There is no kind of dishonesty into which otherwise good people more easily and frequently fall than that of defrauding the government. — Benjamin Franklin

Antoine of Oregon - James Otis

Thievish Snakes

We were now in the country of the Snake Indians, and while one might believe that the Pawnees are the most expert thieves in the world, he has simply to come across the Snake tribe in order to learn what may be done in the way of robbery.

Two days after we left Fort Hall, when I had warned John Mitchell that it was necessary to keep a sharp watch both day and night lest even the clothing be stolen from our backs, he laughed me to scorn; but I noticed that he took exceedingly good care of his saddle horse, not only hobbling the animal, but tying him to a picket rope which was fastened to his own wrist.

This he did twice, and yet on the third morning, despite all such precautions, the horse was gone, the hobble having been cut and left on the ground, while the picket rope was severed neatly within a half dozen inches of his hand.

This theft had been committed while Mr. Mitchell slept, and he prided himself upon being one who was easily aroused. After this, and I may as well say here that John Mitchell never saw his horse again, there was no reason why I should urge watchfulness upon any of our people. They voluntarily redoubled the guards while we were in the Snake country, and although I am not able to say we got through without losing anything, nothing of great value was taken from us, with the exception of the horse.