1869 Reports of the Commissioner Affairs and Indian Agent Reports
"Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs," pp. 445-1058. In U.S. House. 41st Congress, 2d Session. Report of the Secretary of the Interior, 1869 (H.Ex.Doc.1, Pt. 3). Washington: Government Printing Office, 1869. (Serial Set 1414).


. . . Under an act of Congress approved April 10, 1868, two millions of dollars were appropriated to enable the President to maintain peace among and with various tribes, bands, and parties of Indians; to promote their civilization; bring them, when practicable, upon reservations, and to relieve their necessities, and encourage their efforts at self-support. The Executive is also authorized to organize a board of commissioners, to consist of not more than ten persons, selected from among men eminent for their intelligence and philanthropy, to serve without pecuniary compensation, and who, under his direction, shall exercise joint control with the Secretary of the Interior over the disbursement of this large fund. . . .

In regard to the fund of two million dollars referred to, it may be remarked that it has enabled the department to a great extent to carry out the purposes for which it was appropriated. There can be no question but that mischief has been prevented, and suffering either relieved or warded off from numbers who otherwise, by force of circumstances, would have been led into difficulties and extreme want. By the timely supplies of subsistence and clothing furnished, and the adoption of measures intended for their benefit, the tribes from whom the greatest trouble was apprehended have been kept comparatively quiet, and some advance, it is to be hoped, made in the direction of their permanent settlement in the localities assigned to them, and their entering upon a new course of life. . . .

With a view to more efficiency in the management of affairs of the respective superintendencies and agencies, the Executive has inaugurated a change of policy whereby a different class of men from those heretofore selected have been appointed to duty as superintendents and agents. There was doubtless just ground for it, as great and frequent complaints have been made for years past, of either the dishonesty or inefficiency of many of these officers. Members of the Society of Friends, recommended by the society, now hold these positions in the Northern Superintendency, embracing all Indians in Nebraska; and in the Central, embracing tribes residing in Kansas, together with the Kiowas, Comanches, and other tribes in the Indian country. The other superintendencies and agencies, excepting that of Oregon and two agencies there are filled by army officers detailed for such duty. The experiment has not been sufficiently tested to enable me to say definitely that it is a success, for but a short time has elapsed since these Friends and officers entered upon duty; but so far as I can learn the plan works advantageously, and will probably prove a positive benefit to the service, and the indications are that the interests of the government and the Indians will be subserved by an honest and faithful discharge of duty, fully answering the expectations entertained by those who regard the measure as wise and proper.

I am pleased to have it to remark that there is now a perfect understanding between the officers of this department and those of the military, with respect to their relative duties and responsibilities in reference to Indian affairs. In this matter, with the approbation of the President and yourself, a circular letter was addressed by this office in June last to all superintendents and agents defining the policy of the government in its treatment of the Indians, as comprehended in these general terms, viz: that they should be secured their legal rights; located, when practicable, upon reservations; assisted in agricultural pursuits and the arts of civilized life; and that Indians who should fail or refuse to come in and locate in permanent abodes provided for them, would be subject wholly to the control and supervision of military authorities, to be treated as friendly or hostile as circumstances might justify. The War Department concurring, issued orders upon the subject for the information and guidance of the proper military officers, and the result has been harmony of action between the two departments, no conflict of opinion having arisen as to the duty, power and responsibility of either. (pp. 446-448)

From: No. 70, Report of De L. Floyd Jones, Colonel, U.S. Army and Superintendent of Indian Affairs, pp. 719-721.


The numbers and classification of the Indians within the limits of this superintendency are, as nearly as I have been able to ascertain, as follows:



Pend d’Oreilles


Cœur d’Alenes




Nez Percés


Boise Shoshones


Bruneau Shoshones


Weiser Shoshones


Western Shoshones






. . .

From: No. 71, Report of Robert Newell, United States Indian Agent, pp. 721-725.

. . . I took charge of this agency on the 1st of October, A. D. 1868, just nine months ago. Found the buildings, as well as the fencing on the farms, in a dilapidated condition, particularly the latter. The saw and grist mills required repairs, as well as all the buildings for employés. The tools belonging to the different shops were either out of order or lost, and many of the tools receipted for were worthless; of the plows received, not one was fit for use. . . .

The drought has been so severe throughout the country that many of the Indians made no harvest whatever, particularly on the Lapwai, or on any portion of the northern part of the reservation. On the southern portion, however, in the Kamia Valley, the crops were better, there being over half a crop realized. Pains were taken to give out good seed wheat to those of the Indians who wished it. Four was also distributed among those who were in need, as also was meat, in order to induce prospect of success in doing something for these Indians, which the government had so faithfully promised. Many of this tribe went to the buffalo country, on the east side of the mountains, last spring one year ago, who, on hearing of the bright prospects before them, this summer returned. Several farms were inclosed and plowed for the Indians in good season to put out crops, and they see the advantage of having good fences to secure their crops against the depredations of stock. Their wheat and oats was a failure, or nearly so, but the corn, potatoes, squashes, melons, and other vegetables were reasonably good, being able to irrigate. . . .

The agricultural implements were purchased by the superintendent and sent to this agency. They were at once distributed. . . .

A combined reaper and mower and thresher was considered indispensable; the Indians expecting large crops made the request, which was granted. It being evident that a large amount of hay would be required to subsist the teams of the reservation which were used to plow and fence, as per treaty stipulations, and thinking it of more importance and immediate benefit to that clause of the treaty under the head of removals, I made the purchase out of that fund, believing you would see the importance of those implements and agree to the purchase. . . .

The sixth article of treaty of June 9, 1863, provides that six hundred dollars shall be given to aid Chief Timothy to erect a house on the piece of land allotted to him for his past services and faithfulness, &c. Finding the man deserving the confidence placed in him, that part of the treaty has been fully complied with, and a good house has been built and turned over to him. . . .

Owing to the failure of the crops by means of the drought, the Indians were compelled to resort to their root grounds to obtain subsistence for the coming winter. They went to the camas grounds on the east side of the reservation; where they met there hundreds of the Nez Percés returning from the buffalo country.

I was soon informed that while there, men were selling whisky to the Indians, and they hoped it would be stopped; and to ascertain if such really was the case, a confidential Indian was sent to the camps to procure the facts and particulars of the case, and promised that the soldiers would go and arrest the men, and destroy the whisky. After three days' absence the man returned, giving an account of three men selling whisky at as many places near the village, which was truly shameful. Lawyer, the head chief, came and begged that steps should at once be taken to stop whisky selling, for the President told him it would be done. . . .

I at once wrote a note to Lieutenant Charles Bendire, commanding Fort Lapwai, Idaho Territory. . . . Soon after getting my note he came to the agency, and said if he sent out there he wanted myself or some one to go along as a guide. I told him in my note to him that I wished he would inform me when he could send, so that I could go or send a man with him. He replied that that was not in the note, and after my clerk read to him the original he seemed determined to evade the duty, and after much discourteous language, left. Soon after he left the agency for the fort I sent him a copy verbatim of the first note, and told the messenger to await an answer. . . . [T]hat night he sent back my note by a soldier, with his answer on the back, declining to send, as the camas grounds were not within the boundaries of the Indian reserve. . . . It was very evident to my mind that the administration cannot but see the impropriety of putting such men in so responsible a situation as at Fort Lapwai, for an ignorant man can pull down in one day more than one efficient man can build up in months, or probably years. The chiefs of the tribe are chop-fallen much and ashamed of the failure. Whisky is being sold with impunity, and I have told the Indians that Colonel Sumner would soon be back, and the government would do its duty. It is the wish of all good citizens hereabouts that our laws in this particular be strictly enforced, as the cause of all difficulties with the Indians arises mostly from the effects of lawless and unprincipled men selling spirits to them. The importance of this post is visible to all who know anything of the country. The thousands of Indians on this frontier, and the many destitute and exposed families throughout this country dependent upon the military authorities for protection, seems to justify the enforcement of the law to its fullest extent against these lawless marauders who infest this country. . . .

From: No. 72, Report of David C. Kelley, Superintendent of Teaching, pp. 725.

Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of the condition of the schools and scholars under my charge at this agency. On taking charge of the school, October 1, 1868, I found a few of the scholars that could repeat the alphabet, and also some that could spell words with the letters. The Indians seemed very much pleased at the prospect of having a school, and the scholars soon numbered from forty-five to fifty, and took a very great interest in trying to learn to read and write, seemingly to understand the advantages the government were offering them, as also the advantages of an education. Many of the scholars made very rapid progress in their studies, and everything was progressing finely when the small-pox made its appearance in Lewiston, and it was deemed advisable to dismiss the school until that disease should abate. which was done. The school was again commenced, in March, and since that time much progress has been made. The means furnished by government for feeding and clothing the scholars attending school has been of a vast amount of benefit to them.

A new school-house is very much needed, as the one now in use is not suitable for that purpose. . . .

From: No. 73, Report of J. W. Wham, Second Lieutenant, U. S. A., and Indian Agent, pp. 726-728.

SIR: In compliance with "circular," dated Office Indian Affairs, Washington, D. C., July 26, 1869, I have the honor to forward this my annual report of the condition of the Indians of this reservation. I arrived here on the 14th of July, 1869, and assumed the direction of affairs on the 15th. The Indians on hearing of my arrival commenced coming to see me. Among the first that came was "Lawyer," the head chief, who seemed to be well pleased that "General Grant had sent him a soldier chief," and in the course of the conversation he told me that some of his people had gone to the buffalo country. Here I first learned that there was a "non-treaty party" among these Indians. The leading men from all parts of the reservation came to see me, and they, both treaty and non-treaty Indians, all of them, seemed to be well pleased that General Grant had sent them a "soldier chief."

My first object was to find out the cause of the disaffection of this roaming band of Indians known as non-treaty Indians. I found that at first there were but comparatively few of them, and they said at the ratification of the treaty that the government never meant to fulfill its stipulations; that the white man had no good heart, &c., &c.

And as time passed on these assertions were verified to some extent by the failure on the part of the government to build the churches, school-houses, mills at Kamia, and fence and plow their lands, as provided by treaties of 185[5] and 1863, until many of the Indians of the treaty side are beginning to feel sore on account of such failure. These arguments are continually being used by the non-treaty party, and are having great weight, being supported as they are by the stubborn facts.

The boundary line has not yet been surveyed, as provided by treaty stipulations. This is the cause of much trouble, from the fact that there are many white men living near where the line is supposed to be, who abuse the Indians and treat them badly. The Indians then come to me and make complaint, and ask me to make the white man leave their country. I cannot decide as to whether these men are on or off this reservation, and the only thing I can do is to promise that the white man’s heart shall be better, and thus the matter will rest until another disturbance arises, when the same complaints are made and the same answers are given as before, i. e., that the white man’s heart shall be better, and that the boundary line shall be surveyed. If this boundary line was surveyed, then all parties would understand themselves, and things would go smoothly on.

These Indians boast with great pride that they as a nation never shed a white man’s blood, but the government has, through its agents, been so dilatory in fulfilling its treaty stipulations, and agents have promised so often that all the stipulations of the treaties would soon be fulfilled, and to so little purpose, that these Indians do not believe that an agent can or will tell the truth.

I told them at Kamia that I was going to put up their mill for them. They said in reply that other agents had told them so many years ago. . . .

I do not see that much reformation has been effected in attempting to teach these Indians to abandon the use of intoxicating liquors, for, so far as my experience extends in this direction, I am convinced that they will drink anything that will intoxicate, whenever and wherever they can get it, and I am of opinion that the only way to stop the use of it by the Indians is to stop the sale of it by the whites. This seems to be very difficult to do, as most of the traders and squatters through the country, and the merchants of Lewiston and adjacent towns surrounding the reservation, have been permitted to engage in it without an effort being made to prosecute them for it. The fact is, that most all of the traders and squatters on land adjacent to the reservation are either engaged in the traffic themselves, or lend their sympathies to those who are, so that it is almost impossible to convict one of the offenders when tried, as the jury is composed of the same class of men as the party arraigned.

If such cases could be made to come under the jurisdiction of a military court, these offenses would cease at once, and infractions of this law would soon be numbered among the things that were. . . .