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Chiefs and Change in the Oregon Country

Indian Relations at Fort Nez Percés, 1818-1855 - Volume 2

Theodore Stern

6 × 9 inches. Illustrated with photographs and maps. Bibliography. Index. 448 pages.

1996. ISBN 978-0-87071-389-7. Hardcover, $39.95.

Theodore Stern's critically acclaimed 1993 book Chiefs and Chief Traders explored early encounters between the fur traders of Fort Nez Perces and the Indians of the eastern Columbia Plateau, principally the Cayuse, Nez Perces, Wallawalla, and Umatilla. Drawing on 25 years of research, Stern recreated the dynamic relationships between Indians and whites at the small but strategic trading post near the confluence of the Columbia and Snake rivers. He offered a new perspective on interactions at the fort, one that encompassed the voices and lives of Indians as well as whites.

In a remarkable new companion volume, Chiefs and Change in the Oregon Country, Stern again focuses on the Plateau Indians, and particularly on the changes they underwent as first the Hudson's Bay Company traders, then missionaries, and later settlers, Indian agents, and the military entered their world. Stern traces these forces of change as they swept through to the Willamette Valley and details their tremendous impact on the Indians tied by residency and trade to Fort Nez Perces. He concludes his history with the fall of the fort during the Indian wars of the 1850s and the end, shortly thereafter, of independent tribal government.

Like its predecessor Chiefs and Change in the Oregon Country is a skillful weaving of history and anthropology. This major work brings important new topics and insights to the story of Indian-white relations in the Pacific Northwest.

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