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Topic: Nez Perce

The Salmon River Expedition

On the 24th of June, 1877, seven days after the battle of White Bird Canon, Troop H, First Cavalry, left Mount Idaho by the roundabout way of Florence for the little settlement of Slate Creek on the Salmon River. Slate Creek empties into Salmon about six miles above the mouth of White Bird. The Indians were still in camp on the riverbank and had possession of all trails between the two points. The march was through the mountains over an old, abandoned trail, obstructed by rocks and fallen timber; and, although it was mid-summer, snow and rain fell almost incessantly during the trip, which was completed at two o’clock on the morning of the 25th. A few men, and many women and children were found at the place, all badly scared, not knowing what moment the redskins might attack them and murder the entire party. But the expected arrival of the troop and that of a volunteer company of citizens from Lewiston relieved all anxiety. We remained at Slate Creek until July 1st and then crossed the Salmon River to join General Howard’s column in pursuit of the hostiles. After the battle of White Bird General Howard ordered all the available troops in his own department to report to him immediately for field duty. In addition to these, troops from the departments of California and Arizona were hurried to...

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The Battle of the Clearwater

On quitting camp at Slate Creek, Oregon, I marched my troop, consisting of thirty enlisted men and three officers, to a crossing some miles below the settlement on Salmon River and put them across – horses swimming, men and packs by canoe. This movement was in obedience to an order from General Howard to join his immediate command in pursuit of the Indians via the Salmon River hills. The hostiles had been confronting the General’s command at the mouth of the White Bird Creek, they, the hostiles, being on the farther side of the river, and the command under General Howard being camped on our battle-field of White Bird Creek. After the General had collected boats, some of which I sent him from Slate Creek, and was prepared for a forward movement, the Indians began a retreat. The troops followed about the third day after the Indians had disappeared from the vicinity of the river. On the first day’s march I joined the General’s command, and we all proceeded up and over the high bluffs. After a toilsome march of about ten miles the heights were reached and camp was made. The infantry did not arrive until after dark and the pack-train not until midnight, some animals being lost en route. That night a terrific rain-storm fell upon us. As there were no tents except for the staff all...

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General Howard’s Comment on Joseph’s Narrative

On reading in the North American Review for April the article entitled “An Indian’s View of Indian Affairs,” I was so pleased with Chief Joseph’s statement – necessarily ex parte though it was, and naturally inspired by resentment toward me as a supposed enemy – that at first I had no purpose of making a rejoinder. But when I saw in the Army and Navy Journal long passages quoted from Joseph’s tale, which appeared to reflect unfavorably upon my official conduct, to lay upon me the blame of the atrocious murders committed by the Indians, and to convict me of glaring faults where I had deemed myself worthy only of commendation, I addressed to the editor of that journal a communication (which has been published) correcting misstatements, and briefly setting forth the facts of the case. If I had had the power and management entirely in my hands, I believe I could have healed that old sore, and established peace and amity with Joseph’s Indians. It could only have been done, first, by a retrocession of Wallowa (already belonging to Oregon) to the United States and then setting that country apart forever for the Indians without the retention of any Government authority whatever; and, second, by the removal therefrom of every white settler, making to each a proper remuneration for his land and improvements. But this power I did...

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Anecdotes of Chief Joseph

With the death of Chief Joseph, the famous leader of the Nez Perces, the United States has lost its most celebrated Indian. Joseph, since the death of Red Cloud and Sitting Bull, has been the most discussed American Indian. He was the last of the great warrior chiefs. Descendant of a long line of fighters, chieftain, since early manhood, of the Nez Perce tribe, and followed with constant devotion by his dwindling people, Chief Joseph was the last Indian leader who dared to put up a real fight against civilization; and in his desperate Waterloo he put up a fight that gave Gen. Nelson A. Miles and Gen. O. O. Howard all they could do to nab him and crush him till he grimly buried the hatchet. Chief Joseph it was who, when the United States took away the reservation given him and his people by grant, brandished a defiant fist and after years of peace dragged the Government into one last fierce struggle between red and white, and the old chief came out of it blue, but silent. When he took up the cause of his little band again it was with the diplomacy of a vanquished man, beaten by a civilization which finally landed him in a half-dollar show at Madison Square Garden. This was a year ago, after New York society had fondled the old chief...

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The Battle of Camas Meadows

During the memorable campaign against the Nez Perce Indians, in the year 1877, there were many stirring incidents that have never been given to the public, and notably among these is the Camas Meadow fight of Capt. Randolph Norwood’s Company L, of the Second Cavalry. In the early part of the summer we had assisted the Fifth Infantry, under Col. Nelson A. Miles, in rounding up and capturing the remnant band of Cheyenne Sioux, under Lame Deer, and bringing them into the cantonment at the mouth of Tongue River. Shortly after arriving there, Gen. W. T. Sherman and staff, and the General’s son, Thomas, came up the Yellowstone on a tour of inspection, and we were ordered to escort them to Fort Ellis, which was our home station. Arriving there, a portion of the company was detailed to accompany our distinguished visitors on a trip of sight-seeing to the Yellowstone Park. They had scarcely departed when despatches arrived telling of a disastrous engagement of Col. John Gibbon’s troops with the Nez Perces at Big Hole Pass, something like one hundred and sixty miles away; saying he was in desperate circumstances and in danger of annihilation, and ordering us to hasten with all speed to his relief. Our company was depleted, by various details, to about fifty men, and with this force we started within the hour, which was already...

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Chief Joseph’s Own Story

Chief Joseph’s Own Story: With an Introduction by the Rt. Rev. W. H. Hare, D.D., Bishop of South Dakota 1This and the following chapter are taken from The North American Review for 1879, by the gracious permission of Messrs. Harper and Brothers, the present publishers of the magazine and the owners of the copyright. – C. T. B. Wish that I had words at command in which to express adequately the interest with which I have read the extraordinary narrative which follows, and which I have the privilege of introducing to the readers of this Review. I feel, however, that this apologia is so boldly marked by the charming naiveté and tender pathos which characterizes the red-man, that it needs no introduction, much less any authentication; while in its smothered fire, in its deep sense of eternal righteousness and of present evil, and in its hopeful longings for the coming of a better time, this Indian chief’s appeal reminds us of one of the old Hebrew prophets of the days of the Captivity. I have no special knowledge of the history of the Nez Percés, the Indians whose tale of sorrow Chief Joseph so pathetically tells – my Indian missions lying in a part at the West quite distant from their old home and am not competent to judge their case upon its merits. The chief’s narrative is, of...

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The Battle of White Bird Canon

The Wallowa Valley is fifteen or twenty miles east of the Grande Ronde Valley in eastern Oregon, and had long been a bone of contention between the whites and a band of non-treaty Nez Percé Indians under Chief Joseph. The whites claimed the right of settlement under the United States Land Acts, and while no determined effort on their part was made to take up homestead, preemption or other claims, yet they kept it as a grazing ground for their cattle, while the Indians denied them the right to such privileges, claiming to themselves the entire control of the valley and surrounding hills for hunting and fishing. They were confirmed in this right by the Government, I believe, in 1855; but by subsequent authority from Washington the land was thrown open for settlement and still later on again withdrawn. These conflicting rulings the Indian did not clearly understand, and he evidently did not propose to be trifled with like a child with a toy, to be taken away from and given again in pleasure. Quarrels were continually arising between the red-men and the white; an occasional go steer would be missing from the white man’s herd, and ponies would, in turn, be missing from that of the Indian. Fort Walla Walla was the nearest military station to this disputed territory and the cavalry troops were constantly moving to and...

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The First Settlements the March of Progress

The first settlements made by whites with-in the present boundaries of Idaho were effected by Jesuit missionaries, as is true throughout the Pacific coast region; and previously to 1863, the beginning of a new era in this region, there were but two or three settlements made by others. In the primeval stage the country was not at all inviting to civilized people. The almost omnipresence of red savages precluded all thoughts of prospecting in the mountains for valuable minerals, while the valleys seemed to be only arid deserts absolutely irreclaimable for agricultural purposes. In the outside world ideas as to the climate were de-rived only from hunters and trappers, who spent only the winters here, in the mountains, where the cold was intense and snow abundant, and from emigrants, who passed through here only during hot weather, when the valleys they traversed seemed to deserve connection with what was known as “the Great American desert.” One authority states that the first permanent settlement in Idaho was made at Mount Idaho, the present County seat of Idaho County. Probably the first permanent settlement, however, was made in 1834 in which year Nathaniel J. Wyeth, with a party of sixty men, started across the continent and established Fort Hall as a trading post near Snake River. This fort was the most important point between the Missouri River and Salt Lake to...

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Idaho, the Gem of the Mountains, Origin of the Name

The Mountains have ever been the bulwarks of freedom. Valor is born there; virtue is cherished there, and these are the seeds of song and story. No land ever yet had a literature to endure that had not these for its theme, these off-springs of the pure, sweet atmosphere and sublime splendor of inspiring Mountains; and the more glorious the Mountains, the more glorious the song and story. What then may we not prophesy for Idaho when her torn and devastated placer fields all are terraced vineyards, as in Savoy, and the peace and rest of the old pastoral days of Greece shall possess her? Meanwhile it remains for us to dwell rather upon the vital present; to note the assurances offered in the fair new state of Idaho as this wonderful nineteenth century draws rapidly to its close. Here nature has been lavish to prodigality; here mountain and valley yield forth their treasures; and here are the homes of a progressive, enlightened and a loyal people who honor and receive honor from the whole noble sisterhood of states. The Gem of the Mountains may well challenge admiration, and it is hoped that the pages of this work may bear their part in perpetuating the dramatic story of the brave men and virtuous women who gathered about the cradle of the infant Idaho, and also tell the latter-day story...

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Early Explorations

During the long period of time in which the Pacific coast of North America was being slowly brought to the knowledge of civilized man, the course of narrative shows that the Frenchman and Spaniard were the pioneers of exploration in this region, both by sea and land. Spain led the maritime nations in distant and successful voyages. The voyage of Columbus, under the auspices of Ferdinand and his noble queen, Isabella, whose reign over the united kingdoms of Castile and Aragon gave Spain so much glory in that adventurous and chivalrous age, had kindled every maritime Spaniard into a very knight of the seas, and inspired the whole nation with a burning zeal for discovery and conquest of distant lands. Her rulers were among the greatest and most renowned of all ages of the world. Ferdinand and Isabella were succeeded by Charles V., one of the most enlightened and powerful monarchs that ever sat on any throne. He was succeeded by his son Philip, who, though haughty and imperious, so carried forward the ideas and purposes of his great father that his kingdom reached the very zenith of power and influence in the councils of the European monarchs. The woe pronounced upon a “land whose king is a child” could not fall upon Spain during this period. Weak and lusterless as may now be the condition of the Spanish...

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Historical Notes on the Work of the Catholic Church in Idaho

As the Catholic Church has ever been the pioneer in civilization, so that we find her name linked with the early history of all lands, so, too, is it true of Idaho. Long before the coming of the first settlers to our present “Gem of the Mountains,” we find the faithful Catholic priest, laboring not for earth’s golden treasures nor ambition’s honored guerdons, but for the upbuilding of that grand edifice whose comer-stone is Christ, for the elevating and saving of souls who, without the ministration of the “Anointed of the Lord,” would never have been drawn from the darkness of semi-barbarism into the bright light of Christian faith. It is fitting, then, that in a history of the state of Idaho the work of the Catholic church be not omitted: so with no apology to the reader of the present volume the author presents the following data carefully gathered from many sources, in the hope that by his feeble pen the work of so many of earth’s noble men may be preserved to future generations as an incentive to devoted labor on the part of their followers, not less than as a means of spreading a knowledge of the Catholic Church the mother of Christian churches and the fountain-head of so much that is good and true in history, art, science, and civilization. The Catholic missionary to whom...

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The Indians Of Idaho Nez Percé And Shoshone Uprisings

Some notice of the original inhabitants of Idaho is due the reader of this book, even though that notice must necessarily be short and its data largely traditional. With-out a written language of any kind, unless it was the use of the rudest and most barbarous symbols, they have passed away and left no recorded history; without architecture, except that which exhausts its genius in the construction of a skin wigwam or a bark lodge, they have died and left no monuments. Traditions concerning them are too confused, contradictory and uncertain to satisfy any who desire reliable history. Any real information at all reliable concerning them began with the publication of the journal of the exploring expedition of Lewis and Clarke in 1804 and 1805. Incidental notices of various tribes have been given to the world by other explorers and travelers, but very much that has been written concerning them was not the ascertaining of patient and continued personal investigation, nor yet the impressions of any extended personal contact, but the chance and hasty gatherings of unreliable traditions, or, what was even less to be depended on than this, the exaggerated recitals of some wild, camp-fire stories. All these, of course, have a value as literature, and occupy an interesting place in romantic story, but their history is not great. When these people were first brought under the study...

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Idaho Since 1890, Political

Late in June 1891, the state supreme court rendered a decision pronouncing the act of 1891, purporting to create the counties of Alta and Lincoln out of the counties of Alta and Logan, to be unconstitutional, on the ground that the state constitution forbids the division of a county and the attachment of a part thereof to another county without a vote of the people in the portion to be separated. State Attorney General Roberts returned the following opinion to the state superintendent of public instruction: Women possessing the constitutional and statutory qualifications can vote at all school elections; but to vote upon the proposition as to whether a special tax shall be levied women must possess, with male suffragists, the additional qualification of being “an actual resident free-holder or head of a family.” On May 5, 1892, the Republicans held a state convention at Pocatello, and a nominating convention in August following, at which they advocated the free and unlimited coinage of silver, the creation of a federal department of mines and mining at Washington, protection of labor and capital, prompt action in allotting lands in the Nez Perce Indian reservation, certain amendments to the immigration laws, and holding the Democrats responsible for the crippling of western industries. For the state ticket they nominated, in August, W. J. McConnell for governor, Frank B. Willis for lieutenant governor, James...

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Various Subjects

Presbyterianism In Idaho The history of Presbyterianism in Idaho embraces three separate histories: that of the work among the Nez Perces, that of the work among the whites in the Panhandle, and that of the work in the southern section of the state. The work among the Nez Perces had its beginning in 1836, when Rev. Henry H. Spalding, the friend and companion of Marcus Whitman, established a mission station at Lapwai on the Clearwater, twelve miles above the present city of Lewiston. When the Whitman’s were massacred in 1847 Mr. Spalding and his wife were also marked as victims, and though they escaped with their lives they were shut out from work in that field until 1871. In that year Mr. Spalding was allowed to return and spent three busy years among the people from whom he had been separated for almost a quarter of a century. The seed sown with weeping so long before had not perished, and he was permitted to gather in his sheaves with rejoicing. During the last three years of his life he was permitted to baptize six hundred and ninety-four Indian converts. One year before he died two women of heroic spirit, educated, consecrated, and in every way fitted, came to his help. They were the Misses Susan and Kate McBeth, whose names are now household words in Presbyterian homes. Miss Susan...

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Discovery Of Gold in Idaho

It is reported that gold was discovered by a French Canadian in Pend d’Oreille river, in 1852. Two years later General Lander found gold while exploring the route for a military road from the Columbia to Fort Bridger. The earliest discoveries of which we have any authentic record, however, were probably made by members of the party with that veteran pioneer and path-finder, Captain John Mullan, the originator of the now famous Mullan road from Fort Benton to Walla Walla, a distance of six hundred and twenty-four miles. In a letter dated Washington, D. C, June 4, 1884, to Mr. A. F. Parker, of Eagle City, he says: I am not at all surprised at the discovery of numerous rich gold deposits in your mountains, because both on the waters of the St. Joseph and the Coeur d’Alene, when there many years ago, I frequently noticed vast masses of quartz strewing the ground, particularly on the St. Joseph river, and wide veins of quartz projecting at numerous points along the line of my road along the Coeur d’Alene, all of which indicated the presence of gold. Nay, more: I now recall quite vividly the fact that one of my herders and hunters, a man by the name of Moise, coming into camp one day with a handful of coarse gold, which he said he found on the waters of...

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