Office Superintendent Indian Affairs
Oregon City July 19th 1851
In the closing remarks of my letter to you of the 18th inst. I attended to a subject upon which I should ask your consideration and advice It is in reference to the awkward position in which our government is placed in Oregon. It is probable, however, that the attention of the Government has already been called to this subject. (It must however have escaped the notice of Congress or the Government never would have been placed in this position) I allude to what is called the Oregon Land Bill in which Government is bound to give to every actual settler in Oregon three hundred and twenty acres of land or six hundred and forty to a man and his wife at the same time every acre of this land is owned and occupied by a people that the Government has always acknowledged to be the bonafide and rightful owners of the soil. These facts however, are not known to the Indians, nor do they know the fact that the Government has never forced the Indians from their land without first having bought them Were these two facts well understood by the Indians of this country, the end of the trouble growing out of it could not be foreseen.
A serious difficulty, however, is unavoidable it is this the Indian tribes in Oregon will never consent to part with their lands, without preserving small portions in each Tribe or Band for their own use. All the land of value is
claimed by the white people as having been given to them by the Government. The Indian says he must have a small portion reserved to himself without the interference of the white man. The white man says he will not allow the Indian to reserve his claim. I do not now speak of what I fear may take place but of what has already taken place in all the Treaties made by the Commissioners. The greater part of the land reserved is claimed by the settlers thereon.
While I shall anxiously await your advice on this subject I will go on, and act in a way that will place the Government in the best position that the nature of the case will possibly advise of in my judgement
I have the honor to be
Respectfully your obt servt
Hon L. Lea Commissioner
of Indian Affairs