Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Peter Fidler's Journals - December 29th, 1792 - Porcupine Hills, Alberta

Porcupine Hills (foreground), Southwest Alberta, Rocky Mountains looking south (background)
Peter Fidler
December, 29, 1792

 ...At 1 1/2 PM, several of our Young Men arrived here, with 25 Good horses, they have been stealing from the Snake Indians [Shoshone], notwithstanding the Peace that was made betwixt them this Summer. These Men say that a few Tents of Cottonahew Indians [Kutenaxa, Kutenai] are at the Naw pew ooch e tay cots river (Old Man) [Naapi's River], wishing our Indians to visit them with Goods, to barter for Horses.

A peace betwixt these 2 Tribes was also made this Summer. After the Young Men arrived almost every person was making a collection of different useful articles to go to trade Horses from the Cottonahews [Kutenai, Kutenai] — such as old Kettles, Hatchets, Cloth, Beads, Knives, Tobacco, &c. &c.

At 4 1/4 AM 50 Men well armed with both Guns & Bows & Arrows set off to Trade with the above Indians, & I & John Ward accompanied them on purpose to see these Indians, who has never seen a European before. Our old Chief also accompanied us. I took also a few articles of Trading Goods to make a little present to the Cottonhew Chief [Kutenai, Kutenai], & for Trading any curiosity.

I wished to have traded a Horse from them, but our chance for that is very much against us, as the Indians always prefer trading with one another before they do Europeans. Besides we well know that our Indians would take them by force as we are 3 to one & well armed.

Generally of the Men went on foot expecting to trade horses to ride back, a few elderly men rode as also me & John Ward. We went SbW 9 miles & crossed a small river about 15 yards wide, pretty good current but shoal, running EbS (Willow Creek).

Nearly, then SbW 3 miles, when the Chief, John Ward, & about 20 men returned back to their Tents. The Chief used every method in his power, except force, to persuade me to return, as he said that the road was very bad — also a great distance & perhaps the Cottonahews [Kutenawa] might hurt me.

There was the Good old man's advice, as his only motive for returning was that we should not run any risk while under his care; however, I strongly insisted in going forward to see the country & the Indians., & when he found that he could not pursuade me the good old man shed tears when we parted but he laid very great stress upon them that accompanied me never to let me go out of their sight.

30 of us pursued our Journey forward & John Ward, the Chief and 20 men returned back to the Tents. At 9 3/4 PM, went SSW 8 miles & crossed a small Creek & went along deep vallies with very steep high hills (Porcupine Hills) on each side of the road, but well covered with small pine, firr, asp, &c.

Then SSW 8 & one of our Men shot a Bull at 3 1/2 AM on the 31st, being nearly full moon, & very clear & light. We remained here 2 1/2 hours, roasting a little of the Bull & took a small nap of sleep.

Fresh Gales at SW, rather cloudy, evening pretty clear, night, sharp frost, & altho the moon shone bright, the deep vallies & high hills close on each side us covered with woods, made it bad walking & riding in the night.

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