As Told by Otis Halfmoon
Of the Nez Perce Tribe
When they came through that area . . . It was interesting, though . . . The Nez Perce people, when they saw them, they weren't quite sure what these creatures were. They had no idea what these creatures were. They'd heard of white people, but they'd never seen one.
Years upon years ago, way before Lewis and Clark, though, we had prophecy songs. We had prophecy songs that came up and told about these creatures. That even talked about the Bible, as well. And they talked about the coming of these things to our people, the Nez Perce. And it was a very powerful belief . . . the songs . . . the prophecy songs, that were given to our ancient people. And they talked about coming to our country, and taking over the land. They talked about these race of people that would put fences all over the land and make lines across mother earth, and even make lines in the sky. They predicted all these things, these old prophecy songs, way before Lewis and Clark. So they had an idea about these creatures, already, but yet it was kind of something that was very unknown.
But also, too, way back in that time period . . . I say back in the 1770s, maybe 1760s, who knows, but at one time the Nez Perce were camped in the Bitterroot Valley with their friends, the Salish. And the Salish and the Nez Perce, they were very strong allies. They used to go fight against the Blackfeet, go fight against the Assiniboines. Strong allies. Intermarriage, as well, a lot of intermarriage.
And so they were camped one time here, and the Blackfeet attacked them. The Blackfeet came down to steal women, to steal horses, to steal children. And this one little girl was stolen by these Blackfeets. And they took her back up north, and they raised her as a slave. They abused her. Then later on they traded her back east toward the Crees, and the Crees toward the Chippewas, and who knows? . . . Routes back east. But in time, a white family purchased her. A white family purchased her, and this white family bought her, and they treated her with all kinds of respect. And by that time they wanted her to go to her own people, so they came to the Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara people, and they went through that way. Then she came through the Crows, through the Crows back to the Salish, and back to the Nez Perce.