1857 – Indian Agent Report for Nisqually, Puyallup, etc.

Indian Agent Report for Nisqually, Puyallup

Olympia, Washington Territory,
June 30, 1857

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of affairs as special Indian agent in charge of the Nisqually, Puyallup, and other tribes and bands of Indian Parties to the treaty of Medicine Creek, concluded December 26, 1854, for the quarter ending June 30, 1857.

The Indians under my charge during the last three months have been generally quiet, seemingly well contented, and enjoying tolerably good health. They are collected together at the Squoxsin, Nisqually, and Puyallup reservations.

The Muckleshoot is also provided for in the treaty of Medicine Creek, and is the proper locality for the Tooahk or Upper Puyallup, the S’ Balahco or White River, and the Nooscope or Green River Indians; being in all three hundred souls. Treaty stipulations have not been attempted to be carried out at the Muckleshoot, and these Indians have heretofore been, and are now, in the temporary charge of Local Agent Page, who has furnished them this spring with some seed potatoes, and a small crop will be raised on the reservation. As soon as the United States military post (Fort Muckleshoot) now in command of Lieutenant McKibbin is discontinued, which I understand will be the case in a few weeks, I shall notify you of the fact, and await your instructions in the premises.

Squoxsin reservation~ about ten more acres of excellent land have been cleared recently here. This, with the twenty acres heretofore cleared and fenced, will enable me to raise a considerable amount of produce next year. The Indians here having been always friendly, and having been collected here at the first braking out of the late Indian war, were very glad, after their spring crop was put into the [ can’t read] are not disposed to encourage visits from the Catholic missionaries, and their women are much given to prostitution both among themselves and the whites.

Puyallup reservation~ The health of the Indians here has much improved since my last report, and I know of but few cases of illness as present in the whole tribe. They still remain very religious; and I have every reason to believe that they are truly sincere in their professions. I have no trouble with these Indians on the score of whiskey drinking, and seldom any difficulty growing out of vice or immorality. I have to report the completion here of the agency building and twelve Indian houses. There are twenty acres of land in cultivation on this reservation. The Indians appear much pleased with their houses, and their crops look well.

Nisqually reservation~ The Indians here are much given to drinking whiskey, which they obtain at the town of Steilacoom and elsewhere in considerable quantities. A portion of the Upper Nisquallies, who were out with the hostiles in the late war, appear very restless, and in constant dread of the whites. There are four indictments pending against Indians of this band for the murders of whites. It is much to be regretted that our civil authorities do not take some definite steps in the matter, either to prosecute these indictments to final judgment or dismiss them. The tendency of these indictments is one great cause of these Indians being restless and uneasy. I have to report the completion of five Indian houses, as per contract with John Carson. There are fourteen acres of land in cultivation here, and the crop looks well.

In the matter on annuities due to the Indians parties to the treaty of Medicine Creek, I have to recommend that the second years annuity, which was due June 30, 1856, be applied towards clearing and fencing land, building Indian houses. And for the third year’s annuity, I would recommend that it be applied towards the purchase of blankets and clothing for the Indians.

I have to report the death of a Snohomish Indian, on the 5th instant, by a white man, on Nisqually bottom, near the reservation. A Mr. Packard had set a trap attached to a loaded gun to kill a hog, which was in the habit of breaking into his garden. The Indian chanced to walk along that way, touched the trap, and was shot in the leg. His companions fled in terror, leaving him alone to bleed to death. The affair created considerable excitement for a time; but Mr. Packard having made presents to the tribe, according to their usages, the difficulty has been amicably arranged.

Much mischief has been created by the soldiers at Fort Steilacoom, who are in the constant habit of giving whiskey to Indians who visit the town of Steilacoom in passing up and down the Sound. The commanding officer has been repeatedly informed in reference to this, but without any apparent diminution of the evil. If military officers [can’t read] district is now reduced to the lowest point compatible with the efficiency of the service.

I desire to call your attention to the importance of a speedy payment to those men whose land claims were included in the Puyallup reservation. I understand that an appropriation from this purpose has been made, and I would respectively ask that the funds be forwarded as soon as received.

I will quote the following paragraph from my report to Governor Stevens of the 31st December, 1856: ” On the first breaking out of hostilities, the friendly Indians having removed to the reservations under orders from the Indian department, many of them were compelled to leave their horses behind them to the mercy of the hostiles and the volunteers. Some of these horses were afterwards retaken, but many were lost. Over thirty horses are now claimed to have been thus lost by Indians in charge. The Indian department has always promised that the friendly Indians should be indemnified for all losses consequent upon their removal to reservations. I respectfully call your attention to this matter, and ask that some steps may be taken at an early day towards paying those Indians who have suffered in this way.” I will now repeat the same recommendation, and state that subsequent investigations have satisfied me that the number of non-payment of these claims has created great dissatisfaction among the Indians. The sum if $2,500, applied to the purchase of blankets and clothing, would be sufficient for the purpose.

I would recommend that the physician be required to furnish medical advice and assistance, not only to the Indians parties to the treaty of Medicine Creek, but to all those living upon Puget’s Sounds and the Straits de Fuca who may call upon him. Inasmuch as the treaties with the Sound tribes have not as yet been ratified, and great dissatisfaction is apparent among them on that account, this step will do much towards quieting and pacifying them. With this view I have placed the estimated salary of physician at $1,200, for the reason that the services of a competent person who will reside upon a reservation and bestow his undivided time and attention upon the Indians cannot be obtained for a less sum.

I have experienced much difficulty in keeping off Indians of the Sounds tribes not parties to the treaty, but who desire to come in and receive the benefits of the treaty which is now being carried into effect.

Many claim the right to come on the ground of relationship by marriage and otherwise with the Indians parties to the treaty.  Much annoyance and trouble is experienced on this score, which will be entirely avoided when the treaties of “Point Elliot,”  “Neah Bay,” and “Point No Point” are ratified, but not until then.

The Indians of my charge, and, indeed, I may say, all west of the [can’t read] interest. Their sympathies are all with the governor; for they say that he understands the Indian’s tum-tum, (heart or mind,) knows all about what they want, and if he goes to Washington he will know what to ask for, and will be able to effect something for their benefit. They look upon the question which is to be determined at the ballot box in this Territory on the 13th July next as one of great importance to them as well as to others. I mention this matter not in a political spirit, (although the fact certainly forms no mean eulogium upon the official career of our late superintendent of Indian affairs,) but merely to show that the Indians here are not asleep, but wide awake to any and all questions which even remotely concern them.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
W. B. Gosnell,
Special Indian Agent, Washington Territory.
Col. J. W. Nesmith,
Sup’t of Indian Affairs for Oregon and
Washington Territories, Salem, Oregon Territory

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