1867 Reports of the Commissioner Affairs and Indian Agent
"Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs," pp. 1-397. In U.S. House. 40th Congress, 2d Session. Report of the Secretary of the Interior, 1867 (H.Ex.Doc.1, Vol. 3). Washington: Government Printing Office, 1867. (Serial Set 1326).
. . . Much dissatisfaction has existed among the Nez Percés on account of the non-ratification of their treaty of 1863 for so long a time, the non-payment of their annuities, and the encroachments of whites upon their lands. The patience exhibited under circumstances so unfavorable, and the fidelity to their obligations to the government, so faithfully maintained, are truly to be commended. Now that the treaty has been proclaimed without the amendments, to which they made such persistent objection, it is hoped that the ill-feeling engendered by the causes referred to will be soon removed, and their future become more hopeful and promising of good results. The government has its duty to perform in affording protection to their rights under existing laws and treaty stipulations. Their reservation, defined by the treaty of 1863, should not be intruded upon in any manner by whites. Let the intercourse act of June 30, 1834, be strictly and promptly enforced against all intruders; let there be a faithful execution of the laws prohibiting the sale to, or introduction among, the Indians of spirituous liquors, and we shall not probably hear of difficulty on their part, nor of their suspecting the government of a want of good faith in its care of the rights and interests. Agent ONeil has lately reported that many laws enacted by the legislature of Idaho, in direct violation of the intercourse act of 1834, are in operation upon the reservation, under which charters for ferries and bridges have been granted, and roads laid off. Without more definite information than he has given, I am not prepared to make any suggestions in regard to the matter. If it be as he states, then injustice is manifestly being done, and proper steps should be taken to determine such legislative enactments to be of no force. (pp. 15)
From: No. 73, Annual Report of D. W. Ballard, Governor and ex-officio Superintendent, pp. 246-248.
. . . From the best information I have been able to obtain, the number of Indians within the limits of this superintendency approximates to six thousand, and are of the following tribes, and about the numbers set opposite each tribe, viz:
|Shoshones (three bands)||
From: No. 74, Annual Report of James ONeil, Agent, Nez Perce Agency, pp. 248-251.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following annual report of the condition of the Nez Percés Indians, and the agency under my charge . . . I regret now to have to say that Nez Percés, whose boast has ever been that they were the friends of the government and of the whites, begin to show disaffection; it is not confined to the non-treaty side alone, but it is showing itself among some of the leading chiefs and headmen on the "Lawyers side." The disaffection began to show itself soon after the visit of George C. Hough, esq., special agent, last December, to obtain their assent to the amendments to the treaty of June 9, 1863. The non-ratification of that treaty had gone on so long, and promises made them by Governor Lyon that it would not be ratified, and that he was authorized to make a new treaty with them, by which they would retain all of their country, as given them under the treaty of 185[5?] except the site of the town of Lewiston; they had also been informed in March, 1866, that Governor Lyon would be here in the June following to pay back annuities, due under the treaty of 1855. The failure to carry out these promises, and the idea they have that the stipulations of the treaty of 1863 will be carried out in the same manner is one of the causes of their bad feeling. It showed itself plainly at the council lately held, and, I think, is on the increase. If there is the same delay in carrying out the stipulation of the treaty of 1863 that there has been in that of 1855, some of the chiefs with their bands will join the hostile Indians. There are many things that it is impossible to explain to them, they cannot understand why the $1,185 that was promised to them by Governor Lyon, to the Indian laborers upon the church; is not paid them; that he told them that when the walls were up they should receive their pay. I would respectfully recommend that enough be taken from the annuities that are due them to settle this matterenough to pay them in coin the amount that is due. These laborers were poor men, and such inducements were held out to them that they commenced the work in good faith, with the full expectation of receiving their pay when their labors ceased. Another cause of complaint with "Lawyer," the head chief, is that he was promised as such head chief $500 per annum; that for the fourth quarter of 1863 and first and second quarters of 1864, he has received no pay. I wish you would call the attention of this department to this matter also. . . .
Soon after the first days of January and July the employés are paid off, "Lawyer" among the rest, in currency. During the quarter "Lawyer," as head chief, has had many of his chiefs to visit him; he has subsisted them during such visits; he also has his family (wife and children) to provide for, with clothing and other necessaries; he has run up a bill in some of the stores in Lewiston of $75 or $80; he takes one quarter's salary, which to him is $125, to pay that $80 in coin, he feels, and justly so, that he is not used well. I would respectfully ask that the money due for payments of the liabilities of the fourth quarter 1863, and first and second quarters 1864, be forwarded usif not what is due for all outstanding accounts, enough to pay "Lawyer," and make it equivalent to coin, and that enough also be paid him to make his whole salary during the last few years equivalent to a coin salary.
In my report to you for the month of June I wrote as follows, in regard to the council that has just closed: "The most of the other leading chiefs declined saying anything, leaving it for Lawyer to do. Lawyer, of course, in obedience to the commands of his chiefs, was compelled to speak in a manner foreign to his feelings; and I can here say truly that had not Lawyer spoken as he did, had he shown in his speech the least inclination towards favoring the government in their non-payment of the annuities due his people, had he urged his people, as in times past, to live up to this treaty as they had former ones, and to keep the laws as the Nez Percés ever had, he would not have lived forty-eight hours after; I know this to be true; I know that some of his own people would have killed him. As Little Dog, one of the chiefs of the Blackfeet, was killed for his friendship to the whites, so Lawyer would have been sacrificed." Since the above was written I can see the disaffection growing. In getting up my plans and estimates for carrying out the stipulations of the treaty of 1863 I was compelled to get all the information I could about the water-power on the Kamia, and the best locations for the mills and other buildings at that point. Some of the chiefs came to me and asked my authority for so doing, and if we were going to make them the same promises for two or three years, in regard to this last treaty, as had been done in that of the treaty stipulations of 1855. They had been told by Agent Hutchins in 1861, by Agent Anderson in 1862, by Governor Wallace and Messrs. Hale, Howe, and Hutchins, in 1863, and by myself and Major Truax, commanding Fort Lapwai, in 1864 and 1865, that the government had a big war on its hands; that as so [long as?] that was closed the stipulations made in the treaties with them would be faithfully carried out. They want to know if some "big war will not be again commenced to put off matters for a few years." I can truthfully say that these Indians will not be put off with promises any longer; some of the leading chiefs ("Lawyers" chiefs too) will fight if they do not see something done for them soon. The non treaty side use these arguments (these promises and non-payments) to urge them on to committing some act, which when commenced will be hard for them to back out of.
The condition of the people in farming, in stock, and wealth, is good, and should they remain peaceable their prospects are bright; their crops of wheat raised amounted to about 15,000 bushels. . . . Many of the Indians living on the Elpowawai carried their wheat to be ground to the mills on the Touchet, while many again sold the grain to packers for feed, while much of it is boiled whole for food. Some few of the better class have had their wheat ground, and sold the flour in the mining camps at lower prices than packers and others could lay it down in the same camps at. Some have small pack trains running through the summer; one in particular, Cru-cru-lu-ye, runs some 15 animals; he sometimes packs for whites, and again runs on his own account. A Clearwater station merchant a short time ago informed me of his buying some oats of Cru-cru-lu-ye last fall of his own raising, after the grain had been weighed and emptied out of the sacks, the Indians brought the empty sacks to the scales to have weighed and the tare deducted, saying he only wanted pay for the oats. Their sales of melons, tomatoes, corn, potatoes, squashes, green peas, &c., during the summer in the different towns and mining camps, bring into the nation $2,000 or $3,000; their stock of horses and cattle is increasing fast, and with the benefits to be derived from good American stallions and good bulls and cows, to be distributed to them under the stipulations of the treaty of 1863, they will rapidly increase in wealth. Their crops this season will exceed that of last, although on some parts of the reservation the crickets have devoured everything. . . .
A fair improvement can be seen each year in the farms of the Indians, (the cultivation of the land and increased size of the farms;) it is hard work, though, to get them to improve their fences; that is a piece of work too laborious for the men to attend to, and the women have enough to do to get the crops in and cultivate through the summer.
In whiskey-drinking I cannot see any diminution; when it becomes too strong and the chiefs do not get their share, they will then report the offender; such cases, however, are not frequent. . . .