Fort Buford State Historic Site, North Dakota

Located where the Yellowstone meets the Missouri River, Fort Buford stands just two miles east of the Montana border. Only three buildings remain from the hundred or so that were here in 1877.

We was by now getting well down near the Government hay camp just above the mouth of the Yellowstone river. This summer hay camp was located near where the Missouri river and Yellowstone came together ... Before long we came down so near we could see the mighty Missouri plunging along. My people all stood up giving a sigh for the water of that mighty river was the color of poor coffee and I could hardly convince them they had seen that river before at Bear Paw Mountain range. I must now hug the north bank of the Yellowstone. . . or be sweeped down the rivers where the two currants met foarming foaming whirpool with speed and dangerous suction. The Missouri river was one mass of slush ice traveling from seven to eight miles per hour and / must cross that river as quickly as possible for Fort Buford was on its north banks and I only had about five miles to cross this ranging torrent...

We had now entered the Missouri river that was pushing us down river very fast. We had to do all in our power to get out of the suction of those two large rivers.... Slowly we was crossing the river but could we get near the landing to tie up. If we passed the landing we have to portage back. At last I could see we could make the landing if we had shore help to tak our line and snub us up. For the river was very swift at that place it causing a cut bank. We now was about half mile from the landing so I told Washington to shoot gun three times to attract river guards to come to our help. He did so and / could see soldiers running it appeared from all comers of the Fort or Garrison. / got my snubline ready and warned my people to be ready for the jerk that we was bound to receive. I cast my line in a group of five soldiers who held us and our stem swong down stream.

Fred G. Bond

The Nez Perce stayed at Buford for two or three days.

Fort Buford, D. T, Nov., 9th, 1877. Some two hundred of the Nez Perces prisoners left here last evening on board the mackinaws, escorted by two companies of the Ist infantry...

Quite a crowd had collected on the river bank to see the captives leave, and also to interview those who remained. These last were very busily engaged—the bucks in keeping themselves warm around the fires they had,started in the open air, the squaws in putting up tepees, chopping wood, etc....

Over two hundred Nez Perce prisoners will leave here sometime tomorrow for Bismarck, going overland. They will be escorted by five companies of the 7th cavalry and two companies Ist infantry. I believe the train escort is a company of the 2d cavalry.

The Bismarck Tri-Weekly Tribune

November 16, 1877

The flat-bottomed mackinaw boats were racing with time. Typically, ice closed the river at Fort Buford around November 17.

Once more we was drifting drifting on that vast muddy river that would put weak coffee to shame by its color...

Day after day we sailed, drifted, and pushed ice packs from our bow and at times the ashpoles acting like runners to slip over some half hidden cake of ice that now was wirling in a jam crouding and crushing on their voige to perish in the warm waters of the South. Once in a while a deer or antelope would fall befor the never failing shot of Washington and the twang of the youth Indian bow with steel pointed arrows would fumish a beaver tail for replenish our feast, for beaver tail is good food if it cooked proper. And yet among my people I noticed a blank "now and anon" a blank turned up face to mine. Try as / could I could not find a spark of who had sown a word of evel among my people. What was it? they appeared all alike. Gloom "'at times'. . . . Their gloom was growing.

Fred G. Bond



The Nez Perce Flight to Canada - An Introduction

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