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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1863
([1863])

Report of the commissioner of Indian affairs,   pp. [5]-40 PDF (14.2 MB)


Page 12

12 
REPORT OF THE 
north and east encompassed by mountains, so that no whites are likely to
settle 
within twenty or thirty miles in those directions; on the south and west
is the 
Pacific. The only entrance to the valley is in the southeast, and this is
ex- 
tremely narrow, rendering it practicable to almost wholly isolate the Indians,
and secure them from the pernicious results which so invariably follow a
con- 
tact with the whites. In addition to this valuable consideration, to which,
in 
my judgment,*too much importance cannot be attached, the valley is well watered
and timbered, and has a suitable amount of arable land, while the adjacent
moun- 
tains furnish an abundance of game, and the Pacific the best of fisheries.
Gov- 
ernment is now paying rent for the cultivated land of this valley at the
rate of 
five dollars per acre, a price enormously disproportioned to the value of
the 
improved land, all of which can be purchased, as I am informed, at rates
aver- 
aging a little less than twelve dollars per acre. I know of no way to avoid
these exorbitant charges for rent, except by the purchase of the land, or
the es- 
tablishment of a reservation at some other point upon the coast. 
I have no doubt that,.by timely action, we may yet secure for these people
a 
home in the land of their birth, and feel that I should illy discharge my
duty 
if I failed to urge upon you, and through you upon Congress, the importance
of immediate action. Unless a tract of country is soon set apart for the
use of 
the Indians, and its title secured to them, every available portion will
be occu- 
pied by whites, and the Indians driven, by inevitable necessity, into a life
of 
vagabondage and crime, resulting in constant annoyance and vexation to the
whites, in frequent collisions between the two races, and, I fear, at last
in the 
extinction of the red race. 
On the 13th of January last I submitted for your consideration a communica-
tion from Superintending Agent Wentworth, informing me that hostilities had,
to some extent, commenced with the Indians inhabiting that part of California
known as the Owen's River valley, and expressing, in the strongest manner,
his 
apprehensions that a general war would ensue with those Indians unless imme-
diate measures should be adopted by Congress, having for their object the
pacifi- 
cation of the Indians, and the securing to them of some portion of the home
of 
their ancestors, where they could live unmolested by the whites. I regret
to 
say that the apprehensions of Superintending Agent Wentworth have since been
fully realized. The course of events in this valley is a forcible illustration
of 
the wisdom and importance of entering into treaty relations with the wild
Indians 
of our territories, prior to the occupation of their country. Here was.a
country 
extending from the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada to the great desert,
in- 
habited by several thousands of wild and warlike Indians, with whom we have
hitherto failed to establish amicable relations, or, indeed, to hold any
official 
intercourse whatever. The country had been in the unmolested possession of
this people for generations, and was ample for their sustenance and support.
In 
an evil day for them, it is discovered that their mountain gulches and ravines
abound in the precious metals, and forthwith, in utter disregard of the rights
of 
the Indians, and by resorting to precisely the same means as those employed
towards the wild beasts of the country, a tide of emigration sets in upon
them 


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