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by the stronger power, and accepted by them from necessity. Most of their lands had already been taken away from them under the donation act, and under the treaties they gave up, for certain considerations, what remained. But the agreement thus dictated to them was never ratified, and they never received the promised considerations under that instrument. Between private individuals this would be regarded as obtaining property under false pretences.
In the meantime the commissioners were preparing to go south and treat with the Rogue River and Shasta tribes; whose disaffection was becoming formidable, when an order came from the Indian department suspending their functions. The offices of governor and superintendent were disconnected, and a new superintendent, (Doctor Dart) was appointed. This officer, acting in conjunction with Mr. Skinner, Indian agent, made treaties with the Clatsops and other coast tribes, near the mouth of the Columbia, a peaceful and degraded race, of no importance, and with whom there was no pressing demand for treaties. Mr. Skinner was then ordered south to prepare the way for negotiations with the southern tribes. He held councils with the most powerful and warlike tribes; urged them to be patient awhile; that government would soon make treaties with them, and pay them for all their lands. But neither the promised treaties nor the promised payments were made till they forced government to pay some respect to their demands by an attempt to exterminate the white settlers who were crowding in upon them, and whose encroachments had been the subject of protest and complaint amongst them since the first claims under the donation act. The Rogue River war of 1853 will not soon be forgotten. These tribes were in constant intercourse with those of the Willamette valley. They saw that there was but one way of securing their rights-by force of arms. Nor were they by any means conquered when they agreed to the treaty of September 10, 1853. Had they chosen to hold out, and take to the mountain fastnesses of their country, it might have taken ten years to subdue them. It was not only through the determination and gallantry of General Lane, who led the volunteer forces in this war, but his thorough knowledge of Indian character, his skill in that sort of diplomacy, his general sagacity and prudence, that it was brought to a close. The most enlightened and influential of the chiefs knew him personally, and respected him both in war and peace. But they either misunderstood the terms of the treaty, or the inducements held out to them to stop the war were such as it was not afterwards practicable to fulfil. Their views upon this point are fully set forth in my report of November 17th ultimo, in which the result of a “talk” with them at the “Siletz reservation'' is given in detail.
In order to preserve as far as practicable the connexion between the causes of war in different parts of the Territory, I must again return to the treaties of Shampoag. As already stated, they were never ratified. It was well known to the public authorities in Washington that the donation act had gone into operation, and that the nonratification of the treaties left the Indian title unextinguished. The causes of the Rogue River war of 1853 were fully detailed in the various reports of the officers of the Territory. It cannot, therefore, be said, with justice, that it was the fault of the settlers that nothing was done to arrest the impending war. Sufficient warning had been given. The newspapers, from day to day, were filled with accounts of murders by the Indians; sometimes pack-trains attacked ; the camps of miners robbed ; dead bodies of white men found on the mountain trails, &c.
At the time the treaties of Shampoag were negotiated (April, 1851,) the valley of the Willamette was the main resort of the Klickitats, a powerful and warlike tribe from the country west of the Simcoe, in the Cascade mountains. This tribe has well been compared to the Arab merchants of the east. Bold, adventurous, and cunning, they bad gradually acquired an influence over nearly all the Indians of Oregon as far south as Rogue river.
At an early date (probably between 1835 and 1840) they descended from the Simcoe to the banks of the Columbia river, on the northern side, where they commenced a war against the Cowlitz, Chenook, and other inferior tribes, whom they soon conquered and reduced to such terms of tribute as they chose to dictate. In 1841 they began to turn their attention to the south side of the Columbia.
Rich valleys and fine hunting grounds existed there, of which they had heard traditionary reports. At this time the Clackamas, Moleallies, Yamhills, Santiams, and the other tribes of the Willamette valley, had become greatly reduced by diseases introduced among them by the whites. Small-pox, measles, and venereal had swept them off by thousands. They were wholly unprepared to resist the encroachments of their warlike and formidable neighbors. From time to time, as opportunity occurred, the Klickitats crossed over, made inroads upon them, and finally entirely subdued all the tribes of the Willamette, whom they caused to pay tribute. Assuming a possessory right over the whole valley, they established camps on the various rivers, and in the course of a few years, by gradual advances, pushed their way over the Calapooia mountains into the valley of the Umpquas.
In former times the Umpquas were a powerful tribe, owning all the country between the Calapooia mountains north, the Cañon mountains south, the Cascades east, and the Pacific west. The Shastas and Rogue Rivers had frequent wars with them, but finally, through mutual interest, effected a coalition. From this time the Umpquas began to lose much of their original independence, and at the period of the invasions of the Klickitats had greatly degenerated.
The Klickitats, fresh from the scenes of the recent victories, skilled in the arts of war, and still determined upon subduing all the races of the south, found no difficulty in reducing the Umpquas to such terms of submission as they thought proper to dictate. One great source of their success was their skill in the use of fire-arms, of which they had procured an abundant supply from the trading posts of the Hudson's Bay Company.
They opened an extensive trade with the southern tribes in furs and peltries, and crossed the mountains at various intervals during the year. The valley of the Willamette was their public highway to the north, and their depot during the greater part of the year, where they left their property and families. After the emigration, under John Applegate, in 1843, they found it profitable, during particular seasons, to work as farm laborers, and soon became well skilled in the arts of husbandry. Their services were regarded as more valuable than those of any other class of Indians. Desirous, however, of pushing their conquest still further south than they had yet penetrated, 80 as to obtain the same supremacy over the Shasta and Rogue River tribes which they had already obtained over the Umpquas, they proffered their aid to the whites on the occasion of every outbreak or manifestation of war. In 1851, when Lieutenant Stewart was killed on Rogue river, near the mouth of Stewart's creek, they armed themselves ready to unite in any expedition against the hostile tribes. In 1853 General Lane considered it expedient to avail himself of their repeated offers, and a party of sixty Klickitat warriors, well mounted and armed, proceeded to join him at the scene of war. They had reached as far south as the Grave Creek hills, where they were met by Mr. Grover, one of the commissioners who had negotiated the treaty of September 10, 1853, just concluded at Table Rock. As there was then no necessity for their services, they were directed to return. At their request, however, Mr. Grover gave them a written certificate that peace had been declared, and that they had complied with their promise, in order, as they said, that the whites should not doubt their friendship.
It will be observed that the commissioners of 1851, in their councils at Shampoag, had wholly ignored the claims of the Klickitats to the right of possession over the Willamette valley. They were notified that it was not their country ; that they had no voice in the relinquishment of the Indian title to the lands. That such a right had been asserted, and to some extent maintained by them, can doubtless be seen by reference to the records of the courts.
At a term of the United States district court, held in Washington county in 1851, complaint was made before the grand jury by one Donald McLeod that a band of Klickitats had committed a tresspass upon his property by destroying timber which he had prepared for his house.
The accused were brought before the court, with Agent Parish as their interpreter ; but after an informal hearing of the case, the judge could not find any law to meet it. They maintained their right to destroy their own timber ; that it grew on their own land; that they had acquired the land by conquest ; that they had given McLeod warning not to settle there; that it had never been purchased from them, &c. The judge held that there could be no action for trespass against them; that it was not shown that McLeod had acquired any legal title to the land, but it was shown that the accused had a possessory claim to it which government had never extinguished.
Another case was brought before the same court. One Bridgefarmer built a fence across a certain trail which had been opened by them, and which was their public highway. They broke down the fence, and passed as usual. An attempt was made to bring an action of trespass against them. The judge delivered an opinion to the same effect.
From this and many similar cases which might be cited, it will be seen that there was at least some recognition of the rights assumed
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by these Indians. They had become familiar with the people of the valley, and were esteemed as a superior tribe; nor were their repeated proffers of friendship without effect. It is true they had in view the subversion of the southern tribes and sought power; but whatever may have been their motives, they were entitled to some consideration. Incensed at the action of the commissioner in 1851, it was with difficulty they could be pacified; but they soon found consolation in the general disapproval of the treaties by the settlers, who were of opinion they would not be ratified.
Early in the spring of 1855 the superintendent of Indian affairs thought it expedient to remove them from the Willamette valley to their original country north of the Columbia. Under the provocations which they had already received, it may readily be supposed, they left with no good will towards the whites. From the moment of their departure they were in a state of war. Driven from a country to which they had established a right, under Indian usages, back to their homes in the Simcoe mountains, they openly declared their determination to fight. They charged fraud and bad faith on the part of government and its agents, accused all the whites of cheating them, and protested that they would have satisfaction.
Having now followed up the provocations of war from the southern line of Oregon to the north side of the Columbia, I propose taking a glance at the condition of affairs in Washington Territory. The most formidable of the tribes in this Territory were the Yakimas, inhabiting the country on the eastern slope of the Cascades. This tribe has long been connected, by strong ties of blood and interest, with the Klickitats. They frequently crossed the mountains and descended to the Sound, but their principal field of adventure was eastward. They traded with the tribes of the east, from whom they purchased furs and peltries, and held a profitable connexion with the posts of the Hudson's Bay Company. In their intercourse with the “ King George” men, as the English are called, they had been taught to believe that the Columbia river was the boundary between the American and British possessions. Until within a few years past they had seen but few Americans, and those of the worst class. They looked upon them as an inferior race of whites. They had never felt the power of the American government. The traditions which had reached them across the Rocky mountains were vague and unfavorable. Of the Indian battles there, they only heard of Indian prowess and the slaughter of Americans. Coming from tribe to tribe, in every form of exaggeration, the tales that were told them were of a rapacity and injustice on the one hand, and deeds of valor on the other. But they were aware that still further east, where these bad people lived, they had taken away the lands of the Indians, and were gradually trying to get the country west of the Rocky mountains.
The question of boundary had been agitated in Congress and throughout the Union. War between the United States and Great Britain was the constant topic. The feeling of animosity was particularly apparent among the agents of the Hudson's Bay Company. Their continuance in employment depended upon the defeat of the assumptions of the United States. They not only demanded the claim
of 54° 40', but contended for the line of the Columbia, and would probably have included Oregon proper, had it been in their power. Remote as were the few emigrants in this region from their mother land, they yet warmly espoused the cause of the United States. They had lost none of their nationality. The in hospitable wilderness that lay between them and their former homes served but to strengthen their attachment to the institutions under which they had grown up. As yet few Americans had settled north of the Columbia
The Yakimas, in common with other tribes who derived a profitable trade from their connexion with the Hudson's Bay Company, naturally espoused the cause of “King George.” Many of their women were married to the company's employés, who in that way cemented the ties of friendship. The company had always encouraged connexions of this kind, and it was rare to find any officer or employé without a family of half-breeds, either Yakimas, Klickitats, Nisquallys, or some other tribe. It required no great effort, therefore, on the part of the company's agents, to spread the feeling of dislike, and to misrepresent the intentions and character of the American people. The Indians, predisposed to hostility, implicitly relied upon all they heard. Kam-i-a-kin, the chief of the Yakimas, was bitter in his animosity. As early as 1853 he projected a war of extermination against the whole race of Americans within the country. It was his settled determination to make the war general, and he spared no inducements to effect a coalition with the Nez Percés, Cayuses, WallaWallas, and other tribes. For your information on this point, showing that war actually was premeditated in 1853, I send you enclosed a translation of the letter of Father Pandory, priest at the Atahnam Mission, dated “ April, 1853,” to Father Mesplie, at the Dalles, in which he says: “A chief of the upper Nez Percés has killed thirty head of cattle at a feast given to the nation; and this number of animals not being sufficient, seven more were killed. The feast was given in order to unite the hearts of the Indians to make declaration of war against the Americans. Through the whole course of the winter I have heard the same thing—that the Cayuses and Nez Percés have united themselves for war. During the course of last spring I was in the Cayuse country after they had given a similar feast. I said nothing, because I thought that they had a sub-agent who would speak. * * I will recount to you what they say. All the Indians upon the left (north) bank of the Columbia, from the Blackfeet to the Chenook, inclusive, are to assemble at the Cayuse country. All on the right bank, through the same extent of country, are to assemble on the Simcoe, (on the Yakima,) including those from Nisqually and the vicinity. The cause of this war is, that the Americans are going to seize their lands."
This grave and startling information, so fearfully verified since, was promptly communicated to Major Alvord, who reported it to General Hitchcock, the then commanding officer of the military department on this coast. Major Alvord was censured as an alarmist, and Father Pandory was treated in the same manner by his superior.
It will be observed that the date of the letter is April, 1853. If the war, therefore, was one of speculation, gotten up by the settlers of