1855 Reports of the Commissioner Affairs and Indian Agent Reports

"Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs," pp. 321-576. In U.S. Senate. 34th Congress, 1st Session. Annual Message of the President and Report of the Secretary of the Interior, 1855 (S.Ex.Doc.1, Pt. 1). Washington: Government Printing Office, 1855. (Serial Set 810).


. . . From the appropriations, made at the session of Congress of 1853-'54, to defray the expenses of negotiating treaties with Indian tribes in Oregon and Washington Territories, remittances were made early after the close of the session, and goods were procured and shipped immediately, from New York, for presents to the tribes.

Instructions, in the month of August, 1854, were given to Joel Palmer, superintendent in Oregon, and Isaac I. Stevens, governor of Washington, to enter at once upon the negotiations, commencing with those tribes in the vicinity of the settlements of the whites, and having for a principal aim the extinguishment of the Indian claims to the lands, and the concentration of all the tribes and fragments of tribes on a few reserves of limited extent, naturally suited to the requirements of the Indians, and located, as far as practicable, so as not to interfere with the settlement of the Territories respectively. They were admonished of the importance, also, of adopting but few stipulations to be fulfilled on each behalf, which should be simple and well understood by the Indians, and of providing that the moneys to be paid might, at the discretion of the President, be applied for the establishment of farms, the purchase of implements of agriculture, or any other objects of benefit to the Indians, and which their peculiar condition and circumstances may from time to time render proper and advantageous. . . .

During the past spring and summer, additional purchases and remittances have been made, with the expectation that the negotiations with all the tribes in the two Territories named will be fully completed and closed in time to lay the results before the Senate during the coming session of Congress, should such be the decision of the President in regard to them. . . .

The objects contemplated to be attained by holding a council with the Blackfeet and other wild tribes on the head waters of the Missouri river, for which provision was made in the act of July 31, 1854, were confided to Superintendent Alfred Cumming of the central, Joel Palmer, superintendent of the Oregon, and Governor Isaac I. Stevens, ex officio superintendent of the Washington Territory superintendency, they having been designated by the direction of the President, as the officers of the Indian Department, for that service. The general objects desirable to be accomplished by the negotiations with which those officers are charged, is the establishment of well defined and permanent relations of amity between the Indian tribes of that region and the United States, and a general pacification of the Indians among themselves. The commissioners were instructed to have these objects in view in any stipulations which may be agreed on, and to have proper regard in the negotiations, not only to the peculiar habits and situation of those Indians, but to the general policy of the government and the future growth of the population of the United States in that direction. They were also directed to avail themselves of the occasion of their visit to that region, to procure a census of each tribe, and to note all that they might learn respecting the habits, characteristics and history of each, and make such observations of the soil, climate and natural features of the country, as might be specially useful to the government or contribute to the general fund of knowledge. Owing to the urgency of his other official engagements, Superintendent Palmer did not enter upon the duties of the commission. Governor Stevens arrived at Fort Benton, July 26, having travelled direct across from Washington Territory, and Superintendent Cumming also reached there a few days subsequently, after a prosperous voyage from Saint Louis. A communication from the commissioners, dated Fort Benton, August 29, 1855, was received here on the first of November, from which it would appear that they had every prospect of succeeding fully in their plans, and the grave duties with which the commission is charged. It is expected that these duties will have been completed, and that the result, and the proceedings and journal of the commissioners may be looked for her by the first of January next. . . . (p. 332-334)