3.7.21

A CITY TATTOO POLICY 

June 14, 2021

 

Mayor and City Council

15 N. Third

Walla Walla, WA 99362

 

Re: The First Amendment, tattoos, and employee speech

 

Dear Mayor and Council:

 

We are city residents who have a professional interest and expertise in U.S. constitutional law.  We are writing in response to the City Attorney’s presentation to the Council and the general public on September 21, 2020 regarding the legal implications of the possible adoption by the Council of a tattoo policy.

 

Given the disruption caused by a Nazi tattoo approved under current employment policies, we believe it is of high importance that the Council, the administrative staff, and City employees, as well as the public at large, have a clear understanding of constitutional law in the area of tattoos and free speech, and we are thankful that the City Council invited the City Attorney to make a presentation publicly.

 

The presentation raised several questions for us that we believe need to be addressed. In particular, the presentation created confusion as to the precise constitutional rule that governs the situation raised in both the recent controversy and in the hypothetical case Councilmember Riley Clubb posed regarding a swastika tattoo.

 

On October 22, 2020 we wrote to the Mayor asking him to convey our concerns about the presentation to the City Attorney and to request that he respond to the questions raised (see attached letter). Mayor Scribner has replied that he presented our memo to Mr. Donaldson, who, to the best of our knowledge, has declined to comment.

 

In the absence of a response, we contacted the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington for their counsel regarding constitutional law relevant to tattoo policies for public employees in jurisdictions governed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

 

As the attached letter indicates, the ACLU-WA agrees 1) that the questions we posed in our October 22, 2020 letter are the relevant ones to raise in this context; 2) that it is possible to frame a policy that will pass Constitutional muster in the Ninth Circuit; and 3) that a tattoo policy needs to be part of a larger package of actions to address biased policing. (To confirm the ACLU-WA’s second point here, we visited the websites for multiple municipalities within the Ninth Circuit and, although the specific content varies from city to city, all have policies regulating tattoos.)

 

In order to ensure clarity regarding constitutional law in this area, we now request that the Council solicit from the City Attorney his responses to the questions in our October 22 letter and make them publicly available. Because it is important that the public have trust in the City and its employees as well as confidence that all City services will be delivered equitably and free from discrimination based on race, creed, color, national origin, citizenship or immigration status, sex, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, or the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, the Council needs to understand what options are legally available to achieve these ends. We also hope that the Council will eventually consider adoption of a narrowly drawn tattoo policy that is compliant with current constitutional law.

 

Thank you for your consideration.

  

Jack Jackson, JD, PhD

Associate Professor of Politics, Whitman College

 

Timothy Kaufman-Osborn, PhD

Baker Ferguson Professor of Politics and Leadership Emeritus, Whitman College

 

Barbara Clark, JD

Walla Walla Mayor and City Council Member (retired)


October 22, 2020

Re: The First Amendment, tattoos, and employee speech

Dear Mayor Scribner,

We are writing in response to the City Attorney’s presentation to the Council and the general public on September 21, 2020 regarding the legal implications of the possible adoption by the Council of a City tattoo policy.

Given the disruption caused by a Nazi tattoo approved under current employment policies, we believe it is of high importance that the Council, the administrative staff, and City employees, as well as the public at large, have a clear understanding of constitutional law in the area of tattoos and free speech, and we are thankful that the City Council invited the City Attorney to make a presentation publicly.

For us as city residents and constituents, the presentation raised a number of questions that we believe need to be addressed.  In particular, the presentation created, for us, confusion as to the precise constitutional rule that governs the situation raised in both the past case and in the hypothetical case Councilmember Riley Clubb posed regarding a Swastika tattoo. Given that our inquiry concerns a matter of law, we are hoping that the Council will solicit a legal memo from the City Attorney addressing the questions we present.

I. Speech of Citizenry v. Employee Speech

A. It is not clear why the NSPA v. Skokie case cited by the City Attorney was central to his analysis. The First Amendment allows the Ku Klux Klan to hold rallies (see also Brandenburg v. Ohio, 1969), but it would be quite a leap to then say that Brandenburg requires the City to hire Klan members or permit its employees to walk around with swastikas at work. Critically, neither Skokie nor Brandenburg involves the regulation of speech in an employer/employee context.

B. As the City Attorney mentioned, a different constitutional standard governs the speech of public employees.  The Supreme Court said in the landmark case of Pickering v. Board of Education (1968): "It cannot be gainsaid that the State has interests as an employer in regulating speech of its employees that differ significantly from those it possesses in connection with regulation of the speech of the citizenry in general." 

C. The Court’s doctrine in this area has been elaborated in cases subsequent to Pickering such as Connick v. Myers (1983), and Garcetti v. Ceballos (2006). In the Garcetti case, Justice Kennedy articulated a two-step First Amendment inquiry when the Government is the employer and the speaker is the employee:

1) Is the employee speaking on a matter of public concern? “If the answer is no, the employee has no First Amendment cause of action.”

2) If the speech is on a matter of public concern, is there an “adequate justification” in restricting the employee’s speech? This requires “a delicate balancing of the competing interests surrounding the speech and its consequences.”

 D. The interest of the State as employer does not appear to be confined to a narrow standard of “efficiency.” For example, in Rankin v. McPherson (1987), the Supreme Court explained that the “mission of the public employer” was a State interest to be weighed and that “attention must be paid to the responsibilities of the employee within the agency. The burden of caution employees bear…will vary with the extent of authority and public accountability the employee’s role entails.” In Rankin, the Court suggested that a clerk with no contact with the public would have more leeway for controversial speech. In that case the plaintiff “was not a commissioned peace officer, did not wear a uniform, and was not authorized to make arrests or carry a gun.”  The implication is clear:  the State’s interests in regulating the employee’s speech would have been greater if she was a police officer rather than an employee with duties that “were purely clerical.”

II. The Rule/Rulings of the Ninth Circuit

In the September 21 presentation, the City Attorney made several references to the fact that Walla Walla is located in the Ninth Circuit. It is true that the Ninth Circuit provides First Amendment protection to both tattoos and tattoo parlors (see Anderson v. City of Hermosa Beach, 2010). But this in no way alters the critical distinction between speech in an employer/employee context and speech by the citizenry in general. It is unclear if the City Attorney was referencing any Ninth Circuit cases involving the State as a public employer and a speech claim by a public employee.

Questions for City Council and the City Attorney:

1) Are the tattoo questions in the current police background check referred to by the City Attorney constitutional?  If yes, would it be constitutional to ask the same questions about tattoos and memberships of applicants for other City positions that include direct contact with the public and/or discretionary decision-making?

2) Does the doctrine developed in Pickering, Connick, Rankin, and Garcetti govern the free speech situation raised by the past Nazi tattoo and/or the hypothetical case raised by Councilmember Riley Clubb (an applicant for a police officer job with a swastika tattoo)?

3) If these cases govern, are the tattoos:

a) private expression or do they constitute speech by a citizen “addressing a matter of public concern”? Would a tattoo that, according to the employee, represents a personal memorial to a friend rise to the level of speech addressing a matter of public concern?

b) If a swastika tattoo did qualify as speech addressing a matter of public concern, what State interests might be in play? Is there a State interest in maintaining public confidence in the frontline workers who deal directly with the public and make discretionary decisions, including police officers? Is there a State interest in ensuring that such employees are committed to the 14th Amendment’s command that no person shall be denied the Equal Protection of the law?  Is there a State interest in ensuring a non-hostile work environment for racial and religious minorities?

c) In a small city the size of Walla Walla where police officers and other frontline city employees are well known in the community during their off-duty hours, would the exposure of such inflammatory tattoos in public places while off duty also have a damaging effect on the public’s confidence in the employee’s fair administration of city services?

 4) Under Rankin, is it true that more exacting standards may be required for police officers and other frontline employees than for city employees whose duties are “purely clerical”?

 5) Are there Ninth Circuit cases ruling on the free speech claims of public employees that offer particular guidance in this area? If so, can the City Attorney direct the City Council and the public of Walla Walla to those Ninth Circuit decisions?

 6) Has the City Attorney considered Stephen Allred’s law review article titled Rejecting the Tattooed Applicant, which analyzes numerous cases relating to municipal tattoo policies and finds ample grounds for regulation by cities (see Stephen Allred, Rejecting the Tattooed Applicant, Disciplining the Tattooed Employee: What Are the Risks?, 67 Lab. L. J. 475 (2016))?

Given the utmost importance of having a clear understanding of the constitutional law in this area, we ask that City Council seek answers to the questions we have posed here. We also ask that these answers be made public.

Thank you for your consideration,

Jack Jackson, JD, PhD

Associate Professor of Politics, Whitman College

  

Timothy Kaufman-Osborn, PhD

Baker Ferguson Professor of Politics and Leadership Emeritus, Whitman College

  

Barbara Clark, JD

Walla Walla Mayor and City Council Member (retired)

 


 

29.4.21

MARCUS WHITMAN AND PEOPEOMOXMOX

Regarding the Debunking of the Whitman Myth 

The problem I see with the Marcus Whitman story as well as with the current debunkers, is lack of balance.  Storytelling is an exercise in drama either for entertainment or another purpose, which often relies on exaggeration.
 
The legacies of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, like many, are complex.  Marcus was a hero in support of his values and culture, a doctor who made house calls to care for other missionaries’ wives by riding horseback in emergencies from Walla Walla to Lewiston and Spokane, an evangelical Christian missionary spreading “the faith” of his fathers and riding horseback across the country in the dead of winter to try to save his mission, a farmer trying to teach a nomadic people how to survive the coming invasions and inevitable transformation of their lands and lives, and a man who had insufficient appreciation for the spiritual and other values of the alien culture he found himself immersed in.
 
As to balance, those wishing to honor the Whitmans have emphasized their sacrifices and their contributions to easing the difficult transitions facing both the Native Americans and whites during the trying times of the 1800s, while glossing over or ignoring their failings.  On the other hand, those now attacking the Whitmans appear to lack balance and appreciation for the human challenges they faced as well as their accomplishments. 
 
Joel Connelly in his review of “Murder at the Mission” by Blaine Harden tells us “it traces how Native Americans were cheated out of and pushed off ancestral lands.”  He omits the fact that as the Whitmans and Spaldings were coming west in 1836 both the Cayuse and the Nez Perce met and welcomed them at the Green River Rendezvous. According to historian Clifford Drury, “A strong spirit of rivalry developed between the two tribes as to where the missionaries were to settle. The members of each of these tribes had come to feel they would reap many benefits if the missionaries would live with them.”
 
In addition to inviting the Whitmans to settle with them on their lands, it should also be remembered that the Cayuse themselves were fairly recent immigrants to the area, where they fiercely demanded and received  tribute from the Walla Wallas and other tribes already residing here and along the Columbia.
 
Unfortunately, the Protestant religion of the Whitmans at the time also lacked balance in its view of other religions and cultures, which many of us still suffer from. 
 
What all of this means to me is that we should continue to be open to honoring prominent individuals for their positive contribution to our societies, while seeking to also provide acknowledgment of their limitations. 
 
As to statues, an account of my effort to create a statue of a Native American to balance those of Marcus Whitman and Christopher Columbus is online at  https://wallathoughts.blogspot.com/2021/04/yellowbirdreturns-walla-walla-has.html , which resulted in the dedication of a statue to Walla Walla Chief Peopeomoxmox in 2005, whose death bears some similarities to Whitman’s.  I’ve also put up a website regarding the Walla Walla Treaty Councils of 1855 and 1856, with a link to key excerpts from the transcript of the Treaty Council of 1855, which are worth reading, both for the moving statements by the Native American leaders present, and for the statements of Washington Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens as well as Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs Joel Palmer, who said at one point: 
My friends, it is fifty years since the first white men came among you. Those were Lewis and Clark who came down the Big River--the Columbia, then the Hudson Bay Co. traders; next came missionaries, these were followed by emigrants with wagons.
 
Why do they come? Can you stop the waters of the Columbia River from flowing? Can you prevent the wind from blowing, rain from falling? Can you prevent the whites from coming? You cannot stop them, we cannot stop them. They say this land was not made for you alone, the air we breathe, the water we drink was made for all. The white man will come to enjoy these blessings with you. Let us, like wise men, act to prevent trouble.
While there is room to select for you a home where there are no white men living, let us do so.
I like the idea of leaving the Whitman statue where it is, but adding interpretive plaques providing a variety of perspectives on his life and times, including the views of local Native Americans. You can see the statue of Peopeomoxmox at the corner of Rose & 3rd across from City Hall and the Marcus Whitman Hotel.
 
Best wishes,
 
Daniel Clark
PO Box 1222
Walla Walla WA 99362
clarkdn@charter.net
509-522-0399

28.4.21

 PEOPEOMOXMOX--YELLOWBIRD RETURNS

 Walla Walla has a fascinating history, which I first started researching in 1992 because I was interested in creating a statue honoring the area’s Native Americans.  Many places in our valley bear Indian names, including Walla Walla itself which refers to the many waters coursing through the area.  But there were no monuments to Indians as there were for members of other groups, including Christopher Columbus, Marcus Whitman, a Spanish American War veteran, and a local fireman, an omission I wanted to correct.

 The questions I was asking myself were whom to feature as the subject, whom to select as the artist, and how to deal with issues of cost and location.   As to a subject, I wondered if there was a specific historical figure it would be appropriate to honor, or if a more generic symbol of the local tribes would be better.

Among the Cayuse and Walla Walla whose homelands included the Walla Walla Valley, the clear choice for an historic figure seemed to be Walla Walla Chief Peopeomoxmox (Yellowbird), a respected and outspoken leader at the Walla Walla Treaty Council of 1855, who was killed by the Oregon Mounted Volunteers militia later that year during the Battle of Walla Walla after he had approached them under a white flag of truce.  Both his life and death offer an interesting parallel to Marcus Whitman’s, since both sought peaceful relations with the other’s people, and both were ultimately murdered by them. In exploring this with local historians and people I knew on the Umatilla Indian Reservation, which includes the Cayuse and Walla Walla tribes, some wanted to see a Cayuse leader featured while most felt that Peopeomoxmox was the best choice. 

In 1997, I learned that Jim Irwin of Walla Walla had also been working on the idea of a Peopeomoxmox statue.  Jim was a local businessman and art dealer whose involvement with local veterans groups resulted in the creation of a statue of General Jonathan Wainwright placed in the center of the Fort Walla Walla parade grounds, now the US Veterans Medical Center.  Jim wanted Roger McGee, the Walla Walla artist who did the Wainwright statue, to also do one of Peopeomoxmox to be placed in a prominent location somewhere in the city.  

I was excited by this, and offered to help.  As a result we incorporated Walla Walla Historic Memorials in 2003 as a non-profit, tax-exempt organization to raise funds and to contract with Roger.  Our goal was to complete the project and be able to unveil the statue on June 10, 2005, the 150th anniversary of the culmination of the Walla Walla Treaty Council and the signing of the treaties establishing the Umatilla, Yakima, and Nez Perce Indian reservations. 

Three portraits of Peopeomoxmox had been made during his lifetime, two of which were still available.  Utilizing these together with his own inspiration, Roger created a miniature to show current Walla Walla Chief Carl Sampson and his family for comment and corrections.  Carl, a direct descendant of Chief Peopeomoxmox, was very pleased with the miniature and gave it his blessing.  With the family’s approval, we began raising funds to have the piece enlarged by artist Nano Lopez, to prepare it for casting.  In addition to a grant from the Sherwood Trust and other fundraising efforts, we organized a cultural celebration, auction, and dinner at the Walla Walla fairgrounds, which was a big success.  Carl’s son, Donald Sampson, was the CEO of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation at that time, and served as the master of ceremonies, while other Sampson family members took charge of the dinner. 

For placement of the statue which is called Yellowbird Returns, we identified several prominent intersections, but finally reached an agreement between the City of Walla Walla and the US Army Corps of Engineers to put it at a plaza over Mill Creek on the grounds of the Corps’ Walla Walla headquarters and across the street from both the Marcus Whitman Hotel and Conference Center and city hall, with the City becoming the owner of the statue and responsible for its maintenance. 

On the base of the statue we affixed four bronze plaques which I drafted honoring Peopeomoxmox, the local Tribes, the Walla Walla Treaty Council, and our donors.  The text of the plaque honoring the Tribes reads:

The Walla Walla Valley is the homeland of the Cayuse and Walla Walla Tribes.  The Walla Wallas, whose villages were in the lower valley near the Columbia, were described by Lewis & Clark as “the most hospitable, honest, and sincere people that we have met with on our voyage.” Near their fishery site at Wallula the Northwest Fur Company built the first trading post in the inland region, Fort Nez Perce, which later became the Hudson Bay Company’s Fort Walla Walla.         

The Cayuse Indians were known as expert horsemen and breeders of strong ponies, as well as for their ferocity in battle. Gov. Isaac Stevens wrote at the Walla Walla Treaty Council, “The haughty carriage of these (Cayuse) chiefs and their manly character have, for the first time in my Indian experience, realized the description of the writers of fiction.” 

The plaque honoring the treaty council states: 

Just east of this site from May 29 to June 11, 1855, a great treaty council was held between Governor Isaac Stevens of Washington Territory, Superintendent of Indian Affairs Joel Palmer of Oregon Territory, and many of the upper Columbia and Snake River Indian tribes.  Several thousand Indians were present.  It is said that in its general importance and difficulty the Walla Walla Council has never been equaled by any council held with the Indian tribes of the United States. The Council resulted in three treaties establishing the Yakama, Nez Perce, and Umatilla Indian Reservations, and the ceding of all remaining tribal lands to the United States. The treaties continue in effect to this day, providing important protections for the Tribes, as well as for immigrants and their descendants.         

In addition to our formal unveiling ceremony involving the Tribes, the Corps, city officials and other dignitaries for which I served as MC, additional sesquicentennial observances included a powwow and ceremonies at the VA Medical Center sponsored by another nonprofit we organized, Walla Walla Treaty Council Days, involving representatives of all regional tribes.  We also presented a series of  living history performances at Fort Walla Walla Museum that included appearances by Washington Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens played admirably by Ron Klicker, and Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs Joel Palmer, a Quaker whom I portrayed.

Excerpted from “A Privileged Life-Memoirs of an Activist” by Daniel N. Clark 

27.4.21

 

SECOND WW TREATY COUNCIL AND STEVENS SKIRMISH

Though the Walla Walla Treaty Council of 1855 has become fairly well known, very few people know that in 1856, Governor Stevens held a Second Treaty Council in Walla Walla in an attempt to end the Indian war that had broken out over land invasions by whites in advance of the treaties being ratified.  After calling all the inland tribes together again, Stevens failed to convince them to surrender either their lands or their arms, and he and his party were attacked as they attempted to return to The Dalles.  The initial attack led to fighting in the upper Mill Creek area throughout the afternoon and night of September 19, 1856, and into the following day.  This dramatic series of events, whose locations had never been determined, involved the only instance of combat with Indians by Stevens, who later died as a general in the US Army during the Civil War. 

As the sesquicentennial of these 1856 events approached, I was determined to discover where they had taken place, and to organize some activities to study and commemorate them. I began by studying all the historical accounts with the help of historian Steve Plucker, a Touchet area farmer whose great grandfather had served in the US Army during the Yakima War.  Once I had pieced together the descriptions of the various camps as well as the area where Stevens and his party of thirty-eight wagons had first been attacked, and then where they had circled their wagons during the 12-hour siege, I began to walk all of the ground in the area to see if I could find any places that met the various descriptions.

Though the Walla Walla Treaty Council of 1855 took place just east of where Mill Creek crosses the Nez Perce Trail along Walla Walla’s Main Street, the 1856 council was said to have begun about two miles above that.  In addition, Gov. Stevens had reported, “We are on a little tributary of Mill Creek about one mile from it.” Going two miles as indicated above the old treaty grounds, there are only two tributaries of Mill Creek in the vicinity—Garrison Creek, which is about a half mile away, and Yellowhawk Creek, which is a mile away.  Based on the historical accounts I concluded that the Second Treaty Council probably began along the left bank of Yellowhawk Creek just above where it crosses School Avenue on land now owned by the Leonetti Cellar winery.

In the midst of the 1856 council, Stevens became convinced he was in danger, and moved his camp farther up Mill Creek “about 7-8 miles” to Lt. Col. Edward Steptoe’s U.S. Army camp of several hundred soldiers.  Whitman College historian W.D. Lyman placed this camp on the Gilkerson property which begins east of Five Mile Road and extends up the Mill Creek canyon to Seven Mile Road.  When the reconvened council ultimately failed, on September 19, 1856 Stevens left for The Dalles with his party of thirty-eight wagons pulled by eighty oxen, fifty teamsters and quartermaster’s men, sixty-nine Washington Volunteers, over fifty friendly Nez Perce, and more than two hundred head of loose livestock.

In his October 22 report to the Secretary of War Stevens stated, “Following me as I set out about eleven o’clock on the way to the Dalles, they attacked me within three miles of Steptoe’s camp at about one o’clock in the afternoon…I moved on under fire one mile to water, when forming a corral of the wagons and holding the adjacent hills and the brush on the stream by pickets, I made my arrangements to defend my position and fight the Indians. Our position in a low, open basin, 500 or 600 yards across, was good, and with the aid of our corral, we could defend ourselves against a vastly superior force…”

Another account by one of the participants states, “small parties of Indians began to pass us on the left and soon commenced firing on our rear…But we drove on, the volunteers, and occasionally a teamster returning the fire until we had reached a small spring branch, where we corraled our wagons, including our stock.  A place where three small valleys met, and as many elevations of about 30 feet, standing close in the form of a triangle…By the time we were camped, we were surrounded and fired upon from all sides.  The three points having first been secured to keep the enemy from annoying the train, a charge was made upon the Indians in our rear to the left.”

Another account stated, “After proceeding… two and a half miles, and coming into the valley of a small branch of Mill Creek, the whole body of Indians came on the full run for the rear of the train, and opened a fire on the rear guard which was returned in good order…The Train moved on slowly one mile further, when the wagons were formed into a corral, and the loose animals run in for security.  Pickets were then placed on the highest hills, so as to prevent the Indians from firing into the corral and stampeding the animals.”

Serious fighting then took place throughout the afternoon, including two charges by the Volunteers with loss of life on both sides, and continued until 2 a.m. on September 20 when the Stevens party was rescued by Steptoe’s troops and escorted back to the federal camp. On the way back to the camp, and later that morning, additional fighting was reported.

After I walked and viewed all of the terrain within a reasonable distance of the Mill Creek canyon beginning at Seven Mile Road and going downstream, I found a place about two and a half miles below the likely council site where “the valley of a small branch of Mill Creek” enters the canyon. Within a mile of that point, easily accessible by wagons, is a low, open basin about 500-600 yards across, with a small spring branch, where three small valleys meet, standing in the form of a triangle, with adjacent low ridges of nearly 30 feet elevation, a ridge to the south about 500 yards away where one of the charges was described, and another stream about a mile away to the south where the friendly Nez Perce were said to have made their camp. There are very few other points in the vicinity where wagons were capable of leaving the deep Mill Creek canyon, and this site, at the end of the concrete spillway leading from the Mill Creek diversion dam to Bennington Lake, is the only one in the area that appears to meet the descriptions of the participants in these events.

To confirm the location, I organized a workshop that was held on February 11, 2006 at Walla Walla Community College under the sponsorship of our citizens group Walla Walla 2020 that I coordinate.  The purpose of the workshop was to compare historical accounts, to visit likely sites, and to discuss potential commemorative activities during the sesquicentennial of these events.  Participants were historians, archaeologists, tribal representatives, and interested local residents, including the farmer and an owner of a portion of the site, most of which is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of its Bennington Lake flood control project.

To assist the workshop participants, I prepared a summary and map of fifteen points of skirmish activity noted by the participants, with suggested locations for each. Some additional corroboration was provided by the first survey of the area, completed in 1860 with a resulting 1861 survey map, which shows a road from the vicinity where the council apparently ended leading to the valley of the small branch of Mill Creek I had found, as well as a road passing through the apparent skirmish site and leading southwest into the valley of Russell Creek not very far from the location of the initial 1856 council site. Our workshop participants walked the area from the Mill Creek canyon to the place where the sustained fighting appears to have occurred, and there was general agreement that this was the location. 

To potentially provide further evidence of the skirmish site, I then recruited archaeologist Darby Stapp and a team of volunteer metal detector operators, and we swept the private lands from the Mill Creek canyon to the Corps of Engineer property where the corral appeared to have been established, which had been farmed for nearly 150 years with considerable alteration of the ground level. Though we weren’t able to find anything from that period, we hope someday to do additional archeological work on Corps property in the area of the corral, for which we’ll need special federal permits.

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of these events on September 9, 2006, I recruited Walla Walla Chief Carl Sampson as well as the head of the Whitman College American Indian Association as co-chairs of the Sesquicentennial Commemoration of the Second Walla Walla Treaty Council.  As part of the commemoration, interested participants were invited to walk or ride horses from the Leon Filan farm at 853 Five Mile Road, where the ceremonies began, all the way to the probable skirmish site.  The event included the sharing of food by participants, a presentation of flags by all parties, the sharing of tribal and immigrant perspectives on the Second Council and resulting skirmish, and the two-mile trek over the route of the Stevens party to the skirmish site, where final observances were held.

The participants in the project included Sam Pambrun, whose great grandfather Andrew Dominique Pambrun was Stevens’ secretary, guide, and interpreter for the Second Council, and wrote a colorful account of both the proceedings and the skirmish in his autobiography, “Sixty Years on the Frontier in the Pacific Northwest.”  In addition, Walla Walla Chief Carl Sampson is related to Homli, who served as head chief of the Walla Wallas after the killing of  Peopeomoxmox in 1855, and who was present at both the council and the skirmish. Leon Filan, who provided the site for the commemoration adjacent to his corn maze, remembers a square log building on the property with no windows and a series of small round holes on every wall about rifle height that may well have been part of the Fort built by Steptoe.  Filan’s family had moved to the Five-Mile Road site in the 1940’s. Other farmers and landowners in the vicinity also cooperated with the commemoration by permitting the historic trek through their lands between the Filan place and the Bennington Lake area.

Corps of Engineers rangers have been interested in the project and its historical significance for their lands, and have been working with me since 2006 on commemorative signage we hoped to install at the site to interpret these events.

Accounts by actual participants in these historical events, together with a map and description of the skirmish locations are online at the Walla Walla 2020 website, www.ww2020.net/historic-sites, and also at www.wallawallatreatycouncils.blogspot.com which includes a Readers Theater script I’ve put together on the Walla Walla Treaty Council of 1855 using excerpts from the official transcript of that council.

Excerpted from “A Privileged Life-Memoirs of an Activist” by Daniel N. Clark