University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

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

Reports of agents in Washington territory,   pp. 361-368 PDF (3.9 MB)


Page 361

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. 


Go up to Top of Page