Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Native American Connection to the Past

In case you missed the first session last week, here's a brief recap.  There is a wonderful series on local history that started last week and continues through April.  These 2 hour presentations by historian Robert Singletary are held at the CdA Library and are free of charge and open to the public.  For more information check out http://www.cdalibrary.org/.

Last week was the opener and focused on the Native American connection.  Here's a very brief overview of some of the things discussed that night.

The term reservation comes from a proclamation made in 1763 where a line was drawn "reserving" land for the Indians.  Of course, over the decades these lines were moved, changed and even eliminated as the United States expanded.  Many of these changes were made to exploit natural resources.  As an example, when gold was discovered at what is now known as Orofino (Spanish for "fine gold") the size of the Nez Perce Reservation was dramatically reduced.

The fur trade was one of the most valuable businesses in America and it was trappers and traders who first made their way through this area.  Many of these men were Christians and bore a cross.  Indians were curious and wanted to know more about the religion of the white man.  Flatheads made four trips to St. Louis in the 1930's to ask for a "Blackrobe" to come and teach Christianity.  But it was the Protestant missionaries Spaulding and Whitman who beat the Catholics into Idaho in 1835-36.

The advent of horses allowed the tribes to travel to hunt and trade.  It wasn't unusual to have these missions last 2-3 years.  The Coeur d'Alene, Nez Perce and Kootenai tribes were known to travel as far as the plains to hunt buffalo.

After Custer's defeat at Bighorn the government made efforts to move the Nez Perce to a reservation.  The story of how Chief Joseph led the Nez Perce on a sojourn to Canada, only to be captured short of their goal in north central Montana and moved to Oklahoma is worthy of any interested in this history.

Army Col. George Wright was assigned to solve the "Indian problem" in these territories.  One notable act was the systematic slaughter of Spokan Tribe horses at the present location of the Washington Port of Entry is at the Idaho Washington state line.  A stone monument still stands adjacent to the rest area.

The name Qualchan (Golf Course in Spokane) refers to from Qualchan (son of Yakama Chief Owhi) who had carried out raid on settlers and prospectors.  Hangman Creek is named from where Col. George Wright had Qualchan hung within 15 minutes of arriving at his camp.

This is just a small taste of what Mr. Singletary presented in this first of 12 evenings.  Don't miss the next Connections session this Thursday night.  The topic is Lewis & Clark.

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