1858 – Indian Agent Report Squaksin


In conclusion, I would most respectfully solicit your attention to the fact, that the several persons whose land claims are situated within the boundary of the Puyallup reservation, and purchased from them by government at a valuation, have not yet received their pay for the same, although they understand that an appropriation has been made for that purpose. These persons have applied to me several times about the matter, but from want of proper information on the subject, I have been unable to make them a satisfactory reply.

            I remain, with respect and esteem, your obedient servant,

                                                                             W. B. GOSNELL,   

                                            Special Indian Agent, Washington Territory.                                                      

          M. T. SIMMONS, Esq., Indian Agent, Washington Territory.

                                                       SQUAKSIN INDIAN RESERVATION

                                                                                                              Washington Territory, July 1, 1858.

Sir: I take great pleasure in complying with the regulations of the department which require me to report to you the progress and prospects off the school established under the tenth article of the treaty of” Medicine Creek,” concluded December 26, 1854 in charge of which it pleased the superintendent of Indian affairs to appoint me in the month of November last.

This school has been established on the Squaksin Indian reservation for the equal benefit of the Nisqually, Puyallup, Squakin, and other tribes and bands of Indians, parties to the treaty above alluded to; but as these tribes are scattered upon three distinct reservations, distant from thirty to fifty miles apart, but few of them can under the present system, benefit by it, as I shall endeavor to show in another part of this report, and shall also take the liberty of offering a few remarks for your consideration suggestive of improvement in the system at present pursued. 

Immediately on receipt of my appointment as instructor, I started for the Squaksin reservation, where I found a neat and commodious school house, which had just been completed under the direction of special Agent Wesley B. Gosnell. This building is eighteen by twenty-four feet, well finished, and furnished with desks, benches, stove, &c., and capable of accommodating from seventy to one hundred children. Having procured the necessary school books, or rather the most suitable I could find, I proceeded (November 27) to open school. Cant Read

Belonging to the Squaksin tribe. The small number of children who have attended the school up to this time, compared with the large number, who are entitled to its benefits, under the treaty, must not be taken as evidence of unwillingness on the part of the parents to educate their children, nor of the children themselves to attend.   On the contrary, both the Puyallups and Nisquallys express themselves highly pleased with the school, and appear desirous that their children in common with those of the Squaksins, should reap an equal share of the benefits to be derived from it.  But in order to realize these advantages, (there being no provision made for the support of the school children) the parents would be compelled to abandon their present reservations and homes and move on this island, a step which would not only be ruinous to their interests and future prospects, but one which they are both unwilling and unable to take.

In order that all the tribes may enjoy an equal share of the school privileges guaranteed to them by the treaty, I would respectfully suggest that steps be taken to concentrate the children of the different tribes on the one reservation, provided the parents can be induced to consent to their removal.  The plan proposed by my predecessor in his report to you, of establishing a boarding house for the scholars might render such a step easy of accomplishment, and the result would be, if feel confident, highly beneficial to the rising generation, and, I have no doubt, satisfactory to the department.  By these means the scholars would become conversant with the English language, as no other would be spoken in the establishment, a knowledge of which I consider to be the first step towards their civilization.

The squaksin reservation is, in my opinion, the best suited of the three for a school.  Being on an island, and remote from any thoroughfare, it offers advantages over the others in so far that the children can be more easily kept within bounds, and constantly under the eye of the teacher; and being the least suited for extensive farming on account of the denseness of the forest, there never will be very many Indians permanently settled upon it, not more, probably, than enough to cultivate and raise a sufficient quantity of produce for the consumption of the school establishment.  Should the department see fit to authorize the building of such an establishment for the sole use of the school children, I think that the greater part if not all of the Indians might be induced to send their children, provided the latter were fed and a moderate amount of necessary clothing found them.  In this way I feel confident that ultimately great good can be done towards civilizing the rising generation; but so long as the children continue to live with their parents, participating in their foolish superstitions, daily spectators of their many vices, and subject to the evil influences of their demoralized mode of living, no hopes need be entertained of reclaiming and civilizing them and funds spent in the [CANT READ…………]serious obstacle to their learning from English books is here presented.  I have throughout found them very obedient, and observant of all rules established in the school, also attentive and willing to learn.  They very readily acquire the sounds of the letters, and learn to spell and pronounce words of one and two syllables tolerably well; and had their books printed in their own language, or if they were even conversant with the English language, several of them would have been able to read by this time.

There are at present no Indians on this reservation, they being all scattered about the country in search of berries and other means of subsistence, nor is there any likelihood of their returning to their homes until the fall; consequently the school is for the present unavoidably closed, and will not be in operation during the next quarter.

With deep feelings of respect and esteem, I remain your most obedient servant,

                                                                            Richard Lane, Instructor.       

M.T. Simmons, Esq.,

                        Indian Agent, Washington Territory


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