Published on December 16, 2012 by Amy
Chief Paulina was a Northern Paiute war leader.
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During the late 1850s and 1860s, Northern Paiute bands attacked both settler communities and Native American reservations in central and eastern Oregon, as well as the Klamath Basin. Chief Paulina became the most notorious war leader in those raids. He was known for the swiftness of his attacks and his ability to evade capture by both volunteer regiments and U.S. Army detachments under General George Crook. He led a small band (including his brother Wahveveh) that raided and stole livestock and horses, causing fear within nearby communities. There has been some speculation that Paulina’s hatred for the Warm Springs Indians and Caucasian settlers occurred in April 1859 when Dr. Thomas Fitch led Native Americans from the Warm Springs Indian Reservation to attack a band of Paiutes in the John Day Valley. The party killed ten Paiute warriors, capturing the women and children and the rest of the band. Among those captured were Paulina and Wahveveh, both of whom were later sent to Fort Dalles only to be imprisoned for a short time. Captain John M. Drake led one of the first military campaigns into the area, but the conflicts increased. The Paiute threat was broken up into two bands led by Paulina, of the Walpapi band, and Weahwewa, of the Kidutokado band. In one particular incident, Paulina arranged peace talks with the Chief of the Wascos, Queapama. However, under that guise, Paulina had one of his braves murder Queapama. While predatory bands such as Paulina’s certainly profited from these attacks, they ultimately contributed to the climate of hostility that increased the level of violence and the death toll in the region. All the resident groups—settlers, native communities at Warm Springs and Umatilla, and the Northern Paiute—engaged in retaliatory actions that resulted in the deaths of dozens of people, including women and children.
Paulina and the other leaders of the Hunipuitöka Paiute agreed to sign a treaty in early 1865 after U.S. Army forces had captured a group of Paiute hostages late in the year before, including Paulina’s wife and son. Despite the treaty agreement, Paulina and his group left the Klamath Reservation on April 22, 1866, planning to go back on the warpath, when Chief Howluck contacted him looking for aid to exact revenge for the killing of his followers by California troops in the Guano Valley.
On September 15, 1866, Paulina and his band of fourteen Paiutes attacked the ranch of James N. Clark near the junction of Bridge Creek and the John Day River. The raiders burned the house, stables, 40 short tons (36,000 kg) of hay, 1,000 imperial bushels (36 kl) of oats and barley, and stole two horses and a cow, causing an estimated $6,494 of damage. Fortunately, Clark’s wife was visiting her parents in the Willamette Valley at the time, but an unarmed Clark and his 18-year-old brother-in-law were collecting driftwood on the John Day when they saw the Paiutes. Paulina and his band spotted them and gave chase, but Clark managed to escape, and his brother-in-law hid in the river with only his nose out of the water for several hours undetected, although nearing hypothermia.
James Clark was able to gather a posse to try to salvage some of his stolen property. One year after leaving the Klamath Reservation on April 25, 1867, Paulina was killed while eating a roasted ox during a retaliatory attack led by settlers Clark and Howard Maupin. Paulina’s last engagement took place at a cove later named Paulina Basin, located in northeastern Jefferson County near the town of Madras, Oregon.