Benton County Pioneer Life

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Pioneer life in the Benton Co. WA area

Chief Wolf Owned Many Horses and a Big Hearse

Tri-City Pioneer
Tri-City Herald, Sunday, October 30, 1960, page 5.

Chief Wolf was quite a character. He owned thousands of wild horses which he ranged on the Pasco side of the Columbia. He was a tall well built man with a commanding personality and a shrewd quick mind. He had secured his large herds of horses by his astuteness. When he sold horses the buyers bought them one at a time. They gave him first the exact price of the animal and then he turned it over to them; thus, always getting his money first before he delivered the animal to the buyer. This method of sale also kept the transactions within his mathematical knowledge.

He knew the Chinook numerals of Ikt equals 1, Moxt equals 2, Klone equals 3, Lokit equals 4, Guinnum equals 5, Taghum equals 6, Sinnamoxt equals 7, Stotekin equals 8, Kwast equals 9, Tahtlelum equals 10, Tahtelum pe Ikt equals 11, Moxtahtelum equals 20, and Ikt Tuckamonuk equals 100. He also knew their values.

Chief Wolf never drank “Pia Water.” The horse buyers therefore were unable to get him drunk.

He was one of the few Indian chiefs of this region that was accredited with more than one wife or “Klutchman.” It was reported that he had three. They were all fine specimens of feminine Indian beauty, tall and stately varying in age from twenty to thirty five years. They dressed in the height of Indian fashion and the mold of Indian form. On their feet they wore buckskin or elk skin hand tanned, beaded moccasins. They did not wear socks or stockings on their feet. Leggings were worn from the top of the moccasins to the knee. These leggings were made of woolen cloth or buckskin, ornamented by fringe of same on the outerside of the calf. The undergarments varied with the weather conditions. The outer dress or garment was sleeveless, resembling somewhat a mother hubbard. It was held in at the waist by a buckskin thong or beaded belt. The garment extended below the knees, showing ten or twelve inches of the leggings. There were no buttons or lacings in this sleeveless garment. It was slipped on over the head. An undergarment with full length sleeves was worn beneath this dress. Some Indian women wore pockets attached to the belt at the waist, quite similar to the old fashioned chatlaine bags that were worn by the white ladies in the early days. The head coverings of the Indian women were few. They generally wore their hair braided in two braids which hung over their bosoms. The middle part in their hair they painted with red pigment and some times touched up their faces with the same. They wore around their necks many strings of beads and shell necklaces. Shell earrings were worn in their pierced ears. Bracelets of silver decorated their wrists and rings of silver, never gold, adorned their fingers. The Indian women, in the summer, often wore red bandanna handkerchiefs tied over their head and under their chin. Small woolen shawls were worn over their heads and fastened at the throat in colder weather. I never saw an Indian woman of the Tri-City region wearing a hat. Indian women did not wear a blanket as much as the men. One reason for this was that in wearing a blanket the use of one hand was quite restricted. The Indian women were kept so busy that it took both hands to perform their many duties.

Indian women were very fond of small dogs which followed them everywhere. It was quite an amusing sight, in very hot weather, to see the Indian women with the soles of their moccasins reinforced with sheep pelt, to keep the hot sands from burning their feet, trudging along followed by their dogs whose feet they had wrapped in sheep pelt also. Chief Wolf, his wives, and their children, were very congenial and enjoyed each other’s company.

The Chief, upon completing a large horse sale, took his family to Walla Walla. He searched for a conveyance large enough to carry his entire family. The largest thing he could find was a huge hearse. The undertaker was very anxious to sell the hearse because it took four horses to pull it. The Chief bought the hearse. The driver of the huge hearse always wore a stovepipe hat, black suit, black boots, and gloves. He and the Chief were near the same size so the Chief dickered for the outfit and dressed himself in the garb, bought the four black horses and their black fly nets, piled his family into the hearse and drove back to Pasco. Sitting high on the drivers seat, clothed in his black outfit stove pipe hat and all, his large family squatting and reclining on the floor inside the hearse, was a sight never to be forgotten by the early day pioneers of Pasco.

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