1874 – Nisqually & Puyallup Indian Agent Report

Office United States Indian Agency of The  Nisqually, Puyallup, and other Indian Tribes, Olympia, Washington Territory, September 28, 1874.

Sir: In Compliances with the request of the Indian Bureau, I have the honor to submit the following as my first annual report:

I have recently appointed to this agency, and only arrived at this place from my home in Iowa on the 2nd instant, and of course it could not be expected that during the brief period since my arrival I have become informed and fully able to advise as to the situation, requirements, and best interests of the Indians of the six reservations belonging to this agency. This will be a sufficient apology for the brevity of this report.

In company with General Milroy, whom I found in charge of the reservations and Government property of this agency, I visited and inspect these reservations and the public property belonging to them, which was transferred to me on the 10th instant. I found General Milroy very fully informed upon Indian matters in this territory, and is much indebted to him for valuable information in relation of the Indian and the six reservation of my agency. I found these Indians and reservation of two classes, viz, treaty and non-treaty. The 1st named are embraced in what is known as the Medicine Creek treaty, negotiated December 26, 1854, and ratified on the 10th of April, 1855, following. The reservations under this treaty are the Nisqually, Puyallup, Squaxins, and Mukleshoots. The annuities provided by this treaty extended twenty years from the date of its ratification, and of course will expired on the 10th of April next, and to this matter I desire to call especial attention of the Government. The expiration of these annuities will require the attention of Congress as to the farmers in charge of the Puyallup and Chehalis reservations had been instructed as certain and report the number of each claim selected, with the names of the Indians selecting it, that titles may be given them. As fast as the names of claimants and numbers of claims taken on the treaty reservations are reported to me I will send them to you, that allotment titles may be forwarded. As there is no treaty or act of Congress authorizing titles to Indians who have selected homes on non- treaty reservations; and as I regard the taking and improving separate permanent homes by Indians at the first prominent step toward true civilization, and as a matter of paramount importance, which should be encouraged in every way possible, I shall prepare and give to each Indian who selects a claim on a non-treaty reservation a simple tenancy title to himself and heirs, as long as he continues to occupy and cultivate the same, which will satisfy them.

The Puyallup reservation is much the largest, and contains more good agricultural land than all those of the other reservations of Medicine Creek treaty combined. The treaty provides for but one set of employees, and they are all on this reservation, to wit, schoolteacher and assistant, farmer and assistant, physician, blacksmith, carpenter, and interpreter. Superintendent Milroy had assigned this reservation to the care of the Presbyterian church, and the employees were all at that faith. I found a commodious two-story boarding-school building and good teachers, the Rev. Mr. Sloan, a Presbyterian clergyman, and wife. They have preaching to a good congregation, and a prosperous Sunday-school each Sabbath, but the weekday school, on account of the inadequacy of the funds for boarding and clothing the children only, have 28 children, 16 of whom are clothed and boarded by their poor Indian parents, so anxious are they to have their children educated. I am incredibly informed that, if adequate means for boarding, clothing, and etc., were provided, at least 50 Indian children could be had from the different reservations of the Territory to attend the school. As there are no Government employees at either the Muckleshoots, Nisqually, or Squaxin reservations, of course there is no school or any other civilized appliances at either one of these reservations, and all of their children are growing up in these nations barbarism of their parents. As the small school funds provided by the Medicine Creek treaty expires next April, and if  the school for the reservations of this treaty is to be continued, it must be by a direct appropriation for that purpose. I recommend, in the name of humanity and civilization, that this appropriation shall be least $5,000; $2,000 of which shall be for the pay of three teachers, superintendent, matron, and teacher; and $3,000 for boarding and clothing the children and other expenses of the school.

I found on the Chehalis reservation only a farmer and a physician. The school, as I was informed, was discontinued last spring for want of funds. The Indians complain of this very much, and were very anxious for the school to be again opened. I found that Superintendent Milroy had assigned the care of this reservation to the Methodist Episcopal church, which had an organized church there of Indian members and two local Indian appropriation act there was $3,000 allowed from the general incidental fund for the support of schools-one at Colville and one at Chehalis-and believing that I would be allowed a sufficient portion out of this sum to pay teachers for the Chehalis school, and I could get sufficient from the amount of the general incidental fund allowed this agency for general expenses to board and clothe the children of a reasonable-sized school at Chehalis, I took the responsibility to employ a teacher and matron at the rate heretofore paid them, viz. $1,000 for the former and $500 for the latter per annum, and re-opened the school there on the 28th instant with 24 Indian children, greatly to the delight of the children and their parents. Two or three times this number of children could be had if I knew that adequate means would be furnished for their support.

I presume that the main object of the Government in her Indian policy is the civilization and Christianization of the Indians. The ignorant, superstitions, barbarous habits and customs of the adult Indians being fixed and very difficult to change, of course the only hope of permanent civilization is in the rising generations. If all Indian children could be educated and trained up in the habits, morals, and industries of civilized lives, they would become good citizens, melted into the body-politics, and our Indian system ended. Indian schoolchildren, unlike the children of civilized parents, have not to learn reading, writing, arithematics, and etc. from their schoolteachers, but must also learn from them the habits, morals, and industries of civilized life, which they cannot acquire from their ignorant, barbarous parents, as the children of civilized parents do, at their homes. Is therefore seems to me to be a matter of the very highest importance that ample provision be made for the maintenance of efficient industrial boarding-schools, in which all Indian children between the ages of five and eighteen should be required to attend. I therefore ask an appropriation of $5,000 on September 22, 1866, is on the shore of the Pacific, seventy-five miles southwest of this place. It is mostly a poor sand beach, and on account of its distance from this agency and the other reservations belonging to it, and of the small numbers of Indians belonging to it, I recommended that it be vacated, and the Indians belonging to it remove to the Chehalis reservations; and if appropriations cannot be made for support of teachers at the Muckleshoots, Nisqually, and Squaxins reservations, I recommended that they also be vacated, and the Indian belonging to them removed to the Puyallup reservations, as recommend by late Superintendent Milroy in his annual report for this year, to which I respectfully refer for further information in reference to the reservations under my charge.

Enclosed I send a statistical report to their reservation of this agency, so far has I have been able to as certain which any certainty, embracing,  the various items mentioned in your circular on the subject.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant, H.D. GIBSON Untied States Indian Agent.

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