SILETZ INDIAN AGENCY, August 12, 1886.
Sir: I have the honor to submit my report for the year 1886. While this is a duty, I also feel that it is a pleasure.
Could you be here with me a short time and visit with me some of these Indian homes you would be both surprised and pleased with what you would see. Where want and nakeness once held sway you would find peace and contentment, food and raiment, those who are able to work, with few exceptions, having plenty to eat, drink, and wear as well-behaved community as you would wish to see; in fact, less hoodlumism than in any commiunity of its size that it has been my lot to become acquainted with. I can truly say that these Indians are on the high road to civilization.
I have found the court of Indian offenses a great, very great, help in my work among this people. Having so many tribes, or remnants thereof, to deal with, I have had sometimes to make little changes in the judges, on account of tribal relations, so as to secure impartial action on their part; but as a whole I find everything going on smoothly with them. I feel that too much praise cannot be given them for the fearless and faithful performance of their duties -- prompt in making arrests, faithful in reporting misdemeanors, and fearless in meting out justice. Only one sentence have I modified, and only one have I added to. Two appeals have been taken from their decisions to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and they were very promptly approved. These sentences were carried out to the very letter, and that fact has had the best of effect among the whole community.
My police have made over 100 arrests during the year. The court have had about 75 cases, and have settled many cases amicably without a trial. I find some little antipathy among some of the Indians against the police, but whenever there is a vacany there are plenty of applicants for the position.
We have a boarding school, with an average attendance of 63, the largest monthly attendance being 67. The school work has been made the prominent thing with us this year. We have most of the time had five hours' books, and the rest of the time, say one-sixth, had the large boys but three hours' books and the rest of the day at the different kinds of work that was going on. This was in the busiest part of the year. The smaller children were kept at books for the full five hours. I have required that all that were able to work should do something, according to their ability -- the little boys to bring in wood and do little chores, such as they could without hurting them. While I required work from all, I have been carful not to overtax any one, and only demand according to ability to perform, deeming small duties performed better than idleness. There has been all the attention paid to the trades that we could possibly with our facilities. We have taught from the widest range of industries that it was possible to reach. My boys have gone to the woods and cut cedar, hauled it 8 miles and are learning to make shingles. They have the best garden this year they ever have had since there was a school here.
My school employes have tried to do all they could for the advancement of their pupils. The principal teacher and assistant that were with me for two years were
too severe at the last and caused me some trouble; but they resigned, and at present, we have no teachers for books, but we hope to have them in place ere long.
The girls are detailed every Saturday night for the different places for the coming week four for the kitchen, four for the laundry, four or six for the seamstress-room, two for dining-room work, four for chamber work, and the rest are put to knitting, mending, &c., according to capacity. At the end of the week they are changed around, so that all have a chance to learn the different kinds of work.
I have had some trouble with large boys and large girls getting together, but it does not happen often; but we have to constantly be on the watch, as they cannot be trusted as we trust our own young people.
As a whole I can say that we must certainly have made progess this year. There is a much better feeling now between these pupils and myself and between them and their teachers than formerly. I often sit down and reason with them, gather them about me and talk to them, showing them what and how they ought to do, telling them of the outside world.
I have had six boys and three girls at the Chemawa training school this year. One girl has graduated and has come home a fine young lady. One boy came home with sore eyes, but will return as soon as he is well enough to use his eyes.
We are making preparation to increase the number of pupils this coming year. While we have been careful to teach them books, we have not neglected to train them industrially. The greatest thing we have to overcome with these pupils is the great tendency to improvidence and waste, the neglect of all matters unless they are watched. They will leave the tools out and lose them; they will break and destroy; and this comes very much from the teaching of their parents. The idea is that Government furnishes, and when this is gone we will get more form the Government. I am trying by every means in my power to overcome this, as well in the old as the young. I let no opportunity pass to impress on their minds that one of these fine days the Government will cut off these supplies, and then they will have to provide for themselves.
This people as a whole are a working people. The most of these tribes are industrious. They nearly all have a piece of land and raise some garden and more or less grain. Most of the grain raised is oats. Nearly all raise a field of oats, with potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, cabbage, &c. In addition to this they work for the farmers about the country in harvest, picking hops, chopping wood, and the various kinds of work to be had. They make first rate saw-mill men, good men in the woods, cutting and hauling logs. It is said by many hop-raisers that the Siletz Indians are the best hop-pickers there are in the land, even better than the white people. I believe that this people have raised from their farms and stock, and their work all over the country, nearly $10,000. I have to approximate this, as there is no way to get the exact amount.
To-day there is a better feeling among the Indians than I have ever known; not as many that profess to be Christians, but a more enlightened understanding of what Christianity is and what its effects are. The light seems to be breaking in upon them from various sources. Our teacher has preached to us and to the Indians the last year. John Adams, our interpreter, is a Christian man, a man that I have the utmost confidence in, intelligent and good. He has often preached to us in "Chenook"; his sermons are listened to with the most marked attention. In addition to this the Rev. Father Croquet, from Grande Ronde, visits us once a year and spends about a week. He seems to be a good man and I encourage him all I can in his work As there is no money appropriated by Congress for a resident minister, we cannot have one. Rev. David Enos, a United Brethren minister, has preached to us some, coming 8 miles to do so.
This is the mainstay of this reserve. There is a good soil in these bottoms along the river. There will be raised about 20,000 bushels of oats by the Indians, and on the school farm about 1,000 bushels. Of wheat there will be raised about 500 bushels. These figures are estimated, as at this time we have not commenced to thrash our grain; nevertheless, I know that there is better farming this year than last. There are more good fences. There is not not much increase in acreage, but the yield will be better, giving as an average 35 or 40 bushels per acre. Our estimate last year fell short, but I think it will not this year. We are now busy all up and down the valley cutting and binding the grain, preparing to thrash. Potatoes will yield well on parts of the reserve. A good many of the old Indians have not raised much garden, on account of their inability to procure seed.
There is notable increase in stock all over the reserve, as the Indians begin to see that there is money in stock. To any one familiar with matters here it is very evident that these Indians are making progress in farming.
That we are making rapid strides in this direction there is no doubt. There is stronger love for good, for education, for religion, for advancement in all directions; a stronger love for home. The welfare of the children is sought far more than ever before.
During the year past there has been an effort made to cut off the northern part of the reserve. A memorial was passed by the Oregon legislature asking Congress to cut off a portion of the reserve and to sell it to the highest bidder. This matter was referred to me for an investigation and report, adding such recommendations as I thought just and right. I reported adversely to the project, and am happy to be be able to stop the matter, as it was manifestly unjust.
The Indians in that quarter until I came among them, had not done much; but by dint of ordering, coaxing, and helping them I have succeeded in getting them to go to work, and they are now building homes. They have put up 7 new houses within the last year; they have fenced in about 300 acreas of land within the last year. They are gathering up cattle and horses, swine, &c. They are waking up to the fact that they can better their condition and are doing it. I take pride in the fact that there is an improvement among them. There is one tribe there, the Tilamooks, that are hard to get waked up. The people from that quarter trap and fish considerable. They bring many of their furs here and sell them for cash and provisions. I issue to them as their needs demand. All their building material comes from here; hardware, clothing, &c. They look to me for direction and help in all their troubles. I make two trips a year to them, looking after their various interests, and hardly a week passes but that some of them are here at the agency for something.
Looking back on the year gone we have not much to regret, but feel encouraged. We have tried to make the most of our means and do all we could with what a generous Government has given us. This people are in better heart and better condition than a year ago, and our motto is "Onward!"
The trader here being a lady exerts a better influence than would many men in her position. She is treated with civility and courtesy beyond what many white people treat persons in her position. The Indians do not even smoke in the store. There is great room for hope, strong hope, that this people will make something of themselves.
Thanking you for generous treatment in all matters pertaining to our duties among this people,
I am, sir, very respectfully,
United States Indian Agent.
The COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS