United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1884
Reports of agents in Washington territory, pp. 158-177 PDF (9.5 MB)
158 REPORTS OF AGENTS IN WASHINGTON TERRITORY. HABITS AND CONDITION. These Indians cannot be classed with the so-called civilized tribes. For the most part they live in " wickeups." Several houses have been built for them, but they are soon abandoned and used only as granaries or storehouses Most of them dress in blankets and leggins. Their children are brought up in squalor and filth; very little attention being paid to the boys, none to the girls. Whenever dirt and rubbish accumulates in such quantities as to make ingress and egress difficult, they seek other places to pitch their tents. The above is true of the majority of these Indians, though it cannot be said of all. They are honest and virtuous in their social rela- tions. There are not over half a dozen mixed bloods in the tribe. They are fond of gambling and horse-racing. It is always possible to find some gambling whenever there is any money among them. MISSIONARY WORK AND RELIGION. No missionary work has been done during the year. We have no churches, no preachers, and no Sabbath-schools. The only training of this kind the Indians have is what they get in the school. Most of these Indians are Mormons. Nothing else could be expected, surrounded as they are on all sides by the "latter.day saints." I am told they find hearty sympathizers in the Mormons in all their little troubles with Gentiles. The Indians apparently accept the Mormon religion, not because they have any profound religious convictions, but because the polygamy of the Mormons suits their tastes. I will say this, that the influence of the Mormons in encouraging the Indians in agri- culture has always been good. "Medicine men" still retain a strong hold upon most of the Indians, though it is evident that their power is waning. A few years ago no white man was permitted to attend the burial of an Indian ; they are now frequently invited to be present at the funeral. The practice still obtains among them of killing ponies, burying blankets, robes, and presents with their dead. They used to destroy all the prop- erty of the deceased; much of it is preserved now. Our only hope is in educating the young; the old men will never outgrow these superstitions. SANITARY. These Indians are strong and healthy. Little or no constitutional disease exists among them. They are learning to have great confidence in white men's medicine, and patronize the agency physician more than ever. In conclusion, the chiefs of these two tribes, having confidence in the Department, have worked in harmony with the agent to carry out your instructions. The Indians must depend upon the courtesy of the Government for several years to come, but they are on the right road to become independent. The reservation is ample for all their present needs; it affords abundant facilities for farming, grazing, hunting, and fishing. The Indians only require encouragement to develop its resources. Respectfully submitted, ELISHA W. DAVIS, Indian Agent. Per FRANK PIERCE, Clerk in charge. The COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. COLVILLE INDIAN AGENCY, WASHINGTON TERRITORY, August 12, 1884. RESPECTED SIR: I have the honor to submit this my first annual report on the con- dition of the Indians intrusted to my care. There are three reservations, the Colville, addition to the Colville (Spokan), and Cceur d'Al6ne, on which and the adjacent country are located the Colvilles, Lakes, Okanagans, Methows, Nespilums, San Puells, Spokans, Calispels, and Cmeur d'Aldnes, in all making nearly 4,000 Indians. I assumed charge of affairs October 23, 1883, relieving John A. Simms, a faithful officer who has done'much for these Indians. I found the employd force so much re- duced in numbers as to render the service nearly ineffective, no interpreter even being allowed, and how an agent could get along here without one is more than I could con- ceive. But, thanks to the Department, an interpreter was allowed in March, for with the continued press of land business nothing could be done without one.
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