"The Nez Percé had seen the white soldiers hungry and fed them; seen them cold and provided fuel; seen them without horses and put them on mounts; seen them confused and provided good advice; seen them make fools of themselves trying to cross mountains ten feet deep in snow and not snickered; seen them lost and guided them. They had ridden together, eaten together, slept together, played together, and crossed the Lolo Trail together. Although they could communicate only with the sign language, they had an abundance of shared experiences that drew them together. They had managed to cross communication and cultural barriers to become genuine friends. 'These affectionate people our guides betrayed every emotion of unfeigned regret at seperating from us,' Lewis wrote. The Nez Percé could not hide their anxiety about their new friends: 'They said they were confident that the Pahkees* . . . . would cut us off.' "
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© 1995 - Karen M. Strom