Full Report of
Siletz Indian Reservation,
Benton County, Oregon.
October 17 1892.
ON THIS THE 17th DAY OF OCTOBER A.D.1892, a Council was held with the Indians of the Siletz Reservation, by the Commission heretofore duly appointed to treat with said Indians for the purchase of the lands unallotted, when the following remarks were made by the Commission, and interpreted to the Council by Oscar Brown, the regular appointed, Qualified and acting Interpreter for the Agency, and who was also appointed by said Commission to act as interpreter for said meeting.
If you are now ready to proceed with the Council, I will state that Mr.Brown here will act as Interpreter, and will repeat to you what we say, and interpret to us what you say.
We have a Reporter here who will take down all that is said on both sides.
Judge Boise, Major Harding and myself were appointed as a Commission by the Government to come here and talk with you in regard to the selling of your lands that are not needed in allotments. Judge Boise the Chairman of our Committee will explain to you briefly the work we will have to do, and lay it before you in such a way that you will be able to understand it. (Repeated so that the Interpreter would more thoroughly understand it) Judge Boise, Major Harding and myself were
appointed a Commission by the Government at Washington, to come here and talk with you, in regard to the selling of your lands that are not needed in the allotments. We have with us here a Gentleman who will take down in writing all that is said on both sides. Judge Boise the Chairman of our Commttee will now explain to you fully what we are sent here for.
We have been appointed and instructed by the Comissioner of Indian Affairs. The Commissioner represents the President of the United States; he speaks for the President. The Comissioner of Indian Affairs is the man who speaks for the President, and who instructs us. The Commission of Indian Affainrs is the man who has charge of this business and represents the Government, and we are instructed to talk with you about selling these lands to the Government, which have not been allotted to you by Mr. Jenkins. The Government does not think that these lands are of much value to you now, after you have the best lands that are on the Reservation allotted; and that it would be better for you to sell them; for what you would get for them would be of more use to you. The Government will pay you for the lands all that they are worth. The money that you would get for the lands wouldbring you an income, or some money every year. A part of the money would be paid to you when the bargain which we make with you is ratified by Congress, (by the Government) at Washington. Part of the money would be put at Interest. You will now, after these allotments, be obliged to pay taxes on these lands, and the Government is
going to make provisions to pay these taxes. You will have to pay taxes the same as white men have to, and the Government wants to make provisions for that. It is going to make it in this bargain to save some money to pay taxes with so that your land cannot get sold for taxes. If the taxes are not paid when assessed against the land, the Sheriff will sell the land, and in order that no such thing should happen the government will make a provision to pay out of this interest money, these taxes, which will not be very high.
Probably the lands may be assessed at $1.00 an acre, and these taxes will not be large, but it will have to be paid, and the Government is looking out for this. We cannot tell you what they will be, the assessor has to fix that.
There will be reserved from these lands that are not allotted, some timber land to supply this mill with logs, to make lumber for the indians, and to make lumber for sale if they want to. This timber land will be reserved, and belong to the indians. We have called you together to talk this matter over, and have an understanding. The lands which have been allotted are of a great deal more value than the lands which are left. You have got most of the good lands as we understand it. The matters which we are to talk with the indians with reference to is, First, as to whether they are willing to sell these unallotted lands, and then as to what we are to pay for them.
These are the things that we are here for:
First, You want to determine whether you are willing to sell. When you talk this over, let us know whether you are willing to sell these lands. Then, decide as to what you think these lands are worth, and we will then talk with you further on this subject. Mr.Jenkins has made these allotments and we have no power to change his work. We are not authorized to do anything about the allotted la ds.
Mr. H.H. Harding.
We will be glad to answer any question that any one may wish to ask. It may be better to have some spokesman appointed to speak for you so that we can proceed in better order, but when we make the bargain, every one will have his say for himself, and when we have agreed upon a bargain, if we do agree, we will report it to the government, and if they approve it at Washington, then they will provide the money to pay, and comply on the part of the government with the bargain which we make, and which they approve. It is better not to have too much talk, but to proceed to business.
There is no question for us to deal with except the purchase of the surplus lands, that are left after the allotments have been made. So, the first important fact for you to determine is whether you want to sell these lands; then if you decide so, at what price, and on what terms of payment shall the purchase be made. The Government does not need these lands, but
it is willing to take them and pay a fair and liberal price, so that the Indians can derive an Annual, that is a yearly benefit, for the price of their lands.
It is the policy of the Government to pay a certain amount, which is to be agreed upon, down in cash; the balance the Government will hold in trust for you, and will pay you every year five per cent interest on that money; and if you need it, it will be provided that Congress may every year make an appropriation to pay you a part of the principal. In case that any indian should die before this money is all paid, then his heirs, or relations, will succeed to, and receive any amount that is due him that has not been paid.
We will now wait for you to take such action as you please.
I do not know whether you got to understand what was meant by the Taxes. Judge Boise said the taxes would probably amount to one dollar a year on the land. He did not mean that would be the amount to be paid, but he meant it would probably be assessed at one dollar a year per acre, and the per cent would perhaps be 2 cents on the dollar, so that you see the taxes would not be $ One Dollar per acre, but two cents an acre. The most of you can understand this without its being interpreted. The Counties of Polk, Tillamook, and Benton will have their jurisdiction extended over this country, and they would not be willing that this land should be left here without paying taxes, because all the other lands in the County, and in the State have to pay taxes, and
consequently the Government proposes to provide for that,and it may amount to 2 or 2-1/2 cents an acre, but the Government will pay that, so that you will not have to provide for it, except as indicated by Judge Boise. (Major H.H.Harding. Explain to them what Trust means.)
(Mr.Odell continues.) I presume most of you know what trust means. It means the same as holding that money, and paying you 5 per cent interest, that is $5.00 on every $100.00 and keeping the money safe. But, you get all of the money in the end; when they make the final payments they will pay in full, that is they pay the principal. If we agree on $100.00 or $1000.00, or any other amount, that is called the principal, and the interest would be 5 per cent of that, or $50.00 on a Thousand, and so on, so that when they come to make the final payment they will pay the principal, but they pay this interest to you every year.
Major H.H. Harding.
In regard to the taxes, the Government proposes to pay the taxes and not to call upon the Indians for it; the land will not be subject to taxation until these allotments are approved, and the title is perfected. No lands will be taxed until the allotments are made, and the title is completed, and then the lands will be subject to the State of Oregon and the County in which the lands are situated, and will be taxed, but to save the indians from any trouble in that respect, the Government will make a provision in the contract they now make, by which these taxes shall be taken care of. The Indians will not be troubled by the Authorities of the State and County.
The Indians have not been used to paying taxes and it is a matter that cannot be understood without s ome explanation, and that is the reason that we have been particular to try to have it understood. We white men, all understand about paying taxes, because we have been used to paying them. There is a man comes around and values all the property and concludes what it is worth, and then each man has to pay on that a tax to the County and to the State. You have not had to pay that because your lands belong to the Government; and, the Government intends that it will look after this matter. The Agent could look after it so that you would not be troubled with it, and would not be liable to have the lands sacrificed. Some of you have lands that are not occupied, and these lands will be assessed and taxed, and if there is no provision to pay, the Sheriff would sell them, and you would lose them. It is the desire of the Government that you be secured against this, until you get used to the paying of taxes and understand it.
Now if it is your pleasure we will retire and let you talk this matter over among yourselves, and agree upon how you will present the matter. We do not want to interfere in the least in the way you present it.
Present it in your own form, and in your own way, but try and put it in as condensed and business-like a way as you can, and we want you to be perfectly free and do as you think best. If you conclude you don't want to sell it, keep it. We are not here to urge you to sell it, or to compel you to
sell it, but we are here to talk in a businesss-like way, and we want you to talk in a business-like way, and to come to a perfectly satisfactory agreement all round. We want you to be perfectly free and talk this matter over among yourselves, and do just as you think best. The rule is that the majority always governs, the majority of the people governs, and when you come to make the final agreement we don't expect every indian to agree to it, but we must have a majority of the indians in favor of it, or else it will be no contract at all.
On being recalled, Frank Carson (Indian) who had been elected Spokesman, addressed the Commission thus:
Well, we have not got much to say. They are all settled to sell if they go according to our agreement, and that is the first thing to look after the money matters. How are they to get their pay? They want to get their pay, cash in hand first before they want to sell. We don't want to be paid instalments; want put in bank, cash in hand, they are willing to sell; if not, it is the other way. There is a few of them want to ask you fellows a question, and that is about their land. They are a little bit afraid that would be jump into the allotted lands; we can't make them understand; we have told them over and over again that they could not do it.
Mr.Odell. Any questions we will be glad to answer the best we can.
(Frank Carson.) They had an idea they did not want to sell before they get a patent for their lands that is allotted.
(Mr.Harding.) The allotted lands of course are one thing and your sale of the other lands does not affect your title to the allotted lands at all. In the agreement which we propose to make with you, and which is to be signed now,there will be no money paid on it, and nothing done with it until it is approved by Congress. The allotted lands of course,the title at once vests in the persons to whom they are allotted; your bargain don't affect the allotted lands, only it has a tendency to confirm your titles, because there is nothing left here but lands that are allotted, and the other lands
that are public lands. As I understand it, and as stated before, the Government does not buy these lands because they want them, or need them. The are buying to give away to the settlers, the same as the other public lands. When they become public lands, Homersteaders will come in and take them up and the Government will get nothing for them. The Government will not pay own cash in one amount. It is for the benefit of the indians, and to provide an income for them. The Government would not make a purchase in any other way except for the benefit of the indians; and the Government's experience is that Indians are not accustomed to dealin with the outside world the same as other people are, and if they were to pay the Indians down in cash, the Indians would be liable to be swindled out of it. Many of them could take care of it, but the Government must adopta policy which applies to all. And, from time to time as the indians need money the Government can, and provision will be made that an appropriation can be made not only to pay the income, -- that is the interest, -- but can make an appropriation from year to year to pay a part of the cash purchase money; but the Government will not buy these lands and pay it in cash, Simply for the benefit of the Indians. They are dealing with you just as they would deal with all the Indians all over the country. They will not make an exception of these indians.
They will treat with them, and buy of them just as they buy of others, and provide a fund so that their indians can have some money every year coming to them; and if you have 5 per cent, that is: five per cent on $10,000.00 is $500.00, or five per cent on $100,000.00 is $5000.00, and so on, would come in every year; The object of the Government is to
make an income for the Indians; to provide a safe income for them. The Government only pays white-men, sometimes as low as 2 per cent for their money. White-men are loaning money now to the Government for 2 per cent, but the Government proposes to pay you 5 per cent. It will be paid annually, every year; so that you will get an income, and from time to time, and from year to year, if the Government finds you are doing well and prospering, and improving yourselves and your property, and taking care ofyour money, and you need a portion of the principal that they hold, they will of course from time to time, as will be provided by the contract, provide for paying you not only the income, but from time to time pay you a part of the principal sum if you need it.
Now I want to say another thing. It has come to my ears in such a way that I cannot but believe it is true, that some of you have had an idea that we were to get some advantage, to cheat the indians. If any of you have any such an idea, I want to tell you that the Government instructs us particularly that we are here as well to look out for the interests of the indians as for the interests of the Government. We don't represent anybody else but the Government. We are here to make a fair bargain with the indians, and not to take advantage of them or to swin dle them. We would be violating the instructions from the Government if we undertook to take advantage of you. We are connected with no outside schemes; we simply represent the Government, and we propose to make a fair honest bargain with you, to be carried out, and the Government, if we make such a bargain, will carry it out. But, the Government will not make a bargain with you different from what it has made with all the other Indians.
They are to pay you sufficient money to ease your present wants, in cash; and then they are to pay you every year a certain income, so that you won't have your money to squander, but will from year to year get the benefit of this fund. And, it may be that the Government will see fit to shorten the time. I have very little doubt they will shorten the time so that the allotments can be handled the same as the white man handle their lands. The Government has pursued a policy to protect the Indians, recognizing the fact of their inexperience in business, and want of experience and care in dealing with people, until they will be more capable of taking care of their own affairs.
And, another thing: if you cede these lands to the Government, as I stated before, they will be given away to the people for home-steads, and white men will be induced to come in and settle, and they will want to occupy your lands, and increase the value of your lands. The Government wants you to get the benefit of all your property, and is willing to give you four times as much as any private person would give you for them. No private man could come and buy the lands that are left unallotted here, and pay more than a trifle for them, but the Government will take them at a fair price, and will pay you own a certain amount in cash, and every year will pay you interest on the balance, and from time to time will pay you as you need it, the principal sum.
(Charley Depoe, Indian)
They want you folks to produce your authority that appoints you here to deal with the Indians; the authority that you got from the Government.
Mr. Harding here produced his commission, and handed it to the Interpreter for inspection, and then read the same to the Council.
Mr.Harding. These other gentlemen have a like commission down at the Agency.
Mr. Boise. Do you wish to ask anything further? (George Harney) They want all cash paid down before they can sell the land.
Mr.Boise. Is that the voice of the Indians, that the cash must all be paid down before they sell the lands? Is that your wish?
George Harney, (Spokesman). I see you are here to make a trade with the Indians for the lands. All my people wants a dollar and a quarter an acre, and before they turn them over to the Government they want the cash right down before they get satisfaction with them. They say they have been promising a good many reservations and never filled their promises. This time they think it is best to pay so m ch down, but before my people is satisfied the money must be paid right down with them. I think it is well enough, they are old people here now, because this Government has promised before what land they would divide out, and pay them for it; it is not going in this way at all. Some say they want the pay in the bank anywhere in Portland, they want to get the benefit of it himself. They say they can take it themself,they can take care of it themself. What land left now, and get pay
for it before we give land to Government, we will all be satisfied. We will all sell the land, although they must pay us first, so before we die we will see the money with our face and will get the benefit of the money; that will be all right. My people said and vote that I tell to you that you should make a report to Washington: Indians want money before the land be turned over, so you can make the report. My Friends here you ask us a question about the land, all right; we want to sell to you, but we want to get money all paid down and will be satisfied. (Then turning to Indians he asked "Do everybody hear what I say is so") Applause.
With the authority that is given to us, which we get from the commission which was read to you, we could come here and make a bargain with you for your lands, but at the same time we received that commission and authority we received the instructions which are contained in this paper with reference to the manner in which we should do this business, and in these instructions we are not authorized to pay the whole of the money down to you; and if you are to have all the money down, and will not sell the lands in any other way then we are not authorized to make any bargain with you, and you will have to keep your lands. It takes a good deal of money granted every year by the Government to keep up your school, and to keep up this agency. They are giving you money all the time, year after year, to keep it up. They have thought it was proper and necessary to give the indians an education in order that they might be better prepared to take care of their lands, to raise crops and to
support themselves, as they can no longer support themselves by fishing and hunting; so that the Government has established a school here, and a school at Salem where some of your children are, and they are kept there at the Government's expense. When we white people send our children to school we have to pay their way; we have to pay their board and tuition; but the Government deals more generously by you than it does by us, simply for the reason that they wish to bring you to that state when you could take care of yourselves.
But, in this matter we cannot depart from the instructions which are given us in this matter; if we did our work would not be accepted, and the sale which you would make would amount to nothing, for the Government would not accept it; so you might as well understand this now. The lands that you have left after the allotments are of very little value. They are of so little value that the Government has not even employed a surveyer to survey them, knowing that they could not sell them if they did. A large portion of your reservation remains unsurveyed by the Government, because the lands are away back where nobody wants them; where the timber is worth nothing, because it will cost more to haul it than it would be worth. After it was laid down beside a mill it could not be brought out for the value of it. If you desire to keep them, it would be cheaper for the Government for you to keep them, than it would to take them at the price which we would give you.
George Harney. (Indian)
I suppose that the Government sent you here to ask us about the lands. I suppose the Government wants to buy the land we have got not allotted to us; now we have got that land. What land is it still left to be sold, I think there is a good many timber of that land, and a good many timber is money. Timber is money. He can't say there is no money in it; and bottom land, there is lots of that left. The Government sent you here to ask us about it, because we want of course to be satisfaction with the Government; because you not got any money to pay down with us this time, whatever you say of course you have right make report back Washington. We want do everything straight. WE don't want to find out of way about it at all. Now you say land not worth anything for the Government?
Mr. H.H. Harding.
We shall not be in haste at all about this matter. It is a matter of very great importance to you; it is a matter of very little importance to the Government. It is of no importance to the Government whatever except to fulfill its desire to do what is best for the indians whom it considers itself the guardian for. If we were to take you now at your rash words (some of you are somewhat rash perhaps and quick to speak, others of you no doubt think more than they say; it is the thinking people among you that will bring about a bargain for your interests, if one is brought about, and not those who are so quick and ready, and rash, if I may be permitted to so speak) it might termin-
nate this negotiation at once.
Now if I thought that those who have given tongue to their opinions reflected the entire thought of all of you, and that the matter would not be considered at all, I would be prepared at once to say that our mission is terminated, and that to-morrow we could leave you and go back to our homes.
I have no personal feeling in the world in this matter; no personal pride and no personal interests possible; there are no personal interests involved in this matter except your interests. Then anything that I can do to promote your interests, and fulfilling as the government desires me to do, my mission here, am willing and satisfied to wait and Council with you, notwithstanding what has already been said. I am willing to give you time to discuss all this among yourselves: whether it is better to terminate this negotiation now, or whether it is not better to pass propositions to be considered; and I ask you to remember and think of one thing: The Government has already gone to considerable expense in money, to send out a Commission here, not only to allot your lands to you so that you will have in severalty your own lands and homesteads, but to send out a Commission to you, to buy those other lands for which you will have no use. If you send us back now, without further consideration, and refuse to treat with us on the only terms that we are authorized to treat at all, you must reflect thatit will be a long time before the Government will again go to the expense of sending out another commission to negotiate for these lands; and that leads on to the thought which you must think of, and reflect upon, that in the mean time you are getting no money
in hand, and are providing no income for yourselves from these other lands, and must get along the best you can with simply the allotted lands, without any other aid. Now, as I said before, if this Commission was disposed to be rash, and quick to take you at your word, it would terminate this negotiation at this time, but with a candid and fair desire that you shall have time to think, and determine whether you wil not make a bargain from which you will derive benefits, or whether you are willing to go on in the condition you are in, without the power of selling a foot of timber, or a square foot of land, we will not be in haste in this matter.
I put it to you to reflect and consider whether it is not better for you to attempt at least to treat with us upon the terms that we are limited to treat upon. When you come to hear what these terms are, and have time to reflect upon them, if then you see fit to reject such a bargain as we can offer, then that will end the matter. We do not come here to make a report to the Government what the Indians want, we make no report whatever unless we make a bargain, except to report that the Indians will not sell their lands. Now then is not it wiser for you to consider? Is not it worth your while to consider for a day, a week, or two weeks, or a reasonable length of time, what is best for you; recognizing the fact that what you now want, or think you want is cash in hand, when we tell you that we cannot make such a bargain, is not it proper for the sensible man to consider, if I can't make this kind of a bargain which I prefer to make, to consider whether it would not be better to make another kind of a bargain by which I can get some money in hand, and some to
be paid from year to year? If we cannot come together, and it may be perfectly understood that we have no authority to make such a bargain as you ask for, and we can't make that kind of bargain, we are willing to try and come together on some other basis, and we are willing to have patience with you, and let you consider these matters, and not cut it off at once. It is a matter inwhich you have a vital interest, and worthy your serious consideration, and the thoughtful men among you should confer together, and see whether it is not better to continue these negotiations for the time, and see whether there is a neutral ground upon which we can come together.
Mr. W.H. Odell,
We want to conduct this business in a very frank and free way. We want to be honest with ourselves, honest with you, and want you to be honest with us. We do not want to make a representation here that is not exactly true. If you believe we are making representations th t are not true in your judgment, we will go away. We don't want to talk to men who do not believe what we say. It is ofno use to talk to men who do not believe our statements. We propose to make statementshonestly and fairly; we propose to accept yours on the same terms. Perhaps you are talking to us just as you feel and think. One man sometimes thinks one way, and another man thinks another way, but when they come together and talk together quietly and see all the facts, and all that is to be done, they will then see that they were mistaken in their first proposition. Now I am satisfied my friends that some of you have got the impression that we are here in the interests of some clique, or for some white men that want to
get possession of your lands. No white man will get possession of a foot of this land unless he gets it under the general laws of congress, and then only the lands that are outside. The lands reserved for school purposes, and land for your allotments, and the timber land reserved, no white man can trample upon it, or interfere with your rights and privileges upon that at all. That is reserved for your benefit. The Government will observe good faith with you in that regard. No white man from Salem, or anywhere else will get a dollars interest in any of this land upon this reservation. Any bargain that we make with you, no white man will be benefitted one cent by it. None of these Commissioners will be benefitted one cent by it. All that we will get in this business will be the pay per day as we come here and talk to you. No part of the money will go to any white man. You think of this matter. I can say to you candidly, we cannot pay the money all down. If this is your judgment after you have canvassed the thing thoroughly, then we will go home. We don't propose to deceive you; we don't propose to say a word to you that we do not believe to be exactly true. Talk to us friendly and quietly, and if we cannot agree we will go home and leave you just as you are.
George Harney. (Indian)
My Friends, it seems to me that you have got sometimes word that you gentlemen are talking about you. I don't believe anybody speaks bad of you gentlemen. All my people asks so much; they want the money before they die; they ask you about it; they don't talk about you; they don't
want you to go away; they know you are good men, and they think gentlemen come here to do what is right with us. We don't expect anything except you make a report what the Government says to us. We want to have fair understanding. We want a good bargain. That is right way, and we ant to do what is right. We want pay for the land because the Government has promised us a home, and we ask that they pay us for it. We try to do what is right. We want to make it understand by them; whatever agreement we make you must make us understand it; we try to get you to help us and do right with us. Then we can see whenever our mens get paid, get his money for his land then he be satisfied.
After a short consultation it was decided to meet the Indians in council again on Saturday the 29th day of October 1892, at Siletz Agency, to further consider the matter.