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

[Washington],   pp. 326-340 PDF (7.2 MB)


Page 329

REPORT    OF THE     COMMISSIONER       OF INDIAN     AFFAIRS.     329 
vation were renewed. For reasons which I made the subject of a special report
to the super- 
intendent at the time, the Sisters of Charity continued the school at their
own expense from 
the 1st of April to the end of the second quarter of 1874; but I hope the
reasons given for 
continuing the school during that quarter may be deemed sufficient to induce
the Depart- 
ment to re-imburse them for, their services so charitably bestowed. 
The habit which prevails to some extent among the Indians of this agency
of absenting 
themselves for an indefinite period, visiting the buffalo country and other
places more than 
two hundred miles distant, is fraught with evil consequences, and as a majority
of them are 
not living on the reservation assigned them, and do not recognize it, I can
do but little 
toward restraining them, and having no adequate means of punishing offenders,
many griev- 
ances have to remain unredressed. The Indians have remained in the vicinity
of the agency 
for the last month awaiting the arrival of the inspector, whom they are anxious
to meet; but 
up to this time there is no news of his coming and they are beginning to
leave, some to 
secure their crops, others to the hunting-grounds. 
As travel is suspended in winter (which lasts from November to April) between
this 
place and Walla Walla, or other points where goods can be purchased, I would
earnestly 
recommend that supplies for this agency be purchased and shipped here during
the summer 
months, or that funds be supplied the agent in time to make his purchases
in Portland, 
Oregon, and have them transported to the agency before the beginning of November,
thereby 
saving to the Government the large percentage on goods purchased here, which
I have been 
compelled to pay heretofore. 
I cannot close this report without congratulating the Indians under my charge
upon their 
steady improvement in morals, and their increased zeal in the observance
of their religious 
duties, more than three hundred of them having received the "sacrament
of confirmation" 
at the hands of the Right Rev. Bishop of Nesqually during his recent visit.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 
JOHN A. SIMMS, 
Hon. E. P. SMITH,                                        Special Indian Agent.
Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Wfashinlton, D. C. 
NEAH BAY INDIAN RESERVATION, 
September 5, 1874. 
SR: In obedience to instructions embraced in your circular-letter dated August
7, and 
received August 27, I have the honor herewith to submit my first annual report.
I entered on duty here on the 1st of April last, hence I have not yet completed
my second 
quarter in the service. It is therefore too soon to predicate any strongly
marked results 
upon the character and habits of the tribe as the fruit of my labors at this
early date. 
The aspect of the reservation as I found it was far from being encouraging.
Everything 
was in a dilapidated condition. Houses were out of repair and deprived of
furniture. 
Tools upon the farm and in the shops, to a great extent, were worn out and
worthless. 
Fences were broken down and stock were overrunning all the fields; cattle
were emaciated 
and dying of starvation; teams were too poor to work and destitute of forage.
The school 
that claimed to have a form of life was really dead, so far as all legitimate
results were con- 
cerned, being at most a mere apology for the absorption of the educational
fund, without 
doing the work of education. The Indians were skeptical of all honest intentions
on the 
part of the Government, and believed that agents and employ6s neither desired
nor labored 
for their welfare, but for their own emolument exclusively, and hence refused
to interest 
themselves in anything that tends to civilization, and wholly absorbed in
their fisheries and 
living in all the squalor of the most degraded savages. 
To organize effective work in all departments of the service; to reconstruct
and repair 
buildings, fences, and implements ; to replenish the shops with tools and
material; to 
manure, plow, and plant the gardens and cultivated fields, and so provide
against want on 
the part both of Indians and animals, and by all proper means gain the confidence
and co- 
operation of the Indians, has been my earnest endeavor from the commencement
of my 
work. This latter attempt, viz, to acquire the confidence of the Indians,
is the most diffi- 
cult task of all. 
An Indian has no faith in anything which he cannot immediately appropriate.
He has 
no forecast. In any work that looks to a benefit in the future and does not
put him in pos- 
session of an immediate return, he will take no part. If you give him something
for noth- 
ing, he has faith in you ; he counts you his friend. This is the strongest
foundation of an 
Indian's friendship. This principle has given rise to the universal custom
among American 
Indians of giving to one another. The " cultus potlatch" is about
the only source of an In- 
dian's popularity, and it is about the only way in which a white man can
acquire popularity 
among them. Expending money to produce crops for their benefit is a process
too slow 
for them. The money that the seed qpsts put into their hands now is more
valued by them 
I 


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