History of Wasco County, Oregon
by Wm. H. McNeal

Chapter 10
(approximately 14 pages when printed)

First White Women in Wasco County

     It was in the fall of 1836 that Narcissa Whitman, wife of Dr. Marcus Whitman and Eliza Spalding, wife of H.H. Spalding came across the plains with their husbands. They were escorted by Captain Nathaniel Wyeth on his second expedition over the Old Oregon Trail. Their arrival marked the first white women ever seen in Wasco county. They were not the first white women in Oregon as the wife of Capt. Barkley who visited the Oregon coast as early as 1767 and Jane Barnes who lived in Astoria in 1814 were the first Oregon white women. There were 2 white women at the Hudson stay post at Vancouver when the Whitman party arrived. Mrs. Whitman was given credit for selecting the mission site at Walla Walla where she was massacred 11 years later. Mrs. Spalding died of exhaustion and ill health 3 years after her arrival. They were both brides of only a few months on their arrival in Oregon and Mrs. Whitman was considered a very refined woman and well educated while Mrs. Spalding lived the hard life of a farmer.

The Whitman Massacre

     It was Nov. 29, 1847 that Dr. Marcus Whitman and his wife Narcissa and 9 others were massacred by the Cayuse Indians. The Indians all the way from the Blue Mountains to The Dalles had been hostile toward white emigrants that year, stealing at every opportunity. A Mr. Shepard was killed at The Dalles and one party was robbed of everything, including the clothing on their backs, near the Deschutes river. Nearly every emigrant party lost stock. This boldness, thievery and killing were tell-tale evidence that it was unsafe to be among them. Dr. Whitman had already purchased The Dalles mission for $600 and put his nephew Perrin Whitman in charge with the intention of moving down to The Dalles in the spring of 1848. His Indian friend and sub-chief Sticcas had warned him that the renegade Indian Joe Lewis was "bad medicine" and wanted to kill him and gave for the reason that about the middle of September an emigrant train passed through with measles in their midst. The Indians as well as the whites got the measles. Many of the Indians died like flies from the measles. The little daughter of Indian Joe Lewis was about to die and he blamed all the whites as "bad medicine." His simple mind could not grasp the reasons of how measles spread nor why Indians died from them. All he could think of was revenge and a lot of others felt and thought the same way and a few of them (not all) were blinded in their hate and took their revenge out on Dr. and Mrs. Whitman and a few of the other 54 persons at the mission and they killed their very best friend, the best friend all the other Indians had as well as the whites.

     The morning of the 29th of November 1847 some of the young blood-thirsty Cayuse Indians gathered at the mission with guns and tomahawks concealed under their blankets. They entered Dr. Whitman's house and killed him with a tomahawk, shot Mrs. Whitman as she ran screaming into the yard. They shot John Sanger to death and killed and mutilated 9 others. All the killings didn't take place the first day but continued over 2 or 3 days. By that time the priests, from the nearby Catholic Mission heard about the massacre and came to the mission to reason with the Indians, asking them to stop killing and injuring or abusing the whites and hastily left to spread the word. The Hudson Bay post at Wallula, then called Ft. Walla Walla, dispatched a fast express boat to Vancouver to notify Dr. McLaughlin of what had happened. They had notified The Dalles Catholic Mission as they went by, but not Dr. Saffron nor Perrin Whitman of the Methodist Mission who found out about it from Indians and immediately left for the Willamette Valley mission, but not until Peter Skeen Ogden passed through The Dalles enroute east to rescue survivors of the Whitman Massacre.

     Arriving at Walla Walla Ogden told the Indians that the Hudson Bay Co. had been among them for 30 years without bloodshed and that some of them were Americans too. He reminded them that they supplied the Indians with guns and ammunition to hunt with but not to kill Americans with. He reminded them that besides the butchery that they had robbed American emigrants trains and insulted their women and he warned them that if the Americans declared war that they would not stop until every Indian was out from the face of the earth! He told them that he was only giving them advise and would not guarantee them safety from the vengeance of the Americans. He ordered them to deliver their prisoners to him and he would pay them a ransom price. The exchange was made after Ogden paid 12 guns and 600 loads of ammunition, 12 flints for guns, 37 pounds of tobacco, 62 blankets and 63 shirts. Ogden brought the captives back down the river to their friends at Oregon City.

The Cayuse Indian War

     By the time Ogden started for the Whitman Mission the provincial legislature at Oregon City went into session and a bill was immediately introduced by J.W. Nesmith and passed, requiring the governor to raise arms and equipment for a company of 50 riflemen for dispatch to The Dalles Landing with ord-ers to hold that place until re-enforcements could arrive. That first company under Capt. H.A.G. Lee arrived at The Dalles Landing by Christmas and occupied the Methodist Mission buildings as Ft. Lee. In that company was Samuel K. Barlow, builder of the Barlow road around Mt. Hood from Wamic to Oregon City and Nathan Olney, first permanent resident and business man of The Dalles. This company was at The Dalles when Ogden returned with the Whitman Mission survivors.

     With $42.72 in the Oregon state treasury the legislature voted to equip an army of 500 men for service in the Cayuse Indian War of 1848! Joe Meek was dispatched to Washington, D.C. for federal aid, as an ambassador from Oregon and got aid, even if it was too late for the Cayuse War. Meek accompanied the soldiers to Walla Walla to get first hand information about the massacre. Cornelius Gilliam was made colonel in command and Joel Palmer was General H.A.G. Lee was a major and James Walters lieu-tenant. The first blood was shed in Sherman county Jan. 8, 1848 when troops met thieving Cayuse Indians killed several of them and recovered emigrant loot. They spent all of January "mopping up" Sherman and Gilliam counties and the lower part of Morrow county. In February they fought a 24 hour battle at Willow creek with 5 soldiers killed and 8 Indians. The Indians wanted to make peace but were told to go to Walla Walla where peace makers would talk to them. On the 28th of Feb. they camped at Ft. Walla Walla (Wallula) and immediately pushed on to the Walla Walla mission where they found the bodies of the massacred unearthed and eaten by the wolves. They were reburied in a common grave now marked by a large monument at Walla Walla.

     Fortifications were thrown up at Walla Walla by Col. Gilliam and preparations made for war. The Indians came on March 6 for a meeting and were told by General Joel Palmer that the murderers were wanted and that the soldiers were going to stay and make war until they were turned over to them for punishment. The Indians did not turn over much stolen property and no murderers. The army pushed on toward the Cayuse camp and had their first 30 hour battle on the 15th in which 50 Indians were killed and 1 soldier lost. Col. Gilliam decided nothing further could be done that year and left half of the men at Ft. Waters (Umatilla). He was returning home with the rest of the command when he accidentally shot and killed himself in pulling a rifle out of a wagon on March 16. Major H.A.G. Lee, the military preacher, was left in charge at The Dalles Landing Mission. They all returned to Oregon City and dis-banded for spring work. The soldiers at The Dalles and Umatilla were replaced by new recruits that fall. Lt. A.E. Garrison replaced Lee at The Dalles.

     The arrival of fresh troops at Ft. Maters scared the Indians and they again sought for peace but Col. H.A.G. Lee told them he wanted the murderers of the Whitman party before he would talk peace. Some 400 men were sent into the Clearwater country on May 17 and 120 into the Snake country. The Cayuses deserted their camp but their 118 horses were located and rounded up with 40 head of stolen cattle. He offered a reward for the murderers and returned to Oregon City. Governor George Abernathy issued a proclamation entitled "Forfeiture of the Cayuse Indian Lands and authorized emigrants to take and settle on all Cayuse Indian property. This broke the power of the Cayuse Indians and they fled to the interior, living as best they could in other locations. The soldiers at the Dalles and Ft. Waters made travel safe for emigrants for the next few years.

     On April 13, 1848 Governor Abernathy wrote President Tyler of the situation in Oregon and made an appeal for troops and supplies. On April 12 the governor asked Major Hardie of the bark Anitia for uniforms and supplies, knowing he had supplies for 400 men; but the request was turned down for lack of authority, but he transmitted the request to San Francisco, the headquarters and on the 9th of August 100 rifles arrived and 25,000 cartridges, 200 pounds of powder, 500 muskets and 3, 6 pound guns. In Washington Joe Meek's efforts to make Oregon a state were successful. Joseph Lane was appointed the first governor and Meek vas made U.S. Marshall and they arrived back March 3, 1845 about the time the U.S.S. Massachusetts arrived at Ft. Vancouver with 2 companies of U.S. artillerymen. A regiment of 600 riflemen left Ft. Leavenworth May 10, 1849 for Oregon with 31 officers and their families, 160 wagons with teamsters and scouts and 2000 mules and horses, under Col. W.W. Lowing. He established forts at Laramie, Wyoming, Fort Hall, Idaho, with 2 companies at each place, the rest coming on to The Dalles. They used the old Methodist Mission buildings and camped in tents until they could erect the old log fort buildings of Fort Dalles.

     In May 1850 Major Tucker was ordered to take command of Ft. Dalles by Col. W.W. Lowing and Tucker declared the military reservation to be 10 square miles and forbid settlement within that area. He proceeded with the erection of the log fort buildings at 14 & Trevitt streets. L.S. Fritz claimed there were 15 buildings erected.

     Five of the Cayuse Indian murderers surrendered at Ft. Dalles that spring and Major Tucker took them to Oregon City where they were tried for the murder of Dr. Whitman, found guilty the 3rd of June and were hung by Joe Meek, U.S. Marshall at Oregon City. The Cayuse Indian War cost Oregon $75,000.

     For the next 4 years things were comparatively quiet at Fort Dalles. The Snake Indians near Ft. Hall massacred 34 emigrants in a train in 1851. In 1854 the Ward train was exterminated near Ft. Boise (see page 414). Major Haller left with troops but found no murderers, but the next year, scouts and troops rounded up and hung the murderers. In 1854 there were 1200 regular army troops in Oregon. In 1855 Joel Palmer made a treaty of peace with the Indians and they were all to be placed, on reservations but allowed certain fishing and hunting rights.

The Yakima Indian War of 1856

     The Yakima Indian War was fought in both the Yakima and Walla Walla country as well as Spokane. Those Indians were unwilling to give up their homes and property without making a fight for them. The overt-act was the killing of Indian Agent A.J. Bolan near Goldendale. Major Haller sent out with 150 men to conquer them but found himself outnumbered 10 to 1 by the Yakimas who chased him all the way back to The Dalles. He asked for reinforcements and the governors of Oregon and Washington asked for and received volunteers.-

The Dalles Co. B. First Regiment Oregon Mounted Volunteers

     At The Dalles Captain Orlando Humason, father of Wasco County, organized Co. B. composed of John Jeffers first, lieutenant, James McAuliff 2nd Lt., J.E. Dennis. first Serg., 2nd Serg. Tom Martin, 3rd Serg. J.C. Smith, 4th Serg. James Gavin and corporals Oliver Jeffers, Henry Humphries, Amos Under-wood; and privates Monroe Adkisson, John Ashcraft, Chas. Archard, John Allen, J.R. Alphny, John Brook, J.R. Bates, Daniel Webster Butler of The Dalles, Dufur and Tygh, James P. Beebe, David Baglay, Wm. Barnett, John Crawford, John Cogwell, F. Cheat, Harding Chenowith, Archie Davidson, C.A. Darling, L. Dupias, Hesikah Davis, J. Estes, James Elgin, E. Edwards, John Foreman, J.W. Fulp, Robert Fleet, Wm. H. Gates, Joseph Gray, W.W. Gifford, F.T. Gliesen, E.J. Gliesen, Lott Hatlinger, Geo. Hedges, L.P. Henderson, Robert Hamilton, H.C. Hold, Wm. Hammock, Wm. Johnson, J.P. Jones, Warren Keith, Arnold King, L.J. Kimbidian, Edw. Litheral, A.J. Lockwood, S. Loomis, Cornelius McFarland of the steamer Wasco, A.S. Martinson, Richard J. Monroe, J.M. Martin, C.R. Muze, J. McDonald, Wm. McWillis, LeRoy McAnston, Wm. Niven, A.J. Price, G. Pell, J.A. Prindle, J.W. Phillips, Wm. Robinson, Geo. Rindle, Chas. Rowe, G.R. Roberts, J.R. Slaley, Chas. Suves, H.H. Stirr, Geo. W. Scott, Geo. W. Smith, Bruce W. Smith, Henry Steelman, James Sturdevent, Tom Trossell, Victor Trevitt, D. Stansbre, A. Woodard, F.D. Wolfe, Jont Indian, J. Amiden, Hugh Crowley, Robert Tompkins, Benj. Reynolds, Sam Morris. Gen. J.W. Nesmith was commander under proclamation of Oct. ll, l855 and served until May 19, 1856. A few other Dalles men joined other companies that came through The Dalles and needed more men.

The Yakima Campaign

     Major Rains took charge of all the regular army men and marched into the Yakima country Oct. 30, 1855. He was joined by Col. J.W. Nesmith's volunteers. Being as strong as the Indians the latter retired in haste after being beat in the first engagements. Mayor Rains notified the Indians that all the Americans thirsted for their blood and intended to exterminate them, not let them hunt nor fish thus starving them, that they intended to destroy their live stock and would not permit them to grow any crops! He then retired to The Dalles and left the Indians to think this over for the winter which had 3 feet of snow. J.W. Nesmith and his volunteers went to the Walla Walla country and spent the winter at the Whitman Mission, using the mission buildings as a hospital and fort. He raided and burned the Walla Walla Indians out that winter at Wallula (Ft. Walla Walla) and fought his way 40 miles up the Walla Walla river to the Whitman Mission killing at least 100 Indians. The winter at Walla Walla was severe, like that at Valley Forge. The troops suffered from cold as they lived in tents with the sick and wounded in the buildings. They were re-enforced with 5 companies in Feb. 1856 and pushed into the Palouse country to war on the Indians there.

Col. George W. Wright's Arrival

     Col. George Wright arrived at Fort Dalles and immediately took charge of the campaign. He posted troops so the Indians could not fish along the Columbia river anywhere. He erected a blockhouse at the Cascades to protect river transportation and built the wooden portage railroad 5 miles in length for quick movement of supplies. Horses and mules were used as motive power. The troops were attacked by Indians in March 1856 in the Cascade massacre in which a number of white persons lost their lives. Capt. Issac McFarland's steamer Wasco was tied up there and managed to get away and come to The Dalles for help. Col. Wright was camped with his troops at the 5 Mile stage station, on the Old Oregon Trail, enroute to Walla Walla and had to come back to The Dalles and embark on the steamer and go to the Cascades to mop up the Indians there and didn't return to The Dalles until April to go on to Walla Walla with his men where he arrived the 5th of May. He received 500 re-enforcements the 27th of May and was then able to chase the Indians into the Yakima country where he could handle them and starve them into submission. He rounded up all the Indian horses he could find, kept the best ones and shot 900 of them to death leaving the Indians dismounted. He destroyed their fishing villages along the Columbia and destroyed their crops thus forcing thousands of them on to the reservations and breaking their power. The volunteer troops were disbanded in August 1856.

Our Treatment of the Indians

     The white man has kept the Indians on Reservations, a polite word for "concentration camps" for nearly 100 years! We went to war with Hitler because he put the Jews in concentration camps for 15 years! - and did other things our politicians didn't like; but were we in any position to throw stones at anybody? We have denied the Indian citizenship and the freedom Abraham Lincoln proclaimed for all persons of America! We have stolen the Indians property and made war upon him because he objected! We have blamed all the Indians for the inhuman acts of less than 10%! The Indian has paid a terrible price for having invited the white man to bring his "book of heaven" to them over 100 years ago! He learned that the white man's "book of heaven" was one thing and the way the white man ACTED was quite something else! He found that the white man carried his "book of heaven" under one arm and a rifle under the other and that he generally used the rifle FIRST and then the "book of heaven" to pray with over the dead body! Is it therefore any wonder that the Indian has been slow to accept the white man's "book of heaven?" The white man had little to teach the Indian but the Indian learned that lesson too late. Isn't it about time to let the Indians out of our reservations and make them American citizens with the same rights and privileges that Americans are supposed to enjoy?

What Chief Joseph Said

     Suppose a white man should come to me and say, "I would like to buy your horses." I say, "I will not sell them, they suit me, I like them." Then white man goes to a neighbor and says, "Joseph had some good horses. I want to buy them but he refuses to sell." My neighbor says, "Pay me the money and I will sell you Josephs' horses." Then the white man turns to me and says, "Joseph, I have bought your horses and you must let me have them." If we sold any land to the Government that was the way it was bought! But I would rather give up everything than have the blood of the white man upon the hands of my people! Chief Joseph was the leader of the Nez Perce Indians of the Grand Ronde Valley and were friendly to the white people for 50 years, as were 90% of all the other Indians. His father, Old Joseph who knew Capt. B.E.L. Bonneville, after whom Bonneville Dam was named, when he came out to Oregon on his first expedition and stayed 2 years with the friendly Nez Perce Indians, in 1855 signed a treaty in which the rich Wallowa Valley was awarded to his people as a reservation. That had always been their home and they were the most friendly of all the western Indians. But as settlers moved in, they encroached upon the Wallowa Valley reservation land. The Indians rightfully protested but, tolerated the white man's encroach-ment for 20 years! They had never wanted to sell any of their lands.

     During that 20 years the Nez Perce Indians held many Indian Council meetings. The student should under-stand that the Indians selected their council members from among those who did the greatest amount of work or general benefit for the tribe. They were the outstanding leaders of the tribe. As they sat in the circle at council the Chief asked the sub-chiefs, one by one, for their highest opinion. After all had spoken the Chief made the final decision from the "combined opinions" of all those present who spoke.

     The Chief's decisions are not law, as we understand laws, rather they are the "highest light" (wisdom). The Indians generally obey these prevailing decisions unless they have arguments that would materially change the decision.

     The white man of those days did not have sufficient religious nor educational training to be able to follow his "highest light" or that of any white group; so his method was to pick representatives, who often sought personal glory or were "professional talkers", or someone who had a personal gain or selfish motives or interests, to be his representative. This type of representative cares little about what is right or wrong or what is for the best interests of the people as a whole; so in order to have his selfish opinions obeyed they are made into iron-clad lays with severe penalties for disobedience. The white man's government has "progressed" to a point where it now has more than 100,000 of these laws, each with its penalty attached. The white man's government is little more than "lawful anarchy" as there is no white man, no matter how well educated, that knows all those 100,000 laws and what they mean or why they were passed. His prisons have grown by leaps and bounds and still he passes more laws!

     The white man does have a few Abraham Lincoln lawmakers but far too few to be of much help.

     The white man is going through what is known as "fraternal education", in his lodges and organizations, and will, at a not too distant date, be able to adopt the Indian's Council Form of government, but at this writing he is not well enough educated and cannot trust his neighbors well enough for the general adoption of the council form of government. His cities will have to be reduced in size and his state and national, governments will concentrate on repeal of as many laws as man's education will permit. Every city and village will need to become self-sufficient and not dependable on someone else for all their wants of life. The white man 100 years from now will make great strides in this direction.

     This comparison permits the student to see how and why the Indian Chief's decision was not binding as law on all his tribesmen. Some of his young tribesmen would go out and kill and steal and that 10% caused 10% of the white men to shoot at every Indian they seen and steal his land and this led to war.

Chief Joseph Goes to War

     Finally Chief Josephs' counselors decided to make war on the whites for encroachment on their lands, against every argument Joseph could muster. It was in June of 1877 that a series of outbreaks occurred. General Oliver Otis Howard was dispatched to round them up. Chief Joseph decided to try to make a union with Sitting Bull for a stand against the white man's army in Montana; and he moved his entire tribe of 700 men, women and children 1500 miles to within 40 miles of the Canadian border at Bear Paw Mountain in 72 days! He was always outnumbered by white soldiers but he beat General Howard in 4 great battles at White Bird Canyon, Big Hole, Camas Meadows and Canyon Creek. It was only when the below zero Montana winter set in, that his warriors, whose ranks were thinned by fighting, yielded to defeat in Bear Paw Mountains. Even then it was doubtful f the white man could have overcome them had it not been for the telegraph which General Howard appealed to General Miles for help, or by intercepting Joseph at Ft. Keogh. The surrender terms provided that the Nez Perce Indians be taken back to their valley.

     But again the white man's word was worthless and Chief Joseph's people were put on reservations in the middle west and south. Finally remnants of the tribe were returned to the northwest but never to their beloved Wallows Valley reservation. In 1885 Chief Joseph and 140 of his tribe were transferred to the Colville Reservation of Washington and Chief Joseph died there Sept. 21, 1904. A monument at Nespelem, Wash. marks his grave. Most of his opponents in military circles gave him credit for being the greatest tactician and strategist they ever matched wits with. He is today considered by military men to have been equaled only by. General Robert E. Lee, U.S. Grant and. Andrew Jackson in American history and was therefore one of the most outstanding men in early Wasco county history.

     Chief Joseph was never given any credit for his peaceful intentions, or for his outstanding leadership on behalf of his people. The mistreatment of his tribe of Indians is one of the blackest marks on the record of the white man's history in the Pacific northwest! The white man stole his property, ran him out of the country, put him and his tribesmen in concentration camps for all the rest of their lives! We ought to hang our heads in shame and never cast another stone against any other peoples!

What Chief Seattle of Seattle, Wash. Said in 1854

     The student wants to remember that in 1854 there were no schools and libraries at Seattle and Chief Seattle had never been sent off to any white mans' schools in his youth. All his knowledge was gained in the Indian University of Hard Knocks.

     Four centuries ago the Indians had knowledge of the landing of the white men on both continents! They were received by strange but hospitable tribes. The Indians were rewarded by seizure of their lands and such cruelty and brutality as will keep another century apologizing for wrongs done. The character of the white man's race and its cruelty toward Indians were known among far-off tribes! His unkind deeds his unkempt promises, his confiscation of lands and goods, his drunkenness, his diseases and outrages bewildered the trusting Indian; it caused degeneration of morals, homes, customs, until it was soon plain that all the Indians held sacred, his traditional life and habits were doomed to extinction as death stalked grimly among their people, Wise chiefs fore-saw disaster and their hearts were full of sorrow. They even accepted treaties, forced upon them by the whites, realizing the futility of war by conquer-ors who drove them to reservations to control their lives and habits and to educate their children, before the guns of the palefaces who had burned their wigwams, homes, supplies and simple comforts. Wave after wave of the white men came. Chiefs of the western tribes dreaded the invasion but knew no way to escape. It was from the spirit world that this prophecy of death and destruction came! In Dec. 1854 when Governor Issac Stevens (of Washington) arrived at a clearing on Elliott Bay, now called Seattle, to tell the Indians he had been appointed Commissioner of Indian Affairs for Washington and to place them on reservations. Chief Seattle rose and said:

     Yonder sky has wept tears of compassion upon our fathers for centuries. My words are like the, stars that never set.

     The Great White Chief wants to buy our lands but is he willing to allow us enough to live on? This appears generous for we are no longer in need of a great country. There was a time when our people covered the whole land but that time has long since passed away. Then our young men grew angry it was true that revenge was considered, even at the cost of their own lives, but old men who stay at home and mothers who have sons to lose, know better. Our Great White Father in Washington sends word that if we do as he desires he will protect us. But can that ever be?

     Your God is not our God! Your God loves your people and hates mine! He folds his strong arms lovingly around the white man and leads him as a father leads an infant son, but he has forsaken his red children, if they are really his. Our God, the Great Spirit, seems also to have forsaken us. Your God makes your people wax strong every day. Soon they will fill all the land. My people are ebbing away like a receding tide. The white man's God cannot love his red children or he would protect them. He seem to be orphans who can look nowhere for help!

     How then can we become brothers? How can your God become our God? Your God seems to us to be partial. He came to the white man. We never saw him, never heard his voice. He gave the white man laws, but he had no word for his red children, whose teeming millions once filled this vast continent as the stars fill the firmament. We are 2 distinct races and must ever remain so, with separate origins and separate destinies. There is little in common between us. To us the ashes of our ancestors are sacred and their final resting place is hollowed ground, while you wander far from the graves of your ancestors without regret. Your religion is written on tablets of stone lest you might forget it!

The Indian Religion

     Our religion is the tradition of our ancestors, the dreams of our old men, given to them in solemn hours of the night by the Great Spirit and the visions of our Sachems (Guardian Angels), and is written in the hearts of our people. Your dead cease to love you and their native land is soon forgotten and they never return. Our dead never forget this beautiful world that gave them being; they still love its winding rivers, great mountains and vales and often return to visit, guide and comfort them. Every part of this country is sacred to my people, every hillside, every valley, plain and grove has been hollowed by some fond memory or sad experience of my tribe. Even the rocks, which seem to lie dumb in the sun along the seashore, thrill with memories of past events connected with the lives of my people. The very dust under your feet responds more lovingly to our footsteps than to yours, because it is the ashes of our ancestors and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch, for the soil is rich with the life of our kindred.

     When the last red man shall have perished from the earth and his memory among the white men shall have become a myth, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe; and when your children's children shall think themselves alone in the fields; store, shop or highway, they will not be alone. In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude! At night, when the streets of your cities and villages will be silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled and still love this beautiful land. The white cyan will never be alone. Let him be just and deal kindly with nay people for the dead are not powerless! Dead did I say? There is no death, only a change of worlds!

     I think my people will accept your proposition and retire to the reservation you offer and dwell apart in peace. It matter little where we pass our remaining days. They are not many. The Indian's night promises to be dark. No bright star hovers above his horizon. A few more moons, a few more winters and not one of all the mighty hosts that once filled this broad land will remain to weep over the graves of a people once as powerful and hopeful as yours. -- By John M. Rich of Seattle.

     The above classic piece of literature will go down in time immemorial along side of that of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and the other first 25 speeches in our national history!


THE BRIDGE OF THE GODS by Fredrick Homer Balch

     Fredrick Homer Balch was a Wasco County writer of the 1860's who lived at Hood River. He was a close student of Indian lore who took Wasco and Klickitat Indian stories and wove them into one of America's Best Sellers, with 25 editions (Biography on page 68). Mr. Balch cited the dream of Cecil Gray, minister of Mess. who came west to preach to the Indians after being given the vision of a great natural bridge across the great river of the west, and was inspired with a burning desire to go out into the wilderness and seek out that bridge. The book is based on Rev. Gray's travels, Mr. Gray being the fiction name for Mr. Balch. His (Gray's) trip west was an account of Mr. Balch's travels among the Indians and people of the west. The summons of Chief Multnomah of all the tribes for council on Wappatto island near Portland was an oft repeated summons of many occasions. The smoking of the volcanoes and earthquake is verified by nearly all the Indian tribes.

     The existence of the great earthen bridge at the Cascades was known by all Indian tribes west of the Mississippi river! -- just as they knew of the existence of the great river of the went that flowed under the high natural bridge "so wide that the waters of the river were darkened when the Indians' canoes passed under it." The bridge was covered with pine and underbrush and was used as a roadway by all the tribes of the west as they traveled back and forth on their hunting, fishing and bartering expeditions.

     The legend went on to say, "that when the bridge fell the power of the Indian tribes would fall with it" which was exactly what happened to the Indians. Chief Multnomah knew that the bridge was going to fall or be shaken down by an earthquake and called the last famous council to announce the beginning of the end for the Indians. The Bridge of the Gods is one of the most beautiful Indian stories ever written. No pioneer of Wasco county or native son should confess ignorance of this story of Oregon. In 1890 Mr. Balch wrote: "One can see submerged the trees beneath the waters of the river, still standing upright, as they stood before the bridge fell in and the waters rose over them. It is a strange weird sight, this forest beneath the river, the waters washing above the tree tops, fish swimming among the leafless branches; it is desolate, specter-like, beyond all words." Mr. Belch spent several years and talked with hundreds of Indians and white pioneers about the existence of the Bridge of the Gods and he believed in the truth of its existence.

Bridge Challenges Scientific Thinking

     W.A. Brown, one of the construction engineers on the locks at the Cascades in 1896, studied the abutments of the Bridge of the Gods and what remained of the span in the river and on both sides, the submerged forests, which were covered when the bridge fell into the river; but he can't figure out where all the debris could have disappeared to, as only a small mass of rock remained, and he felt that remnants of the bridge could not have melted away. He concluded that the existence of a bridge with the river flowing beneath it was an impossibility, "as the foundation of the country forbid its existence," and "none of the rock was strong enough to support it." He found traces of slides and where land slips from the Washington side of the river were on the Oregon side and Oregon rocks on the Washington side at Sheridan Point. He reasoned that these slides might have dammed up the river and the river could have washed under them for a time to support the Indian's story of having crossed on a bridge at that point." He concluded that the first channel of the Columbia was on the Washington side, close to the cliffs or Washington abutment of the bridge and that a slide forced it, over to the Oregon side.

     Prof. Ira Williams of the Oregon Bureau of Mines in 1900 mapped the extent of the sliding area.

     G.K. Gilbert, geologist of the U.S. Survey, studied the vicinity, the submerged forests and sent sections of stumps to Washington, D.C. for examination. He concluded that the submerged trees existed as live trees from 300 to 400 years ago (1500 to 1600 A.D). Some petrified logs were found. The standing timber showed age rings from 300 to 350 years old. No ledge of rock ever formed a barrier to the river. The obstructions were formed by loose masses of earth and rock. If the span existed it must have had to stretch 5 miles! -- in his opinion.

     Richard Grace in 1915 supported the theory that there was once a lake behind the Cascades and the waters of the lake found a fault and washed "through or under" the Cascade summit, after which the "overhang" fell into the rushing waters and was washed away. (This process may have taken hundreds of years). Later slides occurred which changed the course of the river. The porous structure was somewhere near the present river level. The rising waters of the lake increased the pressure forcing the waters through the mountain in an ever greater volume changing the lake into the Columbia river. The great inland sea extended from the Cascades to the Rookies and from the California boundary to the Okanogan mountains on the north. The upper Columbia shows traces of such a sea while the lower Columbia shows traces of great water battles. As the inland sea was drained under the Cascade mountains the arch was revealed with the river flowing under it. The Columbia river below the Cascades is a narrow gorge showing violent cuts which fell into the river and were washed away. The waters ate out the abutments of the bridge and it finally fell into the waters of the Columbia.

     The Indians claimed they could paddle their canoes from Astoria to The Dalles, before the bridge fell damming up the river at the Cascades and " that it was all dark under the bridge, like a big roof which shut out the sky and sun. The Indians were always afraid and paddled quick to get past soon."

     Natural bridges are not unknown in this country. There is one in Virginia spanning 60 feet, is 200 feet high and 40 feet thick. Down at Trinity, Calif. there is an 80 foot span, 20 feet high and 2300 feet wide. There is the natural bridge in N.Y. and the Indian river series of arches. There are many pre-historic abutments 3500 feet and more wide that have spanned as much as 62 miles.

     Capt. George Ainsworth reasoned after many long years as a steamboat captain and pilot passing the Cascades where he studied the topography of the country with the Bridge of the Gods legend in mind and he concluded, "that the Cascade mountain range at one time was continuous, creating a large lake which extended back into Idaho, and that gradually the pressure of the lake undermined the mountain. A vol-canic disturbance enlarged the lake outlet under the mountain causing a cataract which gradually wore down the mountain and washed it away. Another volcanic disturbance caused the bridge to fall." This theory supports the Richard Grace theory. -- Oregonian 1920.

Legend of the Cascades by S.A. Clark (1872)

Reaching far from mount to mount, in one broad native span,
A rocky arch, of bridge was thrown, beneath which the river ran,
An with its flow the bark canoe went down the tranquil stream,
While underneath the darkling arch the river gave no gleam.

And hitherto this mountain arch, often the hunter came,
And on the sacrificial stone made offerings of his game.
The salmon of the stream, the fishes bought and gave
To yield the mountain's Tyees his tribute from the wave.

Here women of the tribe brought fruits and berries rare,
And many things of earth that the gods should have a share.
And when the tribes made pilgrimage they brought their chieftains fair
To feast and talk and dance and sing amid the mountains there.

There was high carnival and legend lingers yet
For festival and worship joined, when many tribes were met.
On the twilight atmosphere huge flames of fire arose
Making scenes as weird and wild as sunset ever shows

     The Dalles Optimist recently said, "The Indians would not have been in the mess they are today if they had adopted more stringent emigration laws."

© Jeffrey L. Elmer All Rights Reserved