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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1905
Part I ([1905])

Reports concerning Indians in Nevada,   pp. 254-260 PDF (3.5 MB)


Page 258

258      REPORTS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. 
REPORT OF FIELD MATRON AT WADSWORTH,N EV. 
WADSWORTH, NEV., Augu8t 9, 1905. 
During the past ten months in which I have been occupied in the performance
of my 
duties as field matron, I have spent almost every day in visiting from house
to house 
and also in visiting the Indians In adjoining towns, as an aid in holding
control over 
those who seek to evade the mild authority which I find it necessary to use.
It would 
have been more effective to have made these visits more frequently, but they
were nec- 
essarily limited in number on account of the expense, which I have borne
myself. 
In the daily visits in the Indian village I have spent as many hours of each
day as 
possible in caring for the sick, advising, training, helping, and watching
that they are 
at home at night and keeping out of their midst objectionable characters.
The same 
methods have been followed as were adopted last year with a few variations.
The 
work has been very pleasant in many ways, and is growing more enjoyable as
we learn 
to understand and sympathize with each other. The houses are mostly clustered
around 
the city water supply, so that by walking no great distance frequent visits
may be made. 
The population varies continually on account of their nomadic propensities,
but 
they congregate here during the winter months because of the fishing privileges,
the 
advantage of a mild climate in this storm-protected valley, because of a
better fuel 
supply and opportunities for care in sickness, and also from the fact that
they have 
gathered here yearly for generations back. In the spring and summer they
again 
wander away, the men to work in the fields and on the cattle ranges, the
women to 
find work near where the men are occupied. 
The more permanent of the population has varied from about 60 to 250 or 300.
This 
number is greatly increased during their annual celebrations, especially
at the tim' 
of the " fish dance," which is spent in fishing and cleaning and
drying them for future 
use, and dancing and gambling at night, often drinking when they can obtain
liquor. 
At these times the work of the field matron is necessarily made unpleasant.
The desire to tear down and rebuild their houses has been greatly modified
this 
ast year, partly on account of the low death rate and because a number of
houses 
ave been saved from    destruction by persuading them  to use fumigation
in cases 
of contagious diseases and calling their attention to the fact that the members
of the 
family are exposed to the inclemency of the weather and made sick by clinging
to their 
superstitions. In building their homes I have advised them to have windows
that 
will open, and I use these to air the house when I enter in winter. 
I have had but one case where a family could not be persuaded to make use
of the 
abundance of waste lumber (which has been left from   the houses removed
to Reno) 
with which to build comfortable homes. In most instances they strive to procure
quan- 
tities of this refuse material-lumber, nails, locks, latches, and windows-for
use in the 
reconstruction of their houses. They also saved the cloth and paper of the
walls for 
the inside of their own homes, thereby adding much to the appearance of their
homes. 
They have not advanced much in the use of yeast bread, although I have urged
this 
as a means to better health. 
They sew neatly, trimming with congruous and incongruous colors, and following
a 
fashion, learned many years ago and never caring to change. 
Their work as housemaids and in the laundry is still in great demand. I am
contin- 
ually finding them work in this line and answering letters from persons needing
men to 
work on the farms and cattle range. But they are frequently unreliable and
their work 
unsatisfactory because of their desire to change, and yet there are many
cases where the 
same Indian family has been employed by a white family for fifteen and twenty
years. 
In such cases they are very loyal and moderately grateful. Although they
know how to 
work, they do everything spasmodically, and their neatness in their homes
frequently 
shows this characteristic peculiarity. 
They have learned to attract the attention of tourists by holding to certain
uncivilized 
customs of dress and habits, from which I would gladly persuade them. We
have had it 
in our hearts to blame the overzealous sight-seer and curio hunter for a
part of the firm- 
ness with which they cling to these old customs as if they were something
to be admired. 
There has been a marked change for the better in the minds of the Indians
in regard 
to the good to be accomplished by a little medicine taken at the proper time,
and the 
Government physician has had his work increased at times by Indian patients
from other 
towns being brought here to receive free medical aid and proper care. We
consider this 
an encouraging feature of the year's work. We are also inclined to believe
that in conse- 
quence of this they have been favored by a long period of excellent good
health this spring 
In caring for the sick, we feel that we have opened the door to every other
divilized 
influence, and sometimes called down upon our heads most absurd criticisms.
In fact, to 
gain for them a most trifling advantage places them for a certain time in
our debt, hence 
they are our friends; and at other times I have been sulked at for weeks
for failing to 
secure an answer by telephone from some vaguely described and named Indian
relative at 
a distance, supposed to be ill. 
When their displeasure is once aroused by any such trifling circumstance,
their spirit 
of fault-finding knows no bounds, and with the old It is not easily forgotten.
One 
of the most pernicious influences of this kind that I have had to conteract
was that of 
a man considered very bright and an excellent workman. He conceived the idea
that I 
was usurping his rights to advise and control his tribe, thereby arousing
his jealousy and, 
although I treated him with the greatest care and was very tender of his
feelings in 
consequence of this, I soon discovered that he was trying to destroy my efforts
for good 
by encouraging and advising bad behaviour and even giving liquor to the Indian
women, so as to make them drunk and disorderly, and thus try to enforce some
of his own 
Ideas of a change. We have the matter somewhat under control, but we do not
expect his 
good will. 
These Indians have for forty years too often come Into close contact with
a class of 
white people of the garrulous, gossiping, fault-finding type, and have formed
an idea of 
the inability and wilful neglectfulness of duty of the Government employee
that carries 
with it a suggestion of contempt for all so employed. 
I write this as a preface to the suggestion that the class of subordinate
employees 
sent to work among these Indians will be those who are soldiers enough at
heart to 
make use of the very best there is in each other and keep profoundly silent
in regard 
to the faults of any and every kind until asked by the proper authorities.
In other 
words, doing the best possible work with the material at hand. We consider
that there 


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