SILETZ INDIAN AGENCY,
August 20, 1888.
SIR: I have the honor to submit my second annual report of the condition of affairs at this agency for the fiscal year ending June 30.
The census just taken gives the following figures:
|Males over eighteen years||..........||200|
|Females over fourteen years||..........||215|
|School children between six and sixteen||..........||84|
|Children between two and six||..........||68|
|Babies under two years||..........||40|
The Siletz Reservation is situation on the western coast of Oregon, in Benton and Tillamook Counties. It is about 24 miles long by 14 wide, containing 208,000 acres, not over 15,000 of which is agricultural land, the balance being mountainous and timbered; a great deal of the timber is worthless for commercial purposes. All the agricultural lands are the bottom-lands of the Siletz River, and about 4,000 acres in the vicinity of the mouth of Salmon River; the mountain lands having such a heavy growth of underbrush that they are valueless for either grazing or agricultural purposes. There is considerable good timber on the reservation, but mostly so inaccessible as to practically valueless under existing circumstances. The agricultural lands of the reservation are very rich, and produce in abundance all the cereals, grasses, root crops, and fruit known to this latitude. The climate for the most part is very fine, the summers especially so, caused by the cool breezes from the Pacific Ocean. A great deal of rain falls from November to May, but extreme heat or cold is unknown.
With a few exceptions all live in frame houses, all wear citizens' clothes, most them speak English, nearly all between ten and twenty-five years of age can read and write. In their habits they are reasonably industrious, sober, peaceable, and in the main, moral. The old-fashioned customs are dying out among them gradually. A great many of the old ones still hold to their ideas of superstition and their Indian doctors, but while they patronize their doctors they don't seem to have much confidence in them beyond their supposed services to the sick, and even then they do
not entirely ignore the white physician. In their recreations the customs of civilization predominate, they are good-natured, fond of joking and of music, and in favor of education.
While these people have long had the benefit of instructions in the rudiments of farming, and the soil well adapted for agricultural purposes, the abandonment of the position of farmer to these Indians was a great mistake and false economy. Much intelligent effort is needed to reclaim their lands from foulness incident to poor plowing and a lack of summer fallowing. No perceptible advance has been made in several years on this account. The main crop raised here is oats, oats and hay being depended on by the Indians for marketing purposes. This year's crop has been very good, owing to the very favorable conditions of weather, though the acreage is not quite as much as last year. If the Indians could be induced to take more care of their cattle they would realize more from this source than any other, as the market for their cereals and other products is rather remote to be encouraging.
The raising and marketing of oats, hay and potatoes, with a few cattle and hogs constitute the bulk of the products of Indian industry within the reservation. The establishment of salmon canneries within the vicinity is opening up a good market for this popular fish, of which the rivers of the Siletz, at certain seasons, produce an abundance, and I anticipate that some of the Indian fishermen will realize several hundred dollars each from this source this fall. If the fishing interest of the Indians is carefully guarded it will become more and more valuable with time. A large number find employment outside among the whites. Farming, clearing land, chopping wood, logging, fishing, hop-picking, and various other minor employments are engaged in by men and women among their white neighbors, with whom they are on the most friendly terms.
The educational facilities of this agency consists of one boarding-school for boys and girls capable of accommodating comfortably 65 scholars.
School was taught continnously from September 19 to June 30, with an average attendance of about 52 scholars. More could have been procured, but they were not considered desirable on account of either health or morals, my idea being that it were better to have fewer in number and better in discipline and health; and, in consequence, better advancement was made in studies both educational and industrial than had been made the year previous.
The management of the school-farm by the larger boys has been very satisfactory and the increase in farm stock about 50 per cent. and their condition greatly improved. Sufficient hay has been cut and housed to insure their keeping during the next winter, and we are now harvesting a fine crop of oats. Although this is vacation the boys return cheerfully to their harvest work, nearly all, from seeding to harvesting, being done by them. The girls have done their part even better than the boys; they have been taught sewing, cooking, laundry work, milking, and butter-making, and satisfactory progress has been made in all their branches.
I have sent 22 scholars during the year to Chemawa training-school, and Superintendent Lee speaks highly of their conduct and advaucement.
The Indians of the reservation are almost unanimous in favor of education. Many among even the older ones speak with pride of the advancement of their children.
The sanitary condition among the children has been good; no contagious disease, serious sickness, or death occurring in the school during the year.
The agency was formerly a Methodist field for missionary work among the Indians' but, for reasons of which I am not informed, they have discontinued their efforts here. I have stood ready and willing to assist them to the extend of my ability in renewing their work here among the members of their church, but so far no efforts have been made by them looking to this end. A Sunday-school connected with the boarding, school has been regularly conducted during the year, with F.M. Carter, principal teacher, as superintendent, assisted by B. Gaither, clerk, and other employes. A good attendance has been maintained throughtout the year and considerable interest manifested.
An Indian preacher by the name of John Adams was in the habit of preaching to the Sunday-school in jargon. As it became necessary to discharge him from the position of teamster, he became disgusted when his religion ceased to pay any dividends,
so he entered the field as the champion all-round liar and conspirator of the agency. Fortunately he was not followed by the rest of his co-members in the church, and his actions have had no serious effect upon the cause of true religion. As one intelligent member expressed it, he had no faith in a man's religion who had to be bought by a soft job at the agency.
I sincerely hope that the well-meaning Indians who are church members and who by their example in leading a religious life have assisted in the elevation of their family and friends may have the benefit of future intelligent religious instruction through the organized effort of some religious association.
The sanitary condition among the Indians, aside from syphilitic disease, has been good and these are mostly of a secondary and tertiary condition. I believe as the Indians become better educated this disease can be much better handled, as the great fault now is their failure to continue the treatment prescribed by the physician. Many of them seem to think that a medicine that does not act instantaneously is of no account. It is hard to induce them to believe that their system and blood must be built up by persistent treatment and abstemiousness. Intelligence, through education, will in time conquer this insidious monster in their systems.
This court has been called upon quite frequently to adjudicate cases arising from Indian difficulties and numerous small civil suits, and has in a great measure given satisfaction to the Indians and saved the agent many annoyances; but in many cases of importance they can not be relied upon for giving a just decision, as their ideas of law and justice are somewhat crude, and their prejudices to anyone unfriendly to them can not be overcome. The old Indian idea, that you must stand by your friends, right or wrong, and against your enemies in all things, possesses them to such an extent that they have to be carefully watched. But where these influences do not exist they make very satisfactory judges, often taking an unusual interest to arrive at the true facts in a case.
The police force of the agency consists of one captain and five privates. They have been efficient and obedient to orders at all times. This number is amply sufficient if the pay was higher. An Indian can not be expected to board himself and family, furnish a horse and traveling expenses, and perform much service for $8 per month.
The allotments of land in severalty to the Indians of this agency was begun last September and continued until December, Special Agent M. C. Connelly being sent here for this purpose. About seventy allotments were made at that time, since which I have heard nothing further from the Department or special agent. As there is no opposition by the Indians to continuing this work, I am at a loss to know why the field has been abandoned.
Having no lumber to build with, there has been no new houses constructed during the year, excepting a few log barns and one or two buildings constructed by Indians out of old lumber picked up here and there. The saw-mill was moved and placed on the Siletz River, near the agency. A few hundred dollars more is needed to place this mill in running order, and we then will be prepared to manufacture all we need, as logs can be procured from up the river. A large amount of lumber is badly needed, as many fences are rotting down. There has been no lumber here for three years. There is an old grist-mill here, but in such a stage of decay that I do not think it would pay to attempt to put it in running order.
United States Indian Agent.
The COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.