May 21, 1841

“Friday, 21st. Our oxen left us last night, and it was 9 o’clock before we were all ready to start, passed a considerable stream called Vermillion, a branch of the Kanzas. On its banks were finer timber than we had heretofore seen, hickory, walnut, &c. &c. The country was prairie, hilly and strong; we passed in the forenoon a Kanzas village, entirely deserted on account of the Pawnees, [we] encamped by a scattering grove, having come about 15 miles.”

On the 19th they had met some well-armed Kansas (Kaw or Kanza) Indians. who were expecting an attack by the Pawnees, in retaliation for an attack by the Kansas on a Pawnee village a short time before. The Kaw and Pawnee were traditional enemies whose enmity had been intensified by pressure from the westward movement of American settlers. Under the guidance of Thomas Fitzpatrick, the members of the Bidwell party were able to avoid coming between rival native bands.

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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