MARCH 26, 1856


In 1855, Washington Territory Indians warred with American settlers over treaties that forced the tribes onto reservations.  Yakama Chief Kamiakin plotted to attack the portage at the Cascades of the Columbia–a salmon fishery.  He recruited Klickitats and Cascades into the attack aimed at crippling military operations east of the Cascade Mountains.  On March 25, Colonel George Wright led his infantry toward Eastern Washington, leaving 9 soldiers at the portage.  On March 26, the Indians launched attacks.  At the Lower Cascades, they attacked workers on portage railroad bridges killing several.  In the Middle Cascades, settlers fled to the blockhouse.  In the Upper Cascades, some 40 settlers took shelter in a store.  In sum, the attacks killed 14 civilians and 3 soldiers.  Wright’s ensuing military commission found 9 Cascades, including Chief Chenoweth, guilty.  Each was hung.  Chief Chenoweth gave a war whoop and shouted, “I am not afraid to die!”   

Source:  David Wilma, “Native Americans attack Americans at the Cascades of the Columbia on March 26, 1856,”, 2/7/2003.  Retrieved 1/20/2020,
Photo:  Ft. Reins Blockhouse.  Author unknown, 1867.  Public Domain.

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