A Novel

      Based on the novel by Richie Swanson
      Copyright 2013 by Richie Swanson
      Contact: James Clois Smith Jr., Sunstone Press/(505) 988-4418
      Log Line: A fifteen-year-old emigrant falls in love with an Indian girl, learns Yakama from her and interprets opposite her during a war dispossessing her people. Andrew Eaton longs to marry and protect Lalooh but serves both a territorial governor seeking extermination and an army major seeking truce. He grows embroiled in deceit, rape and a massacre still mostly unknown in American history.
      ACT 1
      During 1854 the fifteen-year-old settler ANDREW EATON arrives for work at a Jesuit mission, catching sight of a beautiful Yakama girl LALOOH snowshoeing with the band of KAMIAKAN, the “Chief Joseph” of the Yakama tribe. The Indians whisk Andrew and his older brother Jake inside a ceremonial lodge. Two hundred Yakamas dance. Andrew hides his terror by watching beautiful Lalooh.
      The tribal ceremony averts winter starvation as a warm Chinook wind melts the snow at dawn. The Jesuit missionary FATHER SIDALIA plays his squeezebox, singing of Palm Sunday, and Lalooh surprises Andrew, whispering English, enchanting him.
      When Kamiakan delivers a bear for Sidalia’s Easter feast, Andrew dresses it, and Lalooh teaches him the Yakama words and spiritual aspects for the parts. A pretty club-footed Yakama girl recites the Ascension perfectly, and Lalooh teaches Andrew the word for fool.
      Jake and Andrew live in a layman’s cabin at Sidalia’s mission. Though Lalooh shares tribal ways with Andrew (e.g. harvesting Indian celeries, building salmon traps), Andrew is shy of romance. Kamiakan leaves on a trip rumored to be a secret Indian meeting to confederate tribes against whites, and when the chief returns, Lalooh hides Andrew and Jake until she knows they will be spared.
      Washington Territory’s Indian agent THOMAS JEFFERSON MCKALB rides into the mission in spring 1855, announcing a grand Indian council to be held at Walla Walla to cede Indian lands to the United States. One morning moans lead Andrew and Jake to the club-footed girl raped and barely alive. Tracks lead to McKalb’s camp. The agent and his tent are suddenly gone. Jake and Andrew leave the dangers of Yakama country.
      ACT II
      Andrew and Jake move to Jake’s claim outside the fledgling settlement of The Dalles. An express arrives from the FIRST GOVERNOR of Washington Territory, offering Andrew five dollars in gold per day to translate at the largest Indian council ever held west of the Rockies. Andrew and DOMINQUE PURCELL, an old Hudson’s Bay trader and chief interpreter for the council, drive a wagon of treaty goods hurriedly to catch the governor already on his way to the council. Wise in Indian negotiations and languages, Dominique becomes one Andrew’s surrogate fathers.
      The governor greets Andrew and Dominique, recovering from a hernia attack, an old hay pitching injury. He’s a blue-blood New Englander, a first-class survey engineer and mapmaker from West Point. He expresses hatred for Cayuse Indians at the deserted Whitman mission, where Cayuse massacred fourteen whites during 1847. A Protestant Puritan, the governor interrogates Andrew suspiciously about Kamiakan and the Catholic missionaries.
      Speaking through Andrew, the governor condescends to the Yakama, Cayuse, Wallawalla, Nez Perce and other tribes at the council. Though Lalooh’s family is present, Lalooh hides herself away.
      Kamiakan and Chief Peopeomoxmox of the Wallawalla object to the treaty. A Cayuse war party arrives, flourishing weapons. Andrew writes his first dishonest dispatch for the governor, assuring MAJOR EDWARD G. WELLS at Fort Dalles that tribes are willing to extinguish title to their lands.
      LAWYER, pro-American chief of the Nez Perce, protects the governor’s undermanned treaty party, surrounding it. Andrew finds Lalooh nearly naked, flinging white flesh, performing a scalp dance. He and Dominique spend a tense-hot night in their wagon, stacking rifles in case Indians attack.
      A thunderstorm floods the treaty camp, rousing both Indians and white. Andrew finds Lalooh again, her war paint washed clean, her demeanor friendly and ravishing. He pledges to marry her after whites and Indians settle boundaries.
      Andrew translates with a new glibness, watched every day by Lalooh. Though Kamiakan remains sullen, Peopeomoxmox and other chiefs begin to accept the treaty. Looking Glass, traditionalist chief of the Nez Perce, scolds his people, “I have been away three years, hunting buffalo. While I have been gone, you have sold the Nez Perce country!” All chiefs except Lawyer renew their resistance and disperse with Looking Glass.
      The governor, Agent McKalb, Dominique and Andrew wait for the Nez Perce to vote on the treaty. As Andrew holds the insinuation of McKalb’s rape inside himself, the governor adds a fishery on the Columbia River to the Yakama Reservation. Dominique objects: the fishery belongs to the Sinkiuse tribe, who are absent, scheduled to council with the governor farther north. The governor tells the Old World trader he must accept the New World.
      The governor and his treaty party ride armed to Kamiakan’s lodge. Andrew translates to Kamiakan, insisting Kamiakan is the head chief for all the tribes. Kamiakan objects. Andrew warns Kamiakan his people will face death by countless soldiers. Kamiakan bitterly signs the treaty. Lawyer wins the Nez Perce vote. The Nez Perce also sign.
      Andrew meets Lalooh secretly at dawn, and she yanks out two of his hairs and ties them crookedly to a time ball of dogbane twine, an ancient history of her tribe. “Your mark forever,” she says, “the night you used our words against us.” She hustles away angrily, crying.
      ACT III
      The governor, Dominique and McKalb travel north to hold councils with the Spokane, Sinkiuse and ultimately the Blackfoot in the Rockies. Andrew returns to Jake’s claim and discovers a violation of the Walla Walla Treaty in a newspaper announcement: the governor has officially opened tribal lands to settlement before Congress has seen or ratified the treaty.
      Indian hostilities escalate throughout Oregon and Washington Territories. Father Sidalia arrives at Jake’s claim in the fall, one of few whites who can carry messages safely during the breakout. Major Wells requests Andrew’s immediate services as a guide, interpreter and secretary: Kamiakan has reportedly killed miners, Agent McKalb has disappeared, and one hundred troops have failed to return from an expedition to Yakama country.
      Andrew embarks with U.S. troops and a territorial militia led by MAJOR BENJAMIN FRANKLIN NICHOLSON, a veteran Indian killer who had been raised by Reverend and Narcissa Whitman before their murders. McKalb’s body is found mutilated, and the expedition encounters Yakama warriors at Sidalia’s mission. All priests have fled the site. The militia charges prematurely. Kamiakan retreats, facing cannons in combat for the first time.
      Andrew interprets and nearly fires upon militiamen as they torture an elderly Indian storyteller. Andrew is ordered to the Yakama River, where Indian women flee, swimming icy November waters. Andrew directs U.S. soldiers to fire at other Indians besides Lalooh. He shoots purposefully to miss her, and she glares hatefully at him before vanishing.
      Nicholson’s militiamen burn Sidalia’s mission, believing priests have been arming the Indians. Protestant militiamen wear Sidalia’s vestments, mocking Catholic rituals, and Major Wells stops the plundering.
      Andrew is ridden with guilt and loss as the expedition follows Kamiakan’s retreat across a frozen desert. He thinks only of how to get Lalooh a message to remove her from the war and marry her. Snow buries Kamiakan’s trail, and the expedition bivouacs at the charred ruins of Fort Walla Walla, an old fur post once factored by Dominique.
      Dominique’s son NARCISSE arrives with an express. U.S. Troops have been ordered out of the field until spring. Wells will leave, but Nicholson and his militia will remain to hunt Kamiakan. Andrew joins the militia, hoping to deliver his message to Lalooh in person.
      ACT IV
      Nicholson’s militia discovers supplies from Fort Walla Walla in storage pits at the hastily abandoned camp of Chief Peopeomoxmox. Peopeomoxmox meets Andrew and the militia, waving a white handkerchief. Nicholson seizes Peopeomoxmox and four sub-chiefs and gallops them to an abandoned ranch, chased by Cayuse and Wallawalla.
      Nicholson orders the Indian prisoners killed inside a cabin. Narcisse Purcell and other militiamen mutilate them, burning Peopeomoxmox’s privates on a woodstove. Andrew grows so agitated he trains his gun at dead sub-chiefs, afraid they will come to life and avenge the acts.
      The militia searches in vain for the rest of the Wallawalla and Cayuse and ultimately retreats from winter conditions back to a rebuilt Fort Walla Walla.
      The governor is presumed dead, killed by Indians or from crossing the Rockies during winter. Yet he arrives at Fort Walla Walla, successful at taking title from nearly every tribe in the Pacific Northwest. But he has refused to meet with CHIEF QUILTENENOCK of the Sinkiuse about the fishery allocated to the Yakama.
      The governor arrives during another hernia attack, accompanied by Dominique. Dominique and Andrew build an Indian sweathouse, comforting the governor. Narcisse toasts the governor’s party with a jar of white alcohol containing Peopeomoxmox’s nose, thumbs and ears. Dominique, a disciplined boxer, pummels his son in punishment.
      Narcisse finds Father Sidalia nearly frozen to death near the fort. The priest wants provisions for starving, friendly Yakama and Sinkiuse. The governor threatens to arrest Sidalia for illegally harboring Indians and reminds the priest he is banished by gubernatorial decree from Yakama country.
      Sidalia recovers and rides to a Jesuit mission north of Yakama country. The governor and Dominique leave for the territorial capital, Olympia, on New Year’s Day. Andrew departs on a lumber detail, traveling with Narcisse and other militiamen who mutilated Peopeomoxmox.
      The party fires at unsuspecting Yakama families wintering in a cottonwood grove, Dry Creek Canyon. All the Indians die except a pregnant woman with a shattered ankle. LIEUTENANT TAYLOR orders Andrew to hold a pistol to her head and interrogate her.
      She is raped successively by six men, including Narcisse. She refuses to answer Andrew’s questions after each rape. As Narcisse stabs the last life from her, she shouts the Yakama words for two fishes: late-winter survival food caught traditionally by Yakama, previously brought to Andrew and Jake by Lalooh.
      Andrew refuses Nicholson the information, but Narcisse understands the fishes are clues to finding Kamiakan.
      ACT V
      Nicholson’s militia discovers the Yakama during March as they harvest the fish (suckers) on Status Creek west of the Columbia. As Andrew scouts the village during the evening, Lalooh is carried to her wedding lodge. As Narcisse and Andrew scout in the morning, Lalooh’s groom NAMMAKIN shoots and mutilates Narcisse as Andrew flees on his mule.
      During the ensuing battle, Andrew draws a bead on Nammakin but hesitates, reluctant to kill Lalooh’s groom. Nammakin fires successfully, killing one of the Dry Creek rapists. The Indians kill two more rapists before retreating, and Andrew fears that “some all-knowing vengeance” will eventually punish all the “Dry Creek boys,” including Andrew.
      As carpenters hammer Narcisse’s coffin, Dominique arrives with an express from besieged settlements. U.S. Troops were on their way to join Nicholson but turned around when Indians successfully stormed The Cascades on the Columbia.
      Andrew and Dominique accompany Narcisse’s coffin as the militia marches south to Fort Dalles. Dominique grieves in anguish, lamenting his failure to make amends with Narcisse after the beating at Fort Walla Walla. Dominique blames his son’s death on the governor’s treaties and Indian policies.
      Dominique intends to murder the governor with a Derringer while the governor views Narcisse’s coffin from a sternwheeler. Andrew feigns clumsiness, preventing the act before the Derringer is drawn. Dominique resigns his commission with the governor and departs to white settlements secured by a young lieutenant named Sheridan.
      Andrew meets General Wool, commander of the Pacific Division of the U.S. Army, Major Wells and the governor on the sternwheeler. General Wool orders all companies of the militia out of the field, except for Nicholson’s, which will escort the governor to council again with the Nez Perce. Wells will proceed to Yakama country with a show of force, eight companies, to induce a ceasefire. Andrew departs with Wells and U.S. troops again.
      ACT VI
      One full year after the Walla Walla Treaty Council, Major Wells and his forces camp on the south side of the Naches River, and thousands of Yakama camp on the north side. Though Kamiakan wishes to continue to fight whites, Yakama peace chiefs agree to parley.
      Nammakin and his piebald horse swim across the turbulent Naches, and he stands alone before Wells and his forces. He has learned English from Lalooh. He recalls the murder of Peopeomoxmox’s under a white flag and admits killing Narcisse. “I am a warrior like Kamiakan,” he says. “I do not want peace. I would rather die, and that is why I am here. If I am killed, the Yakama will fight on, and you whites will be driven away.” Though Wells dismisses Nammakin, Andrew envies Nammakin’s courage and straightforward confession.
      The next day Lalooh translates for the peace chiefs, and Andrew translates for Wells. Lalooh refuses to acknowledge Andrew with as much as a glance. Wells gives the Yakama five days to surrender everything stolen from whites and promises to keep settlers out of Yakama country.
      Andrew leaves camp to meet a Yakama spy, but is seized instead by Quiltenenock and a Sinkiuse war chief. Lalooh leaps upon Andrew in the dark. Quiltenenock wrests away her knife, though she cites Dry Creek as a reason to kill Andrew.
      Andrew escorts Quiltenenock to Wells, so the chief can show the major a letter from Sidalia verifying his tribe’s claim to its fishery. Wells befriends Quiltenenock but explains he lacks authority to change the Walla Walla Treaty.
      Salmon begin to run on the Naches, and the Yakama vanish prematurely to traditional fisheries higher in mountains. The governor arrives and accuses Wells of abandoning a just cause, letting the Yakama escape. Meanwhile a lack of discipline results in the drowning of an ex-militiaman now in Wells’ army, another Dry Creek rapist.
      Wells blames himself for the death, but Andrew confesses his complicity at Dry Creek and tells the major the rapist was “struck asunder.” Though stunned, Wells has also become a surrogate father. He encourages Andrew to redeem himself by learning more Indian languages and earning a law degree, so he can spend a lifetime helping whites and Indians communicate.
      Andrew also confesses to Dominique, who has returned with the governor, possibly to kill him, also to encounter Narcisse’s killer, Nammakin. Dominique finds Lalooh’s time ball left behind in haste. He gives the iti ta’mat to Andrew, and Andrew feels a great new hope: he can return the ball to Lalooh, confess and offer himself to her people as heroically as Nammakin did to whites.
      Dominique convinces Andrew to join the militia again: while the army tarries, the governor will find and fight Indians, Lalooh might be captured, and Andrew might still offer her a good life with a white husband.
      ACT VII
      The governor and Nicholson’s company discover Indians gathering camas in the Grande Ronde Valley. Andrew and Dominique translate during a parley: the Indians are not Yakama but Cayuse very short of warriors.
      Fueled partly by hatred and the memory of the Whitman killings, the governor orders a charge led by Nicholson. The militia guns down elderly Indians who soak in sulfur pots, women and children who flee and beg for their lives, and a handful of warriors.
      Andrew sees Lalooh fall early during the charge. He translates during torture again, commanded again by Lieutenant Taylor, a Dry Creek rapist. After Andrew fires to miss again, Taylor dismembers a live Indian woman, and he and Andrew draw pistols at each other. The two are called to the next skirmish, the village is burned, the camas and other provisions confiscated.
      This is the little-known Grande Ronde massacre, a historical event as tragic as the Sand Creek, Washita Creek and Wounded Knee massacres. Andrew seeks Lalooh’s body the morning after and finds instead Dominique nursing bruises in a sulfur pot. Both understand no Yakama were present, and Lalooh was not killed.
      The governor declares victory over four hundred warriors and the end of the Indian war between the Rockies and Cascades. He orders a new Indian council to be held at the Walla Walla council site, requiring all innocent chiefs to attend and surrender Kamiakan and all other hostile chiefs who began the war.
      ACT VII
      Andrew sets out to carry the governor’s news to Major Wells, who is building a new Fort Walla Walla. Andrew encounters Yakama, Sinkiuse, Cayuse and Nez Perce warriors working in accord, attacking a white pack train led by CHARLES LEGGETT. Nammakin leads the charge, and Lalooh passes rifles. Leggett escapes but loses his pack train.
      While Andrew provides Leggett food and water, Leggett identifies Lalooh as a target, the squaw who talks for the hostiles. A squeezebox approaches in the moonlight. Father Sidalia sings to identify himself to Indians as he rides urgently from tribe to tribe, trying to verify rumors of a white massacre of Cayuse.
      Andrew leaves Leggett with his teamsters, departing with Sidalia. The two are soon surrounded by braves. Nammakin finds Lalooh’s time ball hidden beneath Andrew’s shirt and brings his prisoners to Quiltenenock’s camp, where Lalooh translates for the Sinkiuse chief.
      Andrew confesses about Dry Creek and Grande Ronde. “You may whip, deface or kill me,” he says. Lalooh claims Andrew is a coward, but Quiltenenock hopes the Sinkiuse can regain their land and fishery during the new council, and he orders Sidalia and Andrew escorted safely to Major Wells.
      Wells disbelieves the governor’s Grande Ronde report. Andrew officially testifies about the transgressions and remains as Wells’ secretary and interpreter again. He burns with a new message for Lalooh: the Great Father in Washington will replace the governor when he reads Andrew’s testimony, and Lalooh must avoid whites until then.
      Andrew intends to sneak off to huckleberry fields to contact Lalooh. But the governor requests an interpreter the Indians trust, neither Andrew nor Dominique, and Sidalia answers the call, leaving Andrew as the only interpreter at the new fort. Wells denies the governor troops, forbids him to camp on military land and advises him to delay the new council until tempers cool, and more troops arrive.
      Looking Glass visits Wells. More than half the Nez Perce have turned hostile, holding the governor responsible for the Grand Ronde massacre. Because Wells’ favorite courier suddenly suffers cholera symptoms, Wells sends Andrew to warn the governor.
      After the Cayuse burn the grasses (horse fodder) around the governor’s camp, Andrew arrives as Kamiakan’s braves carry Sidalia’s body from the ashes. “You must take the body to Governor Rotten Wind,” Kamiakan says to Andrew. “Tell him he was wrong to send the black robe into the fire, and he will only be right when he tosses the treaty into flames.”
      The governor, outnumbered by thousands of warriors, insists on holding the council. Only a few chiefs attend, including Quiltenenock. When the Sinkiuse request their land and fishery, the governor tells them Kamiakan has signed the treaty for them, they are guilty of attacking Charles Leggett, and they must surrender and bring in all hostile chiefs to hang.
      Lalooh translates harsh messages, invoking Peopeomoxmox. She reminds whites of their crimes at Dry Creek and other places. She finally recognizes Andrew as a friend, beseeching him to convince the governor to open his ears. She claims the Sinkiuse have dreamt no bullets will touch them today.
      The governor sends a Nez Perce spy to Wells for help. As the treaty party rides toward Fort Walla Walla, Charles Leggett provides one hundred new breechloaders, and the Sinkiuse reappear in war paint, reinforced by other tribes.
      The governor orders his wagons corralled. Lieutenant Taylor breaks rank and charges Lalooh on her blueberry roan. She leads him to his death and a frenzy of revenge by Indian women, while all warriors remain eerily disciplined.
      Dominique, Andrew, Nicholson and Leggett man pickets in sage. As Nammakin and other warriors approach, the new breechloaders prove defective. Dominique dies beside Andrew, shooting Nammakin’s piebald. As Lalooh brings Nammakin a new horse, Leggett and Nicholson find their marks, killing her.
      Andrew conceals himself while Indians remove Lalooh from the field, and Quiltenenock and warriors charge. Leggett flees, Indians overwhelm the wagon corral, and a bugler plays retreat. Andrew races through a gulley, passing whites brutally mutilated and Nammakin mortally wounded, clasping Nicholson’s scalp.
      Andrew digs himself into a hole which crumbles from an explosion. Are the Indians firing the governor’s ammunition wagon? The Sinkiuse leap their mounts above Andrew. Are they retreating or celebrating?
      Andrew scrambles to Mill Creek, site of the Whitman Mission and the Walla Walla Council. The governor is lying on the bank disabled by his hernia, hidden by powder smoke and dust. Andrew shoves and holds him underwater, seized by an impulse of revenge and justice. As the bubbles cease, more explosions shake the air.
      Wells has arrived with artillery. Andrew gets up and starts toward the major to report to him.