UNITED STATES INDIAN AGENCY,
Siletz, Oreg., September 13, 1873.
SIR: In compliance with the requirements of the Department I have the honor to submit this my first annual report.
I assumed charge here April 1, 1873. At that time there existed a general feeling of alarm among the people in the vicinity, caused by the Modoc outbreak, and rumors of intended hostilities on the part of these Indians were everywhere rife.
Many of them had always lived at the fisheries on Yaquina Bay, just outside the reservation, and the state of public feeling had induced my predecessor to collect them all at the agency, abandoning in their haste the provisions they had prepared for their subsistence, and relying entirely on those living here for future support. The food prepared for winter use of the Indians at the agency was soon exhausted, and I was compelled to purchase and issue food till the potatoes were sufficiently grown to afford means of subsistence. This entailed a heavy expense on the second and third quarters of 1873, and has embarrassed my operations ever since.
Notwithstanding the advanced season when we arrived here, we have sown a much larger area of ground than ever before on this reservation, aggregating nearly or quite 1,100 acres, 1,000 of which are sown to wheat and oats and the remainder planted to potatoes. About 175 acres of this is on Government account and the rest belongs to the Indians. As many of them were destitute of teams we have been compelled to use those belonging to the Government to assist them in putting in their crops. The moisture of the climate here retards the ripening of the crops; and we are now in the midst of our harvest, which promises an abundant yield. The potatoes will prove a total failure. They gave every promise of an excellent crop, but the "potato rot" has developed itself and in all probability will destroy the whole. As this crop is the sole dependence of very many famlies for their winter subsistence, I fear much suffering will result.
The health of the Indians has generally been good, but for further particulars on this point as well as statistics of farming operations I refer to reports of Dr. Geo. W. Whitney and superintendent of farming, Wm. Bagley.
Two schools have been in operation a part of the summer, and a part of the time were well attended, with fair prospect of improvement. The Department has now provided for a manual labor school, which will be organized as soon as the necessary preparation can be made and from which I confidently expect the best results.
Since May last we have been favored with the presence and labors of the Rev. W. C. Chattin, engaged as teacher, and who has added to his duties the labors of a missionary, at such times as not engaged in his regular occupation. The results of his labors show what might have been accomplished had the present enlightened policy sooner prevailed.
These Indians have heretofore borne the character of being the most turbulent and disorderly in the State, and were so represented by Superintendent Meacham in his report for 1871. Notwithstanding this character and the little time they have been under the influence of Christian teaching, a church of over forty members has been organized, who show by their daily lives that they comprehend and feel the power of the religion they profess. The good accomplished cannot be measured by the number admitted to church membership. There is an influence proceeding from those who have embraced Christianity that is accomplishing much for the elevation of this people.
The position of agent here is peculiarly annoying by reason of old feuds and jealousies that are constantly breaking out, taking so much of the time of the agent to
settle that little is left for his other duties. The reason for this may be found in the fact that these Indians are composed of some ten or twelve different tribes always hostile in the past, each one of which has injuries to avenge or outrages to atone.
One measure I would most urgently recommend, viz, the allotment of lands in severalty. This was promised the Indians some years since and the surveys were made, but the work was suddenly stopped and the land is yet undivided. This has caused much dissatisfaction among the Indians, which I could only allay by promising to designate tracts of lands which each family might cultivate provided the allotment was not made. There is nothing stimulates man to exertion like the consciousness that he is to reap the fruits of his labors himself; and, in my opinion, the allotment of these lands would do more to stimulate this people to improvement than any other one measure that could be adopted.
I would also respectfully recommend an appropriation for a saw-mill. The money we are compelled to expend for lumber to meet only the most pressing necessities would in two or three years pay the entire cost of a mill.
In conclusion, I desire to express my gratification at the evidences of improvement already made, and my hope that this people will continue to improve till they no longer need the care of the Government.
From the evidences I see on all sides of me, from the earnest desire I continually hear to improve their condition, and from their willingness to labor to this end as well as from the progress already made, I am led to the conclusion that a very few years of judicious care will place the Siletz Indians in a position where they will be fully capable of caring for themselves.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
United States Indian Agent.
Hon. E. P. SMITH,
Commissioner Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C.