NADP Homepage
Wadsworth to Commissioner, 10 August 1885, in United States, Interior Department, Report of the Secretary of Interior, Vol. 2 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1885), 392-394, NADP Document D56.
[Page 392]

Siletz Indian Agency,
August 10, 1855.

Sir: In compliance with regulations of the Department, I hasten to forward my report for the year 1885.


      According to instructions, I am very anxious to make this report so plain that all who read it may see for themselves just how matters are here. I would love to make such a picture that you and all interested might see as though you were here on the ground. I will not give you any "rose-colored" report.
      This has been a good season, so far as weather is concerned, and this people generally have tried to improve it. But one thing has dampened their ardor and kept

[Page 393]

them from going ahead as much as they otherwise would have done: the low price of grain last year and its low ruling all through the year. They felt as though it was working for nothing.


      An improvement is descernible – not in larger acreage, not in extended farms, but in better crops on the same amount of land, a desire to know what there is in rotation of crops, summer fallowing, &c. A few have tried a small piece of wheat and are pleased with the results. Could I make this report a month later I would give you the exact result. I think the average yield will be 32 1/2 bushels. The oat crop is very much better than last year. Here again may be seen the improvement-deeper plowing and better and more harrowing. I am very sure the average of oats will be 40 bushels. Potatoes we cannot tell anything about so early in the season. The present outlook indicates about the same yield as last year; maybe somewhat less. No one can understand as well as we that are constantly with this people when, where, and how they improve. I can tell it is always. I see it in the way the family come to church, in the way my friend sits while in the office, in the way his fences look, in the way he takes care of his crop, &c., &c. There is more grain this year than last. Oh, how I fear that rains will come before we can get it thrashed. We need one more machine; we need it badly. The loss last year of about five thousand bushels of grain for the want of a thrasher has had a very demoralizing effect. We have tried to encourage them by hoping that we would have less rain this harvest.


      The work of re-marking the lines, resetting the corners, and plotting the same has been completed so far as is needed for some years to come. I now have in my office a map of the settled portions of this reserve, showing every man's land, where and how his lines run. It is a source of great satisfaction to the Indians as well as to myself. I have no more land troubles. If I do they are soon settled. There is also a surveying party on our border surveying the boundary of the reserve, which will enable us to settle without any difficulty any collisions between the settlers and the Indians.


      We have had an attendance of 66 [...] in school this year. We have taken up some scholars who could not speak a word of English and in five months we have them reading in the second grade reader. My scholars have studied and worked and worked and studied until I feel thay they are entitled to good credit. My school has grown up from an average of 38 to 66, and we have everything in readiness to increase the number to at least 75. The year coming I shall be disappointed if I do not reach that figure. The boys in the school have cleared about four acres of land right from the solid forest, some of the stumps leaving an excavation large enough for a cellar for a good sized house. On the school farm we have built nearly, if not quite, 2 miles of plank fencing and cleared out logs and stumps for place for more fence. On the agency farm the boys have built about 80 rods of fence. These children are not alone learning to make fence, but everything that we have to do in the whole machinerey of running this institution, wherever I can place one of the boys to advance him. I do the same with the girls. I sometimes take one of the girls and send them out ot take care of the sick for a week or two in the best families, so that they may become familiar with all the details of life.
      I sent last fall six of my boys and girls to the Forest Grove school; five of them have done exceedingly well; one has been sick nearly all the time and has come home most probably to die. I am so well pleased with the result of sending those children to that school that I am trying to induce some more to go. The parents of those of those that have gone are very much pleased. The Department have kindly advanced the wages of my teachers, so that we feel encouraged to go ahead. We have constant, earnest work from them


      This I have instituted since my last report. I am well pleased with its workings. I have not had to reverse a decision made. The judges try in every case to do the right thing, tempering justice with mercy. They solve questions often times quickly that are knotty for me.


      This is in much better condition. The force is reduced and better wages given. This enables us to get better men. They feel more like men, more like doing their work, and respect themselves to a greater degree.

[Page 394]


      I have no complaints to make on this subject. My requests have been granted by a generous Department. It is true, my estimates were cut down some; but we have, by pushing and economizing in every possible way, got a good barn, a good house for the agent, good shops, and a good woodshed and tool-room for the boarding-house, all the work of the last fiscal year. We are not yet done painting, as I have to do most of that with my own hands, there being no funds for that purpose, as it took all we had to get the buildings up. The work is all done (saving the painting) with one little exception; we ran out of lime, and one room in the house lacks one coat of plaster – a small matter of about five or six dollars.
      While on this subject I wish to speak of Indian buildings. Many of this people are building new houses. I have manufactured and issued them over a hundred thousand feet of lumber. I have sent into the Salmon River country the first lumber that ever went there, except for some fence, bridge, or house washed down the river. Some of the people came up to the agency and went into the woods, cut the logs, took the Government oxen and hauled them to the mill; and out of the money allowed me to make lumber, I hired an engineer and sawyer, the Indians going into the mill to work, and cut out some forty-odd thusand feet and put it into the water, ran it down to the ocean, then hauled it to their homes along the coast. These Indians want homes like the whites, and are (the majority of them) doing all they can to make them. The brush and mud hovel is a thing of the past.


      I have had my sympathies aroused many times during the year past and gone because of our having no resident physician, having only funds enough to have a visit from Dr. Carter one a month; and the pleadings for a doctor have come to me in such a way that I could not but feel that they were right. They argued that if there was not enough money for a doctor and a farmer that they ought to have the former. They had been taught farming, but not medicine, and if we meant civilization we must give them a white medicine man, as their sick must be attended to; and if we did not doctor them our way they would do it their way-they would go back to the old way, the way of their fathers. I could but acknowledge the justice of their claim. So sad is it to stand by the side of the open grave and see this doomed people put away their dead, seeming to comprehend the fact that their race in a few years will be extinct. My intrepreter, a good Christian man, has this summer lost two bright children. The health of the reservation is better now than at any time since I assumed charge. Our physician will reside here this year, so as to be on hand at once when needed. Births and deaths are nearly the same.


      Congress should this coming winter pass a law similar to the bill of Hon. J. N. Dolph's, alloting their lands to them and giving them titles. My Indians deserve to know that their homes are their own. We shall have to take care of the old and the young; but a long step will be taken toward self-support when the American people can be just enough to give the Indian a piece of land for his own, so that he will know it is his.


      While there are some publications sent out from Washington to the different agencies and among the Indians purporting to be in the interest of the service, yet giving us to understand that we cannot keep straight with the Department unless we fee an agent there, and making us feel generally uncomfortable, I have to acknowledge the receipt of many kindnesses from the Department. When we have made mistakes they have been kindly pointed out, and when corrected we have had full credit. While our work has been hard we have felt that we had the sympathy of the Department in all we were trying to do and to that Department we feel deeply grateful.

Very respectfully,
United States Indian Agent.

The Commissioner of Indian Affairs.