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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1873

[Fort Hall agency],   pp. 247-248 PDF (961.1 KB)

Page 247

FORT HALL INDIAN AGENCY, Idaho, October 8, 173. 
SiR: I have the honor to submit the following as my annual report of the
condition of 
affairs in this agency: 
The reservation is ample, both as to size and capacity, not only to subsist
the Indians 
now occupying it, but with suitable arrangements could be made to accommodate
eral thousand. The size, embracing as it does about fifty miles square, is
all that could be 
desired. It is a matter of doubt whether Indians in the near future, with
their lack of 
experience in agricultural pursuits, with the labor of irrigation, and the
liability of 
grasshoppers and crickets destroying the most promising crops, should be
expected to 
subsist themselves; yet there is no doubt but with herds of cattle and sheep,
with such 
ample means to subsist them as this reservation affords, especially if there
could be added 
manufacturing and mechanical pursuits even ih their most simple forms, they
could soon 
become entirely self-supporting. 
Farming in this country seems to be an experiment, i. e., the raing of grain,
and I have 
no idea that any judicious man would like to depend on it exclusively for
a living; yet 
with such facilities as this country and especially this reservation afford,
there should 
be little apprehension of failure. The land of this farm is as good as almost
any land 
in any part of this sag3-bush country. We have reorted some 200 or more acres
cultivation, to which we have added some fifty or more this season. Our crops
mostly fair, though nothing very extraordinary. The potato yield would have
much larger but for the raid of crickets on them when they had reached near
the period 
of bloom ; as it is, most of our grain and vegetables are a fair yield. There
can be added 
to the farm some 50 or 75 acres more, with the present means of irrigation,
i. e., with our 
present amount of water and the dam already built: then, by building new
dams on 
other streams there could be put in cultivation several thousand acres of
land in addition 
to what we have. 
We have a small herd of cattle, i. e., small for this country, amounting,
as they do, 
to only 150 or such a matter, including our work-cattle. This seems small,
when thousands of cattle might be kept with ease on the reservation, and
the expense 
only increased a small amount. Any number of Indians could be secured as
as they are fond of the occupation, and I have no doubt but this in the end
will be the 
chief occupation of both whites and Indians all over this country. 
Our mills are now in a good condition for business, except that the bolt
for the flour- 
ing-mill is not yet finished; we hope, however, to have that done before
spring. The 
saw-mill has been run during the summer and several thousand feet of logs
made into 
lumber, and quite a portion of it is already in improvements on the place.
We have 
about finished the house built for the physician, now occupied by the agent,
and are 
finishing the house by the mill (built I suppose for the miller) for the
physician to 
occupy, at least for the present. We have already built a meat-house as well
as also a 
flour-house, each 22 by 24 feet. They will answer an excellent purpose, especially
we will have a corral sufficient to keep all Indians away while we butcher,
so that the 
scenes heretofore occurring during the operation, making them appear a good
more like swine than human beings, will be prevented. 
The Indians on the reservation are about equally divided between the Bannacks
Shoshones. The Shoshones are generally the most docile and easily managed;
their rep- 
utation, at least, is the best by far. This season quite a number of Bannacks,
men, have been employed on the farm, and have done excellent service. I have
doubt, with the exception of a very few, they can be managed as easily as
other Indians. 
All of the Indians on the reservation have behaved far better than the same
of whites could be expected to do under similar circumstances. We have had
from 30 to 
40 Indians employed on the farm, and herding cattle, and more earnest and
employ~s I have never seen. With proper men to superintend, and with facilities,
inducements to encourage, I have no doubt anmy number could be employed,
not only 
on the farm, but also at mechanical labor. They seem to be ready to do almost
thing that will yield the slightest income. It seems indeed a sad pity to
see hundreds 
of men and women ready to labor even for the smallest income, and yet have
to remain 
from year to year with nothing to do. 

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