No doubt many of theā€¦. readers have heard of the councils that were held between the white men and the Indians in the early history of our country; but only a few have ever attended such an assembly. The writer has often read of these meetings with much interest, but little thought that he would ever be privileged to attend a council, however much he might wish for such an opportunity.

However, the coveted occasion came at last, and we were invited to be present at a veritable Indian council. In the far north-west, near where the Snake River empties into the noble Columbia, is a large tract of country that has long been the home of a band of Indians called the Wash-tuk-nas. It is not one of the regular tribes of that country, is formed of fragments of the Snake, Umatilla, Spokane, and Yakimaw tribes. With them are also some of the Moses Reservation Indians. For some reason, best known to themselves perhaps, these have seen fit to leave their own people, and form a separate tribe.

These Indians claim the land upon which they have lived so long; but the country is settling up so fast that the white man has pushed his settlements in upon the Indians' hunting and grazing lands. A statement of their grievances was written out and forwarded to Washington; and then the Government sent a special Indian agent, Mr. Beede, of Iowa, to talk with them about the matter. The council was to be held on the lot where our tent is pitched for meetings. As the hour approached, the dusky forms of twenty or more of their leading men appeared in the grove, and seated themselves in a semicircle on the ground, their chief occupying about the center of the group.

Nearly all had blankets around them, some arranged in one way and some in another. A few of the blankets were green, some red, and others striped. A part of the men had shell ornaments hung in their ears. Others had shells around their necks, and a few had bracelets of the same material on their arms. All had long, black hair hanging down their shoulders, while a few had braids in front of their ears, wound with bright red cloth.

A part of the young and middle-aged men had their cheeks stained with red; some had it on their necks and arms; and still others had stained their scalps with the same coloring-stuff. No two were dressed or ornamented just alike. One man, who sat very near the chief, and talked considerably in the council, had his forehead stained a bright yellow, and his face below the eyes a deep red. He was a very strong, robust man; and from his dress and ornaments, one would have supposed him in some way related to the chief, though the latter was very modest, and plainly dressed.  The subject under discussion was one of deep interest to them, yet only one talked at a time.

While one talked, all the others listened with respectful silence. One singular custom, however, prevailed at intervals during the council. One of their number would fill a pipe with tobacco. After lighting it, and drawing a whiff or two, and blowing it through the nose, he would silently pass it to his next neighbor, who, after blowing the customary whiff through his nose, would pass it to the next, and so on till all had been given the opportunity of smoking. Only one interruption occurred during the time. This was occasioned by a drunken Indian's walking through the company muttering a maudlin jargon. None spoke to him, but all seemed heartily ashamed of his conduct. We heard only one express himself about the affair.

He simply said, "Cul-tus si-wash" (good-for-nothing Indian).

After several had talked with the agent through the interpreter, the old chief quietly arose to his feet. Putting his hand in his bosom, he drew forth a small roll, which he unwrapped, displaying his regalia, or badge of authority. It was made of some red material, and bound on the edges with yellow.  In front, where the parts joined, it was fastened with a rosette of white and red. Fastened on the left side was a large silver ornament of triangular form, artistically finished.  This the old man slowly and solemnly hung around his neck, and then, like a crowned king, addressed the council. His words were few, and apparently well studied. His remarks closed, he removed his ensign of royalty, carefully wrapped it again in the cloth, and returned it to his bosom.

After a few more words between him and in regard to the deceptions often practiced by the whites upon the Indians, the council was declared at an end. The chief and his principal men then came to le-mak hul-hul (hand-shake) with the boaton (white, or American) men, after which all the Indians mounted their ponies, and in a body rode away to their camp on the river.