“The Indians at the mouth of the Columbia preserve several traditions
of the early visits of white men, the first of which ‘must have
been many years anterior to the arrival of Gray. The wife of Mr. Solomon
H. Smith, who belonged to the Klatsop, and was born about the year 1810,
informed me that the first white men seen by her tribe were three who
came ashore in a boat from a wrecked vessel.
|“They landed on Klatsop Point (Point Adams),
where one soon afterward died. They were first descried by a woman
who had lost her child, and, after the Indian fashion, had gone
out in the morning to mourn for it. She saw a large object lying
on the beach, and, while looking at it in wonder, the seamen came
ashore and approached, holding a bright kettle and motioning her
to bring water. She was afraid; but they put it down and retired,
when she took it and ran to the village.
Celiast Smith (Peterson:1991)
|“The Indians then came down in a body. The
newcomers looked like men, except that they had long beards like
bears. They had already put the sick man into a box to be buried,
as he was nearly dead. The Klatsop Indians sent for the others
on the river, who came in great numbers. Astonished at the value
of their prize and, hoping to get the whole of the metals which
it contained, they set fire to the wreck, by which means they lost
all. There were copper kettles on the vessels and pieces of money,
having a square hole through the center" (Celiast in Gibbs: 1876:
“The two surviving seamen remained as slaves to the Klatsop
until it was found that one was a worker in iron, of which the Indians
began to see the value, when they made him a chief. Afterward the two
started for their own country, which, they said, was toward the rising
sun. They went as far as the Dalles, where one stopped and married.
The other returned to Multnomah Island and married there. He had a
daughter, who was an old gray-haired woman when Mrs. Smith was a child.
Her own father remembered the arrival of the seamen. The man who lived
on Multnomah Island was undoubtedly the one mentioned by Franchère
in his narrative, whose son, Soto, was alive, and a very old man, at
the time of his visit" (Gibbs 1876:236-237).
"Averse to Beards"
Robert Stuart of the Astorians, helps explain why the first sight
of Europeans was so alarming:
“They have scarce any beard, and it is seldom the smallest
hair is to be discerned on their faces; from the care they take to
pluck out the
little that appears, they esteem it very uncooth and impolite to
have a beard, calling the whites by way of reproach the long beards;
same attention is paid to removing it from their bodies, where its
growth is more abundant; that of their head is thick and black, but
rather coarse; they allow it to grow to a great length, sometimes
wearing it pleated, and sometimes fancifully wound round the head
of this they are as proud & careful as they are averse to beards,
nor could a greater affront be offered them, than to cut it off " (Stuart
Memory of first gun
“The Tsihalis [Chehalis] Indians retain a recollection of Gray.
Kau-kau-an, the old chief at Tsihalis Point, informed me that he had
seen him. Gray gave them a musket and some cartridges, first, however,
cutting off the balls. They did not know its use, but supposed’
it was intended merely to make a noise, and fired it off until their
powder was gone, when they broke it up. Afterward they found out Gray’s
object. He also gave them axes and knives, the first they had seen.
A few years after him came Captain Tomlinson, with whom also they
traded. Gray and he used to give them a 'small blanket', probably a
piece of coarse cloth, for a dressed deer-skin" (Gibbs 1877:238).