Page 11 of 18

Part 11, Promisies

A Tsoopnitpeloo Legend

As Told by Otis Halfmoon Of the Nez Perce Tribe


The other two warriors came back home—or tried to. They didn't quite make it. But they told other Nez Perce about their efforts. The son of Clark witnessed all these. He witnessed these times, and I'm sure, as I said, this delegation spoke of him to his father. He continued his life, and he saw many, many changes—the son of Clark. He saw the coming of the soldiers, he saw some of the other tribes fighting the soldiers, and he saw some of the other tribes getting beat by them as well.

In 1855 he saw the coming of Governor Isaac I. Stevens. He saw the creation of the treaty that was done in Walla Walla, a great time, and a great power for the Nez Perce. Because at Walla Walla they said three thousand warriors came into the camp. So powerful. He witnessed the power of his people, but yet he was watching the power of his father's people, as well.

It was interesting, close to the end of the treaty proceedings, was almost done, one of our great warriors, great chiefs, Ah-pus-Wah-hailkt, he came riding into camp. He came back here from buffalo country. He had scalps that he had on his pole, and he was singing a song. Ah, it was so beautiful. He and his warriors was drummin' on these hand drums, horseback, ridin' into the camp. And the white people, they don't know quite what to think of this. The song that they sang is still preserved yet today. We use that song as our Nez Perce national anthem. You hear it during our pow-wows in Lapwai and Kamiah. But again, that song has survived that long. Who knows how old that song was before that.

But again, the son of Clark saw these things, and heard it. He heard the promises that was given to the Nez Perce people in 1855, that this land was yours, and no white people would be allowed to come in there. Can you imagine the mixed feelings he had, him being half white? His hair was even kind of red, as well, again, to set him aside from other Nez Perce. But no one held that against him, 'cause he was Nez Perce, the way he was raised. He knew who his father was. He was gettin' to be a middle-aged man by that time, 1855.