In later years, the Salish and many other tribes would belatedly discover the real purpose of the expedition—the assertion of dominion over Indian lands and Indian peoples, and the commercial exploitation of Indian resources. In a famous speech printed in 1876 by Montana newspapers, the Head Chief of the Bitterroot Salish from 1870 to 1910, Sx̴
wqeys (Claw of the Small Grizzly Bear, or Chief Charlo), bitterly expressed this profound sense of betrayal, of how tribal people had their kindnesses repaid with injustice and impoverishment. Although the speech does not mention Lewis and Clark by name, it refers directly to the ways the Salish welcomed the expedition—but were deceived as to the party's true intentions. The speech reads in part:
...Since our forefathers first beheld him...[the whiteman] has filled graves with our bones...His course is destruction. He spoils what the Spirit who gave us this country made beautiful and clean. But that's not enough. He wants us to pay him besides his enslaving our country... and...that degradation of a Tribe who never were his enemies. Who is he? Who sent him here? We were happy when he first came...To take and to lie should be branded on his forehead, as he burns the sides of my horses with his own name. Had heaven's Chief burnt him with some mark, we might have refused him. No, we did not refuse him in his weakness. In his poverty we fed, we cherished him—yes, befriended him, and showed the fords and defiles of our lands...We owe him nothing. He owes us more than he will pay...His laws never gave us a blade of grass nor a tree nor a duck nor a grouse nor a trout...You know that he comes as long as he lives, and takes more and more, and dirties what he leaves.