Whitewater Crossing: A Casey Jones Columbia River Adventure Book II
Then, while still two hundred yards distant, I caught sight of him. We exchanged a high-sign of friendship and
greeted each other with a smile.
“Have you come up from the Umatilla?” I asked.
“Umm, I have . . . and you from Arborville?”
I nodded yes. A Native American in his thirties, he wore a beautiful blue and red woolen jacket, a deerskin vest
and riding pants. His long raven hair framed a handsome face. He smiled with his eyes as I continued.
“I’m Casey Jones from the K2 ranch. My uncle, Harry Kinsman, sent me.”
“I am Rightfoot.” He turned, pointing at the river’s edge. “Just there you can see the bales on the dock where
my brothers left them. If you come to buy the wool from the spring shearing, we can load them on the barge just
I glanced around, looking for a place to make camp.
Rightfoot with the same idea in mind said, “over there,” nodding toward a rocky outcrop, “under the overhang
we’ll have shelter from the wind.”
“Yes, we can fix a meal and do the deal.” I noted a scattering of wood for a fire.
Despite damp wood, Rightfoot quickly got a fire going and I placed my small, galvanized coffeepot filled with
water by it, then pulled out the cash for the wool purchase. I counted out the amount Uncle Harry had agreed to
and handed it over. Rightfoot accepted the greenbacks with a nod. I handed him my pen and smoothed out a Bill
of Sale on my saddlebag. He quickly signed on the proper line.
On the loading dock we transferred the large bales of wool to the barge and returned to the fire.
In minutes we prepared a tasty meal of boiled venison and wild onions, seasoned with sage; frybread and
cooked greens picked from the roadside.
I remembered it was Thanksgiving Day. With an appetite sharpened by fresh air and time on the trail, I enjoyed
the simple meal as we topped it off with several molasses cookies from K2’s kitchen.
As we leaned back and sipped our coffee, I felt happiness and peace . . . so thankful for this life that I had come
to live far from my eastern origins. With a sigh of contentment I gazed out across the shimmering water to the
beautiful hillside beyond.
“How far to the ocean?” I asked.
“I have traveled there only once . . . as a boy with my father.”
Rightfoot gazed downstream and frowned, seeming to recall a difficult journey. “I think it took us ten days by
horse.” Then he smiled. “But we stopped a day or so to fish for salmon at Celilo.”
I’d heard of Celilo, the waterfall that interrupted the mighty river’s flow from one bank to the other and roiled
the waters below. Exciting tales of thousands of salmon swimming upstream and jumping the falls during the
spawning season had made me curious, but I thought better of pursuing details of native fishing. Instead, I
asked, “Will you and your people have more wool to sell?”
Rightfoot stared at the fire for several seconds.
“I think yes.” Then after another pause he continued. “Some of the older ones don’t like us raising sheep. They
want the old ways . . . before we began to raise them.”
“How do you feel about it?” I asked.
“I like the sheep . . . watching the dogs work the band. They know every move, even before a sheep makes it.
And I like caring for the lambs in the spring.”
He paused and went on. “The older ones know that we need the money from wool, sheepskins and meat, but
they won’t say it.”