OFFICE SUPERINTENDENT INDIAN AFFAIRS
Salem, Oregon, November 18, 1857
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 3d instant enclosing a copy of Colonel Steptoe’s letter or October 19, in which he refers to a conversation had between Mr. J. Ross Brown and “Lawyer,” chief of the Nez Perces.
In relation to the opinion entertained by Brigadier General Clark that I had not changed my policy relative to those Indians since our interview, I have to say that the general’s conclusions on that subject are correct. I have on all occasions directed the agents who have communicated with those people to impress upon their minds the fact that the treaties negotiated with them were like all other treaties in a similar condition, void and inoperative, and must remain so until they receive the constitutional ratification of the President and Senate; and I further entertain the opinion that no officer of the government, including the President himself, can give those treaties validity or make them binding while they lack such ratification.
I knew that Mr. Brown had visited the Dalles, and had there some conversation with “Lawyer.” The character of that conversation was never reported to me. If he stated that the “treaties would certainly be ratified and enforced,” I can only say that he possessed knowledge upon that subject which has been withheld from myself. In order to explain to the general my views upon the subject of those treaties I herewith enclose you an extract from my annual report to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, bearing date September 1, 1857.
I am, sir, respectfully, yours,
Superintendent Indian Affairs, O. and W.T.
Extract from the annual report of J.W. Nesmith
“The region of country east of the Cascade mountains is daily becoming of more importance to the whites by reason of the discovery of gold in its northern limits, and its being traversed by the great thoroughfares leading to the States. Our people are being continually brought in contact with its Indian occupants, which compose several numerous and warlike tribes. In order to maintain friendly relations with the, and prevent constant difficulties, requires the presence of several reliable agents.
“The treaties negotiated with those interior tribes, never having been ratified, they are averse to the occupation of their country by white settlers, and every endeavor has been made to prevent intrusion upon their lands, until such time as the government shall decide upon the disposition of the treaties. In order to relive and quiet their apprehensions in relation to the occupation of their country by our people, I directed Agent Landsdale, on his trip to Flathead country, to explain to them the failure of the government to comply with its promises by reason of non-ratification of the treaties, and to assure them that their lands should not be taken from them without receiving a fair compensation; they were also informed that until these treaties were ratified they could expect nothing from the government in the shape of annuities or subsistence. I would recommend that steps be taken to throw open the Walla-Walla valley to settlement; it is an advanced point in the interior, which if occupied would protect and increase the facilities for an overland communication with the States. The Walla-Walla is a rich valley, unsurpassed in its qualities as a grazing country, and a desirable locality for a white settlement. It has already been purchased by the treaties made by Governor Stevens and late Superintendent Palmer with the Cayuses and Nez Perces; as the treaties have never been ratified, the country is not considered open to settlement. I understand that the Indians express some dissatisfaction at those treaties, which may render their modification necessary. The only portion of the country east of the Cascade mountains now occupied by our citizens is that in the immediate vicinity of the Dalles, on the south side of the Columbia river. This country belongs to the Indians who were parties to the treaty of June 25, 1855, be immediately ratified and funds appropriated for its execution. The treaty referred to is liberal in its provisions; the Indians who are parties to it have exhibited good faith towards our government; they have been deprived of their lands, and the United States have received all the benefits of the treaty. I think that justice, as well as good policy, should induce the government to comply with their part of the contract. I would also earnestly recommend that the treaties negotiated by Governor Stevens with the Indians in Washington Territory west of the Cascade mountains, be ratified as speedily as possible, as it will be difficult to restrain the Indians, who are parties to those treaties, much longer by mere promises.”
May 23, 1858
Major: I take the liberty to recommend, as the very first step in prosecuting the war with the northern tribes, the establishment of a post on Snake river, near the mouth of the Pelouse- a temporary work, from which the garrison can fall back to this point upon the approach of winter. The road to Colville crosses there, but the great advantage of having such an advance post will be in thus obtaining a [word not readable] ferry. I had vast difficulty in getting the dragoon horses over Snake river, which is everywhere wide, deep, and strong, and without the assistance of Timothy’s Nez Perces it would have been utterly impossible for us to cross, either going or returning. Besides this, the Pelouse tribe ought to be the first one struck at, as it is the most hostile, as was guilty, a few weeks since, of murdering two white men on the Colville road.
A few companies of infantry could construct a kind of entrenchment there in a few days, which one company could easily defend and at the same time guard the ferry-boat. There is absolutely no other way of crossing the stream with certainty.
I hope the general will send us as strong as force as possible, and with all the dispatch possible. The tribes around this post are watching eagerly to see what they can gain by joining the hostile party. One of my keenest regrets growing out of the late affair is the consciousness that our defeat must, until something is done to check it, encourage the wavering to active hostilities.
All the companies here are now busily drilling as skirmishers, in which branch of instruction the dragoons, although very gallant, showed themselves not at all proficient the other day, and there will soon be ready to take the field again; but I hope the force here will not, for manifest reasons, be reduced before the arrival of other troops from below.
There is a band of Nez Perces, perhaps fifty or seventy-five, at present here, who took their arms as soon as they heard of my difficulty, but met me on my return. Their services can easily be secured, I think, if the general desires it, and no doubt they would be valuable auxiliaries- if in no other way, certainly as instructors to our soldiers in the mode of Indian warfare.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brevet Lieut. Colonel U.S. Army, Commanding Post
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE PACIFIC
Fort Vancouver, W.T., August 12, 1858
Sir: I have the honor to inform the General-in-Chief that the advance of Colonel Wright’s column moved from Fort Walla-Walla against the Coeur d’ Alenes and Spokanes on the morning of August 7.
Before leaving he succeeded in carrying into effect my instructions in relation to the Nez Perces, and this powerful tribe has now formed a treaty with us and promised its active assistance against the hostile Indians, as allies; a portion of the tribe will accompany the troops.
A copy of the treaty will be forwarded by the next mail.
Major Garnet has not yet reports, but doubtless is now prepared to march against the Yakimas with a sufficient force.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brevet Brigadier General, commanding
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE PACIFIC
Fort Vancouver, W.T., August 13, 1858
Sir: I enclose herewith a treaty made with the Nez Perces.
The negotiation, based upon the formula transmitted with my letter of July 23, was intrusted to Lieutenant Colonel Steptoe, “apprehending,” however, “from certain remarks of the Nez Perces” to use Colonel Steptoe’s language in his report, “that they might suppose Colonel Wright’s and myself (himself) to entertain different settlements” the lieutenant colonel suggested to the colonel to conduct the negotiation.
The treaty is more amplified and especial than I would have sought to make it; but, however, as it embodies the spirit suggested by my formula, I have approved it and hope it will be sanctioned by my superiors.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel 6 th Infantry, Brevet Brigadier General, commanding
Treaty of Peace and friendship between the United States and the Nez Perces Tribe
ARTICLE 1-It is agreed that there shall be perpetual peace between the United States and the Nez Perces tribe.
ARTICLE 2-In the event of war between the United States and other people whatever, the Nez Perces agree to aid the United States with men to the extent of their ability.
ARTICLE 3-In the event of war between the Nez Perces and any other tribe the United States agree to aid the Nez Perces with troops.
ARTICLE 4-When the Nez Perces take part with the United States in war, they shall be furnished with such arms, ammunition, provisions &c., as may be necessary.
ARTICLE 5-When the United States take part with the Nez Perces in war they (the United States) will not require the Nez Perces to furnish anything to the troops unless paid for at a fair price.
ARTICLE 6-Should any misunderstanding arise hereafter between the troops and the Nez Perces, it shall be settled by their respective chiefs in friendly council.
HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES TROOPS
Camp in the Walla-Walla valley, August 6, 1858
Hates-e-mahli-kan his x mark
Te-pe-lat-tee-me-nay his x mark
Toseple his x mark
Quie-Quie-Nee-Mat his x mark
Hat-hat-hise-e-sat his x mark
Alat-lat-lim-e-tah-han his x mark
Three Feathers his x mark
Speaking Eagle his x mark
his x mark
We-ast-kat-shuck his x mark
Captain Jack his x mark
Sim-le-huste his x mark
Kosh-le-nuck-hat his x mark
Tooke-tah-le-mat-ham his x mark
his x mark
his x mark
Ke-lay-i-at-kim his x mark
his x mark
Se-no-mat-ah-t-ne-pan his x mark
Richard his x mark
Jamie his x mark
his x mark
his x mark
Timothy his x mark
Mit-lat-ekin his x mark
San-ee-hae-hat-wutre his x mark
Wat-hat-tie-mat-hat-nat his x mark
Ne-he-list-hat-kol-so-men his x mark
Yu-me-ite-e-pihe his x mark
Tee-te-hu-nat his x mark
Nat-lat-nat-lat-how-list his x mark
It-mut-alst-tee-ne-mat his x mark
Hin-net-mat-lust-la-wute his x mark
Ki-ye-ki-at-nast his x mark
his x mark
his x mark
Colonel 9 th Infantry, commanding
I.F. Hammond, Assistant Surgeon United States Army
Jas. A. Hardie, Captain 3d Artillery
G.R. Dandy, 2d Lieutenant 3d Artillery
John Mullan, 1 st Lieutenant 2d Artillery
J. Howard, 2d Lieutenant 3d Artillery
P.A. Owen, 1 st Lieutenant 9 th Infantry
HEADQUARTERS EXPEDITION AGAINST NORTHERN INDIANS
Camp near Fort Walla-Walla, W.T., August 14, 1858
Orders No. 5
I. The residue of the troops for the northern expedition will march from Fort Walla-Walla to-morrow, and unite with the advance at the Snake river.
II. Marching from Snake river the order will be as follows:
1. The dragoons
2. The mountain howitzer company
3. The battalion of artillery serving as infantry
4. The rifle battalion of 9 th infantry
5. Pack train of corps and headquarters
6. One company of infantry as rear guard
7. General trains of quartermaster and commissary
8. One troop of dragoons as rear guard
III. The mounted troops will not precede the howitzer company more than four hundred yards, and on approaching canons or defiles where dragoons cannot operate on the flanks, they will be halted and the rifles advance.
IV. No firearms of any description will be discharged, with on the march or in the camp, except in the line of duty, without the special authority of the commanding officer.
V. No person except the employes of the staff departments and officers’ servants will be allowed to accompany the troops or to encamp with them with the written authority of the commanding officer.
VI. Habitually the guard will consist of one company, and mount at retreat.
VII. It is announced for general information that a body of friendly Nez Perces Indians have been engaged to serve with the troops. These Indians have been equipped in soldier’s clothing in order to distinguish them from the hostiles. Company commanders will caution their men particularly in regard to these friendly Indians.
VIII. Whether in camp or on the march, the companies will parade with arms; at retreat and reveille roll calls the arms and ammunition will be inspected, The men will habitually wear and sleep in their belts.
By order of Colonel Wright
First Lieutenant 9 th Infantry, A.A.A.G
Extract from HEADQUARTERS EXPEDITION AGAINST NORTHERN INDIANS
Camp at the “ Four Lakes” W.T., lat. 47◦ 32’N. long. 117◦ 39’, September 2, 1858
Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of the battle of the “ Four Lakes” fought and won by the troops under my command on the 1 st instant. Our enemies were the Spokane, Coeur d’ Alenes and Pelouse Indians.
4. Lieutenant John Mullan, second artillery, topographical engineers, and commanding the friendly Nez Perces Indians, moved gallantly forward in advance, and to the right of the foot troops, in the early part of the action, giving and receiving from the enemy a volley as he skirted the brush to the east of the main hill. Lieutenant Mullan speaks in glowing terms of the conduct of the Nez Perces throughout the action: at one time charging the enemy lurking in the brush and timber on the Spokane plain, driving him out and pursuing him beyond view; and again a small party under the chief Hutes-e-mah-li-kan and Captain John met and engaged the enemy that were endeavoring to attack our rear, recapturing a horse left by an officer while moving over the rocks and ravines. Lieutenant Mullan expresses his approbation of the good conduct generally of this band of friendly Nez Perces, and mentions Hutes-e-mah-li-kan, Captain John, Edward and We-ash-kot at worthy of special notice for their bravery.
Colonel 9 th Infantry, Commanding
FORT VANCOUVER, W.T.
October 28, 1858
Sir: I have this moment received your communication of this date.
With regard to the present disposition and feeling of the various Indians with whom I have been brought in contact during the late campaign, I can assure the general that we have nothing to apprehend. The Nez Perces, Spokanes, Coeur d’ Alenes, Pelouses, Walla-Walla, and other tribes residing on both banks of the Columbia river and its tributaries, are now regarded as entirely friendly. Written treaties have been made with the Nez Perces, Spokanes, and Coeur d’ Alenes, and verbal treaties with the smaller bands. The Pelouses were severely punished. Ten of the worst of them were executed, and a chief with four men, with their families, carried to Walla-Walla as hostages. I have also taken hostages from the Spokanes and Coeur d’ Alenes, and retain them at Fort Walla-Walla.
With regard to the Indians in the neighborhood of Colville, there are doubtless some bad men among them who should be punished. Their acts are confined to robbing and stealing, but I have no information that any murders have been recently committed. A gentleman residing in Colville valley wrote to me a few days since. He says nothing of the miners having been driving off, or the Indians having committed any hostilities. I would recommend that an expedition be sent through that country next spring, and such Indians as deserve it severely punished, and then I think that we shall have no more trouble in that quarter.
I am not in favor of establishing permanent posts in advance of Walla-Wall. Annual expeditions, at little expense, can be made through the Indian country north, east and south of Fort Walla-Wall and in this way I think that tranquility and peace can easily be maintained.
Should it be desired to establish a post in the Colville valley, it would be well to defer it until another season, after an expedition has been made, and the localities well examined. It is too late now; the ground will be covered with snow before the troops could reach that country.
Very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
Colonel 9 th Infantry