Before John and Caroline Wood settled on Slate Creek in 1862, this area was a traditional Nez Perce village site. Over the years Wood had become a friend to the Nez Perce, helped, perhaps, by the fact that he paid the original Nez Perce owner for his land.
The second raiding party of seventeen warriors visited Wood.
Not all whites were against the Nez Perces. I know two men who lived up Slate Creek, who were our best friends.... One of these men was Wood. ... Wood saw the Indians coming after they had killed some whites. He stopped them and said, "Tie your horses and come in. We Will have a talk.'
Chief YelIow Bull, Sarpsis Ilpilp, Wahlitits and others were in the bunch. They went into this white man's house as requested. Men, who were working for this man, got scared. They thought to be killed. The friendly white man spoke to Yellow Bull, "I know you people! For many years I have known you very well. Also, I know the actions of the whites toward you. The government is cheating you of your lands. You Indians have been enduring wrongs for many years. While you have remained peaceable, not so the whites. You have lost good horses and cattle by thieving white men. Miners have taken possession of your country, digging out your gold. Your people have been killed, many of them. Now you are making resistance. One thing I want to tell you. Stay here around Snake River. This is a rough country Do not leave it! Here you will always have good food. Get ready! Meet the soldiers and fight them.'
They then shook hands, saying good-bye. The white man spoke final words to them, 'Boys, I hope you good luck!'
Despite their friendship with the Nez Perce, the settlers were uneasy and built a stockade on the south side of Slate Creek. Although the feared attack never materialized, the little fort did serve as sanctuary for some of the women and children who were victims of the second raid.
After the Battle of White Bird, the Nez Perce camped just north of Slate Creek.
Exulting over their victory fought with the troops on the 17th, the Indians came the next day in force to Slate Creek. They moved their camp to Horse Shoe Bend ... and were in sight of our stockade continuously, coming twice to talk to us under truce.... Some of these Indians had contracted small accounts for groceries they bought at the little store run by Wood and Fockler. The little bills were all paid, the Indians sending the different sums to settle them by the warriors who came to talk to us. They said they might not come back as there were too many soldiers, but that they would never give up until forced to do so.
Slate Creek resident
The town of Slate Creek (1889)
The Nez Perce Flight to Canada - An Introduction
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