Many of the Nez Perces came together in Rocky Cañon to hold a grand council.... This council lasted ten days. There was a great deal of war talk and a great deal of excitement. There was one young brave present whose father had been killed by a white man five years before. This man's blood was bad against white men and he left the council calling for revenge.

Chief Joseph

Wahlitits (Shore Crossing) was in a funk. During a parade around the encampment, his horse had stepped on some drying camas. Heyoom Moxmox (Yellow Grizzly Bear) jeered at him, "See what you do! Playing brave you ride over my woman's hard-worked food! If you so brave, why you not go kill the white man who killed your father?" After brooding on this insult, Wahlitits gathered his cousin Sarpsis llppilp (Red Moccasin Tops) and his nephew Wetyetmas Wahyakt (Swan Necklace) to act as horseholder. The young men left the camp.

Meanwhile, the chiefs were ready to move onto the reservation.

... That same night the chiefs held a council, putting the question to one another, "Shall we mind General Howard and go to the reservation? Shall we bring out all our stock from the Salmon River country, everything else we have, all the property along the river? It will take quite a while to do this and the waters are at this time big!' . . .

Some said, "We shall not have war," Other talks, "We may have war brought to us. Should we fight or not fight? ...

While having this council, someone called from the next tepee, 'You poor people are holding council for nothing! Three young men have come from White Bird country, bringing horses with them! Horses belonging to a white settler they killed. Killed yesterday sun! it will have to be war!'

Two Moons

The council ended abruptly.

Their camping ground was a little over a mile from my home.... And when the report reached camp it created a great commotion. Wickyups were torn down, stock driven in from all directions, and as soon as possible thereafter the women and children and also noncombatants were hustled off north about eight miles where they had a better place to fortify and give battle in case they were attacked....

Henry C. Johnson
Mount Idaho volunteer



The Nez Perce Flight to Canada - An Introduction

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