JOINED WITH THE YAKIMA
When the Indian power was broken west of the Cascades, Leschi gathered together the few remaining bands of hostiles and led them across the Natchez Pass to the Yakimas, where they joined the warriors of that nation in an effort to prolong the struggle.
The treaty with Colonel George Wright of the regulars resulted in a general pacification of the entire territory, all the Indians being assured that their lives and property rights would be respected. Leschi, for himself and all his people received a specific promise from the federal authorities in the field that they would not be molested for acts committed during a state of war.
RETURNED TO SOUND COUNTRY
In September, 1856, the Nisquallies returned home and were placed on a reservation considerably larger and much more to their liking than the one given them under the Medicine Creek Treaty. In October, Leschi, came across and held a conference with Dr. Tolmie and Mr. Huggins in a clump of woods across the road from Fort Nisqually.
Dr. Tolmie told him that if he would give himself up to the soldiers at Fort Steilacoom he was sure of protection and a pardon would be his reward. But Leschi was prevented from following this advise by the strange action of the territorial authorities.
AN ACT OF BAD FAITH
Hearing that Leschi had crossed the range, Governor Stevens refused to regard the truce made with Colonel Wright in so far as it concerned the chief and offered a reward of five hundred dollars for his capture. Leschi at once took to the woods and evaded pursuit for a long time. Treachery finally succeeded in accomplishing his ruin.
Leschi's family still remained with the Nisquallies. He was very much attached to his wife and frequently visited her by stealth, returning to his retreats on the upper Nisqually. Sluggia, the traitor, became aware of these visits, and eager to earn the reward, entrapped Leschi by false promises of complete reconciliation with the territorial authorities.
He was taken to Steilacoom and there imprisoned. It is gratifying to know that Sluggia paid with his life the penalty of his infamy for he was afterward shot by Yelm Jim in vengeance for this dastardly act.
IS CHARGED WITH MURDER
By request of the civil authorities, Leschi was confined at Fort Steilacoom. He had been previously indicted by the grand jury of Pierce County for the murder of A. Benton Moses near Connell's Prairie on October 30, 1855, and as soon as captured was arraigned on that charge. The chief pleaded not guilty, retaining Attorneys Frank Clark and Judge William H. Wallace in his defense.
The first trial was held in November, 1856. The principal witness for the territory was Antonio B. Rabbeson, a member of Captain Maloney's express party of six which was attacked at a swamp near Connell's Prairie and two men killed, one of whom was Moses.
Rabbeson swore that he saw Leschi on the prairie, and after riding rapidly to the swamp he saw him again. Upon this absurd and improbable testimony prosecution relied for a conviction.
LESCHI DENIES THE CHARGE
In his own defense Leschi testified that he was not present at the swamp when the party was attacked; that he was some distance away with another party of Indians, among whom were many women and children, and that he had absolutely no knowledge of the fight until after its conclusion.
In this he was corroborated by several other Indian witnesses, while not a single other member of the express party came forward to support Rabbeson's strange and, as was afterward proven, perjured tale.
FIRST JURY FAILS TO AGREE
At the first trial the jury disagreed, Ezra Meeker and William Kincaid, both well known pioneers of the Puyallup Valley refusing to bow to public passion and find a man guilty on such flimsy testimony. Leschi was kept in custody until March, 1857, when a change of venue was taken to Thurston county and he was tried the second time. No new evidence had been discovered, but the foredoomed chief was promptly found guilty.
The conviction startled many men, surprise being expressed that the territorial authorities should go so far in their blind thirst for vengeance. Popular sentiment was still against Leschi in Pierce and Thurston counties; but even here many prominent people, convinced of his innocence interested themselves in his behalf, and numerous were the appeals for executive clemency.
Among the Indians the verdict was regarded with amazement for they could not understand how a man could be found guilty upon such testimony and their ideas of the white man's justice were sensibly weakened. Especially was this true among the war like tribes east of the mountains who had been present at the treaty made with Colonel Wright and heard the promise of protection given.
In their efforts to save him, Leschi's Indian friends visited every tribe, the chiefs of which entered complaint and protest against his execution. One chief voiced the sentiments of the natives when he said:
WHITE MAN'S BROKEN WORD
"My people are alarmed. They tell me I have assured them that the pledge of a white chief is sacred, but that the sacred word of a white chief has been and still is broken. That Leschi received a promise of liberty and personal protection from a white chief but that he is in prison and it is told us will be hung."
The United States army officers did all in their power to save the chief. General Wool, in command of the department; Colonel Wright; Colonel Casey, in command at Fort Steilacoom, Lieutenant August V. Kautz, Lieutenant Arthur Shaaf, United States Commissioner James Batchelder, and others exerted their utmost in his behalf and made both personal and written appeals for executive clemency.
AN APPEAL IS TAKEN
While all this was going on Leschi's attorneys were not idle. They took out a writ in error and carried the case to the supreme court of the territory. While that body was considering the case with judicial slowness Governor Stevens was elected delegate to Congress and was succeeded by Governor Fayette McMullin of Virginia, an appointee of President Buchanan.
McMullin was a professional politician and finding it popular to persecute the Nisqually chieftain, threw himself into the factional contest with avidity.
GOVERNOR REFUSED CLEMENCY
In December of 1857, the Supreme Court, refused to grant the writ of error, and Leschi was sentenced to be hanged on the 22nd of the following January. Governor McMullin was asked to investigate the case and ostensibly did so.
Overwhelming evidence was produced before him showing that Leschi was not guilty of the crime of which he was charged, that the Indian who committed it was living on the reservation and was well known. The circumstances of Leschi's agreement with Colonel Wright, and of his treacherous betrayal by Sluggia were presented in full, together with the statement that public policy and justice both demanded that the chieftain should be set free.
The appeal of the Indian tribes for clemency and a petition signed by seven hundred white men were called to his attention, and a respite was also asked until the case could be taken before the President of the United States. Yet the governor ignored the evidence, disregarded the petitions and contented himself with referring the entire question to C.H. Mason, secretary of the territory for an opinion. That official, one of Leschi's bitterest foes, demanded his blood and the governor refused to interfere.
EXECUTION IS POSTPONED
When the 22nd of January, 1858 arrived, the conflict between the people and the regulars was renewed with redoubled vigor. So intense was the excitement that the civil authority was compelled to interfere and Leschi was not executed but taken before the court and re-sentenced to be hanged on February 19th.
Public excitement continued intense, following Leschi's reprieve to February 19, 1858 and the feeling between the territorial and federal factions increased daily. Governor McMullin's adherents openly charged that the soldiers at Fort Steilacoom had prevented the execution of the law in their efforts to save the chief.
Bitter and acrimonious debates ensued. In Olympia a mass meeting was held at which popular speakers denounced the federal officers in unmeasured terms, and declarations were freely made that if they had the officers in Olympia they would be hanged in place of the Nisqually leader.
In fact the following night, January 23, 1858, Colonel Casey was hanged in effigy at the capital together with the effigies of two citizens, Attorney Clark and Commissioner Batchelder, who were charged with having "gone over to the enemy." The next morning Governor McMullin personally opposed an effort of the sheriff to have the effigies cut down.
Indignation meetings were also held in Steilacoom and other parts of Pierce and Thurston counties, urged on, it is charged by the governor. The legislature was in session and this body appealed to by the followers of the governor to change the statutes so that Leschi could be immediately executed.
HELD BY THE SOLDIERS
During all this time, in fact, ever since his capture, Leschi had been confined at Fort Steilacoom by the request of the civil authorities. In refutation of the charges that the soldiers were defying the civil law in his behalf, it was pointed out that had such been their intent they could easily have connived at his escape from the guard house; but so inflamed was the state of the public mind that the most absurd and improbable reports were given instant credence.
The wildest rumors prevailed concerning the reported intention of army officers, and two of the supreme court judges, in alarm, met in special term of court to thwart these reported revolutionary designs that were to subvert the civil to the military favor.
An order was issued requiring Commissioner Batchelder, Sheriff Williams of Pierce County, Lieutenants August V. Kautz and David McKibben and Attorney Frank Clark to appear before them and show cause why they should not be punished for contempt.
As mere rumor could not support the charges these officers were all released. It was a judicial flash in the pan.
Meantime the Indians were becoming restive over Leschi's impending fate. There are not wanting many authorities of that time who confidently assert that his execution on January 22 was to have been the signal for another and a general uprising.
Two chiefs of the powerful Yakima nation, Winnasset and Chersuskin visited Attorney Clark's office and addressed him concerning the pledge of protection that had been given. They said:
INDIANS PLEAD FOR JUSTICE
"We were present and cannot be mistaken as to the fact. Leschi and his friends, when they went to see your white chief, Colonel Wright, were at war with the Bostons. They had arms and were not powerless. Colonel Wright spoke to Leschi, and to us the words of a good father.
"He advised us to lay down our arms and told us that we would not be harmed if we did for what had been done. We laid down our arms. We placed confidence in the pledges of the white chief. What has been the result?
"His pledges have been disregarded. One of the parties who received them is in irons and in prison. You tell us that he may be hung. Suppose the Indians who were present and promised to lay down their arms should have watched an opportunity, captured a white chief and proceeded to try and execute him according to our customs and law?
"What would we be told? You would say "Give up the murderers or you shall have no peace." And there is much truth in this statement of the two chiefs for it seems to be a principle of human nature for the stronger to ever coerce the weaker and to characterize in others as crimes the actions that among themselves are esteemed as virtues while white men thought it all right to try and execute Leschi in violation of a most sacred pledge, but had the Indians captured, tried and executed the governor of the territory, the voice of wrath would have echoed the length and breadth of the land.
LESCHI IS EXECUTED
But the days were rapidly passing. Leschi's white friends hoped the president of the United States would have time to interfere. This was not to be. Determined to have this man's blood, the authorities permitted no further delay.
The fatal nineteenth of February approached. Fearful to intrust the task to Sheriff Williams of Pierce County the territorial authorities directed the sheriff of Thurston county to execute the sentence of death.
With fourteen deputies he went to Steilacoom, swore in a large posse of citizens to prevent interference and hanged the victim at 11 o'clock in the forenoon. Very few people beside the posse were present, including some Indians who gazed with sullen anger on the scene. Leschi, with his hands bound, was led to the scaffold and given an opportunity to speak.
It is to be regretted that the last address of this eloquent chieftain has not come down to us, entire, for it is said to have been by turns pathetic, forceful and touching. The substance, however, has been preserved.
SUBSTANCE OF LAST SPEECH
Leschi said that now he was to die, he desired to be at peace with all men and that he felt no ill will toward the whites for what they had done to him. Among all races of people, he said, were some who would not tell the truth; that there was one liar among the whites who had sworn away his life, and that he was not guilty of the crime of killing A. Benton Moses: in fact, was not present with the band when Moses was killed.
The doomed chief drew a parallel between his own fate and that of Christ and said that he freely forgave all who were concerned in his death. He had been confined in prison for a long time, had been six times arraigned, and was tired of life, so that death would be a welcome relief to him, because he wanted to go to Heaven.
Then, speaking the Nisqually tongue, he told the few Indians present not to think hard of the whites because of his death and always to remain at peace with them, because the whites were too powerful and strong for the Indians.
Leschi then made a short prayer, and upon being asked if he was ready, nodded his head in assent. The rope was adjusted, the cap drawn over his head, and with some difficulty the plank was knocked out of the way. He fell three or four feet and after ten or fifteen minutes ceased to struggle.
An hour later the body was cut down and they turned it over to his Indian friends. They took it to the reservation for burial.
VICTIM OF THE PEOPLES PASSION
Thus perished a victim to blind prejudice and race hatred, the great chieftain of the Nisquallies. He combined to a rare degree the qualities of military leadership, statecraft, justice, prudence and eloquence; and in mental development was far in advance of his people.
In many respects he was a remarkable man; and when the furious passions of the time had subsided, a truer conception of his superior character was gradually realized. He is dead, but his memory is regarded with sacred affection by his race and with sincere respect by the whites.
From a legal point of view Leschi's case was a remarkable one. It stands almost isolated and alone, for it is rare that a man has ever been arraigned in the civil courts for an act alleged to have been committed during an acknowledged time of war, and of which, in very truth he was not guilty.
Convicted finally by a jury that had practically prejudged him, all clemency was forestalled by the remonstrance of a prejudiced people, and he was at last executed contrary to every established rule of war.
We subject ourselves to the charge of repetition in reproducing the following paragraph, taken from the Truth Teller of February 25th, 1858, but it so forcibly states the situation that we deem it proper to insert it at this point.
TOLD BY THE TRUTH TELLER
"On the 19th inst. a homicide was perpetuated by the sheriff of Thurston county, in the vicinity of Fort Steilacoom by hanging the Indian Chief Leschi under an order from the district court. Leschi was convicted of murder for killing A. B. Moses, during the Indian War; the law requires that final process shall be served by the sheriff of the county in which it is ordered to take place which by law must also be the county in which the crime was committed.
"As this occurred in Pierce County, the order to the sheriff of Thurston county was illegal on its face, and the execution might have been prevented by anyone who chose to interest themselves in the matter; either by the commanding officer at Fort Steilacoom refusing to give him up on such an order, or the sheriff of Pierce County might have claimed him as his prisoner; or the sheriff of Thurston county might have been arrested on the affidavit of any citizen knowing that a crime was about to be committed.
"The matter was discussed by the friends of Leschi and the execution would undoubtedly have again been interfered with had there been any prospect that in the end Leschi's life would have been saved. He would have been no doubt re-sentenced again in March, and time would not have been allowed to have obtained the clemency of the President.
"Had his execution been prevented the Olympia people would again have had an opportunity to howl, and to denounce the officers of the Army and the people of Pierce County for it might have deprived them of the opportunity of putting another Indian out of the way contrary to law, for which they have sustained a reputation beyond any other place in the territory.
TRAGIC END OF QUIEMUTH
Quiemuth, the brother of Leschi, met an equally tragic fate. The two brothers wee inseparable and when Leschi was betrayed, Quiemuth, anxious to ascertain his fate, followed him in and surrendered himself to the territorial authorities at Olympia. While confined, under a guard of seven men in the governor's office, he was assailed and killed by McAllister, a son of the lieutenant of volunteers who was killed at Connell's Prairie when the war opened.
DID LESCHI SIGN THE MEDICINE CREEK TREATY ?
Among the pioneers of the Indian war and among historical writers regarding the signing of the Medicine Creek treaty there are divergent opinions. This treaty, it will be remembered deprived the Indians of all their most valuable lands and was the direct cause of the prolonged conflict that followed.
It is asserted on one side, that the treaty was voluntarily signed and agreed to by the principal chiefs of the Puyallups, Nisquallies, and Squaxins, while those who deny this contend that the chiefs indignantly left the conference ground, refused to sign away their lands and that their names wee forged to the document by interested parties.
The truth of this much discussed question is hard to unravel. Positive statements are made on both sides. Discarding the personal charges made against each other by the partisans and impartially considering all the evidence obtainable concerning the making of this compact, we are led to adopt the presumption that the chiefs did sign the treaty; but signed it under a total misapprehension of its provisions.
In short, they were deceived by specious promises and oral guarantees which were not incorporated in the document itself. Their discovery of this deception led to the outbreak of the hostilities.
In the dispute Colonel Benjamin F. Shaw of Vancouver, the interpreter at the time leads the forces who assert the validity of the treaty, while Judge James Wickersham, Ezra Meeker and others deny that it was signed by the chiefs. Let us state and consider in an unbiased way, the evidence and the arguments on which each side rests its case; first prefacing it with a general statement of admitted facts and the events up to the time the treaty was signed.
AT THE COUNCIL GROUND
Governor Isaac I. Stevens was anxious to carry out the policy and instructions of the Indian department by making treaties with the tribes and confining them on reservations. To this end negotiations were opened with the Puyallups, Nisquallies, Muckleshoots, and Squaxins and a conference arranged to be held on the ancient council grounds at the mouth of She-nah-nan or Medicine Creek on the west side of the Nisqually flats.
On Christmas day, 1854, Governor Stevens, Hazard Stevens, Indian Agent Michael T. Simmons, Colonel Benjamin F. Shaw, as interpreter, and others met with the head men of the tribes mentioned. Among the chief assembled were Leschi, Quiemuth, Stahi, and Quilawawat of the Nisquallies, Kanaskat, Kitsap, and Nelson of the Muckelshoots; Sah-le-talth and other leaders of the Puyallups. Of these head men Leschi was the acknowledged leader because of his superior abilities and to him the chief arguments of the white men were for a time addressed.
THE POTLATCH WAS CULTUS
The territorial authorities arrived at the mouth of the Nisqually in a schooner from Olympia bringing with them a quantity of black molasses and tobacco as a potlatch for the natives. The poverty of these presents, to a people wont to strip themselves of everything at a potlatch excited the disdain of the Indians many of whom refused to accept the gifts, while they conceived a very poor opinion of the white mens' abilities as entertainers and were in no very amiable frame of mind when the treaty was proposed.
Two factions speedily developed their respective strength among the natives. One favored the whites and wanted a treaty while the other and larger faction demanded greater concessions than were first offered. Of the former the allegation is made that they comprised Indians in the service of the whites and who were willing to abandon the entire country for a promise of food and cast-off clothing.
Of the latter, comprising Leschi, Kanaskat, and the other principal chiefs, consideration of the treaty was refused until artifice was employed.
RESERVATIONS WERE POOR
The territory proposed to be ceded by the treaty embraced all of what now comprises Pierce and Thurston counties, and parts of King, Mason and Kitsap counties. It stretched from the White River Valley to the Des Chutes and eastward from the Sound to the summit of the Cascades. In return for this splendid domain the Indians were to be given three reservations of two sections each; one of Squaxin Island near Olympia, one on the bluffs west of Nisqually flats and one on the bluff north of the present site of Old Tacoma.
All three reservations were on dry, rocky and brush covered land, utterly valueless to this day except the one at Tacoma, which has become available for townsite purposes. In addition the Indians were to have a school established and maintained by the government for twenty years and to receive a total of $32,500 in decreasing annual payments, besides some help the first year in the way of fencing and tilling the land that experience has demonstrated is untillable. For this pittance an empire was to be relinquished.
THE PARTING OF THE WAYS
Such were the general terms of the treaty and such were the conditions at the time of its consideration. From this point the disputants are unable to meet on common ground. Let us first consider the assertion of Colonel Shaw that Leschi and the other chiefs signed the treaty voluntarily understanding its provisions and results; an assertion recently made in a paper read by the colonel before the Oregon Historical Society; but which is in part at least refuted under his own signature in a letter written eleven years ago, which we shall take up in its proper place.
MAKES POSITIVE STATEMENT
Colonel Shaw acted as interpreter at the conference. He used not only the Chinook Jargon but also the Nisqually tongue, understanding that language probably as well as any man in the territory. He declares positively that he saw Leschi make his cross and the secretary write the name opposite it; that Leschi did not oppose the treat in council, but act very quietly and seemed to give full assent to all its provisions.
Further he claims that Leschi and the other chiefs did not have to sign the treaty, no coercion or persuasion being used, and declares there was not a white man present who would have thought any less of him had he refused to sign. Had he done so, Colonel Shaw is convinced that no treaty would have been possible, as Leschi, to use his words, "...was a very important man..."
Concerning the reservations, Colonel Shaw says: " According to the instructions from the commissioner of Indian affairs, the Indians were to be induced if possible to go to one large general reservation, which would be improved by the government and made as attractive to the Indians as possible; and by doing so they would be removed from the influences of designing and intriguing white men, being under the protection of the Indian department.
Under such circumstances the designation of local reservations was wholly temporary as there was no thought or expectation upon the part of Governor Stevens, in the capacity of superintendent of Indian affairs or treaty commissioner that these were to be permanent homes of the respective tribes of Indians whom they were allotted.
COLONEL CONTRADICTS HIMSELF
In partial conflict with the above position now assumed by Colonel Shaw, let us quote from a statement written March 11, 1893 in which the colonel has the following to say:
"Leschi and Quiemuth did sign the treaty. The fault was in the treaty; they said, can you get the Indians to sign the treaty? I answered yes, I can get the Indians to sign their death warrant. Their idea was that in a few years the Indians would die out and the reservation would be large enough. My opinion is that the treaties were humbugs, premature and that the Indians did not understand them; although we endeavored to do it, they did not realize it.
"When they got home they were dissatisfied. Two or three days after the treaty was made, I rode over to Nisqually and met Leschi and Stahi and they were very much dissatisfied and they complained very much.
"I told them if anything was wrong, it would be fixed by the government. They were very excited and accused me of deceiving them. I denied it and told them I had told just what the governor had said. They tried to get a new treaty. They asked me to report their dissatisfaction to the governor.
"I told the governor, but the treaty was sent to Washington. The governor promised to get them other reservations. The trouble seemed to die out slowly until after the Walla Walla treaty. Then there was dissatisfaction. Over persuasion and persistency brought about the Walla Walla treaty. The governor was a persistent man. It did not seem to dawn on Leschi what the treaty was and what it meant. He was called a "Tyee," etc. and flattered."
DUPLICITY AND FRAUD PROVEN
This statement of Colonel Shaw in many ways flatly contradicts his statement made before the Oregon Historical Society. It shows that deceit and fraud were used to induce the Indians to sign and that promises were held out which the whitemen had no intention of keeping. It shows that even the interpreter himself considered the treaty a humbug, and that the indians had no definite understanding of its contents.
That there was duplicity is clear; that the chief signed the treaty seems equally clear from the direct evidence of Colonel Shaw. But the conflict in the colonel's own statements predisposes the mind to accept, if not the conclusions, at least the good faith of those who contend that the signatures of the chiefs were forged; howbeit this claim is founded solely upon collateral and circumstantial evidence and the testimony of Indians given many years after the event.
In all the controversies that claim the attention and the interest of mankind in whatever nature, the great observable fault is the partisanship displayed by the adherents of each side. This excess or intensity of feeling leads to exaggerated statements and the credulous acceptance of any assertion serving to support the position of the partisan; while it tends to obscure the truth, and renders difficult the efforts of the impartial student to ascertain the facts free from prejudiced coloring or personal rancor.
The first law of history requires of the historian an unbiased mind so that he can give due weight and consideration to every concrete element that concerns his subject and logically view the abstract principles involved.
FAULT OF MANY WRITERS
When the historical writer fails in this first requisite of his science, the value of his production is destroyed and it becomes merely a prejudicial statement representing one side of the contention while it depreciates and undervalues the presentation of the other side.
The writers who have discussed the Medicine Creek Treaty, and whether the assembled chieftains actually signed that document are all more or less guilty of the fault of partisanship; hence their assertions must be taken with a certain amount of reservation and we are compelled to closely examine every statement and carefully consider its relation to other statements in order to approximate the truth of history.
In the preceding chapter we briefly discussed the Medicine Creek treaty and the defense of its integrity made by Colonel Benjamin F. Shaw. In the present chapter we will group and condense the assertions of those who claim that the chiefs' names were forged and briefly state the evidence and conclusions on which such assertions are based.
The medicine Creek treaty was under consideration during the greater part of two days. The council opened December 25th, 1854, and closed December 26th when the treaty was signed and taken to Olympia by Governor Stevens and his party.
LESCHI OPPOSED THE TREATY
In the consideration of the treaty, Colonel Shaw says that Leschi acted very guiltily and did oppose its provisions. Let us see. It is an authenticated fact that prior to the council Leschi conferred with Dr. William F. Tolmie and others regarding the proposed session of lands.
In these conversations he declared himself opposed to surrendering the valleys; and when he went to the council he succeeded in impressing many other chiefs with his views. At the council grounds the Indians leaders soon ascertained that the valleys would not be accorded to the tribes, however, and in a conference they decided to ask for a general reservation which should include the prairie country from the Nisqually to a line beyond the Puyallup saying they wanted this land to pasture their horses and cattle upon.
The whites themselves at the time accused Leschi of wanting all of Pierce County and part of King County to roam over, an accusation that affords collateral proof of the fact that such a demand was made at the council. But the governor also refused to concede this and through the interpreter pointed out the benefits to be derived by the tribes congregating on the small reservations proposed as wards of the government.
The governor does not say so and Colonel Shaw does not say so but the Indians present declare that many additions and specious promises were made among others that they were promised a steamer, a sawmill, cattle, mules, sheep, hogs, and horses and l00 cooking stoves in addition to the treaty provisions.
Any one acquainted with the Indian character will realize at once the alluring nature of these offers, which promised present benefits as opposed to the uncertain tenure of territorial possessions. As a result many of the Indians were won over to Governor Stevens' side. Leschi and some others still hesitated, but, we believe, were finally induced to concur in the decision of the majority.
EVIDENCE AGAINST SIGNING
Colonel Shaw declares that he saw Leschi sign the treaty. This statement is strenuously denied. Buyachlt, or "Old Luke" a native who was present says the chief demanded all of the Steilacoom Plains and when this was refused they would not give up their lands.
Several Indians, among whom were John Hiaton, Sko-do-dub-seal, Yolachet, Tuwasha, Dadupket, and Yakabohut, went to Governor Stevens and told him they wanted to live with the white people and did not care for a reservation; but, after a long parley Leschi, Quiemuth, and their people left the council ground and would not sign the treaty. Buyachlt also declares that if their names are on the treaty they were forged there.
John Hiaton, above mentioned, was present at all the council gatherings. He was a staunch friend of the whites, and during the war served as a scout against his own people. To Judge Wickersham this Indian testified that neither Leschi nor Quiemuth signed the treaty, and that he himself did not sign it, although his name appears thereon.
When these chiefs refused to agree to the surrender of their lands Michael T. Simmons, the Indian agent, is reported to have made this threat "Damn them, if they don't sign I will do it for them."
Such a report, however, generally believed at the time must be accepted with extreme caution, because Mr. Simmons, although a noted pioneer and Indian agent was one of the most illiterate of men, he could not read or write his own name.
STATEMENT OF THE INDIANS
As soon as the treaty was signed the Indians visited Fort Nisqually in large numbers and there informed the officers that Leschi would not sign it on behalf of the Nisquallies or Puyallups. They said that Mr. Simmons told Leschi if he didn't sign he, Simmons, would do it for him, but that the great chieftain threw his head back in contempt and stalked from the council chamber.
The story that Leschi had voluntarily signed was never credited by the Hudson's Bay officials who considered an act improbable in view of his previous declarations, his conduct at the time and his subsequent acts.
Judge Wickersham, a noted authority on Indian matters, customs and traditions made an exhaustive inquiry into this question several years ago and from all evidence he could obtain declares his profound belief that Leschi and the other chiefs refused to sign the treaty.
Ezra Meeker, the Puyallup pioneer, who resided near Steilacoom at the time, and who knew Leschi well has also investigated the facts at his command and declares a similar conclusion. In an address before the Washington Historical Society discussing Colonel Shaw's paper read before the Oregon Historical Society Mr. Meeker emphatically states his opinion in the following language:
"When Colonel Shaw says he saw Leschi sign the Medicine Creek treaty, I simply do not believe him. I believe he is mistaken. The preponderance of testimony against this one witness is so overwhelming and the probability so much to the contrary that I think it a moral certainty that Leschi did not sign the Medicine Creek treaty, although his name is affixed with a cross opposite."
REASONS FOR OUR BELIEF
And now having given both sides let us state our reasons for believing that both Leschi and Quiemuth signed the treaty, though their signatures were obtained under circumstances of deceit, misrepresentation and fraud so patent that such an agreement would not stand in law.
Leschi unquestionably opposed the treaty and opposed it so vehemently and eloquently that he held the principal chiefs with him for nearly two days. With his superior intelligence he appreciated the value of the rich domain slipping from the grasp of his people in exchange for three paltry and worthless reservations of two sections each.
But one man, however great cannot long strive against a nation. An Indian chief in those days was not an autocrat. Under the tribal law he held his position by the consent of the majority and was usually sufficiently versed in diplomacy to accept the decision of the greater number. As an Indian he was also influenced, however insensibly by the superstitions of his race and by the impulses and habits of thought that actuated them.
In physical development the primitive Indian was a man; in mental development, a child. With them it was the same as with other races, the difference being only in degree. In exceptional cases a superior intellect could leap the restrictive bounds of environment but in the ordinary affairs of life the individual was the product of his time, and his habits and mental range were controlled within well defined limits.
PROMISES WERE ALLURING
As we have before remarked, the offer of present benefits exercised a potent influence in determining the Indians upon any definite course of action. It does not excite surprise, therefore, that the glittering promises made by the governor's party at the Medicine Creek council should win to his side a majority of the tribesmen assembled.
That Leschi stood out and held his people as long as he did rather occasions wonder, for they were led to believe that all the material comforts of life would be provided by the liberality of a benign government.
They but vaguely conceived the development that was to come after them, and careless of what the future held in store were willing to barter their birthright for a mess of pottage. Leschi realized better than most of them what the result would be, resisted as long as he could and then, we believe, yielded to the solicitations of his tribe and signed, listening to the voice of prudence in order that his prestige with his own people might not be lost.
We cannot refuse to accept the direct testimony of Colonel Shaw that Leschi signed or statements made by Michael T. Simmons and Hazard Stevens to practically the same effect and for the reasons stated we believe he signed as a matter of policy but at the same time we believe Leschi did so against his better judgement and aware of its effect began preparing for the struggle that was soon to burst upon the infant settlements. His actions immediately after the treaty was signed furnish corroborative proof of the position we have taken.
DISPUTE BETWEEN GOVERNOR STEVENS AND GENERAL WOOL
In the dispute that waged between Governor Stevens and Major-General Wool, commanding the Pacific division of the United States Army, over the conduct of the Indian war, many acrimonious letters were passed, and the hostility between these two men finally became so great that General Wool refused to receive communications of the governor.
We have, in previous chapters, often found occasion to commend the able and energetic work of Governor Stevens, and also to censure him for the violation of a plighted faith, as was manifested in his relentless persecution of Leschi, the great Nisqually chieftain, after the close of the war and peace had been declared.
Stevens was, on the whole, an able and accomplished executive. He possessed a firm grasp on public affairs; was a man whom no obstacle daunted, however great it might be; and to his administrative capacity, his statesmanship and his military abilities we owe the speedy termination of the war and the prompt settlement of many perplexing questions that arose in the establishing of a territorial form of government.
WOOL LACKED DECISION
General John E. Wool, on the contrary, seemed to lack the decisive character of Stevens. He was a fairly good officer and his record in the war department was high but he either would not or could not understand the gravity of the Indian situation and as a result of his dilatory tactics the entire border was menaced with a general and widespread uprising.
The diplomatic work of Governor Stevens in separating the tribes, and adroitly pitting one against the other alone prevented a destructive coalition. With the assumed superiority of some soldiers, General Wool also affected to treat with contempt and disdain the operations of the volunteer forces and his supercilious conduct and vacillating policy soon gained for him a reputation among the settlers of being a pusillanimous and incompetent commander.
LEADERS COULD NOT AGREE
The correspondence between the governor and general covered a wide range of subjects. Wool seemed reluctant to order the regular soldiers into the field, either for offensive or protective operations, and persistently refused requests of many of his subordinate officers to be permitted to lead expeditions.
The energetic governor, on the other hand, insisted upon a cooperation of the regulars and volunteers in order to clear the country of hostiles and occupy strategic points; and when his repeated demands were ignored reported the facts to the Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, in rather forcible language.
The governor's wrath was also kindled by what he considered the criminal negligence of General Wool in failing to send him assistance when threatened with extermination. In a lengthy letter to Secretary Davis he preferred charges on this point against Wool accusing him of "utter and signal incapacity," of "criminal neglect for my safety" and demanded his removal from command.
STEVENS LEFT ALONE
On his return from Fort Benton in the winter of 1855-56 Governor Stevens expected to be met in the Spokane country by a force of volunteers organized by Acting Governor Mason. These volunteers were under the command of Captain William McKay and had been marched to Fort Vancouver where Major Rains of the regulars had agreed to furnish equipment, rations, and transportation up the Columbia.
A short delay occurred and in the meantime General Wool arrived. He not only declined to equip the company, as promised by Major Rains, but refused to recognize the volunteers; he also refused to send a force of regulars to Governor Stevens, although the intervening country was known to be infested with from 1,000 to 1,200 hostiles and the chances of the governor getting through were extremely slim, without help of some kind.
TWO ADVANTAGEOUS ALLIANCES
When the governor reached the Spokane he had an escort of some twenty-five men. With consummate tact he managed to make a treaty with the Spokanes, who were getting restive, and thus secured their neutrality and his personal safety. Next visiting the Nez Perces he entered into an alliance with that great tribe, which furnished him with an additional escort of sixty-nine mounted warriors to pursue his journey.
But even with this force Governor Stevens could not have gotten through had not help come from an unexpected source. Four hundred Oregon volunteers, marching into the Walla Walla country, engaged the hostile Walla Wallas, Yakimas, Umatillas, Cayuses, Palouses, Tyh and Deschutes Indians who were operating in concert under the leadership of the famous Pew-pew-mox-mox, war chief of the Walla Wallas.
The battle lasted four days and resulted in the overwhelming defeat of the savages, though many whites were also slain. Pew-pew-mox-mox was taken prisoner in the first day's fight, while endeavoring to lead a detachment of soldiers into ambush. In attempting to escape he was shot, together with several other prisoners, and some barbarous indignities were committed on his dead body, a circumstance afterwards used by General Wool to show the violation of rules of war and lack of discipline of the volunteers.
BROKEN INTO SMALL BANDS
As a result of this battle the efforts of the Indians were temporarily paralyzed. They dispersed in small bands throughout the country between the Columbia River and the Blue Mountains. The event, so fortunate for the whites, permitted Governor Stevens and party to reach Walla Walla in safety where the Nez Perce auxiliaries were disbanded and the governor pushed down the Columbia trail to Fort Vancouver.
Had it not been for the timely intervention of the Oregon volunteers it is very doubtful if Governor Stevens could have reached the coast for both Pew-pew-mox-mox and Kanakin, the Yakima chieftain had sworn that he should never arrive at the Columbia alive.
GOVERNOR WRITES A LETTER
In a stinging letter to General Wool, written at Olympia, March 20, 1856, Governor Stevens refers caustically to Wool's refusal to send help, and also discusses the condition of the war on the Sound. He says in part:
"You have probably learned how much you have been misled in your views of the operations of the Oregon volunteers, and how much unnecessary sympathy you have wasted on the infamous Pew-Pew-Mox-Mox. For your own reputation I have felt pain at the statement made in your letter to me; for I am an authoritative witness in the case; and also in the letter which submitted your own action in refusing to send me succor.
"I have presented briefly the facts showing the unmitigated hostility of that chief. I assert that I can prove by incontrovertible evidence that Pew-Pew-Mox-Mox had been hostile for months; that he exerted his influence to effect a general combination of the tribes; that he plundered Walla Walla and the settlers of the valley, distributing the spoils to his own and the neighboring tribes as war trophies; that he rejected the intercession of the friendly Nez Perces to continue peaceful; that he had sworn to take my life and cut off my party; that he and the adjoining tribes of Oregon and Washington had taken up their military position as warriors at the proper points of the Walla Walla valley and all this before the volunteers of Oregon moved upon him.
CHIEFTAIN NOT ENTRAPPED
"Pew-pew-mox-mox was slain fairly. I have investigated the matter on the ground. He was not entrapped by a flag of truce. I, of course, reprobate the indignities subsequently committed on his person....That some turbulent men of the Oregon volunteers have done injury to the friendly Cayuses is unquestionable, and it is reprobated by the authorities and citizens of both territories.
"It has, however, been grossly exaggerated. Had sir, the regulars moved up to the Walla Walla valley, as I most earnestly urged both Major Rains and Colonel Wright, both by letter and in person these Indians would have been protected. They could not act, because they had no authority from you. The presence of a single company would have been sufficient. The responsibility if evil will attach to you, sir, as well as to the volunteers.
"I have a right to hold you to a full knowledge of our condition here. If you say you were misinformed, then you are not fit for your position, and should give place for a better man. If you were informed then your measures, as a military man, manifest an incapacity beyond example...
"What, sir, would have been the effect if Governor Curry had not made the movement which you condemn, and my party with the friendly Nez Perces had been cut off? Sir, there would have been a hurricane of war between the Cascades and Bitter Root, and three thousand warriors would now be in arms.
"Every tribe would have joined including the Snakes, and the spirit of hostility would have spread east of the Bitter Root to the Upper Pend d'Oreilles."
The above scathing excerpts show in what terms Governor Stevens letters was conceived. General Wool sent a defense of his course to the War Department but the election of Governor Stevens as territorial delegate to Congress and the near approach of the Civil War prevented a complete or satisfactory investigation of the charges.
SNOQUALMIES MAKE ATTACK ON FORT NISQUALLY
An interesting chapter of history that carries us back nearly ten years from the chronological order of events we have been following relates to the attack on Fort Nisqually by the Snoqualmies in 1849. We have preferred to insert the account here because it is of collateral importance in this work, having only an indirect bearing on the history of the Puyallup.
In 1849 the Snoqualmie and Skykomish tribes were the terror of all the natives south of the Snohomish River. The former numbered about four hundred people led by the redoubtable and blood-thirsty Chief Patkanim, who afterward aided the whites during the Indian war, while the Skykomish (Skywhamish) numbered about four hundred fifty.
These tribes were in a certain sense confederated, like the Puyallups and the Nisquallies, and usually operated together in their forays upon their neighbors to the south. They made frequent incursions for the purpose of securing plunder and capturing women and children as slaves.
WAYAMOCH ABUSED HIS WIFE
Laghlet was that time chief of the Nisquallies. His son, Wayamoch, had married a sister of the Snoqualmie chief, Patkanim. Wayamoch was a good looking young fellow, about twenty-two years old, fond of whisky and horse-stealing. When under the influence of liquor he had a playful habit of abusing his wife, and this, coming to the knowledge of Patkanim, decided that worthy to visit the Nisquallies with a sufficient force to punish the offender, if chastisement was deemed necessary and incidentally to secure some slaves and spoils of war.
It is scarcely necessary to remark that the last named considerations were deemed of paramount importance by the Snoqualmies, wife punishment being in such vogue among the natives that it rarely excited comment, and in this case merely furnished a convenient excuse for a contemplated raid.
Chief Laghlet died about this time but the Nisquallies refused to recognize Wayamoch for this office because of his irresponsible character and the tribe remained without an acknowledge head until 1854 when Governor Stevens appointed Quiemuth chief and Leschi (Lush-chy-uch or Lush-e-chy-uch) sub-chief. The latter rose to the zenith of his fame in the Indian war that followed, the story of his remarkable life and death being told in the last three chapters.
SNOQUALMIE WARRIORS ARRIVE
In May, 1849, Patkanim and about one hundred armed warriors arrived at the landing at the mouth of Sequalitchew Creek, over a mile distant from Fort Nisqually. Several of the Nisquallies were encamped there while the major portion of the tribe lived in mat huts just outside the fort, for protection or were scattered along the river valley.
Upon observing the foe, those at the landing beat a hasty retreat to the fort, whither Patkanim and his band following them arriving about noon.
Fort Nisqually at this time was well fortified. It was enclosed by a stockade about twenty feet in height, with three-story bastions at the northwest and southeast corners. These were built of twelve-inch squared timbers, the upper stories projecting so as to enable the defenders to enfilade the outside walls of the stockade.
A cannon, swivel guns, musketoons, and a dozen flint-lock muskets were kept in each bastion. There was also a strong blockhouse inside the fort erected for defense during the construction of the bastions and stockade.
GATHERED AT WATER GATE
When the Snoqualmies arrived they took up a position before the watergate at the north side of the fort. The Nisquallies were very much excited feeling sure that their ancient foes were on one of their customary murderous raids.
Outside the gates were also some American settlers, among them Michael T. Simmons, the Tumwater pioneer and afterward Indian superintendent; Leander Wallace, and a man named Lewis.
After dinner a delegation of the Snoqualmies went to Chief Laghlet's lodge while the rest remained before the water gate and were soon joined by the others. Upon being asked by Dr. William F. Tolmie, the Hudson's Bay Company factor why they were making such warlike demonstrations they replied that they had come to inquire about Wayamoch's treatment of his wife, and meant no harm to the whites.
PATKANIM A WILEY SAVAGE
Chief Patkanim was then invited into the fort. He is described as being small in stature and insignificant in appearance but a sharp, shrewd savage, as many people found to their cost in dealing with him.
To the other warriors were given tobacco to smoke, the pipe of peace. Two armed men were placed at the gate, Louis Thibeault, a French-Canadian, and Gohome, a Nisqually, with orders not to allow any Snoqualmies inside the fort.
Through the kindness of Edward Huggins we have been permitted to copy the following account of the fight that followed. It is taken from the fort journal and was entered at the time by Dr. Tolmie's chief clerk. After narrating the disposition of the forces as above given the journal continues:
SHOT FIRED IN JEST
"I also took my gun and went about amongst the Indians (Nisquallies) who in fear of the enemy, were inside the stockade in great numbers, and to keep them employed I set them to sweeping the front yard or square. After I had made a circuit of the fort I heard a shot and learned that it had been fired by Gohome in jest. I reprimanded him for his carelessness.
"Soon after I arrived at the gate four or five of the worst Snoqualmies came rushing up, provoked, no doubt, by the shot foolishly fired by Gohome. One of their number, Cassass, more forward than the rest rudely pushed Gohome, who was standing in the gateway into the fort and took his place.
"I went to him and demanded why he did that, and warned him to keep quiet. He answered with an insult. I then put him out, upon which he cocked his gun and drew his dagger and made two or three thrusts at me with it.
"Wren, one of our men, who was standing a little way from the gate at the time, was called in, and I gave orders to close the gate, which was done, but finding Wren was still without, it was again opened.
"Wren, upon entering, seized one of their guns, whereupon a scuffle ensued and the gun falling between the door and the post prevented us from closing it. During that time I noticed Cassass pointing his gun at me. I at once presented mine and, I thought fired first; but it is maintained by the friendly Indians outside that one of the friendly Indians, Gullawowt, provoked by a blow from Wren with the butt end of the gun to one of their chiefs fired at him, but missing, my shot followed.
"Which is correct I can't be positive, the noise and excitement being too great, but my shot missing him, Cassass, wounded another. A good many shots followed and the gates were closed. One of the enemy, a tamomous, or medicine man, was killed and two or three badly wounded.
PATKANIM MAKES HIS ESCAPE
"We then took to the bastions, but our people, taking some time to get armed, the affair being rather sudden, by the time they were at their stations, most of the enemy were out of shot and running away full speed across the plain to their canoes.
"Patkynum (Patkanim), the head chief, who was in the fort at the commencement of the row, escaped after the closing of the gate, unperceived by our people, Wayamoch, assisting him to scale the stockade at a retired quiet spot of the fort yard.
KILLING OF LEANDER WALLACE
"Two men, Americans named Wallace and Lewis, were unfortunately standing outside the fort gate when the affray commenced and did not respond to the call of "All hands come in and shut the gate." They perhaps thought themselves secure from harm, as they were Americans and did not belong to the fort, but if this was the case they were sadly mistaken.
"They were also beckoned in by Michael T. Simmons and others there at the time, but they either unheeded or did not understand them. Wallace was shot dead, but Lewis had an almost miraculous escape. A bullet went through his vest and trousers and another wounded him in the right arm. A friendly Indian received a wound in the neck. One of the Skykomish Indians, a medicine man, was killed and two or three Snoqualmies were badly wounded.
"Kussas (Cassass) is said to be the one who killed poor Leander Wallace. We do not suppose that the war party came here for the purpose of attacking us but think they had some other object in view besides the affair with Laghlet. It was no doubt their intention to raise a row with the fort Indians and then kidnap as many of the women and children that they could catch.
"Two hours after the affray, Selousin, an Indian, was dispatched to the Cowlitz with an express for Vancouver and a message form Mr. Simmons to Governor Lane. All the plainsmen came into the fort in the evening by order and guard was kept up all night."
REWARD FOR THE MURDERERS
On August 7th, 1849, Mr. Thornton, sub-Indian agent for Oregon Territory, arrived at Fort Nisqually and immediately proceeded to investigate facts connected with the killing of Wallace. He sent messengers to Patkanin and advised him to turn the murderers over to Captain Hill at Fort Steilacoom, offering as an inducement a reward of eighty blankets if they were surrendered within three weeks.
Captain Hill was also authorized to double the reward should this offer prove ineffective but Patkanim could not withstand such a glittering offer and within the prescribed time delivered six prisoners bound at the fort. The prisoners were Kussas (Cassass), Gullawowt, Stull-hah-ya, Jut-tain, Whyach, and Qualthlinkyne.
The prisoners were tried at Steilacoom in October, 1948, before Chief Justice Bryant of Oregon who held the first term of court north of the Cowlitz for the purpose. They were prosecuted by Attorney A.P. Skinner and defended by Attorney David Stone, both of whom were Oregon lawyers appointed by the court and each of whom was allowed two hundred fifty dollars for his services.
Many of the grand and petit jurors were also summoned from a distance of two hundred miles to attend this session. The total expense of this trial and the value of the blankets given as a reward cost the government $2,379.54.
As a result of the trial Kussas and Guillawowt were found guilty and duly executed by Marshal Joe Meek. Three of the others were acquitted, the jury not finding the evidence strong enough to convict, although they were members of the war party. The other prisoner Qualthlinkyne, was also acquitted there being no evidence to show that he was present at the time. He is thought to have been a slave, who the guilty chiefs imagined would be offered up as a sacrifice in satisfaction for the murder of Wallace.