Pelouze (Palouse) Council

September 26th. Left camp at half-past six this morning, and marched over a rolling, grazing country. By the side of a small cotton wood grove we saw the remains of thirty-four Indian lodges, probably deserted on the first advance of the troops into this country. Some of the lodge poles, from their magnitude, showed that the lodges must have been of considerable size. We marched fifteen miles and encamped on Silseepovestlem creek, where the water was good, but not plentiful. Today was the coldest we have had on our march.

September 27th. We broke up camp between six and seven in the morning, and marched ten miles. The day was exceedingly cold, and it rained hard all the time. The men, however, bore it cheerfully, for their faces were homeward, and in a few days they expect to reach Fort Taylor. For a few miles our way lay through the open timber, by the side of a large lake. We camped on a small stream.

September 28. Began our march at six o’clock this morning through a level, rocky country. We made about twenty-five miles during the day, finding water plentiful, our way, at one time, being along the banks of a lake. The grass for most of the distance of our route had been burned off. Through the whole day the weather was threatening, and before night the rain began pouring down. “We encamped on a tributary of the Pelouze, about two miles above its junction.

Just before going into camp, we passed the grave of some distinguished Indian chief. It was large, covered with stones, and surrounded with a wooden paling. On a long stick, just within the paling, was a tin cup, and underneath was tied some horse hair. Outside the paling, from a pole supported by two other poles, was hanging the tail of a horse. It is a common custom among these Indians when a chief dies, to kill his favorite horse and bury him near him.

September 29th, Moved from camp at six this morning, and after marching about two miles, struck the Pelouze River, along which we marched fifteen miles and encamped on its bank. Our march was over a rocky, hilly country. About an hour after leaving camp the express overtook us, bringing the mail. Our place of encamping seems to have been an old battle ground of the Indians, as arrow heads, and remains of other weapons, are scattered about.

A short time before reaching camp, a band of the Pelouze Indians, about nineteen in number, came in.

September 30th, We did not march today. Early this morning a large number of the Pelouze Indians arrived with their families, and the Colonel determined, therefore, to hold the council. At ten o’clock the Indians assembled in front of his tent for their “talk.” The Interpreter being present. Colonel Wright delivered to him the following complimentary and gratifying address, to be communicated to them;

“Tell them they are a set of rascals, and deserve to be hung; that if I should hang them all, I should not do wrong. Tell them I have made a written treaty with the Coeur d’Alenes and the Spokans, but I will not make a written treaty with them; and if I catch one of them on the other side of Snake River, I will hang him. Tell them they shall not go into the Coeur d’Alene country, nor into the Spokan country, nor shall they allow the Walla Walla Indians to come into their country. If they behave themselves and do all that I direct them, I will make a written treaty with them next spring. If I do, there will be no more war between us. If they do not submit to these terms, I will make war on them; and if I come here again to war, I will hang them all, men, women, and children.

“Tell them that five moons ago two of their tribe killed some miners. The murderers must immediately be delivered up.”

There was a brief consultation among the Indians, which resulted in one of them coming forward. He was at once bound, and turned over to the guard to be hung. The other had disappeared, to the evident annoyance of his countrymen.

Colonel. “Tell them they must deliver up the six men who stole our beef cattle at Walla Walla.”

This was at once assented to, and after another consultation the offenders were brought forward and immediately handed over to the guard.

Colonel. “Tell them they must allow all white men to pass unmolested through their country, and must deliver up to me one chief and four warriors, with their families, to go with me to Walla Walla as hostages.”

All these terms were at once agreed to, and the “talk” ended. Before, however, the council closed, four of the Indians, the murderer, and three others who had been selected as notorious marauders, were marched by the guard to a tree several hundred yards distant, and there hung.

Kip, Lawrence. Army Life on the Pacific: A Journal of the Tribes of the Coeur d'Alenes, Spokans, and Pelouzes, in the Summer of 1858. Redfield, 1859.

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