Defeat and Exile

Page 17 of 18

Part 17, Defeat and Exile

A Tsoopnitpeloo Legend

As Told by Otis Halfmoon Of the Nez Perce Tribe


They finally come up there towards the Missouri River. They come to Cow Island, and the Nez Perce helped themselves to some stores, and burned the rest. Went up Cow Creek. And eventually end up to a place called Tsi-nim-Ala-kin-wass-pah. And at Tsi-nim-Ala-kin-wass-pah . . . They got to this place and they camped there on the thirtieth of September in 1877.

Little did they know at that time period, though, that they were going to be under attack by Col. Nelson Miles—the Seventh Cavalry, Second Cavalry, and the Fifth Infantry mounted. There was a five-day siege that took place. Looking Glass was killed. Chief Joseph's brother was killed. Tu-huul-hu-tsuit was killed. Again, many of our leaders were killed in this battle. The Nez Perce elders, and women and children, were dug in, in the caves that were made. They were under fire by a howitzer that was on the west, that was lobbin' shells into the canyon, into the little draws.

October fifth, in 1877—Chief Joseph, he had to call it quits. He surrendered his rifle, there, to Colonel Nelson Miles. First he offered it to General Howard, and General Howard passed it on to Colonel Miles, to have the honor. Probably about 200 Nez Perce made it to Canada. Escaped on into Canada, to live with Chief Sitting Bull and his Hunkpapa Lakota.

But of those ones that surrendered, you will find Clark's son. He surrendered with Chief Joseph. He did not make it to Canada. From there the Nez Perce were moved east towards Bismarck, and sent on flatboats down the Missouri River towards Baxter Springs, Fort Leavenworth, eventually on their way to Tonkawa, Oklahoma. We figure in 1880—maybe 1879-80, thereabouts—that's the last we heard of Clark's son. He died. He died as a prisoner of war.1

Again, it's the ironies of history. The ironies of history, what took place. His father was Clark, one of the first white people that the Nez Perce ever met, and befriended. A positive relationship with these white people. And the son that was created in hopes of havin' allies, friends. And here his son died as a prisoner of war in Oklahoma. His grave is unmarked. We have no idea where it's at, but we know that it's down there somewhere.

In 1885, Chief Joseph won his battle. He was not really a war chief, but he was more of a diplomat. And he was a good one. He was an excellent diplomat. He was a great chief. He went to Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, and all these other places, and he won his battle. And these people came home in 1885. Further divided. Half of them went to Lapwai, half went to Nespelem, Washington.

That's the last we heard of Clark's son. We do know that he had two daughters, and I'm still on the trail of that, yet. I'm tryin' to find the descendants of these two.

Specially videotaped for Discovering Lewis & Clark® December, 2001