United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1875
Reports of agents in Washington territory, pp. 361-368 PDF (3.9 MB)
REPORTS OF AGENTS IN WASHINGTON TERRITORY. 361. REPORTS OF AGENTS IN WASHINGTON TERRITORY. COLVILLE INDIAN AGENCY, September 1, 1875. SIR: In compliance with the regulations of the Indian De-artment, I h-Ave the honor to submit my third annual report relative to the condition of the Indian service at Colville agency for the year ending August 31, 1875. There are eight different tribes belonging to this agency, numbering in the aggregate ., 117 souls, as near as can be ascertained. Only three of said tribes, however, reside upon the reserva ion west of the Columbia River, viz, the Okanagans,- Sanpoels. and Nespeelums, numbering 83 0 in all. The Colvilles (650) are located in the Colville Valley, and on both sides of the Columbia, from Kettle Falls down to the mouth of the Spokane River. The Lakes (242) are located on both sides of the Columbia River, from Kettle Falls north to the British line. The Callispels or Pend d'Oreilles (395) are located on both sides of the Pend d'Oreille or Clark's Fork of the Columbia, in the vicinity of Callispel Lake. The Spokanes live on both sides of the ;ipokane River, from its mouth to the Idaho line, and the Methows (315) are located on the west side of the Columbia River, from the mouth of the Okanagan to the We-natchee River. With the exception of the Sanpoels, Nespeelums, and Methows,who never visit the agency, (and the two former have invariably refused to acknowledge the authority of the Govern- ment or its agents,) there is every reason to be satisfied with the peaceable and friendly disposi- tion of the above-mentioned tribes, and with the trial they seem to be making to adapt them- selves to the pursuits of civilized life. They seem to appreciate the efforts being made by the Government to better their condition, and appear anxious to avail themselves of the opportunities offered them. There is an increasing desire to engage in agricultural pursuits, and farming-implements are eagerly sought after. Out of the limited means at my com- mand, I have purchased and issued them, during the past year, 56 axes, 20 sets of harness, 15 plows, 1 cradle, 2 spades, and 3 grindstones, also about 6,810 pounds of seed-wheat and 2,000 pounds seed-potatoes, besides garden-seeds. They have made good use of the articles furnished them, and it is gratifying to know that their efforts have been rewarded by a plen- tiful harvest. Thrift and progress is more apparent among the Colvilles and Spokanes than among the other tribes. There is no lack of laborers, and they render valuable assistance to the farmers in putting in and taking off their crops, and at this season of the year they are to be found in every neighborhood busily engaged,. and some of them go as far as Walla- Walla to look for employment. It is confidently believed that if their lands were sur- veyed and secured to them in severalty, without the power of alienation, the majority of them would abandon their nomadic life and subsist themselves by tilling the soil. At present their chief reliance is upon roots, fishing, and hunting. The Methows live farthest from the agency, and never visit it, but, so far as I can learn, they are peaceable and well disposed. The Sanpoels and Nespeelums, who may be regarded as one tribe, are wholly under the control of their preachers or prophets, who are called dreamers, and are distinct from the drummers, who live lower down on the Columbia. They tell their followers that truth is revealed to them (the prophets) directly from heaven, and all that is necessary to secure their well-being in this world and happiness in the next, is to obey them implicitly, and that they do almost without an exception. A distrust of white men and a disregard of their teaching and laws seems to be the foundation of their faith, and no one is permitted to acknowledge any authority emanating from them. They are having a bad effect upon the surrounding tribes, offering to the turbulent and disorderly a place of refuge and immu- nity from punishment. The Whites living in their vicinity complain that they steal their horses and kill their cattle, and commit other acts of lawlessness. Unless some steps are taken to bring them to a sense of their duty, serious difficulty may be apprehended The agent is powerless, and they can only be dealt with by the strong arm of the military. I am of the opinion that the speediest and most effectual means of bringing them to terms is to arrest the ringleaders (not over six) and send them to some distant reservation, and forbid them to return to their country. It would strike terror aionrg them, as an Indian dreads nothing so much as to be forced from his home and friends. The tibe would then be easily controlled. The chief is a well-meaning man, but has lost his influence and blindly follows the prophet. As tribal government amongi the Indians of this agency seems to be of no effect for the punishment of crimes of a serious nature, it is evident that some regulations should be established for the enforcement of law and order among them, aiid I heartily indorse the recommendatiors made by the honorable Comnmissioner of Indian Affairs in his last annual report for " qualified citizenship." There are nio agency buildimigs here, and serious inconvenience is felt frr want of them. The headquarters of the agency have comtinued to remain at Fort Colvilbe since the estab- lishment of the post up to the present time, and such accommodations as could be offered to the agents have been freely givemi by the differeint post-coiiinanders. An estimate of the cost of such buildings as are required for the use of the agency has been forwarded to your Office.
As a work of the United States government, this material is in the public domain.| For information on re-use see: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/Copyright