Office Supt Indian Affairs
Portland Oregon Jany 30th 1862
Presuming that information concerning Indian Affairs in this Superintendency will be at all times acceptable, I have taken the liberty of addressing you upon certain matters connected with the Siletz Agency Coast Reservation now under the charge of Agent Biddle. It is unnecessary for me to enter into a description of the country wherein this Reservation is located the same having heretofore been given you by Supt Nesmith and the several Agents in charge. This Reservation was first occupied by Agent R. B. Metcalf Aug 20th 1851, and Subsequently by Sub Agent Sykes and Agent Daniel Newcomb The Indians collected on this Reservation according to the last census number 2025, only 259 of whom are parties to any treaty. The peculiar location of this reservation on the coast exposed constantly to Strong Westerly Winds, renders it impossible to raise any of the cereals with any degree of success. The reports of Agent Metcalfe are very flattering indeed, and show rapid progress in all
from the foregoing extracts from the flattering reports of these Agents, one would very naturally suppose that these Indians would soon be in affluent circumstances surrounded with all the comforts of life. But notwithstanding these flattery accounts of success, I find upon examination that the bright visions of the agents have never yet been realized owing perhaps to some "unforeseen cause."
On the 2nd of October 1858 immediately succeeding that five crops which would yeild at a Safe Estimate Three Thousand and and Seven hundred Bushels I find on file a contract for the delivery at said Agency Of One hundred and twenty tons of flour. Two hundred and fifty bushels of Seed Oats, and one hundred and fifty bushels of seed Peas.
During the 2nd & 3rd qtr 1859 in addition to the above, Agent Metcalfe purchase 4,040 lbs of flour. Immediately succeeding the bountiful harvest of 1859 which the Agent was sanguine in the belief would yield more than all the Indians could consume Agent Newcomb bought oats for seed; also during 3rd quarter 8000 lbs flour (See abstracts of purchase during those
Quarters). Again Notwithstanding the Sixteen hundred acres in cultivation in 1860 Eight Hundred of which was in Wheat, and Three hundred in oats, and all promising an excellent yield. I find upon examination, Flour was purchased amounting in the aggregate to $53,550 Pounds and all prior to the thrashing of the crop of 1861. The amount raised in 1861 as estimated in the returns of Agent Newcomb lately transmitted to your office, was Two Thousand and Eight bushels of Wheat, and Five Thousand One hundred and fifty Bushels of Oats. The Quarterly returns of Agent Biddle, now undergoing examination, show that the foregoing was too large, producing affidavits that the true amount as measured to be Five hundred Bushels of Wheat, and Four Thousand One hundred & fifty seven bushels of Oats, a little over one and a half Bushels to the acre. Had the season been a little more favourable, they might have succeeded in harvesting the amount used for seed.
From the foregoing, facts for facts they are is it policy is it sound economy or even judicious to continue in our attempts to force the Earth to yield that
which it has obstinatly refused to do for years. It appears to me to be very unwise to say the least that further efforts should be made in this channel when it has been sasisfactorily proven, that it will not, and can not be relied on as a permant means of Subsistence. It is not my purpose, or design to censure or even find fault, with the course which has been persued, but simply to present evidence before you to show that I am reluctant to follow in the footsteps of my predessors when their efforts have been proved unavailing.
I am well satisfied that the Employees have labored faithfully performed the duties assigned them, but it is not reasonable to expect that because it is an Indian Reservation, located on "Terra firma" that it should produce grain whether the climate and sort were adapted to it or not. It is customary among our own people to engage in those persuits best adapted to the peculiar locality in which they are located. They experiment in various matters, until they become satisfied that some one or more
could be assigned favoring this enterprise. 1st the finest fish in the World abound in the Siletz and Aquina Rivers in unlimited quantities. 2nd A fishery can be established accessible to coasting vessels thus saving any inland transportation. 3rd by having something for exportation, the expense of transporting supplies would be reduced. 4th Every facility is afforded for its establishment without any additional expense other than is now made and necessarily incurred. 5th It is one of the natural persuits of an Indian: One in which they would cheerfully engage in, without compulsion. The Fishing business on this coast is not an experiment. It has been tried in localities not possessing half the advantages, which this agency does, and proven successful as well as remunerative.
Favorable as I am to this Move, I am unwilling to Take any action in the Matter without first advising with you, and obtaining your Sanction or at least encouragement for the enterprise. It is a Subject worthy of consideration, and I would most respectfully ask you to give the subject matter herein contained your attention.