THE NEZ PERCES, PART 4
In early March, 1877, Howard began his movement toward the military occupancy of the Wallowa valley. The inception of this manoeuvre was, of course, known at once by the Indians, who quickly expressed a desire for a council to discuss the situation, but asked that it be held at the Umatilla agency, for they did not trust the church Indians and the interpreters at Lapwai. At the Umatilla interview, on April 1st, Lieutenant Bell attended as Howard's representative. Alokut was there, but not Joseph, and at the request of the latter General Howard was to meet Joseph and the other "non-treaty" chiefs at Walla Walla on April 19th.
At the appointed time Alokut appeared with a delegation of headmen, but Joseph was yet ill, and at the request of the Indians it was arranged to have a large council at Lapwai on the third of May. The principal head-men participating in this council were, Joseph, Looking Glass, Piopio-haihaiuh, Tuhulhufsut, Hushush-keut (Shorn Head), Hatalikin, Kaliwit, Poyakun, Tukalikshima (a brother of Looking Glass), and Piopio-maksmaks (Yellow Pelican).' The Indians at the outset asked that they be allowed a long talk, thus indicating that they had not yet fully grasped the fact that the decree was final and words were of no further avail. Howard informed them that they might have any reasonable opportunity to talk, but whatever they had to say could not in any way change the situation. He said in substance: "I am here to put you on the Lapwai reservation, and this I shall do or fight you. There is no use of talking about the Wallowa valley. I am already sending my soldiers there to take possession of it." The first day's council on the third of May did not enter seriously into matters, Joseph asking that they await the coming of White Bird, who was on his way and would arrive that night. The medicine-men or priests, called by Howard "dreamers" and "drummers,," were persistent with their ever-ready argument against transgressing the laws of their creator by moving from the land. Howard had slight patience with their religious contention, and insisted that they cease discussing their beliefs and come to business matters. The second day's council was like the first, largely a remonstrance by the medicine-men against releasing the lands. Says Howard:
" Joseph simply introduced White Bird and his people, stating that they had not seen me before, and that he wished them to understand what was said. White Bird sat demurely in front of me, kept his hat on, and steadily covered his face with a large eagle's wing. They then put forth an old 'Dreamer' of White Bird's band, Too schul-hul-sote by name a large, thick-necked, ugly, obstinate savage of the worst type. His first remark was about the law of the earth: that there were two parties to a controversy, and that the one that was right would come out ahead. We answered that we were all children of a common Government, and must obey. The old man replied that he had heard about a trade between Indians and white men, bargaining away the Indians' land, but that he belonged to the land out of which he came."
Howard's prejudice against the priests was such that from time to time in his report he utilized all the words at the command of a Christian gentleman in their vituperation. Joseph desiring that further discussion be postponed until Monday, General Howard gladly granted the request, as this gave his advancing troops so much more time to draw close.
Tuhulhufsut, the "dreamer," came into Monday's council with renewed vigor and determination to win the cause of his people. No doubt it had been agreed among the head-men that he was to do the speaking. As priest and counsel he would do the best he could in their behalf, and if he could not win, then they would accept the situation. The argument between Howard and Tuhulhufsut grew exceedingly spirited, the old "dreamer" continually recurring to the statement that the "non-treaties" had sold no land, that it was against the laws of their creator to part with land, and General Howard as constantly reiterating that as the minority branch of their tribe they must submit to the acts of the majority, and that the Government had ordered him to put them on the reservation, stating, in reply to some of Tuhulhufsut's arguments: "I do not want to offend your religion, but you must talk about practical things. Twenty times over I hear that the earth is your mother and about chieftainship from the earth. I want to hear it no more, but come to business at once." The old "dreamer" persisted in his opposition until it was necessary for Howard to arrest him. With the removal of Tuhulhufsut from the council the other chiefs realized that their cause was lost, and they were soon discussing what places in the reservation the different chiefs would occupy, and arranging to accompany Howard the following day to select locations, and others planning to go later to more distant parts of the reservation for the same purpose.
The story of the council as related by Piopio-maksmaks (son of that Piopio-maksmaks, chief of the Wallawalla, who made the treaty with Governor Stevens), born about 1838 at the mouth of Walla Walla river, and married to a Nez Perce woman on Potlatch creek, is as follows:
There is no doubt that Joseph and the principal chiefs accepted the situation in good faith, and immediately began preparations to move within the reservation.' The following day, Looking Glass, Joseph, and White Bird rode about in company with General Howard in search of a spot at which to establish their homes. It was decided that Joseph should take his place near Lapwai, and that on the following day White Bird and Looking Glass would go with Howard to Kamiah to find a place. On the tenth of May these two chiefs selected locations for their people and themselves in the vicinity of Kamiah.
That accomplished, Howard returned to Lapwai for a final council and adjustment of minor details. At that time Joseph decided that he wanted to be with his friends and would go to Kamiah. Howard then set out for Vancouver, leaving Captain Perry in command.
The general impression among those in touch with the Indians was that they had accepted the inevitable and would go on the reservation. It is certain that the principal chiefs and their people began to prepare for the removal at once. Naturally the young and hotheaded counselled resistance, but there is no doubt that the general intention was to comply with the Government's demand.
EDWARD S. CURTIS
...to be continued next month
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