Introduction: These letters discuss the impact of Ft. Lewis on Nisqually graveyards.
The Hudson Bay Co. found the Nisqually Tribe living around the mouth of the Nisqually River when its first post was started, in 1832, on Sound, 5 miles north of the present Nisqually Reservation.
There is another graveyard on the old Ross homestead adjoining the reservation at the Nisqually Lake. It is used by the Ross family, one of whom (Mrs. Florence Leroy) (A-71, 73) lived on this farm until dispossessed by the county. The Ross family are heirs to condemned allotments of Mrs. Charles Ross, No. 29, and to Quatan or Elizabeth, No. 7, but none of the heirs lived on the reservation. They have recently placed a fence of cement and iron about their graveyard.
Outside of the Ross graveyard there are 162 graves of Nisqually Indians remaining on the condemned Nisqually allotments. Most of the livestock is gone and praise fire will be an annual menace in the rank grass and will soon be invaded by stray stock and stones thrown down. The Indians of the Nisqually tribe cherish the memory of their dead, and most of the graveyards indicate that they took pains to keep the graves in order and protect them. And this is borne out by testimony of the missionaries who worked among them. This care and protection can not now be given, even by frequent visits, which is impossible by some of the old people, as there is no one left to protect the graves from intrusion and molestation by miscreants bent on mischief. The nearest Nisqually lives across the turbulent Nisqually River and can not see what might be going on across the river.
Removal of a few bodies and signs of preparation to remove others (which apparently had been abandoned) indicates the uneasiness felt by the Indians, which is thought to be well founded. The Presbyterian and Catholic missionaries who worked with these Indians for the last 30 years estimate the removal of the bodies at $30 to $40 each, depending upon distance to which the bodies were to be moved. A cost of $35 per body is, I find, a conservative average, or a total of $5,600 for the whole number; and this does not cover the cost of removing and resetting the larger gravestones. I confirmed these figures by and undertaking firm which has had much experience along this line in that section.
Attention is invited to the fact that no allowance was made by any of the three boards of appraisers for the removal of these Indian bodies to other cemeteries, and I recommend that Congress be asked to appropriate $6,000 for the removal of all the Indian bodies which now lie on the condemned part of the Nisqually Reservation. (A-65, 70, 74, 77.)
C. L. Ellis
Section IV. Condemnation of Allotments
Tacoma, Wash., November 1,1919
Condemnation of Nisqually Allotments for Camp Lewis Army Post.
The first white settlement on Puget Sound was in 1832, when the Hudson Bay Co. established Nisqually House, or Fort Nisqually, near the mouth of Nisqually River on land now part of the Du Pont Powder Works. (Exhibit H.) This land is now surrounded by Camp Lewis cantonment. At the time of this first settlement the Nisqually Band of Indians was occupying the lands about the mouth of the Nisqually River, and they have lived in that section continuously since then.
Soon afterwards the Puget Sound Agricultural Co. was formed as a subsidiary of the Hudson Bay Co. and engaged extensively in raising of livestock and farming, and it was through this company that the Nisquallies learned to farm. Before the Indian war of 1855 these Indians cultivated fields on what was afterwards set aside as their reservation. Their title, however, was clouded by the claim of the Agricultural Co. until 1870, when the company surrendered its claim under provisions of a treaty between the United States and Great Britain. (Exhibit 1, 43-51, 78.)
Many early settlers claim that the unjust treaty of 1854 caused the Indians to go on the warpath because it deprived them of their homes and fields. In consideration of the cession of 2,000,000 acres, the Nisquallies were given only two sections of high, stony land covered with dense timber, where it was impossible for them to live and farm and where they never did live. (A, 43, 46.) Realizing the injustice done by treaty their present reservation of 4,717 acres was set aside for the Nisqually Indians in 1856 by Gov. I.I. Stevens, and there they lived undisturbed and supported themselves from their live stock, farms, and fish from their river for over 60 years. Then the ambition of Tacoma to acquire one of the big Army posts, and the war necessity, caused Pierce County, Wash., in April, 1918, to condemn the best two-thirds of the Nisqually Reservation, being the part east of the Nisqually where most
ually Reservation. In 1839 missionary work among the Nisquallies was begun by Protestants and Catholics, and until the Indians were dispossessed and their churches condemned the Presbyterian and Catholic missionaries conducted monthly services on the reservation. It is not likely that6 new churches will be built for a few Indians who remain.
Each church has an Indian graveyard attached, and there were three other graveyards on the condemned part of the reservation. The graveyards are located as follows:
On allotment of Klutch-et-sah, Frank, No. 18 (C-31). An acre had been set aside on this allotment for the tribal graveyard, which was neatly fenced with woven wire, good posts 10 feet apart, and had two iron gates. It contains 91 graves, some marked with good stones. Ornamental fences around family groups and single graves have recently been torn down and monuments disturbed as if preparations had been made to move the bodies, although none had been removed. The gates were open, and stock was trespassing. Signs of neglect were plainly evident. I am informed that the Indians maintained a cemetery association in connection with this graveyard and had trustees to manage its affairs.
On allotment of Old Powerty, No. 17 (C-30). From a small graveyard near the escarpment a dozen bodies had recently been removed –by Indians, we were told –to the Firwood Indian graveyard in the Puyallup Valley. Chief Leschi’s remains (the third interment) were moved to the Indian cemetery at the Cushman School. The fences al about the graves on this allotment were torn down and scattered about. Five or six graves still remain, as near as we could tell, and are unprotected.
On allotment of Joseph Moxlah, or Meda Mitla, No. 15 (C-28). The Catholic Indian Mission Church and cemetery are both on this allotment. The church is now demolished. The cemetery is securely fenced with two and three barbed wires and boards on strong posts. It contains 25 graves and 4 good gravestones. There are 10 lots fenced with wooden palings and ornamental posts. Only two graves appear to have been opened and bodies removed there from.
On allotment of Tenas Laplet, Yukton, No. 3 (C-3). The Presbyterian Indian Mission Church, now partly dismantled, stands on line between this allotment and that of James Shipman, No. 2. The church cemetery is wholly on the Laplet allotment and covers on-fourth acre and contains 30 graves, 10 of which had lot fences around them, 1 being an ornamental iron posts and wire. Five graves have been opened and bodies and gravestones removed. The ornamental iron fence was torn down and left on the ground. The cemetery is fenced with 26-inch woven wire, posts a rod apart, with three barbed wires above the woven wire. The barbed wires have been removed in part and the fence cut, which leaves the graves unprotected.
On allotment of James Shipman, or Cipman, No.2 (C-2). A small cemetery of one-fourth acre is located on the east end of this allotment near the north boundary of the reservation. It is fenced with 6-inch boards. The 11 graves which remain are enclosed in a neat fence of wooden paling, and a good marble monument stands in the lot. Several graves have individual marble markers. One body appears to have been removed recently. A prairie fire recently destroyed part of the outer fence. The next fire will probably finish it and the inner one also; thus exposing the graves and stones to depredations and trespass by live stock.
There is another graveyard on the old Ross homestead adjoining the reservation at the Nisqually Lake