HOWARD MAUPIN AND THE DEATH OF CHIEF PAULINA
THE OREGONIAN, 13 FEB 1966
Unfortunately there is no written record which can account for Chief PaulinaÂ’s hatred of the white man. There is no desecrated ledge, no wronged and weeping Indian maiden. As accurately as can be determined, Chief Paulina was (as many Indians) convinced he had received less than a fair deal from the white man. This deal was the treaty of 1855 which set up the Warm Springs Indian Reservation and provided that Indians of all tribes surrender claim to all lands between the Cascades and the Blue Mountains. Chief Paulina, whose title may only have been conferred on him by nervously respectful whites, gathered a band of Indians from various tribes and started on his path of destruction, thievery and murder. The path led, eventually, to a hard-bitten 52 year old Kentucky born stock raiser names Howard Maupin. Maupin had settled in the Antelope Valley near The Dalles-Canyon City Road in 1863. Three years later he was to learn of Chief Paulina, when the ranch of a friend, James N. Clark, was attacked by the renegades. Clark, whose wife was, happily, visiting in Willamette Valley, escaped torture and death. But the Indians ripped the ranch apart and gave it the name it bears today: Burnt Ranch. Not long after, Maupin was PaulinaÂ’s target and, although he, too, escaped with his scalp, the Indians made off with the valuable horses Maupin had brought from the Willamette Valley. A year later Chief Paulina attacked the Andrew Clarne Ranch on the John Day River and took 25 head of cattle and several horses. The Indians started for Deschutes River, with their booty and PaulinaÂ’s luck began to run out. Clark, now a stage driver on the Dalles-Canyon City route, sighted a group of Indians driving cattle across a divide in the Antelope Valley. He gave no indication he had seen them, and when they had disappeared over the divide, whipped his horses back to the Antelope stage station. He hunted up Maupin, who knew the country better than any other, and told him what he had seen: A band of Indians driving cattle he was sure had been stolen. Maupin was still smarting over the loss of his horses and the two men joined by William Pagan and John Atterbury, one of the early Trout Creek settlers. The white men formed a posse on the spot, determined to track down and punish the Indians. None of them knew at that time their quarry was the elusive Paulina. They tracked the raiders through the night, Maupin at one time picking up a knife apparently dropped by the Indians. At daybreak of April 25, 1867, they spotted a column of campfire smoke against the wall of the reddish basalt gorge rimming the Trout Creek. Maupin, riding a faster horse than the other three in the posse, was first to reach the crest of a hill which gave him a full, unobstructed view of something almost too good to be true: The unsuspecting Indians resting at the bottom of the steep gorge. Blissfully unaware of pursuit, the Indians had paused to roast themselves an ox from their stolen herd. Maupin, a veteran of the Mexican War, had been presented with a new Henry Army rifle by Gen. George Crook. It was the first repeating rifle of its kind in that part of the country and the rancher gave it a brisk workout. His first shots sent the Indians scattering into the rocks, leaving a wounded man behind. Clark, who had now caught up with Maupin, dismounted and offered to finish off the wounded man. Thomas L. Childers, MaupinÂ’s grandson, said many years later, that Maupin and Clark still did not realize whom they had cornered and wounded. Clark fired repeatedly at the prostrate figure and put puffs of dust beyond the Indian, indicating Clark was missing his target. The two white man descended into the canyon on foot and warily approached the Indian, who lay watching them quietly, making no move to use the rifle at his side. Childers has said that Maupin related he was suddenly sorry for the wounded Indian and regretted that he had been the first to bring him down. Blood pouring through the IndianÂ’s blue cape indicated that ClarkÂ’s rifle fire had been accurate and that the bullets had passed through the IndianÂ’s body to kick up the dust behind him. As the white man closed in on the Indian, he plunged his knife into the ground and broke off the blade. The IndianÂ’s traditional precaution against being scalped with his own knife, would never enter the Happy Hunting Ground. Aware of the other Indians in the band were still within rifle shot, Maupin, to save his own rifle ammunition, quickly stepped to the ground by the wounded manÂ’s side and drew his pistol. At this point the Indian did a strange and touching thing. His eyes were still on the white man standing over him, he pulled tuffs of grass from the ground and sprinkled them over his chest and forehead. Puzzled, stricken with sudden remorse, Maupin ended the IndianÂ’s life with a shot from his pistol. After the fashion of the frontier, Maupin drew the knife he ha found on the trail and scalped the Indian. They took the IndianÂ’s blue cape, rifle, broken knife and headpiece and left the body unburied. Only when an Army Officer later identified the headpiece did Maupin and Clark learn they had killed the notorious Paulina.
In retelling the story, Maupin learned from Warm Springs Indians the significance of the poignant ceremony Paulina conducted during his dying moments. The gestures and the sprinkling of grass over forehead and chest, the Indians said, was a practical matter. Paulina was, in effect, making his will - - conveying by sign language to any of his watching braves the location of some of the wealth from his raids. Maupin and Clark were hailed as heroes by the whites and Indians alike and the two paraded the streets of the Dalles-Canyon City, with Chief PaulinaÂ’s scalp.