Cushman Agency Annual Report, 1917


Annual Report 1917,

The Cushman Agency, formerly the Puyallup Consolidated Agency, comprises five small reservations, some of which are one hundred miles apart. There are also a large number of Indian homesteads on the public domain scattered over the entire Southwestern part of the State which are under this jurisdiction.

Only two of these reservations have agency farmers. On the Muckleshoot Reservation the farmer lives in his own house which adjoins the reservation. There are no agency buildings on this reservation and as the farmer’s residence is located near the most thickly settled part of the reservation, it does not seem necessary to incur any expense in putting up Government buildings. The other farmer is on the Skokomish Reservation, is well equipped with buildings and implements require for his work. There is an Indian police who has been recently appointed and who is doing fairly good service, but the Nisqually Reservation has no Government representative of any kind. There are no agency physicians or field matrons under this jurisdiction.

There has been only one serious crime committed within this jurisdiction. That was on the Muckleshoot Reservation where a young Indian assaulted the agency farmer who was assisting in the arrest of the Indian charged with adultery. This case will be referred to the United States Grand Jury at its next meeting.

The Indians under this jurisdiction do not engage in the old fashion dance. There is a religious sect known as “Shakers” who engage in dancing as a part of their religious ceremony. This is not carried to such an extent as to be seriously objectionable and as they consider it a part of their worship, I do not deem it necessary to interfere in the matter.

The Indians, as a rule, comply with the state laws in regard to marriage and divorce, but there have been a few cases where Indians would live together without any form of marriage. These cases have been referred to the State District Attorneys, but in no case have I succeeded in getting them to take any action in the matter. They seem to regard the Indians as wards of the Government and are not willing to incur any expense in the prosecution of these Indians for violations of the State Laws. These Indians being citizens no court of Indian offenses has been established and I find some difficulty in requiring Indians to observe the marital laws.

The religious welfare of the Indians is looked after by the Protestant and Catholic missionaries on all of the reservations except the Squaxin, where they have no house of worship. The Indians have a small building which they use as a “Shaker Church.” This religious sect is growing on all of the reservations. Such meetings can hardly be called religious worship and are, in fact, rather heathenish in their practice, but they seem to have a restraining influence against drinking and gambling, and it is hoped that some good will come out of this form of worship.

The liquor traffic among the Indians has been very much reduced since this State went dry on January 1, 1916, but some of the Indians visit the towns near the reservations where they can always find bootleggers to furnish them liquor, and in several places but little attention is given by the State Authorities to the selling of liquor to Indians, while they are rather active in similar cases among the white people. The Indians also purchase extracts from some of the stores and use them as a beverage. This was carried on to considerable extent on the Chehalis Reservation where it was peddled by a man who made a business of selling this over the country. This man was arrested but the case has been put off several times and has not yet come to trial. The State passed a bone dry law which was to go into effect on the 6th day of June, but a sufficient number.

On the Squaxin Island and Chehalis reservations the only Government representatives are the two Indian police who live at home. These reservations do not require agency buildings.

The Nisqually reservation lies about 27 miles from the agency headquarters. The Indians are accustomed to visiting the Trades School periodically and as the reservation is accessible from headquarters, it is not advisable to construct agency buildings. The number of employees is adequate for the needs of the agency. Very little difficulty has been experienced in maintaining proper order on the reservations this year.

The people of the Skokomish Reservation object strenuously to the plan of turning over the Day School to county officials as soon as the project was placed before them in a proper light the discussion practically ceased.

No information has been received during the past year that the old Indian dances have been indulged in by the Indians under this jurisdiction. In fact the children of the younger generation have no conception of what the old Indian dance is. There is, however, on all of the reservations an increase in the membership of the so-called Shaker church. This religious sect indulges in an emotional, religious fervor, which seizes on its devotees who are shaken by religious ecstasies and give utterance to loud, fervid and pious exclamations. This sect was originated by old man Jack Slocum, a Squaxin Island Indian, who died, to all appearances, 25 years ago, and came to life again, before burial so the story runs, to warn his fellow men to shake off theirs sins.

The religion has exercised a powerful influence over its devptees, who are obliged to give up the use of tobacco, liquor and dancing. In this jurisdiction the shaking appears to however, for the older people to spend too much time in religious meetings, which are frequent, to the detriment of the crops and other work.

The younger children are not required by their Shaker parents to join the Shaker church but as is natural a number of them have become members and have distinguished themselves by the fervor of their shaking. These children have showed very strong disinclination to attend either the Day school or the public school. In order to obtain their attendance the State Compulsory Attendance law has been applied, very much to the distaste of the parents.

The marriage and divorce customs of the Indians under my supervision are those prescribed by the laws of the state. For the most part these laws are faithfully observed. As far as I have lived together without marriage have been few. Outraged public opinion among the Indians appealed to me in each case to put a stop to the scandal. In one case as Indian women left the reservation to keep house for a citizen Indian in Puyallup and refused to return to the home of her grown-up son. The monthly allowance was stopped by the office so long as she remained with this man. The children, however, do not wish the mother to be prosecuted under the state law. Upon Squaxin Island reservation, a young couple were living together, unmarried, because of the refusal of the mother to her minor son’s marriage. Representations have been made to the mother and the boy’s relatives thru the Indian police, which it is expected will result in the marriage of the two. The state laws are adequate to meet such conditions on the reservations. There is, however, a feeling that such matters should be settled out of court by the Indians on any of the reservations as these Indians are restricted citizen Indians entitled to all the rights, privileges and immunities pertaining to citizenship with a restriction only as to the alienation of their lands.

The promotion of the religious welfare of the Indians under this jurisdiction is in the hands of the Catholic and Protestant missionaries who visit the reservations at frequent intervals for the purpose of holding religious services. The Catholic possess churches on the Nisqually and Muckleshoot reservations the Protestant on the Nisqually and Chehalis reservations. On the other reservations, services are held in the homes of devout Indians. The Shakers possess a large church on the Chehalis reservation. This religious sect has increased rapidly in membership and is exerting a powerful influence over our less progressive Indians.

Since the state prohibition law went into effect January 1, 1916, the Indians have been able to obtain liquor only from neighboring towns or from traveling bootleggers. Evidence to convict bootleggers and blind-pig proprietors has been diligently sought but so far without results except in one case. A number of boys who had been given permission to walk in the country returned more or less under the influence of liquor. The superintendent, in company with members of the dry squad took one of the boys to the place where he had bought the liquor. A Japanese Sake still.

Authorities of the city of Tacoma are most harmonious, and the consternation of the plans now in contemplation will bring the two school systems into very close touch. This affiliation with the public schools, together with the establishment of the Trades Department in this school, will make it admirably adapted to the needs of the Indians in this section of the country.

The Indians of the Northwest will hardly become agriculturalists to any great extent, but they are constantly seeking places in the manufacturing establishments and in the lumber industries. The training which we expect to give along these lines will materially assist them in operation machinery.

There seems to be no discrimination against the Indians in this section of the country on the mere grounds that they are of a different race. The only trouble that arises is when the Indian parents cannot or will not send their children to the public schools in a sufficient state of cleanliness as not to be obnoxious. Much more could have been accomplished among the Indians during the fiscal year 1911, had it been possible to extend a little more money in the matter of Farmers and equipment to extend the work of instruction in Agriculture among the Indians on the reservations. The Indians within this jurisdiction are now at a point where a little judicious…

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