More on Nez Perce gardens and fur traders


I argued against missionary Spalding as the original source of Wallowa Nez Perce gardens in my last blog post, went on a laborious journey through Spokane House, Spokane Garry, the Church of England, and the fur trade as alternative sources of seeds and irrigation techniques. And then got onto the thought that this all happened with people and players—Hudson’s Bay, the North West Fur Company, David Thompson—who end up being on the Canadian side of history, so do not get attention in standard USA history books.

I think that last line is quite true, but my circuitous argument about Spokane Garry and his time at the Red River School under the Anglicans probably was too much. Friend and long-time historian of the fur trade John Jackson—Children of the Fur Trade—made it all simpler in a brief response to my post:

“The curmudgeon can’t resist pointing out that the early Nor’westers
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Nez Perce farmers, missionary squabbles, and the Canadian Border


“Before leaving the southern portion of the Asotin County some mention should be made of the
Indian gardens located on the north side of the Grande Ronde River about half a miles below
the mouth of the Rattlesnake Creek and on other favored spots extending on down the Grande
Ronde to the mouth of Shoemaker Creek, on low benches along the river.
“It appears that Nez Perce Indians maintained gardens in these places before white men came
to the country, and made use of irrigation in growing corn and other vegetables.
“As there appears to be no record or tradition of the growing of vegetables by the Nez Perce
Indians prior to the coming of missionary Spalding, it is safe to assume that the Indians who
maintained these gardens in the early days learned their lessons in agriculture and irrigation
from Rev. Spalding.”
I found this quote from Historic Glimpses of Asotin
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