I Have Only One Talk: The Dog Rivers Refuse to Remove

At the June 1855 treaty meeting of the Deschutes, Wascoes, and Walla Wallas, there were also the Dog River Cascades. They are listed on the transcript as being there but apparently never spoke publicly at the gathering. Various letters by Palmer and others suggest that they remained on their lands for several years beyond the removal of The Dalles area tribes to Warm Springs. To this point there has been much confusion about what exactly happened to this tribe.

Palmer states that the Dog Rivers refused to remove, and instead wrote about them in his report and letter of introduction of the treaty transcript.

With the exception of a few families who alternately reside on either bank of the Columbia River between Dog River  on the south and White Salmon river on the north, and the Cascade Falls, all the bands residing and claiming lands within this purchase, have acceded to its provisions and signed the treaty. I called upon Wal-la-chin who claims to be chief of the band referred to, and who is now with the most of his people residing on the North Bank of the Columbia River at the Cascade Falls, but he declined signing the treaty, alleging as a reason that his people could not subsist away from the Columbia River, and declaring “I have said that I would not sell my country and I have but one talk.” There is but little doubt however that he and his people will ultimately desire to be embraced in this treaty. But in the event of their refusal the fourth proviso of article first, secures to others their rights under the treaty and guards the government against the imputation of wrong dealing with the people. 

The country lying in the territory claimed by this band is between Dog River and the Cascades, embracing only a narrow margin on the bank of the Columbia, and except a small district near Dog River, where a few claims have already been taken. The country is valueless. The real cause of the band;s declining to enter into the treaty is the existence of personal difficulties between them and the Wascoes.

Section of the Lewis and Clark Maps, Beineke Digital collections, Yale University

The difficulties noted, Palmer has explained well then position of the Dog Rivers. Later in his report Palmer enumerates the bands and explains further their geographical boundaries.

The accurate enumeration of the Indians is very difficult, as an entire tribe can seldom be collected at one point. The number at the Wasco Council becoming parties to the Treaty were 264 men, 299 women, 175 boys and 139 girls; total 877 souls. Exclusive of these were a part of the Dog Rivers (a part of the band whose chief declined to sign this treaty) and several bands from the north side of the Columbia River, whom Kamiyaken head chief of the Yakamas claims as his people, but who allege that they owe no allegiance to him. These with the Dog Rivers may be [counted] at about 500, making a tribe of 1377 men women & children to be located on this reservation (Warm Springs). (Letter of July 9, 1855)

Section of the Lewis and Clark Maps, Beineke Digital collections, Yale University

This transcript reveals deep political divisions between the Cascades and Wascoes. The Dog River (Hood River) chief powerfully resisted removal. They are a significant population in this enumeration, even though other enumerations suggest significantly less people. It is a fact that many of these people did move and are now called Hood River Wascoes among the present generation at the reservation.

Many powerful leaders of the Warm Springs Tribe in culture, government and literary arts come from these people. One of the last times I spoke with Chuck Williams, he spoke powerfully of his cousins among the Warm Springs chiefs. He had kept the kinship between the Cascade (south bank)and White Salmon/Skamania Cascades (north bank) and the Hood River Cascades tribe alive for many years.



Territorial Papers of the United States: for the Territory of Oregon, 1848-1859, NARA M1049, Reel 1, Microfilm in the Oregon State Library, Salem, Oregon

Leave a Reply

The Quartux Journal