Siletz Indian Agency
July 15th 1871
I am informed that each Agent is required to furnish your Office with Monthly Reports, to be rendered in duplicate at the end of the Month, giving a general outline of the business transactions, and as my report for the Month of May was omitted, I will now consolidate the months of May & June in our report. This report will more particularly set forth the conditions of the Agency stock &c at the time of my taking charge in justification of the large outlay of means and number of persons employed during those months. Upon arriving at the Agency April 30th 1871 I found that but little progress towards putting in the spring crops had been made. and the continued rains up to the 10. of June so retarded the work that every variety of cereals and roots are more backward than usual.
The horses belonging to this Agency were greatly reduced in flesh, so much so in fact, that portions of these were entirely unfit for service and were turned out to graze as there was no grain belonging to the Agency to even feed the working horses and mules beyond about forty bushels of oats at the Lower Farm. Quite a number of the work oxen were so old that they could not well masticate dry hay and so poor that they actually straggered when walking after food, and two or three have since died from old age, poverty & poison; the remainder of the stock is improving in flesh since completing the spring crops, as they were turned out to graze. I selected a number of the best oxen to make a breaking team and with others have broken up some forty acres of sorrel sod at the
Upper Farm with the intention of summer fallowing it with fall wheat and am now breaking up an old meadow of about twenty acres at the Lower Farm for the same purpose.
One hundred and nine bushels of oats rec'd from Supt A. B. Meacham were sown for Government and issued to Indians for seed. I succeeded in purchasing from Messrs McAlpin & Dodge (with a small quantity from the Indians) a sufficient quantity of oats to subsist the Agency teams until the spring crops were put in.
The early sown grain is very foul and will yield but a poor crop, a portion of that sown by Indians bids fair to be a moderate crop, while a great portion of the late sown grain failed to germinate in consequence of the excessive dry and warm weather since the cessation of the spring rains and the lateness of sowing and I fear the crop will be light. Nearly all the ground cultivated since my taking charge was so foul with sorrel and other weeds that it was necessary to mow down and haul off the weeds before plowing. The fences were old and dilapidated and required much repairing and portions had to be rebuilt, to do which we were compelled to make rails. The greater portion of fencing around yards and gardens has been made from pickets or clapbooards, nailed to strips spilt out years since and are so decayed as to require new fencing altogether, while that around fields has been so indifferently constructed as to but partially keep out hogs and other stock, but as the allotment of land in severalty to these Indians is now in contemplation, thus necessitating a change of locality I have deemed it best to temporarily repair their
improvements for the season. One of the greatest drawbacks to the carrying on of farming successfully, is the want of teams. There are but two Indians upon the Reservation who have serviceable teams of their own, and one of those has to rely upon the Agency for wagon and harness, with these exceptions all the team work of the Agency has been supplied by the Government and during the season of putting in crops it is a constant source of trouble in caring for and subsisting teams while in use by Indians and the constant change of teamesters many of whom appear to have but little or no knowledge of the management of teams renders if very difficult to keep the stock in a condition to work. When I assumed charge, many of the Indians belonging to this Agency were about without leave, and during the latter part of June, the crops being in and their supply of provision being exhausted I was necessarily carefulled to give passes to a large number as I had no means to subsist these upon the Reservation. I employed quite a number to improve the Agency roads as also the road from the Agency to the Depot Slough. the point from which supplies for the Agency have to be transported by land with Agency teams. These roads were almost impassable having been washed out by winter rains and obstructed by land slides & falling timber.
During the month of May and the only early part of June considerable sickness prevailed among the Indians; but six deaths occurred however three of whom were adults and three children.
I am endeavering to break up their superstitious notions in regard to the treatment of their sick and burial of their dead.
Their medicine men and women, as they are called exert a powerful influences over the minds of these people and sometimes actually cause the death of of persons by their persisting efforts to drive the bad spirits or Tamanawisses out of the system, and after death the great destruction of property, burning houses, tearing up clothing, breaking stones and generally destroying whatever effects the party may possess. I have had coffins made and furnished suitable apparal for the deceased and with the employes have attended and assisted in the burial service, and have designated ground for burial purposes instead of permitting such family to bury their dead in their yards & about their houses. By changing their mode of burial and eradicating their superstitious notions in regard to their dead I am of the opinion that much good will be accomplished.
Your Obt Servant
U.S. Indian Agent
Hon. A.B. Meacham
Supt. Ind. Affairs