(Samuel Case, special commissary, in charge,)
is situated on the Pacific coast, and constitutes the southern portion of the "coast reservation." It is occupied by four fragmentary tribes of Indians, none of whom are under treaty. Their wants are few in comparison with those other reservations from the fact that they mostly occupy their old homes, and still retain somewhat their former modes of living. It need not, however, be supposed that they are lagging behind in civilization. Notwithstanding they are too few in number to justify the establishment hitherto of shops and schools among them, they have nevertheless shaken off many of their old ways, and adopted the habits of their white neighbors.
The present acting commissary (Case) seems to be thoroughly imbued with the most essential qualities for an Indian agent, and from his long acquaintance with these particular people, together with an enterprising pride to bring them up on a level with those of other agencies, he is doing good and substantial work, and should be permanently appointed to look over and lead them up the "grade." No arrangements have been made to allot land in severalty on this agency, for the reason that it was thought advisable to colonize these people with those of Siletz, in the event that sufficient land could be found in the latter reservation suitable for Indian houses. The report, however, of Department surveyor precludes the possibility of such arrangement, unless funds were furnished to clear up timber-lands for their use.
I have looked this subject carefully over, and now conclude that the only just plan will be to survey and allot lands to the Alsea people on Alsea agency, and will proceed to carry out said plan unless otherwise ordered.
These people should have a cheap saw-mill, church, and school house erected, and an appropriation to carry them on; and not until then will they be on equal footing with others of their race. Unless steps are taken to secure them in these necessary adjuncts to civilization they must eventually fall behind.
The Department buildings are fast decaying, and in a short time will become untenable. Indeed they are only temporary shanties at best.
(General Joel Palmer, agent.)
I do not, however, fully concur in all that Agent Palmer has said and intimated, in this, that the culture of the Indians had been entirely neglected. While it is not my business to defend all the acts of agents, it is mine to see that justice is done those who have served the Indian Department under my administration especially.
The Siletz Indians have always been regarded as the most belligerent and refractory of any in this State; notwithstanding which, however, they are far removed from savage life, having acquired considerable knowledge of the common arts of civilization, and, to all appearance, compare
favorably with those of other reservations in intelligence and business capacity. Somewhere, somehow, and by some means or other, they have come to the "front," and it is but justice to former agents to acknowledge that fact. No man is devoid of good qualities. Neither should it (though much has been done for these people) be expected, under the old regime, to find a nation of people who were steeped in degradation to be brought into all the wonderful and marvelous light of Christianity in the short space of time that they have been under the care of United States agents.
It is Christian-like to forget wrong and accredit good. Deplorably true, it may be, that Siletz Indians are minus chastity, but the white people, who claim to be civilized, have probably contributed largely to the loss of that particular virtue. Under the management of Agent Palmer, with his long and successful experience as superintendent of Indian affairs in former years, together with eminent Christian virtues and heart fully alive to his work, the much-needed reformation has begun. Every facility and encouragement will be afforded him by me in this worthy labor.
This agency has also been assigned to the Methodist Church, whose well-established reputation succesful for missionary labors gives a guarantee that the Siletz Indians will have opportunity and encouragement to throw off some of the bad habits acquired by contact with vicious white men. The schools at Siletz have thus far been only partially successful. The cause of failure is the same assigned by all teachers of Indians, i.e., the constant intercourse of children with their parents. Agent Palmer is sanguine that he can arrange "day-schools," with white female teachers, at a reasonable expense to meet the wants of these people. With the failure of the past fresh in memory, I confess I have not much faith in the plan. Nevertheless, believing that almost any reasonable thing is possible with a brave and true man, I consent.
The allotment of lands being prepared in severalty for the Siletz Indians is doing much to elevate and encourage them. Some confusion will doubtless arise in dividing these lands, but nothing serious is apprehended.
The agency is much in need of mills; in fact, they are almost indispensable, both for the purpose of Indian and department use.
A large house for general meetings should be built. The schoolhouse, agents' and employes' houses all require repair. For the expense of which see "estimates."