Crossing the Salmon

Just north of the bridges is where the three nontreaty bands of Joseph, White Bird, and Toohoolhoolzote crossed the river after the Battle of White Bird.

You have asked me how we crossed the Salmon and other deep, swift streams with our families and goods. I will tell you all, how done. Owning that country, the Nez Perces knew all such streams. Crossed them often without difficulty. They understood to manage.

At this crossing was only one canoe. But we had plenty of buffalo skins. With them we made hide boats. In making such boat, the hide, hair side up, was spread flat on the ground. Across the hide were laid green willow or other limber poles about the thickness of your thumb. The hide and poles were bent up and lashed to other bent poles forming a long circled rim. This rim was on the outside. That was all. Such boats carried big loads, and children and old people rode on top of the packs. Everything — tepee covers, cooking pots, pans, blankets — all were ferried in these boats. No paddles used. Boats were hauled by ponies guided by men. Two, maybe three or four, ponies to a boat. Two men swam at the sides to steady it.

Yellow Wolf



The Nez Perce Flight to Canada - An Introduction

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