by Tina Olin
Indian John is a mystery man since the folks that had connections with him did not document much.
From what I found, Indian John was married six times. Indian John had a daughter that he could not let go after her death. When she died I think part of him died inside. As the story goes by those that knew him, Indian John held onto his daughter’s lifeless body for weeks until Doc Hartley told him he had to do something or the soldiers were going to come. Indian John took his daughter’s body up the Columbia River and built a house on Memaloose Island for his daughter’s resurrection, according to Indian practice, of the time.
Many stories handed down of those who knew and cared for Indian John have said he worked hard just to make a living. He did what he could to survive. He tanned hides, cared for the community’s land while they were out and he warned close friends of unwanted guests.
Indian John took a few horses on a trip to White Salmon Washington to find his seventh wife, believed to be about 15 or 16, at the time. Once he found her he brought her back to Rockwood Oregon. Several months later the girl’s mother came back to get her, because Indian John was unable to make the small, modest payments.
Indian John lived on the Zimmerman property until he went to the poor camp in SW Portland, about where the Oregon Zoo sits today. He passed away in 1893, months after going to the camp. Indian John was the last known survivor of the Multnomah tribe.