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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1874
([1874])

[Oregon],   pp. 317-326 PDF (5.0 MB)


Page 325

REPORT     OF  THE    COMMISSIONER       OF INDIAN     AFFAIRS.      325
prefer it, and the improvement in their appearance is perceptibly increasing
each year. The 
women, especially, are quick to adopt the common female apparel; only when
they paint they 
use a greater quantity and more conspicuous colors than is considered tasty
in fashionable 
society. As an instance of their perception of the fitness of things, a painted
face is rarely 
seen at church. 
There is one case of homicide to report this year, which though perhaps not
wholly 
attributable to whisky, yet would not likely have occurred without. This
liquor business is 
most strongly set forth in its true nefarious character by its, and its accompanying
evil 
effects on the Indian race, and constitutes the most formidable impediment
to be encountered, 
and any measures looking toward a more full avoidance of them are worthy
of the most 
serious and earnest attention of all connected with the oversight and interested
in the man- 
agement of these people, whose position is so aptly expressed as " wards
of the nation." 
The relations between the Warm Spring reservation Indians and the whites
are mainly of 
the most agreeable nature. They are sought after to work in harvest, and
at other times 
and employments ; and a pass from the agent is sufficient, generally, to
secure good treat- 
ment, and the confidence bestowed is not often violated. Complaints are at
times received, 
but investigation usually shows that the offenders are not of those having
or entitled to per- 
mits from this agency. 
There are a number of straggling bands ranging over the country, occasionally
stealing 
stock and annoying settlers, lying around the towns, drinking and creating
disturbances, 
visiting the Indians on this and other reservations, and endeavoring to excite
discontent and 
insubordination among them, enticing them into gambling and other kindred
vices, and to 
leave the reservation, or creating trouble by running off their women and
horses. Some of 
them were parties to treaties, but never were on the reseri$ations, and some
have left after 
short residences. They are a source of trouble to agents, and all others
coming in contact 
with them or their influences, and prompt measures should be taken to bring
them under 
proper restraint. They are not worthy of any leniency, for their conduct
is willfully mali- 
cious, and has not the plea of religious belief or wanton injuries from the
whites, but is the 
unrestrained development of the worst phases of the Indian character-theft,
treachery, 
licentiousness, and lawlessness. The extent of the reservation is more properly
expressed 
in miles than acres, being approximately forty miles square, perhaps one-half
or more 
mountains, and covered with timber, (mostly pine,) the rest open, and nearly
all excellent 
grazing-land, but little being absolutely valueless. The character of the
open land is mostly 
table-land, intersected by deep and more or less precipitous canons, through
which flow 
streams of pure, cold water, and along which lie the tillable lands, which
proportionately are 
limited, and their extent has never positively been determined, but is sufficient,
if properly 
developed and managed, to, perhaps, ten times more than supply the present
wants. The 
unallotment of their lands, as provided by the treaty, is having an injurious
effect in retard- 
ing new improvements, and rendering less permanent in their character those
made under 
present necessities ; and I would urge that another year be not allowed to
pass without this 
being attended to. The necessary surveys have been made, but I have received
no plats or 
lists. 
No new improvements in the way of fencing and cultivating lands, but considerable
has 
been done toward repairing and rendering more secure old fences, rebuilding
and renewing 
those on old neglected fields, and the acreage cultivated is thought to be
larger than for 
some past seasons. The early spring gave promise of a favorable season, but
the months of 
April and May were very dry, and the few light showers that June brought
were entirely 
insufficient to repair the damage. Crickets also destroyed several fields
and gardens, re- 
ducing what was at best a light yield. Crops generally in Eastern Oregon
are reported at 
but from one-third to one-half of last year, and the reservation is no exception.
One-third 
of the Department crop was destroyed by crickets, another third so injured
by drought 
as to be only fit for hay, and the balance only medium, not aggregating more
than one-third 
of the amount realized last year. 
The Indian crops have not as yet been thrashed, and can only with the garden
stuffs be 
estimated. Stock of all kinds has done well; the winter being light there
were no unusual 
losses, except a very few cattle were poisoned by a weed in the early spring.
The statistics 
are very difficult to obtain, the Indians either not knowing or not caring
to tell the exact 
numbers owned by them, and the data for an estimate are so purely conjectural
in their nature 
as to afford no assurance of being even approximately correct, but are the
best that can be 
given at present, 
As has been already presented to the attention of the Department, both generally
and 
specifically, the location of the saw-mill is not such as to secure the best
results. It was 
doubtless necessary when first built to be at the agency, but that necessity
no longer exists. 
The timber is too far away, hauling logs being much more difficult and inconvenient
than 
lumber, and many are thereby deterred from making improvements. Still a fair
year's work 
has been done, and the material for a number of houses is on the ground waiting
till it 
can be worked up. It has been my custom to personally superintend and assist
the build- 
ing of houses, but have not on account of my health been able to do so this
season, and 
therefore cannot report the amount accomplished that should be. There are
probably not 
less thau twenty-five houses waiting to be built, but the services of all
labor I can command 


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