Meet ‘The City Council’: The City Council, by Jim Tindall of White Salmon, is a fictional serial set in the imaginary western town of Warhaven, settled by veterans of the Battle of Gettysburg. “The City Council” episodes, which have appeared in the White Salmon Enterprise for the past three years, chronicle the lives of the current city council of five. The council of today is composed of George Ansbach of the Plateau, Orin Holman of the West Hills (who is serving as mayor), Tootie McDaniels of Uptown, Sheila Black Petrovich of Downtown, and newly appointed Ike Moseseek of the Craggies, following last month’s plane crash that killed councilor Gus Chapman, who was also the president of the Lyon Chapman Casket and Bat Company.
Much can be said about the early progressive vision of Warhaven’s founding fathers. Not least of their idealism was their fairness in social and business relations with the local Native Americans, the Quaish. Historians might point to the Presbyterian and Congregationalist among them for this social heroism of the settlement, but it was far broader in philosophical breadth. While Indian wars were being fought all over the west, the Quaish fared far better than the Nez Perce, Sioux, or Modoc. The idea of acting well-intentionally hit the mark in this Rushing River Valley. The Civil War had sharpened these pioneers’ senses to the horrors of injustice, and they took firm, deliberate steps to avoid conflict. In late August of 1868 Paris DuMont, Andrew Chapman, and Ebenezer Lyon rode out to Quaish Ishseek, the peaks, valleys and headwaters of the Craggies where the Quaish resided and where they were presently gathering berries. These three former Union officers, a month earlier, had insightfully shaved their beards to appear less alien to their hosts, a gesture which went neither unnoticed nor unappreciated.
The Quaish knew of white ways from the voyageurs and trappers of the Hudson’s Bay Company who had passed through, a few settling among them. This gave them some French, some English, some Chinook. That was 40 years before. This emigration by a few Europeans also gave the Quaish a slow introduction to foreign diseases, and the Quaish developed antibodies. They suffered no small pox or typhus like the Cherokee in the Trail of Tears; they had no measles epidemic, no need for vengeance like the Cayuse and their Whitman Massacre.
This area of the Craggies had sheltered the Quaish in summer and in winter for millennia. The men of Warhaven met with the elders in a tight circle beneath a willow ramada, led by Tsoneseek or Golden Bear or Griz. The Quaish men all wore forms of their traditional jewelry of dendritic copper and garnet. Smithed copper adorned with emerald was taboo for men; it was worn exclusively by the women, who sat around in an outer circle, listening.
These circles were formed in the village’s square. Hexagonal pit houses called
Hogakitzee formed a cross with structures about 15 feet across running in the four directions 15 deep with gaps between each of 10 feet. All opened to the east. All were roofed with cedar shakes. Their walls were of red clay with wattle and daub construction.
Tsoneseek’s two sons, Navook and Moseeek, sat on either side of him. Pine needle baskets full of huckleberries and of bison jerky were passed around the circles. There was a genuine spirit of warmth among the people. Who does not want tranquility and security?
The men from Warhaven, all veterans of Gettysburg, were invited to speak first. Dumont began, “We of Warhaven want a peaceful life past the time of our children’s grandchildren. We people of the East plan to create a great council in the next years, to make Warhaven a real city in the eyes of the government of the East. This is incorporation, and we want you and all Quaish to live with the protection and benefits that come with such a covenant. Our great council, a city council, will include five elected officials from the five lands of Warhaven. We three are here today to ask you, Tsoneseek, to consider being that man who represents all of the Craggy Mountains, all of your people’s Quaish Ishseek.”
There was murmuring as translation among the people concluded. Ebenezer later noted,
A profusion of head nodding, smiles, and direct eye contact ensued.
Tsoneseek tapped his forehead. All his people stared in anticipation.
“This idea is good. The Quaish will talk. Ever since coming to us after your bloody Brother Against Brother War, you have been just in trade, peaceful in talk and action. We will have an answer for you before the moon is full. That is all for now, as I am just one Quaish.”
When that time came, the people did agree to join with the pioneers in establishing a government. The Quaish were well informed of the troubles other nations were having in the West. They knew tribes crossed the Allegheny and Rocky Mountains and the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to escape the genocidal violence and capitalistic land-grabbing greed of the hungry United States citizens. They knew these new people were like brethren, simply seeking to live in peace and security in a land that they honored reverently. They would live in this new compact with trust, albeit, initially cautiously.
Tsoneseek would be duly elected to the first Warhaven City Council in 1870. He would join Ebenezer Lyon of Uptown, Gruff McDaniels of Downtown, Paris DuMont of the West Hills, and Anton Bergsdorf of the Plateau.
The Quaish wandered the land through the seasons, but home was here in the Rushing River Valley, which they called Nginezeseek, from which they never traveled far. They maintained herds of horses, sheep, and bison. They hunted boar and elk and deer and fished the Big and its tributaries for salmon, trout, pike, and sturgeon. Unlike their Athabascan cousins, the Navaho and Apache, the Quaish never faced relocation or the forced removal of their children to boarding schools. They live in peace and good health today thanks in no small part to the traditions of friendship instituted by Warhaven’s founding fathers.