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Homili, Chief of the Walla Walla

Homili, the chief of the Walla Walla, lived in two places: a part of each year on the Umatilla Reserve with the Umatilla, Cayuse, and other Columbia River Indians who were willing to stay there with the government agent; and part of the year, indeed, the greater part of it, at what he called his home just above the steamboat landing near the hamlet of Wallula. On the Umatilla Reserve, Homili had good land, pasturage all around for his pongees, and a good farm-house. He could raise wheat and vegetables, too, in plenty when he could make his tillicums (children and followers) work for him. But Homili was lazy and shift less, and just managed to say “yes yes to the good agent, Mr. Cornoyer, and to keep a poor garden-plot, and let his many ponies run about with the herds of horses which belonged to other Indians. Homili was always fat and hearty, and he loved best his queer home just above Wallula. More than ten miles broad is the strip of sand and gravel along the Columbia on the south side above and below Wallula; the first time I saw Homili he met me at the steamboat landing. He hard with him four or five very poorly dressed Indians, wearing very long, black, uncombed hair. Homili was dressed up for the occasion. He had on a cast-off army uniform buttoned to his throat, and an old stovepipe hat which had long since seen its best days. I wondered then how Homili could have found an officer’s coat big enough for him, for while he was not a...

Pedro, Eskeltesela and Miguel

You remember the great peace meeting near Camp Grant, where the Indian children were given back, and how old Santos put the white stone down and said that as long as it lasted there would be no war. After this the Indians were very friendly to the white man, and so it seemed a good time for some of the Indian chiefs to go East and visit the great Chief in Washington. Just about one month after the great peace meeting the young Pima chief, Antonito, his friend Louis, who spoke some English, and Mr. Cook, the good Indian teacher, joined old Santos of the Aravipa Apaches, who came with his interpreter, Conception, to meet them near the crossing of the Aravipa River. Then they all rode on horseback to a field just south of Camp Grant, and here I met them. Captain Wilkinson, my aide, was with me, and we had a mounted escort of a sergeant and six soldiers. We were to go one hundred miles over a very rough, steep mountain trail to Camp Apache near the eastern border of Arizona, but we could take no wagons, so all our luggage was on four strong pack-mules. When we started I rode a large gray horse named Frank. He looked very fine indeed, but one of the officers at Camp Grant told me to be careful and not trust too much to appearances, for Frank was not used to long journeys as the mules were, and he was likely to grow lame on the stony road, or fag out. I patted the beautiful creature and we started...

Geronimo, The Last Apache Chief on the War-Path

Far off in the Dragoon Mountains Where Captain Red Beard took me to see Cochise in his stronghold, lived the chief of a band of Apache Indians, called Geronimo. His Indian name was Go-khla-yeh, but after his first battle with the Mexicans he was called Geronimo, and the name was pronounced after the Spanish fashion, as if it began with an H instead of a G-Heronimo. When this Indian was a young man he went to Mexico to trade furs and beaded belts and moccasins for things the Indians use, and with him went his wife and many Indian men, women, and children. The Indian men made a camp near a small Mexican city and left the women and children there while they went into the town to trade, but while they were gone some white people fired at those left in camp, and when Geronimo came back all his family were dead, and everything he had was destroyed. At first Geronimo was so sad that he could not eat or sleep, and wandered about in the woods as unhappy as any one could be; then he began to be angry and wanted to fight all white men, and that is how he first made up his mind to go on the war-path. Geronimo was a very quiet man and yet he danced with the other Indians, pitched quoits with them, or played the game of poles. This is called the pole fight. The Indians draw two lines on the ground twenty steps apart; then an Indian, taking a pole ten or twelve feet long, grasps it in the...

Pasqual

The Yuma Indians of Colorado live on the banks of the Colorado or Red River, which is very long and flows between high banks. In the Mohave country it passes through the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, a gorge quite as broad and as deep as the famous Yosemite Valley of California. After leaving the Grand Canyon, the red waters of the river flow through the most barren country of our land. Sometimes there is not one drop of rain for as much as three years, and the vast region is like the Desert of Sahara except right along the river banks. The officers and soldiers at Uncle Sam’s army post, which is called Fort Yuma, have made ditches from the river, and by watering the land it has become a real garden. They raise vegetables and have planted rows of trees, which grow well, for the soil is rich when it is watered, but dry as a bone when left alone. There are wonderful magnolia trees here, high, with broad branches, the pure white blossoms looking like so many doves among the green leaves. The century plant and palmettos stand guard along the roadways within the stockade, and hedges of cacti form impassable barriers. Prickly pears and figs grow in abundance, and everything is green and beautiful, but only because here water has been brought to land, which was once called the American desert. The Indians knew long before Uncle Sam’s soldiers came that water makes a wonderful difference in this country, so they clung to the river, never moving far away from its banks, and for this...

Chief Egan of the Malheurs

The Indians pronounced the name of Egan, Ehegante; but the soldiers and the white men living near the Indians’ reservation, situated in eastern Oregon, called him Egan. Egan was born a Umatilla. His father and mother were both from the Cayuse tribe who lived in the valley of the beautiful Umatilla River. That river flows from the springs and creeks of the lofty Blue Hills of Oregon, and with a length of about forty miles coursing westward, enters the Columbia River, not far south of the old Fort Walla Walla, where is now the little village of Wallula. When very small, Egan’s father and mother, with several other Cayuses, were away from home out on a meadow gathering wild onions and other kinds of nature’s food. They had in their camp of tepees men, women, and children. Suddenly a wild war party of Indians from the Snake country came upon them and a fierce battle occurred. All the Cayuses in the camp were killed except the children. These children were carried off and scattered among the Snakes and the Paiute. Little Egan was left with and brought up by a good Piute family. When he was old enough, he became famous among the young Indian hunters. He was above the medium height, very handsome, strong, and athletic; could lead any party in fishing the streams, climbing the mountains or chasing the deer. He could not have been more than twenty when he married the sister of Shenkah, a Paiute chief. This chief called him brother. Side by side with Shenkah he had fought against hostile tribes of Indians and...

Osceola

I suspect “Uncle Sam” was born July 4th, 1776. If so, he was still a young man, only twenty-eight years old, when Osceola came into the world. The Red Stick tribe of the Creek Indians had a camp on the bank of the Chattahoochee. The water of this river is colored by the roots of trees, shrubs, and vines which grow along its sluggish current, and so it is very black. Osceola’s mother, living near this dark river, named her baby As-sa-he-ola,-black water. Spanish tongues by and by shortened it to the beautiful and Latin-like name of Osceola. Osceola’s mother was the daughter of a Creek Indian chieftain. His father is said to have been an Indian trader born in England. There were three children, two girls and the boy. Osceola’s mother, the proud and high-tempered Indian princess, be-came angry for some reason and taking her son went into the wilderness of southern Georgia and joined her own people, while the father took his two daughters and passed over to the far West. The princess taught Osceola both English and her own language, but she had come to hate the white people and did not fail to bring up her son with the same unkind feelings. After a time troubles arose between our white settlers and the Creek Indians in Georgia, and Uncle Sam sent General Jackson with an army to drive the Indians further South. At this time Osceola was only fourteen years old; yet he was so smart and so fierce that he became a leader of his people. Under him they fought hard, and were driven...

Cochise, The Chiricahua Apache Chief

Once upon a time, far away in New Mexico, an Indian tribe lived on a large stretch of land near a place called Tulerosa. They had not always lived there, but now the white men said they must stay there and nowhere else, for there was much land, many trees, and plenty of water. But the ground was really too poor for the Indians to plant, and they said the water made the children sick. The chief of this tribe, the Mescalero Apaches, was Victoria, a good man who was troubled for his people. He knew they were discontented and wanted to go on the war path and that it was better for them to keep peace. Now not far away from Tulerosa Uncle Sam had an army post where some soldiers lived who believed that the Indians had good reason to be unhappy. They thought about it awhile and then wrote down all they had heard the Indians say and sent it in a letter to President Grant at Washington. President Grant wanted everybody in the whole country to be happy, so he decided to send some one out to Tulerosa to see just what the matter was and what could be done. I was very busy just then in Washington, but the President sent for me and told me not to wait a minute, but go right out to New Mexico and find out about things; so, of course, I went. After I arrived the very first Indian I saw was the chief, Victoria. He had been trying his best to keep peace but there were Indians...

Moses, a great war chief who knew when not to fight

In the Northwest of our great country there are so many different tribes of Indians that I cannot begin to tell you their names, but they were often divided in this way: Those who lived on reservations were called “Reservation Indians” and those who did not, “Outside Indians.” Now, Moses was chief of a great many tribes of Outside Indians and he was a very great chief. Of course, Moses was not his Indian name, but Governor Stevens gave it to him long ago and every one called him so; indeed, he seemed to have forgotten his Indian name and called himself Moses. He was a very handsome man, tall and straight, and always well dressed. He usually wore a buckskin coat and trousers, and handsome beaded moccasins, and a broad, light felt hat with a thin veil encircling it. He always had a leather belt around his waist, in which he carried a long knife and pistol holster, the ivory pistol knob in plain sight. Now, Moses had led his Indians in many battles, both against Indians and white men, and everybody knew that he was a brave warrior and could fight. Indeed, in 1858 one of the very fiercest battles we ever had with the Indians took place when Moses was the Indian war chief and General George Wright commanded the United States soldiers at the “Battle of Yakima River.” But after Mr. W Wilbur became the Indian Agent things changed, for the Indians loved him and called him Father Wilbur, and Moses decided not to fight the white men any more. Many times Moses was asked...

Santos, and Eskiminzeen the Stammerer

Far away near the Aravipa River in Arizona, one of “Uncle Sam’s” young officers rode at the head of a company of soldiers. They had marched eighteen miles already in a deep ravine, the bottom of which was filled with coarse sand. In the rainy season this ravine was filled with water, but now it was what the Mexicans call a ” dry arroyo, ” for there had been no rain for many weeks. Just at the mouth of this arroyo was the Aravipa River, coursing serpent-like across their path. It was not very broad nor very deep, but they were glad to see even a little water.  The march had been a hard one. Every step in the sand was like walking in loose snow, and the mules which drew the baggage wagons were tired and did not want to go. At sight of the Aravipa River flowing along between bright green cottonwood trees, the mules began to bray loudly and to pull hard to get their noses into the stream. The soldiers broke ranks and ran up the river, each to get a good drink of clear water and fill his canteen. A short way beyond was a beautiful grassy meadow, and here the little company pitched their tents, naming their camp for the great leader who had become our President-Camp Grant.  Now, six miles away from the cottonwood trees where the soldiers crossed the Aravipa River there was a deep cut or canyon. It was steep and high and rocky on one side, but so sloping on the other as to make a nice, safe sleeping...

Famous Indian Chiefs I have Known

The following biographies are small glimpses of Indians, who’s names most of us have heard. From these brief writings you can decide if you are interested in further information on one of these great Chieftains. Major-General Oliver Otis Howard, US Army, served in the Civil war prior to coming west. He directed several campaigns against the Native Americans, and negotiated with Chief Joseph in 1877. He has written numerous books on his experiences with the Indians. This particular manuscript is often met with outcries from our readers as his particular point of view of the Chiefs he met often differs with popular sentiments. Come read what Major-General Howard’s assessment of each chief he met was.

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