News Release
Tamastslikt Cultural Institute
72789 HIghway 331, Pendleton, Oregon, 97801
Phone: 541-966-1973

 

May 18, 2005
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Charles Denight, TEL 541-966-1973, charles@wildhorseresort.com

 

 

Tamástslikt to exhibit original of historic Tribal treaty
as Tribes commemorate treaty's 150th anniversary

Visitors to the Tamástslikt Cultural Center can view priceless art and historic documents in a new exhibit opening May 20, as the three Tribes who own and operate the museum commemorate the 150th anniversary of the signing of their treaty with the United States.

The new treaty exhibit will present several pages from the Tribes’ original Treaty, on loan from the National Archives and Records Administration. Tamástslikt will also display 10 original sketches of the Tribes’ most prominent negotiators and of the proceedings, as drawn in 1855 by Gustav Sohon, a young artist who accompanied the American treaty party.

The Tribes and the museum also have several special events, free and open to the public, planned for the sesquicentennial anniversary. Most take place in Walla Walla, site of the treaty negotiations and signing.

The exhibit, open from May 20-Dec. 31, begins with The Northwest Treaty Trail, a Washington State Historical Society exhibit on a treaty-signing trip organized by Isaac Stevens, then Governor of Washington Territory and a brigadier general in the U.S. Army. It continues with 1855, Pútimt uymátat putáaptit ku paxáptit páxat. The latter portion of the exhibit has been produced by Tamástslikt and includes the original historic documents.

In the treaty exhibit at Tamástslikt visitors will see the original sketches of treaty signers drawn by Gustav Sohon. Among those in the illustrations are the following.

Peopeomoxmox was a signer for the Walla Walla tribe and one of the most prominent tribal representatives. In 1844 an American murdered his son during a cattle-trading trip to California and the government refused to prosecute the killer. Ironically, when Peopeomoxmox traveled to California to exact revenge, he was recruited into Fremont’s California Brigade and the Bear Flag Revolt against Mexican rule. Stevens described him as “well qualified to manage men.” Later, when the treaty was violated he went to war against the United States. Drawn into a militia camp under a white flag he was arrested, and then murdered.

Another Walla Walla chief signing for the Walla Walla was Pier (Moo-a-tet). He led the non-hostile faction of the Walla Walla, Cayuse and Umatilla Indians during the Yakama war. In the fall of 1855 he took charge of guarding Fort Walla Walla but the Cayuse sacked it. Despite his friendliness to the Americans, the militia harassed his encampments. Following the murder of Peopeomoxmox he became Walla Walla head chief. In 1871 he visited Salem to attend the Oregon State Fair and discuss reservation affairs with officials.

The Cayuse were a small but influential tribe, and many of the negotiators for the treaty were Cayuse, including Five Crows (Achekaia), Young Chief (Tawatoy), Camispello, Stickus, Yumhowlish and Magpie Leggings (Welaptoleek).

Five Crows was the maternal half-brother of Tuekakas, Old Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, and the brother-in-law of Peopeomoxmox. The richest of the Cayuse chiefs with over 1,000 horses, he was ruined financially by the Cayuse War that followed the 1847 Whitman Mission killings. Although he was not involved in the killings, he took one of the mission hostages, Lorinda Bewley, as his wife. After he was wounded in the Cayuse War the Nez Perce under Tuekakas nursed him back to health. Five Crows was popular with the Cayuse people and spoke often at the treaty council.

At the treaty council the other tribal leaders named Young Chief, the brother of Five Crows, as the lead Cayuse spokesman. He and his brother were leaders of a Cayuse band camped downriver on the Umatilla River. He argued angrily against the taking of Cayuse lands and resented that Stevens selected the sites for reservations without consulting the tribal leaders. Stevens almost literally held a gun to the leaders’ heads, telling them he had the power of the U.S. military to punish them if they did not give up their lands and sign the treaties. Young Chief fought in the 1856 war against the U.S. but eventually sued for peace. During a fight with the Snake Indians in 1859 he was killed.

After the killings at the Whitman Mission, Camispello was one of several Cayuse leaders who sent a letter to Oregon Gov. George Abernathy, asking for an alternative to retribution for the killings. Although Camispello often took the position of conciliator when relations with the Americans soured, he was not particularly active at the treaty council. Although originally a chief of a large band of the Cayuse whose encampment was located on the headwaters of the Umatilla River, he lived out the remainder of his life in the Wallowa Valley of Nez Perce Chief Joseph.

Stickus was a friend of the Whitmans and at the time of their killing in 1847 by the Cayuse he sheltered Henry Spalding, another American missionary. He also took responsibility for returning much of the property taken from the mission after the killings. Later, when five Cayuse were taken to Oregon City and tried for the Whitman killings, Stickus testified for the defense. Although friendly with the Americans, he still fought their seizure of his people’s land. In the fall of 1855 he warned settlers that trouble was coming in the Walla Walla valley and when Stevens came back through in December, returning from his council with the Blackfeet in what is now Montana, Stickus told Stevens the Cayuse were not the source of the trouble and asked to be allowed to move to the then peaceful Nez Perce country. Stevens declined because he felt the Nez Perce had remained uniformly peaceful while the Cayuse had not and he wanted to keep the two Tribes apart.

Yumhowlish was the major Cayuse war chief and reportedly joined the Yakama against American settlers after the treaty council. He was taken hostage by Stevens in December and was taken to The Dalles, where he was later released. In 1864, he was a scout for the Army against the Cayuse’s traditional foe, the Snake Indians. As an old man, Yumhowlish was baptized by Henry Spalding and took the name Marcus Whitman.

Welaptoleek or Magpie Leggings was apparently not a signer of the treaty at Walla Walla but was included in Sohon’s sketches. He served as a guide for Methodist missionary Jason Lee after that missionary converted him and moved to the Willamette Valley, where he lived until disease decimated his family. After the second Walla Walla Council with Isaac Stevens, in 1856, Welaptoleek joined the Indians who attacked Stevens’ party.



Special events scheduled during the Treaty Commemoration include:

May 27, 10 a.m.—Opening of Naamí Níshaycht Village, a living culture exhibit at Tamástslikt. The village will have traditional cultural demonstrations by local Tribal people, including their forms of housing going back thousands of years. (Free on opening day. Fee thereafter.)

May 27, 1 p.m.—Ceremonial unveiling of the original Tribal treaty at Tamástslikt and of 10 original illustrations of the 1855 treaty.

Friday, May 27, 2 p.m. Book signing with the authors of the commemorative edition of the book, The Cayuse Indians, Imperial Tribesmen of Old Oregon. Robert H. Ruby, who with John A. Brown wrote this unique book about a unique American Indian tribe, will meet the public from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Tamástslikt’s Museum Store. With him will be historian William Lang, who has written a new forward to the book, and Bobbie Conner, Tamástslikt Director,

Saturday May 28, the 1855 Treaty Commemoration: Honoring Procession, Dinner and History Talks will take place. Tribes including the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Nez Perce Tribe and Yakama Nation will assemble in Walla Walla, site of the treaty negotiations that began on May 28, 1855. A horseback Honoring Procession beginning at 10 a.m. at the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial Veterans Affairs Medical Center grounds will honor the Tribal treaty negotiators, followed by a traditional Washat blessing and a friendship feast. This event takes place on the 150th anniversary of the opening of treaty negotiations between the U.S. and the Tribes. Free and open to the public. Latest info: 541-966-2033 or www.umatilla.nsn.us.

Sunday, May 29 at 9 a.m., a traditional Washat religious service will be open to the public at the Wainwright Veterans Center on the lawn. Allow about two hours for the service. No photos or recording are allowed.

At 11 a.m. on Friday, June 10, dignitaries will unveil a statue of Peopeomoxmox at the corner of Third and Rose Streets in Walla Walla. One of the dignitaries will be Carl Sampson, a chief of the Walla Walla Tribe and a direct descendent of Peopeomoxmox. Sampson has honored his ancestor by assuming his Indian name.

Friday and Saturday, June 10 – 11, the public can attend the 1855 Treaty Powwow, a commemorative powwow for the 1855 Treaty, signed in June, 1855, by ancestors of the CTUIR’s Tribal members. The Powwow, organized by Sampson and other Tribal members, will begin with grand entries at 7 p.m. on Friday and 2 p.m. on Saturday. The public is invited to enjoy the singing, drumming and dancing at this free event that will take place in Walla Walla on the lawn at the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 77 Wainwright Drive.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005, from 4 - 6 p.m., David Nicandri, Director, Washington State Historical Society, will present Gustav Sohon in Indian Country, a lecture and slide show about Gustav Sohon, at Tamástslikt Cultural Institute. This program is also free and open to the public. Sohon, a 19th century German émigré artist, depicted local historic personages in the days before photographs were widely available. During his travels with Washington Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens' railroad survey party, Sohon drew the principal negotiators at the 1855 Walla Walla Treaty Council. Tamástslikt will display ten original Sohon portraits on loan from the WSHS in Tamástslikt’s exhibit on the Treaty signing.

 

 

Originally intended to separate Indians from their land,
the Treaty now protects Tribal rights and property

 

When ambitious young Isaac Stevens pulled up at what is now Walla Walla, Washington, 150 years ago this month, his goal was to quickly secure treaties with the local Tribes. In the interest of efficiency, the bureaucrat and Army general was traveling across what was then Washington Territory, on to what is now Idaho and Montana, and at each stop gathering as many Tribes as he could find to complete agreements with the U.S. government. His goal was to end the hold the Indians had on their land so American settlers could take it over without fear of reprisal.

As it turned out, he sometimes stewed while Tribes deliberated, often taking much longer than he thought necessary. But then Stevens was working on a career builder. He thought this huge land grab would secure his reputation for future political office. The Tribes on the other hand were trying to protect their heritage for generations to come and ensure their survival as a people. So they took their time and fought to protect both the land and their right to use it.

At the beginning of negotiations, Stevens and Joel Palmer, Superintendent for Indian Affairs for Oregon Territory, told the three Tribes on the Umatilla Reservation, now joined in a government known as the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR), that they must join either the Yakama or the Nez Perce Tribes on their respective reservations. No, said the leaders of the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla Tribes. This is our land. This is where we want to reserve a place for our children. And that’s the way it worked out, finally. The negotiations began on May 28, 1855 and the treaty was signed on June 9 by 36 representatives of the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla people. The Nez Perce, Yakama and other Tribes gathered at the Walla Walla Treaty Council signed separate treaties.

The 1855 Treaties between the Tribes and the United States primarily achieved three things:

1. The Tribes turned over ownership of 31 million acres of land to the US Government (6.4 million acres from the tribes that now make up the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, 13 million acres from the Nez Perce Tribe, and 11.5 million acres from the tribes that now make up the Yakama Nation).

2. The Tribes reserved for themselves and their future generations permanent homelands (Umatilla Reservation, Nez Perce Reservation, and Yakama Reservation).

3. The Tribes reserved for themselves and their future generations several rights which would help preserve their culture and way of life, including fishing and hunting rights, and rights to gather foods and medicines within their traditional homeland.

Tribal members still exercise these treaty rights today throughout northeastern Oregon, southeastern Washington and Idaho. Their modern Tribal governments work to protect the Treaty Rights for now and future generations.

Among the Tribal signers were men who would later fight the United States, once they learned how little the words in the treaties were sometimes worth, when it came to the legal protections they promised. Many of them would die violent deaths within a few years.

Stevens, the man who was determined to force the treaties on the Tribes, didn’t last a lot longer either. He served simultaneously as Governor of Washington Territory and as a Major General in the Union Army and when the Civil War broke out he formed a regiment that included his son. Stevens died in 1862 at 44 in the battle of Chantilly.

Other than Stevens, the major treaty signer for the United States was Joel Palmer, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Oregon Territory, himself a major figure in Oregon’s history. He lived a long life and spent a part of it working on behalf of Tribes in Oregon.

List of Treaty Events

* Friday, May 20, 2 p.m.—Opening of the Treaty commemoration exhibit at Tamástslikt. The exhibit tells the story of the treaty trail, which in 1854-1856 over 13 months resulted in signed treaties with tribes stretching from the Puget Sound area to the Blackfeet in Montana. In addition it focuses on the treaty signed by the three Tribes, the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla, who now comprise the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. The exhibit includes priceless historic documents and artwork. (Fee for admission to the exhibits)

* Friday, May 27, 10 a.m.—Opening of Naamí Níshaycht Village, a living culture exhibit , at Tamástslikt. The village will have traditional cultural demonstrations by local Tribal people, including their forms of housing going back thousands of years. (Free on opening day. Fee thereafter.)

* Friday, May 27, 1 p.m.—Ceremonial unveiling of the original Tribal treaty at Tamástslikt and of 10 original illustrations of the 1855 treaty negotiators and proceedings. (Free and open to the public)

* Friday, May 27, 2 p.m. Book signing with the authors of the commemorative edition of the book, The Cayuse Indians, Imperial Tribesmen of Old Oregon. Robert H. Ruby, who with John A. Brown wrote this unique book about a unique American Indian tribe, will meet the public from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Tamástslikt’s Museum Store. With him will be historian William Lang, who has written a new forward to the book, and Bobbie Conner, Tamástslikt Director, who has written a new introduction. (Free and open to the public. Books for sale.)

* Saturday, May 28, 10 a.m.—Ceremonial procession honoring the treaty signers, followed by a traditional Washat blessing and friendship feast with talks on the treaty on the lawn of the Wainwright Memorial Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Walla Walla. Members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Nez Perce Tribe, and the Yakama Nation will participate in the procession on horseback, on foot, and on trailer. Up to 1,500 people are expected at this historic event. (Free and open to the public) NOTE: If you’re preparing a story and need more information on this event, please contact Debra Croswell, public information officer for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, at 541-966-2033.

* Sunday, May 29, 9 a.m.—Traditional Washat religious worship on the lawn of the Wainwright Memorial Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Walla Walla (Free and open to the public)

* Friday, June 10, 11 a.m.—Ceremonial unveiling of the statue of Peopeomoxmox, a Walla Walla chief and one of the signers of the 1855 treaty, by his direct descendent, Carl Sampson (Peopeomoxmox) at the corner of Third and Rose Streets, Walla Walla (Free and open to the public)

* Friday-Saturday, June 10-11, PowWow with Tribal dancing and drumming to commemorate the treaty signing. The Powwow begins with grand entries at 7 p.m. on Friday and 2 p.m. on Saturday. On the lawn of the Wainwright Memorial Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Walla Walla. Food and beverages available. (Free and open to the public) NOTE: If you’re preparing a story and need more information on this event, please contact Carl Sampson at 541-966-8568.

* Wed., June 15, 4-6 p.m.—David Nicandri, Director, Washington State Historical Society, will present Gustav Sohon in Indian Country, a lecture and slide show about Sohon, an artist who accompanied the treaty negotiators in 1855 and illustrated the negotiation ceremonies and the participants. At Tamástslikt Cultural Institute. (Free and open to the public)

Tamástslikt Cultural Institute is located at Wildhorse Resort & Casino, 10 minutes east of Pendleton. From Interstate 84 take exit 216 and follow the signs five minutes to Wildhorse Resort and the Institute. Coming from the north, take the Mission exit from Highway 11 just northeast of Pendleton and follow the signs for about ten minutes to the Wildhorse Resort and the Institute. Tamástslikt is open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition to exhibits telling the story of the three Tribes' history and culture, there is also a Museum Store and the Kinship Café.

For more information: 541-966-9748 or www.tamastslikt.com. Direct dial the museum store at tollfree 1-866-282-2022. Tamástslikt is owned and operated by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

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