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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1875

Reports of agents in Oregon,   pp. 344-357 PDF (6.8 MB)

Page 344

344                 REPORTS     OF AGENTS IN       OREGON, 
ceased; beggary and starvation ensued, and at the close of the war the soldiers
with them to their homes that decimating scourge, small-pox, and it seemed
as if the pes 
tilence marked the most thrifty, energetic, and intelligent for its prey.
Add to these disas- 
ters the fact that they had never had the example of energetic and intelligent
husbandry set 
them. The great mountain-ranges surrounding this region have proved effectual
to civilization. The phrase "a century behind the age " aptly expresses
the condition of 
the people, save that it is a slur upon the intelligence and culture which
blessed more 
favored regions a hundred years ago. The methods of agriculture are most
primitive and 
inefficient. Inability to read and write is the rule rather than the exception.
In such a state 
of things it is no wonder that the native indolence and improvidence of the
Indian have 
been intensified. Driven to agriculture by simple necessity, he works when
present neces- 
sity compels-poverty and degradation are the inevitable results. Men, whether
white or 
Indian, when pressed to the extreme of poverty and devoid of the stimulus
of hope, can- 
not be expected to exhibit energy, industry, economy, or providence. 
VToward the work of lifting these people from their deplorable state, under
the present 
wise policy of the Government, a fair beginning has been made. Their land-titles
are se- 
cured ; they have been as well supplied with stock and tools as the limited
time would 
allow. The most needy have been aided first. Horses, oxen, plows, harness,
and hoes 
have been given out as public property, to be cared for and used by the individual,
not to be sold, killed, or otherwise disposed of. The object of this arrangement
was toe 
protect them against designing whites, who have habitually bought stock of
them at far 
less than their value. For instance, one Indian to whom I gave an ox costing
$30, tried 
to sell him for $10. They have cultivated a considerably larger area of corn
and potatoes 
this year than formerly. 
In the work of education only a beginning has been made. One school, designed
as an experiment than otherwise, has been opened. The result so far is highly
The pupils are well behaved, quiet, and obedient. They show considerable
aptness for 
learning, making good progress in reading and spelling, and a beginning in
writing. The 
great difficulty is, as was anticipated, in securing regular and punctual
attendance. Ar- 
rangements are pending for commencing additional day-schools and for opening
two boarding- 
schools as soon as the buildings can be completed. A model farm is contemplated
in con- 
nection with each of these, with blacksmith, wagon, and other shops, as may
seem desir- 
They have seven churches, five Baptist and two Methodist, with some eight
or ten native 
preachers. The communicants embrace a larger proportion of the population
than is usual 
in white communities, but in religious as well as in secular matters they
are sadly in need 
of instruction. They have the New Testament in their own tongue, necessarily
through the poverty of their own language. I have distributed among them
one hundred 
copies of a- book containing fragments of the Old Testament in Cherokee,
granted by the 
American Bible Society. 
The first great need of the people is instruction in English. They must constantly
business with white people, and their ignorance of the language places them
greatly at 
the mercy of the designing, and the English tongue is the only. avenue by
which intelli- 
gence can reach them. The schools should be conducted with that end in view.
For further particulars I Tespectfully refer to my statistical report inclosed.
It is neces- 
sarily by estimate, and, indeed, in many cases little better than guess-work,
the nature of my 
duties having precluded the gathering of statistics as yet. 
Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 
Hon. E. P. SMITH,                           Special United States Indian
Commissioner of Indian Affairs. 
September 11, 1875. 
SIR : I submit this my second annual report as agent of this agency. It has
been a year 
of historical note, as the agency has commanded congressional action, and
has attracted the- 
attention of politician and settler, and has kept the Indian in a state of
mind unfitting for the 
expectation of much imptovement; while, amid all this, peace and quietness
have prevailed 
among the Indians.. Perhaps there never was a year more quiet than this.
While I have 
struggled to restore the lost confidence they have had in the white man,
I have had a series 
of drawbacks to contend with since my first advent among theim. Still, they
have listened 
to me and remained quiet. I labored under financial embarrassment the first
sixteen months 
that I was in charge, without a single dollar salaiy or funds to purchase
supplies, except a. 

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