Historical Events

Bonnack Indians slaughter a thousand fat buffalo cows, then cut and dry the meat. The village is made of 332 lodges, each consisting of about 6 people.

‚Äč

Journal of a Trapper

Osborne Russell

This Valley as a Mountaineer would say was full of Buffaloe when we entered it and large numbers of which were killed by our hunters we repeatedly saw signs of Blackfeet about us to waylay the Trappers. 


27th We stopped at this place to feast on fat Buffaloe


The Buffaloe were carelessly feeding all over the plain as far as the eye could reach. I watched the motions of the dust for a few minutes when I saw a body of men on horse back pouring out of the defile among the Buffaloe. In a few minutes the dust raised to the heavens The whole mass of became agitated producing a sound resembling distant thunder. At length an Indian pursued a Cow close to me alongside of her he let slip an arrow and she fell. I immediately recognized him to be a Bonnack with whom I was acquainted. On discovering myself he came to me and saluted me in Snake which I answeeed in the same tongue. He told me the Village would come and encamp where I was. In the meantime he pulled off some of his Clothing and hung it on a Stick as a signal for the place where his squaw should set his lodge he then said he had killed three fat cows but would kill one more and So saying he wheeled his foaming charger and the next moment disappeared in the cloud of dust. In about a half an hour the Old Chief came up with the village and invited me to stop with him which I accepted. While the squaws were putting up and stretching their lodges I walked out with the Chief on to a small hillock to the view the field of slaughter the cloud of dust had passed away and the prarie was covered with the slain upwards of a Thousand Cows were killed without burning one single grain of gunpowder. The Village consisted off 332 lodges and averaged six persons young and old to each lodge They were just returned from the salmon fishing to feast on fat Buffaloe. After the lodges were pitched I returned [to] the village This Chief is called "Aiken-lo-ruckkup" (or the tongue cut with a flint) he is the brother of the celebrated horn chief who was killed in a battle with the Blackfeet some years ago: and it is related by the Bonnaks without the least scruple that he was killed by a piece of Antelope [horn] the only manner in which he could [be] taken as he was protected by a Supernatural power from all other harm. My worthy host spared no pains to make my situation as comfortable as his circumstances would permit. The next morning I took a walk thro. the Village and found there was fifteen lodges of Snakes with whom I had formed an acquaintance the year before. On my first entering the Village I was informed that two white Trappers belonging to Mr. Wyeths party had been lately killed by the Bonnaks in the lower country and that the two Indians who had killed or caused them to be killed were then in this village. The Old Chief had pointed them out to me as we walked thro. the village and asked me what the white men would do about it I told him they would hang them if they caught them at the Fort He said it was good that they deserved death for said he "I believe they have murdered the two white men to get their property and lost it all in gambling" for continued he "ill gained wealth often flies away and does the owner no good". "But" said he "you need not be under any apprehensions of danger whilst you stop with the village." The squaws were employed cutting and drying meat for two days at the end of which the ground on which the village stood seemed covered with meat scaffolds bending beneath their rich loads of fat Buffaloe meat 


13th My horse being somewhat recruited I left the Village with a good supply of boiled Buffaloe tongues prepared by my land lady and the necessary directions and precautions from the Old Chief. I travelled due east about 25 Mls which brot. me to the forks of Snake River when approaching to the waters I discovered fresh human footprints. I immediately turned my horse and rode out from the river about a quarter of a mile intending to travel parralel with the river in order to avoid any straggling party of Blackfeet which might be secreted in the timber growing along the banks.


I had not gone far when I discovered three Indians on horse back running a Bull towards me: I jumped my horse into a ravine out of sight and crawled up among [the] high Sage to watch their movements as they approached nearer to me I saw they were Snakes and showed myself to them. They left the Bull and galloped up to me after the usual salutation I followed them to their Village which was on the East bank of the river. The village consisted of 15 lodges under the direction of a chief called "Comb Daughter" by the Snakes and by the whites the "Lame Chief." He welcomed me to this lodge in the utmost good humor and jocular manner [I] had ever experienced among Indians and I was sufficiently acquainted with the Snake language to repay his jokes in his own coin without hesitation. I passed the time very agreeablyly for six days among those simple but well fed and good humored Savages.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Reddit's r/Ketoscience