spring brigade, who were assembling
from all quarters. This party we had left, as will
be remembered, on reaching their winter quarters,
and we now resume the subject, in order to conduct them to their friends at head quarters.
In the Indian countries, no sooner has the rigorous season begun to break up than the people of
each wintering ground leave their respective stations, and repair with all possible speed to the
general rendezvous at head quarters. The mode of
voyaging at that particular period varies according
to the temperature of the climate, the face of the
country, and the peculiar habits of the tribes where INCREASED   RETURNS.
the station has been fixed; whether in the vicinity
of lofty mountains or of level plains, and whether
the inhabitants live at 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 Galled,
perform the annual hrip 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 16th 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.
I 2 Ship from England—Head Quarters—Council—Reform counteracted—Shipping — Owhyhees — Difficulties — Brigade leave
Fort George—Remarks—Wallamitte—Whites menaced—Arrows
pointed—Guns presented—Iroquois —Cascades—Indians numerous—Difficulties—Act of friendship—Tobacco treat—Little dog
—Affray—Hostile appearances—An Indian and his gun—Indian
trickery—Peace offering—Cautious measures—Fatigue of the
party—Mode of encamping—Measures of defence—Portage
regulations—Long narrows—Hostile appearances—Expedients
—Tribute—The feathered herald rebuked—Portage—Indians
muster strong—Confusion—Critical situation of the whites—
Conjectures—The three desperadoes—M'Kenzie—Departure
from the narrows—Tobacco offering—Old system—Old habits
-Spokane house—Pleasures of the wilderness—Spokane house
versus Walla Walla—General remarks—A dead man alive—
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 head quarters,
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 civilised.    As soon> therefore, as COUNCIL.
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 returns 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 operation rather operated in an opposite direction, tending to defeat any change for the
better ; and this disposition was strengthened by
new and unforeseen 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 118
the Indian Ocean, the North-West Company's commerce in that quarter of the world became extremely eireumseribed. 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
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 despatched to the Columbia 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 willing"-
ness 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 in- BRIGADE  LEAVES   FORT  GEORGE.
terior had therefore to depart with a motley and
disaffected handful of men, chiefly Iroquois, to prosecute the introductory part of his reform plan.
Matters having been arranged, the inland brigade, after a short stay of eight days, left the
head depot for the interior. I also 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.
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 own
trials and hair-breadth 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
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. m
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 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 PEACE  RESTORED.
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 labour.
Having encamped on a convenient spot at the
upper end, the chiefs and great men were invited
to come and smoke with us ; they accepted the invitation, and their suite of followers might have
been ûve 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
favourable 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 ha,"
meaning, " our friends, our friends."   Turning then 122
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 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 trifle.
I had with me an old favourite dog, a little
dwarf terrier of the Spanish breed ; we had missed
it during the morning, but had not in the bustle
O 07
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
we 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 imme-
liately jumped up, took the gun out of his hands,
and tried to pacify him : the fellow was furious,
and would give no explanation, 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 watcMul eye on their
manoeuvres, 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 124
such comparison ; we were compelled through sheer
necessity to assert our rights and defend our property, which we did in defiance of ail their threats.
It is hard to say how the affair might have
ended, had not our friend Shy-law-ifs run into the
mélee, and stood up boldly for the whites ; so that
after a great deal of loud clamour 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 defence to guard against
surprise, M'Kenzie and myself went to the Indians
and settled the matter in dispute ; we gave the
scratched bantling a small present, invited the
chiefs to our camp to smoke, gave them a little
tobacco, and parted once more the best friends in
the world ; and all this did not take up two hours' INDIAN  FICKLENESS.
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
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 rumours 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 onl^
were on the spot ; but in summer the Cascades, as
well as the Falls, are a place of general resort for^âll;
the neighbouring tribes, as well as those of tbê;
place ; and this was the case on the present occa--
sion.    Hence their numbers and boldness.       ..».
The further we advanced the more numerous
j * a a
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
"-MK 126
and step into the midst of them with assumed confidence ; at the same time accosting their 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
rumours 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
A O '
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 ; every one of tl\e party was at length so
.Worn out by incessant watching and fatigue, that
chope itself began to waver, and we even despaired
of getting through ; and not to our own puny arm,
O O O        7 A »r '
;nor to any further efforts we could make, but to a
:fâûd and superintending Providence, we owed our
•good fortune and safety.
.-' «Whenever the sun reached the summit of the
jhitls, the most commanding spot was selected for
«eux encampment. In a few minutes the boats were
carried out of the water and placed, with the tents
«È&d baggage, in the form of a square, or such other
figure as might correspond with the peculiar nature
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-wateh, 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 of
respect for their exalted rank, their influence was
in this way made subservient to our views. Their
persons were pledges of our safety. Sometimes, in
doubtful cases, they were detained over night. Each
of our party had a special occupation assigned ;
and the watch at night being divided into three,
we had each of us the direction of one alternately.
But in many instances we were all on foot, and
on these occasions had to pass a sleepless night.
WTien on shore the duties rested entirely on the
leaders and sentinels. The further we advanced
the more we became sensible of Ûie 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 breast-work could go, the people
were always sheltered from danger. 128
Fifteen minutes was the time generally taken
to put the camp into a proper state of defence ;
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 north-westers 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 north-westers 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
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 gun-shot 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 defence. The motions of
the natives were closely scrutinised before we ventured   to   start   again.       Half   the   ships   were HOSTILE  APPEARANCES TRIBUTE.
stationed at one end 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 despatch, 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,
even since the North-Westers had possession of the
country. Had the present expedition been conducted in the ordinary way of their travelling in
these parts, no doubt it would have been enforced ;
but M'Kenzie's sudden and unexpected return, and
the Indians' remembrance of him in former days,
were favourable to us on the present occasion. His
open, free-and-easy manner often disarmed the most
and when  one expedient failed,
daring savage ; II
m'kenzie's tact—the camp.
another was always at hand. When the men
stood aloof, he caressed their children ; which seldom
foiled 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^sas 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 ;
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 AN  INDIAN  "AGITATOR.
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 further 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, cajled 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 quest-ion.
Happening, however, to be near the fellow when he
spoke, I turned briskly round, " So long," said I,
" as the 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," an-
K 2 ! I
\   ■
132     THE agitator SILENCED—SUSPENSE.
swered he. "And who gives you tobacco to
smoke?" "The whites," he replied. Continuing
the subject, "Are you fond of your gun?"
I yes." " And 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 favour ; 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 Indian, it was evident that the slightest mistake
on our part would destroy the harmony that subsisted between us.
On reaching the further 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 CRITICAL  SITUATION  OF  THE  WHITES.      133
scene with anxiety. While I was distributing the
promised reward to the chiefs, sixteen men, under
the direction of M'Millan, 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
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 back a few paces. Our people, taking
advantage of the favourable 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 ft
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 defence 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 tite 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 adjiasting their weapons ; and the surmise was confirmed by report.
The gentleman at the head of affairs, after signifying the necessity of a sharp look-out, 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, M'KENZIE'S  DEPARTURE  FROM  THE  DALLES.   13£
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
O 7
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; 110
doubt, to reclaim our favour and get a piece of
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. ïrom the Falls, our friend from
the Cascades, after being rewarded with a new suit,
returned back to his people. During the remainder
of 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 tilings demanded. In passing by
scattered bands, a few leaves of the envied plant iff;
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 offence 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 levelling 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 neighbours on the south.
Henceforth* we travelled 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 watchfulness necessary ; and more particularly as our
sole dependence lay on them for our daily subsistence. I have passed and re-passed 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 Oakanagan, six hundred miles
from the ocean, I set out immediately for my winter OLD  SYSTEM—OLD  HABITS.
quarters   at the She^whaps,  leaving  my  friends
M'Kenzie and M'Millan to do the same.
It may now occur to the reader, that on arriving
at Oakanagan our voyage was ended, and that henceforth we had nothing else to do. The case was,
however, very different. I had still to put three
hundred 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 travelling 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 Oakanagan. This was the point of
general separation ; although the depot for the interior was still one hundred and forty miles further
east, at a place called Spokane House. Now whatever Oakanagan 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 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 two hundred miles north by
water, merely to have the pleasure of sending them
two hundred miles south again by land, in order to
reach their destination. 138
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 Wallawalla^ 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 Hom^e 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
centre 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.
At Spokane House, too, there were handsome
buildings : there was a ball-room, 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 ime horses also. The race-ground
was admired, and the pleasures of the chace often
yielded to the pleasures of the race.    Altogether SPOKANE VERSUS  WALLAWALLA.
Spokane House was a delightful place, and time
had confirmed its celebrity.
Yet with all these attractions in favour of the
far-famed Spokane House, the unsparing M'Kenzie
contemplated its removal; it was marked out by him
as a useless and expensive drawback upon the trade
of the interior, and Wallawalla 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
O 7
pleasure a prodigious outcry against him !
As to the reasons assigned against Wallawalla,
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 wefwished 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 must carry on a free intercourse with them, and
familiarise 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 favourable
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 fame 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 140
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 perished, but for the timely appearance
of some natives, who administered to bis 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. CHAPTER  V.
New quarter—Trip of discovery—General remarks—The object—
Departure—Courses—New guide—Friendly Lake—Confidence in
our guide—New direction—Grisly-bear River—Beaver ravages
—Wild animals—Bear's den—The lair Dreary prospect-
Eagle Hill—A man wounded—The guide's remarks—Arrival
at the Rocky Mountains—Grand view—Size of the timber
—Canoe River—The Elk—Prepare for our return—Thunderstorm—Indian superstitions—Pass Eagle Hill—Game abundant
j—Change our road—The fight—Eagle and Grouse—Conclusion
of our journey—Result—General aspect of the country —
Prospects—The new Express—Council at the Falls—At the
Cascades—Fidelity of the natives—The point gained—Commercial views—Difficulties disregarded—Troubles—A horse
shot—Conduct of the Iroquois—The affray—Plots and plans—
Views for extending the trade—Failure—Second attempt—Success among the tribes—Bear-hunting—Chief wounded—Conduct
of the natives—Sympathy—The disappointment—Wolf-hunting
—The whites—The lucky shot—Indian surprise—Chief and his
horse — Fur trader's life — His recreations — Arrive at Fort
Having in the preceding chapter closed our remarks on the voyage, and reached our winter
quarters, we shall now turn our attention to the
transactions of the Northern district.
In this extensive field but little had yet been 142
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
head quarters 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 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
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. Some>
times 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 familiarised with difficulties
and dangers, and not unfrequently 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.
Ail 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,
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 14th day of August, intending to
perform the journey on foot.    Each man was pro-
• 144
vided 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
travelling 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.
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 travelling, with here and there small open plains.
During the third day the lace of the country be- A VOLUNTEER  GUIDE FRIENDLY  LAKE.      145
came 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 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
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 Ke-
low-naskar-am-ish, or Grisly-bear River, Which we
ascended in nearly an easterly direction for six
days, until it became  so narrow that we could 146   "BEAVER  SIGN"  ON  GRISLY-BEAR  RIVER.
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. 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 civilised man !
Along Grisly-bear River we shot four elks,
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 BEAR S  WINTERING  DEN.
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, 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 :
O O 7
and the bear's hiding-place was not in a hole under
ground, but on the surface, deeply imbedded 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,
L 2
ÀP 148
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 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
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. Here our guide
told us that, in ûve 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 Crées 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. A  MAN WOUNDED.
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.
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 150      THE  ROCKY MOUNTAINS GRAND  VIEW.
another height, and pointing out the country generally, said that he had passed and repassed through
various parts of it seven different times, and in
as many different places. He seemed to know ifc.
well, and observed that the road we had travelled,
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
3^et seen, as both impracticable and dangerous^, destitute of beaver and everything else, so far as the
purposes of commerce were concerned.
On the 10 th 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 GIGANTIC  TIMBER CANOE  RIVER.
front met the eye like a wall, and we stood and
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 fee 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 North-westers 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 passée^
not a human being was to be seen, nor the traces
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 travelling 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
yielded the point j and we remained exposed to the INDIAN SUPERSTITIONS.
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 mquiring 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
further 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 journey.
* On the seventh day from Canoe River we
reached Eagle Hill ; but we did not stop there.
From that place, our guide took us by a new road—
I ought to say in a different direction—with the view
of shortening our distance ; but we gained little by
the change. Not far from Eagle Hill we shot two
grisly-bears and a bird of the vulture tribe. Deer
and elk were very numerous. In this direction we
likewise passed a considerable lake in which were
several musk-rat lodges ; we shot a swan, and saw
two wolves prowling about, and for the first time 154
saw tracks of the martim 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 G&J'
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 agaia
without the Indians, our guide still accompanied usv
Here again we took another new road, and erossed
the woods in a south-west 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.
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 ap- FIGHT  OF   EAGLE AND  WILD  TURKEY.     155
proached them till within gun-shot, 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 white-headed 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 5 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 11J lbs. ; the eagle only 8 J 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 all we had was
torn to pieces. We reached the fort, after a laborious journey of forty-seven day% on the 29th of
According to the most correct estimate, the dis- 156
tance between the She-whaps and Canoe River
does not, by the route we travelled, 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 favour. 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 a 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 chace, 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 despatches were wont to arrive,
and a brigade as usual escorted them from the interior to Fort George. As soon, therefore, as they
arrived, M'Kenzie 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 THE INDIAN  EXPRESS COUNCILS.
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 despatches ; 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 head quarters had suggested the propriety of
one set of couriers performing the whole journey ;
but M'Kenzie, with his usual sagacity, saw this
would cause jealousy and eventually fail ; he therefore managed so as to have the despatches conveyed
from one tribe to another, placing confidence in all ;
and therefore all seemed equally entrusted, and
equally ambitious to discharge the trust reposed in
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 ob-
tained ; 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, M'Kenzie, 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 &ve and thirty strong ; but of this motley
crew, ûve 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 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
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. M'Kenzie, 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.
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. 160
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. Joachin, 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, M'Kenzie, 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 arrived to their master's assistance, and
mf 9
the Iroquois fled.
In this instance M'Kenzie's strength and activity
of body were of much service to him ; but not more
than his coolness and decision in the moment of
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 M'Kenzie THE IROQUOIS  DISPERSED.
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 year.
He dispersed the Iroquois :  one was sent to me
at   Oakanagan, two to Spokane House,   and the
rest   placed on separate  hunting-grounds in the
neighbourhood,  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 more contracted scale.    His primary object
was to  conclude an   arrangement with   the Nez
Perces, and in the Snake country to conciliate 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 unfavourable
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
M 162
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 M'Millan's wintering ground everything went
on in its usual successful train. But nothing happened in that old beaten path to elicit our notice,
SO that we now turn back to the north again.
Soon after my arrival from Canoe River, I was
invited by the chiefs of my post to 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 hunt- BEAR  HUNTING.
ing-ground the party separated into several çlivi-
sions. 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 Pacha 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 honour, and
some of them are foolhardy enough to run every
hazard in order to strike the last fatal blow, (in
which the honour 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
O O   JL *
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 bush-
M 2 164
rangers 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 ûve or six paces from the chief, but
could not get a chance of shooting, so I immediately called out for help, when several mustered
round the spot. Availing ourselves of the doubtful
alternative of killing her—even at the risk of killing the chief—we fired, and as good luck would
have it, shot the animal and saved the man ; then
carrying the bear and wounded chief out of the
bush, we laid both on the open ground. The sight
of the chief was appalling : the scalp was torn
from the crown of his head, down over the eyebrows ! he was insensible, and for some time we all
thought him dead ; but after a short interval his
pulse began to beat, and he gradually showed signs
of returning animation.
It was a curious and somewhat interesting scene
to see the party approach the spot where the
accident happened. Not being able to get a chance
of shooting, they threw their guns from them, and
could scarcely be restrained from rushing on the
fierce animal with their knives only. The bear all
the time kept looking first at one, then at another,
and casting her fierce and flaming eyes around the
whole of us, as if ready to make a spring at each ; TRAPPERS'  SURGERY  AND   INDIAN  MEDICINE.   165
yet she never let go her hold of the chief; but
stood over him. Seeing ' herself surrounded by so
many enemies, she moved her head from one position to another, and these movements gave us
ultimately an opportunity of killing her.
The misfortune produced a loud and 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, 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 chace.
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
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, 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 ûve 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
The catching of wolves, foxes, or other wild
animals by the whites, was,  however,   the work A LONG SHOT.
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 favourite 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 practised 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.
A. band of Indians happening to come to the
fort one day, and observing a wolf on one of the
favourite 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 chieÇ
" kill ft at that distance ?" " The whites," said I,
* do not live by hunting or shooting as do the
Indiana^ 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
piece, of flesh, and was scampering off with it, at
frail 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 168
shot," caUed 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 ûve arrow-
shots : nothing but their wonder could exceed their
admiration of this effect of fire-arms.
When the ball struck the wolf, it was in the act
of leaping ; and we may judge of its speed 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 pen-knife. The chief, on delivering up his horse, which he did cheerfully, asked
me for the ball, and that ball was the favourite 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 distance.
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- FUR  TRADERS   LIFE RECREATION.
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 honour 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 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 170    REFLECTIONS ARRIVE  AT  FORT  GEORGE.
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 body, prudence,
and forethought, are qualifications more in request
than talent. In trade, as in war, there are gaina
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 scrutinising 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 head
quarters 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 5tk
day of June, 1818. Vacillating conduct at Fort George—Decision at head quarters—
Fort Nez Percés—My own appointment—Fort George board of
management—Departure of brigade—Wallawalla—Departure
of our friends—Forlorn hope—Conduct of the Indians—Chilling
reception—The natives' conduct towards the whites—Description of the place — Difficulties — Manoeuvring of the whites
—Resolutions of the Indians—Non-intercourse—Reconciliation—
- Tum-a-tap-um and his warriors—The chief's views—The- great
council — The ceremony of smoking — Natives yield—Whites
gain their views—The selfish chief—Negotiation concluded
—Favourable aspect—First Snake expedition—My own situation—Neighbouring tribes—Favourable change—Discouraging
rumours — Oskonoton's story and JEate — Conduct of the Iroquois—Natives murdered—Cowlitz expedition tails—The effect
—The offended chief—Cruelties—How-how's conduct—Princess
How-how—The marriage—The skirmish—Alarm—Confusion—
How-how's departure—Wallamitte quarter—Conduct of the trappers—Cruelties—Wallamitte expedition—The effect—M'Kenzie's
arrival—His adventures—Prospects in the Snake couiïtry-
Animals—Lewis River explored—M'Kenzie and his two men—
Kitson's adventures—Horses stolen—The clean sweep—The pursuit—The affray—A Snake shot—An Iroquois wounded—Horses
recovered—Thieves caught—Arrival at M'Kenzie's camp—Snake
returns—Two whites murdered—Result of Snake expedition—
Favourable prospecte—Conclusion.
At the sitting of the Fort George board of management, in the preceding year, an inclination was manifested to encourage the change of system, agreeably 172
to the minutes of council at head quarters. From
the feeling at the time much was expected, but
nothing was realised ; for, practically, that disposition was rendered abortive by subsequent arrangements.
At head quarters, 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 one hundred men
to be at M'Kenzie'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 head quarters. The managers 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 inte-
O 9 o
rior left Fort George, and reached, without accident
or hindrance, after a short and prosperous voyage,
the Wallawalla, near the confluence of the two
great branches of the Columbia, on the 11th of
July.    On that day, M'Kenzie, myself) and ninety- FORT NEZ PERCES DEPARTURE OF FRIENDS.
ûve 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
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.
But 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.
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 174
present  case, their  total  absence  could only be
considered as .very unfavourable.
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-coloured bantlings were heard to say, " What
do the white people want here ? Are they going to
kill more of our relations Î" 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
look out. 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-intereourse, 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, 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. A REMARKABLE SPOT.
Hr c
The site was remarkable among the natives, as
being the ground on which, some years before,
Xewis and Clarke, 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. 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 Percés 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.
The place selected was commanding. 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 colour, shape
and height, called by the natives " The Twins,"
situated   on  the east side ;   these are skirted in 176
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
labour 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
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 Indians.
By far the greater part of the timber had to be
collected in the bush, and conducted by water the WHITE DIPLOMACY—NON-INTERCOURSE.    177
distance of a hundred miles : not a tree nor shrub
was on the spot I 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 imagined it possessed the pre-eminence 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 ûve long summer days, although we were at the time on very
short allowance.    One night all hands went to rest 178
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 inclosure had
been put together, we assumed a posture of independence and ofi defence.
The natives were offered such terms as were
given in other parts of the country—that 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 RECONCILIATION TRADE.
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 something eke remained
to be done before we could effect the object we had
hl view.
The principal cause vdiich 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
N 2 180       TUM-A-TAP-UM  AND   HIS WAR   PARTY.
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 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 four
hundred and eighty men. They had a very imposing
appearance on their arrival. Their hideous yells,
mangled prisoners, and bloody scalps, together with
their barbarous gestures, presented a sight truly
savage. I only saw nine slaves. On the third day,
Tum-a-tap-um, mounted on horseback, rode backwards and forwards round our little camp several
times, without expressing either approbation or disapprobation of our measures.   Then dismounting, and COUNCIL—THE  SELFISH  CHIEF—HIS  VIEWS.   181
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 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
The natives were now to be seen clubbed together in groups ; counselling 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, 182     THE  NATIVES  YIELD—THE  PIPE  OF  PEACE.
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 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 honour 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
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 candour, 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 A  HINT  FOR A  NEW  SUIT  OF   CLOTHES.      18&
threw down their war garments into the miêst of the
circle, as if to say, " We have no further need of
these garments.*' This manoeuvre had a double
meaning. It 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 manner of the whites, parted friends ;
both parties apparently pleased with the result.
One condition of the treaty was, that we
should use our influence to bring the Snakes to
agree to the peace ; for without that, it would be
useless to ourselves. The only real object we had
in view, or the only result that could in reality
be expected by the peace, was, that we might
be enabled to go in and come out of the Snake
country in safety, sheltered under the influence of
its name. Nothing beyond this was ever contemplated on our part. All our manoeuvres were
governed by the policy of gain. Peace in reality
was beyond our power; it was but an empty
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 Clarke 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
VTm- .IK* ,'" ..   .  - _   :_—.7^1 184
he again inquire, " Is such a thing practicable, as a
solid peace being concluded and observed between
two savage nations, brought up in war ?" I say,
"No!" Such a thing is a perfect delusion. They
must either be civilised, 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 two hundred and eighty horses, a number
answerable to the different purposes of travelling,
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, one hundred and ninety-five
horses, and three hundred beaver traps, besides a
considerable stock of merchandise ; but depending
on the chances of the chace, 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 its
ease and fruits of comfort, M'Kenzie, without*, any IN  CHARGE  OF  THE  NEW  FORT.
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
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 commmunication-indiscriminately
by the appellation of "Nez Percés," or pierced
noses, from the custom practised 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 Percés,
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 Percés proper, Paw-luch, and Co- 186  NEIGHBOURING TRIBES BETTER PROSPECTS.
sis-pa tribes. On the main Columbia, beginning at
the Dalles, are the Ne-coot-im-eigh, Wiss-co-pam,
Wiss-whams, Way-yam-pams, Low-him, Saw-paw,
and You-ma-talla-bands. And about the establishment,  the   Cayouse   and  Wallawalla   tribes.
9 %l
It is to the two latter that the spot appertains on
which the fort is erected, who are consequently
resident in the immediate neighbourhood. The
Shaw-ha-ap-ten and tiie 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.
9 •/
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 favourable intervals, a stranger would con-
elude 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 OSKONONTON RETURNS—HIS  STORY.
the purpose of shooting, I fell in with bands who
were suspicious looking, yet they never failed to
accost me in the most respectful and best-natured
manner. These " circumstances augur favourably
for the f&ture. It will, nevertheless, be the work
of years, perhaps of a generation, before civilisation
■can manifest its influence over their actions.
The circumstance "which caused our chief uneasiness arose from the frequency of unpleasant rumours,
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
Teduced 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.   M'Kenzie   to   allow ■ us 188
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. M'Kenzie 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
with 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 nothing.
" Unable to check their heedless conduct, I left
them, and set out to follow the main party ; but I
lost my way, and getting bewildered, turned back
again to join my comrades. Then I tried and tried
again to persuade them to mind their hunting; but
in vain. So I left them again, and set out on my
way back to this place ; but on the second day
after leaving my associates, I observed, at some
little 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 led to my discovery
in a place frequented only by enemies.    As soon STORY  OF  OSKONONTON
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 drift-wood, 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 the morning I took to another
hiding-place : tired and exhausted, I laid myself
down to sleep, without covering, without fire, and 190
without either food or water. In this manner,
travelling 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 travelling 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." This ended Oskonon-
ton's story.
I had no difficulty in believing the statement oil
the Iroquois., It was in accordance with their
general character. Oskononton, as his story relates,
knew nothing of the main party ; so that I was
left in the dark as to its fate. ' After keeping the
poor fellow upwards of three weeks to recruit his
health and 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 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  IROQUOIS—COWLITZ  EXPEDITION.      191
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 outy 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, umtil 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 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 192       CRUELTIES HOW-HOW'S  DEPARTURE.
moment they got within gun-shot 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
neighbouring Indians had time to assemble ; and got
back to head quarters 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 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 PRINCESS  HOW-HOW.
Chinooks, to be sure, were in his way—they were
his enemies ; but what of that ? The whites were
his friends. He was promised ample protection,
and a safe return cordially pledged. But he would
listen to nothing : How-How was immovable.
At last, however, it was discovered that How-
How had a daughter, both lovely and lair ; the*
flower of her tribe ! Princess How-How was admired. Her ochre cheeks were delicate, her features
incomparable ; and her dress surpassed in lustre 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 ap~
peal 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 head quarters. The bridal-dress
was 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-
Wè 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 home-
o 194
ward journey, in order to pave the way for our
trappers and hunters to return again to the
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 been overlooked or neglected ; and after all
the courtesy that had been shown the great man,
he left the fort unguarded ; he had not advanced
three hundred 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
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 HOW-HOW S   SUSPICIONS.
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. As soon, therefore, as the whitei
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
o 2 196
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-bred clerks from Canada, proceeded up the Wallamitte, until they had 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 FOURTEEN  INDIANS  SHOT.
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 further the traders advanced, the
further 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 ensure their return. The Indians re-
sisted ; 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-defence.
The survivors fled, followed up by the hunters ; but
the number that fell in the flight was not ascertained.
Fear now seized the party, and a retreat followed. They fell back on the Wallamitte, and
communicating their fears to the other trappers, all
left the hunting-ground, in a panic, and drew near
to head quarters. 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 colouring of the whole
affair in their own favour. These men, while on
their way thither, had  encamped at a place called 198      MURDERS REVENGE  OF  THE  WHITES.
Oak Point, within twenty miles of the fort ; and
were all, with the exception of the Indian, barbarously murdered one night, while asleep i The
deed was committed by ûve 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 supposed, had reduced our annual returns four thousand beaver, equal to 6000?.
sterling. And the dire effects produced on the
natives, by the reckless conduct of our p eople, took
years to efface.
Leaving Fort George, we now return to the Nez
Percés 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 j for a
party I had fitted out were frightened, as soon
as  they crossed the height  of land, by the hos- COMMUNICATION WITH  THE  OCEAN.
tility 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 ; 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 vigour to our proceedings, but M'Kenzie,
from his voyage of discovery. He and six men
reached Fort Nez Percés on snow-shoes, with their
blankets on their backs, in good health and spirits, 200
m'kenzie's narrative.
after a tedious journey of six months. The meeting
*was one of interest, for M'Kenzie was no less
cheered to find everything safe and our footing
sure at this place, than I was to witness his safe
return under favourable circumstances, after so
many discouraging rumours. The accounts M'Kenzie
gave of the Snake country were flattering, 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 M'Kenzie,
1 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
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
O O 9
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. m'kenzie's narrative.
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 Percés ; 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. Î Our wishes,' said they, ' are now accomplished : nothing so desirable to us as peace.' I
hope the impression may be a lasting one.
" 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 Bocky Mountains, a
country extremely dreary during a winter voyage,
I reached the head waters 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 re-crossed many parts I had
seen in 1811. Instead, however, of finding the
Iroquois together, and employed in hunting or in 202
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
travelled upwards of six hundred miles on snow-
shoes." This account confirmed Oskononton's
Continuing the narrative of his journey, our
enterprising adventurer next went on to describe
the country, the resources, and animals he everywhere met with. " On our outward journey,"*
said M'Kenzie, "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 WILD  ANIMALS  ABUNDANT.
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
grisly bear were seen. The mountain sheep, and
goat white as snow, browzed on the rocks and
ridges; and the big horn species ran among the
lofty cliffs. Eagles and vultures, of uncommon
size, flew about the rivers. When we approached,
most of these animals stood motionless ; they
would then move off a little distance, but soon
came anew to satisfy a curiosity that often proved
fatal to them.
" 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 gun-shot. One band of these
contained more than two hundred. Some of them
were browsing on the face of the hills ; others were
running like deer up and down the steeps; and 204
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 are 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 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."
M'Kenzie had a threefold object in view by
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 Percés;
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 M'KENZIE  SETS   OUT  AGAIN.
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 Percés, 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 Percés,
and proceeded up Lewis River. The turbulent
natives on both sides the stream, notwithstanding
his late return from their foes, suffered him to pass
through this channel unmolested. After a voyage
of two months, the boat, with four of the men,
returned to this place ; while M'Kenzie 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."
M'Kenzie'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 for ever. Yet from the force of the
current, and the frequency of rapids, it may still
- ( 206
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 are
long." He then concludes his letter with these
words, " I am now about to commence a very
doubtful and dangerous undertaking, and shali
I fear, have to adopt the habits of the 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 returns, by
the 5th 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 15th 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  M'Kenzie's  party.    Aug- OVER-CONFLDENCE—ITS  RESULTS.
menting 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
M'Kenzie 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 pro-'
pensities of the natives along the lines.
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 look out, none knowing when, or
from which side, the danger might first show itself. 208
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
frill 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 ; 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 them-
%] O *f  9 * %9
selves 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
travelling so much demanded.    They had not been
long in this state, before a noise of " Hoo, hoo I
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 of one each, they mounted, and driving
the others before them, were beyond our people's
reach before they could get their eyes well open !
No words can depict the anxiety of our little band,
with much property on their hands, in an enemy's
country, destitute of provisions, and deprived of
hope itself ! Two days and nights passed, and they
had come to no decision ; but on the third day, about
noon, while they were pondering on the step they
were next to take, a cloud of dust was seen approaching from afar. Concluding that the party
must be enemies, they made a hasty breastwork*
with their goods, and, with their arms in their
hands, waited their arrival in a state of anxious
forbodings ; what must have been their joy on
seeing a party of our own hunters appear, driving
before them the very horses which had been the
cause of their unhappiness.
M'Kenzie, having arrived at the river Skam-
naugh at the time appointed, and not meeting with
either men or supplies from this place, as he ex-
p 210
pected, despatched 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 : recognising the horses as belonging
to the whites, and seeing the Indians take to flight
to avoid them, they were confirmed in their conjectures, and accordingly determined on following
them. The chace 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 rencontres
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 (rrt
river, where everything around indicated security,
two more horse thieves were detected in the night
busy unhobbling thçir 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 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 Reid's party were murdered in 1813. 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
Next day Mr. Kittson and party, after all their
mishaps, arrived safely and in good spirits at the river
Skam-naugh, and joined Mr. M'Kenzie 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 7th 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.
p 2 212
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 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.
M'Kenzie'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,
M'Kenzie states, 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
Perseverance rewarded—Change of policy—Kittson's return—Mode
of building—Trading "fort in the Indian countries—Fort Nez
Percés—View of Fort Nez Percés—Change in the conduct of
the natives—Our Snake friends—Precautions—M'Kenzie and his
three men—Troublesome visitors—Perilous situation—A bold
step—The powder-keg—Situation of the whites—Mysterious
movement—The war-party—Manoeuvres—Hopeless situation of
the whites—Indian attempts fail—Departure of the war-party—
Two white men murdered—The hiding-place—Joyful meeting of
friends—Leave Friendly Island—A savage rebuked—New
dangers—The fishing camp—Distracted state of the country—
The second retreat for safety—The peace—Woody Point—Chief's
remarks on the peace—The whites leave their hiding-place
a second time—M'Kenzie's views—A courier—Discouraging
rumours—War-parties—The great battle—Snakes and Blackfeet
—Abandon Woody Point—Whites at their destination—Operations of a trapping party—Watchfulness—The camp—A trapper's
life—Fort Nez Percés' troubles—The seven dead bodies—Alarming crowd—All hands at their post—Quinze'-sous—Phrenzy of
the savages—Savage habits—Lamentation—Tum-a-tap-um the
chief— Harangues—Peace-offering — Bodies removed—Second
party—A savage in despair—The tumultuous mêlée—Medicine
man shot—Murderer shot—Three men shot—Great concourse—
Whites take to their bastions—Guns pointed—Forbearance of
the whites—Council—Smoking—Loud talking—Order restored
—Prince, the wounded Indian—The gun—The axe—Indian
perfidy—Prince and Meloche—The outrage—Prince shot.
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. 214
No sooner was M'Kenzie'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 M'Kenzie's camp,
and give him an account of Indian life in these
For the purpose of protection, as well as of
trade among Indians, the custom is, to have each
establishment surrounded with an inclosure 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 all the business of traffic
is transacted. A little more precaution was,
however, necessary at the Nez Percés station, on
account of the many warlike tribes that infest the
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 FORT  NEZ  PERCES.
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 loop-holes, and was smooth, to prevent the
natives scaling the walls. A strong gallery,
ûyq feet broad, extended all around. At each
angle was placed a'large reservoir sufficient to hold
two hundred 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 store-houses and dwelling-houses for the hands ;
and in the front of these buildings was another
wall, twelve feet high, of sawn timber also, with
port holes 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 on the outside. Besides the ingenious construction of the outer gate, which opened and shut,
by a pully, 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 stand- 216
ing 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 beenafraid 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, although
contrary to Mr. M'Kenzie's opinion, ultimately answered so well, that it ought to be adopted wherever the natives are either hostile or troublesome.
Our weapons of defence wrere 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 FORT  NEZ  PERCES   COMPLETED.
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
civilisation over barbarism.
During the course of our proceedings, a constant
tide of visitors, from quarters the most rempte,
flowed in, to satisfy their curiosity concerning our
establishment ; among others were the turbulent
lords of the Falls. Whether 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 Percés, and noticed the salutary effect
our establishment had on the conduct of the natives,
I now, according to promise, resume the narrative TRADE  WITH  THE SNAKES.
of operations in the Snake country. As soon as
the annual supply of goods conveyed by Kittson
had reached M'Kenzie'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 M'Kenzie 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.
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
9 V
take care of his own ; but the very reverse being the
case, he was compelled to ?dopt 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,
M'Kenzie was.leffc with only three men in charge of
all the property ; for  although the Iroquois had HOSTILE  ATTITUDE  OF  THE  SNAKES.
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,
M'Kenzie and his three men erected a small breastwork, secured their property, and guarding it,
waited with anxiety the arrival of succour.
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, M'Kenzie 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.
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 !  Dp to this period our people had stood
on the outside of their property, but at this critical
moment M'Kenzie and his men, grasping their guns,
sprung over the breastwork, lighted a match, and
placing a keg full of gunpowder between them and
their enemies, boldly detennined to defend their
property, or die.    At this critical movement, the
Indians, taken by surprise, fell back a little; when mm
M'Kenzie, 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 the
powder ; it was then apprehended that they meditated some stratagem : the respite, however, gave
our friends time to reflect.
As soon as they considered it safe to look about
them, they perceived on the opposite side of the
river a war-party of the Shaw-ha-ap-tens, consisting of two hundred men, all having fire-arms, and
mounted on horseback. On their arrival they
assembled in a tumultuous group on the beach. It
was the Red Feather and 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 country.
The appearance of this warlike cavalcade might
have chilled the boldest heart : their gestures,
their yelling, and whooping were truly horrible.
The Indians called to our people to cross over and
give them a smoke.    At the same time it was PREPARATIONS  FOR DEFENCE.
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 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
M'Kenzie 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, unperceiv'ed, distinguish the savages
passing   and  re-passing   in   bands.      They   had 222
however, to avoid making a fire during the
daytime, as the smoke would have discovered their
In 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 h'fe
of an Indian trader, that the most trying scenes
are no sooner passed away than they are forgotten.
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 tnat had
been promised Mr. M'Kenzie. 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
M'Kenzie, and his three men, were recognised !
Mr. M'Kenzie, 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.   M'Kenzie then shaking him rather roughly, NEGOTIATIONS  FOR   PEACE.
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 M'Kenzie and his party came
to a very formidable camp, of about eight hundred
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 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 Percés, and of
supplying their wants, the chiefs were informed
that as the Nez Percés 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
M'Kenzie 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 M'Kenzie.   " So is peace with the 224
Shaw-ha-ap-tens ; they are at this moment on our
lands, and perhaps before night, my wives and my
children will be scalped by them !" M'Kenzie
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 trifling
presents, which left a favourable impression.    This
done, our friends prepared to change their quarters.
It was not M'Kenzie'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 labours ; 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 DISCORDANT  RUMOURS.
behind overtook them, with the news that two war*
parties of the Nez Percés 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 apprehended. These manoeuvres 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 Percés 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 sides.
The Nez Perces, finding that their enemies the
Black   Feet   intervened   between  them  and  the
ll 226
Snakes, wheeled about in another direction, and
our people heard nothing, more of them. But the
Snakes and Black Feet had a severe battlfe, which
ended in favour of the fordner : 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 friends. Victory stimulates to revenge ;
the Snakes» therefore, assumed a. high tone ; they
came m crowds from their liiding-places ; and joining the victorious party in theia scalp-dancing and
scalp-singing, formed a host of at least ûve 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 W'oody Point, the
natives- moved off almost in ai 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 bv a combination of fortur-
nate 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 A COMPARISON   OF   HEADS.
where the great battle had been recently fought,
and saw in many places putrid carcases 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 M'Kenzie*
" the heads of the Black 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 tharfcy-three days'
hazardous travelling, reckoning from the time
ïditson joined the party on the island, they arrived
at their hunting-ground. Here the men were
equipped for the winder, and commenced hunting..
M'Kenzie 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 further 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 -x
but still we do not despair. Time and perseverance will do much. You will make no arrange-
ments for forwarding our supplies i we have had
enough of that already. I will accompany the
spring, returns, and try to be at Fort Nez Percés
by  the   20th   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, 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
head quarters. 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 oftener, according to 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. DANGER  AND  UNCERTAINTY.
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 about
among the rocks and hiding-places, watching an
opportunity, the hunter 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 treachery.
The camp remains stationary while two-thirds of
the trappers find beaver in the vicinity ; but whenever the beaver becomes scarce, the camp is removed
to some more favourable 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 230
party. The beaver is a tknid animal ; the least
noise, therefore, made about 4ts haunt will keep it
from coming 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 beavers
—say 4716—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 beavers are so numerous.
Having conducted M'Kenzie and his party to
their hunting-ground, we shall take our leave of
them, while we notice the occurrences at Fort Nez
Percés ; 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, aaid made us
feel our unavoidable dependence upon their caprice.
" Give me a gun," said one ; " I want ammunition,"
said another ; a third wanted a knife, a flint, or
something else.    Give to one, you must give to alL
Refuse them, they immediately got angry, told us
to leave their lands, and 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 ^hese, idleness is their delight.
On every little hill they are to be seen all day -in
groups, wdth a paper looking-glass in one hand and
a paint-brush in the mother. Half their time is spent
at the toilet, or sauntering about our «establishment.
.ita their own estimation they are the greatest men
in the world. The whites who labour 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 & happy people. They live in a
constant state of anxiety. Every hostile movement
about tlie frontiers excites alarm, and sets the whole
country on the qui w/ee.
We have already noticed that a band of the SOME  STRAGGLERS  SLAIN.
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 Wallawalla camp, not three
miles from our fort, they killed one man, four
women, and two children ; then re-crossed 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 dis*
orderly 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 approach : we had
only ten men about the fort at the time. CROWD  OF PHRENZIED  SAVAGES.
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 colours 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 four hundred
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 defence, 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 Snake
country. The whites never oppose force to force,
but in the last extremity,
When the crowd reached the fort gate the seven 234
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 iarcrrn>
stances sympathy for the living as well as the dead
was excited, because ttteir 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
o ©
blood, one would suppose they could never have
"Buavived 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 wladh ttëhe 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, one of the chiefs,
called by the Canadians "Gueule plat^* cabled out to
me, with an ak of effrontery, "Oome out here.'w
The moment this call reached me, I felt a conflict
* Flat-mouth.
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 look out. 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 Ibeings ; and their
ghastly, wild, and forbidding looks were all directed
towards me, as if I had been the cause of their
calamity. Tam-a-tap-um the chief then coming up
to me, and pointing to one of the dead bodies, ?said,
m You see my sister there ;" then uncovering the
body to sitow 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 balk 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 passionate exclamations, showed
what was working within, and I expected every
moment to receive a bal or an arrow. One word
of interruption spoken by me at the critical moment, in favour of the whites, might have proved
fatal to myself   I therefore remained silent, watch- 236
ing a favourable opportunity, and also examining
closely 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
o ©
to end. When the chief ended, and the people
were in a listening mood, I sympathised with
their misfortunes, and observed that the whites
had 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." SAVAGE FURY APPEASED.
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 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
But the satisfaction we enjoyed at the departure AN INDIAN SHOOTS HIMSELF FOR GRIEF.
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
o ©
Among this second crowd of visiters was a
feUôw dignified by the name of, and brother
to one of the young women who had been carried
off by the Snakes. Prince encamped within fifty
y&Eds 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
i& 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 dishevelled, 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 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 came out near  the backbone.     The A  MEDICINE-MAN   SHOT.
wound was bleeding freely, and he disgorged great
quantities of blood. I went to the fort for some
assistance, but on ow return-1 expected that every
moment would have been his last ; however we
dressed hi* wound^ and did what we could to
allay his suffering.
The Indians now assembled in great numbers, and
O 3
were noisy and valaient. In the first instance, they
threw all the blame of the unfortunate affair on
the whites ; but in theiu rage and violence, they
quarrelled among themselves, and this new direction
in their exeitemenâ 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 bal4 after passing
through^ the man's body, went more than three
inches into one of the fort palisades. I was standing
on- the gallery at the moment he was shot, and had
it been on any other occasion but in the midst of
a. quarrel between1, the Indians, we- eertainly should
have avenged his death on the spot ; for the murdered man was an excellent Indian, and a sincere
feiend of the whites»
The scene now assumed a threatening aspect. HP
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 ûve bodies that lay lifeless on
the ground, twice that number were desperately
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   manoeuvres   of   the   savages
around 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
Percés quarter.
As soon as the chiefs could get a hearing, peace
was gradually restored ; and the five dead bodies INDIAN  TRIBES  ASSEMBLE,
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
favour was a task of more than ordinary difficulty.
The day after, the different tribes assembled at
Fort Nez Percés, and I had my hands full. The
Shaw-ha-ap-tens arrived, the Cayouses, 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
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 fnore as
R !Pi
1 M
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
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 ! 11 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 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 HE  BEGS,  AND  IS  UNGRATEÏTJL.
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 Mm the less
he would hunt.     So I told him again I had no gun
o ©
to spare ; that I had nursed him for half a year,
and saved Ibis 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, v"%ut 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 learat 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.    Wihile doing so, Prince suddenly started
mp, saying, " Since you are so stingy, and love your
gun so well, keep it, and give 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 ihave two mouths, and two words.      You
'said you liked me, and yet you refuse me a gun ;
bait give me an axe, and keep your gun, since y on
prefer to see me like a squaw with an axe, Tather
than like a man with a gun."    " What, my friend,"
R 2 244
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 favours 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, that you
wished 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 ûfty Indians, who
remained silent spectators. I then entered the
fort, leaving Prince still standing; but in a few PRINCE  STEALS  A  GUN.
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 further.
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, 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 i.jmwMamr-immmfK'f •'•
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 t©ok 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 baHfe
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. Snake country—Preliminary remarks:—Interview with the two
great chiefs—The Iroqnois again—Influence of the chiefs—Good
order—The three great sections of the Snake nation—Dog-eaters
—Fish-eaters—Robbers—The mammoth camp—Men of size-
Pee-eye-em—The Snake Council—Peace-making—Result—The
chief's remark on the war—The trembling Ban-at-tees—The land
of profusion—Trading peculiarities of the Snakes—Importance
of trifles—Chief's views—Indians decamp—Whites change places,
—The great" snow-storm—Whites'outwitted—Indians at home
—-Cheap * mode of wintering horses —Hodgen's adventures—
Ama-ketsa's conduct—Natural instinct—Pyramids of beaver—
Chief's friendly conduct — Three Owbyhees murdered—Spring
arrangements — Journey homeward — Anxieties at Fort Nez
Percés — M'Kenzie's arrival — General remarks — Face of the
country—Varied scenery—Mountains- and valleys—The pilot
knobs—Novelties—Sulphur streams—Hot and cold springs-
Natural bridges—SubteEEaneous- rivers—Great fish camp—Provident habits—Delicate appetites'—Economy of the Snakes—
Horse-flesh a dainty—Native tobacco—Legend—Pottery—Snake
ingenuity—A clumsy substitute for canoes—Manœuvres of the
Snakes ffco elude their pursuers—McKenzie's departure—Northwesters west of the mountains—Lawsuits—Result of the trials—
New deed-poll—Dissolution of the North-West Company—The
effect—Begin the world again—Fate of dependents—M'Kenzie's
return—Leaves the country— Sketeh of his character.
The business of the year being ended, we resume
the subject of the Snake expedition. 248
M'Kenzie, 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,
Pée-eye-em and Ama-qui-em. An interview with
these two great men, in reference to the peace, was
M'Kenzie'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 M'Kenzie had 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 animo
sities which  had  been  engendered between both DIVISIONS   OF  THE  SNAKE  NATION.
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, M'Kenzie
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-ne 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,
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, 250
they seldom go to war. Dirty in their camps, in
their dress,, and in their persons, they differed so
far, in thea? general habits, from the Shirry-dikas,
that they appeared as if they had been people belonging to another country. These are the defencei-
less 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 defenceless War-are-ree-kas, and the
horses of the Shirry-dikas ; but are never formidable nor bold enough to attack the latter in lair
and open combat.
The Ban-at-tees, or mountain SnakeSj 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 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 m called the
cabalistieal 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 T9K79 mt SBBS ISET'^ggl
or by night, all travellers, 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 defence.
p: 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 Bluet Mountains, behind Fort Nez Perces,
and running parallel with the ocean to the height
of land beyond the Umpqua River, in about north
lait. 41° (this line never approaches within 150
miles of the Pacific) ; and on the north, by another
line, running due east from the said spur of the
Blue Mountains, and crossing the great south
branchy or Lewis River, at the Dalles, till it
strikes the Rocky Mountains 200 miles north of
the- three pilot knobs, or the place hereafter named
the "Yaley of Troubles." The Snake country,
therefore, contains an area, on a rough calculation,
of about 150,000 square; m ile&v For an Indian
Cftuntirjr, it may be called thicMy inhabited, and
may contain 3 6, $00 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 Wurraeks, wMte a   third EVASIVE  ANSWERS  OF  INDIANS.
would have them named Dogs ! Nor was it till I
had subsequently gone to their country, travelled,
traded, and conversed with them, that I could learn
anything like facts to be depended upon ; and even
after all I can state, it cannot be relied upon as
entirely correct.
It was from the chiefs, who, it would appear,
were very intelligent men, that M'Kenzie 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 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 Î When M'Kenzie
put the direct question to the great chief Pee-
eye-em, "How many Indians are there in the
Snake nation ?" he said, " What makes you ask
4hat question ?" " I should like to know," said he,
" in order to tell our father, the great white chief,"
" Oh ! oh ! tell him, then," said Pee-eye-em, " that
we are as numerous as the stars !"
In the part of the country where our friends had
taken up their winter quarters, the buffaloes were
very numerous ; thousands covered the plains. In
this land of profusion, the Indians likewise pitched
their camp. The novelty of the presence of the
whites, and the news of peace, soon collected an immense crowd together—Shirry-dikas, War-are-ree-
kas, and Ban-at-tees ;—so that, before the end of
a month, there were, according to their statements,
more than ten thousand 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.
I The Shirry-dikas were the centre 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 neighbours the War-are-ree-kas and
Ban-at-tees. This mysterious point was soon 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. M'Kenzie himself, the stoutest
of the whites, was a corpulent, heavy man, weighing
3121bs. ; 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, M'Kenzie 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. After stating that the Nez Percés
had agreed to the peace, and that it now depended
solely upon them to have it finally ratified,
M'Kenzie also signified to them that, if the ^peaee
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
Percés, or any other tribe m that quarter ; nor do Hgo^B
gagnera» tagcroiBni EX ^ ! 2
they ever make war on us. These," said he, point
ing to the War-are-ree-kas and Ban-at-tee camps
" these are the people who disturb and wage war
with the Nez Percés, 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
" 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 Percés ; 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 favour 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 Percés.
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 I
was fully explained to them, and they were distinctly told by Pee-eye-em and Ama-qui-em, that
if they did not regard the peace and live like the
other Snake tribes, they would be punished with
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 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 tabeboo, Hackana ta-
beboo." We are friends to the whites, we are
friends to the whites.
The business over, M'Kenzie 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 asser- TOBACCO   MADE  BY  THE   SNAKES.
tion, " 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
M'Kenzie that it was the Ban-at-tees that plundered
and murdered Mr. Reid 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, 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 and
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
.■■j mm L
Snakes, for they are not deficient in acuteness.
Horses were purchased for an axe each ; and
country provisions, such as dried buffalo, was 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 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 ochre 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 pro-
mised 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 had
scarcely an article among them to show that they
had ever mixed with civilised 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 behaviour
towards the whites, and telling them to prepare for
raising camp. Three days successively this duty was
performed by the chief, and in 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
S 2 260
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.
When the Indians had left the ground, our hunters
were divided into parties throughout the neighbourhood, and went with the other three of the Owhy-
hees 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 snow-storm, 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. Every one felt
that their horses were secure, themselves relieved
from watching, and that they had outwitted the THE  TRAPPER S  HORSE.
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.
To those who have never travelled 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 fore-feet, and feed on the
dry and withered grass at the bottom. They often
pass the winter without a drop of water, except from
the icicles and snow which they happen to eat with
their dry and tasteless food. After passing the night
in this manner, they are bridled, saddled, and ridden
about by the hunters all day ; and when they arrive
at night covered with sweat, tired and hungry,
they are turned out again to dig their supper in the
face of the deep snows, and in a cold ranging from 20°
to 30° below zero of Fahrenheit's thermometer. The
exercise may keep them in some degree warm ; but
the labour necessary to procure their food during
the night is fully as fatiguing and laborious as the
labour by day; and yet these hardy and vigorous
animals are always in good condition. msmumm
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 his life ; for the lock of his gun
got broke, 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 recognising 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 wan*
derer'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 AMA-KETSA S  KINDNESS.
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 knew well the
place of their retreat. Indeed, in those parts to
avoid the Indians would be to avoid their own
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
Here our friends passed a winter of ûve 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 two 264
hundred and forty beaver caught by the hunters,
and brought into camp at the same time.
These two great men were very anxious to know
from M'Kenzie whether any of his people had been
killed by the Indians during the winter ; and being
answered in the negative, 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 Percés, 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 M'Kenzie
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, HOMEWARD.
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
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 one hundred
and fifty-four horses with beaver, and turning their
faces towards Fort Nez Percés, 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.
Yarious 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 spy-glass 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, accom- 266
panied by a band of the Cayouse Indians, who had
joined them as they emerged from the defiles of the
Blue Mountains ; and soon after, M'Kenzie, in his
leather jacket, and accompanied by two of their
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 22nd of June,
1820. jj|;
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 centre 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 description. SALT  AND   BOILING  SPRINGS.
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, 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 seen at the distance of one hundred and fifty miles : the hunters very aptly designate them the Pilot Knobs.*
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 three hundred 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.
* They are now generally known as the Three Paps, or
i Tetons ;" and the source of the Great Snake River is in their
neighbourhood. NATURAL  BRIDGES. RIVERS.
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 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 enter-
ing the earth again. In one of these openings our
people set their traps, and at the first lift caught
thirty beavers and one or two otters.
Some considerable streams were likewise observed
to gush from the faces of precipices, some twenty
or thirty feet from their summits ; while on the
top no water was to be seen. In two or three instances our people heard the noise of water under
their feet, as of rapids ; yet, for several miles, could
not get a drop to drink. That this country contains minerals, there can be but little doubt ; many
indications of copper, iron, and coal were seen by
our hunters.
In many parts the soil is composed of a rich
black loam, with indications of marl. This is the
case in all the valleys ; but in the higher parts,
the eye is wearied with the sight of barren plains
and leafless rocks.
It had been noticed how abundantly the natives
of this quarter of the world are   supplied  with SALMON  FISHING.
various kinds of food. The many nutritious roots,
berries, and all kinds of uncultivated vegetables
which the country produces, suited to the Indian
palate, sets 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,
%J 9 X. 9
and then cautiously watches the ascending fish ; the
water being clear. He poises and balances his
fourteen-feet 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.
she 270
It seems that the salmon is not terrified by noise,
for, in all these occupations the fishermen 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 flavour. 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 prolusion, 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 our-
selves; 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 civilised society. The Snakes feast on the
most loathsome 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 j skipping in the sun are good-sized
grasshoppers ; and gigantic mounds of pismires of ■' *"* ■    -■-"  ,*—J
enormous growth are likewise very 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
handful! s 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 voyageurs 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
fP 272
can   be   eaten ;   some  from   choice,   others   from
Yarious   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
colour, 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 flavour 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 flavour 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 SNAKE  TOBACCO   LEGEND.
two, sometimes a quart, and sometimes as much as
a gallon. In their bartering propensities, however,
they would often make our 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 neighbours ;
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 kinds of vessels for
their use and convenience. Our people saw kettles
of cylindrical form, a kind of iug, 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 travelling 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 elumsy practice is always
resorted to, although it is a dangerous mode of con-
voyance. 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 STEALTHY  HABITS   OF  THE  SNAKES.
were in the utmost danger of perishing ; when some
Snakes plunged in to their relief, and after disentangling them, swam the raft to shore : they were for
more than an hour beyond their depth, notwithstanding it was at a period of the year when the
river was partly frozen over.
It was amusing to listen to the miraculous tales
of our people of the manner in which the Snakes
eluded their grasp. When passing through the
meadows and flats of long grass, they would often
perceive at a distance a 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 among 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.
Return we now to the trappers, whom we left
T 2
mm 276
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, M'Kenzie and his party were
again at their post, and turning their faces once
more round to the Snake country they left fort
Nez Percés on the 4th 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 those
As soon as it was rumoured abroad that an
investigation into the rights of parties, or the safety
of individuals, was about to take place, many of
the North-West managers  were much perplexed. ■ v-•..:■—-■■.::'■
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 civilisation 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 sides to solve the
disputed points, and gave opinions favourable 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?. sterling.
From litigation the parties had recourse to mediation, and the result of the negotiation was a
anion of the two Companies into one, by a " deed-
poll," bearing date the 26 th 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
21 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 for ever,
and put all doubt as to the legality or illegality
of the charter out of question. The junction of the
two Companies saved Rupert's Land from anarchy
in the day of troubles.
The downfall of the North-West Company east
a gloom over its numerous train of retainers and '•".'" •.:"—r-^''— ":
Canadian dependents, also over the whole savage
A ' O
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 favourites 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 Honourable William M'Gillivray put me in
possession of the fact, " that 500£. 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; 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 Honourable
Hudson's Bay Company ; but for two years only. 280
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 dis-
appointments ; 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 become extinct in 1821, I should
have realised 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
M'Gillivray, Thain, and Company, the then head
of the concern; and every one having money there
considered it just as safe as if it had been in the
Bank of England. But the wild and profuse
expenditure 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?., which left me almost
While these changes were going on, who should
arrive in health and high spirits at Nez Percés,
after another year's absence, but M'Kenzie from the
Snake country, on the 10th July, 1821, with an increase of returns, and the good fortune of not having lost a man.    At this period his contract of ûve m'kenzie's career.
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 Percés, 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 further. 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 honourable station he
held with great credit to himself, and satisfaction
to the publiG, 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
• 9ft9
days at his rural seat of Mayville, in the States of
New York.
Mr. M'Kenzie was eminently fitted, both in
corporeal and mental qualities, for the arduous
and very often dangerous labour of conducting
the business of his employers in regions hitherto
but rarely trodden by the foot of the civilised 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 labour 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
O        9
instinctive reverence for manly daring. Nor was
he destitute of those less striking qualities which
win but do not awe mankind. Intimately ac-
quainted 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 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. M'Kenzie,
notwithstanding his liberal endowments and educa-
t ion, for he had been designed for the ministry,
had a   great aversion  to  writing,   preferring  to AND   HABITS.
leave  the details of his adventures to the pen of
To travel a day's journey on snow-shoes was his
delight ; but he detested spending five minutes
scribbling in a journal. His travelling 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."
Preliminary observations—Scenes in the Indian country—Reflections—Canadians—Freemen—Habits—Character—0 whyhees on
the Columbia—Iroquois in the Indian country—Indian women—
Half-breeds—Bourgeois, and his children—Remarks—The last
relic—The Bourgeois in his light canoe—Hard travelling—Fort
Nez Percés—The war chief—The war horse—Cavalcade—Treatment of slaves—Scalp dancing—Vocabulary of the language—
Table of the weather
and cold.
Direction of the winds—Degrees of heat
The last chapter closed the career of the North-
West Company with M'Kenzie'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 North-
Westers, 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
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 DELIGHTS   OF  THE  HUNTER S  LIFE.
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 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
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 m
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 neighbours. Without experience it was not possible always to avert the
storms ready to burst over their 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 new-comers ; the paths known ;
the Indians more or less civilised : 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 ATTRACTIONS   OF  THE  FUR  TRADE.
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 at-
tention of creditable mercantile houses. Companies
were formed, and inducements held out to young
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 civilised 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 communication 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 ai
taught to obey, afterwards the^frlearn 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
often that their laudable desires are disappointed.
They at length 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 not luxury. He
rambles at his 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. WILD   LIFE  AND   ITS  PLEASURES.
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 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 acute-
ness 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 jewellery
is not wanting. It is not surprising, therefore,
that the roving North-Wester, after so many rural
enjoyments, and a residence of twenty years, should
feel more real happiness in these scenes than he
can hope for in any other country.
Fur traders, from their constant intercourse
with Indians, make a free use of tobacco, mixing
it, as the Indians do, with a certain herb indigenous
to the Indian country ; this, with their favourite
beverage, strong tea, constitutes their chief luxury,
and agrees well  with their mode   of life.    But,
U 290
whether it be the food, mode of living, or climate,
it certainly happens that great longevity is seldom
known among them on returning to civilised
society. yfe
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
civilised society, and all the endearments of social
life, the fur trader is wholly unprepared for the
wiles practised by desigrdng 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 civilised 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 CANADIANS  AND  FREEMEN.
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 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 adngitted, 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 labour.
Indeed, the Canadians, considered as voyageurs,
merit  the   highest praise.
Another class, however, remain who merit less
praise. They are in this country styled Freemen,
because they are no longer the hired servants of
the Company. These are generally Canadians, or
others, who have spent their better days in the
quality of canoe-men in the Company's service, but
who have not been provident enough to save part
of their earnings for the contingencies of old age ;
and who, sooner than return to their own country
to .live by hard labour, 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
u 2 292
Indians, with all their faults, but none of their
good qualities ; and this similarity to the Indians
in their 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 unfrequently 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 worth- SANDWICH  ISLANDERS.
less and bad character in this country than his
wishing to become a freeman—it is the 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 Straits ;
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 prin- SANDWICH   ISLANDERS.
cipal purpose for wMch they were useful on the
Columbia was, 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 xiSbre serviceable had
not a dulness on their part, and an impression of
their insufficiency on ours, prevented both sîdég
froiW 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, wheil 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, theif own
being favourable 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 mo&tb 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 re- IROQUOIS.
covery, when accident now and then 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 a& tiiis time only about a score
of these men in the country.
Among the people employed are a set of civilised
Indians from the neighbourhood 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
voyageurs, 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-men and trappers. They are
not esteemed equal to the ablest trappers, nor
the best calculated for the voyage. They are
not so inoffensive as the Owhyhees, nor to be
trusted as the Canadians. They are brought up to
religion, it is true, and sing hymns oftener than
paddling songs ; but those who came here (and we
are of course speaking of none else) retain none of
its precepts : they are sullen, indolent, fickle,
cowardly, and treacherous.    And an Iroquois ar- 296
rived at manhood is still as wayward and extravagant as a lad of other nations at the age of
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 out-door 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 HALF  BREEDS.
return, the 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 civilisation 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 ever work well unless  the Hudson's Bay
m 298
Company were to take the management of it : that
alone would ensure its success. For the promotion
of this benevolent design, an appeal is here made
to the philanthropic disposition of the Honourable
Company, who now preside over tha# 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,
brûles, from the peculiar colour of their skin, being
of a swarthy hue, as if sun-burnt, 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 desiipes ;
sullen in their disposition ; proud, restless, clan-.
nish, 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 toe 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, voyageurs and
others, every vice that ean degrade human nature. THEIR  UNHAPPY  FATE.
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 ftobacco,
and shoot arrows ; but he must not degrade himself
with labour. While in the service, all this does
very well ; but when the lather leaves the service,
so does the son : they are no longer in the
service, but in civilised fife. The son looks about,
and is disgusted with the drudgery of labour ; still
hangs about his lather ; 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 lather 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 nativity. He tries his fortune one
way, tries it another ; but the qualifications and the
restraints necessary to succeed in business are dis- HALF-BREED  CHILDREN.
agreeable 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 de-
grades 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 civilisation. They are naturally of an acute
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 NEED   OF  EDUCATION.
of the whites, they inherit the agility and expert-
ness of the savage.
It is a misfortune that those who might otherwise be calculated to shine in various spheres of
civilised 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 24th 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 civilised 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 voyageurs, dignify their master by the name of Bourgeois,—a term handed 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 centre
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 fleet-
ness 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 honour 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 labours 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 tea-kettle is boiling ; a
variegated mat is spread, and a cold collation set
out. Twenty minutes—and they start anew. The
dinner-hour arrives. They put aground again. The
liquor-can accompanies the provision-basket ;   the THE VOYAGEURS.
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
When it is practicable to make way in the dark,
four hours is the voyageurs' allowance of rest ; and
at times, on boisterous lakes and bold shores, 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 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, 304
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 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
1st of April, and, with the regularity and rapidity
of a steamboat, it reaches Fort William, on Lake
Superior, the 1st of July ; remaining there till
the 20 th 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 20th October.
A fight 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 scarcely any
repose, in the short period of little more than six
Having now concluded our remarks on the
different  classes   of   whites,   of   half-breeds,   and TR1RES   OF  FORT  NEZ  PERCES.
others, connected with the trade of this country,
we resume the subject of Fort Nez Percés quarter.
The different Indian tribes inhabiting the coun-
try about Fort Nez Percés often go to war on
their southern neighbours 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 accoutred for
a war expedition ; pointing out to him their general treatment of slaves taken in war; and conclude the subject of our remarks in this chapter
with a brief vocabulary of their language. 306
The tribes of Fort Nez Percés we have enumerated
already ; on the present occasion, we shall more
particularly direct the reader's attention to the
Wallawalla, the Cayouse, and the Shaw-ha-ap-ten
tribes. The last mentioned is the Chappusish of
Lewis and Clarke. First, then, as to the war
chiefs head-dress—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 crantan, 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 honour.
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 chiefs estimation, of no
ordinary value. His weapons are the gun, the
lance,- the scalping-knife^ and a bulky quiver es
arrows. Although thus accoutred, 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 THE  WAR-HORSM».
can change one for another, as occasion may require.
Next comes the favourite 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 t^part with his war-horse.
Those entirely white are preferred ; next to white,
the speckled, or white and black, are most $tk
demand. Generally, all horses of these fancy
colours are claimed by the chiefs, in preference to
any otiier, 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
jointing 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, formmg as it were two artificial talk,
which, in addition to ornament, served the 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 theears, ornamented the horseis
head; and the rider, as well as the hors% was so
besmeared with red, blue, and yellow ochrè, that no
one could tell what the natural colour of either
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
manœuvre 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
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 assail-
ants.    I could very easily conceive that the  ral
merit of the manoeuvres 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 manoeuvring 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 chaunting 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, then they tear
them down from the horses without mercy, and
then begin trampling on 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 310
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 faee to faee, 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 centre 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 side ways, to the right and
left alternately, according to the Indian fashion.
The slaves, at the same time, moving and keepmg
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 triumpn.
All this ià but a prelude to the scenes that
follow. The women, placed in the order w7e 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 WOMEN  TORTURING  SLAVES.
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 tsœn off
during these fram»tic 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 unfrequently 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 anther 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. 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 312
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.
■Of •1
Vocabulary of the Languages spoken by the Nez PeroeV
and  other  Tribes  inhabiting  the Country  about the
Great Forks oe Columbia River.
. Laughs.
Two .
. Napete.
. Melapte.
. Peenapte.
Five .
. Puehate.
Six   .
. 0' E' Laughs.
. O'E' Napete.
. 0' E' Melapte.
. Tsoomass.
Ten .
. Poutume.
. Poutume ach Laughs.
. Poutume ach Napete.
Thirteen  .
. Poutume ach Melapte.
Fourteen .
. Poutume ach Peenapte.
Fifteen     .
. Poutume ach Puehate..
. Poutume ach 0' E' Laughs.
. Poutume ach 0' E' Napete.
Eighteen .
. Poutume ach 0' E' Melapte.
. Poutume ach Tsoomas.
,1 314
Twenty    .       *
. Naptate.
. Naptate ach Laughs.
Twenty-two      .
.       . Naptate ach Napete.
Twenty-three    .
.       . Naptate ach Melapte.
Twenty-four     •       «
. Naptate ach Peenapte.
. Naptate ach Puehate.
Twenty-six      ',
. Naptate ach 0' E' Laughs.
Twenty-seven   .
. Naptate ach 0' E' Napete.
Twenty-eight    .
. Naptate ach 0' E' Metapte.
Twenty-nine    .
. Naptate ach Tsoomass.
. Melaptate.
. Melaptate ach Laughs.
Thirty-two        .
. Melaptate ach Napete.
Thirty-three     .
. Melaptate ach Melapte.
. Melaptate ach Peenapte.
. Melaptate aeh Puehate.
Thirty-six .
,       . Melaptate ach 0'E'Laughs.
Thirty-seven  *.
. Melaptate aeh 0' E' Napete.
Thirty-eight     .
. Melaptate ach 0' E' Melapte.
. Melaptate ach Tsoomass.
. Peenaptate.
Forty-one .
. Peenaptate ach Laughs.
Forty-two.       .       .
. Peenaptate ach Napete.
. Peenaptate ach Melapte.
. Peenaptate ach Peenapte.
Forty-five .
. Peenaptate ach Puehate.
Forty-six .       .
. Peenaptate ach 0' E' Laughs.
. Peenaptate ach 0' E' Napete.
. Peenaptate ach 0' E' Melapte.
Forty-nine        . .
. Peenaptate aeh Tsoomass.
. Puchaptate.
Fifty-one .       .
. Puchaptate ach Laughs.
Fifty-two .
. Puchaptate ach Napete^
. Puchaptate ach Melapije.
Fifty-four . .     .
,       . Puchaptate ach Peenapte.
Fifty-five .
,       . Puchaptate ach Puehate.
Fifty-six   .
i       . Puchaptate ach 0' E' Laughs.
,      . Puchaptate ach 0' E' Napete VOCABULARY.
Sixty        .
Sixty-one *
Sixty-two .
Sixty-five .
Sixty-six .
Seventy    .
Eighty      .
Puchaptate ach O' E' Melapte
Puchaptate ach Tsoomass.
0' E' Laughsaptate.
0' E' Laughsaptate ach Laughs.
0' E* Laughsaptate ach Napete.
0' E' Laughsaptate ach