1854 Reports of the Commissioner Affairs and Indian Agent Reports

"Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs," pp. 221-544. In U.S. Senate. 33d Congress, 2d Session. Annual Message of the President and Report of the Secretary of the Interior, 1854 (S.Ex.Doc.1, Vol. 1). Washington: Government Printing Office, 1854. (Serial Set 746).

History                          

. . . The reasons which prevented the accomplishment this season of treaties with the Indians in New Mexico and Utah, apply with equal force to the Blackfeet and other Indians of the Upper Missouri, and adjacent to the Territory of Washington. Measures will at once be adopted so as to insure a council with them early next year.

Appropriations having also been made for the like purpose in the Territories of Oregon and Washington, the articles intended for presents were promptly procured and shipped by the way of Cape Horn, and the superintendents in those Territories instructed to proceed as early as practicable with the negotiations. It is hoped that these will result in satisfactory arrangements for the permanent settlement of the Indians, and in the establishment of such relations between them and the whites as will prevent the recurrence of such inhuman scenes and atrocities as have taken place in Oregon during the past year; and in which it is due to truth to state that the latter have, in some cases, been the aggressors, and shown themselves to be as barbarous and cruel as the Indians. Indeed, the usual order of things has been to some extent reversed, the department having had to invoke the aid of the military for the protection of the weak and helpless Indians from the persecutions and cruelties of the whites. . . .(pp. 223)

From: No. 86, Report of Governor Isaac I. Stevens, Superintendent ex officio, pp. 392-462.

. . . THE NEZ PERCES, CAYUSE, AND PELOUSE.

The Nez Perces, or La-ap-tin, lie to the south of the Selish, or Flatheads, on both sides of the Kooskooskie and north fork of the Snake river. Their country, like that of the Wallah-Wallahs, extends into both Oregon and Washington Territories. They are among the most numerous of all these tribes, amounting, according to the census of 1851, to 1,880 souls. Since 1851 there has probably been less decrease than among some of the other tribes. They are much intermarried with the Wallah-Wallahs, and also with the Cayuse. They have no chief of note at present living, Tow-wattie-or, the young chief, having recently died.

The Nez Perces were met on the plains, between the Muscle Shell and Yellowstone, by Lieutenant Mullan, by myself at the St. Mary’s village, by myself on the Cœur d’Alene trail, and by Lieutenant Donaldson on their way to the plains of the Missouri, by Mr. Tinkham on his return from Fort Benton, in November, and again by him, in their own country, on the Kooskooskie river, in December. They are on excellent terms with the Flatheads, Cœur d’Alenes, Spokanes, Pend d’Oreilles, and other Indians of the Territory, travel and hunt with them, and are more or less intermarried with them.

On the 3d of December Lieutenant Mullan met a portion of the Nez Perces’ camp passing the valley of the Bitter Root river. They had with them many animals, most of them loaded with heavy bales of dried meat and furs, as the camp was returning from the buffalo-hunt east of the Rocky mountains. The first met by Lieutenant Mullan were old men and women, who, with a great number of children, formed the vanguard of the camp. He says: "I must say, that I have never seen a more miserable-looking set of creatures. Some were blind, some decrepit, some had seen four score and some five score years. Dried up and withered creatures formed the top pack of animals already loaded with two bales of dried meat. We met them on the dividing ridge, and the exultations of meeting with the white man in such a place were loud and frequent. From every small band we met would be heard "tinctons," "tinctons"—"friends," "friends."

On the same day Lieutenant Mullan met twelve or fifteen more lodges of the Nez Perces. He says they were anxious and curious to know our business. During the night we were visited by numbers of them, who sat up talking around our camp till near midnight. They told us they were just returning with their families from the buffalo-hunt; that they had with them, on their hunt, about eighty lodges; and that they were on their way to the main valley of the Bitter Root river, where they intended to pass the winter. They were very glad to see us, and on leaving the next morning they assembled to bid us good-bye. They had with them several hundred horses, who trod down the road, making an excellent path for Lieutenant Mullan’s party. . . .

Lieut. Saxton, who proceeded with a party from the Pacific coast to Fort Owen for the purpose of furnishing supplies for the exploration, in his report to me gives some interesting notices of the Nez Perces, Cayuse, and Pelouse Indians. He says:

"Near our camp, on July 25th, we were met by a delegation of Cayuse braves sent by the chief of the Nez Perces to ascertain our object in passing through their country. They had been told that we were coming to make war upon them, and take away their horses. We answered them that such was not our object; that we had been sent by the Great Chief of us all, at Washington, on a mission of peace to all the Indian tribes on both sides of the mountains, and asked them to invite their chief to come to our camp, and smoke the pipe of peace with us."

"In the Evening the old chief came and smoked the pipe of peace with us, promised to be always friendly, and said he was glad that our 'hearts were good.' The Nez Perces are a rich and powerful tribe, and own a great many horses. They cross the mountains yearly, to hunt buffalo on the plains of the Missouri. They have a much shorter route to St. Mary's village, but it is too mountainous for us to take."

In his journal of the date of August 1st he says:

"Soon after our arrival we were visited by a delegation of fifty Pelouse and Nez Perces warriors, who came in full costume, and with great formality, to hold a grand ‘war talk.’ They seated themselves in a circle, the head chief in the centre, and the braves and warriors, according to rank, on either side. A few paces in the rear of the circle stood six Indians, dressed in very fantastic style, whom I supposed to be medicine-men.

"After completing their arrangements they sent me word that they wished ‘to talk.’ I answered that we were all then too much tired, but that after we had eaten and slept, we should be in a better condition to hold a council. They waited patiently until we were ready; then, after shaking hands all round, the chief lighted his medicine-pipe, and, smoking a few whiffs himself, passed it to each member of the council in the direction of the sun. The medicine-pipe is a sacred pledge of friendship among all the northwestern tribes."

"After the ceremony the chief inquired what was our object in passing through his country with so many animals, and such a quantity of merchandise? In reply, I informed him that I had been sent by my Great Chief through their country to visit the Blackfeet lodges across the Rocky mountains; that I was going thither; that I expected to meet there the chief of all the country, between the mountains and the Pacific ocean; and that I wanted them to be ready with their men and canoes to help us in crossing the river, to bring in all our horses that had strayed, and to be in readiness when Gov. Stevens should arrive, to give him any aid he should require. I told them that my Great Chief at Washington was their friend, and would protect them. He had sent them presents in token of his regard; and in addition to these, they would be well paid for any services they rendered us.

"A fine young Indian, who was present, made an eloquent speech to the others. He told them that long ago his father was chief of the tribe, and owned all this country. They were then far more numerous, rich, and powerful, than now. His father extended the hand of friendship to the first white man who was seen in that country, and they must follow his example.

"A consultation was then held among themselves; and when it was finished the old chief informed me that my ‘talk was good,’ and that at any hour I should appoint, his men and canoes should be ready to take our baggage across the river. I gave them a few presents of tobacco, beads, &c. A specimen of our skill in rapid firing with Sharp’s and Colt’s rifles astonished them greatly, and created additional respect for our prowess; a favorable impression for a small party like ours, surrounded by bands of Indians.

"As our guide Antoine gave the war-whoop at daylight, fourteen canoes, manned by as many stout Indians, left the opposite shore and came across for our baggage. By ten o’clock they had transported all our men and baggage across this swift and rocky stream. I then distributed the presents sent by the department, with which they were much pleased. . . .

B. Enumeration of the Indian tribes in Washington Territory east of the Cascades.

ESTIMATE OF 1853, BY GOV. I. I. STEVENS.

Names of tribes, &c.

Lodges

Population.

Flatheads

60

350

Cootenays and Flatbows

0

400

Pend d'Orielles of Upper Lake

40

280

Pend d'Orielles of Lower Lake

60

420

Cœur d'Alenes

70

500

Spokanes

0

600

Nez Perces

0

1,700

Pelouses

100

500

Cayuses

0

120

Walla-wallas

0

300

Dalles Bands

0

200

Cascades

0

36

Klikatats

0

300

Yakamas

0

600

Pisquouse and Okinakanes

0

550

Schwo-Yelpi, or Colville

0

500

Total

7,356

Undoubtedly a large majority of the Nez Perces are in Washington Territory; but the major part of the Cayuses, Walla-Wallas, and the Dalles Indians, are in Oregon.

LEWIS AND CLARKE'S ESTIMATE, 1806-'7.

Names of  tribes.

Corresponding names.

Population.

Wollah-wollah Walla-walla

2,600

Wah-how-pum John Day’s river

1,000

E-ne-shur Des Chutes river

1,200

Se-wat-palla Pelouse

3,000

So-kulk Priest’s Rapids

3,000

Chan-wap-pan Lower Yakama

400

Sahl-lat-tos

do

200

Squam-a-cross

do

240

Skad-dals

do

400

Chim-nah-pan Upper Yakama

2,000

Sha-la-la Cascades; Upper Chinooks

1,000

Chilluk-kit-e-quaw Dalles

2,400

Shak-shop

do

200

Cut-sa-nim Okin-a-kanes

2,400

He-high-e-mim-mo Sans Pullet

1,500

Whe-wel-po Schwo-yel-pi

3,500

Lar-lie-lo Spokanes

900

Sket-so-mish Skit-mish

2,600

Mick-suck-seal-tom Pend d’Orielles

300

Ho-pil-po Flatheads

600

Tush-epah Kootamies

800

Chopemnish Nez Perces

8,000

Wille-wah Grande Ronde

1,000

Willet-pos Wait-lat-pu

0

  Total

42,200

 

CAPTAIN WILKE'S ESTIMATE, 1841.

Names of Tribes

Population

Cascades 150
Dalles 250
Yakama 100
Okonegan 300
Colville and Spokane 450
Des Chutes, &c 300
Walla-walla 1,100
Total population 2,650

The above furnishes a very incorrect statement even of the tribes that are given, and some of the most important are omitted altogether. No conclusion can be drawn from it whatever. A more general one is obtained in Captain Wilke's pamphlet on Western America, as follows:

Kitunaha                                       400
Flatheads                               3,000
Nez Perces                            2,000
Walla-Wallas                    2,200
Total                                         7,600

Which is also much less than the actual number at that time. Yet more incorrect is the estimate of Lieutenants Warre and Vavasour, R. N., published in Martin's "Hudson's Bay Territories, &c.," in 1849, though as regards this part of the Territory it is not so bad as the rest.

ESTIMATE OF LIEUTS. WARRE AND VAVASOUR

Walla-wallas, Nez Perces, Snakes &c 3,000
Colville and Spokane 450

Okonagan, several tribes     

300
Kullas Palus, (Kah-lis-pelm,) several tribes 300
Kootoonais, several tribes   450
Total 4,500

DR. DART'S ESTIMATE, 1851.

Names of tribes.

Men

Women.

Children

Total.

Walla-walla

52

40

38

130

Des Chutes

95

115

90

300

Dalles

129

206

147

482

Pelouse

60

62

59

181

Klikatat

297

195

0

492

Yakama, (estimate)

0

0

0

1,000

Rock Island

0

0

0

300

Okanagan

0

0

0

250

Colville

0

0

0

320

Sin-hu-ma-nish, (Spokane)

0

0

0

232

Cœur d’ Alene

0

0

0

200

Lower Pend d’Orielles

0

0

0

520

Upper Pend d’Orielles

0

0

0

480

Mission

0

0

0

210

Nez Perces

698

1,182

0

1,880

Cayuse

38

48

40

126

*Total population      

7,103

*The Pisquouse and Koutaines are omitted, and the band of Upper Chinooks at the Dalles included with the Walla-wallas.

[Ed. note - the "0" in the population column indicates no record of number]