There are various versions of what happened at Whiskey Creek.

... Three Indians started out to the mountains in search of game. After arriving where game was plentiful, they had little or no difficulty in procuring a reasonable supply, and, after caching it, returned to their homes, making an agreement before starting to return at a certain time and take it home. This being agreed upon, the three separated, and upon their return, two met at the cache about the same time. Feeling somewhat fatigued, by their trip, they dismounted to take a short rest, when two white men approached them in a rude manner, disarmed them, and asked one of the Indians whether or not he was the man that interpreted for Chief Joseph. The man answered him to the contrary... The white man called him a liar, at the same time knocking the Indian down and abusing him in a brutal manner. The lndian's companion made no resistance or attempt to save him, but the third one of the party referred to, named Willatiah, arrived while the scuffle was going on, and made inquiries as to the cause of it.... Willatiah at once interfered in hopes to stop the white man from offering any further abuse, when suddenly the white man sprang on him. But Willatiah being a man of considerable nerve and strength, soon had the white man upon the ground, when the latter called to his companion to shoot the ---------- The companion obeyed the command-Willatiah fell a corpse.

Duncan McDonald Nez Perce reporter

The two white men were named Wells McNall and A.B. Findley. McNall was the man who attacked the two Indians; Findley pulled the trigger.

Another version of the story is that the two settlers were looking for some of Findley's missing horses. The horses were found five days later grazing at Findley's.

When I learned that they had killed one of my people / was heart-sick. When I saw all the settlers take the murderer's part, though they spoke of bringing him to trial, I told them that the law did not favor murder. I could see they were all in favor of the murderer, so I told them to leave the country.

Chief Joseph

Early in September, 1876 ... I received information that Joseph with his band of Nez Perces had appeared in the Wallowa valley and demanded the surrender of the two men McNall and Finley, accused of killing one of his Indians, and threatened, in case this demand was not complied with, to destroy the farms of the settlers therein, giving them a week's time to decide.

... I at once directed ... one company of cavalry to the scene of the difficulty, and ... Lieut. A.G. Forse, commanding, was at once dispatched. He had an interview with Joseph, which resulted in his withdrawing his demand and threats, and a promise on the part of the military authorities that they would use their endeavors to bring the accused men before the civil authorities for trial.

Gen. Oliver Otis Howard



The Nez Perce Flight to Canada - An Introduction

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