ON the 12th of October, two young Indians of the Nez Perce tribe arrived at Captain
encampment. They were on their way homeward, but had been obliged to swerve from their
route through the mountains, by deep snows. Their new route took them though the Horse
In traversing it, they had been attracted by the distant smoke of a camp fire, and on stealing near
reconnoitre, had discovered a war party of Blackfeet. They had several horses with them; and, as
generally go on foot on warlike excursions, it was concluded that these horses had been captured
the course of their maraudings.
This intelligence awakened solicitude on the mind of Captain Bonneville for the party of
whom he had sent to that neighborhood; and the Nez Perces, when informed of the
shook their heads, and declared their belief that the horses they had seen had been stolen from
very party. Anxious for information on the subject, Captain Bonneville dispatched two hunters to
up the country in that direction. They searched in vain; not a trace of the men could be found; but
they got into a region destitute of game, where they were well-nigh famished. At one time they
three entire days with-out a mouthful of food; at length they beheld a buffalo grazing at the foot
the mountain. After manoeuvring so as to get within shot, they fired, but merely wounded him.
took to flight, and they followed him over hill and dale, with the eagerness and per-severance of
starving men. A more lucky shot brought him to the ground. Stanfield sprang upon him, plunged
knife into his throat, and allayed his raging hunger by drinking his blood: A fire was instantly
beside the carcass, when the two hunters cooked, and ate again and again, until, perfectly gorged,
they sank to sleep before their hunting fire. On the following morning they rose early, made
hearty meal, then loading themselves with buffalo meat, set out on their return to the camp, to
the fruitlessness of their mission.
At length, after six weeks' absence, the hunters made their appearance, and were received
proportioned to the anxiety that had been felt on their account. They had hunted with success on
prairie, but, while busy drying buffalo meat, were joined by a few panic - stricken Flatheads, who
informed them that a powerful band of Blackfeet was at hand. The hunters immediately
the dangerous hunting ground, and accompanied the Flatheads to their village. Here they found
Cerre, and the detachment of hunters sent with him to accompany the hunting party of the Nez
After remaining some time at the village, until they supposed the Blackfeet to have left the
neighborhood, they set off with some of Mr. Cerre's men for the cantonment at Salmon River,
they arrived without accident. They informed Captain Bonneville, however, that not far from his
quarters they had found a wallet of fresh meat and a cord, which they supposed had been left by
prowling Blackfeet. A few days afterward Mr. Cerre, with the remainder of his men, likewise
at the cantonment.
Mr. Walker, one of his subleaders, who had gone with a band of twenty hunters to range the
just beyond the Horse Prairie, had likewise his share of adventures with the all-pervading
At one of his encampments the guard stationed to keep watch round the camp grew weary of
duty, and feeling a little too secure, and too much at home on these prairies, retired to a small
of willows to amuse themselves with a social game of cards called "old sledge," which is as
among these trampers of the prairies as whist or ecarte among the polite circles of the cities.
the midst of their sport they were suddenly roused by a discharge of firearms and a shrill
Starting on their feet, and snatching up their rifles, they beheld in dismay their horses and mules
already in possession of the enemy, who had stolen upon the camp unperceived, while they were
spell-bound by the magic of old sledge. The Indians sprang upon the animals barebacked, and
endeavored to urge them off under a galling fire that did some execution. The mules, however,
confounded by the hurly-burly and disliking their new riders kicked up their heels and
of them, in spite of their horsemanship. This threw the rest into confusion; they endeavored to
their unhorsed comrades from the furious assaults of the whites; but, after a scene of "confusion
worse confounded," horses and mules were abandoned, and the Indians betook themselves to the
bushes. Here they quickly scratched holes in the earth about two feet deep, in which they
themselves, and while thus screened from the shots of the white men, were enabled to make such
of their bows and arrows and fusees, as to repulse their assailants and to effect their retreat. This
adventure threw a temporary stigma upon the game of "old sledge."
In the course of the autumn, four Iroquois hunters, driven by the snow from their hunting
made their appearance at the cantonment. They were kindly welcomed, and during their sojourn
themselves useful in a variety of ways, being excellent trappers and first-rate woodsmen. They
of the remnants of a party of Iroquois hunters that came from Canada into these mountain regions
many years previously, in the employ of the Hudson's Bay Company. They were led by a brave
chieftain, named Pierre, who fell by the hands of the Blackfeet, and gave his name to the fated
of Pierre's Hole. This branch of the Iroquois tribe has ever since remained among these
at mortal enmity with the Blackfeet, and have lost many of their prime hunters in their feuds with
ferocious race. Some of them fell in with General Ashley, in the course of one of his gallant
excursions into the wilderness, and have continued ever since in the employ of the company.
Among the motley Visitors to the winter quarters of Captain Bonneville was a party of Pends
(or Hanging-ears) and their chief. These Indians have a strong resemblance, in character and
to the Nez Perces. They amount to about three hundred lodges, are well armed, and possess great
numbers of horses. During the spring, summer, and autumn, they hunt the buffalo about the
head-waters of the Missouri, Henry's Fork of the Snake River, and the northern branches of
Their winter quarters are upon the Racine Amere, where they subsist upon roots and dried
meat. Upon this river the Hudson's Bay Company have established a trading post, where the
Oreilles and the Flatheads bring their peltries to exchange for arms, clothing and trinkets.
This tribe, like the Nez Perces, evince strong and peculiar feelings of natural piety. Their
not a mere superstitious fear, like that of most savages; they evince abstract notions of morality;
deep reverence for an overruling spirit, and a respect for the rights of their fellow men. In one
their religion partakes of the pacific doctrines of the Quakers. They hold that the Great Spirit is
displeased with all nations who wantonly engage in war; they abstain, therefore, from all
hostilities. But though thus unoffending in their policy, they are called upon continually to wage
defensive warfare; especially with the Blackfeet; with whom, in the course of their hunting
expeditions, they come in frequent collision and have desperate battles. Their conduct as warriors
without fear or reproach, and they can never be driven to abandon their hunting grounds.
Like most savages they are firm believers in dreams, and in the power and efficacy of charms and amulets, or medicines as they term them. Some of their braves, also, who have had numerous hairbreadth 'scapes, like the old Nez Perce chief in the battle of Pierre's Hole, are believed to wear a charmed life, and to be bullet-proof. Of these gifted beings marvelous anecdotes are related, which are most potently believed by their fellow savages, and sometimes almost credited by the white hunters.