SILETZ INDIAN AGENCY, OREGON,
August 15, 1887.
SIR: I have the honor to send you my first annual report. I assumed charge of this agency June 1, two and one-half months ago, therefore my report will not be as complete as it would be if I had more time to collect the necessary data.
The census and statistics were carefully gathered by the industrial teacher and interpreter. The absence of any funds to defray the necessary expenses was the cause of some delay, as it is impossible to travel all over this reservation with the facilities the Government has at hand, such as canoe voyages with the necessary portages. However, every Indian was visited at his home, so that the census can be relied upon as correct. The crop statistics were all estimated, but the ground was carefully viewed by the above-named employes.
The following is the census of the eighteen confederated tribes (remnants of) of this agency. It would be impossible to give the exact number of each tribe, on account of so much intermarrying among them, but they range from about 5 to 50 in numbers:
Indians and mixed-bloods:
|Males over 18 years of age||..........||205|
|Females over 14 years of age||..........||218|
|School children between 6 and 16||..........||89|
For further particulars see accompanying statistics.
The limited opportunity and acquaintance I have had with the school children attending the boarding-school here prevents me from saying what advancement they have made in their books or industrial pursuits during the year, but from my limited observation I am convinced that their instruction is up-hill work and one that requires great patience and perseverance. Upon my taking charge here I found about sixty boys and girls attending boarding-school here whose chief occupation seemed to consist in trying how not to accomplish anything beneficial to themselves and in kicking up as much deviltry as they knew how. They were in fact a pretty hard lot; there were of course some exceptions. Several of the employes connected with the school were persons wholly unfit for their positions, and morality was at a low condition. I was compelled to dismiss several of them on this account. I will attempt to reconstruct matters at the beginning of the next school year. It is now vacation, and only about fifteen to twenty remain in the boarding hall sufficient to assist in the necessary duties around the school and farm.
The missionary work done here was formerly by the Methodist Church, who still retain considerable membership here, but no active efforts have been done by them of late years, from reasons of which I am not apprised. Recently, however, the Rev. Wallace Hulburt, of Yaquina City, visited the agency and preached to the Indians, and gave out an appointment to preach again during this month, and efforts are again being made by this church to renew their missionary work in this field.
The woman's Home Missionary Society of the East have sent me word that they would like to send a lady missionary to visit the families of the Indians and instruct the Indian women in their domestic duties to their children and in Christianity. I have answered that I am in full sympathy with them in their laudable undertaking, and that if the proper person is sent I will heartily co-operate with her in this much needed missionary work.
There are some Catholic members among the Indians here, and an occasional visit is paid them by a priest from Grande Ronde agency. He has not visited this agency, that I am aware of, since my arrival here; I have sent him word, however, that I would be pleased to meet him.
The Rev. David Enos, a United Brethren minister and industrial teacher here, and the Rev. John Adams (teamster), of this agency, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, preach turn about every Sabbath. A regular Sunday-school is maintained here, but owing to this being vacation and the children scattered, services have been suspended until the beginning of next school year. Believing that Christianity is a potent factor in the civilization and advancement of these people, I will not stand in the way of any worthy denomination in any proffered assistance that may be made looking to this end.
Of course when we look back thirty or more years, when these people were in a wild state, the bow and arrow and blanket Indian of that period, unskilled in all civilized pursuits, and existing on dried fish and game, with roots, crickets, and caterpillars, the transformation is indeed great, but it has been of slow growth through all these years, and in my opinion will take many years to bring them up to the desired condition of independence and fitness to become citizens. But very few evince a desire to accumulate more than enough for their present needs, and a great lack of regard for the value of property, especially such as has been issued to them by the Government, is apparent.
The agricultural land is mostly of rich alluvial nature, very productive of all root crops, grasses, and cereals, and most of the garden vegetables; but the cool nights and frequent foggy weather, on account of the close proximity to the ocean, are not friendly to the production of corn, melons, tomatoes, and such products as thrive in a climate where warmer weather prevails during the summer months; but the same causes tend to keep the grasses of all kinds, such as timothy, clover, mesquite, and native grasses, green and growing much longer than farther in the interior, making it in proper limits a fine stock-producing country. The season has been a good one, considering the late spring, and if the ground had been properly cultivated a good crop would have been the result. On the school farm we cut about 45 tons of hay. About 45 acres were in oats, but it is very foul with wild oats and radish, more than one-half the crop being wild oats.
The Indians are in most part well supplied with dwelling-houses, but could use profitably a good deal of lumber in building barns and out-houses. At the agency more buildings are needed to more properly care for the Government property, both in connection with the school and agency. I have not yet estimated for any of these buildings on account of having no lumber. A laundry, guard-house, root-house, and shed for wagons and machinery are needed. The buildings in use here are mostly in good condition.
This court, as now constituted, is of assistance to the agent in the settlement of disputes; but I think much improvement could be made in the manner of dispensing justice, especially in civil cases. A full set of legal blanks, such as are used in justices' courts, should be on hand and served in the manner that constables serve them, to prevent snap judgment being taken, and some intelligent Indian to act as constable, giving a small bond for protection and being allowed fair compensation for his services. As it is, there is too much divided responsibility among the police and judges, on account of which judgments are not collected and justice miscarries. I will say of these people that no cases of a very serious nature have come before this court since my induction here, and I have not seen or heard of any cases of ruffianism among them.
My relation with all employes is cordial, and they are all industriously engaged; but I am thoroughly convinced that the force is not sufficient to properly manage the affairs of the agency under existing circumstances. A blacksmith and farmer are greatly needed. There should be some one intrusted to go among them and instruct them how and at what time to plant their seed; the kind and variety best adapted to their circumstances; to take care of their crops when gathered; to save such seeds as are necessary; to see that their fences are kept up; that their stock has good care; and a multitude of things, the neglect of which is the cause of endless trouble among them. Duties that are imperative prevent the agent from taking the time necessary to accomplish this end. The clerk, who rates as clerk and farmer, has no time to leave the agency.
One of the greatest drawbacks is the lack of employment within the reservation. All can not be tillers of the soil, and some have no taste for it that would make good hands at other work, and they must find it outside among the whites. A great many of them leave here on passes, some to fish for market, others work in the woods clearing land and chopping wood and harvesting, and a great many of them go to the hop-fields of the Willamette valley to work at hop picking. This work I would like to discourage if there were any other employment open to them, but it has been the custom for years to allow them this privilege, as men, women, and children can all find employment at it. At these times they come into contact with some of the worst class of white people, and being away from the restraints of the agency liquor is often introduced among them, and their morals are not improved by their contact with the squaw men who generally find their way to the vicinity of these fields. If the Government would lend the assistance, I would recommend that hop raising be introduced here, as there is no doubt that the finest hops could be raised here if the proper facilities for caring and drying were at hand and some one skilled in this branch were sent to give the necessary instructions in their managment. This is one of the most profitable crops in this section of country and the article will most always stand high transportation rates. A hop farm properly managed by the Government would not only be a great benefit to the Indians but an actual source of revenue.
Another industry worthy of mention is the canning of salmon. The Siletz river is a fine spring and fall salmon stream. The increase in demand for canned salmon has caused most all the streams where a schooner entrance can be made north and south of here to be occupied by canneries, all doing a profitable business. Overtures have been made to me looking to the leasing from the Government of the privilege to take and can fish on this river. I am not prepared to make any recommendations at this time, but am satisfied that a valuable industry awaits development in this line.
A company by the name of "The Newport and King's Valley Railroad Company" has been incorporated to build a narrow-gauge road, beginning at the Oregon Railway Company's (limited) terminus, thence across the Coast Range, down Rock creek and the Siletz river, via Depot slough to Newport, on Yaquina bay, passing through about 12 miles of the reservation and close to the agency. This road if built will no doubt be of benefit to the Indians and Government in the way of transportation and enhance the value of land, both agricultural and timber, and possibly aid in the development of coal and other mines and inaugurate industries not now possible on account of our isolated position.
J. B. LANE
U. S. Indian Agent.
The COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.