United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1883
Reports of agents in Idaho, pp. 53-59 PDF (3.4 MB)
REPORTS OF AGENTS IN IDAHO. 59 thorough industrial schools, embracing agriculture and mechanics for the males and housekeeping and dairy work for females. Extend our civil and criminal laws to the Indians; but instead of jury trials in cases as between Indians and whites allow the district judge to preside, and decide the case according to law; and if the decision is not satisfactory allow an appeal to be taken to the supreme court of the State or Territory, as the case may be. In my opinion the Indian would not receive justice in a jury trial in four cases out of five, on account of the strong prejudice that exists against him, particularly in the Terri- tories. Appoint an agent, as is done under the present policy, and pay a salary that will command ability, said agent's duties to be to manage the affairs of the schools and attend to the welfare of the Indians generally. THE YEAR'S WORK. Said work has been one of constant and unremitting labor in managing the affairs of a reserve 35 by 60 miles in extent, and doing an unlimited amount of office work, occasioned by the complicated method of keeping accounts demanded of an Indian agent. I would suggest that in the matter of correspondence with Indians on part of the Department such correspondence pass through an agent's hands. By this I mean allow the agent to read the letters and then deliver them to the Indians ad- dressed, taking their receipts therefor, which receipts should be forwarded to the In- dian Office by the agent. Said receipts should be witnessed by the interpreter and one or more employds. My object for so recommending is that Indians receive letters from the Indian Office containing information which they cannot understand, but pretend to, and interpret it to their friends as they see fit, and in many instances cause unpleasant feelings between the agent and his Indians until the letters are cor- rectly interpreted to them. But one instance of this kind has occurred at this agency during my administration, nevertheless I think the suggestion would be supported by all agents in the service. In this connection I desire to return sincere thanks to the honorable Commissioner for having forwarded me the original of a letter supposed to have been written by a certain Indian at this agency. Said letter contained seri- ous complaints and charges against the agent and some employ6s. On account of having the original in my possession I was able to ascertain that said letter was a for- gery, and to succeed in finding out beyond a doubt who committed the forgery. The Indian whose name was attached to the, letter made affidavit to the effect that he neither authorized the writing of said letter nor knew anything of its existence. I think if the originals of that character of correspondence were always sent to agents, instead of copies, a great deal of annoyance would be obviated. On the 12th day of September last this agency was visited by Col. R. S. Gardner, United States Indian inspector. He came very unexpectedly, and his coming was like a thunderbolt out of a clear sky. He came to ascertain the truthfulness of cer- tain outrageous statements embraced in an anonymous correspondence, to which it pleased the honorable Secretary of theInterior to give the dignified title of" charges preferred against Agent Monteith," which statements made Agent Monteith to ap- pear in the role of a first-class villain and fraud. Said charges were examined by Colonel Gardner, and I do not think any one could institute a more searching investiga- tion than did he. I stated to the inspector that I preferred not to be present during the examination of any witnesses, as I had no desire to embarrass a witness by my presence. I have never seen the inspector's report, but have learned indirectly that not a single statement was substantiated. As will be seen per statistical report the amount of grain raised this year is less than that of last season, though there is quite an increase in cultivated acreage. This is occasioned by two causes: First, the amount of hay cut by Indians is increased 300 tons, and the same is wheat and oat hay; second, the crops on the east end of the reserve are much lighterthan last year on account of a very severe drought; still there is enough raised by the Indians for their own use, and quite a surplus to be disposed of. In consequence of heavy fires on the east end of the reserve and in the mountains, burning over thousands of acres of fine grazing lands, I am fearful that much of the Indians' stock will perish this coming winter. During the year past the general health of the tribe has been good. In attending to my duties as agent I have had little or no time to inform myself as to the work of the missionary, Rev. George L. Deffenbaugh. I can only say that ap- parently he has been busily engaged in his noble work, and may God prosper him therein. Statistics pertaining to said work are furnished by him. RespctfulyCHAS. E. MONTEITH, United States Indian Agent. The COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.
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