The purpose of this section is to give the student access to all primary and secondary resources for Unit 2.4: Two Worlds Collide - 1850-87.
"Misunderstandings abounded regarding the terms of the Hellgate Treaty of 1855. The interpreters were so poor that, according to one witness, less than a tenth of what was said "was actually understood by either party." Among the main points of misunderstanding was the fate of the Bitterroot Valley. Salish leaders believed they had reserved the land for their people; the U.S. government believed that the Salish had ceded all lands except the present-day Flathead Reservation. In this letter to Territorial Governor Sidney Edgerton, Salish Chief Victor strategically expressed his desire for peaceful coexistence before asking Edgerton to keep white settlers out of the Bitterroot, land that Victor insisted was guaranteed to his tribe" (Montana Historical Society).
"Many settlers believed in Manifest Destiny-America's unique obligation to expand civilization across the continent. Many also assumed that because Indian people did not construct permanent buildings, the Indians were not really using the land. Finally, many settlers also held exaggerated fears about the American Indians around them. These attitudes combined to create righteous anger and aggressive posturing whenever conflict between Indians and settlers was even suspected. Frank Elliott, an Irish immigrant who joined the gold rush, displayed an unfortunate, but common attitude when he asserted that "there is but one way to treat [Indians] and that is extermination." Interestingly, many historians now believe that John Bozeman-whose death triggered Elliott's outrage-was not killed by Indians but rather by his partner, Tom Cover" (Montana Historical Society).