"Siletz Indian Reservation" (newspaper article), 2 January 1879, in United States, Office of Indian Affairs, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1880
, National Archives Microcopy 234, Roll 627, NADP Document D100.
SILETZ INDIAN RESERVATION.
All the friends of humanity will rejoice to hear of continued prosperity in the work on this reservation.
While this abounds in every department, furnishing many interesting facts, and gratifying proofs of the wisdom of the present Indian policy, it becomes me, as pastor here to represent especially our progress in the work of Christian civilization. But this cannot be done properly without including the whole scope of our teaching and practice; the material, the intelectual and the spiritual.
From the first elementary lesson, to the last triumph that has crowned our efforts here, all our Christian workers have tried by precept and by example: by teaching the law and the gospel, to impress the natives with conviction that industry
is fundamental in civilization. "Six days shalt thou labor
, and do all thy work
" "If any would not work, neither should he eat."
The prevalent games and habits of idleness have gradually yielded to useful employments, till now, it is excedingly unpopular, except with the very old fashioned, to lie around on the grass, or spend the time in heathenish games. The whole community is generally lively with business in the various civilized pursuits. As evidence of their industry, new fences, improved crops, new barns and houses, and many of the conveniences and comforts of domestic life, are now seen in every part of the reservation and nearly all produced by Indian labor.
Former prejudice against education removed, and the Indians are so eager to keep their children in school that they make many sacrifices to do so. Even at those times, when, for months the department furnished no means for lunch or clothing, the numbers were not perceptibly diminished. most of the children, though poorly clad; have continued in school, coming regularly even through the winter storms with bare feet, and shivering limbs. True, they have always been more punctual when a lunch, and decent clothes have been furnished them. It is hard for a child to get to school in time, if it must first catch fish, or gather berries for its subsistence, or when the ground is frosty and its feet bare.
This is changed now. The Department seeing the uninterupted success of this school for several years, is now providing more liberally for the children. Our capacious and comfortable school room is well filled daily with bright, laughing Indian children, all warmly and neatly clad in linsey and jeans, with good stockings and shoes. The average attendance is about fifty, including seven white children from the families of the agent and employes. Their lunch consists of crackers and fruit-apples of the Indians raising, bought from them for the school lunch. Their studies embrace most of the branches of a common school education. A large class of girls receive daily lessons in sewing and knitting. But prospect for the future of the school is still more promising. The agent has been instructed, and furnished with means, to erect a boarding house for the accommodation of fifty boys and girls. Through his prompt attention, and the industry of his employes, the materials are on the ground, and the building is about ready to be raised. Doors with their hangings, glazed window, and stoves, and bricks for the fires are all in readiness. Also fifty pairs of superior blankets for the beds. As soon as possible this house is to be finished and furnished. There the girls are to be taught in all the branches of house- keeping, even to makeing butter and cheese. Adjacent to the boarding house is a track of forty acres of choice land in cultivation and another of about ten acres already manured and plowed preparatory to the spring's planting, where the boys are to be educated in all the departments of farming, gardening and horticulture.
While so much importance has been given to manual labor and mental culture, the religious work has not been neglected. In all of our five services through the week, the spiritual thermometer always stands at about revival point. But the central power, and main spring to all our civilising processes here, is the Sunday school. There never was, probably a more eager, and attentive concourse of people, young and old, or more thorough work done is Sunday school than may be seen here every Sabbath. And never were teachers more encouraged with the fruits of their labors.
Our last Quarterly-meeting here, was a season of unusual interest and power, especially the Conference. Our Indian brethren introduced of their own accord, the subject of missionary labors, and volunteered to visit remote parts of the reservation, and hold meetings. This converted the latter part of our Conference into a missionary meeting that was not only very spiritual and profitable to the members, but resulted in a plan that had proved already very beneficial to those who have been sent out two and two, every alternate Sabbath to carry the gospel to the distants. And we have good evidence that their labors have been blessed to the many hungry souls who have attended their meetings.
We praise God daily as we see the growth and development of many of these Christian Indians. We are often astonished at their general advancement, and practical knowledge of the Scriptures. We have but little of the spasmodic element in our work. The growth in the Church is gradual and permanent; and the increase in members constant and promising. Those who know the condition of these Indians a few years ago, are constrained to exclaim when they see them now, what hath God wrought!
"He hath filled thee with good things." He hath given "knowledge of salvation unto his people, by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God: whereby the Day-Spring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."
T. F. Royal
Seletz Agency Jan. 2. 1879.