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date: 08 March 2021


  • Robert H. Ruby


Smohalla (1815–1895), prophet of the Shahaptian-speaking Wanapam tribe, lived near Priest Rapids along the Columbia River in present-day Washington State. He was born about the same time that the North West Company established a trading post on the Columbia River below Priest Rapids. Little is known of his parentage, but he is reputed to have descended from a line of prophets. He emerged as a spiritual leader of nearly 2,000 “renegades” along the Columbia and its environs who resisted federal attempts to relocate them to reservations and followed ancient patterns of hunting, fishing, and gathering. He strongly influenced the neighboring Palouses, a Shahaptian people of the lower Snake River, and through them the Nez Percé reservation of young Chief ...

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