1865 Indian Agent Report



Office Puyallup Agency,

Olympia, Washington Territory, September 6, 1865

Sir: I have the honor to submit the following annual report of the condition of the Indian tribes under my charge as an Indian agent: I take pleasure in referring to decide the improvement of their condition within the last year. Many of these people are becoming industrious and practical farmers. When I was given the job as an Indian agent and was assigned to this agency by your predecessor, they were in a prosperous condition. They had very little to work with in the way of farming, notwithstanding the government that had made up an ample provision for all of these things. And there is no doubt that they had been furnished. The employees that were placed on the reservation didn’t seem to comprehend the job they had been assigned to by the government. The job was simple all they had to do was make a treaty with them to relocating them on many reservations. They seemed to think that it was a universal opinion as far as I could tell. On the reservations there were so many asylums for the lazy and indolent men who happened to be the favorites of the party in power. The whole machinery of the Indian department was to used as a political stepping-stone to some demagogue to a seat in congress. I have been accosted time and again by persons asking a solutions on some one of my reservations, saying, ”I am unable to work, and would like to have a place in the Indian department,” although the Indian department was a refuge for the lazy, drunken and vicious men.

My experience in management of Indians in order to the improvement of their condition is, that the less intercourse they have with the whites outside of the Indian service the better; and in order that I may accomplish my purpose in carrying out my views and the instructions given to me by the department. I have instructed the employees to not let any one of vicious habits come on the reservation except to accomplish legitimate business and then leave.

The four tribes under my charge are in a far more prosperous condition than ever before, particularly the Puyallup and Chehalis. You will see from the report of Mr.Billings, assistant farmer in charge of the Puyallups, a copy of which will accompany this report, that they have received for produce sold and labor done for whites outside the sum of $6,215. I have not yet received reports from any of the other reservations except the Chehalis, a copy of which is herewith transmitted. The crop on this reservation has been harvested and secured from the rains some time since, which is what few farmers in the country can say of their crops. I have, in order to induce the Indians all to work, instructed the employees to inform them that unless they work they will not have a share in the crop: and not only to teach them so, but to enforce the rule.

We have yet some difficulty in our endeavors to overcome those old habits and practices which, to a considerable degree, still linger among them: I allude to polygamy, the flattening the heads of their children, necromancy in the healing of the sick, and the murder of the necromancer in the case of a fatal termination of the disease. They have murdered two of their doctors since I have been in charge, and made an attempt to murder the third.

I think I have succeeded in alarming them to such a degree that they will not again commit the act. The few weeks ago some of the Nisquallies came to me and asked me if I would not reverse my decision in regard to their right to kill their doctors; they said one of their doctors had caused the death of one of their best women, and they thought he ought to die; but I told them emphatically that if they killed him every one engaged in it should be hung- so the doctor has not been killed. Occasionally a case occurs, where the parties have been drinking, that an Indian gets killed. A case of this kind occurred on the Chehalis river, several miles above the reservation, about a month and a half since. An Indian, about thirty years of age, made an attack on his father in law, who stabbed the young man in the abdomen, which caused his death in a few days; surgical aid was secured, but he could not be saved. A very short time afterwards a friend of the young Indian killed the old man. The only way to put a stop to those tragedies, in my judgment, is to make an example of the offenders by a prosecution in a criminal court. If this was done, and a conviction of the criminal, there would be no more cases of murder among them. I think it will have it’s effect.

This is the eleventh year of the Medicine Creek treaty, and very little, considering the amount of money appropriated by the government, has been accomplished. In that length of time the Indians, under the care of good, honest, religious, and practical men, would have been far advanced in civilization; but, unfortunately for them and the government, no interest has been taken in their welfare. The pay at the end of the quarter was the great desideratum. Their knowledge of agriculture and mechanics in eleven years ought to have been far in advance of what it is. Nine years more and the treaty of Medicine Creek will have expired, and almost all that the government contemplated in reference to these tribes is yet to be accomplished. The object of the government, as I understand it, is to prepare them to take care of themselves when the twenty years has been fulfilled. In order, therefore, to enable them to do this, the farmer must give them a practical idea of agriculture. The carpenter must instruct them in the art of building houses. The blacksmith must teach them the use of his tools, in order that they may be able to repair or make their own plows, hoes, and axes. The employees upon the reservations at the present time fully understand their duties to the government and the Indians, and will, I have no doubt, faithfully discharge them. None of my predecessors have ever given instructions to the carpenter or blacksmith to take an apprentice. There are a number of boys, some of whom are half-breeds, who ought to be at trades, and it is my purpose, so soon as I can make proper arrangements for their board and lodging, to have them learning carpentry and blacksmithing. I have one already learning the blacksmith’s trade, and he is making great progress. Our school, owing to the death of Mrs. Wylie, who was employed as teacher, and for wants of a house, and the means to prepare one, has been suspended for the present. Accompanying this report I transmit the report of C.H. Spinning, the physician, which will furnish you with all the information necessary as to the diseases among the Indians and their treatment, with some important suggestions.

I would respectfully call your attention to the agreement on the part of the government found in the 10th article of the treaty of Medicine Creek. “The expenses of the said school, shops, employees and medical attendance, to be defrayed by the United States, and not deducted from the annuities.”

Now, sir, for some cause unknown to me, there has been a deficiency in the incidental fund for this service, and I have not been able to meet the expenses which are necessary to keep up the school and supply the carpenter and blacksmith with material to carry on their work without using other funds.

And furthermore, in the remittance for the 1st and 2nd quarters 1865, there was a deficit in the employee’s fund for beneficial objects amounting $90.50, which should be forwarded. If the incidental funds for the 1st and 2nd quarters 1864 had been remitted, as they should have been there would have been no necessity for entrenching upon other funds.

I believe I have called your attention to all the points of importance necessary for you to consider at the present time.

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