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Swan to Commissioner, 28 August 1882, in United States, Interior Department, Report of the Secretary of the Interior, Vol. 2 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1882), 199-202, NADP Document D54.
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Siletz Indian Agency,
Toledo, Benton County, Oregon,
August 28, 1882.

Sir: In compliance with instructions contained in circular letter, dated July 15, 1882, I have the honor to submit herewith my fourth annual report of affairs at this agency.


      As a result of the liberality of the department in furnishing our Indians with such implements as are requisite to a successful tilling of the soil, they have continued to come in from far and near, taking lands, building houses, so far as materials were furnished them and otherwise showing a desire to abandon a life of roving and indolence and establish for themselves permanent homes, thus giving evidence of their advancement in the line of civilization. The crop of hay has been gathered in good condition, and is largely in excess over that of last year. Our grain harvest is now going on, and and the quality and quantity is such as to encourage the toilers, as well as those who wish well toward our red men in the use of the lands set apart for them. It will be seen by the figures below, as compared with those of previous years, that a good work has been done. It is true that more might, and I may say ought, to have been accomplished, but the same may justly be said of the white farmers in this portion of country. It is evident the raising of other grains than wheat, and especially spring wheat, will give a better return in this region, situated so near the ocean, where strong winds prevail a portion of the time and heavy fogs are frequent, rendering a cool atmosphere prevalent a good part of the time, causing more or less uncertainity in the maturing of spring wheat, as well as to its yield. Number of acres under fence, 2,405 bushels; under cultivation, 1,490; acres new land broken, 171; rods of new fence made, 1,583.
      The amount of grain harvested, and now being harvested, is by careful estimate as follows: The quantity given will overrun, rather than fall short. Wheat, 2,490 bushels; oats, 24,750; of vegetables, potatoes, 23,520; turnips, 900; carrots, 800; parsnips, 750; tons of hay, 849; together with large quantities of other kinds of vegetables. There is a garden of some two or more acres for the use of our boarding-house children, worked by the larger boys, superintended by our farmer.


      The supplies transportated to this agency within the year will reach about 100 tons, ranging in distances from 8 to 60 miles. A large portion of them were drawn late in the fall, after the rains had set in, rendering the roads dangereous in travel and streams next to impassable. The teaming was done by Indians, and with their own teams, and greatly to their credit, for no accident occured of a serious character, neither was there any damage to property. I am sure no better results would have followed had the work been done by white men who do teaming as a business, if indeed as well.
      I would again urge upon those who forward our supplies to do so, if possible, at an earlier period of the year, to the end that they reach here in summer or early fall, so that they arrive at the agency ere the rains begin. This will enable us to avoid the dangers incident thereto and save a large sum in their removal.


      The force of twelve men was continued through the year, rendering good service for the remuneration received. The amount is so small as not to prove an incentive to efficiency, or lead them to exercise a feeling of pride in their official calling. These men are scattered all over the various portions of the reservation, indeed none at the agency where most wanted, for such as would serve us well will not do duty at the salaries allowed, and those who would are not of the class likely to be selected. And for these reasons I have asked that three men be allowed in place of the twelve, with such pay as would enable them to reside at the agency, devoting their entire time to the service.
     In the removal of Joseph Howard, a quarter breed, and his wife, an Indian woman, as per instructions from your office, I may say that Howard left the resreve when ordered; his wife refusing to go was taken off by the police. The cause of removal of Howard was his persistency in gambling and drinking when outside.


      The Indians upon this reservation have long been afflicted with venereal diseases to

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a fearful extent. Were it not for these, there can be no question that they would be as healthy, if indeed not healthier, than the average of white people. But diseases of the kind mentioned seems to have permeated the entire race, the aged, middle-aged, and the young. I fear the frequent changes in physicians-three in a trifle more than a year-has not resulted favorably to our Indians. Referring to the births and deaths, as reported in the monthly statements, I find total births for the year 10, and of deaths 24. The latter is no doubt correct, as the coffins are made at the agency. The former is incorrect, as is proven in the number of children of whom no record has been taken. This deficiency of known births is owing to two causes: 1st. The non-attention paid by one of our physicians to looking about to find the young. 2d. The habit of Indian women in concealing their young ones from their best friends. In my judgement the births within the year fully equal the deaths, if indeed they do not exceed them. This lack on the part of the physician was often reproved, but was unheeded, but in the year just beginning will be faithfully looked after by our new comer.


      The flouring mill did good service quite through the year, turning out flour and feed from grains raised by the Indians, a thing they highly appreciate, as there is no mill other than this within forty miles or more. Our saw-mill has not been used as much in the year past as heretofore, for lack of funds, a matter of much regret to a large number, many of whom have lately been induced to come in and take lands, but were unable to erect houses for want of lumber, thus checking the establishing of homes to such as have become weary of a life of wandering.
      The labor in the mills is all performed by Indians with a single exception. I am pleased to say that a number of Indians, so far as I know for the first time, cut their timber, drew their logs, and sawed their own lumber without the aid of government, thus proving themselves on the road to self-support and independence, a thing of which they feel a pride.


      The Indians here I find are not very unlike white people; some are willing to labor for what they have and others think they ought to be supported in their idleness. It has been my aim from the first to put a premium on industry, and condemn indolence in any and all. I find the complaining and fault-finding usually belong to this class. The Indians here as a rule learn the trades easily, perhaps more readily even than farming. There are goodly numbers who can perform service in the shops or mills, and show evidence of rapid advancement in mechanism.


      There are of white employes now here, a clerk to the agent, a farmer, a physician, teacher, miller, and engineer, matron and cook. Of Indians, an interpreter, assistant farmer, teamster, two carpenters, blacksmith, ferryman, mail carrier, janitor, assistant engineer, seamstress, assistant teacher, and laundress. Of Indian police, there is a captain, sergeant, and ten privates.


      The day-school commenced the early part of September last, continuing until about the middle of July, when it was dismissed for a vacation of some six or seven weeks, a thing so necessary to all, but especially to Indian children. Many, indeed nearly all, have heretofore been free from confinement, going and coming at will, with no restraints either at home or when visiting the houses of those who give them welcome. It is no wonder they long for their former freedom, and release from a school room, and the discipline put upon them requisite to good order and a well-regulated school. Our school was taught by our pastor, and for the first few months by his sister, as assistant, who it was said was an educated young lady. She left, however, and her place was filled by an Indian girl, eighteen years old, who had no home, going from family to family as they could agree, with now and then a day in school, until, the boarding-house was established, when she becam an inmate, having received the advantages afforded there, and regularly an attendant of the day-school, for eighteen months, making such progress in her studies and general deportment as to warrant a trial in the position assigned to her. She taught some seven months previous to vacation, and is worthy of being continued. I may say the opinion of many, who are competent judges, is that the school has not suffered by the change.

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      The largest attendance at school runs up to about 70, and are made up of some 50 from the boarding-house, the remainder from families who live at or adjacent to the agency. It is but justice to say that these children take to their studies as quick and pursue them as diligently as an equal number of white children in any of the schools in these parts, and persons outside who have visited ours have expressed great surprise at their advancement and readiness in answering questions found in their books of a character which was not thought to be beyond their comprehension, notwithstanding the fact of their well known timidity before those of their white brethren.


      The usual Christmas dinner was given our Indians within the year, a thing looked forward to with much interest. Several hundred availed themselves of the good things furnished at the boarding-house, men, women, and children coming from far and near, the rich and poor, sick and infirm, aged, middle-aged, and young, all joining in making it a day of merriment and good feeling, and though represented by eighteen different tribes a stranger would have supposed them all belonging to one. These gatherings are a source of much good in cementing the bonds of friendship as between them and thier pale-faced brethren, as well as each other. The bread, meats, cakes, and other articles, including tea and coffee, was prepared and served by the girls in the boarding-house, clad in neat calico dresses, with pink aprons on. For four hours they came, ate, and went, retiring with expressions of good-will in their faces for the time being, having forgotten their ills, wants, and sorrows, meeting with long-separated ones who were dear to them, and friends and neighbors, with whom they frequently exchanged greetings. Thus they spent the day together, after which they said "Good-bye," starting for their homes, some in wagons, some on horseback, and others on foot; and so ended the day.
      In consequence of the entertainment to others, that of the children was deferred until New Year's eve, at which time a tree was placed in position, loaded with presents for the young. I may say the school-house was appropriately trimmed with evergreens mottoes, &c., and the tree was lighted, presenting an appearance attractive to the children and worthy of those who arranged it. The exercises consisted of a salutatory by the school, "Glory to God in the Highest;" recitation of the 23d psalm by little girls; calisthenics by boys to measure of music; address by one of the boys, subject, "Farmer Boy;" "broom-brigade drill" by large girls. This last one, I see by Eastern papers, has since been performed there, thus showing their appreciation of the "original" as performed by our Indian girls in Oregon. The distribution of presents caused much merriment to Indians, as well as pleasure to their children as recipients. The exercises of the evening were interspersed with music, in which our new organ was used to advantage. These annual reunions are of good results in a double sense. They tend to wear off the prejudices existing in the minds of the adult Indians in the innocent pleasure it gives them. 2d. They interest the children in making the school more attractive by the part they are allowed to take, thus leading them away from the life of their fathers, and adopting a newer and higher life.


      Our public services have continued about the same as last year: Preaching on Sabbath mornings by the pastor; in the evening, sometimes a sermon by the pastor and occasionally an exhortation by one of our Indian brethren; at other times the meeting took the form of a prayer and praise meeting. The social meetings have latterly been held as follows: Class meeting on Sunday evening of each week previous to the public service, and prayer meeting on Thursday evenings. The attendance at church was good at the beginning of the conference year, but soon began to dwindle, and so continued to the end. I regret the present state of things, being to me exceedingly unsatisfactory, and as there is to be a change of ministers soon, we shall hope and labor for a better attendance and a deeper work of grace in the hearts of the members.
      Of the older children in the boarding-school, I may say good work has been done. The matron and others under her charge have labored faithfully to bring the children to their Saviour, and in this their efforts have been rewarded, several giving evidence of a change of heart and a desire to live a Christian life. The Sunday-school has partaken somewhat of the church; the numbers have decreased since the year began, and a lack of interest followed, but we shall labor with great zeal the year to come, and look and hope and pray for a season of prosperity, such as has been ours in times past.

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      The reception of orphan and other Indian children at the children's boarding-house began in October, 1880, with five little waifs, but soon increased to more than 50, being the full capacity of the building. There are candidates for admission who ought to be enjoying the privliges afforded here. Those engaged in this house consist of a matron, seamstress, cook, and laundress. The teaching and discipline practiced here entitles it to the name of training-school as well. The girls are taught housekeeping in all its branches, dress making, clothing for boys, and other kinds of industry, using sewing machines, which the older girls took up readily, showing skill and judgment in large measure for girls of their years. The boys cut and carry in the wood and assist in such other work about the buildings as are proper. They are also taught to labor in the fields and in the government garden under the instruction of the farmer, and in the shops and mills under the eyes of our carpenter and sawyer.
      The children read the Scriptures morning and night, and the lessons are commended upon the matron, giving them light and knowledge as contained in the Word of God, thus instilling into their young minds the seeking early to live a life of usefulness. A half hour's presence by any one at one of these sessions is well spent time. The questions asked of the children and answered by them prove how well they are already versed in the things which pertain to thier evelasting peace. Their exercises are interspersed with singing, in which all join. As the result of these social morning and evening greetings, in my judgment, was the bringing into the church a dozen or more of these children of the forest within the year just closed. The well-being of the race is, in my opinion, centered in the young, for the old are wedded to the ways of their fathers, and seemingly cannot rid themselves of their superstitions in which they have so long indulged and which have become so dear.


      The agency trader, who left here about the middle of July, going outside the lines some three miles, establishing business where he is free to put such prices on his goods as he sees fit, did so, because of some differences existing between us. He, from lack of capital of his own, made purchases from second hands, costing from 10 to 15 percent above value. I could not permit his charging full profits additional, as that would carry the cost too high to our Indians. He broke faith in this, that he did not continue his stock to such articles as were of a practicable character, running them into worhtless jewelry, fancy articles, &c., seeking rather to please the eye of these red men than to give them an equivalent in the way of necessities for their hard-earned money. He did not unite with me in forcing his customers from the store when purchases were completed, thus encouraging a spirit of idleness and lounging about the premises. In this he would be the gainer, for they would be sure to look about and see imaginary wants, until they were rendered penniless. However, another and more considerate man, I trust, is seeking to occupy his place here.
      The 67 Alsea Indians removed to this reservation some more than a year ago, were located along our river 6 miles below here, where lands were assigned them and erection of 15 houses began, several of which are completed, and the remainder under way, in charge of our Indian carpenter, who designs to have them ready for occupancy before the fall rain sets in.
      There are already evidences of the wisdom exercised by the department in the purchase and distribution of 80 cows to Indian families, for butter is being made by Indian women of such quality as suits the taste of the wives of our white employes, who are evidently good judges of that commodity, being first-class housekeepers. The agency trader was more than supplied, and some was taken outside and sold, bringing equal prices with that made in California and Oregon.
      No innovations of a serious character have been made on the reservation within the year; some few whites have driven off for minor offenses.
      I would urge that money be given for the sawing of lumber to build new houses for incoming Indians, as well as to those who require it for outhouses in the preservation of crops. There is need of more oxen, wagons, and farming implements for the year to come, to the end that additional acreage may be brought into use. At the present writing our harvesting of grains is going on; weather good, and quantity and quality encouraging.
     I have the honor to report that an unexpended balance on hand at the end of the present fiscal year of $1,644.78.
       Very respectfully,

E A. Swan
United States Indian Agent

The Commissioner of Indian Affairs.