(Note: This excert is from: An illustrated history of Klickitat, Yakima and Kittitias Counties. Interstate Publishing Company [This book can be purchased as an e-book or is available in university and other digital archives.] I selected this story because it included an incident that showed the humor of the native population. The hope is that the dissemination of information will spur further research on early Klickitat County families. – Ellen Rowley)
INDIAN SCARES IN EASTERN KLICKITAT
"The pioneers of Klickitat, who lived east of Rock creek," says Samuel P. Flower, "did not always dwell in sweet peace and perfect security in those early years. When I came in 1878 there were not more than two or three dozen whites in that rough area bounded by Rock creek, the Columbia and the Yakima valley. We were widely scattered over the country, most of us raising horses and cattle. Owing to the close proximity of the reservation on our north and west we were pestered a great deal by the Indians who roamed at will over our range. For several years in the later seventies and early eighties they continually stirred matters up in one way and another, usually by petty acts, but nevertheless serious enough to keep our nerves tense.
"Though they did not attempt any disturbance at the time of the general scare in 1878, occasionally we would see bands of them scurrying around the country looking for trouble, scaring settlers and otherwise doing mischief. This they kept up three or four years, much to our dissatisfaction. A typical instance of their little 'joking' occurred in November, 1879, which I well remember. At that time 'Old Looney,' as he was called, led the redskins in our region. He was a cripple, club-footed, a man perhaps fifty years of age, and a sub-chief. Fortunately, however, Looney was a good friend of the whites and kept his young bucks well in hand. It must also be understood that in 1879 all the Indians in this country were pretty thoroughly excited over the failure of the Bannock and Piute outbreak in Idaho and Oregon and the desperate efforts being made in Yakima county to punish the murderers of the Perkins family. So it was but natural that our people should be easily excited by redskin maneuvers.
"One afternoon, late in November, a neighbor of mine whose name I have forgotten, came over from Goldendale with a load of supplies. Just as he was crossing Wood gulch, four or five miles south of Cleveland, and at the bottom of the canyon, one of his horses balked. He tried every means at his command without being able to make the animal budge. This was aggravation enough with night rapidly coming on and a long road ahead of him, but to make matters worse up came a yelling, racing band of Indians. 'Old Looney' was in the lead. Behind him were about thirty young men painted and dressed in war toggery and well equipped with weapons.
"On they came right up to my friend, apparently bent on annihilating him. This movement seemed only to strengthen the determination of the balky horse to stand pat, notwithstanding the fact that most of the load of flour had been taken out of the wagon as an inducement for him to move on. Riding up, the redskins circled the thoroughly frightened settler, yelling like demons and flourishing their guns and knives in his face. Some of the Indians were beginning to give vent to their hatred of the white race by prodding the sole representative paleface present, when suddenly 'Old Looney' made himself heard. At a wave of his hand, the apparently enraged Indians underwent a complete transformation. Joyous grunts and laughing broke upon the air and a number of the horsemen jumped to the ground. In an instant they had the wagon in motion again loaded with the flour and the dumfounded driver back to his place on the load. The balky horse was evidently satisfied with his share in the joke on his master, for he gave no more trouble that day. Wagon, horses and man went one way; 'Old Looney' and his band of half-earnest, half-joking bucks went the other, and the incident terminated happily."
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