SILETZ TRAINING SCHOOL,
Siletz, Oreg., August 4, 1902.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the first annual report of the Siletz Agency and the Siletz Training School under the changed management from the United States Indian Agent to that of school superintendent.
I relieved Mr. T. Jay Buford, ex-agent, July 1, 1901, upon which date I assumed charge of the Government affairs at this place.
Condition of the plant. No additional buildings of any importance were required, but considerable improvement was found necessary in the nature of repairs and remodeling of buildings to fit them for use during the year. The following is a summary of what has been accomplished in improvements: The main dormitory, painted outside, and inside first story; same repaired and remodeled; schoolhouse, painted outside and inside and refloored; a covered passage, with belfry, built between main dormitory and dining hall; new wood house, 24 by 60 feet, erected; 600 yards of 4-foot walk built; chicken house moved and fence built to confine poultry; a new ferryboat built, and other miscellaneous improvements. A few minor improvements are still necessary, and will be made the subject of special communications.
School furnishings. Sitting rooms for girls', boys', and employees' use have been provided and suitably furnished with furniture, rugs, pictures, lace curtains, etc. A piano has been provided for the school, a cream separator for the dairy, and other miscellaneous articles.
Stock. The dairy herd, consisting of 19 cows, is fairly creditable, and has been well cared for during the year. The pupils have been liberally supplied with milk and butter. The training received by the boys in taking care of this herd has been of much practical value. Three good horses have been bought during the year, and 2 unserviceable animals have been sold. A large number of pigs have been sold at public auction.
Industrial departments. The garden last year was fairly good in the variety and quantity of articles raised, and aided very materially in furnishing subsistence for the school. The farm crop consisted of 40 acres of meadow, which produced an abundance of hay for the school and agency stock; also 20 acres of oats of a very good quality and a fair yield per acre, being sufficient for the school and agency teams. Twenty acres of oats were sown during the fall and are now ready to harvest, giving promise of an excellent yield per acre. An unusuallly cold, wet spring interfered seriously with planting and growth this year. A large amount of garden seeds were planted, and notwithstanding the difficulties encountereed it may be safely estimated that a large quantity and variety of garden vegetables will be produced during the present year.
A great deal has been done in the way of removing rubbish, tearing down and removing old worthless buildings, sidewalks, and fences, and in building new walks and fences.
In the domestic departments of the school special attention has been given to keeping the household matters in a clean and orderly condition, the dress and personal habits of the pupils receiving a great deal of attention. The industrial work of the girls has mostly consisted in performing the necessary work of the institution, such as the care of rooms, manufacture of garments, laundrying, and cooking. In all of the foregoing branches of school work, the larger girls have attained considerable skill, and, as a rule, with slight supervision, are capable of doing creditable work in any household.
Literary department. At the beginning of the year Mr. Omar Bates was promoted from the position of industrial teacher to that of teacher, and his wife, Gertrude E. Bates, from seamstress to assistant teacher, each having passed successfully the teacher's examination. To their united, painstaking efforts is largely due the interest taken by the pupils in their studies throughout the year. Five pupils were transferred to Chemawa soon after school opened in October, and a class of ten have been prepared during the year for transfer next September. The lower grades have made satisfactory progress.
Language. If language could be taken as a proper standard of judgment, the Siletz people would be classed high in the scale of civilization. The English language is
spoken by the young entirely. For this reason this does not seem like an Indian school to persons accustomed to work among real Indians. Not having to learn our language gives the children here a great advantage over the pupils of many Indian schools.
Attendance. It was evident that the custom of allowing pupils to make frequent visits to their homes was interfering seriously with the work of the school and retarding the progress of the pupils. Infrequent visits of the children to their homes and regularity of attendance was insisted upon with very beneficent results.
Health. Diseases of a hereditary nature are very prevalent among the children at this agency. Many are afflicted with tuberculosis. It was thought to be for the good of all concerned to dismiss all of the worst cases. Aside from colds, there has been no sickness of an epidemic nature during the year.
Vacation. The time for the summer vacation has been changed from the months of August and September to the months of July and August. This change make the vacation at this school correspond to the time of vacation in the majority of schools, and will be much better for pupils, their parents, and the employees.
Official visitors. Inspector Armstrong visited the agency and the school a few days after my arrival, and his representation of conditions and needs have been very helpful. Special Agent D. W. Manchester remained here during the first part of the year and took much interest in the welfare of the institution.
Payment of the Siletz general fund. For several years these Indians had been agitating the payment of the Siletz general fund, and for nearly a year before the payment took place they seemed to be doing little else than visiting the agency to inquire when the payment would be made. It was not until November that the anxiously anticipated time arrived. During the months of November and December the superintendent assisted Mr. Manchester in making the payment of the greater part of the fund of $100,000. The distribution of so large an amount of money, with the correspondence connected therewith, has made a great deal of extra office work. The effect of the distribution of this fund on the Indians will eventually be very beneficial, in that when the money has been all spent they will resume industrial work.
Retrogression. It is a fact that for several years past the Indians have not been so prosperous, because they have not been as industrious as in former years. The beginning of this retrogression is traceable to the sale of the surplus lands whereby a tribal fund was created, from which payments began to be made as provided for by treaty, filling the minds with visions of stored-up wealth which would relieve future necessity for toil. The death of some of the older leaders in industrial enterprise has undoubtedly had something to do with the lack of attention given of late years to agriculture. The young men who have been most favored by educational training seem to be but little disposed to use the ax, the spade, the hoe, the plow, and other implements of toil. Another attributable cause for the unfortunate change is that when the Government turned over the thrashing machines to individual Indians they were soon allowed to get out of repair, making it impossible to get grain thrashed. The foregoing and other minor causes have reduced the agricultural products at this agency to their present low condition.
Litigation and citizenship. During the year prior to the last the well-known case from this agency of the United States v. Larkey L. Logan, in which Logan was tried before Judge Bellinger in Portland, Oreg., on the charge of assault with intent to kill, resulted in the expression of the opinion that the allotment of lands to the defendant did not "take the case out of the jurisdiction of the United States court; that the Indians affected by these allotments are still dependent communities. The lands allotted to them continue to be held by the United States, in trust, for their benefit. The allotments are still subject to the regulation provided for the government of Indian reservations. Notwithstanding the mandate of the act of Congress declaring them to be citizens they are still minors in the eyes of the law, incapable of disposing of the lands held by them, or even of leasing without the consent of the reservation agent; and their dependence is still so complete that it is a crime to sell or give them whisky or other intoxicants."
In view of the foregoing the local courts of the State began at once to decline taking action in cases brought to their attention from the Siletz Agency. About this time the Department maintained, as hereafter stated, that as the Siletz Indians were citizens the court of Indian offenses had no authority in law for its existence.
For a short time the situation was anomalous, if not serious. I consulted United
States District Attorney John H. Hall, Portland, Oreg., in regard to the matter and obtained his opinion, in which Hon. C. B. Bellinger, United States district judge, concurred, to the effect that
the only crimes that the United States courts have jurisdiction over upon Indian reservations are as follows: Murder, manslaughter, rape, assault with intent to kill, arson, burglary, and larceny, and all crimes committed on an Indian reservation not included within the above category, are within the jurisdiction of the State in which the reservation is situated.
With the foregoing explanation accepted by the State courts it has been possible to obtain litigation for the prosecution of Indians in the State courts for crimes not coming under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States courts.
Court of Indian offenses. Notwithstanding the fact that the Siletz Indians received their allotments in 1894, and that the surplus lands were sold and thrown open for settlement, the court of Indian offenses was still maintained, and Indians were arrested and tried in the same manner as they had been theretofore.
I am reliably informed that this was due to the desire of the Indians that they have an easily accessible tribunal for their own protection. The court of Indian offenses was discontinued by the abolishment of the judges' positions at the close of the fiscal year.
Marriage and divorce. It has been the custom at this agency for several years among these Indians to marry and obtain divorce in accordance with the laws of the State. In a few instances, where the laws had been ignored, the parties from fear of prosecution have, during the past year obtained divorces, and have married in accordance with law, leaving the docket at present pretty clear.
Drunkenness and gambling. The Indians seem to have but little difficulty in securing all the liquor they desire, and it appears to be very difficult to secure evidence which can be used in prosecuting those who furnish the Indians with liquor. Four cases have been tried during the past year where the evidence was abundant, positive, and uncontradicted, but notwithstanding this the accused were acquitted. A fifth case is still pending.
The extra amount of money has contributed not only to the purchase of liquor but to the attraction of the gambling table. Both of the above evils seem to thrive with much greater impunity where the Indians have the rights of citizens and are amenable to the laws of the State than where Indians are governed in accordance with the regulations of the Indian Office.
Land. The practice of leasing Indian allotments without proper authority, prior to this year, seems to have gradually assumed considerable proportions. The attention of illegal lessees was called to the requirements of the law early in the year, and, in most cases, a disposition to execute leases in due form was manifest. Both Indians and whites seem to desire to avail themselves of the protection of the law. This occasioned more office work in this particualr line than in former years.
Much inquiry is being made at present relative to the sale of inherited Indian lands.
Climate. The absence of excessive heat and extreme cold makes this climate ideal in regard to temperature. The excessive and continuous rainfall for about nine months of the year makes exceedingly bad roads, interferes with outside industrial work, and retards the development of the country. The remaining three months are usually extremely dry.
Industries. The cascara sagrada industry had to be discontinued as the market became overstocked with this commodity. Fishing for home consumption and for the market continues to give employment to many during the fishing season. Agriculture is limited almost entirley to the raising of potatoes and other garden vegetables. Considerable hay is raised and an occasional Indian raises a few acres of oats. The idea of stock raising is becoming pretty firmly established; the majority have a few head of cattle which they prize very highly. The conditions of climate and the character of the people would seem to indicate that stock raising, and at some future time dairying, will be the branches of agriculture that will be most successful here.
Sawmill. The old agency sawmill has been becoming less useful every year since its management was placed in the bands of individual Indians, who had neither the means, knowledge, nor inclination to keep it in proper repair and energetically operate it for their own good and the public welfare. Aside from the cutting of lumber for school and agency work little worth mentioning has been done during the past year.
Fortunately the Government has succeedid recently in leasing this mill to reliable white men who will improve and operate it in such a way as to make it a source of industry and profit for the Indians and a great benefit to the community, who depend upon the mill for lumber.
Physician. The change at the close of this fiscal year from agency physician to "contract" physician is a step in the right direction. Indians who are citizens and possessed of physical strength or valuable property ought to be required to pay for the services of the physician who waits upon them, the same as do other citizens.
Missionary work. The Catholic Church and the Methodist Episcopal Society have each maintained a missionary here, as in past years. Both are affable, industriuous men, who seem to command the respect and maintian the good will of the people. The undoubtedly exert a great deal of influence for good.
The Catholic Society has a neat church building and the Methodist people will erect a church this summer.
Conclusion. Having passed through the transitional period from Government wards to the full responsibility of citizenship, having received the payment of the Siletz general fund, being again thrown upon their own resources, having a country which is rich in timber, with a productive soil, if the Siletz Indians, after all the teaching they have had, can not, under these conditions, support themselves in ordinary comfort, when they are naturally shrewd in trade, it can hardly be expected that they will receive much sympathy from those who are well acquainted with the favorable opportunities that are theirs if they will but apply themselves to steady work.
DUNCAN D. MCARTHUR
Superintendent and Special Disbursing Agent.
The COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.