Indians Along The Trail
by Stephenie Flora
One of the biggest misconceptions regarding the Indians along the trail is related to the number of emigrant deaths caused by Indian attack. In his book, The Plains Across, John Unruh Jr. noted that from 1840 through 1850 there were only 362 emigrant deaths attributed to Indians. During that same time period there were 426 Indians killed by emigrants.
The Indians, for the most part, were much more interested in trade than in killing. The biggest liability they presented was the fact that they placed a certain degree of status upon the individual who was able to steal the most and the finest livestock. Many an emigrant woke up in the morning to find their prize horses gone. One emigrant, so concerned that he would lose his horse during the night, tied him with a rope to his arm while he slept. In the morning all he had left was the rope.
Some of the poorer tribes took to shooting the oxen with arrows assuming that when the oxen was left behind, they could butcher it for food. In may cases this worked but sometimes the emigrants thwarted this plan by butching the animal themselves and hauling the meat away.
There were many acts of kindness towards the emigrants by members of some of the tribes. Unfortunately, these did not get the recognition that they deserved.
Oregon tribes and their customs
My name is Stephenie Flora. Thanks for stopping by. Return to [ Home Page ] All [ Comments and Inquiries ] are welcome.