Snake River
Snake River is the 13th largest river in the United States, and it is the largest tributary of the Columbia River.1 The river rises in western Wyoming, and flows westwards before swinging north into the state of Washington. Its drainage basin goes through six US states.
Large amounts of salmon travelled up the Columbia River and into Snake River, which supported large Aboriginal populations along the river.2 The first European explorers in the area misinterpreted a local Aboriginal hand sign for fish, which they took to mean snake, thus giving the Snake River its name.3
Snake River was inside the land-dispute area between the United States and Canada; indeed, the HBC decided to kill all the beavers along the Snake River, so there would be less incentive for the Americans to settle.4 By 1848, when Snake River became part of the Oregon Territory, most of the beaver population had been decimated.5
Berens, Henry Hulse to Lytton, Sir Edward George Earle Bulwer 3 August 1858, CO 6:26, no. 7696, 455 records the events surrounding an 1858 skirmish between US mounted troops and the Aboriginals in the area. Shortly after the US troops crossed the Snake River, the Americans were met by a number Indians of the Spokan and other Tribes who objected to the soldiers passing through their country…two [American] officers and five men killed, together with some ten more wounded, and being moreover short of ammunition, [the Americans] quietly withdrew leaving behind all baggage and stores and two mountain howitzers.
Mentions of this place in the documents