Siletz Indian Agency, Oregon,
August 13, 1883.
Sir: In compliance with instructions I have the honor to submit my first annual report of affairs at this agency. The time that I have been here is so short that I cannot make a report as complete as I would like. Many things will have to be estimated that, had the report been due at a later date, could have been given from actual count.
them to make homes. The young men desire to take land. The old lines and corners are so nearly obliterated that it is hard to get the matter of allotments as it should be to prevent trouble among them. The old maps on file in the office are of a poor quality, and so incomplete that they cannot be relied upon. Some work in the line of surveying and making maps is greatly needed in order to establish permanently the lines, so that each one may know where to do permanent work. With the proper encouragement these Indians will soon all, or nearly all, be established in homes of their own and be cultivating the soil.
The crop of hay is housed in as good condition as could be desired, but is not as large as that of last year, for two reasons: 1st, their fields have been run too long in hay and need breaking up and re-seeding, having become foul and run down; 2d, this has been a very dry season, no rain having fallen since the middle of May.
Good wheat can be grown here if properly put in, and that in the fall. Oats are more certain. Some of the finest fields of oats are now being harvested that I have ever seen. Some lots will yield from 50 to 60 bushels per acre. Many fields are light, owing to the slack manner of putting in.
Number of acres under fence, 2,500; under cultivation, 1,440; acres of new land broken, 18; new fence and old repaired, 1,513 rods.
The amount of grain now being harvested I have estimated as follows, viz: Oats I placed at 30 bushels per acre, 850 acres giving 25,500 bushels; wheat will not be over 15 bushels per acre 1,700 bushels; potatoes will be very light owing to the continued dry weather 20,000 bushels; turnips, 1,000 bushels; hay, 500 tons. There are a great many small gardens, but poorly cultivated. We hope to overcome much of this. We also have a garden of from 3 to 4 acres connected with the boarding-house, cultivated by school-boys, under the direction of our efficient farmer, F. M. Stanton. I have carefully read the last annual report of my predecessor, and have carefully studied the situation, and I really cannot give so flattering a report as his. It is true the season has been against us, and many fields now sown in grain are very foul and need to be summer-fallowed. There is an abundance of good land here, and when rotation in crops is taught them we will be able to enlarge the figures.
Our old thrashing-machine has been repaired, and is now doing very fair work. Our new machine has just arrived and will be running in order in a few days.
The greatest portion of our supplies come by schooner to Toledo, 8 miles from the agency, from which point they are transported in wagons by Indians and the Government teams. During the fiscal year ending June 30 the Indians transported with their own teams 105,829 pounds, and earned by such freighting the sum of $351.64. To say that the work has been well done is but just to those doing the work. I would join with Mr. Swan in urging that supplies be forwarded at an earlier date, if it can be done, so as to reach us before the fall rains set in, for the reason that when these commence it about doubles the work and expense.
On the first of July I reorganized the police force; some of the old ones I dropped from the force, adding new ones. I retained the old captain as a private and promoted the acting sergeant. He was soon convicted of giving whisky to another Indian, and was removed from the force and also punished by confinement and hard labor. I then again promoted the sergeant. The force is now doing good service with a very few exceptions. I am satisfied that a course may be pursued here that will give us a good police force. Of course some changes will have to be made to effect it, but it will come in time. The greater portion of complaints brought are for wife-whipping.
The sanitary condition of the Indians will compare favorably with the whites on this coast, with one exception, and that is the one great curse of veneral diseases, which does fearful work among them. Our resident physician, Dr. F. M. Carter, however, speaks hopefully in regard to the matter, and thinks he sees a slight change for the better. I can truly say that our physician is doing his duty and is endeavoring to help me in my efforts to bring this people up to a fair standard of health and cleanliness.
Number of births, 41; deaths, 29; number of Indians who have received medical treatment during the year, 500.
is a constant demand for building material, and we cannot give it. In my opinion a great mistake was made here in making these mills steam power instead of water power. If they had been provided with water power the Indians could have used them without assistance. As it is, the saw-mill cannot be run without an engineer and head sawyer, and we must ask the Department for funds to work with. Now, we need much in this direction.
The Government buildings are in a sad condition. We need lumber to rebuild, to make and repair fences. The much-talked-of "Alsea houses" are not completed, and there is no lumber to complete them. Out of fifteen that were promised the Alsea Indians, only ten have been completed. A great many of our young men would take land and go to work making homes for themselves if they could get the lumber to build with. I have allowed the agency trader to use the mill to cut a few thousand feet of lumber for the erection of a store building. I have notified him that I will have to use the Government building now occupied by him for a commissary, as the shed now used for that purpose is not fit to store anything in.
The Indians' chief industry is farming, and I am agreeably surprised to find a very strong desire to know how to do better farming. Willing to learn, they quickly take to the trades needed here, but do not become first-class mechanics, for the want of the necessary facilities to make them so.
Of white employes, we have a clerk, physician, farmer, teacher, assistant teacher, matron, and a cook. Of Indian employes, an interpreter, a teamster, carpenter, ferryman, mail-carrier, seamstress, and laundress and, up to July 1st we had also a shoemaker. Our police force consists of one captain, one sergeant, and ten privates. I am happy to say that at this writing all of these employes are working together in unison and hearty co-operation, and giving me as good service as I could ask.
Upon this hangs the destiny of this people. Without earnest and patient work in this direction, we can accomplish but little for the upbuilding of the Indians. The old are dying off, the middle-aged are set in their habits and ways. The young are susceptible of development under careful training. About the 1st of November, 1882, the school buildings connected with this agency were destroyed by fire, and, to the great sorrow of all concerned, the children were left without a place to pursue their stuudies and many of them without a decent home to go to. After a short time an old and deserted mill was fixed up for a boarding-house, in which about 42 children were crowded. With a great deal of patience and care they were managed. A part of the old agency house was converted into a school-room; and in these very narrow quarters the educational work is going on. At the present our scholars are taking their much-needed vacation. We shall take up school again the 1st of September. We were for a time much elated to think we should have new buildings, in which we could place some 90 or 100 chidren, but there seems to be some doubt now as to having them for the present. We earnestly hope that every difficulty may be over-come, and that we be granted the privledge of putting up new buildings.
I believe we can accomplish much good in this direction, as in this part of the work special attention is given to teaching the girls to sew, to cook, and to do everything pertaining to good housekeeping, and, as proof of the efficiency of the work, quite a number of the girls have been sought after to go out and do the cooking for the hands during harvest. The boys are taught the care and management of horses and cattle, also the planting and raising of all kinds of garden, as well as farm work in general. The Department has kindly given me funds to put an apprentice in one of the shops, which I shall do shortly.
The teacher, Rev. T. B. White, has charge of this branch of the work, holding religious services on each Sabbath morning and evening. The attendance at church is good; in fact, with our limited room, I may say all come who can get a seat. There is quite a lively interest manifested. The church record was lost in the fire last fall, so that it is impossible to report the exact number of members, and it is only as we can find them out by actual contact that we can tell who are church members. But I am happy to say that since I have been here the church work is taking on an encouraging look.
There are some beach gold mines on this reserve, and much feeling and speculation is had in regard to them. Parties have applied to me with propositions which I could not consent to. I have told them that I had no authority to allow them to work them, and have referred them to the Hon. Secretary of the Interior.
We are happy in the fact that we have a good square Christian man as trader to these Indians, keeping such goods as are needed, and with fair prices.
Some of the cows purchased by the Government and distributed to the Indians by Agent Swan have been sold by those to whom they were given. I have forbidden any further sale of such cows. Several were sold and butchered before I was informed of the manner in which they came in possession of them. In such cases I have required the Indian to buy another one in place of the one sold or butchered. I have also forbidden them to sell their stock cattle, as there is plenty of room here for many more cattle than they have now, and, if managed well, in a few years they will have plenty of cattle to sell. There is a general disposition to get horses, and not being able to get first-class ones, they take up with cheap and inferior stock. The horses here belonging to the Government are getting old and worked down, as are many of the work oxen.
There are at present by actual count, 637 Indians on the reserve. The census of 1880 shows 998 belonging here; of that number, about 360, composed principally of the Sinslaws, Coos, and Umpquas, are scattered along down the coast all the way between here and the California line. Many of them desire to return to the reservation, but have not the money necessary to make the trip, and I am not provided with funds to send for them. I think steps should be taken looking toward their return to the reservation.
The Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
United States Indian Agent.
The Commissioner of Indian Affairs.